Author Topic: An Alterations specialist makes house calls  (Read 5015 times)

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Offline BetsyV

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An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« on: February 17, 2011, 01:04:26 PM »
In today's New York Times, an article about The Williamsburg Seamster.

Offline jamesosews

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #1 on: February 17, 2011, 01:31:48 PM »
How cool is this???   BetsyV, thanks for posting.
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Offline vtmartha

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #2 on: February 17, 2011, 01:33:13 PM »
Very interesting, Betsy!  Thanks for sharing the link.

Offline Robin

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2011, 10:44:09 PM »

It makes me tired just thinking about it and yikes- doesn't it seem like a lot of work for a little bit of money?

I did enjoy reading about it, thanks Betsy.

Offline Pipsy

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2011, 06:02:45 AM »
In earlier days middle class and certainly upper class women always had dressmakers come to their home and I hear that in some foreign countries dressmakers will come to hotels.  This sounds like a great service but as Robin states tiring.  However, some dressmakers I have visited I would have preferred not to see their sewing environment.  ::)
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Offline Claudine

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2011, 01:49:57 PM »
I read that article when it came out, and a lot of things in it really clicked with me.  I especially like the point about how making and selling new things is environmentally perilous.  It is much better for the planet to make people happier with what they already have.

I have considered doing this kind of work in the past, but balked because I would like to consider myself some kind of ARTISTE who is too good to sew on buttons.  Seeing someone who does this kind of work profiled in the New York Times helped me get over that.

I've been looking for something to do with my time that still allows me to be around when my kids need me, and I think this may be it.  I've been sewing for a while, so I'm pretty fast.  I've set my pricing so I can make $35 - $40 and hour, which is a good rate for work that I can do at home whenever I get a spare minute.  I've only had 2 clients so far, and they seem to think my pricing is OK.  Of course, I don't get paid for the time it takes me to pick up and deliver.  I'm not sure if this will become an issue.

I set up a very basic web page, here: http://summitseams.com/

Offline AnnRowley

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2011, 03:39:56 PM »
How enterprising Claudine!

Are there really people who will pay that sort of money to have a button or a badge sewn on?  The mind boggles...!  :o

Offline vtmartha

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2011, 03:55:30 PM »
Cool, Claudine!  I will be interested in seeing how it goes.

Offline BetsyV

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2011, 04:08:20 PM »
Do let us know how busy you get with this idea, Claudine.

And AnnR, what boggles MY mind is that so many people are so helpless that they no longer know how to do these things for themselves. Even my brothers were taught how to sew buttons back on and repair hems etc. My younger brother became reasonably proficient with my mother's sewing machine.

I told my neighbor it would be $30 plus the zipper to replace a zipper in a tapestry tote bag, thinking $30 would put her off. $30 would buy 2 new ones at a discount retailer. She was not deterred. It took me 45 minutes, as the zip was conveniently stitched onto two flaps and not part of the upper edge of the tote. If it had been, I'd not have done it.

Offline ejvc

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2011, 04:25:35 PM »
Yes, I'd never pay those prices but then I don't need to.  It is definitely work and deserves pay!  I'll show them to my husband next time he asks me to take up his jeans :-)
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Offline Robin

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2011, 04:58:34 PM »
Claudine, I love it!
Especially because you can promote your Etsy shop.  This could potentially bring you into contact with potential custom clients.
Clever, clever!

Your website is very professional looking.  Well done!

Offline Claudine

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2011, 05:35:52 PM »
How enterprising Claudine!

Are there really people who will pay that sort of money to have a button or a badge sewn on?  The mind boggles...!  :o

Girl Scout patches are the only thing that I feel that I am overcharging for.  I think the girl should do it herself, and if I charge a bit more, maybe the parents will make her.

Yes, I personally know several people who do not balk at $5 a button.

Offline Claudine

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2011, 05:39:08 PM »
Do let us know how busy you get with this idea, Claudine.

And AnnR, what boggles MY mind is that so many people are so helpless that they no longer know how to do these things for themselves. Even my brothers were taught how to sew buttons back on and repair hems etc. My younger brother became reasonably proficient with my mother's sewing machine.

I told my neighbor it would be $30 plus the zipper to replace a zipper in a tapestry tote bag, thinking $30 would put her off. $30 would buy 2 new ones at a discount retailer. She was not deterred. It took me 45 minutes, as the zip was conveniently stitched onto two flaps and not part of the upper edge of the tote. If it had been, I'd not have done it.

I'll let you know how it goes.  I have high hopes that this will keep me busy for 5 - 10 hours a week, which is all I really want to work. 

I think $30 is a fair price for 45 minutes of skilled  work.

Offline Jane S

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2011, 05:54:54 PM »
Claudia, good luck to you on your new venture.  I started something similar two years ago.  I did get some work, but found that most people don't want to pay the prices (I live in Florida).  I still have a couple of steady customers but not enough to keep me going.  I wish you all the best.

Offline Remnant

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2011, 06:36:43 PM »
A neighbor has asked me to do a wee bit of mending for her. I gladly did - but in the future I told her I'd be willing to teach her AND her daughters how to do simple repairs with needle and thread. They do not even know how to sew a button (well, neither does my daughter but not for MY lack of trying to pin her down!).

Our other neighbor asked if I'd hem a prom gown. I said no...but now I'm thinking I could start making a bit of money next time I'm asked. But, no, no hems with fiddly fabrics.


But you know what? This thread has helped me figure out that my heart lies in teaching simple sewing skills. Yay me.

And yay for your new venture!!! Sounds like a great opportunity for you.
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Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2011, 06:57:50 PM »
Hemming prom gowns is the only type of sewing I will do for other people.  I charge $50 for a single-layer, non-beaded/sequined lined gown which takes no time at all.  It's not fun but it is a quick buck and no one bats an eye at the price.
Gigi (who's going broke saving money sewing)

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Offline Claudine

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2011, 07:37:52 PM »
Hemming prom gowns is the only type of sewing I will do for other people.  I charge $50 for a single-layer, non-beaded/sequined lined gown which takes no time at all.  It's not fun but it is a quick buck and no one bats an eye at the price.

I'm curious at the "no time at all" claim.  Do you do it by machine?

Offline Gigi Louis

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2011, 12:25:17 PM »
Claudine, I am able to do most of them by machine.  Many of them have a narrow machine-rolled hem or a merrow-rolled hem.  If the hem is blindstitched I will do it by machine if it doesn't show (using what I cut off for testing), otherwise by hand.  Having to hand sew is pretty rare since they were all originally hemmed by machine.  I just duplicate the original method. 
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Offline Claudine

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #18 on: May 08, 2011, 06:01:42 PM »
Claudine, I am able to do most of them by machine.  Many of them have a narrow machine-rolled hem or a merrow-rolled hem.  If the hem is blindstitched I will do it by machine if it doesn't show (using what I cut off for testing), otherwise by hand.  Having to hand sew is pretty rare since they were all originally hemmed by machine.  I just duplicate the original method. 

Gigi, I just got my first prom dress hem job.  AND she found me through a search engine!  I hope I find the hemming as easy as you do.

Offline Bunnykins

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #19 on: July 18, 2011, 07:51:51 PM »
I sure hope you ladies who plan on doing mending, repair, shortening, etc. for people do well.  In the office I used to work in, I was one of two women who sewed.  The other one was the manager, so no one would ask her.  I was the one everyone asked to sew buttons, fix hems, sort out their knitting and crochet projects gone wrong.  I used to teach people how to sew on buttons.  I would have loved to have someone else to point to for help.  The idea of having someone come to the house and fix/alter whatever is in the closet is wonderful. I think a lot of clothing gets discarded because it has a broken zip or ripped seam or is too long/short and no one around knows how to fix it (or there is but the local dry cleaner doesn't do such a good job.)

Offline fzxdoc

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #20 on: July 18, 2011, 08:03:44 PM »
In the recent issue of Vogue Patterns, there is a feature article on this Williamsburg Seamster sewist/alterations specialist, and yes she still does make house calls. She seems to be doing well.

Kathryn

Offline sdBev

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #21 on: July 18, 2011, 10:51:43 PM »
... I think a lot of clothing gets discarded because it has a broken zip or ripped seam or is too long/short and no one around knows how to fix it ...
I think you're onto something.  I know we've purchased many high dollar items for DH at Cabela's annual sale.  We paid pennies, often 1%  of the original cost because, buttons were missing, zips broken, seams ripped or loose.  I convinced DH long ago to let me do such repairs for him.  In return, he purchases me high $$$ sewing machines, my HV Ruby being the latest.

Offline Jane S

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Re: An Alterations specialist makes house calls
« Reply #22 on: July 18, 2011, 11:51:02 PM »
Bev, sounds like you are on the right end of that deal.

Jane

 

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