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Hiring a tailor to make, repair, or alter a garment or entire outfit is a way to get the most from your clothing budget. Professional tailors have the skills and tools needed to create custom-fitted garments by making alterations or by making garments from scratch. These professionals begin by taking a customer’s measurements. The measurements are then compared to a garment or pattern pieces to see what changes the tailor needs to make to get the fit right.
A tailor is a professional who works with textiles to alter, make, and repair garments. Custom-fitted suits, including jackets and pants, are the most common items tailors make and repair. Tailors use dressmaking, sewing, and fashion design skills to complete tailoring tasks.
Tailors make, fit, and repair garments. When making garments, tailors use the customer’s measurements to prepare the pattern for a custom-fitted garment. The customer's measurements are also used to adjust the fit when altering clothing. Additionally, tailors use sewing skills to repair garments that have been damaged.
Tailors and seamstresses are not the same. Tailors typically have advanced skills that are used to create garments that offer customers a unique fit. Seamstresses typically cut and sew garments based on a pattern, making few alterations to the pattern. Tailors and seamstresses do, however, use some of the same basic sewing skills.
A tailor customizes an existing garment or pattern to create a unique garment for a customer. A fashion designer conceives the design for a garment and is involved in creating the pattern. Tailors and fashion designers have some overlapping skills, such as choosing textiles and advanced sewing techniques.
One advantage of tailoring is getting garments that fit better. This can offer a slimming effect while creating a more professional appearance. It can also be a way to create a personal style instead of wearing mass-produced clothing that doesn’t quite fit properly. Additionally, a complete tailored outfit can be crafted from better-quality materials.
To tailor something, put it on and look for areas that are baggy or too tight. Mark the excess to be taken in or what needs to be added. Either open the seams to add fabric or stitch the garment along the marked seams to take in the excess fabric and get rid of bagginess.
Tailored means clothes are well-cut or adjusted to fit without being too loose or too tight. If talking about mass-produced, off-the-rack clothing, it means the clothes have been taken in to get rid of bagginess or let out to be more comfortable.
A tailored fit is a cross between slim fit and a looser, off-the-rack fit. It means there are no loose, baggy areas on a garment, but it also isn’t too snug. It leaves room to be let out or taken in a bit more if a person gains or loses weight.
A tailored fit tends to be snug and has less ease or extra fabric that allows for movement than a traditional fit garment. Traditional fit garments tend to be looser and can fit more body types due to the extra fabric that’s incorporated into the garment design.
Tailoring typically costs between 5% and 20% of a garment’s purchase price. A complete $300 new suit can cost between $15 and $60 to have tailored. Tailoring jeans and pants can cost between $14 and $60, depending on the difficulty of the alteration. Tailoring shirts typically cost $10 to $20.
If there is excess fabric in the seams, or if matching fabric is available, a tailor can usually make pants bigger. If there is no excess fabric in the seams or matching fabric, a tailor could add another type of fabric. However, the alterations using different fabric would most likely be visible.
You can tailor a leather jacket, but some styles are more challenging to alter than others. Advanced tailoring skills are usually needed for this type of project. The alterations can be done almost anywhere there’s an existing seam. A leather needle is typically used for this type of alteration.
Basic tailoring and small fixes are typically fairly inexpensive while harder alterations and having tailored garments made from scratch are tailoring jobs that usually cost more. Tailoring clothes may seem expensive if the garment is an inexpensive item. However, tailoring can make an inexpensive garment look better.
You typically don’t need to tip a tailor. It isn’t standard practice in this industry. Tailors are often self employed, so they aren’t considered underpaid laborers. However, when taking in a large order or a rush order, tipping can be a way to build a relationship and thank the tailor for exceptional service.
Having a suit fully constructed by a professional tailor takes about 40 hours of labor. Having a suit altered can take less time, depending on the specific type of alteration you’re having the tailor perform. For example, hemming an unlined garment is faster than hemming one that’s lined.
To become a tailor, you can study and practice sewing techniques on your own or through an apprenticeship. In addition to learning how to alter garments, learn about business management so you can effectively manage your tailoring business. Additionally, find a clean space with a changing area to set up as a tailoring studio.
To learn tailoring, get started by learning basic sewing skills. After mastering the basics, begin adding advanced techniques, such as pattern alteration and doing alterations to fitted garments. Consider learning fashion design to gain an in-depth understanding of how garments are constructed when there’s no pattern available.
Basic sewing tools, such as a tape measure, scissors, and tailor's chalk and pins are the main tailoring tools. Tailors also typically use both hand sewing needles and thread and sewing machines. Some other tools commonly used by tailors include a tailor’s ham, an ironing board, an iron, and thimbles.