An Alterations Horror Story with a Happy Ending
This summer, we’ve had the great pleasure of helping Jill’s niece, Shannon, prepare for her wedding day.
Shannon bought her dress from a traditional bridal salon in her hometown of Richmond, VA. The sample she tried on in store fit her beautifully, but the dress she wound up with needed some work done. With the wedding date approaching, it had to be done quickly. On the recommendation of her wedding planner, Shannon took her gorgeous new wedding gown to a local tailor.
The dress needed to be taken in, cups needed to be added, and Shannon requested a bustle so that she could spend her reception dancing with her loved ones without tripping. During her fitting at the tailor, Shannon expressed these needs. They pulled, pinned, and tucked.
An uneasy feeling came over Shannon as the fitting went on, but without the ability to see over her shoulder, she trusted that the people helping her knew what they were doing.
Within 20 minutes of stepping through the tailor’s doors, Shannon had changed into and out of the dress, and paid her bill.
When Shannon tried on her dress after getting it back from the tailor, it was all wrong. She called our studio, and we got her in to assess the damage.
What we found was less than satisfactory. The bustle the tailor had added to the dress was asymmetrical and shoddily sewn. Where they’d taken the dress in at the sides was a disaster, layers of fabric just pulled and sewn together, which created chunky seams down the sides of the dress. To top that mess off, the messy seams were exposed, rather than hidden under the lace. The cups they’d put in offered no support, and pulled the dress away from the body at the neckline. The icing on the cake was that the tailors hadn’t done anything to reattach the overlayer of lace to the underlayer of the train once their work was done, so the weight of the fabric was pulling the dress down and opening up the neckline, leaving Shannon exposed.
The overall effect of all this shoddy workmanship added mass and the illusion of weight to Shannon’s figure – not what any bride wants!
Jill got straight to work undoing the damage done by the tailor and executing the alterations Shannon’s dress needed, but with care and finesse.
The asymmetrical bustle was carefully taken out and replaced with a three-tier style that better flattered the shape of the dress. Each hook was reinforced with a clear button on the underside of the delicate lace, to better distribute the weight of the fabric and keep it from tearing throughout the reception.
The bulging seams at the sides of the dress were let out, trimmed, sewn to fit Shannon’s torso perfectly, and then hidden underneath the lace, which was reattached by hand.
We swapped out the larger cups the tailor had sloppily placed into the bodice. The correct cups were smaller, and placed so as to give Shannon the support she needed to wear her dress without a bra.
As Jill made alterations to the gown, she was sure to reinforce all her work to avoid that dreadful pulling forward of the neckline.
When Shannon tried her wedding gown on again after Jill’s alterations, relief washed over everyone in the room. It was as if the dress was made specially for her, and all the damage that had been done by the tailor was corrected. With the dress ceremony-ready, we were free to play with headpieces and jewelry!
Advice for Brides Needing Alterations
Shannon reiterated more than once that her instincts had been right during her fitting at the tailor. What every bride needs is someone she can trust with the fate of her gown.
If you are a bride whose wedding dress needs alterations, our advice is to do your research before bringing your gown anywhere. Look for tailors that specialize in bridal and formal wear. Alterations aren’t cheap, and if a price seems too good to be true, then it probably is!
Your wedding dress is a precious garment, possibly the most precious you’ll ever wear – and it deserves to be treated as such! Make sure that your alterations are done by someone with the knowledge, skills, and care to do the job right.
Bring a family member or a friend with you to your fitting, so that they can see what’s happening over your shoulder where you can’t. And always, always trust your instincts! If you get the feeling that your dress may not be in the best of hands, you may be right.
A Perfect Fit
After two rounds of alterations, the second done with care, we're happy to report that Shannon looked absolutely stunning on her wedding day. A perfect fit means that a bride doesn't have to spend a moment of her special day thinking about her dress – it gives her the freedom to enjoy each moment fully with her groom, her family, and her friends.