Seamstresses provide tailoring, alteration and custom sewing for clothing or costumes. Seamstresses can reshape clothing that is too big or too small so that it fits properly — for example, hemming pants that are too long or bringing in the waistband of pants or a skirt that is too large. Seamstresses can also provide more complex alterations such as adding tucks to shape a dress or bringing in the body of a shirt. More time and expertise will be required for challenging fabric such as silk or clothing with lining, like a blazer or lined slacks. Seamstresses are also skilled in altering wedding dresses and other formal wear. The time and skill required for these types of alterations is greater than for basic tasks like hemming, so be sure to find an experienced seamstress to handle your special items.
Many seamstresses can also custom-make clothing for you. To come up with the design, you can bring in a pattern you like or an item of clothing you want the seamstress to replicate, or ask the seamstress to create a pattern for you. You can bring your own unique design to life with the help of a seamstress. There is no formal job training required to be a seamstress; many learn to sew and design from practical experience. For larger projects, like tailoring a suit, always be sure to review portfolios of work and read about the seamstress’s experience before committing.
The price for seamstress services will vary depending on the type of work you have done. The national average rate for a seamstress or tailor is $150-$280. Simple projects like repairing holes and hemming jeans usually have flat rates; larger projects, such as sewing custom creations, altering suits or altering wedding dresses, are typically priced based on the specifics of the fabric and pattern and the amount of work time needed. Here are a few examples of tailor and seamstress average costs:
- Shorten sleeves of a dress shirt: $19.
- Shorten jacket sleeves: $23 (without buttons) to $28 (with buttons).
- Take in the body of a jacket: $40 (two seams) to $52 (three seams).
- Take in a dress shirt: $20.
- Adjust the shoulders of a jacket: $35.
- Hem a skirt or dress: $10-$14.
- Take in or let out a skirt or pair of pants: $15 (unlined) to $20 (lined) or $25 (with a zipper).
- Shorten top-stitched pants: $10.
- Shorten cuffed pants: $14.
- Shorten lined pants: $14.
- Shorten lined and cuffed pants: $18.
- Take in a sheath dress: $45.
- Restitch a fraying seam: $5.
- Replace buttons: 50 cents each.
- Move a button: $2.
- Add a hook and eye: 50 cents per set.
Tipping seamstresses is not standard protocol. That said, anytime a talented seamstress goes above and beyond, offering a gratuity is a thoughtful gesture. A gratuity might be appropriate if the seamstress accepted a large project for you at the last minute — for example, hemming new suit pants the night before your work trip or taking in your party dress the day before your birthday. A gratuity may also be appropriate as recognition for the long hours of skilled stitching that your seamstress has put in altering your wedding dress, which often requires multiple fittings and precise fixes to make your dress perfect. If you do decide to offer a gratuity, first ask if the seamstress accepts gratuities; if they do, offer them an additional 15 percent to 20 percent of the total bill.