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alterations business

gogojojo | Posted in General Discussion on

hi everyone,

i’ve just discovered the boards here and what a wealth of information there is here!  you guys are awesome!

i was wondering how lucrative the alterations business is? 

here is my sewing background:  u.s. air force – parachute rigger…packed and repaired parachutes, fabricated covers for equipment, mended aircraft upholstery and sewed patches on officer’s uniforms.   then, as a civilian i spent a couple of years doing marine canvas – boat covers.  now i have a job totally unrelated to sewing.  i hate it, and i’d like to make my living sewing again, only this time in apparel instead of heavy duty.  my plan is to take garment construction and tailoring classes at the community college, read and practice as much as possible, and collect the necessary equipment for the next couple of years, with the goal of opening my own shop.  

is there anyone here that does alterations only for a living?  and does this plan sound do-able?  any advice?  thanks in advance,

jo

Replies

  1. Harborcon | | #1

    Don't know about everyone else, but I have sewed for more than 50 years and would pay almost anything to avoid making alterations.  You are very smart to take classes before taking the plunge.  I tend to just give away what doesn't fit because the last time I took something to be altered (taken in), the seamstress simply took big seams down the sides, enclosing the existing seams, waistband, etc.  Didn't even release the original seams!  Made a huge lumpy bump all down the inside of my skirt.  Couldn't understand why I wasn't happy with the work.  Good luck!

    1. gogojojo | | #2

      wow...it is hard to believe that someone in business would provide such a low level of service; it makes me feel more confident about my own skill level, even as a novice!  anyway, thanks for the positive remarks.

    2. Myrtle | | #4

      Your alteration experience is one of the reasons I started my business....figured if they were getting that kind of money and not doing it right maybe I could succeed.  It's been 15 years and although I get tired of alterations, it shifts during the year from bridal alterations & gowns to fall home dec and winter gifts.  I had my wedding gown done by a 'designer' and it was a nightmare!  Taking classes and continuing my sewing education has helped me get better and better.  Construction classes are wonderful, but working on each garment is a lesson in itself.  I purchased a fabulous serger that has really made a lovely difference in my profit.

       

      1. Harborcon | | #5

        My daughter interned for a wedding dress designer her last year of college and, as a parting gift, they gave her a serger, which she loves as you do yours.  I am a die=hard French seam-er; don't mind serged edges on bought clothes, but can't bring myself to do it for home sewing (which I hardly ever do any more anyway!

        Last year I went from a size 14 to a 10 (8 in Talbot's slacks) and an alterations person here in town told me that was too great a size difference for an alteration.  I didn't know if that was actually the case or if she (like myself) just didn't want to fool with it!

        If you want, I'll ask Taylor (daughter) what their price list is (she's ####'t mgr of a very upscale boutique).  We're in Birmingham, AL, so I don't know whether that would make any difference where you are.  Just let me know...

        Have a great - and prosperous - new year!

        1. Myrtle | | #6

          thanks, I would love any info you/daughter could share.   Yes, a 14 to a 10/8 is a lot--especially if there are pockets.  It also changes the length which if it was ok could be short.   Please don't think you should go up to a 12/10 to get fitted--but it does depend on the fabric, cut, design of the pants.  I recently did some and said "I need to delete the pockets"  ok with customer so we were both happy.  Pricing is always an issue, but more important is the garment fit/flatter after alterations.

          Thanks from New Hamsphire.

  2. poo | | #3

    An altrations business can be very lucrative, but you do need to learn how to do them, and taking basic construction classes will not teach you how to 'deconstruct' and alter a garment, you need to learn FITTING first and foremost, you have to know how to 'read' the wrinkles in a garment to understand where the fitting issue is comming from. and you need to take a class in alterations, its a whole different animal than making clothes. But, you still do need the background /foundation in basic construction so you know what pieces are supposed to look like, and how they are shaped. You also need to learn when you can not do an alteration- such as you can't lengthen a jacket sleeve because the way the placket is sewn and trimmed, there is no hem allowance there to lengthen. or when its better to shorten the sleeve at the shoulder rather than at the hem.
    good luck in your endeavors

  3. solosmocker | | #7

    I have the utmost admiration for those who do alterations. I personally tried it some years back and found it monotonous and tedious. I'm the type who prefers one of a kind sewing. I have friends who do alterations and do very well. They are very special. One had to hire an ssistant and the other turns away people and only does repairs from her client list. You might want to try working in a bridal salon briefly or for a tailor, even for free, just to see if this is the direction you want to go. If you are the really creative type of sewer you may want to head in a different direction, custom tailoring or bridal wear. Good luck,

    Bunny

  4. krenee | | #8

    I studied fashion design in school and then worked for a bridal chain doing alterations. The design background and sewing experience were helpful, but I'd suggest working for a company part-time while going to school. That experience is invaluable. To get the job, I had to do a sew test which involved removing and replacing an invisible zipper and shortening a rolled hem. Seems like something you'd be up to with your sewing background.

    Lots of luck!

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