Thursday, May 27, 2010

How to Hem a Pair of Pants with Cuffs

Here's a hypothetical situation: Your husband received a new black suit in the mail as a gift, and it is your job to find a tailor to have the suit pants hemmed to fit. Let's say, hypothetically, that you are a forgetful procrastinator. Then let's say that your husband tells you one morning, "I'm going to be speaking at the graduation ceremony tonight, and I'd really like to wear my new suit. Could you possibly hem my pants for me today?"

Hypothetically, this is what you would do.

First, you must do a bit of math.

The formula:
Husband's normal pants inseam + 2(width of cuff) + 1/2(width of cuff) = total length of pants before hemming

I chose a 1.5 inch cuff, and my husband has a 34" inseam in his pants. So my formula looked like this:
34 + 3 + 3/4 = 37.75 inches

In theory, I should have measured down 37.75 inches from the top of the inseam, and cut off the extra fabric. I was, however, pretty uncertain in what I was doing, so I chose not to cut just yet. Which pretty much makes the above formula obsolete.

On to the next step!

With the pants inside out, measure down the inseam to the first fold in the pants, which would be (inseam length) + (cuff width). For me, that was 35.5 inches down. Mark it with pins all the way across.

Then fold up and iron flat.

Move the pins you had used to now keep the new fold in place.

Repeat with the other pant leg. Reality Check: Line up the two legs to see if they are the same length.

For whatever reason, one of my folds bowed out a bit, so I refolded, reironed, and repinned that one.

There, that's better!

Now turn the pants right side out and measure your cuff width (for me, 1.5 inches) up from the bottom.

Mark all the way across with pins.

Fold up, iron flat, and move pins to hold the new fold in place.

Repeat with second pant leg. Reality Check: Line up the two legs again to see if they are the same length.

At this point, you're ready to begin sewing. But Jon was still at work for another 30 minutes, and I really wanted to make sure I got the length right before I made a single cut or stitch.

So I waited.

Caleb entertained me with his Moving Rocks from One Receptacle to the Other trick.


Jon finally arrived home and it was time to find out if I'd done everything right. If all my measuring and re-measuring had been worth it.

Jon pulls the pants on, as well as the shoes he'll be wearing with them. At first glance, I think, "Hooray! It's an inch above the floor...perfect!"

But then on closer inspection, I realize that the pants are pretty floppy all around the shoe, not straight at the back with a slight break at the front. They were really too long; the only reason they didn't hit the floor is that they were also fairly narrow, so they stayed higher up on the shoe.


Back to the ironing board.

Before Jon gave the pants back, I quickly cuffed the hem one more time (essentially pulling it up another 1.5 inches) and it looked much better. So, I pulled out all the pins and started all over, this time bringing them up 1.5 inches higher than I had before. Again, before making a cut or stitch, I had Jon try them on.

Much better! They fit much more smoothly over the shoe.

Now it was time to take the plunge and make the cut. Yikes.

I gotta say that this was nerve wracking. If you have more confidence in your measuring skills than I do, I would do this before all your folding and pinning! The danger of doing it at the end is that you will inadvertently cut more than one layer of fabric, and thus render the pants absolutely unusable...except to a very short person. If you wait until the end as I did, be very careful. Keep separating the layer of fabric to be cut away from the rest of the layers. Go s.l.o.w.l.y.

Now it's time to sew. I did not include enough fabric at the end to turn and hem in a finished edge. Mostly because there were already lots of layers of fabric, and I wasn't quite sure I could handle another fold-and-iron-and-pin without undoing the other layers. Besides, these are suit pants that will only get gently worn and gently dry-cleaned. If you're hemming your husband's everyday khakis, you might want the finished him. A serger would be perfect for this (and another reason to make the cut in the beginning of the process).

I hand-sewed the stiches because I wanted to pick up all the layers except the outermost. At the seam lines, I sewed along the seam up and down the cuff and did include the outermost layer, in order to tack it down and keep it from unfolding. (The thread was hidden in the seam.) So basically I sewed all around the pant leg, but took a detour and made a few stitches up each seam and back down, perpendicular to the rest of the hem stitches. Make sense?
Turn back to right side out and iron.

And here's the finished product, finished just as Jon was needing to rush out the door to give an address during the high school graduation ceremony.

And I was rushing back in to figure out what to wear, eat my dinner, get Caleb ready for the babysitter, and leave in the next 5 minutes so I wouldn't miss hearing my husband speak.

Procrastination is for the birds. Someday I'll learn my lesson. In the meantime, hopefully this tutorial will help you stay out of a similar situation!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

More Garden Harvest

Here are a few mores photos of some recent garden harvest.

And what better to do with squash and zucchini than saute with onions! Sometime soon we'll have onions from our garden, but until then, these are store-bought.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Home Tour: Living and Dining

I've put this series of posts off for far too long. I was waiting for things to be "just so" in the house, but I don't think that will ever happen! So I'm starting with a tour of the living and dining areas. They're at the front of the house, so the plan was that they would stay nice and clean and ready to entertain should people come over. And actually, that has been pretty true! The problem is that no one comes through our front door; they come through the garage (no garage door to inhibit them) into the kitchen, which is notoriously the messiest room in every house we've ever lived in. So oh, well. Nonetheless, the living and the dining were the easiest to clean up and take pictures of, and we'll work on the rest later.

The placemats on the table are usually orange to match the rest of the room, but those got washed and really wrinkly, so it'll probably be awhile before I get around to ironing them.

The large blank wall behind the table will be filled with framed art from my college and high school years. I'm really excited about them, because I have never put up my art before.* These are 5 black and white drawings, framed in black frames. I took them to the framer when I was in DFW, so it'll be awhile before I get a chance to get back down there to pick them up.

This last picture is Jon's "Daddy Chair" that rocks and reclines, with Caleb's chair next to it. They both love their chairs! The large doorway behind opens into the "family room" with our computers and a love seat that we use for watching movies and such on our computers. We got rid of the tv when we moved, and now rely on netflix and hulu for our boob tube entertainment. It's saved us a ton of space to not have the entertainment center, and it helps us be more discerning about what we watch.

You can also see the breakfast bar (which we use to put Caleb's play stuff underneath) that leads to the kitchen...which will most likely be the last part of this home tour you'll ever see, if I wait on it to be spic and span before taking pictures!

I'm really happy with this area of the house (as I am with most areas, actually!). It's my first time to have coordinating furniture that I picked out myself, and I think it's comfortable and casual and homey, with enough modern touches to make me happy.

* I do remember a time when I put up some of my art in a particular college apartment, and no, Hill, you don't have to worry. I'm not putting up the black and white drawing of the toilet. Maybe I'll save that for a housewarming gift for you someday.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

How Does My Garden Grow?

It's been almost two months since Jon and I put in our garden. Since that post, we've added soaker hoses and mulch, and made a few minor produce changes.

The biggest problem in the beginning was I forgot to allow room for my cucumbers. I decided to plant them where I had put seeds out for tomatoes, since we had tons of tomatoes. Well then the tomato seeds came up so well that I hated to pull them up, so I yanked out the cucumber seedlings and planted more seeds where the bell peppers were supposed to come up. Those never showed up, so the cucumbers are happily growing there. Our only other disappointment was the potatoes, which I have to admit was a bit of a haphazard endeavor in the first place. We just pulled a potato out of our fridge, chopped it up and stuck it in the ground! Not sure what went wrong; some have suggested we should have let the potato cuts dry up a little bit so they wouldn't rot in the ground. So I have a bare spot there, but otherwise everything is growing great! We just had our first harvest of green beans!

Here's how the garden started on Good Friday:

And here is how it looks now!

Here's some yellow squash:
And here's one of the hard workers who make things happen in the garden:
More green beans ready to pick:
Sugar snap peas and zucchini squash:
There's a zucchini!
Cherry tomatoes
Bell peppers (that we started from plants, not seed)
And jalapenos!
Everything is growing so well, and it's so much fun to check on the garden every day and see what's new. Next year I'll plant all my tomatoes with seed, I think, because they did so well this year. And I won't use seed for peppers. Live and learn.

The biggest challenge right now is the aphid community that has moved into the sugar snap peas. Any suggestions on these pesky guys?

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vacation of the Year

So awhile back our friends Cliff and Teresa asked us if we'd like to join them on a trip to Destin, Florida. They're about to have their first baby and Teresa has always wanted to go to Destin, so they figured they'd do it before their family grew by one. On our end, I had weaned Caleb in December and we'll have our next little nurser in September, so if we were going to go on a baby-free vacation, it had to be now. So yes! We would love to come!

As I've done in the past, I'll put this in note-style instead of all-out narration, because it just takes me a long time to say things. And I hate to admit this, but I didn't even take out my camera except for the "official" maternity shoot I did for Cliff and Teresa (where I also took a picture of the sand-owl I made, above). Thankfully, Teresa always had hers handy, and she's putting photos up on her blog, so you can check them out there.

On to the list!
  • Drove up to Jon's parents to drop Caleb off. We stayed overnight and left early the next morning.
  • The morning we were to leave Caleb, he woke up at 4am and slept next to me in bed until I got up at 6:30. I didn't sleep much, but I loved every minute of it, breathing in his little boy scent.
  • Our 11-hour trip to Destin was tons of fun! Jon and I laughed together more than we have in awhile.
  • We saved a turtle! Jon pulled off and kept me safe from cars while I herded/carried the turtle to safety. Totally my idea, NOT Jon's favorite thing to do, so I was super happy he stopped.
  • The condo was great! C & T did a great job picking it out. It was part of a larger apartment-complex sort of place, and we could step out from our back porch, cross a street, and we were at the beach!
  • Florida sands are WAY prettier than Texas sands. Beautiful white and soft!
  • We went to two movies in the theater--a big requirement for our trip, since we've gone so rarely since Caleb was born--and they were great! We also ate out at some great restaurants and enjoyed being spontaneous and kid-free in general.
  • We also missed Caleb very much. This was my second time away from him. The first was a mission trip without many breaks to think about it, but this was all about breaks! So I missed him quite a bit.
  • Teresa and I did our pregnant best to eat all things yummy and not worry if ice cream was really an appropriate breakfast item, or if we really needed another slice of chocolate chip cookie with brownie goodness. I'm glad my dr. appointment was the day before the trip, so I have awhile to prove that my weight gain is actually baby and not vacation food....
  • We went go-carting, bumper boating, putt-putting, and even wasted a few quarters at the arcade. I came away with a fistful of Atomic Fireballs, so those quarters were totally worth it!
Speaking of which...
[takes a break to dig out a Fireball from her purse]
Ahem...sorry 'bout that. Back to the list!
  • We didn't get burned! Every time I go to the beach, I get crispy on Day 1 and regret it the rest of the trip. This time I'm almost regretting that I'm coming home just about as pale as I left! But at least I wasn't miserable the whole time, slathering myself in aloe vera.
  • The weather (and water) was a little cold! It got warmer every day, but I only got in the waves two days. The rest of the time I just enjoyed reading on the beach.
  • Teresa and I rigged up "belly bowls" dug into the sand to accommodate our bellies so we could lay on our stomachs. My 22-week belly was significantly smaller than Teresa's 26-week belly. I can't believe how much I'll grow in one month!
  • We loved hanging out with Cliff and Teresa. They're great couple friends, and always will be.
  • We loved getting home and waiting for Caleb to get home! Jon made it out to his parents' car first, and by the time I got out there, Caleb was squealing and yelling, "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" It was a happy reunion.
  • We're back at home and feel refreshed. It was a great vacation.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Headin' Out!

Packin' up and movin' out! Caleb's ready to go see Nana and Grandad, and Jon and I are headed to Destin, Florida! Woohoo!!