Friday, August 7, 2009

How to Hem Jeans in 3 Easy Steps

**warning: this post is mostly for short people**

Mrs. Stephanie Court from Barefoot in the Kitchen was kind enough to lend me the following post. Contessa Court is a very accomplished seamstress, but I can personally verify that this technique is friendly and approachable (just like Stephanie). Follow these steps and soon your pant hem and leg lengths will be perfectly matched too.

"I never think of myself as short (I'm almost 5'3'') until I stand next to someone other than my kids (which doesn't happen all that often). Or until I go shopping for jeans. This year I invested in a good pair of jeans. I love them. But, like most pants, they were about 2 inches too long. Since I am not a heels and jeans kind of girl, they had to be hemmed. This is how I did it:
Step 1: Determining the amount the jeans need to be shortened.
Try on the jeans with the shoes you will usually wear them with and cuff at desired length. (Make sure the cuff ends exactly where you want the finished hem to be.) Pin the cuff and remove the jeans. Measure the length of the cuff, ignoring the original hem. (see photo above) Divide that measurement in half and re-pin the cuff using the new measurement as the length of the new cuff, again ignoring the original hem.
Step 2: Sewing the new hem

Once the new cuff is pinned, it is time to sew. I like to use the zipper foot on my machine for this step. Sew the new cuff in place as close to the original hem as you can.

Step 3: Finishing

Now that you have sewn the cuff in place, you have a little fold of extra jean on the inside of the pants. This can be trimmed off, or tacked in place. I prefer to tack it in place so I don't have to worry about unfinished ends raveling. (But before you do any of that, try on the jeans, again with your shoes, to make sure they are the right length.) To tack the fold in place, turn the jeans inside out. Press the fold in the direction of the waist of the jeans. Sew a few stitches at the side seams to hold the fold in place and out of the way of the hem.

To see your handiwork, turn the jeans right side out and ta-da! You have a "new" hem. Because we sewed the cuff in place close to the original hem, there is a seam there, but it is not very noticeable."

My finished product:

Thanks Stephanie!
My Photo

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Eva said...

I'm 5'2" and short legged to boot so you can bet I do some hemming.
I've been using this method for years, works like a dream.

Beth said...

That is very clever. I bet it works good for childrens' pants as well. Those are the ones that always seem to need hemming at my house. :)

Ryan and Amy Harvey said...

Wow, thank you for posting this...I can't wait to try it!

ohio12 said...

I am 5'3" and I am glad I am not any shorter, but for buying pants it is the worst. I find that I am too tall for petites but WAY to short for regular pants.

stella g. said...

i'm used this method and it's saved my life. i no longer turn into the mean girl shopping for jeans in a too-tall world. (fyi: you'll find that you'll have to iron the hem each time you wash it.)

Sundance Kid said...

This was very helpful. I wonder if it works for pants other than jeans as well. I have some linen slacks that are quite long - would this method work for those as well?


Grandma Sue said...

Very good. That is how I do them for your sisters. And of course they keep coming back. XOX MOM

Pretty Neat Designs said...

Amazing. I think you just saved me enough money in tailoring bills that I can afford a new pair of jeans!

Fashionably Kate said...

Hey! I knew you looked familiar! I've totally stalked this blog for awhile now. I just moved into your ward! Love your style, and I seriously want a consultation! :)

Reachel Bagley, Stylist said...

This method can be successfully used on trousers. We've even used it in my household on trousers with cuffs. You just hide the stitch under the top of the trouser cuff.

Domestically Sassy! said...

I'm also a 5'2" short legged gal and this is a a Fabulous trick!!

Kate said...

I'm 5'0" and I just wanted to say thank you for posting. I'm so excited to try this.

Modest Mom said...

Oh wow! no more cutting and folding and trying to sew through so many layers of denim for me!

Thanks from one who finds petite pants to be too long at times.

--Deb said...

So clever! This 5'3" person thanks you (grin)

Heather said...

i'm 4' 11". you have just changed my life forever. where has this method been my whole life?

Old School Acres said...

I think this originated from Z. Cavaricci. Remember those jeans? No, well, it was "back in the day." Anyway, I've used this method and found that after several washings the hem sometimes tears right along the hemline, just like it's following a little perforated line. A longer stitch length seems to help.

Alicia said...

This *almost* 5'2" girl thanks you a ton...this will save me in tailor fees as well as in angst when shopping.

Anne said...

I have read about this, but could never visualize it. Thanks for the photos!

Anne (5'1")

binah06 said...

Thats a great way to hem pants. I havent tried it before but I am next time I need to hem something. I am 5'0" so I usually need to go up 3-4 inches. I hate shopping for Jeans!

I have found that New York & Co's petite line is awesome! Sometimes I dont have to hem at all and the shirts actually fit me well. Plus their clothes are perfect for work and socializing!

Tikabelle said...

I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum - most pants that fit my waist are WAY too short for my legs, and "tall" pants are just *that much* too long for comfort. I think your method will work nicely - now I can buy the tall pants and they'll fit both length and width wise. Thanks!

Heather said...

What do you do with the extra fabric though? I've noticed that it's not always a perfect fold up and sew - the bottom is a bit wider than up a few inches.

Lindsay and Casey said...

We just did this for my sister's pants. This shortie and two shortie sisters thanks you for a great idea.

We were doing a pretty big hem, so we puckered in at the inseam for the excess fabric and serged the inside to make it less bulky.

Elizzy said...

I'm really excited to try this!!!
I for a while I got away with wearing kids jeans, but I don't fit into them at the hips anymore anyways, now I have to cuff my jeans, and that just makes you look even shorter, especially when you're 4'9"!! so thank you!!!!!

Suzie said...

Oh my gosh having a daughter with Down syndrome this is so nice to know! I hope you don't mind if I share it with those in my world!

kathryn said...

I always just fold the cuff under and stitch, now I can keep the original hem!

Thank you!

kathryn (5'2)

Melissa Walker said...

Just did my daughter's 3 pairs of jeans--my husband is going to be so impressed with my sewing skills! Thanks!

Cindy said...

This is so simple!! I am SO excited. My jeans look great. Thanks so much!!

Marianne said...

THanks for the tutorial! I'm 5'8" but my new jeans are still at least 2" too long. Last time I had jeans hemmed I paid $20 for someone else to do it. It never occurred to me to do it myself. Thanks!!

Erika said...

WOW! I am so impressed, I would have never thought of this on my own :-) Now my hubby can stop walking around with dorky rolled up pants! (Seriously, the man does not know what length pants to buy!)Not to mention that I rarely find pants that are the correct length!

michellel said...

Do you need to worry about using matching color thread? I assume so, but don't see any mention of it?

Reachel Bagley, Stylist said...

You can match the thread in one of two ways:
1. Use a thread (usually gold) that matches the thread used to stitch the rest of the jeans together.
2. Use a dark colored thread that matches the denim

Emily said...

Could you explain the difference between trimming off the extra little fold or tacking it in place? Thanks!

Reachel Bagley, Stylist said...

Emily, starting out you just want to handsew some simple stitches (tack the fold) to keep it in place. You don't want to trim off the fold because then letting them hem out is never an option.

Anita said...

I've been sewing for years and just ran across this a few months ago and tried it on a pair of jeans for my Father. Worked like a charm and he was quite impressed. Recently hemmed up 4 pairs of jeans for my 7 year old granddaughter, her Mom said it's like magic! They love having the original hems and I can let them down as she grows and/or for her younger sister. I've been tacking the cuffs in place and it seems to hold up. Thanks for the great tutorial, it's one of the best I've found. said...

sweet! this method works so well that I bought a pair of jeans from a thrift shop and didn't even notice the were hemmed until days later! this same method was used, except when the extra fold of fabric was cut off, the edge was serged!

I have at least 3 pants to hem and glad to know the steps!


PetiteLittleGirl said...

This is awesome. I have been wondering about how to keep the original hem. This is great tip. I am also petite.
Visit my blog at

Jessa said...

It's been two years since you posted this, but THANK YOU! I'm a novice sewer and when I buy jeans they are always far too long! This is going to be an amazing way to make my jeans actually look nice! And such an easy tutorial to follow!

Peonie said...

Thank you so much for posting this! I just blind stitched instead of using a sewing machine, which I will do once I find it!

Annie of Blue Gables said...

Great tutorial and pictures.
@ Stella g:In addition to this method, I also top stitch on the outside close to the fold. Maybe that will prevent having to iron each time you wash? I haven't done this for my jeans, but for my customers. So I don't know about the ironing part.

Neil and Meredith Larson said...

I tried this method on skinny jeans and was met with disaster. Since they are skinny jeans the bulk of the tuck made an unsightly bulge at the bottom of the pants

Reachel Bagley, Fashion Consultant said...


Try trimming away the excess fabric behind the hem of your skinny jeans, it should remove the bulk without loosing the hem. But remember, I am definitely not a professional. So take my advice for the little it is worth.


Carolyn said...

I'm a novice sewer but I think I can handle this. I do have a question. What kind of foot is a zipper foot?

Carolyn said...

I'm a novice sewer but it looks like I can handle this one. I do have a question. What is a zipper foot? do you need a thicker needle for sewing through 2 layers of denim?

Kathy said...

I am short and even petite size jeans need to be hemmed. aauugghh. But with your tutorial,it was very easy. I dragged the ironing board, the sewing machine and my reading glasses to the computer. Set up shop, I would read a step, then get up and iron, then pin, then sew.

It worked wonderfully. Thank you.

To the comment above mine, I don't know what a zipper foot is either. I just used the foot on the machine. I did use a needle used for denim.

Reachel Bagley, Fashion Consultant said...


This is a zipper foot:

But as spoken of in the comment prior, other methods will also work.

Carolyn said...

Holy cow! I can hem jeans! I feel like a sewing rock star. Thank you! I'm with Kathy - even thought I buy petite jeans I always need to have them hemmed. I feel like I'm saving a ton of money here. Thanks a bunch! And, I'll try that zipper foot.

Anonymous said...

Great ideal. Very quick to do. Really much easier than cutting and making a new hem. I am trying it on my granddaughter's jeans mainly so the original hem will be showing. One question, if you choose to let the hem out in 6 months or a year there will be a noticeable line that shows the pant hem has been let out, right?

Reachel Bagley, Fashion Consultant said...

Yes, depending on how many times you wash and wear the jeans between hemming them and letting out the cuff, you will see a noticeable difference in the fabric.

Too bad, it would be great for adjusting to quickly growing children.

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Anonymous said...

Thank you so very much. This is wonderful info that will improve the jeans of my kids and I.

Why do you fold the hem up and not down?
The folded up hem could act like a pocket and hold dirt, sand, snow or anything else. This would be annoying.

Do you do it that way because the deals may flare slightly and therefore it works better up than down.

Thanks again

Reachel Bagley said...


I fold the flap up because if it was folded down it would hang down below the new hem. You can definitely cut the extra fabric out if you wish thereby eliminating any sand pockets :)

Good luck in your sewing adventures!

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