Tuesday, May 5, 2009

A Tutorial - Hemming Jeans - a quilters technique

While at a sewing class last week, I commented to the quilter next to me, that on my list of things to do was hemming jeans. She and then others jumped in, that they feared doing jeans on their sewing machines because of the thick seams. So I said I'd show them how I do it.

Here is my quick way for hemming jeans. I've tried many ways, and have been using this method for the past 10 years. Beware this is a long post... Simple technique, but many pictures.

First set up your sewing machine to do a straight stitch. I use a stitch length of 3.0 and a heavier needle. A jeans needle or topstitch needle if you have one.

Next, measure your jeans. For my husband, I have him stand on the floor in his sock feet and I pin up the jeans 1 inch above the floor. Then lay the jeans out on the ironing board and fold up the other leg so both are even. Iron up the hemline on both legs. Give a really good pressssssss... I use steam too... See the line it makes. This is a good guide.


Next, cut about 1 inch down from the pressed line. I just eyeball it. But measure if you must. Set aside the bottom of the pantleg for a recycle project.


Next take small snips about half an inch long, on either side of the bulky seams. Total of 4 slits on each leg.


You can see the slits are on each side of the seam, about half way to the pressed hemline.


Next, tuck in the raw edge of the hem so it is folded in so that your one inch of hem is now about a half an inch. Leave the thick seam sticking up. Do not fold it under.


Pin all around. Notice that I pin with the heads of the pins sticking towards me, so I can easily remove them as I sew.


Next, using ORANGE thread in the top and bobbin, sew near the top of tucked in fold all around the hem. In the early days, I was matchy matchy and used light blue thread. It looked awful. Orange is the color to use. Unless, the jeans you are hemming were originally hemmed with a different color like white. I would use that as a guideline.


Stitch right over the seams. Most sewing machines don't have trouble with two layers of seams.


Snip off the portion of the seam that is sticking out.




Voila.
Your jeans are hemmed. Since it's the bobbin thread that shows on the outside hem of the jeans, I keep a bobbin of bright orange thread in my bobbin caddy at all times. I primarily use it only for jeans and I think I've been using the same bobbin for 5 years. If I had the 10 years of hemming jeans back, I think I would have found a heavier weight of orange thread and used that in my bobbin. When this bobbin runs out , I will refill with a heavier orange thread.

After Note: Denise left a comment that Joanns carrys Jeans thread. You can bet this will be on my list the next time I go to Joanns. Thanks Denise.

81 comments:

Vicki W said...

Excellent tutorial!

dp said...

Awesome ... neat idea about the inner leg seams. Iwouldn't of thought of that... makes total sense. I need to save this link!

Nancy said...

Have you tried this method for keeping the original hem on jeans?:

http://www.daciaray.com/?p=38

It's so much easier - no cutting required and you can hardly tell that it's been hemmed!

Linda H said...

This looks like a great method of hemming jeans, a job I have always hated! I can't wait to try it.

Diana said...

Wonderful tutorial! I will definitely use this method. Thanks

Jeanne said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I love your clipping trick and will use that next time I hem jeans.

casserole said...

Great tutorial! Good advice about keeping a bobbin of orange thread handy.

I posted a link to your tutorial on Craft Gossip Sewing Blog:
http://sewing.craftgossip.com/tutorial-hemming-a-pair-of-jeans/2009/05/12/
--Anne

Perrine said...

Hello!
I really like your how to. I was wondering if I could translate it in French and add it to my list of how to as explained in my french post (http://www.petitcitron.com/index.php/form_howto.html)
Of course, your website would be quoted and there would be a link!
Thank you,
Perrine

pattynubs said...

Duh? Why didn't I think of this? I have been sewing for decades and hemmed a gazillion pairs of jeans and nothing like this occured to me. Thanks to Vicki W. for linking this post to her blog! I can't wait until somebody needs a pair of jeans hemmed!

jovaliquilts said...

Thank you! That's terrific -- I have always been afraid to hem jeans, now I think I'll give it a try. Found this through a link on Vicki W's blog.

Beth- the mama bee said...

thanks! I'll be linking to my blog!

denise said...

Thanks for the tutorial. I wish I had seen it before I hemmed my jeans. I found "jean thread" at JoAnn's. It is the perfect weight and color for jeans.

amylee13 said...

Wow what a great tip! My husband and I are both short so I am constantly hemming things! Thank you!!

Anonymous said...

How very cool - I do a lot of alterations for others. this will help me considerably!

RootsAndWingsCo said...

LOVE IT!!!! I am going to have to hem some jean for fun so I can try this!

Thanks for making it look super easy.

Katrina

milafee said...

C'est géniale, thanks.

Grannie said...

Where were you 35 years ago :) Will share with the younger moms in our church. Thanks

Sweet Little Smoothie said...

Great tutorial! Hemming jeans always gives me a bit of an anxiety attack, so I tend to just wear heels instead (I'm a shortie). I will definitely try this out with my next jean purchase!

Jean from VA said...

Great idea. I also use a Jean A Ma Jig which works great by leveling the pressure foot. Not my idea but I love it.

Donna said...

Great tutorial. Just used to painlessly hem 2 pair of my daughters jeans. Super!

Donna said...

Great tutorial! Just painlessly shortened 2 pair of my daughters jeans and they look perfect. Thanks

Jo said...

Thank you for posting this tutorial and saving my poor old warhorse of a sewing machine many broken needles!!

Cindy said...

What a great way to hem jeans!

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Anonymous said...

Thank you soooooo much for this post, it is worth paying for if it was for sale, I have tried to hem jeans for years and had to much trouble, my husband has a longer torso with short legs and 29 length is to long I wish they made a 28, but anyway I have a big stack of jeans to hem and now I can get them done, thank you sooooo much.

KnitwitTeri said...

If your machine has a triple straight stitch it looks great for a hand hem, makes the thread look much thicker without having to deal with difficult threads.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great clip tip! I will definitely give it a try! I also sew hems on the inside of the pant leg! It makes hemming so much easier ... I don't know who or why anyone ever showed me to turn them inside out first ... but I digress. Inside of the pant leg is the BEST!

OKAY ~ So, I may not be the 'brightest bulb in the bunch' tonight ... but why would I want to use bright orange thread on jeans? When she says 'bright orange' thread I think she is referring to the orange color in the 8 count of Crayola crayons or maybe even the orange-red color in the bigger packs. I've never seen 'normal everyday' jeans with orange thread. They use a mustard/beige color in most pairs I've seen. It is available to purchase at sewing supply stores.

Personally my dang sewing machine just gets all knotted up when I try to use any heavier weight thread than 'normal.' I excitedly bought the jeans thread because I was doing so many jeans ... and even with the size 18 needle it wouldn't work. :(

Thanks again for the great tips!

Debbie said...

Wonderful idea, thanks for sharing but I'd love to add one step.

After you've turn under the raw edges leaving the little flap unturned, using a hammer, gently tap the area around the flap. This flattens the seam making it easier to machine stitch.

Mona said...

Wow! I've hemmed 100s of jeans in my life.... Wish I'd seen this years ago.

Mary Tyree said...

I would probably add a little Fray Check on the raw edges, just as a precaution against raveling. I, also, have a Jeans Jig that allows me to travel smoothly over the thick layers.

Lulu said...

The hem will stand out less if you choose a thread that matches what the manufacturer used for the original hem or the same color as the design on the pocket. 😊

Iolanda Di Giambatista said...

Ho accorciato molti jeans, anche per lavoro e molte volte ho avuto difficoltà sulle cuciture doppie, ma non ho mai usato questo metodo! Mi sembra una buona idea da realizzare nei casi più estremi. Grazie.

Anonymous said...

Great idea

Janet said...

Love the seam trick! Istead of heavier thread you can use the triple stitch function most machines have. It's what I do and it looks very authentic.

Genie said...

So I tried this tonight, and mind you....I am sewing-challenged so not surprised at all that it didn't work.
I used jeans thread and a 16 needle, and my underside stitches were perfect but the stitches on the visible side were horrible. I tore them out so many times and redid after reating about thread tension and finally gave up. I think I used a 4 stitch size. I even tried regular thread in the bobbin and still the stitches were awful. What am I still doing wrong???? This cannot possibly be that hard!!!!!

Mrs. Catalogue said...

That was great and easy to follow. Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. After years of hemming jeans, this is the best hint I've seen. Thank you!

Rochelle Oliver said...

This is the best hint for hemming jeans or twill pants ever! Thanks for posting!

Anonymous said...

There is a better way...fold the hem of your jeans, pin if needed, place the folded hem on a sturdy surface and whack with a hammer until the folded hem is flat! Your machine will "walk" right over the thick seam, every time!

liniecat said...

A cracking idea this!
And way less aggressive than hammering lol

titan tina said...

What an ingenious idea... Thanks so much for sharing!
Greetings from Austria!

Gertrude Welsh said...

Great tutorial. I will give this a try. I always use my husband's vice and squeeze the seams flat. That really helps and is apparently what they do at the factories. My old Sewing machine could sew over Jean seams with no problem, but not my new one. Sigh.

Sarah Myers said...

I am fairly short so have had to hem jeans all my life and hated every minute of it. Thank you so much for showing me a new and easier way to do it!

Kate said...

How clever - thank you!

Anonymous said...

Brilliant - thank you! I am going to try this tomorrow. Really clear and easy to follow. Sarah UK x

Deborah Swann said...

Shouldn't I need to worry about fraying right below part snipped off?

delores bruyette said...

Its a long way to the bottom of this post, but I had to say thanks. I notice you said to eye ball the length but I don't do that to well so I used a magic marker and put a black dot 1/2 inch on the top blade of my sissors . it helped with the distance and I can use a magic eraser to take it off when Im done. thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Everyone brings their jeans to me to hem...thank you thank you! Great tips!

Paula said...

Hi Genie😀!
I do hope you haven't given up on sewing! It can be a very relaxing and rewarding hobby, activity, or job!

First, look at your owners manuel, the section on cleaning and caring for your machine. Make sure it's clean and oiled properly if it's needed. Now, go to the section on setting the tension, both top and bottom. You'll need a few different weight fabrics and threads to practice with and plenty of TIME. Never try to learn anything new in a hurried atmosphere! Find a time when YOU are calm, relaxed, and quiet. You should be able to enjoy yourself. Start out making certain your machine is threaded and the bobbin is inserted properly. Next, check your owners manuel for the suggested tension settings for the fabric you are about to practice with, then set the tension and your stitch size. Now see a line of stitches and see how they look. If they aren't right start over with your tension settings, those in your manuel are ONLY a suggested guide. If they're to loose tighten the tension, to tight, constantly breaking your thread, loosen the tension. This is a PRACTICE to learn how to work with your machine. If you begin to get frustrated, walk away, do something else until you've calmed down, it's just practicing. When you feel like you are ready to try again, go back, just don't give up! You can do this! You can learn to sew! Just stay calm, don't even begin to try if you're already frustrated over something else. Take your time and most of all, enjoy yourself! Take care, Paula

Paula said...

Thank you for the best sewing tip I've gotten in years! I'm sure I'll be using it often. I really appreciate it!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tip I have 3 pair on my sewing machine to hem today. W
ill definitely try this. I always kept a hammer by my machine to pound the thick seams. It works but no more pounding lol

Silver Sewer said...

Wonderful method. I wish I knew it 50 years and 1000 pair of jeans ago. Another trick - I clip the seam allowance at the hem line, turn one seam allowance to the other side, so I'm sewing over only one seam allowance at a time. Thanks, Betty R.

Silver Sewer said...

I also use seam binding or hem tape to reduce the bulk all the way around. At the inside regular seam, clip the seam allowance on the hemline, and turn the seam allowance on the bottom edge to the other side to reduce bulk. Silver Sewer.

Linda said...

I just saw this same technique on "Sewing with Nancy." Sure is a good way to reduce the bulk.

Anonymous said...

Laying jeans around cement and hitting it with a hammer, flattens it right out. And old butterwick sewing tip. I made mine from scratch. This step is good as well.

Audrey said...

Brilliant! I found this on Pinterest and wish I'd have found it sooner!!

pat said...

I also hem jeans like you showed. When I finish the hem,I use fray check on the piece you clip off on the seam.

maimie said...

The orange colour thread is actually called 'Old Gold' ... and I too keep a bobbin with this colour permanently on it!
Great tip about the side seam,'I don't know how many needles I've broken powering over all those layers.

Lorelei Steinhagen said...

Great tutorial!
My husband has been walking on the bottom of his jeans and i HATE the look.
I am going to take care of the do to your Great tutorial!

Anonymous said...

Great idea. I usually don't have much of an issue hemming jeans but I have a pair of flannel lined ones that I've been wearing too long for too long because I didn't want to face all of those layers at the seam.

PS I keep some "just the right colour" DMC Perle #12 wound onto a bobbin for hemming denim jeans.

SYLVIA MURRAY said...

I just tried this method on a pair of my husband's jeans and it was SO easy! Thanks for a great tutorial...you have changed my life! Now I can get on and do all my sons' jeans and no more ragged hems.

Pat Close said...

Thanks, I will do this. I have to hem all my jeans, as I am short. I also hem jeans for my cousin. This will help me a lot.

Beate Grabowski said...

super---werde ich jetzt auch so machen ---lg beate

Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot! I have never done this in such an easy way. I'll rell my sewingfriends here in Holland.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to try this technique the next time I have to hem jeans! Looks like it's going to work

Anonymous said...

If you have jeans that were hemmed in white or off white thread and you want to have a heavier thread to duplicate the original look use some crochet thread. I use the thinnest crochet thread available in my bobbin & it looks great.

Cheryl Harcourt said...

I thread two strands of regular thickness cotton through a jeans needle which gives the chunky thread look.

Anonymous said...

Excellent, thanks!

Tina Wilson said...

to hem jeans pin hem, do not cut out double seam fold ,pin take as mall hammer hit double seam I or 2 times to soften fabric but to break thread go slow sewing over double seam DO NOT USE MACHINE TO HIT ON,. use a wood or small metal to use under fabric to hit on , this has worked for me for over 40 years .

afromdc said...

Thanks it will help me a lot trying to go over those seams was awful.

Monika Viera said...

Nice way you addressed the double layer (which really is 4 layers) folded seam. I will try your method for my next jeans hemming request. Gracias! for sharing your knowledge with us.--Kindly, Mon

Linda Lou said...

I found your post just in time, I have two pair of jeans to hem. Thank you!!

Teresa Thomas said...

Sounds like a great idea! Thanks!I feel like I have hemmed thousands of jeans in my life time for myself and family members. Anxious to try this. Sometimes it's the simplest things that make the biggest difference.

Pam @Threading My Way said...

Very clever!!! I have been hemming jeans for MANY years, but have never seen this technique. Will try it on the next pair of jeans I hem.

Fátima said...

just saw this. It's amazing. Thank you

Samira Ali said...

Thank you, very clever

Quiltladybrk said...

I use my viking se and Ruby royal and my Janome 6500 quilter and it sews right over my Jean seams.If you have a light weight machine, it won't sew through it...this is where the saying" you get what you pay for" rings true. ..

Christine Leheny said...

Great tutorial. Coats and Clark makes a heavier weight thread just for jeans. I have tried it and it works well. Don't make the mistake of using it as your top thread like I did! Works best in the bobbin.

Debbie D said...

Amazing! I have never had such a professional finish on the all the jeans I have taken up. I used to hate having to take up all my family's jeans, now I can't wait for the next pair. So quick and easy. Thank you 😀😀😀

Laura Boltz said...

I would put a drop or two of Fray Check on the raw edge of the snipped seam. This will keep the raw edge from fraying when laundered.

Lisa Chavez said...

This is brilliant! Thank you for sharing. Now to that stack of jeans I've been ignoring.