Purchasing a jacket that fits perfectly off the rack is extremely rare. Instead, tailor the jacket to fit your particular shape correctly. Jacket alteration techniques include: taking the sides of the jacket in or letting them out; shortening or lengthening the sleeves; adjusting the shoulders; or relining the jacket. Take into account the pricing for alterations when purchasing a jacket or inheriting one from a friend or relative.
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Taking in or Letting out the Sides
Creating a modern jacket from an older, boxy jacket can be as simple as taking in the sides. Techniques for this include taking it in from the centre seam or from both side seams. Taking in from the side seams will produce a cleaner line and better fit. To alter a jacket that fits a little snugly, a tailor will let out some of the seam and restitch. This solution is only good for someone looking to loosen the jacket an inch or two. There generally isn't much more than one to two inches of fabric to work with.
Taking in or Letting out the Sleeves
A jacket should show just a hint of shirt cuff. Each person's arms are different lengths, so this is the most common alteration technique. The tailor will take in or let out the sleeve to achieve this ideal length. When letting out a sleeve, the same policy applies as with the sides. The sleeves will generally only lengthen an inch or two, depending on how much fabric the manufacturer left in the jacket.
Taking in the Shoulder Distance
Changing the shoulders on a suit jacket is one of the more complicated and expensive alteration techniques. The tailor can shorten the distance between the neck and shoulder of the jacket an inch or two per side. This alteration is extremely helpful for updating an older suit.
Re-lining the Jacket
The jacket lining may be in need of refreshing. If your lining is tattered or torn, a tailor can reline the jacket for you. This is also helpful for vintage items that are otherwise in good condition.
Although each tailor will vary in pricing, it is good to have a general idea what the alteration may cost you when shopping or inheriting a jacket. According to Real Simple Magazine at the time of publication, shortening sleeves will cost you approximately £14 without buttons and £18 with buttons. To take in the body of a jacket, the fee should range from £26 for two seams to £33 for three seams. To adjust the shoulders, a tailor should charge about £22. Regional differences vary widely as well. Bigger cities will generally charge much higher prices for alterations.
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