Sewing Blog

How to Hem a Pair of Jeans: Fast & Easy

Let’s face it, everyone wears jeans. Young, old and especially anyone in between wears them for just about any occasion. Jeans are typically manufactured in very long lengths, so shortening them is a common necessity. Surprisingly, jeans are one of the easiest of pants to hem and it is rather easy to learn how to hem a pair of jeans with little sewing. Why anyone would pay $20 to $30 to have this fast and easy task done for them is mind-boggling. It really is that simple. No hand stitching is involved and within an hour the task is complete.

Pair of Jeans - How to Hem a Pair of Jeans

Here’s a quick and easy way to hem a pair of jeans:

Want to keep the original hem instead? Check out this tutorial on hemming jeans with the original hem. 

Step 1:

The first step in hemming blue jeans is to determine the desired length. If making that determination on yourself, there a few ways to do it.

The easiest way is to take a pair of jeans you already know are the correct length and measure the inseam of both legs. Using that measurement, mark each inseam of the pants to be shortened with either a pin, fabric pen or chalk. Measure the distance from the new mark to the current hem. Using that measurement, turn up the hem of each leg and pin in place.

Try on the jeans to make sure the hem length is where you want it. Look to be sure the hem on both legs is the same length and that the hem is parallel to the ground all the way around both legs. Make adjustments where necessary — this is a trial and error sort of task.

Step 2:

Some people prefer to have the back portion of the jeans a bit longer to accommodate a high heel. If that is the case, make the appropriate adjustment. Once the final length is determined and securely pinned in place, steam press the hem to get a strong and clearly visible crease.

Marking a Pair of Jeans to Hem

Step 3:

Cut away the excess hem. Using the pressed hemline as your guide, mark a cutting line 1 1/8″ above the hemline with a chalk pen, fabric pen or tailor’s chalk. Since the line will never show, even a regular pen will do.

Measuring with a Seam Gauge

Step 4:

Using the marked cutting line, trim away the excess.

Pinning the Hem - How to Hem a Pair of Jeans

Step 5:

Using the pressed hem crease as your guide, fold up the raw edge to the crease line.

Step 6:

Fold the hem once more and pin in place.

Machine Stitching the Hem

Step 6:

Stitch the hem close to the folded edge. Since a double turned hem creates a rather thick layer at the side seam line, use a clearance plate to level off the sewing machine foot. This will facilitate the foot’s ability to sew over the thick hump of fabric and keep the stitches uniform. And, that’s all there is to hemming a pair of jeans!

Machine Stitching Hem Close to Folded Edge

Learn how to sew your own one-of-a-kind jeans complete with all the high-end details you love (for a fraction of the cost!) in Angela Wolf’s Craftsy class Sewing Designer Jeans. Also be sure to check out Pants Fitting Techniques with Sandra Betzina

Do you have any hemming tips to share?



If hemming thick stiff denim, press and steam press the hem before stitching. Pressing first makes the denim compressed and move through the machine easier.


What is that foot you are using on your sewing machine, that one is new to me. Is that a sort of ‘hump jumper’ on the back?

judy hayes

I love the nice visual you have presented. I have been working in alterations for many years, and you are so right about cost. I even encourage my clients to get a sewing machine and try it for themselves. I would add one tip, with all the nice pressing work on the hem it would be nice to use a 14 or 16 needle and topstitch with heavy jean thread.
The client usually likes us to copy as close to the original hem as we can.
Or you could use the EURO hem, if you want that distressed look.
Also, Angela Wolf’s Class on alterations, she shows a very professional segment on hemming jeans. ( which I signed up an took , awesome)
Thanks for great detail
Judy H sewing in NH


To reduce the thickness especially at side seams, I only turn up the hem once. I finish the edge with my serger, then no worries about ravelling or thick side seams. If you do not have a serger, you can zig zig the cutting line, trim it and proceed to hem. Works link a charm.


Another great tip is before stitching on your machine, use a hammer and pound out the bulky seam. This will break down the fibers and allow your needle (I prefer the jeans needle 16 -18) to go through easily. Also, it makes a nice hem to match the color of thread to the contrast stitching. If necessary, use two thread spools for your top stitch to get the right look.

sue buchannan

never heard of a clearance plate does it have another name???


I have sewing and doing alterations for years. I use
A “jean-a-majig”. Works great over the thick seams.


I also use the Jean-a-majig, which is great, 16-18 needle and heavy thread which matches the top stitching.


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