Basic Denim Jean Alterations Part 2 – Original vs. Regular Hem

I got a few requests in the comments of the basic jean alterations post for more information about original versus regular hems. I tried to make a video on the subject, but seeing as the only video recorder I have at the moment is my Droid cell phone, it didn’t work out very well. =P

So, here’s some pictures that will hopefully help you see the difference between hemming your jeans with an original or regular hem.

Original hem:

This is my preferred method to hem jeans. The original bottom hem is cut off the jean, the needed length is cut off, and the original hem is sewn back on the bottom (the seam is opened, placed over the cut jean bottom, and sewn back in place). In this way, the jean retains any kind of fading or wavy texture at the hem, so it looks like it did when it was bought at the store.

Here is a pair of jeans I had hemmed with an original hem:

Original Hem Denim Jean Alterations
The jean still has the fading and wavy texture at the hem, like it did when it was store-bought

 

Original Hem Denim Jean Alterations
Raised seam where the original hem was placed and re-attached

 

Original Hem Denim Jean Alterations
Frayed and messy looking inside from the original hem being cut off, seams opened, and re-sewn

Regular hem:

I don’t do this type of hem very often, unless the jeans I bought already have a smooth hem. This method is basically just cutting off the extra length from the inseam, making a fold, and sewing a basic hem. The hem will not retain any details of the original hem, nor have the wavy look that most jean hems have. On most jeans, the lack of hem detail makes them look obviously altered.

My Paige skinny jeans are hemmed with a regular hem:

Regular Hem Denim Jean Alterations
This hem was just folded under and sewn straight, so there is no detailing from the original hem

 

Regular Hem Denim Jean Alterations
Clean looking inside

See my post on basic denim jean alterations, part 1.

There you have it! I hope that cleared up the difference between an original and regular denim jean hem.

23 Comments

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    kileen

    Thanks for the useful post! I'm a big stickler on having the original hem as it's a big detail that makes jeans look natural. My mom used to just do a regular hem for me when I was growing up and I felt like you could always tell that it was hemmed because the texture and fading of the hemline was missing.

    I didn't even find out about original hem alterations until college, but now I won't go back!

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    curls-and-pearls

    I prefer the original hem as well. It's more expensive but worth it I think – the jeans just seem to "fall" better.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Banhannas

    Ahhh, I totally understand the difference now! Like Curls said, probably more expensive for the regular but it does look better. For me, I think the "waviness" in the original hem is okay – especially on skinny jeans and on jeans that are long. With wide legged jeans definitely the regular hem.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    AubreyOhDang!

    wow you're right. I never thought of the "waviness" of the hem. I dont know why but my tailor always suggests I do regular hemming (even though if he suggested Original hemming, he'd gain more $$), so I've only had regular hemming. Now i'm going to try the original hemming and see the difference it makes.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Anonymous

    Man, I wish I could have seen this post years ago! =) Thanks for the easy clear pictures.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    PetiteLittleGirl

    I attempted to hem my jeans few weeks ago and they turned out OK. I kept the original hemming. Keeping the original hemming required more work but they look so much better after all

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Curvy Petite

    Approximately, how much does it cost to keep the original hem? I prefer the original hem as well but am not sure about the cost. Other than that, I sew regular hems myself! I def. prefer the crisp and bumpy original hem! ^_^

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    The Little Dust Princess

    I already knew the difference, but thank you for the great photos and explanations! What kind of camera did you use? The lighting is perfect too!

    xx The Little Dust Princess

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    SewPetiteGal

    Thanks for the lesson! Almost all of my jeans get altered by yours truly and I hate the smooth hem look but didn't know there was a way to get around it.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    kileen – I know! I love original hems. My tailor thinks I'm crazy b/c I always ask for it even though it's more money, but I just don't like the look of obviously hemmed jeans.

    Banhannas – Agreed. A lot of wide leg jeans come with a wide cuff at the bottom, which is usually just flat and straight. For those kind, regular hem is definitely ok.

    AubreyOhDang! – That's really nice of your tailor to suggest the cheaper option. My tailor suggests it to me too, but I'm a stickler for keeping my altered clothes as natural looking as possible, so I love original hems. =)

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    Anonymous – You're welcome! I hope it comes in handy. =)

    PetiteLittleGirl – So brave of you to attempt to hem your own jeans! I'm still to scared to try it.

    Curvy Petite – It costs around $10 to do a regular hem, and between $12-$15 (depends on your tailor). It's not too much more, and to me, it's worth it.

  • Reply October 27, 2010

    Alterations Needed

    The Little Dust Princess – I use a Canon Rebel XSi. All I did was take the pics out on our patio and they turned out really well. =)

    SewPetiteGal – Of course you hem your own jeans! You're an amazing seamstress! I'm sure you'll figure out how to do an original hem in no time. =)

  • Reply March 17, 2011

    mer

    There's another method of keeping the original denim hem when altering jeans. I think it's called a 'tricky' hem. I'd never heard of it before a friend mentioned it to me. I always wondered how tailors kept and re-sewed the original hem (thanks for this post!).

    A tricky hem does not require any cutting. You just fold the extra length under and inside the leg and make sure the edge of the fold meets right up to the original hem's stitching. Then with extra tight stitches in matching, denim-colored thread the folded part is sewn flat. So basically the original hem, thread & all, is unaltered. You'll have extra fabric inside the leg of the jeans which could be an issue, but my friend's jeans always looked perfect! Seems like this would be easy to do with your own sewing machine.

  • Reply March 17, 2011

    mer

  • Reply March 31, 2011

    Anonymous

    If you've had a regular hem done, and don't like the look of it, is there any way to get it to look more like the original hem? Thanks!

  • Reply March 31, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Anonymous – If the original hem was cut off and re-sewn on the bottom of the jeans, you could try detaching and re-attaching it again for a better look. Other than that, I'm not sure.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Alterations Needed

    @Anonymous – If the original hem was cut off and re-sewn on the bottom of the jeans, you could try detaching and re-attaching it again for a better look. Other than that, I'm not sure.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    mer

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    Curvy Petite

    Approximately, how much does it cost to keep the original hem? I prefer the original hem as well but am not sure about the cost. Other than that, I sew regular hems myself! I def. prefer the crisp and bumpy original hem! ^_^

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    SewPetiteGal

    Thanks for the lesson! Almost all of my jeans get altered by yours truly and I hate the smooth hem look but didn't know there was a way to get around it.

  • Reply May 25, 2011

    curls-and-pearls

    I prefer the original hem as well. It's more expensive but worth it I think – the jeans just seem to "fall" better.

  • Reply May 17, 2012

    Dinatx1

    can you PLEASE post a how to/DIY on hemming jeans the “original hem” way?? that would be so helpful to many petites like us :)

  • Reply March 2, 2013

    Rue Vogiatz

    I think it’s great that people get options when shortening jeans-The above original hem looks great, called a ‘sandwich hem’ by some but I’d prefer the ‘european hem’ like this https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151251689237810&set=a.10151251688367810.469267.237392557809&type=3&theater

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