What do you do with a favourite pair of jeans that unfortunately has some visible stains? If you're lucky enough, the stains will be on the lower legs, so you'll be able to shorten the jeans and get rid of the marks. Today I'll show you how I re-hemmed my shortened jeans and extended their life.
When I attended the Screen Printing Workshop with Saffron Craig, I managed to get some tiny spots of black ink on my jeans while cleaning up. That was almost two years ago. The marks were hardly noticeable, and so I continued wearing the jeans.
A couple of weeks ago, however, Little Miss commented on my dirty jeans. That took me by surprise until she pointed to some new brown marks, also on the lower legs. Try as I might, I couldn't remove the new stains, and so I cut them off.
Here's how I created a new hem by hand...
- Turn jeans inside out.
- Fold up ½" and hold in place with clips. You could use pins, but I find the Wonder clips so much easier with thick fabric.
- Baste (long hand stitching) in place.
- Remove clips.
- Fold up another ½" and hold in place with clips. You don't need to baste again, unless you want to.
- Wind the end of the thread 1¼ times around the forefinger.
- Place thumb and forefinger together.
- Pull the forefinger back, gliding it across the thumb. The thread will twist.
- Place the middle finger at the top of the twisted thread.
- Pull the thread with the other hand.
- Slide the needle under the hem, where you'll begin sewing.
- Make a loop and thread the needle through the loop a couple of times.
For more visuals on knots, see my sewing hexies post.
Using a slip stitch, hand sew the hem.
- Catch one or two threads of the jeans. The more fabric you catch, the more the stitches will show. With jeans I tend to catch two threads, but don't go right through the threads.
- Slide the needle through a small section of the hem and pull the thread through.
- Repeat the process till finished.
- Knot securely to finish off. Again, I do two knots.
My stitches are about ¼" apart. To begin with, you may need to do a two step process to catch the threads and slide through the hem. With practise you'll be able to do this as one step.
When I reach the seams, I stop slip stitching and I sew through the seam, catching way more than the two stitches. This bit doesn't look as neat as the slip stitching, but it does add strength to the hem.
Be careful as you sew this part, as the needle can be quite hard to push through, because you are sewing through more fabric. A thimble will make it easier and will prevent the eye end of the needle injuring your finger. I find I can hold the needle with the jeans and push it through that way.
You will need a strong needle to sew denim. Miss Sews-it-all has an informative post on needles for hand sewing.
The length was determined purely by where the stains were, so a little shorter than I'd normally wear, but good for our abnormally hot Autumn weather.
There was a time when I always kept my legs covered, due to a scar from surgery, but I've reached a point in my life where I'm not quite so self conscious. Our society is so obsessed with perfect looks and I'm so over it. If others don't like what they see, that's their problem, not mine.
I'm really pleased I took the time (about ½ an hour) to shorten my jeans. I like the look and, they still look good with the red and white blouse I always wore with them. It's 100% cotton, and so cool for Summer.
Next up is an alteration to a pair of sports pants.
How do you feel about clothing alterations?
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