Beware Of The Shop Seamstress

by admin on July 2, 2013

In 2008, my cousin L and I were both living 3-4 hours north of Our Hometown. We were not in the same town, but our respective cornfields were close. She was engaged and living with her future parents-in-law while working and planning her wedding which would take place in Our Hometown.

I don’t remember where she purchased her dress, but she was having it altered in My Town. While My Town was the county seat and larger than Her Town (with all of three stoplights), it was still small, and there was only one place in town to buy or alter a wedding dress.

She and her FMIL were coming into my town for her final fitting, and she asked me if I wanted to come. Of course, I said, I’d love to see the dress! So I met them at the shop and go in for their appointment.

Where they proceed to be ignored for a good 30 minutes, despite the FMIL’s efforts to be served. The woman who was to help with the fitting was helping someone shop, and evidently couldn’t be bothered to stop to help someone with an appointment. L is finally helped into her dress and comes out for us to have a look.

At first glance, she’s gorgeous. Then you notice that the hem is uneven. Then you notice a stain on the dress. Then she finds a hole along the seam in the lining. And then she points out that the removable straps she requested are not what she asked for. She had a strapless dress, but wanted something for modesty at church, to be removed for the reception. The employee proceeded to argue with her, saying, no, she wanted strapless for the ceremony, but straps for the reception to keep the dress in place. L stood her ground, but the employee didn’t like it.

They asked us to leave for a bit to finish it up. We were given coupons for a free drink at the coffee shop next door. I had friends in from out of town, so I had to go meet up with them. L and FMIL had shopping to do, so we went our separate ways.

A few hours later, I was with my friends driving to Nearby Small City for shopping, when L called me again. Am I still around, can I come give her a second opinion on the dress? Turned out, they hadn’t fixed anything that she could tell, she wanted to know if the hem still looked crooked, and the seamstress had the gall to inform her that L should sew in her own snaps for the detachable straps, which were also uneven. “I can, but I’m paying you to do it. So you do it,” is the response I’m told either L or FMIL gave.

In the end, I’m told the hem, lining and stain were fixed (I think by the woman who proceeded to do all the other bridal alternations for my extended family) and that L found a woman in Our Hometown (an employee of a National Craft Store Chain) to spend 10 hours in the days before the wedding making the detachable straps L had requested from the original seamstress months before.

In the end, L was gorgeous, the wedding was lovely, and she now warns anyone who mentions that store about getting alterations done there. 0701-13

Alterations seems to be one of those areas where great expertise is needed to be successful and finding a good seamstress/tailor is difficult.   Many bridal shops hire seamstresses to make alterations on gowns they sell but I personally think it is better to seek out an independent tailor/seamstress with good reviews to make significant alterations to an expensive gown.

{ 45 comments… read them below or add one }

Wild Irish Rose July 2, 2013 at 9:44 am

What a pain in the neck. I have to say that I got very, very lucky with my wedding gown. Not only did it fit perfectly except for needing to be shortened just the least little bit, but it cost less than $500. And the boutique where I bought it was run by the single most professional woman I’ve ever met in the wedding industry. She actually knocked 10% off the gown because she had gotten a minuscule drop of blood on the lining while sewing it–which she had of course removed and I never would have known about it had she not mentioned it.

My daughter belongs to an organization that requires the girls to wear formals for certain events, and there was a small boutique within walking distance of our house, where they designed and made wedding gowns and bridesmaids’ dresses and all manner of formalwear for ladies, all of them beautiful and original and very reasonably priced. We bought two or three gowns there, and then suddenly the boutique was gone! I have no idea where these ladies went or how to find them! :(

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AS July 2, 2013 at 10:14 am

How does it matter whether the straps are for the ceremony or reception? If the BTB wanted detachable straps and paid for it, then she should have the exact straps that she asked for. I hope they at least gave her a refund for the straps, and took care of all the other awful goofs.

This is the trouble with shops having a monopoly. If there isn’t a bridal dress store nearby, the only store in town knows that no matter how bad they are, brides will continue to keep coming. Maybe they are nice to in-town people because they need a good word goimg around about them, whereas the BTB being out of town, they didn’t care much about.

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Tracy July 2, 2013 at 4:31 pm

“How does it matter whether the straps are for the ceremony or reception?”

Good question. The only thing I can think of is that they gave her spaghetti straps, which would serve the purpose to hold the dress up but wouldn’t provide modesty, rather than wider straps that provided more coverage for the ceremony.

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Ally July 2, 2013 at 11:27 am

Honestly, the bride should have walked out at the first sign of trouble and not let this person butcher the dress any further.

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Mae July 2, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Customer service seems to have been in a decline for decades.

I think Admin’s advice about finding an independant tailor/seamstress is very wise. I bought at ball gown for my senior prom (1991) that had to be hemmed and taken in a bit. The seamstress at the place I bought it (small town bridal shop) said she could have it done in a week since she was not busy and had no other projects. 3 weeks later, (2 weeks before the prom), it was still dress. Calls went unreturned, bridal shop employees were no help- she did a lot of the work out of her home and she had not answered their calls either. Out of desperation, my mom & I looked up her address in the phone book and basically staked out her house until someone came home. It turned out to be the woman’s husband. With a extremely angry mother and crying 17 year old, he was very sympathetic and agreed to let us come in and see if we could find the dress.

Thrown across a chair, bodice seams ripped out and no markings for the hemline, is how we found the dress. I ended up begging the mother of a friend, Mrs. Prewett, to help and even though she was not a “professional” she had made a few beautiful, simple shirts for my friend, and she made a mean apron, so she agreed to try to fix it. ( The 2 other professional seamstresses in town were swamped with other prom gown/wedding gown alterations)

On prom night, my date arrived at the door and I was in the dress, standing on a stool as Mrs. Prewett finished the hem. I tried to pay her, offer to help with housework, chores, etc and she would not accept. Although I thanked her profusely for months, I still want to give her a shout-out: Mrs. Prewett, if you ever read this, THANK YOU!! You saved my senior prom and were always so nice to me and all the girls. Love you always.

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Carrie July 2, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Wow, stories like this make me feel so lucky my dress fit perfectly, even the length was right with 3 inch heels. All that was needed was a bustle, which I found an independent seamstress for, and she did it for only $20.

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Ellen CA July 2, 2013 at 1:32 pm

Just make sure the seamstress is a professional who wants to do the job… Vanessa bought a beautiful, used wedding gown and needed to have it altered to fit. Her mother told her “don’t pay for alterations, my friend Rosie can do it.” Problem is, Rosie (my mom) is an 83 year old woman who loves doing fancy needlework and making baby clothes, but in no way is qualified or even interested in attempting to fit a wedding gown as a favor to a friend. She turned them down and I don’t think her friend has spoken to her since.

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Jen July 3, 2013 at 9:54 am

This is the problem I have, too. I am known amongst my friends, family, and fellow bellydancers as being a pretty good costume maker & designer, so for a while, a lot of them thought it was no big deal to ask me to sew things for them (ex. hemming pants, taking in shirts, helping someone make a costume, making the costume from scratch for them, or “can you do the base work [i.e. tedious part] so I can just do the fun decorating parts?”)

I pretty much turned down all of them and became very vocal about how I HATE to sew, but I do it because I have very specific costume designs in mind and if I want it made the way I envision it, I have to make it myself.

“Oh, but you’re so good at it, it’s easy for you!” Yeah, well so is scooping a litter box or washing the dishes, but I’m not gonna do that for them either. And if they actually tried, they’d find out that hemming pants is actually pretty easy, too — it’s just tedious. It’s amazing how many people stop asking if you say you’ll teach them how to do it themselves.

Back to the OP, I’m glad it ended up working out for L and I’m glad she warns people away from the bridal shop. :)

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EchoGirl July 3, 2013 at 7:14 pm

I think the problems in this thread (no pun intended) are as much about assuming the availability of a person’s services as about sewing. I sew all the time, I’ve made five or six items for myself (without a sewing machine, someday I’ll get one and probably make five items a year) but I’ve only made a few items in my life for others, and only once on request (the others were gifts for people and they were my idea). The one was for my boyfriend who wanted a Captain Kirk shirt and who regularly buys me expensive gifts (more than I can comfortably afford to reciprocate when it comes to value), so I was happy to do it for him.

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EchoGirl July 3, 2013 at 7:17 pm

Hit send too soon. Meant to add that my point is, if anyone else just asked me to make something for them and I didn’t have a good reason to I would say no. I might say yes for a good friend but that’s my discretion. No one has the “right” to ask for services any more than they would for material items.

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NostalgicGal July 4, 2013 at 1:58 am

When I retired from sewing for others, I stated very simply. “It will cost $50 if I touch my sewing machine. It will go up from there.” (no I am not going to destroy a machine not built for industrial sewing to put a zipper in your too tight jeans you ripped out/destroyed for less than $3 including the cost of the zipper). When I moved to where I live now, I was pretty much inundated and hounded by those that wanted those sorts of repairs done cheap, or hem kid’s pants for 50c a pair; as anyone else in town that used to (be dumb enough to) do this have all quit for very good reason. I sew what I want now, when I want. If I sew for someone else, I’m making a gift for them from me to them. Period.

Ergala July 8, 2013 at 11:57 am

I have this issue with cakes. I absolutely cannot and will not work with fondant. A friend asked me to make her wedding cake. I said sure but that it would be butter cream (which I can make LOOK like fondant). She was okay with that but she kept sending me links to all these HUGE fancy cakes that obviously had to be done with fondant and major tools. I tried to explain that I didn’t have the tools to do 3/4 of what she sent me but that it would be a pretty cake. Btw I wasn’t being paid to do it. She panicked a week before the wedding when the test run I did with a red velvet cake recipe went sour. I wanted to see how it would come out way in advance since it was a new recipe. It didn’t. She freaked out and immediately got another friend to bake the cake but have me still decorate it only now at the friend’s house. So I had to pack up all my tools and truck over there. Only to see the cake had been made out of betty crocker cake mixes. There was NO WAY this was going to hold up….no way. I tried to explain this but they told me to put in dowels. Um that isn’t going to help either. Whatever her cake, it’s the day before the wedding….what choice did I have. THEN she showed up with sugar sheets. I have NEVER EVER worked with sugar sheets and I told her this. She demanded them. And she demanded fondant. So yup I had to make fondant, attempt to get it on there after I had already spent a fortune on making a MASSIVE batch of butter cream. Needless to say it did not look like I had planned. She complained and cried and said it looked awful. The next morning she texted me demanding to know how I was doing my hair and nails. I was performing the ceremony. She and the friend who baked the cake were at the salon getting theirs done. I was never invited and I had spent all my free money on her damn cake stuff. I told her I was putting it up in a bun and that I don’t have nails since I bite them. She became irrate and demanded I wear fakes and that I find a salon RIGHT NOW and get my hair done. I refused. She didn’t talk to me at all during the reception. By the way she insisted on a MASSIVE cake for 15 people. I told her to just do a sheet cake to serve and a smaller tiered one for display. She refused that so then she was stuck with that absolutely huge lopsided cake. And apparently that was my fault as well. We are no longer friends.

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Rae July 9, 2013 at 8:27 pm

How painful for you! My mom used to do wedding cakes (and the occasional special event cake) and she refuses to do fondant. A friend of the family approached her a couple of years ago about a possible wedding cake and mentioned that she wanted fondant, and my mom said that she does not have experience with it. The bride ended up going with someone else to make a fondant cake, and it did not hurt my mom’s feelings. Plus, I have yet to find a fondant that actually tastes good.

But seriously, its terrible that your “friend” treated you that way and did not listen to you.

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NostalgicGal July 9, 2013 at 11:37 pm

My condolences.

We did have a cake… my then Fiancee could cook some, he was a batchelor and learned more than survival food (not the era of cheap common microwaves everywhere) and could actually make a decent box mix cake. He wanted to do the cake. I agreed. He had baked up several 9×13′s and some rounds of white cake the day before, and was going to assemble it the morning of…

Then came The Invasion. My mom was okay until she got two of her sisters there, in our apartment. They Literally Took Over. And booted fiancée out of apartment. (Mom would not admit that her daughter was living with her fiancée before the wedding, he and I had decided that since we’d become engaged the ceremony was for everyone else, we had the important part already between us). They made a pretty decent MESS of things IMO on the cake, got into the silk flowers and stuck some of them on this tiered thing they built with the cake they had… and the mess they made of the kitchen took us three days to chisel off after they left.

That was one reason why my mom decided not to talk to me for three months after the wedding; if she got really ticked at you you got the silent treatment. If I called, she’d not say a word and hand the phone to dad…. I had promised my now DH that HE could do the cake, he wanted to, and he was going to make a castle (a rectangle with four corner round towers) and put buttercream on it. I was pretty sure he could have pulled it off well too. I was not happy about that because I’d promised HIM he could.

If I ever get married again, I’m going to go buy a couple of boxes of those wrapped snack cakes and pile them up.

Ergala, if you were closer, the chocolate milkshakes would be on me (stiff drink…)

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June First July 2, 2013 at 1:43 pm

OP–Thank you for the warning!!

This is the one thing I really regret about my wedding dress: I cheaped out on the alterations.
I was a pretty low-key bride, and didn’t have My Dress planned for years. I didn’t want to look like a princess, or even a duchess. :)
But taking it to the dry-cleaners down the street instead of getting it altered by a professional seamstress was a mistake. Some photos are good, and some photos show the cap sleeves sliding down.

Also, OP, I really like the phrase “Our cornfields are close”. I think I’ll use that!

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NostalgicGal July 2, 2013 at 1:55 pm

The one time I hired someone else to make something for me, I ended up 100% burned. It is in the archives here of eHell. I never did receive anything, at all. (having paid for material and fittings that were a bust (nothing ready for fitting at all and I still had to pay for the fitting) and after requesting a stock size three times, just sew it and hand it over). A group lawsuit was going to be mounted but that never succeeded as I wasn’t the only one with issues with that person.

Ehell here is full of stories about wedding shops and alteration hellstories… kudos to those of you that have had good experiences.

If I were to get married again I would either buy off the rack (if I bought the dress I am the owner of it and I can take it home now. If you tell me I can’t, then I will buy elsewhere, as once I bought it it’s mine.) or sew my own. Yes I did get married in a dress I bought off rack and took home, and altered myself.

I can’t see how a dress shop can stay in business if they treat customers like kaka, mess up on ordering, zark up alterations, but it seems by reports on here that the wedding industry is full of it and I’m glad to not be a part of it.

Now days with internet and a lot of places you can look up a business, even if its the only place around, a shop owner and manager can not afford to pull stuff like the OP listed. Or the seamstress involved. If that’s what’s paid for, better do it or else. On time, on schedule, as ordered. Feedback can be a real b*tch and the internet remembers forever…..

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OP July 2, 2013 at 3:37 pm

OP here — after L, we all learned. The next seven brides (we had eight weddings in five years) bought there dresses wherever, but all got them altered by the woman I think salvaged L’s dress. The brides and most of their attendants. This seamstress specializes in bridal and formal, went to high school with my mom, and rents retail space from my dad. It also helps that she’s really good at what she does.

@AS and Ally — I’m not sure how L resolved the payment with her original seamstress, but I have a feeling her MIL (who is perfectly reasonable) gave someone a piece of her mind and had all the fees forgotten, or at least reduced.

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June First July 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm

I am really happy the seamstress who repaired the dress got so much business from your friends and family, OP. Very reassuring that the nice people do benefit from doing their jobs well.

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Lex July 3, 2013 at 4:58 am

It’s funny you should mention this as my sister has a similar issue with a crooked hem when she paid to have alterations done on her wedding gown! It seems they clearly don’t put a lot of effort into it or care about the quality. When it is my turn I’m buying the dress as-is and doing any hemming or alterations myself – BY HAND! I’m a sufficiently accomplished seamstress myself that I’d be happier doing my own alterations than trusting my expensive gown to the shoddy workmanship of others – at least if the hem is crooked I only have myself to blame!

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Puzzled July 3, 2013 at 5:19 am

Wow, I was really lucky with my wedding dress evidently. It was pretty simple as far as the style goes, but it had some elaborate beading that made it hard to hem. The shop did a beautiful job. I’m so sorry you had this happen, especially since you were sort of held hostage by the fact that you only had the choice of one shop.

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JD July 3, 2013 at 9:08 am

So many of my daughters’ friends used big bridal shops when they got married, and the brides and maids often got burned on the alterations. They were incorrectly done, or they were unbelievably expensive, or both. My daughters were in about 14 weddings between the two of them (they almost could have had their own movie about bridesmaid dresses), and they were tired of hearing it was $200 to raise a plain hem and take up straps. When my girls got married themselves, they bought their dresses from a great little shop, but had an independent seamstress whose work they were familiar with, do the alterations. They got off much cheaper and were totally satisfied with the work done. Funnily enough, the seamstresses they chose were in our own very small town — but these ladies had business reputations to protect in this little town, and so did excellent work. That shop’s owners in the OP’s town has to be not so bright, to do such poor work in a place where word of mouth can kill your business.

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Angel July 3, 2013 at 9:19 am

I feel L’s pain. My wedding gown was altered poorly and I didn’t really realize it until the day of the wedding. Luckily my cousin is pretty good at sewing and she sewed me into my dress. Otherwise everyone would have been able to see my bra. And my matron of honor’s dress was falling off of her. Needless to say that boutique went out of business within a couple of years after my wedding. The customer service was ok but I was a little annoyed with how she treated my bridesmaids. If I could do it over again I would have purchased the bridesmaids dresses elsewhere. Luckily my bridesmaids are good friends and they forgave me.

I’m glad that L’s story has a happy ending.

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Isabella July 3, 2013 at 9:37 am

As a seamstress, I can tell you it goes both ways. There are bad seamstresses/tailors out there as well as a ton of Bridezillas. The thing that gets me is the straps thing. Why on earth would any seamstress tell a Bride “you can do it yourself?” other than possibly as “It’s very simple should anything happen at the ceremony or you change your mind. You can sew them back on or off yourself”? If she wanted something more modest for church, I probably would have suggested a small lace jacket (shrug) so it can easily be removed at the reception.

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NostalgicGal July 4, 2013 at 2:04 am

A bridezilla that managed to gain 17 pounds in 10 days, don’t ask me how but despite my best guesses as she was gaining throughout all are fittings; there was no way her sculpted lace bodice was going to work, and I did a day and a half marathon to paste that back together…and delivered it to the church just in time… I feel for any seamstress sewing for a BZ. I quit sewing for brides after that one….

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kellyrnh July 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm

I agree with many here – get a quality seamstress. I was a bridesmaid for an out of town wedding. I had given my measurements and even though I actually dropped a few pounds the dress needed to be let out a smidgeon (turns out everyone of the 6 bridesmaids had to do the same – not sure how that dress company did their measurements!). I was new in my town, so I looked up a seamstress and went with it. She measured me, I put the dress on for her, she marked/pinned, etc, and I was scheduled to pick the dress up 1 week before I flew to the wedding. When I tried on the dress, it was huge – she let it out way too much. She told me not to worry she would have it perfect and to pick it up in a few days. Well she had me pick it up the morning I flew out, so not even time to try it on, I had to hope for the best. I put the dress on in the hotel and it was still enormous! A strapless dress that is about 4 sizes too big was not something I could wear in church. I started crying, my boyfriend had to call my girlfriends who were in the same hotel to come help. They grabbed a sewing kit and sewed me right into that dress, over the zipper and everything, and if anyone noticed they didn’t say anything luckily. My boyfriend got a kick out of having to cut me out of the dress that night though! ;)

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Nikki July 3, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Reading these stories makes me feel really blessed to have found the seamstress I used – I bought my dress from Small Shop, but didn’t feel great about the level of customer service there, so I bought some of my accessories from National Chain. A woman there recommended to me that I use Past Employee who had done alterations for them until she opened her own shop.
Past Employee’s work wasn’t easy – because the hem was too long and all of the decoration was at the bottom, with a decorated waist, she literally had to remove the entire skirt of the dress to shorten it. She also took it in at the bust and added a GORGEOUS bustle to it. She charged me all of $250 to do everything. In the end, the dress didn’t even looked like it had had any alterations done – it was THAT good. No one could tell that the skirt had been entirely removed.
All that to say, even though the first shop had terrible customer service, the specialty alterations lady that was recommended by National Chain was fantastic. Good service does exist!

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Rae July 4, 2013 at 1:17 am

Yes, alterations can be a tough call. I think I remember my parents telling me about how one of my cousins stood up in a wedding, where everyone insisted on her getting her bridesmaid dress altered at the expensive bridal shop. Multiple alterations were made multiple times, and then the dress fell apart before the wedding. My aunt, an experienced seamstress, ended up saving it.

I too am a relatively experienced seamstress, though I am not sure if I would ever want to touch bridal. That takes guts! And you really need to know what you are doing in order for it to look good.

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Jenn50 July 4, 2013 at 1:29 am

I think it’s kind of unfair to suggest that you won’t get good service from your dress shop. The shop I bought my dress from was small, and the owner was the seamstress. Her attitude was that I was paying for a dress that fit, so any alterations were part of the cost of the dress. She treated me like a queen, did a flawless job, in spite of having to take over a foot out of the TOP of the intricately beaded skirt (in order not to lose the scalloped hem) and didn’t charge me an extra penny for it. I think it’s a crap shoot as to the quality of ANY professional you employ, unless you have references. Rather than avoiding the shop seamstress, I’d advocate being ready to jump ship to a different seamstress IF you have problems.

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Lex July 4, 2013 at 4:13 am

I’m a bit of a cosplayer and in the process of making a Game-of-Throne-Cersei-style gown out of Terracotta and Olive green taffeta and because me and my sewing machine don’t get on well, I’ve decided to stitch the entire thing by hand using Elizabethan Seams – it’s going BEAUTIFULLY and I’m so proud of how it is turning out although my cosplay gown making is earning me a bit of a seamstress reputation in my family and my sister regularly turns up to dinner at my house toting a garment or two that she’s bought for a few £s in Primark whose seams (unsurprisingly) have unravelled or the fabric has frayed out of the seam. She expects me to fix them for her as ‘You’re good at sewing’. Being my sister I don’t mind so much, but recently I was telling a fellow cosplayer at work about my gown and she started enquiring about how much it was costing me to make with fabric and pattern and notions etc she then started to shift the conversation towards how much it might cost if I were to make a gown for someone else – at that point I changed the subject rapidly. I don’t mind the work when I’m making something for myself in front of the TV but I’m not going to be beholden to someone else because it sucks the joy out of the craft.

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Cherry July 8, 2013 at 12:17 pm

I agree – half the joy of a hobby is doing it if and when the mood takes you. Trying to do it on demand can be extremely draining and the amount of stress and pressure it can put on a person just isn’t worth it

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Rae July 8, 2013 at 12:52 pm

I know your pain Lex. I was in 4-H and clothing was my biggest project. I made multiple garments, along with a new dress for every school dance. I too earned a reputation and people began to push repair jobs and whatnot at me. I was so sick of hearing “oh you sew? Can you fix my jeans?!?!” I rarely share information on my special talent anymore. I just like to do things for me and the occasional gift for someone else.

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Lex July 10, 2013 at 4:16 am

I have a no-jeans rule – I don’t touch jeans – not even my own – the one time I tried I ended up shattering a few sewing machine needles (and I’m certain that is half the reason my machine hates me).

I’m proud to display and ‘own up’ to sewing my own gowns – when people comment on my work it makes me feel warm and fuzzy although dodging the bullet of other peoples expectations is difficult. I think you have to be very black-and-white about it – either you accept commissions or you don’t – there is no half-way house of ‘if you pay me enough’ because then you get into the murky world of customer satisfaction – is your customer happy enough with your work to justify the cost? It might have taken you 3 weeks to do but if they aren’t happy you end up in a cloud of negativity and end up feeling bad about your work. I mind so much if a seam on my own gowns is a teeny tiny bit wonky because it was 2am and I was desperate to finish that last 6 inches of seam. It isn’t a problem to me if I need to tweak the fit here or there and fiddle about with awkward notions and trims. But when doing it for monetary reward, the quality expectation is much higher and I REALLY don’t want to spend 3 weeks making a gown for someone only for them to complain that they don’t like how a part of it might look.

I am branching out more and more into making my own dresses – particularly evening dresses as I struggle to find anything in a 1-piece to fit me – surprisingly I’m actually an hourglass shape where my hips and bust are the same and my waist is 10 inches smaller than my hip measurement, but I struggle to find gowns that fit in the waist and bust – usually they fit in the hip/waist and are too tight on the bust or fit in the bust and are too tight over my hips – making my own means I am cutting a pattern that fits my measurements rather than trying to get off-the-rack to work for my shape. I love it and this particular gown is my first real attempt at doing things ‘properly’ from the ground up – usually my cosplay gowns have been done on a deadline so corners are cut. I have no deadline on this so I’m taking the time to make it beautiful – hand stitched, Elizabethan seams, fully lined, interfaced, plenty of notions and trims.

My sister recently turned up to a BBQ at mine with a floaty chiffon shirt where the sleeve has frayed out of the seam at the shoulder. Looking more closely at it the other night I realised that being chiffon, rather than over lock as many cheaper places do, this garment (purchased from Asos I think) was sewn using FRENCH SEAMS! This is a considerable pain in my rear – it now means that I will have to unpick a section of the French seam, ease the frayed fabric into it and stitch it back down. Joy.

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NostalgicGal July 8, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Glad you dodged the bullet on getting roped in to sew for others if you don’t want to!

I started to say “If I touch my sewing machine it’s $50, and goes up from there.” and with the rise in everything else, next time I’m going to say it’s $100. I do not reinstall busted jean zippers and things like that especially for the next-to-free these people want to pay for it. (though I did trade with one gal that had a heavier duty sewing machine, she shorted hubby’s insulated coveralls and I hemmed up three pairs of her hubby’s slacks… that way we both got vital work needed DONE… funny how other’s work gets done before yours)

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Marozia July 4, 2013 at 6:13 am

Not really sure what to say about this case. Certainly the Shop Seamstress was in the wrong.
Cousin L wanted a strapless dress for the reception but modesty straps for the Church service.
We must be really liberal here in Perth, Western Australia as I’ve never heard of any of our Churchs being upset about the Bride’s dress style. Why didn’t OP and Cousin L either decide on a lace/tulle/silk shawl for the Church ceremony and then just take off for the reception? That, at least, would’ve been easier than arguing with an indignant seamstress.
I’m glad all went well for the wedding.

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OP July 8, 2013 at 8:52 am

It wasn’t the church that wanted L to have straps. It was L who wanted the straps. And she was already juggling a train, a bouquet and a rosary, she didn’t want to throw a shawl/wrap into the mix.

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AthenaC July 8, 2013 at 10:48 am

It’s not necessarily that the church cares about the bride’s modesty – maybe the bride just feels like maintaining a certain level of modesty for church.

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PHW July 4, 2013 at 2:01 pm

I would have to agree with what Admin said about getting a good seamstress that is independant of the place where you purchased your dress. I have had three experiences with altering dresses, one was for my wedding and twice as a member of the wedding party. The first time I was a bridesmaid I purchased an overpriced dress, at the request of the bride, that was to include alterations at a bridal store. I was measured and when the dress came in the woman at the store recommended making some adjustments to the straps (kept falling down) and the hem that was too long. I wasn’t able to pick up the final altered dress up due to work, so my now MIL did. The hem was uneven, couldn’t be salvaged (my MIL tried ironing it out to fix it) since the seamstress had cut the dress and it only had a 1/4 ” hem remaining and the straps were left as is. The day of the wedding I had to keep hiking up the straps to keep them from falling down and my bra was clearly visible in a bunch of the photos. The second time was for my wedding. I purchased the dress at a local salon and they recommended an independant seamstress. She did an excellent job on the alterations, although the straps turned out to be a little short (ended up with some bruising in my armpits!). The third time, as MOH for my Mom at her wedding, my MIL offered to hem my dress. She is a highly skilled seamstress and did a great job, but had the dress for about a month (up until the week before the wedding).

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MonkeysMommy July 5, 2013 at 11:11 pm

This happened to us at a big chain bridal shop. I dropped my moms MOB dress off to be pressed, along with my wedding dress (both bought at said store). When I picked hers up, the zipper was completely torn from the dress, and split the back when she put it on! Thank goodness a family member was there with a sewing kit! The bridal shop admanently denied any wrong doing, of course. I’ll never shop there again.

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NostalgicGal July 8, 2013 at 2:58 pm

Sounds like someone else tried on that dress and ripped the beejeezers out of it… and the shop had a blind eye and deaf ear. And probably LET someone else try to stuff themselves into it (used it as a sample).

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Leah July 8, 2013 at 11:48 am

I’m a contracted seamstress with a gown shop, and have worked in a high end dry cleaner as the alterations specialist. I also do a lot of costuming. Over the years of taking commissions, buying other artists work and just workin in the industry. There is a plethora of “professional seamstresses” out there who really aren’t. It’s unfortunate, but anyone with a sewing machine can call themselves a seamstress. I’ve worked jobs where I wasn’t asked to bring in examples of my work before being hired. I quickly learned why after seeing some of the shoddy craftsmanship of the previous person.
When looking for someone to do high cost alterations for you, ask to see their previous work (before/after photos are nice) or a review site.

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Ergala July 8, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I was yelled at by my sister’s seamstress. I was not originally maid of honor…my sister’s best friend was. But she backed out. So my sister asked me. One problem….the dress was a 28W and I was a size 10. Instead of ordering a new dress my mother insisted we alter the current one. Every single fitting I had lost another pound or two. How on earth the seamstress managed to make it look right is beyond me. It was a dress from a catalog not an actual formal gown. But every single fitting she’d get mad at me and yell at me that I was going to ruin the dress. I was a size 6 by the wedding.

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Melanie July 26, 2013 at 3:20 am

Were you trying to lose weight, or was it unplanned?

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momofeveryone July 11, 2013 at 11:05 pm

story of my life….i can sew. pretty well for myself and my family, but it kills me when others ask me to make something. the think that kills me is no one seems to know how much fabric costs. i will spend 100 bucks at the store and then spend weeks working on a dress. i have 2 small kids and am pregnant again, no im not doing you a ‘favor’ when i know it will never be repaid.
the one and only dress i ever made for someone else was her wedding gown. she bought the fabric and i sewed my little butt off. it was amazing! then the questions started. can you do this for me? how much would it cost? how fast can you do it? ugh! no! im not a pro i just do it on my own!

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Moongirl August 4, 2013 at 1:07 pm

When I got married, I ordered my dress from my SIL’s shop in my hometown, and had it delivered to a shop in the town I was living in. I went in for a fitting, and it just needed to be shortened a bit. When I went to pick it up, I was suprised to see an additional charge other than for the alteration.

Me: What’s this other charge?
Them: Oh, it’s for ironing your dress.
Me: I didn’t ask you to iron it for me.
Them: Well, most brides usually do, so we assumed you would want us to.
Me: Well, I didn’t ask you to, so why would I pay for something I didn’t agree to or was asked about?

At this point, they rather reluctantly removed the charge, and I just paid for the agreed upon alteration.

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Heather October 4, 2013 at 12:03 pm

My mother made my dress… and I loved it. I wanted emerald green. I don’t like white on me… but I love green. My mother was just relieved that I didn’t want black. She made my dress and covered a hat with the green fabric… it was a sort of pillbox. Then it took us forever to find a veil in the green. But we did. The only issue was attaching the veil to the hat. I married into a Moroccan family. At their weddings, the bride changes several times… during one change, a gold belt in the form of a snake is traditionally used with one of the dresses. My future mother-in-law gave me one of these snake belts as a shower gift… what to do with it? I wasn’t wearing a traditional Moroccan dress. My mom and I had a brainstorm. We coiled the snake belt on top of the hat and sewed the veil to the snake… with its head clipped to its tail, coming down in front… almost on my forehead. It was gorgeous!!! It made the ensemble.

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