Thursday, July 2, 2009

SAAS (Sewing at Any Size): Shorten your jeans without looking like you have

Welcome to my Series on Sewing at Any Size. You can access the rest of the SAAS series by clicking on the topic link on the side bar.

The series is a form of peaceful protest against the terrible, cheap, overpriced, ugly stuff that passes for plus size fashion these days. Anyone can make basic wardrobe elements to fit their body without trying to track down commercial patterns (a nightmare for anyone over a US size 24).

As this may eventually become a book, please do not reprint or republish this anywhere else. You may, of course print for your own personal use!

How to Hem Jeans (without looking like you've hemmed your jeans!)

Scenario: The jeans fit perfectly, but are too long. Unless you have a machine that can go through four layers of heavy denim for a proper french cuff, you’ll be stuck with the dreaded “I can’t find clothes that fit me” look of a homemade hem.

Solution: You can hide the shortening seam right above the original cuff for a store-bought look.
Measure the length of the leg, then determine how long you want the leg to be. Subtract the latter from the former and divide by two.

For instance, if I have a 34” long pair of jeans and need it to be 30”, I subtract 30 from 34 and divide by two for a total of 2”.

We’ll call this number “A”.

Fold the bottom hem of the leg up with the right side together until there are “A” inches showing between the inside edge of the original hem and the fold.

Pin up, measuring every time to prevent the hem from becoming uneven. Stitch as close as possible to the bottom of the original hem line; the stitches should be almost right on top of each other if possible (Red dashed line below).

Right next to this line of stitches, run another line of zig-zag (/\/\/\/\/\/\) or overlock (____) stitches to prevent the denim from fraying.

Cut off the folded denim close to the zig-zag or overlock stitches, being careful not to cut the stitches themselves.

Fold the original hem back down over the stitches and iron flat.


Anonymous said...

This is genius. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Yay! I just did a little SAAS, myself, recently.

I am large of butt and (comparatively) small of waist, and I always get that damned annoying gap at the back of my jeans. So I took in a couple of darts in the back, and voila. Perfecto.

Simple fixes like this can really make all the difference.

FrumpyGibbon said...

Wow. I am going to try this. I have a pair of jeans that's been sitting in my wardrobe for a couple of months now waiting for me to hem them, but I haven't because I hate the "homemade hem" look.


Mrs. M said...

Thanks! I have a couple pair of my husband's jeans I'm going to try this on!

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for this! I took up my new jeans using this method over the weekend and I am sooo pleased with the results! I have been showing anyone and everyone. It was really easy, and you can't tell that they've been taken up, unless you look really really closely.

Also, sorry to be picky but you might want to change this:
Scenario: The jeans fit perfectly, but are too short.

Please keep up your SAAS posts, I love them!

JoGeek said...


oops! Thanks for the catch! I changed the text to "long".

Anonymous said...

I just found your blog and I'm loving it! I haven't sewn in ages but I think it's time to start again. Can I request a simple trouser pattern? I'm in desparate need of work pants but can't find a damn thing in the stores!