I’ve always been kind of lucky because of my height. I’m not considered real tall, but I can usually reach items on upper store shelves. I’m one of the few women that stands in the back row of pictures, and the slacks, skirts, dresses, and shorts I’ve bought have usually been the right length.
Sometimes, though, depending on the name brand, I buy a pair of jeans and the bottoms of the legs sag onto the floor. It doesn’t happen often, but it happens just the same. That used to be a most discouraging sight to me. Because, it meant getting out my sewing box and machine, and spending the next couple hours measuring, cutting, and hemming my new jeans up.
That’s how I was taught to hem clothes up, and that’s how I thought you had to do it. Until I found hem tape. Not the regular type of hem tape, mind you. This adhesive wonder holds fabrics together with the heat from a clothes iron. It’s basically as simple as that.
The type of adhesive hem tape I use is called “Therm O Web Heat n Bond Iron-On Adhesive.” I purchase my supply at Wal-Mart™. It’s only a few bucks for a pack of several yard. I’m not sure how many types of this product the Therm O Web company makes, but my two favorites are the “super” and the “regular”. They cover my hemming needs. The “super” is used on heavy fabrics such as denim, wool, corduroy, and suede. The “regular” type is thinner in width than the “super”. It’s recommended for light fabrics such as cotton, rayon, and acrylic.
Now, no matter what type of hemming tape you use, be sure you read and follow the manufacturer’s directions on the package in order to achieve the best results.
Basically, though, you’ll need to first launder the garment. Do not use any type of fabric softener in the washer or in the dryer as this can interfere with the adhesive properties of the tape.
Then, try on the garment and cuff up the excess material. Then, carefully slip the slacks, skirt, dress, or shorts off. Use sharp straight pins- rusty, dull pins will drag in the fabric and make larger holes- to temporarily secure the hem into place. You’ll now need to put the garment back on and recheck the hem one more time. This is the time when I slip on the shoes that I plan to wear most often with the garment. I use a full-length mirror to see how the temporary hem looks with shoes, boots, clogs, heels, or whatever you’re going to wear. Just remember to stand up straight when you check your garment out in the mirror. If you don’t have a full length mirror, have someone help you with this step.
Next, turn your clothing iron on and set it to the “silk” setting. While it heats up, you’ll need to make any final adjustments to the length of the hem. Then, use a hem gauge- a straight ruler will also do- to measure and mark the reverse side of the fabric if the hem’s so long that you’ll need to cut it off. Don’t forget to lessen the excess length a couple of inches so you’ll have room to make a hem. Use a sharp pair of scissors to trim off the excess material. Then, fold the hem over and press it down with your iron. If you’re not absolutely sure about the length of your slacks, skirt, dress, or shorts, slip the garment on again and check it one more time just to make sure.
Remove the garment again and turn it inside out. Press the hem again with your clothing iron to heat it up. Then, cut a piece of the adhesive hemming tape and position it on the inside of the hem. Put your iron over the hem (and the tape) and hold it in place for about five seconds. Next, move the heated iron back and forth across the area where the tape is.
Once you have placed tape inside the entire diameter of the hem, and ironed it into place, turn the garment right outside out and iron the hem again. It’s just as easy as that!