Top 5 Questions About Alterations & Tailoring
Last Updated on May 9, 2023 by Alterations Express Staff
If you’ve never been to a tailor before, your first visit can be a little intimidating. Maybe you know you need something altered, but you don’t even know where to start. And that’s okay! You’ve already done the hard work because you’re here, reading this blog post! Once you realize that fit is the most important aspect of style, your wardrobe and confidence in your clothing will completely transform. And the best way to achieve the ideal fit in your clothing is to visit a local tailor. Keep reading to get answers to the most common questions customers usually have about alterations and tailoring.
- How Much Do Alterations Typically Cost?
- Common Alteration Prices
- How Long Does it Take to Get Alterations Completed?
- How to Find the Right Tailor for You
- What to Expect During a Visit to a Tailor
- When Should I Get Alterations?
How Much Do Alterations Typically Cost?
This is by far the most common question asked about clothing alterations. And unfortunately, there isn’t a very straightforward answer to it. The truth is: every tailor prices differently, and every alteration project differs greatly in price, depending on a couple of factors:
1. Type of Garment:
For example, alterations for a wedding gown are usually going to differ greatly in price compared to alterations for a pair of jeans or a blouse. Additionally, the characteristics of a garment can also increase the price of alterations. For example, if a jacket or pair of pants has a lining or a dress with a zipper needs to be tapered or a vent (slit) in a dress needs to be changed. All of these elements of a garment will increase the cost of an alteration project.
2. Intricacy of the Alteration Project:
Alteration costs can increase if a garment has a lot of beading. Costs can also increase depending on the original fit of a garment. For example, say you walk into the tailor with a suit that you bought off the rack that is way too big, but you got a great deal on it. Alterations for the suit, depending on how much work needs to be done to get both the jacket and pants to fit correctly, could potentially cost more than what you paid for the suit. Another example could be formal dress alterations. Let’s say you bought a dress for a wedding, and it is a bit too long, so you need to get it hemmed. Depending on how many layers that dress has and what material the dress is made out of, you could be required to pay to get each layer hemmed.
Here is the general rule of thumb regarding alteration costs: the more a seamstress or tailor changes the original fit of the garment, the more expensive the alterations will be. When you visit your local tailor, make sure that the staff is transparent with you about pricing so that you can make an informed decision about your purchase before they begin work on your garment.
The cost for alterations can vary widely depending on many different factors regarding garment construction. Keep in mind that almost every qualified seamstress or tailor cannot provide an accurate price estimate for alterations until they can evaluate an alteration project in person.
Common Alteration Prices
Shirts & Blouses:
Hem: $15 – 25
Taper: $15 – $25
Shorten Sleeves (cuffed, no lining): $25 – $35
Adjust Shoulders (no sleeves): $15 – $25
Adjust Shoulders (with sleeves): $15 – $35
Add Darts: $15 – $25
*Garments with a lining cost more to alter than unlined garments
Pants, Jeans, Skirts & Casual Dresses:
Hem: $15 – $45
Taper: $20 – $60
Adjust Waistband: $20 – $35
Replace Zipper: $20 – $25
*Garments with a lining cost more to alter than unlined garments
Jackets & Coats:
Hem: $25 – $45
Taper: $20 – $35
Shorten/Lengthen Sleeves (from cuff): $30 – $55
Shorten/Lengthen Sleeves (from shoulder): $30 – $60
Adjust Shoulders: $30 – $65
Add Darts: $15 – $20
Replace Zipper: $20 – $55
Replace Lining: $90 & up
Hem: $30 – $120
Taper: $25 – $65
Take-in: $25 – $135
Adjust Shoulders/Straps: $25 – $55
Shorten/Lengthen Sleeves: $30 – $55
Replace Zipper: $30 – $45
*Garments with a lining cost more to alter than unlined garments.
(Please keep in mind that these are industry estimates.)
How Long Does it Take to Get Alterations Completed?
There is no industry standard that most alterations and tailor shops adhere to in terms of the timeline for completing alterations. For this question, there are a couple of factors to consider:
- How much work is a seamstress or tailor completing for you?
- How busy is your tailor?
It’s common to bring multiple clothing items to the tailor to get them all altered. However, this might extend the turnaround time for your alterations to be completed. It’s also important to consider how busy your tailor is with alterations for other customers. Within the industry, tailors and seamstresses get busier during the spring and the fall, so consider these peak times if you need your alteration completed by a certain date.
Across the industry, typical alterations usually take 1 to 2 weeks to be completed. Brides should expect a longer timeline for wedding dress alterations. However, we recommend visiting your local seamstress or tailor as soon as you can so that your alterations are completed on time. *Shameless Plug*: At Alterations Express, almost all alteration projects are completed with our unprecedented four days or less turnaround time! Need it faster than four days? We also have expedited alteration options for Next Day Alterations, 2 Day Turnaround, and 3 Day Express Service with the additional charge of an express fee.
How to Find the Right Tailor for You
Finding the right tailor for you is very important. Especially if you are new to a city or new to alterations and tailoring, make sure to do some research and understand your needs as a customer before choosing a local provider. Here are a few tips to help you find a tailor that is right for you.
1. Online research.
We recommend doing a little bit of research about tailors in your local area before going in for a visit. Check out reviews on Google and Yelp. Visit their website (if they have one) or check out their social media profiles to see some of their past work. Take note of reviews from customers that have similar body types to you or garments that you’re looking to get altered.
2. Ask around.
Ask your friends, family members, and co-workers where they go for their alteration needs. Utilizing your inner circle almost always guarantees that you’ll have a good experience with a recommended tailor. You’ll also get a good idea of what type of customer experience you’ll have when you visit a recommended tailor.
Call to get more information. If you still have questions or are unsure which tailor to visit, pick up the phone and call them! Get all your questions answered upfront and feel comfortable about taking that next step to an in-store visit.
3. Ask some of your favorite retailers who they suggest.
Most local retailers who don’t offer alteration services are more than happy to recommend a local tailor to their customers. Usually, retailers have established relationships with tailors who they trust with their customers’ clothing.
4. Start with an easy, basic alteration.
Once you decide on a local provider, bring in a garment that you need simple alterations on as a ‘test run.’ Something like a hem on a pair of jeans or a blouse that needs the sleeves shortened. This trial run will give you an idea of what to expect from the tailor and if you’re going to be happy with their work on more intricate alterations.
Pro Tip: During your visit, make sure to ask about their redo policy and what the policy is if mistakes are made. Some local tailors will redo alteration work free of charge, but it’s good to ask just in case an issue arises during your visit. (pssst… We guarantee our work and allow free adjustments to any alterations up to 10 days after a garment is picked up!)
What to Expect During a Visit to a Tailor
Going on your first visit to a new tailor can be a little intimidating, especially if you’re new to alterations or have never gone to a tailor or seamstress before. Here’s what to expect during your visit.
A Professional Fitting:
First, you’ll need to try on the clothing item(s) that you want to get altered. Make sure to bring the shoes and undergarments that you’ll be wearing with the garment when you come in for your visit. These items are extremely important so that the tailor can create an accurate fit for how you’ll be wearing the garment. The fitting is also an opportunity for you to talk with your tailor, ask them questions about the fit of your garment, and also get an idea of how your clothing will fit after the alterations are completed. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or get clarification about what they’ll be doing to your garment. It’s important for you to leave the fitting feeling confident about the alterations.
Most tailors will provide a price estimate for your alterations after they have a chance to evaluate your garment and the alteration project in person. However, some tailors don’t provide cost estimates upfront because they base the cost on the number of hours an alteration project takes to complete. Make sure before you leave and sign off on work being done on your garment that you are given a price estimate for your alterations.
Timelines & Pick-Up:
Before you leave, your local tailor should be able to provide you with a relative timeline for when you can expect your alterations to be completed. Usually, you’ll be able to return to pick up your clothing within 1 to 2 weeks of drop-off. When you come in for pick-up, make sure to try on your garment again before you leave. This allows you to evaluate the finished alterations in person and raise any concerns about the work while the tailor is there. If adjustments need to be made, you can address them with your tailor and get the garment refitted (most of the time, free of charge).
Remember: You do not have to know your measurements before visiting a tailor! They will gather your measurements during your fitting. Visit our blog to learn more about what to know before visiting a tailor.
When Should I Get Alterations?
If you’re new to alterations and tailoring, it’s difficult to identify when the added investment of alterations is necessary or when it will make a sizable difference in how your clothes fit you. Alterations and tailoring can completely transform a garment. And, as we established earlier, fit is the most important aspect of style! However, it is an added investment that you need to be willing to make. We’ve found that its best for our customers to invest in alterations during three scenarios:
- Buying New Clothes: Purchasing new clothes is a perfect time to invest in alterations and tailoring. Especially if you invested in more expensive, timeless pieces, alterations are definitely a must.
- Special Occasion Clothing: Special occasions like weddings are a perfect time to invest in alterations. Chances are, you’re investing in a new dress or suit for the event. And achieving the ideal fit for your new garment is essential to looking your best.
- Favorite Garments: Do you have a favorite pair of jeans? Maybe a work suit that makes you feel comfortable and confident to take on the day? Getting some of your favorite pieces altered will make you look great in your favorite clothing items. Alterations will also ensure that your favorite pieces last longer.
If you give it a chance, alterations and tailoring can completely transform your wardrobe and elevate your style! Proper tailoring makes you feel taller, leaner, and more confident in your clothing. Follow the guidelines above to find a reliable tailor that you can depend on for all your alterations needs!
Thanks for the reminder that I should also consider the pick-up times when it comes to getting alterations. I’d like to look for such services soon because I missed the mark on the size of the suit that I bought for my husband as a gift. Its sleeves will have to be a bit shorter.
My cousin noticed a problem with the zipper on one of her formal dresses. Since she doesn’t want to purchase a new one before the next dance, she wants it repaired. Thanks for explaining that there are tailors that can provide alterations and help with her situation.
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It is wonderful that this post shared that when looking for clothing alterations, it is important for us to ensure the tailor is skilled. It makes sense as in doing so, it ensures that it is properly fitted. I will definitely consider having my suits altered instead of buying new pairs.
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Thanks for pointing out that the cost for altering gowns would be widely different compared to just jeans or blouses. In that case, I should ask around tailors near me to get their estimates and compare them with each other. I need to find the most reasonable rate to get my wedding gown altered, since it is a bit bigger than my size now that I lost weight.
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It’s good to know that formal dresses can cost up to $120. My fiance and I want to start working out some parts of our wedding budget, and since I need to get my dress tailored to fit me since it’s too big, I was wondering what I should estimate for our budget. I appreciate you helping me learn more about the cost of getting wedding dress alterations.