Finding 4 Extra Inches

The last 2 pair of pants for my client involved adding more knit wedges but since it meant cutting through a shaped waistband/yoke I saved the tougher ones for last…yes, I can and do that. Using that same swimsuit knit I cut 2 rectangles and pinned and attached to the pants section below the waist:black-and-white-wedge-insid

But the really problem child was the second one…bias, shaped and faced with no side seam…no side seam? 1-slash-waistband The lower wedge is already attached, chalk where I am going to cut,

2-cut-away Great…now what can we put there? How about 2 inch wide elastic?3-both-sides Remove understitching on facing,4-attach-elastic open out the waistband and stitch the elastic to the front only.

5-fold-over-facing then fold facing back over the front and stitch 3/4 way down.

6-one-side-sewn Pull elastic to reveal clean finish on one side, repeat to other side. Since we did not sew all the way down to the bound facing edge we have something to lay flat for the finishing topstitching.7-inside-facingRight side ready to attach to pants8-ready-to-attach Using an 1/4 inch seam let’s attach the front side:9-attach-to-waist10-clip-seam To get the elastic section to lay flat and the fabric to flip up under the facing for the topstitching, I clip both sides and flip.11-topstitch Topstitching stops at either side of elastic.12-inside Fold under the remaining little flaps and stitch vertically along the fabric parallel with the elastic.13-topstitch14-finished So that is how to treat 2 separate sections. Could I have just sliced through everything in the beginning and treated it like the first pair of pants? Sure, but the knit is flimsy and would not have been a good match with the double layer of fabric and facing. This way the waist is held snugly and the hips have some stretch and it will all be covered with a blouse…Does it bother me that the sections are different widths and don’t line up? Not at all since they both needed different degrees of stretch and recovery. Remember…Mrs Mole CAN sew couture when she has to but these are everyday pants here and they need solutions that can handle a lot of use and not bag out after one wearing.

Before I go back to the brides, I want to share today’s harvest from the garden. Mr Mole says showing photos of veggies is sort of like bragging…I told him, I didn’t do anything to make them grow so the good Lord is just gifting them to me:

Happy summer sewing and welcome to all the new followers!


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Custom All the Way

Remember when we last saw Nancy modeling her muslin in this post?

Well, do you want to see what happened next? Bet you are tired with seeing bride after bride and want to see some real sewing, don’t you?I have made a Pinterest board for all the photos here.

After pinning and pinning and marking where slashing would occur the next step was altering the paper pattern before cutting into her very thick ponte knit fabric.6-pattern-pieces-front The center front was elongated by combining the lower section # 14 with the upper section for a taller smoother look…who needs more horizontal lines on their tummy?7-bodice-back The back has the added upper back slash and spread…notice the curve it makes, it is OK since an invisible zipper can handle the curve. The swayback and short-waisted overlaps are included too.9-front-basted11-back10-side-view So here we are…even with paper pattern altering we still have some tweaking to do…why? Well this pattern calls for a woven fabric and we are using a knit…holy crap…you can do that? Yes, but you have to be willing to pin out more than normal and a couple times to get the fit right. You can see the sway back short waist overlaps were not enough, the upper back is a little too wide but the hips can be reduced…happy days!

Let’s take in the side seams and stabilize the shoulder seams with tape.

15 take-in-side-seam14 basted-shoulder-seam


The zipper seam is widened and the shoulder seams are topstitched flat. Also the waistline seam is topstitched from the zipper to the front panel to be decorative but also hold that seam opened flat.


16 taken-in-zipper-seam17 topstitch-shoulder19 topstitching18 waist-seam-open

The neckline is square so the corners have to be chalked and interfaced with fusible tricot before adding the lining. I opted to use a knit lining but only in the center panels and full back to make the neckline more stable.


21 chalk-corners22 reinforce-corners

Lining is attached and flipped and will be hand sewn along the zipper to allow for stretch.

23 pin-lining-to-neckline24 back-neck-lining Let’s see what the inside looks like:

30-hanging-front29-hanging-back Lots of wrinkles but I hang the garment for a day to relax everything and re-pin and hand attach down all the seams. The front princess seams are pressed flat and open and held that way with the lining. the armholes are left raw and waiting for a bias binding.25-basted-edges The neckline is hand basted and will be topstitched to hold the lining flat and always on the inside.32-armhole-binding35-armhole-done

The hem is done with a coverstitch and the back vent is reinforced before sewing the end and then topstitched to match the rest.




What’s left? Just the hook and eye at the top of the zipper and some pressing.

34-top-hook And the finished dress modeled:

37-finished-front38-finsihed-back Nancy apologized for not wearing the proper underwear for the photo shoot. She will of course, wear a half slip and stand up straight to avoid wrinkles and adorn herself with some really cool jewelry now that she has such a perfect backdrop. What’s next…well we are working on the next dress Vogue 8969…one of those Very Easy Vogues that requires more fitting and altering than normal and weirder sizing that normal.

Just a few shots of the squash garden…remember when they were just baby plants back in May? Well, to save space, I trained the crookneck and butternut squash up metal tomato cages and they are now almost 6 feet tall:crookneck-squashP1170769butternut-squashbaby-butternut

Hope your gardens are producing loads of produce and flowers and can give you a time of rest in the middle of summer sewing…more crazy sewing fixes next time! Oh…last week when uploading my post about the gold bride, WordPress had a delay in processing so it was not available to everyone…so if you missed it, please flip back to the previous post to see such a pretty gown.

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Fool’s Gold

It seems as though this has been the year of the lace wedding gown and I have been sharing week after week how the lace is cut and moved up to shorten the hem.

Well, a bride brought in a lovely dress that she fell in love with and just had to have and it is made with thick gold metallic lace. The top half of the dress is thick ivory lace and as it descends to the hem it changes to gold. So what’s the problem, Mrs Mole?

Can you spot anything?


Not all dresses come with a “dragon back” full of buttons. While the center back has a lapped zipper and lots of buttons down one side, the other side has elastic loops but the center back needs to be taken in 6 inches…6 inches…like 4 sizes. There is a lining that has to be taken in too and an underlining all somehow attached to that zipper. The hem is over 5 inches too long as well and will be cut and moved up like normal. Where to start…well, first we need a steady hand to remove the zipper and buttons and loop tape…crack open a Diet Dr. Pepper and grab my scalpel and get to work.P1170663 You all know I am a crazy person and have to baste everything with red  and green thread for marking so all 3 layers are thread marked and opened up and the lace hem edge as well otherwise how do you know where you are going?lace-hem The lower motifs are trimmed away and cut and moved up and pinned. Then every edge is hand basted in The excess lace is folded under and basted just until the first try-on. Here it is from the right side. All that excess will be trimmed away later.inside-hem Here is the inside with folded sections basted with white thread to look nice for the try-on. The metallic quality and density of the lace just do not show up in the photos…sorry!

After the first try-on we still have some things to tweak…like the hem still being an inch too long (pinned in the photo) and the top of the zipper needing to be a lot tighter. The bride wants a hand made ruched satin belt (with no bow or tie) and once all these things are done all the buttons and looping will be re-attached. The interesting thing we discovered today is the fact that the train being such a huge circle will require a 5 point bustle just to get all the edges up…you never know once you start pinning up…some days you end up with 3 points and the “dog ears” that still drag on the ground and I never let my brides have anything hanging down that they or a guest could step and trip on.


The funny thing that this bride said was that she never wanted or pictured herself in a lace dress with a train or a belt or strapless…and here she is with the whole enchilada! I wish she would have been able to find a dress closer to her own size but she bought it back East to be able to shop with her mother but works on the West coast and had to find a seamstress.

Next time Nancy returns with her completed Vogue 8947 that we re-designed and it is gorgeous! Remember what we started with? I’m so excited to share the finished dress!



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Your Job is So Easy

I love my job, sewing is my passion, but there is a down side to such devotion.

So what happens when the mother of a bride tells me that my life and job are so easy? She says my job is Stress-Free, not Physically Straining and Fun.

After the smoke cleared from coming out of my ears, I responded:

Maybe you don’t realize what seamstresses do that causes us to have twisted, sore necks and shoulders and arms aching so badly we need regular chiropractics and bodywork just to get up in the morning to start all this over again.

Maybe you don’t realize that wrestling with 14 pound ivory satin and lace and netted alligators and trying to get them under the presser foot of a sewing machine requires some real muscles and strength day after day.

Maybe you don’t realize what it is like dealing with at least 30-40 different  brides, their mothers and 30 additional bridesmaids and working to their deadline dates.

Then the bride chimes in, “Yeah Mom, we don’t realize the eye strain and hand co-ordination it takes to sew fine edges of lace and hems and buttons all day.”

Things got real quiet and all they could say was…”well, your sewing room seems real calm.”  Yes, it is calm…most of the time.

But not all this week was as jarring as that…my client, Nancy, you all know how she loves to wear those sheer jackets I make for hergreen-chiffonred-chiffon

…well the girl was out on a toot “up North” and guess who she ran into at a shop? kimKim Novak, the famous actress, walked over to her and said, “I love your jacket!” Poor Nancy was so stunned/gobsmacked/speechless that she didn’t have the presence of mind to say, “I know a good seamstress who can make you one” and hand her my card…ha ha.

Next time, a whole heap of trouble and labor in the form of metallic lace and a dress 4 sizes too big is coming your way! Thanks for all your comments and for stopping by…have a cool week…hang out near a fan!

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No Time to Waist

Last week I said I would share some waist alterations… so let’s go!

In a past post I have altered winter pants by moving zippers and letting out pleats, re-used fly guards and doing odd things to enlarge the waist area by 3- 4 inches. In winter pants you can get away with a bit more than summer linen pants but there are some sneaky things to try.

The first couple involved removing useless wide belt loops, opening them up, ironing them flat and using that scrap for the inside waistband patches.all Here are 8 pair of pants that need the same alteration as the wearer needs extra space for an implanted nerve stimulator box at her waist area under her skin. The first 2 pair have a cut-on waistband with a facing so we can let out front pleats but need a patch inside: old-yellow-wide-belt-carrieold-yellow-open-pleatold-yellow-patchesnavy-belt-loop-removednavy-pleat-opennavy-patches The next 2 pair I used one pocket to make a center back patch on a normal waistband:lime-missing-pocketlime-missing-oiutsidelime-patch

Then I repaired what the client had done by sliding a wide elastic into the folded over waistband to give her some ease…imagine just cutting into your waistband and leaving it open! gold-elastic-insert These next black linen shorts had the front pleats reduced by half and the waistband removed and repositioned with a small patch to extend it and a new button and buttonhole:


The next black pants had the pleat opened completely:black-open-pleat black-opening and the hook and eye just moved over 3 inches leaving a small under-flap. So most of these required the waistband to be removed, all belt loops removed (my option and choice) and all topstitched down again. But one pair, and 3 others in the to-do pile do not have extra fabric anywhere….and they will get the knit wedge treatment:pinstripe-knit-insert The knit is some swim suit knit from JoAnn’s and it is just placed in the  opened side seam and stitched down. The top edge is folded over to match the facing edge and left since it does not fray or ravel. It’s not pretty on the inside but my client went nuts when she tried them on and wanted all her pants done this way. The swim suit fabric has great recovery and comes in lots of colors and since all of her blouses hang loose, they will cover up the addition.

Now for a zipper trick I promised…over 20 years ago I went back to college to get my fashion design degree as a “mature” student. Just before graduation we were offered a spot as an apprentice in a factory in the area. Many students opted for companies like Jantzen that made knits and swimwear or St John’s Knits (before they joined Escada) with very high end knit clothes but I chose a small bridal gown factory near the shopping center called South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, Calif. All gowns were designed, cut and sewn in-house by 3 seamstresses; the owner and one women overseer from Vietnam and a woman from the Philippians (I meant Philippines as one reader corrected me). To start with there were NO PINS and no instructions printed anywhere…you learned to use your nails as pins/tools and and watch and learn and sew damn fast. No ripping out was the order of the day and I learned one trick that I use even to this day about zippers.

Now we all were taught to sew the overlap from the right side…right? Great, nothing like sewing blind…ever wonder why there is a woven line down the edge of a zipper? It’s for the seamstress to use as a guide!!! We inserted lots of regular zippers and invisible ones without special feet, just a narrow presser foot and holding the teeth flat. We never pressed them flat like they tell home sewers…who has time? But the trick in regular zippers, like normal, is the stitching is done 1/2 inch away from the folded edge and it is calculated on the wrong side.stitch-zipper The zipper teeth are laid 1/4 inch from the folded edge and the stitching is done 1/4 inch away from the teeth using the woven line in the zipper as a guide. The cool thing is…as with bridal and beaded fabrics and lace and braiding…all that is under the foot and the needle never hits that stuff or stops from the bulk. Of course, you do have to remove any BIG beads in the line of stitching beforehand and replace them but you would have zipper-edgedo that anyway. Here you can see my red thread marking the new folded edge and white basting thread I used so the bride could try on her new tighter back gown before I attached the zipper by machine. So fellow sewers…be brave…try out something new from a factory and see if it works for you. On regular non-lumpy bumpy fabric is works great as the added feature is the feed dogs pull the eased fabric of the right side nice and flat with no puckers top or bottom.

This week I’m afraid my post is lacking any humor that you all comment on when recommending me to others but maybe seeing wider waistband pants and zipper tricks makes up for the lack of laughs…thanks for dropping by!

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Do You Ott?

Ripping open white dress seams and basting white dress hems can take a toll on your eyesight unless you have an Ottlite. I have two lamps,

one clamp-on one over my sewing machinelight-bulb-E

and one clip-on one at the edge of my hand sewing station aka sofa. light-bulb-E-and-Aside-table

It may look a bit messy but it contains all I need and use every night from 7-11 pm. You can see the bags of boobs under the table and my step that goes with the platform too. But the most important feature is the Ottlite so when the bulb burns out….I go nuts. They do say the bulbs last 10,000 hours…so when I mentioned to Mr. Mole this could not possibly be the case for me…he reminded me that 10,000 hours in Mrs Moletime is less than 7 years. Makes you stop and think doesn’t it? Of course, I use the side table lamp way more than just 4 hours every night so I can only get 6 years use from a 10,000 bulb. I went and removed the bulb from the other lamp even though it is the same 13 watts, it is a newer variety called an “E” (electronic) bulb with a rounded top and for now it works but is much shorter than the “A” bulb, 6.75 inches versus 7.5 with a squarish top.

Then, I went on Amazon to find a replacement for either bulb and guess what? The new bulbs measures 8.2 inches long. Now what? I phoned Ottlite and the service man said they all fit…sure…so I ordered the replacement and fingers crossed when the delivery arrives this week I hope the new bulb fits one or other of the lamps. So maybe you are thinking…why buy a bulb for $8 if it only lasts 6 years? Well, the fact that it is glare-free and true full spectrum light is the reason to splash out…in fact I ordered 2 to be damn sure I never have to do without again. If you buy from Ottlite or Michael’s they are $17.99 so shop around!

In the meantime, I had/stole a day or so to make something for my 10 year old granddaughter for her belated birthday. Making crop tops and shorts is fast business and makes you realize how freaking tedious/maddening bridal gowns are compared to cranking out kid’s clothes! Here is what I managed in 2 days from scraps I had at home…yippee no shopping! The jumper (linen/rayon blend) was from a 1990 pattern and I made 3 different belts to change the look:pink-jumperyellow-shorts-setred-blouse The red poly top had velvet dots for a different feel. But then it was back to the brides….here is the view from my desk of what has to be finished by next week and the week after…yes…9 dresses should be out the door or close to it. July-20-1014 Yes, 7 out of the 9 dresses are lace and required that cutting and moving up of the edging and motifs…so labor intensive! But let’s finish with a laugh shall we?

Remember the man who emailed me to make an appointment for the wife with the sad old silk suit last month? Well, I had another Bozo call to tell me:

“My name is Jack Winter and my wife needs a bolero jacket made…it will be simple, it will be easy…no buttons, no collar, no buttonholes AND you will have a whole 9 days to do it before she needs it to wear to a wedding”.

My reply was, “Well Jack, let me tell you that I have 9 brides ahead of you in the sequence of sewing projects so I will not have a whole 9 days to produce such a garment” and referred him to someone who might.

What you want to say is, “Actually Jack I was not just sitting by the phone hoping you would ring and ask me to stop everything and whip up a jacket for your wife who cannot possibly call for herself.” But I really really wanted to!!!

Our temps here have been over 100 for 11 days straight…thank goodness I never have to leave my sewing rooms except to harvest veggies and water hanging baskets! Have a great sewing week everyone and thanks for stopping by! Next time a zipper trick and adding to pants waistbands!



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Don’t bring anyone to your fitting

Brides need an audience. If they don’t have an entourage like you see on TV shows like “Say Yes to the Dress” where 6-8 reluctant people/hostages recline on couches and wait for the bride to appear with yet another high priced mound of fluffiness …she feels cheated. If the bride buys her dress from a small salon or consignment shop all by herself, she feels cheated out of the whole experience of having her “posse” gasp/fake approval at her in the dress of her dreams and tell her she looks like a real life princess…OK, now back to reality.

In April, I measured a bride so she could order her custom dress in advance of her August wedding. Not a big deal…at that time the body measured: 32.5 bust and 27.5 waist. These were the only measurements she wanted and when the dress arrived from a China factory…the label was printed with those measurements:P1170611

Did you know that a size 0 is a 32 bust, 25 waist and 35 hips? But it was a whole different story when she tried on the dress and announced, “Make it so I cannot possibly breathe.” The scalloped lace hem hung at least 6 inches on the ground but all that she wanted was the bodice to be tight tight tight. I pinned it tight and once the zipper was removed and the measuring tape used…we are looking at 27 inches NOT 32.5. Missing 5 1/2 inchesP1170609

The waist also dropped from 27.5 to 24….where did 3 1/2 inches go??? P1170610Her high pitched baby voice kept saying, “I’m so tiny” over and over while staring in the mirror while her steadfast matron-of-honor/best friend ( a generous size 24 ) was following her barking orders for organizing the day with her cell phone lining up florists and caterers for this little princess. I felt so bad for the overworked friend and wished the tiny princess would stop with the self indulgent comments.

The next bride who thought bringing her teenage daughter to the fitting was equally disturbing. It was like seeing an aging Barbie doll primp and pull and smile brightly in the mirror while stuffing larger and larger push-up bust cups into the bodice to give herself cleavage…any cleavage.

image.phpback The dress was light and airy and included a very huge train of five back lace godets which would all have to be bustled up for the fabulous Hawaiian wedding on the beach. It made no sense to me to put a teenage girl through this performance by her mother like she was a giggly 20 year old virgin. The prospect of a new step-dad entering her world and being part of the whole second time around festivities was not enough to make her look up from her cell phone once during the hour fitting.

To bustle all this frothy wonderfulness and get it up off the sand it will take one bustle point just for the under satin layer


and 7 buttons and loops for the lace godets with the center 3 all being hooked on a center button:7-bustle-points-lace

Does any of this make sense… fake boobs and a fake tail/train…and sand and sea?

Well, we do the best we can and  long for the 5 pm cocktail time to arrive!

This week I have 5 new brides coming for their first fitting bringing the total so far to 28 with the rest of the year to go. They join the 32 bridesmaids who have waltzed through the sewing room in all their divine chiffoness in the past 21 weeks….but who’s counting?

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