DG Education: An Alterations Crash Course

DG Education: An Alterations Crash Course

Hey y'all! We're back with another quick #dgeducation post, a part of our ongoing series to help educate brides and empower them to say YES to their perfect dress. Sometimes, once you find your perfect dress, the "what's next" is the most difficult step. Here at Dress Gallery, we're here to help walk you through every step of the way, from "YES" to the aisle. We do not employ a seamstress in house; you wouldn't want us DG girls to do your alterations! Our sewing skills are good enough for our sample gowns, but nowhere near the expertise needed to make you look your best in your bridal gown. We work closely with Juliana over at Quickstitch Wichita. She's a master seamstress with over three decades of experience in the bridal industry. She has done the alterations for every single Dress Gallery employee, so we definitely trust her! That being said - there are a few REALLY great seamstresses here in the Wichita area. As long as you have a consultation with the seamstress to openly discuss the work needed, their skillset, and your budget, you should be just fine!


Why do I need alterations? I thought the dress was ordered for my measurements? - This is probably the most common question we receive here at Dress Gallery regarding alterations. In bridal, the standard practice is to special order bridal gowns based off the designer's size chart. That means your consultant took your measurements, compared to the designer's size chart, and ordered a size that would appropriately fit you. It almost NEVER happens where a dress arrives and fits a bride perfectly; it was a base size chart that was ordered! Most brides need small "nips and tucks" to make a dress perfect. Sometimes, the consultant has to order a dress to appropriately fit your waist or bust, meaning the dress will need to be altered down to fit the opposite section. All dresses are made a standard length, which means almost every brides needs a hem and some love on the straps. And finally, bustles are added during the alterations process in order to pick the best bustle for your specific train! All of this means that your dress was ordered correctly, but now is in the next stage to truly make it YOURS.


Bustle? What is a bustle?  - A bustle is the added piece to a bridal gown that helps transition the train into the dress. After the ceremony and formal photos, most brides opt to bustle their train so they can easily manuever throughout the rest of the right. There are 9 different types of bustles that vary in their looks, complication, and fasteners. Your seamstress will walk you through all your bustle options, as they might vary based off the silhouette, fabric, and style of train that your dress has. 


How much do alterations cost? - We are completely independent from any seamstresses, which means that each business sets their own prices. We are not able to give direct quotes on services as each seamstress in the area charges differently based off the labor and amount of time given. We can comfortably that with Quickstitch, our preferred seamstress partner, that MOST standard wedding dress alterations are under $350 and standard bridesmaids dress alterations are under $100. Standard alterations includes hems, straps, bustles, and small amounts of being taken in. If dresses need to be taken down/in more than one full size, if the dress is heavily beaded, or if you're asking her to do custom work, then the pricing increases based off the amount of work needed. We ALWAYS recommend discussing the full picture of alterations before your seamstress begins working. (Quickstitch and many other seamstresses ask for payment before they pin, so be aware as you're shopping!) We've heard seamstresses in larger cities charging as much as $1200 for alterations, so definitely have that discussion with your seamstress prior to her beginning her work.


Do you do alterations in house? Where is your seamstress located? - Dress Gallery does not offer in house alterations. If we're being TOTALLY transparent with you....we don't have a seamstress on staff! There's no one employed here at Dress Gallery that has the extensive knowledge necessary to do full bridal alterations. We're great at buttons and hook and eyes - making a dress bodice smaller? We leave that to the experts. We work closely with Juliana over at Quickstitch and she is our preferred seamstress; however, there are a few really great wedding dress seamstresses here in town! You're welcome to use any seamstress you prefer for your gown.


How long do bridal alterations take? When should I drop off my dress? - There's no such thing as "too early" in alterations, but there is such a thing as "too late." Most seamstresses prefer at least eight weeks to finish your bridal look with standard alterations - your hem, straps, bustle, etc. If you're asking your seamstress for more detailed worked - custom sleeves, changing the neckline, taking in/letting out a dress more than one full size, etc. - than we recommend giving your seamstress at least twelve weeks to finish these additional projects. You can drop your dress off to a seamstress anytime, but we recommend at least two full months before your ceremony date, especially if your date is between June and November. This is wedding busy season and often when seamstresses are at their highest capacity, so taking your dress early allows them to better plan their schedules + priority dates. Juliana at Quickstitch prefers appointments for bridal, but is open for walk-ins as well!


What should I take with me to my alterations appointment? - Great question! We recommend taking any undergarments you want to see with your dress, your wedding shoes, and a trusted loved one with you for your first alterations appointment. The undergarments are great because it's a way to see whether they will work for your design features prior to your wedding day; with many gowns, customized undergarments might be needed to work with the design features best. We ALWAYS recommend trying off brand undergarments before spending the money on name brand options like SKIMS or SPANX. We've had many brides love their Maidenform high waisted underwear from Target just as much! Your shoes are important because the seamstress will hem your bridal gown based off the highest heels you're wearing that day; if you're planning a shoe change during the reception, bring your ceremony shoes to this appointment! And finally, a loved one is important for two reasons. One, because you deserve a hype squad - take someone with you that will help you get excited about your big day and this next major step toward it arriving! Also, we recommend this person take a video of the bustle being done; having a reference video on wedding night can certainly help the bustle process fly by much easier!


We hope that these quick FAQs answers a good portions of any alterations you may have. We are looking forward to talking with Juliana, our seamstress, for an upcoming blog post so you can get even more in-depth knowledge about this process!