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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

DIY Denim Do-Over: shorten jeans while keeping the original hem

I'm pretty tough on my denim. I buy one or two pairs, then wear them constantly until they are in shreds, then replace. Over the years, I've tried out lots of different brands; now, I only buy through Madewell. As you may know, they cost a pretty penny (I usually wait for them to go on sale, then snatch them up), but the cost is well worth it because they last a long time, even with my constant wear and tear.

After two years of wear, one of my pairs started wearing through on the inner thigh. Since I just started working again, I'm not really in the market to buy another pair. As I was looking them over, I realized that they were still in pretty good shape, except for the hole. So, a DIY project was born. I'm going to do-over my denim. I'll be posting each project I do on my way to truly fixing my jeans.

First on the list, shorten the legs. I'm 5'4", which means that my legs are too long for "short" jeans and too short for "regular" jeans. Most of my jeans are baggy around the ankles, although after seeing how easy denim is to shorten I'll probably fix my other pair.

First, figure out how much shorter you'd like your pants to be. For me, the easiest way to do this was to try on my pants, then to simply roll them up so that they were the length I wanted. Then, I carefully pulled them off and measured the distance from the hem seam to the folded edge.

I only had to remove about 2". Divide this number in half and then refold your denim so that there is only that amount of space between the fold and the hem seam. So, I measured around so that there was 1" between the folded bottom and the bottom of my hem. Pin denim into place.

Then, sew denim right beneath the seam all the way around. Be careful not to sew the pant leg together. Do one leg, then try your pants on with the extra fabric folded up and inside the pant leg. This helps you check that they are the right length. If they aren't, just remove the seam, remeasure, and redo. If they are, do the other leg (and, again, try them on when its done).

After you've sewn both legs, tried it on, and are happy with the length, cut out the extra fabric while leaving some fabric for the seam to hold onto. Or, if you're doing this on kid's pants, leave the fabric in; then, remove the seam when your kid grows. Iron the seam flat and you're done! Enjoy your new jeans.

I saved the extra fabric from this project and will be using it to patch the hole in my thigh. I'll also be distressing these jeans, just a bit, and (hopefully) taking in the waistband. In other words, stay tuned for more Denim Do-Overs

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