alteration FAQs

Is it possible to size up a dress?

Altering a dress to a larger size may be possible.  If the garment has enough seam allowances they can be let out, adding up to two inches to its circumference.  If the dress has to be sized up more than one size, restyling such as adding panels or lacings may be needed.  It may not always give satisfactory aesthetic results and it may be difficult to match the fabric.  The cost of restyling may be very high, because it usually requires plenty of work/time. Avoid purchasing dress which is too small.

Is it possible to alter a dress bigger than two sizes?

This is also a very complicated, time consuming and costly alteration. It involves taking apart almost every seam and reconstructing the entire dress. For some designs this may not be possible.  Restyling by changing the garment’s original design may be required on order to attain a more pleasing result. I would advise to consult the store alterationist before  or not buying a dress two or more sizes larger.

Why did the bridal shop order a dress which is too large for me?

Your bridal shop’s sales person takes your measurements in order to determine your size by a manufacturer’s chart. He or she orders your dress according to the largest measurement. They know that it will always be easier to take the seams in,  then let them out. So your dress might fit at one part of your body and be too loose at another. Second reason: your dress gets cut in a factory on a very large table in stacks of dozens of fabric layers at one time with a laser knife,  This way the layers may slightly vary in sizes, therefore the dresses constructed out of those pieces of fabric may have a slightly differ in measurements. And also: one seamstress will stitch for seams to be 3/8″ wide and another seamstress will stitch another dress for the seams to be 1/2″ wide. And if we have 6 seams  in the bodice, that gives us 3/4″ difference in the circumference.

Will my dress fit perfectly after alterations?

Your seamstress will do everything in her power to achieve that kind of result, but… It very much depends on the construction of your dress as well as your figure. It’s difficult to access the seams of an already made dress. If it’s design is complex, with lace overlay, beads, appliques, some of the seams may even not be accessible or it may be to risky to do so. Usually the side seams are the most accessible, but sometimes in order to make your gown fit changing other seams may be involved.  Women have several types of bodies. Your body proportions also take a great part in determining the alterations.  They may be distant from standard body measurements which your manufactured dress was designed for. For example, if you have a very large chest comparing to your waist and hips, your alterations may get more difficult. If you have a very small chest and wider hips it will be the similar challenge. Similarly with a  full waist, very small waist etc…  Perfect fit may not be guaranteed is such cases.

What should I do if I have a wedding dress disaster?

First of all it might be unnecessary to panic. Your problem can most likely be solved. Don’t allow the stress to take over. Try to be calm and communicate with your seamstress in trying to find a solution. If she doesn’t have the skills to fix the error, find a dressmaker who has the skills to make dresses from scratch.  She should be able to fix any issue. Your dress is made out of several layers and parts. A part of your dress may be replaced, reconstructed or the entire dress may even be reproduced by her. She may be able to match the fabric or a bridal shop may be able to order the designer fabric for you, the same which was used to make your dress (lace or appliques).  It will be a difficult task for her  and sometimes some restyling may be needed.  She may be able to fix your dress just in a few weeks or even days depending on how busy she is at the time.

Why do bridal alterations seem to be so expensive?

Alterations seem to be expensive to many of you comparing to what you are paying for your dresses. Most of the gowns are produced in hundreds and thousands of pieces in overseas factories.  Your alterations are performed locally. The price of your alterations includes your seamstress US hourly labor, US business taxes and expenses.  Some seams, laces, beads or appliques have to be applied by hand-stitching and that is very time consuming. Bridal alterations take from 8-45 hours of work including the fittings. Wedding gowns are also the most complex garments and alterations can sometimes be more difficult than even constructing a dress from scratch.

How do I save money on alterations?

  1. Buy a dress that is not larger than one size in the chest and the waist.  Never buy dress which is too small, because it may not have enough seam allowances to be let out. 
  2. Buy a dress that is easy to hem:  the lace applique on the bottom can be removed and reapplied.  Hemming the dress from the waist is always more complex and much more expensive. 
  3. Shorter trains need less points to be bustled, therefore the cost of a bustle will be cheaper.
  4. Alterations on lace dresses is more time consuming.
  5. Beaded dresses will also cost more to be altered.
  6. Dresses with long sleeves usually need more alterations.
  7. Do not buy any bridal undergarments unless your seamstress tells you that they are necessary.Many corset strapless gowns have a built-in corset and have enough support to be worn with just a bra cups sewn in
  8. Do not buy a dress if you are thinking of any restyling.  Restyling is much more time consuming than any alterations
  9. Silk dresses are also more difficult to work with and the alterations will cost more. Silk fabric might shrink after pressing or steaming.

 

***Remember, finding the cheapest seamstress is not a best solution,     you may end up having to pay another seamstress for making corrections***

How to have stress free bridal alterations?

  1. You should always START your alterations EARLY, never wait until very close to your wedding. Book your first appointment 5-6 months before the wedding.  Request for your dress to be finished at least a month before the wedding. It’s perfectly OK to say that your wedding date is earlier. It won’t hurt anyon
  2. Find a seamstress you will TRUST. If you are not sure about a place or a person who will be working on your dress, simply don’t do business there, keep searching. Trust is crucial. It really helps in communicating an avoiding a lot of unnecessary stress.
  3. BEST try to get your dress altered between October and March. Your seamstress will be less busy and you will get more of her attention and a better service.  April to September is always very busy for all bridal businesses.
  4. COMMUNICATE with your seamstress. Present your preferences to her and ask plenty of questions. Also listen to all her professional advice. She alters dozens if not hundreds of dresses each year and most likely she has a great skills and a big knowledge about it.  Tell her all of your concerns, even if they accrue later during the process. Good communication can help to avoid a lot of stress on both sides.
  5. Consider her ADVICE on a best fitting undergarments for your dress.  Always bring them to all the fittings.  You can even leave them and your shoes at her studio.
  6. NEVER CHANGE any UNDERGARMENTS such body shape-wear and longline bras during the entire alterations process.  They can affect the measurements of your dress which may result in changing the fit of your dress and additional alterations.  Never change your shoe heel height after your dress is hemmed.
  7. SHOW UP to all of your fitting appointments so your seamstress will be able finish your dress on time.  Call in advance if you need to reschedule, she will be grateful to you for respecting her time. 
  8. NEVER RUSH your seamstress with your alterations, the more time she spends working on your dress, the better results she will be able to give you. And remember, the more fittings, the least chance for any errors.  Your seamstress should do a final fitting for each alteration: one for bodice, one for hem and one for bustle.
  9. Prepare to be FLEXIBLE and understanding.  If she reschedules your appointment, it doesn’t mean that your dress won’t be finished on time.  It is very possible that after opening the seams of your dress, she found out your dress will need more work than she predicted.  She sometimes does a last minute or emergency alterations for another bride.
  10. NEVER go on a DIET months before your wedding .  Try to avoid loosing or gaining any weight during the alteration process. This will result in a last minute alterations, additional costs to you, plenty of stress for both parts and the risk of having a “wedding dress disaster” is great. Your seamstress might also be too busy to make any last minute changes.