When you contact an Association of Sewing and Design Professionals member, he or she will ask you about your project, time line, and budget. Your sewing pro will probably ask to see you in person to talk about your project before quoting a price. Some sewing pros charge a consultation fee, which may later be applied toward the cost of your project.
At your first meeting, be sure to ask questions! Association members welcome your questions about the type of work they do, their education and training, and how long they've been in business. Ask to see photos or samples of their work, and ask for references. Many members also have websites where you can learn more about them and view photos of their work.
For custom garments, you'll want to bring your design ideas with you to the initial consultation. Photos, sketches, sample garments and fabric swatches are all helpful. Your sewing pro may also invite you to email links to websites with designs you like so he or she can take a look at them before you meet in person.
Design details, fabrics, trims, pattern development, fitting issues, and anticipated sewing time all affect the price of a custom garment. Your sewing pro will explain the options available to you and then quote pricing according to the choices you've made. Custom garments are usually more expensive than ready-to-wear, but there are no additional alterations charges to factor in. Your custom garment will be the style, color and fit that flatters you best.
For alterations, you'll need to bring or wear the undergarments and shoes you plan to wear with the garment being altered. Garments should be dry-cleaned or laundered prior to the fitting, so any shrinkage will have taken place before the alterations are done. Pricing will depend on the work needed to improve the fit and the way the garment was originally constructed. Specialty alterations on garments such as wedding gowns will likely require more than one fitting.
Once you and your sewing pro agree on the work to be done, the price, and the time frame, it's time to do some paperwork. You may be asked to sign a written work agreement that describes the project, pricing, completion date, payment, and other details. Be sure to read the work agreement and ask questions if there's something you don't understand - it's there to make sure everyone's expectations are clear. A deposit may be required at this time, to book your project into the production schedule. Payment in full is required before your finished garment can go home with you.
The price of alterations may surprise you. Pricing depends mostly on the amount of time it takes to perform the alteration, not on the original cost of the garment. For example, it takes just as much time to shorten a $99 dress from a discount store as it does to shorten a similarly styled $4,000 dress from a fancy boutique. Many apparently simple alterations are more complex than you would think, because of the way the garment was constructed. If you have questions about the pricing for altering your garment, your sewing pro will be happy to explain the steps involved.
For both custom garments and alterations to ready-to-wear, it's important to choose appropriate undergarments and then wear them when measurements are taken and for each fitting. This includes bras, body shapers, hosiery, and shoes of the heel height and platform you will wear with the garment. If you aren't sure what type of undergarments would work best with your garment, ask your sewing pro for advice.
If you must cancel a fitting, try to give your sewing pro at least a full day's notice. If you're running late, please give your sewing pro a call. You may need to reschedule, as other clients may be booked immediately after your appointment time.
Realize that if you change your mind about design elements, or have a change in body size or undergarments after your garment is in progress, there may be additional charges due to extra work required. This is true of both custom garments and alterations.
Be honest and specific about your opinions during fittings. Raise questions about the design, fit, quality of work, or any other items as soon as something concerns you. Be open with your sewing professional.