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Three Ways to Shorten Jeans

Threads magazine - 163 - Oct./Nov. 2012

Q: I would like a fast, simple way to hem jeans that looks original and “store bought.” Everything I’ve tried makes my jeans look like they were hemmed. Help!

Jane Horner via email

A: Angela Wolf, of ABO Apparel LLC, teaches custom jeans making. She answers:

When it comes to jeans, we all hate to lose the distressing that’s unique to a hem. Here’s how to shorten jeans without the sacrifice. With these methods, there is a new seam directly above the original hem; however, due to the nature of denim, this seam is very hard to detect.

Method 1

1. Measure the amount you want to shorten your pants. Unsew the hem, being careful not to rip the fabric.

2. Mark a line 1/8 inch above the original stitching line and from that line, measure and mark the amount determined in step 1 and draw a line. With right sides together, align, pin, and sew these two lines together; this removes the excess amount and shortens your jeans with a horizontal tuck inside the leg.

3. Trim the excess tuck to a 1/4-inch-wide seam allowance.

4. Press the seam toward the original hem, and hammer the seam. This compacts the denim layers, especially at the side seams, making it easier to sew. Refold the hem along the original foldline, hammer one more time, and pin in place.

5. With the right side up, topstitch the hem following the original stitching line. Use a 90/14 denim sewing machine needle and a long stitch length; 4.0 mm or 4.5 mm looks the best. Match the new thread as closely to the original as possible. Jean topstitching thread is ideal; however, three strands of standard polyester thread may be used, as well.

tuck section
Remove this tuck section after stitching.

Method 2

If you are shortening jeans more than 2 inches or hemming…

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