How To Repair Selvedge After Denim Alteration

3Sixteen+ 12bsp Large Selvedge

The Common Side Effect of Tapering Denim - A Funny Looking Selvedge

Note: This post is a guest post submitted by David Zheng. If you’d like to follow him and his work, check out his tumblr.

Denim adjustments of any scale or nature is not always a seamless experience, particularly when it comes to anything beyond basic hemming. For instance, many are often wary of tapering their selvedge denim because of how unattractive the selvedge may appear afterward.

I faced this same quandary after having my denim tapered – compared to its pre-ops state (see below), the selvedge was left enlarged and lost its clean, parallel construction. Thus, I turned to this step-by-step process in an attempt to preserve the revered denim detail to its original form.

Denim In Question (Source:

3sixteen+ 12BSP Left Hand Twill

3sixteen+ 12BSP Left-Hand Twill

3sixteen+ 12bsp left-hand twill

Pre-Alteration Selvedge

  • Name: 3sixteen+ 12BSP Left-Hand Twill
  • Weight: 14.5 Oz.
  • Fit: Straight Leg
  • Denim: Unsanforized, left-hand twill 100% Cotton

Step 1 – Measure

3Sixteen+ 12bsp Large Selvedge

The denim had a leg opening of 7 inches (14 inch circumference) and I had them tapered down from the knee to roughly 6.5 inches (13 inch circumference).

As a result, the selvedge was widened by approximately 1/2 inch, or the halfway point on both sides.

Step 2 – Plan

To properly adjust your selvedge, you’ll need to gather the following instruments:

  • A sewing needle
  • Dark coloured thread
  • A pair of sharp scissors
  • An iron

3Sixteen+ 12bsp Large Selvedge

Once you have all of these instruments, proceed to cut the selvedge along the hem (not length-wise up the selvedge). As mentioned in Step 1, after alterations my selvedge was widened by approximately 1/2 inch or at about the half-way point on both sides (green lines in above image).

The blue arrows above roughly illustrate where and by how much I “brought in” the selvedge.

Step 3 – Prepare the Selvedge

Next, fold the selvedge in a way so that it resembles the unaltered look. It’s difficult to clearly explain how to proceed with this step, so see below for an idea of how the folds should form.

3Sixteen+ 12bsp Large Selvedge

Step 4 – Sew The Folds Together

After you have your selvedge prepared, take the needle and thread and sew under the top flap fold. Sew from right to left as shown below.

3Sixteen+ 12bsp Large Selvedge

As shown with the black line, sew the folds together

3Sixteen+ 12bsp Large Selvedge

In practice - sew along the length of the selvedge, cut, and knot.

Step 5 – Iron

As the final step, iron the selvedge to achieve a more crisp and clean look. Although it may appear sloppy at first, once it has been pressed and is cuffed, any imperfections will be barely noticeable.

3sixteen+ 12bsp left-hand twill Selvedge Result

The End Result

A few caveats:

  • Unable to single cuff – the frayed ends nearest the chain stitching is unflattering
  • Indescribable pain of cutting perfect japanese selvedge denim will surely be felt
  • The end result will not be without imperfections

Have you faced the same problem and found another alteration solution? Let us know in our “Maintenance & Care” Forum Section or the comments below.

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  • b_F

    or just get them tapered from the inseam so the selvage isn’t touched at all…

    • swag

      easier said than done. not every tailor will taper from the inseam.

  • Xzddd

    only stupid cheapskate get it done in super cheap tailor

    • Rawr Denim

      Though not all have access to a high quality tailor, that’s not necessarily true – even the best tailors can overlook details such as this.

      • Josh james

        Ok I’m needing a good tailor. I’m 2 months in to a pair of FHxNFxTY and I need an inch out of the waist. The jeans are marked. She wants to take them in on the sides but ill loose the pocket rivet. I’d really like to ship them to a reputable tailor with experience and understanding of raw denim.

        • justin francis

          if it’s just an inch, I’d wear a belt- it’s not worth the hassle, expense and risk, in my opinion

  • Verity Denim

    I agree with below, if you need to have them tapered, get them to a tailor and alter them from inseam instead. Or… find a better fitting pair in the first place, there are a few brands to choose from after all.

  • zc9

    From my experience, having jeans tailored from the inseam poses a few problems: 1) tapering to a certain point will twist the leg of the jean, resulting in leg twist. 2) tailors may not have the same type/color thread used by the denim manufacturer (namely thread size). Tailors don’t usually carry thicker threads. 3) outward appearance of tailored inseams don’t look the same as the originals due to the denim being folded inwards to allow for tapering (softer edge, if you will).

    A good tailor will minimize these problems, but will also run more expensive.