I have never hemmed a pair of pants. My excuse is I thought bottoms dragging on the ground was the style. Nothing says sexy like dirty, frayed hems!
Overly long pants proves a problem in the gym, however. I’ve actually knocked my head on the bench press bar because I tripped over my sagging bottoms. Since it’s the first week of January, my New Years resolution obviously involves going to the gym more (or, in my case, going to the gym at all) which meant a new pair of pants to potentially trip on. Time to embark on my first hemming adventure!
I tried looking up hemming tutorials online, but found them absurdly complicated. Use measuring tools to cut the material to the exact length? Whaaat? Aw, who needs em-I’ll just wing it!
It…. went about as well as you’d expect. See if you can spot the mistakes below!
1) Put on the pants (will probably require removing current pants. Get a friend to help!)
2) With the help of your new pants-friend, roll the bottom of the pants to the desired length. Mark with pins… I would suggest pins placed horizontally, parallel to the floor, so you don’t prick yourself while removing the pants.
3) Turn the pants inside out.
Here’s where I decided to march to my own drum. Most tutorials suggested ripping out the seam of the previous hem, ironing the new crease, and then measuring the distance from the end of the fabric to the new turned hem, to make sure the hem is even.
But geez louise, who has time for all of that? Ironing, schmaerning, let’s just get on with it! I attempted a different technique on each leg, to see which one looked better.
4) Fold over the extra material so the top of the fabric lays right alongside the bottom of the hem. A double hem! That way, I only have to sew once, right? Genius.
I quickly discovered the problem with this was two-fold: it made the material thicker, and thus more difficult to feed through my machine. My yoga pants are knits: knits are made different than woven fabrics, so that they stretch. They usually stretch more in one direction, and can be made of the same material as woven; the major difference is in how they are processed. I’ll cover knits more in depth later, but the most important thing to remember about them is that:
- Knits stretch, thus requiring different sewing methods including a zig-zag stitch and a ballpoint needle
And I… totally forgot to use a ball point needle. A-whoops.
Anyway, since my yoga pants are stretchy, and thus a knit, I switched my sewing machine to a zig-zag stitch. If you use a straight stitch on knits, when the fabric stretches, the thread will break because there is no give in the stitching.
My genius idea of using a double-hem turned out to be not the best, so I tried something different on the left leg.
4) Using a zig-zag stitch, I sewed along the hem. Since it’s a knit and stretches (yes, there will be a quiz at the end), I pulled the fabric at both ends while I fed it through my machine. This caused the fabric to stretch while being sewn into, (hopefully) making the stitches stronger.
5) I then cut off a lot of the excess fabric, and using the same technique sewed 1/4 inches from the top of the fabric.
Overall, I like this technique much better. The only downside is that I have two rows of stitching on the outside of the pants, which doesn’t look as neat. Okay for gym-going yoga pants, but not desirable for Grown Up Work pants. (I also only had dark purple thread, not black. Generally speaking, you should match your thread color to your fabric.)
So, my first Pants Hemming adventure didn’t go off as well as I’d hoped. Serves me right for trying to be all individual and I-totally-know-what-I’m-doing. I wonder if next time I’ll try hemming the pants, cutting off the excess fabric, and then only sewing along the cut edge, instead of along both the hem and the cut edge. That’s… probably what I should have done in the first place.
But I’m still using purple thread, cause I’m a rebel. And cheap.