As a Designer/Seamstress, I can offer some advice on alteration costs, and put together some blog posts and information for our brides, so that we can provide a better insight into the likely costs of bridal alterations.
Depending on the style of dress and complexity of the work, the cost for alterations will vary. We are often asked to estimate the cost of wedding dress alterations – over the phone or via email, however giving an ‘unseen’ quotation alteration is not always as easy and straightforward as it would seem. If you have any questions regarding your wedding dress alterations, or would like to book in for an appointment or consultation, we would be more than happy to have you in for a fitting. If you would like a rough quote prior to your fittings, ask if you can have a free consultation, to get a quote on your alteration, and that’s best to avoid any miss understanding.
A straightforward alteration like taking a dress in at the side seams, can differ from dress to dress. There are many different techniques used across bridal dressmaking, most designer dresses have multiple layers, linings, facings and a huge array of style differences in construction. Many dresses are boned in different ways, and each designer has their own, couture, style of adding such structure to a dress. Using our expertise to determine how each gown should best be altered takes skill and garment construction knowledge.
Sometimes alterations can be costly, not necessarily because they are more difficult to do, however it can just be more time consuming. If a beaded or embellished gown needs alterations, all the beads and adornments on each seam need removed, the alteration is sewn, and then all the lace & beading goes back on by hand. Alterations are a couture process and unfortunately to get the job done well there can be no shortcuts. Any bridal seamstress will know this, which is why it’s worth your while hiring professionals like ourselves to alter your wedding dress.
Lots of brides get in touch with us and when asked what alterations are needing done to their dress will say “It does not need much altered – just in at the body and up at the hem”. This sounds straightforward, however to achieve the perfect fit, a bodice may need take in at the side seams, however in addition bust shaping will need to take place, shoulders may need raised, bust cups added, and even alterations like shortening the back of the gown to allow an illusion back to sit perfectly flat, are all alterations that our trained eyes can offer
Keep in mind that is a lot of work to alter a wedding gowns. When you need the bust taken in “just a little”, it doesn’t make any difference. Taking a dress in “a little” or “a lot” requires the same amount of work either way. You have to take the dress apart quite a bit just to be able to get in there & take it in “just a little”.
It costs more to alter a wedding gown than a regular dress because it is so difficult wrestling with such huge dresses & it’s hard putting such a huge dress into the sewing machine. Think about the manufacturing process… the gown is constructed in pieces, it’s much more manageable. Wrestling with a huge gown that is all done is so difficult. Also, it sometimes feels like you are performing surgery when it comes to these intricate designs.
You may find someone that works out of their home, and their prices can be less, but keep in mind, and ask your self are they good enough at what they do? I have many brides coming to us, with tear in their eyes, that their dress is ruined because they did not go to a true professionals. The average home sewer would not even know where to begin, so don’t ask Grandma to fix it for you. This is why you are paying good money to a knowledgeable & experienced seamstress.
Where possible we will always finish a garment in the same way that the original manufacturer did. If a layer of a dress was finished by hand, we will re-create this to ensure that the dress looks untouched. Many bridal garments have many layers, all that will need alteration when raising a hem, and usually many layers that are all differing materials as well as differing finishes. Each layer is pinned individually, usually at the fittings brides are surprised to know that their dresses have upwards of 10 layers that will need adjusting. We sometimes will alter a dress hem in stages to ensure that lower layers are sitting perfectly before attempting to pin top layers. Taking the alteration process in steps allows us to achieve a superior finish. For example, a beaded gown will be altered but not re-beaded for the second fitting, to ensure that the fit is perfect before hand finishing the embellishment for the final fitting.
When it comes to hems, again you are dealing with many layers. It would be like hemming 3 or 4 gowns! Many gowns have horsehair braid in the hem to give it body… that is one of the hardest hems to deal with. If the gown has a scalloped border hem, that too is an extremely difficult challenge!
When it comes to the bustle, think about how much time you will be spending in the dress while it is bustled up! The average bride will only spend a short time during her ceremony wearing the gown with her train elegantly trailing behind her. She will spend the majority of her time with it bustled up during the reception. The bustle needs to be durable enough to withstand sitting on it and dancing for a few hours in it and even possibly people accidentally stepping on her hemline. You do not want the bustle to break! Then you’re scrambling for a safety pin…
The breakdown of how much wedding dress alteration will cost:
On average wedding dress alterations cost between $300 and $800. Most brides require 2-3 fittings. This prices are not necessarily only in our shop, we did a survey and compare wedding dress alteration prices across the Atlanta, and surrounding suburbs. We want to be very comparable, and constantly check our competition to make sure that we are in line with their prices.
Take in Shoulders; $40 – $120
Take in Sides; $60 – $200
Take in at Bust; $90 – $185
Hem; $90 – $350
Bustle; $75 – $160
Mend lace; $40 – $160
While bridal alterations are complex and time consuming, we are experts at what we do, ensuring that all jobs are given the due care and consideration that they deserve, while making sure that you alterations are always complete in time for your fittings, and making sure that you and your dress are looking the best on your wedding day!
The dress will need to be steamed or pressed after alterations. For a simple dress, this will cost around $40 and up towards $100 for a multi-layered dress with a long train.
Shopping Tip for Wedding Dress Alterations