I came home from Beijing last night and brought back with me a new set of pajamas I had made while I was there. Beijing is huge (one of the biggest cities I’ve been to) and there must be hundreds of tailors in the capital. I talked to about seven. One was from Hong Kong and seemed fairly skilled, but he was expensive and very backed up. Others were cheap (one only charged $20 for a custom-made shirt) and could turn things around quickly, but I had much less confidence in their work. I finally settled on a tailor that was located just a couple of miles from where I was staying. He mainly made custom suits and shirts, but said he could turnaround a pair of pajamas for me in two days for about $100.
The results are a bit mixed. On the downside, the stitching is mediocre. A well made garment should have a high stitches-per-inch count, but of course, this slows down the production, so many tailors opt for something faster and less refined. The pajamas are also made with a basic seam instead of a flat felled seam, which is cleaner looking and more durable. The fabric could also probably be a bit better. On the upside, however, I have pajamas that actually fit and I was able to design them as I liked. I sketched out the collar and pockets, told the tailor where I wanted the white trimming, and picked out the fabric and buttons.
I’ve been waffling over whether I think this was a good purchase, but after finally sleeping in them last night, I’ve decided that I like them. Off-the-rack pajamas don’t fit me, and custom made ones in the States are way out of my budget, so this is a good compromise. It seems to me that a place like Beijing is great for these sorts of things. If you find yourself in need of a custom shirt, for example, and have a limited budget, you could get some made in Beijing if you’re ever in that region of the world. The workmanship won’t be amazing (unless you go to one of the higher-end Hong Kong tailors), but you’ll be able to get a decently fitting garment for a reasonable price. Just try to bring your own fabrics.