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Costs and Tailoring for Suit Jacket Alterations

Ffixing your suit and achieving a good fit is important. In fact, professional stylists all over the world agree that proper fit is the most important part of any outfit  than color, patterns or even material. Spending a few bucks to improve the fit of your suits is often a great investment – when done correctly.

Suit Alteration Difficulty Can Affect Your Options

The Three Categories of Suit Alteration Difficulty:

Easy – Alterations that can be completed anywhere, including mom and pop dry cleaners.

Moderate – Alterations that will take a professional tailor to complete properly. This means the tailoring shop does not moonlight as a cleaners and focuses solely on alterations and repairs.

Expert– The toughest alterations that should be left only to the best reviewed professional tailors in your area. Note: most suburban and rural areas and even some smaller metropolitan areas may not have this level of tailoring expertise available. If you have your doubts on a tailor after doing research, it may be advisable to reconsider this alteration altogether.

Altering Your Suit Jacket

Suit Jacket alterations can be a tricky task to undertake. This is due to the fact that a great-fitting suit jacket is a delicate balancing act between the shoulders, chest and arms. When one area doesn’t fit well, it can throw off the fit of the entire jacket. Consequently, when one of these three areas is disrupted or altered, it’s very easy to cause a complication somewhere else as a result. If you’re going to buy an off-the-rack suit or blazer: make sure the shoulders fit. Shoulder alterations are the most expensive with suits jackets and not many alterations tailors can truly do the work well.

Reduce/Extend Sleeves

suit-alteration-sleeves

Estimated Cost: $30 – $45
Difficulty: Easy

If you are dealing with sleeves that are either too long or too short, there are easy tailoring solutions to help alleviate your problem. When shortening sleeves, there is no realistic limitation to how short you can go, however, the amount you can extend is dictated by how much spare fabric exists inside the sleeves itself as the tailor will use that excess material to create the extension.

Reducing Collar Roll

suit-alteration-collar-roll

Estimated Cost: $35 – $45
Difficulty: Easy

This alteration is one of the least-common, and is required when additional fabric begins pooling at the collar point. This is primarily caused by an incorrect cut when posture is set. The tailor will simply pin around ¼” of excess fabric and cut.

Tapering Suit Jacket Sleeves

suit-alteration-tapering-sleeves

Estimated Cost: $30 – $75
Difficulty: Easy

Tapering the sleeves involves the process of your tailor reducing from the seams so that the wrap fits comfortably around the shirt cuffs. There are three points that can be reduced, the forearm, the bicep and the shoulder. However, if your sleeves need to be tapered past ½”, the tailor will have to start taking from the shoulder seams, which in turn will drive up the price.

Take-in/Let-out Suit Jacket

suit-alteration-take-in-take-out-suit

Estimated Cost $40 – $65
Difficulty: Moderate

The process of taking in or letting out your suit jacket involves the tailor pinning the side seams based on your desired fit, and taking from either the chest, the stomach/waist, the vents or all three zones. When tailors take suit jackets in (reducing circumference), they will un-sew the seams and re-sew deeper into the garment away from the fabric edge. Many tailors know to not cut away the excess fabric in case the garment needs to be let-out again later (“non-destructive tailoring”) but it never hurts to remind the tailor if you’re so inclined.

On the other hand, letting out the jacket involves making the jacket bigger by un-sewing the seam and re-sewing further out. The only problem with this alteration is that tailors can only let-out an area of the garment if there is additional fabric available under the seams to work with; most off-the-rack manufacturers do not not include this in abundance or do so inconsistently so its difficult to predict what is or isn’t possible until the seam is opened up first.

Shorten Suit Jacket

suit-alteration-shorten-jacket

Estimated Cost: $80 – $120
Difficulty: Expert

The process of taking in or letting out your suit jacket involves the tailor pinning the side seams based on your desired fit, and taking from either the chest, the stomach/waist, the vents or all three zones. When tailors take suit jackets in (reducing circumference), they will un-sew the seams and re-sew deeper into the garment away from the fabric edge. Many tailors know to not cut away the excess fabric in case the garment needs to be let-out again later (“non-destructive tailoring”) but it never hurts to remind the tailor if you’re so inclined.

On the other hand, letting out the jacket involves making the jacket bigger by un-sewing the seam and re-sewing further out. The only problem with this alteration is that tailors can only let-out an area of the garment if there is additional fabric available under the seams to work with; most off-the-rack manufacturers do not not include this in abundance or do so inconsistently so its difficult to predict what is or isn’t possible until the seam is opened up first.

Ease Armholes

suit-alteration-ease-armholes-suit-jacket

Estimated Cost: $80 – $120
Difficulty: Expert

The process of taking in or letting out your suit jacket involves the tailor pinning the side seams based on your desired fit, and taking from either the chest, the stomach/waist, the vents or all three zones. When tailors take suit jackets in (reducing circumference), they will un-sew the seams and re-sew deeper into the garment away from the fabric edge. Many tailors know to not cut away the excess fabric in case the garment needs to be let-out again later (“non-destructive tailoring”) but it never hurts to remind the tailor if you’re so inclined.

On the other hand, letting out the jacket involves making the jacket bigger by un-sewing the seam and re-sewing further out. The only problem with this alteration is that tailors can only let-out an area of the garment if there is additional fabric available under the seams to work with; most off-the-rack manufacturers do not not include this in abundance or do so inconsistently so its difficult to predict what is or isn’t possible until the seam is opened up first.

Common Suit Tailoring Terms

Take-in/Taper. To make the garment smaller by re-sewing seams. This typically deals with circumference (e.g. waist, hips, chest).

Let-out/Open. To make the garment bigger by re-sewing seams using extra fabric allowance adjacent to the seams on the inside of the garment. The degree to which a garment can be let-out is determined by how much fabric allowance there is, which differs from garment to garment. This typically deals with circumference (e.g. waist, hips, chest).

Fabric Allowance. Fabric allowance refers to the excess fabric on the inside of your seams that can be leveraged to let out the circumference of specific areas of your garment. You typically cannot see this in jackets but can see it on the inside of your pants in areas not covered by lining. Shirts and vests typically do not contain any fabric allowance since there is no place to hide the extra fabric without creating discomfort for the wearer and consequently often cannot be let-out.

Reducing/Extending. A structure related term that relates to taking away from or adding to certain areas. This typically deals with length or width (e.g. sleeve length, shoulder width).

Hem/Re-hem. The hem defines the bottom edge of a garment – most typically referring to the bottom opening of pant legs or shirt bottoms. Hemming (or re-hemming)your pants or shirt is to reshape this bottom edge (with or without a cuff for pants) to the desired length and sometimes shape.

Chalking. Tailoring chalk is a tool used to mark the planned changes on your garment. Don’t worry, this comes right off (rag with warm water if any chalk marks remain when your garment comes back).

Pinning. Tailoring pins are used by tailors to pin down parts of garments, indicating potential fit post-alterations.