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Professional Alterations Please Help

grrrace | Posted in Fitting on

Hi there, I am a novice dressmaker and tailor that works part time designing, constructing, altering and repairing clothes. I just had my very first customer who was not a personal friend of mine contact me to do alterations on a bridesmaid dress. The dress was pretty basic, just a straight gown with a corset-like bodice with top-stitching on all seams. The bodice was separate from the rest of the dress. What was required was about an inch taken in on the side seams in the bust and hips and hemming.
2 hours after we did the fitting she emailed me saying that “an unexpected conflict with the wedding” had come up and she wouldn’t be attending after all so she wouldn’t need the dress altered. I am wondering if she is just being polite and I did something wrong or quoted her too high of a fee. Can any professionals please tell me how much they would charge for this alteration, and a brief synopsis of what process they would go through?

Edited 9/17/2003 6:37:54 PM ET by Grace


  1. Gloria2b | | #1


    I would not worry about it too much. I have been doing all sorts of sewing for years for the public. I have learned there are all kinds of customers. Those who are hard to work with I make a point not to deal with again. Then there are some who think it will take no time at all and want to wait in your home while you whip it up! Yes, that actually happened to me!

    Some also just do not understand that this is your living and your time is valuable also. I have some who are willing to pay my fees and some who balk at $5 for a hem.

    Price your work at what you think is fair. If you do not know the going rates in your area do some checking around to find out what they range and that will give you a starting point for your fees.

    If someone calls me and starts out with "it is a simple pattern" I know that is going to mean they know nothing about sewing and are looking for a bargain. Maybe they are on a budget and cannot afford much. But that also means trouble for me in getting it done and at my price. I do not like to give estimates ---especailly over the phone... I emphasize the basic price and let them know if there are unforseen problems I will let them know before doing the work. If you want to ...you can make a basic list of fees (noting that prices vary depending on circumstances) and post it where those who come to your home can see them. Always quote basic prices as $xx.xx and up! Also any materials or notions you may have to go and get are included in the total bill and you will give them the store receipt if they wish.

    Your best bet is to get some regular customers going who you know are satisfied with your work and they will refer you to others. That is what happened to me. I like the people I sew for now and it makes the work much more pleasant. I have met some nice folks doing this! The ones who are trouble I do not sew for anymore... Makes it much more pleasant...

    I hope this helps... feel free to e mail me if you wish...

    Happy sewing!

  2. SewTruTerry | | #2


    I don't think that you did anything wrong.  Yes she may have been trying to be polite after she had found out that the shop where she purchased the dress would be doing the alterations for free and did not know how to tell you the truth.  Also she may have had a falling out with the bride or the "happy couple" decided to cancel the wedding.  This is one of the reason I have brides and bridesmaids promise to never freak on me.  I am tempted to put it in a contract for them to sign.  Consider your self lucky that you did not have it already altered and then have her give you a bum check or not pay you at all.  The bad check happened to me.  It got pretty nasty.

    Good luck and hang in there.

    1. grrrace | | #3

      Thanks for your encouragement. That's what I keep telling myself but I can't help but analyze everything that happened trying to figure out what it was I did! Anyway it was a learning experience, even if I don't know the reason. I appreciate your feedback.


  3. User avater
    ehBeth | | #4

    Where is the dress now?

    1. grrrace | | #5

      Oh, she already picked it up. Nice thing is, she forced some money on me for my time when she came by.

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