Man being tailored for a suit

Common Alteration Terms Used by Tailors

Posted on July 27, 2022 by Steven Toltz

While there are plenty of benefits to getting your clothes tailored by a dry cleaning or laundry professional–particularly your business shirts, dresses, or suits–you might find the process a bit daunting if you’ve never had your clothing tailored before. At Dependable Cleaners, we want you to feel confident in all of your clothing care and laundry service decisions. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of key alterations and tailoring terms you should know before your first appointment with the tailor.

Related Article: 3 Reasons to Tailor Your Clothes

Here are the alteration terms you need to know before your first visit to the tailor.

What to Ask Your Tailor If Your Pants Are Too Long or Short

If your pants are too long, you’ll want to shorten the legs. But with a tailor, you’d ask for the alterations by asking the tailor to hem your pants. Hemming is a technique in which the pair of pants (or skirt, or whichever garment is too long) is shortened by folding in the excess fabric and then sewing the fabric into the garment so that the hemline is raised. A good tailor will ensure that the hem is nearly invisible.

If your pants are too short, and you’re hoping to lengthen the garment in any way, you’ll want to ask your tailor whether they can let out your pants. It’s not always possible to let out an already too-short garment, but if it can be done, your tailor will let you know.

Related Article: Tailoring and Alterations at Dependable Cleaners

What to Ask Your Tailor If Your Dress is Too Tight or Loose

Similar to how you ask for your tailor to lengthen your pants, if your dress or other garment is too tight around your body, you’ll want to ask the tailor to let out the dress. Essentially the process of letting out a garment involves the tailor undoing the existing seams on the garment, then unfolding excess material or adding extra material in between the seams to widen the garment. Not all dresses can be let out, but if it can be done, your tailor will let you know.

If you need your dress tightened, you’ll ask your tailor to take it in. The process of taking in a dress involves gathering up excess material along the seams of the garment, then tucking it further into the seam or cutting out the excess material before the tailor sews it back up. The effect is that you’ll have tightened your garment along the seamlines.

Other Common Alterations Terms Your Tailor Might Use

If you need to shorten the sleeves of a suit, you might need to ask your tailor to bring it in or use other common alterations terms. A tailor working on a suit for you might ask you how you’d like the pants to break, which refers to the look you’d like the pants to have at the base of the ankle. Darting, or strategically folded and sewn down sections of fabric, can shape up your suits nicely, especially if you’d like a specifically close-cut fit.

If you’re having your tailor work on any pair of pants, the tailor will likely measure your inseam, which is the measurement of the length from the inside of your ankle (at the bottom of your pants) up to the crotch of the pants.

So there you have it! As a reminder, Dependable Cleaners is here for all of your alterations and tailoring needs, but any time you wash or dry clean your clothing with us, we check for any needed small-scale tailoring repairs as part of our 7-Point Inspection. That’s the Dependable Cleaners difference!

Learn more about our alterations!