I buy pretty much all of my clothing from thrift stores, so I take stuff home expecting to make some alterations. Sometimes the changes are drastic, such as hacking off a pair of cargo pants to make a pair of cargo capris, and sometimes the changes are cosmetic, such as adding painted dragon wings and a couple of horns to an otherwise perfectly fine hoodie.
Sometimes, however, all I need is simple: a plain pair of well-fitting jeans. At a thrift store, finding the perfect jeans can be a challenge, but if I find a pair of jeans that fits well at the hips and waist, and that has a nice cut, I can often alter the length to fit.
If the jeans are too long, then hemming them is an easy fix. However, even if the jeans are a little too short, it’s easy to lengthen them by up to an inch with just a couple of quick alterations. If your pants are just a little too short to wear with your best combat boots, here’s how to alter them:
The first thing to do is to rip out the bottom hem of both legs. A seam ripper will work, but because the thread used to sew jeans is sturdier than your average thread, I get the best results by simply clipping every other stitch of the hem with a small pair of sewing scissors (this job is easiest performed while watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix), then pulling the seam apart and clipping any stitches that still don’t want to give.
Once the threads are all clipped, unfold the seam completely and iron it flat with a nice, hot iron. Those folds won’t want to lie quite flat anymore, but they will after a few washes, and all those little thread bits will wash right out, too.
The amount of extra length that you’ll get here depends on how much fabric was tucked into your hem. I usually get about 1″ extra, which is usually exactly what I need.
Once your pants are ironed flat, you can use any method of finishing that bottom seam that you choose. You could serge it, hem it with bias tape, or hem it with a controlled fray– the latter is my favorite method for casual pants, and the one that I’m using in this photo.
Remember that these pants will look their best after you’ve washed them, which will relax those creases and rinse out the little bits and bobbles of thread.
The crease marks will never erase, of course, but are minimal on a lighter pair of jeans, and really aren’t even noticeable on a dark pair, unless someone comes up to you at a party, lies down on their stomach right in front of you, and looks straight-on at your pants hem.
You don’t know anyone who would do that at a party, do you?