Two Ways to Hem and Shorten your Jeans

Whether you're an experienced sewer or a complete beginner there are some super useful tips for hemming or shortening jeans in this handy video tutorial. I'll show you how to shorten jeans accurately when cutting off the excess fabric and an alternative method that keeps the original hem intact and can be used as a temporary measure for children's jeans.

Method One Shortening and Hemming Jeans

Sewing Tools

For this method we're going to use the following sewing tools:

Measuring and Marking the Jeans Hem

The first thing we need to do is try the jeans on and pin them to the required length.

You will need to cut the jeans a little longer than where you want them to finish so there is some excess fabric to turn under and finish the raw edge. This is called the seam allowance.

Take the jeans off and measure from where you want them to finish to where you want your seam allowance to be. I allowed 1/4" for turning under plus 1/2" for the hem making 3/4" in total.

Once you have marked this from where the jeans are pinned, measure from the current finished hem up to this point and make a note of the measurement.

Continue to mark from the original hem to this point all the way around the jeans.

Using the original hem means the hem will be straight. If you measure from where you pinned the jeans it may end up wonky if your pinning wasn't accurate!

Cutting the Jeans Hem

Next we need to cut off the excess fabric.

If you can use a good quality pair of dressmaking scissors, it will make neat, accurate cutting so much easier.

Cut carefully along the line you marked for where your seam allowance will need to finish.

Pressing the Jeans Hem

Now we're going to press everything into place ready for sewing.

If you're using the same measurements as my example press the raw edge under 1/4" then 1/2" using lots of steam and pressure.

Sewing the Jeans Hem

First pin the hem in place from the right side of the jeans.

Use a jeans needle and top stitch thread in the needle, but standard thread in the bobbin. Topstitch thread is too heavy to be used in the bobbin on most domestic machines.

Test on the scraps of denim first replicating the thickness of denim you will be sewing through on the real thing.

Lengthen your stitch length if necessary, you may also need to adjust your needle tension. Test until you are happy with the results.

If your machine is really struggling to get through the thickness an alternative method that will reduce the bulk is to overlock or use an overcasting stitch on your sewing machine to finish the raw edge then just press it up once.

If you are able to remove the accessory tray from your machine, this can be helpful and will allow you to slip the trouser leg over the end.

Start stitching on the back leg of the trousers just after the side seam back stitching to secure. (This is a little reverse stitch in the wrong direction before you start sewing).

When you reach the side seams slide the humper jumper or bulky seam aid under the back of your sewing machine foot. This gives the back of the foot something to work against and will help you to sew through the bulky section.

Back stitch at the end where the lines of stitching meet up to secure and repeat on the other side.

There you have it, a neatly stitched shortened pair of jeans - yippee!

Method Two Shortening and Hemming Jeans Keeping the Original Hem Intact

This is a great easy, no nonsense method for anyone who wants quick results. It is also a great method for temporarily shortening kids jeans so you can lengthen them again when they grow.

Sewing Tools

For this method we're going to use the following sewing tools:

Measuring and Marking the Jeans Hem

Try the jeans on and decide how much you need to shorten them by then halve it to identify how much to fold the jeans back on themselves.

For example, if you want to shorten the jeans by 1", with the jeans the right way out, turn the hem back on itself and measure 1/2" from the bottom of the folded edge of the fabric to the bottom of the original hem.

Pin in place.

Sewing the Jeans Hem

Stitch along the edge of the original hem as close as possible with a matching standard sewing thread back stitching at the beginning and end to secure.

Pressing the Jeans Hem

Once sewn, turn the hem the right way out and press in place.

You can either leave the excess fabric intact so that you have the option to lengthen in future, or overlock or zig zag stitch the edge closest to the stitching line and trim off the excess and reduce any bulk.

We hope that has been helpful for you all.

Have fun sewing!


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