How to Hem Jeans in 3 Easy Steps

**warning: this post is mostly for short people**

Mrs. Stephanie Court from Barefoot in the Kitchen was kind enough to lend me the following post. Contessa Court is a very accomplished seamstress, but I can personally verify that this technique is friendly and approachable (just like Stephanie). Follow these steps and soon your pant hem and leg lengths will be perfectly matched too.

“I never think of myself as short (I’m almost 5’3”) until I stand next to someone other than my kids (which doesn’t happen all that often). Or until I go shopping for jeans. This year I invested in a good pair of jeans. I love them. But, like most pants, they were about 2 inches too long. Since I am not a heels and jeans kind of girl, they had to be hemmed. This is how I did it:

Step 1: Determining the amount the jeans need to be shortened.

Try on the jeans with the shoes you will usually wear them with and cuff at desired length. (Make sure the cuff ends exactly where you want the finished hem to be.) Pin the cuff and remove the jeans. Measure the length of the cuff, ignoring the original hem. (see photo above) Divide that measurement in half and re-pin the cuff using the new measurement as the length of the new cuff, again ignoring the original hem.

Step 2: Sewing the new hem

Once the new cuff is pinned, it is time to sew. I like to use the zipper foot on my machine for this step. Sew the new cuff in place as close to the original hem as you can.

Step 3: Finishing

Now that you have sewn the cuff in place, you have a little fold of extra jean on the inside of the pants. This can be trimmed off, or tacked in place. I prefer to tack it in place so I don’t have to worry about unfinished ends raveling. (But before you do any of that, try on the jeans, again with your shoes, to make sure they are the right length.) To tack the fold in place, turn the jeans inside out. Press the fold in the direction of the waist of the jeans. Sew a few stitches at the side seams to hold the fold in place and out of the way of the hem.

To see your handiwork, turn the jeans right side out and ta-da! You have a “new” hem. Because we sewed the cuff in place close to the original hem, there is a seam there, but it is not very noticeable.”

My finished product:

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  1. says

    I’m 5’2″ and short legged to boot so you can bet I do some hemming.
    I’ve been using this method for years, works like a dream.

  2. says

    That is very clever. I bet it works good for childrens’ pants as well. Those are the ones that always seem to need hemming at my house. :)

  3. says

    I am 5’3″ and I am glad I am not any shorter, but for buying pants it is the worst. I find that I am too tall for petites but WAY to short for regular pants.

  4. says

    i’m used this method and it’s saved my life. i no longer turn into the mean girl shopping for jeans in a too-tall world. (fyi: you’ll find that you’ll have to iron the hem each time you wash it.)

  5. says

    This was very helpful. I wonder if it works for pants other than jeans as well. I have some linen slacks that are quite long – would this method work for those as well?


  6. says

    Oh wow! no more cutting and folding and trying to sew through so many layers of denim for me!

    Thanks from one who finds petite pants to be too long at times.

  7. says

    I think this originated from Z. Cavaricci. Remember those jeans? No, well, it was “back in the day.” Anyway, I’ve used this method and found that after several washings the hem sometimes tears right along the hemline, just like it’s following a little perforated line. A longer stitch length seems to help.

  8. says

    Thats a great way to hem pants. I havent tried it before but I am next time I need to hem something. I am 5’0″ so I usually need to go up 3-4 inches. I hate shopping for Jeans!

    I have found that New York & Co’s petite line is awesome! Sometimes I dont have to hem at all and the shirts actually fit me well. Plus their clothes are perfect for work and socializing!

  9. says

    I’m on the opposite end of the spectrum – most pants that fit my waist are WAY too short for my legs, and “tall” pants are just *that much* too long for comfort. I think your method will work nicely – now I can buy the tall pants and they’ll fit both length and width wise. Thanks!

  10. says

    What do you do with the extra fabric though? I’ve noticed that it’s not always a perfect fold up and sew – the bottom is a bit wider than up a few inches.

  11. says

    We just did this for my sister’s pants. This shortie and two shortie sisters thanks you for a great idea.

    We were doing a pretty big hem, so we puckered in at the inseam for the excess fabric and serged the inside to make it less bulky.

  12. says

    I’m really excited to try this!!!
    I for a while I got away with wearing kids jeans, but I don’t fit into them at the hips anymore anyways, now I have to cuff my jeans, and that just makes you look even shorter, especially when you’re 4’9″!! so thank you!!!!!

  13. says

    Oh my gosh having a daughter with Down syndrome this is so nice to know! I hope you don’t mind if I share it with those in my world!

  14. says

    THanks for the tutorial! I’m 5’8″ but my new jeans are still at least 2″ too long. Last time I had jeans hemmed I paid $20 for someone else to do it. It never occurred to me to do it myself. Thanks!!

  15. says

    WOW! I am so impressed, I would have never thought of this on my own :-) Now my hubby can stop walking around with dorky rolled up pants! (Seriously, the man does not know what length pants to buy!)Not to mention that I rarely find pants that are the correct length!

  16. says

    I’ve been sewing for years and just ran across this a few months ago and tried it on a pair of jeans for my Father. Worked like a charm and he was quite impressed. Recently hemmed up 4 pairs of jeans for my 7 year old granddaughter, her Mom said it’s like magic! They love having the original hems and I can let them down as she grows and/or for her younger sister. I’ve been tacking the cuffs in place and it seems to hold up. Thanks for the great tutorial, it’s one of the best I’ve found.

  17. says

    sweet! this method works so well that I bought a pair of jeans from a thrift shop and didn’t even notice the were hemmed until days later! this same method was used, except when the extra fold of fabric was cut off, the edge was serged!

    I have at least 3 pants to hem and glad to know the steps!


  18. says

    This is awesome. I have been wondering about how to keep the original hem. This is great tip. I am also petite.
    Visit my blog at

  19. says

    It’s been two years since you posted this, but THANK YOU! I’m a novice sewer and when I buy jeans they are always far too long! This is going to be an amazing way to make my jeans actually look nice! And such an easy tutorial to follow!

  20. says

    Great tutorial and pictures.
    @ Stella g:In addition to this method, I also top stitch on the outside close to the fold. Maybe that will prevent having to iron each time you wash? I haven’t done this for my jeans, but for my customers. So I don’t know about the ironing part.

  21. says

    I’m a novice sewer but it looks like I can handle this one. I do have a question. What is a zipper foot? do you need a thicker needle for sewing through 2 layers of denim?

  22. says

    I am short and even petite size jeans need to be hemmed. aauugghh. But with your tutorial,it was very easy. I dragged the ironing board, the sewing machine and my reading glasses to the computer. Set up shop, I would read a step, then get up and iron, then pin, then sew.

    It worked wonderfully. Thank you.

    To the comment above mine, I don’t know what a zipper foot is either. I just used the foot on the machine. I did use a needle used for denim.

  23. says

    Holy cow! I can hem jeans! I feel like a sewing rock star. Thank you! I’m with Kathy – even thought I buy petite jeans I always need to have them hemmed. I feel like I’m saving a ton of money here. Thanks a bunch! And, I’ll try that zipper foot.

  24. Anonymous says

    Great ideal. Very quick to do. Really much easier than cutting and making a new hem. I am trying it on my granddaughter’s jeans mainly so the original hem will be showing. One question, if you choose to let the hem out in 6 months or a year there will be a noticeable line that shows the pant hem has been let out, right?

  25. Anonymous says

    Thank you so very much. This is wonderful info that will improve the jeans of my kids and I.

    Why do you fold the hem up and not down?
    The folded up hem could act like a pocket and hold dirt, sand, snow or anything else. This would be annoying.

    Do you do it that way because the deals may flare slightly and therefore it works better up than down.

    Thanks again

  26. says


    I fold the flap up because if it was folded down it would hang down below the new hem. You can definitely cut the extra fabric out if you wish thereby eliminating any sand pockets :)

    Good luck in your sewing adventures!


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