As my dress was backless it required a specific fitting. The tailor got me to go back to the shop at 8 in the morning so she could take me on the back of her bike to the tailor. It was quite the experience (the ride there that is) and it meant I got to see where the items where made. I'm happy to report that they were bad in the bottom floor of a house, with fans, space and modern looking machines. I was dreading getting there to see sweatshop conditions and walking away with a bad taste in my mouth. I think went again that afternoon to check the fit again. The fit was perfect but now they had put the slit in the dress I wasn't happy with the lining. I wish I'd said something at the time, but I just didn't have the heart. I regret it now though.
Below are my peals of wisdom to guide you through the ripples of fabric and army of mannequins to give you the item you really wanted.
- Have a clear idea in your head before you go. If you're not 100% clear, then go for something similar to a sample - just describing an item isn't going to yield the best results. Maybe copy a simple item you already own that you know suits you, picking a new fabric and adding a few details?
- Walk round and window shop as many tailor shops as you can handle as there seems to be some that show a wider sample range of coats say, or formal dresses or suits. Look at the material each offers as it may differ, particularly looking for the quality of the fabric.
- Be firm with anything you're not happy with. They will and should do any alterations you ask for. Both the dresses I had made needed serious alterations after the first fitting and this will not cost you extra. Don't hand over your cash until you're 100% happy - I wish I'd been more picky at the time.
Me hiding from the picture...
and a tiny glimpse of one of my dresses.
- Pay attention to the detail. Show them exactly how you want the waistband or the zip or the buttons. Pick your lining too! I didn't pick (they didn't offer) and ended up with a clashing lining.
- Check for faulty seams or stains on the fabric. I mean really get close and get them to remove ANY stains. Check for ripples in the fabric to make sure there are no uneven seams.
- Try getting a better price or higher quality fabric, but bear in mind you are unlikely to get them to drop the price more than 5 dollars or so. They will tell you they've already discounted it for you. They will however give you a discount if you purchase more than one item, so definitely negotiate this. Maybe get one item made and see if you're happy with the tailor first.
- Good tailors won't charge a deposit, some may charge a small deposit, but anywhere that asks for 60% upfront should be avoided.