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November 29, 2005 3:02 PM   Subscribe

How to shorten blue jeans and keep the cuff?

I bought some jeans at Banana Republic this weekend that, as most jeans are, are about 4 inches too long for me. I want to shorten them but keep the cuff the way it is. I've heard that you can have this done when you take your pants to a tailor, so my question is: Is there any way to do this myself with my sewing machine at home? This post on a discussion board is all I've been able to find so far, and they didn't reach a consensus. Anyone know of a site that shows how it's done, preferably with illustrations or photos? Or should I just save myself the hassle and go get them professionally altered?
posted by MsMolly to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can try this.

I buy Guterman extra-strong thread in a sort of tannish yellow that very closely resembles the thread most jeans are stitched with, hem them myself, and then have at them with a sanding block (or a power sander, on low speed, or a Dremel with sanding attachment would probably be the BEST, if my husband would succumb to my wiles and buy me a Dremel).

I just measure (twice, so I can cut once), hack off the excess, hem them up, and then sand like crazy. You would not be able to discern the original hem portion from my handiwork. I sand them pretty hard, since I tend to buy pre-aged jeans.

You'd want a denim needle for your machine, too, by the way.

If time's of the essence, have them done by a pro. It'll cost you about thirty bucks at the most.
posted by padraigin at 3:17 PM on November 29, 2005

Easy. Is it just a regular old plain cuff, or does it have a fancy design (or fring or something?) If it's just a normal cuff, decide what length you want the pants, the add about 1.5 inches. Cut them to this length, the fold the extra length up under the pants once about 3/4 of an inch, then once again, making a double fold about the width of the original hem.

Then use some thick yellow thread — I buy a type of thread called buttonhole twist — to hem all along the folded seam. The raw edge will be tucked away inside the first fold, unexposed on either the outside or inside, and therefore won't fray.

A sewing machine would make this easier, but sometimes, especially with thick thread, it's hard to sew through demin, so hand-sewing would do too, if you can make t look nice and even.

Before you try this, it might be a good idea to rip out the original hem and unfold the cuff to see how it's done (for a better visual).

If the cuff is decorated or fancier than the rest of the jeans in some way, sometimes professional tailors will save the hem and reattach it after the alterations have been made but this is way more complicated to do on your own.

You can also do a search on Craftster for more ideas.
posted by Brittanie at 3:22 PM on November 29, 2005

Best answer: Try here.
posted by hindmost at 3:29 PM on November 29, 2005

A tailor will be able to keep the original leg if you have a special finish on them.
posted by geoff. at 3:32 PM on November 29, 2005

Best answer: Another site with clearer pictures
posted by hindmost at 3:32 PM on November 29, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks hindmost! Those are exactly the kind of things I was looking for.
posted by MsMolly at 4:09 PM on November 29, 2005

I don't have this problem, as I tend to have a problem finding jeans that are long ENOUGH... but I would just shell out an extra 10 bucks and go to a tailor... they will shorten and give you a nice cuff as well.
posted by antifuse at 1:29 AM on November 30, 2005

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