DRESS ALTERATIONS: COMPLEXITIES, OPPORTUNITIES & LIMITATIONS
Our alteration service is strictly limited to custom-made gowns designed and produced by House of Ezis. The service is included in the final quote of your chosen gown. Priced Gowns on our website have the alteration costs already included in the price. We have taken the care to outline some common alteration scenarios that may be encountered during the design process after your order has been confirmed with us. The aim is to give you a good understanding of what to expect when choosing a House of Ezis gown. The alteration guide below is an in-depth look into the different issues to be aware of during your fittings. The different sections highlight the level of commitment and care that is required during the making process of your chosen gown.
DRAWINGS + SAMPLES
The combination of ‘drawings’ and ‘samples’ which can be tried on in our store will take into account your favourite chosen features, physical limitations and spontaneity which are almost impossible to predict when a designer is limited to just drawing a design. Our approach to design is to showcase a collection of gowns as samples which can be tried on to give you a clear and definite understanding of where we are heading so that there are no surprises along the way. This proven and tested way leaves enough room for the design to evolve and change during the process shall that be required, but at the same time the direction and goal is clear.
CUSTOM MADE vs READY TO WEAR
The benefits of having a dress designed and custom made by the House of Ezis team, is that there will be several fittings scheduled prior to making and executing your final dress. This step by step process will ensure that the design will result in an ideal fit, maintaining the correct proportions throughout the design to suit your body shape. Fittings will take into account a multitude of very particular bodily proportions, allowing you to see those changes happening directly on your body while giving you the opportunity to offer valuable feedback to the designer/dress maker. This responsive communication loop between you and the designer will ensure clarity throughout the entirety of the design and make process. By understanding visually and in a live tactile scenario how each change is influenced by the selected fabric and how this will affect the overall design, it will be easier to visualise how the end result will look, eliminating any surprises.
Buying a dress straight of the rack which requires dress alterations, may seem at first like a great way of saving money. The salesperson confidently re-assures you that the dress can easily be altered, without personally understanding the limitations and behaviour of the fabric and the extent of alterations that may be required or even possible. You may be surprised to find out that dress alterations are costly, more limiting then you anticipated and occasionally even impossible without having to entirely remake the dress by a professional designer or dress maker. So when shopping around, keep in mind that shortening the hem and taking in the side seams of the dress, will help the overall fit to a certain degree, but these alterations won’t necessarily change the overall vertical dress proportions of the design to suit a shorter body type.
Major remodelling of dress proportions can be difficult and costly and require a highly experienced dressmaker. ie raise the waist seam, shorten the bodice, take in the bust, reduce the hip placement, take in the sides and alter the hem, could end up costing upwards of $500 and the uncertainty of whether all this is even possible is the real hidden danger. When choosing an alterations company, make sure to do your research, as it is not advised to choose the cheapest alterations company as you may end up with a total disaster.
PROPORTION + MATERIAL INTUITION
The other added benefit is that a designer normally chooses materials suitable to their particular method of working, and every designer does have a preference for certain materials as they are more suited to their approach. The knowledge gained from working regularly with the chosen material allows the designer to understand the possibilities of what can be achieved with the material of choice.
MANIPULATING PLEATS, DARTS & FOLDS
Vertical pleats can be transformed into horizontal pleats, depending on what is suitable for a particular design and the way they relate to the overall flow of lines in the design. It’s usually one of the two methods that are ideal for tailoring a skirt through the waist and hip utilising woven fabrics. In the instance that a design is tailored through horizontal pleating or darting methods and a request is given to eliminate the pleat or dart altogether, it is important to be aware that the pleat or dart is there for shaping purposes, and the shaping needs to be introduced or move to another part of the design. Our approach with pleats and darts is to allow them to flow and integrate with the design rather than seeing them as separate or as an afterthought. Eliminating darts, results in having to push the fabric vertically up or down, so it is suggested to request this alteration early in the process before the skirt becomes too fitted. By pushing the fabric up or down along the hip seam running from the waist down, will result in the curvature of the hip shifting lower, causing a bubble of fabric to form lower in the skirt in the section of the thigh. The bubble can be fixed; however, it is good to be aware that this movement may also cause the entire skirt to begin twisting and not sitting correctly on the body. The last thing to be aware of when committing to this change, is that the opening and shifting of the pleat downwards will make the hem slightly longer, so if the hem is already finished, another fitting will be required to check and re-do the hem. It is advised that major changes of this nature are discussed and resolved during the early stages of designing your gown.
The main elements to be aware of when purchasing your dream dress are hemlines and side-seams, they can be shortened and taken in easily, but be sure to find an experienced seamstress as even taking in the side seams alterations require years of experience. The difference of over-pinning a side seam by 1cm can make the difference between a fitted finish or buckling and twisting due to the slightly too fitted alteration. Pinning side seams is highly dependent on the fabric being worked with and the method of construction that was used when designing the dress in the first place.
A slightly stretchy woven fabric compared to a jersey heavy stretch, versus woven fabric all require different approaches and degrees of pinning and there is a science to pinning that becomes intuitive after years of practice. Woven fabrics are normally pinned with a 3-4cm allowance for movement, and particularly for comfort during sitting. This old tailoring rule can be easily missed during a rushed fitting, so keep it in mind when your dress maker is pinning you in, even ask to sit down when pinned to make sure that the dress is not too tight.
On woven dresses, side-seams sometimes need to be unpicked while on the body prior to determining how they can be taken in. Typically, both side seams would be taken in equally, however, occasionally it is better to allow one of the seams to slip slightly past the other seam to avoid twisting in the garment, it really depends on the angle and complexity of the side seam, something to be aware of especially with asymmetrically designed gown.
On backless dresses and depending on the complexity of the design, when the side seam is unpicked and only the rear panel is taken in, what you may find is that by taking the panel in, suddenly the overall length of the panel reduces in length making the back more bare, this cannot be avoided and the only way to get around this issue is to have the entire back panel cut out again with the extra length added back in.
In a general sense, you cannot make a woven dress as fitted as a stretch dress and there are pros and cons to choosing a woven dress over a stretch dress. One major benefit of a woven gown is that it will hold its shape while softly skimming past the body, this is both flattering and conceals lumps and bumps
Hem alterations can also be tricky as the weight of the fabric will influence the overall length, while being too long the gown is heavy in nature, weighing the dress hem down more so than after it is shortened and this needs to be taken into consideration. Due to the weight, cutting may be over-compensated resulting in the final hem length being slightly too short. This can be avoided by understanding the weight, handle and structure of the fabric being worked with. Structured fabrics are usually cut longer then floor length as they will jut outwards making the hem appear shorter. Heavy, draped fabrics on the other hand need to be pinned right on the floor with an extra 1-1.5cm seam allowance for hem rolling and finishing. Don’t worry about all the details, a qualified and experienced dress maker will take all this into account during your fitting. Make sure that you bring in the correct height heels and be beware during the hem fitting that you are not standing on carpet, as this will also affect the overall length of the hem. The correct way to pin the hem, is to make sure that all other pinning has occurred first and foremost in the upper part of the body before the hem is looked at. Pinning the torso, bust and waist will result in the dress slightly rising on the body and taking this into account will avoid the hem being cut too short at the end.
ZIP WARP AND BUBBLING
Have you ever noticed a zip bubbling or waving on the centre back of a dress or skirt? This happens due to several reasons which can be avoided with the right level of understanding. Firstly, it could be due to the zip being installed incorrectly in the first place, either by stretching the material too much during insertion or due to the zip being inserted into fabric which has been cut on the bias. If the zip placement has been executed correctly and you are experiencing the same issue, another factor to take into account is that the fabric is stretchy and the zip is too heavy or the dress is too tight. All these factors and decisions are better executed by a seamstress who has worked with a particular fabric for a number of years. You may find a great seamstress with woven fabric experience, having extreme difficulty working with stretch as the fabric behaves differently and the tension of the way the material is held requires adjustment. The thickness of the needle which is being used and the method of sewing is different and if the seamstress is not familiar with the fabric, something simple soon turns into a great difficulty.
Another crucial thing to keep in mind with zips, in particular invisible zips, is that they do break. Zip breakage can occur due to the quality of the zip, but also due to the seams, pleats, and darts that the zips have to travel through when zipping and unzipping. Have you ever noticed a zip get stuck at the waist seam? It is the thickness and bulk of fabric in this part of the dress which is stopping the zip from smoothly opening or closing, and it is in this position that the extra force required may eventually break the zip. A good way to avoid this from happening is to either request a metal zip, or at least to make sure that a heavy duty invisible zip is being installed. If you can live with it aesthetically, a metal zip is highly recommended. Metal zips are available in either gold or silver, so that they can be matched to your accessories and jewellery. Another way to get around the possibility of the zip breaking in the first place, is to look for a dress which has no seams running horizontally in the way of the zip, although at times this may be hard to avoid as designers introduce seams for shaping purposes, proportion and aesthetics to visually balance the design on your body. It really is a matter of give and take when choosing a zip, and as silly as it may seem, a zip can make or break a design.
BUST SHAPING, BRA CUPS and BRAS
Make sure to wear the correct bra that you plan to wear with the dress as the size of the bra does affect the overall fit of the dress. Through experience, it has been observed that a bra type can affect the size of a dress by up to 4cm. Even changing from a soft bra cup to a more rigid cup can affect the overall fit as the softer bra is squishier, allowing the dress to be pinned tighter, while a more rigid bra requires a slightly looser fit around the bust. It is helpful to state early in the design process that you will not wear a bra and the designer can take this into account, possibly offering moulded cups to be designed and inserted into the dress.
Make sure to bring your heels to a later appointment, you will be notified by the designer when they are required, this normally occurs on your 3rd or 4th appointment. The dress will be made too long to allow for taller shoes and later the hem will be shortened to match the height of your heels. The key feature of the heel to be aware of is the height of the heel, so don’t worry if you ordered your shoes on-line and they haven’t arrived in time, just bring another pair of heels that you own with the same heel height. Typically heels vary from 10-13cm and your dressmaker can take into account minor differences as long as this is communicated during your fitting.
Some clutches scratch fabric. The more expensive the fabric, the more likely it is to be irreversibly ruined. We have seen dresses ruined by scratchy clutches, YSL is notorious for scratchy surfaces that will pull fibres away from your dress, beware.