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Altering Jeans: Shorter (with Identical Hem)

Can anyone on this planet find the perfect pair of jeans? 

There are so many things to look for in a perfect pair of jeans.  First, there’s the waist.  And then the fit in the legs.  And then the fabric stretch.  And ah man, now you have to choose from boot cut, skinny jeans, trouser cut, straight leg, blah, blah, blah.  And what about the color…..gosh, the right shade can do everything for a pair of pants.  And the list goes on.  And just when you think you have found the perfect pair of pants…….the length is off.  ((grumble))

I’m tall.  So is my husband.

I usually have to lengthen our pants.  So I never even think about clever ways to shorten pants.

But then my brother came over one day…….and showed me some pants he found.  And they were too long for him.  He’s tall too… it was weird to think he needed some pants shortened.  But when you find super long jeans for a good deal, you buy them.  And then alter them.  Right?

Okay, so I stewed and stewed over how to shorten them…….trying to figure out how to make them look like the original hem.  I was thinking about cutting them off, using the same thick yellow thread to hem them, and then sanding the edges to give it that worn look.  And then maybe using some bleach to fade them a bit?  Gah!  Sounded exhausting.

So I looked online.  Oh my word……and found the perfect solution from Cathe.  She learned this trick from the store she bought some jeans from, who offered free alterations.  Those smarty-pants altering people.  I love them for this.  And Cathe for sharing.

Check out those newly shortened jeans:

IMG 8680

You can’t even tell that they have been shortened.

And I think it’s my hemmed jeans that make my brother look smokin’…….totally not him. Ha.

(And yeah, he’s single.  Any takers in Northern Colorado?)

IMG 8743

Thanks Greg. 

I was at a loss as to how I was going to shorten your crazy long jeans.  Glad we figured it out (thanks to Cathe).

And it looks like we need to hem your daughter’s pants too.  Maybe she’s going for the cuffed look…….but long jeans aren’t safe around me anymore.  (Yep, that’s the same niece from this post.  Sweet little Claire!)

hemmed pants

Anyone else need to hem some pants? 

How about the pants you bought (or will buy) for your little kiddos for the fall?  Did you buy them a little long, hoping they would last all winter?  We all know how fast those little ones grow.  Use this technique and then let them back out in a few months.  They’ll look great all season long.

IMG 8636

Ready to hem some jeans? 

I just added a few more pictures of the process, to help those of you who are super visual.  But thanks again Cathe for sharing the trick you learned from those alterations people.

**Remember, this is a great technique for growing children.  Buy some jeans that are just a tad too long……and then follow the steps below to hem them.  And then un-hem them in a few months after they’ve grown too tall for them.**

Let’s get started.

Update:  If your pants are super flared or are boot cut and you’re cutting off tons of length, this may be more tricky.  The reason being is that the width around the bottom seam may be a little dirrferent from the point where you want to hem them up to. If this is the case, it may be better to cut off the bottom hem, then cut off the bottom of the pants to the length you want it, the re-attach the bottom hem where you need it.  And you will have to take in that bottom hem too, so that it’s the same width as where you’re re-attaching it.  But the pants shown below are boot cut and since I only took them up a few inches, it still worked great.

Try your jeans on yourself (or your subject) and mark with pins, the length that you want them to be.

(Be sure to wash/dry them first and try them on with shoes so that you are shortening them to the correct length.)

First of all, you will be keeping that very bottom hem on the pair of pants.  That’s why they will look so good at the end.

So measure the very bottom hem of the pants.  Measure from the very bottom of the pants where they’re rough and a bit rugged, to right above the seam and fold of the hem.  When you sew them up (in the next few steps) you don’t want to sew through the thickness of the hem, so mark your measurement to right above that hem.

If you see the picture below, the bottom hem of these pants was about a 1/2 inch tall.  Now, you need to measure up from your original row of pins, the measurement of your bottom hem height.  In my case, I measured up a 1/2 inch and then placed a new row of pins.

IMG 8550

Then, fold up the bottom of the pants, to meet with that top row of pins.  Then pin the folded pant leg in place, all the way around.

 IMG 8564


Now, slide the end of the pant leg under the needle and stitch all the way around………right next to that fold of fabric.  Stick right next to it to give your new hem a nice even look from the other side.

IMG 8587

See how it’s all nice and sewn in place?

IMG 8572

Do the same to both pant legs.

Now, you can cut this excess fabric off and zig-zag (or serge) the raw edges or just keep it for future length.  Whatever you do, fold the edge or excess fabric up towards the inside of the pant legs.

IMG 8622

Then press it nice and flat.  Use steam……..and lots of it.

IMG 8636

If you keep the excess fabric (and don’t cut it off and zig-zag/serge it), lay it up nice and flat on the inside and then tack it in place along the side seams with a few hand stitches.  You don’t want it to flap down.  (Need help with hand stitching?  Click here.)  It also helped to do the same along the back in a few places too……just so my brother wasn’t stepping on the extra fabric that was coming down just a bit by his heel.

IMG 8641

And that’s it. 

All hemmed up.  And ready to wear.

IMG 8680 1


Thanks for checking out my Altering Jeans: Shorter (with Identical Hem) post. Check out my full collection of DIY Sewing articles. Find even more sewing projects, patterns, and tips for beginners and advanced sewists by Liz Call, Mariah Leeson, Randi Dukes and Tauni Everett.
Ashley Johnston

Ashley Johnston

Owner at Make It & Love It
Ashley Johnston is a professional DIY costume maker, sewist, crafter, and owner of Make It & Love It. She is a mom of 5 and a wife to a very patient (with my craft clutter) husband. In case you’re wondering, she always chooses crafting/sewing/designing over mopping/dusting/wiping base boards……but bathrooms/laundry/full bellies are always attended to. Whew!


  1. Michele N says:

    OMG, you’re awesome. I now know how to take care of the jeans I got for my daughter. I found some Aeropostle jeans at a high school cheerleaders yard sale and got them for 25 cents each. 2 pairs fit okay in the waist but are too long and the other 2 pair are too big in the waist & way too long. Now I know how to fix them! She is 11 but her waist is so tiny that she can fit an 8 around, but needs a 12 in length. These are a junior’s 00. I didn’t know they had that size and couldn’t believe they fit her that well. I thought they would all be a bit big. So I always have to pick between fit in the waist or length, but usually can’t find both. My 15 yo son is in a 34×36 so yeah, we don’t find much that’s too long for him. And your brother is a cutie!

    1. KarinSDCA says:

      Thank you for the details! My daughter is also 11 and can also fit in size 8, if only in shorts. LOL I am going to try junior’s 00 next. Never even knew those existed!!!

  2. Chelsea says:

    Genius. Goodbye rolled up pants that are to long at the beginning of the season (and constantly coming unrolled and causing my kids to trip). I am super excited because I am pretty tall but a lot of time I fall right in between the ‘tall’ length and the regular length. Jeans are either too short or I am stepping on the bottoms all the time. I will be kissing that problem goodbye, too.

    Also, my sister is single and totally awesome. Seriously, words cannot capture what an amazing human being my sister is. She is not in Northern Colorado, but we are from the Denver area originally so maybe it could work. Haha, if you could solve my sister’s love life problem as well, you’d be my best friend ever.

  3. Sandee says:

    i had some jeans altered at buckle once and this is exactly what it was. clever!

  4. Jen says:

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I’ve been wanting to make a pair of pants into knee length shorts. I’m going to give this a shot. Thanks for sharing! You are the best!

    1. Andrea says:

      Please let me know if this works!! I would love to do this, too!!

    2. Megan says:

      What a great idea! Please do let us know if this works! Looks like I will be working all weekend to get my kids’ new school and church pants the right length.

  5. phyl says:

    I’m barely 5′ tall and have hemmed every pair of pants I’ve ever owned. WHY didn’t I ever think of this myself???!!! Thanks for sharing the process.

  6. Amy says:

    Yayyyyy! I’ve heard of this but could never figure out how it was done. I barely hit 5 feet and a lot of times the so-called petite/short pants are still inches too long. Totally a life saver – thanks a million!!!!!

  7. Kadi says:

    Sorry forgot to put in my name. I commented about being in Greg’s ward.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So glad you posted this! I need to hem some of my husbands pants! By the way I was reading this post and all the sudden I realized I knew who was in these pictures! My husband and I were in Greg’s ward for about a year! I was Claire’s primary teacher and I went to her baptism! Crazy right? I had no idea you were related. Fun!

  9. Emily says:

    Love this! Don’t know if I’ll get to do it. Maybe for my girls. My son needs crazy long pants but is Tiny in the waist if I buy them long enough to let out they’ll fit like clown pants. Now a suspender tutorial…I could Totally use that ; )

    1. Emily says:

      Haha, found it! Thanks for letting us know where your “hidden” search bar is ;). I’ve found all sorts of things!

  10. Ali says:

    Oh yeah…hottie brother!!! I would want him if I didn’t already have a hottie of my own!

  11. Ali says:

    Thank you so so so much for posting this tutorial!!!!! You have saved my life. My 12 year old inherited some jeans from her cousins and they are all way to long since she is short for her age and her cousins are tall. I have now hemmed a pair in under 30 minutes and she will be ecstatic in the morning! She will have cool new jeans to wear to school!!! Thanks again for sharing!

  12. Cathe Holden says:

    1. Thanks for lighting my blog tracker on fire.
    2. Thanks for linking and your super kind words.
    3. Thanks for taking this project to the next level with your fabulous tutorial!
    3. You probably just put eHarmony out of business and will be keeping your brother busy for months. What a cutie!

    : )


    1. Cathe Holden says:

      Er….. 4.

    2. Ashley says:

      Haha…..who needs #4 anyway?!! And yay…….glad it sent a little love your way. And thank YOU for sharing!!!

  13. Kira says:

    This is amazing! I have had 2 pairs of my little girls jeans and 2 pairs of a friends jeans sitting on my ironing board for weeks…just finished them! Awesome! Thanks!

  14. Alis in Wnderlnd says:

    This is the exact method I use to hem my own jeans and my daughter’s jeans. If there is more than 3 inches folded inside (6 inches hemmed!) I will cut the extra fabric off. I’ve had to do this for my daughter because her feet get tangled in the extra fabric when she’s dressing–she’s only 6.
    the folded and sewn edge does become distressed, so it won’t work if you think you will just let them out as kids get taller. (I tried.)

    It totally beast $10 per pair for hemming when ALL my jeans and ALL her jeans need hemming. Huge money saver. AND, I am NOT a sewer. If I can do it, anyone can. Promise. Practice on an old pair first if you don’t trust yourself.

  15. Monica says:

    YIPPIE! I so needed this right now. My sweet friend just gave me 8-10 really nice pairs of much needed jeans….. they fit me great, (which is a miracle) but they are all too long! I think my free time slot while my girls are at kindergarten tomorrow will be filled with alterations, just in time for fall!

  16. MaryAnn says:

    Brilliant! I get so frustrated because the regular pants are too short and the longs are too tall (unless I wear 3 inch heels, which I won’t). Love it! Your comments about your brother made me laugh. My brother did something similar to me on Facebook, but didn’t bother to let me know until after. It was pretty embarrassing. I hope you asked your brother’s permission. I knew your parents in when I lived in New Jersey. Your brother looks a lot like your dad! Both handsome guys. :)

  17. Emma Ashby says:

    I LOVE this! Just about ever single pair of jeans that I own needs to be hemmed. It will be my project this weekend! Thanks so much to you and Cathe!

  18. jeana griffin says:

    Love this. I’ve hemmed almost 40 pairs of pants just in the last couple of weeks for customers. Wish I had know this. Love this idea! Will def use.

  19. melissa says:

    How do some people get so darn smart? I would never have even thought of this. I am totally have to use this trick in the future.

  20. Jacki McGinnity says:

    Love it! I don’t know how many pants I have gone through because they hems became ripped off. Its also fantastic because our oldest daughter is extremely tall for her age and our youngest is short…now the pants will work.

    I know it may be a little difficult with a jean but couldn’t you use a blind hem stitch instead of handsewing (for those of us who have arthritic hands) :)

  21. Kristina says:

    I’m 5’9″ so I have a hard time finding jeans that are just the right length. They’re either too long or too short. This is a great tutorial!
    I have a sister in Provo. And she visits me in Denver sometimes. Does that work? :)

  22. Anna says:

    This is great to see. My daughter worked with a seamstress for awhile and tried explaining it to me. Seeing the photos really made it click. My husband is an inbetween length and I have been frustrated more than once trying to hem a pr of jeans for him. Your brother is adorable…. as well as his daughter. Too bad Colorado is a little far. ( for my daughter in Fl.)

  23. Brandy Layton says:

    I love this! I have to hem everyone of my pants as petite doesn’t fit just right and well that leaves me with regular jeans and about 5 inches or more of excess length. I love being able to keep the base hem and keep it looking good. What a helpful post. Thanks! I will have some weekend hemming :)

  24. Kecia says:

    Love this! I am five foot nothing and I am always paying to have mt jeans altered. P.s. Your brother is hot!

  25. JeNae says:

    Wow…what a neat trick. And so simple too. Thanks for sharing :)

  26. Amanda says:

    Great Idea. Too bad I doubt I will ever get to use it. :) I’m a little on the tall side. I am 6’1″ and I have a 37 inch inseam, would you mind telling me where your brother got his pants? I would love to find some place other than Buckle that has my size. If they have tall guy pants maybe they have tall girl pants too? Thanks!

    1. Ashley says:

      He got them at TJ Maxx……so it’s just one of those hit or miss type things. It’s worth checking out their pants while you’re there though. You never know!

  27. Emma says:

    Oh my goodness! That is soo easy and I love it. So cool!!! I wouldn’t have thought of that!

  28. Melissa says:

    Awesome, awesome, awesome!

  29. Amber H says:

    I too am short.. 4’11” and I always buy the short length pants from Old Navy.. and they are always short enough.. however their new trouser pants were too long on me! I don’t want to hack them up, so this will be PERFECT for me to do.. thanks for doing the tutorial!

  30. Mrs.Pickles says:

    Great tutorial! Thanks for sharing.

  31. LeAnn says:

    I’m tall and have never found jeans that are too long but I have heard of this before and it’s such an easy fix that looks great, but I’ve yet to use it for reasons I’ll explain in a second. Darn those jeans and their perfectly worn hems ;). The biggest problem with this technique is that if the hem is bigger around than where you are shortening it to, then it doesn’t work. For example. It rarely works on a boot cut or flared jean, unless you do a lot of seam ripping, cutting and re-sewing, and the bleach and sandpaper, might be easier ;)

    1. Ashley says:

      I know…..dang jeans! And yeah, this is a lot harder on a super flared jean…..but the jeans I did it on are boot cut. I only had to get rid of a few inches so the difference was only minimal. I will go add that into the tutorial though, to give people a heads up. Thanks!!

    2. tim says:

      i need to borrow your hands to roll up my jeans

  32. Heather says:

    I’ve got a good friend just south of Denver who has two boys…. :)

    1. Ashley says:

      Email me……I kinda added that blurb to be funny. But gosh, you never know, right?? :)

  33. Chantel says:

    I’m so excited about this tutorial…. thank you so much! And my girls will be so excited to know they no longer have to show up to school with the bottom hems of their jeans cut off. Yay!

  34. Beth says:

    Perfect timing for this great little tutorial. I am a shorty and just bought some “short” jeans, they are still too long with flats…ugh!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  35. Danielle says:

    I love this, especially as a way to invest a little bit more time into the pants when their legs are growing more than their waists.

    Good luck to that single brother.

  36. Tanis says:

    Love this!! I have a long torso and short legs so finding any clothes that don’t need alterations is difficult, so this will come in handy!!

    ps- wow, your brother is VERY handsome… if he ever comes up to Canada I’d love to go on a date!! :)

    1. Ashley says:

      You got it. Can I come too? I’ve never been to Canada!! haha!! ;)

    2. Tanis says:

      Anytime!!! I’m only 9 hours from Rexburg so I don’t know how far from Colorado, but not too far! Canada (Alberta especially) is beautiful so you really should visit it sometime!

  37. Heather says:

    Let your cute brother know he’s invited to the Austin Midsingles conference (as well as any other single siblings you may have) I agree…how is he single?!

    1. Ashley says:

      Ha……I’ll let him know. Too bad he doesn’t live nearby. But hey…..maybe it’s time for a vacation! ;)

  38. Mary-Stewart says:

    Great to know!!! Thanks! And…. how is your brother still single?? He is nice on the eyes, but I am married, so I am not looking for me, but I like to keep my eyes out for my single friends :)

  39. Maren says:

    How perfect! I am a shortie (4’11”, shortie is an understatement), and I am tired of tripping on my pants while I say “someday I’ll hem them…”.
    And I TOTALLY have a taker for your mighty good-lookin’ brother!!!! Totally.

    1. Ashley says:

      Hahaha…….email me! You never know, right? :)

  40. Jax says:

    This is fabulous! I am tall (34″inseam) but so many brands offer either 33″ or 35″, so I end up hemming just a little quite often… I have always wondered how to make the hems look the same, so this is great… as always!
    and seriously, How on earth is your brother single? He is a total hottie!

    1. Ashley says:

      Oh my….I have the same inseam. And the same problem. We can be friends now! :)

      And haha, yeah…….he’s a good looking bro!

  41. Kristi says:

    Thanks you…thank you…THANK YOU!!!
    My husband is a 31 31…but jeans don’t come in that size.
    This is AWESOME.

    1. Kat says:

      I’m not sure where you are located but Old Navy carries that size of jeans.

    2. Kristi says:

      Thanks for the Info.
      We will have to check it out again. My husband is pretty rough on jeans, and Old Navy jeans just don’t last–they have too much spandex or are too thin.
      But they are always changing their stuff.
      We will have to check it out…looks like they have a sale right now!

  42. Jenny says:

    Genius! And your brother is quite handsome,too.

  43. Amber says:

    That is awesome! Thanks so much for sharing. I have not been blessed with the gift of being tall so I’m always looking for a way to easily hem jeans. Thanks again!

  44. Sharon Thomas says:

    My granddaughter had a pair of pants that had embroidery at the bottom, but they were about 4 inches too long. I put in four pleats around the leg starting about two inches above the embroidery, Instead of folding the pantleg to the outside and stitching, I turned them to the inside, then stitched in about a half inch for each pleat until the length was right. As she got taller, her mother was able to take out one pleat. By having the pleat on the outside, instead of the inside, the pants faded evenly in the wash. Now I do mine the same way. Everyone thinks it’s a great style addition.

    1. Kristin says:

      Photo, please?

    2. Sharon Thomas says:

      I don’t know how to post a photo here, but you can see them here:

    3. KarinSDCA says:

      Awesome look with the “pleats”! The picture is worth a thousand words. LOL

    4. Catherine says:

      I was really looking forward to seeing the pictures but the like doesn’t send me to the right pictures. Do you think you could repoint it please?
      Thanks Sharon

    5. karen says:

      i am SO using that idea! my boys grow fast in height than they do round and this is so going to help get more wear out their pants.with 3 boys and 2 girls i am always looking to budget the clothing bill witch why i decided to get a sewing machine.thanks every one for all the tips too i learning alot

  45. Amy Grace says:

    OMG this is an awesome technique! Thanks for sharing with us. BTW your brother is a cutie! :)

  46. Julie says:

    Wow! This is such a great idea! I can’t wait to try it on my growing sons new back to school clothes! Amazing!

  47. Natalie says:

    I’ve seen a similar technique where they cut off the bottom cuff and sewed it back on, higher up on the jeans, blah blah blah. This seems much simpler! I could definitely use this … too tall for 32″ but 34″ are too long. Thank you, thank you!!

    1. Anonymous says:

      I see the photos call me dumb but i cant figure it out HELP

    2. @whetwhillie says:

      Natalie the end result is the same…

      If you cuffoff the excess here, instead of just folding it up afterwards, it’s the same thing.

      the only difference being that the technique you are referring to cuts the excess fabric before sewing, rather than afterwards.

  48. Michele says:

    That’s just genius.

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