EDITORIAL | Alterations & Hemming

So you finally found that perfect pair of jeans at Over the Rainbow, now what?! If you’re one of the lucky people who never have had to alter their jeans then skip ahead and go forth in your new denim and perfect length legs. But for the rest of us who fall below the regular inseam, a great tailor/seamstress should be part of your roster of personal services, right next to your hairstylist and family doctor.

I’m 5 foot 2 (5 foot 3 if I stand up REALLY straight) and finding the right pair of jeans have always been a hassle for me. There’s only so much tippy-toeing one can do when trying on a pair that you would think I was a ballerina performing a one-man show in the change room. As well, nothing irks me more than seeing destroyed hems on a pair of jeans that weren’t altered properly – Don’t even get me started on celebrities who insist on dragging their free pair of jeans until the hem looks like a dog ate at it! Is there a shortage of tailors in Hollywood?? *slow exhale* I digress.

The point I am getting at is that a properly hemmed and well-fitting jean is crucial, especially when you have just made an investment on a great pair. We make it easy as a one-stop-shop with in-house alterations service at Over the Rainbow.  Check out this post back at Rainbow 101’s first blog about our Alterations Department: Alterations to Perfection

Since the store opened 37 years ago, alterations have been an essential service provided for our customers. It still continues to be, and a lot of our loyal customers come back to us time and time again because of it. Our talented and accommodating alterationists have seen it all and will take the time to check to make sure we can fix your jeans to fit you and your lifestyle. Most of these services come with a charge depending on how much time and the resources needed to fix them (see below) but you will be happy to know that if you buy a pair of regular priced jeans at $175 and up, we will alter your brands new jeans for FREE! 

So what exactly is a blind hem? And why does it cost more than a basic or european hem?

Most of the alterations we do at the store fall into these 3 different methods and I will elaborate more on them and what kind of jeans they apply to.


A regular hem is the most standard and economical way of altering the length of your jeans.

Once the length has been determined, it is cut off, folded twice or thrice and sewn straight across. The thickness of the new cuff can range to a quarter of an inch to an inch depending on the original factory standard. Best for jeans that are flat and smooth so that it doesn’t bulk at the ends.  This is one of the faster ways of altering your denim as well as it can be done on a regular sewing machine.

(Example of regular hems on a pair of Black Naked and Famous and wings+horns denim)


An original or “European” hem is when the original cuff of the jean is cut off and sewn back once the length has been cut. Most denim-enthusiasts prefer this type of hemming as it preserves the look and originality of the cuff. These are best for jeans that have a special kind of cuff or distressed bottom. This takes a bit more time as our alterationists need to sew back the original cuff seamlessly to make it look like the original.

(An example of an original hem before its sewn back on – the original distressed cuff is kept after the length has been cut)


A blind hem is when the length of the pant is cut, folded and a sewn straight across without any visible stitches coming through the other side of the material.  This type of alteration on denim is pretty rare as it’s normally reserved for dress pants, dresses, skirts and blazers that we carry in the store. As I’ve learned from our head alterationist, a special sewing machine is also used, the needle is curved and the type of thread used depends on the thickness of the material. Sometimes, it can be done by hand, but very labour-intensive and time-consuming which is the reason why the cost is usually much higher compared to the other methods.


If this is still a bit out of your comfort zone, no worries as our knowledgeable staff will recommend the best option for you when you come in for your “pinning” session. The whole idea is to keep the original details of your denim in factory-standard so that it looks like it’s been made to custom fit you. As the saying goes, “Measure twice and cut once” so we pride ourselves in making sure it’s right the first time. However, we have some additional tips from our customers to help us prep your denim for alterations:

1. Ladies, remember to bring shoes that you are likely to wear with your jeans so we know exactly where to alter them. With the exception of skinny jeans, there is hardly a happy medium of length for trouser/boot cut styles for both flats and heels. We suggest that if you really like a pair, buy 2 so we can alter for both lengths.

2. Make sure to wash jeans prior to coming in for your pinning. Check our previous post on Washing Denim for instructions. It is a must so we can make sure that the jeans have shrunk lengthwise in the wash before it is cut.

3. We give an approximate timeline of 4-7 days for alterations depending on how busy our alterationists are that week. You can always give us a call and we can let you know if it’s ready for pick-up.

We have many other services available in our Alterations Department, so if you have any additional questions, you can always e-mail us at info@rainbowjeans.com or just drop by the store.