Making it yours: These locals can help update a wardrobe or create a custom piece from scratch

Whether dressing for a holiday get-together, a wedding or a special party to ring in the new year, sometimes something off the rack just won't do.

Custom or restyled outfits are another option when cookie-cutter clothes don't cut it. Although considered by some to be a scarce skill, Pittsburgh has several seamstresses and designers who can make over old apparel or create something from scratch.


Jenna Allen --

Moda Donnatella -- 520 Washington St., Suite 103, Mt. Lebanon; 412-343-9917.

Kiya Tomlin Pittsburgh -- 5983 Broad St., East Liberty; 412-345-1135.

Diana Misetic -- 809 Ivy St., Shadyside; 412-363-6442.

Parker Button -- 1700 E. Carson St., South Side; 412-432-3299.

"Certain people enjoy the experience," said Jenna Allen, who has altered and made clothes for more than 30 years. "They find they get more unique kinds of things, and that's what I specialize in."

At her home in Mt. Lebanon, Ms. Allen can help women update their wardrobe, whether it's freshening up a blazer with a fur collar or giving a snug evening dress a corset back for improved comfort. These alterations and others, such as resetting a sleeve on an old jacket with padding, average $75 to $150. Even simpler, less expensive adjustments -- fixing a zipper or changing a hemline -- can make something old seem new again.

"There are a lot of things you can do to make clothing more interesting, or at least fit," she said.

For those wanting something one-of-a-kind, Ms. Allen can design a custom piece with the woman's taste, personality and body type in mind. The process can take a few weeks, depending upon fabric and material availability, and can start at about $600 for a custom dress.

Moda Donnatella on Washington Road in Mt. Lebanon, co-owned by mother and daughter Vienna Vizzoca and Donna DeGuilio, has offered similar services since it opened in 1993. In addition to basic alterations, it can revamp a style (about $100 and up depending upon the request) in a week or two.

Custom work by Moda Donnatella designers marries a client's ideas with their suggestions and expertise to create sketches and patterns and assist with fabric selections, some of which come from Europe. Custom wear can run into the thousand-dollar range and take about six weeks to complete.

Kiya Tomlin, wife of Steelers coach Mike Tomlin, calls her custom clothes "collaborative designs."

"I find it helpful for clients to have some idea of what they want," she said.

If in need of a dress sooner than the typical six weeks it can take for one of Ms. Tomlin's custom designs, she offers semi-custom fitted dresses. She provides a framework dress that clients can customize based on the neckline, sleeves, fabrics and hemline they choose.

"I really feel passionate about that concept," she said, which starts at about $450 for a simple fitted dress and can be turned around in about a week, assuming the desired fabrics and materials are on hand.

At Diana Misetic's fashion studio on Ivy Street in Shadyside, semi-custom pieces can be made from samples she has on site. Women can make it their own based on the adjustments they request.

"We want to emphasize everything that's good about our body and personality," Ms. Misetic said.

Her custom creations can take two to four months to make and include meetings with clients and fittings to ensure the outfit not only suits the client's proportions but also her aesthetic. A more streamlined design can cost a few hundred dollars, with more intricate ones being in the thousands.

"It's really very personal work," she said. "I can't sell you anything that doesn't fit you right."

For custom or updated accessories for a big day, Parker Button on East Carson Street is a go-to for headpieces and jewelry. The South Side shop specializes in veils (starting at about $55) and wedding jewelry, such as stringing beads and crystal sets for bridal parties (starting at about $20-$30). Pieces from old wedding gowns or communion dresses also can be repurposed for veils and accessories.

Sara Bauknecht: or Twitter @SaraB_PG.

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