Bad Tailoring

Photo shows what is a original hem alteration
Close-up of an original hem alteration

Avoid original hem alterations


An Original Hem alteration. What is it? And, why you should stay away from this type of hemming alteration.

People often fall for this alteration because they like the washed or worn edge on the hem and believe it will be lost while shorting their jeans. Most choose the Original Hem alteration because a tailor or seamstress offers the option, or they learned of this novel alteration that touts keeping the tattered hem by cutting it away and reattaching it to the jeans.

Tattered washed hem edge removed from jeans in order to reattach it when performing an Original Hem alteration
The leg opening from an Original Hem alteration


First of all, it’s cheesy, hacky, corny, wack… There are many ways to describe this bad idea. We get lots of jeans from those who tried this alteration with requests to have their jeans rehabilitated and hemmed with traditional chain stitching. A word of advice, don’t waste your time and money damaging your jeans or wearing this embarrassing look.

Close-up of light washed jeans with original hem alterations
Close-up of light-washed jeans with less flexible original hem alterations

Patience pays off. There is really no reason to hack up your jeans. If you wash and wear regularly, the wavy lines and abrasion highlights will return to jeans after traditional chain stitch hemming. If you want to speed up the process or have a lot of shredding, try roughing up the edges of the hems with sandpaper, an electric grinder, or cut them up with a sharp blade.

To fix bad hemming, the original hem has to be cut away or opening -up, depending on sewing construction.
This cleaner sewn version was sent in for removal. The customer said it was annoying to wear, like a ring around their ankle.

Tailors and seamstresses use multiple techniques to make original hems. The results in our opinion are all bad. In every approach, a seamline is added where there was none before, losing the flexibility of the original leg bottom. Layers of fabrics are sewn together and create a stiff, unsightly, (depending on how heavy the fabric or which method is used) uncomfortable line above the new hem. Other less stiff techniques leave the inside of the jeans looking so hideous, that you would never want to turn up the jeans to make a cuff. Also, if you don’t tack the hem down (which leaves additional visible stitch lines) the hem can flip up exposing the embarrassing-looking sewing construction.

Mangled insides exhibited on Gustin selvedge jeans that are badly tailored with an Original Hem alteration
Example of a bad tailoring technique with an original hem alteration on Gustin selvedge jeans.
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


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.