Sunday, November 2, 2014

Keeping the Factory Hem When Shortening Jeans- A Tutorial

I've spent my life hemming pants and while I'm pretty happy with the way I do a blind hem, I don't like that look on jeans.  I want the hem to have the yellow thread that jeans have when they are hemmed at the factory.  Otherwise, it looks like you hemmed them and that's cheesy.

I've tried buying thread that looks like the special jeans hemming thread, but nothing works.  Everything's too thin and doesn't quite look right.

Somewhere on the web, I read someone's tutorial for hemming jeans while keeping the factory hem and I'm really happy with how it works, so I will share my version here.

Since I already had a pair of jeans that I had hemmed to the right length, I just took the new jeans and matched them in the exact places (these are the same exact jeans, so it worked) and got to work.  If they were a different style or brand, or if I hadn't made a pair to the right length, I would have tried them on, pinned them, tried them on, pinned them, tried them on, pinned them about 40 times.

You might have to do that too.

Then I like to cut them right where the factory hem is going to go, where I put the red arrow.
I always just do one leg and then try it on to make sure it's right before I cut the other one.

You're left with this.
You'd think I bought LONG jeans but they are just regular!  Cut the extra fabric to just a half inch above the factory hem.

Now, if you cut one leg and hem it and then do the other, you will be less likely to mess up the next part.  I don't know if you can see it in the above picture, but there is a direction to the fold of that outside stitching on the leg.  If you cut both legs at the same time, you might mix them up and put them going the wrong way.

Also, these particular jeans have one style of topstitching on the outside of the leg and a different one on the inside.  If you're trying to keep this looking original, make sure you get the right one in the right place.  Not that I'd know anything about putting the wrong part on the wrong side...

Next, put the right sides of the cuff and the jeans together so you can sew on the hem.  It's really important that you line up the seams on the legs and the cuff so that it remains looking factory made.    I always pin the entire thing.  These jeans are stretchy, so they work well for matching everything up.

Usually, I have this at my machine to help me sew, but for this project, you actually want to take it away, unless you have a machine that's recessed into the table.  It will still work, but I like to put the leg opening right over that part of the machine to keep everything from shifting.

For this hem, you don't have to worry about getting an exact color.  Something in the ball park is fine because unless the cuff gets really stretching, you wouldn't see it. I wouldn't recommend white, but any dark color works.

I put that line of my presser foot right on the edge of the original hem so that the needle falls just to the right of the hem as I sew.  Since this is not really denim, because no jeans made of actual denim exist anymore, I didn't use a special jeans foot.  Even this big seam here isn't too hard to go over because it's a thin, stretchy denim.  If you were doing "real" jeans made of thicker denim, you might want to hand roll it through or use a jeans foot if you have one.

When you're done, flip it around and tug on it to make sure everything is as you want it.  If you look very closely, you can see the line where the jeans meet the cuff but if anyone is every that close to your hem, you've got bigger problems than I can help you with.

Since I'm a professional tailor in my mind, I like to run the work through the serger so it doesn't unravel and looks nicer.  You could do a zigzag on your machine if you don't have a serger.  It's a bonus that I happened to have dark thread in the serger because I've been known to use any color for this part.

One pair of jeans that I hemmed this way insisted on flipping up, so I've devised a way to sort of prevent that.

Once you've serged or zigzagged, flip it up so that it's inside your pantleg.  Where my thumbnail is, I sew about an inch back and forth a couple of time to secure it.  I "stitch in the ditch" which means my needle goes right into the factory made seam on the pantleg and that helps to secure the flap so it doesn't peek out.  I do it on both sides.

One word of caution.  Since you are only securing that flap on each side, that leaves a lovely amount of fold to get your toes stuck in if you are trying to throw on a pair of jeans really quickly and you might take a tumble.  Not  that I'd know anything about that firsthand....

I haven't done this on any other kind of pants but if you wanted to do it on something like a pair of chinos, I would say you should only do it on darker colors.  I think it might be more obvious on a pair of khakis.

I did this same technique recently when I hemmed the sleeves on a jacket for someone and it came out fine.  The original cuff is still there and I attached it just like this and loved how it came out.

Linking here:

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for a great tutorial on hemming jeans and keeping the factory seam. I'm sure this will help a lot of people. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick


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