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Altering Jeans: Bootcut to Skinny & How to Hem Jeans

02/16/2012

Recently, I was shown how to turn a pair of looser fitting jeans (flared, bootcut, straight leg, wide leg, etc.) into skinny jeans with a simple technique. I decided I’d give it a shot and combine that with the hemming technique I’ve done once before for shortening a pair of jeans.

I’ve had these jeans for years. They’re bootcut and too long. I have hardly worn them because I always felt like they were a little boyish fitting, even if I cuffed the bottoms. The waist and hips fit fine—I have a feeling that’s key in this technique working well.

To start out making my loose jeans fit like skinny jeans, I laid out a pair of jeans that fit well on top of the inside-out ill fitting jeans. The pair on top are actually a little too short but that doesn’t matter at this point. I lined up the inner leg seams and the crotches.

Then, I pinned along the outside edge of the template pair. The goal is to gradually meet the existing side seam of the loose jeans. This can even happen at the base of the pocket, as long as the rivet still shows.

Once both side seams were pinned, I was ready to sew along my pin line.

I didn’t take a picture of the sewing. You can imagine what that looked like. Just a simple straight stitch up the pinned line. I decided to sew a second stitch to give the new seam a little extra reinforcement. Cutting off the excess material is optional, though it makes for less bulk inside the pant legs. I left my edges unfinished where I cut and I don’t have a surge machine. That’s another benefit to having two stitched seams, in case the denim frays back after being washed several times.

Time to try them on! They were still way too long at this point so it was hard to tell if the fit was better. Cuffing is no longer an option because of the extra material or unfinished edges.

I folded up one pant leg to the length I wanted (my left leg). See the difference? The right leg is about 2″ too long. The length is a personal preference. I like for the back of the pant leg to just barely touch the ground when I’m wearing a pair of flats. If you where heels a lot, longer is probably necessary.

There is a neat trick to hem a pair of jeans while maintaining the original stitching at the bottom of the leg. The extra material was folded upwards, inside the pant leg.

Then, I stitched around the fold, as close to the edge as possible but making sure the tan threads of the original hem are still visible. I used light blue thread because it was already in my sewing machine. A little darker blue would have been even less noticeable.

Close up it looks a little strange but after ironing the seam and once they’re on, it’s almost impossible to tell they’ve been hemmed.

The finished jeans:

It’s a subtle change (made even more subtle by my poor DIY bathroom mirror photography…) but I feel like I got a whole new pair of jeans for free.

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