Sweating the Details


It's so easy for a bride who is concentrating on making her dream wedding become a reality, to focus too much on miniscule things. Most of this stuff is never even noticed by the guests at the wedding. It's perfectly ok to be the type of person who is detail oriented but if you let this turn into a situation that stresses out you and your loved ones, it's not healthy and it does not keep you on the path to a successful wedding day.

We've all heard the term "Bridezilla". It's become a nickname for a bride who is so bossy and critical of details that she is stressing out everyone in her vicinity. Most brides who are fussy about their wedding plans are simply being properly conscientious of needful things. The line from proper care to compulsive obsession is an easy one to cross. Many brides don't even realize they have crossed it until a loved one points it out to them.

This is supposed to be a happy time. If you find yourself continually unhappy, it's time to examine your attitude. If you can truthfully look at your actions from your loved one's perspective and say that you are treating them with the type of kindness that love dictates than the stresses making you unhappy are outside you. If you can not say this, than consider examining your heart to see if you are not putting too much into the details of things and not enough into the people you are sharing this time with.

added August 2007

Hello there,

I have a Demetrios wedding dress which fits perfectly. Right of of the bag! However, after a couple of fittings, the dress seems slightly larger than usual. I have been sweating and moving around in it a bit during my fitting so maybe this is the cause. I've already had my 2nd fitting and now I am worried that when the wedding day comes it will be even looser. There is no corset, just a zipper so it would require the seamstress to take in the bodice. Should I have her do this?

Also, will sending the dress to the dry cleaners shrink up the fibers? Should I even do this before the wedding? The bodice has a lot of bead work and embroidery.

Any questions you can answer would be helpful. I love your website! Thanks, Jenna

You might have lost weight without noticing it. This happens quite often due to the stress of wedding planning. Even if your weight has not changed your body might have shifted it around. It depends on how uncomfortable you are as to if you should have it taken in or not. Most brides want their gowns way too tight. Having a little breathing room is not a bad thing. You are going to be in that gown for many hours. It needs to be comfortable.

Having the gown cleaned should not shrink it. You do not have to do this before the wedding. If you want to spend the money to of it you can, but it's totally unnecessary unless the gown is visible dirty.

added May 2007

Dear Leanna,
I recently bought a dress for my October wedding in a discount store which sells sample dresses from a big bridal salon in my area. The gown looked to be in a very good condition when I bought it, but since bringing it home I noticed some imperfections that weren't obvious: on one sleeve (which is short and entirely made of netting with embroidery/beading on it), there are two small holes in the netting, and the embroidery looks like it had fallen off and was reattached rather carelessly. On the back, there used to be embroidery on both sides of the zipper. One side had fallen off, so I took off the other side in order to make it symmetrical, but now there are stitch marks where it used to be. The hem is dusty and the material is slightly frayed at the bottom. I haven't had it altered yet, so my questions for you are:

1) Do you think they'll be able to fix the netting on the sleeve? It's some kind of delicate hexagonal netting.
2) Is there any way to improve the look of the stitch marks on the back? The material is 60% silk, 40% acetate.
3) It needs to be hemmed a little, and I'd like them to remove some of the train too, so that the slightly damaged material doesn't show. Is that more difficult/expensive to do than just hemming in the front? The train is somewhere between sweep and chapel length.
4) How costly do you think the alterations would be? I'm starting to regret having bought a sample dress, although it's just the style that I wanted and I'd never be able to afford it new.
5) It would be nice to dry clean it after the alterations, but I'm hesitant since the embroidery and beading is very delicate, and it's silk. What's the best way to pick a dry cleaner's?

Thanks for your site, it's full of useful information, and sorry for the long letter. Helen

1) No, the only way to fix holes in netting is to replace the netting. Trying to repair the holes looks simply awful. You can add some embroidered lace pieces over the holes if you can find some that look like what is already there. Sometimes I have scavenged some lace from elsewhere on the dress where it's less needed, like under the arm or in a tuck or seam.

2) You can try steaming the fabric and the holes might mend them selves.

3) Hemming around the whole dress is more expensive than the normal wedding hem that is only in the front. It's not more difficult, it's just a lot more work taking more time which will mean more expense.

4) This depends on the pricing on your area which I have no way to determine. For me the all-around hem would not be less then $200. Replacing the sleeves could run over $200 too.

5) Ask friends. I have yet to find a dry cleaners in my area who I can recommend with confidence. It's quite annoying.

My suggestion would be - Since you did not see these flaws until much later, odds are your guests at your wedding will not see them either. By the time they get noticed it will be near the end of the day and gowns get very dirty and often damaged by the end of the wedding day, so no one will give it a second thought as long as you don't tell them. The imperfections you are seeing will not show in your pictures either.

Hi Leanna,

Thank you so much for your answer! After reading it, I was wondering if there was a clever way to prevent the holes in the netting from "running" (except stitching)? I'm not really concerned about the holes themselves (they're small), but it looks like one of them could spread. I believe the material is English netting.

Many thanks, Helen

Netting does not generally run. But just in case it is the type that does, get some fray check from your local fabric or craft store. It's a type of glue that dries soft and should not interfere with the stretchiness of the netting. It should not discolor the netting, but test it on a seam on the inside of the sleeve first. You can use clear nail polish like we used to do in school when our panty hose ran, but it dries hard and may get scratchy.

Thanks -- this is just the kind of solution I was looking for. And thanks for making me feel good about my dress again! I'm sure everybody tells you this -- but I wish I could have my alterations done with you, you so obviously enjoy your work.

All the best, Helen

added January 2007

I am interested in purchasing a dress but at the top portion of the dress to the top of my hips, there is a bustier. I don’t like how the bustier shows under the dress where is ends. Is it possible to add a lining or add to the bustier so it looks smoother?

Thanks, Anne

Most brides also buy a slip that comes above the waist and ends up making a bustier look smoother, but you can add a lining to just about anything. You'll need to ask the alteration lady at your store what this will cost.

added October 2005


I just purchased a wedding dress that was once used (no dirt or stains on the dress just a little on the hemline which I am planning on taking up a little). My wedding is not for 2 years. I wanted to know if you think I should get the dress dry cleaned right now or should I wait until all alterations are done closer to the wedding and then get it cleaned. So far it is in pristine condition and I have it hanging inside two long dress covers. I don’t want to get it cleaned now and then it gets dirty when I do alterations and fittings but I don’t want to ruin the dress-if it needs to be cleaned right away. Do you think that storing the dress inside 2 dress covers is okay for now or should it get it professionally cleaned now and risk it getting a bit dirty before my wedding?-I’m not sure if the seamstress is responsible for keeping the dress cleaned.

Thanks, Margarita.

This is a hard question. The usual advise is to clean a gown as soon after the wedding as possible. Even if you don't see stains they could develop later and discolor the fabric. I'm told the biggest culprit is sugar. White sugar from treats at the reception doesn't usually show as a stain but it can yellow the fabric in time.

Since your gown was used it might be a good idea to clean it now, but if it has been some time since the wedding it was used in and it is still in pristine condition, I don't see that you have to.

Most sewing professionals are going to be very careful to not dirty the gowns they are working on, but small spots can happen. Brides worry about any tiny spot. They want their gown to be perfect. If I am working on a gown that is noticeably dirty when it first gets to me, I have the bride wait to clean it. Not because I think I will get it dirty, but because it saves her from paying me an extra $60 to stream the gown when I'm finished with the alterations.

It all boils down to - - - Do you want to pay the high price a dry cleaners will charge to have the gown cleaned? If it's in your budget and will make you feel better, do it. Otherwise, don't go looking for spots. Your guests won't see them so why should you add to your stress about it.

added August 2005

Hi there,
I'm getting married in a few weeks, and I've had nothing but problems with my wedding dress since I received it. When it came, it had very uneven boning in the front over the breasts. The store I bought it from does not do alterations, and merely said that that was how it arrived, and they were not prepared to do anything about it. Sending it back to the designer and getting a new one was not an option as it arrived only 6 weeks before the wedding and they required 4-6 months to order it in the first place. So, I took it to a place to have alterations done, and they found that two different types of boning had been used, giving it the uneven look. I think the store did a nice job of the alterations overall, but it is very wrinkled in spots. The dress is satin with organza overtop of the whole thing, with quite a lot of embroidery and beading on the organza. The wrinkles (it almost looks like pulling in spots) are on the organza layer. I didn't have it taken in much perhaps about 1/2 inch on each side.
I enquired about having it steamed to get some of the wrinkles out, but I'm getting married in a city other than that where I bought the dress, so I'm hoping to have it steamed after I've transported it. The lady at the alteration shop said you have to be very careful with organza, and that it can't really be steamed because it can distort the look of the fabric. I'm not sure what to do. Can you recommend anything? Would most bridal stores be able to deal with de-wrinkling it without damaging it further?
I've included picture of the dress. Thank you for any suggestions you might have!

Organza is the most ornery fabric to work with. I want to cuss under my breath every time a bride walks in my place with a gown made of that difficult fabric. It's slippery, delicate, hard to sew and hard to steam. But it's so very pretty!

I would guess that the wrinkling is caused by the organza layer being just slightly tighter than the layers under it. It only takes a tiny bit for the organza to get out of sinc with the other layers and it's nearly impossible to fix. The embroidery and beading may be weighting the organza down too. Not much you can do about that either. And even though you took it in only 1/2 inch, that may have made it too stressful for the delicate organza.

It's hard to judge not being able to see you in the dress, but I'd be willing to bet that the areas you are seeing as being "very wrinkled" are not what your guests will see them as. It's really hard to get gowns to fit like the magazine pictures show. The pictures can be touched up to look totally perfect with no wrinkles, while real bodies in real gowns don't ever look that perfect.

Also, wedding gowns are designed so that you need to stand in a very erect posture that most young ladies are not used to. If you let your chest slouch even a little bit- it will create wrinkles in your tummy area. This does not mean you have to stand like a soldier all day. Think about squeezing your shoulder blades together in the back and lowering your shoulders. This does have the effect of raising your breasts and centering them in the bodice where they need to be and lengthening out the whole front of the bodice. Your wrinkles should smooth out.

Organza can be steamed, but again, it's futzy fabric and most folks would rather not get an iron close to it. I doubt a bridal store you did not buy the gown in will steam it. You can take it to a dry cleaners, but be prepared for a pricey bill.

I hope some of this helps you and that I haven't confused you to pieces!

Thank you so much for the information. I guess I will have to live with it as it is to some degree. It does look nice overall, and from a distance the wrinkling in the body part would not be noticeable, however the skirt part does have some larger wrinkles/creases. I spoke to a bridal store that said they would steam it. However, my concern is that it will be damaged to an unwearable point. Do you think that is likely, or would most bridal stores (I know it is tough to generalize here) that are willing to do it would be able to deal with wrinkles in the skirt? I don't think I really understand the steaming process - I thought it was more of a hand held device that produces steam close to the dress as it is hanging, rather than an iron. Are drycleaners likely to be a safer bet?

Steamers come in both types. The one I have can be used as an iron or hand held. I like it because some fabrics really need the pressing of an iron for the wrinkles to go easily.

Whether you choose the bridal store or the dry cleaners, you are not risking damage to the point of non-wearability. If either place was that incompetent they would no longer be in business. The bridal store is a better choice for the cost. Generally, a dry cleaners would charge almost twice as much as the bridal store will.

added June 2005

I have a dress that is missing some beads...

If I were to fix it, add some beads how do you hide the thread (the knot on the end of the thread.)

I know the thread doesn't go all the way through. Is it just the matter of having and expert do it? I didn't have any extra beads but plan on trying to get some from the store I bought the dress from. The seamstress I have keeps telling me no one will notice (tiny bead around embroidery that has a sparkle on the edge).

Should I just get a professional to do it? I hate to bother my seamstress again!

End your last stitch on the underside of the last bead and knot it there.

Beading it's not that hard, just very tedious. I think you can do it.

I bet you don't want to bother the seamstress because of what she said about no one noticing it? Truth is most likely none of your guests will notice such a tiny thing - but since you did, I bet it will bother you if it's not fixed. So, I would advise you to fix it. Even if you decide you can not do it yourself and it costs you a little more than you would like to have a professional do it - you are buying yourself peace of mind. You won't be able to feel beautiful wearing that dress unless it is perfect in your mind.

added June 2005

I am having a dress altered that I bought off the rack. I noticed a very small "dent" in the front about the size of a small bead. When I mentioned to the seamstress she looked at me as if I was crazy. Am I just obsessing over something that no one will notice? Could the dent come out another way?

Is the gown made of satin? Quite often satin fibers get slightly off and it can look like a dent because the way the light hits the fibers looks like a shadow of a dent. Maybe when it was being tried on a lady pulled on it in that spot and the fibers got out of line. It's very easy to do. Or, since it is the size of a bead, maybe a bead was sewn there and fell off.

No one at your wedding will notice it and even pointing it out to your alteration lady might not get her to see it. You do because you are looking at the gown differently and very close up. Every tiny imperfection is going to scream at you. When the gown is on the hanger in the dressing room, take a step back and look at it. I will be surprised if you can still see it. But if you can, take a good, close look at it and you'll be able to see which way the fibres have been pushed. All you have to do is use a fine pin to push them back into line. If you decide it was where a bead was sewn and fell off, you should have a little bag of extra beads that came with the gown that you can use to sew one back into place.

It says my dress is organza? Thanks for the advice! Do you think that steaming or pressing it may help?

Organza, yes? humm. Are you sure it's not a spot? It's often hard to tell with white. But if it is a wrinkle or dent, I don't see why it wouldn't come out with steaming. And it could be the fibres are out of line too. It's just more common for satin.

added January 2005

I just purchased a dress made by forever yours bridal. It has alencon lace on the dress. The cording around some of the lace was cut or has fallen off. I called the dress maker they said the alencon lace is on a bolt like fabric so when it is cut the cording is not always intact. I am really a detailed person and would like the cording around all of the flowers. Is their anyway for a seamstress to sew the cording back on to the dress if I find the cording? I love the dress this is the only problem with it. There are probably on about 5-6 areas that would need the new cording. Please e-mail me back and let me know.

Thanks so Much,

Yes, they told you correctly. When this type of lace is cut the stitching on the edges is often severed and does ravel a bit. Most manufactures do not secure these loose ends. What you are wanting can certainly be done. The loose ends can be hand secured and I would think you could use crochet cotton, or embroidery floss for the places where the cording is missing. I would charge $30 and hour for such hand sewing work. Depending on how much needs to be stitched it could get pricey, but may be well worth it for what you are wanting. You can do this yourself. It's not hard, just tedious and takes time and patience.


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