Tailoring and alterations are words that are thrown around a lot when discussing garments. While some people might use them interchangeably, they actually mean two different things.
Here’s the difference between tailoring and alterations:
Tailoring refers to a garment that is custom-fitted for the wearer. Of course, since the garment is custom-fit, it looks really, really good on the person it was made for. Tailoring often comes at a price if you can’t do it yourself, but it is absolutely worth it because of the huge difference it makes in the look and fit of your clothes.
If you want to learn how to tailor your own clothes (and look at your wardrobe in a whole new way!), Craftsy has several classes that will teach you how to make custom-fit clothes for yourself. In The Classic Tailored Shirt with Pam Howard, you’ll make a crisp, tailored shirt that you can return to over and over again as you build your wardrobe.
Once you have the perfect shirt, you’ll need the perfect-fitting pants to go with it: Pant Fitting Techniques with Sandra Betzina will address common fit issues and help you to sew a pair of pants that fit and flatter.
Of course, if you’d prefer to start with tailoring clothes you already own versus sewing new ones, there’s also Tailoring Ready-to-Wear with Angela Wolf, which shows you how to achieve custom-fit with clothing you’ve purchased off the rack.
Alterations are less extensive changes to the garment that also change the way the garment fits, and are usually focused on one particular fit area. It could be as simple as taking up the hem on a pair of pants or shortening a sleeve. Alterations are less intimidating to attempt on your own, and many times you can alter the garment before you even make it-- by altering the pattern.
Sew the Perfect Fit with Lynda Maynard will show you how to determine fit issues and adjust a muslin directly on your body. Most people do not match the measurements that patterns are fit to, so knowing how to alter patterns will make a huge difference in the final fit of the garment.
If you’re a special body type, it’s worth it to learn about more specialized alteration techniques. Plus-sized women will find Plus-Size Pattern Fitting and Design with Barbara Deckert extremely useful, as the class covers everything from pattern alteration to design considerations and fabric suggestions. If you’re petite, be sure to check out my post Petite Sewing: Achieving the Perfect Fit for some of my favorite tips for sewing for a small frame.
The difference between tailoring and alterations is small, but it’s worth knowing the difference. There are plenty of classes available on Craftsy to help you achieve the perfect fit, no matter how many or how few adjustments you might need to make.
Let me know in the comments: do you find yourself doing extensive tailoring or alterations on your clothes? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?