The next time you are shopping, you find a dress that you can't live without but it’s too small, use these tips to give you confidence to make the purchase. Then plan to bring your dress to Deb’s Sewing Service for alterations!
When you are trying on the dress, zip it up as far as it will go without causing stress on the zipper. Have a friend or clerk measure the amount of fabric gap at the top of the back dress between the two zipper tops. If there is less than 2" we can sometimes let that much out of the seams. If it is 2” - 4" and the gown needs hemmed say 6 inches we could add triangular gussets under both armpits using the cut off hem fabric. If the dress doesn’t need hemmed but still needs the gussets, have the clerk call the gown manufacturer for availability to purchase matching fabric. These manufacturers will make you purchase a minimum of 1 yard and I'm remembering the cost to be about $25.00 US dollars plus shipping. Unless the gown has detail like a large appliqué under each arm to cover the seams, I generally do not recommend adding gussets to total more than 5". (2 ½ inches each side) They start to be too noticeable even without lifting up your arms.
The final option for enlarging a gown is the corset back. This alteration is common for too small wedding gowns and prom gowns. The one yard minimum fabric purchase will be plenty of fabric to add a corset back. Also, if the gown is to the floor and you would consider making it knee length, this fabric would work perfect for the corset addition…without additional fabric expense.
There’s always a good reason for an exception. One time, using the matching 1 yard of fabric from the manufacturer, we added to an above the knee length gown to make a brides maid dress into a brides maid maternity dress! It was a little obvious that we added panels to both sides of the front skirt panel. The bridal party did not care that her dress was a little different....the woman was still able to honor the bride and be in her wedding!
Please note: If you are using a service other than at Deb’s Sewing Service, please check with the seamstress prior to your purchase to make sure they are willing to execute this type of alteration.