shorten-the-jeans-dont-lose-the-hem

You know what I mean. 

I don’t know about you, but I dreaded the “oh my mom hemmed my jeans” look like it was the plague.  Funny story about jeans, actually. 

Back when the trend was going from tapered to wide leg and flare jeans, I decided it would be a good idea to cut my jeans at summer camp.  You know, to create a grungy, flared look.  I grabbed a pair of scissors and cut a nice 3″ slice by the inside seam of my jeans.  I wore those jeans all week with pride…and when I returned home my mom happily sewed them back up — much to my angst — and left me with even more tapered jeans that I had before.  

Ha.  Oooooh the teenage years.  If I had just had the confidence to believe I was ahead of the trend!  About 10 years ahead of the trend. Looks always come full circle, right?  Well, I’m hoping some don’t….

wow. I digress!

Besides my apparent dislike for tapered jeans, I also couldn’t stand the look of jeans that were shortened.  There is just something about the way jeans are hemmed when you purchase them that you can’t replicate at home.  If you can, someone let me in on the secret!  A few years ago, I decided to tackle figuring out how to shorten my jeans, and after ruining a pair, I successfully shortened the rest using this technique.  (One thing to note — this technique works well on jeans because the denim material hides the seam created so well.  If you need to shorten dress pants, that will be another tutorial for another time.)

It’s because of this crazy pickiness I possess, that I’m beyond excited about sharing today’s tutorial with you.  I want to show you how simple it can be to fix clothes we aren’t wearing due to tiny problems — the maxi dress that is too short, for example — and now jeans that are too long.  

I think so many of us have a sewing machine sitting in a closet somewhere, but we are too scared to use it.  I totally get that.  Sewing feels a bit like walking to me, it is just something I do, but I have about 3 pieces of furniture in various states of being refinished…because I’m scared, terrified, clueless, nervous and well, want to guess how I procrastinate?

I sew.

whoops!  

It doesn’t hurt my procrastination by snowing either…. kind of hard to be outside sanding when it’s 30 degrees!

So today. Today I want to show you the easiest tutorial, but one that almost all of us can put to good use!  Unless you’re my sister or my sister in law who never find themselves in a “these jeans are too short!” dilemma.  Ever.  Lucky gals, if you ask me!

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This pair of jeans has been hanging in my closet for an embarrassing amount of time…unworn.  Well, I maybe wore them a few times with wedges or heels, but my days of heel-wearing have dropped drastically since becoming a mom.  So I don’t need more than maybe 1 or 2 pair of dressier, longer length jeans to wear with heels.  

As you can see, they are kind of unwearable long — like about 4-5 inches too long.  Yikes.  Now you see why they’ve been hanging in my closet for so long!

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Harlow wanted to show you her jeans too, but she was in her nightgown the other morning when Andy nabbed these photos.  She declared, “I has no pants on!”  ’tis true, Harlow.  ’tis true!

So let’s begin!

shorten-the-jeans-wo-the-hem1

|| SUPPLIES || 

  • jeans that are too long
  • navy thread
  • sewing machine
  • pins
  • sewing gauge
  • cute toddler

Okay, you obviously don’t need the toddler, but I have been loving sewing with “her help” lately.  I give her fabric scraps, and she matches colors and makes patterns on the floor while I sew.  One of these days, I need to quilt together some concoction she puts together. 

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1| Begin by deciding how short to tailor your jeans.  You can try to attempt this step on your own by simply rolling up your jeans to where you want them to sit.  I have found that it’s always good to then have someone else check the length and maybe even add a few pins or clips to hold that length in place as you take them off to sew. 

I wouldn’t recommend trying to tailor these while you are still wearing them.  I don’t even want to know if someone has successfully attempted that. 

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2| I have begun a new habit of always putting a new sewing needle on my machine for a new project – in moderation.  If I’m sewing a new quilt or big project, I have found that I have way less frustration if I adhere to this rule.  Changing out your needle to a jeans needle isn’t a total necessity, but I would recommend using something bigger than a 80/12.  

Have I totally lost you?  Sewing needle sizing can be a bit confusing.  The first number, the 80 or 100 in this case, refers to the size of the needle in metric measurement (0.8 mm).  The 12 or 16 or other smaller number is the standard “American” sizing equivalent.  Seems a bit convoluted if you ask me, but just remember 80/12.  80/12 is going to be your go-to needle for standard weights and materials.  Smaller numbers mean small needles: use these needles on lighter weight fabrics.  Larger numbers mean larger needles: use these needles on heavier duty fabrics.  If you are a nerd like me and want to know even more, Schmetz has this great PDF all about sewing needle facts.  Yup.  Perfect for the nerd like me. 

Change out your needle and thread your machine!

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3|| Using your sewing gauge, measure around the bottom of your jeans to be sure you have the length even around the entire cuff.  *The more flared the jean combined with the amount you need to shorten will impact the excess fabric you need to work in.  I used my walking foot for this pair of jeans, but I would recommend using your standard foot if you need to work in a lot of excess fabric due to the flare of the jeans.*
 
sew it up collage
4|| Sew as close as you can to the fold of your existing hem without sewing on it — I keep my stitch length at 2.5.  Use a navy or thread that matches the shade of your jeans: we want this seam to virtually disappear!  Go slowly as you reach the inside and outside seams, so you can match them up as you go.  We are almost finished!  
 
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5|| Get out your iron!  Some day I’ll sit down and share my 2 cents about what tiny steps can take your sewing projects from “Oh cute, that’s homemade!” to “Wait.  You made that? no way!”  Ironing?  huge huge huge!  Iron that seam so it lays nice and flat. 
 
See what I mean about a hem that you can’t replicate at home?  I know I could go grab a rock out back and try to wear it down to a slight fray like that, but even when I’ve tried to use heavy duty thread, my thread and seams still don’t look like these.  Just a fact of life, I guess. 
 
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You are finished! -ish.  
 
Try on your jeans before sewing the other leg!  Try them on with a pair of shoes you envision wearing with these jeans.  I love love love – did I say love? – the fact that you don’t have to fully commit to this length when you use this method!  From here, you can sew the other leg as we did the first.  
 
If you are 100% happy with the length, go ahead and cut down the extra fabric inside.  You can serge or zigzag stitch the edges to avoid fraying, if you’d like.  I typically give the jeans I’ve hemmed a quick ironing at the bottoms before wearing them after washing — I should probably do that with all my jeans, but I’m lazy. 
 
If you aren’t quite sure about the length — maybe you’re thinking you might want to give them 1/2″-1″ of length back?  Wear them for a few days with the extra fabric!  I actually have a few pairs of jeans I only shortened by about 2 inches, so I just leave the extra fabric inside.  I actually like the weight it gives the bottom of my jeans, and I find that they lay nicely on my shoes at the length I want them to be.  It’s the little things, right?  But if you decide you want to rip out this seam and lengthen them a bit more?  You can do that, unlike if you’d already chopped off the bottom to hem them.  Amazing, I tell you. 
 
shorten-the-jeans-like-a-ninja
 
 
What do you think?  Ready to dust off the sewing machine sitting in your closet to give it a go?  Let me know if you have any questions!  Or if you post a photo of your finished jeans, be sure to let me know!  I can’t wait to see!
 
xo
kaciasignature
 
I was provided a Brother DZ3000 for this sponsored tutorial.  All photos and opinions are my own. 

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