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Hemming boot cut jeans

madameblue | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Help! I’m a relative beginner, and I promised my daughter I would hem her new Gap jeans. Now I’m in over my head. Any tips you can provide for hemming a flared leg will be welcome. Thanks!



  1. stitchmd | | #1

    The narrower the hem the less difference in measurement between the cut edge and the hemming line. Are you going to machine stitch a regular jeans hem or hand or machine stitch a deeper garment hem?

    You can use ease stitching to reduce the discrepancy and steam press the fold over to shrink it to size.

    You will need a heavy needle and heavy duty thread. There are needles marked denim and threads for topstitching denim available in stores or by mail order. Take your time going through all this thickness, especially crossing the seams. You can pound the seams with a hammer to thin the bulk some. It also helps to use basting tape or fusible web to hold your layers for stitching.

    1. madameblue | | #2

      Jeans needle: check

      Jeans thread: check

      I was planning to machine stitch a jeans hem as I want it to look as close to the original as possible. What is ease stitching? Basting tape is sounding really good about now. Thanks for taking the time to reply.


      1. stitchmd | | #3

        Ease stitching is a bit like gathering, but not as pronounced. There are two ways to do it. For the amount you want the best way is to hold your finger behind the presser foot resisting the flow of fabric under it. This causes each stitch to bite more fabric than usual, gathering it up very slightly. Let go every inch or two and reposition. The other way is to pull on the thread to gather up the fabric. This can be combined with the first way when that doesn't produce enough gather, but it would be very tough with denim. Another suggestion for stitching along a thick layer is to use a top stitching foot if you have one. It has a lip that runs along the side of the fabric keeping the stitching an even distance from the edge.

  2. NancyG | | #4

    The easiest way to do it and keep the original hem----cut off the hem + seam allowance and reattach at hem length needed+seam allowance. Sew right sides together close to original "Gap" stitching, press down and no one can tell they've been hemmed! Pink or serge edge to prevent raveling and secure hem at side seams to prevent "flipping" up.

    1. madameblue | | #5

      PASDENMOM and NancyG, thanks for your suggestions. I plan to practice on an old pair of jeans before I tackle the new ones. I'll let you know how they turn out.


      1. mimi | | #6

        madameblue:  If you are just going to make a narrow hem and are taking up more than an inch of the length, cut off the original hem.  Mark where you want to have the new hem while your daughter is wearing the jeans and the shoes she plans to wear with them.  Measure down 1 and 1/2 inches and cut. Fold the hem up twice and use heavy duty jeans thread to machine sew the hem.  When you get to the seams slow, down and ease your needle over or use a seam hump tool (I don't know what else to call it!).


        1. SewTruTerry | | #7

          I think you are talking about what I have seen called a hump jumper. 

          1. madameblue | | #8

            The sound you hear is my wild cackle as I realize that this is not as overwhelming as I thought. I know the tool you're talking about, mimi. Thanks everyone for your support - I have enough courage to hem these babies this afternoon. :D

    2. kimberly31907 | | #9

      HI Nancy -- I saaw your message re: hems for jeans, and would like to try it, as getting all the thicknes under my needle is a bear! However, I didn't understand where the seam is -- are you saying I cut from the bottom, snipping off the full exisitng hem + some "seam allowance" -- let's say 1/2". Then I cut my jean where the hem needs to fall + 1/2 seam allowance.
      Am I just putting right sides together and sewing at the "top" of the hem? Sorry to be so thick-headed -- I'm pretty new at the discussion thing, so maybe after some time it's easier to imagine how to convert what you're saying into a "movie" for me to play in my head....

      1. SewNancy | | #10

        I have wondered about this too. I have seen the same advice in fashion mags and haven't been clear on it either.

      2. NancyG | | #11

        You're absolutely right! It seems as if the new seam will show, but it doesn't because the original store-bought stitching is right there and it's a distraction, I guess....You press it down, tack the side seams so they don't flip up. It really is amazing.

        1. kimberly31907 | | #12

          Thanks -- I'll try it and if it works I'll take a photo of it and post it.

          1. sewanista | | #13

            I've been using the "cut the hem off and sew back on higher up " method on my jeans for a while, but I've just started working at a big alterations company, and there we actually cut the hem off at the finished length exactly, unpick the original hem, and sew it back on as a binding. This means that when you have extra length from the bootleg bit, you can trim it off at the least conspicuous seam ( the one without topstitching, which is sometimes the inleg and sometimes the outleg.) The boss explained that they do a complete binding because people nowadays like to have the option of rolling the hem up (Isn't this why you shorten jeans though?!) and this method means it looks good from both sides.

          2. Josefly | | #17

            I am so glad to see the method for shortening boot-cut jeans which you've described. It seems to be a better method than the others, managing the flare quite nicely.

    3. CareEare | | #14

      The finish you described is called a "California Hem".  I have been asked by the store that I do alterations on their $140/00 jeans to do this in order to keep the worn edges on the pants.  We actually decided to discontinue this practice because the hem becomes too bulky and does not hang freely.  So my suggestion, and how I do it, is to figure out where the finished hem is, measure 7/8" or 1 1/8" down (depending on depth of existing hem), fold under the hem twice and stitch with matching buttonhole thread with a #18 jeans needle.  If you want the worn edges, take rough sandpaper along the edge to create a new worn edge.

      1. NancyG | | #15

        Yes--my daughter learned it from a tailor in NYC! I haven't found the bulk to be a problem--perhaps because my jeans are not $140 ones!! I don't like the "fresh new" hem - it never looks the same....

        1. madameblue | | #16

          Well, a vacation prevented my answering sooner, but the jeans turned out great! Thanks again for everyone's input.

          My biggest issue was a shim, because rolling up fabric just didn't do it for me. Turns out that one of the unnamed plastic accessories that came with my machine was exactly that, and I didn't have to mess with fabric or cardboard after all, or comb through the notions aisle at the fabric store either.

          Sewing machine manufacturers would do well to include supplements with detailed descriptions of the accessories they include, and photos to illustrate their use. It would save us noobs so much time!

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