Sewing a French Hem for Jeans and Pants

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Before hemming jeans you should first decide by how much you want to turn up the hem. Try on your jeans with the shoes that you will most likely be wearing with them. Fold up the hem to the outside of your jeans to the length that you like to wear them. Put a few pins in each leg to hold the hem in place and carefully take off your jeans.
As with any hemming or altering, measure first, pin up, and try on— a few times if needed. Doing this always takes less time than having to take out what you have just sewn. If you will be wearing heels with this specific pair of jeans, you might want the jeans a little longer. The jeans should fall 1 – 1½ inches above the floor at your heel.
Adapted from Alterations - 200 Questions Answered on Everything From Mending to Makeovers by Nan L. Ides, published by Barron's Educational Series.

See more info about French seams!


Step 1

Pin all the way around the leg. Measure the hem you have just turned and then divide that number in half. For the purposes of this explanation, let’s imagine the jeans need to be turned up 3 inches; 1½ inches is, therefore, the measurement to use. The reason you cut the measurement in half is because you will be folding up the hem in half and actually hemming the full 3 inches.

Step 2

Unpin the turned-up hem and then adjust it until it measures 1½ inches from the edge of the original
hem to the fold; pin. Use a zipper foot for your sewing machine if you have it—this allows you to stitch close to the original hem. If not, adjust the sewing-machine needle as far to the left as is possible. Make sure that you are using an appropriate foot—if you do not, the needle will come down on the foot itself and break. Stitch all the way around the leg bottom, stitching close to the edge of the original hem and being careful not to sew the leg opening together.

Step 3

Try the jeans on again to make sure you are happy with the length. Turn them right side out and tuck the hemmed area upward. The stitching line around the new hem will form a seam on the right side directly above the original hem’s stitching; it will be virtually invisible. Press the new hem flat.

Step 4

To keep the French hem from showing you can trim and leave raw edge as is, ironing it up or down after each washing. Alternatively, use some fusible hemming tape and fuse the hem upward on the inside.

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