The Easiest Way To Hem Jeans That Are Too Long

25 Minutes

Tired of wearing jeans that are too long for you? This brilliant sewing hack makes it easy to adjust the length while keeping the look of the original hem!

I have thrifted many pairs of denim jeans for both myself and my kids over the years. Back when it felt like my kids had orchestrated a never-ending chain reaction of growth spurts, those thrifted jeans kept them clothed during a time when we could rarely afford to “splurge” on new clothes.

But while our thrifted jeans were affordable and got the job done, they rarely fit as well as we would have liked them to. For me, it was always an issue with the length. (Standard-length jeans are always too short for me, but long-length jeans are often a bit too long. Curse these slightly too-long legs!)

Even though I’ve always been a fairly competent seamstress, I never bothered trying to hem jeans. Because let’s face it, even if you can find that signature gold thread, a newly constructed hem is never going to look as neat or professional as the original one.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that I learned about a way to hem jeans while preserving the original hem. While I can’t go back in time and save myself and my kids from our needlessly ill-fitting jeans, what I can do is pass this brilliant trick onto all of you. :-) I know you’ll find it just as useful as I have!

How To Hem Jeans (While Preserving The Original Hem)

You’ll need:

  • Jeans
  • Sewing machine
  • Sewing pins
  • Clothes iron
  • Scissors (optional)
  • Fabric adhesive (optional)

Step 1 – Measure & Pin

Start by putting the jeans on so you can figure out where you want the new hem to be. (If you envision wearing a certain pair of shoes with this particular pair of jeans, wearing those can be helpful too!)

Guidelines For Hemming Different Styles

  • You already know your jeans are too long, but you might not be sure exactly where the hem should go! Use these guidelines as a starting point when deciding where the new hem should fall (but feel free to adjust from there to suit your own preferences):
  • Skinny Jeans – Hem should fall at the top of your ankle
  • Straight Jeans – Hem should fall at the bottom of your ankle
  • Bootcut/Flared Jeans – Hem should fall 1/4-1/2″ off the ground

When you’ve decided where you want the new hemline to fall, fold the bottoms of your jeans up so that the existing hem lines up with where you want the new hem to go. Keep in mind that you’re going to sew right alongside the existing hemline, so it’s important to line it up correctly.

Once the bottoms are folded, take the jeans off. Make sure to line up the side seams of the jeans, then use sewing pins to pin the hem in place.

Step 2 – Sew

Next, it’s time to sew! Thread your sewing machine with any thread you have on hand, since it won’t actually show when you’re done.

Carefully sew a straight line directly below the original hem. (I found that if I removed the front piece of my sewing machine, I could actually slip the pant leg around the sewing area and make the process much easier!)

Step 3 (Optional) – Remove Excess Fabric

After you’ve sewed the new hemline, you have two options for the excess fabric. You can leave it alone, tuck it up into the pant leg, and proceed right on to Step 4.

The other option is to remove the excess fabric by cutting it off with scissors. If you choose to cut the excess fabric off, either use fabric adhesive or a zigzag stitch along the cut edge to prevent fraying.

Step 4 – Finish Up

Lastly, unfold the bottoms of your jeans and iron the hem down. (Don’t skip this step—it makes a huge difference!) Your jeans are now hemmed to perfection, and nobody will be any the wiser. :-)

Have you ever tried hemming jeans before?

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2 of 6 comments
  • Red Red on Feb 01, 2022

    Yes, I will try to hem this way. However, the fabric adhesive will come loose if you use fabric softener.

  • Racing1422 Racing1422 on Feb 10, 2022

    I have tried hemming jeans but I find that my machine does not like going over the seams on the inside and outside of the legs. It is just too bulky for my machine. Do you have any suggestions?