Alteration Mishaps

After alterations – can you spot the “mishap”?

2011 was the first year I’ve really had a tailor mess up an alteration. I’ve been incredibly lucky, especially with my beloved Los Angeles tailor, but after moving to San Diego, I had to find a local one. The new tailor I went to had high reviews on Yelp, was within a short driving distance to where I live, and reasonably priced. I tested them out by first bringing a few pairs of jeans in need of hemming, and a pair of jeans that shrank so much in the wash, that I needed the waist let out. They did a phenomenal job on my first tailoring jobs, so I felt secure in taking my AG wine pants to them for a hem, and to get the waist taken in. Two very common alterations that I was not concerned about at all.

When I picked up my pants a week later, I got them home and really gave them a good look. Is it just me, or are those back pockets now wonky and un-evenly placed?

I’m really bummed that these wonderful pants are now crooked from the back, and am nervous about taking them back to see if they can be fixed. On one hand, I hate confronting people, especially about something that people get very defensive about…their work. On another hand, now that I know this tailor would miss such a blatant mistake, I’m scared to hand my pants back over to them, for fear of more mishaps.

I get a lot of items altered and encourage people to get things tailored on this blog often, so it seems only right that I also share the mistakes, when they happen. Yes, tailors can make mistakes, and this is the chance we take when dropping off our items to get altered. For someone my size, it’s a necessary evil, and I’m surprised I went this long before having a tailoring mishap.

Mishaps come in all shapes and sizes. Elle recently had a run-in with a too-big suit that she hoped would alter down from a size 10. She was left with a high tailor bill, and not entirely satisfied with the outcome. My wonky back pockets are certainly put into perspective. So let’s chat…

Readers – What are your tailoring mishaps & nightmares. Did they get resolved? How?

Join the Conversation


  1. says: Laura Frost

    Aww, sad. But honestly, I doubt anyone will notice when you are actually wearing them. I would just leave them alone and find a new tailor. 

    So far, my only mishaps have been of the DIY variety. I think I made my wine colored pants too tight, but I cut off the excess before I was 100% sure about the fit. Measure twice, cut once, as they say. 

    It is funny that we had mishaps with a similar item. At least I know that I’m not the only petite with slightly off wine pants out there. “Sisterhood of the funny wine pants”. Haha.

  2. says: Cher

    I’ve had no major mistakes done by a tailor that couldn’t be fixed (fortunately), but I’m VERY particular about my clothes. For example, when I take in something to be hemmed, I expect the hem to be straight when I get it back. I mean, I pay a lot of money to alter clothes. If I wanted a crooked hem, I would have done it myself! But I learned a few years ago, to take a look at my items before I take it home and if I’m not happy with it, immediately let them know. I hate confrontation too, but you have to keep in mind that you’re paying for a service and you should be 100% satisfied with what you get. The situation doesn’t have to be nasty and most tailors would be happy to accommodate, and if they don’t, it’s time to find a new one.

    Love the color of those jeans!

    1. says: Mary

      When anyone is picking up alterations from me, I always ask if they’d like to try anything on. A few of my clients usually do this, and I love when they do, because I can go through the pieces with them, and if they have any questions, or if one strap is 1/4″ longer than the other, we can find it right away and, in most cases, I can fix it then and there to save my client a trip back.
      I would much prefer if clients approached it the same way you do!

  3. says: Helen

    I had a beautiful Diane Von Furstenburg dress size 10 altered fit my size 8 frame after I had my baby. My tailor did an ok job – cost $20.00. But I wasn’t too happy with it, so I took it to a tailor my mom recommended. He did a better job – cost $5. (Familial discount maybe?) Of course, I still wasn’t happy, because my body changed so much that I was confused about the size I should be wearing.

  4. says: byrdi

    I’d mention it. I’m an art kid so I’ve been trained to know when something is even slightly off straight, thought, if it was ever-so-slight, I wouldn’t mention it. But that’s pretty bad. Likely, no one else will notice is, but those were expensive jeans to begin with and that’s not a good job.

  5. Ugh, so frustrating. A couple of years ago I took a beautiful Tahari skirt (that my husband loved on me) in to get it taken in as I had lost some weight. I don’t know the sewing/alteration terms to say this correctly, but in addition to the two original seams on the sides, they added two more in the front and the back! I chose to confront them but it was fruitless. They insisted that was how the skirt was originally, and even if they did own up to their mistake, the skirt was unfortunately ruined beyond repair. I feel your pain. :(

  6. says: Amber

    that stinks :( a few months ago i was getting my bridesmaids dress fixed because one boob was pointy and the other was flat. i said i wanted the pointy one more smooth, like the flat one. it comes back and they fix the right boob, but they actually made it pointier. they were awful. this was the day before the wedding, so thats how i wore it 

  7. says: Anonymous

    really suck. I have only had minor thing altered at the tailor. I’m worry about
    getting a major alternation so I usually buy clothes that need only a minor
    alternation.  A couple year  ago I took my husband ‘s dress shirts to a
    tailor that was in our neighborhood to get the sleeve shortened.   I didn’t
    notice until I got home that there was hole where the button used to be on his
    favorite shirt.  Since we were heading
    out town the next day, I couldn’t take the shirt back to the tailor. I learned
    that day to always check your items before you leave.  

  8. says: R.L.

    Sorry to hear about your pants.  Since I’m a casual dresser I’ve managed to avoid needed alterations so far.  This is the main reason I’ve held off getting a Burb wool coat bec I don’t want to have to deal with tailors talking me out of alterations and ending up with a pricey coat that doesn’t fit right.  If you decide to go back, good luck with the “confrontation”.  The unevenness is obvious so hopefully it won’t be a problem to get a redo.

  9. says: Shoppingisfun

    Oooh, tailoring mishaps. I’ve only had one. I had a pair of dress pants hemmed, and when I got them back some of the stitches were visible! I wore them anyway for a long time, figuring that I was probably the only one who would ever notice.

    About your pants: are you sure they weren’t like that originally? A few months ago, I bought a pair of black flared jeans from LOFT and the pocket placement was way off, straight from the factory (I returned them, and posted about the mishap on FitReview). I am always way more critical of my clothes post-alteration than I am when buying them at the store, because I just assume that the factory made them correctly in the first place…but this is not always the case!

      1. says: Shoppingisfun

        Hmm, it is hard to tell but they do look even in the photo. If you are very sure it was the tailor’s mistake, there is nothing wrong with taking them back…just be super nice about it and say, “They fit so great now, but the pockets are a bit off, can you adjust the back a little?” If they argue with you–a loyal customer–it might be a good idea to find a new tailor! Of course, being denim, I’m not sure how easy it would be to fix without making the fabric look worse?

        If it were ME, I’d probably just try the pants on and–if it wasn’t super noticable–just live with the problem. I am a wimp, though, so YMMV. :-)

      2. says: Allena

        Hi! I had a question, if a tailor ruins an item (and the item was brand new – $300) can I get compensation for it? What should I do/watch out for? I am 100% ok with confronting her about the situation, but I don’t really want to sue…please advise!
        Thank you!

        1. says: CrystalK

          $300 is not worth the time, effort, or money taking it to small claims court. Just ask them to fix it and if they don’t take your business elsewhere and leave a bad review on Yelp.

  10. says: Shoppingisfun

    OMG, I have another tailoring mishap story. Can’t believe I almost forgot about this one…I had a WHITE dress shirt slimmed (torso and sleeves), got it back, and thought it looked fine….but noticed after I got it home that there were TWO SPOTS OF BLOOD on it!!! They were absolutely not there when I took the shirt to the tailor. Luckily, some stain remover and a good soak took the spots out, but it was super gross!!

      1. says: Shoppingisfun

        Me too…hadn’t been back to them (didn’t have any more clothes to alter) until today….I brought in a wool suit jacket to be taken in. Hopefully it comes back clean because it’s not a washable fabric!

  11. says: thd2

    Ohhh, that is too bad.  That’s not just a little off, it’s quite noticeable. If it were me I would definitely bring them back. My tailor has a 1-week return policy, and I have had additional work done on things that were not quite right the first time. In your case, it really doesn’t have to be confrontational at all – they goofed, it’s plain to see. I’m sure they’d rather have a chance to make it right than have an unhappy customer. (Especially an unhappy customer with a very popular and widely read blog!)

  12. says: Blondie Esquire

    Oh nooo!!  I hope this wasn’t your tailor, but the best I’ve found is Francois at La Moda Fine Tailoring (find it on yelp).  I had a tailor ruin a suit coat for me and Francois was able to fix it.  I only take my suits to him now.  He’s amazing.

    1. Funny you should mention Francois! I’ve been to him a few times, and don’t worry because he is NOT the tailor in question.  =)

      He is amazing with suiting, shirts, and complicated alterations, so I take most of my heavy duty items to him. He took in this linen vest for me & did a fabulous job:

      My only reservation is he didn’t do an original hem the way I like on a pair of my jeans, which is why I was looking for a new tailor to take my denim and pants to. The second tailor did my hems the way I like, but apparently not my pant waist.

      1. says: Blondie, Esq.

        Oh yay!  Glad to hear it wasn’t him.  :)  I haven’t had any jeans done but good to know!  He also tailored a few jersey dresses for me, just to take the hem up a hair.  They were perfect.  Good luck with your jean hunt!

  13. says: Lena Merrin

    I have done many alterations and looking at these jeans the tailor had two options: leaving pockets unleveled ( they were sewn like this at the factory, because re-sewing the pockets would leave obvious marks ) or leaving you with a back yoke seam out of allignment ( the stitch lines would not meet ). I personally look at yoke stitches first, because it is a strong decorative feature and it has to be just right.  I am really sure your tailor had nothing to do with pocket placement, sorry.

    1. Interesting, and thank you for your input Lena! Isn’t there another way to take in the waist on a pair of pants? I’ve had several pants taken in with two small seams, one above each back pocket, and every pair done in this manner are absolute perfection (I don’t mind the seams, although I could understand some customers might). I’ve never had an issue with this type of alteration, which I have done quite a lot, so maybe this “down the middle” type of alteration just isn’t the best one for symmetry?

      1. says: Lena Merrin

        The most common way to take in trousers would be at centre back seam, I think back darts on jeans would look quite odd. They could have possibly taken them in at side seams if there are no rivets…And great blog by the way, I like your style! :)

      2. says: Mary

        If I am taking in the waist seam more than 1″ on a pair of jeans, I never mess with the back center seam. My preference is to open the side seams, and pull the back panel towards the front. It can be a bit of work, with decorative topstitching and working around rivets. But I find this approach leaves the best-looking finish.
        I didn’t notice the back pocket alignment right away, either. At first glance I thought it was the “before” picture, with a photo of a horribly mangled pair of wine jeans to come! Myself, I always notice the seams (darts) put in above back pockets; THOSE really catch my attention …

  14. says: CG

    I’m sorry about your pants. :(

    My biggest alteration mishap was a nice blazer I asked to have the sides taken in and the sleeves slimmed and shortened.  They totally mangled the shape…in the end I had to buy shoulder pads so that the jacket wouldn’t look lumpy around the chest and armholes. The sleeves ended up too short, and now I wear it folded up to 3/4 length.  

    Back to your pants though — I think it may be best to point it out to them.  I’m not sure how many people work at that tailor, perhaps the one who worked on your pants was new?  In which case, odds are that the company would appreciate your feedback, especially if they had a good track record so far and have high reviews on Yelp.

    1. says: Kacey B

      I agree that most pants would be taken in at center back (unless it is a large amount) however, I personally think that denim that’s been altered always looks a little funny.
      Most of those garments, have been stitched and then put through some kind of wash process, which affects the color of the thread, the way the hems, & seams look, etc. I usually explain this to my clients that with denim (or any heavy topstitched pant), that there are a few different ways that it can be done and let the client chose the lesser of their evils. A good seamstress may be able to “work magic”, but certain things just are what they are…and certain alterations just shouldn’t be done…

      I’m certain that if a tailor that wants you to be happy with their work, trying things on and looking things over before you take them home shouldn’t be an issue. I know that I prefer it. That way any issues can be remedied with less trips and less possibility miscommunication.

  15. says: Meganefeeney

    I didn’t even notice the pocket placement- I’m sure no one would notice while you were wearing them either- enjoy the beautiful color :)

  16. says: Abby

    Woah…yeah that’s wonky. On the bright side, though, the seams look perfect. I have two really great tailors, but they both refuse to take in pants with double seams (and a few other things I see other bloggers have done)…probably because it takes too much effort to get just right. As a result, I’ve been trying to learn how to do this sort of thing myself (from Pinterest and such), and well….we’ll see how that goes. Even the Pinterest people don’t have the goodlooking seams you have there…but the pockets are prob straight.

  17. says: magenta

    oh MY!!!  well , where should I start??  The first few pairs of pants she shortened seemed ok so I trusted her with more.  A vintage Lanz dress that I wanted to up date needed the large picture collar removed and some details on the bodice…… it was gimpy so the darts were in different locations which made my boobs look to be crooked…..she did a lousy job of fixing it and it was never worn again..of course this was not HER fault.. I “TOLD” her to do it that way. sure bet.  a skirt in that same batch was a no brainer…replace some dead elastic in a too big waistband and tighten up. LOOKED ok….but several months later when I tried to wear it I discovered it had the same dead elastic in it!!!  she was so defensive on the other things and it had been several months so I just gave the skirt away.  I recently had a skirt shortened/taken in at waist by her slimming the gores in the skirt.  I did not tell her how to do this.. I just said it seemed too big and was too long…and she suggested doing it that way. Being black it was hard to notice details when I tried it on so it seemed to fit and took it home.  When I was gettign dressed I noticed 2 poofs over my rear…a closer inspection showed that she did not EASE the gores but she took it in and let it out at the end of the “tuck “… when I took it back she insiited it looked fine and she does that to allow butt room and that I said I was afraid I would gain weight and it woudl not fit. (LIE!!!!!!) I told her I did not plan on having my rear end grow and that was not the look i wanted.  she won.   I ended up NEEDING to wear it last nite and asked my friends opinion… of course they thought I was being picky and with my petiteness i was being obsessive ( let me add that they were ALL a lot bigger than I am!!). UGH!!!!! I too hate the way they get all defensive.  Last week I took my favorite leopard print slippers and a vintage purse to the shoe repair for some stitching.  The purse handle was sewn crooked…and no excuse … and the slippers were not sewn in all the places that were loose.  I had pointed out an EXAMPLE of it coming undone and said to check them all over for ANY lose areas… I saw some evidence of them being glued…he said they stitched ont he inside  but I saw more areas that were not fixed…. so I told them to fix them both and make sure they were right. I am picking them up on monday. we’ll see.

  18. 1) How has it taken me so long to find your blog!?  I love it!
    2) Haha – I love that you used the word “wonky”…it’s not used enough in my opinion!
    3) I moved to Denver a year ago and had to go through 3 different alternation shops before finding “the one.”  The one incident that stands out as my biggest mishap was when I bought a new BCBG dress and took it to a new alteration shop in Denver.  We did the measuring and pinning and thought everything was good…until I picked it up.  They basically made the top of the dress unrecognizable.  It now sits in the back of my closet and I haven’t worn it once.  A big waste of almost $200 :-(

    Love your blog! :-)
    XO – Marion

  19. says: Anna

    I didn’t notice at first but you’re right, the pockets are uneven. I’d take them back to the tailor for a fix – gratis. I’m 5’8 so I don’t need alterations much but my sister had some work done by a phenomenal local tailor. She did a great job with hemming a difficult drapy dress so I have my fingers crossed for any future work. I hope the pants work out for you! 

  20. says: Trystbat

    What’s the length measurement of the pockets & the level at the bottom edge? It’s hard to see if they’re uneven at the bottom — perhaps one pocket isn’t precisely the same size?

    Just not sure why a tailor would remove & reattach those pockets for a waist alteration. Having made & altered pants, that sounds excessive.

    1. Hi Trystbat! I really doubt the pockets were removed & reattached, as like you said, that’s just excessive, and you’d see the visible thread holes in the fabric from the original placement. I think what happened is the pants were taken in at the middle seam, but not evenly. One does look higher than the other, but I think this is due to the angle of the original pocket placement. When one side was taken in further than the other, the entire alignment was set off, including vertically.

      1. says: Trystbat

        If the center seam was redone unevenly, the yoke seam (right above the pocket, but below the waist) would have been uneven too.

          1. says: kim

             My theory as to what happened is that they took it in at the center seam starting somewhere below those angled horizontal seams above the pockets but below the waist band, and because the left side overlaps the right side,  the right side was pulled in under the left side and that changed the alignment of the pockets slightly.

  21. Tailoring mishaps are such a bummer! I’ve had a few of them myself, because there aren’t that many tailors in Long Island to begin with, and the majority of them are just absurdly overpriced. Now that I’m living in NYC, I’m hoping I can find one that’s decent – but I can definitely empathize with you on this sort of thing. Sorry it happened to your lovely colored pants!

  22. says: Material Girl

    The mishaps happened to me all the time!! It is very difficult to find a good taylor so you are lucky that this has only happend to you once!

    What I do is send it back for the tailor to redo the alteration. Of course they should try to do their best in their work.

    BTW Yelp cannot be trusted… I got a pair of pants with one leg longer than another from a “highly recommended tailor in yelp”, and when I tried to put my experience in Yelp my comment got removed by Yelp staff.

  23. says: SugarNikita

    Yup, that is definitely not right! I’d see if they will fix it AND give you back a partial refund since they messed up. See how they react and if they are willing and able to fix the problem. If they are, and they do a good job this time, you may not have to switch tailors. They may have had a bad day. If not, though, I would definitely look elsewhere.

  24. says: Vanessa Luna

    I’ve had some tailoring mishaps…like the dress I had taken in that ended up with armholes way too small and now chafe my underarms. The same tailor also took in a pair of pants way too much and I ended up with the dreaded camel toe (I had both of those items done at the same time unfortunately).

    I have new tailors now but am wondering what is your opinion of taking in leather? Is it difficult? I bought a pricey (for me) leather jacket but it is too big, and I would want it taken in and the sleeves shortened. Is this risky? Better just to return and try finding something with a better fit?

  25. says: PF

    an honest tailor would not have charged you for the job. They should have tried to fix it until it was right. How could they think that the outcome is acceptable? I have paid for bad tailoring jobs many times and I basically do not return for fear that they will make it worse; at the same time, I do not agree its the right solution.

  26. says: Paul Cariaga

             It’s too bad you don’t live in the Cincinnati Ohio area! (or that I’m not in San Deago!) We are (513) 772-7799. I am as appauled as you are by the lop-sided, sloppy alterations done on those buautiful jeans! Even if they were that way to begin with, shame on the operator for not first noticing, because he or she missed a perfect opportunity to “kill two birds with one stone” by correcting that too!
    Here’s a TIP: When considering an alterations shop, first ask them if they guarantee perfection. If the do not, leave. Find one that does! Alterations While U Wait does guarantee perfection, and we are not afraid to make that claim because perfection is not that hard!
    If it ain’t perfect, we ain’t done yet.
    If you are ever in Cincinnati Ohio, bring those jeans with you, and I will fix them.
     If this seams like a plug for our business, it is; in fact I would love to consider being a paid advertizer on your site. Since 1995 we cater to a huge following that includes Big & tall men, Coutoure men & ladies, LLL’s (Large Lovely Ladies) petite ladies, and more.
    Paul Cariaga MT.

  27. says: Arya

    Hi, I am a professional tailor and been in this business for more than 8 years now and we are opening our number 6 shop now and we are expanding to 12 shops soon, and I am only 31 years old :D

    Jeans are tick and tricky to sew, it looks great from factory untouched but as soon as it is taken in specially in centre back it always look bad, no matter how good it is sewn, thats why I like to create two darts in the middle of the pocket area and the excess can be reduced from the waist band, that way the centre back never looses its original effect (similar to original hems). in your case the pockets were not sewn 100% correctly from factory in the first place, and as soon as it gets closer to each other when you take them in you can than spot the difference.

    1.  Thank you for the helpful image Arya! I’ve had the waist taken in on my jeans many times, the way you have described, with two seams above the back pockets. Each time, they came out perfect. This was the first time a tailor took my pants in from the middle seam, and it came out un-even, so now I’m a little afraid to get them done this way ever again. And the jean pockets were perfectly spaced before the alteration. I realize now it’s a bit confusing the way I added the photos, but the first photo is not a “before” picture, it’s actually the jeans after alterations, but without the line showing how they were altered incorrectly.

  28. says: Abby

    Ugh, I had that happen once, but even worse. Not only were the pockets crooked, but the top corner of the left pocket was sewn ever-so-slightly into the posterior seam. So bad!

    Love the blog, by the way! It is so helpful to have petite-focused blogs like this that I can relate to. Thank you.

  29. says: Rue Vogiatz

    It’s crooked alright and the stitch length is not matched making this look like a ‘home job’. The word tailor is so over used and abused by businesses, in the rush to make a dollar- a Tailor is someone who draft a fitted suit to fit perfectly from scratch, without the aid of a pattern. Can they do this? If No, then Yes It will be a hit or a miss. Jeans should only be taken in at back waistband only, then through the side seat-Not the front seat, just the back seat needs to be moved over accordingly. Of course there will always be allowances for different body shapes/needs in that the seat might need slight adjustment through middle or that the front seat would need adjustment. The very worst thing one can do on any person that has hips would be to take the seat through the middle which normally slants the pockets further off grain. (Think triangle or mountain here-that will be your butt from behind). I’m a tailor and don’t make mistakes-more tweaking that is needed to perfect an original alteration (sometimes).

  30. says: Zara

    They are wonkeee, same thing happened to me. Lived in San Diego for 18 years and have yet to find a tailor who doesn’t ruin clothing. We big bucks for our jeans and its so disappointing…

  31. says: Karen J

    Same thing happened to me here in Ontario, Canada. I just took the pants and left – you see the first time they were to alter the pants and I got home and tried it on it was if they never touched it. I argued with the girl who tried to show me where she seam ripped and re-sewed it. I told her she may have done that but its still falling off of me. They wanted to charge me for that so-called service and also to fix what wasn`t. So after arguing for a while the owner decided to do it her and self and not charge me…..voila now the pockets are not evenly spaced. I couldn`t bother so I took my pants and now have to make sure my tops/jackets cover the pockets.

  32. says: shweta

    Dear Kelly ,

    Myself Shweta from India .

    It is only today when i came to know your blog while exploring on google ‘ what to do when tailor spoils the shirt ‘ . i landed up at your blog post .

    I didn’t see any link where i could upload pics of my shirt . It is total disaster done by tailor .i think he was drunk while stitching my shirt .

    I am planning to remove the pockets…. so sad ….it is left of no use….


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