How long have you been sewing?

For as long as I can remember, so that is getting on for half a century! I started with garments for my Sindy doll, then graduated to making clothes for myself, and eventually for others, and have continued to develop my skills throughout my life.


I have been running my business since 2001, so I have plenty of experience in altering garments for a wide variety of body sizes and shapes.


What formal qualifications do you have?

I have City and Guilds qualifications in “Fashion”, which covers developing my own patterns as well as making garments to a professional standard.


What kind of things do you sew?

I specialise in altering garments to fit


What kind of things don’t you sew?

I do not make curtains or soft furnishings, nor do I mass produce garments or other sewn items. In addition, I have regretfully decided to no longer construct custom garments for clients.


How much will it cost to have my garment altered?

This question can’t be answered without my seeing the garment construction and what needs to be done. However, this list will give you an idea of the starting prices for typical alterations:


Prices from:
Dress hems: Straight skirt per layer £14
Dress hems: A-line skirt per layer (lining and netting layers may be less depending on type) £18
Taking in bodice (without affecting bones or zip) £18
Repositioning bones or zip (extra per item) £9
Shortening spaghetti straps £9
Shortening jeans £9
Shortening jeans, retaining the original distressed hem (Euro hem) £27
Shortening trousers (without turnup) £18
Applying kick tape to trousers (extra) £6
Shortening jacket sleeves (lined, without vent and buttons) £24


Is my garment worth altering?

There may be garments in your wardrobe that no longer fit in the way you would want, or that have minor damage to them. If this is the case, you might consider having them altered or repaired so that you can continue to wear and love them. Before deciding to have something altered, think carefully about the practicality and the amount of effort involved, and compare this to how much the garment is worth to you.


Simple alterations like shortening sleeves and hems are, of course, the easiest. When looking at whether this will be possible, look at the details of the garment to determine if they will be spoiled by the shortening process. For example, shortening a skirt with a split may make the split out of proportion to the rest of the skirt; however, the shortening may remove the need for a split, and in this circumstance it might be sewn closed.


It is usually possible to make something smaller, as there will be fabric available. However, a large difference in size will mean that sometimes it would be more practical to take the garment apart, recut it, and make it again from scratch. I would therefore only recommend altering the size (width) of a garment by a maximum of two sizes. If, however, you have lost a great deal of weight and are thinking of having your suits made three or more sizes smaller, I would recommend against this. In addition, it is often not practical to make changes to jacket shoulders.


The feasibility of making a garment larger depends on the size of the seam allowances, and whether fabric can be taken from another part of the garment (e.g. the hem) to insert.
With some ready-to-wear garments, the fit may be almost right, but require one part of the garment to be altered. In this circumstance, the important thing is to find a construction detail (e.g. seam) that can be used to make the alteration. If there is no convenient detail, it may be possible to introduce one, but this will alter the look of the design.



How long will me alterations take?

This will depend on what exactly needs to be done and how much other work I already have. If you have a specific deadline, please let me know and I will determine if I have the capacity to meet it. Some times of the year are busier, and it is therefore a good idea to give me as much notice as possible.


What is Garment Designer software?

Garment Designer is a software program that can be used to design garments using custom measurements. Stitch Painter is a gridded design program specifically tailored for craft and textile design. The two programs can be used together to design patterned garments. You can find out more about both programs at the Cochenille Design Studio website.
I have used Garment Designer to design both knitted and sewn garments since it was first released, and am licensed by Cochenille as an educator. If you have this software and would like to learn to use it more effectively, or would like to have your measurements taken for input, contact me for an appointment. The program is for sale on the Garment Design Software page of my website..


Do you give lessons?

I teach classes at New Directions (The Learning & Employment Service for Reading). (New Directions also offers City & Guilds fashion courses at different levels.) For enrolment details, see the New Directions website.


I occasionally teach private classes in dressmaking by arrangement, if my workload allows. If you wish to start dressmaking, or improve a particular skill, please contact me to discuss your requirements.


Work experience

I am occasionally asked to provide work experience placements for school students. I am unable to provide this service as I work alone in a small studio.


Do you offer any other services?

Yes, I provide a support service for home dressmakers, taking measurements and fitting garments.


When can I come for a consultation?

You must make an appointment to meet me, as I may otherwise be out, with another client, or busy meeting another client’s deadline.


Appointments are available by arrangement on weekday afternoons and evenings (last appointment 7:30pm), and on Saturday mornings, depending on my other commitments.


If you have mobility issues, please let me know when booking your consultation as my studio is upstairs. I will make alternative arrangements for you.


Where are you?

I provide a custom sewing service in and around Reading, Berkshire. Look at the Contacts page for more details.