Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Wrong Way To Hem

As we all try to stretch our dollars to make them go farther, there are times when one can actually be wasting them.

Recently I have been getting a variety of phone calls in reference to how much it costs to have a pair of pants hemmed.  The cost ranges based on what type of hem, type of fabric, whether they are lined, etc.  Pant hem costs can range from $18 to $35, sometimes more (yet rare), depending on what is entailed.

For many of my clients, this is a small price to pay for a pair of pants to fit them the way that fits their life-style, along with the ability to gravitate towards them when selecting what to wear for the day.  For other first time clients who are in need of hiring a seamstress/tailor, the price is too high.

But, for those who are trying to save financially, here are some of the things that they are doing to keep costs down, along with the cost of their choice:

  1. Not hemming and allowing their pants to drag on the ground.  This causes more damage than it’s worth.  If all you need is a 1” hem, by allowing them to drag, you are actually destroying the ability to have the hem fixed at a later time, at the proper length.  Also, it looks sloppy.  If you are in the position for a job, and it comes down to two candidates, the one with the pant hem dragging will be seen as sloppy and unorganized.
  2. Using Duct Tape.  This is a great option when you are a teen who is creating their own “look” that is worn to school as an expression of themself, around town or around the home.  It is not a great temporary fix for jeans or dress slacks that you wear to different functions and work.  Actually it will cost you more in the long run, as it will leave residue on your pants that is extremely difficult to remove, if at all.  If it can be hemmed, by removing the duct tape, cutting the hem then folding up before stitching, it will cost more.  The seamstress/tailor will need to calculate in the cost of the needle, because it is certain that his/her needle will be destroyed after working on your one pair of pants due to the sticky residue left, making it non-usable for future jean hems that might be in his/her pile of repairs.  There will be more work involved in hemming your pants that you might decide to just purchase a new pair.
  3. Using Self-adhesive Velcro.  I don’t know why this approach was taken, but I received a desperate call for help with the caller asking what she could do.  She was left with Velcro backing on part of her pants that she was having a difficult time removing.  The best advice would be to take them to the cleaners to see if they can remove the residue.  I personally will not provide the service to remove it.  When asked how much I would charge, I gave her my rate, with an “approximate” cost (since I did not know what was entailed).  I was told that she only  $25 on her pants.  This $25 pair of pants has now cost the client the cost of Velcro, time to iron on, time to remove, time to put through the washer, frustration/panic time, possible dry-cleaner time, with the possibility of having to toss a brand new pair of pants out to the landfill. 
  4. This new product called “Style Snaps”  I have seen this product advertised but have not used it myself.  I did have a client call me to alter her pants because the product did not work out for her, as the product did not adhere and stay put.  Still, I will not say the product doesn’t work, because I have not used it, yet have no intention of trying it either.  There is a reason that it is said “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.
  5. Cuff your pants.  This is not an uncommon decision for those who found their $10 jeans, they just purchased, on clearance.  Many times I recommend that they return them and purchase the right size at the correct length if they don’t like the cuffed look.
My reason for writing this is to educate.  I have no desire to make one feel as though their ideas are bad, or to make them feel they need to use my services.

The cost of purchasing a pair of slacks that are too long can include the travel time and alteration cost.  You could spend valuable time trying different quick fixes resulting in your need to toss them or decide to pay for the service so you can wear them.  Another option would be to have a family member or friend do the work as a favor (some are very good).  Or, let them hang in your closet a few years until you finally toss them out while you purchase a few more.

In today’s economy, it is wiser to purchase a sufficient amount of pants to get you through until your next wash day.  If you find a pair that fit well except for the length it is wise to have them hemmed.

Just like any job, any task you undertake takes a certain amount of time, which comes at a cost.  A seamstress/tailor, who is running a business, carries a certain amount of overhead including paying the taxes associated with it, which needs to be calculated into their costs or it becomes a hobby.   A hobby doesn’t pay the bills.

One way you can save on your alteration cost:  We all know that many retailers have sales.  We also know that retailers do not make a size that fits all, more often for women.  Consider waiting for the sale and use the savings towards the cost of the alteration.  But, don’t value the cost of your alteration on the cost you paid.  The goal is to look great in that fabulous pair of pants that makes you feel great wearing them.

Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties
~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~