Happy President’s Day! Hopefully everyone had a wonderful Valentine’s Day yesterday. You are either off from work or at work because of the holiday. In today’s piece we hope to continually demystify the industry and provide more relevance to why individuals should have a good tailor, how to choose one, and why clothing should be tailored to fit your style.
You have more than likely heard of these individuals before; Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and George Washington. Have you heard of Martin Greenfield? Maybe not. Mr. Greenfield was the master tailor for most of our commanders-in-chief including our latest President Obama, Bush, and Clinton.
At Cheung’s Tailor Alterations we too are master tailors. Though we have yet to tailor our nation’s president’s, we have tailored to many of Minnesota’s Fortune 500 executives, large corporations and small business owners. From large to small projects a master tailor should help you accomplish most of your custom/ alteration needs. The point is, your profession matters and we all wear things differently. Fit may not matter for some, but for some your attire shows the type of individual you are and how you present yourself.
Recently a client had asked what separates us from a tailor you would usually find at a mall, at home or at the dry cleaners.
Though there are many exceptions we don’t wish to offend anyone reading this piece but to educate. There is a big difference between mall tailors (chain ones), at home tailors, and dry clean tailors. We hope not insinuate that they are not master tailors, but hope to walk you through a though process of how to choose for one. Having a good tailor can change your entire style, look, and feel – which all come down to how well it fits and whether you are comfortable in what you wear.
There are individuals who can sew, those who are able to hem pants, sew on a button, and even replace a zipper. But when it comes to intricate redesigning there are also individuals who are able to follow patterns. For a master tailor this is craftsmanship and attention to ever little detail. The type of needle used, threading, speed, materials etc. Not only can something be made from scratch but made back into an original to fit you. Every body type, curvature, rise etc. vary this is why it a master tailor is able to help you with measurements and tailor it to your fit.
It is unfortunate, but probably one in 50 garments that we receive come damaged from another tailor beyond repair (Happens more often during the spring and summer time). Remember once the fabric is cut there is only so much we can do. There are always other options. Days like a wedding are one of the biggest days of your life having professional alterations is very important. To individuals working for a chain it’s a job. To put your garment together and send it somewhere off site. Some may have a tailor.
Here is a piece damaged by an inexperienced tailor: The blue pair on the bottom is the sample our client brought to us, the grey one above was tailored by another shop. Frustrated he asked if we could fix it. He had originally only wanted a hem. But the previous tailor didn’t know how to take up the hem since the pant legs had a tapered fit making it uneven. So they tapered the entire leg bottom to accommodate just for the hem. He was unable to wear them anymore. The previous tailor shop utilized the incorrect sewing machine and did not even match the colored threading. The threading on the right pant leg shows through the top of the pant leg as you may see individual “black dots.”
This is a before picture:
The below picture after a lot of consideration and opening both pant legs we were able to reconstruct the entire pant leg with the remaining fabric. We expanded the middle seam as much as possible and also lengthened it back to the correct length. The right leg in this picture is the length our client wanted. As you may now tell the legs are even and parallel in with from the pair below. We matched the stitching as well. But due to the damage from the previous tailor shop we need to remove the previous fabric.
This is an after picture:
At Cheung’s Tailor Alterations this is our business and we place our clients first. The above is a great example of a challenge. So when it comes to a mall/ drycleaner they may be skilled in minor alterations may even be expert material. Ask questions, look for a portfolio, try something minor. But here even something minor came out very poorly done. So we have comprised a small list of things to think about:
- Reviews matter: Alterations are not generic, so working on each piece can vary. If you heard it through a friend, as questions. If you find a tailor online check out their reviews. But do not look at them superficially as it is written. Every situation is different, some clients may be unhappy. But give them some benefit of the doubt. Call and speak with them about it. Whether you enjoy your tailor or not could just be a misunderstanding of a review. But reviews do not speak as highly as the following two: Your friends and a portfolio.
- Friends/ References: Like your job, a friend generally would be less likely to advocate for something they had a good experience about. But talk to more people they had a bad experience with. Friends and references are a great choice in the service industry. Maybe even ask them if they’ve heard that certain tailor.
- Work Portfolio: Friends and reference advocate for you and so do reviews. But having a portfolio speaks a lot about the different styles, work, design and individuals the tailor has worked with. At Cheung’s Tailor Alterations we currently have a portfolio of couple hundred clients just some of the dress alterations in the past few years. Maybe you’ll find a friend. It does not offend us if you decide not to have something altered. At Cheung’s Tailor Alterations we provide free consultation. We just want you to have the knowledge of how to choose the right one. Think about what you want: Is it price? Quality? Turnaround time? Ask a lot of questions to any tailor you meet.
- Dry Cleaners: We’d tell you to skip them, having a shop allows for a client to not only try on their garments but to help you think about what may need to be altered. But we are an advocate for small businesses please check. It may be something you’d like for minor alterations like your jeans. At Cheung’s Tailor Alterations our tailor and experts are here to help you perform measurements, look at the material, and think about what you may or may not need altered. So again ask questions, do they know how to measure your inseam, rise, out seams. Do they know if your garment can be tailored.
- Talk with the tailor, not at them: Yes tailors know a lot. But telling them how much your garment costs does not change the reasons for alterations. Whether jeans are worth $300.00 or $15.00. Either you’ve tried it on already at home or you need an expert opinion during the fitting an expert tailor should be able to tell you what looks good, but remember in the end it’s how you feel. You make the ultimate decision. Unless you are a 110% certain what you need done with your garment it may be a good choice to ask. What do you think?
- Cost of Your Garment: Noted in #5. We know. Having something mass produced overseas or in the United States is much cheaper when they are able to cut everything the same. This is what we call garments that are off the rack. But we are all different in shape and sizes. It comes down to how much you value your piece. It may be a new blanket needing a seam hemmed. Or it may be something from a great grandparent. Cost of alterations many times exceed the cost of the garment. It could be resizing something you find at a consignment or something brand name. Most of the time we are able to help you think of alternatives, more inexpensive options.
- Department Stores: Though there aren’t many that are around anymore. Many just point them to other tailors especially those connected to a mall. Many may be inexperienced or know just enough to pass by. Care for your garment should be a number one priority. They most likely won’t take special care with your garment as a privately owned tailor shop would.
- Start Simple: If a portfolio isn’t enough or your friend’s recommendation. Start simple. Get to know your neighborhood tailors. Ask them about the work they do, challenge them with an idea you have. Bring in a garment to ask for their opinion. Bring in a pair of pants to hem to check out the quality.
- Availability: Yes its true good tailors take time. Master tailors can do it quickly as well, but that too takes time. But never should it take months, unless it’s custom made. Just because a tailor can sew doesn’t mean they know how to make you look good. Give them a call, it may be a busier season during the summer for weddings or winter time for jackets. Just ask questions.
- You: We are all unique. You may want a large shop with a good ambiance. Or you may be fine with just a tailor you’ve never met at the cleaners. Or you may just want a master tailor who understands your style. Price isn’t everything. But when it comes to your clothing the tailor who is able to provide you with what you need such as price, quality, and time. Cheung’s Tailor is here for your questions.
So if you haven’t already wondered why are we telling the public this? Because we care. Locally and nationally hopefully this will help someone choose the right tailor.
Thank you for reading this. Happy Presidents Day! Remember you don’t need to be the president or a model. Be you. Be comfortable in what you wear and remember choose the right tailor. If you decide we are the one, we’ll be your master tailor any day.
Check out our next blog post about Prom Dress Tailor