Prom Dress Alteration Tips

If you're a seasoned seamstress, you may want to alter your own dress.

No matter how perfect that dress you've fallen in love with seems, prom dress alterations are almost a given. It is very rare to find a dress that fits perfectly without any work whatsoever. If you want to look your absolute best on prom night, it's important to make sure your dress fits perfectly.

The Perfect Fit

Although the women in magazines and catalogs look beautiful, very few of us are actually the perfect size, including models. Teens come in all shapes and sizes, so finding the perfect fit for you may be completely different than the perfect fit for your best friend.

There are a couple of rules of thumb that will help when choosing a prom dress to make alterations easier.

A Size Bigger or Smaller

In general, when altering a dress, it is much easier to take fabric away than to add fabric. To add fabric, you have to be certain of matching color, material and figure out how to hide the seams. If you fall between two sizes, always opt for the larger of the two as it will be easier, and probably less expensive, to have it taken in. Also, it is usually the same price to have one inch or five inches taken in, so if you're uncertain, it might even be better to order two sizes up.


Dresses are generally made for girls less than 5 feet 9 inches tall. If you are shorter than this, you will probably have to get the dress hemmed. If you are taller, you may want to shop for a specialty tall dress to make sure you have enough material to create the length you want. Make sure the seamstress measures you with the shoes on that you'll be wearing on prom night. You don't want to trip on your hem as you're dancing because you wore high heels when being measured and then switched to flat shoes.


Some styles and materials are just naturally easier to alter than others. A dress with many layers may be more difficult for a seamstress to alter and may cost you more money to have changed. Silk and taffeta can also be difficult to work with and may cost more to have altered.

Where to Get Prom Dress Alterations

You've spent hours, days and perhaps even weeks to find the perfect prom dress. It is the color you dreamed, the style you wanted, and the price you can afford. The only problem is that it is not a perfect fit. You'll have to have it altered, so where do you start?

Bridal Shops

Most bridal shops not only carry dresses that will be suitable for a prom, but also offer some form of prom dress alterations. These shops usually have skilled seamstresses on hand. For the best fit, you should be measured at the hem, bust and waist. If the dress has sleeves, the seamstress should measure those as well, both around your arm and the length of the sleeve

Private Seamstress

Ask for referrals to a private seamstress for your prom dress alteration. Typically, a seamstress will work out of her home. Be sure to ask her turnaround time as it can vary widely, depending on how busy he or she is.

Family Seamstress

If you have a skilled seamstress in your family, he or she may be able to do minor alterations for you. Be sure that they understand how to measure you for the proper fit and that they are experienced in working with the type of material from which your dress is made.


Allow plenty of time for the alterations to be completed and corrected if necessary. Two months wouldn't be too much time to allow. The cost of alterations can vary widely, so be sure to get a quote. Make sure you are satisfied with how the dress fits. Proms only come around a couple of times in a lifetime, so you'll want everything about your special night to be perfect, especially your dress.

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Prom Dress Alteration Tips