Nitty Gritty

Pants, pants and more pants but this week some real winners.

You know my rants about dirty clothes ,well this week adds to that flavor and smell. Two new clients from the “other” town I speak about made a 4 pm appointment so I could take in some pants that were too big since the woman had lost some weight. What could go wrong?

30 minutes late they turn up on the doorstep costumed in layers and layers from the top of their Peruvian knitted hats and scarves to the layers of sweaters, leg warmers, baggy pants, long underwear, gloves, hiking socks and boots with no excuse why they couldn’t call to let me know. It was 51 degrees that day so much of it was for show. A great start?

Once they entered my sewing room they started peeling off the layers and layers of clothing to release a pungent smell of rotting leaves and damp mold which took me back to my unpleasant days camping in Canada on backwoods logging roads and wiping my butt with nearby leaves.

The woman starts trying on the pants and I notice that they all all very heavy but I pin them down the side seams and yokes and tell her they will be fine. I ask if the pants have ever been washed as if not they may shrink so I can hem them a little longer. She says once in a great while her landlord lets them use his washer to launder in cold water. I’m betting this happens at the same time as it did back in the middle ages just after the winter hibernation season ends and summer begins. At this point I am wishing I had never agreed to this job but she says she wants pants made as well like a copy from one of the pairs. I suggest that if she is going with wool that they can be pre-shrunk to avoid having to use a dry cleaners. Her eyes seem to glaze over at this point so I skip any further discussion on fabric hygiene or pre-treating.

Two of the pairs of pants have been worn badly through the hem of the cuffs.

So she wants to let them down and just hemmed like regular pants. As I start snipping the stitches that hold the cuffs up I see a huge collection of leaves, twigs and rocks lurking in the folds of fabric. She says they are her favorite hiking pants. I tell her that I would not dare open those cuffs and empty the organic waste onto my carpet. I tell her I will open them later over a trash can and she can try them at a later date.

Other pants are just stained and embedded with layers and layers of brown soil and muck and she cannot remember if she has ever worn them or washed them which I find very strange for a young woman. They also have to be hemmed as they drag along the ground.

You can see in the photo my basting along the new hem line so at least we are starting in a relatively clean area.

After all this trying on and off and discussing her male friend’s repairs to his pants she pulls a quart Mason jar filled with possibly rainwater from her fabric sack and proceeds to down half of it on the spot. In the “other” town carrying a Mason jar with rainwater is a good thing like carrying a Birkin or Coach bag would be in others.

The day after they leave my sewing room is now smelling like the forest and I decide to soak the pants in warmish water in a tub with some Arm and Hammer baking soda to release the fragrance of nature. An hour later, the water is looking like a fine dark tea and the once brown pants are now a nice shade of olive green. My husband, ever the clever guy, says I should have saved the “tea” in a Mason jar. Each of the other pants have changed color and become lighter in weight and fresher and I can work on them now. The other reason for soaking them was that I sure did not want to use my iron to press the new seams because there was lots of organic material lurking in the inside seams as well and it may have become “one” with the iron..lovely.

I hate to do it but I have almost decided to print up a big sign that says “I only work on CLEAN clothes”. But then everyone’s idea of clean is different and brown can be a color or smell and green can be a color or lifestyle.



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One Response to Nitty Gritty

  1. LYNNEW says:

    I love your site & comments on your profession. I cannot believe the affronts to you and you craft when people present you with dirty clothes to be altered. I think you should place a sign indicating what you will accept re: clean clothing, or charge for laundering or dry cleaning. It could certainly be suggested during that first phone call. After all, it is also for your own health and well being and respect (which you well deserve).

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