It’s challenging to find a pair of jeans that fit like a glove off the rack no nips or tucks required. And still, jeans tend to land low on the list of wardrobe pieces to tailor. Sure, it’s important to shop for jeans that fit you well, but there are things you can do to customize an almost-perfect pair of denim and create a made-to-measure look.
To this end, we’ve rounded up our best tips to guide you on your jean alternation journey, from how to hem jeans so that they fit your shape perfectly to how to decipher which types of denim can even be tailored to begin with. For us, denim has an obvious place in every wardrobe. That is why we are also extremely proud of the craftsmanship and passion that lies behind a pair of custom Tailoring jeans from Blugiallo.
Know Which Jeans You Can Alter
There are some types of denim that are difficult to alter. In order for jeans to fit you well in the rise (the area around the waistband), hips, and crotch, they have to fit well in the rise, hips, and crotch. A pair of jeans that doesn’t fit properly at the crotch, clings to your hips, squeezes you too tightly, or sits too high at the waist should be thrown away and replaced with another pair.
Taking them to a tailor to take in (or remove) excess fabric will help solve other fit issues (such as too-long lengths, gapping waists, or overly baggy legs). The bottom line is: know when to ask for assistance from a tailor and where jeans should fit.
Shorten Long Jeans with Hemming
Have you found a pair of jeans that fit your shape but not your length? Good news: Shortening too-long jeans (aka hemming jeans) is the easiest alteration you can make to denim pants. A tailor or seamstress can shorten them, either by cutting off some fabric and redoing the hems or taking up the hems in a way that doesn’t involve cutting the fabric.
When it comes to cutting jeans shorter, your tailor will mark the correct length with chalk or pins. You can ask them to give you an “original hem” (also called a “European hem”), which involves removing the original hems of the jeans and re-attaching them after the excess fabric is cut from the legs. While this can add cost to your alterations, it will ensure your jean hems look right. (Plus, it’s easier than having the tailor reproduce the right thread, stitching method, and original spacing between the stitches—this is especially true if you’re altering a pair of designer jeans, which are often recognizable by the unique fading or stitching on their hems).
If you’re looking to hem jeans by more than one to two inches, you may need to change the jean’s leg shape, which can be a complicating factor in bootcut or flare jeans styles. And, if your jeans are faded or distressed, they’ll need to be cut at a place that looks consistent with the style. No matter what, be sure to bring the shoes you’ll wear most often with the jeans so that you get the right length.
If you’d rather not cut your jeans, you can ask a tailor to do an “inside them.” Unlike the original hem method, this one doesn’t involve any cutting of fabric. Instead, your tailor will fold the extra length under and stitch it in place to make the jeans appear shorter. Since this doesn’t give you a finished hem look, it’s better as a short-term solution (think: when you’re borrowing a pair of jeans from a friend).