How To: Turn Boot Cut Jeans Into Skinny Jeans

What you’ll need:

  • Boot cut jeans
  • A pair of skinny jeans (if you don’t want to take your own measurements)
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine or a needle (if you are doing it by hand)
  • A dark blue thread or a thread color that matches the shade of the jeans you will be hemming

Step One:

Locate which side of the jeans that will be hemmed.

(This is typically the seam on the outside of the jeans)

Just to be sure, it is important to note that you never want to sew over the original hem. So whichever side has the following hem, you are going to be making you alterations on the opposite side.

Step Two:

We will be working on the right pant leg first. Turn your jeans inside out and make sure that the INSIDE seam is laid flat with no excess fabric to the left of the seam. Make sure that when you follow these steps for the other pant leg, the seam is perfectly parallel to the opposite pant leg. (Measuring the perfect width with a ruler is helpful)

Step Three:

The easiest way to do this is to locate a pair of skinny jeans that fit you absolutely perfectly. Place these jeans on top of the jeans you will be altering and make sure that the inside hem of both pairs of jeans match up (the excess fabric of the bootcut jeans will be visible on the outside of the pant leg). Take a ballpoint pen or fabric marker (anything that isn’t permanent, it will wash out in the washer) and trace along the outside of the jean approximately where the pocket ends. This part is very important because you don’t want to have a sharp line because then the alteration will be noticeable.

(Another way to do this is turn the jeans inside out and place safety pins where you would like to take in the jeans. It is important to make sure that you start halfway down your thigh or a few inches above your knees, depending on how tall you are. Once you have done this, trace a line along the safety pins and remove the pins so they don’t get in the way of your sewing.)

Step 4:

Place 4-6 safety pins along the line that you have drawn on your jeans. Next, you will try on your jeans to make sure that you have traced your line correctly. This will feel a little awkward trying on jeans inside out but this is to ensure you have correctly measured how much fabric needs to be taken off. If the jeans feel too tight or too lose, adjust the safety pins accordingly then redraw your line in a different color so you won’t get confused.

Step 5:

Now that you are confident in the fit of your jeans, it is time to sew! My favorite for denim alterations is the zig-zag stitch followed by a straight line stitch on either side of the zig-zag because it will blend in the most and have the tightest hold. Keep the width for your zig-zag the smallest (left of the straight stitch). For the second and third stitches, reset your stitch width and turn the nob so the arrow points to the straight stitch (zero width).

For my hand-sewers out there. No sewing machine? No problem. Grab a cup of tea and make sure you have a a movie to listen to in the background because this will take a few hours if you want to do it right! Thread your needle and begin sewing along the line you have drawn, keeping your stitches as close together as possible. Use a slightly thicker thread than a machine thread to make sure the seam is strong so you don’t have to go over it multiple times!

Step 5:

Setting your stitch length dial and pattern selector. These are usually located together if your sewing machine is similar to the following photos. Depending on your sewing machine, these settings can look completely different. (See your instruction manual to your sewing machine to locate the stitch pattern selector)

Turn the outside nob so the number aligns with the red dot. If this is your first time, set a larger length between stitches because it is easier to undo the seam. If you are feeling confident, set a smaller length (between .5 and 1.5) for your stitching.

Step 6:

Make sure when you make your stitches, you start sewing along the seam then slowly sew inward where you will meet your line that you have drawn. This is important so there won’t be any harsh edges and the result will be a smooth straight hem.

Step 7:

Repeat steps 5 and 6 to the opposite leg.

Step 8:

Cut off the excess fabric so your new skinny jeans won’t be bunchy on the inside. And— TADA

Enjoy your new skinny jeans! Ciao!

About Sara

I am a senior at the University of Oregon in the School of Journalism and Communication. I will be graduating in December with a degree in public relations and a minor in business administration. In January I will be starting a professional designation program at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising where I will be studying fashion design.
This entry was posted in Fashion Crafts, Fashion How-To, Sewing Crafts and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to How To: Turn Boot Cut Jeans Into Skinny Jeans

  1. SillyCristina says:

    OMG. I wish it was that easy…

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