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Everything you need to know about Wedding Dress Alterations

by Tina Waller ( News )

Everything you need to know about Wedding Dress Alterations

Tina Waller is an experienced Wedding Dress Designer based in Maidenhead and provides everything you need to know about wedding dress alterations and what to expect.

Your wedding dress might not be ‘made to measure’ in a bridal shop

When a dress is ordered from a regular bridal shop they will take your measurements and order the wedding gown in the nearest dress size to match. They will normally opt a size that matches your biggest body measurement. i.e. bust, waist or hips. Many people are a different dress size at the ‘top’ from the ‘bottom’. In this case the ordered wedding gown is NOT made to measure. Sometimes a longer or shortened length can be ordered, but this usually results in extra charges.

This means that when your dress arrives at the bridal shop (usually several months later), it will no doubt need adjusting and altering to fit. Some shops will have an in-house seamstress, but many do not have this service, and this is where brides will then contact a wedding dress seamstress like myself, to make these alterations and final touches.

I have altered many, many wedding dresses, and when the dress fits well the brides whole body language changes and she 'owns' her dress, it becomes her dream come true. This is a real joy to see!

10 Important facts by Tina Waller:

  1. In my experience, a dress can only be taken down by two dress sizes successfully, so if you have bought from a bridal shop it’s important the fitting is as close possible.
  2. Sometimes a dress can be let out to make it bigger, depending on how big the seam allowances are. The dress would need to be looked at first by a seamstress.
  3. If you are planning on wearing a bra, it is always advisable to go to a lingerie department to get fitted. Especially, if you’ve opted for a strapless bra, you may need to purchase a size smaller. If the back of the dress is very low or open, or has an illusion back styling it may not be possible to wear a bra and you should bare this in mind when selecting your dress.
  4. Padded bra cups are a little bit of magic and can often work wonders with a dress.
  5. Your wedding shoes should be worn to all your fittings, even if you plan to wear flats, as the body holds itself very differently in shoes!
  6. If you find the hem is too long on your dress, I will only take up the front of the dress, the train length will not be affected.
  7. If you have a scalloped lace hem, it can be taken up and all that prettiness will not be lost!
  8. If you are much shorter than average, or much taller, then a readymade dress, even in the correct size, will always have length issues.
  9. When a bride tries on a bigger sample dress at the shop they sometime 'clamp' or put pads into the back so the bride can see what the dress should looks like. Although this helps in some ways, it can give a false idea of how the skirt shape will be in your size, usually giving the idea that the skirt is more fitted than it was designed and made to be.
  10. Speak to your seamstress about a 'bustle'. A bustle can be added at the back to most dresses. This is a way of taking up the train by means of a button & loop and/or ribbons. The train is 'folded or hooked up' to get it mostly off the floor for ease of movement and to ensure your dancing moves are not affected! Most ready-made dresses do not have this and a seamstress will be needed to add them. Although some styles of dresses just do not look right with a 'bustle' and a small ribbon on the inside near the hem (but out of sight) may be a better option. The bride can loop this over her wrist and carry on with the celebrations.

Wedding Dress Alteration Service by Tina Waller

I will always advise Brides to get 3 dates in the diary and these appointments should be booked in advance of your big day, especially if your wedding is in main wedding season. Some Brides think they that they should leave the appointments until they have lost weight, and try and book in close to the big day, but this is very risky as most seamstresses will be very booked up.


This is how I work:

What to expect from the 3 appointments: -

1st Appointment = I will pin and fit your dress and discuss anything else you would like done.

2nd Appointment = The alterations will be partially completed allowing me to check the fit and alter further as necessary.

3rd Appointment = The alterations are finished, so you have a final try on and collect your dress.

NB. You should expect your final fitting to be 2 to 4 weeks before your wedding day and this is also when you would be taking your dress away with you!

Major Alterations – is there a solution?

There are just four words to express when buying your wedding dress – Do Not Panic Buy!

A bargain wedding dress, such as one from a sample sale should only be bought if it ticks all your boxes and shouldn’t be bought if it only ticks your cost box!

If, apart from taking a gown in and taking a hem up you require lots of major changes made to the style of the dress you plan to buy........this may not be the dress for you, and you will be stuck with a dress that does not look and feel how you wanted it to.

Here are some examples…

  1. If the neckline needs changing from a straight style to a sweet heart
  2. You would like sleeves or straps added
  3. You want an upper bodice adding to a strapless dress for modesty
  4. The skirt you would like re- shaping from an 'A' line to a 'fishtail' shape

If you are considering more than 2 of these big changes, then ask ..." is this really your perfect dress?".


Choosing the right Wedding Dress Seamstress

When looking for a seamstress to do your wedding gown alterations, it should be with someone who specialises in this area and has lots of experience with special occasion wear.

Ask them questions about the types of wedding dresses they have altered, how long they have been working in the industry and more importantly, make sure they know how to deal with the special and delicate fabrics, beading, boning, etc…

If you are thinking about getting your wedding dress made or require some alterations, why not make an appointment to pop in to see me for a free consultation. At this consultation we can discuss all your ideas, look at fabrics and budget and let you know how it all works.

If you would like to find out more about our alterations service or wedding dress design services, please contact me on 01628 624340 or send me an email




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