Hem Your Jeans the Professional Way

Want your jeans to look good after you hem them? It’s easy. You just need a few pointers, the right needle and thread and a special inexpensive gadget.

This method on this post is for straight leg jeans only. (To hem tapered or bell-bottomed pants, there’s a few extra steps involved, and you’ll want to look at this post.)

First, I have my customer try on the pants and put on the shoes they will most likely wear with them. Then, I tuck the excess material up and underneath until I reach the length the customer wants them to be in the back of the pants. I put a pin in to hold it there. Then, I measure the amount I folded up. I measure this same amount in the front and on the 2 side seams and put pins in those areas as I go around the pant leg putting a pin in each spot. There should be a total of four pins on each leg. Once the customer approves, I get to work on them.

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Double check the measurement at each of the 4 spots. You can use a seam gauge for this.

The measurement should be the same at each pin. If not, make the adjustment.

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Now press the folded edge so there is a crease.

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I press on the inside of the leg so there is no chance of “shine”. That shouldn’t happen on cotton, but if there is any man-made fibers in there such as polyester, nylon, etc. the man-made fibers can produce a shine.

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Now, look at the jeans hem. How wide is the folded edge right now before you do anything to it? Most jeans hems are 5/8″ wide. Since it is folded over twice, double the measurement. In this case. 5/8 + 5/8 = 1  1/4 inches.

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So, as you can see in the photo above, I will cut the jeans one and one fourth inches longer than the new fold line (or one and one fourth inches towards the original seam edge.)

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Now fold the cut edge to meet the fold and press a second fold into the jeans. Get your sewing machine ready to stitch on denim. You’ll need a Schmetz “jean” needle and thread to match the color of the original hem.

I like Gutermann’s heavy duty thread. It is much thicker than regular thread but works great in most machines. They have an amazing copper color that matches most hems. (I buy Gutermann color #887 for most topstitching).

Don’t go for the bright gold…ever! It never matches. I know they market it as the gold used on jeans, but you’ll never use it for that. I use a regular thread in the bobbin that matches the denim (blue of some shade). For some reason, the thick thread doesn’t work well if you use it in both places. It gets caught up in the bobbin.

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Now, fold the new hem up twice at the fold lines . You’ll stitch from the right side of the jeans. Start stitching at one of the side seams and stitch all around the hem  using your 1/2″ mark on your machine.

(If you don’t have the seam allowances marked on your machine, measure from the tip of the needle out to the right 1/2″ and place a piece of masking tape parallel to the presser foot edge.) Stitching 1/2″ away will insure that you don’t go off the folded edge and miss some stitches (Remember, we folded it at 5/8″, so you shouldn’t have any trouble if you stay on the 1/2″ mark!).

Be sure and use a “Jean-a-ma-jig” when going over the bumps at the side seams. Also, use it when you return at the end of the seam because that’s where I start.

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Here’s the finished product. Now go hem those jeans! It’s easier than you think with the right tools and gadgets.

Speaking of gadgets, tomorrow we’ll look closer at the “Jean-a-ma-jig”, what it does, and why you have to have one!

Note: To find other posts related to many different hemming techniques, look at the left side of this page. Click under “All Past Articles.” You’ll get a drop down menu. Just click on “Hems” to direct you to them. I hope you enjoy this site!

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