Changing Your Clothes

Shopping, Sewing, Upcycling, Repairing: Make the most of your clothes!

Makeover Monday: Cropping Jeans


A couple of weeks ago, I showed you how to crop thrift-shop yoga pants to capri length. Today, I’ll show you how I cropped a pair of jeans; the process is very similar, except that the jeans are a non-stretch fabric, requiring a different stitching technique.

Here are my jeans at their original length:

Jeans at original length

My jeans at their original length. (You may recognize them from some early Makeover Mondays.)

The plan is to shorten my jeans to capri length, adding small slits to the outside seams. Like the yoga pants, the first step is to determine what length will work. I do this by simply rolling up the legs, which may not work as well with skinny-legged jeans (unless they’re very stretchy):

Finding the right length

Finding the right length. From far left: Don’t leave any doubt about your pants length— these look like they might just be a tad too short, rather than definitely cropped. I also don’t want my jeans too short; with wider hips like mine, this proportion would not be flattering. For the width of the jeans legs, and for my body, midway between the knee and ankle looks just right!

Tip: If possible, have someone take pictures of you with the legs rolled to different lengths. This is a more accurate way of determining which length actually works; if you try to gauge the length by looking down at your pant legs, they will look longer than they really are. Don’t ask how I know that.

That’s the most important part, done!

Tip: Want slits in your new capris? Decide how big you want the slits to be (mine are 3.5″), use your sewing machine to reinforce the outseams (where the slits will be) at the point where you want the slit to start, then remove the seam stitching from the hem to the reinforcement point. Press these seams open, and stitch them down when you are stitching the rest of the hem. See the last photo for details.

Now, follow the same procedure as for the yoga pants (click on the link for details and photos): using your iron to mark the new hemline, trim off the excess (adding 1/2″ to the length for your hem allowance”, turn inside-out, finish the cut edge, press along new hemline, and stitch your hem in place, stitching around your slits if you have them.

Tip: Substitute regular straight stitching for the zig-zag; I use zig-zag primarily for stretch fabrics. If your jeans are super-skinny and have lots of stretch, go ahead and use the zig-zag so they won’t be too tight.

Voila! Here are my jeans at their chic new length:

Post-makeover jeans

Post-makeover jeans! Since the denim these jeans are made with is lighter than the usual weight, the shorter length is appropriate. The legs (the jeans, not mine) look slightly flared because of the side slits.)

And here’s a close-up of the side slit, with construction details:

Creating leg slits

Creating leg slits. Slits are a great little fashion detail, not to mention that they make capris more comfortable to wear, particularly when pant legs are narrow. They’re optional, of course.

Hurrah! Now, instead of a pair of jeans that, honestly, I haven’t worn in at least a couple months, I have a fantastic “new” pair of capris— perfect for summer!

Author: Colormusing

I'm a writer, color palette creator, and designer of fashion, lingerie, graphics, knitwear patterns, and yarn.

4 thoughts on “Makeover Monday: Cropping Jeans

  1. I have a pair of jeans I need to do this with, but I don’t have a sewing machine – could it be done by hand?

    • I don’t see why not. If your jeans are not skin-tight, there shouldn’t be much stress on your stitches; that’s usually handled by the seams. The only concern I’d have is on the seam if you’re going to make a slit– you need to reinforce the point on that seam at the top of the slit. You could do this by making several hand stitches in that spot and tying a sturdy knot.

  2. Okay, Lindy, so is the next post going to cover how to do this with an “original hem”?

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