Clothing manufacturers do not make clothes according to the same sizing standards. I often wish that there was a universal sizing standard for all clothes, no matter where they are manufactured. Everybody would have to get together and settle on a numbering strategy and measurement guidelines, and then stick with it. That would be like trying to get everyone in the world to agree on what size a small, medium, or large drink from a fast food restaurant should be; it just isn’t going to happen because there are too many orthodox sizes in use already. (And in case you’re wondering, I used the word “orthodox” because it translates literally into “correct opinion”, which is an ironic oxymoron). Anyhow, in this hypothetical ideal world we could all state with assuredness that “I am size X in such and such clothing” and it would at least be close to fitting properly. This doesn’t happen. Instead, someone asks me that dreaded question: “What size do you wear?” and I roll my eyes. I have in my closet shirts, pants, skirts, and dresses that are defined as Small, Medium, Large, XL, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 and they all fit ME the way I am right now- it is not an indication that I shrink and grow. What stays the (relatively) same is my measurements- now, if worldwide clothing manufacturers could just agree to go by measurements (and yeah, that includes agreeing on metric or imperial to begin with), we could have so many less problems with buying clothes sight unseen (i.e. online).
Anyway, the ranting portion of this post is concluded. I am now moving on to my solution for making long jeans fit my short legs. I have done this before successfully with jogging pants and stiffer jeans- you just have to adjust what needle and thread strength or size you use. Anyway, it more or less goes like this: Measure, mark, fold under, fold out. I will try to make a diagram that will hopefully clarify this:
Here is the measuring part, I measured, and marked, at four inches because that will shorten the finished length by three inches. See previous diagram again if this is confusing, but when it gets folded and pinned, the bottom is folded in half to make the original edge meet the mark, and then the half fold is folded in half to make the cuff on the outside. Thus, the whole thing is hanging one inch below the mark. Here I marked on both inside seams (with a Sharpie/permanent marker):
This is where the first fold has been made UNDER, the pantleg being inside out to make it easier to pin properly. Pins should be close to the original edge to be out of the way of the second fold. At this point, you could leave it at this length and just stitch it- the result would be two inches shorter than the original, instead of three, and not have a cuff.
The thicker the fabric, the harder it is to make the second fold. When you are folding the cuff part OUTWARDS, the important part is to feel with your fingers and make sure the original edge and the top (not bottom) of the cuff line up closely, since this is where the stitching will be.
Once it’s pinned inside and out, you can make it easier on yourself by ironing it flat. I didn’t do this because I was being lazy and in a hurry. I sewed this while sitting in my pajamas because everything else was in the dirty laundry and I was determined to not have to wear this pair of pants with safety pins again. Yes, I had it safety pinned in this cuff formation for a while, and it even survived the laundry that way, so if you’re looking for a quick fix, try that. You can always take the safety pins back out to return the pants to the way they were.
This is the finished product. I hand-stitched through the original edge and the upper edge of the cuff, using stitches small enough to be hard to see but big enough that it didn’t take forever. There are a few types of stitches that would work well for this, just adjust the size and format to your own preferences. I recommend using a gray or light blue thread to have it not very visible. I also didn’t bother to stich through the tough side-seams parts- I sewed across the front, and then across the back, in two seperate cuttings of thread. You could make very wide apart stitches if you don’t care much about appearances, but personally, I don’t like to leave much gap for dust and lint to find it’s way inside the cuff.
I hope you can make use of this guide to shorten long pants in a way that can be undone later, and looks vaguely stylish!