DIY Raw Hem Jeans (You Can Do It!)

Whenever I wear my Levi’s, someone comments about the hem asking whether or not I did it myself or if the jeans came that way.  It was me! I’ve cut the hem of a few pairs of because I like the raw hem look.  It gives them a little edge and makes them a bit more casual without looking sloppy.

Here’s the types of jeans I think it works best with:

  • Jeans that are either 100% (or close to) cotton: here’s why–the stretch fibers in stretchy jeans won’t product that gorgeous, semi-frayed hem.  It’ll just be a sad, straight line and will look like unfinished jeans.  Trust me…I’ve done it to super stretchy jeans and it looks silly.
  • Jeans that are skinny but not leggings.  The pairs I’ve done it to WERE skinny jeans, but they weren’t too tight at my ankle; those have been my most successful DIY raw hems.
  • Make sure the jeans are long enough.  I’m pretty tall and sometimes jeans can be a little too cropped on me, so just make sure they won’t be too short.  I like to cut them right at my ankle bone.

How I do it (no pictures, but trust me, it’s EASY):

  • I used regular scissors (not fabric) and cut right above the finished hem in a straight line.
  • If you want to cut a little shorter, put them on and mark them with chalk first.
  • Raw hem will look more distressed over time as you wash and wear–I think it gets better with age!
  • If the hem gets too stringy for your liking, it’s an easy fix: just snip off the excess with scissors.

Levi’s 721 ripped skinny jeans

Levi’s 721 distressed skinny jeans

This is the first day I wore these jeans–had just cut the hem in the morning. (original post here)
Here’s the raw hem after a couple washes and weeks of wear. (original post here)
The jeans more than six months later – see how they are fraying nicely? (original post here)
Loved the raw hem on my other Levi’s so much that I cut these, too. (original post here)


  1. I’ve done it too! I’ve found that some of mine started to fray a little TOO much, so I turned my jeans inside out and ran a line of stitches on my sewing machine just barely above the fray, so it can’t fry too high. It was super easy and I used a blue threat that matched the jeans, so it’s almost invisible. And I have minimal sewing skills–anyone who can run a hem or sew in a straight line can do this.

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