It seems like frayed hem, high-low hem, and raw hem jeans are becoming more and more popular. And as far as I’m concerned, that’s great news! Because it’s basically encouraging all of us to just upcycle our old jeans.
And really, who’s going to turn down a fun project that costs zero dollars and takes maybe 30 minutes? (Ok, the answer is a lot of people. But still, it sounds great to me!)
So I sat down with an old pair of jeans (the ones that I dubbed “basically mom jeans” and upcycled here) and let my creative juices flow. Here’s what I did!
- Chalk (a pen — or even stickers — can work, too)
- A seam ripper -or- a safety pin and little scissors
- A needle and thread –or- a sewing machine
- A ruler
#1 | Pick a length
This is a two-part step.
First, decide how long you want your finished jeans to be. Try them on, find that place, and mark it. (This is where the chalk/pen/stickers come in.) From there, take the jeans back off and extend your original mark(s) around the pant leg. This is your new hemline.
If you made a mark on both legs, cool! If you didn’t, it’s not a big deal. Just use your mark on the first leg to create your hemline on leg #2. Either use your ruler to measure up the same distance or lay the pant legs side-by-side and draw a mark in the same place.
Then, decide how frayed you want your jeans to be. You could decide you just want a raw hem, an inch of fringe, or several inches of fringe. If you choose some fringe, measure up that amount from your new hem, and mark that, too. This is your maximum fray (aka “max fray”) line.
#2 | Play with scissors (and possibly a seam ripper)
This is the fun part!
If your new length is above the current hemline (aka the stitching) on your jeans, pull out your scissors! Cut along the hemline (the bottom line) you made in step 1 and then repeat on the other leg.
If your new length is at or below the current hemline, you’ll need to take out the stitching. (It’s not as bad as it seems!) If you have a seam ripper, this is the time to use it. If you don’t, you can achieve the same results with a small pair of scissors (like the ones that come in little nail kits).
Cut every third stitch (give or take) all the way around the outside of the pant leg. Then pull out the thread on the inside so that the stitching is truly gone. [Note: I did this the opposite way — I cut the stitches on the inside of the leg — but it’s the same idea.]
From there, unfold your hem. You may also need to redraw your lines from step 1 (mine definitely got a bit smudged while I was ripping seams).
Once that’s done, cut along the marks for your new hemline. And repeat on the other pant leg!
#3 | Optional — Sew along your “max fray” line
If you’ve decided to fray the jeans a bit, you have the option to stitch along the second (top) line you made in step 1. (No sewing machine? You can do this by hand — or just ignore the step completely.)
There are two benefits of doing the stitching. One, you’ll know the jeans won’t fray above the line you set (though I’m not convinced they’ll really fray much more anyway). Two, you’ll have an easy way to know that you’ve unraveled the denim in an even line all the way around (though your chalk/pen/sticker line can also help with this).
My mom and I actually debated about whether this step even mattered. I say do it if you want to; don’t if you don’t. 🙂
#4 | Fray the hem!
There are probably a few little white strings hanging down — pull on them to unravel the denim a bit!
If you’re going for a more dramatic fringe, it’s way faster to help the fray along. Use your trusty seam ripper — or a safety pin — to pull out the white threads until you reach your “max fray” line.
And you’re done!
As always, thanks for reading. And if you make your own frayed/raw hem jeans, I’d love to hear about them!
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