Have you ever accidentally shrunk your favorite jeans shrunk in the wash? Or perhaps you found a pair of jeans that fit you like a glove in the waist and upper legs but hangs just a tad too short in the lower leg. The good news is that either way, you can learn how to make your jeans longer!
The most popular no-sew method to make jeans longer is to soak the denim and then stretch out the legs. Altering the hem with a seam ripper and hem tape can also lengthen jeans legs. The best way to lengthen jeans with a sewing machine is to add fabric or re-hem the cuff of the jeans.
In this article, you will learn six simple methods for making jeans longer using shrinking and sewing techniques. You will find out how to add cute details to the legs of your jeans. Finally, you will discover tips on taking your jeans to a professional tailor.
- Is There a Way to Lengthen Jeans?
- How to Make Jeans Longer: 6 Methods
- How Do I Make My Inseam Longer?
- How Do You Know if Your Jeans are Too Short?
- How to Make Pants Longer Without Sewing
- How to Make Pants Bigger in the Thighs
- Cute Ways to Lengthen Jeans
- Can a Tailor Make Jeans Longer?
Is There a Way to Lengthen Jeans?
You can lengthen jeans by stretching out the malleable denim or by taking out the original hem in the legs and altering it in various ways. These methods take a bit of time and effort, but you can easily accomplish them by following the steps described in the next section.
If you don’t have the time to put into this project, you can also consider taking your jeans to a tailor. A tailor can take apart the hem in a pair of jeans, unfold the fabric inside them, and then create a new, longer hem.
You have to consider a few factors when lengthening your jeans, though. The first is that if you alter the hem, the folded-over fabric you unfold will probably look darker than the other jeans.
This is because the denim in the pants legs will have faded slightly from wear and washing, but the fabric inside the hem will still look shiny and brand new. If this worries you, you may want to try stretching your jeans instead of adjusting the hem.
Another factor to consider is the kind of fabric in your jeans. If your jeans contain 100% cotton, you can easily stretch or re-hem them. But if your jeans contain elastic fibers like elastane, Spandex, or Lycra, you should avoid trying to stretch them. In this case, you should stick to altering the hem.
How to Make Jeans Longer: 6 Methods
You can make your jeans longer by stretching the legs, altering the hem, or adding new fabric to the hemline.
1. Stretching with Water
You can stretch jeans to make them longer using nothing but your washing machine and your own strength. This is by far the simplest method to make pants longer and it works well on most jeans, so long as they do not contain elastic fibers. The only downside to this technique is that you may have to repeat the stretching exercise each time you wash your jeans to maintain the new length.
- Wash your jeans inside out in a cold water cycle. (As a pro tip, you should always wash jeans inside out and in cold water! This protects the dye and the soft cotton fibers inside the denim).
- When you take the damp jeans out of the washer, fold them in half lengthways.
- Grip the waistband firmly with one hand. With the other hand, grab the hemmed edge at the bottom of both legs.
- Bring your hands together and yank them apart as far as you can.
- Repeat this stretch five times.
- Finally, put the jeans in the dryer and let them dry as usual, or hang them up to air dry.
2. Stretching with Conditioner
If you want the denim in your jeans to stay stretched out semi-permanently, you can also use a soak-and-stretch method that takes a little more time. Adding hair conditioner to the water for the soak gives the curled-up fibers inside the denim a chance to relax and unwind. This makes it easier to stretch out the legs.
You can achieve the same results by adding the same amount of hair conditioner, baby shampoo, or fabric softener to the soak. All of these products can relax the cotton fibers.
- Scrub out a sink or use a clean bucket that can hold the jeans comfortably.
- Fill the bucket half full of warm water.
- Measure in ¼ cup of conditioner for every gallon of water. Or, for a smaller amount of water, use one tablespoon of the product for every quart of water.
- Stir the water until the conditioner dissolves.
- Add the jeans and squish them down into the water.
- Let the denim soak for half an hour.
- As you lift the jeans out of the bucket, use your hands to press out as much water as possible, but don’t wring them out.
- Instead, roll up the wet jeans inside a large towel to press out more of the water.
- You can easily reshape your jeans with the cotton fibers well-saturated in conditioner. To do this, you can stretch the legs longways by pulling on either end with your hands. Or you can put on the jeans and ask a friend to tug on the hem to make sure the legs hang to just the right length!
- After stretching the jeans to the desired length, let them air dry.
- You will want to run them through a cold water wash and air dry once more to remove the conditioner before you wear them.
3. Alter Hem
One of the most professional ways to make your jeans longer is to alter the original hem at the bottom of the legs. You can do this with a sewing machine, but here you will learn how to perform the task more simply without sewing, using fusible hem tape.
- The first step in altering the hem is to take out the old hem’s stitches. The best way to do this is to use a seam ripper, a cheap sewing tool with a handle and a hooked blade. To use the seam ripper, insert the sharp side of the hook beneath a stitch and pull it up towards you, ripping the thread.
- Go around the circle of the leg opening, removing the old stitching. Make sure you do not accidentally stick the seam ripper into the denim and tear the cotton fibers, though!
- Next, pick out any straggling hem threads still in the denim.
- Unfold the bottom edge of the legs and use an iron to smooth out the old creases.
- Turn the jeans inside out.
- Because you don’t want a raw fabric edge at the bottom of your jeans, fold ½” of the cut edge to the inside of the legs. Press this new fold into place using your iron.
- Unfold the ½” and insert a strip of fusible hem tape between the fold and the inside of the jeans leg.
- Use your iron on top of the ½” fold to melt the adhesive in the hem tape and hold the ½” fold in place.
- Let the pants leg cool and then gently tug on the fold to make sure the tape will hold. If it seems loose, iron it again.
4. With Fabric
You can make any jeans longer by undoing the old hem and adding a hem facing on the inside of the leg made of extra fabric. This process does require a sturdy sewing machine that can handle stitching through denim, though!
- Start by finding a length of plain-weave cotton fabric. You can pick any color or pattern you like, as the material will hide on the inside of the jeans!
- You do want to find a spool of cotton thread that matches the original stitching in the jeans, if possible, though.
- Use a seam ripper to pick out the old hemstitching. Unfold the folded-over edge of the hem and press it flat using your iron.
- Next, measure around the raw edge at the bottom of the leg. Write down this measurement in inches, and add one inch onto it. For example, if your flared jean leg has an opening of 17 inches, add one inch to that to get 18 inches.
- Cut out two strips of the cotton fabric measuring three inches tall and as long as the measurement you just added up.
- Use your sewing machine to sew the short ends of the strips together using a ½” seam allowance. This should create two circles the same size as the opening at the jeans leg.
- Use a zigzag stitch to finish the top edge of each circle.
- Use sewing pins to attach the circle of fabric to the raw edge of the jeans leg, keeping the right sides of the fabrics together and opening up the seam allowance on the circle.
- Sewing around the pinned circle, using a ¼” seam allowance. If you have a serger, use that to neatly enclose the edge.
- Use your iron to press the facing to the inside of the jeans leg.
- If your machine has a double-needle, use that to stitch around the outside of the jeans leg to create a nice store-bought finish to the new, longer hem!
5. With Cuff
Another stylish way to make your jeans longer is to add a cuff to the outside of the leg. To do this, you need a quarter yard of denim fabric that more or less matches your jeans. You will also need a sewing machine that can sew through two layers of denim at one time.
- As always, you have to start by taking out the existing hem. The easiest way to remove the stitching is to use a seam ripper.
- Once you have unfolded the old hem, measure around the raw edge of the leg. This will tell you the diameter of the circle at the leg opening. Add one inch to this number and write it down as the length of your cuff fabric.
- Next, decide the depth of the cuff. Write down this number and then multiply it by three. So if you want a 2-inch cuff, multiply 2 X 3 to get 6 inches.
- Finally, add one inch of seam allowance to the depth measurement. For the 2-inch cuff, you would add 6 + 1 to get a total of 7 inches.
- Cut out two lengths of denim using the length and height measurements you wrote down.
- Fold each rectangle of denim in half with the wrong side of the denim facing out.
- Sew the short side of the rectangle with a ½” seam allowance, creating a circle out of the strip of denim. Repeat this for the second denim rectangle.
- Use an iron to press the seam allowance open.
- Now slide the cuffs over the bottom edge of the jeans legs. Align the opened seam with the seam on the side of the jeans leg. Pin the circle of denim and the jean leg opening together using sewing pins.
- Sew around the circle where you pinned using a ½” seam allowance.
- Take out the sewing pins and roll the circle of the cuff all the way down so you see the right side of the denim.
- To finish the cuff, fold the raw edge at the bottom of the cuff halfway up the length of the cuff.
- Then fold the bottom edge up one more time so that the top of the cuff just passes the seam you sewed, stitching the cuff to the jeans.
- Use your iron one more time to press the cuff into sharp folds, and you will have longer jeans with a cool cuff attached!
6. With Wedge
If you want to get fancy and add some flair to your jeans while also making them longer, you can add a wedge or a strip of denim or other fabric to the middle of the legs. This method is nice because you do not have to pick the original hem. On the other hand, this obvious alteration will leave your jeans looking hand-sewn instead of store-bought.
You can create the fabric wedge to add to the jeans in several ways. First, you could pick a fun patterned piece of cotton, such as quilting cotton, to use. Second, you could cut a piece out of another pair of jeans in a contrasting shade of denim or buy a length of denim to use.
- Decide where in the jeans you want to add this additional wedge of material. For a cool symmetrical style, you could add two smaller wedges of material, one above the knee and one below the knee!
- Mark these points by drawing a straight line across each leg with chalk.
- Cut through the legs on your chalk lines. Set aside the lower section of the leg for now.
- For the next step, you need to create a circle out of the add-in fabric with the same circumference as the cut edge of the jean leg. To find this measurement, measure the cut edge of the jean leg, multiply it by two, and add one more inch.
- You also need to decide on the height of your additional fabric. To get this measurement, decide how many inches of length you want to add to the jeans. Add an extra inch to that number.
- Cut out two rectangles of your add-in fabric using those measurements for the length and height.
- Sew the short ends of the rectangles together using a ½” seam allowance to make two circles.
- Pin the fabric circle right sides to the raw edge on the top portion of the jean leg. Use a sewing machine to sew around the circle of the leg opening using a ½” seam allowance.
- Roll down the add-in fabric circle and then pin the raw edge of the lower section of the jean leg onto it, raw edges and right sides together.
- Once again, sew around the circle using a ½” seam allowance.
- Roll down the lower part of the jean leg, and you should have a wedge of added-in fabric in the middle of the jean leg!
- Repeat these steps on the second leg.
- Use your iron to press the added-in wedge of material flat, so it does not puff out from the denim.
How Do I Make My Inseam Longer?
The easiest way to make the inseam longer in jeans is to soak and stretch the pant legs using the conditioner method described earlier in this article. The most permanent way to lengthen the inseam is to alter the hem or add a cuff to the bottom of the leg to extend its length.
The inseam of a pair of pants runs from the crotch seam to the hem along the inner seam of the pants. This is the measurement used to describe the length of jeans when you buy them, so you can also check a sizing chart to ensure the jeans have a long enough inseam to fit your body before making a purchase.
How Do You Know if Your Jeans are Too Short?
You will know your jeans are too short in most cases if the bottom edge of the hem does not touch the arch of your foot. This general rule of thumb works for most straight-cut or bootcut styles.
For skinny jeans, you typically want the hem to reach down to your ankle bone instead.
Also, if you plan to wear heels with the jeans, you will need added length in the legs to make up for your additional height.
How to Make Pants Longer Without Sewing
The best way to make pants longer without sewing is to stretch them. This method may not last forever, but it does work temporarily.
You can also alter the hem to make pants longer without sewing if you use fusible hem tape. This is a great option for anyone who does not own a sewing machine!
How to Make Pants Bigger in the Thighs
You can make pants or jeans bigger in the thighs by stretching them, adding a gusset, or taking apart the seam and using extra fabric inside the seam allowance.
The easiest DIY way to make pants bigger in the thighs is to stretch them. You can do this in several ways, including putting your too-small jeans on and sitting in a warm bath for half an hour!
Adding a gusset means taking apart the side seam in the thighs and stitching in a long triangle of additional fabric. This method is not ideal because it usually looks pretty obvious.
Finally, you can sometimes use the extra fabric in the seam allowance to add a tiny bit of space to the thighs. The easiest way to accomplish this is to take your jeans to a tailor. You can do it yourself if you have a seam ripper and a sewing machine, though!
Cute Ways to Lengthen Jeans
You can find many cute ways to lengthen jeans, including adding a cuff or adding fabric wedge, as described earlier in this article.
You can also hand-stitch on various cute trims to make your jeans longer.
- Try adding a length of pom-pom trim to your jeans. You can find this sold by the yard at most sewing stores, and it looks great on tapered or skinny jeans!
- A piece of knitted lace adds a soft, whimsical edge of cuteness to the bottom of your jeans. For the most professional look, sew the top edge of the lace to the inside of the hem of the jeans.
- For a funkier look, you can add a strip of fake fur to the jeans hem, making them longer and cuter at the same time!
Can a Tailor Make Jeans Longer?
A professional tailor can almost always make jeans longer by altering the hem. Most tailors charge $15-$30 to make hem alterations.
You will probably need to set up an appointment for this, as you will need to try on the jeans so the tailor can determine the correct new length for your pants.
You can make jeans longer by taking apart the hem and sewing a shorter hem in its place, adding a fabric facing or a fabric wedge to the jeans, or sewing on a cuff. You can also make jeans longer without sewing by stretching them or using fusible hem tape to alter the existing hem. The easiest way to make jeans longer is to stretch them, but the most professional and permanent way to make jeans longer is to alter the hem.
If you want a cute way to make your jeans longer, try adding a quirky trim like pompoms, lace, or even fake fur. Keep in mind that most of the time, the bottom edge of your jeans leg should just brush the top of the arch of your foot or your ankle bone in the case of skinny jeans. If the hem does not reach these points, you may need to make your jeans longer!