How much to charge to hem pants?

mad_about_mickeyNovember 19, 2008

My neighbor has asked me to hem some new boys pants.

The material would be denim jeans and cords.

They are not sure if they have to be cut or not, they said maybe just turned up and sewed.

Any idea what is a reasonable price for this?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

$20/hour. You might want to do a test run on a pair of old jeans that you have around and see how long it takes. Most people completely underestimate how long it takes to hem up a pair of pants, especially if you have to cut them off and turn a new hem.

Also, be sure that YOU do the measuring and fitting. And refuse to hem them until they've been washed at least twice to make sure that they aren't going to shrink. I'm sure your neighbor is a nice lady, but if these don't end up the right length after washing, she will think it's your fault.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 12:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I wouldn't charge 20.00 an hour unless it was for a mans suit or something,but for a little boy,no way.The pants probably didn't cost that much!!

I do this every year,for my GS'S and although i don't charge their parents,i do do some hemming for his other gramma,and do charge her.I usually charge her 6.00 a pair,and it doesn't take that long.

I also tell them to make sure they have washed and dried them first,and i do the measuring.I also have people bring the shoes they will wear with them.

I know most of us really don't charge what we should.

I'm retired ,so if i make a little money on the side for a few minutes work,that's ok.Now if i did this for a living,that would be different.JMHO.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 4:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Kathy wrote: I wouldn't charge 20.00 an hour unless it was for a mans suit or something,but for a little boy,no way.The pants probably didn't cost that much!!

~~I understand your thinking, except that now we're talking a business arrangement-not a family thing that you do out of love. Standard rates for alterations is $20-50/hour depending on where you live in. (Bridal alterations are charged even higher.) The rate is based on the experience of the seamstress, the fact that she has to provide the machine to perform the work, and that she will have to take time away from other activities to do the work. And, it's not really fair to undercut the woman who is trying to make a living doing alterations.

Now, that said, as a professional seamstress (which I have been: quilting and bridal wear) I have made exceptions for individuals based on their economic situation, personal relationships, or whatever.

My assumption when the question was asked was that this is just a neighbor--not a close friend or family member, that she has the money to pay a fair wage for the work and that this is just a business arrangement and therefore, the transaction can be priced just as any other seamstress would price it.


    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 6:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Go Annie!

Denim and corduroy really can't just be folded up and stitched - they'll look like crap, and be very bulky to walk in.

This is not a minor job, and I have dealt with neighbors and friends asking "Oh, can't you just turn it up a bit?" with slacks, with kid's clothes, and with bridesmaid dresses. Well, yes I can, but nobody seems to want to pay for my time. People think I should do this for free because the husband is a friend, the baby is cute, and the bridesmaids can't afford it.

My charge for alterations is also $20/hour. Since I work out of my home, many think I'm not a "professional". If they don't like it they can go to a "professional". Close to me the professional (a commercial tailor/alteration house in the mall) charges a minimum of $35, plus the charge of the alteration.

    Bookmark   November 19, 2008 at 10:42PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I had rather do a pair of dress pants any day than blue jeans. Blue jeans are a good way to make your machine jump time. I am in Alabama & things usually cost a bit less here than in other states. I was going into town the other day & saw a sign outside a dry cleaners advertizing a SPECIAL for 3 days of $7.50 & it said pants not jeans. I doubt they charge the same for jeans as dress pants. Now that kids wear their pants longer, I seldom get requests to shorten them. Some kids & adults won't wear them afterwards because it doesn't look original. They gripe about the thread or even the faded slash marks not being in the hem any longer from the special torture finishes they do to denim. I also ask for 3 washes & dryer dries before I attempt them even for those I REALLY love!!!

When I do give in & shorten a pair, I leave enough fabric to turn under twice. At the seams, I trim out the seam allowance where it will be turned under on the first turn. I treat the cut edge that will be at the top edge of the hem with a good soaking of FrayChek. I use thread for jeans & hem from the outside. Breaking needles adds to the cost of hemming jeans too.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2008 at 6:35AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'd have to second Annie's comment.

I have to make a living with my sewing. People are shocked when I ask for $10 to $14 a pair for hemming. I'm not retired, I have to put food on the table. As for: they can just be turned up and stitched: they are already three layers thick at the hem. Razoring out the old hem is a pain, and you have to, unless they're going to be shortened more than 2 inches.

Doing alterations for next to nothing just encourages people to de-value the skill. And It's nice to think you're making extra money. But the extra lights on, the wear and tear on your machine, pressing the final may charge $6, but you don't make $6.

    Bookmark   November 21, 2008 at 11:00PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I'm so happy to read this post and hear from people who value their work. The problem where I am (NYC) is that there are a lot of people doing the same work and if someone doesn't like your price, they can go elsewhere, so take your area into consideration. My sister pays more upstate than we can charge down here simply because there's no one around doing the work.

Jeans definitely need to cost more, they are more difficult to undo and resew and harder on any machine.

And I can't stand to hear Oh, I can't pay $16 to replace a zipper, I only paid $10 for the jeans - yeah, that's why the zipper broke. A good jeans zipper can cost $6 by itself without one second of labor or one inch of thread added in.

I know it's harder with friends and neighbors, just remember to respect yourself whatever price you end up charging.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 9:18AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

In my rural farming area, I get a lot of requests from old widowers about patching their jeans and coveralls. They are shocked when they learn that it's probably going to cost them $20-30 to have the knees patched up. They have no idea of the time involved, how expensive denim is, etc...

"I could get a new pair for that!" Yep, and that's exactly what you should do. To tempt me away from my quilting jobs ($20/hour to machine quilt for people) you are going to have to pay me the same rate and it takes about an hour and a half to replace the knees on a pair of jeans by the time you've open the side seams on the legs, sewn on the patch and restitched the leg.

One of the reasons that women's tasks are not valued by society is because we tend to underrate their value ourselves. For too long it's been thought that if a woman can do it, it must be EASY. NOT SO! My husband no longer asks me to mend his jeans, he knows how much work is involved and would rather I spent my time on other things.


    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 10:12AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

All of your comments are why I don't *do* repairs and alterations - except for my immediate family, sons, parents, and sisters. Alterations ALWAYS take longer and are more of a hassle for me than I think they are going to be - ALWAYS! So I simply don't do them. I will do family a favor of an alteration/hemming if they ask, but I do not charge them.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2008 at 4:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have books on alteration which has price sheets in the back for most all alterations. I have opened them up with "Let's look & see what that job is worth" & open it up & show them. I just need to see if the lady who wrote them will provide an updated price list.

I have relatives in DC who have shown me items & quoted prices & the work was not quality work at all & the fees were very high. If you can get paid that much & do ship-shod work, it's robbery.

I find the request for mending/repairs has dropped a lot over the years. Most requests are for "have to's" like pants or skirts being shortened. I have never figured out why people think things should be cheaper for kids clothes either.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 5:06PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Well, thank you all for your input.

I quoted them a price and the lady was upset because these are only for a preschooler !

to me, that makes it harder to hem as they are narrower. AND to top it off, these are top of the line BIG BRAND NAME kids jeans. I want to say Ralph Lauren, but I'm not sure that is the name.

Thanks again.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 5:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

No offense, but either she needs to buy clothing that fits the kid to begin with, settle for rolling up the cuffs, OR factor the alterations into the purchase price. I used to roll up the cuffs on my children's jeans because I knew that they would most likely get taller but not necessarily out-grow the waists and I didn't want permanent alterations that would actually shorten the usefulness of their pants.


    Bookmark   November 23, 2008 at 6:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Re: patching jeans. They're JEANS for goodness sake. If I need something to bang around in and get paint on and ruin, I go to Goodwill and get a pair for $5 or so. Pricing the alterations (or dry cleaning) would wisely be considered before you buy.

As to the cost of an individual garment: It doesn't matter to me whether the customer purchased it a Harrod's of London, or Dillard's, or Macy's, or Salvation Army. The time and effort to perform a specific alteration is the same. (Are you listening, brides to be?)

Work traditionally done by women is undervalued, and not always just by men. One woman described something she wanted done, and said, "You won't charge anything for that, will you?" Too bad neither of us were at our best that day. I meant to lighten the mood a little bit, and explain that nothing was free. Unfortunately, my response, "We're not the Sisters of Mercy, ma'am," peeved her instead.

I did, in fact, occasionally do something for nothing at the dry cleaners. But 1) it would be for a customer who was in pretty often, and 2) it had to be a task which took less time to do than the man-hours needed to document the alteration in the system, and 3) so customer had to stand right there while I did it, so there was no labeling, hanging, bagging, etc.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 8:45AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

"We're not the Sisters of Mercy, ma'am" Oh dear, I can see how that might not have helped the situation, but it sure gave me a chuckle this morning!


    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 9:14AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't have the nerves to do any sewing for others, so I admire anyone who does.

Once years ago, I was going to learn to cover lampshades, for myself. My friend was telling her her Mother who had more money than God and she so kindly showed up with two shades for me to 'practice on'.

I did them because of my friend. When the lady came to get them she asked, "Now how much do I owe?'

I told her, "You couldn't afford it."

She didn't bring any more.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2008 at 3:46PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Mad About Mickey - was the price you quoted something you held back on a bit, trying to be nice? That's my experience, no matter the price, they're not happy and if you're trying to do them a favor you end up twice as frustrated.

But who buys big name brand jeans for little kids who'll outgrow them in five minutes? And you're right, those narrow little openings are harder.

Evaf, you're my hero! I love that line. I just used to say if you like the (garment in question) and wear it a lot, it's worth it to you. I would try to picture these people arguing about prices at the supermarket or the gas station and know they couldn't pull it off while they don't mind trying it out on you.

I had a similar breach of etiquette at my last office job when someone was on the phone giving me a list of who wanted an additional copy of their report: the president, the vice president, their secretaries, the comptroller, the bookkeeper, this manager, that manager, on and on. When he got past the 12th name on the list I just lost it and asked if his dog wouldn't like a copy, too.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2008 at 9:54AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

...again with the they tell me that they pay mega bucks for their clothes. They think that "oh you just need to fold it up and sew it & we'll mark where we want it"
Ok, then have YOUR mother do it. If you can go to all that trouble, you can sit and hand sew them too.

Sorry, I am getting a little disgruntled about this now.....

    Bookmark   November 27, 2008 at 1:12PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I don't get why other people can't do hem pants for themselves. If they can't or don't want to, then they should be willing to pay a fair price for the service! Six to ten dollars depending on the region sound fair to me!

    Bookmark   January 5, 2011 at 12:35PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

We used to have a young woman in town who ran "Magic Fingers"...(not a massage parlour). My husband was the absolute worst person at destroying jeans...He ran heavy equipment and all that on and off the machine, squatting, and just general working had a new hole or tear every week.
I took her 2 or 3 grocery sacks full of jeans at a time to mend and she would fix every broken thread, I swear! Replaced zippers, patched holes, fixed torn out pockets...I think he wore those jeans until the patches made up 65% of the jeans...
She never charged over $5. Unbelievable... I wish I could have her around now....Her husband was in the military and when he moved on, so did she...
I do a lot of sewing for myself and everybody else. I have never quoted anyone a price for doing something, but most everyone has been very generous in what they gave me. I would sew if I had to pay to do it!!
I would NOT however, mend jeans. Except for 1 pair in the last 10 years, I simply do not do that. You can buy work jeans for 10-12 bucks and it wouldn't be worth that much hassle to me...I keep a couple pairs ahead in a bag in the closet, and when something goes "out of service", they quietly disappear and the new ones move into the drawer...
I loved his mother dearly, but I will not mend his jeans...she showed him how and as far as I am concerned, he can do it!

    Bookmark   January 15, 2011 at 4:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I found this sight very useful to me. I am loosing my job this week and have decided to cash in on my talent of sewing and have decided to reserch how much to charge for certain tasks, hemming pants being the main one. I used to hem and charged 7 for jeans and 10 for dress pants and a little more if they are lined. It seams on this sight seamtress's are charing more for jeans.
Have a great day.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 11:03AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

How much do the tailors in your area charge? You want to be competitive. In my area the tailors charge $5 to hem pants. Once in a while you will find someone that does it for $4.

Good Luck

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 11:36AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am in Alabama where prices fall far below other areas. My last check on local places was about a year ago

$10-$12 to alter a waist on men's pants
$10-$12 to alter length of unlined pants w/o a cuff
$13-$14 to alter pants length unlined & with a cuff

I didn't inquire about jeans because I try to stay away from them.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2011 at 7:27AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

shops all have set prices for hems. Customers often and (rightly so) complain about hourly rates as it's often most unfair. The reason being is Some can turn out a lot of work in an hour. Sadly some can not. IF the home sewer is slow and unorganized, lack of experience (which experience speeds you up) why should a customer pay more for the slow?
say...IF you charge $6 a pr for hems, you also do not "limit" your earnings. I've been sewing for yrs and I average $30 pr hr and up depending on what I'm sewing on. (Formal wear always earns you more) What a lot of folks do that sew at home for cash, is get an idea what the local dry cleaners charges for base alterations and under cut that price by just a little.

2 people could get a pr of pants to hem for $6. One can start to finish do a perfect job. 10 minutes. The other 25 minutes. The one taking much longer isn't really worth more because she is slower. Or because she uses a seam ripper picking loose stitch by stitch.
I never just turn a hem up and leave the orig one in. I always use a razor . open it up in seconds, press, mark cut and finished. Always do it like it orig was

    Bookmark   May 8, 2011 at 3:44PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

NO one should be charging by the hour unless they are a darn good and fast seamstress. WITH ALL the tailoring equipment available. Some people working off thier kitchen table are darn slow and not worth that price. I have 45 yrs experience and always average at least 20 per hr. On decor work I average closer to 40. I have averaged more,
I have the right equipment..etc, and could hem quite a few pants in one hr. Often it's best to have a basic price list for basic alterations. You can always add on a little for "oddities"

    Bookmark   May 17, 2011 at 7:24AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My local tailor charges $9 to shorten my unlined slacks. I'm not sure how long it takes her, but not an hour that's for sure. Honestly, I think she's a little low.

    Bookmark   May 31, 2011 at 10:45PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Need drapery fabric problem advice
I had polyester draperies made and the workroom pressed...
Anyone use Singer Touch 'n' Sew?
My Singer is one of the old Touch 'n' Sew's from about...
Advanced beginner , emphasis on beginner
What r ur fave online fabric stores? I am looking...
Pleating help
Hello all. It's been a while since I asked a question...
Should I buy this old Singer?
... Can you tell me how I find when it was made? It's...
People viewed this after searching for:
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™