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The Sew What’s New Archive

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: Eye
Date: 12-31-2006, 10:06 AM (1 of 8)
Hi there, I'm new here and just starting out.

I'm a self taught seamstress. My mom taught me some simple things when I was a child, and now I've spent the last 3 years doing piece work for a local company in my home. The problem I have is, the work has stopped, apparently my boss's clients are buying cheaper in China! Go figure!

Anyway, I'm hoping to try to learn how to do alterations. Is this something I can teach myself? Learn online? Or should I check for local classes? I can't seem to find any at this point.

Any advice is appreciated. I'm also going to start doing craft shows for extra money this year. Thanks!
User: Eye
Member since: 12-27-2006
Total posts: 1
From: lendube
Date: 12-31-2006, 11:56 AM (2 of 8)
HI Eye and welcome.

Boy, you should get some great answers from folks here.

I do minor alterations and just jumped in and did it. I have been frustrated out of my mind but just kept at it and learned a lot by just being stubborn and plowing through till I got it.

My toughest job so far has been to replace collar linings on uniform shirts. I know how to do it now though but I almost lost it more than once figuring it out!

Online is a great way to learn but books are invaluable and there are some good ones out there. Do a search on Amazon and you'll be able to "read" many pages of a book before actually buying it. (Oh, and go for the "used" books. They're often new and a fraction of the price.)

Good luck, Lennie
User: lendube
Member since: 08-06-2006
Total posts: 1548
From: Linda in Colorado
Date: 12-31-2006, 12:59 PM (3 of 8)
Lendube is correct -- and I think most of us learned alterations by the trial and error method. Just keep at it and you'll do fine.

If you run into trouble, ask on this list or on one of the other lists that are out there. Or better yet, see if someone in your area would be willing to give you some lessons on alterations -- sort of like sewing lessons, but for alterations.

Please keep us posted on your results.
User: Linda in Colorado
Member since: 03-27-2000
Total posts: 102
From: Helen Weiss
Date: 01-01-2007, 04:48 PM (4 of 8)
Good for you! I have had my own alterations business for the last five years, and have learned so much. Like you I am self taught, but there's nothing like learning on the fly. I did find a couple of books that have been a great resource for me - especially for things like shortening lined jacket sleeves with mitred corners. The names of the books are "Altering Women's Ready to Wear" and "Altering Men's Ready to Wear" by Mary Roehr. They are out of print, but I have seen them listed on ABE (Advanced Book Exchange) website. She also did an invaluable book on running your own sewing business that has great pricing guidelines. The members of this forum have helped me out of some sticky problems and had great solutions that I would have never thought of. My current problem is one of my own making. I have developed firstly tendonitis in my right hand and now arthritis has set in. I was working for too many hours a day with not enough breaks. Be careful and good luck!
User: Helen Weiss
Member since: 10-16-2003
Total posts: 69
From: sewinglady4u
Date: 01-01-2007, 08:42 PM (5 of 8)
Hi. Good for you wanting to go into alterations. Lots of work out there for it. The way I learned was to go to work in an alterations shop. It opened my eyes big time in the proper way to do them. And when you know the proper way, you can do them way faster.

Before I went to work at the shop, I did alterations at home learning as I went, and it was so frustrating. I mean, I knew how to sew something from the fabric to the finished product, but alterations are another animal completely. One thing for sure, you cannot be afraid to tear something apart to do the job right.

Also, I learnt a lot about the types of machines to use. The right machines make all the difference.

Good luck in your venture. You have a great support system on this site.

User: sewinglady4u
Member since: 10-07-2005
Total posts: 18
From: VenusElaine
Date: 01-02-2007, 02:06 PM (6 of 8)
I, too, learned most of my specialized sewing skills (home dec, upholstery, and alterations) "on the job".
Remember the purpose of alterations is to change the fit of a garment without changing the style (unless the client requests it, and "re-designs" cost more than "alterations").
I believe the two books mentioned above can still be ordered from one or more of my tailoring suppliers. I won't be back at work til Thursday, so if you can't wait, check: Banasch's, Atlanta Thread, Solo, & SewTrue. They are all online and sell to the public. They also have a variety of other books that will help with pricing.
Good Luck! Keep us informed!

"Always put as much effort into your marriage as you do into your wedding."
User: VenusElaine
Member since: 10-22-2005
Total posts: 126
From: lendube
Date: 01-02-2007, 05:22 PM (7 of 8)
I found all three books mentioned on There are used versions, cheaper, as well. The women's alteration book is still $25.00 plus shipping or so but it's a big 190 pg book.

User: lendube
Member since: 08-06-2006
Total posts: 1548
From: VenusElaine
Date: 01-06-2007, 08:27 PM (8 of 8)
I checked today and my latest catalog from Atlanta Thread and Supply lists both books. They are at:
Men's is $15.45, Women's is $16.50.
There are others you may be interested in as well.

"Always put as much effort into your marriage as you do into your wedding."
User: VenusElaine
Member since: 10-22-2005
Total posts: 126
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