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General denim-related articles to read or watch that could teach you something that you did not know about jeans and denim.

Pure Blue Japan jeans with shortened inseam shows what is jeans hemming
Hemmed Syoaia Pure Blue Japan jeans

What is Jeans Hemming Explained

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Summary

Jeans hemming is the process of shortening the leg or inseam length of a pair of jeans by removing some of the fabric from the bottom.

These photographs demonstrate the before and after effects of hemming alterations made by Williamsburg Garment Company to shorten the inseam of jeans to demonstrate “what jeans hemming is.” The top photograph features a pair of Pure Blue Japan jeans. It displays the altered inseam and leg openings as well as the portions of the hem that was removed.

The below image displays a pair of raw denim jeans with their original hem and full inseam length. A chalk line on the jeans marks the hemming cut line, which also includes a 1/2-inch double fold (1-inch).

A pair of raw denim LeRoy Strauss jeans are shown at their original length, and a chalk line marks the hemming cut line.
A pair of raw denim jeans with yellow chainstitch inside the hem are marked with a chalk line which represents the cut line.

The majority of jeans are sewn with chain-stitched hemming. The average hem measures roughly 1/2 inch tall. A tailor or seamstress double folds the raw edge after cutting to the hem (leg opening). Since each fold measures approximately 1/2 inch, the inseam length must be increased by 1 inch to reach the desired length.

To see what we mean by double folding, and the process of hemming in action. Watch our video “Chain Stitch Hemming in 87 Seconds.”

Chain Stitch Hemming in 87 Seconds

Photo shows hemmed selvedge raw denim jeans with yellow chain stitching and cut-off fabric parts after alterations.
Hemmed (shortened) jeans with yellow chain stitching are shown after being altered and having the original hem removed.
Chainstitch denim hemming alterations on Gap 1969 jeans
Chainstitch denim hemming on Gap 1969 jeans with alterations service by Williamsburg Garment Company.

Tips for Professionally Hemming Your Denim: The Simple, Affordable Way

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So you splurged on that vintage-looking pair of Gap 1969 jeans. They are everything you were looking for, but about 4-to-5-inches too long. Now what? You don’t want to wear them rolled with a huge cuff – or even have them stacking over your shoes. You want to make them one of your go-to jeans, so you need them to fit right. Here’s how you can make that happen: With fast professional chainstitch denim hemming service that’s available from any city or town in the USA! We make our alterations services simple and both affordable and easy to execute. Read on to learn how we can help you achieve the perfect fit:

What is a Chainstitch Hem?

A chainstitch hem is a technique used in most jeans. It’s a fairly common and durable stitch that is found on most jeans. As seen on the above pair of Gap 1969 jeans, you’ll want to ensure when shortening your inseam, the jeans have the same style of sewing as the original store-bought jeans. That’s with chain stitching and thick, heavy threads. Both are not options not usually found at local tailors, cleaners, and even department stores or a brand’s in-store alterations services. Read more on chainstitch hemming on our blog.

How to order Hemming from us

We receive and ship altered jeans, pants, and shirts from all over the USA. Sometimes, those seeking the very best denim services will ship us garments from other countries. We offer low-cost 2-way shipping options, so you can ship 1 or multiple items in an order for the same low price. With 2-way shipping, we email you a shipping within a few hours of placing your order, or the next morning when ordering after business hours.

Additional Rush Alterations Options to Consider

We offer RUSH and STANDARD SERVICE. The fastest is Same-Day while you wait. The next fastest is 1-Day Service. Our regular service takes about 5-to-7 days. Pricing for all services is listed on the ordering page.

The Catch-22 of Denim Hemming

Unfortunately, there are DIY techniques and non-professional denim tailors who offer what’s called an Original Hem alteration. They say you can retain the original pre-washed edge on the leg opening, but they don’t tell how bad your jeans will look on the inside or how you will lose the flexibility of the hem.

Inside sewing details of original hem alteration
Example of one of the Original Hem alterations sewing techniques

Final Words

Original hems are a bad idea. Don’t let anyone talk you into this style of alteration. We get lots of jeans sent to us with requests to undo this alteration and re-hem the jeans correctly with chain stitching.

The pre-washed edge on the leg opening, as seen on the section cut from Gap 1969 jeans comes back in time with washing and wearing. If you want to speed up the process, you can rough up the hem with sandpaper, a sharp blade, or an electric grinder for the shredded look. For fast fading, wet and wrinkle the hem, then rub in a small amount of bleach on the high points, and dip the hem in cold water to halt the fading. Machine wash the jeans after.

Bad DIY lockstitch hemming done by home sewing machine
Example of poor quality DIY lockstitch hemming done by home sewing machine.

Fixing Tailor’s & DIY Hemming Mistakes

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We fix a lot of professional tailor shops and DIY home sewing machine hemming jobs. People learn the hard way that home sewing machines aren’t up to standard when working with denim and then send jeans to us for re-hemming. The thick seamlines are just too much for most domestic machines, so we often find thin broken needles stuck inside of hems.

Others discover that the difference between the quality of denim alterations from a suit tailor or local cleaners, and us is like night and day. That’s because the heavyweight fabric requires specialized machines and the workmanship required for denim is worlds apart from suits, fine trousers, dresses, and style of garments commonly worked on at most tailoring shops.

Lockstitch sewing on selvedge denim jeans hem
Lockstitch hemming is often what you get at Cleaners or Professional Tailoring shops.

Hems are commonly sewn with chain stitching at jeans factories. Most professional tailors will try to hem jeans on single-needle lockstitch machines, but they often can’t handle the thick fabric or seams. Again, home sewing machines aren’t nearly capable.

Chainstitch vs lockstitch hemming
Example of chainstitch vs lockstitch hemming compared. Chain stitching at the top of the photo, lockstitching at the bottom.

When it comes to stitching sizes, professional tailors will use threads that are a little heavier than the small thread sizes which must be used in domestic machines. But still, they usually don’t stock the thicker thread sizes commonly used with denim. The difference is plain to see when it comes to jeans- have them professionally altered by a denim specialist.

How much raw denim jeans grow or shrink after washing and wearing explained with measurement changes displayed over the jeans waistband, rise, hips and thighs.

A look at raw denim jeans after wash & wear

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We analyze our Slim Standard Grand Street jeans after washing and wearing them to explore how the fit of raw denim jeans can vary over time. The style before the wash feels starchy and crisp. It was produced in a mid-weight, 11.5-ounce, American-made Cone Denim White Oak non-selvedge denim.

Williamsburg Garment Company's new raw denim jeans compared to broken-in worn jeans

We do a lot of denim alterations, not just on our jeans but also on those from numerous other brands. The bottom line is that we get to see a lot of denim, which is a plus. They arrive with us new, slightly used, well-broken-in, or terribly damaged and devastated.

In the case of Williamsburg jeans, this enables us to contrast various levels of our used denim with those of the same style that are brand-new, off-the-rack. These jeans were brought in for button repair work. It was a fantastic pair to study because they hadn’t had any hemming or other adjustments done that would have made them out of the original specifications.

The measurements between the new and the older pairs of jeans are shown here. Because of the yarn colors, fabric texture, softness, and lack of oil in the fabric, we know this pair has been washed at some point throughout its history, even if we didn’t inquire. The signs of stretching are prevalent in locations that experience typical stress, so we know the jeans were worn after being washed.

Measurements differences between new and worn raw denim jeans
The measurements indicate the changes between brand-new and worn raw denim jeans.

You should be aware that when it comes to raw denim, each fabric that makes up the product may have varying rates of shrinkage or growth. This is true whether you own a pair of raw jeans from another manufacturer or even a different model of Williamsburg jeans. When soaked in water, some denim actually expands in one direction rather than contracting. Others may have little or significant stretching.

Finally, size is important. In the same fabric, a 1/4 inch increase on size 30 jeans could translate to a 3/8 to 1/2 inch increase on size 40 jeans. This is due to the fact that larger size changes are being felt over greater distances.

For more information, or to review spec changes in other styles, check out past articles.

Cone Mills White Oak closes NC plant
Photo Credit: Bloomberg

The End of American Made Jeans – Cone Denim to close White Oak Plant

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This is no fabrication. A few weeks ago, I woke from a nightmare having dreamt Cone Denim, our main supplier of denim fabric, closed its doors and people were buying up everything down to bare shelves at our retail store. However, that was just a dream. Our denim supplier has been producing quality denim for over 125 years and has the oldest denim mill in the United States of America. A shut-down of its famous White Oak Plant which produces its U.S.-made denim and is the last mill standing that makes selvage denim in the USA is very unlikely. Right?

The day before writing this, I saw a spike in sales and I thought, maybe it was due to the results of the articles being written, inspired by our press release a few days earlier. Later that night after work, my wife asked if I heard the news about Cone Mills White Oak Plant closing. I thought, clearly she was mistaken and I went online to check it out.

If you are not familiar with Cone Denim Mills, they have been America’s leading supplier of high-quality denim fabrics to apparel brands since 1891. Nearly all of the most popular and successful small to mid-sized domestic jeans makers in the United States rely on Cone Denim as a key supplier. At Williamsburg Garment Company, about 90% of the denim we use is American-made Cone Denim. I stress the point that we use American-made denim because Cone branded denim is also manufactured in mills located in China and Mexico. I learned from dealing with import complications and extra costs, to walk into the Cone showroom or tradeshow booth and stress, only show me the new American-made fabrics.

After doing some research and contacting Cone Denim, I was shocked to learn that Cone was indeed planning to close its 112-year-old White Oak Plant in Greensboro, North Carolina, which produces all of the company’s American-made denim and employs nearly 200 people. Initially, I hoped this was one of those times when an announcement is made for the closing or end of something very dear to a fan group, like Jay-Z’s Black Album. Closing announcements can sometimes be used to ignite sales, meanwhile re-organizing and re-opening is really what is planned.

I hoped and suspected something would be announced later like, deciding to downsize the White Oak Plant or move the production to a new smaller more optimized manufacturing facility. However, after remembering International Textile Group, Cone Denim’s parent company was acquired via a Public-to-Private transaction in October 2016 by the investment firm Platinum Equity, I feared the worst, knowing the thinking behind money people. When it’s strictly about turning a profit, closing the least profitable parts of an operation, like U.S. manufacturing, to focus on the more profitable parts, like foreign manufacturing, is normal thinking.

This seems to be what may be happening as a rep at Cone Denim has informed me, “ultimately there will no longer be any denim (wide and selvage) produced in the USA after December 31, 2017. All denim operations will be focused out of Mexico and China.”

Are the days of buying American-made jeans manufactured in denim fabric made in the USA coming to an end?

I sat in the park later that day teary-eyed in unbelief. Thinking this can’t be happening. Will 2018 be the last year to get true American-made jeans manufactured with denim made in the USA? Will the U.S.-made denim supply run out? Will American-made jeans be defined from that point on as jeans sewn in the USA of Mexican, Japanese or Chinese-produced fabrics?

Some 100 years plus of heritage could be wiped out by inventors looking to make profits with one-dimensional thinking. I believe it should be as simple as optimizing the business to succeed in the way business is done today. Not to look on the surface and say this is profitable and this is not, cut out the non-and least profitable. With something this important to the country, I believe you have to find a solution to make it work. It boils down to the old saying, where there’s a will, there’s a way. Too often, money-types come in and take the easy route – stripe everything down, repackage and sell it off for profit, often destroying a brand on their way out.

In this case, they would be ignoring years of heritage and stripping the growing economy of small to mid-sized brands like ours that rely on Cone White Oak denim. We do business in today’s economy. Small-batch, online, direct-to-consumer businesses that focus on making a better product. We helped to ignite the comeback of American-made products after the downturn in the economy and after bigger brands move production overseas for higher profits.

I love Cone Denim. However, I’ve always thought they were underachieving as a brand. Often, big companies are too slow to modernize in changing times or get stuck in a do-the-same-thing we’ve always done strategy. Today, more than ever, you have to think outside the box and clearly define your strengths and weaknesses. Which does not mean cutting off your weaknesses to focus on your strengths. It means being clearly aware of what they are, so you can make both work for you.

Bottom line, any type of business where deep American tradition gives it great value around the world, which produces some of the best products in the world, backed by more than 100 years of heritage and has a highly respected brand name, should be profitable. If a business that has been based in the U.S. for over a century can’t use those things to be successful. The size of a plant and order volumes may not be the problem. Looking into taking advantage of the company’s strengths could help.

Most hard-core denim heads and industry folk are familiar with Cone’s brand. This is why, after the announcement of the plant closing, it took me a day to hear about it and we are one of the company’s customers and players in the denim industry. 

In my opinion, this story is so big it should be national news and running in CNN’s hourly rotation with the headline “Is this the end of American-made Denim?” For this to be a top story at CNN, MSNBC, Fox, or the three major networks, does someone have to mention the connection with Wilbur L. Ross, Commerce Secretary of Trump’s MAGA billionaire posse? 

To complete the merger transaction, Platinum Equity acquired all of the debt and equity securities of ITG, previously owned by entities managed by W.L. Ross & Co. LLC and its affiliates. Not saying that the Commerce Secretary is at fault for the actions of who took over, but anytime an American Institution trades hands, you should have faith that the new tenant is going to take care of the place. And, if President Trump is truly trying to help American manufacturing, he and Mr. Ross need to get some billionaires together that will put this thing back in the hands of those who understand the importance of its American heritage and fix it.

Clothing business owner & denim designer Maurice Malone
WGC brand owner & designer Maurice Malone

Maurice Malone interview: Starting a business built for today

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The easiest way to go out of business is to be too big or expand too fast, according to Maurice Malone, the denim designer at Williamsburg Garment Company (WGC). The company has grown by staying small and maximizing its efforts. He advises upcoming American manufacturers to run a smart, small and tight business, built to do business today, not yesterday.

WGC, a one-man company, moved its production from China to the US following former President Barack Obama’s call to bring manufacturing back to the US.

“When our first American-made jeans proved very successful retailing at only a few dollars more than before, I knew the bulk of our customers would gladly pay a little more for American jeans over imported ones. So, I moved all WGC production to the US later that year,” Malone told Fibre2Fashion.

The company plans to expand into knit garments and core wardrobe essentials like t-shirts, sweatshirts, joggers, leggings, and socks this year. It will also be moving most of its production in-house.

Talking about what sets WGC’s denim apart from its competitor’s jeans, he said, “What makes us the same is what sets us apart. We use the same fabrics as most of our American-made brand competitors while having better or equal quality in sewing and construction. I mean, there are only so many ways you can sew a seam and we try to use the best techniques that garner the best result for the design or style. Then we apply a high level of attention to the details.” (KD)

The interview

Q. What inspired you to make jeans in the United States of America?

A few things led me to move my production from China to the United States of America. Working for many years in China, I watched how they used manufacturing to help the growth of their economy. After conversations with my friend who owned the factory in which my clothing was made in China, I realized that if I sacrificed a little individual gain for the greater good, I could be a small part of helping to bring American garment manufacturing back to the country.

So, when President Barack Obama asked companies to bring manufacturing back to the United States of America, I answered the call and named our first American-made jeans Hope Street in honor of the President. It also happens to be a street in Williamsburg.

When our first American-made jeans proved very successful retailing at only a few dollars more than before, I knew the bulk of our customers would gladly pay a little more for American jeans over imported ones. So, I moved all Williamsburg Garment Company (WGC) production to the United States of America later that year.

Q. What is the growth story of WGC?

During the slump in the economy near the end of the Bush years, I could not find investors for the brands I wanted to launch. I was laid off after having a job for a short time and could not find work. I was amazed that someone with my talent, capable of doing any job at a clothing company, could not get hired.

I freelanced to save money to start my own venture. When I started WGC, I wanted to inspire other designers and entrepreneurs and prove that one person using the technology of the day can build and operate a major internationally known brand.

I started the brand going the traditional wholesale, tradeshow route but had my eye on the future, which I believed was direct to consumer via e-commerce. I got the jump by building a powerfully optimized low-cost website that outperformed big expensive websites that focused on looks instead of being found through search optimization. As my direct-to-consumer business grew, I found no time to chase less profitable wholesale to retailers. Today, although I still sell to retail stores, I do it only if buyers contact me. I no longer call on stores or do tradeshows. I just do not have the time.

Q. What are the advantages and disadvantages of running a one-man show?

The disadvantage is with time. I found myself constantly optimizing everything I do, yet there is still only so much time in a day. After nearing the ceiling or topping out, I got help.

The advantage is, that you are in direct, unfiltered contact with consumers, which helps you understand the relationship between your buyers and products. This helped me build a strong base for the company. That is important for growth. Knowing who you are, what you do, and who you are marketing gives you a strong foundation to stand on.

As the designer of a one-man company, people often ask me how I spend most of my time. My answer is, that most of my time is spent working on my website, optimizing, updating, and writing content because the site is the engine that drives my sales. The next large chunk of time is used answering emails, customer service, marketing/online advertising, and shipping. Then comes accounting, general maintenance, and finally, production and design. Optimizing production and design early help me to spend less time on it today with occasional tweaks here and there.

Q. What sets your raw denim jeans apart from those of your competitors’?

What makes us the same is what sets us apart. We use the same fabrics as most of our American-made brand competitors while having better or equal quality in sewing and construction. There are only so many ways you can sew a seam and we try to use the best techniques that garner the best results for the design or style. Then, we apply a high level of attention to detail.

The biggest separator then becomes our price and branding. Many like to claim fit is the deciding factor, but when you make so many fits, it is likely someone has a fit close to yours. So, when you add all the above, we are priced well below most American-made brands that meet us in quality and fit. It is our pricing or the way we lack branding, which is the biggest thing that sets us apart. You can buy jeans made in the United States of America cheaper from Kickstarter-type brands but then you end up waiting months to get the product and quality could be an issue. This is the sweet spot. Many of our customers want moderately priced, great quality, branded American-made jeans without the wait.

The last factor is branding. Most jeans are branded on the outside while we brand ours on the inside. We simply give a classic, clean product without a lot of extras.

Q. What is your take on new blends and colors in a denim industry that has also seen the rise of jeggings?

I would like to see us do more printed fabrics, especially for the summer months.

Q. Which is the one style of jeans that can never go out of date?

With the growth of the Internet and so many people seeing so many things, style is no longer driven by any industry. People all over the world can find what they are into and it is likely that someone offers that. So, I think the days of things going in and out of style are over. That said, the standard straight-leg jean is the most timeless fit when it comes to denim. Fits trend and descend in popularity, but the basic straight has stood the test of time. At WGC, we strive for tradition. The major philosophy behind this brand is to not to give the consumer a reason to say no. We stripped our jeans of everything that may turn people away because clean and classic will last forever.

Q. Which brands in the United States of America provide the most authentic true blue jeans?

Someone who is not knowledgeable about denim would think the oldest brands would be the obvious choice. They do not realise that these brands are now mainly producing jeans not made in the United States of America. Obviously, we are a bit biased, but WGC is one of the few brands that offers modern, wearable jeans of top quality with fits that appeal to all consumers.

Q. How has the market for jeans evolved in the United States of America? What are your views on the current market?

Denim remains an essential part of people’s wardrobe. Leggings have taken a good portion of denim away in the women’s market while joggers have done the same to a lesser effect in the men’s market. However, more men find clean, dark denim more suitable for business casual wear. As far as style, I don’t see skinny going anywhere but I do see more people opting for loose fits as an alternative look.

Q. With Made in USA back in trend, what is the growth story you envisage?

We plan to be a top maker of US denim in the world, the brand everyone thinks of when thinking of American denim. We have grown by staying small and maximising our efforts. The easiest way to go out of business is to be too big or expand too fast.

Q. At what rate is the jeans market growing in the United States of America? What are your expectations from it for the next two years?

I am not a researcher to give you market numbers but I can give historical facts. Denim will be strong in the foreseeable future, just like it has been in the past.

Q. From where do you source raw material?

Our denim is sourced from three main suppliers. About 92 per cent is from Cone denim which is made in the United States of America, about five per cent from Kuroki while three per cent is Kaihara denim, made in Japan.

Q. What is your manufacturing capacity?

Our factory is just starting. Our goal is to produce the WGC collection and start small with other brands to give us time to learn, perfect and optimise our production process.

Q. What are your plans for the company this year?

This year, we are expanding into knit garments and core wardrobe essentials like T-shirts, sweatshirts, joggers, leggings and socks. We are moving most production in-house. Too many times, suppliers we relied on fell way behind with delivery timelines, which makes us look bad to our customers. Our slogan is: We have a clear, focused vision: To be the world’s favourite American Denim Brand. 

That cannot be achieved with late deliveries. We now have our own manufacturing arm. We intend to grow and market the new manufacturing company the way it should be done in today’s market.

Q. How much do you invest in R&D every year?

We do not waste much money on R&D. Timelines are short and experimenting can be expensive. We have ideas and take them into production, starting small and safe with new products.

Q. How has the performance of your company been this fiscal? At what percentage are you expecting to grow in the next fiscal?

We have seen a small percentage growth each year. I believe the company has nearly topped out in numbers it can reach as a one-man company, so I have taken on help this year. Our growth now is only limited by our credit limits. In the current banking situation, we have seen credit lines grow slower than anticipated, so part of my focus this year will be to look for financial institutions that will work with our company to help us maximize our potential.

Q. Any suggestions for those planning to manufacture and sell items in the United States of America?

Run a smart, small and tight business. Start a business built to do business today, not yesterday.

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