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May 30, 2011 10:38 PM   Subscribe

STYLE SNAPS! Are they the dream solution for all the non-sewing petites of the world?

I'm very (very, very..) short, and I also can't sew (by hand or machine). I have never found a pair of pants that fit correctly height-wise and have always relied on my Mother cutting off 75% of all the fabric and hemming the hell out of them. She would normally use a sewing machine to do this, but she's not able to sew any longer. I have never been able to sew by hand or machine (even though I took home ec!) and I have arthritis/numbness in the hands, so I'm not going to be sewing. I'm also not inclined to go to a tailor to hem pajama pants or casual pants for day-to-day wear. I know about different goos and iron-on tapes. My Mom has sampled them but always returned to the trusty sewing machine. I've been looking at those ubiquitous As Seen On TV ads for Style Snaps, and I think they look promising as far as something I could actually do myself.

Does anyone have any experience with Style Snaps (that brand in particular) or any other fairly inexpensive (under $15) hemming solution that is VERY SIMILAR to the Style Snap model? We're talking short strips that stick on. I'm not interested in iron-on strips. Mostly, I want to use these for pants I would wear casually.. around the house, to bed (pajamas), and when going shopping or doing daily chores. Pant varieties include lounge/pajama pants (think cotton-y materials, some fleece, some flannel.. nothing silky). For casual pants, I'm thinking of cheap chino/khaki type pants, light dress pants (nothing that needs to be dry cleaned), and light denim. Basically, for actual pants, think Kmart/Walmart-type wear.

How effective are the Style Snaps? Would they really adhere to all these materials? Would they stay put? Can I really remove them and reuse them or readjust? Do they feel secure or do they constantly feel as if the hem is about to fall? I would be buying them from a store (As Seen.. items are sold in so many stores, I'd rather just buy them there rather than do the whole shipping/handling thing). Any experiences and input would be greatly appreciated, thanks!
posted by Mael Oui to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (24 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not feeling it. To get a half-decent looking hem you need to press the hem after you shorten it, and you can really tell when you don't. What will happen when you press the Style Snaps? Will they show through and make marks or will they melt? I am so skeptical of their claim that they will let you wear jeans with different heel height, I think it will look very wrong. Also, if you have any real length to remove, it's just all going to be bunched up inside the pants leg, ugh.

I hem a lot of pants, and I find that getting the right length and pressing a good neat edge takes 90% of the time. I find it super quick to run a quick thread around once that work is done. I don't see that these would save any real time, and I can't imagine they wouldn't create an effect that I would consider too sloppy. If sewing isn't an option for you, many casual pants (particularly knits) can just be cut if you're careful and don't mind a slightly raw edge. You could do that for stuff you wear around the house and pay a dry cleaner to fix up the pants you wear out or to work.
posted by crabintheocean at 11:29 PM on May 30, 2011

Another thought - for a sub $20 option, I would try one of those super cheap hand-held sewing machines before I tried the Style Snaps.
posted by crabintheocean at 11:33 PM on May 30, 2011

I haven't tried them yet, but my local dollar tree sells them, so you could test drive an approximate solution really cheaply.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 12:48 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I too am skeptical.

You could also just iron the new hem - no sewing, no iron-in (fusible). If you can hand sew a single stitch - really, just one - then get a thread the same color as the pants in question, and tack the heel area (center back), and the center front, so the hem doesn't fall out. (The side seam bulk actually helps keep those up when ironed, but if you want you could tack the hem there too.) That will hold a while, and if you tack the side seams too, it could conceivably hold forever, though you'd need to iron after washing to even it out. Plus it will be easy to take out and change, all you have to do is remove the single stitches.
posted by fraula at 1:29 AM on May 31, 2011

I haven't tried them myself, but a local news station likes to try out infomercial products. According to them, style snaps don't work. On belts it seemed to do the job, but not on pants or jeans.
posted by raztaj at 4:03 AM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

A dry cleaner who does alterations could be your best bet. The place I use doesn't even require a tacked hem. i just walk in and tell them I need pants hemmed at XX inches since I know my inseam measurement.

It isn't cheap - I've paid from $3 (lounge type pants) to $20 (formal 2 layer palazzo pants) each pair. The hem does look a hell of a lot better than my own efforts.

You could also check around your circle of friends. I used to have some hemming and other sewing done by a coworker's neighbor. She was about the same price as the dry cleaner but she wasn't as fast - sometime her own sewing projects took precedence & she wouldn't get to the hemming side jobs for a 3-4 weeks.
posted by jaimystery at 4:13 AM on May 31, 2011

For pajama pants that you don't care much about how they look, you could always just cut off the pants at the appropriate length and not hem them at all.

Also, my tailor just hemmed two pairs of pants for me for $8 each, and these were lined dress pants - I would be surprised if casual pants were more expensive. Perhaps you could just figure tailoring into the price of the pants when you buy them?
posted by insectosaurus at 7:25 AM on May 31, 2011

That's a bizarre product and I can't imagine why anybody would want it. Aesthetically it's not going to be too far off from just using a stapler; I don't think you'd want to leave the house in pants "hemmed" with those. Yikes.

+1 take them to a dry cleaner (or a handy neighbour). If you are stuck on a D-I-Y option and don't care about looks, do the iron-on tape, or just hack it off and leave it as crabintheocean suggests.
posted by kmennie at 7:26 AM on May 31, 2011

I used these and they were awful. After the first use, the adhesive never worked again. Seriously, don't bother with them.
posted by feathermeat at 8:40 AM on May 31, 2011 [2 favorites]

if you do go with the "just cut them off" method, do it with pinking shears...that's what they're for. the edge of the zig-zags will soften, but it wont fray any further than that.
posted by sexyrobot at 9:15 AM on May 31, 2011

Style Snaps won't be a satisfactory long term solution. They are adhesive, and adhesives won't survive machine washing & drying. Also, they will give a loose "rolled" effect instead of a neat hem.

I agree with the other posters. For super cheap clothing you won't wear out of the house, just cut the hem off straight across with a pair of scissors. Use a straight edge or a ruler and make the cut 90 degrees across the seam.

For dress clothes, you should look into Petite size ranges. Petite sizing shortens the "rise" [which is the crotch measurement from center front to center back], as well as the overall length. Some items won't have petite sizing, and you should have them hemmed. Check Craigslist or some local Services Wanted/Provided Board.

Measurement won't always be the same-- it depends on the fit of the pants and the type of shoes you will wear. Wash and dry the pants first [to rid them of residual shrinkage] and then wear them with the shoe heel-height you intend to wear with them. You can roll the hem to the outside, and micro adjust the length until it falls correctly, then take the pants off leaving the hem rolled up. Staple it in place for extra security.
posted by ohshenandoah at 12:47 PM on May 31, 2011

I can see why your mom would prefer sewing to using the iron-on tape, but for casual pants it works well enough. The main drawbacks are that it can come unstuck and that it can make the hem a bit stiff. However, you could easily put on new tape (when it comes unstuck) in a few minutes for a lot less than a tailor would charge you; if the stiffness doesn't bother you, I think this would be your best bet. Joann's carries it, and Wal-Mart probably does, also.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 12:48 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

Take your pants to a tailor and have them hemmed. My neighborhood tailor charges $10/pair. As insectosaurus says, I just factor this into the price of my pants.
posted by Sara C. at 1:19 PM on May 31, 2011

Just from seeing the Style Snaps infomercial before, I have to wonder why the advertisers assume that no one knows about safety pins. Safety pins have been doing the exact same job for several decades.
posted by so_gracefully at 2:04 PM on May 31, 2011

ARGH. I should have known that nothing is as good as it seems on late night tv! Thank you all for your input and experiences! I have been checking Dollar Tree to see if I can find some knock-off variety, and I'll keep doing that, but I'm glad I never placed an order!

The pants I most want hemmed are pajama pants that I don't wear outside the house. While I don't necessarily care what they look like, I don't want the Style Snaps to come off when I'm in bed. The hem from my (already hemmed) pjs have been tearing and I trip all over the place. Currently, I only go out to grocery shop or do chores, so I'm not in a professional or social situation that would require a certain level of neatness. I really just don't want casual pants dragging on the ground, so I have to put them in the garbage as soon as I buy them (from wear/tear). I don't own an iron (hence, not wanting iron-on items) and never been able to sew adequately (my fingers are completely numb from arthritis -- I can't even write with my dominant hand, so I doubt I can sew, especially since I've never been able to before!). I don't really want to pay more for a tailor than the cost of the pants (we're talking cheap $5-6 Kmart pants), and I... don't know anyone I could have hem. I have a pile of pants that have never been measured/hemmed, but I'm running out of pants otherwise.. I've tried cutting the excess fabric off, but everything always ends up looking like shit.. and any pants I have attempted to alter end up lasting for a ridiculously short period of time (fraying and holes and.. ugh). I do shop petites when I can but, even petites are too long. I'm less than 5 feet tall by a few inches, and have only had luck with the hard-to-find petites capris length, which are like full pants (rather than actual capri-length) for me.

Anyway, thank you all for your responses! Thanks to you, Style Snaps won't be getting my cash, and I will have to find another method of hemming (perhaps amongst your suggestions)!
posted by Mael Oui at 8:30 PM on May 31, 2011

I've tried safety pins, of course, but never feel secure that they'll stay in place when I'm sleeping or walking around. I have managed to tear pants that have had both staples and pins. And, while I say that I don't care about the neatness of the hem... I meant that more as a comment about not getting a crisp hem.. I don't really care about that, and I don't wear different height shoes (just sneakers), so that's a whole Style Snap demographic I don't fall into. But, I don't like the staples/pins look that much (well, not since I was a punk in high school) and would only do that as a last resort (or, if that can actually create a satisfactory look, I'm not meticulously enough to achieve it). I was just kind of HOPING that the Style Snaps were a more grown up and effective solution.
posted by Mael Oui at 8:38 PM on May 31, 2011

Ask around if anyone you know has a serger or overlock machine. That's the machine that cuts and overstitches at the same time, similar to the criss-crossy stitch you'll see on the inside of store-bought clothes. That's a nice, neat way to cut off and finish an edge, and it's sper fast too so I bet you could find someone to do a whole pile of pants for cheap. You could also call a fabric store to see if they know anyone who could help.

Otherwise, what looks bad when you cut them yourself? (I'm short too and usually end up cutting my leggings and "comfy pants"!)
posted by apricot at 8:50 PM on May 31, 2011

BTW, Mael Oui, check these out at Blair. They have petite capris and pedal pushers, as well (even shorter than capris). I'm 5'4" and sometimes get regular capris, sometimes petites--you have to check the inseam of the particular style you're looking at--so I would think the petite pedal pushers would work for you.

Also, another option I just thought of is fabric glue (check Joann's). The last time I tried it--many years ago--it tended to stiffen the fabric, but I bet they've improved it since then.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:32 PM on May 31, 2011

I'm completely clueless with.. well, this for instance! I haven't even heard of some of these stitches/gizmos, but some of them sound good and I'll keep them in mind! I don't really know what I'll do. Some of the pants I want to wear I've had for over five years in a pile and haven't tackled them yet, but it's just that I had to throw away two of my most trustworthy pairs recently, and I worry I'll end up without pants soon enough.

When I cut things myself.. well, I have to cut so much off, and, try as I might, I never get a straight line. I either end up doing it multiple times or I cut too much initially. Also, fraying is a big problem so pants end up in the garbage as soon as I start to wear them. If it's not simply the fact that I did a crappy job, when I go to wash them, they don't wear well and I don't get more than a few wears until there's excessive fraying (which drags on the ground and I trip over it) and holes developing along the bottom where they would have been neatly hemmed had my Mom done it.
posted by Mael Oui at 9:33 PM on May 31, 2011

I'm not at all saying this in a snarky way, but it really does sound like there are a lot of obstacles to getting pants that are right for you - is it at all practical to gradually switch over most of your wardrobe to skirt and dresses or even shorts? There's generally a lot more room for different lengths and hem heights there.
posted by crabintheocean at 10:44 PM on May 31, 2011

A good tailor or alterations place could do a lot of this for clothes that you want to look nice.

There's also iron-on hemming strips, like double-sided sellotape for fabric. You place it and iron it into place. These are okay, and while not 100% permanent (time and washing can wear them away) they're pretty decent. and easy to replace if they do come off.

To stop things fraying, there's a sewing product that you apply to fray-prone hems, it's (basically) like a quick-drying glue or lacquer. Try looking for 'Fray Stopper', 'Fray Stoppa' or 'Fray Check'. It'll probably mark the fabric, but it sounds like you're out of other options!
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 12:55 PM on June 1, 2011

Ignore my suggestions for iron-on strips - I can see you've tried those. Good luck with other stuff!
posted by NoiselessPenguin at 12:56 PM on June 1, 2011

If they're for $5 pajama pants and you're not wearing them out anywhere, why not just staple them? Or maybe hot glue, if your hands are up to it?
posted by Sara C. at 1:07 PM on June 1, 2011

+1 Fray Check, and "try as I might, I never get a straight line" --> if you go out and buy the fray check, look for "tailor's chalk," and make little Xs or lines with a ruler or whatever you need to give yourself a guide to cut with. When I'm hacking off pajama bottom bottoms, which I do occasionally without fraying bother (are you talking knit or woven stuff? knits usually just develop a little roll and don't fray and look just fine for sleeping in, go with knits for this), I make a chalk line on the to-be-sliced pants using another pair that I know hits just right as a guide.

Lands' End, whose service I have nothing but nice things to say about, lets you specify inseam length on a lot of their pants. No extra charge, measured to the quarter inch.
posted by kmennie at 3:55 PM on June 1, 2011

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