We understand that cost is your big concern and you may want to get an estimate of alteration costs over the phone or on the web in order to save time and compare prices. However, many alteration shops will not give estimates for women's dresses or other formal gowns in particular before they look at the actual dress to see how it looks. It is because it is hard to imagine what work exactly needs to be done just with an explanation over the phone.
This is also due to the complexity of certain factors such as garments, design, material of the fabric, etc. – especially in women's dresses. In the eyes of the customer, a certain alteration may look simple, but it might not actually be simple, or it may look complicated, but it might not actually be complicated. It is similar to how an auto mechanic can't give you an exact quote if you simply say, "My car’s A/C does not blow cold air". You need to bring the car in and have it checked out to see what is causing the problem in order to receive a quote.
Describing the dress over the phone is really not very helpful, especially since some unscrupulous people do not reveal how much work actually needs to be done on the dress in order to get a lower quote.
Most reputable shops need to see the actual dress and see how it currently fits your body to determine exactly what needs to be done and provide an accurate estimate. Quotes that are given over the phone may change after the actual piece of clothing is observed in person. If this happens, most alteration shops don’t want to be held against their word for giving a quote too soon. For your convenience, though, we give the price, over the phone, of standardized alterations which are not very variable, such as pants hemming and tapering, resizing of men's jackets.
Of course, price matters like other goods and services. However, do not make it your top priority. We'd like to say to think about the quality of the work first. You get what you pay for. It isn't worth having something done cheaply if you subsequently have to pay someone else to fix the cheap-o job.
We always welcome you to bring your dress to get a quote. It is very fine if you do not leave the work with us or decide not to do get an alteration at all. Often times, we will give our professional judgment and suggest not to alter or fix something if it doesn’t look like it’s worth it; sometimes it will be more cost efficient to just buy new piece of clothing.
What Most Customers Do Not Know or Misunderstand
costs have absolutely nothing to do with the value of the garment. It completely depends on the amount of labor it takes (time to finish), along with some other hidden factors that make the estimated time of completion difficult to determine.
* Fabric material: Soft material (Jersey, satin) takes more time.
* Removing the thread: For certain work, just taking thread off takes more time than actually doing any stitching.
* Decoration/Accessory/Design: Decorations/accessories attached to the clothing and some designs can make the work more difficult.
* Just like how a zipper repair needs the whole zipper to be replaced in order to be fixed, the same is the case for certain small defects; sometimes the whole thing may need to be replaced or widely taken off. It is similar to how replacing the timing belt on a car – although the part is not expensive – costs a lot because many other parts need to be removed just to replace the belt.
* Inner layers: The more layers, the higher the cost.
Let us give you a funny experience we once had with one of our customers.
One lady did not understand the price that we were charging her because to her, the work looked simple. Just removing the threading would take a long time due to the material of fabric. So, we suggested (as a joke) that if she removes the thread of the fabric herself, we would charge 1/3 of the price we originally charged her. She took up the offer and got to work at our store. After an hour, she gave up because she realized how tedious and difficult the job was and agreed to pay the price that we originally charged her.