Tuesday, September 20, 2011

How Much Would You Pay?

Hello hello hello!

I am altering clothes. Everybody's clothes - the kids', the husband's, even mine. This week has been declared "Not Allowed To Sew Anything New Until Those Unfitting Clothes Are Altered" Week. Someday in the future, when I finally host a sewalong, it will be all about exhuming those poorly-fitting garments and giving them some serious self-esteem.

Which clothes, you ask? Are these the clothes from my pre-baby years that I foolishly want to wear today that I'm letting out? Heavens, no. Those are actually the fashionable, expensive clothes that I wouldn't dream of taking my seam ripper to. No, I'd much rather save them for Emily/Jenna/Kate or someone who would wear them, unviolated, sometime in the future.

I'm talking about clothes I bought recently (as in the last year) that fit poorly, just because. Like
  • All of Emily's store bought pants - good length, very roomy waist
  • Some of my long-sleeved Tshirts - comfortable around the chest, hideous in the shoulder and armscye
  • Husband's shirts that are the right "size" but were actually cut too big (actual words of confession by the Land's End staff when I gently confronted them)
  • Jeans that were sweeping the floor etc.
So I thought, since I'm going to do the dirty work anyway, I might as well turn it into a mini-series of sorts, and show you how I alter clothes. Also because I remembered that some months ago, some of you asked if I would do this. Well, so I am. Look out for it:

I'm not promising, but I have on my sewing table, alteration tasks from simple trouser hem jobs to the nastier armscye shaping sort that my nightmares are made of. I will share them all with you, weather permitting (we blame the weather a lot in Minnesota).

What's with the title, then?
Well, I know so many people who bring their entire wardrobes in to shops that do alterations and they all, in one accord, bemoan the prices they had to pay for the jobs done on their clothes. Have you heard the same? Or said the same? Want to know what I think? I think those alteration tailors might actually be undercharging their clients. Yes, I do. Don't agree? Follow along with me and decide for yourself. 

Spread the word and hold me accountable, friends: I have a table full of unwearable clothes that need a new lease on life. 


  1. I can't wait for the first post!

    Also, has your finger opened the edit program yet??? I'm looking forward to that party!

  2. Oh, gosh, I agree with you! I still have my local alterations folks do a lot of my hemming, zipper replacement, and minor alterations, partly because I find that work boring, but more because they do a GREAT JOB of it, for not that much money. Anyone who has replaced a zipper knows that that is more than $10 of work right there, and it's hard to make it look good. Real skill is involved. Definitely underpaid. I'd happily pay twice what my folks charge, knowing what goes into it.

  3. I TOTALLY agree with you! I have done alterations and I often say I would much rather start from scratch than try to make something fit. Well, usually hemming isn't that big of a deal, but the rest??? AAARRRGGGHHH!

  4. I'll be looking forward to this series! I'm not sure what kind of weather it requires, but we'll probably have plenty. ;)

  5. Hurray! This has been on my mind as well. I really don't like mending (confession, shame I know), but I have so many pants that are too long(well if I wore 3-4 inch heels they would fit perfect). I would really love your thoughts on blind hems, need for any special attachment, etc.

  6. I have worked as a tailor for many years and yes I would strongly agree that most people who do clothing alterations charge way to little. I read somewhere that I at least 30 percent of you customers complain about your prices then you are not charging enough. I am trying to promote the idea that a job well done deserves a honest pay.

  7. Oh yay! Oh yay!

    "I think those alteration tailors might actually be undercharging their clients."

    I so totally agree ;) Really looking forward to this series...

  8. I am so excited to read these posts, especially because I also have a pile of clothes waiting for me to go at them, but I'm not very good/don't have a clue what I am doing, so I keep putting it off.

    As for those tailors, they must have put aside cash here for blessings in heaven.

  9. Oh, can't wait. I've been doing some of this "making it up as I go style", and will look forward to seeing how it's really supposed to be done! :)

  10. I´m not superexcited about but I´m in. I´m sure you´ll make it a much more enjoyable task. Thanks!!!!!

  11. Looking forward to your alteration mini series! Armscye alterations may be your nightmare; crotch alterations are mine. I have so many pants for which I either need to hike the waist up under my bust or have the crotch hang down around my knees. I'm tired of looking like I'm hiding body parts that really aren't there! If you have any words of wisdom to share regarding my nemesis, I'm all ears!

    I think the tailors in my area are now all pretty much setting price points that reflect the effort and skill that goes into their work. As a results, I think the public has come to perceive them as more professional. So by valuing their own efforts more highly (as evidenced through their pricing policies), they've garnered more respect from their clients. It's one of those things - if you want to be treated like a professional, act like one. It seems to have worked in my little speck of the universe.

  12. I started sewing myself ages ago. And do a lot of it. New things. I was one of the people who allways thougt: how much money? too expensive.... a new zipper for 15€ ? or hemming trousers for 7 €( Euro) A few years back I made a new zipper in one of my sons Jackets....NEVEREVER... No Chance. And yes I did some hemmings(?)too But I´m over it. No never.
    I guess you have to do it once, to know what that kind of work is worth if done good. Good work should be good paid.

  13. This must be a sign that I need to bring my fall wardrobe down to my sewing room. I put on 3 skirts Sunday morning all of which seem to have gotten larger over the summer (ok I've lost 35 pounds in the last year) most of them have close to an extra 4 inches that needs to be removed but in the closet they hang.

  14. I agree that tailors in fact charge too little for alterations. The perception that they charge too much is due I think to the fact that most of us lack first-hand experience of what it really takes to do those kinds of alterations--both in terms of time and skill.

    So thank you so much for starting this new tutorials--I look forward to learn more about this topic.

    I have also a question if you could help me:

    What kind(s) of fabric would you recommend to sew a dress to attend a black-tie wedding reception? The wedding is in late October (cold and damp) and the dress design is relatively simple: long sleeves, princess seams, and A-line skirt, and the person that will wear it is thin and petite.


  15. yes, I want to know! I love clothes to fit perfectly and I already clumsily go to work on them. I'm sure you'll show me some tricks.

  16. @Manuela
    Manuela, I couldn't find your email address so I'm answering your Q here - I hope you'll get to read it!
    I was going to first ask if it was a day reception or evening reception, and then realized that because it was October (cold), it made no difference since you'd probably want a long dress anyway. Given that it's a tailored cut and classic (love the princess seams!!!), what about fabrics that are heavier and a little warmer, like velvet or similar? You could also try a wool-blend something because it is warm and drapes well. An alternative is to get a dressier fabric with more sheen, but not so warm, like bridal satin. It might even be fun to pair it with lace to make it a bit more interesting e.g. over the sleeves, or as peekaboo sleeves). Just avoid white or ivory! I wish I had more interesting suggestions but all I can think of is how much fun you'll (or whomever the wearer is) have with the accessories to dress up this wonderful classic dress!

    Oh, and almost forgot: best to stay away from the Halloween costume fabrics. They're on sale now, and very tempting, but they'll look extremely costumey no matter how great the design is. Especially the things called "sheers and silky fabrics", whatever those are. Much too shiny. Head to the apparel fabrics aisle and shell out the bucks for something that looks (and probably is) a little more expensive.

  17. I love all your stuff but this, THIS, will be life-changing for me. (Too dramatic? Maybe. But I'm short. NOTHING fits right off the rack!)

  18. thank you so much!!

    I'll go to the fabric store this weekend. If I manage to do a good job on this project I'll let you know about the result.

  19. I'm so very excited that you're teaching us how to make alterations. Thank you thank you thank you!!

  20. If I were in the room with you right now, I might hug you (uncomfortable not only because you don't know me, but also I just got home from the gym and haven't showed yet!).

    I've been dying to learn how to take in blue jeans for my son who has long legs and a tiny waist. Even "slim" jeans barely stay on his bony self. I tried letting down the hem on a pair that was too short, but there's just not enough hem there to matter.

  21. Hi LiEr, I fetured the piped pockets and didn't realise that the pencil cases was also one of your fabulous projects. I have featured both but the second one only to sew mama sew. Please let me know if you have the tut on your blog and I will link to your blog. Check the post out if you'd like.

    Best regards


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