Nothing kills the look of a great pair of denim like fabric pooling at the ankle. And hemming the jeans — only to lose that original cool, worn edge — hurts our souls just a smidge. That's why we dug deep to find a solution that doesn't require going to the tailor. The secret: moving the original hem up higher, and making it look like it was always there.
Not only is it a jean-ius move (pun absolutely intended), but it's also an easy technique to pull off. So long as you know how to use a sewing machine, you've totally got this!
How to Hem Jeans
1. Determine the Length
Instead of going by your typical inseam length, try on your jeans with your preferred shoes and then evaluate the length. It really comes down to personal preference, but keep in mind that skinny and tapered (aka mom) jeans typically need to be hemmed shorter than wide-leg styles, since they sit above the shoe opening instead of around it.
2. Fold and Pin
Fold under the excess fabric and pin the new hem all around the leg using safety pins (so you don't poke yourself when you take the jeans off). Repeat on the other leg, as they may need to be different lengths. When you're done, stand up straight with the waistband sitting exactly where you want it, and check the length again. Adjust as needed.
Take your jeans off and measure the amount you pinned up, from the fold line to the edge of the original hem.
4. Unpin and Repin
Unpin the hem, fold it back down flat, then mark the measurement you just took with a line of straight pins all around the jeans. This is where you want the hem of your pants to end.
Mark another line of straight pins 1in above that line. In this example, we want to remove 2½in from the hem, so the upper line of pins is 3½in above the original hem edge.
Good to Know
Most jeans have an original hem depth of ½in. We doubled that measurement to determine where to put the second line of pins. If your jeans have a ¾in hem depth, you’ll need to make your second set of pins 1½in above that first line of pins. If the jeans have a 1in hem depth, mark 2in above.
5. Fold Up the Hem
Remove the first (lower) line of pins and fold the jeans up so the original hem edge meets your second (upper) line of pins.
Pin the fabric in place evenly all the way around, with pins perpendicular to the hem. Make sure the seams align at the sides.
6. Stitch Below the Hem
Remove the upper line of pins, then use your sewing machine to stitch right below the original hem. If possible, fit the leg of the jean over the free arm of your sewing machine, so the fabric lays flat.
After you stitch, your pants should look like the photo above.
7. Trim and Serge
Trim the excess folded fabric, then serge or zigzag stitch over the raw edge to prevent fraying.
After serging, the hem will look like the above photo.
8. Press and Topstitch
9. Repeat for the Second Leg
Repeat the whole process on the other leg and voila! Newly hemmed jeans that fit oh-so-perfectly.