How to Hem Jeans in 5 Steps Without Losing the Original Hem


by Helen Spencer from

So, your jeans are too long for you and you don’t want to go to the tailor and spend money on this simple alteration? That is an unfortunate scenario indeed, but it’s not a reason for you to be down. If you don’t want to go to the tailor then just do the hemming yourself.

It might sound difficult and time-consuming but it really isn’t. As long as you have a sewing machine that can handle denim and a bit of patience, you will be able to do it. The manufacturer’s hem will remain and your jeans won’t be too long for you anymore.

How to hem jeans
Here’s a tutorial that shows you how you can hem jeans without losing the original hem.

Step 1: Decide how much you want to shorten them

Stand in front of a mirror while wearing heels and determine how long you want your jeans to be. Don’t forget, it’s better to leave them a tad longer than to make them too short. Unless it’s skinny jeans we’re talking about because they sit above the shoe line.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Never shorten your jeans before they’ve been washed and dried at least twice as they may shrink and end up too short. Remember – a little too long is still better than a little too short.

Step 2: Fold up the hem and pin

How to Hem Jeans
Fold the jeans legs to your desired length and pin them in place. Measure the length from the hem to the fold but don’t include the hem in those measurements. Divide that by two, then fold and pin the legs according to that. Put pins in them all the way around.

This concludes the preparation work, now you can proceed to stitching and cutting.

Step 3: Stitch below the hem

how to hem jeans and keep the original stitching
Thread your machine with regular sewing thread, set it for straight stitch, and convert it to free-arm more to make handling the jeans easier. Put your zipper foot on an move the needle so it sits on the outside of the foot right next to the original hem.  Start stitching as close as possible to the original hem. Try to keep the fabric flat, you don’t want to make a crooked stitch. Remove the pins as you go.

Step 4: Trim and finish the raw edge

When you finish doing this, you will notice how much excess fabric you have. Cut off everything below the stitch you just made. If you have a serger machine, use it to give the raw edge a nice finish that will prevent it from fraying. If not, a zig zag stitch will do the job fine as well.

Step 5: Press and topstitch (optional)

How to hem jeans so they look exactly like new
Use a clothing iron to straighten out the edge you just made. Then you may want to secure the hem at the side seams. To do so, topstitch above the hem, or extremely close to it, if you know how to stitch in the ditch.

Repeat for the other leg

All you need to do now is to repeat the same process for the second leg of your jeans.

With this, your jeans are officially hemmed, and you succeeded in keeping the original hem intact.

I hope that you liked this short tutorial and that you find it helpful. If you did, show it to your friends who have troubles finding jeans that aren’t too long for them. As long as we’re helping our fellow sewing enthusiasts, we’re doing our job properly.

 More From the Alterations Series

1. The best clothing alterations based on your body shape
2. How a small alteration makes a big difference
3. How many sizes you can alter a garment .. safely?

How to hem jeans so they look professional as you don't lose the original hem


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  • Love these tips! Imogen, I am new your blog but it has completely changed my style “life”! I am mixed race (afro-latina) with Soft Spring (aka Toned Spring) coloring – similar to your example #5 on your “11 Real Life Examples” post. I understand my Soft Spring color palette very well, but I only recently learned I was Equal Color & Value Dominant thanks to your post about it. Admittedly, it can be hard to find style, hair, & makeup inspiration because I haven’t quite found a Spring celeb with Equal Color & Value Dominance. SOOO often I either see celebrities mixed like me with brightness/color but it’s so prominent that they Color Dominant, OR I will see someone mixed who’s clearly more medium contrast but lacks any color or “saturation”. Currently seeking inspo for Soft Spring 2/3 triad to triadic colorschemes that honor my balance of medium contrast and slightly more saturated coloring…

    Anyways – all that to say, if you’re considering new ideas for blog posts… I would love to see a post with tips or Do & Don’ts for balancing Equal Color & Value Dominance. Especially for warm toned or slightly brighter colorings like myself!!

  • Finally, this example on Step #4 of how to create medium high contrast by pairing medium colors with lighter colors was a game changer for me as well (! There have been times I would create outfits with color and a medium-high contrast but since I created the contrast via darker end colors, I would still feel a little weighted down and unlike myself. I would love to see a post on how to create medium high contrast this way using lighter colors instead using black or super deep navy/olive (black isn’t a great color on me and I can only wear deep navy or deep olive in small doses)… Okay I’m done commenting now LOL 🤣 But seriously, thank you for providing so much quality content for such a wide range of colorings on this blog! Really appreciate it!

  • Definitely have to try this sometime. I already hem my jeans at home, but have always just chopped off the old hems and made new ones. Will be something to compare techniques.

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