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Few bridesmaid dresses fit each woman perfectly off the rack. Like all women’s clothing, bridesmaid dresses come in standard sizes, so their skirts are often too long, the straps too tight or the bodice too loose for an individual wearer. For the dress to fit just right, most bridesmaids should expect to have at least a few simple alterations made; in some cases, the dress may require more extensive tailoring. The cost of altering a bridesmaid dress depends largely on the amount of work that needs to be done and the amount of detail on the dress.

Common alterations

Many dresses must be hemmed to the ideal length for the bridesmaid, whether that’s floor-length or above the knee. Women with smaller sizes above the waist than below are likely to need the sides of the bodice taken in; the cost of this alteration does not depend on the amount of fabric removed from the sides of the dress. Straps often need to be adjusted to fit snugly against the woman’s shoulders, chest and back.

Depending on where the bridesmaids live, alterations generally range from $75 to $150 — in addition to the expense of the dress, which can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 or more.

Individual alterations

Bridesmaid dresses are usually made of satin or an equally fragile fabric. Therefore, it’s best to have them altered by a professional seamstress or dressmaker, preferably one who specializes in bridesmaid dresses, such as Lorrie’s Alterations in Oaklyn, New Jersey, ZuZu’s Petals in Windham, New Hampshire, or Chela Solis Sewing Services in Kennesaw, Georgia.

Some seamstresses have a list of prices that cover each individual alteration. For example, Lorrie’s Alterations charges:

  • $13-$20 to hem a skirt

  • $15-$20 to take in or let out the sides of a dress

  • $12-$15 to take in or let out the waist of a dress

  • $15 to lift the shoulders of a dress

Similarly, Chela Solis Sewing Services fees start at:

  • $17 to shorten a hem

  • $20 to take in the sides of a dress

  • $12 to alter spaghetti and halter straps

  • $20-$30 to adjust the shoulders of a dress

Other seamstresses charge by the hour. For instance, ZuZu’s Petals charges $30 per hour for basic alterations, and seamstress and owner Melissa LeVine offers a complimentary consultation for alterations on bridal and bridesmaid gowns.

Specialty fabrics or embellishments

For dresses that have special fabrics or adornments such as beads, lace, tulle, crystals or pearls, there may be an additional charge for alterations. Ask the seamstress or dressmaker to detail these costs.

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