Tutorial: Boot-cut to Straight Leg Jeans

I posted a tutorial on flared to skinny jeans about a year ago, but it didn’t include any photos, and didn’t really go into detail.  I recently altered some boot cut jeans into straight leg jeans, and I documented the steps to create this more in depth tutorial.


My Express Stella jeans have made many appearances on this blog before.  Lately, though, I’ve been tired of the boot cut leg, and I’ve been wanting a hem that would allow me to wear low-heeled shoes.  I decided to alter them to have them look exactly the way I wanted.

Please note: This is specifically how I altered this pair of jeans.  Different jeans may have different constructions, so this tutorial is no comprehensive.

Step 1: Rip out seams. Rip out hem with seam ripper.  Rip out inner and outer leg seams to about 2-3 inches above knee.  Generally, boot cut jeans start to flare out just below the knee.

Step 2: Measure and take notes. Remember that the front of the jeans and the back of the jeans will have different widths. The back of the leg is usually wider.  Keeping notes, measure the width of the jeans at the knee and at the hem.  Measure for the front and the back, and take notes on what you find.  The difference between these measurements will be divided by two, and that’s how much fabric you will take away at the hem.  For example, on the front leg, the knee is 8 3/4 inches wide, while the hem in 10 inches wide.  That’s a difference of 1 1/4 inches.  I decided to take out 3/4 inch on each side, which gives it a very slight taper.

Step 3: Mark your cuts and cut jeans.

Step 4: Analyze and plan for the different seams. In most jeans, the inner leg seams and outer leg seams will be different in construction.

Outer leg seam

In these jeans, the outer leg seam was made by first serging each piece of fabric separately, and then stitching them together with a sewing machine.

Inner leg seam

The inner leg seam is constructed in the opposite order.  First, both pieces of fabric are stitched together, then the seam is serged.  Finally, this seam is also topstitched on the outside.

Because the inner leg seam is top stitched, it’s better to sew it first.  I’ve done it in the opposite order before, and it’s much harder to topstitch a leg seam when everything else is already sewn together.

Step 5: Sew, serge, and topstitch inner leg seams.

Stitch front and back together at inner leg seams.

Serge inner leg seam, then topstitch on the outside.

Step 6: Serge front and back separately at outer leg seam, then sew together.

Serge each panel of fabric separately.  Do not serge them together.

The edge of the front and back are serged and separate.

Stitch both panels of fabric together.

Step 7: Hem both legs. If you’d like your hem to be shorter, cut it now.  I shortened mine by half an inch.  Then fold under about 1/4 to 1/2 inch of fabric, and press.  Fold under to create hem (I prefer a 1 inch cuff) and press.  Top stitch through all layers on the outside.

And voila!  New jeans!  I’m considering going back and making them slightly tapered and slightly shorter, but I’m happy with them for now.



About Diana

Style maven, knitter, crafter, seamstress, one who does not walk the beaten path.
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6 Responses to Tutorial: Boot-cut to Straight Leg Jeans

  1. Cool! reading so many great blogs about DIY projects makes me think I could really use a sewing machine.

    I especially love the “after” photo – the scarf, shirt, sweater – it all works so nicely together.

    Polka Dot Biker Shorts


  2. Kat says:

    Very nice! I can only wish that I have your sewing skills. =)
    I like you scarf, by the way. =)


  3. Pingback: Smiles Go With Everything » Blog Archive » “Past the chimney-tops soared the kite”

  4. Ella says:

    Measure and take notes? I’m out, lol. I’m soo lazy. I still love this post and gave it a stumble!


  5. Melissa says:

    Did you take 3/4 inch off both the front and back pieces of the leg?


  6. erin says:

    Thanks for this great post! I have three pairs of bootcut jeans that I never wear anymore because I solely rely on my straight-leg jeans. With your post and tips, I’m going to turn some of my bootcuts into straight-leg jeans. Thank you!!


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