Clothing Alterations and Repairs

Velcro instead of buttons

Difficult with doing up buttons?

Did you know about the alternatives to buttons that velcro can make?

Try watching the video…

An Alternatives Happy Customer

I thought I would share a story which one of my customers e-mailed to me recently, I feel privileged that I can help my customers in such a positive way:

“Hello Lydia, 

I just wanted to relay to you a little story that happened to me today. I have managed to arrange another interview for Thursday in Northampton and this time I was quite keen not to “blow it” and so determined to dress the part; I went looking for suitable (and fitting) attire. I tried at Tesco in Bletchley, Matalan, ASDA, BHS and both local branches of TK Maxx, prices in each case were higher than I am able to presently afford and nothing looked really good enough to impress. I had by the way looked on-line last week at some websites that sold Cerruti suits, but prices were a little out of my league, even if I had been fully employed hence my search for something less stylish but perhaps affordable – all those stores I mentioned offered neither of these requirements. I thought to myself that I will take your advice and get a Cerruti suit as soon as I was in a position to do so.

So today, I decided that I was going to drive to Stony Stratford and look at the charity shops, first one was Oxfam, but they had nothing at all, I then tried the Red Cross shop. I have to tell you that my requirement is a wee bit particular – I need a slim fit 38 R with 32 S trousers and it must also be a darkish material. The first suite I looked at there was a 38R so I took it to the little change room and tried on the jacket, it fitted like it was made for me. I then checked the label in the trousers and they were 32 S, I couldn’t believe it was a perfect dark grey suit that was slim-line cut and all the right measurements. I then decided to read the label to see who it was made by and I went cold when I read the name – Cerruti. So I followed your advice and it only cost me £12.50. You are a superstar thank you for impressing that name into my psyche, I had never heard of it until last Tuesday.”


Cliff, my customer, then went on to request a further two alterations for shortening trouser bottoms… by the way, I love shortening trouser bottoms.

I have a huge Thank You to Cliff for letting me share this story.

For People who wear Trousers

When customers go shopping they aim to buy a trouser which fit them around the waist and in the length as well. The British , Continental and American Standard Sizing all use different measures for their size charts. eg there is 4 cm difference between the French and Italian Busts. Which would you guess has the larger size. If you ask I will tell you……

I digress we were talking about our Trousers. Because so-called identical garments can be made in different countries by different manufacturers it is very important to try every pair on. For ladies , the correct shoes or boots while you are shopping is a good idea. If you are buying separates to hopefully wear as a suit please check the dye lots. A darker trouser can make a lighter Jacket look faded. (Look carefully if the garments are being bought at Sale times ! A garment which hangs in the wardrobe not worn , is not a Bargain.)I forgot to tell you , in the 5 years I worked for Aquascutum I was trained as a Quality Controller which gives one a particularly eagle eye for irregularities.

Another consideration is shrinkage. If garments are made from natural fibers ie. cotton , wool , flax, silk , or processed as viscous (and are not dry clean only ) they probably need to be washed before they are altered. So unless you are sure of your manufacturer. (eg Marks and Spencer’s clothes have never shrunk in my experience – unless you tell me differently of course ) . Corduroy and velvet type fabrics can shrink . Well the message is just be aware of this and try not to buy clothes on the tight side . In my next blog I am going to tell you how I shorten trousers for those under 30 years who did not study textiles at school. it is not difficult and takes about 20 min to an hour depending on the type of hem . I will be using my codes which I developed in 1994. So TA01 is a top stitched hem. TA02 is a suit hem which is blind stitched ( you cannot see the sewing on the outside as for a suit) TA03 is a turn up . (Now this one is difficult and must only be tried by experienced machinists or a valuable garment might be ruined). ANY OF THESE ALTERATIONS BEING TRIED ARE AT THE RISK OF THE PERSON DOING IT . THERE IS A SAYING MEASURE TWICE TO CUT ONCE.

In The Beginning

Welcome to people who wear clothes ( Perhaps you have a problem finding your standard size ?) Oh yes, that could be you ! Perhaps you like sewing – well I would definitely like to have a chat with you. Perhaps you hate sewing ? I would like to tell you about my service for shortening trousers . You have no idea how exiting I find being able to talk to you. No annoying sales pitches just sharing our common interests. This post is due to the patience and skills of my daughter Alison ( not to mention putting up with a Mum who is self-employed and has loved sewing since she was 7 years old , when the Dominican Sisters in the Umtali Convent Southern Rhodesia started teaching her in in 1957 with a cross stitch sampler. My senior school was in the Dominican Convent High School , Salisbury also in Southern Rhodesia , now Zimbabwe. I was privileged to have the most patient and precise sewing teacher called Sr Mary Gratiana , who’s quality spec I have spent a working life time tried to live up to .( Anyone who was taught by her and liked sewing will know what I mean.)

In the early 1990′s my ex husband had friends who owned a cyber cafe in Bournemouth. He downloaded a text on tailoring . Well that was me gone hook line and sinker. One day, I thought, I am going to talk to people all over the world about Clothing Alterations without going out of my front door, and learn all about other people’s experiences and their ways of sewing garments, and share my own , and today is the day I begin. Well that is providing you would like to chat with me, ( or make comments on other peoples input ). ……….. In my mind I can see I could have a problem finding time to sew. I have done talks to about 56 WI’s and groups in Buckinghamshire so I know there are legions of people who love their wardrobes . ( My talk was ‘The Lifecyle of a Wardrobe’ but unfortunately I was taken off the WI’s speakers list for being too boring. Oh dear is this when you move to reading someone else’s blog.)

I am Dyslexic and failed the theory for my O’level needlework with a distinction for the practical, so they failed me. I was gutted as you can imagine. I passed art and I cannot draw for toffee’s. Oh and passed English Language. I do like stories and talking. I went to the Rose Brueford drama school in Sidcup in 1969, afterwards The Dooreen Bird School of Theatre Dance , also in Sidcup. I started work with Aquascutum in 1974 making coats in St Albans and they later transferred me to the factory in Bletchley to supervise the hem section . I worked for them until 1979. In the last 6 months of working for them I went to The London School of Fashion night classes 2 evenings a week from Bletchley station to Curtain Road , Old Street in London to study City and Guilds in Ladies Bespoke Tailoring ( I passed this with Distinction for the practical and credit for the theory . Now that was a miracle.) I moved work to Eastex in Luton for 9 months ,to make 250 skirts a week for £50.00, as this was closer to my family and colledge. I could not get a council house so I continued living in Bradville and worked for Kay Cosserat a very excellent knitwear designer. During this time by selling my mini I bought my first Brother Industrial Sewing Machine and Over locker, from SEWING MACHINE SERVICES (Luton) Ltd in Hightown. I was made redundant after 9 months. After 5 weeks of looking for work I started work with Adloo Garment manufacturers on Bradville industry making jeans. Now that was hard work but we all had a good giggle (no supervisor here). I registered self employed from September 1981 having just received 3 credits for my supervisory exam in Factory Management having taken my finals in June 1981.

Now I started to learn to sew for a lifetime and have never stopped learning. In 1988 I worked as the Manageress in Ambasador Dry Cleaning in Dickins and Jones for 9 months, but lost my job due to the fire in January 1989. I opened my Clothing Alteration Shop in Stony Stratford, Milton Keynes in September of the same year thanks to ‘Vic The Doorman’ who rented me a room. I moved to my last premises at the back of the Bull Hotel in 1991 and closed the shop to do my Collection and Delivery service from home in 2008.

Are you still there? Well I just wanted you to be able to decide whether you thought I knew enough about sewing to talk to. I have had many experiences and made and altered thousands of garments in the last 38 years. I worked with brilliant machinists whose skills have left me speechless- now image that. I have got carpel tunnel, arthritis in my knees and my glasses get thicker , but you see – I love sewing , and meeting and serving new customers. Every day is like that ‘box of chocolates ‘ Forest Gump spoke of. I can’t wait to start sharing with you some of the tips I have picked up over the years and reading your experiences. This is a whole new world. Thanks for sharing it with me.