Finding a Great Tailor

Finding a Great Tailor

So you just got your perfect vintage piece you've been searching for high and low month after month, site after site, store after store. It's awesome, you love it, but it has a few flaws that keep it from being perfect:

  • The sleeves are a tad too long
  • It has some very small holes or runs
  • The skirt or pant length is not right
  • It could be a little tighter through the waist
  • The shoulders are too wide

You can sew, but mom's machine is not working very well and you don't have time. Or maybe you can’t even thread a needle. In any case, you need help. You’ve bought something great from a vintage clothing store online, but you not only want quality, you need a perfect fit. Where do you go and how do you vet the "alterations" shops in your area?

Your first step should be to ask well-dressed friends or acquaintances for a recommendation. They’ll probably be more than happy to share their experiences with local tailors with you. The best tailors have more work than they need and don’t have to advertise so, more than likely, you won’t find them online. They’re busy sewing, not maintaining a Facebook page!

Sewing alteration for vintage fashion

Questions to Tailor Vintage Clothing

In case you don't have a reliable referral, here's what you need to consider when trying to find someone who can tailor vintage clothing by assessing their experience, skill level, and interest in working on unusual and at times delicate retro apparel:

  • How long have they been in business? A long history is usually a sign that you’re in good hands.
  • Do they genuinely like what they do?  A tailor who has respect for fine clothing and his craft will take pride in the work and service to you.
  • Don’t be surprised if there’s noticeable excitement upon seeing your fabulous vintage piece!
  • Do they inspire confidence? A skilled tailor should be able to advise you in matters of fit and the technical aspects an alteration.

For your first visit, take a more straightforward alteration to your vintage tailor and try her out. Don't challenge her with a daunting task that has a risky outcome. If you're picky, even a simple alteration will tell you how carefully it has been done and whether the trial has been successful.

Your garment should fit properly and, from the outside, there should be no evidence of an alteration having been done. Even on the inside, the sewing should be neat and free of loose threads.

Vintage fashion alteration

A successful outcome depends in large part on a good beginning. Here are a few tips for starting off on the right track:

  • Bring the undergarments and shoes you’ll be wearing with your outfit to your consultation. Even slight differences in heel height or bra lift will affect fit.
  • Prewash and dry items that are likely to shrink when you launder them. This is especially important when dealing with cotton, linen, or rayon fabrics.
  • Pay attention during your fitting. Consider how the proposed changes will not only look, but also how your garment will feel on your body as you move and sit.
  • Ask for an estimate. A professional tailor should be able to give you a good idea of what your job will cost. And don’t expect it to be inexpensive. What might seem like a simple job to you is often more complex than it appears when done properly.

Before and after tailor vintage

Don’t forget that finding a great tailor is also about developing a personal relationship, much like the one you have with your hair stylist or your mechanic. Over time, they’ll come to know your personal preferences, and what works best for you and your body type. They won’t be afraid to tell you whether something does or doesn’t suit you. Listen to their good advice.

Proper fit is an essential component to looking and feeling your best in your clothing. The above steps should go a long way toward making sure your unique and precious vintage piece shines, and you along with it.

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