Suit Alterations – Trousers

“Yes we do that kind of job all the time”

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-Antonio wears Made to Measure Trousers (in Studio)

It’s a sentence I say so often I felt I may as well turn it into a blog series.

and give you a rough idea of what can and can’t be done when you consider altering your suit.

-Antonio wear Ginancarlo Tie (Amazon) and Vintage Jacket (in Studio)

Trouser Alterations:

Hems – Get a break that suits your suit and personality

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-Antonio wear Vintage Jacket (in Studio) and Made to Measure Trousers (in Studio)

Adjusting the length of trousers is definitely the most common job, and some trousers retail with unfinished hems making it necessary to swing by The Green Tailor before hitting the club…or office.

Shortening trousers we can do in our sleep; Retail suits generally have 4cm turn-ups, so we could also lengthen your trousers by up to 3.5cm at a push. As an aside jeans and chinos have less of a turn-up, so it’s harder to increase their length.

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-Werner wears Made to Measure Trousers (in Studio)

We generally include 5cm turn-ups, so you’ll be able to increase their length again after an unexpected growth spurt (or donation to your son).

Tapering – it’s all the rage these days

Another really common job is adjusting the shape of the legs. This can be done along any part of the inside and/or outside seam to your desired shape. Retail trousers generally have 1cm seam allowance on the legs, so increasing the width is not ideal, and rarely possible beyond an additional 2cm all around.

Except in extreme cases we’ll simple tuck the excess fabric away, so should you need the width increased again (to adjust for inflation) it’ll be no problem at all.

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-Antonio wear Made to Measure Trousers (in Studio)

Generally it’s not a good idea to alter above the bar tack that’s at the base of your pocket opening, but it can be done if you really need to. The downside is that this reduces your pocket opening, so we only do this if absolutely necessary.

i.e. when it would be unfashionable not to.

Waistband resize – it should fit snug, but no too snug

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A suit’s waistband is (more often than not) designed to be easily increased or decreased. Depending on the brand you can increase the waist by around 6cm, and decrease by around 15cm.

Again excess fabric is tucked away when possible so that adjustments in the opposite direction are always possible.

Crotch – the danger zone

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-Werner wear Made to Measure Trousers (in Studio)

Low crotches are a result of poor pattern grading in the retail sector…don’t even get me started. It’s also technically not possible to lift the crotch due to the cut of the fabric along the J seam.

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But we can always jippo the inside leg to shorten the J seam, which will bring the crotch to where we need it. One must just be careful not to strain the center back seam too much, as that’ll result in tears down the road.

Sagging Seat – So unattractive

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Again the result of poor patterning, this alteration is the most complex (and thus expensive) to perform. In brief it involves undoing the entire back panel of your trousers, re-shaping them and sewing them back into place.

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As usual, where possible excess fabric is tucked away so further adjustments are always possible.

Patches – You can’t be a tailor and not do patch jobs, it just wouldn’t make sense

The variety of tears and holes we see on the daily is too extensive to list, but I’m yet to see a patch job I can’t handle, even if it requires some creative design work ;)

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I trust this post has been helpful in explaining what goes into a suit alteration. Hit me up in the comments if you have any questions, and you’re obviously always welcome to pop into the Studio for us to take a look at your suit to see what can and can’t be done.

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If you’re interested in the nitty gritty of these jobs, we’ve started filming instruction videos to use internally for training. You can check them out here.


The Studio is at 625 Levinia Street, Garsfontein, and open every Thursday from 8am to 8pm. You can also subscribe to this blog by hitting the follow button, and join the monthly newsletter here for fashion scandal and awesome designs.

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