Clients continually surprise/
shock me with their projects. Today it was a middle aged woman who wanted her very worn denim flared 28 inch length skirt taken in to make sure it “cupped” under her butt. She explained she is a professional dance competitor and needs her skirts to be tight at the top and flared at the bottom. Most of her time on the dance floor she is twirling and her clothes must reflect that feature. OK I get it. I start pinning out the 2 side seams complete with invisible zipper.
She, like many others begin by telling me that she could do this alteration herself if she had the time…great, we are not off to a good start here. Then she says she cannot imagine ANYONE wanting to be a seamstress for a career…how does that make me feel? Next, the woman watches me pin more and more fabric out to tighten this old skirt until the seams are squealing and she does a few twirls in the mirror and then drops this bomb: Well, I guess you SEEM to know what you are doing…SEEM? My answer was, “After 40 years I guess I have it down pat.”
She seems happy that I can accomplish what she wants and I ask her if she would like to test out the seams by sitting down and she refuses saying that she only stands in the skirt. She says this skirt has cost her a fortune over the years with taking it in and letting it out along with removing and re-attaching the zipper and facings. So how many times has she had it altered? Click on the photos for a glimpse of the former stitching lines:
I see 3 rows of black thread stitching with quite a curve down towards the many godets at the hem. You can see the pins which are the new stitching lines along with blue chalk lines. This alteration involves removing the zipper again and removing ALL the previous stitching to allow the seams to lay flat with serged edges.
Click on the photos to see close up views of old interfacing. Next I will fuse new interfacing (my favorite roll from Wawak) because the zipper will be farther away from the edge and being very old denim it needs to be reinforced. Ahhh that looks and feels better. Now it is ready to have the zipper hand basted and the seams hand basted to check for any problems. Also the edges all have to be serged and pressed flat.
The results will lay flat on the inside and allow her to have it altered again if she needs more room.
She asks for a price and I tell her normally to take out and replace a zipper is $16 and I will throw in the other side seam for free. She stops and says “I have NEVER paid that amount before!” Here is the real killer; I spoke to her other regular seamstress who told me she charges her $15 so a dollar more is too pricey. But her regular seamstress is backed up with jobs for a month and recommended me. Bummer, it is either wait a month or pay $1 extra for a 2 day turnaround, her choice.
Then we move unto the other dance skirts.
Twirling is a big deal and the other 2 polyester chiffony skirts measure 100 inches + in circumference but the linings only measure 60 inches. The skirts have godets (triangular wedges of fabric) so the hems flare quite a bit but the poor lining just hangs there flat. Her idea is to just cut into the flat fabric, not in the side seams, and add 4 triangles 10 inches wide and 14 inches long to make it flare as well. Since these will be attached to polyester chiffon, not a very strong fabric, I tell her the top points will have to have some fusible interfacing or silk organza to hold the new godets and then stitched on the side edges and then hemmed with the original hems. can you picture this? Can you estimate your time to measure and cut each godet, measure the exact locations on the chiffon lining, apply interfacing, attach the godets, serge the 8 raw edges, and hem all 4 pieces to match the original hems? She is standing there waiting for my answer. “Forty-five minutes from start to finish and that is pushing it” I tell her and she says “I can’t afford that and take the skirt off saying that she could do it faster. Okey Dokey. She tries on another similar skirt, once again chiffon needing godets in the lining and I say 45 minutes and she whips that puppy off to and folds it up to take home. Maybe this is supposed to make me drop the price but I am standing firm.
She tells me that she designs and makes all her other dancing skirts so I ask politely what do they look like. Her eyes light up as she explains that she takes a 28 inch square of fabric from JoAnn’s and cuts a round hole in the middle where her waist will go and then takes it to her regular seamstress to put in a zipper, make and attach a waistband, hem it and attach long chain fringe to the bottom….ahhh I say “It must be lovely” and she says she gets many compliments while she tells people she made it herself.
So in a couple days she will return to fetch her altered denim skirt ready for big time twirling and she will wait a month before returning to her regular patient seamstress waiting in the wings to whip up more “original designs” for her.
The rest of my week is a collection of women wanting high end suits altered, replacing linings in favorite jackets for husbands, my second bride of the season and a stack of newly purchased pants from a regular customer to be hemmed. And why would anyone want to be a seamstress?
Because it makes you feel good to make others happy and beautiful…simple.
P.S. Just finished the skirt and thought I would share the new zipper insertion and the full view. And the label? Ralph Lauren circa 19??.