Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Where's Martha When You Need Her?

I hate to sew. And I suck at it. I imagine one has everything to do with the other (I hate, therefore I suck.) It is also my misfortune that I am saddled with legs that are fully four inches shorter than the perfect 5’ 8" model that every pair of pants in the world was created to fit.

Sometime in late September, I purchased a beautiful pair of formal pants at Nordie’s (on sale, of course, for less than half the MSRP.) Black crepe with wide legs, and panels of fabric in front and back that make the whole affair look like a skirt. The panels float gracefully around your legs when you walk…or they’re supposed to. The thing is meant to be tea-length on a normal person. On me, even in heels, they drag on the floor. So I’m doing this float-float-trip-rip dance around the fitting room. No matter! I’ll just wear different shoes! Into the cart they go.

I get them home, and find I don’t own a pair of heels that will hold this garment off the floor (and if I did, I couldn’t possibly navigate them.) So, it becomes obvious to me that if I ever want to wear these pants, I will have to hem them. Not one to get a jump on anything, especially when it comes to sewing, I hang them in the closet until such time as I will absolutely have to deal with them.

Well, the time has come. We’re going to a concert tonight. Not that we haven’t had tickets to said concert for weeks. But I physically can NOT pick up a needle and thread unless I am faced with a hair-on-fire deadline. And we won’t even talk about my sewing machine. I use it so often that every time I touch it, it’s like its first time out of the case. I can never remember from one session to the next how to wind the bobbin or which way it goes in the machine. I invariably end up twirling, winding, pumping, ripping and dialing randomly until I can get the thing to sew a seam. And even then, I often get to the end of a particularly long and arduous stretch, to find I have sewn a perfect top of a seam, with no bottom thread to hold it together. Or the thread from the bobbin gets so tangled that the machine will stop dead in the middle of a run, as if I was urging it to sew through plywood. Not wanting to subject my delicate crepe pants to that peril, I though it safer to reach for the needle and thread. "Safe" being a relative term.

How hard can it be? Pin the bottoms, check them for length (without stabbing self with pins…so far, so good.) Thread the needle (this is where it starts to get difficult…I can’t see squat, and I’ve got to steer these stupid acrylic nails.) Less than twenty stitches in the bottom of each…um, flap?…and, voila! Piece of cake! NOT! The thread continuously twists, knots, and puckers. When I try to produce a knot, I trip over my nails. My "help" keeps going after the spool of thread, the pins, the seam ripper…anything that rolls or is shiny. What would have been a twenty-minute job for a normal person stretches to an hour-long battle of nerves. But in the end, I am victorious. They look…well, not great. But at least I won’t be tripping over them and dragging them in puddles. Did I mention that, when I bought these pants, there was another pair that was similar, but slightly different? And that I couldn’t decide which one I liked better, so I bought both? After today’s hijinks, the other pair will most likely spend the holidays in the back of the closet…


  1. Cheat!  Get the iron on/in? hemming tape.  You fold the pant legs under, iron in a nice hem where you want it, and then iron on/in the 'tape' on the inside creating a pretty strong hem.   It's pretty strong, I used it on drapes many times.  ~Sie

  2. Oh, this takes me back. When my sister, Roberta, got married we not only did her dress, but our dresses (3), Ricks shirt and accessories, and her get the heck out of Dodge outfit. Half way thru it all the machine basically went on strike. Little sister was "not" amused when I asked (half seriously) if I could just buy a new pair of jeans. I was on my third attempt to put in the zipper. I finally put the blessed thing in by hand. Thanks for the memories.


  3. Well, gee whiz! If you got such a great deal on the pants, surely you could afford to have them altered for you. I am firmly of the opinion that the avoidance of stress and drama are well worth the few dollars it would cost. Of course, I wouldn't be doing it myself. I'd give them to my wife. Well, I'd give them to my mother if I actually wanted to get them done, but then I'd never hear the end of it from my wife. You're kinda getting the picture, aren't you.
    p.s. I was referred here by KARENSULL12. If I annoy you, it's all her fault.

  4. Martha's here dear! Take the other pair to a tailor and have them fit them for you. I actually can sew quite well. But, I don't even like to do tailoring type stuff. The problem with the thread only on the topside and/or knotting up around the bobbin is probably because you don't have your tension set right. Use a test piece of fabric and manipulate the tension until the thread is right. Hope you had fun tonight!!! :-) ---Robbie

  5. Hi Lisa-
    Oh man I just roared when I read this! This is me, totally me. I can't sew anything. I also recently had to hem my "new" pants from Eddie Bauer that I bought. I am tall (5 7 1/2) and I can't stand my pants to be short, but don't want them dragging either. So I always have to order the "talls", which are way too long. After trying to put a hem in them for 2 hours, I gave up and went and bought that hemming tape stuff that you iron on. Worked like a charm!
    I also have a "helper" (Jager). He has to know, smell and touch everything "Mom" is doing or he has a hissy fit. So imagine me trying to sew with a 140lb Rottweiler trying to "help" me.

    Enjoy the day,

  6. At least you take your machine out and attempt to do some seamtress work. I have a machine I have yet to use. It is just toooooooooooooooooo intimadating!