Complete Guide: How To Take Up A Wedding Dress

Once you have found the perfect dress, you might need to make some alterations to make your wedding dress fit perfectly too. Learning how to take up a wedding dress can help you to make the right choices and make sure your dress is perfect for your big day.

But what alterations can you make to your wedding dress? How do you take up a wedding dress if it’s too short? Can you take in a wedding dress so that it hugs your waist?

Our complete guide will explain all the ins and outs and answer the most common questions when it comes to making alterations to your wedding dress. 

What Are Wedding Dress Alterations?

Even if you find your perfect wedding dress, there will be a few alterations that need making. Whether it is a little too long, or fits perfectly on the hips but too big at the waist, or even needs a shoulder strap adding. 

Types Of Wedding Dress Alterations

The types of alterations you can make to your wedding dress is similar to the types of 

  1. Taken Up – usually if the dress is too long or if you want to have more of your shoes on show
  2. Taken In – you can have your wedding dress taken in at the waist, the back, or the chest if it doesn’t fit properly
  3. Extra Features – extra features can be sewn onto your dress, like straps, sleeves, or embellishments

If you have a wedding dress fitting, your seamstress will work out what alterations you need and will be able to do them for you. 

What Is A Wedding Dress Fitting?

A professional wedding dress fitting is an appointment with a seamstress that will make sure your dress fits perfectly. They will take measurements, check the fit, and make alterations to lengthen, shorten, or take in your dress.

Usually, a bride will have 3 dress fittings between finding the dress and the day she gets married. This is so that you can be sure your dress will fit perfectly whether you change shape or lose weight.

how to take in a dress seam

Can You Make Alterations To Your Wedding Dress Yourself?

Sometimes you will be charged extra for wedding dress fittings, depending on where you find and buy your wedding dress. And if that’s the case and you’re on a budget, you don’t have to pay to have your dress altered professionally. You can do it yourself if you have the time and patience!

If the perfect wedding dress is a simple design or style you may be able to make alterations and take up your wedding dress yourself. You will need the help of family or friends as you try on your dress and we advise wearing the shoes you’ll be wearing on the day too. 

How To Take Up A Wedding Dress

If your wedding dress needs shortening there are two ways to take up a wedding dress: professionally or DIY. Having your wedding dress taken up professionally will usually offer the best results and the best fit, but it will come at an additional cost. So you may choose to take up your wedding dress yourself

How To Take Up A Wedding Dress Yourself

You should be extra careful and take your time if you do try to take up a wedding dress yourself. 

  1. Try On – try your dress on first with the shoes you’ll be wearing on the day.
  2. Fold up & Pin – you’ll likely need someone to help you to fold up the dress to the right height and pin it in place
  3. Sew A New Seam – once you’ve pinned your dress to where it needs to be, you’ll need to straighten it out so that it is level all the way around. Make sure you choose the right colour thread and sew the new heam with a sewing machine.

How To Take In A Dress Seam Yourself

Taking in a dress seam yourself can be more of a challenge than taking up a dress. We only advise trying this yourself if you have some experience.

  1. Try Your Dress On – you’ll want to try it on first to work out where alterations are needed by looking and by how it feels. Try the dress on inside out too so that you can see where the seams are and what you have to work with.
  2. Pin The Dress – At this point you will probably need someone to help you. Start to pin together anywhere that the seams need to come together more to fit you better. You should do this wearing the dress inside out.  
  3. Unheam – once you have pinned the dress where the alterations need to take place, you should very carefully unheam the necessary seams. You’ll probably need a specialized tool at this point, which you can find relatively cheaply. 
  4. Sew New Seams – choose your thread wisely so that the colour best matches the dress. Then sew the new seams from the inside of the dress with a sewing machine to make sure the seam is neat, tidy, and strong. 

How To Take Up A Wedding Dress Professionally

If you decide not to risk taking your dress up yourself, or have tried to do it yourself and need extra help, then getting it done professionally is the best option. 

A professional seamstress will be able to pin and measure where alterations are needed and make those alterations for you. They will have lots of experience and will be able to do tricky alterations that could be difficult for you to do yourself. But there is usually an extra charge for this service, depending on where you buy your dress from. 

How To Take Up A Wedding Dress

How Much Does It Cost To Shorten A Wedding Dress?

The cost of wedding dress alterations can vary from £60 to £600 depending on what type of alteration you need doing and what fabric your dress is made out of. 

Material – Silk is typically slightly cheaper whereas chiffon and tuille fabrics tend to cost a little more

Hem Alteration – a full skirt shortening may cost somewhere in the region of £80-100, whereas taking a dress in at the waist or body may cost £60-80

Extra Features – adding extra features on your dress like shoulder straps and sleeves can cost upwards of £200, as there is more work and material involved.

Should You Alter Your Wedding Dress?

Most wedding dresses will need some form of alterations. No two bodies are the same and dresses will fit differently on everyone. But you don’t have to make alterations if you choose not to. 

The decision to take a wedding dress up or have it taken in should come down to how it looks, how it feels, and what your budget is. 

If you’re tied to a budget or struggling to justify the extra cash on a slight alteration, you need to consider how the dress looks and how it feels. Are you going to be comfortable and feel confident in it on the biggest day of your life? Are you going to love your wedding pictures or are you always going to remember that your dress doesn’t look quite right?


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