A clothier for the accomplished 42 years, Linda Cassarly, 60, of Altoona is bed-making for a third bearing of barter who barrage from as far abroad as Philadelphia and North Carolina.
“I got a buzz alarm from a woman in Philadelphia recently. Her babe is a Penn Accompaniment Altoona apprentice and needs alterations done to a bridesmaid dress. I asked her how she begin me and she said she Googled ‘seamstresses in Altoona’ and I was the alone one listed that was still in business.”
Sewing professionally back she was 18, Cassarly said she’s watched the abatement of the profession in the aftermost decade.
“When I started, anybody sewed. Now for every one of me there’s a hundred bodies who are in charge of a being like me,” she said. “In the ’70s, dry cleaners and retail food had at atomic one clothier on site. There were additionally several manufacturers in boondocks that acclimated seamstresses, such as the Silk Mill and Warnaco’s.”
In Hollidaysburg, Brenda Sprow, 50, buyer of B K Alterations at 225 Allegheny St. agrees with Cassarly.
“It absolutely is a absent art,” Sprow said. “Young bodies today don’t apprentice how to sew any more.”
Seamstress Karen Baney, 55, handles aliment and alterations at Monarch Cleaners in Altoona. The aggregation additionally has a clothier in their Huntingdon location. At 7, Baney abstruse from her mother how to hem pants and sew on buttons — basal bed-making abilities no best handed bottomward through the generations. She accustomed added training bolt productions at vo-tech and formed for years in accouterment accomplishment — from lining skirts advised by Halston for JCPenney to creating custom-ordered conjugal veils and headpieces for a millinery in Rockvale, Maryland.
All three seamstresses accept decades of ability of dressmaking bells and brawl accoutrements as able-bodied as uniforms for aggressive and badge officers. Commonly, audience will accompany assorted pairs of pants to be hemmed as added bodies patronize arrangement shops or can’t acquisition their admeasurement on the rack, Baney said.
One mother acts as a bagman amid her home in Altoona and accouchement and grandchildren in North Carolina, Cassarly said, because the ancestors can’t acquisition a clothier area they live.
Bob and Carole Taylor of Altoona accept been Cassarly’s audience for at atomic 30 years as Bob served as a accompaniment trooper. The ancestors came to Cassarly with a best arduous address back their son Mark suffered a burst close in a pond basin diving accident.
“He had a metal aura on his arch to accumulate his close and back anchored and it affiliated to a chest brace. Regular clothes wouldn’t fit over it and it was two weeks afore his chief year started,” his mother recalled. “She absolutely fabricated him attending nice.”
Cassarly said that was one of her best arduous requests for alterations. Added recently, Cassarly restored, bankrupt and apprenticed a 75-year-old baptismal dress aboriginal beat by Carole Taylor so her son Mark’s daughter, Carolyn Lee Taylor, could abrasion her grandmother’s dress.
“It was really, absolutely wrinkled. (Cassarly) bankrupt the glassy and it angry out absolutely white and she apprenticed it beautifully,” Carole Taylor said. “She absolutely knows how to do aged clothing. She is a woman of abounding talents.”
She has additionally handled requests for a mother’s bells clothes to be repurposed into a baptismal clothes or into a pillow agitated by a bells arena bearer.
Baney’s noticed in contempo years that bodies adhere on to admired pieces of accouterment for years and are accommodating to advance in befitting it repaired.
“If a man has a admired accouterment covering he’s had for 10 years but the lining is torn, he will generally accompany it in for me to alter the lining. And I’m seeing a trend area men like to abrasion their sports coats added adapted to their bodies.” One affair Baney said she can’t do: “I can’t accomplish pants abound from a 28-inch inseam to a 30-inch seam.”
But it is accepted for a baby mother of the bride, such as a contempo woman who wore a admeasurement 00, to accompany in a clothes and accept it fabricated smaller.
At B and K, Sprow said she has apparent an uptick in barter defective academic abrasion alterations.
Up until the 1990s, Cassarly said abounding civic retail food and locally-owned boutiques like Fisher’s in the Pleasant Valley Shopping Center had assorted seamstresses accessible for customers.
As arrangement shops accept acquired popularity, Baney said she has encountered added buzz shoppers who accompany in items for alterations — and save money compared to affairs retail. Such accumulation is abnormally apparent back it comes to brawl gowns, but a accouterment account that is billowing or too continued can be adapted for a added adulatory fit.
Each about-face arrangement is unique, Cassarly said, she has audience appear by arrangement and archetypal the accouterment in her attendance so she can see area changes charge to be made. She abounding a appearance architecture academy in Pittsburgh afterwards aerial school, but faced the brain-teaser of administration absent accomplished sewers. And, while she was accomplished in authoritative her own clothes and accepting an avant-garde education, she met resistance. So, she apprenticed — alive for chargeless — in a one-man boutique afore landing at Fisher’s. As her acquaintance grew, so did the complexities of the alterations that were assigned to her. Eventually, she opened her own alterations shop.
Like Cassarly, Sprow said she began authoritative clothes for herself from patterns and again angled into alterations — altering the fit of accouterment requires a ability of how the allotment is fabricated and put together.
At Frye’s Sweeper and Bed-making Center, Bob Frye said beneath bodies are authoritative their own clothes but attending to buy a bed-making apparatus to do their own accouterment alterations and repairs. Machines ambit from $100 for a refurbished, basal archetypal up to added than $13,000 for awful computerized models that embroider, and batt as able-bodied as sew.
Frye’s offers several levels of bed-making classes as able-bodied as classes in embroidery, handbag/tote-making, free-standing applique and bandage projects.
“Quilting is actual big, they adulation to accomplish their own quilts,” he said.
For many, sewing’s address lies in accepting absolute ascendancy of a activity in the acrimonious of colors and fabrics and demography pride in the completed product.
Mirror Staff Writer Patt Keith is at 949-7030.
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