How To: Hem Jeans by Hand

Joseph has had some too-long jeans sitting around for about a year. As I don’t own a sewing machine and don’t know of any tailors in the area, we’ve just had to leave them in the closet. Then suddenly it came to me–of course I can hem them by hand!

Note: I can not sew anything besides buttons. So if you can’t sew, don’t worry. I just used a simple backstitch. This is one of the easiest stitches, and you can watch a quick video on YouTube to pick it up. The stitch isn’t visible at all, so you don’t have to be perfect. Of course, if you have a sewing machine you can always use that! You’ll still keep the professionally finished hem and wont’ have to make any cuts.

This method is extremely simple to pick up, easy on the hands, and looks seamless. You won’t have to spend money on a tailor! Keeping the original hem makes for a nice, clean look. All we do is make an invisible stitch just above the bottom seam and tuck the excess fabric out of sight.

First, try the pants on and measure how much shorter they need to be. Make a cuff half of that length and pin it. For these jeans I wanted to remove 3.5 inches so pinned them at 1.75 inches.

After measuring around each leg, pin the cuff.

Stitch in a line just below the bottom seam. Make sure you are stitching through only two layers of fabric–not through the other side of the pant leg.

Continue sewing in a line all the way around the cuff. Try to keep an equal distance from the seam, but the line does not have to be perfectly straight. Keeping close to the original seam means your new hem will be less noticeable. You can see the small navy line of my stitches in the photo above.

Next, fold the cuff back down. You can either cut some of the excess material (leave half an inch or so for fraying) or just tuck it up. Edit:  Joseph was having problems with the fabric falling back down around his feet when not wearing shoes, so I just tacked the excess and now he never notices these were hemmed.

Iron your new seam!


It took me about an hour to fix these jeans. After the initial measuring they require very little thought–work on some of your too-long legs while watching television. One great thing about this hem is that it’s completely reversible as well–just cut out our stitches and you have your original pants back!

Update: My husband has been wearing this same pair of jeans for over a year now, and the hem has held up perfectly! Neither of us have even noticed the hem since–it really is invisible unless you’re looking for it.

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