Wedding & Formal Dresses – It’s in the Fitting
Whether you are having a dress made or having an off the peg dress altered, the most important part of the process is the fitting and marking of what needs to be done
The New Dress
You should be measured for far more than bust waist and hips, if you are to end up with a perfect fit. Individuals have greatly differing bust sizes (obvious!) as well as differences in back circumference, shoulder width, torso length – the list goes on. A competent dressmaker will therefore take lots of measurements, even allowing for asymmetry, yes we are not all symmetrical and variances between left and right need to be noted. Several fittings will be necessary for a perfect fit.
The Altered Dress
The ready made dress will already be a compromise, so don’t expect it to fit as well as a made to measure item.
Current designers don’t seem to have grasped the trends for figure changes in the modern girl. I have commented before about the decrease in the bust/ waist difference but they still make them the formerly “ideal figure.” This means inevitably that a larger size is needed to fit the waist and guess what, the bust has to be taken in. “Ah, but what about today’s larger busts,” I hear you say. This is true in many cases, but it makes the dress bigger at the FRONT, not all round. When did you ever buy a sized dress with a given bust cup size?
Ready made wedding dresses and formal dresses are made to allow taking in at the side seam without total re-construction. Other seams including bust seams can be done, but often mean removal of parts of the dress de-constructing most of the bodice at least. A heavily corseted dress with an inner foundation can be a nightmare to alter, particularly at the bust seams, where a lot of plastic boning can be sewed in, including where the underwire would normally go. This is a sign of a better dress, but not for the poor dress maker!
The side seam alteration cannot allow for many of the differences described above, you merely end up with a tightening, usually at the top down to the waist, which is all you can expect without going into the hundreds for the price of more complex alterations. Most alterations are done like this and unless you have unusual proportions, it suffices in many cases.
Lining it up
I have often written before about avoiding dresses that are much too big and too small by any amount. The bust line at the side seam will be altered if too much is chopped out at the top and it is very difficult to retain the original shape. You often end up with a dip there, as there is nowhere to go on the side back panel,fabric wise. Top seams are usually trimmed to about 1/4″ which doesn’t give you much fabric to work with.
Bands Lace and Trimmings
The whole process is made more complicated and don’t be surprised if the costs go up here, as lace and beading will have to be undone and re-trimmed to be re-instated, which all takes time. Ruching or gathering also needs to be matched in many cases.
Cross bands can be a big problem, as a parallel panel going across will have to be adjusted to fit the new side “dip” and a perfect job here cannot be guaranteed. Lower bands may also be thrown out by the alteration and need to be re-matched. Fitting these bands properly to look right at the seam will be costly in time, so you should allow for this.
There are lots of dresses out there. Do you really need to buy one that is two sizes too big?
To fit a side seam alteration and to re-hem a straightforward dress, marking with pins may suffice, but for heavily padded and boned bodices typical of many wedding dresses, the seams should ideally be opened up to get an accurate fitting. The thickness of the material can interfere with the accuracy of the pins, and as a compromise, tacking marks, (using thread) score higher in this area. Doing it properly will not necessarily mean more fittings, but it will certainly mean a more accurate job is done in the first place
To conclude, if you buy a ready made dress, don’t pick one that is more than one size too big if at all possible. You could employ a dressmaker to accompany you to the shop to advise on such matters, it might save you a lot of expense and also having dresses’ good or bad points made clear to you might help you in making your choice objectively, as well as tearful mum sat in the corner who thinks her daughter looks great in everything!
There are no comments yet.
Leave a Reply