Tutorial: Pinch Hem

11:34 AM

When I had my tailoring shop, the alteration that was always the most impressive to people was the pinch hem (also known and an original hem). A pair of jeans could be shortened significantly, but no one could tell that any alteration had been made. I'll show you two methods for a pinch hem: the Original Pinch and the Hidden Pinch.

The Original Pinch
This method will preserve the original wash of the denim and the original stitching.

1. Measure the full amount to be shortened. (This pair needs to be shortened 2 1/2"). Divide that measurement in half to determine how much will be "pinched". This is your half-measurement. (For this pair the half-measurement is 1 1/4").
2. Fold the hem up 1 1/4" (or whatever your half-measurement is) measuring from the original stitching. Be sure to pin the side seams so they stay aligned. Stitch around the hem with the new stitching line running right along side the original stitching.
3. Double check your measurement. Measuring from the inside of the hem, the distance between the stitching line and the folded edge should be 1 1/4" (your half-measurement).
4. If everything is correct, serge of the excess. I like to leave about 3/4" inside.

5. Tack the side seams in to place and blind stitch the excess inside. (This keeps the hem from flipping out during wash and wear).
6. Press the new hem.


The Hidden Pinch
This method only preserves the original wash of the denim, but the excess fabric is completely hidden.
1. Remove original stitching. (I always use a razor blade). Determine your half-measurement (same as in the original pinch).
2. Fold up the hem (the distance of your half-measurement) measuring from the holes of the original stitching. Pin the side seams to keep them aligned.
3. Stitch around with the new stitching line running on the holes of the original stitching. Measure a second time to double check that you measured correctly.
4. Trim the excess fabric to a scant 1/8" from the new stitching.
5. Tuck the cut edge inside the hem and top-stitch with heavy jean thread. The side seams will be thick. I like to flatten them out by pounding them with a hammer before I do the top-stitch.
Finished Hidden Pinch Hem.

-Use a large needle. I use a size 16 and it gets through the heavy denim easily.
-If your using a  heavy jean thread, increase the tension. It helps to keep the stitch looking pretty.
-Go very slowly when you stitch over the side seams. It will prevent a broken needle.

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  1. I've done a pinch hem, but never the hidden pinch. I'll have to give it a try. I like how neat it looks on the inside. I've got a Craft Gossip post scheduled for later today that links to your tutorial:

  2. I have used this countless times on my jeans because I am 5 ft 1, and jeans are sooo long sometimes! I never knew this method had a name! Thanks for teaching me something new. I will also have to try the second method you showed us sometime. Thanks for such great tutorials around here! :)

    1. I have the opposite problem Lynette! Jeans are too short!!! But I have to hem most of my husband's jeans.

  3. Thanks for the tips! I like the pinch hem idea because there's no jean top stitching thread involved.

  4. Oh my goodness THANK YOU for posting this! I have always wondered how to do that!

  5. I've never seen a hidden pinch hem before... that is really cool! And my husband happens to have some pants that need hemming. =)

  6. This is perfect! I was just ask to hem some jeans and now I will give this a try!

  7. Wow this is so clever. I have one of my jean sweeping the floor. I now need to buy a needle for this.

  8. That is amazing! I was looking so hard trying to find where you hemmed it and was so confused at first!

  9. What a great idea! I’ve always just made a new hem, but it’s never the same. Thanks for sharing! website

  10. looks great ! do you think it works for other fabric than jeans ? my husband wears more classic coton trousers and I am in charge of the hems ... thanks in advance for your answer. Carine Fée Paillette


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