3 Simple Alterations That Will Transform Your Garment

"Nie Dobrze. No good!" called my coworker from across the room. She was a master tailor, and being ridiculously generous with her time to check my work. I jumped up from my sewing machine and met her in the middle of our work stations: at the pressing table. She laid out the pants I was assigned to tailor, pointing at the lines I drew. No good. She sprayed the chalk lines with water and rubbed them to erase them from the pants. I had used the wrong angle of the ruler when tapering the pants. She took out the chalk and the rulers and showed me again how to draw the correct angled line, one that would hold the integrity of the garment shape as well as properly hang on the body. We laughed at my error - it was something I continued to draw incorrectly. I thanked her furiously and went back with my new chalk lines to sew the alteration properly. 

I used to be a seamstress at a alterations business in Chicago. My coworkers came from all over the world and had mastered this beautiful craft. I began at this job hemming pants - the easiest alteration to perform - and worked my way up by eating up little golden nuggets that my coworkers dropped. I helped them with simple tasks and made sure they knew how respected they were, and they generously taught me tailoring processes. I worked hard enough to consider myself a junior tailor and could perform a few of the intermediate alterations on suits. 

At this job I was able to learn so much about the construction of a garment and all of the types of alterations to better fit ready to wear garments. Eventually I did get the hang of drawing tapering lines on suit pants. It's not as straightforward is it seems! It got me thinking though about the simple alterations that can really transform the look of a garment, and they're quick and affordable too!


Sometimes fitting something properly can really impact how we feel in it and often we wear it. These are a few alterations that are affordable, easy and quick, but that can transform a garment to fit your body. 

In an age of ready to wear, there is nothing quite like a garment that fits you

Hemming (pant bottoms and sleeves)

Wherever your pant hem falls should be intentional. If pants or sleeves are too long, it's very noticeable. A simple hem alteration can take a garment from looking sloppy and unprofessional to looking like it fits you. There are also different looks you can achieve depending on the length you choose. You can add a cuff, shorten it a bit more if you like having your socks show, make the hem a bit of an angle so it hits your shoes perfectly. It's a simple alteration that ends up saying a lot. 

Tapering Pants (or sleeves)

My favorite way to alter my garments is to taper them. This is an easy and cheap way to achieve a perfect looking fit. I often buy pants from thrift stores and taper them to fit me. You can also let pants out if they feel a bit snug, but usually only by less than an inch. Tapered pants or shirts offer definition and looks sharp on everybody. 

Taking in sides

You can very easily take in the sides of a dress or shirt to change the fit to suit your body. A tailor or seamstress will know how to pin you so that the definition is comfortable and flattering, and never too tight. Taking in the sides can make a garment look like it was made for you. CUTE! 

These are all simple alterations you can have done in a day (depending on where you go). I recommend going to a nearby tailor or dry cleaners because they are often both very skilled and fast. They will have you do a quick fitting and once you approve of the pin placement, they'll take your garment. Some places you can ask for a quick turnaround for no added cost, other places something like a same day alteration will have a small fee. 

In an age of ready to wear, there is nothing quite like a garment that fits you

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