Petite tailoring hacks: Shortening jeans

Are your jeans always too long? You’re not alone. Most petite women have a shorter-than-average inseam length, and therefore, our pants are often miles too long for our legs.

The good news is, jeans are relatively easy to hem. But how do you keep that store-bought look after chopping off inches?

DiY jean hemming

YouTuber Professor Pincushion has a great tutorial showing you a quick and easy way to hem your jeans at home while keeping the original hem:

The basic point is that you’re creating a small fold in the fabric on the inside of the hem, which turns into a “pocket” hidden on the inside of the pant leg. This allows the original hem to still be visible, even at a shorter length.

A couple of other handy tricks:

  • Use blue or denim-coloured thread that matches your jeans as closely as possible to hide your stitches and make the original gold hem stand out.
  • Match the length of both legs by measuring a couple of times. You don’t want to end up with uneven jeans.
  • The Jean-a-majig is an extremely handy sewing accessory for jean hems and other thicker hems. If you hem a lot of clothes, I say it’s the best five bucks you’ll ever spend.

  • Try them on with the shoes you plan to wear with them; skinny jeans meant to be tucked under boots may need to be a bit shorter, while straight or wider-leg jeans require a bit more length so they will fall right over shoes with heels.
  • Press, press, press. Don’t skimp on the ironing, or else your hems won’t look right.

 Alternatives to hemming

Petite clothes are hard to find. But I’ve found that, when it comes to denim, we petites actually have quite a few options:

  • Buy shorter length jeans: Plenty of denim companies actually sell their jeans in a shorter inseam length. If your legs are short but not too short, you may find that a pair of 30-length jeans actually does the trick for you. The GAP, Mavi, Guess, Levi’s, Citizens of Humanity, and 7 for all Mankind are just a short list of the many, many retailers who offer shorter-length jeans. Search By Inseam is a great site that takes some of the guesswork out of it.
  • Buy cropped jeans that are worn as full-length: A little trickier to make work than the above, but depending on the style, some jeans designed to be ankle- or cropped-length can work as full-length jeans on us shorter ladies. The trick here is to look for straighter-leg styles that aren’t as obviously meant to be worn cropped. You also want to make sure they’re long enough to be convincing as full-length jeans.
  • Shop somewhere that hems them for free. One of my favourite stores here in Montreal is Jeans, Jeans, Jeans. (Review forthcoming). There, every pair is hemmed and shortened on the spot by their professional, speedy in-house tailoring staff.

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