How to Hem Blue Jeans

M. J. Doran

Blue jeans come in different inseam lengths. Even so, the length may not be just right for you. You can either have them hemmed by a tailor, which costs $10 to $20, or you can hem them yourself and save that money for something better. This process works for all jean cuts--flared, boot cut or straight leg--and will result in a traditional blue jean hem. These same steps can be used to make shorts out of children's blue jeans when the knees are thoroughly worn through.

Things You'll Need

  • A pair of blue jeans
  • Full length mirror
  • Scissors
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Spray bottle filled with water
  • Sewing machine with heavy duty needle
  • Heavy duty jean thread to match the other seams of the jeans
  • Washable light colored pencil for marking the hem
  • Straight pins

Try on the jeans. Mark each jean leg at the hem length you desire. Fold the jean leg under at the mark and use a full length mirror to check the length. Be sure to try the length with the shoes you'll be wearing with the jeans.

Take off the jeans. Measure and mark each jean leg 1 1/2 inches below the hem line marked in Step 1.

Cut off the extra jean leg length at the line you marked in Step 2. Be careful to cut at the lower mark on the jean leg that you made in Step 2, not the higher mark you made in Step 1.

Turn the jeans inside out.

Turn your iron on to “cotton” setting.

Fold 1/4 inch of the bottom of each jean leg outward so that the cut edge is on the outside of the inside out jean leg--when you turn the jeans right side out again, the edge will fold under. Dampen the folded edges with the spray bottle. Press the edges with the hot iron to make a sharp fold. Be sure to thoroughly press the inseam and outer seam so that they lay as flat as possible.

Measure and fold 3/8 inch from the pressed edge at the end of each jean leg. Fold in the same direction as the first fold--again, this will result in the jean leg being folded under once the jeans are turned right side out.

Dampen the folded edges with the water spray bottle. Press the edges with the hot iron. Again, be sure to thoroughly press the inseam and outer seam so that they lay as flat as possible.

Turn the jeans right side out. Try them on again to be sure the length is correct. Take the jeans off.

Thread the sewing machine according to the sewing machine instruction manual. Set the tension and stitch length for heavy fabric. Remove the tool storage area from the arm of the sewing machine.

Slip the trimmed and pressed end of one jean leg over the arm of the sewing machine. Situate the folded and pressed edge so that stitching will begin just after the inseam. This allows you to start stitching without having to deal with the extra thick fabric at the inseam or outer seam. Situate the folded edge so that the new stitched line will be ¼ inch above the pressed edge.

Slowly machine stitch the hem. Use the sewing machine foot pedal to operate the needle until you encounter the outer seam. At the outer seam use the hand wheel on the sewing machine to operate the needle. This helps avoid breaking the needle on the very thick fabric layers. Once past the seam, you may continue stitching by using the foot pedal until reaching the inseam. Use the hand wheel to stitch over the inseam.

Once the hem is fully stitched, reverse stitch 1/4 inch to anchor the hem thread. Remove the jean leg from the sewing machine arm and trim the threads.

Repeat Steps 11 through 13 for the other jean leg.