How to Hem Your Jeans (in 4 Easy Steps!)

I think there are a few skills that every adult should have under their belt before they leave home, and hemming your jeans should definitely be one of them!

Unless you are relatively tall, chances are you’ve come across at least one pair of pants that were too long for you.

So, here’s an easy way to hem your jeans to whatever length you want in just four steps! It’s basically mark, cut, fold, and sew—you can totally do it!

Besides some no-sew or cut jean options I’ve mentioned below, this is the easiest way to hem your jeans.

Q: I don’t sew. Is there a way to do a no-sew option?

If you want to make it even easier (and a no-sew option), then you can cut your pants 3/4″ below where you want the hem to be, fold under your 3/4″ of fabric and iron this tape into the fold to keep the hem in place. You won’t have a totally finished hem like in the sewing option, but it gets the job done.

Q: I don’t have a sewing machine. Can I hem my jeans by hand?

Yes! Obviously it’s always going to be faster to use a sewing machine, but you can mark, cut, and fold your jeans and then use a needle and thread to sew a simple running stitch rather than use a machine.

Q: Can I shorten my jeans without hemming them?

Yes! Thankfully the look of a “raw hem” is popular again, which means you can simply cut off the jeans at the length you want and let the edge be a bit fringed as your finished look (you can either cut off the strings after washing or leave them if you like that look).

You can also do a “stepped hem” look in a matter of minutes with no sewing as another option.

Supplies:
-jeans
fabric scissors or a rotary cutter, ruler, and a cutting mat
straight pins
-sewing machine

1. Mark Your Jeans: First, try on your jeans and use straight pins to fold the hem under and secure it at the length you want your new hem to be (make sure your pants have been washed first if they are new jeans so any shrinkage will occur before hemming).

Use a ruler to make sure your folded hem on both legs are even. Turn your pants inside out.

2. Cut Your Jeans: Use a fabric pen and your fabric scissors or rotary cutter to mark and cut your leg 1” below your folded hem.

Love that soft pretzel pincushion? Check out this simple DIY!

3. Fold Your Jeans: Fold your cut hem under 1/2” and then fold it another 1/2” and pin in place all the way around the leg.

4. Sew Your Jeans: Use your sewing machine to sew all the way around the leg opening, taking the pins out as you sew, sewing 1/4” from the top edge of your folded hem line.

Cut your excess thread strands when done sewing and use an iron to press your hem flat. Your new jeans are ready to wear!

Looking for an affordable beginner sewing machine?

Try this lightweight and portable model!

If you’re new to sewing, a small, portable model that’s under $100 like this Singer is a great way to start to get into the sewing game.

It does 32 different stitches, is lightweight and small for storing, and has a free arm that makes it easy to sew cuffs and hems easily.

See, it sounds so daunting to hem your jeans, but it’s actually pretty simple once you try it.

Since I hem pants all the time (being on the shorter side and all), I can complete 2-3 pairs in the time it would take me to drive to an alterations place to drop them off (and I charge myself way less too!).

Having some basic sewing skills can really pay off, so give this a try next time you find yourself with a pair of pants you love that are too long! xo. Laura

Looking for beginner sewing projects? Check out these DIYs:

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • You can keep the ORIGINAL hem in just about as many easy steps too:
    Try your jeans on inside out and measure the same way you did ^^.
    Now put your narrow hem or zipper foot on so that you can sew next to (but not on) the the original hem.
    While still folded up to your liking to the inside/wrong-side of your jean leg, stitch with navy (or jean color) thread along the top of the the thick folded hem all the way around the circumference of the leg. You may need to easy the difference in circumferences together if it is very tapered leg.
    Turn jeans RSO and (depending on how big of an alteration) I just tuck the flap of fabric altered out of the leg length up into the leg, folding down the original hem where I need it. If the flap of fabric is to big and bulky I cut and finish it with serge or zigzag and then I tuck it up into the leg.
    Learned that from the Nordstorm’s alterations department and have not gone back!!!

  • Do you need a heavy duty needle or thread? Last time I tried this I jammed my friends needle😩 but I’m ready to try again.

    • Hi!
      Yes, I would suggest a denim needle for your sewing machine if the fabric is very thick. Most jeans I don’t need to change the needle for when they are that thinner jean material with some stretch, but heavy denim could probably use a denim needle as well 🙂 Regular thread should still be good enough unless you like the look of thicker thread

      Laura

  • It also helps to pound the thick side seams with a mallet or hammer before sewing the hem; this softens the weave of the fabric, which will be doubled and very thick when you fold up the hem.

  • I definitely have a few pairs of pants that need this!

    Paige
    http://thehappyflammily.com

  • yes, I prefer keeping the original hem https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQ8CMCLS5rY

    • Yes, that’s another way to do it but a little more complicated for a beginner sewer. Also, I think that method is trickier if you are hemming off more than 3-4″ of material (which I usually have to do with some brands of jeans) since the ankle circumference is usually smaller than the circumference 4″ above that spot. But still a good trick to know!

      Laura

  • This is brilliant! I am indeed tall enough so I rarely have to hem my own jeans, but that doesn’t mean I cannot do this for others! Thanks for sharing this!
    https://www.makeandmess.com/

  • you can also shorten them a little backwards and end up keeping the original hem so the threading still matches! youtube has tons of video how-tos.

    • I came here to say the same thing! There’s a way better way that hides the fact that they have been shortened by keeping the original hem. Have done it several times, it’s easy and looks great.

    • Yes, I just wanted to comment the same thing 🙂 it looks especially good on jeans with thicker original hems.

    • Yes, that’s definitely an option and a different way to do it!

      Laura 😉

  • Such a simple fix! By the way, I am obsessed with your shoes! Love!

  • I would also suggest using denim needles for your sewing machine and denim thread to match. Love this tutorial ????❤️

  • I wish I knew about this DIY sooner – would’ve saved a few good past pairs of jeans for me! Well, better now than never, right? Thanks so much, girls! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
    http://charmainenyw.com

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