Holiday Work and Harvest

Any bride selecting this dress has to realize that nothing is hidden under that sheer unlined bodice. The side panels are also very revealing…we are talking “side boob” here.

Even the model has to keep her arm over the opening!

 

What ends up being revealed are under-bust tattoos, mainly writing, but still visible as a dark shadow.

Some brides have whole stories written all around their rib cage front and back.

So something to think about when trying on dresses or you might have to ask for a lining to be installed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Starting at the top, the shoulder straps will be shortened and beads removed:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three points should do the trick for a satin layer bustle:

Front hem will be trimmed to floor level and a 5 point bustle will keep the tulle layers off the floor.

Safety pins will be replaced by lace covered buttons. Back tattoos have been erased in Photoshop.

So a simple enough alteration for a change and a sweet bride starting her new life.

In the meantime during the holidays this came to me.

First request:

Can you add sleeves and take in the side seams? I need it in 4 days.

Second request:

I have a load of formal dresses that need to be hemmed etc and I am also a seamstress and want things to be done perfectly and before Christmas. I am looking for precision altering. I have looked at the reviews of other seamstresses and they are all bad.

It was nice to turn down both ladies because I just did not need to cram any more into the bridal season sewing which is still going on for January/February dates. And as many of you seamstresses know…working for a woman who claims to be a sewer can only bring trouble!!!

Mr Mole has conducted an experiment this winter leaving the tomatoes and peppers in the garage with the door open on sunny days. He is so excited that we have ripe tomatoes in January!

Close-up view of the sweetest oval gold tomatoes:

Another challenge was a glorious amaryllis I bought for him last year. It had 2 stalks and multiple blooms and when it ended, he just put it in the garage on his workbench to rest/dry out and die. So all summer it was just a pot filled with dirt…no watering, no TLC until a week ago. I went out to rescue it and bring it into the kitchen to see if anything would show. Well, after 3 days one spike emerged:

 

 

 

 

Then at the end of the week…we have 2 spikes!!!

Other garden news this week was the 27 year old fence at the back of our yard was completely blown down after the violent last storm. Our neighbor propped up the fence from his side with wood but in the end we each decided to split the cost of 12 new fence panels that run from corner to corner. What you see here is only half of the job being set up and metal posts being cemented into the ground.

With all 12 new planks/panels nailed into place and ready to paint grey again.

With so many local sewers making little joey pouches for our sadly injured animal friends in Australia, we here in the forest fire section of the US are keeping watch on the News for better reports soon. Climate change is real.

 

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Vision of a Winter Snow Princess

If you had to choose a wedding dress and you had a large mature bust would you select a rhinestone encrusted nightgown with NO BONING and sheer panels all around and a front “V” opening down to your waist??? Maybe?

My next bride tried on every dress in our valley and then drove 5 hours north to order this dress and ask for a rush delivery from the manufacturer.

The website photos show the unlined version of the dress so I was thinking…Sweet Jesus…I have a second-time-around bride going to wear this down the aisle…this will not be a good look!

Meet the Lunella wedding gown:

 

She says that her whole goal was to shock the guests and make them think she was a fairy snow princess for her Christmas wedding date. With that deep “V” in the front revealing everything and those extra long heavily embellished sheer sleeves it is not the dress to feel comfortable in for a long night of dancing and feasting. I told her that she should be careful when dancing as she could damage her partner’s eyes with flying rhinestones.

Let’s start at the top:

The shoulder seams will be taken up along with the top darts in the sleeve caps. Being this sheer, there is no chance to wear any undergarments for support or modesty. The weight of all the glued-on rhinestones is unbelievable! Weighing in at 10 pounds,  this dress has NO boning or interfacing and surely was meant for a tall, thin flat-chested bride as shown on the website with a gold tiara.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, the long back closure is just a series of tiny elastic loops which can stretch thus causing the dress to loosen as she moves or sits. Did you notice that there is nothing behind the loops so the bride’s skin may be revealed as the loops stretch? Nice.

Since the sleeves have a top end dart, they can be taken in along with the shoulder seams at the same time. In this photo you can see I have had to take them in twice. The red thread line is the final stitching line.

The sleeves will be shortened 2 inches.

When the elastic has been removed, you can see the bell shape of the sleeve…shorter in front and extra long in back. In the website photo it looks all regal and romantic…in real life, think about the weight of the sleeves as the bride dances all night long.

At the first fitting, the bride was pleased with all of her cleavage being on show but her best friend told her that no one wanted to see all of that and asked if I could make a modesty patch from the lining that would be cut off the hem.

 

Here is that section hand basted with red thread.

The inside of the new insert:

The insert is machine sewn along the front edge of the “V” and hand tacked to the front lining layer:

Being basically a beaded nightgown, I added some boning sections under the new really thick and stiff bust pads. When the bride ordered her dress from far away, the salon salesperson told her that the seamstress would be adding lots of wires to help hold her into the dress and lift her breasts.

Really? Yes, really. So it was obvious that 8 boning strips were needed.

    

After paying over $2500 for all this heavy fabric, the bride wants the hem/train cut to the floor level like the 2 layers of satin and lining have been done. With the satin and lining hand basted, I attached a safety pin through all layers to show what will be cut off. Striking, no?

The good-bye train:

The side section:

The front:

What about the sleeves? Just folding under the new hem line, I see that there is no great way to work around the rhinestones, never mind inserting clear elastic  and topstitching by machine.

The original hem with elastic was un-beaded so I decided to cut that off and use it as a tube filled with new clear elastic. Once the strip would be removed, I would have no idea what was the front section or the back so I placed a safety pin in the front.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once removed, the plain strip is pressed and ready for clear elastic.

 

 

 

Here is the first side of elastic. I removed the safety pin and added some thread to denote the front.

Using the original elastic as a guide, you can see that it was tied in many knots to make a nasty clump with a circumference of 8 inches.

Once the strips were made, they were pinned to the green thread line and hand basted with white thread. The red and green thread will be removed.

The underarm junction to be dealt with after the next try-on when the elastic will be pulled tight to the bride’s wrist.

Machine stitching is not that easy with so many beads in the way!

Trimming away the excess:

Ready to flip all this to the inside:

On the second fitting, the bride wanted the dress to fit even tighter for more support so once again pinning out the side seams and marking the boning positions. Yes, the under-bust trim will be involved but I’m not removing it, just stitching it into the new seam. Pins denote the boning positions.

Hand basted side seams:

Trying to machine stitch without hitting those beads using a zipper foot.

Let’s not forget to take in the satin lining. Since it is not attached to the netted beaded layer, the excess can be folded inside and eventually hand stitched down to remain soft without a ridge. The final two strips of boning will be attached along the new folded edge.

Train removed front and back and front insert and sleeves shortened…almost ready for the big day which I was told will be from 2 pm to midnight. Most brides tell me that their wedding preparation…hair, nails and professional make-up starts at 9 am so total up the hours…15 hours to be the star of the show and 10 of those hours wearing the same dress and shoes.

With Christmas excitement over, just had to share a small job that came in. Remember the flag covered gi? Well, just before the January competition, an eagle patch had to be attached in a way that it could not be ripped off or the tips of the feathers dislodged. First, I stitched a straight stitch all around and then went back and did a tiny zigzag over every edge…that bird is never going to fly away now!

Best wishes to everyone for a healthy and happy 2020!

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Lace and Wildlife

This dress is Wtoo Anastasia and I found these images on Google:

 

 

The dress on a real live bride:

What has to be done?

First we add bust cups, then pin out the side seams for the 4 layers.

The lining and satin layers will be machine hemmed but as you can see the scalloped lace hem will have to be treated like that type by removing the edging and moving it up 3 inches. It is already pinned up in the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The satin bustle will have one point and the lace layer will have 3.

But, let’s tackle the side seams…these dresses have no sewn lace side seams…in fact they have no sewn lace seams anywhere. This entire dress is a series of lace overlays.

To start, I thread trace/baste with the outermost brown lines of thread to anchor the lace to the satin below to prevent shifting. Then the red thread lines have to be stacked and overlapped to correspond with the satin and lining layers already basted tighter.

Like with all other laces, the teeny tiny tacking stitches have to be removed to free the two edges and flipped back to reveal the tulle layer below:

These two red lines will be overlapped.

I used black basting thread on the tulle layer taking it in the same amount as the satin and lining layers.

From the wrong side, you can see all the original tacking stitches done by machine with poly thread and clear thread just to make it more impossible to see and remove them…you need a good Ottlite for this job!

To get inside, I released the lining along the zipper.

Hand basting the side seams of satin layer:

Hand basting the lining layer:

Hand basting the lining back unto the zipper for the try-on:

Overlap the red thread lines and use safety pins to hold everything in place:

You can see how much the new overlap will be.  All this will be hand tacked.

The hem edging is basted with red thread and the original hem folded under for the try-on.

The underarm seams have to be taken in as well.

The hem before final trimming:

After hand basting the delicate edging back unto the delicate lace, it was also machine sewn hoping I had some areas where I was not sewing edging unto big empty gaps!!!

The side seams completed with nothing being trimmed away for the future bride who might need all that extra lace.

The 3-point lace bustle with lace covered buttons.

                           

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                  How about a break from all that white???

My friend Kim, the Material Lady, sent me these two bird artworks that she created. I was supposed to decide which one to display and I am so happy to be able to use both of them in different rooms.

She also included one for Mr Mole who loves hippos:

Meanwhile, I continue to use her lovely gift of a quiche pan this week that she gave to me when I visited Birmingham:

So, with less than a week left before Santa drops down the chimney, the cards have been sent, presents have been sent, I can still see 2 more gowns hanging up to be finished and the new list of 17 Spring brides has arrived.

Wishing you all the best of holidays, no matter which ones you are celebrating. Hoping feasting and good cheer with friends and relatives with not too much drama may come your way.

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K is for Kimono

My client Nancy and I exchange cute Christmas gifts every year. This Fall she gave me this fabric to make into her usual sheer drapey jackets. Having 2.5 yards of fabric was just enough to make into this new pattern and surprise her with free labor and a new statement jacket.

I just finished the most fun pattern I have ever used!!!

Maybe I feel this way after cranking out hundreds of wedding gowns with tulle and lace layers but this can be made in a day!

Here is the link to the Kimono jacket.

Four basic pattern pieces, a front and a back and a skirt can be sewn with any seam treatment and any neckline/front binding. I chose open seams on the shoulders and side and center back seams but used French seams when attaching the skirt to the bodice as they are stronger.

The only alteration I made was to do the rounded back slash and allow the top back seam to curve as it was not cut on the fold.

Below are two photos of each pose showing you the seaming that is not apparent with this jungle print.

This pattern is so much more flattering than flat Kimono patterns that hang and slide off the shoulders and have no place to attach a snap at the waist and thus need a lame looking belt. This pattern adds volume and flare where she needs it, over her tummy and hips while making her waist a feature…so flattering!

The red line shows the front seam:

Red line shows the back seam:

The pattern calls for attaching stiff store bought bias trim to the front edges but as this was Marcus Bros polyester chiffon, I just managed to cut my own bias strips from leftover fabric. I folded the 1.5 inch wide strips in half, basted them to the wrong side and then machine stitched them down on the right side so they can be seen. As this was an all-over print, I needed to have something to give the eye a rest and not look homemade.

Before flipping the folded edge to the right side, excess is trimmed away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bias binding is pinned to the right side and stitched down.

The best part, putting a snap on the binding edge so it stays closed and flat and no slipping off her shoulders:

Excitement time in the sewing room!!!

This week I received my label order from the Dutch Label Shop.

In the past, I have ordered stiff printed ones from other companies but after many washings, the printing disappears. These soft labels are all woven and the choice of colors, lines and fonts is amazing! Nancy has her own labels and I also ordered some for all the charity sewing we do in the ASG. My 94 yr. old mother is to the point of claiming that people are losing her clothes so she has her own labels with her apt number in assisted living.

 

 

With Christmas coming, here is a great gift for Mom from the 1950’s.

It made me laugh seeing this comment left by a gentleman:

What a great Christmas gift – where can I get one? My wife has to bend over, wring the mop – she works so hard cleaning the house – I’d like to make it easier on her – it would be so nice for me not to have to worry about her while I’m golfing with the boys.

Maybe some of you remember such buckets or still use them, after all, the ad says it is built to last a lifetime!!!

Wishing you all a little more time to finish sewing those last minute gifts!!!

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Racing and Lacing to the Ball

Once a year there is a charity auction ball in our town. It is a night for the residents to dress up and bid ridiculous amounts of money in order to raise funds for local groups in need. Glitz and glamor have no boundaries, so what do ladies wear or try to wear?

This dress can be found in two versions with this version being the cheaper dress:

There are 2 layers of shiny red satin covered by one huge layer of burgundy chiffon. The circumference of this skirt is 12 yards…432 inches…10.9 meters. How long will it take to narrow hem all that fabric and get it perfectly at ground level? I run a line of pins at ground level but know it will change once the lacing is done up. I replace the pins with white thread to get some idea of what has to be cut off.

The white thread tracing is the first pinning when the back of the dress was just a 6 inch gap, once laced up, the length changes (shortens) and the black thread tracing in now the new hem level. The middle stitching is the first pass before trimming and narrow hemming.

When the client described her dress as needing minor alterations…this in not what I was expecting. The center back zipper was supposed to close all the way up to the high neck halter collar…but it didn’t. She said she has one week to lose 5 pounds but even then, we would still have to bridge the gap. Her best friend told her not only would she have to lose a huge amount of weight but they would also have to remove some ribs to get that zipper up…friends tell it like it is!

She said she measured herself using a piece of yarn and then ordered a size 2. The gap is 6 inches. I have blurred out her tattoo.

On the website it shows where and how to measure with a proper measuring tape and even suggesting that a professional tailor/seamstress do the measuring. I measured the dress and the bust is 30 and the waist is 25 so I am not sure where on the chart it falls?

She asks if a corset back will work as she has combed the internet and she cannot find another dress that she likes as well and honestly…this is her dream dress for the formal event…no pressure…the event is in one week and I know that we cannot find all the components locally in time for the corset loops to match the burgundy.

I send her out anyway to dig through the racks of grosgrain ribbon and rattail cording at our local 3 craft stores.

Meanwhile, I ordered up the right color from Reasonable Ribbon and requested a priority 3-day shipping ($8.85) across the country.  Fingers crossed!!!

The regular site where I have been buying satin cording for years has shut down so the next best thing is Amazon. At least I was able to find this in 2mm in a wine color.

There will be lots of loops (46) to be made by hand from her neck to her butt after I remove the zipper. Each loop is pinned.

Each loop is machine stitched down 3-4 times and ribbon folded in half.

Hand basted from neck to butt along the very narrow 3/8 inch edge:

Second row of hand basting one inch away for try-on:

Inside basting:

Second try-on has some good results using light pink ribbon. Once the burgundy ribbon is used, it will be nice. You can see if the bride has her waist-to-hip area tightened much more, there will be drag lines. It will also pull the front tummy tighter and not be very flattering.

Those of you who wondered if the front would be pulling at a weird angle, the photo below shows it works out OK.

Using the zipper foot to stitch the band to a tiny 3/8 inch netting seam allowance and holding my breath as the needle pierces each thick satin loop.

You may wonder why the edges of the grosgrain ribbon do not match as normal. Well, after showing the client my usual loop size and ribbon lacing, she said she wanted the loops to be “exactly 1/3 less in size”. So, stitching was done right down the middle of the 1.5 inch wide ribbon as a base and then again 1/4 inch away before folding back on itself. The edges now be staggered/lay flat with no ridge as they cannot be hidden behind the sheer netting.

The top edge of the grosgrain ribbon will be a base for the new snaps.

Inside view of new snaps:

Right side view of new “dangling” snaps. You can use one or two of the holes to allow it to stick out and make a clean join with the other side.

The new 5/8 inch wide burgundy lacing ribbon is pinned to the neckline and flipped out of sight. All hand basting is gone and no one at the Ball will ever know what went into this dress other than the wearer.

 

Cinderella is now ready to go to the ball.

Just because we are 3 weeks away from Christmas, the brides keep coming. In fact, today I turned away a groom who called asking me to alter a wedding dress bought online by his pregnant bride in 2 days…ah nope…can’t squeeze in one more job!

I found this article so interesting about dolls since we are in the season for buying presents.

Wishing you all a super week in preparation for the holidays coming up faster than normal!!!

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Ghee Whiz

Here are the components:

Flag braid

A “gi”

Flag Fabric by the yard

and a drawing done by the father’s neighbor:

A friend of mine, a single dad of two boys, wanted to know if it was possible to make a custom martial arts outfit for one of them. He is so proud of their accomplishments.

Once I saw how thick the front bands were, I knew I could not duplicate one so I suggested that I get fabric and cover a brand new one. Should be simple, no?

Finding huge stars was a real challenge until I found flag fabric by the yard. Once I found the 1.5 inch wide braid  for the pants I was so happy!

 

 

 

You can see the layers on the back which also wrap around to the front… To start, I pinned the fabric to the fronts to get an idea of what I was up against.

One issue, right away, was the red and white stripes. The red one had to start at the lower band at the hem. The same stripe had to remain at that level, parallel with the floor, all the way around so that is where I started and then smoothed the fabric on the way up to the shoulder. Pinning and pinning allowed me to get just the right angle on the angled front bands.

Once pinned, I had to hand baste all the edges of the red stripes to the under jacket and also between the stars. You can see that the front stars have been machine sewn every 2.5 inches and the remaining hand basting in white on the sleeve front.

After I realized that I could not sew down the length of the sleeve with a sewing machine, I had to open the underarm seam to attach the remaining back panels. The only problem is the seams were all triple stitched and flat felled.

The seam opened up flat and the left front half of the sleeve attached to the jacket.

The right sleeve attached and given diagonal  and vertical stitching. The back panels will have to be pieced and overlapped.

Diagonal back seam top stitched and patched back sleeves ready to pin unto the back:

Once the sleeve cuff area was opened, I found an inside wrist binding that had to be re-attached after converting the under arm flat fold seam to just a regular pressed open and flat one. Once the flag fabric was attached, I could serge the edges.

Band stitched back into place. You can see that I double stitched all the edges down.

The inside under arm seams are pinned and ready to be hand attached to the jacket.

What about the pants? There is a triangular section at the crotch and it had to be filled in with 2 small flags overlapped and stitched down along the red lines. The side seams and hems were a real b*itch to sew as everything had to be scrunched up and sewn by machine through the waist opening. With the sleeves this was impossible so they were opened up flat.

You can see in this photo that the blue fabric is sitting under the red and white striped one one the back but will be cut away .

The finished project after over 12 hours of labor:

Here we have the boy with his belt ready for competition:

While the parents of the other students went wild over the custom gi, I told the dad that he can never reveal who made this happen. Maybe it would have been easier if it were an all over pattern like camouflage but working with stripes was surely the hardest part!

This week involves a nightmare of a request just before Thanksgiving on Thursday. As the saying goes… “A picture is worth a thousand words”….I’ll leave you with this:

Hoping all goes well for my US sewing sisters on Thursday…juicy turkey, moist dressing and well behaved relatives…one can only hope!

Thank you for dropping by!

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Lace and Layers

Once again we have lace embroidered on tulle and delicate straps and the killer lace back:

Wtoo Shelia on a real body:

Pinning up a bustle using all the layers together…not a great idea!

Maybe just start with the straps and leave that crazy bustle till the end.

 

Here is another alteration, tightening up at the back neckline, with lace, the swirls can be overlapped and hand tucked to be released later if needed.

With this being a sample dress, a button has escaped but will be replaced by the last one at the end of the zipper.

Before I start, I like to iron all the layers flat to see what needs to be shortened. The first layer needs a 4 inch horizontal tuck all the way around. I do this so I don’t have to mess with the 2 inch wide horsehair braid in the hem also attached to a layer of netting. You can follow along with all these photos below:

Hand basted 4 inch hem:

Getting closer:

More wrinkled tulle:

Now we have the maximum lengths for all layers before being trimmed/hemmed.

To shorten the shoulder straps, each side/flap of lace is detached and folded back to reveal the seam. A new seam is taking in by hand to equal 1 inch total on each strap.

New hand basted seam that will not be trimmed. You know by now that I try not to trim off the original seams and save them for the next bride. The raw edges will be turned under and whip stitched flat.

The lace motifs overlapped and pinned:

Thread basted into place and ready for try-on:

Time to kick back a Diet Pepsi and get to it…the big bustle. All the layers are tossed over the mannequin’s head to reveal the satin layer with 3 points. The satin layer will be hemmed in front and not trimmed away as the bride wants to keep her dress for any future daughters.

The 3 point bust for the top layers:

Finally, it is looking almost presentable albeit just needing a little haircut for the dangling bits.

The side seams had to be taken in to give a more mermaid look just above where the bustle starts. At least she could still sit without popping any seams open.

 

 

 

 

 

 

While these alterations and ironing seemed simple enough, I had just 2 days to get it done from Monday night to Thursday morning. The MOB was in a hurry to get the bride in a white wedding dress and legally married before she would grow out of the dress so time was on our side.

When the bride came to pick up her dress, she gave me a lovely thank you card and a nice tip and these roses.

So much to do in the garden this time of year…OH MY…the leaves from neighbor’s trees are clumping everywhere! But Mr Mole has most of his winter veggies and seeds planted so looking forward to that later!

More unusual projects to come…one involving a flag…yes, a flag and patriotic braid!

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