Tailoring Tips: 7 Things Celebrity Tailors Would Never Do to Their Own Clothing
During almost any DIY clothing project, we’ve realized all too late that we overestimated our skills. (RIP those jeans we tried to distress on our own.) So we sat down with Michelle Cherry of Greenfield Clothiers in Brooklyn and Stacie Pettersen of Beyond Bespoke Tailors in Manhattan to hear their top tailoring tips. Here, seven things they would never do to their own clothing (meaning you should probably avoid, too).
1. Buy Clothing That Needs to Be Altered Around the Armholes or Thighs
Even if you’re absolutely in love with a dress or pair of jeans and willing to shell out serious cash to make them fit, there are a few things tailors just can’t do. Two main pain points of tailors everywhere: armholes and thighs. “An armhole, if it’s too big, cannot be made smaller," Cherry says. "And if you’re curvy, your pants need to fit in the hip," since it's hard to let out the area around the thigh and add fabric back in.
2. Use Iron-On Tape to Hem a Pair of Pants
It can be tempting to reach for a quick fix and hem with those store-bought no-sew tapes, fusing fabric glue instead of wrangling a needle and thread. But Cherry warns against it. “The glue never comes off, and it’s not like it’s invisible from the right side. Usually you can see the portion where the fabric is stuck together,” she says. “If your hem comes out of your pants or skirt while you are at work, then Scotch tape is really the best thing. If you’re super desperate, you could actually staple it since staples will come out. The iron-on tape won’t.”
3. Steam Clothes with Decorative Details
A quick burst of vaporized water can do no harm, right? Turns out, it can. "If your clothing has beading or sequins, you should never steam it," Pettersen warns. "A lot of beads and sequins are hand-painted or dyed. In most cases, hitting the beads with steam will totally change the color of them and will ruin the garment." For these special clothing items, she says it’s better to take the item to a professional cleaner instead.
4. Dry-Clean Every Piece That Says “Dry-Clean Only”
And it’s not because of the hefty price tag to dry-clean. It’s actually very hard on your clothes. Cherry says, “When you dry-clean, your clothes die a little death, like a cat with nine lives. Also, dry-cleaning fluid only gets out stains that aren’t water-soluble, like wax or oil. If the stain is water-soluble, it won’t come out at the dry cleaner.” Instead, she recommends hand washing certain items. “Silk blouses and dresses, for example, don’t have to be dry-cleaned. You can actually hand wash them in cool water with shampoo. Let them drip dry, give them a quick iron and it’ll be perfectly fine.”
5. Hang Things the Wrong Way
We find ourselves constantly annoyed by the little strings inside dresses and tops. But unfortunately, it’s a bad idea to cut them off. "If your dress has the loops on the inside, there is a reason for them," Pettersen says. And it’s not just strappy blouses. "Sweaters should be folded over hangers, not hung from the shoulders. For suits, you should use a hanger with a wide body to insure that the shoulders stay structured. For pants, forget those clips; they will only ruin your waistbands. Stack two or three pairs on a hanger instead, or fold your pants to give them life."
6. Try to Dye Clothing Herself
As badly as you want to change the color of that teal bridesmaid dress from your cousin’s wedding, you should think twice. “It is actually very difficult to dye ready-made clothing an all-over shade,” Cherry says. “If blotchy is what you going for, then that’s easy. But if you want a nice, even coloration on your garment, it’s almost impossible to do it yourself after it is already made.”
7. Measure Yourself with a Measuring Tape
That online size guide seems handy as long as you happen to have a tape measure lying around, but Pettersen warns against it. "No matter how qualified you are, this will never work. Your body measurements change with each movement, and it is impossible to get the correct measurements," she says. Instead, she recommends having an alterations specialist do it for you for a small fee (usually $10 or less). Or at the very least, have a buddy do it for you so you’re getting an outside angle on the measurements.