Fun With Fabric: Denim Alterations

Today’s fabric post is a bit different because I’m not making something new, I’m making some alterations. The first project I will show is for those of you who have kids. It’s a quick tutorial on how to sew in an adjustable wait to an existing pair of jeans. The second project is for those of you who, like me, are short (vertically challenged!). It’s a tutorial on how to hem your jeans… the cool way. By the way, some of the pictures are a little blurry, sorry about that! I didn’t notice until I had uploaded them and I didn’t feel like retaking :) I know, I’m lazy!

First up, creating an adjustable waist. This is a project I have never attempted before because I don’t have kids. But my good friend Heather has a two year old, Alana, who is itty bitty and she has a hard time finding pants for her that are long enough but yet aren’t too big in the waist. Most of the time Heather buys adjustable waist pants but she found the cutest pair of skinny jeans for Alana that weren’t adjustable and she just couldn’t resist them. So she asked me to help her out. Here are the materials you will need:

elastic (about 7 inches depending on the size of the child)
2 buttons
a jeans 1
Aren’t these seriously the cutest jeans ever?!

a jeans 2
First, cut your elastic in half so you have two pieces 3.5” each. You may need a longer piece if you have an older child. Sew button holes into the elastic. I chose to sew two button holes in each piece so they could be adjusted as needed since I didn’t have Alana here to measure.

a jeans 3
Pin the elastic in place onto the jeans where you want the back piece to be.

a jeans 4
Sew in place

a jeans 5
Sew on your button.

a jeans 6
Done!! Now I just have to give these to Heather to make sure they work :)

Next up, hemming jeans. Since I’m not very tall, I almost always have to get my jeans hemmed. I must be in a weird in between size because short jeans are always too short but the regular size is usually too long. Bummer… The problem with hemming jeans is the hem doesn’t have the same worn in look that they have before you hemmed them. You know what I mean? The new hem is too crisp or something and I usually don’t like how it looks. So one time I decided to professionally get my jeans hemmed and when I got them back I was super impressed. They looked fantastic and once I started to study them, I realized the method was super easy. So for all of you shorties, this one’s for you!

Keep your pants outside right. Start by folding up the leg making a cuff. To measure the length, the old hem of the cuff will end up being the bottom of the new hem. I hope that makes sense. If not, keep reading and you will soon see what I mean… I hope! Pin this cuff in place.
jeans 1

Next, sew using a straight stitch directly under the existing hem seam. In this case, I sewed directly under (onto the reverse side of the fabric) the orange colored thread because that is the existing seam. Once that is completed, if you flip the cuff, you can see where you have made a new seam. You can also see how they will look when they are done!
jeans 2

Keeping your cuff the way it was, cut along the new seam leaving about 1/2 inch of denim below the new seam.
jeans 3

Sew along the edge of the raw material using a zig zag stitch or a serger. By the way, I’m showing a different pair of jeans here because the thread color showed up better for the pictures.
jeans 4

Then turn your new hem back to normal and iron it in place.
jeans 5

Turn your jeans inside out and using a straight stitch, tack the raw edge down so it lies flat. If you don’t do this, they might flip up from time to time.
jeans 6
jeans 7
You can see in the second picture that they were tacked going horizontal but I have also tacked them on each side of each leg seam going vertical and that seemed to work just as well.

Done!!! I have now done this to 4 of my jeans ranging from boot cut to skinny jeans and I’m always happy with the results. With this method you are reusing the original hem instead of making a new one. The result is when you are wearing them, you can’t even tell that you have made a new seam because it’s just a fold. Here are all the pants I have done:
jeans group
Looks good right?
jeans finished

I hope I explained this well enough. Feel free to ask any questions in the comments and I will comment back. If you have previously tackled either of these projects and have some tips that I haven’t covered, feel free to leave a comment!

And that concludes sewing week. I can’t promise I will have posts for every day next week because I am running out of topics :) But I will do my best!