A dress-altering experience

Last updated 09:32 13/07/2012

I've mentioned before that when I bought my wedding dress, I had the hugest sense of relief and weight lift off my shoulders that I didn't even know was there until it had gone.

Since the dress has been in my possession, I've tried it on at least a dozen times and I STILL get that little buzzy feeling that makes me feel like a... girl.

My next issue? I need alterations. Lots of alterations.

You see, I bought a sample dress for a discounted price (yay) that was a bit too big for me (better than the alternative, I guess...). Alterations

This of course means it needs a fair few nips and tucks.

Now starts a new anxiety. As the wedding day approaches, who do I trust to hand over this dress and do a good job of it?

My panic was compounded the other day when an engaged colleague took her dress to an extremely reputable dress designer in Wellington.

When she tried on her elegant dress after the first round of alterations, she was horrified to see about 9cm taken off the bottom; her ankles bare there for all to see.

The poor girl was so shocked she couldn't really do anything but smile and nod while the (extremely embarrassed) dressmaker set about attempting to rectify her mistake.

Thankfully, she did. For no extra cost (and fair enough, too).

No loss there, but what's the deal if, heaven forbid, the dressmaker had indeed ruined the dress completely? Would she have to replace it?

(Eek, just writing that sentence has made me wonder if I should call my insurer and get my dress listed as a specified item?)

It's put the heebies up me! So much so I'm wondering if I should get my dress altered now - with five months up my sleeve to absorb any potential catastrophic fails.

In fact, in between writing that last sentence and writing this one right here, I've called the place I bought the dress from and I'm taking it in next week for a consultation on how we're going to tackle it.

It's not too expensive (well actually that will depend on how many hours' work is involved!) and they've dealt with the style of dress I have before so hopefully they're familiar with it.

I'm interested to hear about other people's alteration experiences though? Any horror stories, or places that have exceptional service? How early is too early to get a dress altered? Or how close to the wire should you have your last fitting?

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- Stuff

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Dave C   #1   09:47 am Jul 13 2012

I guess thats an advantage to getting a dress made, if the dressmaker screws up they can make a new one without the screw up and theoretically at no cost to the purchaser.

HGF   #2   09:51 am Jul 13 2012

My dress, purchased online was WAY too big, so my first panic was even whether it was possible to alter it. My friend's mum is an extremely clever sewer, but it gave even her the heebie-jeebies, so she referred me to a friend of hers, who is a professional dressmaker. Name is Val Morgans, of Bridal Affair (Lower Hutt) - I won't post her number on the net but she's in the phone book. I'd highly reccommend her. She's been very professional, quick (I had my 1st fitting only a couple of weeks ago, have my 2nd on Sun and she's asked me to bring my shoes for hemming -already!) and proactive about contacting me for fittings etc. She also did my friend's alterations and her wedding dress fit her like a glove. Val has estimated $300 for alterations, and since the dress only cost $300, I'll have a $600 wedding dress :). Not sure how early is too early, but my wedding is in Dec and I'm having alterations done now as there is quite a bit of work in it. If I suddenly drop a whole lot of weight in late Nov (yeah right), I'll just have to go back to Val and get it taken in again. Defintely give yourself time. My friend's dress didn't arrive in NZ till a month before her wedding and then she still had to have the alterations done (over Xmas/New Year!) so it was a bit stressful for her -I'm deliberately trying to avoid that.

Naomi   #3   09:53 am Jul 13 2012

I bought my dress (an off the rack sample) in Melbourne about two months before moving back to NZ, and four months before the wedding. It was too long and had intricate lace around the bottom so it needed to be taken apart at the waist to shorten it. The dressmaker I was referred to in Melbourne a) took way longer than she was supposed to (I picked it up the day before I left the country!), and b) made a mess of the back so it drew attention to my derriere instead of sitting smoothly! I still paid her because she had spent a lot of time on it, but I wasn't happy. I fretted for a while, but decided to get it fixed (you want your dress to be perfect, right?) and a friend referred me to Jeanette at Creme on Victoria St who fixed it up beautifully within about a week and was very reasonably priced.

AJ   #4   09:59 am Jul 13 2012

Well, thanks a lot Greer, now you've given me the heebie jeebies too! :P I hadn't even considered wedding dress alteration disasters but now I'm freaking out. My dress will need at least alterations to the length since I am a shortie, but my dress has a tulle skirt. I think tulle doesn't usually get hemmed (?) so usually they just cut it to length, don't they? So if the dress maker makes it too short, there's no way they can fix it?!?! Argh! Can anyone recommend a good trustworthy dress maker for alterations??

Olivia   #5   10:12 am Jul 13 2012

I bought my dress off the rack and only needed VERY minor alterations done. Took it to what was the BEST dressmaker in town only to find when I had picked it up she hadn't even done half of what I had asked. I was pretty upset, but still paid as with a week to go couldn't be bothered fighting with someone who thought they were in the right and above altering a dress that came off a rack. Took it to another average dress maker and she was just so helpful and friendly and did everything I wanted for a pretty good price. Moral of the story...don't always go for the so called 'best'!

AR   #6   10:18 am Jul 13 2012

The ladies at Looking Good Alterations in Dunedin were brilliant with mine, and superfast. I just needed my wedding dress shortened, despite buying it on Trademe it fitted like a glove otherwise. I also had a bridesmaid dress for another wedding altered there, that was pretty tricky but they did a great job. I would recommend them.

Jellybean   #7   10:27 am Jul 13 2012

I ordered my dress online and it was way too long. So after asking around I decided to go to a 76 year old lady that sews costumes for shows I've been in.

She was amazing! It was scary when she cut off the hem but she managed to make the length perfect. She also decided to rearrange the lace and beading details which she thought would take maybe 2 hours but actually took 30.She didn't charge me for the extra time.

All in all, my dress which was $124 cost an extra $120 for alts. It looked amazing. She even managed to create an inventive way of hooking up the train. It looked like I had an old fashioned bustle.

Sarah   #8   10:37 am Jul 13 2012

Greer, unless your weight is likely to change significantly I would start getting the alterations no later than 3 months out. I got my dress made, to an existing pattern, and despite having my first fitting 6 months in advance my dressmaker was still doing the final touches at 10pm the night before I flew home for our wedding - talk about stress! One of my bridesmaids needed her dress altered and it took 3 weeks longer than the dressmaker first estimated. Also if you start early and there is a mistake you should still have time to sort it out. You'll be fine, and the dress will be fine, just speak up and be very clear and specific about exactly what you want, how you want it to look. Ask questions about how the dressmaker is going to do it and repeat measurements and adjustments back to her - even if you don't really understand the lingo it will help your dressmaker be clear on what she is doing. Don't be embarrassed, it is your most important dress after all, and your dressmaker wants you to be happy with it.

A-Jay   #9   10:38 am Jul 13 2012

I also now have heebie jeebies. In time for Friday the 13th huh? Anyone have recommendations for the West Auckland area? (Am willing to drive all over Auckland if it means my dress wont be cut to shreds)

Kristine Lewis   #10   10:45 am Jul 13 2012

I picked up my dress yesterday. I was lucky enough to get a bargain on Trade Me of a brand new unworn dress in approximately the right size. My lady has done a simply superb job of taking it up a wee bit, and taking the bodice in. She's used the surplus fabric from the bottom to completely redo the bits that are used to create the bustle. And for an unbelievable price. I can not praise this woman highly enough. Mind you, I haven't left it till the last minute either which takes the pressure off...

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