Help! A tailor butchered my jeans

Posted by Maurice Malone on 5th May 2020

Help! A tailor butchered my jeans

"Help! A tailor butchered my jeans," are words often expressed to us from those with coveted selvedge jeans who put their faith in traditional tailors and local dry cleaners. "Can they be fixed," they ask? Unfortunately, some people learn the hard way that do-it-yourself (DIY) and tailoring techniques for dress pants don't work correctly, or look appealing, before coming to us for professional denim work.

A bad tapering job can be seen inside the leg opening of this pair of jeans

We usually reply, "yes, we can help but expect holes from the previous sewing in some areas. We can't do anything about that." And if we get the green light, we proceed to rehabilitate the jeans like this pair of Naked and Famous light blue selvedge jeans we recently corrected and provided proper tapering services.

How not to taper selvedge jeans show here on full display.

It's a shame. Here, a lot of work was put into a bad job. The tailor tapered the jeans from both the inseam and outseam like a pair of dress trousers. Because most tailors can't handle the lap inseam, A workaround is usually imployed with dart-like sewing at the seam line. Needless to say, chain stitching at the hem is not an option.

A tailor hack (dart) is used to taper the inseam of jeans sewn with a lap seam.

The results of the dart hack can be seen on the inseam.

We often consider if we should have an additional charge for work which needs to be undone. Sometimes un-doing bad tailoring takes more time than doing it correctly.

The first step of fixing denim tailoring mistakes is carefully undoing the sewing.

It takes time to pick apart sewing. It has to be done carefully. The last thing you want to do is rip a hole in the customer's jeans trying to quickly rip the stitches out.

Example shown, how not to taper jeans from the inseam.

Fixing the tailors mistakes & doing a proper taper

With the following images, we will take you through the step-by-step process of undoing a bad tapering job and re-sewing the jeans correctly. We pick-up the process after removing the hem and inseam darts.

The selvedge outseam is taken apart for re-sewing

Step 1:

We took apart the outseam which was a glaring eyesore to anyone who knows selvedge denim, so it could be sewn back together with a proper 1/2" seam allowance. Making matters worse, it was mind-boggling to find the previous tailor tapered the outseam up past the pocket bags, into the hip area.

Naked & Famous jeans shown with bad tapering up to the hips, and the selvedge outseams later undone for repair.

Step 2:

The outseams are sewn with chain stitching back together so the selvedge width measures a standard 1/2-inch seam allowance.

Re-sewing the selvedge outseam of light blue Naked & Famous jeans in repair.

Example of correctly sewn / repaired selvedge outseams.

Step 3:

With the selvedge back to its original spec and look, we pull out the double-needle chain stitching at the inseam. This is so we can begin correctly tapering the jeans.

The threads of double-needle chain stitched inseam are pulled out.

Step 4:

To evenly draft the new tapered leg, the jeans are opened positioning the selvedge outseams as the center point. The requested measurements are drawn from the hem and eased out just above the knee.

The panels of jeans are opened for redrafting of the legs with new measurements

Step 5:

We pick-out the loose stitches leftover from un-doing the seams of the previous work. If left in, they will be harder to remove from the new sewing.

Before the new sewing, the stitches from the previous sewing are removed.

Step 6:

As predicted, holes from the previous work are visible. We press flat the new outseams and holes, trying to minimize the effects. A note of advice. If this happens to your jeans, don't wear them. Send them for repair ASAP. Wearing the jeans will cause fading and aging, making the seam lines more visible.

The great caveat with denim. Repairs and alteration work with purpose is not frowned upon. Reconstructions, restorations, repairs, holes, and fading are natural beautifying scars. It's the crazy DIY efforts and hacks that can make jeans look silly or embarrassing. 

The outseams are pressed flat. Holes can be seen from the prior tailoring.

Step 7:

The inseams are marked and ready for lap seam sewing. The chalk marks help us to precisely hit the key points at the crotch and hems.

The jeans are ready for the new lap seam sewing at the inseam to begin.

Step 8:

With the tapered inseams sewn back together at the requested specs, the jeans are close to finishing. With jeans that have double-stitched lap seam, there's no good DIY way to taper denim jeans. The fabric and seams are just too heavy for home and the lightweight industrial machines used by local cleaners or tailoring shops.

The jeans are now professionally tapered and ready for hemming.

Step 9:

The hip, as mentioned before was altered. The topstitching was partially removed up to the hand pocket opening, leaving a harsh light area where the bar tack was sewn. Our new stitching was re-sewn directly over the original line and we applied a new bar tack. One thing you are very unlikely to get with DIY or tailoring efforts is proper heavy-duty bar tacking.

Before & after view of the hip sewing. Bar tacking is re-applied.

Step 10:

Chainstitch hemming is applied, and the jeans get a final pressing. The customer now has a pair of jeans he can wear and roll the hem if he chooses to, with confidence.

Chainstitch hemming is applied, the Naked & Famous selvedge jeans are pressed and completed.