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:

 

OR?

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: https://www.google.com/search?q=how+to+make+a+wedding+veil&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

Or how about this ready-made scalloped veil for $3.99…is that crazy or what? https://www.jjshouse.com/One-Tier-Waltz-Bridal-Veils-With-Scalloped-Edge-006052972-g52972?utm_term=52972&utm_size=OSFA&ggsub=pl&ggntk=g&ggcid=91132536276&ggkey=&ggpos=1o3&ggdev=c&ggdevm=&ggplm=&ggtgt=&gclid=Cj0KCQjwkZfLBRCzARIsAH3wMKrdvJvBf584y2VByBIj4-FbHmPIkmRx2EDuDtEC9qa_CSwlhaHYSvsaAqhxEALw_wcB

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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9 Months and a Prayer

Back in November this bride brought her dress for a consultation.

   

Another nice Wtoo Britt dress, another dropped waist/tulle skirt that brides are drawn to but don’t take into consideration their shape. Some days the zipper will just not go up, so I pin ribbon to bridge the gap and suggest that a corset back will get it closed and work for the wedding in July.

The bride decides she is going to hunker down and lose 20 pounds in 9 months. Check out that train!I pin some loops in place to show her how it might look:

At this fitting she wants to know how she is going to keep the top from sliding down so we try some tulle straps to match her skirt.

Then some rattail cord double straps and solid ribbons:

None of these make her happy so we skip that and agree to make another appointment 7 months later, closer to the date of the wedding.

Eight pounds lighter, we can get the zipper up with some minimal amount of back skin creasing. I am so proud of her!

One thing the weight loss has also done is drop the skirt and lining by almost 2 inches. You can see the original red thread tracing and the finished black thread hem line. The pinked edge shows that I already removed 4 inches all around just to have something easier to turn up.

To reduce the fluff of the skirt, we removed two layers of gathered netted petticoats (I save them to recycle in other dresses) and then I explain to her that bustling that amount of tulle will just add to the bulk of the skirt. Trimming the train off to ground level will give her dress a lighter feel and more dancing moves, so she agrees. Let’s flip the top layers up and work on the lower layers first:So glad I have mannequins who don’t mind standing for hours and having fabric tossed up over their heads!

The former train:

After 2 hours of sitting on the floor and trimming all 4 layers of tulle to just cover the 2 layers of satin and linings, the mother tells me that she wants the entire level of the hem trimmed up shorter by another 1/2 inch.

 

 

 

 

Once the hem is trimmed all around again, the bride decides she wants to hide her cleavage with a bit of lace, so center front is filled in:

 The finished dress also gets some satin straps to keep everything in place for dancing.

With a month to go, this determined bride will lose a few extra pounds and wear some tight underpants to make the bodice a little smoother. On the dance floor she will be happy to have every bit of tulle off the ground so she can spin and twirl all night.

Just had to share a quote from my favorite daily site gratefulness.org:

WORD FOR THE DAY

Whoever believes in the good in people, draws forth the good in people.

Jean Paul

 

Hope everyone has a super sewing week with very little ripping out!!!!

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True Blue

Are you as tired of wedding dresses as I am by the middle of summer?

Do you remember the blue Ponte knit dress I made for my daughter on this post?

Well, what do you do with 3/4 yard of leftover fabric? How about make a skirt from that same Butterick 6332 pattern?

The skirt calls for 1 3/8 yards of fabric but for a skirt 20 inches long, it seems a bit of overkill. Now, mind you, the whole hem edge is faced with a shaped curved piece of fabric which I will eliminate and just cut a lining. Let’s start with the invisible zipper and interfaced edges:

With the lining attached and 3/8 inch seam, it can be flipped and pressed and understitched to keep the rounded edges smooth. I decided to make the hem edge a feature so stitched one inch from the edge:

The top edge was supposed to be a high-rise waist but I just evened it out like a regular waistband and then stitched the facing one inch away like the hem.

The same day I bought the ponte knit from The Smuggler’s Daughter, I also bought 2 yards of a woven polyester with horizontal stripes and gaps to make a shirt for myself. After discovering that the fabric was very thin and almost sheer, I thought I could cut the body of the jacket double thick and still have just enough for sleeves and a front facing for my daughter.

While the pattern calls for a lining, I just wanted to line the sleeves as with the front facing, it was already 3 layers thick and the fabric is slippery anyway. Here is the inside with seams and facing pressed to the back and sleeve hand basted into place.

Skipping the lining in the back and using French seams, I bound the neck with a bias strip:

The front facing was interfaced with tricot knit and then all the edges were stitched using my “G” foot.

The cool thing about this foot is that you can position the needle from far right to far left for all sorts of applications, while the black metal piece stays right along the edge.

 

On the outside you can see all the topstitching, I even did the shoulders as there were 3 layers of fabric there to hold down.

I was going to skip the pockets but my daughter said she could use one for her cell phone so I used the metal form to make the edges crisp for a 5.5 by 4 inch pocket and lined it.

 

She asked for silver buttons so I went through my stash to find these sort of silver ones. They were sewn to the right side of the jacket and then larger snaps were sewn behind them:

With the skirt (hem not pressed) so you can see the snaps:

 

 

 

I hope all your summer sewing is going well. In the next 3 Saturdays, I have 6 brides getting married so lots to finish up…where’s my steamer? Steamer…it is 99 degrees today outside and will certainly feel like that inside as well!

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1953 was a very good year

In 1953, Queen Elizabeth was crowned, Dwight D. Eisenhower was elected US president, the polio vaccine was developed, Playboy magazine featured Marilyn Monroe on it’s first cover, sugar rationing ended in the UK and Ian Fleming published Casino Royale, the first James Bond novel. Fashions were emerging from the dark days of post war thriftiness.

Weddings were starting to be more celebratory and gowns had trains and veils and short sleeves and gloves were worn.

This photo of my bride’s grandmother captures the mood and simplicity of the time. Little did that bride know back then that her very own granddaughter would be wearing that cotton eyelet dress for her wedding 64 years later…with some minor changes.

grandmother-1953

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before we go any further, I want to also show you the other feature of this wedding; the bride might also be wearing a slip that her new mother-in-law wore 30 years ago. So the ensemble will certainly be a blending of both families.

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The dress had been rolled up in a ball and stored in a garbage bag for 64 years. It was taken to the dry cleaners and came out pure white.

To start with, the collar has to go and be may be replaced with an eyelet lace edging that will resemble a stand-up Mandarin collar in eyelet.

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You can see that there was a strip of horsehair braid on the underside of the collar:

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Once the neckline is opened up and collars removed, the bias binding will be stitched back down under the front facings.

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What else is needed? The front bodice droops down so that will be raised up and the front darts narrowed and shortened to eliminate the gap at center front waist. The cuffed sleeve hems will be dropped as low as possible and the lace edging added there as well. Eventually the bride wants a ribbon belt at the waistline that ties into a bow in the back. You can see the front is pulling where the vertical pin is, so the vertical darts will be narrowed to allow it to hang properly.

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Want to see a close-up of a hand made bound buttonhole? Left photo is the right side and right photo is the backside. Can you see the tiny hand stitches?

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And a covered button:

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Once the lace edging is basted on with red thread you can see the daintiness of this dress evolving and, yes, you keen-eyed sewers…the button spacing is not perfect.p1220333

Back in the 50’s fabrics came 35 inches wide so to have a huge skirt they had to use wedges to fill in.p1220302p1220301

What else is different about this dress? Well, the original seamstress must have had to add a strip of fabric to one side of the zipper to get it to close at the side:

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So, here we are at the second appointment and the bodice fits well, the sleeves are longer and the lace basted and 3 point bustle pinned up. The front hem needs some shortening and is pinned up as well. Her mother and mother-in-law are happy with the results but then the bride says, “I want sheer lace edging”.

 

I tell her that she will have to go out and buy her own sheer lace edging as I do not keep a supply and give her the collar pieces so she can find something more to her liking. I remove all the basted lace edgings.

One thing to do in the meantime is the front hem…simple right? It was a narrow rolled hem but when it was opened up…it had been rolled and stitched up 4 times.

Once all the previous stitching lines were removed you can see we have over an inch that was jammed into the 1/4 inch hem. The red thread marks the new hem edge.

On the third fitting appointment, the bride brings a long piece of ribbon with bronze rhinestones she has hot glued unto it. She loves this DIY craft project and I ask how am I supposed to attach this to the dress with a side zipper? The glued-on rhinestones go way past her 27 inch waist and cannot be removed.

I offer to attach any belt, not this one, at the side zipper edge or she can switch to a ribbon with a bow in the back but it would need a couple of thread loops to keep it centered. You may notice that the original slip has been replaced with a nude colored knit slip that just blends in with her skin. Without a lining, the slip is a nice background for the eyelet.

 

The DIY belt is pinned on and over lapped at the side…nasty.

The bustle buttons will be where the safety pins are and the waist will be raised another 3/4 inch all around. I mention to her that the hem was a bit weird with so many layers rolled up and then she confesses that her grandmother wore the dress for her 20th anniversary and the dress was just hemmed up again and again and the zipper, remember that weird patch inside, well, it was added to get the zipper closed at the waist back in 1973.

The bride decided on no lace edging, and the lapels to be hand-tacked back to make a V-neck opening.

Bustle buttons in place and they are low enough that if the bride changes her mind about a belt, it will sit well. Again, I have offered to make thread loops for a belt but have not heard back.The wedding is in a week so maybe she will just wear the dress as is.

At least with our 90+ degree days, this bride will be cooler than most!

Do you remember all the baby squash plants? Well, here they are producing already.

And another group of caged butternut squash with a small forest of sunflowers growing behind them…can you see Boris among the bird feeders?

Stay cool my friends!

 

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Starts with a Surprise

Another vintage dress was going to be arriving with the bride and her mother. I was sent the original wedding photo from 1984…remember poofy sleeves and fishing line ruffles? Oh yes, this had them all.Of course, the bride wants to make this her own dress and make it modern.

The appointment is set and as she is driving 3 hours south while her mother and father are driving 3 hours north, they will meet in the middle at my house. In the meantime, her sister writes to me about coming early to surprise her sister as she lives in the Midwest, 4 hours away by plane. Without thinking, I agree to this scheme.

The sister arrives on time and I settle her in the kitchen to wait for the rest of the crew. She shows me a champagne bottle and asks if it is OK to present this to her sister. Without thinking again, I agree.

The father and mother arrive with the bride and huge gold box concealing the dress. I settle them down in the room and tell them I have to leave to get my camera and then call the sister to sneak in to surprise them. She bursts into the room with her cell phone on video setting to record the excitement and the mother bursts out crying, the sister is shouting and the father just wants someone to hug.

The dad leaves the room while I start trying to button up all those back buttons and the mother starts asking about when are we going to get her husband back in the room and why hasn’t the champagne been opened already and her husband been brought back in for the party. I realize that I have lost control of this appointment and calmly tell her, “this is not my party, for me this is my work and you have to let me get this girl in the dress”.

As soon as the bride is dressed, I grab the bottle and open it while the sister is shouting, “Get the champagne glasses”. Once they are all holding their filled glasses, I can get to work asking the bride about the main reason why they are all here…”what do you want me to do with this dress?”

The bride says she wants the sleeves to be removed, the train to be removed and the whole hem to be tea length. The mother almost faints and begs the daughter to reconsider as she loves the double ruffled train.

The bride asks if I can remove all the fancy lace motif edging and use it on the new tea length hem. Sure, let’s remove the basketball-sized sleeves and lace edging:

 

 

 

Another issue she asks about is the lace trim on the back and hips…how did it get so yellow after being cleaned 33 years ago? The answer is…I don’t know but I will see if I can do something about it. I remove one side and experiment.

Below you can see the results…back in the 80’s we were still using cotton edgings and with a little soak in a weak bleach solution…voila’, we have white lace. So all the rest will be done that way and re-attached. Lots of hand work here and tedious fitting back into position! See the puckered zipper lap?

The bodice front has only one issue…can you see the wrinkles at the armhole? either that extra fabric will be taken out just above the lace edging or at the shoulders. We can’t have that gap there before the extra lace edging is applied to make a small cap sleeve.

Skirt is shortened and hem folded under and stitched with invisible thread in the needle and white thread in the bobbin. There are many lace motifs that will have to be removed before I add the lace edging otherwise we will have soft and hard sections.

All the flowers have been stitched flat after being bleached.

 

Adding the lace edging to the armhole front and back and making a tuck in the princess seam:

  

Can you see how tight the buttons and loops will be when fastened? Something will have to be let out. So many horizontal drag lines as well…what to do? Even with her separate corset tied as tight as humanly possible it is not a good look. But then take a look at the original photo of her mother…holy cow…those are the same wrinkles!

 

Pinned out front princess seam satin layer: 

Taking in the lining of the princess seam lining at the armhole:

 What would happen if I restored the dress to its original seams at the zipper? Would the drag lines relax and disappear? The first seamstress took in the center back zipper and left all that fabric wadded up. Have to be grateful that she didn’t trim it all away!

So let’s move the zipper back and gain 2 inches in circumference. Does this seem like a pattern with all these wedding dresses??? Add 2 inches to make things fit correctly…2 inches…the difference between two RTW sizes.

The previous seamstress gathered all the extra fabric and double stitched it into the seam. The rest of the skirt was pleated.

In her haste to finish the dress, she caught a fold into the seam to add more bulk.

Once released, you can see there was 1/2 inch caught.

I removed the gathers and now the skirt can resume its original place at the edge of the bodice thus gaining an inch on either side of the zipper.

All the edges now match up, the gathers have disappeared and with a small repair to the organza layer where the pins are, we are ready to insert the zipper again.

A close up of the first step on the hem after all the random lace motifs have been removed from that area.

First, the hem is folded under and sewn and the edges pinked to blend in better.

Then with the lace edging sewn by machine with invisible thread on top and poly thread in the bobbin like the hem:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Right side:

Underarm edges are bound with bias strips and hand tacked. Lace hem is done and cap sleeve treatment hand sewn on.

The back view after all the 27 buttons and loops have been removed and re-attached and the tulle released to gain almost 2 inches there too. The zipper stitching has tiny puckering but it is 2 layers of satin with the lining also in that seam. I think originally the lining must have been separate and laid nicer but I can’t change everything about this dress and labor costs are mounting up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This week our temps have gone from the 70’s (great for gardening) to the high 90’s…not so nice for gardening!

Our birds like the new fountain and have discovered the best way to drink without getting their feet wet. They perch between the frog’s eyes and bend forward.

Mr. Mole has harvested a couple beauties too:

As always, my photos reflect a desire to share possible solutions to real challenges that you readers may encounter in your sewing adventures. If I can help you in any way, then I have achieved my goal.

Happy Cool sewing everyone!

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