Simply Beachy

Here is a simple dress from Wtoo that needed the zipper taken in one inch on each side, some hemming and a bustle and some boobs.

Can you see the drag line in the side seam pointing to her butt? By taking in the center back that will be eliminated but the other problem that we have is not something I can fix. The actual bodice length is too short for her body. The side view really reveals this.

The top edge of the bodice sits too low on her, meaning she is longer waisted than the dress. As a result, she will want to pull the top of the dress up while wearing it. This dress would suit a shorter waisted bride as it would give more bust coverage.



The tulle layer will be trimmed in front to ground level along with the lining.

To move the zipper over, the lining is released:





Then the zipper is removed. It it one of those thick industrial ones with double thick teeth and wide tape. Removing the zipper allows me to move it up higher as the bodice back dips in the center and moving to the side…well, you just run out of zipper in a hurry.

Taking in the lining the same amount gets us to the first row of boning so that can be saved.


Once the zipper is basted in and bust pads inserted, the bride thinks that she is revealing too much boobage.  Again, the side view shows more than she wants. The top edge cups well back to her chest but again, you can see how the dress just needs to be higher up on her body.


The zipper is moved back 3/8 inch to give her more ease just at the top and maybe allow the dress to slide up a tiny bit and her skin to drop down into the dress.

The zipper is sewn in my machine and the lining attached by hand:


One thing the bride wanted because she is getting married on the beach was to have the lining bustled up and maybe the tulle layers as well.

But then she decided that she would rather drag the tulle through the sand possibly collecting seaweed and bits of shells.









The wrinkle at the waist is her lining that needed to be pulled down. Thankfully she has enough room in the hips to sit down and the waist sits firmly.


The dress will be rolled up into a ball and stuffed into her carry-on bag and steamed once she gets to her venue…Hawaii.

Kate from has released her first book on fashion this week. Those that follow her blog know the work and determination she has put into it. She packs her book with color and style tips that everyone can enjoy and appreciate:






For those bird lovers last week who admired the Papa quail…well…here’s a real treat…this week Papa quail took his brood of 12 new chicks for a walk in the cul-de-sac. Here are a few of the babies huddled under a bush. They are no bigger than a ping-pong ball.

Happy hot summer sewing this week! Our temps will be 90 degrees and the squash should be really producing!

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Adding Ease

A stunning dress that fits the model is a joy to see.

The same dress on a real person:

The straps were too long so they were shortened (pinned in the photo) and the lace motifs stitched back down.

What the original photos can’t convey are the hips and thighs were so tight that we could hardly get the dress up or down once she stepped into it. I had to let out every single seam in the lace/satin and lining down to 1/8 inch and said a few Hail Marys. Without letting out all the seams, she could not walk or sit down.

Testing out the amount of bustle points and positions so it looks like 3 points for each level. Notice how the lace motifs mirror each other…it is so nice when that happens!


The lining was hemmed with Horsehair braid but the bride did not like the stiffness, so that was removed. I also made a 5 inch horizontal tuck at the top of the skirt lining to shorten all around. Then the satin layer was shortened the same amount.

The tulle layers were all trimmed around 4-5 inches but then each vertical seam in the 3 layers had to be reinforced to prevent opening up.

When the bride walked down my hallway and did a turn to walk back to see herself in the mirror she said, “Wow, I never thought a wedding dress could be so comfortable!” .




Having enough ease all around makes such a difference and makes a bride smile. She was doing twirls to see how all the fabric was up off the ground for dancing and I was so happy to see her working the dress.




Some garden shots this week:

Resident robin taking his afternoon bath.


California Quail male dropping in for a visit.

Summer hummer flying in for a drink.

View from under the weeping cherry tree.

This week a reader, Jen, shared this link:

Hopefully none of us will ever have to work on this dress!

Happy sewing everyone!

Posted in Uncategorized | 44 Comments

See-Thru Bride

Here is the latest from Watters and it is called Galatea.

The entire bodice is sheer and the huge polyester embroidered flowers are quite striking.

My bride just fell in love with this look and ordered it in the color titanium/grey.


So what needs to be done? Shorten the straps and the nude lining on each side.


Here is the only thing standing between the skin and the public…a little bust pad.

It comes with a tiny plastic snap that is basically useless when keeping the center back closed so it will be replaced with a real metal one.

Interestingly, you rarely see top stitching down each side of the zipper but it keeps the tulle layer away from the teeth!

While the flowers are pretty spectacular, they really are a pain when dealing with a bustle. The left and right side panel flowers do not line up/mirror each other and to make a bustle, the tulle really does not want to co-operate. I spent an entire afternoon pinning the points up and down and in the end I just gave up.

The bride says she just wants to drag her hem around all day and did not want me to trim even an inch off the front to help from dragging twigs and grass along with her.



While it was easy getting the satin layer to bustle….and the center flower on the tulle to sort of fold under… the side flowers were like cardboard and refused to play nice.

Each grouping of side flowers did not mirror each other. Even when just pinned up…well it was a real “dog’s dinner”.  Another seamstress friend Lu thought it might work making the bustle at an angle but that would have looked like something went wrong.




Getting all that grey tulle laying was also a problem and I suggested we trim that to floor length and then go back and try again with the flowered layer but in the end the bride just wanted it all to drag behind her.


A final shot of the underarm panel…a single layer of netting, so no hiding anything!

After mentioning to the salon owner about the issues of the bustle, she revealed that she has sold 4 more of these dresses so I might be getting 4 more this season…oh Lordie!


Going with the trend of grey…we have ordered vinyl privacy lattice panels to be attached to the top edge of our side yard fence so Mr. Mole can grow roses or passionflowers higher up. Just waiting now for the handyman to come by and install them.

The first harvest of potatoes is ready!


The weather report this weekend is for our first 90 degree day…this will certainly encourage the squash plants to start racing ahead! But before I leave, here is the link to the famous Victorian wedding dress:

Happy June 1st everyone!


Posted in challenges | Tagged , , , , | 38 Comments

A Work in Progress

                                    Some girls wear their mother’s wedding dresses.









But some girls are pressured into wearing their soon-to-be mother-in-law’s old stained dress.

Supposedly this dress was cleaned back in the day and then put into a box …looks like they forgot to do the cleaning part BEFORE putting it into a box.

                                 So what does the bride want done?

Well, remove the basketball sized sleeves and use all those covered buttons down the back of the dress, remove every single lace motif and save for future projects, remove every single pearl and discolored sequin and save them for some future project…OK

Then, open up all the seams to get the fit right …OK

Narrow the straps and move front and back pleats to the side seams…OK

Make a new bustle that will clear the floor for dancing…OK

Remove the netting petticoat…OK

Let’s first tackle the front bodice…how many drag lines can you see? Reminds me of the same draglines that were on Meghan Markle’s wedding dress.












Straps will be narrowed.


Move front pleats

Move back pleats and test a 3-point bustle

With all the lace and beads and sequins removed except for the top edge and straps that will be saved…here is is:



OK…all pearls and sequins removed and saved, all lace motifs removed and saved, petticoat removed…now what?

The bride says she wants the entire dress covered in new lace fabric...great. She plans a family trip to Fabric Depot in Portland to select her perfect choice. She returns to present me with her choice.

This is what she fell in love with…is it lace fabric? No, it is netting with thick fake flowers and more pearls and bugle beads.












Can anyone cut and sew through this?


What WAS going to be a simple challenge measuring and make new lace panels will now require taking the whole dress apart and using it as a pattern to get the flower placement correct and away from seams. Also I have to use the scalloped edges of the new fabric in the best was possible to highlight it.

This is the furthest thing from my mind of a dress make-over. When asked what the date of the wedding is, the answer from the 5 family members she brought with her…”we don’t know…maybe next year.”

I wish I could share the tension in the room when I had 6 ladies all shouting their opinion about what should/could/would be done on the dress. Eventually after 90 minutes of this circus, I heard a soft knock on my studio door from Mr. Mole.

He whispers through the opening, “there are 3 kids running amok in the cul-de-sac alone.” Then a couple of the women jump up and run out the door as the three toddlers they left in the 3 huge trucks parked outside finally got bored and let themselves out to run screaming.

Yes, there are days I want to run screaming too. Just a good thing I have Mr. Mole to remind me that better days are ahead when I retire.

Wherever you live, I hope this weekend brings good weather and time to relax planting seeds or raking leaves or pulling weeds…nature…it’s good medicine. Thanks for  visiting!

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , , | 69 Comments

Can You Make This Fit?

An email came to me with these photos and a request…”Can you make this fit?” and “What will it cost?” Here it is on the model.


















Well, let’s start adding up the items…see the lovely red clamps on the shoulders? Don’t we all love working with fine netting and lace appliques? Will the appliques be removed easily? Are the sewn on or glued?

Then, there is the issue of the hem…we have seen this before haven’t we? A skirt that is 5 inches too long and lots of thick scallop lace trim. Is it removable or will it have to be cut away first and then hand sewn back into place higher up? Then, there is the skirt lining with 2 inch wide HH braid and any netting to deal with.

What else?  A bustle…sure.


Here is something I have never seen before…a double layer of chiffon hemmed together at the floor.


It will be hemmed using an opening in the side seam or each layer will be  hemmed separately.












The lace hem has to be raised 4.5 to 5 inches:

The shoulder seams have to be taken in 2 inches and the lace motifs removed first. See that fishing line/invisible thread sticking up?

A 5-point bustle will be needed to get all that train up for dancing.








Again, another first…under that lace edging is a 3 inch wide strip of Horsehair just sewn on for stiffness so if I want to shorten the hem, the HH braid has to be removed…by unpicking all the 3 lines of stitching. The bride says she is not fussy about putting the HH back so we may leave the front hem soft instead.

Just beyond the side seams, I cut the HH braid away.

Starting about 12 inches from the side seam, I measure up at an angle to the 4.5 inches level:

Then I red thread trace the new placement line for the top edge of the scallops. Just yesterday I was watching a video of how to do this, well, someone else’s version of how to do this on YouTube and she whipped off the edging and CUT OFF the extra tulle and re-attached the lace border higher up and I was gasping! Beside not taking into account that the bride might change her mind/wear different shoes or the lace/tulle relaxes between fittings, she just machine sewed all the lace edging on without a fitting. Scary or gutsy?

This lace edging has been sewn with teeny tiny stitches and impossible to remove so I will cut around each top edge first.

The scary part…done…and ready to be pinned higher up before the next fitting.

Each tip of the lace is now pinned and ready to be hand basted with white thread.

The bride decides that she does not want her chiffon train. First the double layer is pinned along the hem and then the row of pins are matched up after thread tracing the new hem level.

Using the Frixion pen to mark the chiffon which will disappear with the heat of the iron.

Once marked, the dress is tried on the mannequin to check for the levels.

The two chiffon layers are now going to be separate and way shorter.

Let’s not forget to trim the organza layers once the lace border is basted and ready for try-on.

Even after hand basting, the lace hem needs to be raised up another inch.

But at least the altered shoulders sit well.

The final fitting yields a bustle that clears the floor evenly and a front that clears the floor perfectly too. Some days I am amazed at how well things turn out…must be those fairies who come in and sew during the night every night…God Bless them!


On the gardening front, we have new photos. First are Bing cherries, California peppers and finally lots of lettuce, spinach, chard and tomato plants.

Happy sewing everyone! Stay hydrated!

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , , | 52 Comments

Holding My Breath

Isn’t this just the most romantic dress ever? It hugs the curves and makes the most of the model.

My bride showed up the first week of February and swore she was going to go to the gym and lose weight before her May wedding.

Great, 3 months of hard work will surely make that dress fit better and all it will need is the hemming and a 3-point lace bustle, 1 point satin bustle and a strip of twill tape to snug up the top of the bodice.  

And now the “after photos”:


All I can say when she announces that she has been working REALLY hard and has lost 8 pounds is “well, the top hugs your bust better now”.

Unfortunately, I cannot let out any seams that would add ease where she needs it. The elastic button loops will be stretched to the max and probably give way during the reception and dancing. Can anyone even sit in this tight of a dress? The saving grace is that she is wearing a very long veil so that will cover up the back for a while.

With 2 weeks to go, I was told that she would really knuckle down and lose more weight as she flew out the door to her waiting limousine filled with all her bridesmaids for a 6 hour wine tour in the valley.

Ahhhh brides…a special flock of birds…and speaking of birds, how about a photo from yesterday of all the gold finches having a meal:










Everything is bursting out and ready to grow!

Mr Mole has been busy building raised beds and planting 50 new asparagus roots although you cannot harvest them for 2 years.




Even the perennial raspberry plants are reaching for the sky! Luckily, this year Mr Mole has put 4 steel poles in the ground so I can control them with twine when they get so heavy with Autumn berries and they droop everywhere!

Wishing you all enough time to finish projects and start new ones. This week in the sewing room, 5 new brides have dropped off their dresses and yes, Kim, there are certainly some howlers and much revealing necklines…OH MY!


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 37 Comments

Back in Time

Growing up my parents used terms that my generation just never picked up and repeated. My father always said the price of things in terms of “two bits, four bits, and six bits” meaning 25 cents, 50 cents and 75 cents. Maybe some of you remember your grandparents saying the same thing and wondering where did the “bits” come from?

Me too, so I looked it up and here is the origin.

So what does this have to do with sewing? Well, you know that our local chapter of the American Sewing Guild gets donated fabrics, unfinished quilts  and notions all year and this is what showed up this week:

What we have is a pre-printed quilt top and all the colored fabrics and bias binding stem strips for a 1955 vintage quilt. It was mailed in brown paper from Chicago to the West Coast for the complete sum of 46 cents…less than 2 bits!

Along with the first quilt kit there is another package without directions or colored fabrics:

When I first saw them I told my buddy Sandi who is a quilting pro about them and she said that by now the muslin fabric must be in bad shape but it is the smoothest softest most wonderful cotton I have ever felt!

Maybe some of you have used Lee Ward kits for craft projects over the years, I know I did in the 70’s while making sparkly Christmas ornaments from their kits. But do you know that the spirit of the company is alive and well after many takeovers and buy-outs…yes, it is now Michael’s.

With Spring in full swing our local birds are really making a show for us. All these were snapped this week by Mr. Mole.

A robin parent gathering twigs for the new nest.

A Rufous hummingbird returns from wintering in Mexico.

And lastly, a female turkey walking along the fence tops looking for Mr. Turkey who has been spending a lot of his time in the tall trees.

Time for me to get back to the crazy brides…9 dresses hanging up waiting to be finished and 4 new ones on the calendar next week. Speaking of crazy brides, a call came in yesterday:

Caller: Yeah, I am getting married July 1 and want someone to totally remake my mother’s wedding dress from 1980.

Me: Most remakes take more than 2 months to complete

Caller: Well I don’t even live in this state and want to do this long distance but I rarely come into town and my mother is very possessive of her dress and veil and doesn’t want to let it out of the house. Do you make house calls?

Me: I am booked through July so this is not going to work.

Caller: When I am back in town the end of June I will bring the veil around so you can remove it from the cap and sew it to a comb.

As my Spanish cousins say, “vamos a ver”…we shall see…ha ha!






Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 27 Comments