What is the Difference Between Alterations & Tailoring?
Ready-to-wear clothing and the fast-fashion revolution have created a huge need for alterations and tailoring. But, how do you know what services you need to elicit? Can you visit an alterations shop or do you need a tailoring expert? And what is the difference between alterations and tailoring?
Alterations vs. Tailoring
Tailoring: To start, tailoring refers to providing a custom fit for a piece of clothing and individual. A tailor is usually highly skilled and trained, usually involving an apprenticeship. The definition of to tailor: is to make (clothes) to fit an individual. Typically, tailoring is a term used to refer to major alterations performed on a garment, where a garment needs to be significantly reconfigured to properly fit an individual. A tailor is usually employed to handle complex alteration projects for suits or wedding dresses.
However, tailoring can also refer to the making/manufacturing of a custom-fit piece of clothing. For example, bespoke tailoring typically refers to the making of a suit based on the exact measures of a certain individual. Be sure to make this distinction when searching for tailoring services.
Alterations: Clothing alterations refer to manageable changes that need to be made to a garment to achieve the correct fit. Alterations usually reference:
- Adjusting Waists Lines
- Shortening sleeves
An alterations expert is also perfect for a simple fix like any clothing repairs or zipper replacements.
Understand the Limitations
It’s important to also understand the limitations regarding alterations and tailoring. Make sure that your garment fits you appropriately. A rule of thumb is to always buy or order bigger; tailors or seamstresses can easily take a garment in to allow for a better fit. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to get a garment to fit you correctly when it is already a size too small. But, don’t buy too big to where a seamstress or tailor will have to remake the garment to get it to fit you properly. We usually recommend buying no more than one or two sizes bigger.
Garments that are manufactured today have very little excess material at the seams, so the extra material that a seamstress or tailor has to work with to let out a garment is very limited as well. So, please remember to always buy bigger (but, not too big)!
Finding the Right Seamstress or Tailor for You
Finding the right seamstress or tailor for your particular needs is very important. We recommend doing some research on local providers and even trying some out with practice alterations. Also, make sure to keep in mind your needs as a customer. For example, if you’re looking for a sewist to help with your wedding dress alterations, you’ll need to find one with experience and a proven track record.
Another good way to find a trusted local alterations shop is to ask your friends and family or even trusted retailers in your area. You’ll be able to find the perfect seamstress or tailor to fit your needs in no time!
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I like that you mention that alterations to clothes refer to doable adjustments that must be made to a garment in order to obtain the proper fit. My sister claimed that her wedding gown was too large for her. I’ll advise her to have her dress altered so that it will perfectly fit her body.