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This archived content is from Mary Wilkins’ sewing and quilting message board “Sew What’s New,” which was retired in August 2007. It is being provided by “Sew What’s Up,” which serves as the new home for many members of “Sew What’s New.”
From: MaryW
Date: 03-22-2004, 11:35 AM (1 of 4)
This lady needs help, please respond if you can. Thanks.


Sorry to disturb you, but I need your advice as a specialist very much. I am from Ukraine, I finished where an industrial college, and my primarily job is a dressmaking. After that I worked some years on the sewing factory. I know the process of dressmaking from A to Z.

When I came in US, more than a year ago I could find a job in a small sewing shop, but after couple of months I understood that $20 per day was a maximum I could get.

Now I want to try to sew by myself. Therefore I need some of your help and advice. I saw your Web site and found many interesting very useful information.

I have two questions for you I want to ask:

1. I saw on your web site the prices about tailoring work, but what are the most typical prices for alterations?

2. I heard that it is possible to sew some small number of, for example child dress, and sell is to some store. Could you recommend me what store may require such service?

Thank you very much

owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
From: Linda in Colorado
Date: 03-22-2004, 02:54 PM (2 of 4)
Welcome to the US!

Pricing for alterations varies a lot from area to area within the US. Most alterations you would be doing would be shortening hems in skirts and pants, shortening sleeves and replacing zippers. There are other things you might be called upon to do, but those are the main ones usually needed.

Depending on where you are located, you should probably charge $7.50 and up for each service, depending on the amount of time it takes you and the difficulty of the needed alteration. The more time it takes you to do it or the more difficult it is, the more you should charge. If you are replacing a zipper, remember to charge for the zipper, too.

$20.00 a day tops, is highway robbery, in my estimation, at least. I have a feeling that the owners of the shop where you worked were taking advantage of you and the fact that you are new to this country. Most of us are more fair than that. Honest!

Talk with some others in your area who do alterations, either for a shop or from their home or studio. Most of us who sew for a living are generous with our advice to others who sew.

If you are wenting to sew on speculation then you will have to talk with local shops to see if any would be interested in taking your creations to sell in their shops. You should take along some samples of your work so they know what you are doing.

Best of luck to you. Please keep us posted on what you decide.
User: Linda in Colorado
Member since: 03-27-2000
Total posts: 102
From: MartySews
Date: 03-22-2004, 04:25 PM (3 of 4)
Twenty dollars for an 8 hour day is not even the required minimum wage according to US Federal Laws. Whoever told you that was not an honest person and is trying to take advantage of you. Keep away from unscrupulous people like that. I have a friend that teaches Beginner Sewing Classes at a local Hancock Fabric store. She is paid $90 for 12 hours of lessons per student. She averages 4 students per class which makes her salary $30 per hour. She teaches 2 hours a week for a 6 week class. This is the standard in our area. My DD is studying Russian and I pay her tutor $45 for a 90 minute lesson each week. Please know that there are places in the US where you can be treated fairly.

When I sewed for other people, I charged $20 per pattern piece and the customer supplied the pattern and fabric. I supplied everything else. However, I charged for fittings, shopping, and extra embellishments. Enjoy sewing for others or working in a fabric shop (not a sweat shop) and charge a fair wage. You can find information in the public libraries or talk with someone who is in the American Sewing Guild ( or a member of the Professional Association of Custom Clothiers (PACC). The Home Sewing Association also may be of help to you ( Happy Stitching! Marty :cool:
It takes one moment to change a life.
User: MartySews
Member since: 02-23-2003
Total posts: 504
From: MaryW
Date: 03-22-2004, 06:12 PM (4 of 4)
Wonderful responses, thank you ladies. :up:
owner/editor of Sew Whats New
User: MaryW
Member since: 06-23-2005
Total posts: 2542
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