So Many Lace Flowers

                                                          I hate clamps!

When I see photos of potential brides with clamps all the way down their center back…it makes me realize that a salesperson could sell any dress if it is clamped tight enough.

The devil be damned if a seamstress can’t make every chunk of fabric under those clamped lips disappear and fit like a glove and yet, every day a bride is promised that a seamstress can fix ANYTHING!

My job is to make the sheer back fit tight tight and hug the lower back curve like a second skin. Does any seamstress want to remove ALL those buttons and loops and try to snug it all up? When no clamps are present the fabric flares away from the lower back in a bubble.

There are side seams but even when they were pinned, that was not the answer, we still had the bubble. I believe that RTW clothing is produced without any reference to the lordotic curve.

As the lower spine curves inward, fabric cannot always follow that curvature and we are stuck with making the impossible possible with darts and all sorts of weird solutions. Also to sell this dress, the salesperson tucked ALL of the powernet downward to inside the dress. One small problem…the powernet is the ONLY thing holding that dress up on her shoulders!

Here is a close up of a similiar gown showing the dart at the shoulder of the powernet fabric. Now our dress comes with nude full length sleeves of powernet but they will be removed and the straps attached before trimming away.

You can see where that top dart should be, on her shoulder, but it will sit lower and cause a groove on her upper arm. It is always nice to see what the dress is SUPPOSED to look like on the website model.

Here is the Okasana Mukha Ulla dress without the long sleeves made in the Ukraine.

Why is this? Well, the weight of this heavily bead encrusted gown pulls everything down and the dress is short-waisted. Another thing to notice when dress shopping is boob coverage. Can you see the bride’s left breast is more exposed? Why? Well the flowers are not placed symmetrically and it appears that the left breast is droopy.

Other issues are the lining and satin layers are way too long, about 4 inches too long as is the front lace layer with a 4 inch wide horsehair braid at the hem. Every bead and pearl and sequin is attached individually through to the horsehair braid. What does the bride want me to do?

She wants to drag her dress around in the front and hopefully bustle everything in the back.

First pinning of the bustle will need more time to map out all the points of the lace layer and the satin layer under it. The lining layer will be trimmed at floor level.

To snug up where the clamps were, the zipper will be removed and moved over 1.25 inches for a total of 2.5 inches too big. More lace flowers to be removed to avoid bulk.

Same goes for the lining and then hand sewn later.

What happens to all the clamped powernet? I will tuck all the excess behind the back neckline and hand sew everything to secure it. Then it will be able to be released in the future if the next bride needs it.

All the extra powernet is tacked behind the edge of the lace.

Let’s add some boobs while we are at it.

The top edge of the sleeve strap is attached 5 inches from the shoulder.

The sleeve band is basted by hand before cutting the sleeves off.

In hemming the satin layer, we ran into a snag. So much labor would be required to remove the horsehair braid and then re-attach it that the bride asked me to remove it instead and hem the satin to floor level.

So that is what I did for the front from side seam to side seam.

After the second try-on, the bride wanted the zipper area even MORE tight…remember the lodotic curve? So, as I am removing the zipper to move higher up the skirt, I slide the zipper pull down past the lining inside and that is when I discovered that the zipper had no clamp/stop at the bottom. The pull came off in my hand and there were some swear words spoken!

 

Now, I know lots of you seamstresses don’t mind fiddling with trying to get the pull back unto the teeth, but I can insert a new invisble zipper faster, so that is what I did. As the “V” of the waistline goes up the further you place the zipper, it is nice to have plenty to work with with a new fresh zipper.

All the lace flowers that were removed before tucking the powernet inside.

Flowers removed and hand basted to the lace edge:

What else? How about a 3 point satin layer bustle.

More hand basting for the third try-on:

Just before cutting off the sleeves:

The lower sleeves were cut off:

New zipper basted:

With the new zipper sewn in by machine, I hand tack all the excess fabrics to the back of the bodice fabric.

You can see both sides all hand tacked down for the next bride.

Then the lining is hand sewn over all of this mess.

All bustled up and sleeves removed and that extra 4 inches of front hem to be dragged around:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s finish with some beefsteak tomatoes…with 100 and 97 degree temps every day, these beauties can be harvested. Thank you all for dropping by, fingers crossed this hot weather will lessen and maybe move on and help the firefighters in their battle to control all the fires here in Oregon.

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Hot Summer Wedding

                Here is the Maggie Sottero dress on a model.

                                                 Here is the dress on a bride.

What needs to be done?

Shorten straps, shorten lining all around, hem satin layer side seam to side seam to start with.

First, the straps are red thread marked 1.25 inches for a total of 2.5 inches. Then they are basted for the try-on.

Hemming the knit lining all around:

To shorten the lace embroidered layer at least 5 flowers will have to be removed before trimming off the floor.

Each flower is machine stitched down so I have to cut every stitch to avoid making holes in the netting.

The first of 7 flowers to be removed.

Unto the satin layer bustle:

The three point lace layer bustle will just need a trim at the bottom to remove excess tulle.

Not all bust cups are in the right position to support breasts, so these will be dropped 2 inches.

Original position of a flat cup:

Once the cups have been lowered and the straps finished, the fit is just the way she wants it.  By shortening the straps 2.5 inches, the back neckline sits nice and flat along her back with no gaps. You can see the hem of the bustle is off the ground and the front hem just covers her shoes.

With our temps rising to 115F last week and continuing this heat streak at 100 + for another week, it has been a battle to water the veggies to keep them alive but here are the first 2 squashes.

These sunflowers are just volunteers from dropped seeds last year.

Do you remember the new empty raised bed from last time? It is now filled with 3 different types of squashes and watermelons and other melons.

On the other side of the new bed are bush beans, tomatoes, purple peppers and leeks and onions.

A newcomer to our garden is an artichoke plant.

Another group of squashes and corn in the background:

The old asparagus bed filled with…yes, you got it…more squash and watermelons.

Meanwhile back in the sewing room, Nadine has found a new spot to nap.

Even when the cat food box is empty…it becomes something special….

Mr. Mole discovers her sleeping/hiding in the hall.

Three more brides to finish all for the same date July 31st and then there is a dress from 1981 to repair and make a little more modern. Remember the 80’s? Big bows on butts must have seemed pretty necessary!!!

Stay hydrated wherever you live!!! Happy sewing!

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Shop-Worn Repairs

This dress is from David’s and quite a bargain right now.

Here it is on my bride with bust pads pinned in.

It had been tried on by many other brides and there are some damaged areas but first the shoulders are pinned up. You can see her right shoulder needs more taking up. Most of us have a low shoulder and it shows up on formal clothes.

The loops are not elastic like on most gowns so they take longer to fasten:

The train will need bustling up. See the clamps, I hate clamps!

Testing a three-point bustle:

Brides love pockets. I ask them what do they put in there and it is always, “my phone, of course”. Do they silence it for the ceremony at least?

 

The dainty beaded belt will be worn with the organza bow in the back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you can imagine the damage done when brides jam their arms into those dainty sleeves, here is proof of what you are buying. I used my snips to show the width of the hole.

All of the red hand basting on the edges is holding the lining to the wrong side. It will be hand-tacked with white thread and small stitches to make a nice smooth edge.

The missing teardrop shape:

The other armhole was damaged as well. My little finger fits inside the hole in the organza lining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looks like the other side doesn’t it?

Nope, it is way worse with the missing seam allowances. All the edges were brought back into position and hand sewn so no one would know what was there before.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the second fitting, the bride wants even more taken up at the shoulders.

Almost done…needing 5 bustle points, safety pinned into position:

The final back photo with lace covered buttons and loops. All the folds are even and angled down for a flattering look mirroring the top edge of the bodice lining.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the veggie garden…Mr. Mole is emptying our 3 compost bins and tumbler into his new raised bed for all our squash. The caged bed is filled with strawberries.

The raised bed in the background is filled with leeks and onions and broccoli and califlower. The other bed is filled with tomatoes, peppers and bush beans.

Last year, I took my amaryllis bulb outside after it failed to bloom a second year indoors. It was in a plastic pot all winter and I forgot about it. Then when clearing pots and plants this Spring…look what I found blooming under a bush? Of course, it got rescued and is now indoors to enjoy. Who knew a bulb could be so hardy?

With half our state vaccinated, things may open up soon and restaurants can seat more than the 25% they are doing now. Schools are closed now for the summer after only having students back a few months in a real classroom.

One result of the year-long quarantine is prices of services and items. My hairdresser wrote to me to say she is back and instead of charging $75, her rate has gone up to $130. A fancy restaurant in town that normally would charge $29-39 for a meal is now charging $49. So, we the public have to make decisions. I myself will continue to color and cut my hair at home for $7 a month instead.

Happy sewing and wishing you all a super Father’s Day and first day of Summer next week!

 

 

 

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Pretty in Pink part 2

Let’s do a few finishing touches shall we? Once the interfaced facing/collar is attached, it is pinked and flattened and top stitched. The blue thread mark the center front line for button placement.

At the turning point just above the button, at the waist, the seam is clipped and flipped awaiting topstitching.

Here is where the hem meets the side seam and where the front excess will be trimmed away to make the front hang flatter.

The sleeve hemline is thread marked.

I use fusible tricot interfacing for sleeves and hems from Wawak.

Making sure to have only 1.5 inches in the hem.

Apply the interfacing under the seam allowances. I don’t remove the thread marking until it is finished.

As the sleeve is tapered at the wrist, the hem has to reflect that change and become wider nearer the top.

See how my pin shows the new angle of seamline.

Nancy wanted a right side seam pocket to keep her car keys handy when running errands so here it is pinned for postioning. It will be lined with thick ivory satin for durability as the silk is thin. The selvedge edge/straight of grain will be attached to the front princess seam with small strips of elastic for ease.

The jacket hem with rayon hem tape applied.

Last time, Sue, commented that the shoulders looked like they were falling off her body. Can you see what I added to the paper pattern to make the shoulder more evenly square instead of the sad droopy? You can see the first altered armhole seam and then there was another 1/2 inch taken in (sleeve cap moved over) in the final fitting. The shoulder pads helped hold up that angle.

The yoke lining is topstitched through all layers and basted at the armhole ready for the sleeve insertion.

All this mess of layers will be serged to clean it up before attaching the sleeves. The fabric sleeves are attached by machine with the lining done by hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sleeve caps will have rug wool bias strips.

Making sure to have a nice foldover of 2/3 the width.

Here is the nice soft cap being supported by the wool.

Inside the lined sleeves are hand attached…TV watching work for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s nicer than covered removable shoulder pads? Dry cleaners can make a real mess of shoulder pads, so making them with snaps or velcro helps. Using bias silk, the pads are wrapped and then serged.

The pins mark the shoulder seam placement. also in this photo you can see the dusty muted wrong side of the silk compaed to the right side bolder colors.

Inside the side pocket. Before attaching, I used interfacing along that edge to keep it from stretching in the future.

Nice and flat

Closeup of the decorative button.

At first, I tried using a purse magnet to keep the jacket closed but the weight of the fabric layers kept it popping open so nancy was able to visit Josephines in Portland and they had a perfect brass snap.

Nancy has the choice to wear the collar up or down as ahe loves layering and wearing scarves over her jackets. I didn’t get a final photo of her actually in her jacket but she was thrilled.

The roomy back view just the way she remembered Pendleton jackets back in the day.

With Spring temps flipping to Summer temps of 100+ this week, Mr. Mole set about emptying our 3 compost bins to fill the new raised bed for all the squash plants.

First harvest of strawberries before the heat arrived!!!

Happy sewing everyone and a good growing season if you have veggies and fruit to harvest!

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Pretty in Pink

During the past Covid virus lockdown, I was able to start on a jacket for Nancy. She buys the nicest fabrics in Portland and has a good eye for classic patterns. Back in the 80’s, I had a sewing mentor, Bobbi Tyler, who used to avoid Very Easy Vogue like the plague. She said that they never fit as well as the grown-up Vogue patterns and they had fewer less accurate pieces. I have to agree with her opinion but the drawings draw you in thinking everything will be OK. If you are looking for a great fit and maybe a lining pattern piece or two or three…forget it!

But, let’s make a gingham muslin and see what needs to be done. You have seen this alteration for Nancy many times. Why is this? Well, even though this pattern is a princess seamed front, it has no idea what a real woman needs in the bust area. You can see that slashing and spreading allows the horizontal lines to drop and be parallel with the floor.

While many gals tell me that all I had to do was to add at the side seams…I say no, add fabric where you need it.

 

The back yoke gets slashed (later photos) and spread and neck darts added to start with and then the horizontal lines droop a bit and I can pin out the excess gathers. You can see that the shoulders are wider than we need and the sleeves will be droopy too. But if we can see the potential at this stage in cheap thin gingham, it will work!

With green gingham stitched into place, the lines all look good. The side seams will need some taking in and the hem raised in the jacket and the sleeves. I will also add one inch to the collar edges to make more of a statement. Still looking like a Halloween costume?

Paper pattern front gets the 1.5 inch addition by laying it over the green gingham.

The hem is folded up in the paper pattern.

The side front section also has an additional section added across the bustline decreasing to nothing at the armhole.

One piece sleeve has an elbow dart and the hem will be shortened just below it.

Here is the common yoke adjustment for a rounded back with added neck darts.

The lower back with gathers is also shortened.

The side front piece is shortened too.

Once the paper pattern is altered, the jacket is cut out of the fashion fabric. It is a blend of wool and other fabrics and has a sort of solid backing as you can see the wrong side of the collar. First try-on reveals lots of things to pin out !!!

The lower back hangs nicely.

Center fronts are thread marked and the button position is decided upon. The button will not have a buttonhole but maybe a snap or magnet to keep the jacket closed.

The fronts are generous and to take in the side seams, all we need to do is reduce the front width by 2 inches each side and leave the back alone. Nancy also wants a side seam pocket for her car keys.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Droopy sleeves need to be moved up 1/2 inch and probably more later as the fabric relaxes.

Have you ever seen such a low elbow dart? Yes, it was a whopping 4 inches too low!!! So that will get moved up and re-stitched.

Left front panel is also pinned out 2 inches like the right side.

Plaecment of the pocket along with removal of excess fabric front.

New seam and cutting lines are chalked and altered on the paper pattern.

Every jacket deserves and needs a good lining and a couple years ago someone gave me a bolt of 35 inch wide silk. It didn’t draw me in at the time, but Nancy liked the dusty wrong side so that was it…solution!

As the silk lining is thin, I used fusible tricot to beef it up.

The sleeves are lined first before attaching. The final hem is chalk marked.

What would a jacket be without interfacing? Pretty much just a big blouse, so let’s add some fusible stabilizing to the front side panels.

The back yoke and lower back are secure.

Collar/facing unit is interfaced and added with lining pinned to make sure of enough ease for wearing. The outside edge is hand basted for now. It will be understitched and topstitched for the final.

Third try-on is looking more flattering but the shoulders need to be narrower and shoulder pads added.

The sleeves need to be moved in almost an inch this time. The loose weave fabric is “growing” so I have to be agressive! You can see the white thread marking the vertical center of the sleeve cap lining up with the shoulder seam.

I’m going to leave you now before going into all the fine tuning and finishing touches that make a jacket look and feel wonderful after steaming and adding covered shoulder pads.

Still more brides to come and good weather photos from the garden.

Thanks for hanging in there! Happy and productive sewing everyone!

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Making an On-line dress Fit

This dress is from JJ’s House.

It is a lovely, well-made modest dress. But like most dresses, it just needs a few tweaks to fit better.  The shoulders look very nice on this model but brides this year seem to all need the shoulders taken up more and more.

Here you can see that the shoulders are pinned up but I explained to the bride that because the sleeves are fittted and the sleeve cap is flat, that I will have to add tucks or gathers to get the sleeve re-attached. By shortening the shoulders, we have to remember that the armhole will also be shortened and much higher up and restrictive.

The bustle will need 3 points attached at the waist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The shoulder seam is marked along with the 1.5 inches to be taken in on either side of it. The lace motifs will be lifted and removed to make a flat seam. The extra fabric will not be trimmed away in case the next bride is longer waisted and needs longer straps.

What do I find inside? The entire armhole is bound with a folded strip of tulle so that has to be removed as well.

Here is the sleeve cap. With the lace flower motifs, it just was too bulky to pleat/tuck so I made tiny gathers to reduce it by 3 inches which seems like a lot…ok … it is. Then the tulle binding covers all this like the original. While the shoulders will be more of a feature, the eyes will think that her waist is smaller so a win/win.

A side view shows the new gathers but also reveals a need for some small hand made darts in the back. The lace flowers can be tucked over the tulle to make small darts done by hand and then be released for the future.

Almost done except for hemming the lining, the satin layer and trimming layers and layers of tulle. Even though I red thread marked the hem after I pinned the shoulder seams, when the bride returned for her second fitting…well it looks like she grew an extra 1.5 – 2 inches as I had to remark the hem lower with brown thread. This happens when brides finally find their perfect shoe, usually a 3 inch heel and platform sole after swearing that they will only wear flats…ha ha.

The bride also decided to ditch wearing a bra and went with teardrop bust cups instead.

The almost final photo…

The final back view as I leave the bustle loops attached to the buttons to make sure the loops hood for a couple days before the event. The huge clothes pins are from the Dollar Store as they hold the shoulders on the hanger without slipping off. This dress is very heavy so I recommended using a wooden suit hanger, too.

After 4 years our camillia has decided to produce flowers!

Nadine hiding but still curious:

Lovely domestic scene…eggs, over easy for me with spinach, sunnyside up for Mr Mole and a cat just waiting for the bacon to appear from the microwave.

And one last teaser…the beginnings of something for Nancy…see more next time! Happy sewing everyone…OMG, it’s May already!

 

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Repair and Re-Hem

Here are some photos of what NOT to buy when searching for your dream dress. If your dress has been tried on a million times and the whole side of the zipper is hanging loose with no hook and eye…walk away.

If you can shove your fingers through the ripped zipper opening…walk away.

If the label has been removed and also any sizing or fabric content tags...walk away. With no label, I could not give you a website link.

These are just some of the obvious problems but if the salesperson tells you that if you don’t buy this dress today, someone else will snap it up tomorrow…walk away. If they tell you that it is a $2000 dress reduced to $1700…smile and walk away.

Inside some dresses there are built-in elastic bra-type straps at the waist. To make this one side fit her body, I pinned out all the excess on each side. Another clue that your dress has been tried on by many others. There are boning strips sewn to the elastic for support.

Once the safety pins were removed after measuring the proper length, it should be 6 inches but it is almost double that in a saggging mess.

The side seam of the lining will be opened and all the excess will be shoved through and the rest trimmed away.

Just checking the zipper tape and moving it over about 1/2 inch, you can see the holes left by the previous stitching and how stretched out they have become…why? Well, it is back to all those other brides trying to stuff themselves into this dress…zippers cannot handle that abuse!!!

Once the zipper is moved over, I can stitch close to the old stitching catching the tape with the loops too.

Then everything is folded to the inside and stitched flat again for extra supprt.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s tackle the shoulder seams…I have to deduct 3 inches from each side…that seems like a lot and it is. The first basting was 1.5 inches and then I had to go back and increase it to 3. The back view is stunning even with the loose zipper.

 

The back straps are sheer while the front straps are lined, so all should look like the original when done.

All the beads and sequins will have to be removed and lifted and this French seam opened up to reduce all the bulk. No bride wants to look like she has lumpy lace epaulets on her shoulders.

The sheer base is exposed.

All the lace motifs will be lifted and removed.

 

 

 

After taking in the shoulder seam 3 inches, the seam allowance is divided with the solid going towards the lined front. The sheer is flipped to the back and all hand stitched down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The original large flower motif is returned and hand stitched down.

Then there is the hem…ahh yes, with 3 inch wide horsehair braid attached to the hem seam and the lining at the top edge. Nothing as tedious as removing this stuff anf re-attaching it 5 inches higher up. Once all the red thread basting has been done, the machine stitiching of satin layer and lining has been done, then that horsehair braid is stitched 1/4 inch away from the new hem edge/seam.

You can see the two rows of stitching and the trimming away about 1 inch away and removed. Now to tuck everything back inside the skirt and finish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reaching inside the skirt through the side seam lining, I can pin the top edge to the lining.

Ready for stitching and closing up the side seam.

 

Stitching between the pins and going by “feel”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s left now??? How about this train?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A one-point bustle works well and the organza layer over the top of the satin layer has been narrow hemmed to just cover the hem edge.

To brighten your Easter/Passover, I wanted to share this photo of my orchid. It has been trying to make a bud and flower for the past 3 years. There are 8 more on the stem ready to open this week…so happy to have not given up and tossed it out!!!

Wishing you all a blessed week to celebrate Spring and for those who are still waiting to get their vaccination…we all have to be patient!!!

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Rags to Stitches

Does anyone have a terry cloth towel from 1970 still in perfect condition?

This little honey came to me from a family member who had one demand:

                                               MAKE IT LIKE NEW!

                                   Let’s take a closer look shall we?

It is a raggedy terry cloth robe with a tie belt.

Looking inside the right sleeve we find this…a hole on one side.

 

After removing some previous hand stitching to just make the hole go away, I found the end of the hole higher up. Love the raggedy end of the cuff hem! What to do? My first thought was to trash it but as it was given to her by her beloved son, it had to be renovated.

How about the neck band? When did the fold disintregate? Now, there are two separate pieces flopping around…what to do? Can you imagine wearing this for 40 years? I could have cut new bands out of cotton fabric but in the past I have been sorely criticized for repairs that did not meet with her approval. Trying to avoid all nasty comments, I decided to work something else out.

You can see that the wear is not evenly placed, more off to one side.

There was a left front pocket not being used, so I removed it to make patches. I had just enough length to attach to the neckline and wrap to the back of the ratty band.

All of the patches will be machine attached with a variable zig-zag stitch which will disappear into the nap, well what’s left of the nap.

Moving unto the sleeve and what is left of the pocket. I slide the patch underneath and try to line up the design and again, zig-zag over all the raw edges and trim away the excess on the inside. The folded under hem that is missing will be patched as well.

The front patch will have a matching facing to attach and fold under like the original.

A fuzzy photo of the inside…sorry!

The new patch is almost invisble from the outside:

The inside shows the coverage and trimmed patch edges with pinking shears.

Here you can see how off center the neck wear was. Wonder why it was so uneven?

The outside looks OK.

On the hanger you can see how lop-sided the collar patch is.

In the end she got what she wanted with losing one pocket.

This week Mr. Mole took the plastic cover off of the winter veggies so I could harvest our first batch of spinach. Another job done was planting strawberries and an artichoke plant.

So that Nadine could be with us in the garden when the weather gets nicer, we put a harness on her and attached a leash to get her used to walking around outside.

But what she really likes, like most cats, is to go in a paper bag…action shot:

We are very much looking forward to getting our first vaccine shots the middle of March. It has taken a long time and a long list to qualify for the over 70 year olds and fingers crossed the vaccine will be in supply the day we show up!!!

More brides have made appointments this month and I have a cool project for Nancy that I will be sharing with you too! Happy sewing everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

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Competition Jacket

Last time my friend needed a favor for his son’s upcoming Martial Arts competition, I ended up covering the whole jacket with the American flag. You can click on the link to see more of that project from Nov 2019.

Thankfully, this time all that had to be done decoratively was adding ribbons and small flags and…removing 9 extra inches in the front triagular panels. First thing to do was remove the inside and outside ties as the boy wears a belt over the jacket. The dad thought I could just fold under the excess fabric and stitch through everything…ok, he is a gardener and not into sewing.

Open the band seams and release and remove the ties:

I soon realized that the triangles would have to be removed and/or repositioned to avoid any more bulk.

Then I have to open all the front seams and along the front bands. Using my scalpel helps and on the back side, the bobbin threads/chain stitches can be pulled to release.

Here is the mess with both fronts opened:

Once released, the flat fell seams look lke this:

Both flat felled seams are pointing the same direction so only one will be repostioned and not cut away. That would be the left one:

I measure over using the old seam as a guide and thread trace for the new positon. You can see at the hems, they do not match up…geometry going on here?

I will serge 3/8 inch away from the new seam line and press it up to meet the old flat felled seam edge before stitching everything down flat again.

Left side finished, sorry no more photos, and we have the right front panel. As with the left side, the old edge will have to move 4.5 inches towards the band instead of away from it. The under side will be trimmed away and serged close to the band and the old edge stitched down flat again. In order to make the junction where the band meets the panel up higher, I had to open the band seam to get a better angle.

Here is what it looks like on the inside of the right side. Of course, all this excess will be trimmed away on both sides.

Original edge pinned along the band…notice the gap/step-down along the hem? Yeah…of course this happens…what to do? I’m going to open up the hems, all 3 rows of stitching and make them all line up. In the end, all of the hems will be covered in ribbon so it can look like a dog’s dinner on the inside and no one will know. Well,  just you and me!

The left side has a slight dip in the middle of the hem too but I’ll treat it the same way…wrestle it into submission and slap the ribbon over the whole mess!

Once the body is done, let’s pin the ribbon on the bands. It is just 1/4 inch narrower than the band so just a tiny 1/8 inch of white will show along the edges. Sometimes when we do custom work, it ends up looking so professional when things sit well and flat. If the ribbon was wider, it would have had to slide over the edge and look….well…homemade…horrors!

Ribbon bands attached, wrist ribbons attached and hem ribbons attached…the special request was to have small flags attached to the armpits so when the boy wins his heat, he raises his arms to show the flags and his pride.

There was no way I could get those flags to fit flat in the armholes so I moved them into the sleeve area and even then it was a challenge. Besides being awkward, did I mention that this jacket/ghee was made out of the thickest duck fabric on earth? Lordie, this was meant to be a tent but somewhere in a factory far far away, using industrial machines and methods, this duck cloth managed to be made into something wearable. It is mind-boggling that something so stiff that could stand up on its own would be just the thing for little boys to wear and compete in and wrestle each other to the ground

The back is left blank for attaching award patches. The ghee and all the ribbons and flags were pre-washed and pre-shrunk.

Beside sewing this week, I want to share our new housemate with you. Her name is Nadine and she was a rescue cat found with her 5 baby kitties and fostered until the shelter could find a home for her. As our local ASG makes and donates cat blankets to this shelter, it was funny to see a cabinet filled with the same familiar flannel blankets when we went to meet her.

She was the most chilled out cat and started purring like crazy as we approached her cage…OK maybe that was her way of luring us in to pet her and fall in love…OK …it worked. We took her home after her kitties had been adopted and she was spayed and micro-chipped.

We are learning to keep the doors to my sewing room shut to avoid any bridal CATastrophes.

Hoping your Valentine’s Day was pleasant and filled with little treats! Our neighbor who makes the BEST cookies dropped some by to share. Thank you so much Melanie!

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Tighter and Tighter

If you are looking for a long sleeved wedding gown you might seek out David’s Bridal.

This dress is very stretchy crepe with a non-stretchy poly lining.

This year to avoid spreading Covid, some brides in the Northwest still plan a wedding ceremony for a limited family group ….where else but… on the windy beach. This dress will be the star of the show/photos as it is dragged across wet sand and rocks and without a bustle, the whole front hem and train will be filthy.

This model is showing off her J-lo butt and with buttons from her neck to the floor, it makes quite a sight!

For the first try-on you can see there is some wrinkling of sleeves and side seams.

Sleeves are meant to be skin tight aren’t they? So tight that when you bend your elbow…it is very restricted. Brides don’t like to compromise on that tight fit.

If the elbow is that tight, when you try to bend it what happens? Well, like water seeking its own level, so does fabric. The poor sleeve is screaming and it has to “borrow” from either the wrist area or the shoulder…guess which one wins? Hint: (not the super tight buttoned wrist).

No bride seems to need breathing or eating room these days so let’s just take in the side seams too.

Shortening lined and looped and buttoned wrist hems…not looking forward to that. While 2.5 inches is pinned, later we run into trouble.

Front hem in need of shortening so you can walk through sand and seaweed safely, Madam? Oh No…the front hem must “puddle” just the right amount for the photos.

By now you all know how to get into a hem that is sewn to the lining:

Once everything is pulled to the outside, the new hem is thread marked with red thread from the right side. Only little tacks show in the wrong/inside side. 

Bodice side seams are also marked with red thread on the outside.

Do the same for the one underarm sleeve seam, yes, there are 2 underarm seams on each sleeve. I used the non-loop seams for taking in.

Here’s the little trouble I mentioned:

So the bride will have to compromise on the extra 1/2 inch because she does not want to pay for me to remove all the loops and move them up.

You can see the thread marking on the wrong side.

Shortening and narrowing…I might as well just open up everything to get a clear shot.

Lower loops to be removed:

So what does the second fitting bring?

Sleeves have to be taken in more and more thread marking.

The same goes for the bodice side seams…in the end the bodice will be 4 inches narrower and the sleeve 2 inches narrower and shorter. Most of the excess will be trimmed away and seams flattened and pressed and French tacks holding the lining to the crepe replaced at the waistline and underarms.

Can you see how far the new red thread is from the original seam? Once all this excess is trimmed away, the seams can be pressed open and flat as that is such a drastic curve.

Second basting done with white thread by hand:

Same goes for the bodice lining…a huge difference from the original.

More hand basting for the sleeves:

What I didn’t show is the fact I opened the underarm sleeve attaching the sleeve to the bodice. but you know what that looks like.

When I was opening all the sleeve seams, I discovered why some of the buttons didn’t sit flat.

Just basted sleeve hems:

What was cut off and saved:

The front hem:

Pin lining and crepe together:

Ready for machine basting:

The bride decides that she wants the 4 removed loops to be attached higher up the sleeve seam.

Just to give you an idea about how all those back buttons are attached. Did you think that they were each secured between buttons? Ah…no, they are all just connected loosely and if you cut one button loop…you lose the ones next to it.

Once the front hem is stitched, I hand baste the edge before pressing.

I used a very fine thread for the hand hemming: Metrolene but I see it is not still available and it has been replaced with Seralene.

This thread is so fine that it just slides right through my favorite size 11 Milliners needle. Some sewers choose to use silk thread.

Inside the sleeve hem…new upper loops installed and the seam is pressed flat and then clipped and pressed over. Here you can see the second sleeve seam. I used that one for narrowing by 2 inches from armhole to wrist.

Now the fun stuff…hand hemming and seaming around loops and buttons:

Pinked lining hem held in place:

I wanted to save 2 inches of sleeve hem for the next bride. I had already cut off 1.5 inches in the photo above  and then all was hand tacked down at the edge and middle.

Being such a deep hem, the raw edge needed to be tacked to itself before adding the lining.

Lining hem folded under and hand attached:

Just to finish…the front hem side seams were tacked flat originally. I went ahead and hand tacked all the other seams too.

OK….done enough, let’s close this puppy up…close the lining and find the hanger.

Knowing how stunning this dress looks on a real body, it is a wonder it gets to be tried on much in the store. On the hanger is looks so sad and shapeless.

So what else is going on in the Mole’s home? Mr. Mole’s lettuce is doing well.

First harvest washed and ready to eat:

Tiny Tim tomatoes producing like crazy and so sweet!

Thank you all for dropping by and enduring so many photos that show all the steps to making “simple and easy” alterations…yeah right! Now the wait is on to get the Covid vaccine!

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