How to Hem Jeans or Pants on a Flat Bed Sewing Machine

Last updated on March 18th, 2020 at 06:26 pm

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I’ve heard it a million times – “I want an all metal, vintage machine, but I HAVE to have a free arm so that I can hem pants.”

Really?  It’s simple to hem jeans or any other pant leg on a flat bed sewing machine.  So much so that I don’t use the free arm for this, even on machine that have a free arm. 

What’s the “secret”? 

Just sew on the INSIDE of the tube rather than the outside. 


Before you start sewing, press the hem with a hot iron and lots of steam.  At the bulky seams, either pinch the fabric with a pair of pliers or give it a few good whacks with a hammer.  

This will flatten out the “hump” somewhat and make it easier to feed evenly.  It’s also important to use the right needle for the job. 

I suggest a denim or sharp point needle in size 14, 16 or 18, depending upon how heavy the denim is and the thickness of the thread being used.  I’m using a thicker, topstiching thread, so I opted for a #18 denim point.  

Here are some more  tips for sewing over the “hump”

Just as you approach the hump, when the needle is in the fabric, lift the presser foot and insert something under the presser foot, behind the needle to help level out the foot. I used an empty needle case as my shim in the photo. 

Keeping the foot level allows the fabric to feed evenly and prevents the dreaded “jam-up”.   This is when the foot won’t go over the hump. 

As you come off/ down from the thick seam area, use your shim on the front side to keep the foot level again as shown in the photo above.

Jenny – Sew Classic