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A Guide to Suit Alterations

suit alteration tailor

A Guide to Suit Alterations

At times, purchasing new items may not be necessary. Updating existing belongings can often suffice.

This guide aims to assist you in navigating local seamstresses and tailor shops, answering the question, “Can a tailor fix this?”

Suit alterations are relatively straightforward once you grasp the fundamental principles. It’s crucial to understand that a garment can only be altered along a seam. You can either reduce the size by “taking in” a seam or increase it by “letting out” a seam.

“Taking in” involves making the garment smaller by unsewing the seam and resewing it deeper into the fabric. This may entail complex adjustments to maintain garment proportion, including reshaping pattern pieces. Shoulder alterations, for instance, may require removing sleeves and lining, recutting panels, and potentially reshaping armholes, leading to significant handwork and higher costs, often exceeding $100.

“Letting out” makes the garment larger by unsewing the seam and resewing it further out. However, the availability of additional fabric is a limiting factor. Bespoke suits typically offer more fabric, allowing for extensive alterations over time.

Simple Guide to Suit Alterations

Shoulders & Collar:

  • Extending jacket shoulders is theoretically possible but labor-intensive and costly.
  • Reducing shoulder size is feasible but involves limitations and expense.
  • Removing shoulder padding is possible but may not achieve the same effect as a “natural shoulder.”
  • Eliminating the neck roll and fixing collar gaps are addressed in detail.

Chest & Stomach:

  • Letting out a jacket’s midsection is possible with available fabric.
  • Taking in the midsection is doable but restricted if intersecting with pockets.
  • Chest causing lapel bending may require moving up a size for a better fit.


  • Lengthening jacket sleeves is generally possible within limits.
  • Shortening sleeves can be done but may affect functional buttonholes.
  • Making sleeves working or altering their width is possible with certain considerations.

Jacket Length:

  • Lengthening a jacket is not feasible.
  • Shortening a jacket is possible but may alter the jacket’s balance and proportions.


  • Letting out the waist can be determined by the fabric inside the center back seam.
  • Altering the rise is challenging and involves significant adjustments.
  • Sizing for the hips and taking in the waist is preferred over letting out.


  • Transforming pleated pants to flat-front is technically possible but expensive.
  • Removing jacket lining is doable but labor-intensive and costly.
  • Changing buttons is a simple upgrade.
  • Fixing the bubbling effect of fusing is not possible.

In conclusion, understanding the intricacies of suit alterations empowers individuals to make informed decisions about updating their wardrobe. It’s highlighted that investing in alterations for moderately priced jackets or suits, even if priced at $50-100, is often justified for achieving a personalised fit. Suit Society, known for its suits starting at $740, stands out by including all alterations in the final fit, potentially making it a cost-effective option. Moreover, their suits come with a 6cm hem, allowing for adjustments as one grows with the suit.

While Suit Society doesn’t currently provide in-house alterations across their suit stores in Brisbane, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, and Toowoomba, they are more than happy to offer recommendations when contacted.

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