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Hello Amie, Hope you can help. My daughter is looking to get her prom dress hemmed and taken in a bit. It is a ballgown with crinolin and tulle, beading on top. I was quoted a price of $300 (dress was $500) to alter. The seamstress said it would take her one month to do this work. She also said taking in from the zipper (which she recommended) is harder to do than the sides???? Anyhow, we could not afford that cost and now I am worried that the alterations are going to be too costly. I got the feeling the whole time we were there this woman really didnt want to do this. I dont know. Thanks for any suggestions or advice.

Hello Susan,

Alterations are a funny thing. They cost the same no matter what you originally paid, because what you're paying for is the work involved in restructuring your garment. And I would imagine that the bulk of what you're paying for in this particular dress, is the cost of rebeading the bodice and hemming all the crinoline and tulle. Rebeading is always done by hand, which is extremely time consuming, and it's common for hemming to be charged by the layer, so if you have more than two or three layers of skirt, it adds up!

Without seeing the dress in person, I can't guess what the reason would be for the seamstress to recommend taking in the bodice from the zipper, rather than the sides, nor can I offer a suggestion why it would be harder to alter the dress in that manner.

However, I would guess that the reason your seamstress offers a one-month turnaround on such a project is that she's probably working with multiple clients. Prom season, wedding season, First Communions and graduation ceremonies all happen at the same time, and it's common for alterations shops to request that you allow 4-5 weeks for any formal wear to be altered.

All I can really recommend is to compare prices with other seamstresses in your area. It's possible that you can find someone who offers lower fees, or a quicker turnaround time.

Best of luck!



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Amie Scott


I can answer many questions related to craft sewing, fashion design, pattern drafting, clothing alterations, clothing repair, and simple home decor sewing projects. I can not answer question about machine repair/maintenance, quilting, knitting, embroidery or needlepoint.


I have been designing and sewing clothing and accessories professionally since 2003. I have two years of experience teaching basic machine sewing classes for adults. I have experience altering clothing and drafting sewing patterns for women's wear. Currently I own a retail shop with a sewing studio, where I design and produce my line of women's wear, and also offer custom sewing to clients.

Although I'm mostly self taught, I have taken some advanced online pattern drafting and clothing alterations classes. Of course, nothing beats actual hands on work, and I have over ten years of experience in professional sewing and fashion design.

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