How to Find a Good Custom Tailor Near Me

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans spend over $1,800 annually on clothing and other forms of apparel. Whether you want to make a positive impression at the office or you want to look your best on a special occasion, the fitting and style of your clothes can make a big difference. A good custom tailor has the expertise not only to create clothing specifically tailored to your body measurements but also to highlight your preferred designs and style uniquely, allowing you to look and feel your best. In addition, a good custom tailor can also help you alter outfits that you already have to accommodate changes to your body, thereby saving you the cost of having to purchase new ones.

Considering the high level of creativity and skill that is required for custom tailoring, finding an experienced one near you may feel like a challenge. To streamline the process of searching for and hiring a professional and fully experienced custom tailor near you, you should ask the following questions:

  1. Are You Licensed, Registered, or Certified?

    Custom tailors do not usually require professional licenses to operate both at the state and local levels. However, many states typically require businesses to satisfy registration and tax law requirements before offering their services to the public. As a result, before selecting a custom tailor or seamstress near you, verify that the individual or business satisfies legal requirements to operate in your neighborhood. Contacting your local consumer protection agency can help you with this.

    Considering that tailors do not typically have professional license requirements in the U.S, it is always a good idea to hire a tailor that belongs to or has been certified by a professional association like the Custom Tailors and Designers Association (CTDA) and the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASAD). Belonging to such trade associations gives more credence to a tailor as exams and experience are required for membership and certification. Also, trade associations have codes of conduct that members must uphold while conducting their businesses. As such certified tailors are generally expected to conduct themselves more ethically than their uncertified counterparts and are more likely to be sanctioned by these associations in situations that involve poor service delivery. You can verify the membership or certification status of any custom tailor that you intend to hire by contacting the professional tailoring association that this tailor either claims to belong to or obtained the certification from.

  2. How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Custom Tailor?

    The cost of hiring a custom tailor near you depends on different factors including the type of service you require, your geographical location, the type of fabric and design that is to be sewn, and the reputation of the tailor. Depending on these factors, your intended custom tailor may either charge a fixed price or an hourly rate based on the time spent on the task. Hourly rates typically range between $9 to $18 per hour. Similarly, fixed rates typically depend on the particular services offered by the custom tailor. Some of these include:

    • Alterations: The cost of alterations largely depends on the complexity of the fix. Typically, minor fixes like getting a button sewn on, a zipper replaced, or a splitting seam stitched back up before it gets out of hand will usually cost around $5 to $10 per fix. Other fixes like hemming, sleeve shortening, adjusting waistband, and amending a jacket may cost you between $10 and $150 per service.
    • Pattern Sewing: Pattern sewing costs depend on the complexity of the design. For some designs, you may pay anywhere from $150 to $250. However, if the design is elaborate and complex to make, you can expect to pay above $1000.
    • Cloth Making: The price of custom clothing depends majorly on the type of clothing. The cost of getting a suit, for example, can range from $1,500 to over $2,000. On the other hand, a dress may cost between $35 to over $1,000.

    After picking your preferred tailor, here are some tips that can help you in minimizing your tailoring costs.

    • Do some research to know exactly what you want or what you seek to achieve before discussing with your tailor.
    • Confirm your costs early enough to avoid getting price-shocked.
    • Book your tailor early to avoid periods of peak demands like festive seasons.
    • Look out for the tailor's referral programs and participate in them.
    • Build a relationship with your tailor as this helps in the long run, especially with price negotiations.

What Are Common Custom Tailoring Expenses?

Excluding the cost of any sewing or tailoring that has to be done, some other expenses that may be associated with hiring a custom tailor include:

  • Delivery Fee: This covers the cost of the tailor dropping off your clothing at a predetermined place. The tailor may either charge a fixed fee or based on the distance covered to ensure the delivery. Therefore always confirm the tailor's billing method and ensure that it is clearly stated in a written contract.
  • Fabric Cost: The fabric is the raw material of any clothing, and just like the design, is usually the choice of the customer. While many tailors usually work closely with a preferred fabric store, this does not prevent you from getting your fabrics elsewhere. If you choose to get fabrics yourself, make sure you know what exactly you want so that you do not end up buying the wrong one. Also, you should only buy after your measurements have been taken by the tailor and you have confirmed with certainty the amount of fabric your attire will need.

Who Will Do The Work?

Considering the level of skill, creativity, and attention to detail required for custom tailoring, it is essential that whoever is handling your demands has the requisite expertise to do so. It is not uncommon for custom tailors that own or work in large businesses or facilities to delegate sewing or fitting functions to their associates or employees, or even outsource some work to other tailors. Therefore always confirm from your tailor whether any part of your sewing job will be outsourced or delegated to subordinates. Ensure that these individuals are duly qualified to handle the aspect of the sewing that has been delegated to them and that your designs and specifications are correctly communicated to them by your custom tailor.

What Qualifications Should a Custom Tailor Have?

Custom tailors do not have any formal educational requirements to work, and many of them typically develop their fundamental skills by learning on the job from more experienced custom tailors. However, some custom tailors further their skills by taking advanced certificate courses offered by a community college or vocational programs that teach pattern making, garment construction, and fitting and alteration. In the same vein, professional associations like the Custom Tailors and Designers Association (CTDA) and the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASAD) also offer courses to members that intend to further their skills and hold certification for certain services. Holding a certification from these organizations is usually an indication that such a custom tailor satisfies some of the highest professional and ethical industry standards. This is because these custom tailors are generally required to take exams that test their skills and professional conduct after completing the relevant certification courses.

Will You Provide References?

When looking to hire a custom tailor, it is essential to confirm that the person employs standard business practices and also has a track record of providing satisfactory services to customers. One way of confirming this is by asking for references. Contacting past clients should give you an idea about how the tailor operates and whether the tailor will be a good fit for you. Also, ask to see the tailor's previous work. Many professional tailors usually have a catalog that displays this, but it is also a good idea to go a step further and ask to physically see and inspect some of their completed works as well. This will give you a good idea about the tailors' workmanship and the quality of their work.

Besides asking for references, word-of-mouth and social media contacts remain one of the most effective means of finding a tailor near you. Do not hesitate to quiz your friends, relatives, or contacts you find fashionable about their tailor, and make sure that you check the tailor out yourself before making a decision. Alternatively, you can search for custom tailors near you online using sites like Google Review, Yelp, and Better Business Bureau. These sites also provide helpful feedback about tailors near you that would help you streamline your search to the best ones around. Similarly, professional associations like the Custom Tailors and Designers Association (CTDA) and the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals (ASAD) maintain a directory of their members that satisfy certain standards, making them a good place to start your search for a good custom tailor near you. Note that you should always do your due diligence, which includes asking for references, before you employ any tailors that you contact via these sources.

Quick Facts about Custom Tailors

2020 Median Pay
$32,640 per year, $15.69 per hour
Typical Entry-Level Education
No formal educational credential
Work Experience in a Related Occupation
On-the-job Training
Moderate-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2019
Job Outlook, 2019-29
-4% (Decline)
Employment Change, 2019-29

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Expert Answers to Frequently Asked Questions about Custom Tailoring

What Is The Difference Between "Bespoke" And "Made To Measure"?

The typical difference between bespoke and made-to-measure is that made-to-measure clothing always involves some form of standardization in the pattern and manufacturing. Whereas bespoke tailoring is entirely made from scratch based on a customer's specifications. When debating whether to choose bespoke or made-to-measure tailoring you need to bear in mind certain key areas of difference, such as fit, timing, price, and customization possibilities. For example, while bespoke fit much better than made-to-measure, made-to-measure clothing takes a lot less time to make. Similarly, bespoke also offers almost infinite possibilities to customize your clothing when compared with made-to-measure and are therefore usually more expensive than their made-to-measure counterparts. As such, you can get a made-to-measure suit for around $500 - $800 while a bespoke suit will usually cost no less than $2000.

How Often Should I Have My Measurements Taken By The Tailor?

A custom tailor takes measurements once during your initial appointment and would usually keep your details as a reference for your future orders. However, if for some reason you would like to have your measurements taken again, make sure to communicate this to your tailor. Nevertheless, to avoid any unnoticed changes that might affect the tailor's work, it is usually safe to retake your measurements anytime you order new custom clothing.

What Questions Should I Ask A Tailor?

When you wish to hire a custom tailor, there are certain questions that can help you determine the tailor's expertise and also communicate your preferences. Therefore, besides the inquiries mentioned earlier, some typical questions you can ask your tailor includes:

  • Can I see some clothes that you have made recently?
  • Will the proposed style, cut and cloth meet my practical needs?
  • Who is going to cut the pattern?
  • What is the timeframe for completion, and how many fittings are needed?
  • Who will be handling the actual cloth-making or sewing?

Are Bespoke Clothes Worth It? What Is The Benefit Of Designing Custom-Made Garments?

While many people might consider bespoke clothes expensive and unnecessary, bespoke clothes come with an array of advantages. Notably, you get a better fit, thereby eliminating the need for any alterations except where necessary. Also, while you would usually shop for clothes that you think match your style, bespoke clothes offer you the opportunity to highlight your style uniquely, without having to go through the stress of shopping. Additionally, bespoke clothes are usually made from quality materials and therefore last longer than regular made-to-fit clothing.

Why Are Custom Clothes So Expensive?

Custom clothes are generally more expensive because of how many hours it takes to make them by hand, the time it takes to do the fittings and the high quality, luxurious fabrics used. However, custom clothes also usually last longer than regular clothing, and as such, they are typically considered more cost-effective in the long run.