Suitable for all ages and stages of life, jeans are here to stay and need a perfect hem. The hem on your pair of jeans may be created from scratch or the hem may be an alteration of an existing hem. Whatever your needs, there are a few great options available when hemming jeans.
Supplies for Hemming Jeans
Basic requirements to sew a successful hem on a pair of jeans.
- A reliable sewing machine - The thickness of the fabric used to make jeans means the sewing machine must be able to handle thicker fabrics like denim.
- Needles - Denim needles in a 90/14 size are specially designed for sewing jeans. This needle is sharp with a stronger shank and is an essential for hemming. The needle can go through most fabrics.
- Sharp scissors - A great help with shortening a jeans hem is a pair of really sharp scissors.
- Extra strong thread - Consider buying stronger thread to cope with the extra strength needed while sewing jeans.
- Tailors chalk or marking pen - Something to mark the hem is important.
- A hem gauge - Using a hem gauge helps to take exact measurements when pressing up hems.
- Optional - Jeans presser foot - A jeans foot #8 enables the machine to sew through thicker fabrics.
- Optional - A sleeve pressing board - Pressing the hem is made easier with a sleeve board because the narrow hem and lower leg area can fit into the sleeve board comfortably. More about pressing tools.
Hemming Jeans - Step by Step
Now you have all the tools here is a step-by-step guide to hemming jeans.
Basically hemming jeans can be summed up in five easy steps. The challenge is dealing with the thickness you encounter at the point where the seams meet. This is especially true of jeans because of the flat felled seam used to assemble side seams.
Read these steps and the best way to overcome bulky denim seams.
Wash your jeans at least twice before hemming to be sure of removing any chance of shrinkage. You never want to hem brand new jeans that have never been washed as they will probably end up too short after the first wash.
Step 1 - Measure
- Try on your jeans.
- Measure the new hem length of each leg separately and mark all the way around with pins. Remember we are not always built symmetrically and one leg may be longer than the other.
- Take the jeans off.
- Mark the finished length of each leg. (I have called this the pinline to avoid confusion.)
Step 2 - Mark
- Mark 1 inch (2.5cm) down from first line. This is going to be your hem allowace and will allow you to create a ½" (12mm) double fold hem.
Step 3 - Cut
Cut along the lower marked line.
Step 4 - Press
- Turn the jeans inside out.
- Press up the raw edge by ½ inch (12mm)
- Press up the edge again by ½ inch (12mm) to form a double hem where the raw edge is folded inside.
Step 5 - Stitch
- Pin vertically so you are ready to sew.
- Stitch around the hem either with a straight machine stitch or a hand stitch such as the running stitch.
- Use a denim needle or an universal needle in a suitable thickness.
- You can match the bobbin color to the rest of the jeans stitching which is usually caramel, or match the blue of the denim for a less noticeable look. Go slowly over the side seams as they will be bulky.
- Start on the side of the cross-stitched seam to sew around the jeans. If you have the necessary foot, needle, and thread you may attempt to stitch across the place where the thick part of the seam crosses over. If you do not have the foot and extra heavy-duty needle, then it is best to end off and then hand stitch over the difficult part. Hand stitching this little section will save you time, frustration, and needles!
Dealing with Thick Seams
- Take a hammer and beat the raised thick seam on a flat surface to reduce the thickness. Press with a heavy iron as well to flatten the bulk of the seam.
- Alternatively, fold a piece of card to insert behind the presser foot. This elevates the sewing position of the foot and allows the needle to navigate over the cross seam easier. ake sure the needle is able to penetrate all the layers of the fabric by sewing slowly over the thicker spot. urn the fly wheel by hand if necessary to get the machine to sew without snagging thread or breaking a needle.
It is also possible to hem jeans by preserving the original hem. Read how to shorten jeans for this alternative method.
Hemming Jeans - Ironing Tips
The process of sewing the hem of your jeans will look better with firm pressing. Here are some tips to help you get the best hem finish:
- Set the iron on a dry setting initially and then switch to a few puffs of steam help to moisten the fabric as you press.
- Press down hard on the hem and keep the iron stationary so the hem is pressed firmly rather than ironed from side to side. Lift and press as you go around the hem.
- Take care not to press and pull from side to side because this will stretch the fabric out of shape when you want it to lie flat.
Hemming Jeans by Hand
- Measure, mark and trim and press your hem as per the previous instructions in steps 1 to 4.
- Thread thick, strong cotton onto a strong hand sewing needle. Pin your hem with pins in a vertical position to hold the fabric securely.
- Sew with the strong thread with either a running stitch or a backstitch. The smaller your stitches, the stronger the seam will be.
- Press the hem.
Hemming Jeans - No Sew Options
Can you shorten or hem jeans without sewing at all? Yes, you can, it just depends on the final look you want for your jeans - super casual or smart casual.
No Sew #1 - Rolling Up Hems
For the casual look, you can simply roll up the bottom of the jeans to take up the extra fabric and create a casual turn-up. Do this with your jeans on, get the right measurements and then take your jeans off and press in place. You may want to stitch on the inside of the turn-up just to secure the folds in place.
No Sew #2 - Fraying the Edges
Try the frayed look by cutting the raw edge and then pulling out the warp threads to leave the weft thread hanging down to make a frayed or fringe look. Stitch with a single straight stitch at the level you plan to have the fringed edge hang from to stop further fraying. Read more about how to fray fabric.
No Sew #3 - Folding
Fold up the bottom hem and just hand stitch in place to shorten the hem by one exact hem width. Press and you are ready to go without having to get the machine set up and use fancy feet, needles and navigate the extra thickness.
No Sew #4 - Hemming Tape
Hemming tape is a double-sided tape available at fabric stores and supermarkets. Cut the jeans to the length you require ensuring you add a hem allowance equal to the width of the tape. In most cases you will need to add 1 inch (2.5cm) to your finished length. The tape is placed between the hem layers and then ironed in order to activate the glue.
Hemming Jeans - In Conclusion
Originally made as working clothes, jeans have become popular for men and women and are worn as casual or smart casual wear. There are so many varieties of jeans from skinny to baggy and straight leg or bootleg. The variations are endless, however, there is one thing they all have in common, they need a hem or a finishing point at the end of each leg.
Leave a Reply