Friday, November 11, 2011

Wedding Dress Alterations: Pins and Needles in Danvers, MA

I’m going to write a review of my experience at Pins and Needles in Danvers, MA because I started this blog in order to help other brides.  This company looks like it does fine work (their pictures on their website are nice) but their initial process, well, it didn’t go smoothly in my mind.  I don’t know if what I experienced was typical or not, but it would have been helpful for me to know what I was getting into.  Please chime in in the comment section below with your thoughts.

A year ago a coworker recommended that I use Pins and Needles for my wedding dress alterations.  I’ve given up on losing more than a few pounds before my wedding because it’s getting to be too late to put this off any longer.  Since I had the day off I called and the woman who answered said I could come in today.

There was construction on the ramp from 128 North to get to the shop.  And the shops in the area are so crowded together that it was difficult to find them (and difficult to find a parking spot).  I had a little bit of a walk with my garment bag with a really heavy dress and two pairs of wedding shoes, but it turns out they are directly across the street from Cakes for Occasions!  When I got to the third floor, there was a sign that said, “Please remove your shoes.”  I thought that was strange, but after I did and I opened the door I saw that their carpets looked brand new.  So okay.

The place is REALLY cute inside.  And soon a woman came out to greet me, walked over to a dressing room, pulled open the curtain and said, “You can go ahead in here.”  I walked in and she pulled the curtain closed and went back into the other room.

Is it me, or was that a little odd?  No, “You can change into your dress so that I can see what needs to be done,” or dates or timelines or pricing or any sort of wedding related chit chat.  She just went back to her sewing machine while I got dressed.

So I put on the gown, not even sure if I should have my shoes on at this point because of the sign, and stepped out.  She came back out and told me to stand on the platform, and quickly got down and started pinning the bottom of my dress!  I hadn’t hired her yet!!!

I was feeling even more awkward at this point.  I had gone on Yelp and saw that this place had 3 stars, but I gave them the benefit of the doubt because some reviewers seem to enjoy being sarcastic and shocking, and as I said, a coworker recommended them.  But I mention this because I had seen a reviewer say, “They charged $10 for a consultation and didn’t even tell me they were going to.”  I figured that $10 in the grand scheme of things was not a big deal; I could give them 10 bucks and walk out if they were too expensive.  But as I stood there on the platform getting pinned, I saw a sign that said there was a $35 dollar consultation fee.

Now I really felt blind sided.  This woman started working on my dress and was going to charge me $35 and I didn’t even know what she was going to charge.

Then once she got the front pinned, she stopped and said incredulously, “You’re not wearing your shoes!”

Well…no.  I didn’t really have a chance to ask about the whole process.  All I had to go on was a sign out front that said I need to take them off.

So she got my shoes for me, and repinned me.  I thought she was NICE; and her pinning was quick and neat, I just would have liked a little preparation.  She did tell me that although she was pinning the bottom, that was just for the measurement; she’d actually take it up from the top of the skirt (since there was so much bead work at the bottom) but I already knew that.  At least she explained that part though; had I not known that I’d have been REALLY concerned!

When she finished, she said, “So that’s it.  When you come next time we’ll do the bodice.”


“Uh, can we talk about PRICE?”

“Yup, it will be $350.  Once you get changed we can go over stuff.”

I felt dizzy.  I was really hoping she’d be LESS than the bridal shop, not more.  That was more than I paid for the dress itself.  But if I left, I lose $35 and it’s awkward.  It’s not like I knew of another shop that would do a good job.  I tried researching them online but I didn’t really know what I was looking for, and prices aren’t listed.  Everything in the wedding industry is so SECRETIVE until they’ve got you there; it’s frustrating.  At least with cakes and flowers you’re expected to do a little shopping around to see if they’re a good fit for your style.

I tried to make myself feel better knowing that she was personally recommended to me.  So although I would have liked to hunt for a better deal, it’s not like I had NOTHING to compare them to.  But I still didn’t have a nice feeling.  And having to leave my dress with anyone would have probably been a little gut wrenching, but leaving it there along with a 50% deposit was really rough.  I have my receipt, and an appointment for my next fitting in December, but an empty space in my closet.

Plus, I was a little surprised she didn’t ask me about the value of the dress.  When I worked at a frame shop we always asked about the cost of the print they were leaving with us in case we damaged it.  I mean, what if something went wrong, or there was a fire or the roof leaked or something beyond their control?  Are they even insured?

So brides, I’m not saying don’t go to this place.  Like I said; on their site they look like they do beautiful work.  But if I had read a blog like this about Pins and Needles before I went, I would have felt a lot more in control than I did.  I would have:

1.    Called somewhere else FIRST and asked if they charge a consultation fee
2.    Right away said, “Before I get changed, I have a few questions”
3.    Asked what the range of price is for the length and bustle
4.    Put on my shoes despite the sign
5.    Asked what kind of bustles they do
6.    Asked if they were insured

And maybe I would have gotten answers that satisfied me.  But I just wasn’t quick enough on my feet to think of them on the spot.  : (  

1 comment:

  1. Hello Amber,

    I think your experience is quite helpful for other brides, especially having a discussion with your seamstress before you do your fitting. Asking what the consultation price is, get some ideas of what the estimates will be before trying on the dress if you know what is needed. Then you have idea if your seamstress knows what she is doing and an idea of prices. This also establishes a relationship and sometimes people just don't click and you want to be on the same page with your wedding seamstress. Good communication, understanding the process, when do you need the dress, etc.

    I am the owner of Alterations Inc. in Phoenix and we have been an Arizona tradition for over 26 years. Although, we do alterations and custom design on anything that can be sewn, our specialty is Wedding Gowns, formal wear and mens wear.

    Alterations Inc. provides FREE consultation on all services not just wedding gowns. We discuss your wedding plans, what is needed on your gown, when is your wedding, inside/outside, formal/casual, etc.

    If a bride decides to hire Alterations Inc. for her wedding gown alterations we have a standard form that describes the process (1st fitting, 2nd, etc) Outlines what Alterations Inc will do and what we need from the brides, like bringing in her shoes and undergarments. We encourage appointments so that only one bride is in the store at a time so we can focus our attention to YOU!

    We also take all your measurements as an added service to ensure the alterations are made that match you measurement and the fittings.

    Alterations Inc encourages brides to shop around for a seamstress (time permitting). We want you to have the best experience of your life working with your gown and watching your vision come to life and you want a seamstress that will be as excited about working with you as you are about your upcoming wedding.

    So, as a final note, I agree that experience is a bit odd in my book.


I love comments, so please let me know what you think of my finds, or if you have any additional wedding tips for me!

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