Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Short Legs, Baggy Jeans

Alrightey, then. My sewing machine has been intermittently neglected over the past 8 months in particular, but the tune-up tag on the case says 2004 -- no wonder!
Besides the shower gift above (4 months late), here's one of my only contributions to the creative world during my thesis days: how to hem your jeans so the don't look hemmed tutorial!

Before: My legs are longer than petite but shorter than 'regular' (shown here). Before figuring this hem trick out, I hemmed a few jeans the dorky way: cut of the bottoms, turn under, & stitch. The dilemma became "walk around with holes in my heels or walk around with a dorky, not-the-cool-kind-of-homemade hem."
Its a bit creepy cutting into a pair of brand new jeans, but well worth it if you can make them fit correctly.
Step 1: Cut off the leg hems, about 3/4 inch up from the bottom. Hold onto this cuff. It will be re-attached to the jeans at a spot that is just a bit higher than the original one. Flip the cuff inside out and shimmy it up the outside of remaining jean leg (shown here).
Step 2: Figure out how much shorter the new hem should be. Generally this consists of pinning the cuff to the jean leg at various heights and trying on the jeans multiple times.

Pinning: For your first try, pick a spot on the jean leg and pin the upside-down cuff to it (for the more 'precise' seamstress, you could also measure your anatomical inseam, measure the jean inseam, and then pin it to the approximate matching length). The hem should be pinned at the same point or 1/8" below the line (bulky fabric) where the hem will actually be attached to the jean (not pictured). Pin parallel to the cut raw edge; it will mimic a straight stitch line, and minimizes getting ankle pokes & scratches while trying on. On the jeans pictured, I stitched about 1/4" below the original hem (North-South accd. to photo).

Trying On: After you pin the cuff in place, turn it down, flipping (and pinning if necessary) the extra leg material up so that it looks like a "normal" jean hem. Remember to wear shoes - preferably the ones you plan to wear the most - while testing out the length.
When you've determined the "perfect" new hem height, either use tailor's chalk or pins like I have to mark the circumference line where the cuff top will line up with the original jean leg.

Step 3: Stitch it. With your denim or heavy duty needle, sew the cuff to the jean leg along the pin line used in the previous step (pictured below, about 1/4" to the right of the original hem). Depending on how close to the original hem you pinned the stitch line, you may need to use a zipper foot.

Step 4: After you've tried on the jeans again and decided that you're satisfied with the length and that R & L legs are even, trim the excess. Press.Step 5: Close the raw edge with a zig-zag stitch over the raw edges. If you have a serger, skip this step - it's been done for you!
Step 6: Wear 'em! The hem is still there, and you can't really tell unless you squint, that the distressed marks on the hem end a little abruptly. If you have trouble with the hem wanting to flip back up, try stitching the new seam allowance to the jean leg with invisible thread.
(I'm not floating!)


1 comment:

Tanya Whelan said...

Fantastic! I'm short and always have this problem so I love this post! Thank you.