Brides Gone Bad

Maybe it was the fact that they were both second time brides, maybe it was because they were both in their mid-forties, but both were infatuated….head-over-heels in love….with idea of being a bride/themselves. Both brought their best/long suffering faithful friends with them to be the audience/sounding board/cheering section.

The first bride went all out for a David’s Bridal wedding dress with diagonal seaming and long train that would finally have a French under bustle and an added halter to hold up her bodice. All went well with the alterations, hemming lace and adding 16 satin covered buttons down the back because “I could not even imagine getting married without buttons down my back”.

P1170632 2P1170633 The day of the scheduled pick-up and payment I got a phone call saying that she would like to delay the pick-up until the following day as she was going to have a preview hair-do and she wanted to invite all her girlfriends to my house for a hair-do preview party and jewelry try-on and viewing event. After I silently gasped, I managed to tell her that the following day was not available and we would have to stick to the original day.  That’s when things went awry/down the toilet.

The agreed upon time was 12 noon for she and her friend to come for the final try-on and payment…alone. At 1 pm, I got a call from her saying she and her friend were getting their mink eyelashes attached and the girl was running late so could they be a tiny bit late…OK. Then 30 minutes later the friend called to say that the bride was just starting  to get her new eyelashes on and they would be a tiny bit late…OK. At 10 minutes to 2 pm…in they wander with the mink eyelashes flapping away and extended all the way up to their eyebrows…Holy Kim Kardashian! The going rate for mink eyelashes is $200 for the first application and $75 for refills…more than the alterations cost! But they both were so happy flapping and flitting around the room, they floated out the front door and I had a check in hand.

The second bride and her friend came with a slinky bias-cut silk dress in a plastic garment bag and announced as she opened it, “This dress has been in this bag since 2006″. OK, I didn’t ask if it was for the same groom or a different groom because it seemed irrelevant… it was all about her from then on. The dress had to “puddle” just right to cover her feet and yes, there had to be a bustle so she could dance all night long.

back frontThe only thing that held the dress on her body were 2 thin spaghetti straps and some tiny loops. The back neckline dropped well below her waist as you can see in the photo. I did not photograph the dress on her as no one has to see a butt crack. Puddling completed with 1/2 inch horsehair braid hem, the challenge would be to figure out how to make a bustle when there was no center back seam or any darn seam on the back of the dress or lining. I decided on making a long ribbon of  stay tape which would be attached to the lower back and hang down inside without adding bulk.stay-tape

A clear button would be sewn to the tail.stay-tape-2 A thread loop reinforced with a square of silk organza for strength sewn through all layers would be made and then attached to the button:measure-tapebustle-looploop-attached Once attached, the bustle hangs down just right with puddling in front and a dance length in back…go figure?final-bustle But the best part was not the dress, oh no, it was the story of the wedding, the location and the shoes. The bride planned her wedding on a yacht in Marina Del Rey  in Southern California and the guests and she would be staying at the Beverly Wiltshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Her shoes told the rest of the story…to compliment the 8 year old dress she had ordered online 6 pairs of Alice + Olivia shoes first but they were not right, then she ordered 6 pairs of Prada shoes and they were not right. Finally, she settled on a pair of Manolo Blahniks. The fact that the front of the dress was going to cover everything did make me wonder. So after this little tale of extravagance as I am pinning up the hems, her friend asks, “well would you like to know what I am wearing to your wedding?” (Assuming she is the matron-of-honor) the brides turns and looks down from her platform/pedestal to her and says, “YOU?” and without batting an eye the friend says, “Yes, I’m wearing a navy dress.” I was chuckling inside and thought, “You go, Girl!” So this little bride from our rural little town is heading to the bright lights and splendor of LA for a real doozy of a blow-out wedding and her only worry was , “I hope every one of the guests will think it was worth the expense and travel time”. Who knows?

Before I go I want to share a lovely dress made by Tee on her blog: Dressed2atee. The time and love that went into making the dress for her friend turned out so beautifully inside and out with a special sheer cape for the church service…just divine!

Happy Labor Day to my US readers…soon the kiddies will be back in school and maybe some of the moms can get get back to some serious sewing!

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Tangling with Bridesmaids

Earlier this year a former bride had me chop off the whole bottom of her dress to just below her butt cheeks so she could be the sexiest women on the Hawaiian island to celebrate her 6th anniversary and hopefully return home pregnant. These are the stories people tell me…OK. So, this week she returns to wear this bridesmaid dress to a wedding she is in. Nice dress from Alfred AngeloAlfred angelo 7266S lilac but as the theme of the wedding is “rustic” aka let’s all wear cowboy boots and fill mason jars with daisies, this gal wanted me to remove the entire lower tier…OK Here is what the grown woman will be wearing…notice the skirt is now 14 inches long…it barely covers her underpants if she is wearing any:lilac

But unto a bridesmaid who was given a dress that needed 3 inches more around her bodice. 2 carly-bac-2k In addition to that, the pleated fabric was all caught wrong in the one side of the zipper and left a lump…nice. So let’s open this puppy up, go through the lining, pull everything out and let out all the side seams:3 getting-inside

Here we are inside out with just the bodice showing, not the lining. Then the satin hem which was thread traced in the chiffon as well will be sewn from the very inside since the lining is attached. Once flipped to the right side they lay flat nicely. The chiffon will have a narrow rolled hem.

4 inside-dress5 thread-baste-hemlines6 pleated-hem7 inside-hem-satin8 need-1.5-inches10 open-waist-213 old-seam-allowance15 inside-lining-bodice

Thankfully the side seams were generous so I could get 1.5 inches from each and the lining is now exposed and you can see the bust cups. Every thing I do to the fashion fabric I have to do to the lining so double the labor. So when your client says it is a simple job to let out the side seams…shake your head at her! See how much fabric was lurking in the zipper seam…WOW like 2 inches each side but this poor girl needed her side seams released not the center back this time.

16 pinned-waist-seams17zopper-seam


Attaching the newly widened side sections to the widened skirt waist and voila’ you can see before pressing that we attained what was needed and the lace straps were not involved just spread a little front and back.


18 side-seams-new

Now for a little giggle…I was inspired by Ruth at Corecouture for her starting some Alabama Chanin garments and decided to make some of my own only with cotton jersey t-shirts. I bought four 2XL shirts in 3 colors for $5 each since they are used double and fabric is cut away anyway why not have some cheap fun? I removed the neck binding and opened the shoulder seams and whacked off the sleeves and this is what I ended up with: You can see I folded the outer shirts with the center front to the side so you can see the huge sleeve opening and it got me to thinking…do they resemble anything in this state? Mr Mole was quick to notice the shape could be…..PANTS! So let’s flip them over, baste the curves seam together and what do we have? Instant karma….Yoga pants, dog washing shorts or sleep shorts or gardening togs…

t-shirt-pants-2t-shirt-pants With a little elastic and some adjusted gathering…you never know…don’t throw out those t-shirts…recycle!

Can’t leave without more garden bounty photos…anyone need some squash?crooknecksZucchini_140822


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Nancy and Vogue 8969

Thinking about whipping up the VERY Easy Vogue 8969? Think it might just fit perfectly right out of the envelope and you can just cut your regular size and have a frock to wear to dinner tonight? Guess again!

I know some/most of you don’t measure the paper pattern against your own measurements and assume the designers are magical wizards who know how to make clothes fit your shape…but let’s do some investigating…humor me, please.

This is the size 16-24 and yet the bust points (nipple spread) are 4 inches apart …really?  And why is there a dart on the center panel when 99% of this famous 60’s design feature was always on the side panel? Darts release fabric where it is needed so why is the dart pointing away from the actual bust point of 10 inches? Very Easy Vogue patterns…translation: easy for them, not us.


Let’s measure our circumferences…if you normally cut a size 16 on top, like Nancy…today you will cut a 20. Why don’t Vogue patterns make their sizes consistent? 


measure-final-pattern So we have enough to clear the bust and hips and after narrowing the flared hem to half its original width it is still 104 inches. The back of the envelope says the hips will finish with 88 inches…WOW! Let’s see the muslin for the real reveal:4-last-muslin I used some Nancy’s last muslin to cut out the new one…recycle people!

5-side-front6-front I draw my grainlines up and down and across since I have not altered the paper first and the lines tell a story/show us all the ugly. Here is what we got in a short version which Nancy says will make a dandy blouse:7-muslin-front Can you see already that those 8 panels need narrowing and flattening to be flattering? What is going on with the bust…can those darts be any weirder or more useless?

If you cut this in a solid you will look like this:

8-muslin-side9-muslin-backDo not go out in public!

Not too bad so far but there will be a swayback tuck and a front slash…love those!

On my duct tape mannequin something else shows up:10-front-grainline See the grainline rising up in the center? Does that bother you? It makes me nuts and I know what can fix it and get rid of that pesky dart…scissors ready?11-slash-and-spread12-slash-line13-close-dart16-patchClose the dart by overlapping and let the slash open.

Problem solved with one more tuck needed:15-pinch-out-gap Let’s pinch out some of the princess seam while we are at it. OK…want to ask me now why I do all this fussing? For you, of course, to give you the power to tweak these shitty patterns and make nicer clothes!

14-layout Let’s get cutting…see the flaps folded under on the skirt…wow…and it will still be too wide later. The piece with the white paper is the center front with the slash filled in and flipped to the wrong side. Below is the pinning and sewing sequence…yes, yes…I know all the home sewing gurus say to stitch side seams down and shoulders toward the center but in the factory it is sewn “in the round” starting at the hem, working up one side, across one shoulder to the next and down the other side to the hem without cutting any threads or stopping. The sewing police will not be banging on your door if you start trying this…really.

20 sewing circle

The try-on….21-back-wedge-pinned


Poor Nancy has a 6 inch wide dragon tail down the back and an equally nasty extra wedge down the front that is pinned out and will be removed to make things hang flatter and flatter her shape. Plenty of volume in the skirt with those wide triangular pieces. The bodice will have a partial lining/facing and the shoulders narrowed a little and a one inch hem. These modifications will be done to the paper pattern as we will make this again as a dress and a blouse. This is the shorter version with 3 inches added to the length to be more tea length. The neckline front and back was extended 5/8 inch for more coverage.

Once the dress is completely finished and Nancy has her shoes on I’ll show you this lovely thick cotton Fall dress. In the meantime…a nice crookneck squash from the garden:crookneck-2014

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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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