Learning how to hem jeans yourself is a great skill that can be used for your own family, or to start a side-business for extra cash!
With these two methods for hemming jeans, you can keep the original look of the hem and even keep the extra length to let them out later (perfect for kids)!
One of the ways I made money for my family in our "paying off debt" phase was by taking in alterations and seamstressing work.
It takes time and effort to be good at any craft, and sewing is no different. But, there are a few things you can learn how to do well that will help bring in the bucks!
Hemming jeans is a great way to earn extra cash... and at $30 a pop, the cash adds up quickly!
More people than you think need this service, and are willing to pay to have it done well. Like I said, it does take some time to get really good at it, but it's work the effort!
Plus, you have the added bonus of hemming all the jeans for your own household!
How to Hem Jeans
Regardless of why you want to learn how to hem jeans, there are 2 wonderful ways to hem jeans that keep the original look and feel of the hem while reducing the length.
Let's take an overview look at both before moving into the step by step!
The Original Hem Method is what you are going to use 90% of the time. It's perfect if the thread that you are replacing in the hem is a standard color and thickness. (The Tuck Method is used when the thread is not easily duplicated.)
The Original Hem Method also looks perfect on the inside of the jean. There is no access fabric on the back and most people can't even tell that anything has been done!
The Tuck Method allows you to keep the original thread on the hem of your jeans and simply tucks the excess fabric inside the leg and secures it with a top-stitch.
The Tuck Method is also great if you are hemming kids jeans, as they can be let out later on!
The Original Hem Method
This is the original hem of the jean, and the thread is a standard thread so it will work well with this method.
Next, with the jeans on the wearer, fold the hem up to find the best length. Place a pin horizontally to hold the fold in place.
Lay your jeans out with the outside hips folded to meet each other. I place a pin at the hip to ensure that the jeans don't move during cutting.
Make sure that the inseam stitching lines up all the way down to the hem and adjust if it doesn't.
Measure the total amount of jean that need to be removed, so if the total folded up part is 5 inches, that will be your measurement for the next step.
Then, measure from the bottom edge of the hem up the leg to the length you want to remove (for example, 5 inches).
Use a piece of tailor's chalk to mark a line all the way across. You only need to do this on the top leg, since your jeans are perfectly lined up.
If you have sharp enough scissors, you can even cut both legs at the same time.
Note: For "belled" jeans (anything other than perfectly straight leg jeans) you'll want to slight curve the line on each side away from the bottom edge.
Or you can mark a straight line and curve it when you cut... but either way, that VERY slight curve does make a difference.
Alright, take a deep breath, make sure your marking is correct... and cut.
Now it's time to get out your seam-ripper. Cut and clean out all the old thread along the bottoms of the jeans.
After all the old thread is removed, cut off the access fabric. You'll want to leave a 1/2" ABOVE the old stitch line.
Here are the original hems cleaned of all topstiching and ready to be reattached.
Time to reattach!
With right sides together, line up your hems to the correct inseam. I use a pin on either side of the inseam to make sure that the thread lines up perfectly after sewing.
If the hem is too large after cutting of the extra length, take in the extra width at the outseam - there will be a seam there already that you can simply recreate at the desired width. Cut off any access, but leave at least a 1/2" in the seam.
Here are the original hems after being reattached.
Final step! You can do it!
Fold the hem in half, it should naturally fold where the hem originally ended.
Set your stitch on the largest length. Start at the inseam, and go slow! Unless you have an industrial sewing machine, this is going to be the hardest part for your machine.
I would recommend advancing the needle by hand with the side wheel until you are passed the inseam. That should only be 3-4 stitches.
Sew to the right of the attachment seam, as close to the seam as you can. The closer you are, the less the seam will show once the new thread is in.
Here's a look at the finished jeans with the original hem, only several inches shorter!
The Tuck Method
As previously mentioned, this method is best when you have a specialty thread, but it can also be used if you just want to keep the extra length as an option later.
I use this method when hemming jeans for children. Then as they grow, I can let the hem out and take up a smaller amount. Winning!
Again, with the jeans on the wearer, fold the hem up to find the best length. Place a pin horizontally to hold the fold in place.
Measure from the fold to the hem. In this case, 2 inches.
Measure from the hem to the thread line. In this case, a little less than 1/2 an inch.
Add the two measurements together, place the ruler on the thread line and mark at the length. Tailors chalk is perfect for this as it will come out with steam with you're done!
Take the chalk and, using a straight edge, mark all the way across the leg.
This next step differs from the Original Hem Method due to the fact that you won't be doing any cutting here. However, it starts the same way!
With both legs on top of each other as with the other method, use a marking wheel to mark the line on the other sides of the denim.
Note: Because denim is so thick, you will have to push fairly hard and go over the chalk line several times to ensure that you can see it once you move the legs away from each other.
Go over each line again with chalk. It looks like it's a bold enough line when marked with just the marking wheel, but trust me, it magically disappears once you get it over to the machine, so go ahead and mark all sides again with the chalk.
Fold edge of hem down to the chalk line and pin on either side of the inseam so that the threads will line up properly.
Sew on the right side of the thread. It's orange in this case, but sometimes it will be navy. In that case, use the chalk to make the line more visible.
Flip the extra fabric inside the leg and make sure that you can see the original hem. This make require a tug on the hem, depending on how thick the fabric is.
If you are going to be leaving the extra length, skip this step!
If you know this is the perfect length, cut the extra fabric, leaving about a half inch of fabric all the way around the hem.
If you have a serger, sew the edge to keep the edge from fraying. If you don't have a serger, use a zig-zag stitch to do the same thing.
Note: Be sure to only sew the extra fabric. You don't want to catch the hem thread!
If you left the extra fabric, this is where you pick up!
Flip the serged edge inside the leg and sew on top of the fold, on the left side of the thread.
Once both legs are done, use a steam iron to remove the chalk lines.
Here's the top of the finished hem on the top and the inside!
Now that you know how to hem jeans, you're basically unstoppable! Next you can learn to knit your own sweaters and become a full-on super hero ;-)