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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Shortening Jeans using the Original Hem

 I love to create new outfits from scratch and I'm not personally a huge fan of making alterations. But when it comes to my own family I'm happy to do it, especially when it's something as simple as shortening jeans for my daughter!  The best part is that I do it in a way that uses the original hem of the jeans so nobody can tell that they were altered. Are you excited to learn how?!

My daughter's jeans were a bit long, don't you think? She actually likes wearing them that way with her sneakers (don't ask me) but when she wants to wear her cute flats to school, having her jeans the right length is a must. I took 3" off this pair and you can't even tell they were altered!  Let's get started on the tutorial. 

First of all, we need to mark where the new hem will be.  There are two ways to do this.  

The FIRST way, is to put the jeans on your model and fold the leg up to where you want the top of the hem to be on the final length when it will be folded down. (If that doesn't make sense, read through the remaining steps and it will become clear.)  Pin the fold in place just below the hem on the front, as shown above.  

Check the placement by folding the extra length up and pointing the hem downward, as shown above. (The pins are still there; they are just folded up inside.) If you want the leg to be longer or shorter, go back and adjust until you're happy with it. 

Or, the SECOND way to mark the new hem is to decide how much length you want to remove and divide that number in half. For example, looking at the picture above, let's say that we want to remove 2" from the jeans.  Divide that by 2 to get 1" so we will measure up 1" from the fold to the edge of the hem. (Do not include the hem in the measurement.)  Pin in place. 

 Now whether we chose the first method or the second method, we are ready to continue!  Pin the fold in place all around the leg. 

Be sure to line up the stitching on the side seams as you pin! It will be noticeable if it's off.  Repeat with the second leg before continuing, so you don't forget how much you measured. (I might know from experience.)  We want our legs to match!

We are now ready to sew right along the edge of the hem, as close as we can get to it.  You may want to use a zipper foot or a walking foot to get really close, but I have always used my regular zigzag foot and been fine. 

With the hem stitched in place, we are now ready to cut off the excess fabric, about 1/2" down from the hem. Take a deep breath and go for it!  

After trimming the excess fabric down to about 1/2" it will look like the photo above.

Now zigzag or serge the raw edges so they will not fray. (A lot of tutorials I've seen skip this step but it's so important!) 

Now we can fold the hem downward and it should look like the photo above. We're almost done!  On the inside make sure the zigzagged edge is pointing upward and iron the hem really well until it is nice and crisp.  (I like to skip ironing whenever possible but this time it is important!) Ironing helps the lines of the jeans blend together.

We are now going to topstitch through the layers by sewing 1/8" above the new fold line. You will want to use a thread color that matches but I purposely used a dark one so it will be visible in the next photo. 

A trick I use when topstitching is to aim my foot straight down the line and set my needle in the side position. So in the photo above it looks like I'm sewing straight down the line but actually my needle is to the side by 1/8".  Cool, right? It's my little secret to accurate topstitching, sshhh. 

And now you're done!  

Your jeans are now the perfect length and nobody ever has to know that you altered them! 

Let's Create! ~ Kristen 


  1. It’s nice sharing! There are the comfortable jeans for women on sale at store


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