null Skip to main content

Get the absolute best fit from your jeans through customized tapering & hemming

Chart showing how to taper jeans and effects of hemming

By Maurice Malone Published March 3, 2018

In this article, we will share how to taper jeans and hem them. When done properly and professionally, adding customized tapering when hemming jeans for inseam alterations or just narrowing the leg will result in the absolute best fit with jeans that taper.

If you buy jeans other than straight-leg styles off-the-shelf and later apply length alterations without adding tapering, you will experience size changes in the leg opening. The knee position is different between a 6-foot and 5-foot 5-inch individual. If the leg shape of your jeans were designed for a taller person, you will likely have a knee placement that is wider because the placement of your knee is higher up the leg.

Simply shortening the inseam gives you the length you require, but it also alters the original form of the jeans. To get the best look when customizing jeans by going the extra step of adding tapering. Especially if you have to take off more than a few inches of inseam.

Here’s how to hem jeans best by adding additional taper if you are taking off more than an inch or so in length. Before proceeding to the “taper jeans” option under the ALTERATIONS menu, make sure to note all your requested measurements. First, find your own knee location. Put your jeans on, then mark the center point of your knee by giving it a slight bend. A small piece of tape works well because it won’t leave a mark on the fabric. Note, the original knee location of our jeans and many other brands is generally about 12 ½ inches below the crotch seam. Depending on the jean’s length or brand, this could vary.

Drawing explains how to taper jeans by marking the knee position
How to hem jeans & mark knee position for best alteration outcome.

Most people looking where to get jeans hemmed commonly seek out the nearest tailor at the neighborhood cleaners. Most don’t have a Union Special for chain-stitching. Some don’t have machines with enough power to make it through the heavy flat-felled or lap seam at the inseam of some jeans

Unlike a traditional tailor, who mainly work on lightweight fabrics, we are jeans tailors who only work on heavier fabrics. That’s our specialty.

Taper jeans from the inseam - Anyone who does it from the outseam is wrong!

We hem jeans with a chain-stitch at the hem, and taper jeans from the inseam, which is the proper way. Anyone who leads you to believe it should be done from the out-seam is wrong. Either they don’t have the right equipment to sew a flat-felled seam, don't want to take the extra time required to remove the top stitch in order to work on a serger sewn inseam, or just doesn’t know denim.

When performing inseam alterations, the leg opening size increases as the leg circumference gets larger the higher up you go from the bottom towards the crotch. To best keep the original look and shape a jeans design, it is best to also taper jeans if taking off more than about 3-inches.
When raising the position of the bottom, the knee position should also be raised as shown on our drawing near the top of this page. This helps keep the silhouette of the jeans as close as possible to their original intended look.

How to measure leg opening for hemming jeans

Finally, measure the leg opening of your jeans on a flat surface. Note, the measurement is taken by measuring one side of the jeans. You would then need to double that measurement or multiple by 2, in order to get the total circumference measurement of the leg opening.

Choose the measurement you would like. Note, our order form allows for half-inch sizes. If you want a quarter-inch size, please put your request in the notes section, but please be aware, we require a half-inch allowance up or down from your requested measurement.

To learn how we taper jeans, watch the whole process in our 6-minute video or see the link "tapering, how we do it."

Video: How to taper flat-felled jeans

Video: How to measure the inseam of jeans