The Hippo


Apr 18, 2019








Olga Gatzoulis, owner of Olga’s Tailor Shop in Manchester, provided some tips for beginning sewers. Kelly Sennott photo.

When to toss it 

For the most part, you can fix something like a pair of torn jeans, but you can’t fix something when the fabric is completely torn apart.
If that diet’s working and your clothes are swimming on you, Gatzoulis says don’t bother trying to alter them to fit. 
Consider the cost, too: frayed hems on a $20 pair of jeans from Old Navy are probably not worth trying to fix; the same problem on your favorite pair of $150 7 for all Mankind jeans might be worth the cost and effort.

Sew easy
Replace buttons, hem pants

By Kelly Sennott

 Knowing a few sewing tricks is ideal in lengthening the wear of your clothes and looking sharp; no matter what the brand, a dragging pant leg will always look sloppy, and so will a too-long, rolled-up sleeve or a jacket missing its top-most button. Hemming your own pants or re-attaching a button can save time and money — and it can help you avoid wardrobe malfunctions.

“A lot of times, what I see people doing during emergencies, they’re putting glue on their pants! That’s the worst thing you can do,” said Olga Gatzoulis, owner of Olga’s Tailor Shop in Manchester.
Gatzoulis shared a few pointers to help people avoid such clothing sins.
DIY: button replacement
Replacing your favorite cardigan’s missing button can be one of the least worrisome clothing fix-its you’ll come across.
A few words of advice from Gatzoulis: Make sure you have a button that matches the rest; if you’ve lost the button completely, it will likely be hard, if not impossible, to find that exact match in a sewing retail store. If that’s the case, Gatzoulis advises you either contact the clothing company or replace all the garment’s buttons. You can avoid that step by keeping the extra buttons that come with garments in a safe place — not a junk drawer or the trash.
Likewise, thread should match the button too.
When you go to sew the button, best practice is to criss-cross your stitches, as Gatzoulis demonstrated with a small, common black button with four holes. (If you’re a real sewing novice: don’t forget to tie a knot at the end of your thread before you start.) 
“You always start from the bottom,” she said. “And usually I make the thread criss-cross because they become stronger.” 
Weave the thread in crosses through the holes diagonally across from one another, two to three times for each hole. During the last dip into the cloth, pull the needle out between the thread and the button (underneath the button, but on the outside of the garment). Spin it around several times on the outside of the garment, then stick the needle back through the material (on the inside of the garment) and tie a knot, cutting the excess thread.
A little more work: pants hem
There’s more than one way to hem a pair of pants, and Gatzoulis practices many of them, depending on the cut, style and hem type. 
Before you do anything, you must first measure the current hem, located an inch, more or less, before the bottom of your pants before shortening. When you eventually go to sew, your stitches should be the same distance from the bottom as the current seam, Gatzoulis said (i.e., you won’t want to cut too much off). Some sewers will rip out the seams completely, but it’s unnecessary if you’ve got a lot of material to remove.
Also, be sure to wear the correct shoes when figuring out the new hemline. If you’ll be wearing heels with the pants, you’ll need to wear heels when you measure. 
You must always measure from the inseam. Gatzoulis says something like 70 percent of us have uneven hips, and so all measurements should be taken from the crotch down.
Once you go to sew, she says you should turn the pants inside out, pin the hem in place and iron at the fold. 
“You should iron everything before [you sew] to make sure it looks right … It’s the only way to see if you’re doing a good job or not,” Gatzoulis said. 
Thread type is key; most pants, like khakis or dockers, can be hemmed well with standard thread that matches the pants. Jeans require a more specialized, heavier thread that you can buy at specialty stores or online. Most dress pants, too, require a specific thread. 
There are many types of stitches. For dress pants, for example, Gatzoulis suggests a blind stitch that’s indiscernible from the outside. To do this, you must make long stitches on the inside of the pant leg and short, barely noticeable ones on the outside. 
If you need a hem on the fly, Gatzoulis highly recommends Stitch Witchery fusible bonding tape over gluing, as it’s washable and dry clean safe.
Don’t try this at home: coats, dresses, suits
Any sewing that alters the fit of a garment should be left to a professional. Don’t mess with suits, fitted dresses or anything that needs to be taken in. They’re far too complex for a beginner to tackle and if done wrong will completely defeat your efforts to look good.
Because no matter the brand or the price of the clothing, fit is what matters most. A designer dress won’t look sharp if it fits like a pillowcase, nor if it’s taken in inexpertly.
“Rolled-up cuffs look bulky. Dragging pants doesn’t look good. Wearing a belt to keep up pants that are too big doesn’t look good,” Gatzoulis said. 
As seen in the September 25, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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