Ever wonder how some girls seem to have a suit or dress that fits perfectly? If it wasn't made custom for her, how does her clothing fit so well? The secret: she has a great seamstress!
A (good) seamstress can do a variety of projects for you, from hemming your skirt, to altering your straps, to add a snap or hook and eye to ensure a closer fit.
But here's a few things you should know before visiting a seamstress:
Not all seamstresses are budget friendly...and depending on the level of experience they have, the turn around time you are giving them, and the level of work required for your outfit, you are looking at anywhere from 10%-40% of the item's original cost as your alteration cost.
WISE: ASK about the cost BEFORE handing the item over for alterations. You do not want to be surprised when you pick it up.
Yes, the undergarments matter. A different bra could lift you in a way that another would not, affecting your hem line etc.
WISE: wear the exact undergarments that you will wear with the outfit to every fitting to ensure proper fit etc.
- Hair and makeup
If you will be snazzy on the day you finally wear the outfit out, get your hair and makeup as close to that look as possible for every fitting. How you 'feel' in the items will indirectly affect your alterations...your posture may slump if you don't feel great, for example.
WISE: do your hair and makeup for every fitting so you get an accurate picture of what you'll look like when it is showtime.
- Multiple fittings
Do not expect to do one fitting and have your outfit be perfect. There will always be another detail that pops up; it never fails. Even a bride gets multiple fittings!
WISE: plan ahead for multiple fittings to ensure the best fit. Try on the outfit every time you visit and make adjustments as necessary. Start your alterations at least 6 weeks out to ensure time for multiple fittings.
- Shoes ON!
You MUST wear the exact shoes you'll wear on show day. There is no alternative. Even the slightest change in platform or straps will affect how you stand etc so you'll directly affect your hemline etc.
WISE: pack your shoes and stand as you would on stage. Also, if the stage is carpet vs floor, yes, the hemline will be affected - inquire with your pageant director ahead of time for clarification on stage type. And yes, carpet vs floor will affect how the dress walks as well.
- Communication is key
This is obvious, but your seamstress cannot read your mind. Be clear about your expectations, questions, concerns etc.
WISE: before arriving, take the time to jot down your thoughts on what you'd like done to each item so when asked, you can be clear about each detail.
You may be at your seamstress for an hour or so...don't bring your attitude with you. Ensure a great fitting with a great attitude.
- You will survive a mishap
A complete freak out if something goes wrong is not necessary. Yes, you'll be upset but mistakes happen. Breathe, take a moment to think, and inquire about what CAN be done.
WISE: freaking out helps no one. Focus on the objective...and again, schedule fittings WAY in advance of your wear date to avoid complications.
- Turn around time
Do not expect an overnight turnaround. Be realistic with your expectations, be prepared to attend multiple fittings, and know that you are allowed to ask how long it'll take to complete.
WISE: you are not going home with your item same or next day, most likely.
- Cleaners are not seamstresses
Well, not necessarily. Your cleaner may clean a stain and fix a button, but do not expect them to adjust an entire hemline, re-bead an entire dress etc.
WISE: find an actual seamstress through your local gown shop or fabric store recommendations.
- The job is harder than it looks
Saying 'I could do it myself....' is rude and uncalled for. And it is very likely that the job is much more difficult than it seems to you, the non-professional.
- You are not the only client
This goes back to your turn around time etc. You are NOT the only client so expecting a super quick turn around or massive adjustments etc just brings drama. You should never expect a professional to put another client on the back burner for you.
- You don't need 100 people at a fitting
Again, obvious, just take who you need. You don't need a whole party with you. Plus, more cooks in the kitchen will just stress you out.
- Come having eaten and have water/sugar with you, it may take awhile
I have seen way too many girls pass out during a fitting. These things take time so have water with you and snacks (use these before or after you put the actual item on to avoid mishaps with water falling on your clothes etc)
- Seamstresses are not magicians.
Be realistic with your expectations. And know that if your seamstress doesn't have experience with beads, rhinestones, or very formal attire, you are risking your outfit!
WISE: again, be clear (and polite) about what you would like done and perhaps right it out so your seamstress can be clear about what is or is not possible for you.