Have a vintage garment or a costume that needs help?? Send a picture and a detailed description - it is possible your garment can be saved.
Simple Consultation - visual inspection of your picture and a review of your description might give enough information for an educated guess regarding the cost (or desirability) of repair. There is no charge for this service, although of course with just a picture it may not be possible to garner much information. I am always happy to take a look though!
This was an opera costume a client purchased a number of years ago - unfortunately while she was out of the country her home was invaded by some mice - why they insisted on attacking the velvet gown rather than an old towel is always a mystery. I evaluated the garment for her and documented the damage and other areas which needed attention, but for something like this a picture alone would have told me that the garment needed to go to a specialist who could re-weave a large patch into the front - there is no easy fix for this kind of situation.
If it was a run of the mill costume that she wanted to keep using I would have simply done the routine repairs and then cut a 10 inch swath out of the front of the overskirt and re-used the existing trim. It would still hang nicely over the underskirt and the extra velvet could be used for later repairs or small bags. Since this was a documented gown worn by a diva she much admired, it made sense to put the money into an actual restoration and then arrange for a safe display situation. If you need re-weaving work done check on the internet to see if anyone in your area is capable of performing the work. You might also try local museums which often have a contact for fabric restoration specialists.
Formal Consultation of Garment with Written Report and Estimate of Repair
If you want a formal consultation regarding a garment you may ship it to me (with pre-paid return shipping and insurance) for a hands-on inspection. I will examine the garment under regular, fluorescent and blacklight, looking for stains, fades and weakness issues. I will then examine seams, hems and stress components to determine if the garment is safe for wear after repair, or should be retired for display purposes only. I will work up a ball-park estimate of what I think the repair or adjustments will cost, and e-mail you the report. Depending on your instructions I will work on the garment or return it within the time frame specified. Please email for additional information.
I can't guarantee I can rescue your beloved garment (or that really amazing deal from the thrift store!) but I have had some success with kinds of stain removal and over-dyeing of faded areas that regular dry cleaners are not willing to spend time on - it may be worth a look. If your garment simply needs altering, you will be better off using a local tailor or dressmaker who will be able to fit you in person.
Here is an example of a black vintage ball gown a client brought me. She is a professional singer and was staging a nightclub act featuring Cole Porter songs. This was a lovely taffeta gown with a few areas of damage, but of a type easy to stabalize and repair. The front hem had a few rips in it and the fabric was found to be very weak throughout the lower 4 to 5 inches of the entire front. Both straps were ripped and although the zipper was in good shape the gown was never intended for the kind of bust my client sports. The straps were easily dealt with of course. I trimmed out a shallow arc across the whole front of the gown which took care of the damage and also allowed her easy movement across the stage. As the back of the dress maintained its original length, the effect was to form its own little train. She was dead set on wearing this gown so after a consultation I removed the zipper entirely and replaced it with a line of grommets that allows her to lace the gown with more or less back cleavage as her weight changes. It doesn't look like much just laying there, but this dress is utterly charming on her - I hope to have a picture of her in it soon! The consultation was $25 and the work was billed at an additional $95.