To Repair or not to Repair

I do a lot of sewing repairs and alterations for customers. Everything from hemming pants to altering backpacks. Whatever the repair, they all take time, skill and the right equipment to complete.

Often people have unrealistic ideas about what can be fixed and how much repairs and alterations will cost. As the owner of a brick and mortar store, with overhead to pay, my rates have to be set in such a way that prices for work completed are fair to the customer and fair to me, so I can afford to keep the doors open.

One of the things I sometimes hear when I give an estimate is, “But that’s more than I paid for the garment in the first place”. And that can be the case. The service I offer has value and adds value. To put this into perspective, imagine you buy a used car for $1000. You buy it knowing that the brakes need replacing. You are faced with a bill for $1100 for parts and labour. Yet you wouldn’t tell the mechanic that you shouldn’t have to pay because the work cost more than what you paid for the car. The new brakes add value to the car and make it safer to drive. In terms of a garment, if you buy a dress, pants or a jacket that didn’t fit you right to begin with, then chances are, every time you look at it in your closet you’ll feel disappointed that it doesn’t fit right. You may never wear it. Or if you do, it’s likely to irritate you or make you feel self-conscious. Having it altered so that it fits you well adds value to the garment; you want to wear it; it’s comfortable and it makes you feel good.


I often receive messages on Facebook, or phone calls asking for quotes on repairs. For some things, that’s easy. But most often, without actually seeing the item it’s impossible to know how much it will cost to repair. Depending on how complicated the garment construction is, or the nature of the damage, it can end up being more work than anticipated at first glance. It’s really helpful if the customer has thought about the following:

  1. Is the item functional?
  2. Am I getting value out of it?
  3. Do I love it?
  4. Is it sentimental?
  5. Can it be replaced? If so, how much would that cost?
  6. Once changed, will I get more value (use, enjoyment etc.) from it?
  7. Will the end result satisfy my needs and taste?
  8. How much am I willing to pay?

Based on your answers, and the options available for the garment, you’ll be in a much better position to decide what to do.



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