Tips for Choosing the Right Seamstress or Tailor


A good seamstress or a tailor can “magically” fix an ill-fitting dress or conjure something that once only existed in your mind. But how do you pick the right person for your dress? How exactly is a seamstress different from a tailor? How can you ensure the finished product you’re expecting looks perfect on you? Here, we help decode these questions!

What’s the Difference Between a Seamstress and a Tailor? 

A seamstress or a seamster is a person whose occupation is sewing, whereas a tailor is someone who alters clothes or creates them from scratch. Whereas a seamstress is known to work primarily with seams, fabrics, and hemlines, a tailor’s occupation usually revolves around creating or altering custom-fit clothing. For instance, you might go to a seamstress or a tailor if you want to get the fitting of your wedding dress right. But if you’re looking to create a dress from scratch, going to a tailor would be your best option. 

How to Choose the Right Seamstress or Tailor? 

How do you know which tailor or seamstress is right for you? Here are some ways to find out:

First, Understand Your Specific Needs 

How exactly do you envision your dress to be? Are you looking for just a few simple alterations? Do you want to transform the layout of your evening gown? Is there a unique design in your mind that you want to bring to life? Different tailors have different niches they specialize in. Once you determine your exact needs, you can start looking for a tailor who is an expert in that area.  

Determine the Overall Cost

Once you have concrete specifications about your dress, the next step would be to determine the overall cost of the work you need to be done in detail. While no tailor can give you a precise number for the total cost (because costs vary based on the project’s complexity), they can still give you a rough estimate. This can ensure that the tailoring services you choose fit your budget.

Perform a Test Run

If you need some complex alterations to be made but find it difficult to settle with one seamstress, you can always start with basic alterations. Bring a dress that requires simple altering work the first time to meet your seamstress. This can help you determine if she’s the right fit for you before you give her the entire responsibility of your dress. 

Don’t Hesitate to Ask Questions

Your dress naturally means the world to you. Perhaps you have an important gala event to attend in a few months. Or, you just want to make sure you look picture-perfect on your prom night. Whatever your needs, don’t hesitate to ask questions about the turnaround times, price, fabrics, and more whenever anything pops into your mind. A good tailor would understand your needs. They would want to know exactly what you’re looking for, so you’re fully satisfied with the finished product.

Ask Around

Word-of-mouth is often the best route to determine which tailor or seamstress would be perfect for you. Ask your friends, family, or coworkers where they usually get their clothes done. Or run a quick Google search such as “tailors near me” and sift through reviews, testimonials, and examples of completed work. Once you complete your research, the next step would be to… 

Gauge Your Tailor’s Experience

For how long has the tailor or seamstress been in business? What experience do they have? You want to choose someone who has a large client base and clearly grasps what you’re saying. An experienced seamstress will also make communication a lot easier and deliver the work before the promised deadline. 

Find Out If They Sew for All Sizes

A good seamstress knows how to sew for all shapes and sizes. They won’t turn a customer away because “they don’t work with certain body types.” What’s more, an experienced tailor should be able to tell you if a specific type of cut would work for you or not. It’s easy to fall in love with a dress from a fashion magazine and create unrealistic expectations. However, the right seamstress takes the time to explain why a certain style may or may not work and give you a better alternative instead!

Questions to Ask Beforehand 

Here are four questions to ask your tailor or seamstress to ensure you get a gorgeous finished product.

Q1. Is it possible to sew the dress I’m envisioning?  

The answer to this question typically depends on factors like the availability of the fabric, your expectations, your budget, the complexity of the fitting, and more. A good tailor will often need to see a concrete list of specifications before they make any promises. 

Q2. How long will it take?

Once you lay out what you need, your tailor should be able to give you an idea as to when you can receive your dress. This timeline can depend on factors such as how busy your tailor is and the complexity of the work itself. It is often recommended to go to your tailor a few months in advance if you have an important event coming up.

Q4. Do you work with fabrics of all types?

Different fabrics require different levels of expertise. If you’re planning to have something sewn using a special material such as silk fabric from Sartor, ask your seamstress if she has experience handling similar types of fabrics. An experienced professional will be skilled at handling any fabric they’re presented with. If your tailor can’t answer this question, you might want to look elsewhere. 

What Can You Expect at Fittings? 

No seamstress can sew something without a fitting. Even the slightest change to a dress can either make it far more flattering or downright undesirable. The first fittings often deal with smaller changes including adjusting the hems and changing the length of the sleeves.

If you notice anything off at this point, make sure you announce it right away. You can even take multiple photos to keep track of the process. After the first fittings are complete, it’s time for your tailor to focus on larger alterations. This involves adding some lace to the neckline, changing the length of your skirt, replacing the buttons, and more.

Complex changes, such as adding a detachable train to a wedding gown, often cost more and take longer to complete. If you’re planning to wear heels with your outfits, make sure you take those to the fittings as well to determine the right length of the dress. In most cases, the finished product looks exactly the way you expected it. But if you notice something is missing, make sure you point out the problem instantly.

A Final Word 

Sure, teaming with a seamstress is a great way to get an impeccable fit. However, this journey can sometimes seem tedious and even risky. What’s more, complex alterations can often cost just as much as the outfit. 

If you don’t particularly look forward to getting a dress fixed, you can always buy a new one. This is where New York Dress can help save the day with a wide variety of high-end designer dresses that fit all shapes and sizes. Explore our collections – from evening wear to cocktail dresses to wedding gowns and every stylish outfit in between – to get the dress of your dreams!

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