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You Asked For It: A Needle Pulling Thread | Manolo for the Big Girl

You Asked For It: A Needle Pulling Thread

Our internet friend Amy asks:

I have often seen you advise your readers to find a good seamstress, in order to alter clothes for a flattering fit. This seems to be pretty common advice among fashion gurus. My question: How? My drycleaner’s alterations are good enough for shortening pants, but I have a couple of things that need to be taken in and I think I need someone more specialized. How does one go about finding a good seamstress in one’s area?

Tony Curtis with seamstressAmy asks the excellent question.

The best way to find a great seamstress is word-of-mouth. If you know anyone who has had clothes altered — you might want to send out an email to all your local friends, or post a request on your Facebook page — get recommendations from them.

If your friends prove unhelpful in this regard, there are other ways of finding candidates:

1- Call a local wedding planner and ask for a recommendation. Wedding planners deal with clothing alterations all the time.

2- Check the bulletin boards at your local fabric stores. (This tip came via Plumcake.)

3-  Post a request for recommendations on small local listserves, such as for your church or high school alumni group, if they allow “off topic” postings.

4- As a last resort, use the yellow pages or post on Craigslist. Use large, public lists with caution, because the people sending you recommendations might be the seamstresses themselves! This has happened to Francesca, so beware.

Now, let us say that word-of-mouth methods gleaned nothing for you, and you are faced with using a seamstress who does not come recommended by someone you know personally. Here are a few signs the person is talented:

a) She has a large volume of clothing waiting to be picked up

b) Many people are waiting to see her, or it is difficult to get an appointment

c)  She owns a chalk spray for marking skirt hems. This is a clue she has a clue.

d) She markets herself not only as a seamstress but also as a dressmaker.

Francesca says: Good luck!

9 Responses to “You Asked For It: A Needle Pulling Thread”

  1. Mrs. Hendricks August 13, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    Who is more handsome than Tony Curtis? No one, that’s who.

  2. Chiken August 13, 2009 at 12:04 pm #

    I do have a good tailor that I use sparingly — because man oh man is she expensive. How much do you all pay for various types of alterations? Like, for instance, taking in a suit jacket so that it is less boxy?

    Also, Plumcake, if you could tell me who you use in Austin, I would be forever grateful.

  3. Amy K. August 13, 2009 at 12:21 pm #

    Ooh, look! That’s me! I’m famous!

    Thanks again for the advice. I haven’t actually gotten around to going yet, but I got several recommndations from friends by putting a call out on Facebook and Twitter.

    Also, lately I have been buying all my pants at Nordstrom’s. Their seamstresses are great, and the alterations are free! By the time I pay to have less expensive pants altered, they cost a lot more and the quality is not as good.


  4. Plumcake August 13, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    Chiken, most the alterations I need –which are few and far between because I keep a very streamlined wardrobe– I either do myself or have my dressmaker do. However, Style Spy has entrusted her goods to Exclusive Alterations up north on Anderson and Shoal Creek for ages.

  5. TeleriB August 13, 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    I don’t know if it’s just the one near me or not, but when I bought a shirt at Talbott’s and mentioned alterations, they gave me the card of a local seamstress.

  6. gemdiva August 13, 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    Amy K,
    Next time you are getting alterations done at Nordstroms, try asking the seamstress if she does work on the side (prefferably out of earshot of the salesperson). I recently had a bunch of clothes taken down a couple of sizes due to dieting and it was pretty pricey. I tried to stick with clothes that were very, very good or clothes that I loved so much I couldn’t live without. If it cost more to alter than to replace, then, reluctantly it went to my sister (who is just loving this) or the Salvation Army.

  7. Amy K. August 13, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    Thanks, Gemdiva. I am doing the same thing…only planning to alter some things I really love. The rest is going to Working Wardrobe or my sister.

  8. Bobbi August 13, 2009 at 11:24 pm #

    In a largish city find a European men’s suitmaker, preferably one who carries superfines by the bolt. Beg them for access. Failing that, take their advice and try whoever they recommend. Beware crotchety old men, but they tend to rather ruthless about creating the right line in your clothes. I’ll overlook a lot for the right line.

    Failing that go to old world European social groups. Ex: The expatriate Polish society and ask after anyone who might have classical training in Europe plus American Experience. The best seamstress I have ever met worked for my family’s sewing and alteration shop. Barely spoke a word of English (had come to Canada as a refugee from Walesa era Poland in upheaval) She had the character of a dragon and the eyes and hands of God.

  9. Califa August 14, 2009 at 12:15 am #

    Make sure you tailor understands what you want. Make sure your tailor loves to make you look good. If you are the least bit uncomfortable with the tailor’s attitude- leave and find someone else. There will be someone out there who has your best fashion interests at heart! Once you find that person, never let them go.