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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So I have tried three tailors so far. The first one ruined a pair of jeans and a shirt, then the next one who's a relative didn't sew the hem on a pair of jeans correctly because "her sewing machine can't do it and the needle would break."

The last one, which I found the best and have been taking my clothes to is decent. However, I don't feel like her knowledge is enough, and something happened today that raised a red flag for me. I took a shirt to her for alterations and we agreed we'll dart it rather than take it in from the sides. But then once I got home I read that you shouldn't dart casual shirts and shirts with patterns (mine is a striped OCBD). Then I called her to ask if we can take it in at the side seams instead, and she basically said no. She said, "Not really, it would be kind of difficult. It's sewn in such a way that it would be a hassle. Plus we have already agreed we'll dart it and I planned accordingly." I told her to stick with darting then and we'll see how it turns out.

I live in a small town and finding decent tailors has been an impossible task for me, and I have no clue where to start looking in nearby towns, and since I don't drive this would introduce a real challenge for me (public transport is bad around here). My aunt is a tailor and she tells me her customers are really satisfied, but my mother had her tailor some clothes a few years ago and she didn't like how they turned out. So I'm now considering getting a sewing machine, learning how to tailor and tailor my own clothes from now on. Everything, from hemming and tapering pants to altering shirts (all kinds of alterations), to tailoring sport coats, jackets and outerwear. I feel like this is literally the only way I'll ever get a decent tailoring job for my clothes.

How realistic is this? I'm considering looking for online courses to learn. I would basically be learning how to be a tailor.
 

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Even if you learned the various skills necessary to be a competent tailor, I would think it would be difficult to tailor your own clothes because you can't step back and see how they fit, particularly from behind. It's kind of like a barber trying to cut his own hair. Plus, I think that it probably takes years of apprenticeship to become a good tailor. I doubt youtube is going to get you there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Even if you learned the various skills necessary to be a competent tailor, I would think it would be difficult to tailor your own clothes because you can't step back and see how they fit, particularly from behind. It's kind of like a barber trying to cut his own hair. Plus, I think that it probably takes years of apprenticeship to become a good tailor. I doubt youtube is going to get you there.
You're right. It would basically be a full time job to learn the skills, and I'm not sure I can handle two. Though I thought I could find paid online courses, not free YouTube videos.

Anyway, what would you recommend that I do then? Finding a decent tailor has been proving to be a near impossible task for me. They're either too incompetent, do a half baked job or are plain lazy (like in my recent experience). I don't feel good wearing my clothes ill-fitting anymore. I need a decent tailor yesterday. Should I just accept that that's about as good as I'll get and accept half baked jobs? My current tailor is decent. I've been using her mainly for hemming and tapering pants and she's been doing a pretty good job, it's just with the shirts that she started becoming too lazy to do her job (taking the shirt in at the side seams because it's "too much of a hassle" I mean). Why did she have to do this and raise a red flag now after having done an amazing job on all my pants?
 

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There is also a difference between a tailor and an alterations person. You could probably learn to do alterations much more quickly than you could actually tailoring your own clothing. The issues the OP refer to in the initial post are generally alteration questions rather than all out construction questions.
 

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If all you are doing is darting shirts, hemming pants, and taking in seams, that doesn't take any great skill. Hemming jeans is a little different, but only due to the weight of the material. It takes a heavy-duty machine and needle. I've even done as much as closing a vent and cutting out the back lining on a sport coat, all by hand. When I'm wearing it, you would never know it has been altered. Shortening jacket sleeves is quite do-able, if you don't mind spending the time. I do some of my own alterations just because I like doing it and I don't mind spending the time. It probably takes me 2 to 3 times longer than it would a professional, but for me it is more like a hobby.
 

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Just to echo @fishertw, you need to determine what you want to achieve and learn: alteration or full tailoring.

If you want to start on your own without going professionally (like a hobby or craft), start checking on how to alter your own clothes first before you move to the difficult ones. Fixing tears, sewing buttons and hemming should be fairly easy to do. Then shortening sleeve, taking in trouser legs are the next to do. Taking in waist or others with a tailored jacket will be next.

I would not think you will or want to start drafting your own pattern, sewing canvass and shoulder pads and what not. That is like if you want to do this professionally, or more like next level goals.

Yes, you probably need a sewing machine, and you can buy one easily and learn how to sew. But then you need to know what to do with all the sewing and things. You need info on how to do it.

I would suggest you to go to a library that carries the tailoring books and browse through some of the tasks that you want to do yourself. Threads magazine (https://www.threadsmagazine.com/) has lots of good info and books that you can determine if you want to purchase to learn more about sewing and alteration. May I suggest this following book: Simple Tailoring and Alterations by J. Francois-Campbell (ISBN 9781861089595). It lists out many alteration tasks, including tapering trouser legs and shirts taken in, that you can do yourself. I find it very useful if you want to learn to alter your own clothes.

Hope this is helpful to you.
 

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An old tailor, who used to write here, suggested community college or tech school. That is, evening classes. Places that sell sewing machines, cloth and what not also have classes, or know people who have classes. While this is not the tradition of tailors it is fine for alterations tailors. Getting skills with the sewing machine and serger can be rather practical.

YouTube, I recommend Rory Duffy and The Yorkshire Tailor. The Yorkshire Tailor, not sure I'd pay money to him (he sure scammed a number of people here). Rory Duffy has online pattern making classes and a website to look at. These are about making cloth, which is far more advanced than altering clothing.
 

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My current tailor is decent. I've been using her mainly for hemming and tapering pants and she's been doing a pretty good job, it's just with the shirts that she started becoming too lazy to do her job (taking the shirt in at the side seams because it's "too much of a hassle" I mean). Why did she have to do this and raise a red flag now after having done an amazing job on all my pants?
Perhaps, "I realize it's more work, and am willing to compensate you fairly in order to get your best professional efforts," would have solved this problem before it created a rift in your life.
 

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I am pretty good with my sewing machine from making my own camping gears - tents, sleeping bags, ponchos, mittens, etc. and was complemented for my skill often. But with my suits, I don't think I can do good enough job as a hobbyist. Anything other than simple hemming can ruin the look with only a slight imperfection. Hemming is cheap enough to not waste my own time anyway.

I realize it's more work, and am willing to compensate you fairly in order to get your best professional efforts
I actually said exactly that to my tailor at the first few times when she seemed hesitating. Now she knows that I am a fair customer.

When I decided to look better a couple of months ago, I learned that I will need a great relationship with a good alteration tailor rather than a dry cleaner who also does alteration, especially because I have an odd body shape but can't afford bespoke suits.

I found a highly recommended yet very affordable lady on Yelp with 30+ years of experience starting before she immigrated from Vietnam. I wanted her and not her associate to personally handle my suits with even more care than what her average clients would receive.

From the day one at her house-converted alteration shop, I always paid full price plus tip in cash in advance and never questioned on her price which I already knew to be very reasonable. I tried to patiently communicated my expectations in detail with her limited English, praised on outcome yet kept asking re-work which I insisted on paying again fully or at least partially when I didn't like the outcome I ordered.

A couple of dozen pants (I hemmed all my long pants including sportswear and PJ's) and a few jackets later, I brought her a new suit to shorten sleeves and hem pants. Then she proactively offered waist suppression and carefully pinned both center and side seams. I am excited to see how it would turn out. BTW, her turn out on my orders has been gradually reduced from three weeks to a week.

I plan to gradually increase my budget on suits. I also I plan to loose some weight yet keep some of my current suits. Improving both the relationship with her and my own skill to make better alteration decisions will be very useful.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't recommend this but considering the circumstance: online MTM. It'll probably take a lot of back and forth initially but once it nails your measurements, reordering is too easy you might go broke.
I have tried ordering with Tailor Store but the fit was off. They helped me optimize the measurements and offered me a free second shirt, but again the fit was not very good. They offered a third free shirt after optimizing the measurements again, but I've become hesitant. To my knowledge their guarantee suggests that they will keep making me shirts until the fit is good.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Perhaps, "I realize it's more work, and am willing to compensate you fairly in order to get your best professional efforts," would have solved this problem before it created a rift in your life.
Who said I didn't tell her this? I've told her multiple times, "I'm willing to pay for a job well done, money is not an issue. Please do not hesitant to ask for whatever you feel would compensate you for your troubles." But then each time I visit she offers heavily discounted prices. I even once gave her some extra and she returned them to me and insisted on her initial price. I will tell it to her even another time in a different way this time, see if it makes a difference. If someone isn't willing to do their job because it's "too much of a hassle," there's only so much I as a customer can do to talk them out of it. In fact I feel like as a customer I shouldn't have to care how difficult their job is, especially after having told them I'm willing to pay any price they ask for and truly have no issue with paying more for harder jobs. If their job was easy I wouldn't be paying them to do it and would do it myself instead.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
You may have run into cultural differences. That means offing more money is not going to work. There is also how knowledgeable they are. Can't ask them to do what they don't know.
But they should know how to do it. I would expect a tailor to know how to do this stuff. Otherwise they can simply tell me they can't do it, which in a way my current tailor did say it. It's a pity to be honest. I like my tailor. She's actually really good, has been doing an amazing job with my pants. I just got the shirt from her and I would give the job a 4/10. I want to give her another chance, I very much want to, but I'm not getting those shirts for free... and also finding another decent tailor is going to be a real change where I live. The shirt is ok, it's wearable, but it's nowhere near what I'd consider an excellent job. It's somewhere between half-baked and mediocre, maybe hesitantly acceptable in the best case. It's unfortunate, but it's the truth.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Some tailors do use darts in shirts.
With out darts it is more complicated. If you make one place smaller it bulges out another place. Here is a method (post #3) you can take next time to the alterations tailor. Methods are far from uniform around the world.
I'm most likely not going to try more tailors anymore. I even tried asking other guys from my country that care about style for tailor recommendations, and they said good tailors simply don't exist in this country. I might be able to find a good one in a farther city but since I don't drive it's going to be challenging and I would be needing to take too many days off for it to be worth it. I've decided to learn how to do alterations myself. I realize this will take time and practice so in the meantime MTM seems to be my best option. As for taking in shirts from the side seams, how hard is it to take correct measurements? It's beyond me how an experienced tailor can't do this basic alteration properly.
 

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I would like to add my "two cents" to this post, for what it is worth. I do all of my own alterations on clothing using an inexpensive sewing machine ( a new $75.00 sewing machine is more than enough for the job). I started doing so about 6 months ago. I have developed my skills to the point that I can remove a center vent, slim the waist of a suit jacket and adjust sleeve length (the most time intensive alteration). This is a skill that quickly improves with practice. The good thing is that every suit is constructed exactly the same way so you improve through repetition. I thrift my entire wardrobe. The only shortcut I take is when closing up a jacket lining. I haven't learned a way to do so expertly with a machine so I use "Stitch Witchery" hot press stitching tape to quickly and invisibly do so. It works!

Buy some cheap but quality items from a thrift shop and practice on them. At best, you will have some nice, perfectly tailored items to add to your wardrobe at very low cost. At worst, you'll have some throwaway items that offered good practice. Here are some of my self-altered suits and sportcoats. The money I saved on altering just one or two garments paid for my sewing machine. If you like to thrift menswear, this reduces the cost of building a quality wardrobe to peanuts. Try it, you'll like it!

Clothing Outerwear Shoulder White Product

This is a thrifted sportscoat I paid $13.00 for. I removed the rear center vent and slimmed the waist.
Outerwear Shirt White Dress shirt Tie

Cheap seersucker sportcoats always fit like a sack. I removed the rear center and slimmed the body here as well.
 

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Good photography. No cell phone aimed at a tooth-paste splattered mirror for you.

However, I would caution anyone new to tailoring to spend even a nickle on a machine. Most jacket tailoring requires the precision only a steady hand holding a threaded needle can achieve. I speak of altering cuffs, reattaching sleeves after shoulder adjustment and, one you mention, resewing lining. The glue thing you used is a rube move. You seem hung up on removing center vents, why's that? A machine's useful for long straight lines, narrowing pant legs, fabricating garment bags maybe. Otherwise, a good northern light, a needle, a steady hand and a ball game on the radio is what you need.
 

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Good photography. No cell phone aimed at a tooth-paste splattered mirror for you.

However, I would caution anyone new to tailoring to spend even a nickle on a machine. Most jacket tailoring requires the precision only a steady hand holding a threaded needle can achieve. I speak of altering cuffs, reattaching sleeves after shoulder adjustment and, one you mention, resewing lining. The glue thing you used is a rube move. You seem hung up on removing center vents, why's that? A machine's useful for long straight lines, narrowing pant legs, fabricating garment bags maybe. Otherwise, a good light, needle, steady hand and a ball game on the radio is all you need.
I agree! I don't pretend to be an accomplished tailor, I am a rube! However, a basic sewing machine with a decent straight stitch, a seam ripper, good scissors and a chalk pencil (and the aforementioned Stitch Witchery) allows me to take in jackets, remove center vents, and alter pant waists. I can do hand sewing for cuffs and inseams. Because my entire tailored wardrobe is thrifted, if a garment requires more tailoring than I can master, I practice on it or get rid of it. Did I mention that I enjoy tailoring my clothes?

Many times we intimidate ourselves into never attempting to master a new skill. Sewing is a craft that has a learning curve, but so does anything that is a worthwhile accomplishment.

I like a ventless jacket purely as an aesthetic preference, I think they are more flattering for my body type than a center-vented jacket. Here is another thrifted jacket (linen, Hart Schaffner & Marx Gold Trumpeter) that I altered by removing the center vent and slimming the jacket:

Outerwear Dress shirt Neck Sleeve Gesture
 
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