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Jean hem distressing

ilona's picture


I am sure I have read a piece on Threads about making jeans hems look like the originals after taking them up.

It wasn't the sew on option that I found

It was about using nail files and bleach?
and wrinkles?

Anyone remember where it is?


Pattiann42's picture

Distressed Jean Hems (post #27635, reply #1 of 3)

While sandpaper will give this effect, there is a new method that many are now using.

You fold up the hem to the right side of the jeans leg and stitch close to the original hem.  Then fold back down and you have a shorter jean/pant leg with the original hem.

The excess can be tacked at the seams or serged away if too bulky.

krichmond's picture

jean hem distressing (post #27635, reply #2 of 3)

Hi Ilona:

I have tried the bleaching/sanding method and, while time-consuming, it looks quite like the original.  You have to baste the new hem into small 'pleats', but not too regular (if you're loathe to follow this step, you can get away with just folding pleats a few inches at a time - BUT you can work faster if the pleats are basted and stable).   (Note: you won't be able to pleat-baste the entire hem all the way around anyway.)   Using an emery board (or sandpaper, nail file, etc.), lightly buff each pleat ridge and the edge of the hem, but try to vary it a bit (see **).  Using a Q-tip, lightly dab dilute bleach solution (not sure of the concentration - I would suggest using the cut-off section to experiment) on the sanded bits. Release basting threads.   Rinse hems (several times) when finished to halt bleaching action (adding vinegar to the rinse water might also help to neutralize the reaction).  **Before you start, study the old hems and try to replicate the look of the fadelines.  If you are nervous, do a trial hem on the cut-off pieces and try the technique on a small-scale to see if the results satisfy you.   Also remember that if people are looking at your hems, their eyes are probably at least four feet away and not scrutinizing it up close like you will be.....

I haven't tried the other method, but I have heard of it.  I think it's call the European jean hem.  It works well IF your jeans are fairly straight-legged AND you aren't shortening them by a huge amount AND your machine can handle the double-thickness of the sideseams.  Pounding the side seams (yes - with a hammer, and on a surface OTHER than your machine bed, kitchen counter or dining table, etc.) will soften and flatten the seam a bit. (this helps when doing a new hem also).  Don't go overboard on this technique though as you can crush and damage the denim fibres.


Hope this helps,



Pattiann42's picture

Distressing Jeans & Hems (post #27635, reply #3 of 3)

I found an article in issue 123/page 74 of the archives.  The author gives suggestions for jeans in general, then goes on to treating the hems.

Hope this will help.