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A variation of the following article was featured in the September 2009 edition of the TeeMcBee Image Consulting e-zine.

How a Dressmaker Can Recreate Your Favorite Look

By Diana Spring Sidley,  Mentionables,  ltd. OwnerM

Take a look in your closet.   Do you have a favorite blouse you wish you could own in every color?  Do you have a classic jacket that is either worn threadbare or doesn’t quite fit anymore?  You hunt through department stores in vain.  Well, your search ends with your local dressmaker.

Yes, a dressmaker’s forte is creating new looks based on a concept or image.  But we can also copy an existing garment.   Imagine being able to make your favorite, classic pieces last forever.  Get them in all your power colors – get them to fit your body exactly.  You can even make minor adjustments for variety (make long sleeves short, add trim, add pockets). 

I am currently working with [TeeMcBee Owner,] Traci on copying a favorite jacket of hers.  She tried on the jacket for me and we discussed some minor changes and appropriate fabrics.  Traci left the jacket with me and in a couple days, I had copied the pattern.

You can have just about anything copied.   Say you have a pair of pants that are worn through at the knees – you can’t wear them anymore, and you can’t find them in the stores.  For garments that won’t be worn again, a dressmaker can take the piece apart to create a pattern.  This is a more accurate and preferable method, but it’s not a must.  A skilled dressmaker can copy your garment without taking it apart.  

After the pattern is made, I usually have at least two fittings.  For Traci’s first fitting, her jacket was unfinished so that changes could still be made with little fabric waste.  Seams were unfinished and basted together, sleeves were pinned on during the fitting after checking the fit of the armhole, and all closures, pockets and decorative stitching were left for the second fitting.   At her second fitting, the jacket will basically be finished and all that may be left will be minor tweaking.

The cost of having a pattern made depends on the complexity of the garment.  A simpler design with fewer pieces would cost less than one with more components.  You pay for the pattern only once, even if you have more than one of the same garment made.  The cost of building the garment itself, again depends on the details.  Traci’s jacket, while unlined and rather unstructured in terms of tailoring, does have a lot details in decorative stitching and seam lines and so it's cost reflected  those details.

This process may seem pricey compared to the cost of the original garment bought in a department store, but consider what you are getting – a one of a kind piece, made exactly to your specifications, and to fit exactly your shape and size.  A well made garment like this should last you a long time and you will find it well worth the money spent. 

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