This week I'm excited to share a guest beau-ties post by Balani Custom Clothiers...
Everyone ages. We gain a few pounds, we lose a few pounds, and our bodies change shape over the years. Because of this, an otherwise perfect piece of clothing often ceases to fit. But with a few basic skills, it might not be too difficult to make slight alterations to your favorite suit, whether it be store-bought or previously tailored.
Knowing Your Limits
The first order of business is facing the facts. How do you tailor your own suit? Long answer short, you probably can't. Tailoring a suit, or any other piece of clothing for that matter, is not a task that most men can hope to handle with a level of precision adequate enough that it doesn't defeat the purpose of tailoring in the first place. Professional tailors spend literally thousands of hours of study and practice before they even begin to venture into more complex clothing alterations. If you're looking to acquire the skills necessary to tailor your own clothes, start looking into fashion design or tailoring courses at your nearest community college or technical school, and give it a try.
For the rest of you, start with the best you can. Buy your suit at a store which specializes in menswear. If you choose to have a suit tailored to your fit, don't hesitate to ask your tailor any questions you may have regarding the process. It's a great way to learn a little about what kind of changes are to be made to your suit.
Because it simply isn't feasible that someone of average, or even intermediate, skill will be able to fully tailor his own suit, this guide will focus on a couple of simple alterations that anyone can try. In addition, for those of you who feel the risk is worth the reward, a simple list of average suit alteration limitations will be provided to help you with your efforts.
One of the most common clothing alterations that almost anyone can do is routine hemming. Often this is done to repair frayed trousers, but in this case you'll probably be simply adjusting the length. The same can be done to the sleeves of your suit jacket as well.
You'll need something called tailor's chalk before you get started (also necessary for more complex alterations). It'll be used to mark the areas where alterations are to be made and won't leave any lasting marks on the suit. You'll also need a needle, thread, scissors, ruler, iron and ironing board, and a sewing machine if you have one. Very thin pins are also necessary, but be careful they're not wide enough to mark the fabrics. Some are very delicate.
- Start off by wearing the dress shoes you'd expect to be wearing with the suit. Decide how much "break" you want at the bottom of the pant legs. This choice can be influenced by how you'll be wearing the suit, your own sense of style and fashion, etc. Generally, you'll want the pant leg just touching the shoe without bunching. Determine the level of break with your ruler, and then mark it with your tailor's chalk.
- Pin the new hemline in place.
- Make a crease with the iron to mark the new length.
- Rip the seam out the original hemline, if there is one. This can be done with a seam ripper if you happen to have one handy.
- Cut away the excess fabric.
- Sew a zigzag seam at the edge of the trimmed fabric. The sewing machine is useful for this step. Then sew a single line about every half-inch or so to keep the fabric together.
Simple alterations almost anyone can do include button and zipper replacement. You can also adjust the suit jacket sleeve length in a similar manner to hemming, but this is only an option for jacket sleeves that have non-working buttons or are unlined.
Again, complex alterations are only recommended for skilled tailors or those learning to become tailors. But for those who would like to give it a try, here are a few basic guidelines in order to make the most of the fabric available for the most commonly needed alterations.
- Jacket can be shortened, as desired.
- Shoulder width can only be reduced up to just over an inch.
- Sleeves can be lengthened or shortened only a tiny bit.
- All areas of the torso can be reduced or expanded up to just over an inch.
- Pants waist can be expanded up to just over 1.5 inches and reduced.
These tailoring and style tips brought to you by the style team at Balani Custom Clothiers.