You might know me as a designer, creating clothes from scratch that you then buy to take home and wear right away. That’s the biggest part of my business, but I also do other things! Last month, I gave you a quick overview of my services: collections to custom work, pattern making and garment duplication to constructing pieces using your own patterns and fabric.
Today I want to talk about my alteration and tailoring services—and the difference between the two. Those two terms often get used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same. If you know the difference, you’ll know what to ask for, and be prepared for the process and the price.
Let’s start with alterations, since they’re the simpler and more common of the two. I often do alterations on pieces from my own collection, because these are the small tweaks to relatively simple garments. These are some of the most frequent alterations I do:
- Hemming pants, dresses and skirts
- Taking in the waist
- Shortening sleeves
- Changing zippers
These are small changes, but they can make a big difference to how you look and feel in your clothes. Alterations can help with fit, function, and comfort! Sometimes you have to make alterations right away—short folks know those pants have to be hemmed before the first wear—but other times it’s about making changes you didn’t realize you needed until you found yourself adjusting your clothes over and over. Is your skirt constantly slipping down? Are you shoving the sleeves up your arms all day? An alteration can fix that!
Alterations can even give an old piece at the back of your closet new life. Hemlines and silhouettes change all the time, so you might be able to update something that seemed hopelessly out of fashion. And who among us doesn’t have that piece you thought looked perfect online or on the rack, but it just doesn’t fit right? Alterations to the rescue!
Since alterations are fairly simple, they also tend to be quick. Usually, it’s one fitting to mark or discuss the changes and we check the fit when you pick it up to be sure. On my end it’s mostly a careful cut and sew, so it doesn’t take too long, which means you’re in your snazzy duds soon.
Tailoring is more intense than alterations, more time consuming, and more expensive. Bigger changes to the garment count as tailoring: adding new elements such as collars, cuffs, and pockets. (I know my people love their pockets.) Structured and complex garments also end up as tailoring instead of alterations. Think suits, jackets, and formal dresses.
When you’re dealing with big changes, many layers of fabric, and serious construction, it means taking your time and testing along the way. We may need a few fittings to check the changes, and the reconstruction process is more complicated than with alterations.
Skill and experience is vital when tailoring. Most of us have had a little hemming done by a friend with a sewing machine, but you can’t trust a suit or gown to just anyone. The last thing you want is a shoddy result—or even worse, a ruined piece. You want someone who does the work with care, dedication, and attention to detail.
With more than 20 years’ experience and dozens of collections under my belt, I have the expertise to take your so-so, off-the-rack items and make them look like custom pieces. You can trust me with your vintage items and your boutique purchases.
But alterations and tailoring have their limits. It’s much easier to shorten and take pieces in than it is to let them out or lengthen them—especially for cheaper items with little seam allowance. I’m good, but I’m not a miracle worker!
Of course, if alterations and tailoring won’t do the job, we have other options…but that’s a chat for another day. Same time next month?
If you’re in the market for alterations or tailoring, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
And the shop is always open for my collections and ready-to-wear designs at www.amaranthdesigns.ca/collections/all. Pockets are already included in most, so don’t worry about getting those tailored!