My name is Shirl Bathsheba Williams and I am the owner of Philadelphia Bridal Alterations. Designing, creating one of a kind pieces and altering formal attire is my passion. I remember sitting on the lap of my mother while she sewed and created garments for herself, family and friends. She began teaching me how to sew when I was 6. By the age of 9, I made my mother a fully lined suit for her birthday that she wore faithfully to work every week until she wore it out. So, I too was sewing and designing for other people at a very young age. While in my last year of high school I was asked to make a wedding gown for a friend. She wanted a beaded lace ball gown with big puffy sleeves, and a bodice that dipped in the center with a huge long train. I didn't realize at the time that I was learning a skill that would fill my heart, fingers and imagination with so much joy. That is when I decided I would get a Bachelor's degree in Fashion Design from Drexel University. While at Drexel I won Best in Show and came in 3rd place nationally for a submission of a woven design piece.
Soon after college I was unable to find a design job here in my field so I went to work for Verizon. While there I got married and had three beautiful children. I continued to design, make and alter garments for people at work, my family and friends. My life altered and I became a stay at home mom.
Later, recognizing that my heart was still in the fashion world, I went to work for a national bridal chain, (David’s Bridal) at the corporate store as an Alterations Manager. While working there and honing my skills I went back to school and got my MBA in Marketing. I decided that it was time to start my own business, and Philadelphia Bridal Alterations was born in 2011.
The Small Details
Not long after, I left David's Bridal. To be honest, work was slow for a while. A friend of a friend needed a part time seamstress at her store so I took an alterations position with Latrice Fashion in Ardmore, PA. While there I altered clothing from many designers like Talbot Runhof, and Romona Keveza to name a few for many socialites and accomplished women. Then I was asked to create a gown in two weeks for one of their clients for the prestigious Philadelphia Academy Ball. I designed and created a couture, emerald evening gown similar to a gown she saw on the Oscars red carpet. She felt like Cinderella going to the ball.
Philadelphia Bridal Alterations is a design and alterations studio whose style primarily focuses on bridal and formal attire. It is the art of working on simple, beautiful, complicated, beaded, lace, silk, taffeta, satin and more, that fills me with pleasure. I have altered gowns from designers like Pnina Tornai, Vera Wang, Hayley Paige, Lazaro, Melissa Sweet, Jim Hjelm, Demetroius, Monique Lhuillier, Amsale, Maggie Sottero, Pronovias, Bhldn, Allure, Randy Finoli, Kleinfeld’s, and many others. Working on these gowns allows me to get consumed in the workmanship and find my peace while giving the client the joy of walking away with a masterpiece designed or altered specifically for her.
With over 2 decades in the industry, it is here where I feel most myself. Being my own boss allows me to design, create, and alter to fit every client that walks through that door. It is seeing the client’s smile on their face, their eyes lit up, and the posture in which they stand after putting on the completed garment by Philadelphia Bridal Alterations that makes Philadelphia Bridal Alterations one of the premier studios in the city. It is knowing that I was able to make someone else smile; that, at the end of the day, puts a smile on my face.