hem fest

The title of my blog "a stitch..." and the heading "life in the fast lane" is basically what this post is all about! Being a busy working mom I have to have clothes that I like- and that fit, because honestly I wear "work clothes" for over half the year.

Being just over 5 feet tall (5'1") on a good day, it is really hard to find pants that fit my frame. I guess it's not even really hard.. it's impossible. Every pair of pants I own (except 1 pair from American Eagle- go figure b/c they are built for teenagers) are hemmed. And when you take into consideration that I own 11 pairs of pants, 17 if you include maternity there is no way I'm footing the bill to have someone else alter my pants. Also I usually have to hem all my capris as well. They typically come to my ankles instead of mid-calf. 

This post may seem elementary to some, but I figure that if I could give anyone insight on how to save a little moolah- that it would be worth it! I grew up with a momma that sews, so hemming pants was second nature. I have found some tricks along the way to pass on to you!

Some people (yes me included when I'm in a pinch) try to use "hem tape" as an alternative to sewing. Although hem tape is great (and I use it on curtains frequently), it does not hold up through the washing machine. It'll hold the first 2-3 times, but then it will start falling out. And there is nothing more annoying then feeling your fallen pant hem all day long. 

Here is an example of the size (and yes I buy all my pants "S" for short). And that is the amount I still have to hem! I always try the pants on first, fold up where I want them to "fall" and iron the line. I usually iron it inside out first (because when I'm trying them on that's how I fold it up) and then I have a line to go by once I flip the flap in. 

Next I set my machine. I have a GREAT machine where everything is done electronically. If your machine isn't electronic, you can still manually set the stitch size. 

I choose the typical stitch:

and it's default stitch size is 3.5mm. 

I reset the size to 5.0mm. 
It makes all the difference in the world and makes the stitches a little farther apart. Typically with jeans and the type of khakis I wear, the stitching down the side is larger rather than small. So I try to match it as best I can and the 5.0mm seems to be a happy compromise. The larger the stitch the more likely that it may come undone, but the risk is worth it to me because I like the way it looks!

Next I position the pants on the machine 
and I always start on the inside seam of the pants. That way if the lines don't exactly match up no one will notice. 

I also line up the bottom hem with the grid on the right of my machine. The measure of the hem will depend on how much fabric you turned up. I usually turn up alot of fabric so I line it up on the 4. If your machine doesn't have a grid I've seen people use a rubber band wrapped around their machine as a guide.

As I sew I make sure that the bottom hem stays even with the number 4. This ensures a straight line!

I always try to keep "slack" to the left of my machine. If the pants are pulling down, the tension will be wrong and the stitching won't be evenly spread apart. 
Once the machine comes full circle and I end up where I started, I always push the reverse button to sew back over where I started/stopped. This just reinforces the seam. 
Here is a view of the inside once I finish. Not the most beautiful. I always use white bobbin thread. You could always switch it out for the color of the pants so it isn't seen. I just hate winding bobbins!
I don't ever cut the original pant hem unless there is just too much leftover. If you cut, it will fray and stick out the bottom of the leg over time.

And here is the finished product! 

And a close up of the 5mm stitching!
I usually collect a large pile and hem all my pants in one sitting. Today I had 4 pairs to do. Total time spent from trying on, ironing, and sewing (and taking pictures for the blog) was about 35-45 minutes! Not bad!

OOOh and I will never wear skinny jeans, so I have no idea how they would hem. I would think that them being so tight around the ankle that it would be hard to hide anything folded up. Just thought I'd throw that out there!

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