How To Raw Hem Thrifted Jeans Featured Image

When I thrift, I’m always on the lookout for denim, whether it’s a new-to-me denim jacket or a pre-loved pair of jeans. Denim is a staple in my closet!

Something specific that I had been on the hunt for was bell-bottom jeans that I could pair with boots or heels. On one Goodwill NCW trip, I found exactly what I had hoped for — high-waisted, light-wash, Kancan brand jeans with fashionable rips on the knees.

The only problem? The length.

But I was determined to make these jeans work. The fit and look were perfect!

After a bit of searching online for tutorials and upcycling tips and tricks, I found my solution: a raw hem! So, I took a pair of fabric scissors as well as a needle and thread and got to work. Less than 10 minutes later, my jeans’ length was just right and ready to wear.

Here’s the process I followed on how to raw hem thrifted jeans (whether it’s for fashion or function):

Step 1 on How To Raw Hem Thrifted Jeans


#1. Decide on the length you want for your raw hem

Put your jeans on and look in the mirror. I did this without shoes on, but if you have a pair that you plan to wear with the jeans, it’s not a bad idea to test the length with them on.

Here, you can picture what you want your jeans to look like and evaluate how much fabric needs to go. Since I had a decent chunk of fabric, I rolled up the denim that I wanted to chop and carefully wiggled out of the jeans to maintain the roll. You could use chalk or even a marker to indicate where you want the jeans to end as well.

Remember: You can always cut more length off, but it’s a lot harder to add the length back. So, feel free to mark your denim lower than you think for the first go around.

#2. Lay your jeans on a flat surface and cut along a line

Take your jeans off and lay them down on a flat surface like a table. You can use a ruler or an edge of a book to guide your cut. This will help to keep cuts clean and straight.

I’d recommend using fabric scissors for this. Trust me, it’ll make cutting through the denim so much easier!

Pro tip: Cut one pant leg first and then fold your jeans in half to guide your cut on the other pant leg.

Close up of Raw Hemming


Distress the hem, similar to making a ribbon curl

#3. Turn your jeans inside out and stitch along the seams

After your jeans are cut to the length you want, turn them inside out and have your needle and thread ready. All you need are a few stitches along the seams to keep threads from unraveling.

#4. Distress the hem

You can turn your jeans back out and start on the step that makes the raw hem come to life: destressing! For this step, I like to open up my scissors, take one blade, and carefully glide it along the cut edge of the denim. Think about the motion you take with scissors when you are trying to make a ribbon curl – it’s similar to that!

You want to create friction along the edge of the cut denim to cause some fray. You can even do this by rolling the fabric with your hands.

#5. Your jeans are ready to rock

You’ve successfully created a raw hem pair of thrifted jeans, so show them off! The best thing? These will only get better with age. The more you wear your jeans and wash them, the edgier your raw hem will appear.

Next time you thrift at your local Goodwill NCW, don’t forget to check the racks of jeans! You can add a bit of flair to any pair with a raw hem.

Goodwill NCW Influencer Megan

About Megan Roshak: A lifestyle blogger from Green Bay, Megan loves style, a good deal and supporting her local Goodwill. You can find her on Instagram @megan.roshak.

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