Monthly Archives: December 2013

Bridal Fairs

I participate in one bridal fair every year, in January and that pretty much jump starts my bridal business for the year.  Oh, I also get a lot of referrals and internet business but the bridal fair is a great way to meet brides-to-be in person and show them what you can do for them.

In our area, there are only two fairs a year so it’s not like there’s a big choice but if brides want the “one stop shopping” experience, bridal fairs are the way to go. You can meet vendors and see if you have a rapport with them. You can see pictures or samples of what they do. You can taste samples of what they do (my favorite part) and you’ll leave the fair with lots of ideas.

I pretty much let my work speak for itself. I drape my table with fabric samples and my paper portfolio. I dress my mannequins with samples of my workmanship. And, of course, I’m there to answer their questions and concerns.

One question I get asked a lot is, of course, how much can a bride expect to pay for alterations. Unfortunately, that is something I can’t answer without seeing the gown on the bride.  Because every dress has such different construction and design, each dress must be priced individually.

Some brides only need a hem and a bustle; some, especially petite and plus-sized brides, need more work. Just remember that alterations are priced individually so a hem, a bustle, dart alterations, taking in (or letting out) a bodice are all separate prices. So the more alterations you need, the more it will cost. This is especially important to keep in mind when you are buying a sample dress. It may be a good price initially but if it doesn’t fit you, you will sometimes spend more on alterations than you did on the dress.

For more FAQ’s about bridal gown alterations, check my next segment!




Alterations in a Downturned Economy

As more and more businesses downsize and disappear altogether, I feel fortunate that I chose a career that is virtually recession-proof.

Sure, I’m not doing as many creative custom projects. Brides can get really cheap dresses on-line these days. And so can bridesmaids, mothers-of-the-brides-and-grooms, and so on.

In a not-so-good economic climate, more people buy cheap clothes but that usually means more alterations are needed.  One of the ways to cut the cost of manyfacturing clothing is not using fit models. Pattern software with default measurement settings is much cheaper to use than actually making samples and trying them on a body. This results in more work for your tailor.

The other interesting thing that happens is that people will “shop in the closet” when money is tight. Many of my clients  have cleaned out their closets, finding clothes that they really like but have never worn. Maybe they’ve lost or gained weight. Maybe they love the fabric but there is just something “not quite right” about the fit. Something as simple as a sleeve hem can make or break the look of a garment.

Who still has clothes from the 1990’s? Those shoulders can be recut to fit the current trend. Other minor or even major changes can be made to update the look.

When trying to decide whether or not to have something altered, you need to ask yourself these questions:

1). Is the fabric still in good shape? Are there stains or rips or worn spots? Have bugs lunched on it? Most sewing professionals will not deal with worn fabrics unless they can be repaired.

2). How does it fit? If it’s too big, it can be altered. If it’s too tight, it may be altered as long as the fabric has enough seam allowance to let out.

Men’s clothing can usually be let out at least a size, more if the suit has been previously altered and the seam allowances were kept. Women’s clothing is less forgiving but, in general, they can usually be let out about one size. Let a qualified dressmaker or tailor help you decide that one.

By the way, Jeans can not be let out, I’m afraid.

3). Do you like the garment? If you like the fabric, the print, the feel of the fabric, it’s worth letting an expert check it out for you. If you don’t like the color or something else about the fabric, it will never work for you and you should just give it away.

Bottom line: check your closet for treasures. You could have a whole new wardrobe with just a few minor changes!