Troublesome Maids


added November2009

Hi Leanna,

I am a veil maker and because I sew something dealing with weddings,
ladies keep asking me to alter their dresses.  This has turned into
much more business than the veils.  Because I keep being asked to
alter dresses, I am thinking about buying a special foot for my
Bernina sewing machine that turns and stitches a double rolled hem in
one shot.  It is recommended for bridal fabrics.  Do you use such a
foot and do you find it easier than rolling the hem by hand?  One more
question.  I have someone wanting me to do a hem with just a pin put
in the dress where she wants the length.  Should I just shorten it the
amount they want all the way around, or should I require the girl to
drive an hour to come in and get fitted?  My mom always made us stand
there and do the little pin thing all the way around.  This seems very
time consuming, but I want to do it right if I accept the job.  Thank
you so much for your advice.  Deb

Hi Deb,
I have the foot you are describing but I don't use it much. It works for some fabrics but not all. The finer the fabric the less likely it is to work well. I find it easier to just do it manually.
I NEVER accept a hemming job without being able to pin the hem on the body with the correct shoes on. If a bride, maid, or Mom shows up without the exact shoes she will wear to the wedding I refuse to take the job. I even tell each person on the phone this policy and some still show up with no shoes or  shoes that are "the same heal height as the ones I will buy". I politely say, "I'm sorry but you were told on the phone that you have to bring the exact shoe that will be worn on the wedding day in order for me to pin this hem." I get ladies leaving in huffs but I just want to get it right like you are saying. I have done this for many years. The word gets around and I have a great reputation for quality that I won't trade for one silly girl who thinks she can get me to lower my standards.
Most of my clients love it that I am this picky. Working on wedding garments is not for the faint at heart. All brides want to look their best for their special day. My reputation assures them that that's what they will get from me. It's hard to say, "No" but so worth it.

Hi Leanna,

Thank you so much for taking the time to help me out.  I appreciate your time!  May I ask you two more questions?

1.  Do you do the yard stick and pinning around the dress or do you know a better method?  And do they stand on the floor or some kind of platform?

2.  May I ask about how much you charge to hem bridesmaid dresses or wedding gowns?  I just have no idea how much to charge.  I can't charge by the hour because I am a total perfectionist and any job I do takes me forever.  I've called David's Bridal, but they wont give out any prices.  

Okay, one more question....what is your web address?   I could not remember where I had found you, but I'd like to bookmark it as you gave such good advice.  

Thank you very much for your help.

Debbie Lewis

Hi Debbie,
The method is up to you. Sometimes I use a 6" ruler and sometimes I use a marking ruler. SOmetimes I use a platform and sometimes I don't. It depends on the client, the garment and my mood. You have to do what is right for you, not what is right for me.
I have a page on  my site giving brides an idea of what alterations cost. Again, you have to charge what is right for you not what is right for me.


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