dress repairs and alterations
Repairs and Alterations

Dress Alterations & Repairs

dress repairs and alterationsDresses are said to be one of the earliest pieces of ‘fashion’ clothing for women in ancient history, this makes sense now when you ask a woman how many dresses she owns in her closet.

With dresses being the popular choice between women, it is likely that these pieces will be prone to wear and tear over the years – when this happens, it’s the right time to pay a visit to their local tailor for dress alterations & repairs.

Visiting your local tailor can be a tricky experience with so many questions in your head, what can/can’t be repaired, how much would it cost, how long does it take etc.

For this reason, we have made an easy to read guide on the different dress alterations & repairs services available, how much they roughly cost and how long you can expect to get your precious pieces back to you.

What are the different dress alterations & repair services that are available?

  • Adjusting the length of a dress
  • Adjusting the sleeve length of a dress
  • Adjusting the length of a dresses’ shoulder straps
  • Tapering of dress (waist in/waist out)
  • New zip for a dress

Before we begin, you may want to get comfortable with a few tailoring terms so you know the definition of them:

Hem: The edge of a piece of clothing which has folded under and sewn

Tapering: The process of becoming thinner and narrower

Waist in/Waist out: The process of widening or narrowing the waist of a piece of clothing e.g dress or trousers


1) Dress Shortening or Lengthening

Have you ever bought a dress online, been excited to try it but only to find out that it’s too short or long? Don’t worry, you’re not alone! In most cases, you’ll be upset and return the dress, however you don’t have to do this! A simple visit to your local tailor can be the solution who will be able to shorten or lengthen the dress.

Most local dry cleaner or tailor shops will have a changing room where you try your dress on and have on-site measurements from the tailor. We highly recommend you do this for your measurements to find out the perfect length for you.

Dress shortening is quite straight forward, a tailor will simply undo the hem, cut to the length it needs to be, and re-stitch the hem.

Dress lengthening can be a little more complex and depends on how big the hem is. The method of lengthening is to cut the hem shorter which in turn extends the length of the dress. However, the length of the hem can vary from dress to dress. We advise you to pay a visit to the tailor anyway who will advise you best on your options.

Estimated cost*: £20 – 30

Duration: 24-72 hrs

*Prices can vary depending on the scale of job needed and how delicate/expensive the dress is


2) Sleeve Shortening

The shortening of sleeves on a dress is done in the same way as how the length of a dress is shortened. The hemming is unattached, cut by how many cm’s you’d like for it to be shortened & then re-hemmed.

This is a popular service for tailors and very much doable, you can measure at home by what length you’d like your sleeves to be shortened or visit your local tailor for on-site measurement.

Estimated cost*: £25-£40

Duration: 24-72 hrs


3) Dress Tapering

A popular service amongst women is getting their dress tapered for a better fit on their body, this can be a service for those that have had waist adjustments to their body.

For this service, we highly recommend you get in contact with your local tailor and book an appointment with them for on-site measurement.

During the on-site measurement, a tailor will ask you to put the dress on and then pinch the dress at the back and pull it until you are comfortable with the fit of the dress. They will then put safety pins to indicate how much material to cut for a better fit.

Estimated cost: £30-45

Duration: 24-72hrs

4) Lifting the shoulder straps

In some cases for dresses, the shoulder straps can be too long, leading to them being loose on the shoulder and often falling off. This is quite common and can be easily fixed via your local tailor.

The tailor should be able to lift the shoulder straps so they fit over your shoulders properly – we highly recommend you book an appointment with the tailor to carry this out. They will get you to try on the dress and then pinch & pull the straps until you are happy with the fit.

They will then cut the extra material and re-stitch the edges of the strap back onto the dress.

Estimated cost: £30-50 

Duration: 24-72 hrs


5) New Zip

A sign of wear and tear for dresses is the back zip breaking or getting stuck in a certain spot. This is quite common and can be fixed by getting the zip replaced via a tailor.

You don’t need to bring a zip to the tailor, a good tailor should have a collection of zips to choose from depending on the colour needed.

If you have a specific design to the zip or just looking to add a zip to the dress (a common alteration for the back of a dress), then it may be good to bring in the zip for the tailor to add.

Estimated cost: £20-35 

Duration: 24-72 hrs



We hope this article has guided you on the many different dress alterations & repair services available. As fast fashion quickly grows to be a controversial topic in sustainability, it’s important you understand the different repairs & alteration services that your local tailor can carry out before you throw away a dress.

1 Stop Wash have repaired & altered hundreds of dresses, our tailor has had over 25 years worth of experience working her magic on dresses. What’s more? We offer a premium dry cleaning service for all dresses, most customers who give us dresses to repair or alter will get their dresses dry cleaned too.

Interested in our dress alterations & repair services? Book an appointment with our tailor by emailing us at hello@1stopwash.com or calling us on 0207 837 4997. Alternatively, if you have done measurements yourself, you can book a pick up of your dresses via our booking form.