Guest Post from Hollow To Hem

You've found the perfect dress but it doesn't fit!

Relax, you’re in the norm! Almost every bride needs alterations to her dress, but there’s no reason your dress can’t fit like a glove, even if it’s several sizes too big.  Here’s what you need to know:

Photos courtesy of Derek Phillips Photography


1. Hire an expert

There isn’t a school for alterations, so everyone has different ways of doing things. Taking a dress apart, resizing it and putting it back together is not an easy or quick task, especially if the dress has beading, lace, an open back or plunge neckline. The final finish and quality of work should be as good or better than the factory.  Your typical walk-in clothing alteration shop may not have the experience or customer service that you need and deserve for this most important garment alteration.  Make an effort to hire the best specialist, with the best reputation you can find for the job, as your overall experience and final results will be a direct reflection of them.

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2. Make room for alterations in your budget

It can take several hours or even days to complete all the alterations your dress might need.  Remember, you’re paying a local person for their skilled labor.  The cost won’t be proportionate to the wages paid to the factory workers who put your dress together.  The total price will vary depending on who does the work, so don’t be afraid to ask for a quote.  You’ll need to provide details on what needs to be done and likely need to bring the dress in person or send detailed photos for an accurate estimate of alteration costs. Plan ahead- Don’t wait until the last minute to think about alterations.  Not many people can do this type of work well, so the best will get booked up early.  Ask what the turnaround time is, we recommend one week.  Waiting several weeks or months for your dress to be finished is not only stressful, but in our experience produces less accurate results.  A good time to start alterations (if the turnaround is quick) is six to eight weeks.  If your size and weight are always consistent, start the alterations process earlier.  Many brides worry that they will gain or lose weight just before the wedding and their dress will no longer fit.  Don’t worry, this very rarely happens in our experience.

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3. Don’t be afraid to get a second opinion

If your alterations person says “it can’t be done”, it may just be that they don’t know how to do it.  Many seamstresses aren’t professional dressmakers and won’t have experience with complex dress customizations and alterations, such as making sleeves, altering the curve of the bust or adding material to make a dress larger. Find a patternmaker (dressmaker) if you can, they will have the technical training to complete these more complex tasks with less effort.  


Sammie is a seamster and consultant at Hollow To Hem, where he and his wife specialize in bridal and competition dress customization, alteration and pattern making.  Appointments:  Phone/Text: 205-MY-DRESS  FB/Instagram: hollowtohem