How to Hem your Pants tutorial

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Pants

How to Hem your Pants tutorial

This is the second post in the Sewing Basics series.  Of all the things I get asked to do as a seamstress, this one probably tops the list.  Unless you are lucky enough to be a standard size, you have probably at some point purchased a pair of pants that were too long and required hemming.  Professional hemming usually costs somewhere between $10 and $20, depending on the type of pants and who is hemming them.  If you have several pairs that need hemming, it can add up quickly.  And lets not talk about those other ways of “hemming” – scotch tape, duct tape, staples, and safety pins are just a few I have personally seen, and I am sure there are other creative ideas out there!

So what’s a girl (or guy) to do when their pants are too long?  Learn to hem them yourself!  It really isn’t that difficult, and it’s much better than the alternatives! :)

How to Hem Your Pants

 Materials

  • A pair of pants in need of hemming, washed and dried (If they are new and will be going in the dryer, sometimes I’ll wash them twice, just to make sure they have finished all of their shrinking!)
  • A sewing machine and matching thread
  • Scissors
  • Pins

Step 1:  Mark the ideal length

This is much easier to do with a friend to help, but it is totally doable on your own.  What you want to do is fold the bottom of the paint leg up at the ideal length and then pin it.  Rather than pulling it up on the outside (like a cuff) you are going to tuck it under and up inside the pant leg (like it will be when you are finished hemming.)

Make sure you are happy with the length (don’t forget to try it out with the shoes you usually wear) and then pin them in place.  Then take them to the ironing board and press the bottoms well at their new length.  If the hems are slightly uneven, this is the time to fix them and make sure they are straight.

Tutorial

Step 2: Cut

Lay your pants on a flat surface and unfold the hems.  If you are lucky enough to have a decent amount of fabric between your fold line and the original hem (at least 1 1/4″ for a narrow hem) you can go ahead and cut off that original hem.  If your pants have big hems like mine, or if you only need to hem them a little, you will have to sit and pick out the stitching of the original hem. (I know, I know, it’s not my favourite job either, but seriously sit down with some of your favourite music or a good movie and you’ll have them done in no time.)

Tutorial: How to Hem Your Pants

In this photo the top fold line is my ideal length, and the middle fold line is the original length of the pants before I unpicked them.

Now you want to think about how big you want your finished hems to be.  I usually use the original hem as a guide, but at this point, anything goes.  If your pants had big hems and you prefer small, this is your chance to be the designer!  Whatever that number is add 1/2″ for folding down the raw edge, and now you know how much fabric you need to leave below your fold line.  For example, if you wanted your finished hems to be about 1″, you would want to leave 1 1/2″ of fabric.   Use a ruler to mark that amount all the way along the pant leg and then cut off the excess.

IMG_8070 IMG_8051

Step 3: Press and Pin

Take your pants back to the ironing board and press the raw edge under 1/2″ all the way around the paint leg.

How to Hem your Pants

Then fold them under on your original press mark (the ideal length) and pin them in place.  At this point I like to try them on again, just to be sure they are exactly the length I want them.  It’s much easier to fix it now, before you start to sew.

How to Hem Pants

(Okay, so you may have noticed that the pants I am hemming here keep changing colour.  As I was working on the original pair I realized there was a way to skip a few steps, if your hems happened to be in the right place, so had to use a second pair to show the longer way.   I’ll show you the shortcut at the end.)

Step 4: Sew

Now take the pants to the sewing machine and sew all the way around the hem with a straight stitch, close to the folded edge.

How to hem your pants

Repeat with the other side.

Step 5: Show Off!

You’re done!  Now you can show off your new, perfect-length pants! (no tape, staples or safety pins required.)

This method of hemming works for all pants with a visible seam.  For those special dressy pants with invisible hems, I find it easiest to hem those by hand with a blind hem.  And if you are hemming jeans, there is an incredibly easy way to hem them and keep the stitching of the original hems intact!

Hemming Short Cut

As promised, here is a short cut that might work on some of your hems.  In the photo below, the ideal length of my pants ended up being at the top of the original hem, on the original stitching line.  When this happens, it is really easy to make use of the original hem line and save yourself some measuring and ironing.

Hemline Shortcut

I cut the pants off 1/2″ below the second fold line (the original hemline of the pants).

IMG_8051

Then I refolded the fabric along the fold line to tuck in the raw edges.

Hemming Pants

After that it was a simple matter of folding them up, pinning in place, and sewing.  Easy, peasy, right?

Anyone out there willing to confess?  What is the craziest thing you have done (or seen done) to temporarily “hem” a pair of pants?

Capes for Kids

One of the joys of being able to sew is to share the things I have made for others.  Sometimes that is through gifts to friends and family, sometimes that is through selling items in my shop, and other times it is through donating handmade items to charitable organizations.  I love to think of my handmade things being used by those who could use it most!

In the summer of last year I was introduced to the Craft Hope website.  Every other month or so the author posts a new opportunity for crafters to get involved in, using their talents to help others.

This month, the project was capes for kids.  Believing in the value of dramatic play as I do, how could I pass this one up?

Using this awesome tutorial for reversible capes, this is what I made:

Capes for Kids

The pink fabric was gifted to me by an on-line friend who was clearing up her stash (check out her amazing patterns!) and although flannel might be an odd choice for a cape, I loved the pattern too much to pass it up for this project.  As a child I loved absolutely anything soft and cosy (who am I kidding?  I’m still a sucker for anything soft and warm) so hopefully that will just be a bonus for some cape-wearing kiddo.

Aren’t the guitars and hearts fun?  Who wouldn’t want a cape that does double duty – is she a superhero, or a rock star?  :)

Capes for Kids

If you want to make some capes yourself, there is still time (the deadline isn’t until Jan. 31), and there is even a new-sew version of the cape for those who don’t sew!

 

How to Hem Curtains

Sewing Basics: How to Hem Curtains

How to Hem Curtains

With the new year, new resolutions and goals, and many out there who received new sewing machines for Christmas, I thought it might be a good time to post some tutorials for sewing basics.  (And, of course, the huge pile of sewing projects sitting on my sewing table might have had something to do with the decision, too!)  The list will include hemming curtains, hemming pants, and even the super-basic, sewing a button (but I’ll show you how to do it on the machine, too). These are the things I most get asked about, and are great skills for someone new to sewing to learn.

Today we have: How to Hem Curtains.

As many of you know, we recently moved into a new house.  And although window coverings came with the house, none of them had been hemmed, which means that they went right down to the floor, covering the baseboard heaters.  And although aesthetically I like them that way, it’s not worth the fire hazard!  So, a-hemming we will go!

Materials

  • curtains to be hemmed (washed and dried.  If they are going to shrink, you want them to do it BEFORE you hem them.)
  • a sewing machine
  • a long measuring tape
  • thread to match your curtains
  • sharp scissors
  • iron
  • marking pencil (fancy fabric ones are nice, but chalk will work on dark colours, and a regular pencil will work on lights, you won’t see the markings once you are done sewing)
  • optional (but helpful): sewing gauge, rotary cutter and mat

Step 1: Measure

The first thing you need to figure out is how long your curtains should be.  Using the measuring tape, measure from the top of your curtain rod to where you would like your curtains to hang.  (For me, that was a couple of inches above the heater, which ended up being 75 inches.)  Write that number down.

Then, add the amount you will need for seams.  This is really completely up to you, but you can use the original curtain hems as a guide.  The original hems on my curtain were quite narrow, so I decided to go with 1″ hems.  Then, because the seam will be folded twice before being sewn, I doubled this number, giving me 2.”  (If your number is different mine, just double whatever you came up with and you’re all set)

Add these two numbers together – finished length + seam allowance (75 + 2 in my case) and you will have the length you will be cutting your curtains.

Step 2: Cut

Lay your first curtain panel out flat on the floor.  (Or a table if you have one long enough.)  To make things easier, I like to fold mine in half for this step.  Just make sure that you keep the tops if the curtains lined up after folding, to avoid crooked seams later on.

How to Hem Curtains

Using your measuring tape, measure from the top of the curtain and make a mark at your target number.  (Remember Step 1?  My number was 77 inches)  Use a marking pencil to mark a line on the curtains.

How to Hem Curtains

Do this several times across the width of the curtain until you have 4 or 5 marks.

Tutorial

Use a ruler to join the marks you have made into a solid line.

How to Hem Curtains

I don’t know what yours will be like, but my curtains did not originally have straight hems – about 1″ off in places!  This is why it is important to measure from the top, and not from the bottom, of the curtain.   (Sometimes when you do things yourself you end up with something better than what you started with!)

Okay, now cut across the line you just made.  You now have a perfectly straight curtains ready to hem!  Repeat this step with the other curtain panel(s).

What do I do if my cutting line runs into the original hem?

If you are lucky, you will be shortening your curtains enough that you will be able to just cut off the original hem entirely.  However, this is not always the case.  If your cutting line runs down into the original hem, you will have to sit and unpick the original stitching.  It’s a bit tedious, but I find putting on some of my favourite music or sitting down and watching a movie while I work my way through makes the time pass quickly.

How to Hem Curtains

Step 3: Press and Pin

We’re halfway there!  Now you are going to lay your newly-cut curtain bottoms across your ironing board and press the hem.  Using a ruler or sewing gauge to stay consistent, press up your hem the full amount of the seam allowance (that second number you chose in Step 1)  In my case, that number was 2″.

Curtain Hemming Tutorial

Then unfold this newly pressed hem, and fold the fabric again, but this time only until it meets the line you just pressed.  In my case, it meant folding it up 1″.  Press on the fold.

How to Hem Curtains

Now fold the hem up on your original fold line again and pin.  This tucks all the raw edges neatly away and leaves you with a nice straight edge, ready to sew!

How to Hem Curtains

Step 4:  Sew

Now the fun part!  Load up your machine with matching thread, and sew a straight stitch close to the folded edge of your hem, removing the pins as you go.  Be sure to backstitch when you start and when you stop to lock the stitches.

IMG_7991

Trim your threads and admire your beautifully sewn hem!  These curtains are ready to hang.

That’s all there is to it!  Now you are ready to hang your curtains and enjoy your handiwork!  Well done!

Finished

Minion Madness

Happy New Year!

It was a bit of a different Christmas holiday around here, with so many people out of power, but we still enjoyed many beautiful moments with family and friends.

And, of course, there was time taken to make a few handmade gifts.  Although I did not take photos of everything I made, there were a few that had their moment with the paparazzi.

And how could you resist when the subject is this cute?

Minion Stuffed Toy

This is Phil.  And although we are still waiting for him to put on his maid’s outfit and clean our house,  it’s been fun having him around.  (Although all of our bananas seem to have gone missing….)  I used the fantastic free pattern and tutorial on We Lived Happily Ever After.

And because we are such big Minion fans here at the moment, I also crocheted this minion hat:

Crocheted Minion Hat

This was another free pattern and comes in all sizes from newborn to adult!  (Oh how thankful I am for all of those generous crafters out there!)  I also really liked this pattern I found on Pinterest, but didn’t think Hubby would like the braided tails!

Then, when our Christmas Eve plans were cancelled due to the crazy weather and power outages, I spent the day on the couch next to my beloved and whipped up one of these for my friend’s little one:

Crochet Puppy Dog Hat

It was fun to get the crochet hooks out again and to make something so little and cute!  This was another great free pattern from Repeat Crafter Me.

What about you?  Was there holiday crafting at your house this year?

 

The most amazing plant discovery ever!

Last year I made the most amazing plant discovery ever.  Seriously.  This plant is a medicinal powerhouse.  Chew it or chop it up and apply it for immediate relief from bug bites, bee stings, nettle stings, and rashes.  Apply it to a deep sliver and it will actually pull it out of the skin.  It cures infections, stops bleeding, and, oh yeah, you can eat it too.

As you are probably imagining, this is a rare rainforest plant only recently discovered and this is why the general public doesn’t know about it yet.  It is sold at such high prices that only the elite have access to it.  Um, not quite.

This plant is actually a “weed” that grows prolifically just about everywhere.  Even city dwellers can probably find it sprouting between side walk stones.  But somehow, in the ease of plunking down our money at the nearest drug store, it’s medicinal use has been long forgotten.

This amazing plant is the topic of my last instalment of the Forgotten Plants series over at Gnowfglins.   I really couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw this garden weed in the pages of my medicinal herb book and I can’t wait to make better use of it in my garden, and medicine cabinet, in the spring.

If you know of any other “forgotten plants” I’d love to hear about them!

Surprises in the Wall

We have had a few surprises since moving in to our new house.  Some good (like the laundry shoot), and some bad (the roof started to leak the day we moved in), but none quite as interesting as the discovery we made this past week.  We were having some issues with the electrical in the kitchen/dining room, and in order to fix the problem we had to remove the electric fireplace the previous owners had (mis)installed.

Once we had the fireplace out, we had an open view into the wall.  And guess what we found in there?

Vintage Little People Toys

Can’t you just imagine some small child sitting there the last time the wall was open, watching their toys fall into the abyss?  I wonder if there is a parent somewhere who could never figure out what became of this lot…

As the fireplace will not be returning to this spot, Hubby and I have been throwing around a few ideas of what to use the space for.  We have a few good ideas, but I’m curious, if this was your home, what would you do with this opening in the stone wall?  

Fireplace Opening

Forgotten Plants Series

It has been a very busy few months around here as we moved to a new town, settled into our new house, and began our new jobs.  And yes, since we just can’t seem to help ourselves, we have begun renovations on our new house, too.  (How many of you already knew that was going to happen?)

In the midst of all the busyness, I was also accepted as a contributing writer at GNOWFGLINS.  Are you familiar with Wardeh’s bolg?  It is a treasure trove of information for anyone interested in raising their own food, preserving the harvest, and preparing healthy, in-season meals for their families.

My first series is all about “Forgotten Plants: once prolific in the kitchen gardens of our ancestors, but now so rare that the average person might never have even heard of them.  Many of these deserve to find space in our gardens again!” 

 

Lovage is an easy-to-grow perennial that can be used very much like celery.  I even included a recipe for Lovage Lemon Chicken.

Borage is one of my garden favourites!  It’s wonderful for eating as well as a helpful companion plant!  The flowers are pretty on a salad, and the leaves are perfect for a cool glass of borage lemonade.

Walking onions are one of my new favourites!  Click on over to read how I discovered these at our local historical settlement!

And finally, an old favourite from The Handy Reliable Cookbook (remember my great-grandmother’s old cookbook?)  I even included one of the old recipes in the post!

The final instalment in the series will be posted soon and will feature an undervalued plant that just about everyone has growing in their yard or garden, any guesses?

 

Moving Sale!

I know things have been very quiet around this blog lately, but there has certainly been a lot going on.  The biggest news is – we’re moving!  And although we aren’t going too far, just up the river to another small town, it will mean a new house, a new community, and new jobs for both hubby and myself.

And since I would much rather pack up the items in my shop and send them to you, rather than store them until we move into our new home, I am celebrating our move with a moving sale!  Use the coupon code “MovingSale” and receive 20% off everything in the shop! (except for custom orders, of course.)

Moving Sale

And although Create-a-Creatures are not on sale, I will only be accepting summer orders until June 30, and will drastically be reducing the number of orders I take on in the Fall.  So if you have been thinking of having a creature made, or know there is a birthday coming up, or are even thinking ahead to Christmas, now is the time to get your project on my list!

And now the packing begins!  Does anyone have any great packing/moving advice?  

Pajama Monster Pillow Tutorial

Pajama Eating Monster Pillow Tutorial

This tutorial has been a long time coming – but finally, here it is!  These cute and cuddly monster pillows have big mouths just ready to eat your pajamas and keep them safe until night time.  They’re also really fun sleepover companions.  If you’d like to have one of these monsters for your very own (or for someone you love) I make them in custom colours in my shop.  Or, you could make your own!  Here’s how:

Materials

  • 3/4 yard (70 cm) of fleece for the pillow
  • piece of fleece in appropriate colours for horns, teeth, eyes and eyeballs
  • piece of coordinating cotton for mouth lining
  • stuffing

Materials for Pajama Monster Pillow

Step 1:  Cut the fabric

Out of the pillow fleece, cut 2 16″ (40 cm) squares  (I made myself a cardboard template for this, but you could use a cutting grid or even just measure with a ruler!) and one 16 x 9″ (40 x 23cm) rectangle for the mouth

From the lining fabric cut a 16 x 9″ (40 x 23cm) rectangle

From white fleece, cut a 16 x 2.5″ (40 x 6 .5 cm) strip for the teeth and notch to look like teeth

Teeth for Pajama Monster Pillow

Also from white cut two ovals for eyes.  Mine are about 3 x 4.5″ (7.5 x 12.5 cm)

Cut eyeballs from black fleece.

Draw a horn shape about 5″ (12.5 cm)  tall and use it as a template to cut out four horn shapes from fleece.

Horns for Pajama Monster Pillow

Step 2:  Sew the Mouth

Place the fleece mouth right-side up on a table.

Place the teeth right-side down on top, lining up the bottom of the teeth with the top of the mouth.

Mouth for Pajama Monster Pillow

Place the lining piece right-side down on top and pin across the top.

Mouth Construction

Sew across the top only.

Fold the lining behind the fleece mouth and press.

Mouth Finished

Place the mouth piece on top of one of the pillow pieces, lining up the bottom and sides, and baste.  (Leave the top, teeth part open.)

Step 3: Sew the Eyes

Sew the eyeballs onto the eye pieces.

Eyes

Sew the eyes to the front pillow piece as desired.

Step 4: Sew and Stuff the Horns

With right-sides together, sew the horn pieces together.  Trim the seams at the points.

Turn right-side out and stuff.  Only lightly stuff the bottoms so they can be sewn into the pillow.

Stuffed Horns

Position the horns where you would like them on the finished pillow, and baste them to the top of the pillow, lining up the bottom of the horns with the top of the pillow.

**I seem to have misplaced the photos I took of the last several steps.  Hopefully it’s clear enough without the photo help. Sorry!     

Step 5: Sew the Pillow  

Place the front pillow piece (the one with the eyes and mouth) right-side up on a table.

Place the back pillow piece right-side down on top and pin.

Sew around all the sides, leaving an opening for turning.

Step 6: Stuff and Finish

Turn the pillow right side out and stuff.

Sew the opening closed.

Pajama Eating Monster Pillow

Ta da!  Your pillow monster is finished and ready to start devouring some PJs!

If you make a pillow using this tutorial, please share your pictures, I’d love to see them!  Also, I would really appreciate it if you only used this tutorial for your own pillows or for gifts.  Those wishing to purchase a pillow can find them in my shop!  Thanks!  Happy sewing!

 

More Drawings Come to Life!

It’s been busy around here as the sewing machine has been humming, my hand-sewing skills have been tested, and I’ve been experimenting with new materials.  16 creatures are almost ready to make the journey to their new homes.  This is the last of the group of 43 that I have been working on for the summer camp.    Here are a few of the creatures ready to meet their new owners:

Children's Drawing Brought To life!

I love all of the detailed instructions on this one!  I hope I got it just right!

IMG_6833

The lovely Dianne Fisher of LittleFishCreations adapted her fabric design just for this fish!

IMG_6835

“Like a Boss” was a bit of a theme with some of these campers.  In this case, the lettering on the bear’s shirt was done with fabric paint, to mimic the block letters the artist wanted.

Create-a-Creature by Artisan in the WoodsAnd a challenge – how to make the dragon standing instead of sitting.  I’ll admit this one took a bit of drawing and redrawing to get just right,  but I love how it turned out and I think he’s a nice cross between fierce and friendly.  But then again, I’ve always wanted a pet dragon! :)

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