Do you have clothing that does not fit correctly? This is where clothing alterations are needed. Have you wondered who or where to take these items? Not everyone has a seamstress on speed dial. Most do not even know professional seamstresses or tailors in their area.

There are a few things to consider when searching for a seamstress or tailor.

What to Wear for a Clothing Alterations Fitting Session

What you wear at the time of your fitting session is important. Here are a few things to pay attention to as you prepare for your alteration fitting session. If your selected provider does not mention these things, please consider using someone else. These may not be important for hemming jeans, but they will make a difference in fit on many items, especially in women’s wear pieces.


Undergarments impact the fit of the garment. They can change how the garment hangs on the body.

Please wear (or bring with you) all the undergarments you will wear with the garment. This includes any body shaping or tucking pieces.

For suiting alterations, this includes any undershirts (with or without sleeves) or camisoles.


The shoes you wear for your fitting are very important. They can impact how the garment flows as you move.

You should wear the shoes that you will wear with the altered garment.

Prominent Accessories or Accent Pieces

Prominent accessories can impact the garment’s alteration needs.

Please bring with you all accent pieces and prominent accessories. These will give you and your seamstress or tailor a visual of how they work with the alterations. This includes excessively large jewelry items, hats, sashes, etc.

For suiting alterations, this includes neckties or bowties.

Alteration shops should have a changing area. Dress comfortably because you will change into the items needing alterations once you arrive.

Do not wear any item being altered to your fitting session because these are left with the alterations shop. If you do, please have alternative clothing to wear.

Your First Clothing Alterations Fitting Session

Your first time seeing a seamstress or tailor can be intimidating and stressful. You may know that the fit is incorrect but you do not know how to fix it. This is where your provider will help you understand how the garment should fit.

A good seamstress or tailor can help you alter the fit to help you achieve your personal style. The confidence a good alteration provides helps you build your personal wardrobe as the transformation of fit occurs.

Clothing Alterations Costs and Turnaround Time

A general concern for alteration services is the costs. Each change incurs some cost and each change made to the original fit of the garment, the more expensive the alterations become.

Typical alterations can take 1-2 weeks to complete.

Bridal fashions, especially bridal gowns, will take longer.

Express service for something under 4 days will usually have an additional charge.

Bring your questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

The purpose of clothing alterations is to improve how you feel about the fit of the garment. Ask as many questions as you need to.

Not sure what size to buy?

If you are not sure what size to buy, it is best to ask questions. Most seamstresses will take measurements at no cost or minimal cost to you. Having your measurements will make it easier to find the proper size. Just ask. 

In between sizes?

If you are in between two sizes it is often better to choose the larger size and have it altered down. 

You can increase a dress by 1 size or decrease it by 2 sizes without major recuts to the garment. These recuts increase the cost of your alterations.

Remember that with clothing alterations, you are paying for the seamstress or tailor’s time and skill. In addition, you pay for materials to complete the alterations, machine usage, and time required to fit the garment to your body. These charges apply regardless of the original price of the garment.

  • Ann Walmsley

    Owner & Master Seamstress

    As the owner, master seamstress, designer, and instructor of elegant Annswers, she has been sewing for over 30 years. Always learning and taking classes to stay up to date on new techniques in the sewing world to be able to offer new services to better serve my clients.