Photo of denim designer Maurice Malone working on taking in the waist of a pair of jeans at his 67 West Street, Greenpoint, Brooklyn, studio.

Expert Denim Tailoring at 67 West Street: Stridewise visits our studio to learn how we take in the waist of jeans

Nick English of Stridewise dropped by our 67 West Street studio in the heart of Greenpoint, Brooklyn, entrusting us—the nation’s top-tier denim alteration specialists—with refining the fit of his jeans at the waist. Dive into our expert process through this video, and if you’re plotting a course to our doorstep, we’ve included some handy navigation tips to guide you right to us.

Don’t miss Nick’s website, where he explores boots and other gear. For denim enthusiasts, there’s a must-read post titled ‘Best Selvedge Denim.

The leg opening of a pair of jeans is shown on a table, indicating how the inseam of jeans with twisted legs is about to be measured. The chain-stitched hem has a roping effect as well.

How to measure the inseam of jeans with twisted legs

The goal of this tutorial video is to walk you through the complex process of determining the inseam of twisted-leg jeans. In contrast to measuring the inseam on a pair of typical jeans or pants, dealing with twisted legs adds an additional level of complication. When the legs of the jeans wrap around to the opposite side, the dilemma of whether to follow the inseam line arises.

The short answer is no. The key is to follow the natural shape of the jeans as though there were no twist. In this video, we show you step-by-step how to do this.

In addition, we explore some of the frequent mistakes that tailors and clients requesting hemming alterations make while shortening the inseam. This guide will educate you on why using a general request like “take off 2 inches” while asking for a hemming service may not be the best choice. Similar to this, we show how this approach can result in mistakes when shortening jeans for tailors who often align the hems of jeans before simply cutting them. Have a look at our video to enhance your understanding and skills with denim alterations.

The hem of tailored jeans next to parts of the original leg size shows an example of what it means to have "tapered jeans alterations."
This photo is an example of "tapered jeans alterations." It shows the hem of a pair of selvedge jeans that have been tapered from the inseam to narrow the leg opening. Next to the resized legs of the jeans is the original, wider portion of the jeans leg and discarded denim fabric, which has been cut away from the garment to decrease the leg size.

What are tapered jeans and pants?

There are two meanings when it comes to “tapered” as related to jeans, pants, and other garments designed to wear over the legs.

  1. Related to alterations or tailoring: The term “tapered jeans” and “tapered pants” refer to garment bottoms worn over the legs that have been altered to narrow the shape of the legs.
  2. Related to the design or style of a garment: It’s a jean or pant with a leg that narrows dramatically from the knee to the leg opening. Tapered clothing should not be confused with slim-fit or other jeans and pants with legs that gradually decrease in size from the knee to the leg opening.

Example of use (related to alterations): I had my jeans tapered because the legs were too baggy.

Raw denim selvedge jeans that have been tapered using the tapering alterations process to narrow the leg shape. The excess denim from the jeans can be seen in front of the jeans.
Selvedge jeans that have been tapered using the tapering alterations process to narrow the leg shape while shortening the inseam length. The excess denim from the jeans can be seen in the front of the jeans.

Example of use (related to design or style): I bought tapered jeans because I wanted the leg opening to be small enough that the hem wouldn’t cover my shoes.

Lightwash tapered American-made jeans for women by Williamsburg Garment Company
Women’s boyfriend tapered fit jeans
Hope Street men's tapered American-made jeans
Men’s Hope Street tapered jeans
Cover image for TikTok video demonstrating how we expertly taper and take in the waist of jeans for the perfect fit.

Getting your fit right: Learn how we taper the leg while taking in the waist on jeans

Do you want to know what sets us apart from the competition when it comes to denim alterations? In our latest TikTok video, you can see how we professionally taper the legs of a pair of jeans while also taking in the waist to make them fit just right.

@williamsburggar Denim heaven. The art of taking in the waist with tapering alterations on jeans. We perfect your fit. #denimyourway #denimhead #denimtailor #taperingjeans #jeanswaist #jeanswaistgap #selvedgedenim ♬ MAMBO OVER THE MOUNTAIN – Rick Hirsch

Make sure to follow us on TikTok to see more informative and entertaining videos. @williamsburggar

Close-up of a black vintage Union Special 43200G sewing machine used for chain stitch hemming on jeans

The Union Special 43200G: A Unicorn or One-Trick Pony?

Denim nerds, get ready for a reality check. I’m about to debunk some of the myths and misconceptions about the Union Special 43200G that have been circulated for years by brands, publications, and online communities.

As is the case with many things on the Internet, exaggerated claims can quickly become folklore by the regurgitation of stories that weren’t well thought out from the beginning.

The well-told narrative that the twisting at the hem is caused by a technical error, feed dog flaw, or differential defect in the inner workings of the Union Special 43200G is flawed in and of itself. The roping effect has been overcomplicated to the point where denim fans who don’t know any better will believe that the Union Special 43200G is the only sewing machine capable of producing twisted and puckered hems with chain stitch hemming.

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In my research into what denim enthusiasts are being led to believe, I easily discovered statements that I believe are misleading or false. Here are a few examples:

“Any Union Special without the folder will not create the roping effect.”

“There is only one way to chain stitch a selvedge denim hem and that’s on a folder equipped Union Special 43200g. Why you ask? These machines create a desirable roping effect on the hem which is actually caused by a feed differential defect.”

“Roping comes from the 45 degree angle of break-in that makes the hem look like a rope. It’s become part of true denim DNA. Without it, jeans don’t look right to us. And the crazy thing is this comes from a flaw in the Union Special that makes it create a slight twist.”

“Union Special company seems to have replaced the 43200G with other machines in a quest to replicate the same stitch and make it easier to use the machine but this has reduced the tension on the thread. This means you don’t achieve the same roping/puckering as you would with the original.”

In reality, the roping effect is simply caused by seams that are not lined up.

Example of a misalignment of both seams on a jeans hem will cause a shift and rotation in the direction of the misalignment. This is the roping effect on denim.
The graphic shows how misaligned hem seams create a shift and rotation. This is the roping effect on denim.

The roping effect is simply caused by seams at the face and undersides of the hem not being lined up. Twisting occurs when the inseams shift in one direction, resulting in the roping effect. The effect becomes more visible with aging and washing. Sometimes factories do this unintentionally, and other times a brand’s designers may request a factory do it on purpose. Most factories make an effort to align the seams, which may be the reason why most jeans do not exhibit a significant degree of twisting.

Close-up example of the roping effect on a pair of light-washed Levi's jeans with chain stitch hemming and frayed hem.
Example of the roping effect on a pair of light-washed Levi’s jeans with chain stitch hemming and frayed hem.

Furthermore, the stitch type is not a factor in creating the twists and puckers, as seen in the reference example photo below. I, too, was once swayed by rumors and stated in my tapering video that the tension of chain stitching contributes to the roping effect.

Busting the myth that the Union Special 43200G does not cause roping effect by showing twisting on a hem sewn with a lockstitch machine.
These hems without chain stitching show that the puckers and twists that make up roping are not caused by the type of stitch.

Don’t misunderstand me. I think the well-beloved Union Special 43200G is a beautiful old sewing machine. However, production was halted for a reason. It was most likely not due to a differential flaw, cheaper lockstitching, or other nonsense being repeated or made up. The truth is that it only does one function. Although it performs well, some sewing machines can perform the same function as well as other operations.

Black vintage Union Special 43200G sewing machine used for hemming denim jeans.
Black vintage Union Special 43200G sewing machine. Photo courtesy of Joswick denim.

Purchasing a sewing machine that only does one thing over machines that do multiple tasks equally well or better is a bad idea for factories that must make sound economic decisions. This is most likely why production was halted, as with most discontinued products.

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

What is Jeans Hemming Explained


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.

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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.