How to Run a Successful Alteration Business

Cloth alterations
Cloth alterations (Image: sew on a button on a shirt image by Ivonne Wierink from

For those skilled in mending and altering clothing, an alteration business can be a low-cost start-up venture that provides a valuable service to any community. An alteration company provides hemming service, fixes zippers, mends fabrics, creates button holes, alters garment sizes, and otherwise renews old garments. To start on the road to a successful alteration business, learn as much as possible about perfecting the craft of cloth alterations.

Things You'll Need

  • Sewing machine
  • Needles
  • Threads
  • Buttons
  • Zippers
  • Garment bags
  • Measuring tape
  • Clothing iron
  • Organizational containers
  • Client order book
  • Cash register

Learn about the fabric-alteration business by reading publications and enrolling in courses. Books such as “The Perfect Fit: The Classic Guide to Altering Patterns” provide valuable information for those interested in the alteration-and-tailoring craft. Additionally, to learn more skilled tricks of the trade enroll in a fashion design and construction course or continuing-education class at a community college.

Secure a location or space for providing alteration services. Alteration operations can be performed from home in an extra room or living space. Also, this business can be conducted from a small leased space in a local mall. Keep in mind that street and foot traffic is important in selecting commercial space.

Purchase alteration tools and payment-system equipment. Alteration tools will include a sewing machine, clothing iron, garment bags and an assortment of standard needles, threads, buttons and zippers. Payment-system equipment includes a cash register and a credit-card payment system.

Organize the work station to perform alteration tasks in an efficient manner. Secure a simple wooden work table and an assortment of stackable plastic containers to keep alteration operations orderly.

Develop a fee schedule for alteration services. Prices will vary based on expenses such as facility costs. Alteration prices will be less if the business is operating from home.

Market the business to local clients. In addition to helping customers with altering everyday casual and business garments, consider providing alterations for wedding attire, formal wear, couture and costumes. Consider collaborating with dry cleaners, retail clothing shops, uniform retailers, bridal shops and consignment clothing shops. Leave professional fliers and business cards on local community boards.

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