Simple Sample

Back in 2013 this Wtoo Leighton was just enough to show off a good figure and still look princess-like:

It hung on a rack waiting for just the right bride to come along and see the value in a sample dress. Up close, the skirt was tulle but with embroidery on both layers for a sort of peekaboo elegance.

The bodice was heavily beaded and the lining was perfectly boned.

Here you can see the different layers of tulle and how simple the lines are:

You can see the train can be bustled up with 3 points of tulle over one point of satin:

Only one small problem with a 6 year old sample dress…tulle and satin do not do well after so many brides have tried it on over the years. Brides are not that careful in the dressing room and there can be injuries to the fabrics especially at the end of zippers.

This dress had not only one long tulle tear down the vertical seams but also a diagonal one. Usually I wrestle with invisible thread and hand sew the torn edges together but this time using regular thread was a better choice as I would cover up the repair with a lace motif.

Checking underneath, I found more repairs to be done on the second tulle layer and the satin.

I removed a small lace motif from the skirt and used it cover up everything:

Once the repairs were done, you can see that the bustle buttons will replace the safety pins. This was one of the more easy-peasy dresses and bride to deal with and as a tip, her mother brought over 2 dozen eggs from her backyard chickens.

From simple to muy complicado!!!

Here are the final photos of the sash adding gown. You can barely tell that I added 1.5 inch extensions to the top edge of the front bodice and 1 inch extensions to the back bodice. The rhinestone motif is still pinned into place:

The rhinestone motif up close hand sewn unto the pleats. I told the bride that she can play with the pleats to get them the way she wants, mostly flipped upwards but on the mannequin they flopped down.

The final photo of the sash hand stitched to the zipper edges and the new 15 lace covered buttons and 5 point bustle:



















With Spring rains come fabulous growth and flowers…it is still raining and the plants all look so happy!

Wishing you all a great week! Thank you all for stopping by!

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Cold Brewed Coffee

Mr. Mole and I like to have a pick-me-up drink in the afternoon and I have been trying Cold Brew coffee bags from local and online retailers. They have been good but the price for a 3 oz bag can run from $3 to $12.

Once I figured out that I could do the same cold brew for way less, I got to work.

If you live near a Walmart, you can find this 12 oz bag for $3.50. Yes, that is correct…where can you find good coffee so cheap? It comes in 4 flavors!





Then make a muslin sack and place 3 oz of coffee in it just like the store bought bags. Put a clip at the top open end.


You can weigh the 3 oz or measure out in a cup.










Fill a pitcher/jug with 45 oz of water…or 1.3 liters

Toss in the bag leaving the clipped top tucked into the spout for easy removal later.

Wait 24 hours in the fridge, pop some coffee ice cubes (don’t want to dilute the coffee strength)  and preferred sweetener or liquid flavoring and top it with some cream. Remove the bag and dump the contents into your compost bin or wormery and wash the bag by hand in the sink for next time.

You now have enough for 4 large servings per pitcher for the cost of 22 cents each instead of what a coffee shops charge. You can vary the flavors as Walmart offer 4 flavors and you can make it with decaf for less of a jolt.


Time to stop and enjoy…which I have already done by the lowered level of my drink.









As Mother’s Day was last Sunday, I wanted to share what my family gave me. My oldest daughter sent this darling set of llama containers…like nesting Russian dolls:


She also found this darling pendant too!









My youngest daughter sent this to me knowing that I spend time in the garden when I am not cranking out wedding gowns. Aren’t they just the most gorgeous tools?

Mr. Mole heard me mention that there are some days when I get out of the shower in the morning I just want to roll myself up in the thick Costco towel and crawl back into bed and wait for a servant to bring me some chunks of mango. Well, not having servants, he did the next best thing…he bought me my own bag of fruit!

I’m a lucky mom/wife!!!

I hope all the moms out there had a great day yesterday!

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Adding Part 2

Are you ready for more adding?

On the second try-on, the top edge of the new panel was not cupping back unto her chest so I made darts to make it do the right thing. The bride wanted the amount to be 1.5 inches taller than the original bodice edge. See the red thread tracing line for positioning.

Two darts would not be enough so I added one more to really make it curve.

Then the cotton muslin layer was darted and added and boning was attached to the muslin.

The bride asked for more 1 inch wide panels to be added to the side and back edges so I pinned another strip of cotton to those edges to make a pattern piece to cut out all 3 layers again.

You can see the final fabric used for the sash. Before I removed the test black sash, I traced the exact placement lines on the lace bodice as I know brides lose track of what they want. The green tracing lines helped me position the new fabric exactly where she wanted…for now.

The new back panels have to angle down and disappear at center back:

Layering and making the new back panels:

Pin on the outside making sure the tension is tight enough to hold back loose skin and back fat:

Tuck everything inside and baste all the layers together. New sash is basted unto the placement lines…for now.

Flip to the inside for a look…what a mess! But once all the outside is perfect, I can trim away all the excess and attach a lining strip.

Third try-on…notice the new panel is wrinkling? Have to add boning strips to this piece as well at the underarm and back princess area to keep it from drooping down.

Also notice that the sash has been lifted up from the original green thread position. Once the sash is attached on either side of the zipper, I have to add lace covered buttons all down the back because without them…well,  just because, I guess?

Front panels in place and curving nicely. For this third try-on, the bride brought a friend for “moral support” and her friend’s comment was, “Wow, you didn’t have much coverage without the new panels!” Again, notice the lower green thread position has been changed.

As the bride scrunched the sash more and more to make it narrower, I explained that it would not be very nice to have all that fabric all wadded up under the pleats and it would add bulk. I pinned under what she wanted and said I would trim it all away later.

The rhinestone motif will be attached by hand later. Every inch of new panels will be covered in new lace motifs that the bride ordered from the factory. I asked her if I could have any of the curvy lace stick up above the top edge to soften it and look like it had come that way. You know, thinking of how to slap lace over all this mess and make it look original…just a thought…she quickly snapped back…”It has to be perfectly smooth with no little bits sticking up!”

Bummer, it really would have been very pretty to have tiny bits over the edge to look more feminine. What do I know? After sewing for clients for 50 years, I must be brain dead by now!

What else do we need? How about a 5 point bustle for the tulle and a 1 point bustle for the now trimmed shorter satin train?

Here are 3 points pinned up and tulle trimmed shorter to be just 3 inches longer than the satin train. I trim the back tulle train starting at the side seam and ending at center back so I can use one trimmed bit as a pattern to trim the other side to match (mirror image).

Now for all of you are trying to imagine what all the labor will be for this….what about at least 11 hours and $120 for the bustle. Yes, totaling that up in your head takes us over $700 not to mention sewing 14 buttons down the back and steaming every last wrinkle out to be perfect.

After all this messing, did I mention that I have 8 other dresses to finish before the end of the month? Thank God they are not all like this!

To reward myself for not losing my temper with crazy brides, I bought myself 2 new books.

First one is by David Page Coffin:

and the second one is by Kenneth D King:

Great reading and some fabulous photos by two very experienced men!

Wishing you all more successful sewing and nice temps for seasonal veggies and flowers this week! Thank you all for sticking with me through all this chaos!

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Adding and Adding

The bride fell in love with this dress because of the sash: DaVinci 50161





But what she bought was a Wtoo lapis:

The bride needed more coverage:

She ordered extra lace motifs so we could play with some sort of extensions. I thought the lace alone would be pretty as you can still see through the motifs:

Besides adding to the top edge of the bodice, the zipper will be tightened up 5/8 inch on each side. The pins show the new seam allowances.

That all important butt tuck involving all layers:

Then hem 2 layers and shorten the train and tulle by 10 inches. The trimmed away layers will be used for the bodice extensions.


The bride opted for a solid extension using the extra lining fabrics, 2 layers of tulle in this basic shape. I traced the shape and added seam allowances to two layers of cotton muslin.

She wanted one inch added to the top edge.

Add some seam allowances:

Let’s start stacking and sandwiching 6 layers without the final lining layer.

Once 5 layers were stitched and flipped to the right side, they were pinned to the original bodice. The new lace motifs will be hand sewn on to cover the joined edges. The top edges may need to have some twill tape added to pull the cups back into her chest and be more rounded.

Hand basted back zipper:

Grab a diet Pepsi and get pinning with a sample using a double layer of a black satin scrap. No, the final sash will be beige lining fabric and will have a row of buttons down the back like in the website photo.

The sash will be hand sewn to both sides of the new zipper placement and hand tacked along the top edge with the side seam placement spreading up and down before gathering/pleating  at the princess seam under the left bust.


A beaded lace motif will be attached but for this shot, I just used a regular lace one:

Keep pinning and wrapping tight as you go until you get back to the center and pin in those pleats again. I flipped the excess fabric up to show the second row of pins.

A little bit uneven and in need of tightening but you get the idea…OK, now try picturing it in beige with the edges touching.

I’ll share the final photos with you as we move along. This dress will take 8 hours of labor.

Last week, I was in San Diego with Mr. Mole’s 3 grown-up daughters and family after hosting the first week in our home.

When I boarded the plane, I knew I had 5 new brides scheduled for this week but found 4 more new ones who had left messages on the answerphone. The phrase, “if you play, you have to pay” comes to mind, so my penance for visiting the Old Town, Seaport Village, La Jolla and Balboa Park is to park my butt on the floor and pin, pin, pin for the next 2 weeks and help Mr. Mole with the veggie gardening/transplanting.

As our temps rise here on the West coast and summer seems not-too-far-away, I wish you all a great week of planning and sewing!

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Return to Satin

After the tulle parade of gowns, finally a real formal fabric dress!

Wtoo Mimi has lots of gathers and a huge waist bow and pockets…yes pockets…something you don’t get with a tulle or sheer skirt. The bride does not want to wear the huge flower.

You can see in this side view that the bust is really flaring away from the bride’s chest. What to do?

Well, the twill tape will help a little to snug it up and cup back to her chest by 2 inches:

Then insert the push-up bust cups from Wawak:

Remove all the back buttons and take in the zipper 2 inches, baste by hand:

Pick 3 points for the bustle, please ignore the wrinkles, it just escaped from the garment bag!

What you can’t see…hem the lining, hem the top satin layer, hem the petticoat layer with a horizontal tuck inside all the way around.

With the list of alterations and the labor involved and fees discussed, I ask when do you want to have your second fitting? Silly me thinking that they would allow me 2 weeks or more to get all this hand basted and ready for the third and final try-on…ready for this?

Can we come the night before the wedding? WHY?

The mother says that the bride MAY lose some weight from stress and the dress must fit like a glove. Of course! Lordie, I’m already stressed just thinking about it…will I drop a few pounds too?

I explain that actually I will not even be in town the day before her wedding and I need 6 days to finish…so they back down and allow me 6 days.

You can see in this photo of the lining that I had to remove a strip of boning on each edge next to the zipper:

Once the outer layer has been machine stitched to the satin, the lining is attached by hand to the underlap:

The overlap side with red thread basting ready to be stitched:

The shot of the back in progress just before all the final machine stitching and adding 2 hooks and eyes to the top of the bodice. The excess fabric has not been trimmed off as you know I like to leave whatever I can inside for the next poor seamstress.

The bride and mother loved with way the bustle looked like angle wings. With the front hems basted, the bride decides that she wants her front hem shortened 1/8 inch/ 3.175 mm. Will anyone be looking at her hem that closely? Will that minute amount make any difference? Probably not but I do what I am told.

Side view of bustle, so pretty and this dress has huge side seam pockets too.

Metal backed satin buttons attached for the 3-point bustle and the original cloth backed buttons sewn back along the overlap stitching line.






After the final steaming and ready to wear down the aisle:

















This silk scarf was sent to me from my youngest daughter who knows I adore Gustav Klimt artwork. It is called the Tree of Life:

:I’m still getting birthday presents from my East Coast sewing sister:

And from my oldest daughter:

So it looks like I will have a summer filled with new succulents to watch and enjoy. This week we have had some of Mr. Mole’s family visiting from the UK and I thought the little blow-up bed for the youngest child was just so darling and cozy.

I had to clear out my second sewing room annex to turn it into a play room and sleeping quarters. I made each of the girls their own pillowcase with Peppa Pig and Disney fabrics to keep. The pink and blue fabric boxes contain new activity books, crayons, paints, sticker books, painting aprons etc. for their visit.

Coming soon…a doozey of a gown that the bride wants lots of additions sewn unto the dress…8 hours+ of labor and lots of head scratching!

Wishing you all a great week! Thank you to all the followers and new readers for visiting!

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Two Pieces – Twice the Patience

Spring has arrived, blossoms and bulbs doing their best putting on a show and pollen…yes, that pollen that makes our eyes tear along with unending sneezes. A certain lightness returns in the sparse sunshine days and wasps seek out new places to make their summer nesting…but brides never cease showing up.

This skirt:

Paired with this bustier:

What do we need? How about taking in the bustier along each side of the separating zipper? The nice thing about this job is the fact that the top edge of the bustier is basically straight across so moving the zipper away from center doesn’t cause it to come up short.

You can see the satin ribbon/belt that will be tied over the waistband. I will stitch two thread loops on either side of the center closing to keep the knot from shifting.

Let’s tackle that hem…First remove the 2 inch horsehair braid (see it dangling in the photo) side seam to side seam.

Move it up 4 inches to the new hem line:

The braid is run all the way back to the original side seams level.

When you re-position the same horsehair, you end up with extra as the skirt is narrower the higher up you go. Just fold it under for the next try-on.

Hand baste the lower edge and flip up as it will be sewn later for the next try-on. Leave all the excess fabric to be trimmed later.

Here we are hand basted and guess what? After steaming the skirt to remove all the wrinkles and kinks in the horsehair braid, it ended up being 2 inches too long. Yes, fabrics “grow” after steaming and I think they “grow and relax” after hanging in my sewing room when the calming spa music is playing.

So it was removed and moved up again. They say doing something over and over builds character…I’m sure this did not pertain to Horsehair braid!!!

One thing I notice is that in RTW skirt hooks, they use really cheap ones that do not grip well. You can see the ones I buy on the left with real indentations to grab the other side piece. When I used to alter very high end designer women’s wear…it was the same deal…cheap hooks that don’t hold tight.


On the eye side, there is also a groove for locking into place while the original one on the right is barely bent enough.

Back to the bustier…bust cups are attached and zipper hand basted. What are those tiny loops at the top of the bodice for? Well, some dresses/bustiers have the normal side seam hanging ribbons but this also had 2 ribbons attached at the back princess seams so you can thread them through those little loops and the top will hang upright on a hanger without being at an angle. This comes in handy when the photographer wants to take pre-wedding  photos of your dress hanging in a sunny window…you know those shots!

Like always, I don’t trim off the excess in case the next bride needs it. The zipper is not invisible so I need to get the 2 lapped edges close together.

The bride still have her long fluffy train:

Let’s add a belt!

The belt is hand-tacked along the top edge and I will wrap the whole thing with plastic wrap as the rhinestones will grab and snag the tulle for sure!

With this project finished and out the door, my friend and client Nancy took me out to lunch for by birthday and gave me this darling plant. She wanted to find a pot with a mole on it but this cute hedgehog topped with a variegated thyme herb brings a smile to my face.

Our nice weather has turned back into days of Spring rain and blossoming trees and pollen allergies….ahhh Spring and April showers.

Hoping you all have a great week!


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Modesty Please

Summer weddings in a garden bring up visions of airy and floaty dresses and a soft feminism as in the photo below:

This gown is Wtoo Juno and you can see a lot of cleavage but we can fix that.

Not much more coverage in the back and no chance of wearing any sort of bra.

My bride decided to have the train shortened so let’s start with the satin layer. Pinning all the layers together keeps everything equal. The ruler is at center back so you can see the gradual reducing towards the side seams.

What can we do with the front? Well, there is plenty to be trimmed from the train and we can use the satin as a patch. The triangular area has to be 4 inches wide and 8 inches deep.

First, I find the straight of grain and cut two layers of fabric:


The the top edge needs to be curved, sewn and flipped and pinked down the sides:


Hand basted placement line keeps the level for modesty.

Side edges are serged together and then pinned into position.

With the patch hand basted into place, I can attach the teardrop bust cups by hand. With so  many of these nightgown types, this is the only structure in the bodice.

Shoulders needed to be shortened as well. Sometime I can trim away the netting but I left this extra in for stability.

Since this gown did not have any boning, I decided to add some under bust help to the lining. The patch is now hand sewn to the lining and tacked to the front layer of tulle. I like to use the plastic cotton-covered type of boning that I can hand sew to the lining and fold under the fabric ends.

Did you know that even though boning comes on a roll and looks like you have to work with the original curve…you can iron that sucker flat? People ask me, “which way should my boning curve?”, so the answer is…it doesn’t have to curve at all.

The final photo with the boning and patch…still some wrinkles but the bride felt more secure and could actually bend down to hug someone without feeling too showy. Having boning also reminds the bride to stand up straight especially for the professional photographer.

We’ve had 2 nice days in the garden with 75 degree temps…unusual for March and while all the trees have buds…look what is happening in Mr Mole’s nursery in his study under grow lights. ..a very impatient zucchini plants is producing flowers already!!! Slow down there Buster , it is still too cold at night to go outside!!!

Just had my dryer vent cleaned out and old hose replaced so I’m feeling safe for another 2 years. Having a vent run under the house, the length of the house is a scary thought with wet lint causing a clog and a fire like so many that occur this time of year. Wishing you all lots of sewing inspiration as the seasons change and the clocks go forward!

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