This prom season was the first for my daughter and her junior prom. We knew we would want to start looking early for a dress, so in January that is just what we did. We made our list of local bridal shops in the Fayetteville, North Carolina area and worked our way down the list. At the second shop we entered and after trying on over twenty gowns we finally found just the right dress. Only needing a few alterations this was going to be a stunning dress once it fit just right.
Since alteration’s with beading is not my cup of tea to say the least, we decided to take the dress to a lady referred to us by the bridal shop. Ironically the lady doing the alterations is the mother of one of the bridal shop employees. With her business cards displayed on the front glass showcase beside the register, I took the card with excitement. I would have her do the bodice alterations and I would complete the other alterations once we picked the gown up. How hard could that be?
Once I called the lady, who operates her business in Hope Mills, NC I learned she works out of her home. No big deal to me as my business is in my home. The only difference is I do not have customers coming to my home. I go to them. Without a second thought I make our appointment with her to get the dress altered.
On March 13, 2014 we took the prom dress in for alterations. Her home was not what I would have expected for a business but after all why worry, she was referred to us by the bridal shop. As we entered her front door we are standing in her living room straight ahead was a sheet hanging on an expandable curtain rod separating the rest of the house form this room. Clutter filled the room from one end to the other with personal items to a sewing machine sitting on an old fold up card table in front of the couch. Despite the looks of her home I could not pass judgment on her and her 40 plus years of experience in formal wear.
Once the fitting was complete we received our invoice and a date only four weeks away to come back April 10, 2014 for the final fitting once she completed the alterations. With prom not until May 10, this was perfect timing in between any orders I would have to get the final alterations completed. April 10th came without a phone call to confirm the dress was complete but I did not worry. We had an appointment the following day to take my daughters best friend in for her fitting and beaded bodice alterations.
Once we arrive she opens the door and very gruffly says “do you have an appointment?” I said “Yes at 3:30”. A little confused with her rudeness we entered her home. Another lady was there sitting in a chair working on some hand sewing to another garment and was obviously very ticked she had to get up and leave the room upon our entering. As she passed I said “I’m so sorry you have to get up”. Behind the sheet she disappeared without a hello, smile, or even a reply to my comment.
In my hand I held our invoice and she said to me with even more rudeness than she opened the door with “Don’t even ask me about that, it’s not done”. A little shocked I did not even know what to say to that comment. At this point I glance over to see my daughters dress still hanging in her coat closet door way. Lined up with other dresses that were not there on our first visit my daughter’s dress hung, untouched. A little confused at how she had not even began as I see the dress she was working on was one of the very dresses my daughters tried on but decided against. That dress was dropped of after my daughter’s dress but yet she was doing it first.
After doing the fitting for the second dress, she states that both dresses would be ready to pick up the following week on Thursday April 17. Of course the day arrives to pick up the dresses and I receive a call that since there was so much work to be done on the second dress it would be a few more days to finish. A few more days pass and she calls to tell me she is sick and it will be a few more days. Finally, I receive a call that the dresses will be ready for pick up April 24. With excitement from me and the girls we could not wait to get these dresses back.
Oh how our excitement quickly fell to sadness. When the girls put their dresses on it was quite obvious my daughters dress was now to small and her friends dress still did not fit her. The side seams on my daughters dress went in an S shape up to her back, back seams looked like an S shape, not one straight seam on the entire bodice except the front which she failed to take in. The bodice was taken in so much the stitching was showing in the back and you could see she did not use the right color of thread, smoke blue on turquoise. It was bad enough the zipper had to be forced closed but one cough or wrong move the seams would have ripped open.
The girls changed back in to their clothes and the lady returns to the room. My daughter is crying and just leaves the room to wait in the car with her friend. I explained the dress is ruined and we can no longer even use the dress and I would have to go and find her a new dress. Complete silence from her as she looked at her invoice book to confirm the total for the two dresses. Without a blink she gives me the total for the two dresses as if everything was just perfect. Stunned I nicely paid and left as I was speechless and still in shock. I was charged full price for both dresses: one that would still have to be altered and one that was ruined beyond repair.
With a few calls to the bridal shop I was able to obtain the number for the owner of the bridal shop. He wanted me to return to the bridal shop and show the shop manager what had been done to the dresses. I did not want to do this but I knew I had to. This bridal shop has already referred me to someone who has an alteration skill level of zero why even return? Upon entering the bridal shop the daughter of the alterations business says to me “How did my Momma mutilate your dress”? I could not even believe the shop manager did not tell her to go elsewhere while she handled the situation. It was not until later I said to the manager “she does not even need to be involved in this” and she shook her head as if to agree with me but had no clue what to even say. We spent nearly two hours tearfully trying on dress after dress trying to find another. The entire time the daughter of the seamstress bounced passed us joyfully singing as if she was getting some kind of thrill out of the pain my daughter was feeling due to the actions of her mother.
In the end we found a dress but it was going to require a lot of work to get it to the dress my daughter wanted it to be. This time no middle man was going to touch my daughters dress. I would do any alterations that would need to be done. With only a few weeks until prom I had I big job ahead of me.
Now came the hard part. Making this dress match all of the accessories already purchased to make. This would include her boyfriend’s tuxedo and accessories as well as the corsage and boutonniere already ordered. With a little time and skills I was able to give this plain white dress a whole new look to suit any girls junior prom and able to keep everything we had already purchased.
In the end I was out a total of $300 between the two prom dresses for my daughter and the alterations to both dresses. This does not include my time and supplies needed to remake the second dress. This includes the purchase of two dresses, one of which is now trash and the alterations. My daughter’s friend is out $90 for her incomplete alterations. Thankfully I was able to salvage her dress since she did not take hers in too much.