Many clothing stores today offer tailoring services while others tout free alterations. Is there a difference? If so, how do you know which service you really need?
For a complete custom-fit, seek out a skilled tailor.
To begin with, a tailor can do alterations, but an an alterations expert does not usually have the adequate training to tailor a garment. Tailors are highly skilled at a number of complicated sewing-related tasks that custom-fit the garment to your specific measurements. While tailoring usually refers to refitting a garment, the process can also include adding collars, cuffs and pockets.
For a simple garment fix, an alterations specialist is the right choice.
An alterations expert usually attends to simple tasks such as hemming of a dress or skirt, shortening of pants or adjusting the waistline of a garment,
Tailors are trained to find out-of-the-box solutions.
Tailors also have special skill and training needed to tackle tricky refitting situations. For example, most garments, traditionally, have been manufactured with extra fabric at the seam (the “seam allowance”) for any necessary “taking in” or “letting out”. Unfortunately, most clothing today is mass-produced with little to no additional fabric; However, an experienced tailor knows the secret to making the necessary modifications – without leaving any visible clues.
No matter how much talent a tailor or alterations expert demonstrates, keep your expectations realistic.
As with any other profession, tailors differ in their skill level and attention to detail. While some are masters of the trade with years of experience, others may have only taken a few sewing classes.
Before you seek out a tailor or alterations expert, make sure the garment fits reasonably well before buying. There’s a limit to how much of the garment can be modified through alterations alone, and complicated alterations can be expensive.
What’s more, try to keep your expectations realistic. While your tailor maybe skillful, she’s not a fairy godmother summoned to transform your old schmatta into a ball gown.
Also, keep in mind that many department stores and specialty dress shops that offer alterations usually just train the salesperson to pin and chalk (mark) the garments for the tailor to work on later.
Find a talented tailor or alterations professional….it’s like having a new best friend!
Shop around, ask friends and neighbors about their experience with local tailors and alterations experts. Experiment by having different tailors and alterations experts modify or custom-fit old pants, shirts, dresses and skirts that don’t fit you properly, clothes that have been sitting in the back of your closet (experiment only on garments that you are not invested in keeping!). You not only want to look for changes neatly made, but speed, efficiency and overall quality of customer service at the shop of the tailor or alterations-expert.
When you do find a tailor or alterations expert you like, stick with them. You’ll build an important relationship with an expert who, like a best friend, will understand what you want as soon as you walk in the door. Isn’t that the best custom-fit of all?