Please read this entire page before arriving for your first appointment. This page is set up in a FAQs, question/ answer format. We will be happy to answer any additional questions you may have.
What are your hours?
Our hours are by appointment only. Every fitting is an intimate affair, and each client deserves my undivided attention. Please visit our Contact page to book an appointment.
What should I bring to my initial fitting?
Bring your dress and the shoes that you plan to wear to the event. If you don't have the shoes yet then bring a pair that has the same heel height. We will assess what type of undergarments you will need at the time of the fitting. You typically do not need to bring any money to your first fitting. Initial consultations are free. You may want to bring a check if you want dry cleaning or suspect that you will want to put down a deposit on a "Sew While Wait" session, (details below).
We welcome you to invite A guest to share this experience with you. We request that you limit yourself to being accompanied by only one, (1) other person. We have seen the "entourage" situation many times. Although it seems like a great idea and seems like it will make your 3 sisters, 12 best friends, and MOB & MOG happy, it almost always backfires into a very stressful situation! Do yourself a favor, and let your dress altering decisions be up to you and your most trusted friend. The dress is a reflection of you! For a more exhaustive explanation of why we have this policy, click here.
What type of clients do you serve?
We exclusively serve brides. Because of the situation presented by ill-fitting clothing, we do not allow men in our studio during regular business hours. This allows for our brides to feel comfortable through every stage of the fitting process. If you have a special man that you would like to attend a fitting, let us know when you schedule and we can make sure that your session is completely private.
We love kids!!! (But... we have two little ones of our own and we know how they roll, so...) Children under the age of 13 are not permitted. We have many breakables, mirrors that are fun to smack, open spaces that call to the young at heart to run back and forth in, gown trains that look fun to stomp on, dangerous machinery that looks fascinating to touch, etc etc ;)
- Bring only 1 guest.
- Because of the situation presented by ill-fitting clothing, we do not allow men in our studio during regular business hours.
- Children under the age of 13 are not permitted.
How long in advance of my event should I book my appointment for?
That all depends... We usually discuss this over the phone because each case is different. I think the textbook answer to that is, 2-6 months before the event, you should be well on your way to having your dress completed. But there are variables. If your weight fluctuates for any reason, hormones, thyroid, pregnancy, etc. we will need to fit you closer to your event date. Sometimes, the week of your event! This can also be a decision based upon your emotions. If you are an avid planner and can't sleep until your checklist is done, then we can alter your dress as early as you wish. (We do recommend that you schedule a final adjustment fitting close to your event date if you go the early route.) Book appointment here.
How soon can you get my dress finished?
We try to offer rush services, completing your dress within a week for a rush fee, should an emergency arrive. Often, though, due to the volume of need during peak season, even all of our emergency sessions are full!
Outside of emergencies, our pace of work is generally set by how well my schedule lines up with yours. We can usually schedule your follow-up fittings about a week or two apart once we initially get you in the books. If you only have Saturday morning availability, it may be months before we can book you -they fill up fast. But if you can make yourself available at less popular times; for example, a Wednesday morning then you may be able to get on the books within a week or two. This all depends on the season as well.
Can I store my dress at The Gilded Thimble?
Yes, you may. If you have your alterations done with us, we'll be happy to store the dress that we altered. The dress is fully insured while it is with us. If you need to see your dress for any reason, you may call or text ahead to make sure we're open and you may come by during our open business hours. If you require assistance with getting into your dress, or need any work performed on your dress, then you must schedule a fitting.
Do you offer steaming and pressing services?
Yes we do. The fees for this vary based upon the garment. We'll be happy to look at it and give you a quote.
Do you have dry cleaning services?
Yes we do. We can evaluate your dress to determine which method of dry cleaning it will require. We will give you a quote on the price of it, and we will give you an estimate of when it will be completed. All of this can be done during a consultation appointment. There are several different types of dry cleaning that we offer. Sometimes we hand wash in house, sometimes the gowns are dry cleaned off-site using a water based method, sometimes they are dry cleaned in PERC. We also sometimes, (not often) have to send the gown off to a regional cleaners that specializes in your type of dress. On rare occasions, a gown cannot be cleaned. We are very experienced in this area and will help guide you through the process of deciding which method is best for your gown.
What is the first appointment like?
We greet you and offer free coffee or refreshments. We show you to the fitting room and help you to get into your dress if needed. We invite you into the main mirror room where we discuss your goals for the dress. We look at your dress in a very detailed manner, evaluating its construction and the method of alterations that we will need to perform. We discuss with you the various choices that you have for our altering of the gown and how the different methods affect our time-tables and pricing. We discuss what kinds of undergarments you need. We help you out of your gown. We write up a work order for you and compare our bookings availability with your own scheduling needs. If there is ample time in our schedule for the work to be performed, then we make an appointment for your alterations to be done. You read over the work order, contract, and appointment time and sign the contract. We keep one copy with your dress and store your dress in our back room. You get a carbon copy of the work order and contract. We meet again at the appointed time. (That's the technical version. I didn't mention how much fun we have!! ;)
You typically do not need to bring any money to your first fitting. Initial consultations are free. You may want to bring a check if you want dry cleaning or suspect that you will want to put down a deposit on a "Sew While Wait" session. Having an initial consultation does not guarantee that we can alter your dress. Many factors go into whether or not we can schedule your work to be done.
The initial consultation takes only 15-20 mins. It's mainly for us to get acquainted with your dress and get your appointments planned out and scheduled. It can also help put you at ease by allowing you to meet us in person and ask any questions that you may have about your dress. The initial consult may be swapped out for an email or text/ phone consult if you are an out of town bride who needs to save a trip.
What are your Alcohol Policies?
We do not give away alcohol, bottles of champagne, etc. Also, due to ABC regulations, alcohol is not permitted in our shop. Please do not secretly plan an event at my studio, bring alcohol, catering, several guests, and trash the store... Am I typing this? Oh yes I am. Sad thing is, I'm typing this because it has been happening. The entourage leaves and the next bride is scheduled at that moment, but all my trash cans are full, there are spills to mop, etc. Yes, this is a problem, and it makes me want to cry. Please respect my work and my shop. Please respect the bride after you. She deserves a timely appointment in a clean space.
How do I find your shop?
***Please visit our Directions page- this is sooo important!!
We actually don't have a storefront on Bridge Street. We only use a back deck entrance (I know, I know, it's crazy!) Therefore, GPS, google, mapquest, etc doesn't work. ***
Gps will have you parallel parking in a very inconvenient place and then walking around the block. Please, save yourself some frustration, and follow the directions on our Directions page. We are actually very simple to find, (if you have the correct directions ;) and we actually have fabulous parking!
To our brides who are traveling in from North of us: Please don't travel rt 29 alone at night! Bring a friend or take an alternate route, even if it takes a smidge longer. There is very little cell phone service in many parts of the trip. There are also many long stretches of desolate areas that you will travel through.
Is The Gilded Thimble handicapped accessible?
No, we're sorry, but we are in a second level loft. There are many steps leading up into our space.
What is a "Sew While Wait"?
"Sew while waits" are a little different than our most common type of appointment. Usually, you come for short fittings throughout the alterations process. "Sew while waits" are extended appointments during which we perform your alterations while you wait at the shop. This is something that we schedule under special circumstances. The appointment lengths vary and our payment policies for this type of appointment vary also.
Some reasons for which we will schedule an extended fitting are as follows: A bride who lives far away or must stay at a hotel while her alterations are performed benefits from saving travel time and lodging expenses, an alteration which requires the bride to be wearing her dress while we custom sew it to her form, an alteration which requires that a bride take the dress off and on many times, re-designs in which the bride's feedback and direction are needed throughout the process.
We have a lot of fun at this type of session. We have continuity of thought and the project is completed much faster! Carissa sews while the bride works on her laptop, grades papers, naps, makes wedding favors, etc. Typically, you will be trying your dress on several times throughout the day, so bring a robe or wear something that's very easy to change into. You are limited to bringing only one guest.
We regret that we cannot offer you wifi. :(
Because this type of session takes a larger block of time, we do require a 100$ deposit to book your S.W.W. day. That deposit is due within 7 days of booking the appointment. Please mail a check to the following address:
The Gilded Thimble
119B North Bridge St
Bedford, VA 24523
Make sure to include your first and last name, (maiden name) and the date of your sew day.
**Please note that we cannot guarantee a session free of interruptions. This is a business and there's all sorts of things going on here! Just know that we keep a running tally of the amount of time we spend with you and your gown, and never charge you for time that we are pulled away briefly for something else. It is our effort to have a seamstress working on your gown at all times. There is almost always one simple fitting scheduled at some point during the session as well. Just "share the love" and we'll get back with you as soon as possible. :)
One of our most popular offerings is Wedding Day Services!
You can hire us to come to your wedding and assist you if your day is available.
Please follow our blog for the stories of other brides who have used this service!
Our blog has quite a following and women love to see what other "Gilded Brides" are up to...
Do you have a written price list?
No, we don't. We really don't know of anybody who does, or how to even begin writing one! Every dress is different. The construction of the gowns vary widely. Alterations vary in complexity. There's just no way for us to know what it will cost without consulting with the bride in person while she is wearing the dress. We do generate a work order that is specific to your dress at the first fitting, though. That is a general list of things that you feel need to be done. Alterations, however, are an open-ended process. Sometimes alterations have a "domino effect" so it is impossible to fully predict everything that needs to be done and how much it will cost. For this reason, our work order states that the pick up time is an estimate. Pricing is also very fluid and basically reflects how long it takes us to complete your project.
What are your payment policies?
As a rule, it's safe to say that we have a Cash Only Policy. There are some exceptions. Basically, if your dress is staying with us, (for dry cleaning or in storage until you get married) You may write a check because the dress serves to secure payment if your check should bounce by mistake. You cannot take home a dress that has a balance due on it, and it is still considered "balance due" until the check clears from your bank. We also can offer credit card acceptance through Paypal, but you must pay the 3% processing fee for that.
Do I need to arrive early for my appointment?
No, please do not arrive early. Our appointments are just a general framework to guide our day and to keep it running as smoothly as possible. We often run behind, actually! Sometimes fittings take longer than we expect and we don't want to "shoo" a bride out of the door just because she has taken a little longer than most. If we are running more than 20 minutes behind, we try to text you the estimated time that we will see you. That way, you can choose to take your time getting to our shop, browse local stores, enjoy a coffee in our lounge area, or reschedule if needed. (If you happen to run behind, we would love for you to return the favor ;). Obviously, appointments are more likely to run behind as the day progresses. And, Saturdays are usually the worst because of the volume of customers.
Do you have wireless Internet?
No, Unfortunately, we do not. We have a public library just a few blocks away if you need to get online.
How long will my appointment last?
Appointment lengths vary. The initial consultation for a Bridal gown is usually only about 15-20 mins long. When we book the follow-up appointments, we'll tell you how long we expect each of them to last based upon what type of fitting it will be.
How do I make an appointment?
Go to our contact page. Fill out the appointment request form. We'll text you within about a week with your options for appointment times. Book early! Your first appointment is just an initial consultation. Booking a consultation does not guarantee that we will have time to complete your alterations. We must have a contract with you for work to begin on your dress. We look forward to working with you!
I'm having trouble getting you on the phone. What is the best way to contact you?
Our phone rings a lot, but we try to keep phone conversations to a minimum while we are with a bride. If you have a quick question or need an immediate response, please text us at our number. We'll get back with you as soon as we can.