Hemming Jeans While Keeping Original Hem

November 10, 2016By Angela WolfSewing, Tips & Tricks, Tutorial 9 Comments Opinion by Paid Consultant

st371hd Strong and Tough


What happens if you need to shorten a pair of jeans but you don’t want to lose the original hem? Perhaps the hem is distressed or has a unique top stitching that you don’t want to have to match. No problem! Here is an easy way to hem jeans AND keep the original hem.

Marking the Hem:

    1. Try on the jeans and pin the hem in place.


  1. Measure the amount to be shortened. In this example it looks like we need to shorten the jeans 1 inch. Once you have this noted, you can unpin this hem mark on your jeans.


  1. On the right side of the jeans, mark the amount to be hemmed with chalk – I use this chalk mark to double check my math later on. IMPORTANT: Here is the big difference from marking a normal pant hem; instead of measuring from the original hemline up, start the measurement just above the original topstitching line as shown.


  1. Divide the total to be hemmed by 2; in this case 1 inch divided by 2 = ½”.
  2. Fold the jean hem up toward the right side of the garment. Measuring from the original hem allowance fold, create a fold ½” away. Place a pin along the previous fold as shown.


Set Up the Sewing Machine:

  1. Set Up your machine as follows:
  • Change the sewing machine needle to a 14/90 Denim/Jean needle
  • Set your stitch length 3.0 or 3.5
  • Change to the zipper foot


  1. If your machine has a free arm where it allows for fabric to feed underneath the machine, remove the front or side panel opening up the free arm. Here I am using the Brother Strong & Tough Machine and the front panel easily slides off.



  1. Slide the jean fabric onto the sewing machine and lineup the zipper foot with the edge of the original hem allowance folded edge. Check that the needle enters the fabric as close to the l original hem allowance as possible. (I am using contrasting thread so you can see it better)


  1. Stitch all the way around the pant leg.


Tip: When stitching across the inseam or outside leg same with the thick fabric in the seam allowances, stitch slowly or use the hand wheel to prevent breaking the sewing machine needle.



  1. Pull back the hem and double check that the previous stitch line matches up with the chalked hem marking.


  1. Trim off the excess fabric; about ¼ of an inch away from your stitch line.


  1. Finish the raw edges. Run the raw edge through the serger for a fast professional finish or choose an edge finishing stitch on the sewing machine like a zigzag stitch or over-lock stitch.


  1. Press along the stitch line, making sure the original hem hangs correctly.


  1. Press the hem allowance the opposite direction of the hem. If you are concerned about the hem allowance falling down, tack the hem allowance at the inseam and outside leg seam.



  1. That’s it! Think of the money you will save hemming your own jeans! Here is the view with one pant leg hemmed and one original. You can just barely see the folded edge at the new hemline, but remember the hemline is at your feet and most people are not going to bend down to check your seamstress work.




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  • If you fold the seam down into the hem line after ripping it open you can sew it inside the hem and no one will ever know. YouTube magic hem jeans.

    • Hello Huntseat –
      You are correct! This is an alternate way to hem if you are willing to undo the existing hem.
      Many people do not want to un-stitch the existing hem as they like the heavier weight thread used on the original hem and may not be able to find the same or similar thread easily available. However, if you are willing to do so, this is an excellent way to finish the hem. Thank you for sharing!

    • Huntseat, I could not remember the name of that Magic Hem technique. Thanks for sharing the link info. I viewed the YT tutorial by Sewing Education Center (little Asian man wearing a beret). He is a great teacher! I have confidence I can do the “harder technique” that he shows.

      I can also use this Brother Sews technique for my older “wear at home only” jeans to save time.

    • Hi Dianne –

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad that you are finding Stitching Sewcial helpful as you join us in this world of sewing. Keep in mind that we have a new Quick Tip every Saturday, and new posts every week to learn from. We have skill building tutorials, projects and videos.

      Happy Sewing!

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