The Good Eye: Fit Fetish
Making people look fantastic is what Mr. & Mrs. Sew It All do
Chris and Amanda Savittiere's work first caught my eye at Elizabeth Street Cafe, where it swished past me in the form of a flowered wrap dress that diverted my attention for a moment from my excellent bánh mì. "What a great dress," I told my dining companion. "Jealous." Then I noticed that all the female servers were wearing them, in different bright floral prints; the men wore subtly matching shirts. Such is the magic of perfect tailoring that the word "uniform" didn't even come to mind; after all, each dress was cut to make each individual woman look like a million bucks.
Making people look fantastic is what Chris and Amanda do, and Mr. & Mrs. Sew It All, the alterations and custom-clothing business they run out of their East Austin home, has been quietly "styling out" Austin's hippest restaurants and businesspeople who care about fit for the past two years.
New Orleans transplants with a passion for tailoring rare among their generation, Chris and Amanda discovered their shared love for sewing – and each other – shortly after they met. Chris had apprenticed with a leather designer in Missouri, while Amanda had sewn her entire life and was apprenticed at Nordstrom's tailor shop. (Despite bursts of enthusiasm from the DIY movement, the tailoring profession is an aging one, and Nordstrom is one of a few companies that offer paid apprenticeships in order to develop younger talent.) When Chris joined Amanda at Nordstrom, the two – now married – started doing tailoring and alterations for friends.
But word got around. Their first big custom job was Elizabeth Street in 2012. Chris, who has worked in restaurants on and off for 23 years, says Ryan Smith at McGuire Moorman Hospitality came to them with the initial drawings, and they worked together to develop and execute the concept.
"Austin's becoming a foodie town," Chris says. "But it's not just about the food – it's about the whole environment, right down to what people are wearing." Word spreads fast in the restaurant business, and soon they were styling out other MMH restaurants. If you go out to eat in this town, chances are you've seen Chris and Amanda's work: From the leather menus and check presenters at Jeffrey's to the striped aprons at Perla's, their work is everywhere, custom-fitted and subtly unique. They have already done two rounds of custom aprons for the ever-changing Qui – the first in a cheerful, workmanlike yellow with contrasting patchwork, the latest in shades of chambray.
"We can give them something they're not just going to find at Admiral Linen, like every other restaurant in the U.S. has," Amanda says proudly. "They want something different. And isn't that what Austin's all about?" When I spoke to them, they had just finished another massive restaurant project: 80 custom-tailored shirts, 75 aprons, and 20 vests for the recent relaunch of Trio, the Four Seasons' restaurant.
Despite their restaurant niche, Chris and Amanda still do plenty of what they call "one-ofs" – custom designs for a single individual. But what really lights them up? Alterations. "You get clothes that are specifically for you," says Amanda. "If a girlfriend comes and is like, 'I want to borrow that little black dress,' you're like, 'I'm sorry, that's tailored for me! That's my dress! Go find your own, here's the number of my tailor.'"
This all may sound expensive, and it's true that most of their longstanding clients are businesspeople who can afford to drop a dime on perfectly tailored clothing. But Chris points out that clothes thrifted at Savers or St. Vincent de Paul can look just as amazing with a few alterations – not to mention hand-me-downs. Last year, musician Nano Whitman brought in a stack of his grandfather's vintage suits, which they tailored and tweaked, making small updates while preserving the suits' unique style. They've also created outfits for violinist Teresa Joy's stage shows with her father, guitarist Esteban.
Amanda, who is also a belly dancer, loves making elaborate costumes and doing wedding alterations (though she doesn't make many custom gowns anymore – too stressful). Her favorite thing, she says, is to see clients who have a hard time finding clothes for their body type walk out of the studio wearing clothes that fit them – and only them! – perfectly.
"We're facilitators of clothing happiness," she says.
Check out pictures of the Mr. & Mrs. Sew It All studio and get Chris and Amanda’s tips for a perfect fit in our online photo gallery.