Custom Style

Sewing that's Retro, Geek, and Chic

Alterations – What’s the Big Deal?

Misconception: Altering a store-bought garment is easier for the seamstress than sewing one from “scratch.”

This is a common belief that is easy to accept because it seems so logical.  After all, it makes sense to think that since half the work is already done, lots of time will be saved by not having to cut and sew the garment.

In reality, however, alterations to a finished piece of clothing can actually be twice the work of starting at the beginning.  This is because the garment must first be taken apart before the alteration can be made (unless the alteration is simply shortening a hem).  Once the outfit has been taken apart, the alteration can be made and the outfit must then be re-assembled.  Any detail, like beadwork, must be redone.  This is why bridal alterations can double the price of a store-bought dress.

When clothing is made from “scratch,” a seamstress can control the number of alterations by making a mock-up first and doing the alterations during the stages of construction before the garment is completed.

Alterations are often an annoyance to a professional seamstress who enjoys building clothing from the beginning of the process.  A tailor shop usually employs a group of seamstresses that specializes in alterations and may be more experienced at building custom suits for men.  In most cases, those employed in a tailor shop are paid a flat rate per alteration, making it more profitable for them to be exceptionally fast with alterations and repairs.

See also Does a custom dress cost less than store-bought? and other FAQ.

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2 responses to “Alterations – What’s the Big Deal?

  1. Lorinda Jones November 28, 2012 at 11:37 pm

    Oh so true! I’d much rather create the whole garment than make alterations! People who do not sew just don’t understand this concept.

    • Brooke November 29, 2012 at 9:25 am

      Yes, I’ve actually gotten some dirty looks when I tell people I don’t do alterations. The usual response is “but it’s really simple!” and I always want to reply “then do it yourself.” I know that they ask me in the first place because they think I will save them money compared to a tailor, and I have to explain that tailors are not over-priced.

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