Alterations Gone Wrong: What to Do When Your Dress Wasn't Tailored Correctly

Chloe Moore Photography

When it comes to The One — your wedding dress, that is — your worst nightmare might be its return trip from the tailor complete with shoddy or inaccurate alterations.

The first line of defense from this kind of dress disaster is, of course, choosing the right seamstress from the start. "Every designer approaches dress construction differently, so working with a professional who is familiar with the architecture of your dress is a great way to avoid mistakes," says Joanna August, founder and designer of Joanna August. But when the damage is already done, here's what you can do.

Communicate the issue with the tailor.

Before you assume your dress is ruined, "ask the tailor what she recommends, what is possible, and how she can help you," says Stephanie Arnold, of Astrid & Mercedes. "If it should unfortunately come to an impasse, revisit your bridal shop team and ask for a new referral."

Ask yourself what you can do to make it work.

"Because of multiple fittings and careful measurements, drastic issues are not caused by alterations alone — think: plastic surgery, pregnancy, drastic weight loss or gain, new wedding shoe height — and arriving at a solution simply might involve group think and creative problem solving," says Arnold. Can you swap your shoes, or add an accessory, to hide the flaw?

Grab some extra fabric.

If your dress was taken in too much or its hem lifted too high, "procuring some extra fabric from the designer may be the best approach," explains August. "These are both difficult issues to overcome, but extra panels can always be added or a skirt re-cut." Keep your expectations in check, however. "These fixes can come at a great expense," August warns, "and sometimes the original effect cannot be achieved to perfection the second time around.

Ask for changes to be "basted."

As you work on your initial alterations — and certainly on any corrective measures — ask that your tailor baste, "a temporary stitch seamstresses use that can easily be removed," explains August, "so you can approve everything before excess seam allowance or hemlines are cut and sewn."

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