Monday, January 17, 2011

Hemming and Hawing

A while back, when I bought my current sewing machine, one of the justifications for the purchase that I so cleverly offered to my husband was that this machine would allow me to easily hem all of his pants. My husband is about 5'5" and all of his shortness is in his legs so it's impossible for us to find a pair of pants that fit him off the rack. My previous sewing machine was a fifty-year-old Singer 404 with no free arm sewing capabilities and some very touchy tension issues- hemming pants on that thing was not fun.

Well, it turns out that hemming pants on the new machine wasn't really fun either. Sewing in general was fun but practical sewing always seemed to take a backseat to little crafty creations that required the picking out of exciting fabric and coordinating zippers, buttons, etc. When I did finally stop procrastinating and took a break from zippered pouches and play-doh bags to hem the pile of pants that needed my attention, I ran into some trouble. Attempting a double fold hem on jeans creates a giant lump of fabric around the side seams of the pants. It was so thick, it barely fit under the sewing machine foot. Nevertheless, I trudged on, taking my time, pushing my poor little sewing machine beyond where it was meant to go. I got through two pairs of jeans- just barely.

Due to my ignorance at the time and all that fighting and tugging against the machine, I managed to miss the folded under part of the fabric in some places which meant that after a few washes, the still-exposed edges of denim began to fray. This caused my husband to get a little cranky every time he had to trim the frayed edges of his pants as he muttered his frustrations over the situation to no one in particular. Seeing his dissatisfaction with my work would in turn cause me to get cranky and blurt out things like, "If you don't like the sloppy, lame way I do things, maybe you should learn to use the sewing machine and hem your own flippin' pants!" Well, we both knew that would never happen because I'm a crazy control freak and I don't want him touching the sewing machine anyway. I knew the day was coming when I would have to re-hem the flippin' pants.

I'm a bit embarrassed to tell you that what finally motivated me to fix my mistakes was something completely superficial and shallow. When my husband began wearing the badly-hemmed jeans with his new shoes, it became painfully obvious that I had hemmed both pairs of jeans at least an inch and a half too short- a detail that had been, until now, overlooked thanks to the fact that my husband usually wears flip-flops.

Something had to be done. I just couldn't let my husband leave the house looking like a goober expecting a flood. I had to get a little creative since I only had a limited amount of fabric left to work with. I ended up sewing bias tape around the raw edge of denim to prevent fraying. I know I probably could have just done a zig-zag stitch but I really wanted to avoid fraying of any kind ever again for obvious reasons- this decision may have saved my marriage. I then did a single fold hem so that I only had to sew over a large lump of fabric around the side seams instead of a gigantic one.

It took a little convincing to sell my husband on this whole concept since the inside of the pants looks kind of silly with all that bias tape.

I basically told him, "You're lucky I had blue bias tape on hand and not just hot pink. Oh, and if you don't like my ridiculous methods, maybe you should...well, never mind, we both know that's not going to happen."


Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

I'm not sure that any home sewing machine is really meant to hem jeans. Mine doesn't want to do it, either, and I have one crazy expensive machine. (This might have something to do with why I always wear my pants cuffed up. Even though I know it looks dorky. At least I don't trip!) :)

Katie K said...

Emily, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one with this problem. I actually did find a few tutorials explaining a method for hemming jeans that I might try next time. This one seemed like the best one:

Lani said...

Oh my goodness I laughed at this post so hard I had to run to the bathroom. This was one awesome post about hemming jeans. Since I have had this story happen to me as well one too many times, because well I am short, it was just so funny to be reading about with my brother. I love the drama of it all, I love that your protective of that sewing machine, bless your heart, I think they turned out great. I love the pictures to go along with the story, and thank goodness for blue tap :) though I think Hot pink would have been even funnier. Love this post!

Katie K said...

Lani, I'm glad the humor of the situation came through all my ranting. =)