Trimming Embroidered Tulle

This figure flattering dress didn’t need much altering except hemming and shortening the straps and adding a bustle.

Enchanting by Mon Cheri dress

When a bride sends me a pre-appointment photo like this, I just wonder what else is lurking to be altered.

















I am always amused that a bridal salon makes the brides stand on a tiny little foot stool. In all the excitement, she could fall off!



Even with the front view, the stool offers no clue as to what the hem needs. The bride buys it thinking that just as the salesperson says, “The seamstress can fix that”.















Straps are pinned to remove at least 2 inches each side.

A one-point bustle will work here.



















Side view shows a nice flat bustle. But wait…what is that hanging below it?

Of course, the lining will have to be hemmed but what about the lining train?

Not my most favorite alterations…cutting off all of the train satin and lining layer.

The front hemming to be done.

Red thread marking the finished lace hem and the rest folded under and basted up for the second fitting.

New white hooks added to the back bodice.

The right side view:

The new hem basted up:

How to tackle the new hem edge…let’s try this. First run a straight machine stitch along the fold.







Then run a tiny narrow zigzag over that straight stitching:

Compared to the original factory hem finish:

Once the excess lace is trimmed away using duck-billed scissors it will look nice.

Continue trimming and press:

Some of you know that I also offer a final service. I use the firm in New York called Wedding Gown Preservation. They have been preserving gowns for over 100 years and stand by their methods with a 100 year guarantee and so far I have never had them call me to say that they could not get out any dirt/leaves/twigs etc. from a gown or veil.

This veil was heavily embossed with silk flowers and pearls and was about 12 feet long.

After the ceremony near a river, the photographer suggested that the couple wander into the stream for more photos. Guess what happened to all those flowers???

As the bride emerged from the water, like Aphrodite, her veil managed to scoop up all the mud and pine needles. Beford I packed it into the box to send off, I thought to take a photo just in case.

The latest finished puzzle…it was one of the better ones with lots of different colors and stripes.

What has Mr. Mole been up to?

His indoor winter garden is producing lettuce and Tiny Tim tomato flowers:

Now that we have had our fill of leftover turkey and turkey soup, I wish you much success with your Christmas sewing projects! Thanks for dropping by!

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Change of Heart and Dress

Some brides have too many options. Some brides buy the wrong dress and think of all the other things they can put over the dress to make it right.

Let’s start with what she bought: Wtoo with pleating, ruching, asymetrical neckline and an added belt.

The added belt removed and the right front neckline flounce tucked under the top edge.

Then she wanted the entire front “made straight” and for me to make a lacey bolero. After telling her that I did not do that sort of thing, she started sending me links to lots of options to cover her dress. Now, thinking of all that front ruching, I could not recommend using any of her jacket/blouse suggestions as it would be too bulky and lumpy. But here they are all from Etsy vendors:


Then she went into capes:


At this point you realize that this girl has waaaay too many options and cannot pinpoint the look she wants. She told me that she wanted a sleek form-fitting dress from the beginning but bought the wrong dress. Then she went back to the internet and found this dress.

She came back to me for about 25 different measurements and I recorded them thinking that WOW, this seller really has got it down to a science and I probably won’t need to see this bride again as her dress will be perfect…what a dreamer I am!!!

Here is what showed up:






Can you see the pins all around her waist and down her sleeves and the hem? What doesn’t show are the white bust pads sewn up too high to do any good between the lining and the crepe outer layer. Lots of drag lines were in the back as well.

What went wrong? Well, the description says Crepe…lovely…but they left out one defining word…STRETCHY! There were wrinkles galore at the waist and while I just pinned 3/4 of the way around her, I ended up dropping the crepe bodice all around  3/4 inch below the waist. The sleeves were too wide and the custom hem length…well…who knows what happened there? Attached to all this was a lining…a tight woven polyester lining that did not stretch at all.

Here’s a word that it seems designers have missed…compatablity. Both fabrics have to marry together and not cause problems for each other…sounds like pre-marital counseling? It seems these days, either the lining is thick heavy knit and stretches past the satin outer layer OR the reverse is true, the outer layer stretches and droops while the lining does not.

There is a little consideration for compatibility between lining fabric performance and crepe performance. The crepe stretches crosswise and can cause drooping while the happy tight lining does not.

What you cannot see are the hems of the crepe and lining…just raw and serged and filthy. For a custom made one-of-a-kind dress, it had issues and I pointed them out to her as I was not going to be accused of making her dress dirty or causing dark fold lines down the back. I told her that I would serge all the way around both hems and narrow machine hem them properly.

New waistline seam marked with red thread:

Second try-on revealed more center front bodice in need of tucking:

Once the lining was separated from the crepe you can see how much the bodice was shifted.

Have to line up all the dart seams:

Trimming away the excess bodice:

In the end, the bride wanted boning attached at the side seam…didn’t the custom gown come with any boning??? Ah…no. I used covered boning and hand attached it to the lining. The covering can be folded under at the top and bottom to cushion the sharp edges.

The dress, now fitting well, looked a little plain, so I showed her some pearl straps that might look good as a belt. It was just enough to hand tack all around the waist seam. The white bust pads were removed too. The factory silver hook and eye were replaced with a white ones.

Normally, I ask the bride if she has a veil and I will press it for free…how about this one? In the end the bride got what she wanted…sleek and simple dress and then high drama with an 18 foot long veil. Steam pressing it took a while!!!

All that is left is to try and carefully fold the veil lengthwise and unto a hanger. Once the lace edging is pressed, it relaxes a little and is not so stiff and will not curl up as the bride walks down the aisle in church.

One of my readers, Rena, sent this link to me and it really made me chuckle and brightened my day. I hope it does for you too!

Meanwhile in the garden, we have had a couple days of rain…hooray…and the robins are back bathing in the frog fountain.

Being back in a lockdown again and hoping our state can control the spead of Covid. Many of the local new cases arise from too many family members attending weddings, birthday parties and other getogethers without masks or social distancing and ignoring the 30 person restrictions. Our hospital ICU beds are filling up and medical staff are exhausted dealing with virus deniers. So sad that wearing a mask causes so many people to rebel against common sense and science.

To finish on a happy note…the butternut squash have been harvested and will spend the winter in the garage waiting to be made into soup. Wishing you all a safe and small Thanksgiving gathering next week!

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Scary Straps and a Heavy Bustle

This stunning Kitty Chen Sloan dress showed up and needed lots of engineering to get the bride down the aisle.

The bride wants a bustle of course!

Here is the front hem dragging on the ground with the bustle pinned up at the first fitting. While the fabrics make you think that this dress is airy and light…the real fact is…it weighs a ton and those teeny tiny straps are holding everything up!

Those dainty beaded straps had to be reinforced front and back before the second fitting!













As with many dresses, the satin layer and lining are stitched together as one hem. Here’s a tip for buying wedding shoes…while we love rhinestones for a little pedi-bling, if your hem is tulle or lace, the rhinestones will grab at those fabrics and make a mess. The bride changed her mind and bought different shoes.

The scalloped lace hem needs to be moved up the normal 5-6 inches. I tell every bride that she has learned a valuable lesson when buying a dress…know that raising such a hem adds labor costs and to warn her friends for the future. The red thread tracing shows the floor level and the green thread tracing is the new attachment line.

The scary bit…find a good place to cut away to make the border:

Sometimes I use the curved embroidery scissors to cut around flowers.

Re-pin the border about 3/4 of the way around:

Pins removed and hand basted in place for second try-on:

All the excess is just folded under and basted flat before being trimmed away.

With the lace hem in place…let’s tackle that satin/lining bustle. Did I mention that both the satin and lining layers were thick polyester knits? It will call for 7 points to get all this up and even off the floor but the weight will be a problem. As I normally use covered buttons and hand-made loops…this calls for some heavy duty solutions!

First the lining center back seam is opened and the whole hem is pulled out. The new hem seam is marked and hand basted for the second try-on. You can see the red thread markings.

The excess 5 inches will be trimmed away to just 1.5 inches.

If I didn’t run a basting stitch along the new hem, it would not lie flat. Once machine stitched and understitched and pressed, it will obey.

First fitting with all the lace bustled up as a trial:

Five points will get the lace off the floor. Notice the buttons go the full length of the center back seam.

In order to get all that knit into position and to hold everthing in place, I used pre-made crochet loops from Wawak. On the wrong side, each loop is secured to a square of grosgrain ribbon for strength. Then the clear buttons will hold the 4 outer points.

The center 3 bustle points will be grosgrain ribbons tied unto each loop.

The finished hems bustled up:

The final back view, tattoos covered, and only every other button looped.

This week one of our local NA tribes put out a call for mask making for their teen groups. I ended up offering to make 100 of the 1500 that were requested. It is always a treat for me to work with COLOR!

End of the season experiment for Mr. Mole’s garden…he planted sweet potato “slips” not knowing whether they would produce anything edible. Seven months later when the green vines on the ground turned yellow, he dug up our first batch! The blackened skin is where the tuber was exposed to the sun. Next year there will certainly be more!!!

If you are lucky enough to have a Southern Magnolia tree, this time of year they produce pods that contain red seeds and our local Northern Flickers love to eat them.

Happy and healthy sewing to all my readers…after the election my blood pressure has dropped back down to normal…hooray!

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Nip and a Tuck

Coming to the end of the Fall brides, we have a Rebecca Ingram/Maggie Soterro “Hope”


A close-up reveals the thick lace but not the needed alteration to get this bodice to lie flat. The bustle is pinned up  just to see if it can clear the floor.

You will notice that the front lace hem is dragging on the floor but the bride did not want anything done.

What really needed to be done was to tuck the back side bodice into the skirt. The red thread line will be dropped to below the waistband and sewn by hand. This way it can be released for any future bride. Here is the right side photo.

Here is the wrong side photo…you think I could hold the camera steady?

Once the lower edge is secured on the inside, the back will be snugged up and lie flat.

Here is the right side all neat and tidy.

The shiny lining/satin layer can be bustled with just one point…hooray!

The lace layer gets 3 lace covered buttons and loops to make the bustle.


This side view is for making sure the hem is not dragging and the bride can walk without having to kick her dress going forward or backward.

I always tell the brides to practice walking in their shoes with the bustle as the weight can thrown off your balance and posture. It’s a long day to have all that tacked to your butt!











Another end of season in the garden and this year we just piled the sunflower heads on the top of the outdoor cabinet under the kitchen window. It was fun to see all the birds coming to pull seeds out of the flower heads so close to the window.

One of the last harvests of the summer…Swiss chard and tomatoes.

Two more mango melons ripening in the house. They are more like a cantaloupe inside.

Still making time to relax with a puzzle. This one was really fun to do with so  many different colors!

With a week left before the US elections, I hope all the mail-in ballots will find their way to the voting offices in time!!! I marvel at the good people in states where they have been standing in line for up to 8 hours to cast their vote. They are determined and worthy of praise!!!

Will you be handing out candy on Halloween? We have decided to just put all the goodies outside in a box and with a sign that says to please just take one and leave the rest for the other children.

Stay safe everyone as the virus continues to ravage our communities in cities and rural settings all over the world. Wear a mask and wash your hands and stay home if you can. Don’t forget your flu shot!

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Sleek Sheath

David’s Bridal Galina Sheath dress is a nice basic shape.

The back is interesting too.


What has to be done? Here is the center back zipper which will have to be taken in at the top and tapered to the bottom on both sides.

The lining is also affected and will have to be trimmed and re-attached after the zipper is moved over.

Both new seams are basted with red thread for placement.

The zipper is removed and basted into place.

Moving down to the hem, I pin out a almost 2 inch (4 inch total) tuck side seam to side seam to raise the scalloped lace hem. Now you know this runs into some labor charges!

The new hem length will allow the bride’s toes to show slightly and enable her to walk without having to kick her dress forward.

The 2 inch tuck becomes a 1.5 inch tuck (3 inches total) when measured accurately.

So let’s run some green placement thread lines so I know where I am going once the lace border is cut away.

With the hem finished and all the excess trimmed away under the scallops, you can see the zipper in place with new edge stitching along the teeth to keep it flat. New grosgrain ribbon replaced the original Petersham ribbon that was too soft to hold the neckline tight.



Not a great photo of the scalloped hem as it curved under before all the escess was trimmed away. The satin and lining layers were also shortened.


The bustle only needed one point to get the train up for dancing. I didn’t get a final photo with the lace covered button and loop but you can imagine how nice and simple it looked.

With the summer veggies harvested, it is time for Mr. Mole to start new seedlings indoors under his grow lights. Tiny Tim tomatoes on the left and the rest are different types of lettuce. Once they are big enough, they will go outside under plastic for the winter along with spinach and chard.

Last week, I had the chance to see my friend/client Nancy after not seeing her since March. We missed celebrating our birthdays together but being older we have been self quarantining since then. Sometimes we both think alike and she presented me with this pin. Did you notice that the middle letter is the medical symbol for female? Clever, but most men don’t see it.

It will go along with our latest arrival in the mailbox:

And I gave her this pin as we both believe in science and wear masks:

Just a few photos of puzzles I have been working on and then donating to the fire relief funds in our valley:

Thanks for dropping by and I wish you renewed interest in sewing for the coming season of Thanksgiving leading up to Christmas…oh no…not the “C” word already! I haven’t bought my Halloween candy yet!

P.S. I forgot to mention that today I have 4 brides getting married as they thought picking Oct 10 was a good idea to help the groom remember what date they married…10-10-20-20.

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Snugging Up

This is the popular dress of the year. I have featured it in the past in smaller sizes, but this bride needed more support and shaping than in previous posts.

Wtoo Della

First thing to do was to pin out 7 inch long darts on each side.


After pinning we see that the dart is 2.5 inches wide as well. All of this lace will have to be lifted and moved out of the way to make the darts on the right side.

Looking on the inside lining, the new darts will run right into the existing boning so that will be removed and added back in the end.

Pinned on the right side, the lining needs some red thread tracing now.

On the right side, it has been red thread traced.

Lining thread traced:

Once traced, the dart legs show how far back to lift the lace layer.

Let’s get rid of the boning first.

Now we have the lining free and flat:

The boning will be reserted under the new lining dart later.

As the lining is darted on the inside, the lace edges will be overlapped to hide the new seam.

More lace edge have to be released so all the edges can be overlapped. In case the next bride to wear this dress needs all the original fabric, the next seamstress can just release all the stitiches and voila’ back to normal.

Right side overlapped and pinned down:

Left side pinned and hand basted. You can still see the red thread tracing which will be removed. Once all the lace edges are hand tacked, no one will kow what was done and there will be no bulk.

The inside new dart hand basted ready for flipping forward toward the center:

Even though the dart is flipped and it makes a dip/step down in the upper edge, the two layers of lace overlap to conceal the dip. Under the new dart, the old boning will be attached and I’m afraid that is the missing photo. The new dart acts as a strip of boning and adding back in the old strip gives the bride even more support.

On the outside, like in the other dresses, the lace layer is not attached to the satin layer and makes bubbles so I pin all the lumpy bits and hand tacked all those areas…can you say…time-consuming?


In previous Della gowns, the bride asked for a bustle but this time the tulle hem was just shortened without a bustle. Now the bodice hugs her body and gives a smoother line and flattering bust shape.















Our recent fires have been contained and after 10 days of thick choking smoke, we can see some patches of blue sky. With over 2,300 homes destroyed displacing over 6,000 residents, our valley has a huge job of clean-up and rebuilding. Here is a 4 minute video explaining how destructive and how fast it moved with little time to escape.

On a lighter note, the veggies are still producing:

Mild green chilis:

Swiss chard, raspberries and blueberries:

Mango melon:

And the birds are harvesting the last of the sunflower seeds before winter comes.

Feeling so grateful to have a home and being safe during the Covid 19 virus. Soon we here in the US will have the second wave of infections as we track the rising numbers in Europe. Maybe sewing is our only escape?

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Being Prepared

Dear Readers,

I was going to feature another wedding gown this week but everything has stopped with the fires raging out of control in our valley. Yesterday in 12 hours the fires destroyed over 650 homes and businesses and with violent winds moved through and expanded into over 25,000 aces. Farms as well have been burned to the ground and the air is thick with smoke and tanker planes dropping red fire retardant liquid.

We were on stage 2 alert to pack and get ready to flee and deciding what to put in a small suitcase eally made us think. I chose underpants, towels, a toilet roll and family photos that have no digital backup. Most important was the wedding photo of my Basque grandparents from Pamplona, Spain back in 1920 when they immigrated to California to work on ranches and herd sheep.

I never knew them as my grandmother died at the age of 32 (when my father was 11) and my grandfather at 60 before I was born but the connection is strong as this is the only photo of them that we have. Those of you who know me can see the family resemblance.

Now some photos of our area:

The fire ran the length of the main interstate North/South freeway for the first 17 miles.

The after and the before photos:












This weekend is filled with all the homeless residents gathering at the local fairgrounds for support handing out food and supplies and housing all the animals in cages until they can find shelter. Just seeing the photos makes one so grateful to have been spared this tragedy and wishing there was more we could do for our neighbors.

As the fires move north to destroy more property, orchards, vinyards and farms we have to re-think about the climate and that things are changing for the worse every year. Our precious resources, like water are being used up to fight these fires and the firefighters risking their lives to do battle in town and in the forests.

The night before the alert call to flee (level 3) I was working on 3 wedding gowns to finish and bag up, place in the car to escape to a safer place. Yes, brides still are going ahead with their wedding plans in spite of this. You have to give them credit for delaying their Spring and early Summer plans with the Covid virus and now this…but as one bride told me, “if you can get through all this and still get married, it will last”….I sure hope so!!!

Wishing all my West Coast sewing sisters can stay safe as we watch everything go up in flames.

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Big Bustle

Kitty Chen Danica is a beautiful dress with a dramatic train.


Here are all the alterations that the bride wanted/needed.

I have to shorten straps, shorten satin layer, shorten lining layer and shorten scalloped lace hem before considering that bustle…oh no…the bustle!!!




The front view before any hem pinning:













The front hem pinned up with a horizontal tuck:

The satin and lining layer were sewn together so here is what was trimmed away:

The finished edge is just hand basted to keep the layers flat before the final pressing, then removed.

Let’s get started on that lace hem…you know how this goes by now…ha ha.

Always fun to have to move the border up 6.5 inches!!!

Just hanging around waiting to be re-attached:

Once the border is hand basted higher up, the excess skirt fabric is folded under and hand basted ready for try-on.

How many of you guessed that the bustle could be done with just 7 points? The folds all line up and look so pretty fanned away from the center.

As with all bustles, when they are buttoned/pinned up, the very center front skirt is pulled to the back and may look (and be) longer:

Won’t this make a great photo? Sort of like a male peacock’s tail! You can see that the satin/lining layer is floor length so once the bustle is up, the bride can move easily.

One last bit about posture…if your bride stands up very straight, sometimes the back lace fans away from the body so a small tuck will flattern it out. All stiched by hand so it can be released if the next wearer needs it.


Here is the side view of that gorgeous bustle.  The buttons are lace covered satin ones with a metal back for extra strength from Wawak.

See how the horizontal lace motifs all line up and create strips of their own?














Final front view bustled up without shoes. The bride was happy with the length and fit.

Meanwhile in the garden…can squash and corn grow any faster than overnight when they double in size…yes, when the temps reach 106F or 41C…Mother Nature takes great delight.

The corn is shucked down to a couple layers and then microwaved and then the rest just falls away and it can be cut off the cob and frozen in little bags for the future.

I’d better get back to the wedding gowns but just had to share this naughty tomato. Happy Sewing everyone, thank you for dropping by!

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Client Requests

After having 3 months with no brides and now that they are slowly coming back to dream about a possible September or October wedding, I am amazed that other requests have come in too.


Hi. My name is Jennifer  I live in your town.

I’m looking to have a dress made for an October 2020 event.

Here is a picture of what I’m looking for:

I wrote back to her saying that I have worked on these dresses from jjshouse and they fit pretty well as you send your measurements and if she was between sizes, she could order 2 and keep the one that fits the best.

So, noticing that she can have this dress for under $200 and in any color on the planet, it makes me wonder what she thinks she will be paying to have this custom made and where is she going to find that exact lace and sheer knit and chiffon to match?


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



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.


At least all three now know that I only work on wedding dresses and they were given other names of seamstresses in the area. It seems better than replying back, “I’m sorry, I’m just not that crazy to start a project like that”.

Meanwhile, the tomato cage has kept the squirrels and raccoons away and this is the first harvest that Mr Mole has collected. Yes, he raised them from seed. Last year, I broiled and froze them in containers and they made the best soup! Ready to do it again today!

Just quarter them and sprinkle with garlic powder and olive oil and pop under the broiler/grill for 5 minutes. Then flip over to the skin side up and wait until the skins darken.

Second batch is nice and toasty, then off into the freezer.


A week ago before the Kong sunflowers opened up, Mr Mole took this photo of me with the 14 foot tall plants.

This week two blogging gals I follow made the coolest long dresses for summer.

Carolyn is amazing in her design work and finishing skills and inspires me so much!

Miss Celie worked her magic in a very special caftan that we all could wear to feel glamorous.

Next time more hopeful brides and lots of alterations but thought we all needed a break from the tulle! Happy sewing and happy summer everyone!












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The Works

We have seen this Wtoo Della dress before and in fact I have worked on this same style a couple times this year already and have more of the same to come. So far all of them, no matter what size, 0 to 20 all need the same alterations to make it fit properly.

Like before, twill tape was added to the top edge of the bodice to bring the top edge curve back into the bride’s chest.

In addition to that I had to hand tack ALL the lace to the satin bodice every inch or so. The satin and lining hems were shortened and the bodice was tightened by moving the zipper over 2 inches and unlike the past dresses, this bride wanted to keep all of her tulle train and have it bustled up for dancing. So let’s get started:

Pins are placed where the lace poofs away from the tulle and satin layers.

The zipper was moved over 2 inches and hand basted for try-on.

Satin layer and lining was hemmed up in the front only.

As usual, we try a one point bustle but there are still “dog ears” of fabric touching the ground.

Using 3 points works better:

Trying out a 5 safety pinned bustle:

Even with a bustle, tulle likes to drag along the ground and has to have a little haircut:

In the end, seven points can get the whole hem up off the floot for dancing.

The bride chose lace covered buttons to match the bodice.

Ready to walk down the aisle!






















After 3 weeks, the latest puzzle has been completed. As you can imagine the dark spaces were a real challenge. The back side of the puzzle had letters instead of colors this time.

Now that some travel and dining restrictions have been lifted in many countries, we see the famous folks visiting exotic venues. Funny how there is always a professional photographer around?

Sometimes seeing celebrities on vacation can remind us of other celebrities. This week, Katie Price, UK Model is sunning herself in Turkey. Photos from the Daily Mail UK.

The first thing that comes to mind is another special person who likes publicity….

Caitlyn Jenner sunning herself on Celebrity Big Brother.




It was 103F degrees yesterday, so the plants have either gone nuts or collapsed. But the hummingbirds keep flying!

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