My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Hemming jeans, with the original hem January 5, 2011

Filed under: Family,Sewing,Sewing lessons — blankenmom @ 4:26 pm

After reading one of my favorite sewing tutorial blogs, and seeing that she was attempting to hem jeans with the original hem. I was impressed that she would just jump in, having never done it, on her blog.  I love, even more so, that she used her daughters jeans; something I would SO do!

I learned it from “Threads” magazine, just in time for my first “customer” my mom, who cut her jeans wrong by mistake.  Very useful for the “home-hem-gone-wrong”.  This also happens to be something I’ve done numerous times for customers.  It’s great for those pairs of jeans that have the great worn in look, especially if you’ve paid quite a bit of money for that look. 

It’s not has hard as it sounds, but as I’ve discovered, very hard to relate through just words.  So here I’m going to show the steps, in pics, so it’s more easily understood.  I too am a visual learner and need it to be shown to me, hopefully the pics help.  If you still have questions, feel more than welcome to ask them.  (Please excuse the black pants, they’re the only jeans I had that needed to be hemmed)

So here we go –

1) First, mark where you want the hem to fall.  And cut it ON that line.  I know, this falls contrary to everything you know about hemming, but this is where you really want to cut it.  Also cut the original hem off about a 1/2″ or less above the top stitching.

Cutting exactly where you want it to fall on your leg.Cut above the original top stitch line. 1/2" or less above the original top stitching.1/2" above original top stitching.1/2" above original top stitching.

Cut above the original top stitch line.


2) Remove the stitching and open up the hem.  Don’t iron it, you want the folds still.

The outside.The inside, opened up.

 *note* When placing the bottoms back on, I switch the left to the right and right to left, so the side seams folds match up.  Not necessary, unless you have issues like me.

3) Pin the original hem back on to the bottom, right sides together, matching cut edges.  Also making sure you have the back and front correct.  Most jeans have larger backs than fronts and these will need to line up.

Make sure to have right sides together.

4) You’re going to sew just to the right of the of the original stop stitching.

The green line shows where the original top stitching was. Normally you would use regular thread, I used white jeans thread so you could see my stitching.Normally you would use regular thread, I used white jeans thread so you could see my stitching.

Normally you would use regular thread, I used white jeans thread so you could see my stitching.


5) Fold over the original hem over the seam allowances.  Sandwiching the new seams inside the fold, hiding them.

Fold the seams towards the bottom of the pants.Fold the original hem up, covering the stitching you just did. Sandwiching the new seams inside the hem.This is what it will look like from the outside.Fold the original hem up, covering the stitching you just did. Sandwiching the new seams inside the hem.This is what it will look like from the outside.

Fold the original hem up, covering the stitching you just did. Sandwiching the new seams inside the hem.

This is what it will look like from the outside.


6) Sew the new top stitch, either very close to the new seam line, or over the original top stitch line if you’re trying to preserve the worn look that some jeans have above the top stitching.

This is what your finished hem will look like, usually with blue jeans and gold thread. With these pants, would be black thread.This is what the inside will look like.This is what it will look like on the inside.

This is what it will look like on the inside.


I hope this helps explain how to do this a little better than just in words.



40 Responses to “Hemming jeans, with the original hem”

  1. […] like to learn the technique for the jeans on the left side of the first photo,  jump over to Blankenmom’s website and see how she does […]

  2. stitched Says:

    Reblogged this on stitched and commented:
    Excellent tips on hemming blue jeans

    • blankenmom Says:

      Well thank you very much! There are several way to do it out there, but this one I think looks most professional, but by far the best is the one that works for the sewer. 🙂

      • stitched Says:

        I need tips on finishing the stitching on tops. When I look at tops or dresses I buy, there’s a nice finished look. But mine end up looking “bulky” at the top.

      • blankenmom Says:

        Do you press your stitching when you’re done? After each seam line you stitch, you should be pressing. This sinks the stitches in, evens them out a bit and lays the hem flatter (depending on the material you’re working with) and gives a nice professional look to your finished project. My sewing went from “home sewer” to “pro” once I started doing this very simple step. Pressing can also help shape what you’re sewing; helping you set in darts, make curves, puff sleeves and, if necessary, stretch or shrink fabric (just a touch).

  3. Lafawnduh Says:

    Thank you thank you thank you for sharing this tutorial! I have just saved $20 and hem a Levis this way! So happy it turned out good. The most important keyword in your tutorial is “sandwich” the bottom in between the opened hem. Keeping this idea in mind, being super lazy I skipped step 3 and 4. After opening the the original hem, i sandwiched the bottom of the jeans in between the hem fild using fabric glue! It temporarily keep all pieces together nicely while I hem the bottom to the original hem. Thank you so much again xx

    • blankenmom Says:

      Wow – gosh, thank you!! I love how you changed it too, that was a very good idea with the glue. I tell my youngest all the time that laziness is the big motivator of invention. And I loved that you saved that $20, ’cause I am the cheapest person you’ll ever meet!

      This is also the best hem for when you cut your hem accidentally where you want the hem, not accounting for the extra you need. (I’ve had a few customers thinking they’d save money doing it themselves and had to come in to have it saved.) I show them this and they can still save the money. I may have to start showing them the glue method instead.

  4. Holly Says:

    If you open up the original hem, won’t you loose the fancy white or colored thread that defines the original hem. It’s the thick white thread on the original hem I want still have.
    Am I missing something?

    • blankenmom Says:

      Thank you for asking this!

      Nope, you aren’t missing anything. You will lose the fancy thread from the original hem. We’re only going for the original hem, not the original thread in this instance. The purpose of this technique is to get the washed and worn look at the bottom that comes from the store.

      To keep the original thread, you’d cut the jeans at least 1/2″ above the hem. Line up the cut edges, right-sides together. Picture the cut edges together at the bottom, and the bottom of the original hem facing towards the top of the pants (you should see the outside of the jeans and the inside of the hem). Sew as close to the hem line (white stitching) as possible, you may want to use your zipper foot for this. I’d suggest sewing the flap down also or you’ll feel it inside your pants. Press, press, press! If you do it right and close enough, it should only be noticeable if you’re looking for it. Some alteration places will do it this way to save time. The originally posted method eliminates the inside seam “flap” that occurs with this method and hides the seam line slightly better.

      If you’re looking for a replacement for the “fancy” thread though, you can start here or look for “jeans” or “top stitch” thread with other companies. Making sure to have it in your bobbin also of course and using a “top stitching” needle.

      Either way, with practice, both methods work. It just depends on your final goal. Hopefully I made that clearer?

  5. Jenny Says:

    I’ve studied this over and over and over again because I really want to learn to hem my jeans so that they can also be flipped up once (the insides must look finished!). But I cannot seem to wrap my mind around how you get from step 4 to step 5. I’ve even made a paper model, and I’m still stumped. Step 4 shows the jeans and original hem sewn right sides together, with the original hem on top. Step 5 seems to show the original hem sewn underneath, to the wrong side of the jeans. Or else it might show the inside of the jeans, but it says it’s the outside.

    If you sew right sides together as shown in 4, wouldn’t the original hem fold to the inside of the jeans over the seam allowance, not to the outside as shown in step 5? And to get the original hem to fold to the outside of the jeans, wouldn’t the original hem need to be sewn inside the jeans, to the wrong side?

    Goodness, this is hard to type. But surely I must be missing something…? Thanks for your help.

    • blankenmom Says:

      I get what you’re saying and it is hard when it’s not a video and just pictures. I can see how you would get confused by what I have here. Hopefully I can get a better picture in your mind of what’s happening.

      First, you are essentially just moving the hem up. So if you weren’t actually to cut the old hem off and to just move it up and pin it with the fold hanging down below, but the original hem facing outward like we’re going for, it would be the same idea. And a lot of people actually hem their pants this way and just cut off the excess underneath, but this wouldn’t work for you since you want the hem to look clean afterwards. But this demonstrates what we are ultimately doing with the hem…. just moving it up.

      Second, it might help if you think of it more as a taco rather than flipping it up and then flipping it down. Once you clip the hem off, you “sandwich” the hem around the new bottom. The the new bottom of the leg should now touch the original fold mark inside the original hem (so the original hem is the taco and the new bottom of the pant is “fixings” inside of it). This at least gets it attached correctly to the pants before you start sewing it together. After that you’ll know where everything is supposed to be and you can then flip it up, right-sides together and then pin.

      Hopefully I’ve explained it slightly better and haven’t made you super hungry? Haha! Please, please let me know if it’s still confusing. I can always add another picture or two to maybe clear things up. I know how it is when you really want to understand something and it’s one small detail that throws the whole thing off.

  6. Janet Youlton Says:

    Just had a practice run on a pair of my old jeans as i didn’t want to ruin my husbands new jeans. So pleased with the result, had my doubts that i could do a good job 🙂

    • blankenmom Says:

      That is excellent! I’m glad you used a spare pair first, that always takes the stress off a bit. And remember for the future, it’s at the bottom of their pants, so if someone is actually paying *that* close of attention to notice anything – they’ve got some issues. 😉

  7. blankenmom Says:

    I was asked what issue this tutorial in Threads is from. Issue #122 December 2005/January 2006 in the Q&A section under “A new-old hem for jeans”. I don’t open the side like it suggests, but if your pants have a flare (boot cut) to them, that step will be necessary. I hope this helps! 🙂

    (This issue also has an excellent tutorial on welt pockets that I refer to whenever I need to work on them)

  8. SaraP Says:

    I just want to say….This is the best technique for altering jeans I have used….and you are the only one online with the instructions. Thank you for sharing and helping a lot of sewers, jean wearers, and friendly neighbors sew the hem on like a pro.

    Of course…I am pinning this now…but I have been using it since you posted it.

    • blankenmom Says:

      Oh gosh – *red face* – Thank you so much! I will say again, I learned this from Threads magazine, but you’re right, they didn’t have it in pictures and I’m a picture person so figuring it out took a while. I’m glad I could help someone else out with the visual side. 😀

  9. Elizabeth Says:

    I am so glad that I have learned this technique being that I do not know how to sew AT ALL!! The reason I decided to find a solution is because of the Miss Me jean craze! The only problem that I have is the thick white thread that they use for their hem, my niece told me this is how she has seen it done. Everything have gone well and fine with me folding them up and sewing just under the white, but the jeans are so stretchy the stich wont hold and the differnces of the color in the jeans at the bottom. Do you have a solution?

    • blankenmom Says:

      I SO love it when someone learns how to do something for themselves – it’s great isn’t it! Sort of makes you feel like you could do anything! 😉

      Let me start out by saying – I have no idea what Miss Me jeans are? *Sorry!* But I didn’t want you to think I was ignoring your question. So, give me the weekend and I’ll look them up and also give you a few pointers on that hem issue. I know exactly what you’re talking about and yes – it’s frustrating! There are solutions…. usually (but not always), let me round up a few so you have choices and also let you know when it *won’t* work.

      Thank you coming here!

      • Elizabeth Says:

        I’ve read down all the replies, and their experiences…Yes the way I did it left the bulky part, but being they were not my jeans I didn’t want to cut them, I would have seriously hit the freak mode if I messed them up, those jeans are $120 bucks, so I’m sure you can see how I felt, I just did what I felt comfortable with doing, and after I play around with all my husbands jeans that are not suitable to wear even as workjeans. We will see how that goes. I gave her, her jeans today and she was pleased even with the bulk and I told her that I would tack it or when I got confident enought I would go back and cut it!! When you put the jeans on you can not tell at all unless you get right down at her feet and say what is up with your hem. Even though I was not satisfied she was, but I will conquer this :} The pictures did help quite a bit, but still a little confusing, that is why I have about 4 pair of jeans to play with! Thanks for everyones comments! So glad I found this website!

      • blankenmom Says:

        Ah yes – the bulk where the seams meet. A nice (clean) hammer will solve this problem AND relieve any stress you may be feeling over said $120 jeans – Hahaha! Hammer away baby! (I have worked on expensive jeans – I totally understand this issue!) Other than the color issue (which I’m still gathering info on…. between soccer games, grocery shopping and trying out a new item that’s shown up this weekend). Lay on me all the questions you have on this subject so we can nail them all… because I know from experience that they’ll come up. Probably about 2am when no one is there to assist you except the crazy Wallyworld fabric lady who’s eye’s go either which way. (Most likely because it’s 2am and she’s stuck cutting fabric!).

      • Elizabeth Says:

        Thanks for getting back SO Quick! Wallyworld still has fabric and such? Not in my neck of the woods! :{ I do not understand the hammer thing???? This gets back to the No sewing thing!!

      • blankenmom Says:

        ROFL! It sounds like it might be time for a tutorial on just a plain old hem… including the hammer! You’re in luck – I just bought 2 new pairs of pants that are about a foot too long! Give me about a week to dig out the sewing room, gather my supplies, find that stupid military paperwork (ok, that has nothing to do with the hemming, I just REALLY need to find it.. stupid paperwork) and I’ll put it up. Hammer, color change, distressing, proper thread and all. That gives you about a week to get back to me with anymore questions that come up – and there really isn’t a dumb question when it comes to getting it done right. 🙂

        Oh and yes – SOME Wallyworld’s still have fabric; the rest just have that crazy woman in their underwear department!

      • Elizabeth Says:

        That is so funny about the little ole lady, because it so true!!! I live in North Florida and they have completely revamped all the walmarts and took out all fabric departments in all of them which really sucks, because it is very rural here and to go to Joann’s is an hour and a half away…. So that really is hard for me, because I really wanted to learn how to sew since for the last 4 years I haven’t worked (due to health issues). I have 4 grands and bout to have another and wanting to make cute little outfits for the girls and my youngest daughter who is pregant now wants to learn with me! So yes maybe tutorials sound awesome, I have bought 5 sewing books over the past 4 years and they are greek to me. So since I have real incentive now, since my daughter wants to learn with me, here we go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She also wants to learn how to crochet. Oh boy…ROFL

      • blankenmom Says:

        Well – I can definitely assist with the learning to sew, but the crocheting I wouldn’t be much help with. I know only what I *need* to know to finish a project. I will suggest however “Learning to Crochet visually“, that’s how I learned (and youtube) and also how I learned to knit.

        Oh and I didn’t find the paperwork, but I did get around it. So the digging will begin and the tutorials should be coming soon! 🙂

  10. hi Says:


    Great tips but I cannot quite get the instruction# 3.

    Where exactly do I line up the cut piece?
    do I line of both ends of of the bottom pants and the cut piece?


    • blankenmom Says:

      Thank you! And yes, you line up the bottoms of both the cut piece and the bottom of the pants. You should cut the “new hem” which is the old hem about 1/2″ from where the original stitching line was. That extra 1/2″ will be folded into the hem. But cut the pants the exact length you want them. So you’ll be seaming about 1/2″ up from the bottom with the bottom of the pants sitting at the bottom crease/fold of the hem.

      Clear as mud?

      Let me know if that made it worse!

  11. DebraMobley Says:

    A great tip I found was to use a hammer to smash down the thick seam. Hitting it a couple of times help to flatten it by breaking down the sizing.

    • blankenmom Says:

      That is SO true! I actually own two hammers (at least in my sewing room); a small metal hammer that can open to a screw driver. Good for those exact seams; also leathers/pleathers, and odd fabrics that need a little more attention. The screw drivers come in handy for opening machines and picking flat object, opening lids and various other things I find myself getting into. I also have a rubber mallot. Good for snaps and various items – or unruly children. ;P

      Glad you mentioned that!

  12. Trae C Says:

    Now THIS is the way to hem a pair of jeans! I searched Google all afternoon for a tutorial and all of the sites that came up were like – fold here and sew here and don’t mind that bulky seam that will never lie flat and will always pop free and look ridiculous.

    The pair of pants I hemmed using your instructions came out perfect. My problem was I cut too close to the original top stitch line in step 1 so it was hard to catch the raw edges in the final seam. (And what is it with those side seams? I couldn’t get them to match up either.) But it was really easy overall and only took about an hour. Can’t wait to hem the rest of my jeans – the curse of being short! Thanks.

    • blankenmom Says:

      Gosh – well thank you! *blush*

      Just so you know, if you’re REALLY picky, you can open up the side hem on the original part of the hem your attaching, to match up the seams exactly. (Did that make sense?) But, after doing this hem for customers, probably over 100 times, I haven’t had a single person notice that they don’t match…. I do and yes, it drives me nuts. I have to just let it go.

      Thank you again!

  13. Connie Says:

    Love this idea! I can’t wait to try it. No more taking jeans to a alterations shop for me. Thanks!

    • blankenmom Says:

      Ooh – love to hear that, glad I could help. Don’t hesitate to get in touch with me if you need more help.

      Love your e-mail address too. 😀

  14. Michou Edwards Says:

    I am giving this a shot, I read the instructions twice, now I’ve had my Singer sewing machine put away for a few years and have now decided to put it to use. How do I make the top stitch length longer, rather than the regular stitch. I would compare these jeans to be like True Religion’s, they are Silver’s and the stitch isn’t as small as a normal stitch.

    • blankenmom Says:

      There should be a dial (you said your machine is a little older), usually on the right side front, that show’s varying stitch lengths (it will look like dots to dashes) turn the dial and practice on a spare piece of paper or fabric until you get the stitch length you like. I think on my new machine it’s about 4-5. Let me know if you need more help – glad to hear your pulling your machine out again!

  15. SARA Says:


  16. sewfordough Says:

    Oh, that is Awesome! Thank you so much for writing this up with photos. It’s great! Now, I’m going to redo the hem I did for my daughter. I knew it was a good idea for me not to trim my seam allowances in case I did it wrong!

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