Hello friends of First Fridays, it’s TJ Goerlitz from Studio Mailbox here, delivering September’s dose of sewing humor. If you recall, this year we’re all about random acts of sewing kindness (RASK) and this month I’ve got no choice to turn it around on myself.
I don’t know exactly how to report this so I guess I’ll just give it to you straight. The other week I was cleaning and managed to suck my skirt right up into the vacuum cleaner. Let me assure you this takes a certain kind of special, and I’m not sure I could do it again if you paid me. One minute I was battling dog hair and the next minute I was trapped in the rollers of my upright vacuum. There must have been angels watching over me though because luckily it shut itself off. After some initial effort to free my garment I realized the skirt wasn’t coming out until I actually got out of it. So there I was, in my undies, when I assessed the scene and grabbed my phone to snap a picture for Facebook. Only then did I proceed to free the fabric from the appliance. Like one of my old friends from high school commented on the post, “at least you weren’t in a hotel lobby.”
Anyway I love this skirt but it’s always been just slightly too long, the length getting in the way every time I walked up stairs and would manage to catch my toe inside the hem. I should take this thing up a bit, I’d think to myself and then continue to wear it exactly as it was only occasionally tripping over it. I had somehow convinced myself that it was actually elegant that way, like those fancy curtains that pool into a big silky fabric puddle on the floor.
The truth is I have never leaned how to hem properly. I’m nearly five feet eight. It is so rare that anything is too long for me that I suppose it’s just something that I never had a reason to learn. I’m sure there’s just a setting that makes the little inconspicuous stitches, the ones that look like dashed lines with only a little bit of thread showing on the topside of the fabric. Hemming cannot possibly be rocket science, but nevertheless it has managed to elude me.
One time when I accidentally ordered the wrong size team pants for my kid, I tried taking them up. I used the stitch pattern cam that was marked for a blind hem but a weird decorative stitch came out instead. (If you did not catch that, my machine is vintage and one of the models that came with a set of cams you can change in order to get various stitches). Anyway, instead of being a good mother, (the kind that would take the time to rip it out and try again), I rolled with it. I convinced my son that his new pants were super pimpin’ and that nobody else on the team would have them. He didn’t care because he’s a little boy who doesn’t really inspect things closely. All he knew is that at first his team sweats didn’t fit and then suddenly they did. I may be a Pinterest fail but I’m a mom win! Imagine my horror weeks later when an email went out to the entire team, complete with photo. Let me paraphrase it for you. It went something like this, “Little Johnny came home with somebody else’s pants. Please check your bags in case you have Johnny’s sweats, we know these are not his because these ones have been shortened.” I wanted to pack up my sewing box and crawl in a hole. The one time I did a hack job the evidence was distributed inside the entire hockey community. Lesson learned.
Then the other day as I was swapping a load of laundry my heart lurched when I realized a new pair of trousers had come apart at the ankle. They were a steal of a deal and since they’re white I feel like I’m on an episode of CSI Miami every time I wear them. I could not believe the hem had fallen down already. Knowing my nightmares with hems, I sent them off to the dry cleaner with hubby instructing him to ask for an alteration. I had assumed they’d be gone for a few days but he returned with them in hand. “Here you go,” he said as he handed them over. “They’re done?” I asked. “Yeah, only $3 bucks too. She did it in about two minutes while I waited,” he informed me.
I had to get to the bottom of this. How is this possible? I sew all kinds of awesome things. Nothing is that easy!!!
Well, when I took exactly five minutes to investigate, when I clicked the “Search” tab on the right side of this very website directly above Heather’s head and entered the word ‘hem,’ I came across Blind Hem Stitch: made easy. I almost died when I realized I did indeed have the correct cam for my machine when I altered those hockey pants, I just didn’t know that I had to fold them a specific way to make that little peak catch the fold. Who knew the hem stitch looks exactly like a hospital heartbeat monitor and that every peak of the heartbeat catches the fabric to hold it up at it’s new length? (Mind blown).
It certainly gives me hope for my skirt. It will be the perfect project to practice on since the vacuum tore two small holes in it. It’s these moments when I feel like a complete bozo that I remind myself that this year is all about kindness. I don’t have to have to have the best hemmed kid on the hockey team. And with a little practice maybe someday I won’t have to trip over my clothes either.
TJ Goerlitz is a mixed media artist who pretends to be a seamstress whenever possible. Come connect with her on her site, Studio Mailbox, in Facebook or in Pinterest. Join her on the first Friday of every month where she shares her latest sewing tales with the readers of The Sewing Loft.