Thursday, June 24, 2010

trouser jeans to shorts

These are some former trouser jeans of mine that had turned into high waters. Over time, so many of my jeans have gotten too short in the wash. I've since learned (thanks, Paula!) how to avoid this, mostly: Don't ever dry jeans in the machine, only hang them to dry (yes, very obvious but wait for it:) then AFTER they are dry, put them in the dryer to become wrinkle free and soft.

So, as I was saying, since these were unwearable anyhow, I cut them off into long shorts using the original hem to make them look more finished. This worked fine because the hem at the bottom was as wide or wider than the leg at the knee. If your hem is not flared, you may not have enough original hem to attach to the leg. Be sure to check this first before you do anything crazy.

First step is to try them on. Mark the length you want them to be when finished. Take them off, lay them flat, and subtract the width of the original hem at the bottom of the leg. Then add .25 inch. Make a mark at this new measurement on both legs and cut those babies off.

Also cut off both hems from the bottom of the legs. Make sure you leave some extra fabric above the hem.

Good idea to use a heavy needle in your machine and also jean thread, which is slightly thicker and stronger than regular thread.

Turn your hem pieces inside out and trim them down so there is about .25 inches of fabric above the hem.

Pin them on right sides facing and with raw edges even. If the hem is too wide for the leg, snip it open at the inside seam and overlap it.

Sew right next to the hem all the way around the leg and finish the raw edges by overlocking or zig zagging them.

This is what it looks like after sewing and overlocking, but before pressing. You'll definitely want to press it well with a hot iron so the new seam lays nice and flat. You could also topstitch around it about 1/8" above the hem, catching the seam allowance underneath to add a finishing touch (I was too lazy).


  1. great tip! I have been wanting to do this but I so would have cut before checking to see if the bottom cuff fit the knee width. thanks!

  2. Great tips. Now, if it were only the length that no longer fit me. ;)

  3. I'm with Jessica! :) Great post though.

  4. Now I know how to make it look perfect! Thank you Larissa!

    Great new outfit of your blog!


  5. Your shorts look amazing! I tried this once to shorten some jeans, but mine turned out a bit awkward. Your tips make so much sense! They look so professional.

  6. I have heard that tip about using the hem like you did and you really did a great job showing how to do that.
    Thanks. Enjoy your shorts!

  7. Your tutorials are always so clearly written and well photographed - you make it all look easy and I know it's not (well for some of us anyway). ;-) I have many jeans that could become the pair of cute jean shorts I haven't been able to find anywhere - thanks!

  8. Neat idea. I've been hanging my jeans and softening them up in the dryer for years. Works great. Love your shorts!

  9. Thank you so much for showing how to hem with the original cuff! I always have to have to get my jeans hemmed at the tailor but now I have step by step instructions! I will definately have to try this out on some old jeans that are in the "I'll fit back into these one day" section.

  10. Hey, y'all! thanks for the tute love. I am enjoying my shorts! Love to see yours if you make some!

    Jessica, I find it very hard to believe that your willowy figure has ever outgrown a pair of jeans. :-) But I'll take your word for it.

  11. another cool way of doing the hem is oppening the original one and sew it on as if it was a bias tape.


  12. Tried this and it worked GREAT! The only hard thing was making sure the width of the pant bottom matched up to the width of the new shorts bottom. They look GREAT and you can't tell that they were altered at all...they just look like "normal" shorts.

  13. Lara, yes, you also could do that. It's too much work for me though, I'm too lazy. All the seam ripping and whatnot. But probably an undetectable finish.

    Elisabeth LaMouria, thanks! I'm so glad to hear that. I am wearing mine a lot. I consider it money saved because that is one pair of shorts I didn't have to buy this summer.

  14. My mom does alterations and she does the same thing to hem jeans for shorter, or more petite, people. It looks much better than just hemming jeans!


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