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book on altering clothes

Balencia | Posted in Equipment and Supplies on

Hi, in this year 2008 I asked a question about finding the best book to teach how to alter clothes – lost information – anyone know of a good book re this please as trying to get a job involving this and wanted to read up on it before showing my skills to the test as never worked in the field before and a bit worried may be not up to professional standard, so wanted to practice beforehand – nerves and all that! 

thanks to all. 



thankfully – LG


  1. cookymom | | #1

    Someone on this board recommended a book called Altering Women's Ready-to-Wear by Mary A. Roehr.  It was published in 1987.  She talks about some of the altering tips my mom, who was a textiles and clothing person, taught me about hemming and other easy alterations.

    I think I bought it from either Amazon or Clothide.


  2. User avater
    JunkQueen | | #2

    http://www.maryroehr.com She has several books, all of which are good and all of which she updates and republishes to keep them current. Best of all, she will answer your questions quickly and thoroughly if you email her.

  3. Susan -homedecsewing | | #3

    I ran an alteration dept. for the largest dry cleaners in Naples Fl. I took care of 18 stores .Chalking and pinning tons of different clothes.One very important thing is always pin both legs, or sleeves. Don't assume they should be the same. Most times they are different. People are crooked. one leg longer is common.And as people move and fidget , things move and change. have the client stand up straight , not bend and look down at you as you mark a hem. Be polite yet professional.Your finished garment should look like it just came from the store, so learn how to serge, blindstitch, and handstitch perfectly.Practise makes perfect. You could take an old Goodwill suit apart and practice. I also had people stand on a wooden box I had built to help see the work. Saves the back.Good luck, Susan

    1. User avater
      Balencia | | #6

      Lovely advice Susan - I shall find a suit in a second hand shop and get working !  Have a serger which used a lot last year - blind hemmer have not got - should I get? and there is another machine that is useful isn't there? Apparently if I cannot use these I will be embarrassingly stupid to any empolyer!   Have tried to alter seat area of pants according to a threads issue but afraid did not do too well - found description not aiding accuracy particularly but one learns from one's mistakes - hopefully!.  Have you done a lot of altering - is it a deadend job or can it lead to a career?  Les.

      1. Susan -homedecsewing | | #9

        This is just my experience on the subject of alterations. It is a greatly needed profession, but here in the states unfortunately , a rather lowly position as far as sewing goes.I did it for 20 years and really just eeked out a living. I ran the alterations dept. for 2 years as a way to help with verifiable stable income to enable purchase of our home when we moved from Ohio to Florida 10 years ago. It was a great learning experience . I taught several young women to sew, but it was long hours, and in the end , not something that brought much joy into my life.It's hard to be the boss, everyone wants your position, along with more money, and all of the helpers mistakes land in your lap.I guess 18 stores was just so overwhelming. Then when I started my own business, those customers wanted to keep me in my place, and didn't accept that I was qualified to branch out. But if you check out my work I think you will see that I had hidden talent. So home decor was the way I went, and it brings me much joy,both monetary, and I get to make dreams come true. I'm not saying you should do what I did. And frankly it was all a great learning experience. But being ones own boss is wonderful.You can see my work at http://www.homedecsewing.com  ; What ever you do , give it your best, and you'll do fine. Happy sewing, Susan

        Edited 8/9/2008 9:12 am ET by Susan -homedecsewing

        1. User avater
          Balencia | | #10

          Alterations does not appear to bring much fun or money - much more enjoyable creating something rather than altering I think.  You sould like a perseverer - have you always enjoyed sewing - does it come naturally to you or did you have to work at it.  Thanks for the message - I will think on it and enjoy looking at your email site.



          1. Susan -homedecsewing | | #11

            Funny you should ask, but I truly absolutely love to sew ! I am self taught, although I must give credit to a wonderful home ec. teacher, Miss Williams, who once in a while would tell me to slow down, lol.I started with doll clothes, then what ever I fancied from then on. I've done custom riding outfits, alterations,bridal, leather, canvas, boat cushions and upholstery. I've even sewn 100' awnings. But I finally settled into designing window coverings. Its a lot of fun to decorate fabulous homes here in Florida. The only sad thing is my grandbabies are back in Ohio, but the economy there couldn't support my business, so I will stay here in the sunshine, sewing away, and loving it.Thank heaven for dear sweet daughter in law, who keeps my inbox full of precious pics and videos.Nice chatting with you and best of luck. Alterations is a noble profession.

          2. User avater
            Balencia | | #12

            Hello again, cant get rid of me!   Your job sounds the admirable profession - you sound like you get paid for what you like doing - of course it can get a bit monotonous doing what you like too often but if you are creating projects then it could never get boring.  All last night (Saturday night at that!) and early this morning I have been gettiing my head around how to sew a pattern drafted shirt that I have come up with to use up some old white broderie anglaise I had in the cupboard - asking for trouble I know when one says "just using up some old stash" as there won't be the magic needed as provided by buying material especially for a project (research always key!).  Anyway, after rudely interupting myself I shall try to pick up the thread of my story again...... lol.    I decided that the top half of my white shirt could be in a nice seethrough stretch white material (not lace but soft mesh-like fabric) - woops found not quite enough to stretch over the pattern with that, so then found some petrol blue organza ( not easy to sew I know and may be not stetchy enough as no opening in shirt allowed for at moment - but have to experiment - french seems the order of the day with such fabric?).  So then for sleeves I thought may this very vivid aqua blue stretch lace I found in the cupboard - so you can see what a pickle I am getting into just using up material in the stash!  That's the trouble with me I cannot wait til the next day to get more material,  I have itchy fingers to get something started and designed -  As you say MUST SLOW DOWN!  There is all the time in the world - although your cv of job achievements make me think I should speed up greatly to catch up !   respect to you for that - speak soon.  Les

          3. Susan -homedecsewing | | #13

            From your name it seems you may be a gardener as well as a sewer. Is that the case ? I love to garden as well, or should I say I love to plan gardens , and put my husband to work ! Poor man. He helps in all my adventures, or most would not get finished ! Changed the subject a bit. Speaking of stash, my latest client pulled out her stash from China, she lived there, and what wonderful silks she found for me to make treatments, can't wait to get started even though each window has 24 pieces , mutiplied 3 times for interlining and lining !So we'll chat later, best to you , Susan

          4. User avater
            Balencia | | #14

            Susan, yes I really enjoy getting dirty in the garden - my last garden I had a couple of years ago was much bigger though and I frantically read up a lot on the subject and went to every garden show going as well as nurseries and pinched cuttings and divided plants in people's garden's ! loved it - but have moved into a house with a smaller garden now and just keep the bedding looking nice and still manage to do a bit of propogating - even brought a propogater that has little sections for seeds that sit on a warming plate that is plugged into socket and also purchased a warming mat!  for those hard to propogate plants.  Last purchase I brought were leucanthemums - large daisies - love them. 

            Yes you have some charming work ahead of you - fabric like silk just transports me to a fantasy world - that's why best to work with fabrics you love!   you are in for a treat!   over and out - Les


  4. Cherrypops | | #4

    Hi, I have the books by Mary Roehr as suggested by JunkQueen ( post 3). I am very happy with these books and the customer service.

    this website http://www.geniecentre.com/ has recently been brought to my attention. take a look it may interest you also. I don't have the book, so I cannot review it for you. maybe others here might.

    1. User avater
      Balencia | | #5

      Thank you for your advice, looked at GenieMagic and found book priced at 26.00 - did get a Mary Roehr book from Amazon called alterations but was not sure which one best to buy, think she has a few out.  Will research whether Genie book any good and get if so.  Hopefully my skills will warrant a job in altering! thanks Cherrypops for coming to my aid! Where ya from - Are you sewing much at mo?.  LG

      1. Cherrypops | | #7

        Hello LG,

        I live in Australia - one hour north of the city of Sydney - near the East Coast Beaches.

        I do alterations, hemming mainly, for the parents at my school. for their children's uniforms. This has led to hemming their work trousers/skirts.

        I sew all kinds of things..dresses - cushion covers.

        I am finishing of a spring dress for me. Then making a costume for my 6yr old son for school.

        I have a facebook.com page and working on a myspace.com page to show off my work.

        thanks for your reply and i look forward to seeing more from you on gatherings.




        1. User avater
          Balencia | | #8

          Interesting, I am from "not so sunny" Birmingham, England! 

          I have finished two dresses for my 5 year old Isabella but she does not like the one! which I fancied on the Chitty Bang Bang jack in the box doll at the King's Bday party.  She likes the white broderie anglaise with red velvet sleeves number though - thank god.  I am now doing myself a top with lacey bits as this apparently is the style to go for ( lace I mean) at moment.  Looking to do alterations as seems this is the only road to go down considering cheap outlets for clothes these days!  Lovely to hear from you, hope to speak again soon. BFN.  Les

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