Looking for Chicago-area tailors and cobblers
July 25, 2014 2:45 PM   Subscribe

Everything I own is falling apart at once, and contradictory Yelp reviews have left me paralyzed when trying to figure out which Chicago-area tailors and cobblers to go to. Beyond short-term emergency repairs, I also have some more complicated long-term tailoring needs (both men's and women's clothes). Help me find people who can repair my clothing and shoes!

For both categories, Red Line/Brown Line/Purple Line anywhere north of the Loop would be best, but if your suggested locations are open at some point over the weekend, I am willing to spend fairly significant amounts of bike or CTA time getting there.

Cobblers: I just want someone who will do a good job and properly resole Goodyear welted boots, not just shoddily slap on a not-quite-correctly-sized replacement sole and call it a day. Last time I went for convenience and got soles that weren't sufficiently well-attached at the toe. This time, I want to make sure things are done right.

Tailors: In the short term, I only need someone to sturdily patch pants, swap out dead zippers, reattach buttons, and do a better job of it than I would. In the slightly longer term, I would hope to find someone who can actually tailor some of my clothing to fit me better. One possible complication: I guess my appearance would generally be categorized as being somewhere towards the punkish/gothish end of genderqueer, masculine-of-center, etc. While I do have a few dresses or skirts that could definitely use some tailoring, most of my clothing is men's clothing. I am interested in getting some of it altered to fit a bit better as well, but I don't want to deal with someone who thinks that making a button-down shirt fit a female body requires darts, or someone who's not OK with non-standard gender presentation. I've seen some tips on Autostraddle, but I know very little about clothing and so probably require someone who will work with me to figure out what alterations I need. Ideally, I could find someone who could do dresses and men's shirts both.
posted by ubersturm to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (7 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
For sturdy pants patches, specifically blown-out crotches, I've heard good things about Acala's at 1733 W. Chicago. I haven't taken mine in yet but several people I work with at a bike shop (who suffer bike-related pants wear) have recommended it.

For tailoring, I'd recommend the Golden Needle at 814 N. State. They definitely work with both men's and women's clothing, and I've been very happy with everything they've done for me, including fairly major work on a tuxedo I wore in a wedding. Not cheap or fast, but good and very willing to talk with me about exactly what I want done while making helpful, non-pushy suggestions about what's possible and why.
posted by pullayup at 2:53 PM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

There's a cobbler just north of the Damen brown line stop (between Leland and Lawrence) who has always done a good job on my shoes. Nothing big - new soles and heels on Birkenstocks and pumps. He repaired some leather on a pair of pumps, too. Not cheap IIRC, but he did a good job and turnaround was quick.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 3:40 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Friend takes his boots to Theodore Shoe Repair, 4751 N Damen Ave.
posted by fairmettle at 3:42 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I haven't been personally but the consensus I hear from people who are serious about their (men's) shoes is that Brooks Shoe Service is the gold standard here.
posted by enn at 4:27 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Yeah, Golden Needle is pretty good, but her hours are eccentric and she often takes off several weeks in the summer to travel home to Europe. She's really better for your long-term question, anyway; not that she wouldn't do an amazing job repairing clothes, but she's probably a little expensive (and slow) for that kind of work. But for taking an off-the-rack garment and making it fit YOU, the way you want it to fit? She's got a gift. (As pullayup notes, though, she will also tell you straight out if something you want done is not possible or not wise given the constraints of the garment.)

As for cobbler, I had great luck with the guy in the Monadnock Building -- Shoe Hospital, I think. Not exactly north of the Loop, but it's IN the Loop at least, and very close to several El stops. He repaired a pair of black heels with a t-strap that I thought were goners -- the entire strap pulled out of the shoe, revealing its poor construction. He made the broken shoe -- and it's mate -- better than before, and at a very reasonable price. Not super fast, though -- I think it took a week or so.
posted by devinemissk at 5:43 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

My Fluevogs need new bottoms and the shop reccommended Beehive Shoeworks (on Wells just South of Washington). I just dropped them off so I can't report back how they were. However, the shop was incredible busy (I take that as a good sign) but also way more expensive than I was expecting. My (women's shoes) were men's style but I also so women dropping off heels.
posted by Bunglegirl at 7:44 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've had good experiences with Tails (around 1400 N Wells) for tailoring. No major reconstructions, just taking in, letting out and adjusting a collar. They are pretty clear before they get started about the limitations in altering any garment--so I think you could be specific about your desires for the finished look. However, I'm a woman, wearing woman's clothes and happy with darts for shaping--so I can't speak to how they'd handle tailoring men's clothes for women without adding waist and bust darts. My back and forth about how the finished piece should fit had more to do with "no, I know this sort of skirt traditionally sits on the high waist, but I would like it to rest lower" than "no bust darts for shaping this button-down".

I don't recall the cost (but they don't take credit--it's checks or cash only), but turn-around time was good. I did not have any repairs done, just tailoring.

The folks at Fluevog also recommended Beehive to me, but the guy at the corner of Belmont and Broadway (next to the theatre and the Chipotle) has repaired a pair of my Fluevogs (and some other shoes and some handbags I have) to my satisfaction. He's a little scattered (like he quoted me $20, but charged me $10, that kind of thing), but his work seems fine. I've been happy with every shoe thing he's done for me (he repaired an external clasp on one of my bags so it looks good and is strong, but he screwed up the lining in the process. So I don't take bags to him anymore).
posted by crush-onastick at 8:22 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

« Older GUH-luuuuuee? 70s/80s frozen pizza commercial   |   If you were learning Japanese, which radical list... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.