Saturday, January 28, 2012

Deciding when to alter a garment - educating the customer

Men slacks with shorten cuffed hem

Jean hem shorten to look like original
Throughout the course of a day or week, I receive a variety of phone calls from clients looking to have a variety of alteration work done.  It ranges from a simple hem to replacing thick leather jacket type zippers, among the many other type of inquiries.

Unfortunately I cannot possibly know for certain what each item will cost until I see the garment/item.  But, for those who are ready to run over with the basket of clothing or a pair of jeans they just received at an incredible deal, I share with them that my hems range starting around $20.  For some this is too much.  But, what it does do is allow them to take a look at what they have and decide if the cost outweighs the value of their garment/item.

This provides me the opportunity to educate my potential client.  Using jeans as my example; depending on how much of a hem change needs to be made on the jeans, depends on how much time is involved.  It's not always about cutting and hemming, but rather removing the secure jean type stitching, measuring and remeasuring to make sure I am placing the hem where the client has chosen for the length they chose to wear them at.

There is more to a hem than sitting at a machine and stitching.  These are the steps for pant hems (not including overhead costs):
  1. meet with the client  - sometimes they have already pinned the garment and other times I need to spend 15 min fitting to the shoe height they desire to wear their pants with.
  2. determine if the hem can be cut off, or stitches need to be removed
  3. if applicable, remove the old stitching
  4. cut the excess off
  5. refold, add bias tape, etc...whatever is needed to prepare for the new hem
  6. either machine stitch, jean stitch, blind stitch or hand stitch in place.
  7. put thread into machine and replace needle to make sure there are no burrs to snag material from over-use of a previous order (or thread a needle if hand stitching)
  8. press the hem
  9. double check to make sure the length is accurate
  10. create their invoice, email (sometimes followed up with a phone call) and schedule a meeting for them to try on and pick up their garment(s)
  11. hang garment(s) and clean up to prepare for next sewing or alteration job.
Not everyone is willing to value the work that goes into making their garment fit them well, as they look at the cost they paid and subconsiously have decided what they are willing to pay.  Yet some will take the time and rationalize that "well, I paid $120 for these dress slacks, I want them done well", or "I got a great deal, it is worth the extra that I saved to get the length I need", etc.  While others will not take the time to understand that my time is invested on their behalf so that they look great!  People work hard for their earnings and there's nothing more discouraging when, no matter how much or little, realize that their awesome deal will cost them more than a few dollars to fit well.

My goal as a seamstress, whether creating from materials and patterns, heirlooms from a wedding gown, applying military patches or even the basics of hemming jeans and replacing zippers, is to provide a quality service that makes the customer leave knowing that I care about how they look or feel about their final product. 

I want my customers to feel good about the value of service they are receiving from my seamstress skills.

Davina Dawn Sewing Specialties
~ Putting Thread to Fabric ~

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