How to Choose Your Wedding Dress Seamstress
Ah, the question we see consistently on all the local bride pages: “Where do I go for alterations?”, followed by twenty five different recommendations. Heck, you can Google that question and have way more recommendations (in a city like Houston). Recommendations from tailors at the dry cleaners, to high end designers who create from scratch, to someone who works out of their home, the bridal boutique with an in-house seamstress (like us!). Your wedding dress is no pair of pants, though. It’s not something you want to gamble with and choose the first recommendation you see – you need to find the right person.
Alterations are not something that brides typically even think about until a few months before their wedding. Most bridal boutiques do not have an in-house seamstress, so when you get the call that your dress has arrived from the boutique you purchased at, you’re usually left wondering “well, now what?”. Some boutiques will offer you a referral list, but you still need to vet those referrals before handing over your gown. We’re going to give you a list of questions that you should ask any possible candidate(s) before choosing the person who is right for you, and also a few things to keep in mind when conducting interviews.
A few things you may be asking yourself before we dive into this: do I even need alterations? Yes, you do. If your dress arrives and fits PERFECTLY, please go buy a lottery ticket ASAP. And then call me and I’m going to go buy one too because the stars just aligned. Unless you are working with a designer who took custom measurements of your entire body and had multiple fittings during the gown making process, you will very likely need some sort of alterations completed. Most notably, a hem. A hem is the length of your gown (where it touches, or extends beyond, your toes). All gowns are made to a size chart, so the gown will usually come with extra length because the designer wants to account for the average woman’s height (plus some), and then a little extra for whatever possible heels she may be wearing. The other area most people need adjustments made to is the bust and shoulder area. The third alteration we typically see is a bustle. This is where you will want to pick up your train (typically after the ceremony) and attach it to the back of your gown so you can get low on the dance floor.
Now that you know you will (likely) need alterations, read on for how to find your perfect seamstress.
Questions to ask before selecting your wedding dress seamstress for alterations:
How long have you been in business?
Look, I root for the underdog. I know we all need to start somewhere, but now is not the time to let a brand new, independent seamstress take control of your alterations. You need someone who has experience with wedding dresses. A lot of experience. Make sure this person has been in business for a long time (I’m talking years). Years on years.
Can you show me pictures of your work?
These days, we won’t go to a restaurant without looking through forty Yelp photos before deciding they are a worthy eating establishment – ask your seamstress for photos of their past work! Have them explain to you what was done in the photo and use your best judgement to see if it looks good. Better yet, request before & afters. Ask questions if you see something you do not understand in the photo.
Do you work alone?
This is something you probably haven’t thought of, but some places (like a big ole bridal chain you all know) have multiple people working out of one location. The person who pinned your dress is not the person who cuts your dress and that person is not the person who sews your dress. If there are questions to be asked by the cutter or the sewer (unofficial terms – I just own Evangeline Bridal. Luz, my seamstress is the real pro but she’s too busy cutting and sewing to help me with words for this post), those questions are going to be tough to answer because they did not get to see you in your dress. You need to work with someone who is independent, or who only has one or two assistants. You need your head seamstress to pin you, ask questions, look over the structure of the dress with you, work on your dress and then fit you again for round 2 (and sometimes 3 and 4).
Do you have insurance?
Y’all. How much did you spend on your wedding dress? Did you make a face when you answered that in your head? Okay. Please ask your potential seamstress candidate this question. While most contracts allow for errors and mistakes on behalf of the seamstress, you also need to think about what could happen if there were a fire, water leak, or theft? If they don’t have insurance and your gown becomes a pile of sequined toast, your sh… so, I was going to say so out of luck.
These are our top/critical questions we suggest to ask. It’s not much, and their answers will give you so much clarity with making your decision. My final suggestion is to make sure you feel comfortable being in their presence and speaking with them. This is an intimate process – from them literally helping you in and out of the dress, to asking you questions about the things you want done to your dress. Sometimes you will have more than one option to choose from (a bustle, for instance), and you need to feel comfortable to choose what you like the best, and also tell them if there is something you don’t like.
Now, I’d be remiss to not mention the fact that we have an amazing in-house seamstress here at Evangeline Bridal.
We’re in North Houston, so if you live anywhere (from South Houston to Montgomery, or beyond), come check us out. Luz is the BEST, and I am constantly in awe of her work and attention to detail. For those still reading, here are our answers to the questions we posed above:
- Luz has been in the business for thirty years. She was taught by her mother, who has worked for bridal boutiques and owned her own studio, and still sews to this day. She has worked on both men and women’s formalwear, and obviously, wedding dresses. Lots of them. She has seen it all.
- Yes! We’ve got two for you here: the first one is a custom veil that Luz made by hand. The bride brought in the material, told us her vision and Luz made it happen. The second is a bride who found her dress with us, but unfortunately it was about 4-6 sizes too big for her. Luz brought it down to size and even took off the sleeves for her like she requested. Here’s a super sweet from one of our brides as well: “After finding the “yes” dress, her seamstress Luz went way above & beyond my expectations! She was paying close attention to the finest details that I would have missed myself AND did every alteration to quite perfection.”
- Luz works alone! From start to finish, she is the person who oversees the process and makes sure it is perfect for you. If she has questions, she will ask you and sometimes will call you back in to try on again just to make sure it’s perfect.
- We do! We definitely do. As a bridal boutique, we keep coverage on all gowns in the store at all times. We hope we never have to make a claim, but it’s there if we do.
Do you feel more confident in choosing your seamstress? I hope so! If you feel like visiting us at Evangeline Bridal in Tomball, TX we’ll be happy to welcome you! You did not have to purchase your dress with us to have your alterations completed with us. You’ll love Tomball – we’re surrounded by antique shops and amazing local food!
If you have any questions, please feel free to call/text us at 832-497-7799 or shoot us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, I'm Candice!
I’m a Native Houstonian, a mom, a firefighter wife, and the owner of Evangeline Bridal. I’m slightly obsessed with all things French, and it certainly shows in the boutique. I love the charm of downtown Tomball and the community that encompasses it, and I believe our spot on Main Street is a perfect one. When you visit us, look for the “Bonjour, Tomball” mural on the side of our building.