Writing Receipts For Your Customers

Some of you are sewing or crafting for other people.

If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend a lot of money on supplies.

I wanted to give my customers a recept, but I didn’t need them to look like a beautiful keepsake.

Chances are, most people throw theirs away.

In fact, some just tell me to keep it.

So, I hunted around at different office supply stores for the perfect receipt book.

And here is what I found:

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I knew I wanted my receipt book to have carbon in it to make two copies…one for the customer and one for me.

This is pretty simple looking, but it gets the job done.

And the bonus is, that they are much cheaper than anything I could find at the big office supply stores. And, actually, I even looked at the little office supply stores and couldn’t find anything remotely close to what I was searching for.

Here’s what this one looks like on the inside:

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There’s a place for the name, address, date, etc. There’s also a place to check off how they paid (cash, check, etc.)

By the way, I don’t accept credit cards and no one seems to mind one bit.

In fact, in the last 20 years, I don’t remember any more than two people asking me about it.

Besides the personal information, I also write what kinds of alterations I made and on which garment.

This customer had only one garment that she brought to me at the time:

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I covered up her name and phone number, but the main part says, “Take in neck straps and replace beads and trim, hook and eyes.”

I might even occasionally describe the dress on the receipt.

Of course, I gave her the top copy with a business card, if she hasn’t gotten one already and I keep my yellow copies attached to the book.

Sometimes on my yellow copy, I’ll write important info that I might need to remember, like an inseam measurement, a wedding or anniversary date, or something that is going on in their life. Later when they come to pick up their order, I can ask them about it.

It makes my job much more personal.

Then, at the end of each month, I put all my data into an Excel file on my computer so that if I need the customer’s information, I’ve got it on record and it’s handy.

You may have a favorite receipt book or other tool for this purpose.

If so, I’d love to hear what you have found to be successful.

Mending What the Dog Chewed Up (Part Two)

In the last post, we looked at a technique to mend practically anything.

But in that scenario, we used the first of two Vera Bradley bags that a customer brought to me to fix.

Her dog had chewed them both to pieces.

Today, let’s look at the other bag.

It has bigger issues.


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This big bite came out of the pocket on the front of the bag.

Good job, Fido!

This one needs some serious surgery.

So, we go to Plan B (Technique #2).

First, I hand sewed the area just to draw the raw edges closer together.

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Because there were holes all over this chew area, I had to cover the bite marks up!

I had some leftover seam binding in my notions box. You may find something similar in yours or you may have a scrap piece of fabric that you can use to cover this hole.

I like the seam binding because it comes with a prefolded edge to it.

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I cut it a little longer than the area I needed to cover.

Then, I trimmed the width, because it was wider than I needed too.

That’s the thing about alterations. You can use all sorts of odds and ends and make them work.

Then I stitched the long, unfolded edge of the seam binding to the edge of the bag.

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I sewed it right sides together and then flipped the scrap fabric over to make sure I had covered the torn edge with my stitches.

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Then I flipped the fabric patch to the other side of the bag and pinned it in place:

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Then I stitched close to the edge. Then, using the stitching technique from the first bag, I tightly stitched the ends as shown.

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If you don’t like how the tight stitches look at the ends, you can always turn under those short ends before you sew on the patch and then the last step would be to stitch straight across those ends.

But, I felt this bag needed the extra reinforcement.

And do you know what?

The customer called and profusely thanked me for making the bag look so good.

Wasn’t that sweet of her?

That kind of consideration just makes your day, doesn’t it?

Now, go and fix that ripped and torn item you’ve had sitting around for weeks or months.

It will make your day!

Mending What the Dog Chewed Up (Part One)

A customer brought me 2 Vera Bradley bags (purses) that her dog chewed up and asked me if I could repair them.

She really didn’t have high expectations; she figured anything I could do was better than what they looked like.

But, she didn’t know that I have a favorite mending technique that earns rave reviews every time I use it.

This is some of the damage to one strap on the first bag:

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To fix this, select thread that matches the bag and thread your machine and bobbin with it.

Now, switch your machine to a zig zag stitch.

Select the widest width of zig zag that you have.

The stitch length should be set at zero. (If you start sewing and the machine does not move forward, then move the stitch length lever just a smidge and try it there. You certainly don’t want it at “1″. The goal here is to have the stitches as close together as possible.)

Begin stitching along the edge of the strap like this:

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You may need to go over it a couple of times.

This is how it turned out:

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See how good that looks?

Most people won’t even notice that the bag was in shreds a few minutes ago.

Here’s another example of damage to the middle of the bag:

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This is what it looks like after the mend:

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This technique has many applications.

I use it to mend jeans, jackets, sleeping bags and many other items around the house.

It only takes a couple of minutes and the right color of thread and you’ve got an instant solution to lots of problems.








Shortening Long Sleeves

Are the sleeves on your shirts too long?

Shortening sleeves is a quick alteration.

This technique will work for mens or ladies shirts that have cuffs on them.

Let me show you what I did on this purple shirt:

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There are two rows of stitching on the top edge of the cuff

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It’s a little hard to see in that photo, but you have seen them on your own shirts.

I flipped the cuff over to look at the underside of it.

It only has one row of stitching.

I began by removing that row of stitching with my seam ripper.

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(You might have to remove two rows of stitching on your shirt. In that case, later on, you’ll stitch it back on with two rows instead of one.)

Take off one cuff at a time so you don’t get confused as to which cuff goes back on which sleeve.

This customer wanted the sleeves raised 1 5/8″.

So, that’s how much I cut off from the cut edge of the sleeve:

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Continue cutting off the correct amount. When you get around to the other side of the cuff, make sure that the two edges match in length before you cut the rest off. Otherwise you’ll have unevenness.

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The original seam allowance was 3/8″ on this shirt.

You don’t have to do this next step, but I do it because it makes the job easier.

I hand baste a line just above that 3/8″ mark.

This allows me to line the cuff up easily before I stitch it back on.

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Pin the cuff to the shirt.

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When you pin, start by pinning the buttonhole end of the cuff first. That way, any adjustments you have to make are on the underside of the sleeve and won’t show.

When you get around to the button end of the cuff, you will most likely have extra fabric that doesn’t fit into the cuff. (On the other hand, in very rare instances, you might come up short and not have enough shirt fabric to fit into the cuff. If that is true in your case, let out one of the tucks (or pleats) and that will give you some extra fabric.)

The photo below shows that I had more fabric than I needed.

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Just make an extra tuck (or pleat) by playing with the fabric until it matches the other ones, or until it looks nice and pin it.

In the photo below, the new tuck is above the middle pin:

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Check to make sure that the tucks look good from the top and underneath. Sometimes those tucks get twisted and then stitched down and that doesn’t  look good if you roll up your sleeves.

Stitch the cuff in place following the holes made by the original stitches.

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That didn’t take long, did it?

It’ll take you just a few minutes to alter those long shirts in your closet and they’ll feel better when they hang at the proper length on your wrist!

Changing a Garment From Zippered to Buttoned

I have a customer who loathes zippers in her robes.

So, she asked me if I could take the zipper out and put in buttons.

No problem, I answered.

It’s no problem because I made sure that she understood that she was going to lose some of the width in the front.

Putting in buttonholes and buttons means one side will overlap the other (just like a shirt does) when I am finished.

In the case of this robe, the “chevron” angles won’t ever meet in the middle again either.

But that was fine with my customer.

She just wanted buttons.

Here’s the robe:

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The good news is that the garment you work on most likely won’t be this fussy.

You’ll probably be working with a solid colered garment, or at least one that doesn’t have stripes going on the diagonal.

To begin with, remove the zipper with your seam ripper.

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On this robe, there is a facing on the inside top of the robe and the zipper is sandwiched inside of it.

So, if you have a facing in your shirt, robe or other garment, you’ll need to rip out the facing and then the zipper. Sometimes you can take out both at the same time.

For this illustration, I decided to take off the facing first and then peel back the zipper like this:

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Once you have the zipper out, you notice that this garment did not separate in two.

That’s because the zipper didn’t go all the way to the hem of the robe.

So, we need to open the robe up.

To do this, I lay a cutting mat in between the layers (so I don’t cut the back of the robe by accident) and use a rotary cutter and long ruler to cut the robe open.

Line up the ruler perpendicular to the hem and make sure it lines right up to the zipper opening.

And then cut it:

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Once you’ve cut the opening, look to see if you’ve cut across any seams.

If you have, you need to anchor those so that they don’t come undone as you work on your garment.

I was able to just topstitch on these seams:

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Take a few stitches out of the hem so that you can open that area up to work on it later.

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Serge the raw edges if you have a serger.

If you don’t, zig zag the raw edges so they don’t unravel:

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To make the facing, cut a piece of fabric about 2 1/2″ wide and as long as the length of the front of the robe.

Cut some iron on interfacing a little narrower and a little shorter than the facing strip, so that when you press it on, it doesn’t stick to the iron or the ironing board.

Now press the interfacing onto the wrong side of the facing strip.

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Lay the facing strip right sides together down the front edge of the robe.

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Do you see the facing that is hanging free in the photo above? Just fold that over and make sure it will cover the top edge of the facing strip. In the photo below you can see that when the original facing is folded over, it will cover the white facing strip after it is sewn.

So pin it in place like in the photo above and stitch it down.

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Now pin the original facing to the facing strip being careful not to cathc the front of the robe in the pin.

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Open this area out flat and stitch it in place so that you don’t catch the front of the robe in the stitching like this:

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At the bottom of the robe, trim off the white facing strip even with the folded bottom edge of the robe.

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Open out the hem and facing. Take the bottom edge of the hem and fold it up right sides together onto itself and pin in place

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Stitch along that seam line (in the above photo) where the pin is. Of course, you don’t want to stitch over the pin! I just put it there so you could see the line better.

When you turn it right side out, it should look like this:

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Now stitch the hem by hand or machine.

Next, make buttonholes of whatever size you’d like based on the size of buttons you chose.

I am not including  instructions on making buttonholes because every machine is different and some have built in buttonhole makers.

So check your sewing machine’s instruction manual.

Sew on the buttons with a thread shank if you need it.

I realize every garment is a little different than the one I just explained, but the technique should be applicable to what you are working on.

Enjoy your “new” garment!

Shortening a Zipper From the Top

In all my years of altering clothes, I had never thought of altering a zipper from the top.

Usually, when a dress doesn’t zip all the way up, I try to let out the side seams at the bust area.

Often, I sew in gussets. Gussets are pie shaped wedges of fabric sewn into the side seams under the arms to add extra width in a garment.

They work great if you have fabric that matches, but we didn’t.

I could have used a solid beige or tan fabric as an alternative.

But this customer didn’t like the idea of gussets and how they might look on her wedding dress.

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I can’t blame her. I think I’d feel the same.

But her dress didn’t zip all the way up in the back and we had to do something.

Because she couldn’t return the dress.

So, the dress shop owner gave me this idea, and the bride loved it!

Here’s the back of the dress (Ignore the darker brown thread for the moment):

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When my customer tried the dress on, I zipped it up as high as it would go. Then, I folded down the top edges on either side of the zipper and pinned them. Look closely in the photo below and you’ll see the pins:

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Then, I took a darker thread and basted a line across the top of the folds. (If you would zip the dress back up and take out the pins at this point, it would look like this):


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Push the pointed tips down into the dress along the dark brown thread like this:

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Reach your hand into the inside of the dress and pull the dress inside out.

Now you’ll see the dark brown line of thread that you basted from the outside. This will become your new sewing line:

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Make sure all the layers are out of the way and your fabric is laying flat.

Sew straight across that dark brown thread line, but leave the dark brown thread in for a moment.sewing blog 649






Turn the dress right side out and check to see if you stitched where the thread line was. If not, make the adjustments necessary until it looks like this:

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Once you have it where you want it, take out the dark brown basting thread.

Follow the same steps for the other side.

And there you have it! It looks a little like a V-shaped back in this photo:

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The “V” looks a little less prominent when she tried it on after the alteration:

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NOTE***At the first fitting, I spoke with the bride  about another option. If it were me, I would have started at the underarm area and made a straight line over to the zipper so she didn’t have the soft V-shape to the back, but the “V” is exactly what she wanted.

I thought it looked a little tight across the back, and offered to lower the “V” for her, but she loved it this way.

And my job is to make the customer happy no matter what they want.

And if she’s happy, I’m happy.