Its an oldie but still a goodiea full-length wool coat thats warmer
and more comfortable than any of the latest downy puffy things. But the
linings seen better days. And the buttonholes are becoming manholes. Can
this garment be saved?
With the right tailor, the answer is probably yes. Good tailors or dressmakers
help you look good and save moneyby repairing torn or worn garments; altering
clothes when styles or your weight changes; fitting new clothes from stores
that dont offer or overcharge for alterations; and customizing garments
that dont fit so well off the rack. They also help with other sewing jobs,
like making curtains or pillow covers.
When checking out a tailor or dressmaker, ask to see examples of completed
work. Unfortunately, most shops have few samples on hand, and samples on
hangers tell you nothing about how well they fit their owners. Asking for
names of satisfied customers would be considered unusualand the shop owner
will hardly refer you to dissatisfied ones.
Weve simplified the checking-out process by surveying area consumers (primarily
CHECKBOOK and Consumer Reports subscribers) for their ratings of local
tailors and dressmakers. Our Ratings Tables list shops for which we
received 10 or more survey responses. We asked customers to rate the shops
inferior, adequate, or superior on several aspects of service, including
doing service properly and starting and completing service promptly;
our Ratings Tables show the percent of each shops surveyed customers
who rated it superior on these questions. In general, the shops on our
Ratings Tables received rather high ratings compared to other types
of companies we evaluate. (Click here for
further discussion of our customer survey and other research methods.)
Keep in mind that while all the shops on our Ratings Tables do alterations,
not many actually make suits or dresses. And at some area shops, tailors
are on-site only part-time, or only stop by to pick up and drop off garments.
To compare shops prices, for shops that were evaluated in our last full,
published article, our mystery shoppers called each of the shops and obtained
prices for eight tailoring jobs. We used those prices to calculate each
shops price comparison score, reported on our Ratings Tables. Our
price comparison scores are intended to show how a shops prices compared
to the average prices at all surveyed shops for the same mix of jobs. The
price comparison scores are calculated so that a score of $100 is about
average; a score of $110 means prices are about 10 percent above average;
a score of $90 about 10 percent below average.
Price is not very important for small jobs, but for larger jobsalterations
of multiple garments or a major sewing job on a single garmentit pays
to compare prices and travel a few extra miles for a lower price.
Table 1 shows the low, average, and high prices our mystery shoppers were
quoted by shops for the eight jobs we checked. As you can see, we found
a $165 difference between the lowest and highest quotes for the most expensive
job, fully lining a mens overcoat.
|Hem women’s pants (no cuffs)
|Take in waist of women’s pants
|Take up sleeves of men’s blazer
|Hem and cuff men’s slacks
|Take in torso/side seams of men’s suit jacket
|Replace zipper on women’s skirt
|Let down and re-hem women’s dress with a full skirt
|Fully line men’s overcoat with satin
|1 For each job, shops were given additional, detailed specifications.
Keep in mind that it might be most cost-effective to have clothes altered
by the store where you buy them. Many department stores offer tailoring
services, as do a number of stores that sell dress clothes. For the most
part, alterations are free if you pay full price for the garment; if you
buy the garment on sale or at a discount store, alteration fees are likely
to apply. But these fees, we have found, are usually comparable to the
average prices at standalone tailoring shops.