Keeping the Original Hem on Jeans




About: I am a teacher outside of Boston and I love making cool stuff! Any prizes I'm lucky enough to win will go directly to my classroom (when appropriate) where I teach 6-12th grade English & Social Studies (...

I'm just under 5'1 which means that even petite size clothes (made for people under 5'4") are still several inches too long for me. All of my pants are rolled up 2-3 times at the cuff. All of my pants need to be hemmed and that can get expensive if I have them professionally done, so I do them myself when I can. When I have the time, I use a technique that keeps the original hem line.

Step 1: BoM

Pants that need to be hemmed

Pins/binder clips

Sewing machine (16-20 size needle)

Thread (heavy cotton or jean/denim-specific thread)



Ruler/measuring tape.

Step 2: Measure

To figure out how much of the legs you need to take off, try the pants on and if you can, have someone help pin the cuffs up where you want them. Take off the pants and then measure the length that is pinned. If the length is 5", then you want to fold and repin the cuffs about 2.5" up the pant leg. Repeat this for the second leg. Try the pants on and make sure the cuff line is where you want it.

The second cuff on these pants (pic 3) were already rolled up when I started, the roll was fairly accurate, but I still needed to iron them to get a more even edge (pic 4). Ironing before you start is generally a good idea.

Step 3: Pin

When you have your measurements and the ironing is done, work around each cuff to pin the fold in place. I used my measuring tape to make sure the fold was 2" across all the way. I used binder clips to hold the folds, putting the first clip over the seam (pic 2), making sure the lines matched inside the fold. Pay particular attention to the seams to make sure they are even.

Step 4: Sew

I used a simple straight stitch. After threading, I set my machine to the correct settings and got started. You want to sew as close to the original hem line as you can. I usually go around two or three times, particularly if my first round isn't as straight or as close to the original stitches as I'd like.

Pictures 6 and 7 are the pictures of the hem after I was finished sewing.

Step 5: Cut

Try the pants on again and make sure everything is kosher. Then remove them and cut the excess material that was folded up. Some people trim the excess before they sew, but I find it a safer bet to cut after you've done your stitching and are sure the lengths are accurate. You can always tear out your stitches and resew, but it's much harder fabric that's been cut.

You may want to stitch over the cut ends to prevent fraying, but you can also use something like Fray-Check.

Step 6: Iron

Iron the new hem line flat so the original seams don't pop up or fold over.



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    6 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing your idea, it seems less time consuming than the commonly assumed approach. I haven't done it this way before. So it looks like there is a seam groove just above the original hem stitch?

    1 reply

    Reply 4 months ago

    There can be a small groove, but if you sew right on the old hemline you can probably avoid it. Also ironing really well might make it look more seamless.


    1 year ago

    I need a little help with the measuring part. Do you take 2.5" off or half of the length?

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    How much do you want to take off altogether? If you need 5" shorter, then fold the pant leg 2.5" and sew/cut. you don't fold 5" up and then sew/cut because it'll mean you've taken 10" off your pant leg.


    1 year ago

    Great idea. Wish i knew this as my children grew. They are 35 - 18 now? Must remember it as my grandkids grow. Going to come in handy. Thank you


    1 year ago

    Being sum what on the "vertically challenged" side myself I too have had a heck of a time over years finding pants that fit me properly. If they fit me length wise there to small in the waist. And if they fit me in the waist, they are to long. It's been a nightmare when i've needed to wear a suit. Thankfully, making locksmith work my profession there isn't much need for a suit. But jeans or dungarees are an absolute must! So i kind of taught myself how to sew by hand when i was around 15. And a real crazy thing happened. I found out that sewing for me is very relaxing. Weird...i know. But to this day it still is. But i never thought of hemming my pants using your method. And i feel a little silly not thinking of it, or at least something similar. Very easy. I haven't tried it yet. Seeing as how i was on here looking at woodworking type stuff and just stumbled across this. And when i need to put this method to use i will post my handy work after the job is finished. Also, I have learned how to use a sewing machine over the years. I'm fairly certain going this route wouldn't turn out as nice and neat if it was done by hand. Don't get me wrong. I do almost all my sewing by hand still. But thru trial and error i've learned sometimes after I'm done the hem doesn't sit right or bulges out weird. Usually depends on the material. Still though, i thank you for your post. I'm sure i'll be sharing my results using this technique soon. Hopefully with results and nice as yours... : )