Alterations in a Downturned Economy
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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!

Barbara Stone Designs has been a full service Alterations and Custom Clothing business since 1981. Barbara started her training at UC Santa Barbara, where she majored in Art. Wanting to work with her hands, she then earned her Dressmaking and Alterations Certificate at Shasta College in Redding, CA. After that she honed her craft by taking workshops and classes all over the United States, studying with teachers from all over the world. Some of the classes included advanced tailoring, pattern making, image consulting, design and color, moulage, proper fit, and many classes on specific construction techniques such as lace applique, working with sheers and satins, interfacings, and dye techniques. Barbara continues to advance her skills. Her most recent workshop was on teaching an on-line class which she hopes to offer very soon.

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