With a month off from bridal sewing I thought I would share a story from the end of the year:
Recently, I got a phone call from another seamstress in town with a request.
A new woman had come into her shop looking for someone to re-hem a floor length organza gown that had been ripped vertically about 1.5 inches up from the rolled hem in 2 places. Feeling sorry for this woman who had been wandering to different shops, I agreed to see the dress and decide if it could be repaired. I spoke to the woman on the phone and wanted to give her my address so she could look up the directions to my studio and she said she could not take it because her phone was dead…not a good sign. She said she could remember the directions but after the first street name change, she said, “Whoa, that is too many streets”. So I said she should ask for a piece of paper to write it down and even doing that was a huge effort for her to write down every street name but she managed to find me.
Her general appearance was that of a discombobulated collection of clothing of colors, seasons, decades and sizes. Her story was that she needed someone to repair the hem because she was helping a notable celebrity in the area for a Winter tour. The celebrity had torn the gown and she wanted it repaired without making the organza hem any shorter as she could not be seen on stage with a repair or a shortened hem…yeah right…where is my magic wand? I said that I would have to shorten the whole hem by 1/2 inch to make it even and I would come up with something that would look the least unprofessional. I gave the woman a very cheap price as her attire did not give me any idea that she could pay full price. She seemed thrilled with the price and said I was going to “save her bacon”. (Have we heard this before?)
She then settled herself down onto my sofa for 15 minutes and began to tell me that she has just moved from an upscale part of the country and wanted to set up shop here in our little valley. She handed me her card that stated a grocery list of qualifications such as fashion expert, personal shopper, home dec professional, clothing and furniture design specialist, consignments and at the bottom of the list…”Outstanding Alterations”.
She then tells/advises me that she thinks I could just “throw the organza hem into a serger and be done with it”. Really? And what about the 1.5 inch tear? I ask her if she owns a serger and she says, “Never”. She says she owns 2 old used sewing machines she bought for $50 on Craigslist and an iron. There she sits raving about her qualities and how she has clients who need her assistance in dressing themselves. At this point I am just amused and I’m thinking, “Why am I doing this repair if she is promoting herself as Outstanding?” But then…I think…this would make a good blog post and show her out to the front door. I ask when her client needs the dress and she says, “Yesterday, as she has a tour coming up.”
I worked on the hem overnight and had it ready for noon the next day. What it involved was hand sewing the 2 raw edges of the tears together with invisible polyester thread so I had a firm edge to turn under, machine stitch close to that fold, trim, and turn under again for the narrow hem. Everything worked out great and you could hardly see where the damage had been done, especially from the audience. But instead of the woman being on time for the agreed pick-up, she called an hour late to tell me she would be at least another hour later as she had clients to visit before she saw me. When she finally arrived, she was wearing even stranger clothes than the first time, again mismatched, odd sizes and decades and styles. She then told me that she had found a dry cleaners at the opposite end of the state that would clean clothes in a week for $1.25 each and it was worth the 400+ mile 5 hour drive one way (twice) and a stay in a hotel (twice) to drop them off and return a week later. It’s funny what constitutes value-for-money these days.
On the way out the door, I said I was glad I could get her dress finished in time for the celebrity and she said, “Oh, I have a month before she needs it”. So at this point I’m thinking…was there ever a celebrity or was that a figment of her wild imagination? Was the dress found at the thrift store and she needed the hem repaired before reselling it? Does she really have clients begging for her services? And how Outstanding are her alterations? Does she reveal to her client that someone else did the repair or expect the celebrity to leave a glowing review for her?
Life still has little lessons for us to learn and experience…darn it!
Soon it will be February and the 2015 bridal season will start. What goodies will wander in the front door?