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Hemming jeans

clsosa | Posted in General Sewing Info on

Someone just asked me to hem a pair of flared jeans.  She says her friend insists that I use a California hem.   Anybody know what a California hem is?


  1. SewNancy | | #1

    I don't know what a California hem is but Threads did a short writeup on how to hem jeans or was it a letter to the editor? Anyway, there was a good thread going here on this topic. YOu can look it up in the archives.

    1. clsosa | | #2

      Thanks for your input.  I have read the piece your talking about, but I will reveiw it again.

      The woman was going to ask her friend for specifics on the hem.  Because she said that her friend is rather short, I'm thinking it has something to do with trying to maintain the flare.  I'm rather curious to hear how this was achieved without cutting the pant leg at some point above the hem.

      When the mystery is solved, I'll let you know what technique was used.

      I'm always looking for new ways to do things.

    2. clsosa | | #3

      Ok mystery solved.  The "California" part of the hem is the roughing up of the back hem to simulate wear.  Guess I'll be adding sandpaper to my sewing kit.

      1. Teaf5 | | #4

        This really works on any alteration on distressed or treated denim garments! An emory board works well, too. I always have to take in the side seams of my jeans (skinny legs, ample belly) and the new seam line always looks suspiciously new. I use a very fine sandpaper (180 or higher grit) and lightly abrade it, then launder to see the final finish.

        1. clsosa | | #5

          Thanks for the tips.  I will use them. 

          I too have thin legs with somewhat of a tummy.  When you have a lot of excess fabric in the back leg, you may want to consider bringing the back forward.  Open the seam along the side seam from the knee to about 1" below the rivit (if there is no rivit you can go higher) and swing the back leg forward, leaving the front seam where it is.  (I have taken anywhere from 3/8" to 5/8" at the hip and thigh with success.)  Restitch the seam using the front as your guide, trim away the excess, and replace the topstitching.

          This alteration maintains the room for your tummy while eliminating all that extra fabric under your butt.   With double stitched jeans it is a little bit of work, but I think you will be happy with the better fit. 

          You can move the swing forward on the inside seam as well, but this will alter the rise, so reserve this for the slacks you have that feel as though they are too low in the crotch.

          Hope this helps.

    3. ccs49 | | #6

      In my area we call it a "Seattle" hem because the first request came from a customer who'd seen it done in Seattle!  It is done by cutting off and moving up the original hem.  The original hem actually becomes a binding. You mark the new hem length and cut just slightly above that line.  Then you trim what you have cut off to 3/4" above the topstitching of the original hem, and then remove the hem topstitching.  Open the side seam that is not felled and serge the top raw edge.  With right sides together line up the flatfelled seams and pin this piece, as you would a facing, to the pants and sew 1/8" above where the original topstitching was removed.  Trim off excess if any at the top edge, fold over your new binding and replace topstitching with same type of thread as original.  (I usually use thread from  a huge cone of original Levi's thread I purchased from a supplier, but you can buy a good topstitching thread in any notions department and they come in a good choice of gold colors, and many others now, as well)  And voila! you still have the worn-out looking hem you were charged dearly for, and if you have it hemmed at an alterations shop, you pay about 30% more than you would for a normal jeans hem.

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