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How to hem a pair of trousers

It’s sew simple!

How often can you find a pair of off-the-rack pants that fit your body perfectly? If the waist fits, then the inseam may be too long or short. Everyone seems to have this problem: children, teens, men, women, seniors and more.

What’s a fashion or family shopper to do?

Certainly, many stores offer tailoring services. You can pay up to $20, just for hemming a new pair of pants to your ideal length. For family apparel or even school uniforms, this can add up quickly. Hemming a pair of pants is not that technical or difficult, so why not save the money, and do it yourself?

It’s sew simple to tailor-hem a pair of trousers!

First, plug in your steam iron. Look inside your trousers for a fabric care label. This will indicate the appropriate heat setting for your iron.

While your iron heats up, you can gather your sewing notions. You will need a needle, a wooden ruler, a pair of scissors, and several straight pins. Choose sewing thread to match the background color of your garment, as closely as possible.

You can hem your pants with or without a sewing machine (see below).

Try on your new trousers.

Even if you tried on your new pants in the fitting room at the store, you will need to put them on again at home. Put on the shoes you plan to wear with this pair of pants.

If you can, ask someone else to stick a straight pin into one leg of your pants, right where you wish to fold them up into your new hem. Usually, this is the spot where the pants meet the top of your shoes, but you can adjust this to fit your current style.

Aim the pin horizontally, so it is positioned level to the floor.

Turn your garment inside out.

Pants are hemmed from the inside, so the stitching is virtually invisible. (Cuffed trousers are often an exception, but this is a more complicated endeavor.)

Turn your pants inside out before you begin working on them.

Measure exactly for perfect hemming.

You can do this on top of your ironing board.

To make pants shorter, you will want to bring the original hem upwards.

To make pants longer, you will need to use a seam ripper or a small pair of scissors (Manicure scissors work well.) to remove the ready-made hem stitching. Press each pant leg to remove the first hemline creases.

Roll each pant leg to the length you wish. Measure carefully with a ruler, so your hems will be even all the way around. Pin your pants about an inch from the edge, as you go.

Press your new hemline into place, easing as needed. (Flared and bell-bottom pants may require a bit of easing to nudge hem allowances into place. Done neatly, this will not show from the outside of each pant leg.)

Place pins horizontally along the inside fold/sewing line of each pant leg to hold the pressed hem in place for stitching. Use plenty of pins, at least one every inch or so.

Press both pant legs flat against each other to check that they are exactly the same length.

Should you trim extra hem fabric?

This is a matter of personal choice. If your new hem allowances are more than 2” to 3” deep, you may choose to trim off a bit. Of course, if you do, you will have to finish the new raw edges (see below).

If you are hemming a pair of pants for a growing child, you may choose to leave the hem allowances intact. This will give you the option of lengthening the trousers after the child experiences a growth spurt.

Finish off any rough edges.

If you have merely simply tucked up the old finished hem on your pants, then you can skip this step.

However, if you have trimmed off extra hem allowances, then you will need to take care of the rough edges for neatness and fray prevention. Simply tuck under a small portion (approximately 1/8” to 1/4”), all the way around each of your pant legs. You will want to remove the pins for this step and replace them after you have finishing ironing the now-neater edges.

Use the ruler to check your work for consistency.
Press both hem allowances (both pant legs) carefully before proceeding.

Stitch your trouser hems.

You can hem your pants by hand or on a sewing machine. Some tailors employ a blind-stitch for this purpose. If your machine offers this stitching option, your owner’s manual will provide specific instructions for operating your machine’s controls and performing this stitch.

Narrow pant legs, such as one might find on stovepipe pants or skinny jeans, are easiest to sew by hand. These can be difficult to accomplish on a sewing machine, unless it has a very narrow base option. Because flared and bell-bottom hems often require a bit of easing and adjustment, these may also be easier to manage with hand-sewing.

Use a basic blanket stitch for hand-sewing your trouser hems. Thread your sewing needle, and knot the thread securely. Start sewing right at the inseam of one pant leg (the seam between the legs of the pants), and sew all the way around to the same spot. Repeat the process with the other leg.

Blue jeans and athletic wear may be topstitched, if you are a very capable and steady sewer. You can select a straight stitch (or a narrow zigzag for knits), to sew your hems.

Make sure you remove all pins and clip all excess threads before giving your pants a final pressing for wearing.

Adapted from public domain image

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My SW Daybook - July 2016 edition

July is underway, and I thought I’d catch up with another Simple Woman’s Daybook post. So here we go.

Looking out my window …

I see a stunning summer day. It’s quiet, at least for a moment, and everything is blooming in full force. Even the impatiens in my cone hanging baskets seem to be thriving this year. I have to say, that’s something of a miracle, ever since a certain somebody retired and began to fancy himself as a floral expert. My flowers, particularly the potted ones, have received prodigious amounts of Miracle-Gro and super-zealous daily waterings.

One might say their cups runneth over.

Yes, I am that lady who showed up at the garden center after summer was already in full swing, scavenging for leftover annuals to fill in for those that were drowned in my home pots by a well-meaning interloper.

And yet, for now, the impatiens is holding its own.

I am thinking …

Somewhere there is a list that spells out all of the items I wanted to pick up at the grocery store yesterday. I have no idea where it is, but we are already out of peanut butter and ketchup.

I am thankful …

Every day, I want to practice gratitude. And sometimes I actually do.

Even in these turbulent times, when headlines holler bad news, blessings still surround us. The sun comes up. We breathe and eat and sleep and spend time with special people. And Heaven awaits. God is still good.

One of my favorite things …

Maybe it’s not a thing, per se. But one of my favorite sensations is sinking my bare feet into soft, warm beach sand. In fact, I’m packing for a quick jaunt in a few days. I cannot get enough of the sun and the sand and the sweet rolling waves.

I am wearing …

The thermometer says it’s close to 83 (F) degrees around here, and the temperature is expected to climb into the 90s by this afternoon. What’s a girl to do? Grab a billowing sundress!

I’m sporting this simple frock to dart in and out for various appointments and errands today. Yes, I sewed it myself, using McCall's M6114.  I opted for the matching vee yoke and added two front-patch pockets. (Hey, a girl's gotta have pockets!)

Sewing is something of a stress reliever for me, when I can find the time to do it. What fun it is to wear something no one else wears! What’s more, I haven’t been exactly tempted by this year’s uber-skimpy sundresses in the stores. Even if I were still a teenager (um, not even close), I wouldn’t wear ‘em. So sewing fits the bill nicely.

Plus, this dress cost me less than $10 to make. Can’t beat that!

I am watching …

Netflix. We recently subscribed to this service, and I am winding my way through it, trying to determine what worthwhile movies or TV series I may have missed. My list is still rather short. Got any suggestions?

I am reading …

A friend passed along her copy of The American Heiress, by Daisy Goodwin. She said, “If you liked Downton Abbey, you’ll like this.” I’m just diving in, but it seems like an interesting story.

This is not Dorothy Eden’s American Heiress (about a trip on the torpedoed Lusitania in 1915). And it’s not Jeffrey Toobin’s American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst. It’s a whole different story.

I am listening to …

Plug this in, and give it a listen. It’s “My Story,” by Big Daddy Weave. This song is a super reset for a creative writer … or anyone.

I am hoping …

Back to the weather: The forecast calls for midday thunderstorms. I am hoping those boomers and showers cool things down, so I can slip out for a run. You see, there’s this race coming up, and I’m running the relay with a bunch of athletic military veterans, and I’m not feeling all that athletic right now. So I need the practice and the build-up.

Plus, these spiffy New Balance sneakers need a workout.

I am learning …

Lookie there. It’s time for another hard life lesson. Just when I thought it was safe …

A publisher for whom I have written 10 columns monthly (for years) recently announced it was closing. Writers received about one week’s notice. I spent much of the past week downloading and saving PDF files/screenshots of my thousands of articles on the site, which is supposed to vanish at any moment. (The publisher had announced a closure date of four days ago, but failed to meet that deadline. Still, it looms.)

What’s the lesson? Maybe it’s time for a new chapter. It could be an altogether different pursuit. I might even finish the handful of books I have already outlined. This is definitely an occasion for evaluating current and future efforts.

I think there’s another lesson here. And it’s not a new one. Life is unpredictable. Plans change. Holding on loosely may be the healthiest option.

In my kitchen …

Midsummer it is, and that usually means I try to prepare simple, light, extra-healthy foods. Sure, I ought to do this all year round, and I aim there. But summer’s fresh and colorful bounty makes that a whole lot more fun.

Tonight is big salad night. I have a giant bin of cleaned lettuces, a tub of cherry tomatoes, a bunch of sweet carrots, a bag of broccoli, and some leftover herb chicken breasts from last night’s dinner. Oh, and shredded cheese. Gotta have that. (Did I mention we live in Wisconsin?)

In the school room …

My kids are out of school.

One might say I am sort of being schooled in exercise. Not officially, of course. But I am trying to build back up after an injury and a rough MS season that sidelined me for a while.

Just now, the Runkeeper app on my not-so-smart phone beeped in with this message:

“Isn’t it time to work out again?”


In my garden …

Certain plants are exploding in my garden at this point. This is both a bane and a blessing.

On the upside, the little cell pack of home-seeded hollyhocks a friend gave me last year turned out to be a giant gift. Those four baby plants have boomed and bloomed and now reach higher than the garage wall. I almost want to climb one of the plants and see if there’s a giant castle up there with a goose laying golden eggs.

Alas, bunches of downright aggressive orange daylilies seem to be set on taking over much of the yard. I have pitchforked and yanked out truckloads of these things, hoping to make room for perennials I like even better.

I'm not a flower snob. I just want to allow ample space for my favorites. Sure, the orange blossoms are cheery. But these are those everyday ditch lilies, just like the ones that grow by the highway. They're practically weeds. My garden is mature enough now that I have fluffy, fancy, pretty daylilies in lots of colors. It’s time to lose the basic orange ones that seem to spread almost hourly and supplant everything else that wants to grow. (Sorry. Had to.)

Board room …

Sometimes a little cattywompus isn’t half bad.” Got that right. This design comes on tee shirts, ball caps, coasters, tiles, hoodies, and all sorts of stuff. I might have to order one. So I pinned it to my Cats and Kittens board.

Post Script …

Shared Quote …

“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.” Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

A moment from my day …

Gonna try to sneak off and see this old boy today. Love him!

The Simple Woman's Daybook logo - fair use
All photos copyrighted by LAN/Practically at Home,
except book cover and product image - both fair use.

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