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.


  • Sheena

    Wow, thank you for posting this!!
    I had been putting off hemming my boyfriend’s jeans for like a year. I hate hemming pants because normally you need to cut them before hemming, which scares me! I used this technique with a sewing machine just now and it took me 20 minutes :)

    February 12, 2010
  • Carmen

    Thank you for posting this! I bought 3 pairs of really expensive jeans thinking I would be wearing high heels with them all the time. Turns out I’m having a problem with my left foot, and now I can only wear flats. I like your hemming technique because I won’t have to cut them. When my foot feels better, I can go back to heels and let the jeans out. Yay! Thank You!

    August 21, 2010
  • Kaitlyn

    This method is amazing! I’m so short, and my jeans are always too long. I hemmed them, and you seriously cannot tell at all, and they look so much better!

    August 23, 2010
    • Alyssa

      Thanks so much for letting me know! I’m so glad they worked well for you :)

      August 23, 2010
  • v

    thank you, this is so easy for average person to do.

    December 28, 2010
  • m klinghammer

    Thanks for posting this. It was really helpful!

    February 24, 2011
  • Kelly

    Thank you for this! I have a 14 year old picky son, and this passed the test. He is wearing his jeans now! Thanks so much!


    March 20, 2011
  • Juliet

    Thanks so much for posting this. I have just hemmed my jeans and I feel so stoked about it. I was nervous and was going to take it to a tailor but you saved the day and they turned out perfectly!

    April 27, 2011
  • Darlynn Newell

    I can do this!!! Thanks a million for posting!! Xoxo

    October 23, 2011
  • SewingChallenged

    Thanks so much for sharing this method. I’ve lost weight and had to buy new jeans and both are way too long. Since I’m only 5/4″, it’s hard to find any that aren’t too long, even petite and short sizes. In the past, I’ve cut pants before hemming them, only to regret doing so later. Your way of hemming looks effortless and the hemline isn’t really visible at all. Can’t wait to try it! Again, thanks!
    : )

    November 2, 2011
  • Katheryne

    i never thought to leave the original hem like that! Thanks for posting, you just saved me tons of $$$$$!

    November 4, 2011
  • Sonia

    Thankyou so much! I love the fact that you put the pics up as well. It gave me more detail. Keep up the good work!

    December 12, 2011
  • steven seagull

    Pictures helped a fuckload, cheers <3 :D

    February 15, 2012
  • [...] Finally, dragging hems on jeans can be unsightly and wear on them unnecessarily. Here is a great tutorial, on In The Wabe, that shows you how to hem your jeans by hand while keeping… [...]

    February 22, 2012
  • Sara

    Wow, this worked perfectly, and it looks so neat! The fabric that I folded over, though, is a bit too long…what did you mean by ‘tacked’ it? I was going to trim it but was too nervous…what do you think?

    February 27, 2012
    • Alyssa

      I’m so glad it worked well for you! Thanks for letting me know!

      Tacking is just making quick, weak stitches that can be removed later. When I tacked the extra fabric up in his jeans, I didn’t make a straight running seam across, though. I folded it up and picked just a few spots where I would sew a little knot (from the inside, of course) to hold the fabric up. I did it near the seams on the sides where it wouldn’t be noticeable, and they are holding up well.

      But cutting the fabric out is definitely an option! That’s really what you’re “supposed” to do, but I am always get nervous when I bring scissors near clothes! haha

      March 1, 2012
  • [...] for an easy way to hem jeans by hand. I found that many sites recommend the following method (like here). I love this tecnique becuase there is no cutting involved plus only the orginal seam is visible. [...]

    March 18, 2012
  • Lucy Aslanian

    Thank you. When I asked how to hem jeans, I never thought I would learn how to do it this way.
    Now, I’ll never hesitate to get longer pair of expensive jeans on a great sale.

    April 16, 2012
  • SGO

    Thank you this was really easy to understand, my mom was impressed when I showed her. :) I also scared her by showing her the pants before I flipped the sewn part in, she thought I forgot to sew!

    Always, thanks this was really helpful for a shortie like me.

    June 10, 2012
  • Alison

    perfect, thanks so much for this :D i hemmed my fiance’s jeans by hand so easily with these instructions!!

    December 18, 2012
  • Brenda

    Can it works on boot cut jeans?

    December 28, 2012
  • Sydnee=)

    Wow super easy! I’m 15 and I’m pretty short for my age and my grandma would always hem my jeans for me. Recently she passed away and I had gotten new jeans. So anyways….Thanks so much for posting this! =)

    January 20, 2013
  • Lin

    It’s really hard to push through the neddle. Any suggestions?

    March 18, 2013
    • Lin

      Can also provide quick tutorial on how to do tacking for the excess material. Thanks so much for this great tutorial.

      March 18, 2013
    • Alyssa

      Make sure you’re not pushing through a seam! Otherwise, how tough it will be depends on the thickness of the jeans. Using a thimble will make it much more comfortable for your fingers!

      March 20, 2013
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  • Samantha

    Thank you for posting this! I ordered a pair of maternity jeans online, not realizing they’d send me the “long” version of the jeans. This saves me a trip to a tailor! And some money to boot :)

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  • Nivedita

    Thank you so much for this tutorial. i just finished hemming my new jeans and they look absolutely fantastic!! Thanks once again :-)

    January 29, 2014
  • Amanda

    Thank you for this! Having never properly learned how to sew and being 5’4″, pants are always an expensive hassle. I just tried this out on a pair of jeans I had languishing in the “too long” pile and now I can actually wear them! I can fix so many other pants now, too! Thank you for making this easy!

    February 8, 2014
  • Linn

    Just used this method on my husbands jeans and it worked beautifully, thanks for the step by step process.

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