So here’s the thing about sewing: eventually, people will figure out that you do it. And then they will have questions… Uncomfortable questions. Questions like: “Can you fix a…” and “Can you rehem my…”. Sometimes they will make an appeal to emotion: “My grandmother always used to do this for me, but she’s so sick and close to the end now that I just don’t feel comfortable asking her, the dear soul… Can you help me? I just want these pants to be hemmed correctly FOR HER FUINERAL because she would DIE AGAIN OF HORROR if I used iron on hem tape and irons aren’t really my thing anyway thanks.” (With all condolences to anyone reading this who actually has a dying relative who used to handle their domestic errands.) I for real don’t know why people ask me these things, since I legit just cuff up my jeans when they are too long, which is always, because I’m short and somewhere someone decided that jeans labeled “short” should be right for someone 5’8” – 6’1” tall. Seriously. That’s not how that word even works.
So you’re gonna want to know how to actually properly rehem a pant. The good news is that it’s really not that intense. I mean, I’ve seen people make it plenty intense, but don’t recommend those methods. They’re like, work. Yuck. :(
If you look really close, you’ll see a line of tiny divots. Those are the stitches that make up the hem. It’s a machined blindstitched hem, btw. They almost always are, just for hate’s sake. Can you see them well enough to pick them out? This is not a good side of the pant to try to remove this kind of hem from.
If you look really really closely, you might be able to sort out which stitches are the serge, and which are part of the pant hem. I cannot, if i’m being honest. So I’m not going to attack this hem from this side.
Wait, what? If not the outside or the inside of the pant, aren’t we, like, out of sides here? Nope! We’re taking this baby out from the inside of the seam.
If you’re not familiar with machined blind hems, this is how they work*: you do a weird foldy-foldy trick to set up the hem, then the machine sews 4 stitches straight on the hem and zigzags over one stitch to catch the (folded back) main of the pant. You have to set all the widths up for every fabric you do, but once you’re set, it’s blinding fast. (*Unless an actual blind-hemmer machine is being used. Those are super-nifty, and they have a curved needle and the tension can be a trick, but they’re hella cool and no pressing required and the resulting inside stitches look like a serger did them. While drunk. Soooo drunk.)
Anyhoo, going forward…
I don’t have pic for the next step, because it really requires more of a video. Basically, give the two layers a little tug apart and wiggle action after you’ve gotten the first stitch severed. The stitches close to there should surrender.
From there it’s pretty fast and easy.
So, the first part of this operation is done. Now it’s time to mark the new hem and whip that in…
You might be tempted to mark the new hem off the serged edge of the bottom of the pant. Don’t do it! Those things are usually not as straight as you would expect.
If you don’t have a pressing ham, you can roll a towel up really tight and secure it with safety pins. Also, you should as for one on the next gifting occasion. They are way more much cooler than they look.
Inside? Inside the outside? The pant is inside out, so it’s a bit of a grey zone.
So, the pants I’m hemming are a rayon blend. I’m about to iron them. Rayon and irons are a situation. Rayon becomes REALLY SHINE-Y when you hit it with a hot iron. And while that would theoretically be a problem on the inside of the pant, rehemming is a thing and the inside of the pant can become the outside of the pant. Oof. So the right solution is to always use a pressing cloth with rayon.
My steamer, which I much prefer to an iron under basically all circumstances, is in the garage. It’s on the other side of the car. :(
Those of you who know me well enough to have been gobsmacked that I pinned up the hem should sit down for this. Yes, I re-pinned the hem for sewing later. I generally use more pins for hand sewing than machine sewing. I know, right?
So, here’s the thing… Remember earlier when I said that machined blind hem stitches are lightening fast? They are also kind of persnickety, because you have to get the stitch depth right for every fabric and I kind of can’t be bothered. I’ve sewn actual miles of hems by hand. (Because operas, people; because operas.) I’m not terribly troubled by hand hemming two pant legs. If you hate hand sewing, you might find it worth while to get the machine set up to do the blind hem. I’m just going to do a catch stitch (aka, cross stitch or X stitch or maybe other aliases as well), because my needle doesn’t really need setup time.
Here’s how we do:
Wait, what?!? Yeah, that trick for getting a knot on the end of your sewing thread works in the middle of fabric, too. Also, I’m not sure why I do the stitch then stitch-knot action. I truly believe that it stays in better, but I’m not sure I have actual empirical evidence to support that belief. So… Yeah. Anyhoodles…
Sorry for the terrible photography. This was done as part of a Real Life Thing(tm), and navy fabric with navy thread isn’t ideal. I’ll do a high contrast versions at some point. I actually love this stitch – it works up fast and it’s got some really neat strong suits.
Caveat: yes, I do know a fully invisible-from-both-sides way to do up a hem. But if I took the time to hem it and hem it well, you’re gonna know. Thhhrrriiibbbt, and so there. The catch/cross stitch is awesome because there is a bit of play to it. There’s enough thread that layers can swing semi-independently, and you don’t get that stiffness like when a hem has been nailed to the main of the fabric (most problematic on loose, swingy, or curved hems).
Now, to be real, the stitches were completely invisible when I put them in (I do have a witness), but they were lamentably visible (to me, not to my witness) the next day after relaxing folded on a flat surface. So just be aware that hems hate you, and they want to help you fail. Because hems a-holes. Just so as you know….
ps – if anyone ever asks you to hem up jeans, say no. The average home sew machine just won’t like that, and you don’t want to do it by hand. If they beg/plead/whine/cajole, honestly, punching them and hoping for a jury with a stitcher or two on it seems like a reasonable response. ;)
pps – no, but for the reals. Completely reasonable. HAVE YOU EVER HEMMED A JEAN WITHOUT AN INDUSTRIAL MACHINE? Yes? Ok, but have you hemmed a jean with an industrial machine? No? Trust me, you can keep your “jeans-a-ma-jig” thinger. You just need an industrial for that madness.
So…. Least sexy content ever? Prolly. Useful? Hopefully. I’m curious… What’s the weirdest “So, I heard you sew. Can you….” request you’ve ever gotten/heard of?