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I get a lot of calls from brides telling me that another place told them their dress could not be altered. Many times it is the store where they bought the gown. I understand the limitations gowns have to the altering process but in truth, most people who say it's impossible just don't know how to do it.

In discussing alterations keep several things in mind.

1. Any alteration is limited by the fabric and seam structure of the gown. Many things can be done on one dress that can't be done on another depending on these factors.

2. There are aspects that delicate fabrics have that can make the taking out and replacing of stitches a tricky thing to do. In these cases you want to keep the changes down to the minimum necessary to avoid stressing the fabric.

3. There are structural needs of a gown that have to be considered. If a needed alteration will harm the structural integrity of the gown than the bride has to weigh that with her comfort level to find a fit that both looks good and lets the gown function as the design intended.

4. The design or seam structure of the gown may not lend itself to easy altering.
For instance:

A gown that has no waistline can not be hemmed at the waist.

If there is only 1" of fabric in the seam allowance the seam can be let out only 1/2".

Beading that is sewn on after the lace is attached to the gown will fall off if the lace is moved.

5. Many alterations can be done but will change the design of the gown so that the bride may not like the result. These things need to be explained to her in great detail before any sewing is done so she will not be surprised by the outcome.

6. It is important to remember that the alteration lady did not create the fitting problem. Many factors go into poor fit. Sometimes the bridal store ordered the wrong size. Often the bride gains or looses weight during the long wait between the ordering and the receiving of the gown. Some gowns fit differently than the store sample that was tried on and fit just fine because the design sizes in a funny way.

7. Little is impossible, but it may take a lot of out-of-the-box thinking and creative sewing to get the fit to be where the bride wants it. The bride has to be educated as to the ramifications of any thing that may be tried.


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