Could dry cleaning really have fixed my jackets?
November 13, 2012 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I had the sleeves shortened on two suit jackets, and when the tailor moved the buttons they left stitching "scars" on the material. Tailor claims that dry cleaning the suits a few times would fix it. I say BS. But then again, I don't know much about this kind of thing, do you?

I don't think the pictures really do it justice - the black one especially looked really horrible. There is a whole long story to this (and I am getting reimbursed for the replacement jackets), but I'm trying to keep it short. What I really want to know is if the tailor is full of hot air or if I am just ignorant about garment care.
posted by radioamy to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total)
What is the fabric?

(And in the second shot, the buttons appear to not be aligned. Hell, my 11 year old could do a better job at sewing on buttons in a straight line.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 6:32 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Looks like hot air to me. I'm viewing on a cell phone, but is it just me or did your tailor sew the button hole shut and tell you that would smooth itself out by dry cleaning? Get a second opinion. If this is an anomaly and this tailor usually does ok work, ask them to redo it, free of charge.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:33 PM on November 13, 2012

I'm a sewer, but an amateur.

Cant see what is up from the picture, but I've been able to press clothes when I am sewing to reset the weave and have it all look ok after having removed and redone a seam. I would expect a tailor to press it if it is an easy fix.

Also, if there is a hole in cloth, a good tailor can needle weave the fabric back to make it look good again, (something I couldn't do, just know it is possible).

Some stitching in a hem will show through, but usually exact match thread solves the problem.

Finally, dry cleaners sometimes do "make things right" with garments, so why not take it to the dry cleaner with specific request to deal with the issue, and if it doesn't work, go back to the tailor.
posted by chapps at 6:33 PM on November 13, 2012 [2 favorites]

If the marks are impressions in the fabric, or places where the nap was flattened, iron it through a damp cotton cloth. It should really be a little wetter than damp -- just not dripping wet. Place that over the area. Three layers of all-cotton t-shirt material, or four layers of cotton sheeting would work well. You need enough thickness to create plenty of steam. (Don't use terry toweling because it'll leave its own impression on the fabric.) Turn the iron up high (steam setting or not, it doesn't matter) and just press down to make the steam penetrate. Don't bear down hard, just hold it there. Don't let the hot iron touch the suiting material, or it could create a shiny mark. If your steaming cloth is too small, you can shield what's around it with a pillow case or other thin cloth.

Or take it to a dry cleaning place and ask them to steam the marks out. That's probably a better idea, with all the don'ts I put in there.
posted by wryly at 6:56 PM on November 13, 2012 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: I apologize that the pictures are bad. Basically it looks like what you would expect if you had decorative buttonholes stitched then took the stitching out - obvious marks where the thread used to be.

malibustacey9999: it's "Stretch Polyester Viscose Blend" (this is the jacket). And yes, my secondary complaint was that they did a *terrible* job sewing the buttons on. They're not evenly spaced or in a straight line. A few are falling off!

oceanjesse: because at least one button would have been cut off by hemming, they just straight up took the buttons and stitching out (both were decorative) and moved the buttons up to another arbitrary point.

chapps & wryly: if it could have been taken care of by the tailor (needle weaving, steaming, etc), shouldn't they have done that as part of the hemming charge?

FWIW I did a chargeback on my Visa for the service and complained via the BBB and should be getting a check for the replacement cost. I am just trying to figure out if the tailor is full of sh*t or not.
posted by radioamy at 7:32 PM on November 13, 2012

You're probably fine. I won't guarantee it, but in my experience a little laundering will get rid of the old sew marks, at least to the point where no one will notice them if they didn't know they were there in the first pace.

This works better if the jackets are new or close to it, before the fabric around the stitches has had a chance to permanently stretch around the button thread.
posted by Ookseer at 8:27 PM on November 13, 2012

I'm not a professional, but I don't think the tailor is full of shit. I have done enough mending and pressing to learn that most fabric tends to be really resilient and that steam can sometimes work magic. It's like when you wear a ring for a long time and then take it off; at first you have a ring mark around your finger, but with time it goes away. I think the thread marks would be pretty easily treated with the method wryly suggests.

To my mind it seems like something a thorough tailor would take care of themselves, but, again, I am just opining.
posted by Brody's chum at 9:20 PM on November 13, 2012

I've had the same process done and the scars never completely went away. Mine was a wool/viscose blend, iirc, so ymmv.

From that point onward I always paid a bit more, when it was required, to have the sleeves shortened from the shoulders instead.
posted by sub-culture at 10:55 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: chapps & wryly: if it could have been taken care of by the tailor (needle weaving, steaming, etc), shouldn't they have done that as part of the hemming charge?

Well, I'd say yes... I go to a tailor when it is important to do a better job than I can do at home. Buttons poorly sewn on or out of line doesn't seem like better than sewing at home. (Sadly, it sounds like most ready to wear these days, though!)

I agree the fabric should be resilient enough to press (with damp cotton press cloth, or at dry cleaner) if it is just pulling out thread and leaving the holes behind-- those are just areas where the thread is pulled apart a bit. not breaks in the threads.

Needle weaving is done where there is a tear or hole (think, moth eating a hole through, broken threads) to weave it back together. This isn't needed if threads aren't broken.
posted by chapps at 11:33 PM on November 13, 2012 [1 favorite]

The top one looks awful to me. Were there buttonholes there to begin with? If not, they screwed something up. If there were, it was not a good idea to try and "erase" them.

The second one looks fine. To me. I wouldn't be surprised if the little imperfections did disappear after a dry cleaning or two.
posted by gjc at 5:39 AM on November 14, 2012

Best answer: The drycleaning itself will do nothing. The steam pressing that the drycleaner will perform to make it look better will expand the fibers and relax them, allowing the crimps of the stitch marks to ease out.

As mentioned above, you can do this yourself with a damp cloth and an iron.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:17 PM on November 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

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