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How to tell if a tailor / alterer is decent

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Bought a couple of new suits recently and want to get them altered to fit me a bit better.
The only places i can find that do alterations nearby are dry cleaning places - I presume these aren't actually tailors because they don't make clothes from scratch - would that be a right assumption?
Went into the nearest one to me today, and as well as a big dry cleaning counter there were several people sitting around a bench with sewing machines working on things, and they looked pretty professional about what they were doing.
How do I work out whether you can trust these guys with the £1000 -worth of suits I want to get altered? (the place I went in says they charge about £10 for trouser alterations and £20+ for jacket alterations, which seems cheap to me).
Is it worth spending the time/ driving the distance to track down and utilise someone I would consider to be an actual tailor, i.e someone who makes clothes from scratch?
 

Needsmoreshoes

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My tailor has the crest for the "Guild of Master Craftsmen" in their window; to earn this I believe they need to submit (confidential) references from customers who have been satisfied with their work. Therefore being a member suggests you have a large body of customers who were satisfied with the quality of your work (This guild is for all sorts of craftsmen) and as such must be capable and trustworthy.

To find them I phoned around a few of the suit shops and more upmarket department stores in town to see if they knew anywhere that was reliable and skilled - 4 of the 5 places I called used these guys so they seemed pretty good. After I knew who they were I checked them on google, 5 star reviews all round so I was perfectly happy trusting them with my stuff. Seems a little excessive but I'm really paranoid I'll admit.

Basically - do your research to find someone who has been verified as capable and trustworthy! My grandad once said to me: "Never use a tailor that doubles as a cleaner, you wouldn't buy a a suit from a shop that sells meat would you?" whether this is good advice or not I took it to heart cos it's so damn funny!

Edit - tailors don't necessarily need to make clothes from scratch, they can be tailors and simply specialise in alterations - to do it well still requires an incredible amount of skill.
 
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Basically - do your research to find someone who has been verified as capable and trustworthy! My grandad once said to me: "Never use a tailor that doubles as a cleaner, you wouldn't buy a a suit from a shop that sells meat would you?" whether this is good advice or not I took it to heart cos it's so damn funny!
I agree it is funny advice, but does it hold up in this day and age? Does anyone else know if dry-cleaner based tailors are always a bad thing? As I tried to express in my original post, my impression when I went into this particular cleaners was that they had a quite professional looking tailoring operation going on.
 

aperson

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A dry cleaner can be trusted with a few basic alterations:

- Shortening sleeves on jackets with functional buttons
- Hemming trousers

They *mostly* do repairs though. Mending small holes, reattaching buttons, etc.

If you need a jacket taken in, altered at the shoulder, or modified in any other significant way, go to someone that knows how to make suits.
 

Greg-NWO

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One thing I have done in the past that might work for you is to take an older clothing item (or something you don't have much invested in) and have it altered as a test of sorts. I had a blue blazer that needed the sleeves lengthened and brought it to a tailor I had not used before and I'm glad I did because the quality of work was not good at all. I'm going to bring the jacket to my current tailor and have her fix the sleeves.
 
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GBR

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The skill of being an 'alteration tailor' is quite different from that associated with making clothes. Dry cleaners rarely employ anyone with the skills - unless that person has fallen on hard times - something which is unlikely if they have real skills.

trouser leg length shortening is frankly not skilled and if that is the height of your needs then go to a dry cleaner, beyond that you need to look about and try to work out what they are doing, maybe visit one or two, maybe go into one or two local out fitters and ask whom they go to.

Good luck, Greg-NWO has a good idea but there's a danger of all this being a lottery.
 

styless

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I was in a similar situation and this is my plan. I dropped off a BR suit at my local tailor last week. Once it is done, I'll post some pictures for review on Alterations thread here. If it goes well, I will go to him for all future alterations.
 

andyfromcornell

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I'm in the "don't trust the dry cleaner" camp. Pant hems and basic alterations are fine. But for jacket work and items you care for, find a reputable tailor through crowdsourcing/internet research. And think about it: what you're really looking for is good judgment. A sartorial consigliere so to speak.
 
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taxgenius

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I'm in the "don't trust the dry cleaner" camp.  Pant hems and basic alterations are fine.  But for jacket work and items you care for, find a reputable tailor through crowdsourcing/internet research.  And think about it: what you're really looking for is good judgment.  A sartorial consigliere so to speak.

I don't trust my dry cleaners even for hemming.
 

Cant kill da Rooster

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+1

I used a dry cleaner to shorten sleeves on a French cuff. They took too much off and I had to donate it. I would use a seamstress for small things (hem, length) and a tailor for the important stuff.
 
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