Hemming Marching Band Uniform Pants and Jackets

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My daughter is in her high school marching band this year. I know how to sew. Therefore, I got to hem all the uniforms, how awesome!

You can see by the photo above that this school needs new uniforms. That’s not fringe guys, it’s a frayed collar. ¬†ūüė¶

But we are in one of the poorest areas of the US, and the money is just not in the budget for new uniforms. So we are trying to squeeze a couple more years out of these, knowing that it may very well be way more than a couple more years.

The good news is this: These are very high-quality, traditional band uniforms. The pants are like bib overalls, so we don’t have to re-do the waistbands every year. The fabric is a heavyweight wool, which generally cleans up well and is extremely sturdy.

So even in my exhausted state, and with my tenuous skills, taking care of these hems was pretty straightforward and (dare I say it?) fun.

I was lucky enough to have a team of volunteers that pinned the pants and jackets to the right lengths. I brought my sewing machine to the band room. For complicated and ridiculous reasons, I did not have access to my iron and ironing board for most of this hemming project. But I am counting on the dry cleaners to cover for me.

The uniforms have been stored for several months, and they are really, really dirty and stained. I suspect that’s also a budget issue. I didn’t want anyone to start crying, so I didn’t ask.

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The wearer of these pants has a real name, but I just call him “Crime Scene” now. He had a blister explode during the last parade and, being male, he didn’t know he needed to tell someone. Now he knows!

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I chose stitch #13 on my sewing machine, which is the hem stitch.

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Here’s what it looks like close up. I have a special hemstitch presser foot for my machine, but it was with the iron. Drama, drama! The special presser foot makes it a little easier, but is not strictly necessary.

I don’t often use the hem stitch on my sewing machine because I’m a slob. So whenever I¬†use this, or any other special stitch, it takes me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how. This time was especially fun because I had been moving furniture the first half of the day and so I was wiped out. Plus I had an audience. Of course, everyone was very nice, but they didn’t know me at all and so I’m sure they were all wondering if I had any idea what I was doing. I don’t blame them – I was wondering the same thing myself. It’s OK though. The first hem is always like that, and then it’s easy.

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Here I’ve got it in the machine correctly, ready to go. I’l pretend that I didn’t fold it wrong about 20 times before I got to this point. I’ll also pretend that I didn’t have to rip out a few incorrect hems and then take a short catnap on the floor to clear my brain. Yep, I’m a pro!

Most of the stitches go in the flipped-up part of the pants, with the needle jogging to the left and catching just one stitch in the pants, then heading back over to the flipped-up part for a few stitches.

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Here’s a closeup.

You can see that this hem has a serged finish. Other pants had a hem tape finish.

I used several different approaches to hemming the pants, depending on how deep the hems were. This hem was fairly narrow, so I just flipped it up and hemmed it.

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Here’s one with hem tape. I had to just barely fold this one under.

Most of the pants had about a 4 inch hem, so I was able to do a “normal” hem. That means I folded the hem twice so that no raw/serged/taped edge was showing on the wrong side of the pants.

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Here’s what the finished hem looks like when you start to unfold it.

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And here’s what it looks like when you smooth it out. It will look even better once the dry cleaner takes over and presses the heck out of those pants.

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Then I went in and finished off the hems. Right along the outside seam, there is a stripe in school colors with about a million layers. I didn’t even try to sew that by machine. It was better to add a few hand stitches, otherwise I would certainly have broken a whole bunch of needles and probably hurt myself and maybe cried.

There were a couple of pairs of pants with seriously enormous hems. Side note…any time you buy or make a regular pair of pants, you can fit the hem to your body and kind of chop off all the extra fabric. But you can’t do that with band pants, because maybe next year you’ll need to let all that hem out, and you can’t if you’ve chopped it off. Also because if you cut off the extra fabric, your uniform manager will kill you.

As long as I’m discussing violence in band, let’s just mention iron on hem tape, shall we? Don’t use it. Just don’t. That’s because if someone needs to let the hem out next year, the tape will make a nasty sticky mess and your uniform manager will kill you. It’s fine for your own pants. Do whatever you want on your own pants, but don’t use the iron-on hem adhesive on your band pants.

OK, back to the topic at hand – enormous hems. By enormous, I mean that I had to shorten the pants by about 12 inches. These band pants are straight legged, but even so, a 12 inch hem is a problem. That’s because when designers design pants, they allow a little more room around the knee so that you can actually bend your legs. But when you are trying to attach the bottom of your pants to where most people have the knees of their pants, the rolled-up part of the pants is going to be much narrower than the part you are attaching it to. Go ahead and try a normal hem if you like, then come back here and let me know how it went. ūüôā

It was a mess, wasn’t it? Desperate times call for desperate measures, and so here’s how I hemmed those pants that were 12 inches too long.

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I didn’t use the sewing machine. I folded the hem up twice . (More than that and it would have looked like a fat doughnut at the bottom of the pants.) Then I hand stitched the hem in just four places – at each seam, and halfway between seams. Then I put some safety pins in the pockets for those students, because I know what teenagers are like. They’re going to have to be careful, and take their shoes off before they put their pants on. I might not mention the shoes part, except I have a couple of teenagers, and so I know.

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Here’s what it looks like when the hem is done. It looks good, but it’s a pretty delicate hem. I hope the kids are careful!

Well, that’s it for the pants hems. But as long as I had all the pants out and was fooling around with them, I examined the crotches.

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The above is a crotch seam in good repair. Most of the pants were like this, but not all of them. I checked them all because this is the kind of repair a kid might not notice until it is too late. Nobody wants to march with their undies showing!

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This one was looking a little dicey.

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Even though the pants fabric is not stretchy, I chose a stretch stitch because it is very strong.

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Then I just ran over the seam to make sure it wouldn’t come apart during a performance. It only takes a minute, and I think it’s completely worth it.

Hey, I’m tired of pants. Let’s move on to jackets!

The jackets were a lot less complicated.

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I decided to stitch the jackets by hand, because look at these linings! Unlike the outer fabric on the uniforms, the linings are just very thin, slippery polyester. I mean, they’re linings, right? But they’re starting to shred a bit in places. I thought if I used sturdy-but-harsh techniques (like anything involving the sewing machine), they would completely fall apart. Wherever I found holes like this, I put in a few hand stitches to sort of darn them shut and hopefully, buy us another year or two.

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So I just rolled up the sleeves, pressed them (I had my iron back – yaaay!) and hand-stitched like this.

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I tucked in the lining a bit as I went along so that I wouldn’t be left with a huge old sag.

And that’s it!

I know if you have by some miracle stumbled across my little blog, you were probably looking for information on how to hem your own band uniform, so I understand that you’ve got a band that you love. But if you’ve got a few of extra bucks and you’d like to blow them on a worthy cause, please consider helping my daughter’s band out with their new uniforms. You can see that they need them! Here’s a link. Thank you!

 

Why am I crocheting warm slippers in the hot part of the summer?

Why? (Because they are small and they use up scraps.)

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I had some chunky brown mystery yarn and a leftover bit of something soft and chunky and blue. Even though my feet were sweating buckets, I felt the need to crochet some warm slippers. I know, I’m sick that way.

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Then I held a strand of the brown chunky yarn together with some fuzzy stuff and made another pair.

I used an old-fashioned “no pattern” type of pattern. (magic ring, 6 sc for first round, 12 sc for second round, sc around for awhile, then make the opening and keep crocheting until the slipper is a little shorter than my foot. Then sew up the heel. Sorry, that’s as detailed as it gets for me.)

I was able to use up some scraps of yarn, and I’m sure in a few months, I will be very glad for some warn slippers!

 

Vegetarian Reuben Sandwiches: dressing “recipe”

We eat so many reuben sandwiches around here, it’s not even funny.

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I grew up in New Ulm, Minnesota, a small town with a strong Bohemian/German sort of heritage. Church dinners were awesome – pork roast, sauerkraut, massive lead balls/potato dumplings, schmierkuchen. Yum, yum, yum! Fast forward a few years: kraut is my comfort food.

So when I make a reuben sandwich, it’s all about the kraut. For me, the meat and cheese on a reuben sandwich is only there to keep the bread from getting soggy. I don’t eat meat these days, so I substitute a slice or two of homemade mustard seitan. I’ll post that later.

My sandwich must have something creamy though, because I like creamy things, and creamy things act as a barrier to the bread so it doesn’t get too soggy.

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My favorite sandwich dressing

Lots of people use thousand island salad dressing in a reuben. I like that, but sometimes I think it’s too spicy or something¬†and it takes away from the main focus of the sandwich, which is the sauerkraut. This is the dressing I like to use. You can call it a recipe if you like, but it’s not much of a recipe.

Ingredients:

3-4 T roasted pepper spread

1 cup light mayo

Mix them together.

See? Not much of a recipe. So I’ll show you the pepper spread I use.

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I buy this stuff at Big Lots and it runs about $3 a jar.

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ingredients: peppers, eggplant, onions, tomato paste, sunflower oil, salt, garlic, parsley, acetic acid, natural capsicum flavoring or flavouring or whatever

It says to eat it within three days of opening, but it usually takes us a couple of weeks and we haven’t gotten food poisoning or anything like that.¬†If I were a better person, I would freeze little portions in an ice cube tray, but I’m pretty lazy.

My daughter is vegan, so she does not eat regular mayo. She doesn’t eat vegan mayo either because she doesn’t like it. I made sandwiches for her one time using silken tofu and a little olive oil instead of mayo, but she wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot pole. She really doesn’t like most vegetables, or anything that reminds her of meat, or anything “weird.” What can I say? She has lots of smoothies! OK, I’m all off topic here.

Next time I make the seitan, I’ll take some photos and give you the recipe.

Another music stand carrying bag – this one a little more masculine

It’s concert time again, and this time my son is in the band too. I threw a little bag together for him with a scrap of upholstery velvet. I turned it inside-out so the velvety side could cradle the stand and (in theory) keep it from getting all scratched up. I made the handles out of some webbing.

In my free time (ha ha!) maybe I’ll add a button or snap or a little velcro, but this will get him to school today and the concert tonight just fine.2015-12-10 22.26.06

That’s his sister’s case on the step below. A little more flowery for her.

Thanks for checking in!

Adding a little something to our needle felting project

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With all the talk of violence yesterday, I thought it best to add a little bit of Porky to our project. ¬†I used some little bits of roving that we had. ¬†I like using the roving. ¬†It’s easier to poke than the sweater seam trimmings. ¬†But the seam trimmings are nice too. ¬†They are less subtle, more dramatic.

We still need to figure out what to make out of this thing.

Needle Felting Some Old Sweaters

 

I’ve been wanting to try needle felting for a while now. ¬†¬†I bought a felting kit a few months ago. ¬†My daughter tried it out right when it arrived, but she wasn’t into it.

I had a couple of sweaters that I bought at the thrift store. ¬†They had some holes, but that’s OK because I bought them for the wool.

I washed them in hot and then dried them on the hottest setting.  Then I cleaned out the lint trap and dried them again.  Wow, those sweaters shrunk!

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I picked out a nice big piece of sweater and some contrasting trimmed-off seams from another sweater.  I got out the kit and figured out how to put the needle together and started fooling around.  After about a minute, maybe less, my daughter came and took over.  Look at her hands flying around.

Between the two of us, we broke three needles in about five minutes.  Rookies!

She casually mentioned that she thought serial killers probably enjoyed needlework because they get to stab stuff, and they get lots of practice, which maybe improves their aim.  So I casually went over and locked up the knives.

She has got to cut back on those mystery books!

I saw where this was going, so I went to the computer and ordered another one of those kits.  And a few more needles.  Then I saw that someone had ordered some yarn (purple!) and I got that all ready to go.  Then back to the kitchen and I poked wool while my daughter got herself a bedtime snack.

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We stabbed and stabbed and this is what the sweater looked like at bed time.

I thought the third thingie from the right needed a little more curl, so I cut a bit more sweater.

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I just set it down where I wanted it and poked it in there a bunch of times.  I like being able to wing it a bit.  I guess I prefer some things in life without a pattern.

We’ll work on this some more tomorrow. ¬†I guess we’ll have to decide soon what we are making. ¬†I thought maybe a pillow or a little bag.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Ridiculous Cabbage Patch Kids Snow Globes

I stopped by a rummage sale the other day and picked up the most awful pair of earrings I have ever seen.  Here they are: CPK earrings!

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They were completely dirty, maybe a little bit chewed-on, and one of them was broken.  But they only cost me a quarter.  I bought them just for the experience of it!

My daughter and I decided some crafts were in order.

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I cut the top off the earring that wasn’t already broken, and that left a little white spot on top of her head.

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A little red nail polish took care of that.

You’ll have to (please) excuse our blurry photos. ¬†Were were laughing so hard, we couldn’t hold the camera steady.

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All better!  Well, not exactly all better, more like a little better.  After the polish dried, we scrubbed the dirt off.

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We had some cheap little containers we bought at the dollar store.

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We put some contact cement on the lids and on the feet of the dolls.  Then we waited a few minutes so they would get tacky.  Tacky like sticky, I mean.  The CPKs were already tacky like cheesy!

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Then we stuck the dolls onto the lids and let them dry for a few hours.

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We put some nail polish tiny glitter into the cups. ¬†It didn’t look tacky enough, so we also dumped in some regular big glitter.

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Then we filled the cups with water.

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We put contact cement around the edge of the cups…

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…and around the lids too. ¬†We waited a few minutes until they got tacky. ¬†Same joke, but I’m too lazy to type it again.

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Then we stuck the lids on and waited for the glue to dry.

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Wow! ¬†How glamorous! ¬†How exciting! ¬†How…interesting.

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But look what happened a couple of days later.  Looks like the glue holding the dolls to the lids dissolved in the water.  Now we have Cabbage Patch Glitter Snow Globes with Unconscious Girls, how excellent!

My daughter’s girl scout service unit is decorating a tree at the mall tomorrow, and she is supposed to bring a couple of homemade ornaments. ¬†Do you think these look homemade enough??

Rainbow Beaded Memory Wire Bracelet

I didn’t drink enough coffee yesterday. ¬†So I got a splitting headache. ¬†I should have had a little something with caffeine late in the afternoon, but I thought I was too busy. ¬†So then it got horrible right around 7:00, which is too late for caffeine. ¬†But I had some anyway because I didn’t want to cry in front of everyone.

That means I was up after I normally would have been zonked.  So I made a little bracelet.  Tadaa!

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I’m going to sell this one. ¬†I’ve got it on eBay now, and so it will be on Bonanza for a little less tomorrow.
What have YOU been making?

 

What is this thing???

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Well, the good news is that I finished a crochet project, and it’s very…interesting. ¬†The bad news is that I don’t know what I should do with this thing.

I have this enormous stash of Spark A Doodle yarn. ¬†I love this stuff! ¬†It’s so very, very soft. ¬†And sparkly. ¬†It would probably be completely tacky if it weren’t so doggone soft.

So I was fooling around and fooling around and I decided to add a row of fluffy Spark A Doodle to the edge of a sheer red scarf I had lying around.  The scarf had a problem with the hem, and so I figured if I covered it with fluff, that would be good.

I sewed around the edge of the scarf with some plain yarn so that I would have somewhere to crochet the Spark A Doodle. ¬†Then I added a row of Spark A Doodle in single crochet. ¬†But somehow, the edge of the scarf and the crocheted fluffy stuff don’t quite match up in terms of stretchiness and that sort of thing. ¬†So sometimes it looks like a sexy red jellyfish.

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It looks a little more normal in this photo, but I think you can still see the problem.

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When it’s tied around the neck, it looks like this. ¬†Hmm, a little strange,

What the heck, I’m going to wear it anyway! ¬†I’m calling it my sexy jellyfish scarf, and I dare you to make one too!

Thanks for stopping by!  Maria

Crafty Quickie: Memory Wire Bracelets

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My daughter and I had a few minutes at the end of the day and she was feeling crafty, so we knocked out a couple of memory wire bracelets.  I chose some glass beads that were purplish and greenish and goldish.  She chose some plastic beads that were sparkly green and gray/blue pearls.  She is a faster beader than her mother.  When we ran out of time, she was already done and I was not, so I clipped the wire and ended it early.

When I conned her into posing for a photo, she wanted to cover her hands because her nails were not at their best. ¬†I just laughed. ¬†Her skin is so beautiful and she doesn’t even know it! ¬†She looked at the photo when we were done and wondered why I had so many splotches and wrinkles on my hand. ¬†I told her it was because I was 46. ¬†The awesome thing is that I know in another 40 years, I may look at this photo and think how young my hands looked. ¬†We never miss it until it’s gone!