Hoochie Mama and Hems

Another seamstress in town sent my next client today. She is a sad and desperate bridesmaid (is there any other kind?) in a wedding on Saturday (today is Tuesday) on the other side of the state.

Guess what? She bought the dress on the internet…and it doesn’t fit. Well, she can get into it but her boyfriend says she cannot wear a dress that makes her look like a hoochie mama.For some reason the top fit but the skirt was pegged so narrow that the girl could not walk never mind sit down or dance. So I opened up the lining to see what we had. The side seams were all at least one inch wide flipped in one direction as to add bulk, so I opened them quickly along with the lining and as the girl stood there with both side seams open and naked thighs exposed we agreed letting out the 2 inches each side and center back would be the only option. In the beginning, on the phone she said she may need to insert panels and buy fabric from JoAnn’s. So happy that it didn’t come to than with the schedule packed already around here. The photos of the newly pinned 1/4 inch seams: click on photos for larger view

1-pinned-side-seam2-center-back-seam3-front-pinned4-center-back-pinned Still just pinned.

So there we have a quick/reasonably attainable fix along with a skimpy dropped one inch hem. The girl should look a bit more modest for the event. It does make you wonder who could have ever fit into this dress.

And now to the opposite dilemma…restyling a brand new skirt to make it smaller and longer. My regular client bought this wool/silk blend skirt and asked if I could lengthen it. It had a 2 inch hem so I said I could and we could leave the extra fabric without the ruffle and it would highlight the ruffles above by being blank…trying to convince her that it would be OK without doing anything drastic…NO GO.

She wanted the hem one inch lower and a ruffle down across the lower edge. Great…OK, hands up who want to remove a bias cut ruffle and re-attach it below? OH…I guess that’s me waving my hand in the air. She also wants the skirt side seams taken in 2 inches on each side from waist to hem and lining too and remove the vent zipper…a vent zipper? Yes, I guess the designer thought a lower center back vent zipper was a clever idea.

P1150562 Using a walking foot/even feed foot I work my way through this forest of ruffles re-attaching 7 rows of them…why? Well, when you have to take in side seams and the ruffles are only attached to the skirt and not run into the side seams, you must remove them from the sides and allow them to “grow” towards the center back seam to be tacked down inside. So besides removing the top row of ruffles and attaching it to the lower hem edge, EVERY DAMN one of the remaining 6 rows (times 2 sides) have to be removed and repositioned! P1150564

Can you see the red lines of hand basting threads? Click on the photo. OH yes, my friends…let’s just piss away an entire day hand basting straight lines of ruffles without managing to stretch that bias strip!P1150565 Can you see the perfect rows of stitching and the almost flat side seams?P1150566 The other side with the new ruffled hem peeking out and more red thread basting lines. You can see the lining above which will also be altered. What a job! BUT if you ever make a skirt and you are a size 0 with very skinny legs and want to jazz it up…cut yourself 1 inch wide bias strips of wool and tack it on until you are nauseous…and stand back for rave reviews…if you are a normal size with real womanly legs and hips…AVOID THIS LOOK!

Next time I hope to have some real crazy photos for you of almost impossible fixes…well they ain’t fixed yet, just waiting for inspiration and perspiration!

Welcome to the many new readers from Bunny at LaSewist blog. You will notice as you read through new and previous posts that my photos are not of pretty finished and polished garments…they are as nasty as they come and outrageous in requests. This blog is direct from my sewing workshop with the names and identities changed, even my own. It might give you a chance to be grateful for you own controlled environment, great fabric stash and collections, your own companionship and a hot cup of coffee. I share my world with you and you can laugh and shake your head and say “is she making this up?”

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36 Responses to Hoochie Mama and Hems

  1. Jennifer says:

    No way you could be making this stuff up! I could not think up all the dilemmas you’ve been through! You have the patience of Job! Merry Christmas and I hope yo get some relaxation in during the holidays.

  2. Mary Beth says:

    Hi Mrs Mole, Bunny sent me. Thanks for documenting your stories so I can remember why I chose commercial contract sewing and it’s long, continuous, mind bendingly boring frustrations rather than deal with clients. Bless you for continuing on and weeding out the wild ones.

  3. Hello MrsMole! I am one of the many who have come over from Bunnys blog. Love your blog, and spent yesterday reading your old posts and giggling! Oh, to be a fly on the wall in your studio!! Best wishes from Sarah in the UK.

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Sarah, your wish has come true…you are now a fly on the wall! My husband bought me a video camera last year for my birthday and I only wish I made time to learn how to run it and record all this crazy stuff…but I guess doing that without a person’s permission is illegal. Closest I get is snapping shots of headless brides for all of you to scrutinize.

  4. Andrea says:

    I’m a new reader, from the link you mentioned. I have been enjoying your posts!

    I seriously hope you charged a mint to fix that skirt.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Andrea, we seamstresses NEVER charge enough for our work. When I ask my other 4 sewing sisters in the area if they ever charge for the right amount of hours the answer is NO! But the stories I hear from clients who take their clothes to people other than my “sisters” can get really ripped off when they pick up their clothes and the owner says “well it took twice as long so the $60 fee is now $120.” A scary and expensive thought!

  5. paisleyapron says:

    I’m glad I listened to Bunny and clicked through to your blog. Great reading! And now I know why my seamstress mother avoided the alterations business. You have the patience of a saint. Thank you for indulging us with your stories.

  6. Cheryl says:

    Hello, Mrs. Mole, I also found your blog thru LaSewist. I am enjoying reading about the challenges you face in altering garments. You have amazing talent to make these garments wearable. Thanks for your stories, and I’m learning a lot from you. Cheryl in San Diego

  7. Karin says:

    Thanks for the warm welcome!
    I am amazed that people are insisting on this stuff…are you charging them for all the time it really takes? Surely you must be subsidising these flights of fancy by working for free some of the time! Surely the real cost of all this silliness would put people off! Who are these people?

  8. OMG…What a nightmare! I hope you charged her a fortune for all that work….and that she loved the finished product! As a relatively novice sewist, those bias ruffles would drive me mad. I’m afraid I’d have just bought a different skirt….:)

  9. Janice says:

    Bunny sent me, too. Thank you Bunny, I love this blog! I do alterations so I can relate to many of these posts. Keep them coming. It brings comic relief to my day!

  10. Linda S. says:

    Me too…just hopped over here from La Sewista and boy was it worth the trip! I love your blog, your humor especially and what great sewing tips!!! This is too much fun and my hat is off to you : )

  11. paloverde says:

    Bunny sent me. Oh, Mrs. Mole–do you know how *late* I stayed up reading your blog from start to finish? I simply could not stop. I was so enthralled/appalled by your recitations on the life of an independent seamstress for hire. This just reinforces why I sew for myself and why I only make alterations on my own clothes.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, thank you, all the new viewers and sewers!!!! If you know any local seamstresses in you area, drop in and tell them you know what they must be going through…it will brighten their day. I am so thankful that I am not a hairdresser or manicurist to these women and have to see them on a regular basis! All I have to do is make the crotch and hem right on their pants…seems easy enough compared to doing hair and nails!!!

  12. sdbev says:

    OMG you are delightful. I just finished reading back to your first post on this blog. You have a wonderful sense of humor as well as being an expert seamstress. My hat is off to you and I look forward to reading your future posts.

  13. theresa says:

    So tell me, do you ever feel like answering the door with a rifle in hand? ;) OMG ruffles, on adult skirts. You did a wonderful job, but I can’t help saying it all reminds me of a mummy half unwrapped.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Theresa, you don’t know how close you are to the truth! I don’t own a rifle…would a wooden clapper or steel 48 inch long ruler suffice?

  14. Meigan says:

    I also found your blog via La Sewista. I’m so glad she mentioned your blog…it is a great read and I am in complete awe of your patience in dealing with bridezillas, bridesmaid-zillas, and crazy clients. Thank you for sharing!

  15. Monique says:

    How about a really loud dog? ;-)
    Your reputation as a miracle worker gets you all these clients, I’m sure.
    At least stay sane enough to enjoy your holidays. I would be seeing those basting stitches and ruffles every time I closed my eyes…

  16. mrsmole says:

    Monique, the last thing I need is dog hair or cat hair but maybe a tape recording of a nasty dog would be enough? Basting….I love to baste, it tells me where I am and I rarely rip later, for me it is an essential step to save me time later. In this case those damn ruffles needed taming from the start! Miracles….I’m running short of them as the year draws to a close…trying to whip up enthusiasm for the final 4 brides of the year is a real push! Dec 21, 22, 28th and Jan 5 brides are being finished and then January can give me some rest! Fingers crossed!

    • Monique says:

      That’s true, you can’t keep dogs and cats out of spaces they can get into. A dog SOUND may help, then. Just to impress and inspire respect. ;-)
      Hope you experiences miracles for yourself, after working them for others!
      You’re nearly there.

  17. Kathy says:

    Bunny sent me here as well. This is the funniest stuff imaginable! I don’t know how you can continue to sew for the public with these strange demands, but I’m going to be enjoying your sewing escapades and will count it as my comic relief for the day! Thanks for your clever stories about alterations. Nobody could make this stuff up! LOL!

    • mrsmole says:

      Kathy, I have a friend who is the alteration manager for a David’s Bridal in Georgia. She has stories that would curl your hair! The crazies are out there and they are getting married and multiplying! Thanks for visiting!

  18. msgirl says:

    Another sewist arriving via Bunny’s recommendation! I will be back to visit again with your entertaining commentary. Someone recently asked me if I do alterations and I gave them my standard reply, “Not even for me or my family!”

  19. Tez says:

    I appear to be joining a long line of people who linked via Bunny’s blog. I have spent the last 5 days reading through all your archives and laughing my ass off! Truly, if laughter could make my ass smaller, I’d be making an appointment with you to alter my pants…even though I could totally do it myself! HA! (indeed I believe a lot of women who demean your skill and training and talent with such statements truly think that they OUGHT to be able to do it (sewing is still viewed as the woman’s work and something they ought to be capable of. even women perpetuate this!) and there is a sense of inadequacy when they are unable…so they excuse themselves by trying to pull you down to their level. You are good to rise above it! <3

    I am madly in love with your wit, your skill and your distinguished sense of propriety juxtaposed with your wicked humor!

    Your blog is so much more than the usual 'cutesy', quick and dirty, sewing blogs out there and I'm so glad to be a follower, where have you been all my life???

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Tez, thank you for such high praise! In my bio you can see I have moved around a bit in the last 60+ years so that is why you have not found me. I think if you are fortunate and blessed enough to make your passion your career and continue to do it and people pay you for your talents…it is a win-win. If you look at every situation as something with humor hidden within and always expect the best from clients right from the start things go pretty well…not always but then this blog brings to light the weird-os.Thanks for stopping by!

  20. Mimi says:

    Love the blog! I wish I could tell my stories too, but alas, I don’t have an alias, and people would recognize themselves in the stories, find me, and then kill me!

    • mrsmole says:

      You might just get away with it if you try. I get 150 new clients a year so there are quite a few choices to pick from and only real seamstresses read these blogs. Some of my nicer clients read the blog to understand why there might be a delay in their stuff or schedule a quieter time…a quieter time? What’s that? You are quite some accomplished gal yourself!!!!

      • mimijackson says:

        Haha! I think I would have a very hard time telling stories in a way that would be respectful to the process. And you know, while you’re in it, you can go through a range of emotions, which aren’t always the fault of the client! So, I’ll be keeping my stories to myself for the forseebale future. I’ll get my fun by reading your stories!

  21. Pauline Droy says:

    I think you must have the patience of a Saint – I sometimes think I would rather make something from start to finish rather than unpicking etc. I confess to unpicking some jeans I made recently —- all that topstitching and then I had to sew it all back again. I was glad to do it because the jeans needed taking in, but if I had to do this on a regular basis I would be spitting pins all over the place. I take my hat off to you.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Pauline. Try having different sizes and lengths of pins each on their own round magnet bed. Guess I am always amazed at sewing photos where people are all using those huge yellow headed quilting pins for all their projects. Try glass head with red and white heads for most things, those blue and yellow glass head for fine work and the longer version green and orange glass headed ones for longer basting areas. All these can be used in pressing and save the plastic headed ones for crafts which don’t need an iron as they can melt.

  22. Claire Tharp says:

    I have nominated you for the Very Inspiring Blogger award and the One Lovely Blog Award! See my blog for your badge and instructions!! http://clairesews.blogspot.com/

  23. Gjeometry says:

    Hi there, your post made me laugh! I enjoy the way you write and am now following your blog. I love ruffles on….well many things, and recently made my first ruffle to attach to a PJ top. It was a tiny ruffle and took over an hour just to try to turn it right side out after sewing it. Then I had to ruffle it without breaking the thread and that took so long. I am thinking of investing in a ruffle attachment. Does anybody know if this would be worth it?

    • mrsmole says:

      Love my ruffler attachment and like most it has multiple settings for deeper or narrower bites/pleats so you need to make a sample to get the right look you desire. Really they should call the foot a pleater as that is what it makes with great speed depending on the length of your stitch as well.

  24. White Ant says:

    *Another* one of Bunny’s readers who stopped by and couldn’t leave until I had gone through the entire archive, laughing my arse off at some of the stories, and loving that, “Oh, a kindred spirit! Amen, sister” feeling. I, too, have had to institute an “only CLEAN clothes” rule, and have had the insulting “interview to see if you know what you’re doing” from a prospective client, as well as having slews of the “rush job that doesn’t get picked up when it’s ready” folks. That one is an absolute head-scratcher. Love the blanket robe and matching fez job! The delighted look on his face makes it all worthwhile. It’s having clients like that that keep me from taking up macrame instead. Nobody wants macrame! Keep calm and sew on, Mrs. Mole. <3

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