Services for Ladies

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Also click here to find important information about fittings during the coronavirus crisis.

Amble Bridal and Prom – Advice Section 

Bridal and Prom Tips and F.A.Q.s 

  1. How do wedding dress alterations work? 

A wedding dress usually requires some adjustment to achieve the perfect fit. A bridal boutique may just stock certain (small) sizes, so you may be unable to try a dress on in your closest size until it has been purchased and made. “Made to Measure” is rarely actually made to your measurements, but to the nearest stock size. Remember that the staff in the bridal shop want to make a sale, and will flatter you, so when choosing your dress, have a brutally honest family member or close friend with you. 

Try to choose a dress which gives a good fit over your bust, as this is usually a trickier alteration than other areas of the dress.  The most frequently requested alteration is shortening dress length. The more layers there are to take up, the more it will cost to have it altered. For a bride whose weight is likely to fluctuate right up to their big day, bodices with a lace-up back can be the best style option. The most difficult styles to accommodate weight loss can be bead and sequin encrusted fitted bodices, or low-backed, figure-skimming styles.   

You are likely to need a series of appointments for your alterations, the first of which you should make in good time, even if there is the likelihood of the date / time being amended.  When you attend your first appointment, expect to pay for your fitting as well as a deposit towards the alterations, and to leave your dress with the company to carry out the work, until it is completed to your satisfaction. 

Please also read our article on risk of purchasing fake wedding, prom, and bridesmaid gowns online. (link) 

  1. How much does it cost to have my wedding dress altered? 

It can vary a great deal and is dependent on the complexity of the alterations required and the particular style of gown e.g., where there are a lot of layers to work with, this will take longer than a less structured dress.  We prefer to be able to quote for alterations on an individual basis, once we have seen the bride in the dress, and had the opportunity to examine its structure. 

Although the company you buy your dress from may appear to be the most convenient option for alterations, they may not be the most cost-effective or have the required skills.  Having your dress alterations carried out by a seamstress who has knowledge of the specialist processes involved in the construction of a complex garment, and who has the equipment, materials and facilities to offer a professional service, is recommended. 

Fittings and alterations are charged by the hour, and you need to build this into your wedding budget. On your first fitting appointment, you will pay for the fitting and a deposit of around 30% of the quote, before the work starts. Subsequent fittings will be paid on the day, and a further payment towards the total work. A payment record is kept so that everyone is clear You may also need to discuss with your bridesmaids who is paying for their fittings and alterations, and to inform the alterations company, to save any awkward discussions at their fittings.  

  1. Why are bridal alterations more expensive than other garment alterations? 

Everything is based on the time taken, and our bridal fittings and alterations are actually charged at the same rate as our other work, they just need more fittings and take longer to do.  We like to get the fit of the top half correct before we look at the dress length.  

Staff have gained their knowledge over several years, and are providing a skilled service, so should be considered to cost a similar hourly rate to other skilled professionals. As there is a great deal of handling in a long, multi-layered garment made from fine fabrics: space and staff time needs to be allocated for bridal alterations, as the dress needs careful handling and takes up a lot of room.  

  1. When should wedding dress alterations be done? 

We would request that clients allow an absolute minimum of 8 weeks for alterations to wedding dresses. 12 weeks is preferrable, which allows time for any disruption due to unforeseen circumstances.  We will aim to finish no less than 2 weeks before the event. Working up to the week of the event is never ideal for either the bride or ourselves. 

Please note that we do not operate a steaming service, so this fortnight also allows you the opportunity to hang your wedding dress up at home, to see if creases drop out, and to decide whether you still need to make arrangements for steaming. 

Although we will always try to accommodate brides with last minute fitting concerns, we cannot guarantee that staff will be available to oblige at short notice.  We also charge an express rate for items needed in less than one week, or where it results in other customer’s orders being delayed or overtime being worked. 

  1. When should prom / bridesmaid dress alterations be done? 

For individual special occasion dresses, we would request that you have your first fitting at least one month before the event.  Please book in well ahead, so that you are not disappointed, particularly on the run up to prom time.  We cannot always fit in last minute appointments, and we would hate to disappoint you.  It is also worth noting that we do charge an express rate for items needed in less than one week, or where other customer’s orders have had to be put back to be able to accommodate urgent work.  Express appointments are not always available. 

A note of caution if you have several bridesmaid dresses to buy: Arrange for them to meet with you at the bridal boutique to ensure that the style and fit is suitable for everyone.  It is a false economy to purchase cheap dresses online only to find that nothing fits or suits anyone, and that the fabric and manufacture are poor quality.  You may end up spending more on alterations than on the original dresses. 

  1. When should gent’s special event tailoring / suit alterations be done? 

For the most common alterations on men’s suits (shortening of sleeves; taking in / letting out waistbands; or shortening / letting down leg length) we would request a minimum of 3 weeks before the event.  Please book the fitting appointment in good time to avoid express alterations (which cost extra and are not always available).  Correct footwear is needed for trouser leg length / width fittings.  For other alterations, please leave more time. It is also worth noting that we only work on clean garments, so you may need to allow extra time for items to be dry cleaned, which we are happy to arrange. 

  1. How do I prepare for my first wedding / prom / special occasion dress fitting? 

Please bring your dress in a full-length gown bag (which we will sell you if you don’t have). Your dress will be stored in this bag, and it is also useful for us during the alterations to minimise handling of your garment.  

Your foundation garments and shoes alter your posture and, therefore, how your dress will fit.  Clients need to have the correct underwear and shoes (or at least shoes of the correct height) for their first fitting, and to take these, as well as petticoats, hoops, veils, belts and any other loose accessories back home in a bag, leaving only the items requiring alteration with us.  Remember to bring all these items to subsequent appointments.  We may have to ask you to reschedule your appointment if you do not have these items with you.  (In this case, you will be charged only for the time we have prepared for and been in the fitting appointment, not for the full session).   

Please understand that fittings take place in our private changing area in our upstairs sewing room, which is a working area and not overly large.  With this in mind, we kindly request your understanding that we can only accommodate 1 additional person to attend the fitting.  This should, ideally, be someone who can assist the client with dressing and fastenings. We must ask you not to bring children with you to fittings. 

Where we are doing alterations to several bridesmaid dresses from the same group, we have found that this works best if the bride is the companion at each fitting.  In times of Covid, we will not be able to offer the back-to-back bridesmaid fittings (one out, one in) that we have done previously, due to the cleaning that will be required in the changing area between clients. 

Because of the nature of dress fittings, you may be more comfortable having your companion help you to undress, dress and have fastenings done up.  This also gives them valuable practise for the big day itself. However, you will need to expect that there will be physical contact by the seamstress in order that she can do her job, and you may well be seen in your underwear.  We always do our best to make fittings private and relaxed, and to reassure anyone who is feeling a little nervous. 

We will take your measurements at your first fitting and will not expect any significant variation from them between fittings. If the client is trying to lose weight for the wedding, it will obviously cause issues if the weight loss continues beyond first fitting. 

At the current time, face masks / coverings must be worn from entering the shop and throughout the fitting (although there will be an opportunity for clients to look in the mirror without a mask on and to have photographs taken).  You will be asked to sanitise / wash hands before entering the fitting room. Client’s shoes and outdoor clothing need to be bagged when removed, so we will supply you with a bin bag to put them in. 

We like to take before and after photographs of the areas which we are conducting alterations on.  We will ask you for consent to use these in our publicity.  These generally don’t include a headshot, so your anonymity is preserved.  They would also never be used before the date you have given for the wedding.  We appreciate being sent photos from the big day which show you and our work looking great, and which you are happy for us to use in our publicity.  You are entitled to withdraw your permission at a later date, and we will respect your wishes.  

Please also see our guidelines on Bridal and Prom Alterations during Covid-19.  (link) You will need to bring the completed form with you to your appointment. 

  1. How much time should I allow for a bridal / wedding dress / bridesmaid dress / prom dress fitting appointment? 

Your fitting cost will be priced proportionately at our hourly rate.  For most occasion wear appointments, we will block off an hour for the first fitting, and will need time to prepare the fitting area beforehand, so walk-in (as opposed to booked) appointments are not possible.   

Please arrive at the designated time for your appointments, as it will impact staff and other clients if you are late, and may result in us being unable to complete everything we need to do within the time we have allocated.  Subsequent appointments are generally shorter.  Please do not arrive too early, as there is no designated waiting area.   

You are able to park on Queen Street for an hour from 10am up to 5pm, so you may need to drop everything off and then re-park.  Please allow time to do this, particularly during peak periods for holiday parking. We suggest that you plan this before your appointment day. 

  1. Can I get a free quote without committing to a fitting? 

For simply styled dresses which have very few layers and which don’t require much done, please email photographs of yourself in your dress from a variety of angles, and indicate where you feel the fit needs to be improved.  We will do our best to give a ball-park figure for your alterations in writing.  This system is particularly helpful during the time of Covid. 

  1. Can you bustle my train? 

Dependent on the style of dress, type and weight of fabric, and length of train, we can suggest various solutions to allowing movement without your train hindering you.  This is generally the last alteration to be done, as we need to have the length correct before we start.  If you are having outdoor photographs, you really need to be able to get your train off the ground to save getting your dress dirty, but a bustle isn’t always the correct solution.  Please also see our section on dry cleaning. 

  1. Should I have my wedding dress dry cleaned? 

You should budget for the cost of dry cleaning your wedding dress. The price varies dependent on the style of dress.  We would highly recommend that you have someone bring your dress in for dry cleaning as soon as possible after your wedding, as it is always easier to remove fresh stains.  The dirtier a dress, the more severe the cleaning process needs to be to remove the stains.  This is particularly true of dirty hems or spilt red wine!  You will receive your dress back in beautiful clean condition, allowing you to store or sell it.  We can also remodel your wedding dress at a later date into a cocktail dress, or even make it into a christening gown.   

  1. What questions should I ask when choosing a seamstress for my wedding dress alterations? 
  • Currently, ask to see their policy for fittings during Covid, and be comfortable with the arrangements and the amount of contact time needed. 
  • Ask to see photographs of their work and / or customer reviews. 
  • Email a photograph of your dress with information about the fabric and layers, then ask if they have experience of (type of alteration) on (type of gown / fabric / hem finish etc.).  Be satisfied with the response before requesting a quote or booking a fitting. 
  • Ask how much time will be needed for fittings and alterations, and be wary if this seems insufficient. 
  • Ask where the fittings and alterations will be carried out, and by whom. 
  • Ask what you need to bring to your fitting.  If you aren’t asked to have the correct underwear and shoes, find another seamstress. 
  • If the seamstress works from home, ask if it is a pet free and smoke-free household. 
  • Ask if your dress will be covered by business insurance whilst it is on the premises. 
  • Ask about arrangements for directions and parking so that you aren’t left feeling hassled on the day of your first appointment, and make sure you have all their contact details with you before you set off.