How I Visibly Hemmed a Pair of Secondhand Jeans

I used sashiko-like stitching to hem a pair of thrifted jeans. The inseam now fits better and the jeans have a “visible mending” aesthetic.

Visibly Hemmed Jeans

I’ve had a pair of thrifted jeans that I didn’t like for a couple of years. They were too long (and bootcut, which exacerbates the annoyance of a too-long inseam—all that fabric just hanging around my ankles!). Alas, my post-third-baby and pandemic-life body fits these jeans and not many other pants. So, I figured I can’t make these jeans any worse, so why not try to hem them and make them marginally better?

Pinterest, a go-to for inspiration, didn’t have too much about visibly hemming pants. There are about a bazillion tutorials on how to hem jeans with the original hem, but for this project, I didn’t have the patience. I did find this inspiration: jeans with colorful stitching to hold a cuff in place. I wasn’t interested in a cuff as much as just shortening the legs of my jeans.

The before: just a thrifted pair of bootcut jeans showing a little wear.

I dived right into this project by first cutting off the original hem. Because of the bootcut silhouette and my annoyance at the excessive fabric around my ankles, removing the hem got rid of some of that heft. 

Removed the original hem to lose the extra weight/fabric.

Then, I folded up the pantlegs to a length I liked. I had been doing this when I wore them anyway. Anyone else despise how a cuff like this will catch anything and everything? I’ve taken my pants off at the end of the day to find bits of dried leaves and grass and dirt hiding in the cuffs!

A perfect fit requires just putting the jeans on!

I held the hem in place with some clips and broke out a needle and some pearl cotton thread. I went to town with a running stitch along the folded-up hem, securing the fabric in place. It gives the hem a sashiko stitch look and a nod to the visible mending trend (which is what I was going for second to shortening the length). 

Visibly hemmed jeans with a running stitch.

Overall? The pants are still not my favorite. But, they are better than what they were! Plus, I got some practice hand stitching and felt a sense of accomplishment getting a small project started and completed (hard to do with a one-year-old crawling around!). I’ve washed the jeans and there is some fraying where I cut off the original hem. But, it’s nothing just a little snipping of loose threads here and there can’t fix. 

After one wash. A little bit of fraying, but not too bad.

Have you ever taken a chance on altering a piece of clothing you felt “meh” about? Did you like it better afterwards? Let me know!

Unfussy Instructions for Sewing a Standard Pillowcase

My easy instructions for making pillowcases means you can have a lot of different designs to choose from every time you change sheets. It’s fun for everyone, especially kiddos.

One of my favorite things is having fun pillowcases to choose from every time I change the sheets. I recently made pillowcases for my older kiddos for Christmas (yes, I had to get started this early). Because they’re easy to make, why not have a lot of different patterns or give in to your kids’ 6-month obsession with whatever television character?

I’m not fussy about my home décor and how I make my standard pillowcases is equally unfussy. Admittedly, I inherited my “lots of fun pillowcases” philosophy from my quilter-sewist mom. (She started my collection.) So, I had a sense of how to make one myself since I’ve watched her make them before. But, the instructions I’m providing are my own—made from simply measuring whatever pillow was on my bed at the time, measuring one of her pillowcases, and doing my best with limited space for cutting large swaths of fabric!

First and foremost, per Google, a standard pillow measures 26”L x 20”H. The pillowcase should be a wee bit higher and a wee bit longer. A Google search shows that a standard pillowcase is 30”L x 20”H. But, remember we are working with pillows. Pillows are squishy. Standard pillows are for sleeping, not for decoration (like a throw pillow). So, if your pillowcase ends up a bit too small, you can just squish the pillow in. If they pillowcase is a bit too big, well, it’ll just be a bit loose on the pillow.

To start, select 2 coordinating cotton woven fabrics about 45” wide. One will be for the main part of the pillowcase (Fabric A) and one for the accent (Fabric B). Fabric A needs ¾ yard. Fabric B needs 1/3 yard. Honestly, just get 1 yard of Fabric A and ½ yard of Fabric B. Any extras you can just toss into your scrap pile or add to your stash—who doesn’t want extra fabric to play with? Plus, while 25” + 11” = 36”, a yard, you must remember that a yard is not a yard of fabric. One of the reasons I prewash is that it helps to show just how un-square the cut is. Washing fabric will shrink it, even slightly. Once you fold the fabric straight, you’ll see that the cut edges are not square and that once you square the fabric, you’re most definitely not left with whatever length you asked for. You’ll lose a few inches.

Cut Fabric A 25” by the width of the fabric (WOF). Cut Fabric B 11” by the WOF. Trim off the selvedge.

Fold Fabric B in half with wrong sides together (so the right side is showing) and press.

Pin and stitch Fabric A and B together along the WOF, right sides together, raw edges together. Finish the seam with a zigzag stitch or a French seam. (See below for YouTube French seam tutorial video.)

Here’s where the unfussy comes in: if there are any differences in the lengths between Fabric A and B, just square it up and trim off the extra fabric after they’re stitched together. This is where you’ll get your little bit too small or little bit too big measurements. It’s okay! Trust me! Perfection is overrated anyway.

What the length difference looks like in real life. Notice the pink leaf fabric is longer than the accent fabric.

Next, fold the fabric in half with the right sides together and then stitch the long sides together and finish that seam (zigzag stitch, French seam).

Finally, stitch the short sides together with the right sides together and finish that seam. Turn it right side out and you’re done!

You have my permission to put it on your pillow immediately and just take a short little snooze to test it out.

Here is the French seam tutorial I watched to learn how to do them. It’s a nifty technique that’s great to have in your sewing repertoire.

Update! August’s Goal: Sew Pillowcases

Finished pillowcases.

It’s time to give an update on August’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts, because I did it! The pillowcases are done!

Here is how I broke down this project:

  • cut the main and accent pieces–DONE
  • fold and iron the accent/end pieces in half–DONE
  • pin and stitch the accent pieces to the main pieces–DONE
  • pin and stitch the long ends together–DONE
  • pin and stitch the short sides together–DONE!!!
Fresh French seams!

Honestly, I thought it would take me a lot longer than it did. Alas, having my sewing machine set up 24/7 really helped because it meant I DID NOT need a big chunk of time to work on the pillowcases. I took advantage of my kids’ quiet time and a smidgen of time after the kiddos were in bed.

This pattern is my own, based on just measuring a standard pillow and pillowcase. There are a few unfussy tricks I use to make it super easy to stitch together. I’m going to write a tutorial post soon, so stay tuned.

Pillowcase I made for myself. Love it!

August’s Goal: Sew Pillowcases

Fabric for pillowcases. All washed and ironed, ready to start!

It’s time for August’s One Monthly Goal Link-Up by Elm Street Quilts!

This month, I want to sew pillowcases for my 2 older kiddos and myself. I like making them pillowcases for Christmas (young kids are easy-to-please and pillowcases are easy-to-make!) and, yes, I need to start this early on them.

This year, I bought fabric online, which is no easy feat if you’re looking to coordinate colors and prints (I discovered a few tricks for shopping online, though). I’m also making a couple for myself, because who doesn’t like having fun or interesting pillowcases? A pillowcase, to me, is one of those inconsequential home items that are easy to make and customize, so why not do it and have lots of fun ones to choose from each time you change the sheets?

I have the fabric and I’ve already washed it and ironed it. Here’s what else I need to do:

  • cut the main and accent pieces
  • fold and iron the accent/end pieces in half
  • pin and stitch the accent pieces to the main pieces
  • pin and stitch the long ends together
  • pin and stitch the short sides together

I’ll be doing French seams, which gives a clean finish, but it requires twice the sewing since each seam needs to be stitched twice. (It’s worth it, though!)

I’m lucky to have my sewing machine set up 24/7. While it’s not in an ideal location, it allows me to make use of the 15-30 minutes of free time I have for sewing each day!

Stay tuned! I’ll give an update at the end of the month.

Baby Bibs from Repurposed Button-Up Shirts

I made quick and easy baby bibs with fabric from repurposed button-up shirts and snaps from outgrown, stained baby bodysuits.

Baby bib from upcycled shirts.

I just had my third baby in November. So, he just started eating solids a little over a month ago. Now, being my third, I have some tired bibs leftover from my older two. But the hook-and-loop closures are worn and don’t stick very well, and they’re very vinyl-plastic-y feeling, which I don’t like.

In my fabric stash I have a few button-up shirts from my husband that he no longer can wear because of holes in the elbows. Usually, I would be all about mending, but we’re not at the point where a mended elbow is considered a professional look in the workplace. And, yes, those things do matter. Alas, I did the best I could and stashed the shirts in my fabric bins until the perfect project came along. Enter my need for several bibs for a new human sloppily learning to eat.

The only new thing I used was thread. There’s no interfacing in these bibs! The snap closures came from outgrown baby bodysuits that were stained just enough to bypass the donation bin and went straight to the rag bin (after I snipped off the snaps, of course).

First, I took one of the old bibs I had and made a pattern. I simply folded the bib in half and traced it on some paper, marking the side where the fold goes. I added a ¼” seam allowance line freehand. Hey, these are bibs, not something that needs to fit just right!

Old bib.
New bib pattern.

Next, I cut up the shirts to have a decent amount of fabric. Each bib needs two of the pattern piece cut out of fabric. With some creative folding, I was able to get two bibs out of one shirt: one out of the back and one out of both sleeves.

The back and two sleeves of a shirt cut into flat pieces.

Then, I pinned the two sides together. Here’s the great thing about using woven plaid shirts: I didn’t have to worry so much about wrong and right sides of the fabric. Obviously, if you’re using fabric that has a wrong and right side, pin the right sides together. I stitched around the perimeter of the bib, leaving a space at the bottom for it to be turned right side out.

Before flipping the bib out, I made some clips on the seam allowance around the curves. This helps with getting the seam to lay flat.

After flipping the bib, I gave it a quick press under the iron and then topstitched around the perimeter.

Nothing fancy. Just topstitching in all-purpose thread.

Next up, I trimmed my upcycled snaps. I left just enough fabric on each side so that there would be room to stitch them down. I stitched each snap piece three times on either side of the snap, going back and forth to create a sturdy hold. Eyeballing where the snaps went on the bib ends worked fine. Again, these bibs are going to get messy; there’s no need to be fussy about the construction!

Snaps saved from a baby bodysuit.

A NOTE ABOUT CLOSURES: THESE BIBS, AND ANY BIBS, GO AROUND A BABY’S NECK. EXERCISE CAUTION! USE A BREAKAWAY CLOSURE. WATCH YOUR BABY WHEN THEY’RE WEARING THE BIB. MAKE SURE THEY DON’T GET THE BIB SNAGGED ON ANYTHING AND CAN’T GET FREE. KEEP YOUR BABIES SAFE! SAFETY FIRST, CLEANLINESS SECOND. Goodness, I don’t want any babies to get hurt!

It’s not pretty or precious, but it works!

Okay, so the stitching on the snaps isn’t pretty. Alright, so bibs made out of old business casual shirts aren’t necessarily cute. But, that’s the beauty of having a third baby! I value function over form! Most of these bibs (I made seven total) are 100% cotton. So, they wash up like a dream! They’re soft, pliable, and so far, have caught the slop.

When I put it on my baby, it looks like he’s about to head to office. Ha!