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Monday, November 21, 2011

SHOPPING FOR YOUR GARMENTS

Some tips in shopping for garments – from budgeting to fit

1.        Go with a plan and/or color scheme.   
a.       What are your goals:  accessories, basic pants, something new, a new wardrobe, shoes, etc.  Go with a plan, leaving a little flexibility for that occasional awesome deal you happen to find.
b.      Bring with you either a color wheel, a small purse file of fabric color samples that you wear often, along with an idea/list of what colors you are trying to acquire or compliment from your current wardrobe.
c.       Plan ahead of time your budget and spending limit.  Then first focus on the items that are on your focus list.  If you still have plenty left to play with after finding the key items, then use the remaining funds to compliment what you are purchasing or what you already have in your wardrobe.
2.       Choosing your store
a.       I tend to enjoy shopping at Kohls for most of my wardrobe accessories because of the variety they offer, great sales and the best in pricing for clearance items.  But, that doesn’t mean one should focus on one store.  So, select the store(s) you enjoy shopping, then, be willing to expand outside your comfort zone into new stores to check out the amazing styles that you would have otherwise missed out on. 
b.      If it is in your budget for spending, and you find one top that captures your eye, take the time to try it on.  If it fits and looks amazing, albeit it may limit any further purchases, be mindful of the overall benefit you might obtain from that one purchase.
·         It fits and look amazing
·         You know that you can wear it more than once
·         It compliments your skin tone and hair color
·         It compliments your figure
c.       Even if you only find one item while out on your shopping trip, continue to browse and check out how the stores display the mix of texture and styles.  Think creatively as to how you might be able to do that with what you already have in your own closet. 
3.        Utilize the Fitting Room
a.       What looks amazing on a hanger might not look so amazing on you.  I’ve tried on clothing that I thought would look great, but once I tried it on I was not so impressed.  The fit, the cut, the color, and how it actually feels and looks on you will not be obvious on the hanger.  Sometimes, if the garment was not correctly cut right, it will feel awkward on you.
b.      While in the fitting room, make sure everything is secure, such as buttons, snaps, zippers, trim, etc.  Decide if it is still worth purchasing to later have it fixed.  Some stores, if you ask, will provide an additional discount to help defray the cost of the repair.
c.       As you try on your garments, those you immediately dislike how it looks or feels on you, put aside on one side of the fitting room.  Those that make you feel great and fit well, put them on the other side of the fitting room as your “yes” items.  Now, those you are not too sure about, either try on again after you have gone through the other garments to make a final decision, or put with the garments you have determined did not fit or look well on you.  Anything you have a questionable feeling about in the dressing room, runs the risk of taking up space in your closet and to never be worn.
d.      If you shop with a friend, spouse or child be brave and ask their opinion.  I have found that my daughters and husband to be quite honest.  Make sure you shop with a friend who is honest.  Remember, your clothing purchase is an investment towards your wardrobe in which you want to look great in
Some tips in shopping for garments – from budgeting to fit

1.        Go with a plan and/or color scheme.   
a.       What are your goals:  accessories, basic pants, something new, a new wardrobe, shoes, etc.  Go with a plan, leaving a little flexibility for that occasional awesome deal you happen to find.
b.      Bring with you either a color wheel, a small purse file of fabric color samples that you wear often, along with an idea/list of what colors you are trying to acquire or compliment from your current wardrobe.
c.       Plan ahead of time your budget and spending limit.  Then first focus on the items that are on your focus list.  If you still have plenty left to play with after finding the key items, then use the remaining funds to compliment what you are purchasing or what you already have in your wardrobe.
2.       Choosing your store
a.       I tend to enjoy shopping at Kohls for most of my wardrobe accessories because of the variety they offer, great sales and the best in pricing for clearance items.  But, that doesn’t mean one should focus on one store.  So, select the store(s) you enjoy shopping, then, be willing to expand outside your comfort zone into new stores to check out the amazing styles that you would have otherwise missed out on. 
b.      If it is in your budget for spending, and you find one top that captured your eye, take the time to try it on.  If it fits and looks amazing, albeit it may limit any further purchases, be mindful of the overall benefit you might obtain from that one purchase.
·         It fits and look amazing
·         You know that you can wear it more than once
·         It compliments your skin tone and hair color
·         It compliments your figure
c.       Even if you only find one item while out on your shopping trip, continue to browse and check out how the stores display the mix of texture and styles.  Think creatively as to how you might be able to do that with what you already have in your own closet. 
3.        Utilize the Fitting Room
a.       What looks amazing on a hanger might not look so amazing on you.  I’ve tried on clothing that I thought would look great, but once I tried it on I was not so impressed.  The fit, the cut, the color, and how it actually feels and looks on you will not be obvious on the hanger.  Sometimes, if the garment was not correctly cut right, it will feel awkward on you.
b.      While in the fitting room, make sure everything is secure, such as buttons, snaps, zippers, trim, etc.  Decide if it is still worth purchasing to later have it fixed.  Some stores, if you ask, will provide an additional discount to help defray the cost of the repair.
c.       As you try on your garments, those you immediately dislike how it looks or feels on you, put aside on one side of the fitting room.  Those that make you feel great and fit well, put them on the other side of the fitting room as your “yes” items.  Now, those you are not too sure about, either try on again after you have gone through the other garments to make a final decision, or put with the garments you have determined did not fit or look well on you.  Anything you have a questionable feeling about in the dressing room, runs the risk of taking up space in your closet and to never be worn.
d.      If you shop with a friend, spouse or child be brave and ask their opinion.  I have found that my daughters and husband to be quite honest.  Make sure you shop with a friend who is honest.  Remember, your clothing purchase is an investment towards your wardrobe in which you want to look great in versus insulating your closet.
4.       Basics versus accessories
a.       Some basics, but not limited to, would be a basic dress, skirt, blouse, pants, etc.  Something that you can mix and match with other pieces to create a variety of looks.
b.      The “basic black” dress might actually be “basic brown” for some.  What you are looking for in the basics is the simple line, a great fit, a color without distracting flowers or other designs.  So keep your basics simple.
5.       Accessory items
a.       If you are looking to accessorize a dress, wear the dress to the store(s) so that you can try on belts, scarves, jackets, etc.
b.      Bored with your basic suit that is well made with plenty of life?  Wear this suit shopping and look at a few different blouses/shirts that have color or a design that strikes your eye yet matches the basic suit.  By the way, this works for men as well.
c.       For men who are not comfortable with a design in their shirts, check out the ties.  Today there are some amazing colors and designs that can change a boring look to a striking one.  
d.      Belts can make a drastic change on how your garment looks.   A simple classic dress that you wear to work with or without a simple belt, can transform to a new look for going out to dinner.  For men, just having a new belt that is not worn can sharpen up your look from denim jeans to your dress slacks.
e.      Scarves can add a new dimension to your waist or neckline.  There are many options on how to wear a scarf, but try it on and play with it.  See how you feel wearing it.  Does it feel too bulky or make your waist look fuller than you had imagined, then despite how beautiful it is, you can decide if you still want it to wear or use as a decorative scarf for your home d├ęcor.
6.       As you go to the check-out - Re-evaluate your items. 
a.       Will you wear them?
b.       Will your items go with or compliment your current wardrobe or fit into your new adventurous look?
c.       Is it something that makes you feel good and know that you will wear. it  There's nothing better than having something new to perk you and your wardrobe up.
d.      If you are purchasing things that need alterations, are you financially prepared for the cost?  Or can you alter them yourself so that the cost fits into your overall wardrobe budget?
e.      Check the care tags.  Can they be easily cared for?  Do they need to be ironed, hand washed, dry cleaned?  Do these items fit into your time frame for cleaning as well as budget if they need to be dry cleaned?
f.        Does the store have a return policy?  Sometimes we shop on the way home from work or an appointment and we don’t have our colors in mind.  When you get home, check to make sure you will wear the garments.  If you didn’t try them on, make sure you try them on when you get home.  If you get home and find that it really doesn’t work well for you, then put back in the bag with your receipt and return as soon as you are able to return to the store.

Have fun shopping, enjoy your new wardrobe and look amazing with confidence!

Laura
Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties
~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~

Thursday, October 20, 2011

The Wrong Way To Hem


As we all try to stretch our dollars to make them go farther, there are times when one can actually be wasting them.

Recently I have been getting a variety of phone calls in reference to how much it costs to have a pair of pants hemmed.  The cost ranges based on what type of hem, type of fabric, whether they are lined, etc.  Pant hem costs can range from $18 to $35, sometimes more (yet rare), depending on what is entailed.

For many of my clients, this is a small price to pay for a pair of pants to fit them the way that fits their life-style, along with the ability to gravitate towards them when selecting what to wear for the day.  For other first time clients who are in need of hiring a seamstress/tailor, the price is too high.

But, for those who are trying to save financially, here are some of the things that they are doing to keep costs down, along with the cost of their choice:

  1. Not hemming and allowing their pants to drag on the ground.  This causes more damage than it’s worth.  If all you need is a 1” hem, by allowing them to drag, you are actually destroying the ability to have the hem fixed at a later time, at the proper length.  Also, it looks sloppy.  If you are in the position for a job, and it comes down to two candidates, the one with the pant hem dragging will be seen as sloppy and unorganized.
  2. Using Duct Tape.  This is a great option when you are a teen who is creating their own “look” that is worn to school as an expression of themself, around town or around the home.  It is not a great temporary fix for jeans or dress slacks that you wear to different functions and work.  Actually it will cost you more in the long run, as it will leave residue on your pants that is extremely difficult to remove, if at all.  If it can be hemmed, by removing the duct tape, cutting the hem then folding up before stitching, it will cost more.  The seamstress/tailor will need to calculate in the cost of the needle, because it is certain that his/her needle will be destroyed after working on your one pair of pants due to the sticky residue left, making it non-usable for future jean hems that might be in his/her pile of repairs.  There will be more work involved in hemming your pants that you might decide to just purchase a new pair.
  3. Using Self-adhesive Velcro.  I don’t know why this approach was taken, but I received a desperate call for help with the caller asking what she could do.  She was left with Velcro backing on part of her pants that she was having a difficult time removing.  The best advice would be to take them to the cleaners to see if they can remove the residue.  I personally will not provide the service to remove it.  When asked how much I would charge, I gave her my rate, with an “approximate” cost (since I did not know what was entailed).  I was told that she only  $25 on her pants.  This $25 pair of pants has now cost the client the cost of Velcro, time to iron on, time to remove, time to put through the washer, frustration/panic time, possible dry-cleaner time, with the possibility of having to toss a brand new pair of pants out to the landfill. 
  4. This new product called “Style Snaps”  I have seen this product advertised but have not used it myself.  I did have a client call me to alter her pants because the product did not work out for her, as the product did not adhere and stay put.  Still, I will not say the product doesn’t work, because I have not used it, yet have no intention of trying it either.  There is a reason that it is said “If it seems too good to be true, it probably is”.
  5. Cuff your pants.  This is not an uncommon decision for those who found their $10 jeans, they just purchased, on clearance.  Many times I recommend that they return them and purchase the right size at the correct length if they don’t like the cuffed look.
My reason for writing this is to educate.  I have no desire to make one feel as though their ideas are bad, or to make them feel they need to use my services.

The cost of purchasing a pair of slacks that are too long can include the travel time and alteration cost.  You could spend valuable time trying different quick fixes resulting in your need to toss them or decide to pay for the service so you can wear them.  Another option would be to have a family member or friend do the work as a favor (some are very good).  Or, let them hang in your closet a few years until you finally toss them out while you purchase a few more.

In today’s economy, it is wiser to purchase a sufficient amount of pants to get you through until your next wash day.  If you find a pair that fit well except for the length it is wise to have them hemmed.

Just like any job, any task you undertake takes a certain amount of time, which comes at a cost.  A seamstress/tailor, who is running a business, carries a certain amount of overhead including paying the taxes associated with it, which needs to be calculated into their costs or it becomes a hobby.   A hobby doesn’t pay the bills.

One way you can save on your alteration cost:  We all know that many retailers have sales.  We also know that retailers do not make a size that fits all, more often for women.  Consider waiting for the sale and use the savings towards the cost of the alteration.  But, don’t value the cost of your alteration on the cost you paid.  The goal is to look great in that fabulous pair of pants that makes you feel great wearing them.

Laura
Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties
~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What can be done to my Wedding Gown???

Can a gown be taken out?  Generally, with today’s off the rack styles, it is rare that there is sufficient seam allowance to do this.  I highly recommend NOT doing this if your gown only has a 5/8” seam.  It is better to find a gown that is slightly too big than to purchase something too small.  NOTE:  Always purchase a size based on your largest measurement!

It is important for clients to understand, that albeit opening up seams and creating a larger garment can be done, it is an expensive alteration request and there is no guarantee the dress will look like the original, as you have are now adding new seam lines.  So, with that in mind, here are a few options for taking your gown out:
  • I have added more room to a variety of gowns when the client has provided the same fabric so proper gussets can be added. 
  1. Some clients have brought me an identical gown for me to use the material to create the necessary gusset. 
  2. Or taking your gown to a quality fabric store or contacting the manufacturer of your gown and acquiring matching fabric
  3. Occasionally I will provide the service to search for the fabric.
  • Add a Corset - Another option many of my clients have requested is to add a corset in the back.  Corsets allow for slight fluctuations in body size.  This can be expensive as well; depending on what specifically is entailed.  But all my clients that have requested this service have been very pleased with the results.
  1. Matching or contrasting fabric needs to be acquired, along with the notions.
  2. The tie ribbon & loops can also be created when they can not be found already made.  This happens frequently with so many varied fabric textures and colors
Can you add a Modesty Panel?  Modesty panels are becoming a common request due to the many styles of gowns that have a very low cleavage cut.  Whether wedding or prom, many of the girls want their dads to see them in a more modest style, and others find it to be more flattering while not having to worry if too much is showing.

What type of bustles can be done?  Every dress & client is different.  There are many options to a bustle.  When the client has her dress on, I look at how the dress fits her, how it flows, etc.  Then I discuss with them what they envision their bustle to look as well as how they would like it to function.  If they have an idea in mind, I will pin the bustle to show them how it looks.  If I see another possibility, I will show them that look as well, so that they are able to determine which bustle suits them best.  The goal is to find what is appropriate for the style of the dress as well as the wearer of the gown.

Is there any other option other than a bustle?  Certainly. 
  • You can remove the train and create a straight hem for your gown.  This is a great option for the bride who doesn’t want things to be too complicated on her wedding day.  Discuss how this will be achieved with your seamstress, to be sure it is the style you desire.
  • Ask your seamstress to create a special wristlet made with fabric from your dress or a soft, matching fabric.  You can request one that is beaded, possibly using beads you provide.  This is a nice option for the moderate trained dress, allowing you to comfortably wear the loop while you dance, or when walking around, yet lets you decide when you want to let the dress hang naturally for pictures.
What other things can I do to my gown?  This is generally done for the one who wants their gown to be unique and different from anyone else who might wear the same dress.
  • Add/Remove trim and/or beading
  • Add/Remove sleeves
  • Add/Remove hem embellishments
  • Add/Remove embellishments throughout the dress
  • Add heirloom pieces into your gown (“something old”)
The options are endless.  Just discuss what it is you would like to have done with your seamstress.  A good seamstress will be open to your ideas and will discuss the pros/cons of how it will affect the look of your dress or whether it will work with the fabric and style of your dress.  But ultimately, the decision is yours.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Bridal, Prom & Other Formal Wear Alterations – What to Expect & What Will it Cost

Bridal, Prom & Other Formal Wear Alterations – What to Expect & What Will it Cost
By Laura D. Field of Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties

As a seamstress, there is nothing better than seeing a client leave with a smile knowing that you made their garment fit them the way they envisioned it to fit.  It’s a joy to see that the final look is flattering on them as well as makes them feel beautiful.

My services include a large variety of alterations and custom sewing, but this article is about altering the gowns.  The client is either arriving with a gown they spent many hours shopping for, an heirloom gown that was passed down to them, or having to wear a dress that was selected for them (re: bridesmaids).  My goal as a seamstress is to provide a fit that works for the dress and client.  Many times they have an idea of what they want, and as a team, I work with my client to reach their goal.  Sometimes, I might make a few suggestions, and sometimes I will suggest not doing something if the change is not that imperative to the occasion.

Many of my clients are repeat or recommended by my past clients.  But I do get many new clients who, for the first time, need a seamstress to alter their gown.  The first question I often get is “How much will this cost?” along with the added comment that “It just needs a few simple alterations”.  It is so difficult for a seamstress to provide an estimate over the phone without seeing the dress in person, the materials it is made out of, and how the dress is fitting the particular client.  Everyone is shaped different, making the same gown look different on each lady who wears it.  And, what might seem “simple” is actually a little more involved than what one would generally expect.

How to prepare for your fitting and alterations:
  • BRING the shoes that you plan on wearing, or at least a pair in the same height you expect to wear.  Change in height equals additional alteration costs
  • Wear/Bring your undergarments you plan on wearing.  Every undergarment is different and can add inches.
  • Bring along the required cash deposit
  • BE ON TIME – If you are late, and/or another client arrives on time, you risk the possibility of your appointment being rescheduled and possibly being charged for lost time.  Time is set aside specifically for you, to discuss what you want done, measure, pin, etc., to be sure I know what you are looking to have done so if can be done efficiently.  Call 24-48 hrs in advance to cancel your appointment.
What can you expect when you arrive for your fitting and alterations: 
  • Inspection of your gown to see what type of material I will be working with, how it is made, how it fits you, etc.
  • Discussion of what you are looking to have done.  This is your gown.  Since I am not wearing the gown I will need to understand what you specifically want done. 
  • I will always explain why I can’t do something you had your heart on, and offer an alternative, or suggest not doing it at all.  But in the end, it is your decision.
  • I will suggest what I see needing to be done, but you will never be pressured to use that suggestion.
  • You will leave with an estimate of your alteration costs.  This is just an “estimate” and could change depending on finding something I didn’t expect, you making changes, etc.
  • You will find that I want you to feel confident in knowing that I’m here to do a quality job for you.  You will be given my contact information so that you can reach me via phone or email for any questions you might have after you leave.
When Should I Book my First Fitting/Consult?
  • Brides - at least 6 weeks in advance
  • Bridesmaids, Mother of the Bride/Groom - at least 2 weeks in advances unless it is a little more detailed than the average dress
  • Flower girls - 2-6 weeks.  These little dresses range from simple to as elegant as the bride.  If it is a simple little dress 2 weeks, otherwise 6 weeks for the dresses that have lots of layers, beads, or any extra "fluff".
  • From March through July, add an extra 2 weeks.
  • Rush Fees are added to dress alterations where enough lead time is not given.

BUT, How Much Does It Cost??

This is a tough question to answer over the phone.  I don’t know until I see you, your gown, shoes you will be wearing, etc.

So, to help a little, this is what I share with those who are price shopping:



  •  Bridesmaids, Mother of the Bride/Groom, Flower Girls, and young ladies donning their Prom gowns, the average gown is $150
  • Bridal Gowns have an average of $350
Gowns Are Not All the Same:  I did a prom dress for $50, yet I’ve done prom dresses for $200 and some were $350 (the full, princess style gowns).  I’ve done bridesmaid dresses for less and others more.  It all depends on the dress, the client, and what needs to be done.

Bridal gowns do average $350.00.  I’ve recently done a bridal alteration for $150, yet I have a couple of dresses that I’m working on now that are over $600 in alteration costs.  How does it get to be so expensive?  It is all dependent on the type of fabric, how many layers that need to be hemmed, fullness of the gown, how many layers of tulle netting, type of bustle, type of fitting changes that need to be made, etc.  If everything needs to be done along with a lot of changes, the price will be higher than the average.

What I recommend if you are price shopping, is to understand that a seamstress that has been altering gowns for some time won’t be able to give you a blank price/quote.  It’s not that we don’t understand that you are working with a budget, but rather we understand the time involved in taking apart and remaking the gown for you and your unique specifications.  Select a seamstress you feel comfortable working with so that you can enjoy the experience of preparing for your wedding.