How to Shorten Your Jeans and Keep the Original Look

How to Shorten Your Jeans and Keep the Original Look

Being 5’4″ tall means I usually need to hem my pants. Petite pants are frequently too short for me plus I prefer the higher rise of non-petite pants. I can sew, so hemming regular pants is easy for me. Jeans? Not so much. The first time I had a pair of jeans professionally shortened, she left the original hem intact which looked amazing. Of course, after I’d washed and dried my spiffy new jeans several times they were too short for me so I never paid for that again.

I finally decided to learn how to do this myself because they really do look better with the original hem. I googled around and here are what seemed like the simplest directions.

Try on jeans to decide the length you want. I needed to shorten mine by 2″Shortening Jeans on A Well Styled Life

Now adjust fold to 1/2 the distance you need it shortened by. Do not include the original hem when measuring. I turned mine up 1″, not including the original hem.the proper way to hem jeans on A Well Styled Life

Press flat.pressing a hem in jeans

Sew around as closely as possible to the original hem, without catching it.

Flip to the inside and iron flat.
sewing jeans on AWSL

Stitch down the seamline, the entire length of what you have turned up, on both sides of the leg.sewing jeans hem on A Well Styled Life

Top stitch just above the original hem to keep it from rolling up.Press flat. It’s really simple and the effect is terrific. Some instructions tell you to cut off excess fabric but I didn’t bother because there was so little of it.Hemming jeans properly on A Well Styled Life

Now onto some retail therapy. There are some great sales this weekend if you’re doing any shopping.

Macy’s is offering an extra 20% off with the code FALL at checkout.

Talbots is giving 25% off regular priced tops.

Ann Taylor is giving 40% off full priced dresses and skirts with the code ALLDRESSEDUP.

Lord & Taylor is offering an extra 15% off with the code LOVE at checkout.

Loft is giving an extra 40% off sale styles.

Anthropologie is giving an extra 30% off sale.


How do you hem your jeans? I may have made this look difficult but it’s amazingly simple!

Thanks for reading and have a great day!


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  1. Kel
    September 30, 2017 / 4:39 am

    Wow! I’ve read descriptions of this before, but you made it look remarkably easy. I might actually try it!

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 6:49 am

      Some descriptions were stupidly complicated but this was a snap. Let me know if you try it Kel.

  2. Kel
    September 30, 2017 / 4:40 am

    Do you use a heavyweight needle on your machine?

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 6:51 am

      I didn’t, but guess I should have. For heavier weight jeans I would.

  3. Laurel
    September 30, 2017 / 5:31 am

    That’s kind of genius. I’ve never had the nerve to try shortening my jeans myself, but maybe I’ll try on an old pair before I donate them. 🙂

    I always have to shorten EF knit pants (a wardrobe standard) and I have them shortened professionally, as I don’t trust myself to surge them and have them look perfect.

    Happy Weekend!

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 6:56 am

      I’ve got a serger too but would never risk hemming my EF pants either. The beauty of this technique is its removable, so long as you don’t cut the excess off. You could stitch them up with a very large basting stitch and pull it out if it doesn’t look right. I was shocked at how easy this was and good it looked.

  4. Lianne MacGregor
    September 30, 2017 / 5:35 am

    I’ve always wanted to know how to do that – thanks so much for the clear directions.

  5. Olwyn
    September 30, 2017 / 5:48 am

    This is excellent information – thank you so much fir the tutorial! I am 5’2″ so shortening pants is always necessary but I didn’t know how yo do this – am not a sewer but will try this for sure!

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 7:01 am

      Good luck Olwyn! Let me know how it works out.

  6. Harriet
    September 30, 2017 / 6:28 am

    This is a fabulous trick! I am saving this post for future reference. Thank you!

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 7:02 am

      You’re welcome! I was delighted to discover it works.

  7. Pondside
    September 30, 2017 / 6:54 am

    Thanks very much for this. I am going to keep the post for reference.

  8. Cheryl Ann
    September 30, 2017 / 7:29 am

    Thanks so much Jennifer. I always pay $15 to $20 to have mine hemmed. Can’t wait to try this & your instructions make it look possible…even for me, who sews very little!

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 7:44 am

      It was remarkably easy Cheryl Ann. Let me know how it goes.

  9. Annemarie Byrnes
    September 30, 2017 / 7:29 am

    This is a great tip! Thank you so much for the photos too – they help explain the process so clearly. I will be doing this in the very near future.

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 7:44 am

      My pleasure. I’m a very visual person so I thought the pictures would help.

  10. Suzanne
    September 30, 2017 / 7:31 am

    This is brilliant. But since we are on the subject of hemming pants – could you please have a discussion about pants length?

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 7:46 am

      Here’s a link to a recent post on pant lengths. A lot of it is personal preference but here’s what I do

  11. Sandy Andry
    September 30, 2017 / 7:47 am

    I’ve done this before, but cut off the original hem and reattached it. Since this way can be adjusted later, I’ll use it. I’ve also used the “reattach the hem method” on a few dresses I bought since there was a stripe at the bottom that needed to be saved. I’m 5’0″ so I had to learn to hem, too. Thanks for posting.

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 7:50 am

      I did like that this method was not permanent so if you made an error measuring or decided to change the length for other shoes, you could pick it out.

  12. September 30, 2017 / 7:57 am

    I am 5’5″ and usually have to shorten my jeans too. Love this tutorial on using the original hem! I will keep it for future use.

    Two things that I always do for jeans that need shortening:
    1. I wash and dry the new jeans at least twice before hemming.
    2. I always use a heavyweight needle on my sewing machine.

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 8:01 am

      Glad you like it Barb. I always wash and dry multiple times before hemming too! Once is not enough.

  13. Joanna
    September 30, 2017 / 7:58 am

    Don’t forget to wash & dry your jeans before hemming. They always shrink some.
    This method is genius! I rarely need to hem pants as I’m 5’8″ but occasionally I get a too long pair or I want them ankle length.

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 8:02 am

      Lucky you Joanna. 5’8″ sounds perfect! Yes, I wash and dry multiple times to be sure all shrinkage has happened.

  14. September 30, 2017 / 10:13 am

    Great tutorial. I only buy Petites since I’m 5′ and if they are too long I make cuffs. This is a great way to shorten, I’m saving and trying this!

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 10:23 am

      Let me know how this goes for you Cyndi!

  15. Martha
    September 30, 2017 / 1:37 pm

    This looks great, Jennifer! I happen to have several pairs of jeans and pants that need to be shortened. I have tried this with pajamas but never with jeans. Now I know what I will be doing next week! Thanks!

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      Good luck Martha!

  16. September 30, 2017 / 2:34 pm

    I only buy petite jeans as I do not own a sewing machine…but this looks like a great idea!

    • Jennifer
      September 30, 2017 / 4:18 pm

      Lucky you can wear petites. Most petite jeans are too short in the rise for me so I have to hem the regulars.

  17. Joy L.
    September 30, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    Thanks, actually have a pair of jeans I need to take up so will try this method.

  18. Karen
    October 4, 2017 / 8:43 am

    If you have a zipper foot for your sewing machine, use it for this technique. It allows yo to get very close to the edge of the original hem a bot more easily.

    • Jennifer
      October 4, 2017 / 11:20 am

      Great tip!! And of course you’re right Karen.

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