Phone Calls and Red Flags

A woman called and the first thing out of her mouth was:

I have a white 3 piece silk suit made in Hong Kong 40 years ago”

“The lining is hanging out. The pants don’t fit anymore. I want you to make them fit.”

I have a matching skirt that I want you to make into a top.”

“I read your reviews and I want you to do the work,  I’m attending a wedding in one month.”

In the past, I might have taken the challenge but more and more I have learned that this sort of request/command is usually made by a woman in her 70’s who is used to telling servants what and how to do her bidding and then never satisfied with their work. I sure didn’t need to tangle with her in the wedding season. She was mighty disappointed when I gave her the name of someone else who might want to help her.

Another bride called last Sunday night at 6:30 and said she had her dress and her mother’s dress to be altered. I could hear kids screaming in the background and she told me what she wanted:

“I want the dresses to be done expertly by a highly trained professional.”

“I want the dresses to be done as quickly as possible.”

“I want the dresses to be started immediately.”

“I want to know the price you would charge me.”

After I told her I was booked up through November and could not help her she said:

“But I wanted YOU to do them!”

Then I received this email:

Hi Fit For A Queen Blog Team,

Jason here from (No Name Company), a service and marketplace where you can easily make, buy, and sell fun and useful 3D printed products. I came across your blog recently and absolutely love the ideas and styles you come up for with for all different kinds of weddings!

I wanted to reach out to you and see if you’d be interested in writing a post for your blog about some of the unique and special gifts that brides and grooms can customize and 3D print for their wedding party. Many designers from our community of makers have already created beautiful rings, key chains, and other amazing products that brides and grooms to be can pick out and personalize! The best part is – you can choose which material you want it in, including precious metals like gold and silver!

We’re excited about sharing the custom gift possibilities 3D printing can offer your readers. Please let me know if you’d be interested and I can send you some example designs!

My reply went like this:

Thank you Jason,
But if you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I have a huge issue with people “pimping for products” that they don’t actually buy or use themselves. Whether there are kickbacks or not, it is not for a public blog. My blog is for teaching and encouraging sewers to try hard things not for selling things or even mentioning products that I don’t buy and use myself.
I wish you luck…there are plenty of women who have less scruples and are willing to hawk anything for money. While this might suit them, I have a full-time alteration business that provides me with honest income.
Mrs Mole

After forwarding this email to a couple sewing sisters, they wrote back their version of a reply:

Dear Brandon,
Let’s cut out the crap and get right to the point.
You came across the Fit For a Queen blog only because you went on a desperate search to find poor suckers to market your cheap wares for you. 3D printed gifts for wedding guests? Really? How sad are you? What wedding favor was ever worth keeping? Except for chocolate, and I highly doubt your little gizmo can crank out any Godiva or Lindt. Isn’t there enough crap from China already overflowing our landfills?
And by the way, if you had read the blog on a regular basis, you would know that Mrs. Mole is not comprised of a team. She is an over worked, underpaid, seldom appreciated for her talent team of one.
Now you know not to mess with my sewing sister. Bet you didn’t expect any woman that sews to call you out and kick your ass!

And another opinion:

This seamstress says, rip the jerk !
I understand being approached by companies wanting to gain exposure for items that you use on a regular basis. I understand them offering their product to the writer of the blog for free and then the writer promoting the item IF the writer finds it truly a good product, better than anything currently in her/his studio. (Better since sliced bread). I’ve read blogs where the purpose of the blog seems to have disappeared and it’s merely advertising. Those are the ones where I find that little “unsubscribe” button. A blend of both is good, provided the emphasis is not on the product. It’s all a matter of choice.
With that being said, this chump was grasping at straws. To my memory, you don’t give party favor ideas, or suggestions for venues, decor, or honeymoon destinations. You are pure garment construction &/or deconstruction.
If you do use his e-mail in an upcoming blog, perhaps you could point out that he was assuming any woman that sews for a living must be so naive that she would take his bait. On the other hand, maybe it was just spam.

To finish up I thought you might like to see some really crappy sewing done in a high end boutique out of town for a friend of mine. She bought 5 pairs of expensive wool pants and had them shortened and taken in at the center back seam. You can see that nothing was trimmed away after taking in the seam by 3/4 inch.

P1190467

For some reason they altered the waistband and could not manage to make the stitching look any nicer. How about the hem, isn’t 2.5 inches a little deep? And what about that loose stitching? It is actually coming away from the pant leg already.

P1190468P1190469P1190470

Another pair of pants had other issues. Who uses fishing line in their serger for hems? They thought that the gap was ok with the nylon thread making a bridge?

 

P1190471P1190472P1190474

How about this waistband that was never sewn back down after altering?P1190476

This is the worst of all….see the original seam? See the altered seam where they took in the center back seam? It didn’t occur to the seamstress to trim off the excess..oh Hell, no…just leave that flap back there and don’t bother trimming the thread tails. Imagine paying for this as “expert tailoring”?

P1190475

The lesson here is: If you are paying $300 for designer wool pants or ANY pants, THINK TWICE about who is doing the altering unless you just don’t care. Most of you are gasping at this level of sewing and that is good knowing how much effort you put into your sewing. You can take pride in knowing that this rubbish sewing would never leave your sewing table!

 

 

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39 Responses to Phone Calls and Red Flags

  1. Love this! I do alterations for a department store and hear this sort of stuff ALL the time.

  2. prttynpnk says:

    This is scary and timely – I’m morose this weekend for flubbing a simple facing trim- I’ll live with it, but I can’t imagine letting someone pay me for crap work!

  3. Tia Dia says:

    hehehehe…… Those ladies had me laughing! My DH would tell them to “come down to reality”. haha! And good ol’ Jason…. yup…. those poor people trying hawk their goods without doing any decent market research first. Gotta love them for their entertainment value! BTW, those pants alterations are just scary. SCARY. It’s like a bad haircut. Walk out without paying for the crappy job. I am so thankful I can alter garments myself so I have no one to blame but myself if it looks like the cat ate it first…. 😀

  4. Courtney says:

    I worked for a “professional” shop and that doesn’t look too far off from some of the work I turned out when we were rushed/overworked, or what some of the newer people sometimes did. No, I wouldn’t have trimmed out the waist seam with that little taken in…she’s no doubt going to be back in a year asking for them to be let back out anyway. The 2.5″ hem is a little much, but that “gap bridged by serger thread” was standard at our shop & what I do at home as well. You’re going to do a proper taper on a $10 job? Not me…

    • mrsmole says:

      I understand rushed work, Courtney, but this woman paid a higher price for this work and they gave her the cheapest outcome. I also understand this work on cheap clothes but not on the most expensive in the store. No matter what pants cost, if I have to let out the last 1/2 inch of hem to let it lie flat and then sew hem facing tape or serger it, I do it. My name goes on every garment and when gals bring me pants to re-alter years later they ask me to look at the hems to see if they were “mine”. These gals expect their $300 wool pants will last 10 years or more and expect the hemming to do the same but with wear and dry cleaning, it doesn’t always work out. Thanks for your comment.

  5. robbie says:

    $300 for designer wool pants and then have to pay someone to do alterations? SMH. Why didn’t she just have them custom made in the first place (of course, spoken like a true sewist). lol

  6. mrsmole says:

    Alterations are not free in all shops. I have hemmed stacks of Georgio Armani women’s pants that don’t even come with a hem like men’s suit pants. Women buy these pants in Newport Beach, Calif. and pay $1000 and more per pair and then pay me to hem them.

  7. Tee says:

    You Rock!!!!!!!

    Have a blessed day!!!

    >

  8. Sarah says:

    As soon as you heard woman #1 was going to wear a white suit to a wedding, you knew there was no joy in the rest of the conversation. A 40-year-old white suit.

  9. Robin says:

    I am glad you turned away the woman wanting her suit made into something else! It sounded like trouble!

  10. Elle says:

    “I want, I want, I want” says it all, doesn’t it?

    • mrsmole says:

      They seem so surprised when my answer is “I won’t”. Mr Mole says it is like they think we seamstresses are sitting around just waiting for that type of work…really?

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        I LOVE YOU 🙂 I also sew for a living 🙂 I run a very professional studio. I have received phone calls from a few potential customers TELLING ME…. THEY WILL drop this or that off and they WILL pick it up on this or that day…. I admit I LOVE TO TELL THEM-NO 🙂 The BOSSY ones are RARE….. I set appointments for fittings and my delivery dates are one to two weeks later. At PROM TIME…. If you aren’t on my schedule ahead of time..don’t even THINK of calling the week BEFORE because I CANNOT HELP YOU….YOUR LACK OF PLANNING IS NOT my problem 😦 PS-That white suit had the potential to DRIVE YOU TO DRINK 🙂 I KNOW these things 🙂

  11. sewruth says:

    I get the willies when I sew for someone else – even our kid’s casual bomber jacket is keeping me up at nights. Kudos to you for saying ‘No” and finding fault in what we amateurs would be ashamed of.

    • mrsmole says:

      After seeing and reading most sewing blogs and yours in particular, the level of sewing and finishing and trimming is superb and praiseworthy for sure…this pile of crap was not and you know there is more of it out there.

  12. A coworker told me when she brought some pants to her dry cleaner to be hemmed, they didn’t even sew the hem all around. They just did four little tacks – one at the inseam, one at the out seam, and one at the front and back.

    I’ve gotten a few offers to write those “how to style XYZ” posts for an online fashion retailer. I don’t even bother responding and just hit Delete. I’m convinced they come up with one generic form letter and spend their days sending it out to as many people as possible, hoping that someone will bite. My dad has always said that it is impossible to insult a salesman, and he’s right – no point in even engaging them.

    • mrsmole says:

      You are so right…it must have been a blanket email to see who was willing to promote cheap 3-D printer tat…they may eventually find someone…we can sit and wait to see which blog ends up promoting it!

  13. That (old) white suit was definitely one to avoid – and the want, want, want is a clue to run in the other direction.
    I am appalled at the quality of that alteration. The bridge is only there because the seam wasn’t finished again when the excess was cut off, and the depth of the hem is a joke. I understand that some alterations sewers are under pressure but they won’t be when they run out of people who aren’t coming back for more. Have some pride!

    • mrsmole says:

      Great point, Kim…if you want less customer volume…keep doing crap sewing..eventually word will get around and you can take the summer off, and the winter….

  14. Ratrace says:

    This post made me giggle. Thanks for the tips on when to refer folks to others. I’m going to use those tips in my everyday life.

  15. mrsmole says:

    Oh Ratrace…if you know of more please send them this way…life has so many lessons left to give me, I’m sure!

  16. maryfunt says:

    Good call on avoiding the white suit job. It sounded like trouble from the word go. The same with the bride. After awhile you learn to spot trouble and are smart enough to avoid it.
    I frequently alter Chanel and often don’t trim the seams. Chanel garments are beautifully made with each section individually serged before 3/4 to 1 inch seams are sewn. Many clients want the excess fabric left so the garment can be returned to its original size. I do trim and serge if too much bulk is left. I don’t work for a retailer and so am not forced to do rush jobs for little money. I have seen some appallingly poor workmanship on expensive clothes.

    • mrsmole says:

      If I can, I leave all the material inside wedding gowns and tell the bride that they never know who will want to wear their dress in the future and it will make the next seamstresses overjoyed to find extra fabric in the seams and next to the zipper. But pants don’t need center back bulk in the seams like that dreadful “flap” in the photo…ha ha I have altered 30 year old jackets to make the shoulders less prominent but I try to keep that fabric inside as well and manage to tack it flat in case the fashion gods decide that the football shoulders have to return. We do the best we can and plan for the future, don’t we, Mary, including saying No to save our sanity…ha ha.

  17. poppykettle says:

    You are certainly far more polite in response to that phisher than I would ever be – I make no apologies for sending back incredibly forthright responses. I consider the recipient to be forewarned as I specifically state next to my email address that you will receive an uncivil response if you use it for trying to get me to advertise stuff for you!! GAH!!
    If that didn’t insanely frustrate me, then seeing those pictures of that handiwork on those pants was just devastating.

  18. Gosh, I’m a little late for the party here, but hearing all those “I wants” was getting me riled up! Then you move on to the spammer and the poor sewing. I admit my work isn’t as lovely inside and out as others sometimes, but at least I know I am always learning and practicing and not charging people money for my work! What a messy business.

  19. Shams says:

    I also routinely get ridiculous requests like that: for sunglasses, for fingernail polish, for cheaply made RTW. They are clearly sending out requests en-masse. I generally ignore them unless they seem to actually have a clue about me, and then I politely decline. I’m so glad you say “no” sometimes. 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      You have such a popular blog it is no wonder everyone wants to get on it!!!! If they ever want to give away restaurant vouchers for free meals…now that might just be tempting!

  20. fabrickated says:

    This is a revealing and interesting post with such great, explicit photographs. I must admit I find a strange pleasure in looking at badly done jobs, although they do offend the eye. There is a fascination, isn’t there, in seeing a bodge passed off as good coin? I also enjoyed the description of the bitchy old bag who treated you like a servant, and I am glad she got her comeuppance. Most people are happy to help if they are treated with respect and the request is reasonable.

  21. mrsmole says:

    Me too, Kate…opening up the seams and linings is like a treasure hunt…and when I see stuff like this…well, the camera comes out and has a ball. More bad sewing to come! You know if someone sounds pathetic on the phone, it makes me soft-hearted and offer to help them but start out with “I Want” and it shuts me down.

  22. Debbie Guihot says:

    You have just told the storey of my life. Wedding alterations for 30 yrs now. I have retired TWICE. I have a new hatred for the statement ” I bought this on line from China ( or god knows where) and I want this size 6 dress to cover my size 20 body, I was going to lose weight. The best all time ask was as follows I can’t sew but……..” I have borrowed a dress for my sons wedding in two weeks. I want you to let it out 3 sizes and then take it all back in so the owner won’t know it was touched” still laughing 13 years later

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Debbie…you never think anyone would ask for this…but they can and they do. It takes a particular type of magic to make a size 6 cover a size 20 body and vice-versa but they surely do try. The drama that brides bring is special and if their moms are in for the ride that just makes it REAL special…ha ha. Retired twice and back in the game? Did you miss it or the money? Maybe now its the time to start your own blog to entertain us!!!! Thanks for sharing!

  23. symondezyn says:

    “I want” – didn’t their mothers ever teach them it’s rude to demand things? When did “please” and “thank you” become such rare words? Good on you for refusing!!

    I love when you post photos of crappy workmanship LOL. Honestly, my work is not that much better some days, but I’m not charging people for it! It’s a little like reality television for me – I sometimes get down about my own skill level but looking at this makes me feel better about my own issues! LOL!!

  24. Linda Craig says:

    Hi Mrs Mole,

    Loved your response, perfect! You certainly are talented with word.

    Too bad about the alterations but isn’t that the way with anything we are not knowledgeable about. We can be taken advantage of by bad people.

    Cheers & Carry On,
    Linda

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