The secret to great fitting clothes: a tailor. Anyone who has ever watched a makeover show has likely heard this mantra. And it’s true—besides making your clothes fit better, working with a tailor gives you a better idea of what clothing works best for your body and can even help ensure your clothes last longer. But while tailors are often lifesavers, they’re not miracle workers. Below, we talked to Diana Spring Sidley, the owner and seamstress behind Mentionables in Cleveland. She told us what you need to know before bringing in your next dress or pair of pants for a total rehaul. Garments can only be let out about an inch, and some can’t be let out at all. Whenever someone contacts Spring Sidley with the request to take something out, she says the same thing: “I have to see the garment.” From garment to garment, the amount of fabric left inside varies. In general, formalwear is far more likely to have a significant amount of fabric available for letting out. In some cases, Spring Sidley has let garments out more than an inch by finding matching fabric and adding panels. Not all measuring tape is created equal. Although many items might only be let out an inch, Spring Sidley has taken garments in up to six sizes. But just because there’s plenty of fabric to work with doesn’t mean the job is any easier. Once she worked on a bridesmaid’s dress that was so large, its form was unrecognizable. The bridesmaid “actually measured herself with a carpenter’s metal tape measurer, so the measurements did not turn out terribly accurate,” Spring Sidley said. “It was such a sack on her that I had to have her pull up a photo of what the dress was supposed to look like. I couldn’t tell from looking at her how it was supposed to fit.” Menswear is from Mars, womenswear is from Venus. Spring Sidley’s services range from hemming pants—her clients’ most common request—to completely altering the style of a formal gown. Because these alterations vary so much, the seamstress has grown to appreciate uniformity, which is why she finds menswear to be the easiest type of clothing to work with. “From suit to suit, it’s pretty much exactly the same on the inside. It’s the same process,” she said. “They pretty much all have the same rule of where the hem should lay, how the suit should fit.” That’s not the case with womenswear. “You never know what it’s going to look like inside until you open it up,” she said. “I’ve done sets of bridesmaids, and I open [the dresses] up and they’re built differently.” Alterations, like breakups, leave scars. Although the same garment can be taken in and let out repeatedly, one problem often presents itself. When you let out fabric, you can see where it used to be sewn. On durable fabrics, such as cotton and linen, this isn’t as noticeable. However, it’s much more evident on delicate fabrics like chiffon or taffeta. “You really kind of have one shot at sewing that seam,” Spring Sidley said. So more than one round of alterations is out of the question. Read more about making the most of your wardrobe: How to Wash a Cashmere Sweater Without Totally Ruining It Turn Plain Wardrobe Staples into Trendy, Fall-Friendly Pieces Shop Groupon Goods for men's and women's clothing:
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