Jeans – Hem And Taper
Very few individuals are happy with a pair of jeans off the rack: either the leg is too wide or the jeans are too long, maybe both. Even the novice can alter both length and width with only the knowledge of operating a sewing machine. (See Taming The Sewing Machine).
The most accurate way to determine the new length is to compare the new jeans with a pair of old jeans that are the correct length. Rather than comparing them at the side seam. Compare them at the inner leg seam. Most well-fitting jeans are approximately the same length from crotch to hem. Measure your old pants from crotch to hem and use the measurement for your new hem length (1).
To give a nice finish to the bottom of jeans, the hem is rolled twice. Therefore, before cutting excess length from the new pair, 1 ¼ ” must be allowed for a double-rolled hem. Using a chalk mark (signifying desired finished length) on your new jeans, make a second chalk mark 1 ¼ ” toward the bottom of the leg. Measure the distance of the new chalk mark from the bottom of the pant. This amount signifies the amount you will need to cut off the new pants before hemming. Using the bottom of the pant as a reference point, measure up the leg and mark with chalk, the amount you have determined needs to be cut off (2). If you are careful to line up pant bottoms on front and back leg, you can usually cut off the excess through two fabric thicknesses.
If you would prefer the leg narrower, now is the time to do it, before the hem is sewn. If you look at the inner and outer leg seams you will notice that the outer leg seam is sewn with double stitching. Therefore, leg tapering on jeans will be done on the inner leg seam only. Using a pair of jeans you like the shape of, determine how much to take in the seam. Be conservative. Although a super-tight leg may be desired, you still have to get your foot through the opening. Taper seam from the widest point at the leg bottom to approximately 3” above the knee (3). Blend into original stitching. Be sure to try on before cutting away excess seam allowances.
For successful sewing on jean fabric without skipped stitches, switch to a machine needle with the lettering “J” on the needle packet. A “J” needle has a wedge point capable of piercing through dense fabric.
Pin hem in place by turning under between ½” to 5/8” twice so that the raw edge of the hem is concealed. Machine-sew twice around hem to duplicate stitching on the side seams (4). It may be necessary to help the machine sew over bulky areas like seams when hemming jeans. Help by gently turning fly wheel toward you as you give machine power.
WANT TO LEARN MORE?
- Enrolling in the Power Sewing Web-TV Show where she teaches all aspects of garment sewing.
- Referring to the Fear of Sewing eBook or Paperback copy.
- Adding, More Fabric Savvy and Fast Fit to your sewing library.
- Sandra’s patterns can be purchased from Vogue Patterns.com or wherever vogue patterns are sold.