How to Hem Jeans: A Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners [Infographic]

how to hem jeans beginners guide

Looking for advice on hemming jeans? Finding a pair of jeans that fits just right can be a challenge. Sometimes, in order to get the perfect fit, you have to go to a tailor and if you have multiple pairs of jeans, alteration fees can add up!

Wearing jeans that are too long or too short is always uncomfortable, and oftentimes unflattering. But there are many easy ways to hem jeans to get the look you desire and in this blog post, we’ll share a few of them. Whether you’re taking sewing lessons or just want to learn some money-saving DIY skills, keep reading to learn how to hem jeans in this helpful tutorial.

How to Hem Jeans

Supplies Needed for Hemming Jeans:

First Step to Hemming Jeans – Measure the Inseam

Regardless of which method you use, the first step to hem your own jeans is to measure correctly. You need to find the inseam, the distance between the top of the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg. Once you determine the inseam, subtract that number from the current inseam, and this will tell you how many inches to cut or fold.

For example, if your inseam is 30 inches and the jeans are currently 32 inches, you will need to remove two inches of fabric from the jeans. Mark the new hem location using a ruler and chalk or a fabric marker.

how to hem jeans

How to Hem Jeans With a Sewing Machine

The easiest and quickest method for hemming jeans is to use a standard sewing machine. The process takes around 30 minutes, and if you use the right stitch, your jeans will withstand wear and tear for many washes.

It’s very important to use the appropriate needle. I suggest a 100/16 denim needle, but any heavier needle should work fine.

After you mark and cut your jeans, stitch around the edges to prevent fraying. You can do this with a standard sewing machine zig-zag stitch, or a serger on the edges.

You will need to pin the jeans with a ½ inch seam allowance all the way around on both legs.

Now you’re ready to sew! Using a straight stitch with medium length and corresponding thread color, sew all the way around both pant legs, making sure to backstitch at the beginning and end. Trim all loose threads and you’re done!

For a finished, professional look, sew around the border of the leg with gold thread. It’s very important to use a straight, even stitch because of the contrasting thread color.

how to hem jeans with a sewing machine

How to Hem Jeans with a Sewing Machine [Step-by-Step]

1. Stitch around the edges to prevent fraying after marking and cutting your jeans.

2. Use a zig-zag stitch, or a serger on the edges.

3. Pin the jeans with a 1/2 inch seam allowance on both legs.

4. Use a straight stitch to sew all the way around both legs.

5. Backstitch at the beginning and end.

6. Trim loose threads.

How to Hem Jeans by Hand

For hemming jeans by hand, you will need a little more time (close to an hour depending on your stitching speed). You will also need a medium length, heavyweight hand-sewing needle.

Follow the same steps: measure and mark the inseam (distance between the top of the crotch to the bottom of the pant leg) and cut or fold the excess fabric.

The best stitch to use for hand sewing is an invisible backstitch. This stitch will not be seen, so perfection is not important. It’s also a sturdy stitch that should stand up to as much, if not more, wear and tear as a sewing machine stitch.

Make sure to go around both edges of both legs with a few extra stabilization stitches at the beginning and end. To complete the hem, trim all loose threads and press with an iron.

how to hem jeans by hand

How to Hem Jeans With the Original Hem

You can also use the hand-sewing method to hem jeans with the original hem. This will make it nearly impossible to see that the jeans have been altered.

To achieve this look, do not cut the jeans. Instead, take the existing seam and fold it to match the new hem line, and pin it in place. Then follow the exact same instructions for hand stitching.

This method is probably the best for beginners to hemming jeans, because you do not have a risk of cutting improperly and ruining the jeans. This is also great if you have young children who may need to have the hem lengthened when their next growth spurt happens! Simply tuck the excess fabric above the hem under the jeans and iron it flat. Once again, make sure to trim the loose threads.

how to hem jeans with original hem

How to Hem Skinny Jeans

Skinny jeans are a little different to hem than traditional jeans. The inseam will need to be a bit shorter because you want them to sit right at the ankle, so remember this when measuring.

You also may need to use a stretchy thread if the fabric has more movement than standard denim. Be careful when hemming skinny jeans with a machine. It’s very easy to catch an extra layer in the machine because the leg is so small. I recommend using a hand backstitch to hem skinny jeans.

Some people would rather avoid hemming skinny jeans. If you feel this way, make sure to check out this guide for four different ways to adjust your skinny jeans.

how to hem jeans infographic

Jeans are a wardrobe staple for many of us. They can be worn in nearly any situation, with the comfort, look, and durability of the most luxurious fabrics.

Unfortunately, every brand has a different size measurement, and every country has a different sizing chart. This can make it challenging to find the perfect pair.

The solution: learn how to hem jeans! With a little bit of practice, you will be able to hem all of your own jeans. If you need any additional help hemming jeans, make sure to ask a sewing teacher!

Kari BPost Author:
 Kari B.
Kari has been teaching  private sewing lessons since 2006. She previously worked in costume design and crafts at the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, VA. Learn more about Kari here!

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Image Courtesy: Tamera Clark

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1 reply
  1. Marlene
    Marlene says:

    What specific needle do I need when hemming jeans by hand? That’s all the sewing I do and I don’t do it too often but I need a better needle that is sharp and a big eye. What brand do you recommend? Many Thanks. Also, what specific type of thread do I get? If I’m not real careful, it binds up.


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