Sleek and Simple

How about something simple for a change? This dress came in from David’s Bridal called Galina. 

A basic empire style trimmed with 3/8 inch Petersham ribbon under the bust and also used as a back tie.

In this photo, the back ribbon looks nice but in reality tying and re-tying Petersham ribbon turns it into a misshaped mangled mess.

Unfortunately, this dress also had a scalloped lace hem that had to be shortened. I pinned out a 1.5 inch tuck (total 3 inches).

Measuring the depth of the fold times 2:

Once the lace edging motifs were removed, they were moved up 3 inches:

With most dresses, the lace edging is attached all along the hem in one continuous strip but lookie stops at the side seams.

With all the points moved up and pinned, the under lace will be trimmed away later.

Other alterations include taking in the back zipper 2.5 – 3 inches tapering to nothing. It came with a standard lapped zipper so I replaced it with an invisible one for a flatter look. You can see the wrinkled Petersham tie which will be replaced with normal grosgrain ribbon to match. A small one-point bustle will also be included for dancing.

New zipper placement marked with pin and red thread:


Final try-on and the lace layer will be shortened by 1/2 inch:

I found a new supplier of ribbon as my normal one ran out of off-white and ivory. The new one is and they arrived in 3 days…Woo Who!

You can see the ribbon ties match exactly the original on the back neckline and I also did some edge stitching to keep the lace layer from sneaking into the teeth.

The final photos are of Mr. Mole’s indoor garden and his seedlings from scratch.

Planting and transplanting baby plants keeps his mind off of the current barrage of bad news from politicians and health officials and their warning of a dismal future. We have adopted a new word to practice along with eliminating reading all the front pages of global newspapers and TV.

That word is “enrichment” where we read only uplifting, educational, historical or scientific books/magazines and follow only websites that offer the same calmness and insight into human nature. Along with all that we have self-isolated, only going out for necessary trips.

The many brides who have come for fittings have to wash their hands for 20 seconds and have their temperature taken as well before entering the sewing room. Hoping masks will be available soon for the general public.

Stay safe out there dear readers!


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Kimono Fix

After sewing for clients for 50 years, you would think that maybe, just maybe, I have made all the stupid mistakes that can be made…wrong!

When making the second version of the kimono pattern, for Nancy, I was so busy basting fronts and backs and thought I had forgotten to trim the curved neckline of the center back. So, of course, I pinned the back pattern piece back unto the two front sections and trimmed off a nice crescent shaped piece of fabric. Do you know that ugly feeling when you discover you have done something almost not repairable? Yep, big time regret as the cut away pieces sat in my lap.

What can I do now? How about sewing them back on with the seams on the right side? Press the tiny seam up towards the shoulder seam and then plan the next move.

Here is the wrong side pressed up and topstitched:

OK, smarty pants…what next? With hardly any leftover fabric, I scrounge a couple strip to cover the mistake and also allow it to make a statement over the shoulder seams down to the wrists.

Stitch it 1.5 inches from the edge of the shoulder seam.

Flip the strip up to the shoulder seam to see what the chevrons do:

Top inside view of the front neckline:

Both shoulder seams are pinned WST:

The new strip is folded under 3/8 inch or so and pinned along the loose edge.

Inside view with pinning:

Different view before trimming of the shoulder seam:

The folded edge is chalked at one inch, pinned and then machine stitched flat. This way all the raw edges and seams are enclosed.

All that is left is to use bias binding along the entire neck edge down to the hem of the skirt section. The front waist seam is just basted to be sewn as a French seam.

Final back view of basted French seam at the hip. Like the other version, the skirt hem will be narrow hemmed by machine and a snap added at the front waist to keep it closed.

So with the kimono rescued, I want to share the progress on the tomatoes growing in Mr. Mole’s office under grow lights all winter:

What is that yellow butterfly thing doing? Well, after seeing little baby flies emerging from the soil a month ago, I found these sticky fly traps on Amazon. They work great!

Mr. Mole has a new crop of seeds planted for the Spring/Summer season before the weather warms up:

With the recent virus spreading and so many shortages predicted, less traveling and more home veggie cultivation may be the answer. Just tried to buy hand sanitizer for my 94 yr. old mother in assisted living…could I find any? Not one bottle!

So let’s all keep washing our hands well and avoiding folks who are coughing to protect ourselves! Staying home, if possible, and sewing is certainly the best option!

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Shape Shifting

Let’s return to the basic strapless Wtoo Agatha wedding gown and high expectations.








The story goes like this: “I bought my dress a year in advance, it was too big for me then and I am going to lose 20 pounds anyway so you will have to take a lot in.”

The reality hit home when she arrived and had to admit that she never lost the 20 and probably added 20 to the scale instead.

The first things to pin out were the new bust darts near her underarm. The top edge will also have twill tape attached to snug it up inside.


Measuring the dart legs so they match:

New dart hand basted first:

No one will notice this new bust dart, pin shows the lowest point. Running the dart lower towards the waistline helps snug up that area too under the bust for more support like adding a strip of boning. In the end no one will be looking that close for a dart in the lace and with nothing cut or trimmed away, the next bride can snip the stitches and have the bodice back to the original size.

The lace scallops were bothering the bride under her arms so I flipped them to the inside saving them for the next bride.

Then the tan satin ribbon had to be replaced:

The new belt pinned in place:

Lots of bling but as the tulle skirt loves to cling unto rhinestones, it will be attached at the very end. The bust darts are still just pinned in this photo.

The lining is hemmed at floor level and the small satin train will remain. Some of the tulle will be trimmed in front along with the satin layer hemmed to floor level.

The tan belt will be removed from the center back seam and in this photo you can see where the extra 20 pounds went. The wrinkles under the tulle will not go away until I open every seam in the skirt and insist that the bride find herself some tight shape wear otherwise these wrinkles will be on her photos.

Releasing and removing the tan belt at the waistline:

New skirt seams shifted to the very edge:

Trying to get every little bit let out in the satin and lining layers:

Once all the alterations are done and the heavy belt is attached, one more thing is added to keep the front bodice from drooping on the hanger and allowing the rhinestone belt to grab unto the tulle skirt. Some narrow grosgrain ribbon is made into a long loop from the back zipper area. Then there is a new small loop sewn to the center front and the long loop is drawn under and then it flips over the metal hanger.

Final photo but you can see there are still some wrinkles in the top of the skirt which should be helped with better shape wear.

Adding the rhinestone edged veil adds that special touch:

As we meet many sewing challenges, here is a man who wants to pass on his skill. I can’t imagine the precision and patience that is involved!

In my garden I can see the early heads of bulbs popping up through the mulch but I shout at them, “slow down, winter hasn’t left yet!”

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Short Waist Challenge

When you are searching for modesty in a wedding gown, this Wtoo Fillipa makes a nice statement.





For the first fitting the bride was wearing a black bra…not a great idea.

The shoulder seams were hanging off her shoulders and I pinned a ridge along the sleeve cap to pull the sleeves closer to her body. It was only a temporary fix as the sleeve was an overlay of lace with a strip of binding all around the armhole…sounds complicated…yes and bulky.















You can see the length of the train and also the front tulle needs trimming:

Here is the close-up of the pinned sleeve but the real issue is the length of the bodice versus her back waist length. When the bride is shorter waisted than the dress, something has to be done to get rid of that bubble in the zipper.





Once the black bra is not worn and the sleeves get a different treatment, it will look more flattering. Also the little belt will be covered with a strip of pearls.

The lower half of the zipper was released and the skirt will be raised up about 1.5 inches and the zipper re-attached. I basted the tulle to keep it away from the zipper teeth.

Inside, the skirt lining will have to be brought up higher too to attach to the bodice lining.

You know what happens when you mess with the bodice, don’t you? Yes! Boning strips have to be shortened as well…what a joy! Remove the boning edges, remove the covers, trim off, and replace the raw edge covers with fabric scraps. There was boning in the lining AND the satin bodice.

Can’t have the lining open and flopping around:

After hand basting, the skirt needed to come up another 1/4 inch. The black bra had to make another appearance for the second try-on.

When a dress pattern is enlarged up from a size 4 to a 14W, you end up with wider shoulders and on this boat-necked bodice the sleeves poofed out away from her arms.

After working on a previous lace sleeve that had a dart from the shoulder seam halfway down the arm, I decided to try that on this dress. The neckline needed to be taken up/in anyway and it was a straight new vertical seam to add to draw everything in and snug up the biceps.







The thin grosgrain ribbon ties were replaced and covered with a strip of pearls all hand tacked.

My brides are always given the option of keeping a long tulle train or having it trimmed for ease of walking. This bride finally realized that with getting married in a restaurant, she didn’t need such a long amount of fabric trailing behind her.

One cool thing about this dress was something I have never seen before…ever! Can you see the shiny ribbon on the shoulder? It is about 2.5 inches long and attaches to the front and back over the inside shoulder seam. What is it for and why did I re-attach it after taking in that shoulder seam?

Using that ribbon loop holds the wide neckline to the plastic hanger without slipping off. You could use this trick for regular clothes as well!!!

Here we are…tighter sleeves, narrower neckline and pearl belt and floor length hem ready to walk down the aisle.

The back bubble is gone and so is that black bra leaving just a tiny train to look all romantic in the photos.

One month ago, Mr Mole started some lettuce and Tiny Tim tomatoes from seed. They were placed into self watering pots and left under the grow lights for one month.

Here are the results! Almost ready to eat or be placed outside in the cold frame to get bigger.

The tomatoes all have baby fruits on them!!!

Welcome to all the new readers, and happy sewing this shorter month of February!

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Nancy’s New Jacket 2

Maybe you remember the last floral jacket I made for her with Butterick 3926, a basic shirt pattern with a side bust dart.

Then, I made another version  without the collar. This time around Nancy has brought some very cool fabric. A close up shows that it is textured and the stripes run horizontally. These buttons did not go well so others will be used.

The blouse pattern does not have a back yoke or pleats, so I drew out a plan for using the fabric and more ease. First , I thought a center back pleat would look nice but the fabric is very crispy and cut crosswise so two side pleats sat better.

Here it is just cut out and basted…the sheen on the fabric makes it look lighter than it is.

Making a back yoke, adding neck darts to account for a rounded back alteration.

Two side pleats will help the fabric hang straight. I did not want to make the back too symmetrical so I offset the main brown vertical stripe.

After some pressing and a darker photo along with new sleeve cuffs cut in the opposite direction:

The plain front with sleeve pinned at the shoulder. You can see the lining poking out.

Nancy wanted a big pocket so I reinforced where the top corners would be on the wrong side.

Pocket pinned on the right side. The brown stripe cannot be placed precisely as it varies in width throughout.

Sleeve is cut crossgrain like the fronts and back (except the back yoke):

Just need to move the sleeve in a bit to the red thread line:

Moving along and you can see the lining. It is a tan silk that can look blue in a certain light.

The single pocket, side seams pinned tighter, neckline marked and Photo-shopped placement of final buttons agreed upon. Nancy like 3/4 0r 7/8 length sleeves.

What about the inside? Let’s make a complete neck facing and fold the outer edges under for attaching to the lining later:

The center front facings folded inside , right and left.


The facings stitched RST and flipped then under-stitched and topstitched.

The raw edge of the hem was bound with a strip of the lining. Yes, the lining was cut crossgrain as well to have the selvedge edge at the hem.

Sleeve lining runs from the top inside of the cuff and all the way up to the shoulder seam. All sleeve layers are hand basted and machine gathered and then attached to the bodice.

Machine sewn and basting removed. The seam allowance will be trimmed down and used as a sleeve head to puff up the cap of the sleeve.

You can see the nice rounded curve to the sleeve cap already before pressing.

After the sleeve insertion, the seams were bound with a bias strip of lining and hand tacked. How nice it will feel to slide an arm into this sleeve!!! Can you see the blue sheen to the tan lining?

Bias covered shoulder pads have snaps that can be used to remove before dry cleaning.

Making buttonhole samples to test the brown colors:

Front facing attached to lining:


With high side seam vents, the lining is hand tacked to the edges:



The finished project and ready to wear with all sorts of neutral colors of pants:

Ever wonder what other cultures bake for Christmas treats? Here is a woman who draws from the past to introduce the tradition to the present day.

Had one snowy day last week but it has melted. Makes for a nice day to stay in and complete projects…like late January and early February brides before the 2020 Spring brides start showing up!


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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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