Introduction: Hemming Jeans the Easy Way

Picture of Hemming Jeans the Easy Way

I can't even begin to tell you how many needles I've broken while trying to hem jeans. At one point I was going to don safety glasses to protect my eyes from flying needles! But no more! I thought there has to be a better way and today I will show you just what I do. I consider this my 12 Step Program to Hemming Jeans.

Step 1: Measuring

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Start out by measuring from the inner crotch to how many inches long the legs need to be. My husband has short legs and needs his pants to be 27 inches. I need one inch to fold up so I mark 28 inches with a Sharpie.

Step 2: Ruler

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Mark straight across with a ruler.

Step 3: Cutting

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Cut and save the piece.

Step 4: The 2nd Leg

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Use it to measure the second leg, mark and cut it.

Step 5: Serger or Sewing Machine

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If the only reason I bought my serger was to hem jeans then it was money well spent! Serge all the way around, just barely trimming. Yes I know it's white thread, and I know I should change it to blue, but I hate changing it and besides who's going to see the inside of Hubby's pants? If you don't have a serger I'm sure you could do a zig-zag stitch using your sewing machine. We just want to stop the fray.

Step 6: Pinning

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Remember that extra inch when you measured? Fold the jeans up one inch and pin.

Step 7: Pin All the Way Around

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Pin all the way around.

Step 8: Lay Flat

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Make sure everything lays flat.

Step 9: Stitching

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Use your sewing machine, and with blue thread, stitch all the way around. I like to follow the serger line.

Step 10: Ironing

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Iron everything flat.

Step 11: Optional (for Looks)

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This step is purely optional but it will look more professional if you do it. Change your thread to gold and, using your sewing machine, sew around about a 1/2 inch from the edge.

Step 12: Backstitching

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Because the hem is only doubled over you can even backstitch over the seams, something I could never do if I had them folded up twice without risking a broken/bent/flying needle.

Step 13: Finished

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Finished.  After a few washes the hem looks even more authentic, and if you're impatient you can rub sandpaper or a nail file over the hem for that original look.  I'm sure there are a zillion different ways to hem jeans but this is what works for me. I hope you enjoyed the tutorial :)


BetsyR14 (author)2016-12-17

This is terrible advice. I'm a seamstress, and you should NEVER cut the fabric off any pants you are hemming. For one thing, if the person you are hemming the pants for is still growing, they will be SOL and you'll have to buy an entire new pair of pants. Secondly, it ruins the jeans, and if you mess up the length, you'll be screwed. Instead, remove the original hem, measure the correct length you want to take up, make sure the measurement is accurate all the way around, and sew away. I've hemmed about a hundred pairs of pants. It's not the "easy" way, and it can be time consuming, but you'll be saving yourself a huge headache in the long run.

DeniseK54 (author)BetsyR142017-04-13

I had to laugh at your response on this and am still laughing, but in friendliness. Not picking on you, but my husband has dwarfism in his legs. What do I do with the extra foot of material? LOL

kansasa (author)DeniseK542017-04-13

I hem my sons sweatpants pretty much the same way and use the extra material to make caps for him, they were popular in school for awhile. I don't think it would work for jeans though... You could use them for patches.

kansasa (author)BetsyR142017-04-13

Firstly, my hubby is 51 so the chances of him growing anymore are pretty slim to none.
Secondly, don't screw up the length, if you measure properly you won't be screwed, as you put it.
Hemming "about a 100 pairs of pants" doesn't make you an expert and there is more than just your way.

grannyjones (author)2016-02-26

My dear husband used to repair his work pants with fine steel "parts wire". Sometimes he would fix a long rip, then get machine oil and grease on it. I had to remove the wire before I could wash his pants; then sew it up afterwards.

CassieS7 (author)2016-02-07

Oh my I saw a tip and tried it and it was so nice. You take a hammer or rubber mallet and hit the rolled over jean edges on the hem. It softens the seam and threads and works so much better.

ElkeP (author)2015-04-24

Will try it that way next time - will save needles, I'm sure.

Phil Dodd (author)2013-04-27

This is great - I'll try it with my 1896 Singer flying shuttle sewing machine !

You will be HORRIFIED at this next disclosure ! I wear black jeans as workwear, and was in a hurry to shorten them one morning. No time to get the sewing machine ready. I turned them inside out, put super glue all around the bottom quarter inch, folded the hem up and held it until it dried ! It worked ! For fabrics, only do it on one surface, though, and for hems the glue has to go all around the hem to stop the feet from catching in the hem when putting them on !

But my best jeans, I will hem in the way you describe - I promise !

kansasa (author)Phil Dodd2013-04-27

LOL! Actually my Dad used to use Speed Sew on his jeans! I came in one day and he was sitting on a telephone book with his jeans underneath and I said "What are you doing?" I guess once he spread the gluey stuff on he wanted to make sure it was good and stuck, lol.

OC604 (author)kansasa2015-03-16

Love my Speed-Sew :-)

praise_song (author)Phil Dodd2014-02-13

I'm not horrified, at all! LOL! I've been known to use masking tape at times when I needed a hem turned up NOW, and had no time to do it. It's temporary, but gave me time to get a nice hem in the garment, when I wasn't under pressure. Oh, the tricks we come up with, huh? :)

Phil Dodd (author)praise_song2014-02-15

Goes to show what a logical and resourceful person that you are ! Masking tape sounds a good way to get an accurate positioning to sew them up later !

Good to hear from you - thanks for your reply !

jkinde (author)2015-02-02

What is the best needle to use for Jeans?

kansasa (author)jkinde2015-02-02

I usually just buy a jeans needle.

CarmenS3 (author)2014-12-27

Me parece mas practico que de la forma acostumbrada ya que se hace menos gruesa la tela lo voy a intentar así.

joann.tarachowski (author)2014-11-19

If you still want to "double fold" the hem, I have a tip for getting over the seams. My sewing machine is set up 10 feet from my husbands work bench. After I double fold and pin the hem, I walk over to the work bench, place the seam of the hem in my husbands vice, turn it as tight as I can, wait a couple minutes, take the jeans out of the vice. The seams are flattened and ready to sew! Oh, do one leg, one seam at a time.

bllwdcrvr (author)2014-04-02

Hey there!! I just have a few comments to your ible,great information in all the posts, yes I am another male that sews, mom's mother was a seamstress in a small western pa town..sewed for everyone in town. she taught me before she passed. I work for a large retailer and need to hem trousers..I got mom's sewing machine.its Montgomery Wards(singer) and its atleast 55yr old and still going.I did try hand sewing but realized the end product buttons need to be on the outside of a shirt,LOL also I replaced a long coat zipper in a winter coat several years back so I have the talent, just need to brush up on it..yes I want to get one of those hem-a-ma-jigs at our local Jo-Ann's..

bllwdcrvr (author)2014-04-02

Hey there! Just a couple of comments, to your ible, another male here that sews, Grandma was an excellent seamstress and taught me how to sew before she passed on, now I know why she kept a small ball peen hammer around her sewing machine, I did try hand sewing,when I tried to replace buttons on a shirt it's nice to have buttons on the outside of the shirt!!, I did replace a zipper in a coat once that was a feat that my mother never attempted!! LOL great information on all these posts and I want to get one of them hem-a-ma-jigs at our local Jo-Ann's I have trousers that I am walking on and need hemmed up nice..wish me luck!!

mrmath (author)2011-08-26

The only thing I would add to this is that you can buy heavy duty "Jean" needles for your sewing machine. They cost a tiny bit extra, but are WAY worth it. With them, and a normal sewing machine, I've been able to hem jeans with no broken needles.

Yes, I'm a guy who sews. I sew the patches on the girl scout and boy scout uniforms. I hem jeans. I take in clothes that are too big. I even do my own laundry. Deal with it. :)

praise_song (author)mrmath2014-02-13

That's fantastic that you do all those things! No need for us to "deal with it" ... I'll be most of us wish our men would take on those projects. :) Especially the Boy Scout badges... they can be a pain. My son was/is an Eagle Scout, and got LOTS of badges, etc. Seems like I was always sewing on something or other, and it sure would have been nice if HE would have learned to sew (Boy Scout troop didn't encourage that! What's up with that?! Hahah!), or if my husband would have taken up the task. Oh, well.....

My former father in law sewed, crocheted, knitted, braided rugs, weaved blankets, quilted ... you name it. And man, could he cook!

christinacovert (author)mrmath2012-08-28

I taught my husband to sew and he loves it. He shortens his own jeans, makes his own wallets. Even knows how to put in zippers. And he does the laundry- ps even does the dishes if I have to work late. I just love him to death. I think I have a keeper.

kansasa (author)christinacovert2012-08-29

Wow! Yup he's a keeper all right Christina! :)

kansasa (author)mrmath2011-08-26

Good suggestion mrmath.
I have a husband who doesn't even know how to put a dish in the dishwasher, even with the door wide open, so I am impressed when I learn of a man sewing or doing anything crafty LOL. :)

mrmath (author)kansasa2011-08-26

If it weren't for The Guy Code, kansasa, I'd tell you that your husband does know how to put a dish in the dishwasher. He just likes to pretend he doesn't.

See, when I was about twelve, my mother took me into the laundry room, stood me in front of the washing machine, and said, "Can you turn that knob?" Then the drier, "Can you push that knob in?" "Good, here's how you do your laundry." We had 5 foster kids in the house, so my Mom needed all the help she could get. I did it myself through high school, all through high school, all through my bachelor years. Why should I stop just because I'm married?

My mom had my siblings and m cleaning off the table and loading the dishwasher since we were about 9 or so. I've done that my whole life, too. My wife an I share the dishwasher loading and unloading, but I do it. Even without being asked sometimes.

kansasa (author)mrmath2011-08-26

"without being asked" Now that's something I wish everyone in my house would do! lol :)

grannabug (author)2012-09-30

Excellent photos and concise instructions. Thanks! I like to use a notion called a "Jean-A-Ma-Jig" to go over really thick layers. Hancock's or Joann's usually has them for about $3.00

praise_song (author)grannabug2014-02-13

Never heard of a "Jean-A-Ma-Jig". I will definitely check that out, on my next trip to Joann Fabric. Thanks!

praise_song (author)2012-02-12

This is great. I've always wanted a serger, but wondered what on earth I'd use it for, besides the seams of garments I'm making. And I hardly sew my own clothes anymore, as it got SO expensive to do so. Now, I make draperies, bedspreads, etc. ..that sort of thing. Maybe I'll have to invest in a serger, after all.
When I hem jeans, I always turn under the obligatory ¼", and then turn up the hem allowance. And my Japanese friend's mom, who was a professional seamstress, taught me to use a HAMMER - yes, a real hammer! - to beat the bejeepers outta the seams, so they'd lie flat, and after flattening, they sail under the presser foot like a dream. Easy! but it's a lot of banging and noise. ha! So, this trick of yours sure does seem easier ... and a lot less violent. :o)

kansasa (author)praise_song2012-02-12

Thanks praise_song. I've never tried the hammer trick but I tried a lot of other things before I started doing it this way. You can do it without a serger, just run a zig zag stitch all the way around to stop stop the fray.
Yes I have to agree with you about the cost increasing, it's been awhile since I was in a fabric store (we moved from the city to a small town) but whenever I'm near a Wal-Mart I stop in and just roll my eyes at the price of fabric! I used to make all my husbands shirts, the kid's sweatpants, and a bunch more stuff but it almost seems cheaper to buy and modify now.

paqrat (author)kansasa2014-02-04

My mother taught me how to sew when I was in my teens. I didn't mind and actually enjoyed making things myself. I made shirts and vests (in at the time). I quickly learned that I could not make a shirt for what I could buy a shirt. I could buy a finished shirt for less than I could buy the fabric, ignore the labor and accessories. I pretty much stopped sewing then. I didn't enjoy the making of it enough to pay a premium for the pleasure. It wasn't that great a pleasure.

praise_song (author)kansasa2012-02-13

I used to make three-piece suits, designed and made my own wedding dress many moons ago, made most of my kids' clothes, and a good portion of my own clothes ... because I enjoyed it. Now, not at all. Too old to be getting up and down off the floor to lay out fabric, pin patterns, ets. LOL! I do enjoy making window treatments, though...something very satisfying about sewing and hanging a new, crisply ironed valance, that was made from an inexpensive remnant.
Thanks again for the jeans-hemming technique! And I do agree, that after you wash them a couple of times, with a little bit of shrinkage and re-blocking that the dryer does, the hem looks as authentic as the original thing.

southernbelle1959 (author)2013-05-23

Thank you so much, wish i would have checked this out before.

christinacovert (author)2012-08-28

Great job. I use to always turn them under twice til I started doing this to my jeans also. Isn't it so much easier? I don't have a serger either, so I just use the zigzag and it turns out fine. Glad you put this up so others can see how easy it is to do this.

feral555 (author)2011-12-28

Great idea! I have a light duty sewing machine and think this will be kinder to its gears than sewing through 3 or 4 layers of denim. I will try this tonight.

kansasa (author)feral5552011-12-29

I just did up a pair of my niece's jeans the other day and they turned out great. I like how fast the job is done and over with. I hope yours turned out good. :)

atheniangirl0402 (author)2011-11-17

I have about 7 pairs of jeans that are too long...they are all bell bottom style and I was afraid to even think about hemming them myself. I would like to this, only I don't have a sewing machine and do not know the stitching...I do love the step by step and you explained it very well.

Thank You.

zalm (author)2011-10-06

Thank you for the tutorial. but what's the sandpaper for? I don't get it?

kansasa (author)zalm2011-10-06

Some people like the worn look and use sandpaper to distress the hem so the jeans look more authentic.

zalm (author)kansasa2011-10-06

Ah, I see. Thanks!
I can't wait to get my sewing machine. I'm bookmarking this page to get back to. I have many pants that need shortening.

mweiss2 (author)2011-09-30

Thank you I have to hem or have my husband's pants hemed also :) This was helpful.

kansasa (author)mweiss22011-09-30

Thank you mweiss2, I hope they turn out great. :)

seamster (author)2011-08-26

Very nicely done!

Like mrmath, I'm also a man who sews. I love finding, fixing up, and then sewing on old machines. It adds another interesting level to my sewing projects when I can say "I sewed these pajamas with my 1917 Singer," or "I sewed this costume with my 1963 Bernina."

I'm kind of a sewing machine nerd. It's sorta like collecting classic cars . . . only much less expensive!

kansasa (author)seamster2011-08-26

That's great seamster! :)

sunshiine (author)2011-08-26

This is awesome! Thanks for sharing!

kansasa (author)sunshiine2011-08-26

Thanks sunshiine! :)

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