It’s a Circus

A very sweet lady phoned me to ask if I would have time to repair her husband’s “favorite” jacket. Now many of you may know that a husband’s favorite jacket is sacrosanct and must be preserved and guarded at all cost. So it was no surprise when she described this as a “lining project”. Another seamstress referred her to me as she does not do this type of repair…she is smarter than I am at times.

I agree to see she and the husband the following day after the woman’s regular hair appointment at a salon. So the day of the appointment in walks the cutest little roly-poly lady with the most outstanding hair-do I have ever seen on a woman way past retirement age. Picture Cindy Brady from the Brady Bunch with totally grey white hair complete with pigtail ribbons.

Yes, this grown woman was the exact copy of this little girl and she explained that she used to take care of the children in the midway…the midway…did this woman work traveling carnivals? Not quite she was an entertainer at Circus Circus and she was voted employee of the month and year many times. The award was always a jacket: And at some point she asked for a jacket to fit her husband and he fell in love with this one. The only problem is loving a jacket means wearing out the lining and then looking for a seamstress who wants to make a pattern, and replace it…enter moi. I realize that the entire lining is gone, sleeves and all. I explain to them both that the labor alone may cost more than the jacket itself and the husband starts to pout. His bottom lip juts out and he sulks. That’s when “Cindy” says “oh, he pouts all the time and I make him put 25 cents in a jar every time he does it. Last year I ended up with $200 in pout money”. Have you ever heard anything like that? Well, they agree that any amount I charge will fulfill this man’s dreams of a restored jacket and the pout disappears.

Do clients realize what goes into making a new lining? Apparently not as the dry cleaners who told them to just tear out the old one and then refused to make a new one were clueless. I feel sorry for old folks who are told bad instructions and are left holding the bag/jacket. So first things first, I measure the jacket and then trace out a pattern pulling all the ribbed areas out to full width. Here is where I started:

  Polyester lining is cut and assembled and inserted along with minor repairs to ragged pockets and broken seams along the way. No sense putting in a nice new lining and leaving pockets with holes and gaping seams is there? The center seam of the back section is given a wide (2 inch) pleat for ease of movement and I remember to stitch it first be leaving the pattern paper on while I serge the first seam.   And then using the sewing machine to actually make the neck and waistband pleat seam: 

If you don’t add a center back pleat you may have the client back within a year with a torn lining…Oh we don’t want that!!! A couple of hours later we have a finished project that will give this man more good years of pleasure and some place to store his wrinkle straw wrappers and used tissues.


So for those of you who have wondered about the twirly denim skirt saga…the woman called to say she would come by at 4 pm to get her skirt. She asked again for the 4th time what the price would be and then said she did not want to see me at the door and that I could just put the skirt outside and she would leave the money.

Well, Mrs. Mole does NOT play that game especially with this little filly. I said I was home all afternoon and would meet her myself.

She walks slowly and arrives looking totally different from the first meeting…how so? Well gone is the Rita Hayworth wig of raven tresses, stage make-up and false eyelashes and high heel boots. This women walks up my pathway looking like she has had a hard weekend as my brother says “trying to keep up with the big dogs”.

My husband who was tending his seedlings on the windowsill shelf in his front office noticed that she walked like my mother, very unsteady unbalanced and taking very short steps like an 86 year old. Strange composure for a professional dance competitor isn’t it? Well, I show her all I did to her skirt inside and she keeps shaking her head telling me that she would have done the job exactly the same way. I show her the receipt where I list one hour’s work while charging her for 30 minutes and she tells me that I did not need to list everything. Then she says “I will not be using you again as you are TOO professional for me and too experienced”. Trying with all my might to be polite I respond, “well it is bridal season now and I will not have time for regular alterations anyway.

These types of customers make me want to hug all my regular ones who smile and are happy they have me! Every once in a while maybe we all need a bump in the road to appreciate the smooth?

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6 Responses to It’s a Circus

  1. prttynpnk says:

    I’m totally picturing Aunt Pitty-Pat from Gone with the wind when you describe the curls. Well, I salute you, ‘too professional’!? That’s just amazing!

    • mrsmole says:

      You hit the nail on the head, Prtty…..exactly the personality…lively, jovial and fun to be with! Too professional…code word for “I won’t pay a dollar more”.

  2. theresa says:

    LOL, are these folks from Texas??? I swear, I haven’t heard of a pout jar since I left there. And you can add a pout house too for all those rich folks that might be willing to go say $40.00 for a pair of custom pants. :-O In fact I think a pout house is a good idea. I just can’t decide if I would want to send someone there or occupy it myself.
    The jacket looks beautiful. What a spectacular job and I am sure he will save money in the end, not having to give over those quarters to the jar over his jacket. You professional you!

  3. mrsmole says:

    Thanks Theresa! Yes, with customers calling to say they are willing to pay $75 for 2 pair of custom pants it does make you wonder what decade they are in. I’ve never been to Texas nor seen a pout jar…how unusual!

  4. Alethia says:

    Great job on the jacket! And, way to go for helping keep “Cindy’s” husband happy, LOL!!
    As for the old prude, customers like her really do make you appreciate those that appreciate you.
    It reminds me of a client I had years ago~ when I didn’t know my worth. I would make her coat dresses and/or t-length, fully lined sheaths with same length jackets/coats to match. I had to make her patterns from other patterns because she was literallylike a 3x-4x. After sewing for her a long while( a Doctor’s wife), she had the audacity to ask me why I was charging her too much (at that time I was charging about $150-$200 for labor). She told me since I was sewing out of my home I didn’t have overhead cost. I politely told her that if she thought I was charging too much…she could kindly take the items that I had already made for her to the chinese dressmakers ( no disrespect intended) and see how much they would charge her for what I did.
    Needless to say, after a spell of a time seeking other dressmakers who would even sew for her, she came right back to me.
    I no longer sew for this lady, but the nerve to suggest what I should be charging YOU for my labor.
    I make it plain and clear that I am not a sweat shop worker, and there others that are lookinng for clients.So, if you think you can’t afford me, no sweat off my nose, but I’m not bargaining.
    Pay me or leave me….

  5. mrsmole says:

    Amen, Sister. In one of my blogs I mention the hourly wage of other service related workers and most are getting $47 and up per hour…dressmakers are not even near that mark! Try to find a massage for less than $60 an hour…impossible. An hour with a hairdresser will be $90 and up and let’s not even talk about women who have their nails and toenails artsied up each week. We dressmakers earn every penny we charge! There are seamstresses out there who want and need new clients and those clients who think we are too expensive and too experienced will find them and try them…good luck to both of them!

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