Dressmakers
Emma Margeaux Bride Online Columnist

Dressmaker FAQs

(Courtesy virna-ogniricciouncapriccio.blogspot.com)

How much of the budget should I spend on my dress?

As a general rule, about 10% of your budget should be spent on the bride and groom’s outfits. Obviously, your dress will cost a lot more than your groom’s tux, especially if he is renting one. Keep in mind that this part of the budget includes the dress, alterations, veil, shoes, jewellery and any additional accessories. 

How much more expensive is a bespoke dress than an off-the-rack dress?

This depends on exactly what type of dress you want but as a rule of thumb, custom-made dresses are about 50% more expensive than a dress on display in a dressmaker’s design studio. 

How much will I have to put down as a deposit?

Bridal stores and dressmakers usually require an initial deposit of 50-60% of the total cost of the dress materials and labour involved. 

I’m on a tight budget and can’t afford a new dress. What can I do?

The beauty of hiring a dressmaker is that you don’t need to have a dress made from scratch. If you find a pre-loved dress that you are absolutely set on, chances are, a dressmaker can adjust it to suit your figure and style. 

My mother has her heart set on watching me walk down the aisle in her wedding dress. Is there anything I can do to make the dress look less outdated?

A dressmaker can help you decide what style you would like to wear and whether or not this is achievable with your mother’s dress. The size and type of fabric will play a large role in this. The beauty of older dresses, especially lace ones, is that most styles which have gone out of fashion have come back into fashion again. A vintage dress with old lace, fitted perfectly to your figure, will make a huge statement as you walk down the aisle. 

I found a beautiful dress online. Can I have it fitted by a dressmaker?

Of course! Talented dressmakers can alter and custom fit almost any style of dress to any figure. Just make sure that you allow plenty of time for the alteration process and that you order a size big enough to allow for adjustments to be made. Even the most gifted dressmakers can’t make fabric appear. It is much easier to take in a dress than to let it out when there is no fabric to be let out. 

What is the most difficult type of dress to alter?

If you are planning on ordering a dress online, be careful not to order a dress with a lot of boning, zips or buttons as they can affect the way that the dress will fit and may limit the alterations that your dressmaker can perform. 

When should I go to the dressmaker to order my dress?

Gorgeous bespoke gowns can’t be rushed. Make an appointment as soon as possible. 6-9 months prior to your wedding is usually advised. Great wedding dressmakers usually have waiting lists and you may have to wait a few weeks to even have a consultation. Consultations usually take about two hours and you may need more than one. Once your measurements have been taken, the fabric may need to be ordered and then the dressmaker can begin work on your gown. After this, you will need to book a fitting appointment and then adjustments may need to be made, all of which take time.

When should I make an appointment with a dressmaker for minor alterations?

Even though you only need small alterations, most dressmakers are extremely busy and it may take them six weeks to complete the work after your appointment. In order to allow for waiting lists, it is best to start the alteration process at least three months prior to your wedding day. Your dressmaker may offer packages where last minute alterations are also included, in the unfortunate event that your dress doesn’t fit when you try it on closer to your wedding date. 

After my initial consultation, how many dress fittings will I need?

If you bring a pattern or pre-purchased dress for the dressmaker to work from, you shouldn’t need more than three fittings. During the first fitting, the skeleton of the dress will already be made and you and the dressmaker can determine whether any major adjustments need to be made to the length of the hemline, train or sleeves. This is also the time to determine whether or not the dress needs to be taken in or out to better fit your figure. At the second fitting, these adjustments should have been made and you can determine whether any minor alterations need to be made. By the third fitting, everything should be perfect. However, if your dressmaker is working on your dress from scratch by custom making a pattern for you, you will most likely need a few more few fittings.

Does my dress HAVE to be white?

Believe it or not, the tradition of wearing white on your wedding day has been around for less than 200 years, and has absolutely nothing to do with 'purity', but simply a fashion trend begun by Queen Victoria. You can wear whatever colour you want to wear and your dressmaker can make colour suggestions which will best suit your complexion and wedding theme. 

Do I need to purchase the fabric or will the dressmaker do this?

This is something you need to discuss with your dressmaker during your initial consultation. Some dressmakers will work out the measurements for you and ask you to source the fabric yourself. Others will include the price of the fabric in their services fee and find the fabric for you. Whilst others still will source the fabric for you but require an additional payment for materials on top of their services fee. This is all dependent on the dressmaker, the style of dress and the type of fabric you need.

I have pre-purchased some fabric but have been told that it is difficult to work with. Will the dressmaker charge extra for the type of fabric I have chosen?

Again, this is something you need to discuss with your dressmaker during your initial consultation. Some dressmakers simply aren’t willing to work with certain types of fabric for certain dress styles. Others may charge an additional fee for working with some types of fabric whilst others may only charge a fee on certain dress styles for fabrics which are difficult to work with. 

I found a dress that I like but the bridal shop said they won’t customise the dress for me, apart from fitting alterations. What can I do?

If you would like decorations, such as beads or lace, added to your dress, a dressmaker, not affiliated with your bridal shop, will be able to make these adjustments for you. It’s up to you whether you decide to have your fitting alterations done by the bridal store or dressmaker. The store may offer these alterations for free but it could take several months and you might not have time to have the decorative details added by a dressmaker. In some cases, it is better to purchase a dress in store in its original condition and then have the decorative details and size alterations made by your dressmaker, even though it may cost a little more. 

What should I bring to a consultation with my dress maker?

Any accessories you are planning on wearing as well as some samples of colour schemes or themes for the wedding. Make sure you bring a friend, whose opinion you trust, to give feedback on any of the suggestions made by the dressmaker. 

What should I bring to the fittings?

Make sure to bring the shoes, underwear and any accessories that you are planning on wearing on your wedding day. Bring a friend or two to give a second opinion on the dress as well as a camera so you can see the dress from all angles and see how well it photographs. 

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