Cheers & Jeers


What I write on this site is taken from my experiences over the years. It is my views of how things have been for me and my opinions of how things ought to be. Anyone is welcome to agree or disagree with me. I have received letters that don't ask questions and have not been sure what page to post them on, so I have created this page for comments written to either criticize or congratulate me and my site.


added May 2011

Hi! I just found your website. You are amazing! I have been sewing for years, and I make alterations on formals / wedding gowns. And I am so lucky to have found your site. I now feel more confident in executing the wedding bustle I am currently working on. The dress is heavy beaded and I was a bit apprehensive to even start the bustle after I hemmed the front of the dress. The dress skirt in not very full and I needed to view 'more' techniques...and your site provided me the different bustles.
I now feel more educated!  YAY me!
Thanks for the great information.
My best to you!

added April 2011

Hi Leanna,

I just wanted to say thank you for all of your helpful information and the pictures!  I have been sewing for 40+ years and have done a ton of alterations but was asked to bustle a wedding dress for my nephew’s bride and, having only done a bustle once, was looking on the internet for help.  Your site is the only one that is truly full of good information and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your knowledge!  I appreciate the time it took you to set up the site and write all that information down.  It has been most helpful.

Thank you again, Peg

added January 2011

Hello Leanna,

I just wanted to express my thanks to you for all the helpful information you've provided on your website, especially with regards to shopping and the preparedness and cost tips for alterations. You've answered many of my questions, and even educated me on a few points I had not even considered (such as choosing the bra before the dress)!

Thank you so much for taking the time to share this information to the Internet public. Your special knowledge and advice dedicated to a relaxing and *comfortable* wedding day is most helpful to all of us brides to be!

Best of luck, Michelle

added September 2010

Hello Leanna, I was just browsing your pictures of your basement and then your den that was set up as a dressing room.  I love them all.  As a seamstress, I only wish I could have such a wonderful space like yours.  I just have a small corner in the hallway, and a coat closet.  I dream of having a house with a space I could call my own sewing room.  I’m happy for you that you finally have a work area you are satisfied with.  I was inspired by your pictures and have decided to buy a little cabinet with small drawers like yours for my area.  Thank you for your inspirations, and happy sewing! Ana

added July 2010

Dear Leanna,

Many, many thanks for your detailed response!

You are so kind to take the time to advise clueless young women like myself, who are embarking on the huge task of coordinating a wedding, figuring out formal clothes etc. Your advice is great: professional and re-assuring. I will use your suggestions. I will also use your online website as a benchmark for professionalism.

Many thanks again! -- and I hope you are still dancing. :-)


added February 2010

Hi Leanna,

I am a home based professional dressmaker and when I discovered your website last year it was like Hallelujah!!  It was a god send when I so badly needed it and I thought here is someone who is expressing everything I thought and felt about being in the business and I no longer felt so isolated.  I have been doing my own business for 3 and a half years since I yet again lost a job due to cheap imports from China.  Whilst it has been harder than I thought I persevered because I knew I was good and I had to keep going.  I am currently looking in have a separate work studio built in my backyard along the line of your current studio which made me start drooling when I first saw it.  I was so envious of your custom built cutting table and I thought I must get one of those!!  

I wanted to say thank you for creating such a great website.

Kind regards, Leisa

Hi Leisa,
Thank you for writing. It's so nice when folks let me know they have found something helpful on my site. I wish you all the best with your new studio project! 

added February 2010

Hi Leanna
I was really enjoying your website until I got to the section on bridal shop salespeople. You make it sound like we're all ogres!. I love my job to bits, I don't get paid commission and I'm a dressmaker to boot - everything you said that we're not. I know there are plenty of dodgy salespeople out there - but your article is saying that we're all the same. At the shop where we work, we pride ourselves on our reputation of being honest and friendly and we do get a lot of repeat customers (for example someone who was maybe a bridesmaid before but is now getting married herself).
Please consider altering your wording so that people know that the whole bridal wear industry isn't the same.
Thanks, Julie

Hi Julie,
I think you are to be congratulated on being one of the rare sales people who are doing it right and your store for being the way my site says it should be.
I do think you need to re read my pages. I do not say that "All sales people are alike". I just read what I wrote and it very carefully says that there are good ones out there. The point of that page is to worn brides about the bad ones and to warn them strongly because brides are often starry eyed and don't listen well to advice.
I can't tell you how many times a bride has come to me telling me what her sales person said to her that I have to tell her was total bunk. She ends up shocked at the price I have to charge her to do the work some sales person told her would be easy and cheep just to sell her a dress and get her commission. It happens way more often than I think you have experienced because your store is a good one so there is no reason for you to see this as much as I do.
I have worked as a sales person and understand the pressures to keep your sales numbers up. My store didn't pay "commissions" and we were instructed to inform the customers that we were not "commissioned", but our sales were carefully counted and we were judged by what they called, "productivity". If you sold over productivity by a certain number, you got a bonus in the next paycheck. If you didn't meet your "productivity goal" each week, you didn't get a raise in your base pay at your evaluation time. I thought it was worse than not getting extra pay for your commission. It was a penalty for not selling as much as the store said you should.
Stores have to make a profit to survive and there is nothing wrong with that. They have to have some kind of measure to judge if their sales people are doing a consistent job. I am here to explain to brides that they need to be careful, teach them things they don't know they might encounter because the stores are set up the way they are.
I have a very large section of my site explicitly for bridal workers for discussing how to manage bridal customers better. Here, the other side of the coin is discussed and I get just as many letters as I do from brides. You might not have noticed this section.

added January 2010

I work in the Hollywood area as a seamstress to the stars as well as to everyday people. No matter who I do alterations for, the rules never change on how to do things properly as well as creatively. Thank you so much for the insight on different bustles for dresses. It has helped me tremendously.

Sincerely, Gabrielle

Hi Gabrielle,

It's so cool you have written. I've never been to California. I bet it's cool working there with all the great variety.

Thank you for letting me know my site has been of benefit to you.

added January 2010

Thank you so much for your great information on bustles. My daughter selected a white tufted wedding dress with a train for her upcoming Senior Presentation in National Charity League. However, the dress cannot have a train for the event. I am an experienced sewer but had no idea how to approach this task. Your detailed description, pictures and explanation are fantastic and have renewed my confidence that I can accomplish this task. Thank you so much for taking the time to put this information on your website. We really appreciate it.

Thank you so much for writing. It's so neat to hear from folks who have found something useful on my site.

added January 2010

Thank you so much for posting pictures of your workroom.  we've just replace the carpet in our upstairs "bonus room" with wood and since that is my room for sewing and doing floral arrangements I've been searching for sewing or craft room designs.
What you've done for your workroom looks so functional and is very appealing. 
I want you to know how much I appreciate finding a space designed so well for sewing.  You put a lot of thought into making it an room that invites creativity.  Especially well planned is the cutting table you had made by a contractor. 
Merry Christmas
Gloria Smith

Hi Gloria,
It's so nice to hear from folks who have found something useful on my site. I hope your Holidays were wonderful and your New Year is full of great sewing projects! 

added December 2009

Thank you so much for your great information on bustles.  My daughter selected a white tufted wedding dress with a train for her upcoming Senior Presentation in National Charity League.  However, the dress cannot have a train for the event.  I am an experienced sewer but had no idea how to approach this task.  Your detailed description, pictures and explanation are fantastic and have renewed my confidence that I can accomplish this task.  Thank you so much for taking the time to put this information on your website.  We really appreciate it.

Thank you so much for writing. It's so neat to hear from folks who have found something useful on my site.

added October 2009

Leanna,  Your website has been more helpful to me than you could ever know.   I have been a seamstress for profit for about 20 years.  You are listed in my “favorites” so when I do get a coffee break, I scan though your different pages.  

Many of your ideas and policies are things I already follow, but it is encouraging to know that Im doing things right.   When you work for yourself, you never know.  If course, I so busy, I must be doing something right.   

I have worked four kids though college doing this, my last is a senior this year!  You would think I would have a PH. D by now ;o)   

Thank you for your encouragement!   Donna from Ohio 

Hi Donna,
Thank you for the lovely letter. It's so nice to hear from someone that my site has been a help!
My son will be going to collage next year. I think I have enough to cover things. The work load doesn't look like it's going to let up any time soon, so I'm sure we'll be ok.
I wish you all the best in your business. 

added July 2009

Dear Leanna,

I just read your shopping rules guide and thought I would compliment you on it.  My best friend got married several years ago and as her MOH I learned from her struggles. 

I have to say that after dealing with horrible service dealing with David's Bridal was like a breath of fresh air.  Her and I had both worked retail and understood that we needed to take the salesperson's pitches with a grain of salt. 

That being said we never once felt like we were getting 'the pressure buy pitch'  They were wonderful about making sure we all looked our best and were very honest and knowledgeable about the alteration process-even to the point of bringing out the seamstress to answer our questions.

When it came time to plan my own wedding I went straight to david's.  Again, the consultant I worked with worked with me to make sure the gown was something I wanted that would fit with few alterations.  She even steered me from more expensive gowns because of simpler silhouettes looking better!

You said that repeat customers don't happen in the bridal industry, but recommendations do.  Please let brides know to spread the word if they found someone they love!

A Happy And Beautiful Bride

Hi Liz,
I'm so glad to hear you had a good experience. Chain stores seem to have a harder time giving good customer service. I'm not sure why. I do know that David's has some policies that they implement just so their customer service is good. They don't always work because people are human and don't always do the right thing for the customer. Then sometimes the policies don't work in all situations and it's hard for folks to act individually when policies are too strong.
Anyway, thanks for the great news that it worked for you.

added June 2009

Thank you for your comments.  I am a pregnant bridesmaid and its not

easy coming up with a solution.  ( I really wouldn't mind just being
there for my friend, and helping with another task).  But that is not
what she decided and so I am going to try to make this work. Thanks
again and I took no offense to your recommendations.


Hi Katy,

Thank you for your kind words. I do get a lot of guff about my comments about pregnancy. I tried really hard to say what I felt was needful without being offensive but many people do write to me expressing their upset at my ideas. Thank you for not being offended and I hope you can have a joyful day for yourself while you are doing something very loving for your friend!

added December 2008


I came upon your web-site by accident and so glad I did!

 I also have a studio in my basement and have done home sewing, specializing in Bridal for many years.   I need a reminder and encouragement that I am doing things the right way  by remaining professional in all areas even though I work “at home”.  

  My forth and last child is in the final years of college due to my sewing!   I don’t advertise nor lack for work.    I am booked for weeks and months in advance, with a waiting list during my real busy times.   Its been good

Thank you again, for your efforts to help by writing about your experiences. 

Donna from central Ohio

Thank you for writing. It's always good to hear that someone has benefited from my site.

added May 2008

I just wanted to write and say that much of the commentary in this article is very good and information brides need to know. I have been in the business of custom making and altering bridal gowns for 31 years....I also own a "bridal salon"......I just wanted to ask you if you make money and pay your bills doing what you do...? 

If so why is it wrong for "bridal salons" to make money as well......?? Also keep in mind that there are many other products one purchases where the sales staff work on, jewelry, appliances and many more.....are they not supposed to make money either....? We live in a capitalist nation and anyone you purchase anything from (including you) is in business to make money. I (and many other salon owners) would appreciate not being berated for trying to pay our mortgage and feed our unless you work for free please change the attitude of an otherwise very informative article.

Thank you, Victoria

You read a lot of things into my article that are not there. I never said it was "wrong" to sell by commission, nor did I say that bridal stores do not have the right to make a profit. I am merely stating that this is the way the stores are run and brides need to understand that this means they may be subjected to highly persuasive selling tactics that I do believe have no place in any legitimate establishment who should be looking out for the interests of their clients while they earn their profits. I do not think that a charming sales person has the right to ply their talents on any consumer just to make a sale. These people do just about anything to sell what they have to sell instead of helping the bride find what she wants. I have often found myself in the predicament of discovering that an item I bought was not as it was told by the sales person. Getting stuck with a frying pan that does not suit my needs is a repairable problem, but getting stuck with a wedding gown that you are not able to exchange because a sales person was misleading of an unsuspecting bride, is simply wrong. I routinely have brides telling me that "the sales person said this could be altered" only to have to tell them that it can be after $400 worth of work.

No, I will not be changing one word on my site. Making money in business is a good thing. Using deceitful selling practices to do so is NOT. Brides need to know that not all sales persons know what they are saying. Some are simply misinformed or ignorant about the gowns they are selling or the alterations processes possible, but others simply lie in very persuasive ways to get brides to buy a gown so they can make their commission. I have worked in a commission based store and I know it happens. I will not stop warning brides to be mind full of what they are facing. They need to know that the bridal industry's NO RETURN policy is very real and they need to make an informed choice before they plunk down their money.

added March 2008

I am a small store owner and wrote to you several years were very helpful when bridezilla made me feel like quitting a;; those years ago/ I have helped so many achieve their dream look thanks to your reassurance that I handled her situation correctly. Thank you. We do allot of pregnant bridesmaids and never avoid them because it's a fact of life. We suggest ordering theirs last and as close to the date as possible. Of course adding the extra fabric and the dress must be an a-line otherwise it doesn't work. We add just a triangular gusset and it works well but we order several sizes larger too allowing for mother nature to take it's course hormonally. A wedding is a joyful event please don't discourage the pregnant maid to sit the you know everything and anything is possible.You sound the a magician so with you I'm sure a miracle is an everyday occurrence. God bless.

No where on my site does it even suggest that I think a pregnant lady has to "sit on the sidelines". I list several options for dealing with this problem. I think it is mean of you to suggest that I am trying to discourage ladies just because one very legitimate option is to give the pregnant lady a different place in the wedding plans than being a maid. There are many wonderful things she can do to be involved with the wedding without being a maid.

I will not be taking this option off my site just because some people think it awful. I have helped many pregnant maids and brides fit into their dresses over the years and I have one large page of advice and suggestion of how to fit dresses when a maid is pregnant. My message to brides is that this situation adds stress and cost to her wedding and she does have the choice to avoid it and still have her loved one in her plans by simply making a different place for her. I am not evil or uncaring or mean for making this suggestion. I just have the guts to do so when no one else will let a bride know that it is OK to look at other options for her wedding plans.

added January 2008

Thank you for such an informative site. As you know, a lot of us learn these techniques only by another seamstress sharing her knowledge. In a small town, competition is strong and some people do not want to share their knowledge. Learning new skills can be a problem. Thank You for such a well developed site with many ideas. It has really helped me to think "outside the box" on bustles, which I before saw only as certain styles. I now see how creative you can be and can give myself permission to do what it takes to fix the problem as long as it makes the dress, LOOK LIKE IT WAS DESIGNED WITH THAT FEATURE and that it wasn't an add on. Thank You, I will continue to revisit your site for new information. Sincerely, April

Thank you for the note April. It's nice to know that someone is learning something from my site.

added January 2008

I just wanted to let you know what an inspiration you are. Please don't stop what you are doing! I am a home sewer and everyone is telling me I should start a business b/c they like my quality. I have been thinking of starting an alterations business to include teaching sewing lessons to teenagers. Your website is loaded with answers to many of my questions and fears.

Regards, -Marie

added December 2007

I am amazed at the range of information you offer, as well as the depth in which you cover each topic! It’s a shame that every bridal salon doesn’t share your perspective and deal as honestly and as realistically as you do. You are providing such terrific information to brides!

Susanne, Vacaville, CA

added December 2007

I found your site when googling bustles last night, (searching to see if my technique for a unique gown was in keeping with other seamstress's ideas,) and was pleased to find such a great site! I have a sewing studio in my home, as well, and it is always a pleasure to see how other seamstresses set up their businesses and to discover what their business practices are. I've been doing it for years now, and have most elements down to a regular pattern. But, when I first started it was so difficult to find techniques and prices for the alterations I was less familiar with. It was nice to see that we are on the same page with most of our policies, and now I don't feel so guilty about my prices, because they are in line with your own; generally they are a little cheaper, but my town doesn't support as lucrative of a market as a big city, so it evens out, I think! I need to write up a brochure similar to your explanations of your policies and perspectives on the bridal industry, because I find many women have little comprehension of how time-consuming bridal sewing is (as is all tailoring, for that matter,) and how much skill and eye to detail are required for quality sewing work. I am finally weeding out the clients who want to pay $3 for pant hems, and expect their garments back, overnight, with no extra charge! Then there are the great clients who thank you profusely and tip well and beyond their bill. You never know what people are going to come up with, next!

Good luck with your current projects! I'll definitely bookmark your page for the future. It's a wonderful reference and a pleasure to hear about a fellow colleague's experiences!

Thanks, Larissa

Thank you for your encouraging comments. Doing alterations can be such a isolated and lonely occupation. It really helps to know that there are others out there who face the same questions and situations.

added December 2007

I just happened to look at your web site and was greatly disappointed. I have been altering bridal gowns for over 20 years. I have taken gowns in from a size 16 to a size 4. I have also let them out, maybe having to replace panels, up 6 sizes. I have also worked for 5 bridal salons~ and yes they do want to please a bride and make their day special. No they are not out there to make a buck. I can tell you this because 4 out of the 5 of them went out of business because they couldn't support themselves. There really is no money in the Bridal Gown Industry. I know this because I owned one myself. People who operate one lose money trying to please a bride. I doubt you will let your viewers see this!

I get letters like yours about once a year and I have posted some of them. There are hundreds of letters on the site, so many that I can't even tell you where any certain one is. I doubt you have read everything or you would not have accused me so harshly. You have certainly not seen this page:

I don't believe that it states anywhere on my site that good and decent bridal salons don't exist. I say in one page that I am happy to be associated with one such good salon. I am here to educate brides about all aspects of the bridal industry, even the truth that many salons are not going to have the bride's desires as their first priority. Just as you clearly say, businesses have to make money to survive. A Bridal salon can't do just any alteration. Making gowns that are more than 2 sizes too big or small is a tedious and time consuming operation that brides do not comprehend the extreme difficulty. They do not understand that the choices they make will cost them a lot of money they weren't counting on. All consumers need to be responsible for their shopping choices, including brides. I am here to inform them of things that can be done and why they should avoid doing other things. I try to teach both sides of each issue I am asked about for I have been on both sides.

I am happy that you had the good fortune to work in a salon that did care and you are obviously very skilled in your craft to know how to do such difficult operations. You must know that these types of alterations usually come with a big price tag both monetarily and in the changes that often need to be made to design. Quite often, brides don't want these. They want the impossible. The exact same dress only 10 sizes bigger. I am here to enlighten them that these situation are not as simple as they are thinking.

Normally, after I have answered a letter, it is put into a folder on my computer until I have time to do postings on the site. I do my best to answer letters in a few days, but once written, it could sit in the posting folder for months for it's just not as important for me to get it up as it is to get that one bride her answer. I do have live customers who are my first priority. When there is a lull in sewing work, I work on my site. But, for you, I will be posting this as soon as I send it off to you because I think you need proof that I am doing what I can to be honest and state my views as my experience has taught me. You and anyone else reading this may have a differing point and can tell me so. I have stated that all my postings are my opinion and can be take or not at the reader's discretion.

Look for your letter at:

added October 2007

Thanks so much for your sight. It has been a God send for me. I've been doing wedding gown alterations p/t out of my home for several years and have always had to guess as to how to bustle the variety of gowns out there. Now I know the official names for what I've been doing. You've already saved me more than once. I recently used the draw string bustle and the effect was gorgeous. The gown looked like whipped cream (15 pulls in all ). Anyway just wanted to say thank you. Lauri

Thank you for taking the time to write. It's always nice to hear that I have helped someone.

The names I use are not all "official". "French", "Underbustle", and "Overbustle" are widely used, but Ballroom and Pick-up are names I made up. So are a lot of the terms I use to describe the way I design bustles. I needed words that I could use to explain these things and there really weren't any out there, so I made them up.

I wish you the best with your business.

added October 2007

Hello!! Thank you for such an amazing site! The information is priceless. I have an alteration business and as I sat here reading your pages, I was literally nodding my head and thinking "exactly!" I cannot thank you enough for putting this out there to brides and the whole entourage. I think you will be getting alot more traffic, because your professionalism,sound advice, and honesty is refreshing. Speaking as a seamstress and tailor, To anyone who reads this post: This is the real deal when it comes to information!! I personally have gleaned some business info from your site to apply to myself, and I'm sure will be the better for it.

As my mother told me- who is a Master Tailor and my Grandma as well...."We are a dying breed, fewer women sew because they need to.. So always do your best because you work speaks louder than ANY advertisement." Thanks again! Heidi

Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments. I get so many questions that I often wonder if anyone is actually ready this stuff I write and learning anything.

added September 2007

I just read your bio (after looking at all your studios) and my heart is broken for your loss. I just couldn't click close without telling you that. Yes, Daniel needs you. This is all still so very fresh. Yes, you feel like you died too, a part of you did Leanna, a part of Daniel did too. Hold on. Keep your faith. Allow your friends to love and care for you. I'll pray for you both now and each time you cross my mind. My heart does ache with you. My name is Ruth and I live in Indiana. I wish you well. I just wanted you to know.

Hi Ruth,
Thank you for the kind letter and your prayers. I do have many friends who are helping out with so much. I am very grateful to everyone.
I'm curious as to what brought you to my site. Are you designing a sewing room? I hope to not have to do that again. I am happy with my space right now. I only wish I could find a trusted contractor to fix my work table.
Thank you again for taking the time to write,  

added August 2007

Hi Leanna,

As I bride-to-be I stumbled across your site and just love it. Your practical tips about dress shopping and alterations (and the admonishment to stop dieting once the dress fits or is fitted) are outstanding! I passed on the scary bridal dress stores and went with a pale blue prom dress by the rather economical Alyce designs for $300; it fits perfectly at present but I wanted to drop another 8 lbs before the wedding... After reading your advice realized that a) nobody's going to notice if I weigh 8 lbs less except that my dress will look baggy, and b) nobody's going to care, either. Thanks for everything you give back to the world of dressmaking (and bellydancing) through your great site.

Thanks! Christa

added August 2007

I was sent a link to your site from another bridal shop.

I enjoyed it until I read your page about bridal salon policies. You obviously don’t understand business if you think bridal shops should take returns for any reason. Wedding gowns are expensive and are usually ordered to the specifics of each bride.

Would you refund the money you did on alterations just because someone cancelled the wedding? You did the work, you want to get paid. If we order a dress for a specific bride, we should get paid for it too.

Just thought I’d send my comments since you were asking. Lynanne

Oh, but I do understand these reasons. You obviously have not read everything on my site. Bridal stores have every right to not accept a return if the wedding is cancelled or the bride just changed her mind or any other silly reason. My criticism is with the stores that make mistakes and do not offer any type of compensation, hiding behind their "No Returns" policy. It lets them insist that brides pay megabucks for alterations that would not be necessary if they did their job correctly. You would not believe the stories I hear from brides stuck with gowns that are the wrong size, the wrong color, not hemmed correctly because of the negligence of the bridal store staff. The worst are the sales people who lie to get a bride to buy a gown that is not fixable to what she wants saying, "Of course that can be altered." The brides can do nothing once they get to the alteration lady and she tells them the sales person didn't know what they were advising when they assure the bride that certain something could be fixed.

My site is here to educate brides of what they are getting into so they can more wisely select a gown that is right for them, not just a gown some sales person wants to sell. There is a place in my pages where I commend a few local bridal stores for having better policies than the norm. You can not tell me that the average store is more interested in helping brides find the right gown for her than they are in selling what they have on their rack. If a dress is not what the bride wants they will cajole as best they can to get her to buy it anyway. That's their job. My job is to make the gown right. My job is easier when I can start with a gown that is a close fit and designed for what the bride has dreamed of for her wedding. If I can not have that it will cost that bride much more for her alterations. My site plainly educates brides of this so they know how to shop better.

I make no apologies for my strong stances on these issues. My opinions are there for people to either learn from or disregard.

To answer your question, I have worked with brides, maids and others through sad situations and have given discounts, even accepting no money, for things beyond their or my control.

I’m sure there are stores out there that take advantage of brides.

We do not. Yes, I would rather have a happy bride than make money. I’m happy to help a bride find whatever dress she wants, but once it is ordered, it is hers. Of course I do all the alterations myself, so if there is a sizing problem, or most other problems, I can fix it. I do not charge for alterations if there is a problem on our end (like the manufacturer sent the wrong size), but do charge very minimal fees for typical alterations.

After reading your site I felt you were slamming bridal shops for not accepting returns, even if it is something like a groom with cold feet. Probably because I am more interested in helping brides than making money, I don’t make a lot of money. I can not accept returns if someone cancels a wedding though. It’s not my fault (or my vendor’s) and I can’t pay for it.

Wish I had a seamstress in my area. I can’t find anyone here who sews anymore. Lynanne

Maybe it's because most of the emails I get are complaints from brides that I tend to take their side, see their problems as unnecessary if the store only did the job right and get way too upset at stores I have no experience with. Maybe my words are a bit strong at times, but I have sought to teach brides that they can't just treat this purchase like they are used to. They have to take the time to be sure they make an informed choice. Some brides walk around with stars in their eyes and don't bother thinking of the realities of what they are doing. I'm sure you have seen this.

You are right that I am slamming a bit. I started this section of my site after working with a sweet lady and her daughter who was going to be a junior bride's maid in her cousin's wedding. I could tell by their garments that they had little money and by their demeanor that they would rather not be spending what little they had on a unnecessary dress that will not get used again. The daughter was 14 and about a size 22. They had bought the largest size available at the store they went to, a size 18, and were told that it could be altered. The sales lady told them that since the daughter was quite short, fabric from the hem could be used to piece the side seams. Though this is true, the dress was satin. I explained why you don't want to do this with satin, how turning it will make it look like a different color.

I dislike making gussets under normal circumstances, but doing so for this young, shy, low self esteem girl was unthinkable. I felt it would scream, "Hey, I'm so fat they couldn't find a dress to fit me." I got so upset I offered to call the store and try to convince them to let this lady exchange the dress for one I could alter. The sales lady insulted me by saying I probably didn't know how to do gussets. I tried to explain why you don't want to do this with satin and she hung up on me.

I gave the Mom a few stores to go to that would treat her right and she did find a dress I could alter. I did it for her at no charge. I just could not force her to spend more money after buying a second dress. It helped me to help her out but I was still very upset with the first store. I sat down that night and started writing about all the things I had experienced in my 20 years working with brides. It helped me much to think I might help someone before they made a poor purchase.

I do know that much on my site is worded strongly. I have rewritten a lot since then to try to make my information balanced. I do get many angry letters calling me to task about one point or another. Sometimes I rethink my opinion and sometimes I defend it strongly. I see it as a good thing. I get to meet lovely people like you. Thank you so very much for taking the time to write and letting me know that there is at least one store out there that really does care.

added July 2007

OH man, what good suggestions for brides. I can't tell you how many times, I've ask a bride about her under garments and TOLD her the right ones have to positively be bought.
You suggestions are right on!!!! They should be copied off and put in every bridal gallery fitting room in America.
I have done alterations since I was 14 yrs old, bridal and after 5:00 wear, have learned sewing initially from my grandmother about age 5 and taking every sewing class I could.
I was surprised to find out that my prices are very much inline with what your charge, and I bustle much the very same way. Your site is awesome.
Am off to fit a gown right now. Thanks for ALL your good info. Dayna Carlson

Thank you for the encouraging words. I get so many emails from brides asking all kinds of silly questions I often wonder if there's anyone giving any brides good advice out there. Yes, I do really tell brides over the phone that if they do not show up in the proper undergarments I will refuse to fit them AND if they show up without the right undergarments I do reschedule them. Sometimes, they will have to make a new appointment that might not be convenient to them. Most take it well and understand but I am so amazed at the few who still show up with a strapped bra to fit a strapless gown. I try to be kind because it's just that they do not understand that it makes a big difference, but I am firm because I want my work to always be to my standards.

I worry sometimes at my writings on the site sounding harsh, but some one has to say this stuff. I've just written more stuff about brides dieting and becoming pregnant. These ladies need to know that the choices they are making have consequences they are not acknowledging. I do try to keep my comments to the fitting of the gown, but it reflects so very much on these bride's readiness for marriage that I do often say things that I think may be overstepping my job in other's sight. Oh well. It is my site and I can say what I feel is important to say. I get angry letters at times. I do my best to answer every comment with the same measured responce.

Thank you again

added May 2007

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I just found your website and was thrilled to see the different ways you've created bustles. What you've shown helped me feel much better about the bustle I created for my daughter-in-law to be's gown. I signed up to do the bustle for her gown, as I thought it would save her a little money and time before the wedding. I thought, how hard could this be, I've been sewing for about forty (40) years and envisioned that ballroom bustle you described. However, when I actually started to work on it, I was in total stress. Her gown is more a-line with a shorter train. When I tried the ballroom style, it pulled the sides up really funny. So I sat and looked at the back of the gown for two (2) days before I just started working some pick up points to create a lower bustle. It was beautiful pinned, especially that I was able to work it so the appliques fell nicely. My next dilemma was how to affix them. I found little bows with pearl centers and sewed them over the hooks. With all of the appliques and beading, those bows disappeared. I guess I'll end up hooking her up before the reception, because I'll be the only one to know where the hooks are. Any way I just wanted to tell you what a wonderful website you have and to keep showing us such neat tricks of the trade. I've saved your site in my favorites because I know I'll have another project one day where your info will come in handy.

Thanks again, Sandy

I can't help but giggle at what you wrote. I too will stare at things I can't figure out for hours and even days before a great idea comes to me. Your solutions sounds lovely. I'm sure your daughter-in-law was very happy. Thank you for sharing it with me. I just might have a gown that I can use it on some day.

added April 2007


I wanted to let you know that your page about bustling wedding dresses is wonderful! I did a lot of Google searching to find out what my bustle options are, and yours is by far the BEST!

The pictures and descriptions are really, really good. And I especially like how the pictures show the front of the dress reflected in the mirror. It helps to see what the dress looks like when the bustle is up.

I will be a September bride and almost have my dress. I have "The Great Bustle Debate" page book-marked and printed in color so I can reference it once my dress arrives.

Thank you so much for putting that page together. It is excellent!

Sincerest regards,
Haymarket, VA

added February 2007

Dear Leanna,

I have read you site in the past and am currently digesting it again in detail.

I wish to thank you for all the time and effort you have put into your site. The information, the pictures, the advice and the realistic approach to sewing and to life is invaluable.

My mother taught me sew when I was very young and I have always had fun designing and fixing things. I am now in my early thirties and my "just for friends" sewing, altering and designing is now growing into a part-time business.

Your site has given me not only information, but advice and confidence. I feel better about my understanding of my abilities and my limitations, as well as feeling much more, well, frankly the word I am looking for is "justified", in charging my clients more than a minimum wage for my work. I have skills, experience, and patience which is worth a fair remuneration.

So far I have worked with mostly wonderful people who understand that while I can't do everything they might envision, I can do a lot, and that it is worth their while to be part of the process but also to trust me.

I would not say that I am up to your caliber of workmanship yet, but I am learning with every project.

Thank you again. For your time, your experience, and your willingness to share.

growing as a seamstress, designer, and alterationist in beautiful British Columbia

Sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I've been busy with wedding season.
Thank you for the kind words. It was so sweet of you to write. I am so glad my site has been a help to you. 



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