I do both sewing and tailoring projects.
These are very different activities so in my head I give them different names. Sewing is when I make something out of whole cloth*. It’s creative. It feels like a big accomplishment when I can step back and say “I made this dress/coat/set of curtains.”
Tailoring is more subtle work. It involves taking something already made, and making it fit better. In a perfect world when the tailoring is done a general bystander can’t tell anything has changed. Only the wearer (or someone looking at before and after shots) can tell the fit has improved.
Tailoring is trickier work. I never know what I’m going to find when I start turning a store-bought garment inside out. Sometimes I gain insight into how to make garments fit well**. Other times I discover that the plastic stays in a strapless dress are GLUED in, not sewn into place. (At least that explained the “dry clean only” warning on what otherwise should have been a washable dress…) I can tell you that there are more tacks (holding random flaps of fabric to other random bits) inside a store bought dress/suit/coat than you’ll ever see written into a home sewing project. All these tacks make it nearly impossible to get to that bit that needs adjusting (the waist band itself, the top of a strapless dress: both places where fit is most important and also hardest to get to)
And zippers. Don’t even get me started on zippers. I’ve gotten to the point where if Neil or I needs a zipper fixed I take it to a professional.
But it still feels like an accomplishment to take an acceptable store bought garment and turn it into something striking, just by tailoring the fit.
*and here we have yet another expression used in its first format. Next I’ll tell you about putting all my eggs in one basket, and what happens when the dogs find said basket…
**hint: full linings. A fully lined garment always fits better than something with just a hem trim that’s folded under and ironed. Also, seam tape, cotton interfacing, and other things that make collars stiff, waistbands stay unwrinkled, and other edges behave as they should.