About Clothing Alteration

by Mimi Abney

Whether used to contour and shape a couture garment or hem a basic pair of pants, clothing alterations are necessary to improve the quality of a garment. Your local neighborhood seamstress and the master tailor of a bespoke suit both provide alteration expertise based upon price, knowledge of materials and their years of experience. If you are looking to start a clothing alteration business or want a few key tips to find the best tailor for your budget, its best to research the best clothing alteration options in your neighborhood and online.


When home economics was a required course in high school, most adults learned basic sewing skills. Today freelance seamstresses and tailors are a big part of the retail economy, as they provide alteration services for dry cleaners, department stores and bridal salons. The cost of clothing alterations vary based upon the type of services performed.


Clothing alterations are performed to fit a garment to a person’s body. Expert clothing alterations can hide problem areas on the body and reduce inches without the use of shape wear or dieting. Instead of purchasing new clothes, bargain-lovers can apply minimal alterations to their existing clothing to update their old clothes effortlessly and inexpensively.


Clothing alteration services vary based upon the type of garment and the material used. Sewing professionals and people performing alteration services are divided into distinct categories: bridal, couture, custom, costume, leather and suede, and museum or restorations. Specific training is required by each professional to master the techniques used to sew complicated garments by hand and sewing machine. For example: a French couturier will retain a dedicated group of seasoned professionals who know how to drape, cut and alter a garment without ruining the fabric.


Replacing a broken zipper, repairing torn sweaters or ripped jeans, and adjusting the hems of skirts and pants are also considered clothing alterations. According to RealSimple.com the average price for alterations include: $19 to shorten a sleeve, $ 7 to $10 dollars to hem a pair of pants, and $23 dollars to shorten the sleeves on a jacket. If your dry cleaner damages your clothing during an alteration, you are only legally entitled to the fair market value of the garment before it was damaged.

Expert Insight

Minor alterations to an inexpensive garment can upgrade the design and construction from cheap to moderately expensive. Unlike most entrepreneurial enterprises, a clothing alteration business does not require a college degree or fancy office space. Other than a sewing machine and basic materials, the cost to open an alteration business is minimal. If you are looking to start your own clothing alterations business, apply for an apprenticeship with an expert, in addition to completing sewing coursework at a technical school or community college.

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About the Author

Mimi Abney is a lifestyle writer specializing in online content for women. Her work has appeared in NewsOK.com and "Keepsake Magazine," among other publications. With over 15 years of writing and editing experience for the web and print, Abney is also a contributor to online health, beauty and fashion publications. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology from Spelman College.