I recently read a blog post on ways to make your clothing look more lux on a budget.
While the tips were good, what really irked me was the person who wrote it is a real industry insider – and when she was talking about altering your clothes for a good fit she referred to it as tailoring and then claimed that “tailoring is a really easy skill to pick up” and I would have to disagree!
We often interchange the terms tailoring and alterations – but they actually mean different things.
Here’s a super quick history on the word origins –
“to alter” comes from the Latin “alter” meaning “other”
“to tailor” comes from the Latin “taliare” meaning “to cut”
A tailor designs, cuts and creates custom clothing (generally referring to menswear and suiting), and they may also offer alterations to existing garments. But tailoring is not having your clothes altered.
Alterations is having existing garments altered to fit you.
Tailoring is having something custom made to fit you.
As someone who has 10 years experience in creating custom garments and alterations (but I refer to myself as a dressmaker & alterations specialist), I can tell you altering a garment correctly and neatly isn’t always easy for someone inexperienced. I’ve seen countless garments that people have taken to cheap alteration places (or DIYed) where they have done the wrong thing, damaged the fabric or just had no clue how to actually complete the job; which they’ve then brought to me to fix up.
It’s the same as saying anyone can paint – well true – anyone can paint, but can they paint well?
Sure I painted the walls in my house and it looks okay – but is my job as good as that of a professional painter? – no, I can promise you it’s not. I don’t have the same tools they do, the experience they do, nor the training and knowledge.
Now, I’m not saying don’t give it a go yourself, because I’m all for people learning how to sew, care for their garments and give them as long a wardrobe life and as many wears as possible. But please be aware that doing it at home from a YouTube tutorial and having it altered professionally can look like two very different things.
You might just run in that side seam on your jeans with a straight stitch to take in the waist and leg and wonder why a professional seamstress charges so much, but they won’t alter your jeans that way.
They will take in the back seam, the inside leg (and not necessarily the same amount on both the front and back) and possibly even adjust the rise on the crotch so that the depth is still comfortable; and they will do it in a way that you don’t lose details of the garment and so that it looks like your garment was a perfect fit when you bought it. You can hardly see the work of a good seamstress, because it is professional and blends with the original construction work.
When I do alteration work, I don’t just refer to my knowledge of sewing, or garment construction. I refer to my knowledge of pattern making and grading – how and where patterns change between sizes, and how a garment that may be pulling in one area is actually influenced by somewhere else. What you see as the problem may not actually be what is going on. I have to consider different body shapes, the way the fabric is cut, the type of fabric and of course the garment details (like pockets). And that is all before I consider the most effective way to complete the alteration, finding the best way to make the changes, opening the right seams and closing them back up so you’d never know – like a delicate kind of surgery.
So please don’t say (or ask if) my work is easy or simple. I make it look easy, because I have the knowledge and experience, not just of myself, but of those who have mentored me. And most importantly, it looks easy because I love it – I receive so much joy in altering and creating your clothes so you can look good and feel good every day!
If you have questions about the services I offer, or would love to get in touch to chat more you can drop me an email through the contact form, or pop into my messages on social media – I promise I’ll answer as soon as possible!