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Jun 14, 2014

MORE Alterations for Mom (Grrrr....)



Can I be honest?  I don't enjoy doing alterations for others.

(I know that so many sewers can't get enough of them.)

I am willing to do them for family members, however.  I shortened a pair of shorts last week for Michael (which involved removing a cargo pocket so it wasn't such a breeze) and today, my mother showed up for lunch with not one but two tunic tops she'd picked up, both way too long and one also needing the (cuffed) sleeves shortened.





I think if these were more costly items I'd mind a bit less, but it feels like a waste of (my) time and energy to spend an hour or two altering some schmatta from Marshalls.

Here's the first one: it only needed shortening.  (My mother's probably barely five feet tall at this point.)



The blue tunic, up top and below, needed more work.  I ended up removing the cuffs (my menswear sewing class came in handy as I knew precisely how they'd been attached), cutting nearly 3" off the sleeves and then reattaching the cuffs.



It definitely looked better but was it worth the trouble?



I guess I figure that someday, after she's gone, I'll be glad I took the time to tailor her tunics.



Before her arrival, I managed to finish my cotton-linen pants.  I added patch pockets in back and belt loops.  Now I just need to hem them.  A number of you have asked what machine I made these on.  Unless I say otherwise, I'm always always sewing on my Kenmore 158.141.  It's a great no-fuss vintage zigzag machine that easily converts to straight stitch (and can use Singer feet).  Plus it's in a table in my living room where there's lots of light.





And that was my sewing day!

In closing, two questions:

1) Where do you draw the line with doing alterations for others?

2) Are there some people you simply can't (or won't) say no to?

Have a great day, everybody, and be sure to tune in for tomorrow's vlog!

77 comments:

  1. She's the mommy. She's special and look at that cute smile.

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  2. For that smile and for her not criticizing your housekeeping?? Of course, it is!!!!

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  3. If a top or dress has a decorative hem that I don't want to mess with, I'll make a topstitched seam somewhere in the middle of the garmet that looks proportional. Maybe add a trim to cover it.

    I think tunics would be fun and easy to make your mom, and you could try out textiles and trims.

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  4. Is that the leopard throw from the trash that you washed and dried?

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    Replies
    1. It's from the Salvation Army -- only the best!

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    2. Sorry, didnt mean to offend. I couldn't remember the origin, just remember the debate over bed bugs, hot dryers, and acrylic.

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  5. I love Kenmores. I have a 1430, very similar to the 1410. Those pants are looking good. There isn't anyone I can't say 'No' to except myself.

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  6. Aww how sweet, what a nice son. I concur that alterations for others is not fun at all. And it does seem like a waste of time when these garments are mass produced with little care or attention. I'd rather spend my time sewing a unique and well made garment. I don't do alterations for anyone. Once in a while I may sew a button on for my husband but thats about it.

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  7. Yes you will be happy to have done this when she is no longer with you. I'd love to do alterations for my Mom who has been gone now over 10 years. Alterations? only now for family.

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  8. Of course it is worth it because she now has a shirt that she loves and looks great in! I find a lot of satisfaction doing alterations for my daughters. Making an ill-fitting garment fit perfectly is an art unto itself..

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  9. I hate alterations. My mother was a master of it and she sewed for a living. I couldn't believe the expectations people had for her to alter totally I'll fitting clothes and she never charged them enough. It was way harder than just making a garment that fit. As for myself...I have to shorten pretty much everything ! Your Mom and I are eye to eye .

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  10. 1) I don't do alterations for anyone but myself, no matter how much I'd like to. (I'd love to practice more often.) Often enough, whenever I'd say no, there was resentment that I'd said yes to someone else. I got tired of the whining and pouting, so I put an end to it. (I'd say that I only do alterations for family members, but they know how to do it for themselves.)

    2) See above.

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  11. *** Where do you draw the line with doing alterations for others?***

    A] If they won't pay me a WHOLE lot of money: I charge $50/hr for simple alterations; $75 - 100/hr for complex things. This is usually plenty to stop 99% of all requests. :) Think that's a lot of money? Maybe, but there are several local shops who do lovely work for far more reasonable fees & other folks oughtta patronize their businesses and not bother me or learn to do it themselves. With the Internet, it's SO much easier to learn how than EVER before....so get out yer thimble & get to gettin!

    B] I will outright refuse (meaning I won't do it for ANY price) to do "crazy": 1-crazy mash ups, 2- crazy expectations, 3- crazy client and/or 4- crazy hard. Life is too short....and so is my sewing time.

    C]If it's for a very close friend who's going thru a rough patch or little kid or an excellent cause I *might* do a freebie but that's totally up to me & my whims.
    *** Are there some people you simply can't (or won't) say no to?***

    - immediate family. Even then, I try to do one of two things: 1) spend some fairly serious effort to talk them out of it or 2) make them sit with me and learn how to do it themselves.

    And I'm glad you do alterations for your mom. Motherhood is serious business & children CANNOT repay their mothers, so we need to do all we can to honor them. Yes, I'm a mom but I also have a mother & mother-in-law & I try to do all I can for them; IMO a card on Mother's Day ain't enuf. :)

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  12. I won't do alterations for anyone not even me. If I need something tailored I take it to the tailor and factor it into the cost of the garment. I'll refashion to a small extent if the cloth is really nice.

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  13. Ugh, I'm in the "I hate alterations" bunch. I'd rather begin a project anew than go in and try to "fix" things. I refuse to do my mothers because she is insanely picky and has too high of standards. I only do my kiddos when I feel like not making new.
    Your pants look great! Can't wait to see pictures!

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  14. I'm sure your mom has done a lot of stuff on your behalf that wasn't exactly fun, either... ;) As a mom of 3 kids 6 years and under, my days are full of childcare activities that probably about as much fun as alterations (eg, breaking up fights, wiping butts, endless laundry). You can't know the satisfaction she is feeling that her adult son is helping her (I mean, other than that huge grin), but she is proud of you. I'm also certain that she knows that you think alterations are a PITA and you're doing it for her anyway, to be a good son. You're doing it because it's the right thing to do, whether you enjoy it is kind of moot, imo. :)

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  15. Alterations are only done for close relatives that I am not currently fighting with. Since I refuse to argue with extremely elderly people I mostly will do the alteration. Younger ones not so much. I did hem two dresses for a wedding for relatives who are pre-schoolers who I do not have issues with. I agree that altering cheap fabric is not fun.
    Barbara

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  16. Though I hate doing alterations my daughter keeps me busy doing them as she continues to buy clothes that need adjustments. I also sew for her and have to extensively alter the patterns she chooses. Through much cursing I get it done,but I do say no to altering cheap clothing that she buys, or working with cheaply made fabric. She's very fussy so it can be hard on the nerves sometimes.

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  17. I sew for fun and if it's not fun I won't do it. So, no, I don't do alterations for anyone but myself.

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  18. I really dislike doing alterations for anyone but myself. The exception is my husband, and even then I'll only do minor alterations. It's just not worth my time.

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  19. Although all my friends know I sew I very rarely get asked to mend or alter so I haven't turned anyone down. The friends who have asked have done it in such a way I want to help out and they're always so pleased and grateful, I feel pretty good about myself afterwards. The only person who expects me to do things is my husband who wants pants hemmed and can be a bit demanding. Needless to say I do that with more grumbling but I can hardly say no! In general I guess I feel like I have this skill that is somewhat rare these days so I should be prepared to share it around.

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    Replies
    1. It's miraculous that you have escaped the hounding and manipulation that most people lay on you once they discover your skills! One of my best friends wanted me to repair a sofa cushion cover that his dog had torn, not only was it frayed but it was on a piped border....I took one look and gave him the name of a local curtain/upholstery shop! Oh, trust me, he wasn't happy........... but I wasn't going to suffer that aggravation!!

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    2. 'The "Obligator extraordinaire", and how to properly handle them,' as taught by scorpioninblue, a renowned, revered, sewing personality. In this Craftsy course you will hone your "NO!" how, handle hounding with a certain sensibility, and hear about Halston.

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    3. Yes Test, you will most certainly hear the name of Halston!! LOL!!

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  20. Unless it is something minor for the grandkids or my daughter, no. It is really irritating that people think I should do their alterations for free or just a couple of bucks because I am family or not doing this as a living.

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  21. Add me to the "I hate alterations" group. It seems that once someone knows you know how to sew, they will ask at some point for you to do their alterations for them. I will if it looks to be easy or if it is for someone special and near and dear to my heart. Otherwise, I say no. I would much rather start sewing from scratch than to fix something.

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    1. As soon as people find out you can sew, they start lining up! I keep my skills a secret and tell those that I might grant a favor to swear a solemn vow of secrecy!! Too many people want the moon and stars, but hate to pay for them. One sure way to send my temperature soaring is when a non-sewist tries to tell me how simple and easy it would be to fulfill their alteration requests!

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  22. I hate doing alterations so much I rarely tackle them - and that includes my own. Very very occasionally I will do a straightforward alteration for my husband, my mother or myself.

    But I couldn't say no to my late mother-in-law. She once had 3 pairs of track pants that needed to be taken up by a mile each leg. I contemplated them for about a millisecond before deciding to take them to a local seamstress. I never told my mother-in-law what I did but she was happy with the outcome ... and so was I.

    Spud.

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  23. 1. I draw the line in doing alterations for someone when it's clear that it would be easier to make a new garment than to alter one.
    2. I would never say no to family and friends unless the situation was like the one explained in my previous answer.

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  24. I don't like doing alterations for other, I worry I will cut into their clothing and they won't like the result. However, I do minor alternations for my parents every so often.
    Thank you for the information about which sewing machine you use.

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  25. It was definitely worth it to make your mother happy! I'm sure she did lots of things for you when you were little which she didn't enjoy...

    But I agree that alterations for anyone other than Michael or your mother should not be expected.

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  26. Just finished hemming 3 pairs of new jeans for my 90 year old dad. Happy to have him here to do it for but it certainly wasn't amusing - I funned it up a bit by looking on line for the best possible technique and learned something for my future projects. I must say I did a BEAUTIFUL job. In the context of jeans hemming.

    Also alterations for mom, husband and daughter in law....that's it, tho.

    ceci

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  27. I do alterations for a living and after 45 years in the business I have ended up with mainly bridal. It pays more, they have a set date and when the dress is done everyone is thrilled. I am fortunate that I can refer other jobs to friends and they send brides to me. My blog shares the ups and down in the sewing room along with some laughs and frustration with bad attitude women.

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    1. Over that many years you should also be a self learned psychologist.....I couldn't imagine anything more stressful than doing anything associated with a wedding!

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    2. Your blog is absolutely hilarious and you are a saint!

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    3. You do have to wear many hats when servicing the public! Smiling and nodding a lot while pinning hems help pass the time and they think you are listening and interested..ha ha

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  28. I'll shorten my hubby's slacks/jeans and that's it. Now, since we're retired it's mostly jeans. I altered a plaid suit once for a co-worker - my brain crashed after that one ;-)

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  29. As long as I'm being paid for my time, I'll pretty much do any alteration that I think is possible. That usually rules out things like fixing pants for my husband! He can sew, he should do his own alterations and mending!

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  30. Family members plop things down in front of me and request. I do it once in a while. I often suggest to my teenage daughters it will take a few minutes for me to show them how….Once my husband stuffed his jeans in my sewing bag when I was on the way to my Sewing Studio to take a class on sewing a tailored jacket. I was so surprised to find them. I guess I ignore their requests sometimes…..:)

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  31. I only do simple alterations (hems, waist alterations - no shoulder or neckline changes) for good friends. But after feeling taken advantage of and deciding that 'some people' really had no idea of the time involved, I now do job exchanges. So I do alterations for people who I really owe favors. But others need to come to my place and spend my alteration time cleaning for me. I first said it as a joke, but one friend took it seriously. She brings me hemming and cleans my kitchen/bathroom/etc while I hem. First it gives me a firm time to work on their stuff. Second it gives them an idea of how long things take. Third I get a clean house without doing it myself.
    I don't feel taken advantage of anymore.
    K

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    1. Oh you are good! LOL! Now that's a clever way of doing things!

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  32. Well, she did give birth to you, which is only slightly less painful than doing a sleeve cuff alteration. So now you're even!

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  33. When I was about 12 or 13, I remember reading in Dear Abby letters from adult children who had not spoken to their parents, brother or sister, or other family members for years because of anger and differences. When that person died, the regret felt was anguishing guilt. I decided then and there, no matter how difficult my parents or sibs were, or friends, that I needed to think about my behavior and reactions to them. Was their behavior so bad that I needed to be rid of them? In the case of family members, no. Both my parents are gone; both could be very difficult at times, sometimes just awful. But, they were individuals, like me, and human, and as we forgive our friends, we need to forgive our parents. Same with siblings and friends. Unless their behavior is so bad . . . so, I chose to deal with their irritating qualities and awful moments. They are dead now, but my emotional conscience is clear.

    You might be frustrated and annoyed with mom, but think about the moments when the dynamic is done.

    Say no to making things for people. Do it only if you want to.

    I don't make things for people unless I feel like it!

    Hope this helps.

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  34. i don't like doing alterations for anyone with the exception being my partner he seems to think i like sewing so that should include the inlaws......oh no

    so this month i dressing two 36" dolls and dolls creep me out...... they stare never answer you hmmmmmm
    then lets add those pants to shorten

    the only one i never minded doing any sewing for was my dad....even if it was those polyester flared slacks with a textured finish............God i miss him..............

    peter your work is fabulous

    thanks for letting me vent

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  35. I only do alterations for people I love, but even then, I hate doing the shortening and adding vents to my grandmother's cheap shirts from Kohl's. The last batch was about 5-yrs ago. I was pleased to see my 90 year old grandma still wearing those schmattas last weekend, and I felt like my time had been worth it after all. Not looking forward to doing more, but I do feel it's worth it! Good on ya.

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  36. Immediate family only - offspring and husband, and my daughter in law. grandkids, I'll make them anything!

    I outright refuse to replace broken zippers though. I'd rather outright buy someone a new replacement garment than fix a broken zipper.

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  37. I don't mind easy and quick alterations....Say, with authority, "That can't be fixed, " if the alteration involves removing and resewing cuffs, and suggest quick fixes like cutting the cuffs off and hemming at bracelet length. You might still get that winning smile.

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  38. I am not so fond of doing alterations either. I don't encourage people to ask me to do them. I will do them sometimes for family members though. Other people I offer to show them how to do it so they can then do it themselves (using my sewing machine and supervision). If they accept they can see it's not a 10 minute task and probably won't ask me again, or they'll enjoy it and I've converted someone to the wonders of sewing.

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  39. I got tired of doing everyone's work, so I took a page from my Dad's book-- he would have people bring their cars over and show them how to fix it and watch while they did it. They had to bring lunch with them. What I did when I lived too close to folks needing alterations was have them come over and show them how to do it. That way they didn't have an excuse to ask again. That said, I'd have done my mother's anytime without a second thought; she used to babysit for free, so I always owed her more time than I could pay before she passed.

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    1. That's a good idea. It won't work for me b/c I'd have to completely clean the sewing area before anybody could come over. If/when I ever do that, I'll take a page out of your book!

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  40. I hope you're not serious about waiting for your mother to die to be glad you did her alterations. Be grateful she's here now so you have the opportunity to show her that you love and appreciate her. Once she's gone, it's too late! lw (above) is absolutely right--we owe our mothers more than we can ever repay them. And I had not even the tiniest grasp of that idea until I became a parent myself. Even as adults, our relationship with our parents tends to be a selfish one. Not until the tables are turned do we realize what they've done for us.

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  41. Definitely worth it, you made her happy! I took hate doing alternations but find it very hard to say no. current alternation project - I owe a favour for a friend. he turned up with 11 (yes 11) old linen sheets he wants making into pillowcases for him his mother and sister. They are huge, have made 5 out of the first one, I AM NEVER EVER making a pillowcase again.........

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  42. Well what if she'd paid full price at Macy's?

    Hello, didn't we all start sewing because RTW wasn't cutting it (so to speak)?
    And don't you think at this point you'd do a better job than the local seamstress? No it's not fun but you can certainly gain a sense of accomplishment from it.

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  43. I only alter things for people I adore and who love me back. I loathe doing alterations, even for myself.

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  44. I love alterations because there is not commitment to a long term project. get in, get out, move on :)

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  45. Wow, why such hate? It's what I do. I get paid for it. It's a challenge, it's fun, it's a puzzle. I have come to prefer it to cutting up yardage to sew; good fabric choices are so damn limited now. And if I'm working on something vintage, it's a paid education.

    Invest in a good seam ripper or two. Undoing is the boring part. Consider a scalpel; really puts some danger into it.

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  46. Wow!!! After reading the above 54 comments I am struck once more how this blog about men and women sewing often becomes a study in the interpersonal relationships in modern society. Yes, people praise Peter for his great work, and the more experienced give technical advice, but often the comments expose deep seated motivations and emotions. Sewing advice and psychological therapy in one blog! Who would have thought that could come from "The Most Popular Men's Sewing Blog"?

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    Replies
    1. We're all works in progress, as they say! ;)

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  47. I just got asked to do some today! I vow to always do them for myself and James, but those are all still sitting in the "mending pile", oops! Otherwise, it depends on how the person asks. Their tone and language usually tell me if they actually respect my time and work. If I'm too busy I usually offer to look at it and tell them if it is worth taking to a tailor or if it is not really fixable. I also don't usually take any if I have other work going on, but today I took on a bridesmaid dress strap alteration because I'm sans travail, alas.

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  48. No zippers! I work at a state mental facility and the patients there know that I sew because I teach a sewing class. I draw the line at zippers. Usually I offer to show them how to fix it themselves. Most take me upon it. Its my coworkers that I can't impress with that technique.

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  49. I do alterations often. Co-workers mostly. I am happy to repay/exchange services. I help one coworker with his stage outfits for his jazz band and he works on my car. I help another and he wrestles with my devil possessed computer. Another co-worker is a good cook and she brings me dished I can freeze and do my best by her. Many of the alterations I do are tedious and take many hours but there is satisfaction in a job done well.

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    Replies
    1. You are one of the very rare few.......but has anyone brought you something that you just said no too?

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  50. I think it's quite kind that you do alterations for your mom. I've only ever done alterations for me and for my husband. And even then, there are certain alterations for me that I have a seamstress do - with two littles, I have limited time for sewing, and I'd rather be working on something I enjoy.

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  51. Your mom is adorable, but the thing that kills me with those tunic tops, is you could have made something nicer in probably less time than it took you to remove the cuffs and it would have been more enjoyable!

    I occasionally alter something for my husband (a well-worn button-down with frayed elbows that need to be turned into short sleeves or old khakis that need to become shorts for the garden) but only simple stuff. His clothing is mostly just too cheap to want to alter.

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  52. Only if I love them lots and lots. Otherwise, I charge $40/hour and it starts at $40. In other words, take it to someone who cares.

    Which, clearly you do. Your Mom is lucky to have you, and her smile shows it!

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    Replies
    1. Now I must admit that yours is one of the best ways to nip that whole issue in the bud! I would love to see the faces of those cheapskates when you quote that price to them! I can just picture their jaws hanging and eyes bulging!!! LOL!!

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  53. Awww! Look how happy your mom is! That said, I hate alterations. I even hate sewing on missing buttons. I say that I will fix pants, sew buttons on shirts/pants, whatever, and then it goes into the sewing room black hole and is never seen again. So I SAY yes (to husband) but it never actually happens.

    And I like the Selfish Seamstress haikus:

    Just because we're friends
    Doesn't mean I'll spend MY time
    Mending YOUR ripped sh*t.

    She kills me. :)

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    Replies
    1. The Shelfish Seamstress deserves a talk show (enough of these grown-up child actors and the steady stream of cast-off network news types).

      Besides, she'd have to restrained from assaulting ignorant guests, and wouldn't that redefine quality programming?

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  54. Bless you and your mom, those moments are precious and priceless. Call me weird...I LIKE doing mending, most of the time. It's a challenge between me and the wounded garment. and, since hubby and I are both vertically challenged, I hem a lot. Of course, there are some things I won't tackle, but if I can save someone's favorite jeans for another year, it's a win. Replaced a zip in my brother's best friend's Carhardt jacket, but wouldn't do that for anyone else in the world, except hubby! Won't touch a suit, except for a pant hem. I give them my friend's card and say, and tell them, "oh, I don't do that kind of sewing, but you can try her."

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  55. Fortunately, most of my friends have the good grace not to ask me for alterations. I will do the occasional one for my parents, grandmothers and one favorite aunt who really can't sew herself but that's about it.
    I've also made my living for the past three years by doing alterations for a bridal store and I cannot recommend that (in fact, I quit last week). Endless piles of poorly constructed plastics (i.e. polyester and nylon) to change to the weird body shapes and much weirder demands of often less-than-nice people...

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    Replies
    1. Congratulations on making that decision -- three years is a long time to do work like that, imo.

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    2. A medal or citation would be in order! Lol!

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  56. In defense of your Mom, that Jones New York blouse that may have cost her lets say $29.99 at Marshalls or such, would probably have cost at least $89.99 or something at Macy's (if not marked down on sale) instead. So, there are lots cheaper clothes (garment lines) out there. So, a garment is just a garment, no matter where you get it or what you pay. However, when paying full price for something, I think the tendency to want to have it fit you at full price (as is off the hanger) is more, and if it does not, or they just don't have your size at "mark down Marshalls" then the tendency to pick it up and have it go through the cash register there, might be greater :)

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  57. Just a tip : my MIL, mother of two boys, one of them with short arms, I know I have to go shopping with him ;-), told me she always altered shirt sleeves at the top instead of detaching the cuff. I don't alter shirt sleeves, we nowadays buy the right ones ;-), but its also a question of money, the right ones are more expensive.

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  58. I am not food at alterations because sewing is actually pretty boring. I enjoy the act of creating art to wear only. Tailor shops exist for a reason: these professionals have worked out a system and a price scale that covers their time and overhead. I think people should support their local businesses and consult the right pro for the job.

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