How To Hem Trouser Style (Wide Leg) Jeans Without A Sewing Machine

by Destri on January 9, 2012

How To Hem Trouser Style Jeans Without a Sewing Machine
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Does anyone else have a habit of buying jeans that are too long with the intention of having them hemmed, only to leave them sitting in the drawer for months? If you come in under 5′ 6″ I am guessing you’re nodding yes (or at least that is what I will tell myself to feel better).  Especially if you love trouser style jeans like I do. I love that you can dress them up or down making them the most versatile denim I own – but they seem to always be super long.  I am happy to report I found a no-sewing-machine-required solution that actually looks great, and not like a hack job.  It’s super easy and really quick.  Like I have a date in an hour and I want to wear these pants quick.  So dig out those wide leg trousers or slacks and meet me after the jump.

Hemming Wide Leg Trouser Pants Without A Sewing Machine Tutorial

I had scored these super cute jeans at a boutique store for $20.  That was over a year ago.  I actually took them out about six months ago to hem when I found this great tutorial for using a blind hem (which is my favorite hem for these pants), only to find that my machine doesn’t have a blind hem stitch.  So back in the drawer they went.  Then one day I found my old stitch witchery. Have you ever used that stuff?  I used to use it all the time…like even made pillows and curtains with it! Crazy, I know.  That is when my husband decided to buy me a sewing machine :).  A light bulb went off and I pulled out my trouser pants and went to work.  I decided if it didn’t pan out, I could just do a straight stitch and be done with it.  I am happy to report it worked like a dream.  They washed up great and it took all of thirty minutes to do.  I actually like they way it turned out so much, that I don’t think I would use a machine even if I had a blind stitch!  Let me show you why…

Here is the original hem on the pants I will be using in the tutorial.  They were hemmed with a  straight stitch, which required a a double fold at the hem.  This creates bulk and a little bulge where the edge had been folded over. Even without being washed before, you can see where this fold is.  After a few washes that bulky fold stands out like a sore thumb.

Here is an example of trouser jeans that were hemmed with a blind stitch.  They finished the edge and then hemmed, requiring no fold, equaling no bulk.  Most high quality slacks are hemmed this way. So this is what we are going to recreate today – only without a sewing machine.

Supplies:

  • hot iron and board
  • needle and thread to match jeans
  • super weight stitch witchery
  • scissors or rotary cutter with mat
  • a seam ripper is handy if you have one, but you can get by without one

The stitch witchery can be found in the sewing section at Walmart, or at any craft store like Hobby Lobby or Micheal’s.  And you know those little sewing kits that come in a hotel room?  Make sure to take them, they always have a blue thread that matches denim.  Just a tip!

Instructions:

First things first, you have to deconstruct the original hem.  I used my seam ripper, but if you don’t have one of those a little pair of scissors will work.  To get started just turn the seam up, and find the interior stitch, then cut it.  Pull a little and cut the threads as they appear.

Once you get it started, it pretty easy, just pull the seam and the threads will be exposed and then cut.  Just be careful not to cut the denim.

Now, that felt good.  One step closer to wearing the jeans we bought a year ago.  We just need to figure out what length to hem them.

A few things to consider:  This style of jeans is normally worn long, meaning they should be almost brushing the ground.  Usually you can just see the tip of the shoe you are wearing peeking out.  Will you be wearing them with heels, or flats?  I have jeans for both. I decided I would be wearing this pair with heels and pumps.  So I used the pumps when determining length, and then hoped for the best when it came to wearing them with heels.

With the shoes on, try on the pants and fold to the length you will be wearing them at.  You can make a mark just on the inside, or put in a pin like I did to mark.

Now take them off and lay on a flat surface, smoothing out the legs for cutting.  You will cut about 2½ inches below the fold mark you made.  This will allow for a nice weight at the bottom of the pant leg when finished.  Following the same angle as the original hem cut off the excess length.  I used a rotary cutter, but still didn’t get a straight line, no worries, we can always get a straight fold in the next step :).  Don’t stress yourself out about it!

If you have a sewing machine, you can do a quick zigzag to finish off the raw edge.  I left mine raw and have washed them a bunch with no problems.

Next turn the pants inside out.  Fold the pants leg to the length you marked or determined you wanted and iron with steam.  I held my pants up to make sure the legs were the same length, and the angle at the bottom looked good before moving on to the next step.

Cut a long piece of stitch witchery and place just under the edge of the cuff as shown in the picture.  You want it as close to the raw edge’s edge as possible (did that make sense?).  This will bring any fray to a minimum.  Iron per the packaging instructions.  I had to iron mine a tad more, it will depend on the weight of the fabric.  When you have went all the way around the leg, trim the stitch witchery to the length needed and finish the ironing. Repeat on the other pant leg.

Once the seam has cooled, pull on it to make sure it has adhered completely. There were a few places where mine pulled apart a some.  Iron those places a bit more if you find any.  Turn right side out.

Now to strengthen the seam up a bit, we are going to add a few tacking stitches to the inner and outer seams at the cuff.  Just take the needle up through the inside of the pant leg right at the seam as shown.  I made a few stitched and then ended on the inside with a secure knot.

For the inside seam, just pull the needle underneath the fold and then back under it like shown.

Viola!  Now put them on and go on that hot date..or go and find the kids you have neglected whilst hemming your jeans.  I found mine under the table smashing Kix into the carpet. Good times.

A few notes: I didn’t pre-wash my pants, they had enough stretch in them I knew they wouldn’t shrink much. If you’re worried, wash before hand. The stitch witchery feels a bit stiff until washed. After the first wash, it will bend and feel feel just like the denim.

As for care, I washed mine inside out like I always do and the seam held up beautifully.  I had one long stray string after the second wash that I trimmed but other than that the fray from the raw edge was minimal.

If you have a pair of jeans that are straight leg or bootcut, here is a great tutorial for how to hem jeans and keep the original hem.

Hope all my short friends find this useful!  If you have any questions leave them in the comments and I will answer them there.

Happy hemming,

Destri

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