Introduction: How to Sew an Original Jean Hem

Picture of How to Sew an Original Jean Hem

Many people prefer to have an Original Hem treatment done to their designer jeans. Even if you can duplicate the thread color and distress marks to a certain extent, some hem decorations are far beyond the typical DIY's tools and materials, and are just downright too much work for even the professional to duplicate. I'll show you the methods to attain professional results, saving yourself $25-$40. Let's go find some jeans!

Step 1: Prepare the Hem

Picture of Prepare the Hem
  1. Get a pair of denims
  2. Press out hem if it is wonky-looking
  3. These need to be 3" shorter, so I mark 3" from bottom.
  4. Fold up 2" for these, or so that old hem bottom is 5/8" above 3"(or whatever yours is) chalk line. This is because after stitching right sides together, you will flip down old hem, which is ~ 5/8".
  5. Press with iron at this fold along entire hem.

Step 2: The Trick Is in the Foot and the Method

Picture of The Trick Is in the Foot and the Method

A lot of how-to's for this type of hem don't use the correct foot or method, so they don't get close enough to the original hem stitching.

  1. Use a zipper foot. This type from Husqvarna is the best one for this treatment. Adjust needle to the far left.
  2. Remove sewing platform to give yourself more control.
  3. Pull back hem fold to open up the space.
  4. Wedge sewing foot as far into that as you can. This should cause the fold to stand up at 90 degrees.
  5. Start sewing, stretching the hem as you sew, slightly pulling right, into the foot. The goal here is to keep that fold standing up, and not droop down where the needle could catch it.
  6. This is how it should look while you are sewing.
  7. Make sure that the side seams are lined up as you approach them. If you have a hard time manipulaling the bumps here, just go slowly, turning the handwheel. I prefer to go full speed, because I know that this machine, with the proper jean needle, will have no problem going through everything. Momentum is your friend!

Step 3: Cut Edge and Lockstitch

Picture of Cut Edge and Lockstitch
  1. Pink edges or
  2. Serge them
  3. Press inside
  4. Press outside, using a ham to get a nice, hard fold, just shy against that original stitching. Not over or too close, you don't want it covered any amount.
  5. Stitch that fold very close to the edge, manipulating it's placement if needed while you are sewing.
  6. All done! Press with strong downward force, on a high heat/steam setting. These will always look nice, even after washings. No flip out, no maintenance ironing.

Step 4: The Tutorial in Video Format


Smarti1957 (author)2015-02-15

I did these on used jeans for someone and when they washed them the hems fell apart. I am still trying to figure out what went wrong.

MarcosM13 (author)Smarti19572016-05-31

No final da costura onde está o começo deve fazer retrocesso para fixar a costura do início com o fim.

cdstudioNH (author)Smarti19572015-02-16

Oh, no! The seams should be very strong and that should never happen. Did you use jeans thread/size 16 needle?

ooohlaa (author)2016-05-31

Sometimes the bottoms are flared or tapered, would this still work or just for very straight legged pants?

cdstudioNH (author)ooohlaa2016-05-31

Right, if you have to shorten by more than a few inches, the change in circumference could make doing this quite tedious(having to reconcile the difference), not to mention the jeans color, if a gradient, might also be slightly different.

bruno13069 (author)2016-05-31

I wear a 42/29 and can usually find 42/30. I usually shred the back of the cuff within 6 months. I've tried duct tape, but it comes out in the wash. I've tried the "quick stitch" place and press glue strips - same problems.

I may have to invest in a zipper foot and a few heavy duty needles for my machine. Thanks for the tips!

DavidW157 (author)2016-05-31

That's way too much work. Use a walking foot machine with heavy brownish gold thread . Cut the jeans about an inch and a quarter than intended length. Roll it under and stitch it with a matching stich length.

gmeadows3 (author)2015-01-22

Hi, excellent tutorial, I've been using this method myself for years now. I didn't use the zipper to get in closer to the hem but still get excellent results, (never had a anyone getting down on their knees to look closer) but then I have only ever bought cheap jeans. Next pair I do will definitely try the zipper foot now though.
Thanks for the instructible, very easy to follow.

cdstudioNH (author)gmeadows32015-01-22

Cool! Yes, you want the least amount of material to duplicate the original, or you will get some unnatural rigidity and eventually some unintended wear lines.

karthur1 (author)2015-01-21

LOVE this!
do you cut off the extra or just leave it folded up?

cdstudioNH (author)karthur12015-01-21

: D

Hi back!

If you are in "view all steps", look up about 20" and you'll see two options; pink or serge.

pattymadeit (author)2015-01-20

Great tip!

ben2go (author)2015-01-20

Nice tutorial. $25+ to hem a pair of jeans and then the person making the hem can't do it right?WoW! I'm not sure where you are located,but here,I pay at most $6 per pair.The stitching is always the same as the manufactures.So yeah,this could save someone some serious money paying those $25+ prices,especially if many pairs need to be altered.At those prices it makes buying sewing machine worth it.2 thumbs up.

cdstudioNH (author)ben2go2015-01-20

Thanks! Yeah, I charge $25, but others around here who do an unacceptable job, charge $40. Most people around here(Northeast US, or any major city) charge $10-18 for a reg hem. That takes about 10 minutes with the measuring/pressing/cutting/sewing.

studleylee (author)2015-01-19

Thanks for this! I do some sloppy prototyping sewing and this weekend I realized I need to polish my skills. This is very helpful thanks.

cdstudioNH (author)studleylee2015-01-19

Thanks, and You're welcome!

mountainmasha (author)2015-01-17

I got a sewing machine with a zipper foot for Christmas, so I've been itching to try it out. This sounds like a great first project. Love how clear your instructions and pictures are, thanks!

cdstudioNH (author)mountainmasha2015-01-18

Nice!! You're very welcome! Please don't hesitate to message if you have any questions. ~ Cynthia

pamala.leonard (author)2015-01-15

I recently picked up a thrifted pair of jeans with this treatment. Pretty slick!

: D

susiefreckleface (author)2015-01-16

nicely presented. it gets more involved at dry cleaner shop though. single needle, over lock, and blind hemmer are used. lots of true religion jeans & some tommy bahamas come in. there are other tricks when doing originals on bell or boot cuts. but yes zipper foot works best. ultra skinny zipper for the juki.

I love all those machines(and have them) but Instructables isn't the place to show all those off(that's what youtube is for!) as most people don't have them. Oh, thanks for the idea for flares! I'll do an Instructable for that the next time some come in to the Studio.

overcomer8 (author)2015-01-16

Great job!

cdstudioNH (author)overcomer82015-01-16

Thank you!

jessyratfink (author)2015-01-15

I love this trick - I use it all the time. Makes it so easy. Thanks for sharing such clear instructions! :D

cdstudioNH (author)jessyratfink2015-01-15

: ) Thanks & Welks!

seamster (author)2015-01-14

Excellent tutorial! This is precisely how I hem jeans for my wife and I.

This is the only way to go to avoid the dreaded crappy home-hemmed look! :)

cdstudioNH (author)seamster2015-01-14

Cool! Didja see my sewing machine hack for distressing jeans?

seamster (author)cdstudioNH2015-01-14

I did!

So I stand corrected. That's another way to avoid the home-hemmed look!

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