Last week we asked our Facebook fans for questions about their dresses or dressmaking. So, without further ado…
Adrienne asked us – “Can a dress be altered down a size? Are there some that are easier to alter?”
Most clothes can be easily taken in. Of course, there is always some exception. For example, we’ve had requests to update clothes from the 80s that had large shoulder pads. Those clothes are patterned around those babies, so taking them out isn’t as easy as a snip snip. We would need to take it apart and re-pattern the arm, which is not always possible and very rarely worth the effort and expense! Generally speaking, more expensive clothing is easier to alter because its usually made with a more simple construction. We find the general hierarchy of alterations to be – wovens are easier than knits and natural fibers are easier than synthetic.
Heidi asked – “Why do they always try to talk me into ordering a dress that is MANY SIZES to big, then alter it back down to the size I know I am?? Last time I bought a dress to be a bridesmaid, I didn’t listen to the advise and ordered the size I wanted and it fit just fine! No alteration other than length.”
Likely the store is hoping to avoid getting a dress that is too SMALL. That is a nightmare. We can always go down a size, but we can’t always go up! The tricky part here is that the salesperson has to understand fit and be your spirit guide through the process. When you order a gown, they check your measurements against a standardized chart – usually just Bust, Waist and Hips. Let’s say your Bust is 36, waist is 32 and hips are 41. Your top may be an 6, but your bottom is a 10 – so they order the size 10. BUT – for certain styles your hip measurement doesn’t matter at all! Just the bodice needs to fit. They order the 10, it is gigantic, you have it altered. What they are trying to avoid is ordering a size too small, needing to reorder then having to wait another 6-8 weeks for a new dress to be made at the factory. It’s a fun little game, isn’t it?!
Miriam asked us – “If a dress is proportioned for a shorter person, but there’s enough fabric in the hem to make the skirt long enough, is it possible to change the proportions of the whole garment, including the bodice? Is this dependent on construction? And if so, how?”
Miriam, do you want me to give away all of our secrets?! haha!! Just kidding! It does depend on the construction of the garment. For example, does it have a waist seam? If so, we can sometimes add into that seam. Other times we can make a seam and add a new detail to the waist. And sometimes that will just look dumb so we scrap the idea! As for length, if there is enough hem, we can let it down. If there isn’t, we can get creative with ways to add a band or lengthen it from the top. Mostly where there is a will there is a way!
Thanks so much for all of your questions! I hope these answers have helped! If you have any more questions, feel free to send them in!