Take a breather – DIY Tutorial: How to take in your trousers…keeping the original hem!

First of all, let me apologise for being lax in updating my blog this past week or so. We had the September Weekend off (last Friday and Monday of this week) and I had taken the rest of the week of earlier in the year in preparation for a possible trip to Wales to visit some of OH’s family friends there…which never happened. Needless to say, it has still been a nice 10 days off (can’t believe after tomorrow, it’s back to The Real World) which was what I really needed. I had so many thoughts running through my mind and the time I had to myself just to talk to my friends and work through those pesky thoughts really helped me appreciate my life a little more.

I’d previously posted about what it’s like to be me, or more specifically anyone who considers themselves to be an introvert. As I mentioned before, sometimes the thoughts can be quite overwhelming and just taking the time out to sort through them and talk to someone for a second opinion can really help. That’s what your friends are for and what makes them so great.

One of the things that I also had new appreciation for was my OH in constantly striving to encourage me to be more active and to try new activities. If left to my own devices, I would’ve quite happily slept in till the afternoon every day, watched some shows on my laptop, read on my Kindle and played with the cats, have my meals and sleep when I felt tired. He managed to coax me out of hiding from the mountain of blankets I had piled on top of my head and we took the kitties to the beach and took a nice leisurely stroll along the beach at Gullane like we did on our first outing together as a couple 🙂

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Gullane beach

The weather was just the same as that day nearly 4 years ago: sunny, very windy and somewhat cold, so I had to tie my hair back, put my sunnies on, keep all 4 layers on and tie my scarf around my neck for a quick stroll along the sandy dunes. It does bring back happy memories of that very first time out together. Despite the weather, it was also very romantic as there were no other people to be seen so we had the whole beach to ourselves.

We even went to the allotment with the kitties to see how everything’s growing and do some maintenance work (weeding etc). Surprisingly, some raspberries (yellow and red) were still coming through and we managed to get quite a few more potatoes as well as some impressively sized courgettes and a pumpkin!

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Tigger with the courgettes and pumpkin

The pumpkin and courgettes were left a bit longer to grow in size, but we didn’t expect them to go from about the length of your hand to this monstrosity!

One other great thing that happened was we got a new coffee table – for free!

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Abandoned coffee table

It seemed as if a neighbour is moving out of the next stair or they’re buying new furniture, but either way, some good and sturdy furniture was left outside, possibly to be collected by the council. On seeing the table though, I knew it would come in handy in my room, especially when it comes to my dressmaking projects, it has a big enough surface to cut and lay out patterns when needed.

Talking about my dressmaking projects, I haven’t abandoned the snake print voile dress I’ve been talking about for ages. Despite it being relatively simple to assemble, I seem to have come across quite a few snitches. The first part (the bodice and the waistband) was easy enough to put together, but when it came to making sure the lining didn’t show through the print voile, it turned out the lining was longer than the outer fabric – despite using the exact same pattern pieces for the skirt! Having sorted that out, the pleats I put on the waistband of the skirt to the bodice ended up leaving balloons to the front and back of the dress.

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Snake print voile dress – still in progress

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Although the pleats were unpicked and sorted, the one pleat seems to be quite problematic

I thought I had that sorted, but on trying on the dress again after the zipper was sewn on, the waistband sits slightly too high on my waist, so it seems as if from where the skirt starts, my hips are where my waist should be so I’ll need to take that in and sort out the slight balloon to the back of the skirt as well. I’ve decided that for now, I’m going to give myself another break from the problem (possibly to do with the fabric itself) and tackle it when I’ve got a clearer head.

In the meantime, I meant to also take in some jeans that I got from Selfridges in London when I visited my sister there in 2007. Now I’m not one for buying fancy jeans, but when you see a pair of designer jeans that would’ve cost you over £100 and on sale they came to £25, would you say no to that? Luckily they still fit, but for a small person like me, the regular length jeans make me look like I’m trying to wear my mum’s trousers. Some jeans don’t look that good when you cut off the end and take in the hem from where you’ve cut it and when it comes to having things look like they haven’t been altered, obviously taken in jeans are a pet peeve for me.

Lucky for me, I came across Do It Yourself Divas’ blog which tells you exactly how to do it – simple and fast!

Here’s how I tackled my unworn Hudson jeans:

1. Find a pair of jeans that you like the length of and line up the crotch inseam to the jeans you want to take in the length of. This will tell you how much shorter the jeans you want taken in needs to be altered by

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The other way you can do this is to simply wear the jeans you want to sort out, and fold up the hem to the length you want it to be and work it from there

2. Once you know how much you need to take in on the trousers, measure the length of the hem (this is so the hem doesn’t drag on the floor. Say if you wanted your jeans shortened by 20cm and the hem is 4cm, even with the jeans shortened by 20cm above the original hem, it’d still mean your jeans would be 4cm too long)

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3. Again using the example of your jeans needing to be taken in my 20cm, you’ll need to take out the length of the hem (4cm) so that your total shortened length is correct. So along the hemline, measure 16cm and draw marks using tailor’s chalk where you want the edge of the hem to come to – It would be easier if you did both sides of each leg the same way

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4. Now fold up the legs until the stitch line of the hem meets the chalk marks you’ve made

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5. Pin along the hem as closely as possible. Don’t forget to match the inseam stitching lines that run down the length of the jeans!

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6. Now stitch along the hemline as close to the original stitching as possible. To make it easier on my trusty ol’ sewing machine, I just stitched along the edge of the fold on the hem

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7. Once you’ve stitched all the way around, you don’t need the excess fabric so take a deep breath and cut close the stitches you’ve just made

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8. Now iron the finished hem so it lays flat

I’ve not done it yet because I’m lazy, but just to give you an idea of how it looks, here’s my finished hem on the newly shortened trousers!

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It works better if you’re working with straight or skinny leg jeans. If you’re working with flares, when you take it in the bottom will be wider than the shortened hem. If you can, try and take in the extra fabric close to the inseam stitching (cut excess and stitch the newly cut ends to the inseam) before stitching the hem to the leg. You’ll notice this when you’re pinning that it doesn’t lay completely flat. With my jeans, the excess wasn’t too much and it was on the smooth side of the leg that I just left it the way it is.

I’m also excited about starting the silver jewellery making class with Edinburgh Council that the OH paid for as a birthday present! I’ll hopefully be able to add more tutorials on here as the classes go along and maybe try experimenting making my own pieces in the future!

Have you got any exciting activities about to start? How did you find the tutorial on taking in the hem of your jeans? Any frustrating points in your projects that you want to share or get advice on?

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