Slick Zipper

This sold out $1595-$1895 dress  appeared in my sewing room with a mother-of-the-bride.

It was made in Estonia with a blend of fibers that had some stretch that gave it the look of satin. Only problem was the area of the back shoulders was too wide and flared away from her center back. I pinned halfway down the zipper to take it in and get a better fit. It is enough to say that this has been the most expensive MOB dress I have ever worked on. The bride’s dress is being custom made in Portland.





So, let’s get started…thread trace the new zipper placement line and remove all the stitches that hold the lining and fabric to it.

Now comes the surprise….the invisible zipper is sewn to a band of its own which accounts for the 1/8 inch strip of fabric running the length of the zipper edge on both sides. Why would this be? Well, I’m guessing that with all the zippers pre-attached, they can be inserted into many dresses very fast in the factory. Love the fact that the zipper is dyed the exact shade of fuchsia!

Another clue to the insertion is the top edge snip, to insert the zipper, first the lining is sewn on using white thread (?) and then the whole back bodice is flipped over and the final stitching is done encasing the zipper strip…pretty slick.

Let’s pin the zipper band to the new position leaving all the excess fabric inside for the next seamstress.

See the 1/8 inch border band?

Finished right side and inside:

Yes, the top of the zipper teeth are now further down the center back but there will be a hook and eye at the top edge. One other thing that needed tweaking, was the dart that makes the shoulder curve, it needed to be flatter.

How about these raglan seams? Faggoting at it’s best, no?

Love the contrasting purple seam binding too! Front facing is just the front section folded to the inside with no seam.














Speaking of purple, for the past couple days I have been harvesting eggplant/aubergines like crazy! Here are 2 batches from the garden. You may notice that the one green bell pepper and one eggplant are way bigger than normal. Mr Mole says it is because he added chicken manure to the beds. One reporter for our local newspaper says that because we now have “filtered” (smoke filled) sunlight, our plants are enjoying the diffused lighting…whatever it is…it’s wild. Even the pear tree is dropping fruit and my worms are enjoying all the trimmings.

The brides continue to roll in with the new 2 piece dresses that don’t seem to fit any better than the regular gowns so I have lots to share next time.

Our thoughts are with all those who have weathered the last 2 hurricanes and the devastation left behind. Breathing smokey air is nothing compared to what they have endured and the clean-up and re-building ahead.

Wishing you all a successful week of new projects and completing old ones…the stores are filled with Halloween stuff already…7 weeks ahead of time and I have even seen Christmas displays set up too…HELP…can we just enjoy the second half of September first, please?

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Snug Me Up

Stunning isn’t it? Notice how each cord hugs her body and how well the lace lays flat against her butt. This dress is by Willowby and is a real show-stopper.

The challenge is to make all those cords and neckpiece to actually lie flat on my bride. Can you guess she bought 2 sizes too big? In the first photo below you can see how much has to be removed from the lower cording and neckpiece. I felt like a mother cat picking up her kitty by the scruff of the neck! It looks as though all the cords are wrapped around one main cord. We may also have to take in the side seams.


Let’s not forget messing with the zipper too…yes, don’t you get bored seeing me take in back zippers at least 2 inches on every bride?

What about the hem? I was just itching to remove the scalloped edging and raise it up 6.5 inches:

Once the hem and knit lining are shortened a one point bustle will be attached.





After checking out all the wrapped cords on both sides where they attach using a hook and eye, I decided, if it was possible, to open up the side bodice and fish out the neckpiece straps to shorten the whole back structure from the front.

What was needed was to remove 2 1/4 inches in length each side to make the neck sit high and nice.

In the photo below you can see the red basting thread where I went in to pull the strap down inside.


Each strap was pinned separately down the full back to make them tight once the neck was adjusted.

A shot of the hem and zipper in progress:


Every back cord is repositioned, not trimmed, double tacked inside in case the dress is to be sold later.



First, I stitched the zipper along the new line. Then I pinned the new interfacing to the back of that line. The interfacing was hand basted in place before making a second row of stitching as this was a knit lining along with knit lace so everything was stretching!





In the end, we had a happy bride with a dress that hugs her curves just like the model. The last photo still has the basted zipper and safety pinned bustle, but you get the idea.                            


This week Mother Nature continues to send messages to the veggies to keep producing. All that green is 2 basil plants which were turned into 3 quarts of pesto sauce  for the freezer.

Saving squash in the freezer too after shredding to make into soup or something in the future when the brides have eased up.

As some of you may know, we are experiencing forest fires on the whole West Coast and even though the smoke and soot has reached health hazardous levels in our valley, we can’t imagine what life is like for the firefighters who work every day to control the spread. Praying for rain!

Wishing you all a super sewing week!

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Killer Lace

This Willowby Sookie dress is really quite striking on the model. It sits well on her waist and there are no gaps anywhere.


The only problem is…my bride needs the center back taken in 3 inches at the zipper. Now we know that there are 2 inches in between RTW sizes so this size 8 will be reduced down to a tight 4.  All the thick lace motifs will be removed before moving the zipper over.

Here is the zipper area with the lace removed, zipper basted and ready for stitching:

The waist is tight enough, the straps have to be shortened 2 inches by sliding the inside lower edges down below the waist edge. Maybe you can see the pins along the top of the waist edge? I will drop a triangular wedge of lace on tulle below the waistline to snug up the straps but not remove any lace motifs so she can sell the dress later.

You can also see that the lace below the end of the zipper is pinned and overlapped and will have to be done by hand. The back princess seams over her butt have been taken in one inch each side in the satin layer along with the lining.

Here the side seams are also pinned out an inch (total 2 inches) at the top down to nothing at the waist. The waist pins are more visible in this photo. There are also red thread tracing where a dart might have gone but that is not going to happen.

Here is the right side wedge flipped up:

The left side flipped down:

The new side seams are stitched and the waist is basted and you can see how the lace below the waist is attached….by hand and just overlapping the top edge.

Center back seam below the zipper tail with bustle point safety pins will require removing lace motifs and taking in the tulle and satin and lining:













Third fitting shows that the zipper will not close once the straps have been shortened, so I will drop the skirt 1/2 inch along the top and also move the zipper over 1/2 inch each side.

When you shorten straps like these they can bring the back skirt higher on the body and at that point the body widens for the ribs but it is a compromise in what you want tighter or comfortable. Brides also admit they feel “fluffy” for some fittings. Please ignore the black bra.

Last shot is of the one-point bustle that was eventually made so the bride could dance all night.

As summer winds down, the garden is still producing like crazy:

Mr Mole grew the little red potatoes in a plant pot as an experiment and they were successful! It was the first time growing red cabbage too and cantaloupe! Yellow plums have been abundant and the birds didn’t eat too many. The peppers were grown from seed as well as the squash but the fall fruiting raspberries are just starting to turn ripe along with a few good blueberries.

One of the 4 butternut squash plants coming to the end of the season and as soon as the squash turn a golden color they will be turned into all manner and variety of soup and given away to neighbors.

Wishing you all a calm September with kiddies going back to school and maybe more time to sew. Here the temps are still in the high 90’s and we are dreaming of a cooler Fall.

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Finally, back home and ready to meet with 6 new brides this week as the jet lag is wearing off.

Our flight home was supposed to be a direct 12 hour flight from Heathrow to San Francisco and then a smooth transfer of luggage to the final flight to our home. Landing in SFO we were shocked to discover that because of the total eclipse frenzy up north, there were no planes on the West Coast to fly us the final leg of the journey…so we sat…for another 10 hours.As we sat we listening to the litany of other flights being permanently cancelled due to delays and missing planes all the way up the coast from Seattle to Anchorage, we figured…we would have the same fate…cancelled flight, sleeping in the airport. But at 11:30 pm a plane was found, and over 100 of us boarded, relieved to be heading home. At 12:30 the plane landed but for some strange reason none of the luggage was on the single carousel. In the confusion at SFO, somehow our luggage, along with all the other tired and disgusted passengers was locked in a secure room, as it had arrived before us (ghost plane?) By 1:30 am, the single baggage handler was found with the only key and the luggage was released. By 2 am, we were home and safe.

But before all that, we did visit every relative and visited many venues in the north of England and the length of Wales as the photos from last week showed.

Chester Zoo  

Some of the 14 members of the family joined forces with picnic lunches. Seven grandchildren aged 17 to 2 all partnered up so no one got lost in the chaos with hoards of other children out of school on summer break. The sun came out for the photo.

The grandchildren were mesmerized with a demo of elephant teeth. Some felt the need to pose on the elephant statue:



Nantclwyd y Dre

A very old restored house in Ruthin, Wales, at one time had been a girls’ school teaching needlework.


Martin Mere

A wetland sanctuary for birds and migrating fowl…it rained so hard that day that very few birds wanted to greet us. The oldest granddaughters pose in front of white flamingos.



Rufford Old Hall


After touring this ancient mansion we all had to stop in the back patio for an afternoon treat. Mr Mole shared his Scone with me….my first taste of one!


Llandudno, Conwy Castle

Quite the tourist attractions with bouncy castles near the real castle make for a busy afternoon.



We went to find the original 1800’s cottage that Mr Mole’s great uncle lived in when he was an undertaker for the town. Everything is made from slate and the original hearth is preserved in the parlor.


We went looking in an abandoned church/graveyard for other relatives who worked in the slate quarry 100 years ago. Trees have grown up through so many graves but here are 3 of the family buried together. Mr Mole is standing next to the only remaining wall of the slate structure. It rained so hard that our shoes were sinking into the mud while wandering through this maze of graves.



Spent a day at these massive gardens while the two youngest granddaughters managed to find every mud puddle and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.




Such a lovely view of the Atlantic Ocean filled with surfers and holiday makers. Even lovelier view at lunch with Mr Mole having his favorite fish and chips and mushy peas.



St Austell Bay

The B&B we stayed at was way up this narrow road and it required two 90 degree turns up a 60 degree slope to park the car. The house below the B&B was packed with flowers front and back. The view from our window of the sea:


The view from the shore of the village with the pub and a huge white tent ready for the evening festival.


Eden Project

A special undertaking started back in 2000 using an abandoned clay pit to make domes that inside replicate rain forests around the world and a desert habitat.


Truro  Yes, that same Truro from the Poldark TV series in Cornwall

The highlight of the visit was the Cathedral and one exhibit was an altar cloth with the Lamb of God. On closer inspection, you can see his fur was thousands of French knots.




A Royal Navy ship is anchored in this busy harbor while we find a quiet beach to have a Shandy in Cornwall.

Kensall Green

Before flying home we make our last visit to find another grave. This time it was from the 1800’s in a massive cemetery that has over 70,000 graves but some can hold up to 4 people so it is a mystery as to how many folks are there. We were able to find the name on a huge ancient map and the graves have cement/granite corner markers in the ground with numbers to locate the exact spot. Even though there was no headstone, the groundskeeper used a weed whacker/strimmer to uncover the location. James, the jeweler from Soho Square, has finally been found.

The next morning, we departed from the Queen’s Terminal 2 at Heathrow for home after 21 days of living out of a suitcase with a rental car that had logged in over 1600 miles.

Once home and all the damp smelly clothes were unpacked, I was able to reveal the present that Kim gave to me during our lunch meeting. The fabric is knit and ready for the next Jungle January challenge and the dish is Royal Worcester for making quiches.

The brides are stacking up so I will leave you to get back to the world of white tulle!

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The Trip and Tight Sleeves

In the last post I revealed a clue to my whereabouts and this time I have more clues as I move from place to place…see if you can recognize any of them:     

With 4 days left in the 3 week adventure we have logged over 1000 miles on the rental car, visited every relative, found lots of dead relatives in abandoned graveyards, had a delightful visit with fellow blogger Kim  and been maneuvering scary winding mountain roads and watched fishing boats, but the best has been saved for last…the 11 hour flight back home with a 7 hour wait for the last leg of the journey.

Having never left home during the bridal season before, I have 13 anxious brides awaiting my return in order to make their dream dresses to some flattering. Below is a post I made of some simple alterations on some my own clothes before I left, maybe they might help you too.

When you spend 75% of your time sitting on the floor reaching forward to pin hems, you quickly realize that sleeves, even short ones can be “grabby”. Most of my tops are bought online and are knits but even with knits, some are more stretchy than others.

The answer to making sleeves with more ease is adding a godet/wedge of fabric at the hem decreasing at the armhole.

Great…but where do we find matching fabric? This is a dress with hidden side seam pockets. I’m not a pocket girl so I removed both of them and cut them into the wedges I needed. Yes, I know it is not an exact match but beggars can’t be choosers and no one will know.

Once the seams are trimmed and the hem is sewn, it fits great with ease. The right photo has the side view and you can see in the lower half how the wedge blends in.


Another dress had the same issue but the wedge would have to be a bit more creative as it was half solid kit and half sheer knit. So, I made wedges that would almost be the same. The sheer knit is doubled and the solid knit is serged/overlocked on the wrong side. I start with a rectangle and just pin to the exact point where it stops at the underarm seam. It ends up being a triangle but if I cut a triangle to start with it would have been a real hassle to pin those sheer edge to each other!

After the wedge is sewn and the seams trimmed and pressed away from the wedge…it blends in too.

The side view shows the wedge and it fits.

The last photo is of a tunic, again with a tight sleeve but I had no fabric that matched so I just cut some black knit as it co-ordinates with other black sections.

The side view looks OK too:

Wishing you the best weekend of sewing!

Sorry to those who left comments last time, our internet connections have been so dismal along the way that replying was impossible.

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I Can’t Decide

Recently, I have learned that the chain BHLDN (Beholden) has a store policy of allowing girls to order more than one dress/veil and keep them for 30 days and return what they don’t want. Sure, this sounds like a great idea for the consumer, but what it is doing is putting local salons out of business because brides no longer have to go anywhere to try on the dresses.

Even David’s Bridal is experiencing this trend in all their chain locations. David’s stores have become just a place to try on things and then go online and use a coupon and buy a cheaper version. So, eventually even David’s will close their local stores once they can’t compete with BHLDN by sending as many dresses out and getting them back.

While this seems to be a great idea with little restrictions stated as “All dresses must have original tags attached and NO DOG HAIR”, the state of a dress that has been sent around and around the country and tried on by chubby girls, girls with loads of make-up, girls direct from the gym…well, you get the picture…not everyone is as careful as they should be. I have worked on these dresses that look very “shop worn” with beads dangling and broken seams and zippers and stretched out necklines/straps until I want to scream!

Enter the bride who could not make up her mind for 29 days after ordering 2 dresses online:



Of course, she wanted bits and pieces from each dress combined into one…sorry.

She finally settled on the simpler one as the scalloped lace hem would have been a real labor intensive one to shorten…we all know that!

So, let’s trim all the excess tulle from the front and pin up the satin layers. There is a pile of tulle  just cut from the hem on the floor:

After the satin layers are hemmed we will trim away some of the train but leave enough to drag around/catch twigs, leaves etc. Luckily, the first trimming was good enough this time!

The tulle shoulder seams need shortening as well. They are so delicate with only the thread in the seam to keep them stable.

The front tulle of the bodice where you can see that the edge on my palm is the already stretched out underarm area perhaps from other brides trying on the dress over and over?

Adding to the indecision is the length of the purchased veil…oh my…here is a close up of their construction. Here is the basic technique…cut a 2 yard length of $2.00 tulle, grab a comb and do a couple whip stitches along the top.

Two veils were dropped off for me to steam and they are both long enough to trip over. The first one is 6 feet long and the second is 10 feet long…again, just long enough to snag on rocks and grass in an outdoor setting. The first 6 foot long one:


Then the 10 foot long one:

I got up the courage to ask, “How much did you pay for the shorter one?” and her answer was $200…holey moley…that is more than I even charged for her alterations!!! She finally decided on the shorter version. So, if you have a friend who is needing a veil…think about making one for her…lots of veil tutorials on Google:

Or how about this ready-made scalloped veil for $3.99…is that crazy or what?

This week I am out of the sewing room, right in the middle of the season which has never happened before…but here is a hint from where I have been:


Next week, I will include more photos from the travels to help you find out where I am hiding. I did manage to meet up with a fellow blogger and share a lunch and 3 hours of sewing chat!

Meanwhile, back home the temps are 114 F/45.5  C degrees and I am sure my veggies are suffering or growing into torpedo-sized squash UNLESS my neighbors are harvesting them…fingers crossed!

Happy summer sewing everyone!

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Thrifty Mother?

Outlet Malls, TJ Maxx, and Ross Stores serve a purpose…to unload cheap knock-offs and damaged goods. So, when a MOB brings in a dress she found for $30 and wants things done to it to make it more sexy…you know you are in trouble.

The fabric is ravely polyester lined in ravely polyester with a boat neck front and deep V in back. If a MOB asks you to make the front look like the back…you have to wonder why. She kept going on about wanting to just wear the dress backwards to expose her cleavage. But, I agreed to drop the front to match the back but warned her that once this is done, there is nothing to hold the dress neckline to her…there will be gaps. She says, “I don’t care” and I pin down to where she wants skin to show.

Her 2 daughters, one being the bride asked, “Mother, why do you want such a revealing neckline?” and her reply was, “I have cleavage I want to display”. Okey Dokey. Let’s get started.

Find center, thread trace it, Find the width and final V point and thread trace it on the lining. Flip the lining to the right side and do more thread tracing. Now some of you might think that this is all unnecessary but I do things old school and photograph along the way to never lose my place (or train of thought!).

Another desire of the mom is to have her princess armhole seams taken in too. Sure, let’s do that while we are at it. Thread trace and then machine stitch. 

Here is something I found in all the seams…woven nylon interfacing strips. So they will be removed/altered and left in the seams as the original.






Marked and pinned along the stitching line with the interfacing (only going partway to the V). Stitch and trim the excess…this is the scary part!

Yes, I used pinking shears to cut through the 2 layers. Flip the lining back to the inside and press lightly. Now the whole neckline is bias/diagonal and a bit unstable…great.

The mom comes for her second fitting and says that the dress neckline is not laying flat against her body…duh. So, she says she wants me to now to remove the back zipper and take in center back really tight…sure…I like doing this on a $30 dress…more labor. Thread trace the new zipper seams.








If you move a zipper over 1.5 inches (3 inch total) on a V neck, you run out of the top of the zipper pretty darn fast, so I will have to remove the entire zipper and slide it up to the top edge. In the photo below you can see I need to slide it up a full inch:






Here it is basted with the new loose ribbon belt ends ready to be tacked to the zipper edges.

Every thing understitched and flipped to the inside and belt attached:





The one and only reason the mother bought this dress was because it has front pockets but once it was done she said she should have bought a more formal dress and her 2 daughters chimed in together, “Mother, it is in our backyard, it is perfect!” After 3 hours of labor, it should be.

The bride’s sister’s bridesmaid dress was found on Craigslist for $20. It was floor length and had to be shortened to knee length, 2 linings shortened, bust pads attached and custom made straps using grosgrain ribbon as the base, wrapped with the peach satin fabric and then wrapped with the glitter tulle. They wanted the new straps to look like they came with the dress originally.

As the weather has continued to be in the high 90’s now for weeks…the squash and onions are ready to harvest twice a week at least. Mr. Mole grew the little potatoes in a plastic pot and there will be more later in the summer.

Have a great week everyone!









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