DIY: How to Cut the Hem of Your Jeans

how to cut your jeans for a DIY raw hem

The day has come! I’m finally sharing how I cut the hems off my jeans to shorten all the denim in my closet. I have no idea why it has taken me so long (apologies). Back in the day, I would get my jeans hemmed by my tailor (back when I lived in California). Ever since moving to Oregon I started to hem my jeans myself by cutting off the hems. I never found a tailor here, so I didn’t give myself a choice. It’s actually worked out for the best because I’m saving so much money, it allows me to shop more variety of denim, and I don’t have to spend the time and energy of taking a new pair of jeans to the tailor every week.

I get so many questions asking how I know where to cut my jeans. Well, it takes some time to master it. I’ve cut SO many jeans, I feel like I’m a pro now. I would recommend cutting a pair of old jeans first that you don’t mind tossing out if you make a mistake. That way you get your first pair jitters out of the way. I’m detailing the entire process below and sharing tips along the way. If you still have questions, leave them in the comments below.

1. Equipment- You’ll need a sharp pair of scissors, Tailor’s chalk, and a measuring tape.

2. Try on your jeans. Make sure you arrange them to how you normally wear them. If your jeans are high waisted, like these, pull them up to how you would normally wear them.

3. Fold your jeans to wear you want to cut them. This is the tricky part. How do you know what a good length is. Fold the hems and walk around in front of the mirror, take your time. What looks best. Don’t go too high and cut off your legs (when your legs too short), and don’t go too short where it looks like you’re wearing floods. A good frame of reference – go longer than culottes, but shorter than floods.

4. Put on shoes. What shoes will you wear with the jeans your cutting. Put them on and walk around. Does it look right?

how to cut your jeans for a DIY raw hem

5. Once you find a good length, mark your jeans with the Tailor’s chalk. I mark right where it’s folded and I’ll do about 1 1/2″ line.

6.  I will remove the jeans and measure the distance from the mark to the hem.

7. I will then measure the same distance along the hem to create a straight dotted line. Another tricky thing – something I’ve learned over time is that hems are not always even, so it will throw off your measurements. This is when you have to just eyeball a straight line. You can always use a book or magazine to help make the line straight.

8. Grab a sharp pair of scissors and cut along the line. I ask Mike to help with this, but you can do it on your own. He will cut and I will hold the jeans taut (not too tight, though).

9. As you can see, the dotted line was either not straight or we didn’t cut a straight line, lol. It doesn’t have to be perfect.

10. I only ever measure one side and cut it. Once I do that, I  will fold my jeans and line them up as best as possible. Do this by lining up the waist and inseam. The area I’m holding in my left hand is the most important. I will then measure the distance from the bottom of the jeans to where I want to cut them. I will either draw a dotted line (if done alone), or Mike will just cut it from there.

11. As you can see, the cuts were very different. Jeans don’t always come symmetrical, which is why measurements may be off. And sometimes we cut them wrong and one leg is higher than the other. After cutting so many pairs of jeans over the years, I’ve learned that, unless you cut your hem way too short and there’s no going back, everything is very fixable.

12. Always try on your newly hemmed jeans to make sure you like the length and that you have an even cut.

13. Last and final step, wash your jeans. Wash and dry. This will give you a nice raw hem look, instead of the rigid cut look. I didn’t get around to photographing these jeans after the wash, but just know it makes a huge difference. The look is more frayed and raw hem looking instead of looking like you just cut your jeans.

In terms of the fraying at the hem – I haven’t had any issues with this over the years. I think only 1 pair of jeans started unraveling at the side seam, but I also wore those jeans to death for 5 years.