Wedding Alterations

How to add a bow to a dress with alterations ✔️ Toronto & GTA

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by Nadia Lef | Wedding Dress Designer, Tailor and owner of NLefashion in Toronto, ON

So you’ve got this amazing dress that you absolutely love, but you feel like it’s missing a little something. Well, fear not because I have the perfect solution for you – adding a bow detail! Whether you’re a bride-to-be looking for that extra touch of elegance or just someone who wants to spice up their wardrobe, this article will show you how to add a beautiful bow to your dress with the help of a skilled tailor or seamstress.


Choosing the Right Dress!

When it comes to adding a bow detail to your dress, the first step is to select the right dress style. Consider the occasion and your personal style preferences. Do you want a formal gown or a casual dress? Are you looking for something sleek and sophisticated or fun and flirty? The dress style will determine the overall look and feel of the bow detail, so choose accordingly.

Next, evaluate the dress material. Some fabrics, like silk or satin, drape beautifully and lend themselves well to bow details. Others, like stiff cotton or polyester, may not be as suitable. The fabric should be able to hold the shape of the bow without looking stiff or droopy. Take the time to feel the fabric and determine if it will work well for your desired bow.

Assessing the dress fit is also crucial before adding a bow detail. The dress should fit you well and flatter your body shape. If the dress is too loose or too tight, the bow may not sit properly or could emphasize areas you’d rather not draw attention to. Opt for a dress that fits you comfortably and compliments your body.

Take note of the dress color when considering a bow. The bow should complement the dress color and not clash or overpower it. If the dress is a solid color, you have more flexibility in choosing a bow color. However, if the dress has patterns or a busy print, it’s best to select a bow color that complements one of the shades in the dress.

Lastly, take measurements for the bow. The size of the bow should be proportional to the dress and your body. A small bow can be delicate and understated, while a larger bow can make a bolder statement. Consider your personal style and preferences when deciding on the size of the bow for your dress.


Consulting with an Alteration Expert

Once you have chosen the perfect dress for your bow detail, it’s time to consult with a professional tailor or seamstress. Finding the right alteration expert is crucial to ensure your bow detail is executed flawlessly. Search for tailors or seamstresses who specialize in bridal alterations or have experience with intricate dress modifications.

Schedule a consultation appointment with the alteration expert. This will allow you to discuss your bow ideas and get expert advice on the feasibility of your vision. They can assess the dress and provide valuable insights on how the bow can be incorporated seamlessly.

During the consultation, make sure to communicate your ideas clearly and provide any visual references or sketches if possible. The alteration expert can then evaluate the dress and discuss any potential challenges or modifications needed for the bow detail. This open dialogue will help both you and the expert be on the same page regarding the design.

It’s also essential to understand the cost and timeframe for the alterations. Discuss the pricing structure with the alteration expert and get a quote for the bow detail. Additionally, inquire about the estimated time it will take to complete the alterations, so you can plan accordingly.


Planning the Bow Design

Before the alteration process begins, it’s important to plan the design of your bow detail. Decide on the bow placement on the dress. Common options include the waistline, bustline, or back. Experiment with different placements and envision how each one will enhance the overall look of the dress.

Choose the appropriate bow size for your desired look. A smaller bow can be charming and dainty, while a larger bow can make a bold and dramatic statement. Consider the dress style, your body proportions, and personal preferences when determining the size of the bow.

Select the bow fabric that complements the dress material. You can either use the same fabric as your dress for a cohesive look or opt for a contrasting fabric for added visual interest. Satin, organza, or velvet are popular choices for bow fabrics due to their smooth texture and ability to hold shape.

Explore different bow styles to find the one that suits your dress and personal style best. Some popular bow styles include classic loops, layered bows, asymmetrical bows, and bow knots. Look for inspiration online or consult with your alteration expert for their recommendations based on your dress style.

If you want to add some additional embellishments to the bow, consider options like rhinestones, pearls, or lace appliques. However, be mindful not to overwhelm the design with too many embellishments. Keep it balanced and choose elements that enhance the overall look without overpowering the bow detail.


Preparing the Dress for Alterations

Before bringing your dress to the alteration expert, it’s essential to prepare it properly. Clean the dress beforehand if it’s not already in pristine condition. This ensures that the fabric is fresh and ready for the alteration process. Check the care instructions for your dress and follow them accordingly or take it to a professional cleaner if needed.

Make any necessary repairs to the dress before adding the bow detail. Look for loose threads, missing buttons, or damaged seams that may need fixing. It’s important to address these issues before altering the dress to ensure that the final result is of the highest quality.

Identify any potential design modifications that may be required for the bow addition. Certain dress features, such as pockets or pleats, may need to be temporarily or permanently removed to accommodate the bow. Consult with your alteration expert to determine the best approach and ensure that these modifications do not compromise the dress’s overall look.

Remove any obstacles that may hinder the placement or attachment of the bow. This may include accessories, like brooches or belts, that can interfere with the bow’s position or design. Removing these items will allow the bow to be the focal point and ensure a seamless look.

Lastly, ensure that the dress fits you well before the alterations begin. If any adjustments need to be made to the dress’s fit, communicate this with your alteration expert. They can make the necessary modifications to ensure a perfect fit once the bow detail is added.


Sewing the Bow Detail

When it’s time to sew the bow, gather the necessary sewing tools. This may include sewing needles, thread, fabric scissors, pins, and a sewing machine if applicable. Having all the tools at hand will make the sewing process smoother and more efficient.

Cut the bow fabric according to the desired size and shape. Use fabric scissors to ensure clean, precise cuts. If you’re uncertain about the shape, create a bow pattern on paper first and use it as a guide when cutting the fabric.

Pin the bow in place on the dress to ensure that it sits exactly where you want it. This will give you a visual representation of how the final bow will look and allow you to make any necessary adjustments before sewing it permanently.

Begin sewing the bow onto the dress using a needle and thread that matches the fabric color. If you’re using a sewing machine, set it to the appropriate stitch and carefully sew along the edges of the bow. Take your time and sew with precision to ensure a neat and secure attachment.


Finishing Touches

After sewing the bow detail, there are a few finishing touches to complete the look. Trim any excess thread leftover from the sewing process to give the bow a clean and polished appearance. Be careful not to cut any fabric or stitches in the process.

Press the dress using a garment steamer or iron to remove any creases or wrinkles. This will give the overall dress a polished look and ensure that the bow detail lies flat and smooth against the fabric. Follow the care instructions for your dress to determine the appropriate temperature and technique for pressing.

Inspect the bow closely to make sure that everything is in place and secure. Check for any loose stitches or areas that may need reinforcement. If you notice any issues, make the necessary adjustments or consult with your alteration expert for further assistance.

Make any final adjustments to the bow or dress fit if needed. This could include tightening or loosening the bow, repositioning it slightly, or making minor alterations to the dress. Trust your instincts and make changes that will enhance the overall look and comfort of the dress.


Tips and Considerations

Here are some tips and considerations to keep in mind when adding a bow detail to a dress:

  • Choose a bow color that complements the dress and enhances its overall look.
  • Ensure that the bow is securely attached to the dress, so it doesn’t come undone during wear.
  • Consider the movement of the dress when adding a bow. The bow should flow naturally with the dress and not restrict your mobility.
  • Avoid overwhelming designs with too many bows or embellishments. Keep it balanced and let the bow detail be the focal point.
  • Trust the expertise of an alteration specialist. They have the knowledge and skills to guide you through the process and ensure a successful outcome.



Adding a bow detail to a dress can elevate its overall look and add a touch of femininity and charm. By carefully choosing the right dress, consulting with an alteration expert, and planning the bow design, you can create a beautiful and customized garment. With proper preparation, sewing, and finishing touches, your dress will be transformed into a unique piece that showcases your personal style. Whether it’s for a special occasion or everyday wear, a well-executed bow detail can make a statement and enhance your confidence.