The first time I used my sewing machine to fix Levi’s.
Brian is really hard on his pants. Well, not so much the pants as the left knee. Always the left knee. I guess when he works, he goes down on that knee when he needs to do things down low. And it eventually weakens the denim and he gets these string covered holes.
When time$ were better, it was no big for him to go buy a few new pair. We’d wait for sales at Sears, he’d go buy three or four pairs of Levi’s preshrunk, stonewashed, button fly 501s. He could get them for under forty dollars a pair. Well, times aren’t good now and the cost of the Levi’s he prefers has gone to over fifty bucks a pair. That’s crazy. I’ve checked the sales at Kohls, but they never have his size in “his” color. I did pick up a few at http://www.denimexpress.com for a good price, but he said they don’t fit right and he thinks they’re not as well made.
So, for the past month I’ve been working my way up to fixing what I call his “Sunday” pants. Because they’re holey (holy, get it? Sunday? Holy?.... ). A couple of pairs are thinning at the crotch (they didn’t used to do this) and I used the worst one of those to cut patches for the holes. Then I watched a video on youtube about darning, just to make sure I had everything I needed. I bought the little scissors they used and this tape to keep the patch in place while I sewed. The tape washes away the first time the item is washed.
I cut out around the stringy part of the pants on Sunday and cut a patch to cover it. I positioned the patches to the inside of the pants leg with the tape. I looked through the thread for a good color, picked out three and showed them to Brian against the denim. We agreed on a color. Then yesterday, I set up my sewing machine. Let me tell you a little about this machine.
It’s a basic machine, it’s my second one since we got married (I also have a third which I’ve never used, it’s for embroidery and one of these days I will use it). We don’t have lots of storage and the first one was kept in the dining room under the window. We had it in a cabinet we bought with it, particle board with a wood veneer. Particle board doesn’t hold up well to years of cat urine. And I left the pedal on the floor. Pedals also don’t hold up well to cat urine. And when you step on a plugged in, turned on pedal with a bare foot, you shouldn’t be surprised at the rush you get from the electricity that runs up your body from the pedal. Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise (or should I say “shock”?). Anyway, that machine went the way of the dinosaur as did the falling apart cabinet.
And we bought my new machine at Sears. Did more than the old machine. Then we had to get a new cabinet for it, a hundred bucks somewhere online. And the machine stayed where the cats could get to it, but this time, everytime I finished using it, it was unplugged, the pedal pulled up into the body of the machine and I’d cover the machine and cords with a big trash bag. So, you know, they wouldn’t get wet. From cat urine. (Did I ever mention it was my dream to have this many cats? How come when you dream of something, you have a tendency to overlook the possible negatives?)
Well, a few years ago, neighbors down the street had a yard sale. They did this every couple of years, to clean out the stuff that they no longer needed. The had two really nice, solid wood, sewing machine cabinets. And we bought one of them for ten bucks. I had these grand plans of sanding it down and staining it and making it all beeyooteeful, since it was such a fine piece of furniture. And it sat in Brian’s shop. Fast forward to the economy tanking, Brian having to move his shop home to save on rent ($1350 a month for what had become a storage area was pretty financially stupid). I know I’ve mentioned this before. Mark was a huge help in getting Brian’s shop set up here at home. And one of the first things that needed to be done was all the stuff back in the shop here at home, had to go. Like the ping pong table we never used (gave it away to a college kid via Craigslist). My old electronics (speakers, players, etc) went to recycler. When Mark came to the patterns for the cathouses we tried selling, Brian almost started to cry, he looked really sad. Mark was brutal, I tell you, brutal. He had no emotional attachment to any of this stuff.
Well, they came to the cabinet, he said “well, why aren’t you using it?” Because I have to sand it and stain it and make it beeyooteeful for the house. He just shook his head. “You can do that later, let’s go ahead and get your machine in it.” Okay. I mean, I was afraid of using the machine now because the particle board had (once again) been urinated on so badly the wheels were not stable at all. I could see it collapsing onto my legs when I was sewing. When they tried to attach the machine to the good cabinet, it didn’t work right. So, Mark (who’s incredibly smart and savvy when it comes to things like this) looked at both and said “this is what we need to do”. They took the top of the old cabinet, modified the good cabinet and attached the old top to the good cabinet. The machine was attached and it works nicely. Only thing is it doesn’t roll, so it’s not like the old one where I could move it and watch tv while I was sewing. No big deal, but everytime I got the urge to sew, I sat on the sofa and watched tv instead. Sure, I could drag it through the house, but it would be too noisy.
So, back to the pants. I had cut out a couple of extra pieces of material to test the tension settings on the machine. I read the back of the needle’s package and made sure I had the correct needle to use with denim.
And I got to work.
Do you know what a PITA it is to sew the knee of a pair of Levi’s? I rolled up the bottom of the leg so that it wouldn’t bunch up in the machine. I used a wide, close zig zag stitch trying to move the material. Do you know it’s not really easy to turn the material when you don’t have a lot of loose material to turn? I got half of it done, had to take the pants out, turn them around and get to the knee from the other side. I had to slide the waistline side up first and work my way down to the knee so I could sew the other side. It only took about twenty minutes to do a complete patch, but figuring it out took me some thinking (hey, I never said I was a rocket scientist). I got done with four pair in under an hour and a half. Now that I know what needs to be done, it shouldn’t take nearly as long next time.
Anyway, I was about done when Brian got home and when he saw one of the patches, he was surprised that it turned out so well. I laundered them, trimmed back the patch on the inside and put them away. He’s doing glass work today (this week, actually) and when I went into his old pants drawer (where we keep his old pants, the ones I patched) this morning to take pictures, one of the pairs was gone. Last week he wouldn’t have worn them to a customer’s house, but I guess he feels comfortable enough about how they look that it doesn’t matter.
Two patched knees:
How it looks:
And what I’ve learned is something I already knew, but it got lost along the way.
I like to sew.