In this penultimate edition of our Sewing Basics series, we’ll teach you how to hem jeans. Learning how to hem a pair of jeans may not seem like a useful skill, but stay with us for a moment. It’s hard to understate the joy of owning a go-to pair of perfectly fitting jeans, the ones that go with absolutely everything and make getting ready in the morning approximately 75% less stressful. 

Knowing how to alter jeans also means you can tailor them to your body and not the other way around. Found the perfect pair that make your bum look incredible but they’re pooling around your ankles? No problem, just follow the instructions below and have your perfect pair of jeans in a jiffy. 

Gather your materials.

To hem your jeans, you will need: measuring tape, scissors, pins, a fabric marker, a safety pin, thread (usually orange), and a needle or sewing machine.

Mark your hemline.

The first step in learning to hem a pair of jeans is to measure and mark where the hem will go. While wearing the jeans, use a fabric marker to draw or use a safety pin to pin up the correct amount by which you want to take the jeans up. Do this only on one leg to avoid confusion.

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Jeans |

Then, after you’ve taken the jeans off, measure the extra fabric with your tape measure and use your fabric marker to mark all around the leg of the jeans, making sure it is the same amount around both legs. 

Trim the excess fabric.

The next step is to get rid of the pesky fabric you keep treading on. To do this, turn the jeans inside out. Be sure to leave enough excess fabric to fold over twice; each of the folds should be around 1-1.5cm in thickness. If there is too much extra fabric, trim the excess.

Fold up and pin the hem.

To begin sewing your jeans hem, turn the excess fabric up inside the leg, folding on the marking lines and pin the fold in place.

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Jeans |

Thread your needle.

Thread your needle with a similar colour to the rest of the thread on your jeans -- this is traditionally a golden dark orange. Make a knot at the end of the thread to avoid it going straight through the fabric. For specific reference on how to thread a needle, refer to our first Sewing Basics article, How to Repair a Seam by Hand.

Begin your stitch.

To hem the jeans, stitch right around the fold -- about 0.4cm from the edge of the top of the folded fabric not the bottom (the closest bit to your feet). To create a durable backstitch, push the needle into the fabric where you want to start the seam and join the two pieces of fabric. Bring the needle back through both layers of fabric just in front of the previous stitch to create a strong backstitch. This is very similar to a machine sewn stitch. 

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Jeans |

Finish the stitch.

Push the needle back into the fabric between where the needle came in and out of the fabric to create the first stitch. Then, bring the needle up through the fabric, creating the same amount of distance from where you sewed the first stitch. These stitches can be as tight or as spaced out as you want, just make sure they’re all even once you decide. Remember to remove the pins as you sew and create a double stitch where the stitching starts and ends.


Now that you’ve successfully hemmed one side of your jeans, simply repeat steps three to five on the other leg.

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Jeans |

Give it a professional finish.

When you’ve completed the hem on both legs of the jeans, finish the repair like a pro. Grab yourself a warm iron and press the hems. Now slip those jeans on and go out and conquer the world.

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Jeans |

The Clothes Doctor is an award-winning online clothing maintenance service, operating nationwide with offices and workshops in London and Cornwall. Their mission is to keep as many pieces of your favourite clothing out of landfill as possible by offering a unique and easy-to-use service. Simply order online, they'll collect your clothing, alter or fix it and then they'll deliver it back to you. They never use any unnecessary packaging and your mending is guaranteed for six months.

August 23, 2019 — Amanda Saxby