My new favorite dress is too small.
February 23, 2011 11:34 AM   Subscribe

Is it possible to get this dress let out a little (made larger) without it looking obvious? Or should I send it back? Bonus points for good-but-inexpensive seamstress/tailor recommendations in NYC/Brooklyn!

I ordered this dress online in an XS because it looked so baggy on the model, but alas, it's just a bit too extra-small! The waist fits but just barely, and the buttons pull just a little. I know a seamstress can let out the dress, but since it's off-the-rack it might be hard. Should I take the risk or send it back and get my money refunded? It's out of stock and I likely won't be able to replace it with a larger size.
posted by Viola to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I forgot to add that the dress also has a side zipper and the waist is inelastic. Can they somehow add elastic to the waist and voilĂ , it'll have more give?
posted by Viola at 11:35 AM on February 23, 2011

It depends how much fabric is in the seam allowances. But with a dress with an inset waistband like that, it's going to be tough to find enough fabric - the waistband strip actually needs to be longer, and then the bodice and skirt will need to be detached, the darts let out, and resewn to it to account for its new shape.

You could possibly replace some of the pieces with different fabrics, but that would be a really different look.

If it's really just a little tight in the waist, you could wear a shaping garment with it.
posted by peachfuzz at 11:42 AM on February 23, 2011

A seamstress can only work with what's there and unless the seam allowances are pretty substantial, she/he will not have enough fabric to work with. The side-seam zipper complicates this alteration. And you can't add elastic to the waist for more give--it just doesn't work that way. You would have much better luck getting a good fit if you made your alterations on a dress that was a size larger--it's lots easier to take in a seam to make a garment fit than to get more room in a slightly too-small dress. I would send it back--you'll never be happy with the alterations that are possible because they will in all likelihood be insufficient to make the dress fit.

For what it's worth, I've been sewing women's clothes for more than forty years.
posted by Jenna Brown at 11:44 AM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

If you're really in love with the dress so much that you want to marry it, I wonder if you could ask the seamstress to take it apart, make a pattern, and then make a new dress (with comparable fabric) to fit you.
posted by amethysts at 11:56 AM on February 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, it depends on the seam allowances, and the clothes I've gotten from ASOS have been pretty skimpy in that regard (understandable at the price). I would send it back and look for something similar elsewhere.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:58 AM on February 23, 2011

It's impossible to say for sure without seeing the dress itself, and seeing it on you. But, I wouldn't be optimistic.

There's no way to create fabric that just isn't there. Adding elastic to the waist could work if your goal was to make the waist smaller, but it won't make it bigger. The side zipper further complicates things; so do the pockets. That looks like a set-in waistband, not a detachable belt (?). Would you be willing to replace that with another fabric, or cover it with a sash?

Your only hope is if the dress has unusually large seam allowances--say, 1" instead of the usual 1/4" - 1/2". It's not a simple fix with this dress. I think I see more shopping in your future.
posted by Corvid at 12:05 PM on February 23, 2011

If it's just a little tight in the waist, shaping garment. Otherwise, if that is a waistband and not a belt - hard to tell from the photo - there's not really going to be a lot of room for fixing it. It's POSSIBLE that a good seamstress could let out the seam allowances by maybe 1/4 of an inch assuming there's 1/2 inch in the seams. Clearly that's not going to give you a lot.

It looks like it's pieced down the back - if you're getting pulling, you might be able to get 1/4" there as well. You could also scoot the buttons over a tiny bit. However, with very small seam allowances, stress on the seams is going to be fatal.
posted by Medieval Maven at 12:23 PM on February 23, 2011

Aw, bummer. I was just about ready to marry this dress, I love it so. I'll either invest in shapewear (this might technically work since I just need an extra half inch of give, but I am a huge baby about uncomfortable clothing) or return it to whence it came.
posted by Viola at 12:24 PM on February 23, 2011

Shapewear can take a bit of time to put on and pull in the right places but I have never found it uncomfortable once it was on. The edges, which is where stuff would potentially cut into you skin and be uncomfortable, tend not to do any shaping and thus don't cut into your skin. Otherwise you'd have unsightly rolls of flesh where the fabric stops. The shaping is done by the stuff in the middle, hence the effort required in putting on and positioning but as it just pulls you in and redistributes you a bit it shouldn't be uncomfortable. I never notice I wear it.
posted by koahiatamadl at 1:08 PM on February 23, 2011

I know nothing about dressmaking but is there a good bit of fabric in the roll up sleeves? Could you ask a seemstress to convert those to simple hemmed sleeves and use that fabric to add very slim panels in the body?

Also seconding the shapewear. Take the dress with you and try on a range of shapewear. I know what you mean about hating uncomfortable underwear but there are some excellent slips out there now that are nothing short of miraculous ;-)

The dress is so beautiful, I think it's worth the effort!

(p.s. Have you tried finding the dress anywhere else? Is it worth calling the company to see if they'll let you know when returns come in? Even checking Ebay?)
posted by ceri richard at 5:21 PM on February 23, 2011

Why not just exchange it for the next size up?
posted by Sublimity at 5:37 PM on February 23, 2011

sublimity, the dress is showing out of stock in all other sizes.
posted by ceri richard at 5:52 AM on February 24, 2011

Huh--I could have sworn when I looked last night they listed both XS and S still in stock.

Even so, it might be worth a phone call/email to the customer service line. Maybe someone just returned an S, something flukey like that. Can't hurt, might help.
posted by Sublimity at 6:45 AM on February 24, 2011

I believe they stock this brand in Dorothy Perkins and House of Fraser, so try googling on Sadly the biggest size is one smaller than I take otherwise I;d be tempted to get one myself!
posted by mippy at 7:13 AM on February 24, 2011

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