DIY Your Own Released Hem Jeans With This $2 Tool

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released hem denim diy — original jeans at the end of tutorial

Distressed at its best!

Fashion trends come and go quicker than the time it takes to get in your car and drive to the mall, but there is one trend I’ve been seeing too much too ignore—released hem denim. And I have to say, I’m loving the look! I think it’s the perfect harmonious mix between neatly styled while still looking edgy.

I’ve been seeing this trend pop up on style blogs, retail mannequins, and on all of my friends. I refuse to let this trend pass me by, but I’m also not about to go out and buy a new pair of jeans.

released hem denim diy — holding up seam ripper tool in front of denim jeans

As someone who is a decent sewer, I knew I could take on the job myself, but even if that’s not the case for you, you’re in luck! This DIY actually requires 0% sewing skills, though you may be ahead of the game if you have some sewing tools on hand. I grabbed the one tool that I’m 99.9% certain every sewer has—a trusty seam ripper. 

If you’re unfamiliar with what a seam ripper is, it is a small tool with a sharp hook designed to (you guessed it) rip seams. If you don’t have one of these tools already, you can easily find one for a couple of bucks at any craft store or business that sells sewing supplies:

released hem denim diy — jeans at the beginning of the tutorial

To achieve the released hem (also know as a distressed hem or raw hem) look, all you need to do is remove the seam that holds together the hem at the bottom of each pant leg.

Check out how to easily transform your jeans with a seam ripper in the tutorial below.

Released Hem Denim Tutorial


Supplies Needed



Start by sliding the long edge of the hook of the seam ripper underneath a single loop of the seam, and pushing through until the sharp blade of the inner U section of the hook has sliced the thread.


Continue this process until all the seam loops have detached, and pick away any leftover threads.


Roll the folds of denim out, showing off the detailed patterns that have been created from the dying process—so pretty, right?!


Add more distress to the released hem by using the pointed end of the seam ripper to delicately pull down loose threads to separate them from the tightly woven fabric.


Finish it off by using your fingers to continue gently pulling at the white threads hanging off from the raw edge. Pull a lot for some festive fringe or evenly trim the excess for a cleaner look—it’s totally up to you!

This is where you can customize your look. End your project here and toss your jeans in the wash with other denim and/or like-colors as you would in step 10, or continue on with the tutorial to add a trendy high-low effect to your jeans.


To add a high-low effect with a shorter length in the front vs. the back, break through the seams on both sides of the pant leg with the seam ripper. Start at the bottom and only go as high as you want the length difference to be (about 1/2 of an inch).


One side of the denim will have the seam on the outside (similar to how we released the hem at the beginning) and in most cases, the opposite side will have the seam on the inside. Find the seam loops by looking in the jeans interior or turning them inside out. Rip the seam in the same fashion done previously.


Then use the seam ripper or a pair of scissors to cut straight across only the front panel of your jeans to trim off a 1/2″ (or your desired length) section. I used the first fold line as my guide for where to cut.


Add fraying to this newly cut edge using the same methods above to gently pull down white threads.


Throw the jeans in the wash with other denim and/or like colors to help the threads naturally fray. You can keep the finished fringe long or trim where necessary.

released hem denim diy — wearing released hem jeans with sneaker

Fashion-forward without the price tag.

So cool and so simple, right?! I’m loving the casual released hem jean detailing, and I’m even happier that I didn’t have to spend a fortune to get it! This is a perfect project for those old, tired out jeans that are just waiting for a new life.

Don’t have a pair of jeans on hand? Check out some of our favorite affordable brands that you could use for this DIY project!

Love saving on the latest trends? Check out these designer piece lookalike accessories!

About the writer:

Emily obtained her Bachelor's degrees from Clarkson University with 5 years of content writing experience specializing in health, beauty, fashion, home, & living frugally.

Join The Discussion

Comments 38

  1. Shannon

    You can get a seam ripper for just $1 at Walmart! It’s also good for removing clothing tags especially from gap/old navy. Why are their tags so big?!

    • Laura

      I use my seam ripper daily to remove the tiny ponytail/rubber bands from my daughters hair without them getting her hair tangled and hearing her screaming! I figured someday it would have a sewing purpose!

      • Val

        Laura I love that! Thank you for the hair idea ♥️

      • A

        Thank you for this! It’s genius! 🧠

      • Kara

        I use my seam ripper to cut my daughter’s small rubberbands out of their hair. It is amazing!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      Great idea! I always rip mine off from my Old Navy leggings but the seam ripper seems like a much better idea to avoid actually ruining the seam. And love the tip about picking one up for cheap at Walmart!

  2. Jackie

    I also use this tool to clean my vacuum roller. It takes the hair off the roller in like 3 seconds.

    • Val

      Love the vacuum use!!

    • Laura

      Good thinking!

    • Lori

      Thanks for the tip Jackie! I hate trying to cut the hair off with scissors.

    • Becky

      Great idea, Jackie!

    • Sonya

      Wow, that’s genius!

    • Tiffani

      Genius! I have such a hard time with the scissors and the roller. I will try this with my seam ripper tomorrow!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      That’s brilliant! I’ve always used scissors but it’s kind of a pain. Thank you for that tip!

    • Trine

      I’ve done the same for countless years I’m 43 and my mom and grandmother did th same. I remember when they came out with the swivel sweeper it came with a tool that looks just like a seam ripper to remove hair from the bristle.

  3. MKfromMN

    The Seam Ripper has been around for decades. My mom used it all the time when sewing. It is handy to keep in the sewing box!

    • Lisa JP

      The seam ripper has been around since 1883!

  4. Emily

    Love seam rippers but I really don’t understand this trend. Oh well. Maybe I’m getting too old!

    • Nesta

      You’re not getting old! I’m in my mid 20s and I don’t get it either lol! But to each their own. If we were all the same it life wouldn’t be as interesting!

    • Melissa

      I’m with you, Emily! This trend, along with the pre-worn shabby look reminds me of the Derelict fashion brand from the movie Zoolander, which was essentially homeless inspired fashion.

      • JEBG

        Yes! Zoolander…😂

    • Maia

      I just learned how to hem jeans keeping the hem intact. Now people are undoing the hem?! It looks so unkempt. Loving all the useful tips for seam ripper!

  5. mel

    I didn’t know that was called a seam ripper LOL. I’ve always had one in my sewing box and use it very carefully to push snagged threads back in shirts.

    • Scifibookcat

      There is an inexpensive tool called a Snag It that works to repair snags in knits. Available separately or as a set on Amazon: SINGER Wardrobe Repair Essentials Knit Fix. Any sewing store or Walmart sewing section would have it. It’s a real lifesaver if you have cats!

  6. Colorado Amy

    I’ve done this to two pairs of jeans that I felt were too short. I would only wear these jeans with tall boots. I’m not a fan of the capri look on me. After releasing the hem, I love the look and wear these jeans with tennis shoes and flats. I have a pair of the Sofia Vergara jeans from Walmart, which are shorter on me than I like. I may have to do this to them as well. Great post, Emily!

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      That is exactly how I felt with the Sofia Vergara jeans I had (I used them in this post!) and I’m so much happier with the little bit of added length now, plus the cute style! Glad you enjoyed the post!

  7. Deb E

    I’ve tried to embrace the ankle pant but being between an average and tall jean size, they still seam too short for me. Maybe this is the answer. Living in LA, they wear anything and everything, so you wear what you like and feel comfy in. I have a seam ripper as a long time sewer but will pick up another one at the Dollar Store!

  8. Brianna

    I used to do this in high school (in the 90s) all the time! I’m 5’11 so it added a couple inches of length back before there were many tall/long options.

  9. Love

    Can we make a new post of all the handy uses for a seam ripper. I never thought to use it for anything but sewing mistakes but all these ideas in the comments are amazing

    • Emily (Hip Sidekick)

      You may just be in luck! Stay tuned as we might be working on some seam ripper hacks soon!

  10. Julie

    I am 6’3”. I have been doing this before I could read. Lol

    • Nels

      Haha that’s great.

  11. Edie

    This would be super cute to update a plain jean skirt!

  12. Nana Donna 2 6

    Like the other tall gals here…I was doing this back in the ’60s-’70s when tall/long jeans were not common for tall gals. It’s still a struggle to find them long enough, but there are definitely more options today than back then. I just did this to a pair of jeans that my son could no longer wear, but I could! He’s much shorter in the legs. They were still a tad short for me, but I had some old navy blue material that I was able to add another 1.5 inches to the length (just like I used to do if I needed a somewhat polished looked to them. It’s what the Hippies did at the local university town). They are now my at-home jeans and it doesn’t matter if they get muddy, etc.

  13. JessP

    I’m also tall and the Capri/Ankle Jean style that seems to be over taking every store looks terrible on me, so seam ripping is a must

  14. Bethany

    I love making personal embellishments to clothes. It’s best when it’s making a functional improvement for sure, but I will even buy and sew in my own personal labels.

  15. Momma of 7

    Having your jeans falling apart with threads hanging out here and there on the bottom looks ugly to me. Do not rip the seams! Even to make long jeans shorter, there is no need to rip the seam.

  16. jennifer

    I adore this trend and have been looking for a pair of jeans like this in stores! I have just the pair in my closet. Thank you so much!

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