One of the most common garment alterations is hemming jeans. Whether it’s tailoring a pair of designer jeans, or hemming up some hand-me-downs for the kids, there probably comes a time sooner or later when you’ll want to hem a pair of jeans! Hemming jeans by machine, however, can present particular challenges, so we’ll show you a couple of methods and also share some tips for success. Regardless of the method you choose, be sure to use the right needle in your sewing machine – either a SINGER Denim needle (size 16) or a SINGER Heavy Duty needle (size 18), to help accommodate the thickness.
There are 2 main ways to hem jeans:
A) One way is to hem the jeans by removing the original hem. In this technique, you basically cut off the existing hem, fold up the hem and then topstitch it in place. The manufacturer’s original hem is cut away, and the end result is a neat looking hem, but the jeans will no longer have the “distressed” look of the original jeans.
B) The other way to hem the jeans is to do so and keep the original hem. In this technique, you basically take up the excess fabric, shortening the jeans, but keeping the original hem intact. The manufacturer’s original distressed look hem is preserved.
Hemming Jeans & Removing the Original Hem
1. You’ll need scissors, pins, a removable fabric marker and the right style/size of sewing machine needle (as mentioned above). Also, for this style of hem, the topstitching will show so you’ll want the thread to match as closely as possible to the rest of the topstitching that appears on the jeans. Some thread manufacturers actually have jeans thread available to match that used in store-bought jeans. This special jeans thread is thicker than all-purpose tDSC_0091hread (another reason you’ll want the large sewing machine needle). You can use regular sewing thread in the bobbin.
2. Fold up the jeans to determine the desired finished hem length. Don’t cut yet. Pin them in place, then try them on in front of a mirror, with the shoe height that you plan to wear with the jeans. Adjust the hem as necessary.
3. Mark the finished length desired for the jeans using either pins or a removable fabric marker. Open out the hem and trim away the original hem, leaving a 1” hem allowance.
4. At this point, you can do either of 2 things to prepare the hem.
a) You can fold the fabric up ½”, then ½” again and press. Pin in place, and it’s ready to be topstitched. The seams with this method can become quite bulky. If the jeans you are hemming are very thick, you may prefer method (b).
b) OR, to help eliminate bulk at the side seams, where the fabric thickness can become very, very thick, try this method of preparing the hem. Cut the hem allowance down to approximately ½”. Thread the top of the machine and bobbin with regular sewing thread. Use an overedge stitch or serger to finish off the raw edge of the fabric.
5. Pin the fold in place. Thread the top of the machine with jeans thread, regular thread in the bobbin. Convert the machine to free-arm mode, which will make it easier to sew around the hem. Select the straight stitch, and then set the stitch length to a medium-long setting. Sew around the hem area at the desired distance from the bottom edge to finish.
1. You’ll need scissors, pins, a removable fabric marker and the right style/size of sewing machine needle (as mentioned above). You can use regular sewing thread in the bobbin, as there is no need for the topstitching thread with this technique.
2. Try on the jeans and determine the desired finished length and pin it in place.
3. Measure the distance from the desired finished length’s fold line to the very bottom edge of the distressed hem. For our demonstration, the distance is 3”. Mark a line on the jeans with the removable fabric marker.
4. Lay the jeans on the table. Measure the size of the original hem from the very bottom edge to the topstitching line. As this is usually about ½”, double this to equal 1”, and then mark a line 1” above the first line that you drew on the jeans.
5. Fold up the jeans so that the very bottom edge of the hem is lined up with the top line drawn on the jeans. Pin in place.
6. Thread the machine with regular sewing thread in the needle and in the bobbin. Convert the machine to free-arm mode, with will make it easier to sew. With the machine set for straight stitch, sew around the hem, right next to the original hem.
7. When finished, sew an overedge stitch and trim the excess fabric.
8. Remove the fabric marker line, then press the original hem down. The fold line will be barely noticeable!