Have you been turned down for wedding dress alterations by a tailor or seamstress? Here's why a dress seamstress might not work on your wedding dress…
I am a costumer and have to deal with wedding dresses on a fairly regular basis. Typically, I am the only one in the shop who will go near them — the “scary mess it up” factor exists even long after the dress has been worn and donated to my organization. Many private seamstresses who I have spoken with refuse to do wedding attire because brides (and other members of their party, like Mom) have a reputation for being ultra fussy over their dresses. Most of us are not willing to deal with that sort of drama.
Personally, I think that many brides/lay people would not want to pay what would be considered a fair fee for the work done, so it is likely that many seamstresses are refusing bridal work for fear of being fleeced. Sending labor overseas means that people don't have a very good idea of what things really cost. You can estimate that a good tailor's time would run, on average, $20/hour, and it takes a LOT of time to make that dress look great. Even just a hem is a big deal, especially if there's a train involved.
Also, there is a stigma attached to wedding dresses. Most people are afraid to touch them. They are made out to be huge, important, complicated things (which they are, to the brides and to the world in general). As a result, many seamstresses and tailors are scared to go near them for fear of “messing it up.”
The really scary part of the dresses simply tends to be that they are complicated garments. Once they have been worn, there is no magic to them, they are simply fancy white dresses, no different from many others in my stock. It is hard for people to get past that though. I had to cut apart an antique dress to get over my own fear.
Tip: Don't look down
I'll end with a piece of advice: Don't try to watch what your tailor is doing. You may be afraid of getting poked, cut, or just be interested in watching their work, but don't! We are highly trained NOT to stab you with whatever pointy implement we have in our hands.
Furthermore, if you're constantly twisting around or looking down, it's going to alter the fit and hang of your dress. This is especially true on hems (if you're leaning down to see what the tailor is doing on the floor, your hem will be too short — see what happens some time when you are wearing a long skirt), but is really true for the entire dress. Just be patient and trust your tailor — we're out to make you look perfect. Try to have faith!
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