Thursday, September 19, 2013

Hemming & Hawing

Today, I did something which I felt was quite grown up.

I visited an alterations shop to have three pairs of pants hemmed. I have never done this before in my life. I've hemmed a couple of pairs of my own pants, but my amateur efforts are so shameful I'm only willing to inflict them on black pants where it's not very obvious unless you get close.

Nobody gets close enough to my shoes ( and therefore my feet) to see whether or not my seams are even. But I've hit that point in my life where I'm no longer simply content with walking on my hems. Or, well, I am content with it but have begun to spend enough money on quality clothing that I'm no longer content just letting it all get torn up. When your pants cost 10 bucks, maybe you don't worry as much about it.

When they cost 50, well... the extra 10 to hem isn't that big a deal.

My options, as a woman with an incredibly long torso and itty bitty widdle legs, are as follows.

I can just buy pants, deal with the problem, and have each and every one of them eventually end up like this:

Or I can go ahead, swallow my pride, admit I'm terrible at sewing anything by hand and don't own a machine and go visit an alterations person.

There are lots of places in Greenville, but since we live in northern Greenville county it turns out the closest place was a little shop in Travelers' Rest.

I feel like my inexperience was given away when I called them to see if they were open, and a nice older woman answered the phone. My first question was, "Can you have my pants hemmed in two weeks or so?"

She actually laughed at me, albeit nicely.

Turns out, normal people can hem pants very quickly.

I drove up there, winding through downtown TR (which I love - they are really fixing it up and even the signs have become kind of pretty to look at, with a silhouette of the Blue Ridge Skyline), and then turning off onto a little side road.

I became concerned when I drove straight through an older residential neighborhood, but then suddenly there were four churches within the span of 200 feet, all with signs advertising new constructions, new congregations, or fundraising, and nestled between them was a small building, half of which was the alterations place.

When I walked in, the same woman from the phone came out to greet me; she owns the place. There was a measuring table and cloth and books and needles and sewing machines everywhere, which immediately put me at ease; I am far more comfortable with someone who cares not a whit for image and does the job well. Usually, those people and I get along.

She told me to go ahead and try on the pants, and then simply stood there. I turned to look at the (open) blinds in which I had a clear view of the street. "Uh... right now?" I said, sliding my shoes off. Whatever, I did marching band and drama, I've undressed in front of way more people than I can count.

"Oh, not here, dear! I have a fitting room in the back!"

If I can find a way to make something socially awkward, you can pretty well bet I will.

I left my shoes where they lay and went into the fitting room, trying on each pair of pants in succession. Instead of using measuring tape, she just pinned one leg until we found the length I wanted and then would match them. "You can't use inseams, really," She said helpfully at one point, with three or four pins in her mouth, "because every pair of pants is made differently. If I just measured your inseam, every pair of pants would be wrong."

"Oh. Well. I like it this way, then," I said, just as the doorbell rang out with another customer coming in. It was a middle-aged woman whose college-age daughter had been throwing a hand-wash only top in the washing machine. From the sound of things, all hell broke loose.

While I switched pants, the seamstress and the customer muttered about young people these days not caring for anything and I started to stifle a laugh and then realized it was less that they didn't remember I was there than that I may not count in their estimation of 'young people', since I was wearing a wedding ring and bringing in professional work pants for hemming.

Then I stared at myself in the mirror, convinced my entire head of hair had turned gray spontaneously.

The other customer also had a pair of her own pants she needed hemmed, and since I was taking up the fitting room (with one pair of pants yet to be tried on for fitting), the seamstress asked her if she wouldn't mind waiting.

"I don't need the fitting room," The customer replied, all business. "As long as I change pants behind this row of clothes, it's not like anyone on the street can see me. It's nothing she's never seen before," She said, waving her hand in my direction, zipper already halfway down.

Oh, fun, she was in marching band, too!

We both finished up, and the seamstress and I chatted for a little while about her late husband, babies, kids these days, and various and sundry domestic matters. I feel like sometimes we breeze in and out of businesses where maybe we used to stop and talk. I don't mind talking; every person is a world I've never set foot in before.


I was an adult today, sort of!

... except for the part where I assumed the seamstress was trying to tell me to change pants in an open room with a clear view of the street.

And also the part where I then drove way out of my way to go to Starbucks, because I had a few bucks on my brand spankin' shiny new Gold card and I have no willpower and pumpkin spice etc and so forth.

I went to the library, though!

That definitely counts for something.


  1. Ha! Yeah, you SHOULD be proud. I am THE WORST seamstress -- remedial at best and deplorable at worst -- and I still often end up shittily attempting to do tasks like this myself instead of paying minimally to have a professional do it with ease and speed I don't have at all.

    1. I went in today and picked up the pants, came home, and wore one pair of pants to work today. And I was like, I'm not even walking on these hems. This is magical. I AM GOING TO DO THIS WITH EVERYTHING NOW.

      That woman is either going to love me or hate me.

  2. Totally reading through all your posts right now, but this one has to be my favorite so far! Hysterical. Former marching band member, here!


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