It's Just Too Small


A too small gown is a difficult problem. It's much easier to fix a too big problem, but if you can be patient and creative you can solve this problem. Depending on where the gown is too tight will have it's list of possible solutions. Looking at each option and figuring out which works best for a bride is sometimes an adventure.

added February 2011

Hi Leanna,

Thanks so much for your incredibly useful website.  I wanted to send you some pictures after a very upsetting appointment with a seamstress today.  I bought my beautiful wedding dress from someone else who supposedly had identical measurements...turns out one of us made some mistakes.  As you can see from the pictures I can get it on fine but the rear/upper thigh area is quite tight and creases.  I also can't sit comfortably which would obviously be a problem.  I took it to a highly recommended seamstress here in LA and she said that I would need an additional 3" to have it let out and the most she could get out was 1 3/4."  Should I just give up and try to sell it or will that 1 3/4" be sufficient?  3" seemed like a lot for what I would need, but I don't have the expertise to know?  I have an appointment to see another seamstress but I wanted your opinion too. 

Thanks! Jane

P.S. The seamstress today also said maybe if I worked out some more...only problem is I ran 14 miles yesterday and am training for my 5th marathon, so I don't anticipate I'll be able to lose much more weight.

Hi Jane,

The rule of thumb for fitting the hip area is that you be able to pinch an inch of fabric for sit down space. But many a bride ignores that rule and the previous owner might have liked the tight hip look. It is looking very snug on you to be causing the wrinkles in the pictures. The 3" she was guessing seems like a good estimate but it's just a guess. The 1 3/4" might be just fine. It's a gamble when you are letting seams out. You have to try it and see how it feels.
In the pictures there are front and back princess seams. Did the seamstress look there too? Often they can be let out. Usually, not much but with 4 seams it could add up to an inch or 2. I once got 6" out of one dress by letting out the sides and all 4 princess seams. Even I was amazed by the results.
Working out won't help. It can even make things worse because muscles can grow from the working along with the loosing of fat. Since you are a runner to begin with I seriously doubt your body is going to change from diet or exercise.
I think it's worth trying it. The gown is very lovely on you.

Thanks so much for the quick and informative reply!!  I think I'm going to give it a shot but get another opinion before I make the plunge as well.  There are actually a total of 7 seams which is how she came to the conclusion of 1 3/4" (a 1/4 inch each). 

All the best, Jane

added September 2010

Hi Leanna,

I am so happy that i stumbled across your site. I bought my dress back in Jan on a whim because I loved it and the price was right. At the time it could zip up and I could breathe kinda :) however it is now Sept and it no longer zips up. Now my wedding is not till May but unfortunately I know my body and I know it doesn't like diets. I'm at a comfortable weight and I'm happy. So I've looked at the inseam on the dress and there seams to be an inch on each side, however the top is a corset with boning. Can a top still be let out is it has boning all in it? Also I'm looking to convert it to a lace up to give me more room for my ladies. They don't fit comfortably at all. Do you think a lace up will look good.

Also the dress is too long for me I'm 5'7 which isn't short and I'm totally tripping on it. My worry is that when I get it hemmed I'm gonna loose one thing that I love about it and that's the bottom, is there anyway a seamstress can save the look of the bottom and take the fabric out of somewhere else?

And last the train, its way tooo long and way tooo heavy.  Have you ever known anyone to shorten a train? I'm hoping it can be done, and doesn't change to look of the back of the dress.

Do you think the dress would look good with beading along the bottom? I'm a plain kind of girl but I think it may need a bit more to it, but not sure if it would look good.

Thank you so much for your time and thank you for making a wonderful and informative website.

Erin :)


Hi Erin,

When letting seams out you need to leave enough in the seam for it's stability. You can't sew right on the edge or the seam will bust when the wearer goes to hug a friend or family member, or even take a deep breath. If there is an inch in the seam, then it can be let out 1/2 inch at the most. Most gown seams have enough in them that each seam can be let out an inch. Boning can be removed and sewn back on a seam, but it's more work, so expect a higher charge.
I generally think any gown can look great converted to lace-up and yours in no exception. It is a classic style that often comes with lacings. You will have to loose the buttons or add another string on the right side of the back opening for balance.
When hemming a pick-up skirt as yours is, I add more pick-up to the tuffs at the bottom until the skirt is the correct length. Nothing gets cut and the gown generally looks the same, only shorter.
Trains can be shortened. I have done it on occasion. But it can be very costly. Bustling is easier and much less expensive. I have done bustles to shorten the train just a little for the ceremony and then all the way up for the reception.
Adding beading is another very expensive change. The beads are usually not bad, but I charge $20 a half hour for beading. I think the gown is fine the way it is and you did say your style is not flashy, so why change the dress? I like to caution brides to not let the gown wear them. You want your guests to remember how stunning you looked in the gown, not how great the gown looked on you.
I hope this helps 

added July 2010

hi Leanna.
My sisters wedding is in 3 weeks and after a long wait we finally received our gorgeous veromia bridesmaid gowns . However, when we tried the dress on the 3 children's ones were huge (they had ordered a adult size 12 for a slender 10 year old girl and my sister had to pay to get the whole dress remade) and us two adult bridesmaid dresses are to small, we have checked our measurement and neither of us have put on any extra inches. We have seen a seamstress who has informed us that there is, at best, only 1 inch total allowance in the seams , but the dresses are at least 3 inches to small around the bottom and lower hips, we can't even get the lower zip done up.
Is there any way that an extra panel could be added without ruining the look of the dress?. as you can imagine, my sister is at her wits end.
Kind regards, Beth


Hi Beth,
There is normally a good amount of seam in a dress that has princess seamlines as these dresses do. The problem is the design at the high waistline. That ribbon can't be let out. To make the dress bigger, you will need more of that ribbon to cover the larger waistline seam. It looks like there is a small bow in front. If you are willing to use that then something might be able to be done.
If there is not much space in the seams to let out, than pieces of fabric can be inserted into the sides seams to make more space. This is called gussetting. You will need fabric that matches the dresses exactly. Sometimes fabric from hemming the dress can be used this way if it looks ok when it is turned on it's side. Many bridal fabrics look different when they are turned. If this happens, the gussets look like much different fabric and very odd.
Depending on how much time you have before the wedding, the store can do many things to make this right. You may have to insist they do so. They probably won't just do it because it's the right thing to do or they would have offered already. Keep after them to make it right.

added April 2010

I bought a dress online and it is a missy size 18 had it been womans I think it would fit, at any rate I can not zip it up it goes about 1/4 way up the back it is nylon underneath with lace overlay, I am going to try and send you the link, is it possible to let it out or find silver satin or whatever it is underneat??? I need this dress in one month and I have not other options.


Hi Renee,

I doubt the dress can be let out. Most lace dresses have very minimal seams.
Satin comes in many colors and can be purchased at most local fabric stores. I don't know what is in the city you live in but you should be able to get satin in silver. If you need the lace, it will be very hard to find.   

added April 2010

Hello Leanna =)
I'm so glad I found your website, I read over some of the stories you
have posted on your "It's Just Too Small" thread and it seems as
though my problem is not uncommon!  I am getting married the first
week of June and ordered my bridesmaid dresses from Jim Hjelm
Occasions (see attached images of the dress, and here is link to dress
on the Jim Hjelm website::
My sister, Matron of Honor, received her dress today and it is too
small.  I have read several discussions online that say Jim Hjelm
tends to run small, though we were not told this when we placed the
order through the reseller!  The dress will zip up but the underneath
layer (easily seen through the papaya-colored chiffon overlay)
"bunches up" due to it being too tight, this is of course in addition
to the general discomfort of wearing a dress to small!  Is there a way
to let this dress out easily? Do you know how long it typically takes
for the designer to send additional fabric for gussets to be added?
I'm concerned that that may be an expensive option, so we are hoping
this can be fixed by just letting it out.  If you have any insight on
this issue I would greatly appreciate it!!
Thanks SO much,



Hi Lindsey,
I looked at the link you sent and thought I can't see the inside of the seams, it does look like the type of dress that will have an inch in each side seam that can be let out. You'll have to verify that with the person you hire to do the work.
I would ask for 4 weeks to do the work, but that is because I need to see the dress on her to determine what I need to do. Do the work. Then have her return to test what I did and leave time for any necessary adjustments. She will then have to return to test the adjustments. Working around people's busy schedules for setting appointments often means adding days to what is actually only a day's worth of work.
Getting fabric after you have had the dresses delivered is normally not an option. You can usually only order extra fabric at the time you order the dress. You can certainly try calling the store to ask, but it might take too long even if they will do it.
I do think that the sides seams can be let out enough to fix your problem.

added March 2010

hey leanna, your site has been so helpful as i made my own bustle with your direction.

I have had my wedding dress at home for months now, and it was too small but i was so excited when i zipped it all the way 3 weeks ago........

it is now one week til the wedding and we just discovered i am 6 weeks pregnant.

My fiance insisted we try the dress on again, and we have just discovered it will not zip anymore..... there is a gap of less than an inch width-ways near the top that wont close.
needless to say i am now an absolute mess as with only a week to go i don't know that there is anything i can do......or any dressmakers that will take on the task..... i worked so hard for that dress to zip!

Please help!



Hi Kerry,
This is very common in the early stages of pregnancy. Many women are quite surprised to find their breast growing before the baby but I've seen it with many brides and maids. It was s good idea to try the gown on now and not the day of so you have some options. A half inch should be easy to get out of the side seams. Your big job is finding someone to do it fast. Where are you located?

lol, i am actually in australia....... perth, western australia. My dress is a Jasmine Bridal style T243.....plain style of dress but with lots of intricate beading and embroidery.....

we are going to go searching for some shapewear tomorrow in the hopes that this will help, and if that fails will be calling around every dress shop we can to find out if they can do a last minute alteration!


Hum . . . If you were in the states I might be able to help you find someone. If you can't and decide to try altering it yourself it shouldn't be as difficult as you are thinking. I took a look at the dress on the Jasmine site and it looks like there is not any lace in the side seam were you need to sew. There might be a tiny bit under the arm area. You simply take it off, fix the outer seam and all inner seams the same, move any boning necessary, resew the top together (this might be easier to do by hand), steam it real good, and sew the lace back on (again, by hand). It can be tedious, but it's not really difficult. You just take your time and go slow.


thanks....... i will let you know how it goes...... im feeling a little less stressed now :)

Hey Leanna. 

Thank you so much, we called the store where i originally got the dress..... my fiance spoke to them..... he said they werent too helpful until he mentioned that we purchased the dress from them, then they became extremely accomodating and were able to take the dress on the saturday, and had altered it and fitting by tuesday. Despite it being let out my bridesmaids still had trouble zipping it on the following saturday...... but once on it felt fine and I had a fantastic evening!

The bustle i made held up wonderfully too, until a little girl stepped on the back of my dress and tore the hook and eye...... but by that point i was on the dance floor and the bustle had done its job, so all in all.....a success!


Wow Kerry,
I love your attitude. And your groom sounds like a great guy. I'm so happy for you and thank you for letting me be part of the celebration of your marriage.

added March 2010

I ordered Maggie Sottero Fiorella.  I was measured at the Bridal shop and I measured perfectly to a size 6 on the Maggie Size chart, so that is what they recommended I order.  The dress came in yesterday and was so tight every where and was about 1 1/2 inches from zipping on the top?  They are sure the dress was made wrong.  They re-measured me again and I still measure perfectly for a size 6 according the Maggie chart.  They are going to send it back, but know I am nervous and think I should tell them to go a size up.  I just don't know what to do.  I can't believe that the dress that came in was a 6 because it was no wear near zipping...if they run small wouldn't the measurements on the chart reflect that?



Hi Kim,
It's all too common for gowns to come in with a size 6 label but actually be a size 4 or 8. Some gown companies offer a measurement chare the stores can get for measuring the gowns for accuracy. Since you did not mention if they measured the gown I am assuming they didn't have this option or didn't know about it. And, no, measurement charts don't reflect if the gown style runs small or not. Stores often get to know the style lines and which ones run small or right on the measurement charts. They often advise that a bride order a size up for the companies they have seen this with. Since they did not advise you this way I would not think ordering a size up will get you a better fit. I think the dress you got was smaller than the size 6 you ordered and the next dress will fit just fine. There's not a lot you can do until that new gown comes in.
If the gown does come in too tight than you can insist the store fix it. They have already admitted they owe you a well fitting gown because they measured you and the measurement was right on the chart. Often side seams can be let out an inch or 2 to get a gown to fit. You can convert the zipper to a lace-up back to get you up to 6 inches. 
When is your wedding date? When is the replacement gown due? 

added February 2010

I received my wedding dress it has a back zipper. It will zip up
until it gets to the area right above my waist. It is about three
inches to small. The wedding is on march 6 so I can't return it and
get back in time. I am on a diet and working out but I'm not sure I
can lose that much. Please help me. What do I do?



Hi Shellene,
You have several options.
1. You can let out the seams. This can often be done for up to 3 inches, but it depends on the dress and what space that is in the seams that can be released safely. You don't want your seams to be so tiny that they might bust when you go to hug a loved one at your reception.
2. You can have gussets inserted to give more space. Gussets are pieces of fabric that are added to the dress, usually in the side seams. As a general rule, gussets are better the wider they are. Small skinny gussets in a seams look rather odd because they are different than the rest of the dress' panels. You also need to match the fabric of the bodice as exactly as possible. If you need to hem the gown, the fabric you cut off can often be used to make gussets, but there are limitations there too. I have done a couple dress gussets at the zipper when you can't get a fabric match. The contrast looks like a planned design element. (I have some pictures which I have been trying to get up on the site.)
3. You can do a lace-up back conversion. This is a popular and nice looking option. The zipper is removed and loops are sewn into the seam to make lacing up possible. This can add many inches to a dress. I have done this quite often for pregnant brides and it has looked great with many different gown styles. Some pictures here:

added February 2010

I bought a dress months ago and it zips, it's just utterly uncomfortable. I can barely breathe and I'm afraid I'll pop a seam when trying.|-49998984|-49978998&catentryId=6096960&sort=
This is the dress. It's too tight around the bust. I was thinking maybe that I could have a lace up back put into it with a modesty panel. Or maybe just have pieces of fabric put in the sides up by the bust so that way it will fit. But I'm leaning more towards the lace up back because my weight tends to go all over the place.
Will it look okay with a lace up back?
Hi Tori,
I tried looking at the pictures for the link you sent. I can't tell for sure (even with magnifying the picture), but if the beaded pattern continues into the side seams, it is possible they can be let out a small amount. It might be enough to make you comfortable. I have often gotten up to an inch more room in a side seam. If the beading does not go into the seams than adding space in the sides either by letting out the existing seam or adding fabric will be costly because of the hand beading that will be necessary. Lace-up conversion is a great way to add room and looks good on most any gown. I have seen gowns like yours with lace-up backs and I think they look just fine. I can not say if you will like the result or not. The full skirt might tend to cover up the bottom portion of the laces.  

added November 2009

Your website is so helpful! I would love your advice. I found my dream
wedding dress that was way out of my price range for half the price on
a used wedding dress website. The dress for sale is a size 2 Priscilla
of Boston dress and it is an inch too small in the bust and waist. The
previous owner had the waist and hips let out to its fullest extent
but there is still room in the bust to let out. I would normally pass
on this dress because the measurements are too small but I once tried
on a different, unaltered, size 2, Priscilla of Boston dress and it
fit, it was a little snug but it fit. Do you think I should take the
gamble and purchase the dress since the other size 2 by the same
designer fit?  Or does the size depend on the style of the dress and
not so much the brand?  Do you think I could fit into the dress with
the right undergarments? If the dress is too small would a corset back
be an option since the zipper is in the back? Below is a link to the
dress. Sorry for so many questions but you are the most knowledgeable
person I've found!
Thank you!!

Hi Mechelle,
Last year I would have told you to not even think of taking a chance. BUT - this year I have done several of the lace back conversions for several different situations and they have all turned out wonderful. Some pictures are here:
Yes, fit does have to do with both the size and the style of dress. You can try on one style of size 2 Priscilla gown and find a different style size 2 fits differently.
Changing undergarments can change fit but can often backfire too. The added bulk of the undergarment fabric and bonings can add more tightness instead of making it better.
You need to weight the benefits of the price reduction to the risk. I think for you, there is a good chance of the dress fitting or needing just that little bit in the bust let out to make it right. You are also open to the lace-up back conversion which will most certainly give you a good fit. The work that needs to be done will add to your cost. In my system it would be between $40 - $80 for the bust alteration and $180 - $200 for the lace-up conversion.
I hope this helps!

added January 2009

I have a 6521 after six dress in a size 10 but its  tight do you know if this dress can be let out about 2 inches?

Occasionally I have been able to let out dresses up to 2", but I can't promise you that yours can be done without looking inside it.  

added July 2008

I would just like to say what a fantastic website. I have been worrying for weeks about my dress and would just like to ask you a question if I may.
The bodice of my wedding dress is too small. I can not do up the zip at the back. Is it possible for a seamstress to take off the zip and stitch loops on it and do it up with a ribbon like a corset? Please help. I am really worried about it. Thank you.

Most dresses can have a lace-up back, but I couldn't say for sure without seeing the dress. The bigger problem is finding a seamstress in your area who knows how to do this.  

added July 2008

Hi Leanna --

(We are moving up our wedding due to a family illness.  So we're in a rush to pull things together this week.)  

Good news is a friend is willing to share her dress with me.   But It fits most everywhere except the bust. She is only 31 inches (though she added pads for her bust) - and I am closer to 33.5 or 34.  We are the same waist, hip, and height.

Do you think it's possible to let this bust out 2-3 inches?  Or would there be a creative way of getting around this?  See the link and the attached photos.

Thanks so much and hope to hear from you very soon...


It's hard to tell from the picture because I can't look inside the seams to see what fabric is there, but it might be a bit tricky because of the fitted band at the waist. There might be about 1 to 2" in side seams in the bust area but the band might make it hard to let this out to 2" to 3" you need.
You need to have a seamstress look at it form the inside to tell for sure if it can be done. Otherwise, most bridal stores have dresses on discount buy-it-now situations that you can buy for great savings.

Added July 2008

Hi Leanna,

I am an experienced amateur seamstress, I've been sewing for about 21 years, since I was 9.   I am standing up in a wedding in August and will be 20 weeks pregnant.  The first time I was pregnant I had just started showing at that time.  I know women are supposed to "pop" earlier with their next pregnancies, so I will be adding gussets on the sides.  Luckily another member of the bridal party ordered extra fabric and I can use the wrap that was included.  
I am writing to you to make sure I know what a gusset is.  It is a triangular piece of fabric inserted between the side seams, right?  Can it be a right triangle, like if I cut the wrap from one corner to the opposite corner.  Or should it be more like a pyramid shape.  I don't think I will need to increase the bust, so can I insert the gusset just under the bust line?
Thanks for all your help!

Gussets have no set shape. I usually start with a rectangle, sew that in and adjust as needed. Many ladies do need room added to their bust for that grows too with a pregnancy- sometimes a lot. 

Added July 2008

I bought my wedding dress years ago when I thought I was getting married now I definitely will be. Since then I've had babies and extra weight gain. I really love this dress is there any suggestions to getting this dress on even after it has been let out that inch or so that it may give me?

I can usually get 2 inches out of any dress that has normal seams if I let out every seam in the dress. It's takes a lot of sewing but if the seams have not been serged or otherwise trimmed it can usually be done


added March 2008

Hello, I stumbled across your page after typing "wedding dress alterations" in Google. I'm hoping you can help me, seeing as you're a professional. Today my wedding dress came in so I tried it on & of course, it doesn't fit perfectly, which is usual. The problem is that the bodice, especially the bust area is too tight. Its hard to zip up & it pushes my boobs up...I cant really describe that but I think you know what I'm talking about. The dress is a size 2 & is from Alfred Angelo. The consultant who took my measurements said that I was in between sizes & that by going with the smaller size, there would be less alterations. I believe she said that something would need let out. The dress is made of a satin material, & has beading all around the top of the bodice as well as the bottom of the bodice. There is a row of buttons down the back but those are for decorational purposes as there is a zipper. My question is: Will a seamstress be able to let this out to fit comfortably? I read on your page that some cant be and others have said there is about an inch to 2 inches on wedding dresses that can be let out. I'm kind of panicking & hope you can help. Thanks in advance!


I can't say for sure without looking inside the dress. There is usually a little bit in any gown that can be let out. Will there be enough for you to be comfortable? I just can't say. If you can zip it now and still breath, than it can probably do done.  

added March 2008

I've read thru your special questions from other brides's and I have a concern!

i requested my dress to be made with a lace up back by the manufacturer. they agreed to the change and added it to my total bill.....i was pleased as punch, til I read somewhere on your site about the details of the dress being altered in a way that could mess up the back details of the dress when it converted to a lace up back.....

using my index finger as a guide, i have tried to "block out" the zipper area of the dress to see if it would look OK with this change that i have made. the sample was 6 sizes too small, i had no idea what the back of the dress looked like. i unfortunately assumed it was the same back as another dress i tried on by the same designer.....but I am not sure. I can't quite tell.......

Soooo, my new question is: Will the back of my dress look crazy with the lace up feature. Will I be unwittingly advertising that "I am too fat for this dress"? (I ordered the dress in one size smaller to accommodate the lace up)

I am attaching pics of me in the sample dress that may help you better doesn't help that I am already plump, so I am concerned about the "too fat for the dress" sentiment.

IF this will look crazy, what could be done to "fix it"?

Thank you SOOO SOOOO MUCH for your time and patience! Latasha

I think you might have confused 2 separate things I wrote about altering a dress to gain size. A gusset is a small piece of fabric that is sewn into the side seam of a garment to enlarge it. This usually ends up looking unnatural and advertising to the world that you were too big to fit into your dress. A lace-up back on the other hand is a design element that looks quite natural, can add space to a dress but doesn't shout that it was necessary for the person to fit into the dress.

For your style of gown I think a lace-up back will look wonderful.

added March 2008

Is it better to let out a dress at the zipper or the seams, does it make a difference?

I'm high waisted and the dress isn't fallin on me right, it's very tight in the torso (it does zip), and I think if it's let out, it can hang on my body correctly, (when I zip it up now, there is a wrinkle that goes all around it horizontally at my waist, and the shoulder straps stick up off my shoulder like the dress can't hang down on me.

Anyway hope that explanation helps. Nancy

I try to let out any dress at the sides first. If that doesn't give enough room than the other seams can be let out. Letting out at the zipper will throw the dress out of line. If this doesn't create an objectionable situation, then you can do it.

I can not advise that anyone go against the label directions but I can tell you why the prohibition is there. Most people do not have fancy irons that won't drop water as they steam. A hot water drop can stain the satin. Using a cover cloth will protect the fabric, but that's not easy to put on a label. Plus, most people don't want to take the time it takes to properly steam a gown. The manufacturers don't wish to have to replace dresses ruined by consumer maltreatment, so they say don't do it on the label.

I have professional equipment so I do steam seams that I have let out. Most times with satin, I can get it to look nearly invisible.

added January 2008

Hi Leanna,

My daughter purchased a wedding gown knowing it was a size too small in the bust from a store in new york city which sells sample gowns donated by designers with all proceeds going to charity. I was against the purchase because of the alterations needed and the fact that you pay for the dress in full and take it with you. The store has no responsibility from that point on. Of course, they assured my daughter this dress could be made to fit and I could not talk her out of buying it. They told her their seamstress, Julie, is a dressmaker who can work miracles. Well, guess what. Julie cannot do the alterations as she was in a car accident and is in rehabilitation. Thank God she is alright. However, we now have a dress that does not fit and no miracle worker. They have highly recommended another seamstress who doesn't actually work for their store. I guess none of the other seamstresses in their store can handle the job. Now doesn't that give me a warm, fuzzy feeling. The wedding is June 29, 2008 so I'm getting really nervous about this dress.

Would you give me your opinion on whether you think anything could be done to make the bust fit. It's a whole size too small. I can't pull a picture into this note. Would you be so kind as to look at the dress on this web site and let me know what you think.

With the wedding only 5 months away, I'm considering proposing that we start looking for another dress. Time is getting short. Would appreciate your opinion on whether you think this dress can be altered. As I said, the bust is a size too small. The dress will not zipper.

Thank you, Mary Ellen

I would need to look at the seams to see if there is enough there to let out. If there is I could do it, but the real question for you is: Can you find someone in your town to do this? You can call other bridal stores. They often have a list of alteration specialist like me who work as independents. Try asking at the local fabric stores and look in the yellow pages.

added January 2008

I was wondering, i have a dress, a size 10 my mom got for me from davids bridal, well it wont zip and there is about 2-3 inch difference, it wont close its like my back is too big for the dress but the rest of it fits, is it fixable? Ash

You have several options. The side seams might have enough in them to let out to make the dress zip. There might also be space in the back darts or princess seams. You can also remove the zipper and put in lacings. There are some pictures on my site of a few dresses I have done this to.

added September 2007

I ordered a dress from DaVinci size 18. Now, I'm a street size 18 but for some reason the gal at the store must of not measured me correctly.

I'm am 15 days away from my wedding, my dress fits but won't zip up all the way from the middle of my back up. It's a brides maid dress and not a real wedding dress. I'm going for a fitting tonight. I just picked up the dress a couple of days ago and I'm very scared that they won't be able to let out enough in order to zip up al the way.

Has this happened to you before? Do you think that they will be able to help me? I need any thoughts you might have.

Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Heather ST. Louis, MO

Most dresses these days do have more in the seams than there used to be. I have been able to let dresses out as much as 3" through all the seams. It sounds like you need only a little bit. Without seeing the dress it's hard to say, but I doubt there will be a problem in getting this dress zippable for you.

added August 2007

I am due to get wed in 5 weeks. I went to collect my wedding dress and it does not zip up at the back although i am exactly the same weight as when dress was ordered and i was measured. Lady in the bridal shop has been very rude to me and at first advised whilst I was in the shop that There is about 2 inches at each side of the dress so i should be fine as i only need 2 inches more at the back. She then waited till the following day when I was at home and rang to say I can buy more fabric for adding to the dress as she doesnt think i will have enough??? My problem is, the top of the dress that doesnt zip is very detailed with boning and beads etc, if fabric is added, how is it matched, will it be reall noticable?

Thanks in advance for your response, Laura

It depends on the skill of the alteration lady if it will look good or not. If she can get the fabric from the same company the dress is from the color will be good. If she trots down to the local fabric store to get the fabric it might not match perfectly. Detailing and boning can be added to the extra piece that is usually inserted at the side seam so it's under the arm and less noticeable.

You have a good amount of time for this to be done. Don't let her procrastinate till the last minute or you might get stuck with something that looks lousy and no time to change it.

added July 2007

Dear Leanna,

I read your website "rules for purchasing a bridal gown" and found it very helpful. I am wondering if you could give me specific advice. My soon-to-be father-in-law graciously honored me by offering me his deceased wife's gown to wear on my wedding day. The gown is beautiful, but I am between a size 14 and 16 and I am guessing the gown is an 8. It does not reach around my back and my arms do not fit into the lace sleeves. My future sister-in-law and I discussed possibilities, but I am not comfortable altering the structural integrity of the gown and it's style. Is there any "simple" way to retool this gown or would squeezing a 16 into an 8 require remaking parts of the gown and compromising the original style? Also, would the cost for such alterations be high as well?

Thank you very much. I appreciate an insight you may have to share.

Sincerely, Anamari

What a wonderful gift he has offered!

I used to redesign Mom's gowns for their daughters use a lot when I was in North Carolina. It can be tricky and expensive but it's not impossible. Sometimes design elements have to be changed, but I doubt it's as drastic a matter as you are thinking. If you can find someone who has done this work before it will make the process easier. I would need to see the gown on you to give you specific ideas of what can be done. Structure is important to think about but the possibilities are really limited only by your creative mind.

added February 2007

I bought a dress off ebay for my sister's wedding. It fits well, except the bust-line is bit tight (1/2 inch). Can I have this easily taken out or will the satin show originally stitch marks?

Thanks so much!

With satin there is a risk of the old stitching showing, but with proper steaming the impressions can be made very unnoticeable. I'll bet no one will know but you that it was let out.

It seems odd to me, but in my experience, it has been the finer fabrics that show the original stitching impressions more than the cheaper ones do. Silks often show impressions the most while Polyesters usually steam out nicely.

added October 2006

I just received my wedding dress from of course...was not what the measurements said it was....I REALLY LOVE THIS DRESS....and don't have to time to ship another one....I called a seamstress today and am going to see her on monday....However, I am so nervous she won't be able to fix it....

It is a two piece gown the skirt fits snug so i would like something done to that...the top however needs a good 4 inches to fit correctly it's a strapless top that zips all the way up the back, it has a few seems that look like she can add a panel to this to make it bigger, I know nothing about sewing and found your website and it seemed like you have helped other people with their i thought i would give it a try

I am doing this to a bride's maid dress right now. The wedding is November 4. She came in yesterday to see how the panels fit and it needed only a small adjustment. I have to add beading to the new pieces, but the top looks very nice.

Actually it is fortunate that you need more then just a little bit. Putting in tiny slivers in the seams looks really odd, but 4" is a good amount for it looking normal. This may sound odd, but she may even think about making the panels that will be next to the added piece smaller so it is relatively the same size as the added piece. This will add to the illusion that the added panel was meant to be there. She may also need to add boning to the new pieces.

There should be enough in the seams of the skirt to give you a little breathing room without adding panels.

Hope this helps!

added July 2006

Dear Leanna,
I hope I am reaching the right person. You give very good advice for brides to be as to alterations and other matters. I am recently engaged and my mother has finally been able to un-seal her wedding gown to see if I could wear it. The gown is very pretty and has been kept sealed for 41 years, no yellowing. The only problem is my Mom was a size 8 (1966 size 8) and I am a size 10 (2006 size 10). The length is perfect (we are both 5'10") but the dress will not zip up (way too tight) and the sleeves are also too tight. Is it worth it to try and take the dress out to fit me? I have yet to take it to a professional seamstress because I am afraid I will spend several hundred altering the dress to find it just doesn't look right and then I will have to rush around finding a new dress and starting over. Can a dress that is 41 years old be taken out? I am thinking of having the lace sleeves removed and maybe that lace being used to cover the letting out seams on the sides, but again this could be a lost cause. I have attached some pictures of me (trying to squeeze in) the dress and wonder if you can give me advice on if I should go for it or start shopping.
Thank you in advance for taking a look.

Warm regards, Liz

I can't tell you what is "worth" you trying. You need to take it to someone and get an estimate, than decide if the price is what you want to pay. It can be done, but even a new dress may not look the way a brides wants once the work has been done on it. Only you can answer that question. The only thing I can add is that since the gown is 41 years old the seamlines of the old seam may show some once they are let out. But this too might be very faint and you may think it is worth it anyway. It might help you to ask your seamstress to try one seam and see what it looks like and then decide if you want to go ahead and try it.

added May 2006

I am hoping that you can help me out in answering a question.

I am going to be a bridesmaid in a wedding. When I first ordered a dress, I had tried on a Size 2, and it fit fine. Since then, I have gained about 5 lbs, and the dress is tight around the top part. It zips up, but I have the little bits of flesh coming out the sides up top.

I don't know that I can lose weight before the wedding in a couple of weeks. I have to also have the dress hemmed. It is black with these straps in the front. Is there a solution that can be done on the sides or with the zipper in back -- like an extender or something like that?

Please help asap!! I'm freaking out -- I tried it on again after losing 3 lbs -- and, I still bubble out
the top.

Thanks so much, Tina

Although it's easier to take a dress in than let one out there is usually at least 1/2 inch in each side seam that can be let out in most dresses. That will give you an inch total more room. I doubt you need more than that.

added April 2006

I need help!I am being asked to do the impossible in 4 weeks.This dress Has designer finishes that are impossible to recreate without a large Pain in my neck.The girl has a fitted gown that if fully boned and lined And beaded AND is 3-6" too SMALL(She just gave birth to a lovely baby Girl) up top.It has a zipper covered by a strip of covered buttons.The Bodice is strapless covered in beaded netting with cording in geometric Patterns but is not solid.There are two lines of material separating it Kinda like this:
Top of breasts front
Netting and beading
White Material same as
The dress 6" gap
Center breast Netting and beading
White Material same as the dress
Upper stomach Netting and beading 3" gap
End of bodice
Skirt1/2" too small

I thought of adding a panel at the side seams but I think it would mess Up the lines of the dress (trim) and the boning will need to be Moved(placement issues) .I am afraid that I may have to replace the Whole bodice.The dress has been cleaned and needs a some beading touch Ups. Geez. it is hard to explain.Do you have any suggestions? I know you Can not see the dress.She got the dress second hand. Her mom does not Want to pay much either......She says she does not care what I do to it as long as it fits.Her wedding is in 4 weeks and I think she may have to be duct taped together and covered with a shawl(I told her mom that today).LOL. Over my head in more ways than one-sorry about the rant
Leslieanne in Wa

What ever you do to this dress is going to be expensive in using your brain power and your time and sewing skills. You need to be paid for all these things - YOU deserve it!

The options -
1. Piecing at the side seams. This always looks bad in my opinion but it's an option. Getting fabric that matches the dress is very hard. In telling them this option they must understand that you are not responcible for the fabric that is available in the stores in your area.

2. Piecing at the zipper. This has the same fabric defficulty as the sides but you can be creative here and add something different because it will look like a design set into the back.

3. Replace the bodice. This is a viable option that can save you the other problems. You still have the fabric to find that matches the skirt, but it will be much easier than the piecing options. If they want the original bodice recreated, it will be a huge job. You can offer to do a simple bodice without the layers for a lower price.

4. Buy a dress that fits.

Have each option ready for them with the pros and cons. Have a very high price for each option. In fact, double your normal prices. This is rush and they need to pay you accordingly. Tell them the option and pricing for each and let them pick the option they like best. Do not haggle with them. The prices are not nagotiable, just the choice of option. You do not have time for haggling and this job is going to be hard enough no matter what they choose. There is alway option #4.

This is the type of job I try to not accept at the first phone call. They are going to blame you for all their troubles, even the ones not tied to the dress. They are trying to pull together a wedding with no resourses and rushed. Not good for anyone. Don't let their sence of urgency or lack of funds effect you. Be professional and stay calm no matter what they say - for they may say many things that will surprise you.

I am very busy this week, but I also always have the computer on. If you feel frustrated or just have a question I will try to help. You do understand that my not being able to see the dress does make this really hard, but the options are usually the same no matter what the gown's design is.

I hope I have helped a little.

added March 2006

HELP!! I am in my cousin's wedding on April 22, 2006. The 3 ladies in the wedding are all wearing a JCrew dress. Here is my problem, the dress is a size 16, it zips up the side, where there is also a eyelet hook under the arm. The zipper starts just below the waist line. The zipper goes up until it gets to the bra, from here, it will not zip. The eyelet hook, hooks, it is a little snug. Any ideas on how we can "add" in that area only? I am not savvy to sewing at all. I would be taking this to a local seamstress or sending the dress to the bride in Houston so she can take it to her seamstress. We were thinking maybe a "panel" or an "extension" of some sort would be the answer. I appreciate any advice you can provide. As you can tell, I am running out of time. Thanks! Kitty

Most gowns have a little room in the seams to let out. This might be enough for you to get it zipped. If a panel is needed to add width, I'm sure the seamstress you take it to will know what to do.

added March 2006

I have a small problem. My brother is getting married, he is my only brother, they are not having any bridesmaids or groomsman in the wedding so there is no bridal party, but I purchased a bridesmaids dress. I have an aunt who can make any alterations if I need it, so cost is no prob for me, but time is. I am such an idiot, I already had the dress altered for length so lifting it up anymore would only make the dress look short and stupid. My problem is I just tried the dress on again and just realized the I probably should have had her work on the torso area before she cut the bottom off. I just want to know is it possible to take out the dress a little bit from the zipper. my problem is time. Since my aunt will be flying in from NY to MO the night before the wedding. This is the first time I had to have a dress altered and did it without really thinking I feel like such a moron. I am so mad I did this. Its just a little tight but its not too bad. But if I want to can the dress be taken out by taking the zipper off and letting the ends out a bit and sewing the sipper back on?

It might be able to be done as you describe. It depends on if there is fabric in there to let out. Usually there is not much in the zipper area. When I need to let out a dress I look first at the side seams. The odds of there being fabric there are much higher and it's usually easier to do the operation at the side seams than at the zipper.

If it's only a little bit you need for comfort sake, I'm sure it can be done and should not effect the hem enough to make a difference.

added February 2006

I purchased a wedding gown a year ago. I had to postpone the wedding and never had a first fitting or ever tried the gown on. As I am about to marry 6 months from now I have finally put it on. Well, we could not get the zipper up my back. I was a little concerned because I have not gained any weight and even if I did it would effect my waist not the middle of my back. I was a little ticked at the sales people because it seems to me they did not have the right Measurements. I am also nervous the any alterations to let it out will look terrible because the entire bodice is beaded. What should I do?? Get a new dress?? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You

It doesn't always matter if you gained or lost weight. In a year your body can change much. Have you been working out at a gym, or did you start a new sport? You could have easily exchanged a little weight to gained muscle mass which added inches to your chest and back.

It could have been wrong when you got it but since you didn't try it on, you'll never know for sure. Getting upset with the sales people is normal, but it won't help you now and will only make more stress for you to deal with.

Your basic options are: try to alter the gown or get a new one. How attached are you to the gown you have? It can probably be altered, but it may cost a lot. Depending on how the seams are I can get up to 4" on most gowns. On a heavily beaded gown, where the only seams I can get to are the sides seams, you may only give 2", but that might be just what you need to get it zipped.

Make an appointment with a sewing professional and try hard not to worry until she can get a look at it.

added February 2006

i have an alfred angelo wedding dress that i got three years ago but due to circumstances beyond my control was not able to have the wedding as planned- don't ask. anyway i was a size 4 then and now im not. getting married 2/14/06 cant afford alterations. it is a two piece dress and now i cant zip or hook. was thinking of making a bow and eye hook it on to cover zipper and to keep dress on but i don't know how to make a bow- go figure huh. but i read somewhere even dresses to size you can let the back seam out 1.5 inches and the side seams 3 inches but i don't know how- can you help me i'm desperate and lost and running out of time. any suggestions on how to cover zipper so i can leave it down( i can get it up about 1/4 to 1/2 way) or how to fix it without ruining it. top half is corset style and aside from sleeveless being a little tight on arms is do-able, has snap in piece for back but i don't mind the skin vs the piece that cant snap in anymore. but im desperate about the bottom and the back. PLEASE HELP IF YOU CAN! Thank you, Kathi

I like your bow idea. Can you ask an Aunt or family friend who knows how to sew help you? There's really nothing I can do for you not being able to see the dress. If you were near Cincinnati, Ohio, I could probably figure out what to do. I do often find ways to make dresses larger, either letting out seams or adding creative accents like your bow idea. I can't teach you how to sew over e-mail. I can give you ideas like letting out the side seams, but if you don't know how to sew, it's not going to help you.

If you don't have a family member or friend that can sew you need to find a sewing professional to help you. Please don't try to do this yourself. If you mess it up you will not be happy with yourself. It is very worth the cost to have a professional do it. I promise you!

added December 2005

Please help!

I ordered a bridal gown from an online shop that has turned out to be too small. I had tried on a dress 2 sizes bigger that was too big, and based on the designer's (Maggie Sottero) size chart, I ordered the one that most closely matched my measurements. Well, it is way too small and I'm worried that it cannot even be taken out properly. The problem is the torso section; the waist and hips fit okay. I'm worried because the back has a tulle covering the back that looks like there are no seams to be taken out. The dress is the Yasmin Maggie Sottero model. What are my options? The wedding is April 8, so it is on the borderline of being to order another one, and I would really rather not pay for and order another dress.

Thanks so much in advance for your help,

Have you spoken to them about exchanging this dress for a larger size? They usually won't do it but it's worth a try to ask.

Many dresses can be let out at least 1" at each side seam. That would give you 2" total. That is usually enough for most tight fit situations.

Yes, I did ask, and they are claiming that the manufacturer won't take it back. However, I am even more upset now because I had ordered a size 8 based off the company's standardized size chart. I did this because I knew that wedding gown dresses are pretty random, so rather than go with my normal dress size (which is 6 or 4), I ordered the one that had the 36" bust. I figured it would give me some room since I usually measure about a 35.5". I just measured the dress, and the bust is only 30.5"! Who can wear that? It is way way off, and nowhere even close to their advertised size. What is the point of having a standardized size chart if you don't follow it?

Is this something that I should complain directly to Maggie Sottero?

I would try to talk to Maggie Sottero and insist that it was their mistake and tell them the dress is only 30" when you ordered 36". They probably won't care or offer to do anything for you, but it's worth a try. You can threaten to sue them but I doubt that will do any good either unless you are really willing to deal with the mess of actually going through with it.

You do have another option that is less stressful on your nerves. You can buy another gown and put this one on ebay. I know many brides who have been pleased with the prices they get on ebay. Or you can sell it through a consignment store in your town.

I would not suggest trying to alter it. It can be done, but the stress factor is high. I have fixed situations like this, but it's a long difficult process that can be very expensive. Since you have the time, buying another gown is usually less costly on both your nerves and your budget.

Thanks for providing a realistic view of the situation. I think you are right. I already went on a mad hunt for a new dress this morning, and will probably try to sell the 1st one on ebay or through a consignment shop.

In addition to the wedding, we just bought a new house to close next month, and I'm starting a new job next month. So it's already a million stresses amplified, I think I need to pass on arguing with Maggie Sottero.

added September 2005

Dear Leanna,

Today I went for my first fitting and the dress fit too tight (Mainly around the stomach, it is a drop down waist). I think the lady when she did my measurements got the wrong size- I actually lost 5 lbs since May, so I'm certain the measurements she took were not right, she ordered me a size 14 but I think I needed a 16. Anyhow, no way I can get another dress, this one was made in Hong Kong and took forever to arrive. It just came in today and my wedding is on 10/1/05.

The seamstress from the bridal shop swears that she can take out some of the waist, and also give room for the cap sleeves that fit so tight. I am very worried that she won't be able to "Take it out" and it look proper.

Have you had to take out a dress before b/c it was too tight? I am just very very worried it won't fit.

Thank you,

Depending on what fabric your dress is made of seams can be let out, but it may leave a faint mark where the seam used to be. Most guests at a wedding never notice this but brides see everything. There is usually about 2" in any wedding gown that can be let out. Careful steaming of the seams can eliminate almost all of the old seam marks. If she was confident enough to tell you it can be done, I'm sure she will be able to do it.

You are not alone for very few gowns come in fitting just right. Seems lately, I've been getting many letters about gowns being too tight too. The bridal industry measurement charts need serious help, but I doubt that will happen any time soon. And that doesn't help you any. It's not going to be fun waiting for your next fitting, but try not to worry. I'm sure you will be much happier when you feel the dress fitting better.

Thank you for your quick response. 2" on each side can be let out, or 2 " total? Also, the dress is a Rena Koh made from raw silk. Described as "A Mikado Satin gown with scoop neck and short sheer cap sleeves with matching beading. The bodice is fully beaded with a drop waist. The skirt has matching beading along hemline and scattered throughout the skirt. "

I know it's too late in my case, but I sure hope they re-do the bridal industry measure charts, it really isn't accurate.

Thank you very much..

Any natural fabric, like silk, wool, and cotton, is easier to let out than a synthetic, like polyester. Raw silk is very forgiving too. The seams should steam out to be very unnoticeable.

Two inches total is usually in most dresses, but you can often get more. I got 4" out of a gown just last week for a lady. I would be willing to swear the size 10 they sent was really a size 4 with a size 10 label. That happens too.

I doubt you need 2". The difference in one size is only 1". You can zip it but it is tight, right? You shouldn't need more than that, and you don't want the dress to be too loose anyway.

added September 2005

Hello Leanna,
I just went in for my first alteration since my dress arrived at the bridal salon. Once I tried the dress on, I realized that is was too small and instead of hanging like it is supposed to, it bunches up around my mid-section and is extremely uncomfortable as it constricts my breathing. My measurements have not changed since I first ordered it. I am 5'4" and weigh 110 lbs. I was told by the bridal salon that the dress is indeed my size despite the fact that it doesn't fit. They informed me that it is too late to order another dress as my wedding is in 6 weeks and that I will need to lose weight in addition to having the dress let out a total of 1 inch which will leave holes along the seams. As you can imagine at 110 lbs, I really don't have much weight to lose and the bones in my chest will stick out if I'm any thinner which would be very unflattering in the dress I have chosen. I'm not sure how to proceed at this point and was wondering if you could offer any advice. Thanks so much, Jenny

This is not a common problem and your bridal store may have not encountered it before so they are a bit at a loss for what to do to help you. Telling you to lose weight was ridiculous, not to mention insensitive. Reordering is not an option, but offering to let you pick another dress from their rack is. Though you may not want that option, they should have offered it.

OK, to what can be done. I'm sure that there is at least 1" in the seams to let out. There may be more depending on how the dress is designed. I got 4" out of a gown just last week that was supposed to be a size 10, but I'd guess it was a 4 with a 10 label. The seamstress in the store may not understand that she can let out more than just the sides seams. Princess seams can give up to 2" if let out carefully. Usually there is not much in there, but if it can be sewn at only 1/4 of an inch for each seam that makes 1/2" total per seam. There are 4 princess seams, so it can add up to 2". Even 1/8 inch per seam will get you one more inch total. That might be enough to make you comfortable. If this is a strapless gown, you don't want it too loose anyway.

As for the holes, they should be able to steam them out to nearly nothing. For what is left, no one will notice and it will not show up in pictures. Many a gown fabric can be let out safely without any holes. Letting out is not an easy operation and the seamstress may be telling you these things to cover for the slim chance that you may not like the result. Many a bride wants her dress to be absolutely perfect and will settle for nothing less. They can be very demanding customers. But in honestly, many things a bride sees as imperfections in her gown will never be noticed by any guest at the wedding.

Getting them to make this right without adding significantly to your cost is going to be difficult. You can ask them to remeasure you and try to prove that they made the mistake, but it will take a lot of yelling and being a basic bitch to force them to respond. Adding stress to your life is not a good idea at this time. I would recommend finding an independent seamstress to alter the gown. It will cost you, but you will have more right for saying what you want.

There are other things you can do depending on how upset you are over this. You can report them to the Better Business Bureau. You can talk to your lawyer. If you paid with a credit card you can call your bank and issue what is called a charge back. The bank takes the money the store was paid and holds it until the store makes the transaction right. You have 90 days from the date of purchase to issue a chargeback. Once issued, the store has 10 days to make it right or loose the money. There may be other rules depending on what bank and charge company you are working with.

All these things will add stress to your situation and I'm a big advocate of limiting stress during wedding planning. There's enough there naturally for anyone's nerves.

I hoped these thoughts help you. I hate to see anything like this happen during a time when you want your life to run smoothly. Please let me know how things work out and know that I will be praying for you.

added January 2005

Hello..I found your wonderful site,thanks it has been very interesting indeed.MY question is this, I have bought the dress of my dreams (of course) I bought it on Ebay and got it for a song,it has the tags still on it of $950 US I got it with shipping for $300 Can ! It is in perfect is a size 12 Mon Cheri with detachable train,pearls and and a champagne color...I love it..ok..dress is in fine am not! I am about a size 14/15 street cloth size the dress fits my in the waist area but not in the bust area...zipper will not go up..alright I have 6 1/2 month to the wedding I can loss the weight right??? ;) Now,my question is it possible to remove the zipper in the back and make it into a corset lace-up back? The dress has spaghetti straps...Just in case there is still some reason the dress will not zip up ..The dress came with a matching wrap that could be used for material if need be (a thought) Is this idea to far fetched or could it be done do you think??
Any help would be greatly appreciated!

Yes, what you have suggested can be done and might even end up looking really nice, but it will take a skilled sewist to do it well. But you have lots of time and it might only take 10 pounds of weight loss to get that zipper to zip. I'm not usually for drastic alterations if it can be avoided. It often hurts the structural integrity of the gown.

If you do decide to use the wrap to piece the zipper area do it obviously. By this I mean you can't hid a piecing so be very obvious about it. Add pleats or some other decoration that is in keeping with the rest of the style of the gown. Don't just stick a piece of fabric smack in the middle of your back where every one will be staring at it during the ceremony. Piecing is usually done at the side seams to be less obvious, but I like the idea of removing the zipper and converting the back into a lace-up corset.

added July 2004

First I wanted to tell you how grateful I am to have found your website. It has really been a lot of help.

I have a concern that I was wondering if you could help me with. I purchased the gown of my dreams about 3 months ago at a store that sells designer brands from other stores that went bankrupt. So I got a beautiful dress for only $400. I was thrilled!! the problem was that it is a size 10 dress, and I fit into a size 12. I was determined to loose all the pounds necessary to fit into that dress. I've tried for the past 3 months, and I don't seem to be loosing the weight I need. So I figure my body is just not going to cooperate anymore (and I am not necessarily unpleased with my body, I just wanted to fit into the gown). The gown fits a lot better around the tummy area (even though it's still a little tight), and it doesn't want to zip completely up (my back is wider than the dress). I decided to stop stressing myself about my weight and just buy a tummy control or shapewear suit, to alleviate some of the problem, but I also want to take it to a seamstress to take some of the torso out.

The gown is a two piece (bustier-type and skirt) that are attached. I checked to see how much fabric can be let out and I saw about 5/8" or 6/8" of fabric on each side!!! I only want 1/2" to be let out on each side... but is this possible?!?!? What should I do if it's impossible to let out??

I would really appreciate any help or orientation you may be able to give me.


I generally try to avoid letting things out. The complications are many, from delicate fabric that doesn't like being unstitched to designs that make it impossible to move the seamlines. This is one of the big reasons I added a Bridal Studio to my site. To help brides avoid situations like this.

Having said that, your situation may not be hopeless. I have let out gowns with much success. You just need to understand up front that the results may not fit into your vision of perfection like they can when you are taking a gown in.

You have figured out problem number 1 - Is there enough room in the seams to be let out? Gowns used to be made with lots of seam allowance, but not any more. These days you are lucky to find 1/4 inch to let out on a seam. Which leads to the second item to figure out - How many seams can be used to let out? If there is only 1/4 inch but 6 seams, that is still a good amount of space.

The 3rd item of concern is: Are the seams snipped? Quite often the seams will be snipped at the curves to help the seam lay better. If this is so than it limits how much you can let the seam out.

The 4th item is the fabric itself. Many fine fabrics leave marks when the stitching in moved. Taking a seam in leaves these original stitching line marks on the inside and out of sight, but letting out puts these marks in plain sight. Some marks are more noticeable than others and it will be up to the bride what is acceptable to her. Guests at the wedding won't notice most of these marks but to some brides, just knowing they are there is upsetting.

Answering all the questions of can this be let out is complicated. It probably can be let out. Very few gowns are totally impossible to let out a little bit. It may not be possible to let out enough to make the fit perfect. Then you have the possibility of the old seam line marks showing. So the real question is are you going to like how it looks once it is let out? It may be that the gown can be made more comfortable but not a perfect fit. If you love the gown it's worth a try.


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