Botched Alterations


Visit Our NEW site at:

I'm an optimist and do my best to find the silver lining in any cloud, but brides often only see clouds. The wedding day has come to be so important in the life of a young lady that she often sees nothing good in tiny setbacks. It's easy to understand how this is. A little child dreams of her wedding day. As she goes to weddings in her family she sees only the good stuff with her child's eyes. She doesn't see the behind the scenes problems that the rest of the adult family members do their best to hide from the guests. As this little girl grows, she adds to her dream of her perfect wedding day, her day to be the princess. She develops a list in her head of what needs to be to make that day perfect. Any little thing that threatens any one item on that list is hard for her to deal with, but if several items go wrong at the same time, she can be devastated.

No one wants to do a bad job. If you find yourself in a difficult situation with your alteration lady, please understand that she is not purposfully trying to ruin your wedding. She may just lack the experience to know how to deal with your specific needs. If this is the case, you may need to take your gown to another person to fix it. There are always options. They may not be options you want to take, but it's worth it to take a deep breath, do what you need to and have the probem fixed.

To solve problems you need to step back and take a look at the big picture, select the item that is the easiest to fix, fix that item, than move on to another. Some hard choices need to be made and sometimes what results is not the exact dream the little girl developed from a life of dreaming BUT it can be every bit as precious a wedding day as the adult lady can cherish.

added February 2010

Hi there Leanna,

I stumbled across your website and like what I am reading. 

I am very worried. It is Feb. 23 2010 and my wedding is April 17 2010. I went for my 3rd fitting today. My seamstress thinks my wedding is March 17. I lied in the beginning because I was worried it would not be done in enough time, and she sold me the dress too, and in case I had to order it, I wanted it to come in early. It turned out that I bought the floor model, even though it was very big on me, so I only had to worry about the alterations being done on time (which they are).  

My gown looked great when I first tried it on with clips and no alterations, but as the alterations progressed, puckers/wrinkles in the bodice of the gown started to appear. And now boning a the bottom is starting to create this square-shape bulge at my waist, making me look heavy. Please see the pictures. 

The seamstress is saying there is nothing she can do, that getting rid of or cutting the boning is too risky and that steaming and pressing the gown will help with the wrinkles/puckers. She also says no one will notice, and frankly, I notice and I think I look horrible :( It looks better in the photos, but still, I don't want to look in the mirror on my wedding day and see an unattractive bride.

Otherwise, it fits great, snug, but not too tight at all, not too big, and the bustle and length are perfect. It does not feel horribly tight on me, so why all the puckering?? What are my options?

Also, should I come clean and tell her my real wedding date? 

Thank you so much for your help,

Warmest Regards,



Hi Melissa,

I've been looking at your pictures, trying to figure out what else might be causing the puckers. I am pretty sure the one in the back is from the bustle's weight pulling slightly on the back of the dress. Your gown does not look too tight at all. It looks to me like the lace is sewn a bit tight. It would be very difficult to fix that. Have you tried steaming or ironing it yet? That can make it better.


Hi Leanna,
Thanks so much for your reply, made me feel a little bit better. My seamstress has not steamed/pressed it yet, but it will be by March 9th, I'll have to see then.
What about the square lump in the front? What is your opinion about that?
Does the dress look good on me otherwise? Am I worrying too much?
Also, should I come clean to my seamstress and tell her my REAL wedding date?

Melissa :)

Hi Melissa,
I didn't notice a square lump in the front. Where is it?  
You are worrying a bit much but I can't say it's too much. It's my opinion that brides get to worry. It's your special day. The level of worry is often caused by the lack of service the bridal store is offering. During the busy wedding season, stores are spread thin and can't always give each bride the attention they need. On the other hand, brides often have expectations that are way too high. They fall in love with a picture of a gown on a model and they get to thinking that gown will look exactly that way on their body. When it doesn't they think it's the store's fault. Add to this fact that most brides don't know much about the process and you get a lot of frustration for both the bride and the stores. I have no pat answer to solve this any better than for both sides to do their best to communicate well.
I'm not for brides giving stores a fake wedding date. I understand why they do but there are good reasons why it's not the good idea brides think it is. One reason is the situation you find yourself in. You seem very torn. This is supposed to be a happy, joyful time for you and that little lie is not helping you get there. If you are thinking of coming clean to let them know there is more time to fix the dress, it won't help you. It will make you look bad in their eyes and won't give them the desire to do a better job for you. They could even tell you to take your dress and get out of their store. You could get stuck with unfinished alterations and no place to get them done. Not a happy experience to add to your already stressful experience.
I tell brides often that if an alteration person knows how to do something they do it. There might need to be some small adjustments but if an alteration is just plain wrong then it's likely the alteration person won't know how to fix it. It's often better for the bride to find a different person to do the work she needs. I can't say the puckers can be fixed so the dress is totally smooth, but you might have a better chance going somewhere else.

added September 2009


Hi Leanna,
I've attached a picture of my dress from the maker's website, as well as some of it on me. My situation is this:
I bought the dress off the rack. It is SNUG. You can somewhat see the lines across the waist where it is tight. It is also 3 - 5 inches too long with my shoes on. I purchased it hoping I could drop the 5 or 10 lbs needed to make it feel like it fits perfectly, not too tight, but not so loose I'm doing the "strapless dress pull up motion" because it's slipping around my chest. At the moment, I cannot zip it up with a bra on. Without a bra, and an empty stomach, I could make it through the night - but I'm going to eat - so I want some room to breathe. Also, when it is zipped up, you can see the "pull" on the zipper and it causes the little flap to expose the zipper, rather than it lying flat against by back hiding the zipper. Oh - I'm still 7 months away from our wedding, but I'm over the "losing weight." I'm just focusing on maintaining a steady weight until the wedding and after so I'm looking for a sewing solution instead. =)
My questions on this are:
A) There is maybe 1/4 inch of (what I'll call) "zipper flap" that is intended to fold over and cover the zipper. Would you recommend changing out the existing zipper and replacing it with an "invisible zipper" that meets edge to edge when it's closed and eliminates the "flap"? If so, do you think that little extra 1/4 potentially gained from the change would affect the fit enough to give me the room I'm looking for? Does 1/4 inch make that much of a difference or is more typically needed?
B) The top of the zipper ends right at my ribcage, where I'm feeling the most pull. Do you think it is possible to lower the position of the top of the zipper so it ends lower and doesn't put the pull on my ribcage or the zipper? Would that give me extra breathing room? Would the dress stay up?!
C) If putting in a corset/lace up back is an option, do you think it would look "OK" with the style dress? I'm unsure. Would it negatively affect the lace and beading around the bodice? If I left the zipper alone, would it be possible to let the dress out if there is enough hem on the inside? I ask because the lace covering the bodice is sewn into the side seams and I just don't know if that's easily achieved since I'm not a seamstress. 
D) Length - It's about 3 - 5 inches too long (not sure), but the bottom has a finished lace edge that I would lose if we cut it off (in the picture of me called "full front" in the bottom right corner you can slightly see the edging to the lace that goes all the way around the bottom). I saw your "creative hemming" post and I loved the idea of the gathered stitching lines to pull it up. Can it work with my dress? Would you recommend? If not, am I doomed to lose the beautiful edging in the front? If so, would it look funny that the finished edge suddenly appeared in the train?
E) BUSTLING - I love the Australian Bustle you did. Absolutely LOVE it. Would that look good on my dress? (If so, can you recommend anyone in Denver who can achieve it?!)  My second choice would be the French Pick Up bustle you did for the gown with all the lace where there was a 1 point ballroom pick up on the second layer and the 6 point french bustle to the lace on the top layer. If neither of these would work, would you be willing to suggest a bustle option?
You're site is a God send. Thank you so much for your time and input.
Very Truly Yours,
Melissa H. (soon to be "B.") in Denver.

Hi Melissa,
Lots of issues here. Thanks for breaking them down so I can hit each separately.
A) I can't see 1/4 inch doing much for your situation and swapping out zippers will be costly. If you dislike the strained look of the lapped zipper I doubt you'll like the look of a stressed invisible one.
B) The dress would stay up because the support is at the waist not the top, but this is another alteration that may cost much for little or no effect. If there is room in the seams, letting out the sides is better
C) This is a tuffy. Putting in a lace up back is another very expensive operation. I think any dress looks great with a lace-up back. I love them and they are very popular. There is usually at least 1" of seam on each side of most gowns that can be let out. That's a total of 2" and works for most situations like yours. And from your pictures, you might not need that much to relieve the stress causing the wrinkling. It's a matter of taste as to the look you are going for to choose between lace-up or letting out the sides. The sides will cost less if the fabric is there to do it.
D) I can't see the bottom edge well enough in the pictures to answer this one for sure but most scalloped lace hems can be removed and moved up to form the new hem and nothing is lost.
E) The Austrian bustle is usually used for gowns with no decoration on the train. It adds a design to an otherwise plain train. I don't recommend it for lacy trains like yours because it bunches up the design. Your skirt is also very full with many layers. The Austrian will be difficult to do with all those layers and will add a lot of fullness to your backside that most brides hate.

added July 2009

Hi Leanna,
Although I have some time before the wedding (less than 4.5 months), I've been worried all along about my dress. I purchased it on a sample sale and loved the style, but I knew even then that it will need to be taken in to fit me well. The dress tag states it's a size 10. I'm 28.5" in waist, 33.5" in chest. Street clothes are usually size 4/6 (you can never tell with stores anymore). The dress is all lace as per photo. I'm starting to worry that if it's 2 sizes too big, I might be told to go and get a new dress altogether. I have several questions:
1. how early should I go for my alterations? The seamstress keeps saying it's normal to do it a month before, as I may gain/loose weight, but I've never had a problem with a fluctuating weight.
2. It has sawn in bra cups. (which of course are not my size). Would you recommend to get a corset bra with a low back?
3. Could I make the front straps thinner, without impacting too much of the straps at the back? Especially since the location of the straps will probably be close to edges of my shoulders and what should I expect to be sawn in to keep them from falling down my arms?
4. Is it relatively easy with this type of dress to add an appearance of empire waist line?
5. Would you recommend adding tulle under the dress to open it up a little at the bottom?
6. What type of bustle would you recommend?
7 and most importantly: since the dress needs to be sized down in chest, waist and hips, will it impact the zipper line or the bottom part of the dress and what approximate costs should I expect seeing as it's lace?
Thank you a million for your expertise!!!

I ask to see a bride for the first time 8 to 10 weeks before the wedding. I do watch for brides weight fluctuations because the stress of planning a wedding can do unexpected things to your body even though you have been stable all your life. But I do think one month is not enough time especially when you need more than the normal alterations done.
Bra types and cup options are pretty much up to you and your comfort level and the look you are going for. Some brides think going braless is simply wrong while others think it's much more comfortable.
You can make the straps thinner by the outer edge. This may be pricey to do, but it's definitely doable. You'll need to find a alteration specialist who knows how to do it.
I would not recommend redesigning an Empire waist. Way too much work and expense.
You can add tulle, but this too will come with a price tag that might change your mind about wanting it.
There are pictures of a few dresses like yours in my bustle pages. Any bustle you choose is good.
I would need to see the gown on you to give you a good price for this work and it would be my price, not related to anything you may be quoted by an alteration specialist in your town. It can easily reach over $400.00.
I hope this all helps,

added June 2009

Hello –

Your website has been very informative and I am hoping you could give me some insight on the alterations on my dress.  When I went in for my first fitting, the seamstress did a ton of pinning to help the dress fit along my silhouette, while it followed the curve of my body nicely it wasn’t “tight”.  Last week I came in for my second fitting and I could hardly get the dress zipped, it was difficult to breathe, and there was puckering.  I don’t know if this was because of the amount of fabric that needed to be taken in or if she took it in too much as it certainly was nowhere near this snug during the initial fitting.  I have attached a picture of the dress from the manufacturer and the dress on me after the alterations……in my picture you can see the puckering around the bust, the skin at the top of the bust line bulging out, and puckering over the lower abdomen and in between my thighs.  Any thoughts on how or if this can be remedied?

It's quite common for dresses to feel and look tighter sewn from when they were pinned. That's why you go for the second fitting. I wouldn't call this botched, but it does need adjusting. It should actually fit a bit loose at the top so you don't get those underarm bulges, and a bit loose at the hips too so you don't get wrinkles and you have space for sitting down. Where it needs to be snug is at the waist. Some alterations ladies think things need to be tight all over because many brides ask for it that way, but you seem like you understand this better.
Did you tell her that you didn't like the fit? Did she say anything about it?

Thank you so much for your quick reply!  I didn’t say anything to her at the time, it was something that was nagging at me in the back of my mind and then when I pulled up the pictures on my computer and was looking at the dress before the alterations and after the alterations, that really sealed the deal for me.  I have put in a call to the bridal store where I bought the dress and had the alterations done to let them know I am having some concerns and that I would like to try on my gown again and see what can be done to remedy the situation.  I am surprised that the top did cut so tight as we had specifically had the discussion of “I want to make sure I don’t have one of those bridal mishaps where they raise their arms and their chest flies out for everyone to see, but I also don’t want to have it cut so tight that it turns my armpits into boobs either.”  Do you think just letting it out a little up top and around the hips will fix the problem……how obvious do you think the stitch marks will be if she does this?  I am pretty bummed because I spent over $300 on alterations and a bustle and I am hoping that she is not planning on charging me another arm and a leg to fix this……I guess that is another reason that I was very surprised that she only does 2 fittings, I would have thought 3 fittings to address any complications like this and that 2 fittings felt like trying to do too much and get too much right in one session.

Many a bride worries about the boob exposure things but I have never seen it happen or have heard of any one seeing it happen. If the dress is properly fitted to be snug in the waist, the boning holds it up and boobs do not pop out. It would take a lot of arm waving and chest shaking to get that to happen. Simply raising arms just won't do it. I think your alteration lady took what you said with too seriously and sewed the seams a little tighter than the pins to be sure she was doing what she thought you wanted. She should have discussed the situation with you as I have hear, but she may not be as experienced.
Do go back and insist they redo the seams without charging you again. Be matter of fact in your attitude. It's hard to not cross the line into bitchiness sometimes. I seriously doubt there will be any problem with the old stitching showing. It looks like your fabric is satin? It should steam out just fine.
Yes, they should do more than one fitting for pinning and one for pick-up. I normally do 3 to 4, and often 5 and 6 to get the gown right. Each step has to be approved of by the bride before I will proceed to another area on the gown.

added April 2009

HI, My name is Theresa and I just recently got married on April 18th 2009... I searched high and low for a my dress I went to David's a few times and many small bridal shops and I just couldn't find the one because I'm not into the bling factor and that's what's very popular right now.. I finally found this small bridal shop and found a simple satin strap less dress with no "bling" but I loved the way some dresses had the pleating  on the bodice that went to the waistline I mentioned this to the man in the shop and he said it was very simple to do and he would be able to do it by that Monday this was on Thursday so 4 days... Also he had some flower girl dresses that matched mine perfectly so I ordered them as well he said he would have them by Tuesday also  must tell you this was done on April 9th I know it's last minute and most brides have this done months in advance but I had lost my job and thought about postponing but then decided to just do it simple the most important thing was we were getting married and the little things would fall into place..I must admit I was scared very scared 11days before the wedding but he promised me he could do this and I believed him.. So on Monday I go in to try the dress on because he also had to take it out a little and when I get there the dress had nothing on it not even a pleat and it doesn't fit...So now he tells me he will work on it that night and for me to come in tomorrow. I get there on Tues. and again not even one pleat and it still doesn't fit and my girls dresses aren't in either... Now I'm scared and of course I want to go somewhere else but I'm on a budget and have already paid him half I don't have the money to go elsewhere now... So wed I go back now the dress fits but again not even a pleat and still no flower girl dresses....Now I'm devastated I have to pick my maid of honor up at the airport and I think I cried the entire way there and back and again I'm stuck I can't go somewhere else now... SO now it's Thursday I go in about p.m. and again not even a pleat he promises me he will have it done in a few hours for me to go home and he'll call me and that my flower girl dresses are at the UPS store so I ask him if I can pick them up because he tells me he can't leave the shop so I won't have then till tomorrow and he says there is some kind of code and I can't... SO we leave nevermind the fact that my entire bridal party is from NJ and has just flew in to FL and instead of us having our girls night we're waiting for dresses... I call him about p.m. because he still hasn't called me and he says I'm almost done he finally calls me at 10 I tried my dress on at 11p.m. and I have to admit I was so excited that I finally had my dress I didn't even really look at it the way a bride normally would... I noticed it was very wrinkled and he said he would press it for me and I could pick it up  at noon tomorrow along with my flower girl dresses... I come back at noon and yes my dress is pressed but my girls dresses look like hell like they were packed in a shipping box which they were and unbelievably wrinkled.. So he tells me he has other costumers to deal with when he's done with them he will press my girls dresses to give him 30min... So fine after all this I give him 1hr and come back still he hasn't pressed them I can't wait anymore I'm getting married in 24hrs and haven't spent any time with friends I haven't seen in years So I take them... I get home and show them to my mother along with my dress and she realizes my satin dress has holes all along the side of it where he placed the pins for the pleating extremely noticeable too how i didn't see it is beyond me maybe because it was 11p.m. and I was tired or because I was so relieved to have it I didn't care also it still has safety pins in the pleating why because he never stitched it we took the pin out and out came the pleating... So now I have a ruined bridal gown and wrinkled satin flower girls dresses and not a dry cleaner who can do it in the amount of time I have... So I put a stop payment on the check I gave him to complete my balance when I picked up the dresses... Now he's calling me telling me I'm a thief I just don't know what to do now I already paid him half to he has that money there's nothing I can do about that... I never signed a contract and to top it off he made me leave my checks blank and I did like an idiot not the amount but the name...I have no clue what to do now do I make him take me to court do I take him to court...I mean am I wrong or is what he did to me as wrong as I think it is...I have pics of the dresses if you want to see any advice is appreciated I'm so stressed about this situation...

Thanks in advance-Theresa


I do not see where you have done anything wrong. At every step you made very good decisions and were very graceful in granting him the time he asked for at each turn. He has done nothing he promised. You have every right to put the stop payment on the check. If he wishes to get his money from you he needs to file a small claims and prove in court that he did the job he promised. As far as I understand things, there is nothing that you need to do other than keep track of any phone calls he makes to you and harassing claims. It would be smart for you to collect any pictures you have to prove your story and witnesses who know what was done so if he does file a suit, you will be ready.

You could file a small claims on him, but I seriously doubt you have any chance of getting the rest of your money back. The court just might rule for him if your evidence is not good enough to support your claim. Then you'll have to pay him the rest of the money, so I would do nothing at this point.
You can call the Better Business Bureau and register a complaint. If he is a member, which I doubt, you may be able to make a claim to get the rest of your money beck, but that's a long shot. And it still might backfire if your evidence is not good enough to support your claims. It's such a matter of your word against his, and you already know he has no problems with speaking untruths.

added February 2009

I wanted to wear my mothers wedding dress, but needed it updated. It had cap sleeves and i wanted it made strapless. This is the final look. I do not like how my chest looks, I have tried several styles of bras but it still just doesn't look quite right. My seamstress says she thinks its lovely. Any suggestions? The wedding is in April.

Many thanks.


It looks to me that the lady who removed the sleeves didn't make any adjustments to the bodice to make it a strapless. It looks like the fabric was tucked under your arms instead of the neckline being readjusted causing the puckers. I do not think it's lovely. That is a word many seamstresses use to get you feeling that it's ok. It also may be a big indicator that she doesn't know how to fix it. You will probably have to find a different seamstress to fix it. Good Luck! 


MANY THANKS for the reply. It became quite a nightmare with that seamstress. Great advice to find a new one. Thank you so much for your website, it its a fantastic resources.


added October 2008

I ordered a size 2 Alfred Angelo gown (1612).

To start at the beginning, I had tried on a size 2 of that style at an Alfred Angelo storefront and it had fit perfectly, with the exception of hem length.  However, I was only visiting my parents at the time (400 miles away) and there are no Alfred Angelo storefronts in my area.  I ordered the dress through a bridal salon that was relatively near me.  It was several months after I had tried on the dress, so I couldn't remember exactly what size dress that I had tried on.  I only remembered that in Alfred Angelo dresses I was very close to my normal size.  They had said I was 33-26 and told me I was between a 4 or 6, so I chose the smallest size available on their size chart, size 4.  The dress came in and it was not the perfect fit that I remembered, which was very disappointing.  The corset was so tightened that it was just a straight line and it still needed to be hefted up every once in a while because the waist was too loose.  It was not until I went home and was checking online that I found that the smallest size was 2, which made me very mad, since if I knew I was in between those two sizes, I would have tried to figure out which size I had worn the first time and they should have presented all the information necessary for me to make my decision.  There was a lot of initial hassle, but the store manager agreed to exchange the dress for the 2, with him putting in a rush order for the dress and me accepting the responsibility of the dress not fitting since the size 2 was for a person with measurements of 33-24 and possibly my size 4 was missized.  I had the knowledge of fitting the dress, so I said I wanted the 2 although I still had a lot of anxiety after talking to him.  I wanted to bring the dress I had back when I picked up the bridesmaid dresses.  They were expected to come in within a couple of weeks, but the manager wanted me to send the dress back sooner, saying that the manufacturer didn't like doing that.  I sent the dress in and a week or two later, I got the call that my dress had come in.  I was pleasantly surprised as the expected ETA was in early November (my wedding day is 11/29).  When I tried on the new dress, it was smaller than the last one but still big.  I got the line as I had gotten with the first dress that every dress needs alterations.  I went home and measured the dress.  It was around 29" on the waist and ~35" on the bust if the dress was placed at the corset size that was dictated by the clips on the modesty panel.  The measurements were only 1" smaller than the last dress.  My mom raised the possibility that they had just sewn in the dress I'd sent back to them, but the tags had changed and some beads that were loose were now okay on this dress.  The detail on this new dress was very close to the seams though and the construction of the dress seems more hurried (top band isn't centered, top of front bodice kind of sticks out), so it did look suspicious in that aspect.  We complained again about the sizing, so I was told to send my dress in for analysis at Alfred Angelo.  While we were waiting for them, I asked my mom to go back to the store and check out the size 2 dress.  She measured a 26.5" waist.  Their QC department analyzed it and they called my mom to say that it was indeed a size 2.  My mom asked what measurements they had.  They said something about all the measurements matching the size chart (measuring 33"-24").  She said that my waist is 26" so how could the dress be 24"?  They replied that the bridal shop may have measured me wrong (Can you imagine a 21-22" waist!).  She tried to get their expected specifications for measurements of a size 2 dress.  They wouldn't answer that.  My mom tried to talk to the supervisor then, but got an even more unsympathetic reply with the continued repetition of size 2, 33-24, and what's my address so they can send the dress back.  The bridal store manager was consulted and he said if they said it was a size 2, there was nothing more he could do.  I wrote an email, requesting confirmation of the measurements and asking for their expected measurements again to try to get something documented, as all our correspondence had been over the telephone so far.  I also mentioned trying the size 2, saying I was disappointed in their variation of construction, because the fit of the dress was a strong factor in my choosing the dress.  They replied back that they would send it to their QC dept again and send it to a second of their seamstresses.  If the second seamstress also confirmed it was a size 2, they would send the dress back (and I assume there would be no more discussion on size).

Sorry for the long explanation, but that leads to the following questions:

1.  With all the emails you've received, has anyone else had an experience like this and is it a common thing?

2.  I'm pretty sure I'm measuring the dress right and if I'm not, I don't think I'd be that off.  Do you know if there is a certain technique of measuring other than measuring the circumference of the smallest part of the dress?  I understand there is variation in construction of the dress, but 2.5" of variation?

3.  I can't understand their reluctance to tell us how they determined that the dress was indeed a size 2.  I would think that would help resolve the issue faster vs. us asking the same questions and them saying the same answer over and over again.  If we were trying to make our own dress, we could just work from the dress we have.  In my line of work, I'm very used to having a design of an object and a tolerance for creation of that design that determines if it was manufactured acceptably or not. Is the wedding dress industry very secretive about their documents like that or do they just not work that way?

3.  Since the second seamstress is one they work with, I doubt that she would not support their verdict.  If that does happen, I don't know what other recourse could be done.  Any suggestions other than the BBB?

4.  If they won't do anymore, is my dress alterable without changing the intrinsic design of the dress?  The detail on the current dress is already at the very edge of the seam.  If it's taken in anymore, it would be taking away the end of the curls.  I had said that to the store manager with the size 4 dress and he said no, it wouldn't change that detail.  The tailor would just redo the embroidery and put the beads back on.  He made it sound like it was an easy thing to do, but that seems kind of time consuming to me, which would mean a very expensive alteration.  Is it as easy as he keeps making it sound?

5.  I've attached a link to some more pictures of my dress.  Given what you see, would it be easier to just go ahead and get it altered or attempt to look for a new dress that fits in less than 2 months?  I would prefer to have a wider v like on the model, but at the very least to have the waist taken in so i don't have to keep pulling it up.  I've seen on your website that the top of a strapless dress doesn't need to be tight.

6.  The dress is extremely finished on the inside and I'm just wondering what  a tailor would do in general (or how you would approach it) to take in the dress so I'd know what to expect when questioning possible alteration folks. I'd hate to have assumptions that they would do something and then end up with something else because I was supposed to say something

Right now, I'm really feeling like the wedding industry is taking advantage of the fact that a person only gets married once (or not too many times) over their lifetime and capitalize on that inexperience.  If I hadn't tried on the dress that fit me, I probably would have accepted what they said, thinking yes, it's normal to have alterations done and yeah, I guess a size 2 just comes that way.  I understand that everyone is built differently, so that you would therefore order the closest fit to you, trying to make as few alterations as possible, but if you ordered according to the size chart, isn't it only reasonable to get something close to the measurement and at least one of the points fit you?  I understand they wouldn't make it exactly 33 or 24 as the dress could be designed for better movement or whatever, but something close... The bridesmaid dresses are pretty close to their size chart, but it is a different manufacturer.  As well, in a normal retail store if you saw something there and went to another of their chains, you usually see the same thing.  Even if you were to compare a rack of shirts or something, you'd see a little variation, but they'd be pretty identical.  Is it unrealistic to expect that from a wedding dress?

Thank you very much for making it through this long email!  Any input you could give would be a great help.  I just need an opinion from someone who is unconnected to the parties and dress.  Thanks in advance!


Wedding gowns, like any other ready made garment, have sizing variations in each gown. If you go to any garment store and try on any 2 dresses in the same style and size they will not fit the same. The main problem with the bridal industry is that the measurement and ordering process makes people think these gowns are Special Made. They are very much not. They are mass produced just like all other garments. The only reason for the special ordering process is that the gowns are expensive to stock for the retailer. Measurements are taken to figure out what size is closest to you, not what will fit you best. What the sale's lady told you is mostly true, "All gowns get altered". In my 26 years of working in the bridal industry I have seen very few gowns that needed no alteration.
If you had access to that gown you tried on the first time I would say buy it, but since you don't you have to resign yourself to the fact that any gown you order will need altering to get the same fit you had in the first gown.
One more thing that many folks don't know. The fabric used to make these gowns has embroidered patterns already sewn on it. The company making the gown has no way it change the size of this pattern once it is set. This is why many gowns do not come in smaller sizes. Some of the embroidered pattern would end up in the seam as the pattern pieces are made smaller and the embroidered pattern stays the same. There is no such thing as "redoing the embroidery". So, if you could order a smaller size it would look the same as altering the one you have.
Yes, all too often the bridal industry doesn't care about the feelings of the bride, but it sounds like this store has been trying to do it's best for you. They are limited in what they can do by the manufacturers and distributors.
There are so many people telling you so many conflicting stories. If possible, I would find an independent seamstress to look at you in the dress and give you an unbiased opinion of what can be done.

added August 2008

I'm no expert and I just paid $350.00 For my dress alterations. It is a San Patrick lace and appliqué dress. When the dress is bustled (American) you can see the hooks, is this normal? Also the dress is fitted to the hips and then slightly moves outward but still hugs the body.... The dress folds under my breasts even with the corset I purchased. They said they can not put in boning in this dress because it's lace and appliqué. The dress was a little tight in the hips so they took it out very slightly but it bunches still over my waist. I'm usually a 6 in dresses and sometimes a 4. The dress is a 10 and I have a 36C cup. I'm perplexed at this bunching problem and they said the dress can not be taking out any more. I don't know what to do. It's not smooth and it looks a little unpolished. Also at the hips on the side the toile like fabric looks like it has tiny holes and the stitching is messy, you can't notice until you really look at it but still it looks sloppy. I's this normal.  The people in the shop rushed me out and were very arrogant. I just paid them so I could have the dress in my hands and out of theirs. -Nicole

Yes, it is usually impossible for the hooks to be totally hidden. 
Bridal size numbers have nothing to do with reality. Just because it says 10 does not meant it is a normal store bought size 10. There is just no comparing this. If there is no more fabric in the seams to let out than it can't be let out any more. More fabric can be added to the seams to make what is called a gusset to add more space but this often looks odd unless done very carefully.
The folds under the bustline are often caused by poor posture. It's really, really hard to tell a bride this. If you are slouching even a tiny bit it can cause bunching under the bust. Are you saying there is no boning in the bodice? You didn't say if it was strapless. They may not advise adding it because if the lace in the front is not backed with anything then boning will show. You don't sound like you would like that.
The poor stitching sounds like they didn't do a very good job but I can't really say without seeing the gown on you. Do you have pictures?

added August 2008

So happy to find your website! Too make a long story short... my dress is too tight for my comfort level and also now "pulls" at my waist whereas before it did not. The tailor I was using is out of town, so I can't speaabout this issue (but will as soon as shek to her returns!). I wanted to know if the dress was already taken in, can it be let back out a bit? I would be soo much comfortable day of the wedding of so.
Thank you,

Anything that I take in can be let back out because I never trim seams when I take a gown in but some people do. You do have to talk to the person who did the work to find out if what they did can be adjusted.

added July 2008

Dear Leanna,

Thank you so much for taking all these Q &A's! You have by far the most comprehensive site I've found so far for these dilemmas!

I am writing on behalf of my dear friend who is getting married (hold your breathe) in 10 days! She went to pick up her dress today and found that it was at least 1" above the ground! It is a basic a-line satin dress, and I would have thought they would have left material to hem, but my poor friend assures me they haven't.

Perhaps the worst part of the story is that her seamstress feels she did the right thing- as the bride is planning on wearing flats, and the seamstress said that anything longer and she would step on her dress.....but now you can see her feet and she is so upset. Can you advise at all?

Thanks so much

One inch above the floor is the proper length in my opinion. I always start with this length when a bride has no idea what she wants. I pin the hem for 1" and let her see it and walk around in it. I will then sew it that length but not cut any fabric. The bride comes back in and tries it on and walks around in it to see if she likes it there. If she doesn't I will make adjustments, but most brides do like this length. It is a good length for not having that tripping feeling that is not wanted when you have to walk gracefully down an isle with lots of people looking at you.
The biggest mistake the seamstress made was doing the hem there without her approval - but it is a good length.

added February 2008

Hi Leanna,

I stumbled upon your website and found it very helpful but maybe you can help me with my situation. I purchased my wedding dress from this bridal boutique and wasn't fully satisfied with the dress because it wasn't how i imagined it to be. So the lady at the boutique suggested that I added custom beading on my dress and I can get my wedding dress shortened there too since they didn't have a seamstress on site b/c their original seamstress was sick. I thought it was a great idea to put beading on my gown. I was then refered to this boutique and design shop (different place) nearby that can do the custom beading and alteration. My dress is a floor-length satin gown with the corset fully beaded and about 2 inches of lining that is fully beaded at the bottom of the dress. When I had tried on my dress the seamstress there pinned up my dress. I even asked her to move it down a bit more cause I wanted to make sure that the dress was not cut too short. When i tried on my gown I was in 4 inch heels. The seamtress there told me no to worry that she will keep it the desired length that i had requested. I came back 1 month later to find that my dress was cut too short! I am only 5ft 1in. When I tried on the dress in my barefeet..the dress was 1inch from the floor. When I confronted the seamstress, she stated that it wasn't her who pinned up the dress and that it was me to had pinned up the dress. I am so super upset and I don't know what to do. The seamstress told me not to worry that she will fix it but I DO NOT trust her words. She told me not to worry the first time and she made the mistake of cutting it too short. According to the seamstress, she was going to add the cloth back on the dress and cover it with beads but I am afraid to trust her words and I am afraid that the stitches will be noticeable. What should I do? Should I continue to let her finish the job? I need her to finish the beading that she started. I have been losing sleep over this and my wedding is in 6 weeks. Help!

I can see why you are not sleeping. I do not think anything worse can happen if you let her try to fix the problem. I have seen beadwork over seams that made me look really close to see the seam. You will probably be able to see it right off because you know it is there, but I seriously doubt your guests will notice anything amiss. I would let her try to fix it. If is looks good to you, the problem is solved, if not you can take it elsewhere.

added July 2007

Wow, I wish I had found this site before alterations began, but alas... Thank you for all your advice and wisdom!

Here's my drama: I purchased a Maggie Sottero gown that I absolutely LOVE. It has the most amazing neckline - a wide, off the shoulder continuation of the beaded and embroidered bodice makes up the cap sleeves.

I went for my first fitting and got it pinned in at the bodice so it hugs my body and doesn't stick out. I have photos from the fitting, and the pins were taking the middle of the "sleeve" part in, and the continuous line of the bodice was very much still apparent and in-tact.

I went for my second fitting, and the sleeves had been completely cut off and tucked into the bodice to make it fit. Also, the sleeves had been tacked in more towards the center of the bust. When I asserted that it was definitely not okay, she pulled her stitches out, which is when I realized the sleeves had been cut apart from the dress - I almost burst into tears. We tacked the sleeves more at an angle, which was better as it was the original line of the dress, but they look like sleeves and not that continuous bodice that I feel makes the dress special. I'm hoping maybe there was a communication problem, even though the seamstress knows English. I held out the ends of the (heartbreakingly) cut lace and held it over the dress and asked "you can put this back here to make it look continuous again, right?" She said no. I've since called the saleswoman (who I've had a great experience with), and even stopped by the store to look at the sample dress because I couldn't stop stressing about it. The saleswoman has assured me that the seamstress can make it happen and that she has had conversations with the seamstress about how concerned I am, but she was not in the room when the seamstress told me she couldn't do it.

Does it look to you like it could be made to look like the original design if the lace was cut off the dress at the sleeve? I only have 3 weeks until the wedding, so I'm assuming there's no time for them to get me a new one and start over. I'm SO upset, because the dress was quite pricey, and I was NOT told that the design would be altered. I love this dress, and the bodice was by far my favorite part of it. If I had been told she was taking that design element away, I would have taken it for a second opinion.

Am I wrong to be upset? Am I total bridezilla? I mean, I can make the best of it if it can't be fixed, but it will be a HUGE disappointment and I hope they will reimburse some of our money, at least what we paid for the alterations.

Thank you!! Lynn

I am so sad for you. This kind of thing should never happen. But I am sure the store will fix it. They may have to have a different lady do the work if the first one doesn't know how. From your description I am sure I could fix it to your liking. It may not be exactly like the original but I could get it close enough that you would not be so upset.

Try to not worry about it until you go to see what they have done so far. Insist that your sales lady or a manager be with you at all times while you are working with the alteration lady. If English is not her first language there is certainly a problem. I have friends who have lived here for many years and still misunderstand simply things I say. You are going to feel like a bridezilla, but hold your ground. You are right to feel upset but don't let it cloud your judgment. Stay calm but do demand that the job be done to your liking.

Is the sample gown your size? Ask if you can have that one. They may say they can't do that but they should do anything it takes to fix this.

It might be a good idea to bring someone along - Mom, Dad, best friend - to help or just be a witness.

You have great attitude. Good will come of this somehow. All you have to do is wait for it.

You are a doll, Leanna - thank you for taking your time to comfort distraught brides everywhere!

I feel better after your email (even though the first sentence made me hold my breath). My dress is a 14, and the sample is a 12, but I was actually thinking that I should try it again. But the shop is, how to put it nicely, not a swanky place. It looks dingy, but they have a HUGORMOUS selection of dresses in a very large range of sizes, so it was really a good place to look. So, I'd have to see what kind of shape the sample is in. But we'll see what happens with the next fitting on Wednesday.

I'm actually being a big fat 35 year old baby and having my mom call the store to ask the saleswoman to be present at the next fitting and explain the stress this is causing me (i've already called once and stopped in un-announced once). And mom will be there - as always. Yay, Mom!!

Thank you again - you are an angel, and I wish you were doing this for me!
Have a wonderful weekend.

added July 2007

Hi Leanna,

I've seen your website and find it very useful. I wonder if you can give me some advice. It is 3 weeks until my wedding. I bought a dress and paid for the dress to be specially cut to length. When the dress arrived It required the bodice to be altered which was done by a local seamstress. This was fine, however the length had been cut too long. I was going to get this altered locally by the seamstress however the company stated that as it was their mistake they wished to put it right. Today my dress cam back and they have now cut the dress too short at one side and too long at the other. The dress at the front goes up in a slight incline to one side but it is this which has been made too short. There is not enough seam to make the dress longer and the even the bottom of the dress will mean you can see the bottom of my underskirt. Is there anything I can do to put this right or should the company have to make a whole new dress?

I hope you can give me some advice.

many thanks, Debbie

I am surprised that the company offered to hem the gown in the first place. Knowing they are into doing what is right, you can ask about what they can do to fix the situation. Three weeks doesn't give them enough time to make a whole new gown, but there are other things they may offer you. Take pictures of the gown while you are wearing it to show the unevenness of the hem to send to them.

added June 2007

Dear Leanna,
First, thank you for sharing your time in such an informative way. This is a great website and I wish I read it before I had taken my gown to the seamstress.

I needed my gown to be shortened 3" and I thought it should be simple as my dress fit me perfectly and there is nothing on the skirt. The gown is a chiffon dress with a satin underskirt. I am very disappointed as the seamstress did a lot of things wrong but cannot help wonder if it is somehow my fault. When I went to the store we talked about the length of the dress in detail but I did not ask her how they would do the stitches or whether they will cut the dress before fitting for the second time. When I got my gown after two weeks, I felt strange about the hemming and I realized that they did not keep the original blind-stitched style. Instead, they sewed it as they did the chiffon material, which looks like rolling. Since they did not leave any extra material, it is not possible to change the hemming without shortening the dress and I am quite upset the way this whole thing turned out. Furthermore, the skirt looks uneven but they told me it would be corrected once it is steamed. I did not buy my dress in their store and I could have gone to another seamstress if they had told me what they would do. I paid $120 for this job and I thought I was paying for the quality of work. I am going to talk to them again but I want to know if this is a common practice to cut the underskirt this way and not telling me that they would change the stitching. I am so horrified that I do not want them to do anything else. I thought I was becoming a bridezilla but my dress was in a dirty plastic bag, the hook for my bustle was not sewn in the middle, and you can easily see where they started sewing. My wedding is 10 days away and I cannot help myself getting upset and obsessed about this. I think your professional and objective opinion might be very helpful and give me a little piece of mind. Is there any other way to correct this ? Should I be content if I can get a refund ?

I appreciate your thoughts on this situation.

As a rule, I will try to replace stitching as I found it originally. If a hem was blind stitched, I will usually do the new hem with blind stitching. There are occasions though, when I will change the way the stitching is replaced because I know of a better way to do it than was originally used.

It is quite rare to find the lining of a wedding gown stitched blind. Most are either rolled with the tiny edge stitching, or serged and then stitched. So, the way they stitched the lining was not wrong, just different. They may have decided that for the type of fabric a rolled edge would be better for the flow of the gown than a blind hem. Satin comes in many types and hemming can be done either way.

They might have done it rolled because that is the way they know how to do it with the best accuracy. Asking them to do it blind might be a mistake for they will not do as good a job at it.

You did not say if the length was accurate. If they did the hem at the 3" needed I would not complain about the type of stitching they used. If you wish to ask them why they choose to do it differently than the original you are justified. When I do decide to do an operation that will look different than the original I do explain to the bride what I am planning on doing and why. I do fault them for not doing this for you, but stitching it the way they did is not necessarily wrong.

added March 2007

Hi! I found your website online and just had a quick question for you. Your site seems great and I thought maybe you could help.

My sister is getting married in a week from Friday. One of the bridesmaids just called me in utter panic. She picked her dress up today and the woman who altered it took it in so much that she can not zip it up. The dress was huge to begin with, the woman did not take her measurements before she altered the dress- she simply pinned it. When my friend went in to get it, she tried it on and it was so tight she couldn’t even zip it up a few inches.

The seamstress told her she would work on it and have it ready by this Friday. My question is, if she goes to take the dress out, will it leave a very noticeable mark? My friend is very upset about this but it is clear that the seamstress made a huge mistake and took it in an extra size. My friend is afraid she will not be able to fix this problem, and I can’t tell my sister because she will be so upset!

Any advice you can offer would be great: I am thinking my friend may have to take it elsewhere if this seamstress does not follow through.


This has happened to me and it wasn't a problem letting the seam back out. There are lots of things that could have happened to make the dress too tight. I never take measurement and do only pin dresses, so that was not at fault. Pinning is the proper way to do what she did.

I know it's sometimes hard for ladies to understand because you have not needed wedding dress alterations before, but it is a process. Quite often a seam needs twigging to get it just so. Reworking the seam should not cause any problems. You did not say what kind of fabric the dress is made of, but it should not show any marks, and if there are some they will be very unnoticeable.

If it will make you feel better, you can call another seamstress and get an appointment just in case the dress is not done to your satisfaction. But I am sure that everything will be fine. And don't feel guilty about not telling the bride this now. If you feel you need to, wait until after the wedding.

added January 2007

I have just found your wonderful and informative website. I am merely a friend of the bride, but I do sew. I went with her for her 5th fitting. THe wedding is now 10 days away and the dress doesn't fit. I'm interested in your opinion on this.

This girl is very petite (probably a zero in regular clothing) but has implants. She is quite full busted for a tiny girl. She told the store owner and salespeople that while she might want cleavage at other times, she wanted to be modest and covered at her wedding. The store owner told her that the strapless gown she had picked could be ordered with a bigger cup size and was ordered in a size 6. When it came in, at the initial fitting, the dress was huge, but her breasts did fit into the cups of the corset bodess. All seams are boned. After the initial alteration (in which no measuring was done, no pinning...I dont know if this is usual but none was done) she could not even zip the dress. The seamstress said "oh, I fogot you had large breasts." In addition, she was told after this that the designer of this dress does NOT offer cup sizes as some of them do.

The problem now is that the dress has been let back out, the bust seams adjusted and her breasts are popping out. THe bodice is just too short to pull up and cover her bustline. The only suggestion I can see (due to the beading on the dress-no sash to cover a seam with) is to take the size 10 bodice from the sample and fit it to her bust, then attach it to the skirt of the gown. Is this a realistic possiblitity? This girl has so many other details she is stressing over. I hate for this to be another one--and it's a big one for sure! Any enlightenment you can give would be great. Is it just an impossiblity to fit an implanted bustline with a strapless sweetheart neckline?

Thanks so much, Debbie

Your suggestion of altering the size 10 bodice is a workable one but I doubt you can get them to do it. It will be a lot of work and I'm even doubtful if she has the knowledge to do it.

It's not usual to have no pinning. It's hard to pin when seams are boned but I do it anyway.

I'm one of those people that just can't think anything is impossible, there are just options that you may not like to take. If the alterations were done without cutting the seams as it should have been, it must be fixable without starting over with another bodice. Do you have pictures of her in the dress you can send me?

Hi Leanna,
Thank you so much for your quick response!! I spoke to the bride and her mother this afternoon after they met with the owner of the bridal salon. The owner looked at the dress on the girl and agreed that it was "absolutely unacceptable". They did not want to take the size 10 bodice to use so the bride has picked out another dress from the floor samples. They are going to have it cleaned and then alter it. I didnt get to see it on her so I dont know how much alteration it might need but I do know that she said she is covered adequately. I wish I had pictures to send as I am now interested to see what you would have suggested. (Its the sewist in me I guess). I hope the bridal salon is willing to credit them for the original dress which they seemingly messed up. Don't know about that yet but they did finally and reluctantly give them a nice break on the price of the new sample dress. I do know this....I have two daughters to go thru this with at some point in the future and I am bookmarking your website to remember you by when my time comes to go through this! Where are you located? Anywhere near central Florida? Thanks again for your answer and willingness to advise!!

Giggles, no, I'm in Cincinnati Ohio - A bit far from Florida.

Glad to hear things will work out for her and that the store is doing the right thing. I get so many letters about sad situations. It's very encouraging to know that there are some good bridal salons out there!

added March 2006

I bought a Marisa gown (#591) as a sample and had it altered to my size (I'm normally a size 0 or 2 in street clothes). Unfortunately, I think the seamstress made the torso too short and the skirt is too full. The torso/bodice is sewn to the skirt and the seam is covered by a satin belt. The seamstress claimed that she separated the bodice from the skirt, cut off a couple of inches along the waist line of the skirt and then sewed it back onto the bodice. What I don't understand is how the torso became shorter if that was the case. I asked her to fix it but she said there might not be enough material to do so. If she didn't cut the torso, shouldn't this mistake be reparable? I'm attaching a picture of me in the dress. Here is the link from the Marisa catalog to the gown I purchased:

I really appreciate your advice!


I'm as confused as you are. From your pictures I'd be willing to bet the seamstress shortened the bodice as well as the skirt. I doubt she will ever admit it and there's nothing you can do to change what she did, but there are things you can do to camouflage it. The easiest thing is to get a wider satin ribbon for the belt, set it to sit from the waist seam down, making the skirt look lower. This will also smooth out the fluffiness you are getting from the skirt being raised.

added April 2005

My wedding is in 6 weeks and I bought my dress last Fall. My dress was a size 6 strapless. It had to be taken in on the sides (torso) and cups were sewn in. When I went for my next fitting the boning in the front and 2 strips in the back (on the sides) showed.Not just puckering - you could see the vertical strip a bit. They decided to take the boning out and now my dress feels like it's falling off me. I had 4 people staring at me, not knowing what to do. The next step was to try and take a bit more fabric in (the backside) to create more support since the boning is now out.
I don't know what to do. I was thinking about a refund (I don't know if this was a defect or not in the dress)but their policy is no refund & there were no other dresses there that I liked.

Is there anything else that can be done.
Thank you so much

Removing the boning is not a good idea. That is where you get the support you need.

It sounds like the gown was taken in too much. A common mistake in fitting a strapless dress. It needs to be snug at the waist but not at the top. Actually, a little loose at the top is better. If it's too tight, bags of flesh are pushed under the arms. Not a good look. The snugness at the waist is to give the boning a base so it can hold the dress up. Ladies who are not used to wearing strapless gowns often think this is a bad fit and feel the gown may fall, but it won't if the boning is placed correctly. Adding boning is an option too.

Your options at this point are not fun. You can't return the gown, which I doubt you want anyway. I'm sure you like this dress or you would not have bought it. I'm guessing you really just want it fitting well. To get that you may have to pay this store for the work that has been done to get the dress in your possession - and then take it to someone who can fit it correctly. This will cost you, in extra stress and money, but you still have time to get the work done and the odds of it getting done right are better by going elsewhere.

added July 2004

Thanks for taking and answering questions. I have a bone corset strapless gown with full organza ball skirt. I've attached a picture of it. The problem is that when I got the dress, there was no problems in how the material laid in the corset torso. After it was altered (on the sides and in the back), it puckers badly so that it looks wrinkled. Two seamstresses looked at it and both said that there is nothing that can be done- if I am altering a dress with bone corset, it will pucker.

Is this true? Is there any remedy for removing the puckering, either by ironing or sewing or however? I am willing to try anything that will make it

I really would like your opinion- the dress is beautiful but the puckers distract and take away from its beauty.

Kimberley, Denver

I could use more information. Where are the puckers exactly? The picture helps (beautiful gown by-the-way) but not being able to see your gown on you makes it difficult to answer the question, but I'll try.

It was altered on the sides and in the back - taken in I am assuming. That it was done in both places tells me that your alterationist was taking much care to do your alteration well. I usually take in only in one of those places if the amount to be taken in is less than 1 inch. So, this also tells me that you needed more than 1 inch taken in. It can be very difficult to take in more than an inch and avoid puckering, but since she did take care to do it in both places the puckering should have been kept to a minimum. Let me take a big guess and say you needed 4 inches taken in. The position of the boning strips are going to be moved around the body in such a way that it no longer is doing an efficient job of shaping the waist and can therefore create puckers in the fabric between the strips. It's usually not possible to move the strips. That might be why the other ladies told you it could not be fixed. I would try sewing more boning in between the already set pieces in an attempt to stabilize the fabric in between and eliminate the puckers.

How tight the bride is wanting the torso to be is a very big factor. Corsets are designed to shape the torso, but tightening it too much will create stress puckers. Brides want to look their best on their day. That's only natural, but pushing the limits of the gown to get what she is envisioning as her "perfect body" is not a good idea. Not only do you get stress puckers but wearing the gown that way all day can hurt your health. Back aches, head aches and not being able to eat or breath are not my ideas of having a happy day. Feeling comfortable in the gown is just as important as looking good because you can not look good feeling lousy. I have no idea if this factors into your situation, but it might be something for you to think about. I put a lot of stock in the bride's comfort and will often advise not doing an alteration she thought she dearly needed. If the gown can be let out even one inch, stress puckers can be avoided. One inch is not much when you compare it to your comfort and less puckers.

Can the puckers be fixed? Again if I could see the gown on you I could answer it better, but if the fit is the way you like it then I would try steaming the mess out of them. If the torso is silk it will work better than if it is polyester.

What to do if it can't be fixed. Let me ask you - has anyone other than these sewing specialists seen you in the gown? A friend, your Mom, any one. Do they object to the puckers? I would try on the gown and have a friend look at you - DO NOT tell her why. Just ask her to be critical. I'd be willing to bet she won't notice the puckering. You would be amazed at what people don't notice. To you it's so very important, and that's not wrong, just that you are seeing things different than your guests will at the wedding. You might get upset for me saying this, but it could be that you seeing yourself in the mirror is giving a more critical view of your gown than you need to be. Having someone else look at you gives a different perspective. You can even try having pictures taken of you in the gown. I love putting gowns on dress forms for brides. It is a very big eye opener for them to see the gown as their guests will.

Yes, you have every right to want perfection for your special day, but you still have to work within the limitations of your body and the gown's abilities. Even if you don't meet your ideal of perfection when you look in the mirror it doesn't mean you are not every bit a beautiful bride. Know that you are not alone. Many brides struggle with this. The gown is THE most important element of the wedding day. But if you let yourself get overly stressed out by all the decisions you have to make and the advice you have to sift through, it won't make for a perfect day for you.

I hope you find some of this helpful. I've given you a lot of angles to think about and many may not apply to you. If you have more questions or concerns, you have my address.

added February 2004

Hi -
I found you on the net on a site giving advice about wedding gown alterations, and I am hoping you can give me some advice. (I haven't been able to find any anywhere on the net about this problem!) I purchased my gown from a major bridal chain, and trusted them to the alterations. (All I needed was the bustle and the hem.) When I went to try on the gown after the first fitting, the seamstress had made an awful mistake on my floor-length, all-lace gown and had cut the lace much too short - not only a lot shorter than she had pinned it (and I had even asked her to move the hem down after she first pinned it because I wanted to make sure it didn't get cut too short), but also a few inches shorter than she had cut the lining fabric (so it was obviously a mistake.) I now have a floor length gown that is anything but floor length (about four-five inches too short in the front) and is not hanging right, either. (It is a sheath and is flaring out.) Is there anything I can do about this?? I am supposed to go talk to the store manager tomorrow, and don't even know how to approach it. All I can think of is to wear flats instead of heels (which I hate; I am only 5'2") - is there any other way to restore the dress? (the wedding is now in 4 weeks)
I would *really* appreciate any advice you could give - I have no idea what to do, and no one I know seems to know, either.
Thank you so much for any advice -

You do need to first talk to the manager and see what options the store can and will offer. In my opinion, and this is only an opinion, they should fix this to your satisfaction with no extra charge. Hemming mistakes like this are totally avoidable and the store should make it up to you. I make it a sound practice to NEVER take scissors to a gown until the bride has tried it on twice and totally approves of the length. That the wrong amount was cut off your gown is a very sad situation, but not unrepairable. There are many ways to creatively fix the hem length.

But the sad truth is that they may be unwilling or unable to do what it takes to make this right. They may not have creative people to work this out. If that is so, then I would settle with them as best you can and take your gown elsewhere to get the problem fixed. You have other options that are not fun. You can make a scene until they agree to fix it or you can sue them. I dislike either, but it would not hurt for you to seek legal advice for your area.

Let me know first how your meeting with the store manager goes and I can then give you more options. Perhaps you can send me a picture of you in the gown and I can give you some creative ideas of how to get the hem looking great.

Hang in there. This is not a disaster. It's just a big pain in what you would have rather been a good experience in your wedding plans. I know 4 weeks seems like not enough time, but I have fixed problems in much less time.

added June 2003

Just browsing and stumbled upon your site. I have a horror story in progress. I paid for 1/2 my dress from a bridal salon and it was ordered in Jan. 2003; they told me it would be here early April 2003. On May 9, I called to see where my dress was (no one had called me). They told me that the company who was making the dress never received the order but that they had sent the order. So now, they assure me that I will get the dress about 10 days before my wedding! They are being very confident but I don't trust them! Any ideas on how I should handle the situation..It is May 12 now and the 1000.00 dollar payment was processed on my credit card in January!!!! I feel like I'm in a corner and have no choice but to "wait and see". It's ruining my wedding experience. My wedding is June 28, 2003....What do you think???????


I know this sounds bad, but it happens now and then. It may not even be anyone's lack of proper attention either. This is the busy wedding season and sometimes orders get delayed. It is never good for a bride's nerves but it usually works out. My biggest concern is have they promised you to have your alterations finished in that 10 day period? It normally takes weeks to alter a gown. It certainty can be done in as little as one day with great diligence, but the work is usually spread out over a few weeks to allow for multiple fittings and a bride's busy schedule.

Do you have a back-up plan. Not that I think you will need one, but it will help your nerves. Many Bridal stores have lovely dresses that are available off the rack. It would not be your first choice, but it can be just as beautiful. You can choose a dress as a back-up and if the store will cooperate, make an arrangement to purchase it if the other doesn't show.

Do you know what your sales contract says about this situation? What does the store owe you if the gown does not show up on time? If this is a reputable store they are doing everything they can to make this work for you. I know their assurances are not helping you to trust them, but I'm sure from what you have said that they are working on the problem for you.

Have they given you a number at the manufacturer that you can call to talk directly? They may not have one, but it's worth asking. Many manufacturers will only accept calls from the store and not the customer, but they might if you ask. Talking to them directly may help to ease your mind about the whole thing.

Unfortunately, it's past the 90 day period to issue a chargeback through your credit card company, but you might want to call them anyway and talk, again to just give you something to do that might ease your mind.

Have you talked to your groom about this? You may not want to bother him with it or you may think he doesn't care about the nitty gritty of the wedding plans, but if you can't talk to him about anything, than why would you be marring him - in my humble opinion. Letting him help you work through this could help you two become closer. Many a groom is desperately wanting to be included in the plans but doesn't know how to tell his nerve racked bride. Just a thought.

I hope some of this has helped. I know it's hard and you so desperately want everything to be perfect, but it still can be a wonderful day. I have lived trough many difficult last minute troubles with brides, and it has always worked out fine. Things happen, but they work out. Actually, I think it better that it doesn't go too easy. Because just like life, weddings have to be lived and a new couple has to make it together. When it goes too easy, there's nothing to cement the marriage. Cement is hard, but it's a good, stable thing to have forming the foundation of your new life together.

If none of this helps go to your nearest bookstore and buy "It Was on Fire When I Lay Down on It" by Robert Fulghum. It's my favorite book of short stories. All of them are great, but read the stories on page 7 and 143.

Hang in there. It will be ok.

added November 2002

I bought a bridal gown at XYZ's Bridal shop. They told me I would need to get a corset bra for the dress. I would need it and my shoes for the fitting. I bought the bra and shoes and had them with my fitting. They measured the hem and pinned it. I was told to look in the mirrors and make sure it was what I wanted. The only other adjustment was to tighten the shoulder straps (the dress was an off the shoulder, no train style).

At the second fitting, when I try the dress on the shoulder elastic has not been adjusted and the slip attached to the dress is showing, the dress itself is too short. The shoulder elastic can be adjusted, but the dress hem cannot be lowered because to hem it, they have cut the material and then finished it so there is not material to lower. The seamstress is upset it is so short and tells me she will go on the floor and find another dress and begin again. She comes back 10 minutes later with slippers and ask “did you ever consider wearing slippers?” When I said I bought these shoes specifically for the dress she asked if I still had the receipt. She says she was unable to locate another one of the dresses.

Another alterations women came in and said we can take out some from the sides and it will drop to the right length. When I said it felt fine on the sides she said it was obviously too tight because it was puckering. They then told me to take my bra off and they pinned bra cups into the dress. They said this would also help with the length. When I return to the shop to try on the dress again, the hem is uneven; the sides touch the floor and the front does not. The alterations manager, says all wedding dresses are hemmed that way for walking room (it was not pinned that way on the first alterations). The dress is so loose on me I can move it around my body and when I walk it slips down and even the shoulder straps slide to my elbow. The dress also puckers around the waist. I was told that was the reason for letting it out, even though it felt good, they claimed it puckered because it was too tight. I felt comfortable with it before, it was not too loose but the hem was too short. Now the hem is not right and it is so loose after taking 5 steps it has slipped so low I can literally grab the bust area material and lift it an inch up.

I am very upset and tell them so. They say there is nothing they can do or will do because the dress looks okay. I have a scar on my breast from surgery to remove a tumor that did not show before when I tried on the dress, and now does show. With only wearing the dress and walking 10 feet it felt extremely uncomfortable because it was slipping and shifting with every move. To say I am dissatisfied is putting it mildly. My mother and I pinned the dress to the corset bra I had originally purchased just so I wouldn't loose it and I contacted my credit card company to refuse the alteration charges (I had only two weeks before my wedding so I did not have time to go to another store, pick out a dress and have them do proper alterations). Now the credit card company says I need a letter written by a bridal seamstress that will back my claim. I have pictures of the messy hem (it doesn't even lay flat, and the slip is unevenly cut), but how do I get a letter from a bridal seamstress, when I am not able to give them any business? Is there some group of seamstresses or what that I can appeal to?

Thank you for your time,

Oh Margaret, I am so sad to hear that this happened to you. I am too familiar with XYZ's Bridal and believe every word of your story. I can see that they did try to help you but there was so very much more that they could have done. If you have looked around my site much you may have seen the page on Bridal Store Policies. Several of the items on that page are because of XYZ's Bridal.

First, I do know that this particular Salon is having trouble hiring good seamstresses and does hire ladies not skilled enough in times of great need. You, I am afraid, may have become a victim of an inexperienced lady who cut the hem fabric before the second fitting, something that is usually NEVER done until the bride has refit the dress and approves of the hem. I see this as a distinct possibility because of the reaction you report the manager having. It may be no consolation to you, but I'd be willing to bet that seamstress is looking for another place of employment now.

She did try to fix the problem by finding you another dress, but they did not go far enough. She should have offered you any comparable dress in the store when a duplicate could not be had. Though it would not have been your first choice, you should have been given the opportunity to choose another similar and just as pretty gown.

Instead of doing what was obvious to me they try to fix the existing dress. Quite typical for what I understand of their policies. Maybe the dress was puckering at the sides, but if you were not objecting to them and the dress was comfortable, they should never have messed with the seams. And not every gown HAS to be hemmed as they described. It should be done as the bride wants.

I would love to help you out with the letter but I have to wonder if my previous experience with XYZ would make me unqualified in the eyes of your credit card company. This, I feel, makes me knowledgeable to understand your experience, but you also need a solid case. I do belong to a Sewing Organization and can find you someone to help if you are concerned with what might be conceived as a bias on my part.

I do hope your wedding went well and you are happily mated. Don't let this spoil your joy in your marriage. Believe it or not, some day you will tell this tale to friends and laugh about it.

added October 2002

I just bought my wedding dress from a reputable dress shop? It was too big and they assured me they could alter it to fit. They charged me $150 for the alterations and I left very unhappy. The problem is that the dress has a very wide, low scoop neck. I had expressed my concern about the neck being too loose as it would have a tendency to fall away from my body and expose my chest.

After 3 fittings (rushed fittings) they told me that that part of the dress could not be fixed. Because I am small busted they told me I would just have to make sure that I stood tall with my shoulders far back and the shoulders of the dress as far apart as they can be. The only problem with pulling the shoulders apart is that they hang on the tip of my shoulders and if I am not careful they will fall off.

Am I destined to be horribly uncomfortable on my wedding day. I have a feeling that the dress shop rushed me through the fittings because they are closing for renovations and a change of management and did not want me coming back after the new owners had taken over. Can this be fixed? I do not want to spend any more money but at this point I am willing to do almost anything to make sure I have the dress of my dreams on my special day. Any suggestions. Can I tape myself into the dress?


You may think the taping idea is silly, but it is done regularly. There are also spray glues that you use on your skin to hold things like necklines in place.

Can your dress be fixed? Maybe. Without seeing it I have a hard time answering. But I can tell you a few things that may or may not help.

First, most fitting problems can be fixed, but if you are wanting to change a design element you have another story. The dress you picked had a large neckline opening as a design element. This is not easily changed. You can take in the shoulder seam, which is often needed anyway. You can also try hand sewing elastic along the inside of the whole neckline. This will help it cling to the body, but might also make it pucker depending on the type of fabric and trims at the neckline. You can try threading a nylon strap or thread along the back of your neck from shoulder to shoulder to create an invisible stay to help you feel more comfortable with the wide opening. This is done in dance and skating costumes all the time.

I would also suggest adding some padding to your bust line. Are you wearing a long line bra? Many brides opt for bra cups that are sewn into the dress instead of a bra that can pinch and make you more uncomfortable if you are not used to wearing one. It sounds odd, but this might help the dress hang better and help the neckline opening set on your chest like it should. If you are a little smaller than the dress was designed for this will help smooth it out.

Next, it does not matter if you are small, medium or large busted, most nice wedding gowns are designed to fit properly when you are standing with good posture. That's chest lifted, shoulders set back and down slightly, back erect but not overly straight, butt tucked under your hips slightly so it is not sticking out. Your head may have to be shifted back also like you pushed on your chin with a finger. This will bring your ear in line with the center of your shoulder. If you feel like you are giving yourself a double chin, you've gone too far. Don't stand so stiff as a soldier would stand at attention, but you will feel that way if you are not accustom to it. The designers do it on purpose so you will look good on your special day. They did not do it to make you uncomfortable, but if standing with good posture is not a habit you have than it's not going to be easy. BUT - it is designed to make you look good. Many young ladies think their standing posture is not bad until they put on a bride's gown or maid's gown and see that the gown seems to make them look bad. It's just that thinking about posture is not an important thing in life when your clothing choices don't force the notion.

I have the feeling you are right about being rushed. It's so very easy for a bridal store to neglect taking the proper time to explain the options to you. I don't think they meant bad. I do think it a little odd that they charged you a flat rate for alterations. Most good places charge by what the dress needs done to it. Some need much more than others. On average, $200 is normal, but using it as a base for every bride is strange to me.

If I were you I would get a second opinion. Most good sewing professionals will see you and evaluate your gown without charge. Than you can decide if you can handle the added expense. There is a lot for you to think about here. Spending the added money may not be your best bet. If you are willing to send me your city and state, I can post a question for you on my professional sewing list and see if I can find you a good lady to meet with.

Once you have meet with her and gotten some advice from someone who can see the gown on you here are some things to think about:

1. Can I stand comfortably for my pictures? Pictures are very important to how you choose to alter the dress. They are your memories that will last long past the time you will forget how uncomfortable you were wearing that gown for all those hours. Standing still in a dress is very different than moving in it. Dancing, hugging, sitting, walking - all these things you will do and the dress has to do them with you. At times you may be not as comfortable as you would like, but you have to weigh that with your desire for the look you want.

I put a lot of value on comfort when it comes to wedding gowns. If you don't feel good, than how can you look good? I often advise ladies to let me make the dress a little less tight to add comfort. They always want a tiny waistline, but the risk of popping seams is not worth it. But this has to be weighed with your options for altering things you don't like about the design or fit. You may have to accept a degree of discomfort for the sake of the look you want or the inability of the dress to be changed.

2. Am I going to be dancing, eating, etc.? The activities you plan for the reception may change the way you alter the dress. If you are not dancing, you may opt for a tighter fit because you don't need to move so freely. Hugging is a big activity you will want to be able to do, so arm freedom is a biggie. Many design elements in gowns today restrict arm movement. Your wide neckline is one. Giving someone a nice view when you only meant to show familiar affection may not be your idea of a good thing. Than again, many brides do obsess about this. A wide neckline does not equate with guests staring at your cleavage. You have to force yourself to see it as they do. You looking down at your neckline are getting a much different view than someone standing in front of you is getting. Put your dress on a dress form and stand back to look. You will be amazed at the difference you see, even than looking in a mirror.

3. What is my budget? You have to weigh this added expense - that could be a lot - with the other things you could use this money for. Sure, the wedding gown is the most important item to spend money on in making your wedding plans. When the gown is right everything else just seems to fall into place. But there is a point when you have to ask yourself if you aren't going overboard about it. Only you can answer that.

Well, have I babbled enough? I didn't mean to be so wordy, but you got me to thinking about so much that I feel is important about how wedding gowns fit. I hope my thoughts have helped you some. It is really hard to give advice without seeing the gown in question. Who knows, if I did see you in this gown I might say you look simply beautiful and you should not change a thing. I do hope your wedding day is a bit off so you can have time to think about all this though. Rushing your decisions is a big taboo. After all I say about moderation and honestly asking yourself if you might be making a bigger thing out of this than it is, I do still hold that the decisions you make concerning your special wedding gown are the most important. Don't let anyone rush you.

I wish you all the best ;)


Got any questions or comments?

Bridal Advice SSI
Bridal Index | Bridal Shopping Rules | More Shopping Rules | Bride's Maid Shopping Rules | Strapless Gown 101 | Store Policies | My Policies | Bridal Fittings | Alteration Cost | Bustles | Impossible? | Bride & Salon Advice | General Q & A | Bustle Q & A | Bridal Related Links | Bridal Business Studio

Bridal Q&A SSI

Q & A
Busts and Bodices | Before You Order | Botched Alterations | Buying from . . . | Cleavage & Necklines | I Just Want to Change . . . | Cheers & Jeers | Why the High Cost | Sweating the Details | On a Diet? | Finding the Right Alterationist | Do I Have To? | Hemming | Politically Incorrect Answers | Lace-up Backs | Maids and Others | Moms and Dads | Not My Job | Other Stuff | I'm Pregnant!!!!!! | Refunds | Bridal Salon Issues | Selecting the Right Alterationist | Skirts | It's Just Too Big | It's Just Too Small | Doing Your Own Alterations| Sewing Your Gown from Scratch | Gown Care |

Main SSI

Got any questions or comments?

The Bridal Studio Beautiful Bustles The Home Pro Studio Duct Tape Double Dress Forem Studio

This site created and maintained by: Leanna Studios
Copyright 1994 by Leanna Studios. All Rights Reserved.