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How to Hem Jeans While Keeping the Original Hem

You may have heard that one of the best ways to shorten jeans is to hem them while keeping the original hem intact. Doing so keeps the original contrast stitching and the original look of the denim.

Hemming Jeans with the Original Hem

This method works best with jeans that have a tapered leg or straight leg. If you have a flared pair of jeans, like boot-cut jeans or bell bottoms, you won’t be able to keep that original hem.

For Straight-Leg Jeans

Set the jeans on a flat surface, and mark where the new hem will be with washable chalk/wax or pins. Fold the hem up to the marked position. Then, mark a position above the line that is equal to the current hem length. Adjust the fold to that marked position.

Next, measure the length from the stitched hem to your folded edge. Refold the hem by half of the length you just measured, and pin around the entire leg opening.

Get the folded leg opening under the sewing machine using a right-sided presser foot. Getting as close to the original hem as you can, stitch all the way around the leg, and don’t forget to reinforce the stitches at the beginning and end of the line.

Cut off the excess folded length, and don’t leave any more than a ½” seam from your new stitch line. Finish the raw edge either with a serger or zig-zag stitch.

For Tapered Leg Jeans

The steps for tapered jeans are the same as they are for straight-leg pants, but with one extra step that prevents the hem from puckering.

After you’ve marked on the inside of the jeans where the new hem will be, you’ll need to take them to the sewing machine to reduce the width of the leg where the new hem will be. Make a gradual transition by stitching along the inner leg several inches above the location of the new hem.

Move from that starting point down toward the bottom of the leg, gradually curving your stitched line in as you move the fabric through the machine. As you get close to the bottom opening, merge back to the original inner leg seam. Fold the hem back up, and voila! No more bunching. Continue with the steps for straight-leg jeans, and you’re good to go.

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