To answer that question, read the customer request above (repair a zipper), then read the broad definitions below.
Mend - To fix something torn or pulled apart (i.e., a seam coming apart).
Repair - To fix, return to almost original state, replace parts or pieces.
3 Vital Skills
A Seamstress or Tailor will include many skills in their care and service to you, but most important they will:
- Listen carefully to your questions, followed by questions for clarification;
- Pay attention to the occasion, event or needs;
- Make honest recommendations and suggestions.
What Difference Does This Make?
In your search for a trusted Seamstress or Tailor, you may have noticed the same terms are used. It should not be assumed you know the difference in the terms, nor should you be thought any less of for not using the correct terms. It is the job of the person you hire to understand your exact needs in service.
Were I to assume the example above was to replace a zipper but the customer wanted a simple fix, I have just lost credibility and a customer. In that example, clarification in use of terms was not gained by the person hired (meaning me).
Below are some of the terms my customers use (interchangeably). It is my job to understand what they need specifically by listening carefully, then asking questions for both our understanding (leaving assumptions out).
- Alteration - The process of adjusting clothing for a good fit through increase or decrease in size. This includes shorten, lengthen, letting out or taking in seams. Examples are shorten suit sleeves, hemming a gown or pants, or reconstruction of a garment.
- Repair - The process of fixing something that is broken or missing through replacement. Examples are repair a zipper (replace zipper head); replace a snap or button.
- Mend - The process of reworking seams or holes in fabric which are opened or pulling apart, frayed or thinned. This process includes darning and patching.
- Custom Sewn - Patterns and fabrics selected and sewn for apparel, home decor or accessories fitted specifically to an individual. For example, sewing an ensemble of skirt, pants, jacket and 2 shirts fit to a customer's measurements.
Look for Integrity
Finally, it can't be stressed enough your choice of person to perform these (sometimes) intimate services should be based not only on the 3 vital skills, but their integrity and reputation. Your patronage is a walking billboard for their services; it demands the bar be raised for them to practice key skills and apply their knowledge and use of service terms to their profession.
When searching for the right person to fit your dream wedding gown, your work attire, or mend your treasures with care, ask questions. Describe your needs and he or she will tell you right away if it's a service they perform. It's not up to you to have the correct terminology - that's the Seamstress and Tailor's job.
Wishing you all the success and inspiration in your search for your Seamstress or Tailor,