Why everyone should be getting their clothes altered in 202212/31/2021
The first time I decided to go to a tailor it was to fix my favourite pair of Topshop mom jeans.
The zip had broken, and I wasn’t willing to part with the jeans, that cost me £40, because I knew I wouldn’t find any as perfect.
At this point, I’d owned the jeans for around two years. After spending £10 on a new zipper, I still wear those jeans another two years down the line.
Before then, I’d have simply stuffed the jeans at the bottom of my wardrobe and forked out for a new pair, but we’re leaving that in the past.
Why should I get my clothes tailored?
The fast fashion industry is one of the largest contributors to global emissions and waste, all which contribute to the climate crisis.
Research released last year from Aalto University in Finland revealed that over 92 million tonnes of waste was being produced by the fashion industry per year, with 11,000 items of clothing to landfill every week in the UK alone.
While shopping ethically and second-hand are two impactful ways to lower our carbon footprints, working with what we already have is even better.
Not only that, getting your clothes altered can help to boost confidence and save money, too.
It opened a whole new world to me
Emily, from London, started getting her clothes altered after she had a suit tailored for her wedding.
She tells Metro.co.uk: ‘It was pretty cheap, and it opened a whole new world to me because I’m quite short and curvy, so I previously had to be so picky about the clothes I bought.
‘I’ve now got zips replaced on stuff I once loved and I’ve dug out jeans that were too long and got them altered.’
She adds: ‘It’s made me a lot more body-confident because things actually fit now, rather than sit weirdly on my hips,’ she says.
‘It’s also saved me a lot of money because I’ve started using the clothes I already had in my wardrobe rather than buying new things.’
Shilpa Bilimoria-Cherry, creative director and founder of House of Bilimoria, echoes this: ‘When you own items that fit you and your proportions perfectly, you will naturally feel better in those pieces, so the cycle of the item becomes longer, so you won’t need as many new clothes.
‘You are more inclined to move back towards staple pieces that you know you feel incredible in and work with your body opposed to something new.
I have seen this through the years of work that I do with our clients, and repaired and altered items more than once, as they move through the seasons of people’s lives.’
‘When someone has their clothes altered to fit them, they show up with a newfound confidence and people around them notice that.
‘This is what has the pieces then work over and over.’
When should I give up on an item of clothing?
If you’ve been loving an item for years and years, sometimes it genuinely will become unusable, in its original form at least.
But how can you tell if it’s time to hang it up?
According to Shilpa, ‘this would be when areas of the item have had the weave of the cloth completely deteriorate.’
At that point, the original garment can’t be rescued – but it doesn’t need to be the end of its life cycle.
‘In this case, perhaps upcycling rather than buying something new entirely would be the way to go,’ Shilpa adds.
‘Parts of the piece could be salvaged and worked into a new piece.
‘If it is completely unusable, we advise responsibly disposing of the item with companies that shred and recycle the cloth.’
Do I have to take my clothes to a tailor?
While taking your clothes to be professionally altered is a no-fuss solution, if you’re hoping to save even more money and cut out the middleman, why not learn how to do it yourself?
Whenever London-based Chandni needs to fix or alter an item of clothing, she simply hops on to her mother’s sewing machine and does it herself.
She tells us: ‘I’ve repaired worn out pieces I love rather than buying new.
‘A few months ago, I ended up taking out a load of trousers and skirts I’d previously taken in, because I’d gained some weight over lockdown and needed them looser again.
‘Plus, if I buy something that doesn’t fit perfectly that I still love, I’ll usually just alter it to make it fit.’
(Much more practical than pretending you’re going to send something back for 30 days straight before trying and failing to sell it on Depop).
One benefit of doing it yourself is that, when you decide a garment is unsalvageable, it won’t go to waste.
‘If a piece is truly beyond saving, I’ll strip it for parts and keep zippers, buttons, and material that’s still in-tact and use those to make new clothes,’ adds Chandni.
How to learn to alter your own clothes
Use magic tape
If you haven’t mastered the art of the needle, you can take clothes up and hem them by using fusible tape.
‘When I was at university, I didn’t have access to a sewing machine, says Chandni. ‘So, I’d just use magic tape, heated with hair straighteners because I also didn’t have an iron.’
‘Having a sewing box with a few threads, needles, scissors, etc. is such a good idea,’ says We Are Kin founder Ngoni Chikwenengere.
‘When going to special event always take a similar colour thread and needle to the outfit you’re wearing, just in case.
‘Also, make sure to keep hold of spare buttons – they come in really handy!’
Sewing by hand
Next, says Chandni, if you’re planning to sew by hand, make sure to map out where you want to sew first
‘Also make sure you’re going over the area a few times to keep it secure,’ she adds.
‘Try using short stitches too so things don’t gape awkwardly at the seam.
‘You can pin things down before sewing just to check how the finished product will look on, too.’
Learn from social media
Social media is an indispensable tool when it comes to acquiring a new skill.
‘YouTube and Instagram are brilliant for learning how to do certain things,’ says Ngoni.
‘Even as a fashion designer I still search certain things.’
Don’t cut anything unless you’re sure
‘The biggest bit of advice I’d give is not to cut anything until you’re 100% sure,’ says Chandni.
‘If you’re taking something in and you can leave the excess material there – please do.
‘That way, if you gain weight later you can just let the item out again.
‘Also, if you’re unsure about measurements and don’t have any measuring tape, use an item that fits you well in a similar material as a guide of how to alter it.’
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