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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Lots of Fluff and Stuff

Looking back over the bridal gowns of 2020, most of them were normal, restrained and could possibly be used or altered to be worn again for different events.

But not this one!!!

This dress is Yocelyn by Wtoo and it is described as:

This wedding dress features a tiered ball gown skirt with horsehair layers, a sweetheart neckline, and the option of a grosgrain ribbon or horsehair belt for the waist.

It reminded me of an upside-down pink cupcake. First look under the top skirt reveals lots of layers all wrinkled from being in a shipping box. Normally I offer to press the dress for free and have it ready for the ceremony…but not this time.

Can you see the layers are all edged with 3 inch wide horsehair braid…lots of wrinkles and tucks that will have to be steamed out with my pressure iron.


Once the top layer is lifted, we try for a bustle configuration…will three be enough? Hold that thought…

With the lower skirts pinned up, the top skirt covers everything…what a relief!

But let’s get busy with the Hi-Steam mini boiler generator iron and smash those wrinkles, folds and tucks shall we…fill the reservoir with one quart of distilled water and wait to produce enough steam to shoot across the room…thank goodness it is a cool winter day and not the middle of summer! As the humidity level in my sewing room rises and beads of sweat from on my top lip and under my chin…I count the layers.

Starting with the lowest layer, the lining and working my way up to the top embroidered layer.

Fifteen layers done and I check the clock…2 hours have passed and I am dripping wet but the dress is wrinkle-free!

Another issue with this dress is the top edge of the bodice…that usual problem of too much dress and not enough boobage…push up pads are installed over the original ones along with the twill tape trick to snug in an inch for each cup. I have placed instructions on how I do this on the home page.


Once the dress is pressed and all the layers have settled down, adding 2 more bustle points gets the back skirt up very evenly all around.

Here are the many layers of netting and tulle holding the skirts out and proud. The tulle layers have been trimmed to just floor level.

Here are the final bustle points with clear buttons and loops to follow. Every button and loop will be backed with smaller backer buttons to hold the weight. What looks airly and light is rarely weightless…to the contrary…these suckers can really weigh a lot!

Every point is sewn through multiple layers of the 15 so the thickness has to be figured in as well.

The final front view is worth all the labor. When the horsehair belt is tied over the grosgrain belt, it will be perfect!

Now all that is left to do is to stuff this puppy into a garment bag…but wait…it will never fit a regular bag will it? We searched around and found this one on Amazon that had 24 inch wide panels on both sides. The dress is being flown 3000 miles to the wedding venue on the East Coast so I hope that someone has a steamer when it gets there!

What about the puzzle making? Yes, I have finished the next one:

Maybe some of you know about the movement of women wearing pearls on Jan 20 to celebrate the inauguation of Kamala Harris. No matter where you live or if you cannot attend the momentous gathering in DC, you can show your support for our new Vice President.

I’ll be digging out my collection of pearls for sure and wearing them with pride in honor of all the women who  have passed and went before me paving the way for equality and justice…Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Shirley Chisolm, Rosa Parks, and Maya Angelou.

Stay safe everyone, wear your mask and social distance….we can beat this Covid with vaccines and common sense!



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Goodbye 2020 and Ivory

Anyone else bored with a year of ivory dresses???

What about adding some back and neckline color? This style comes in red and also other colors.

This Forever Yours Bridal dress was available in the garment district of Los Angeles at:

My bride chose this pink version that is corsetted and very heavy satin embroidered with pearls and beads .

Other than some waist wrinkles from the tight lacing, it fits very well and a 3 point bustle will work.

So what else does this dress need? The front hem is pinned up. The lining is attached to the satin at the hem edge and also has 1/2 inch wide horsehair braid sandwiched between them.

Like the previous gown, the side seam of the lining is opened and the hem is exposed and thread marked with red thread so I can see where to put the pins. Once the horsehair braid is removed, the two raw edges were basted together to keep them from shifting. Now I know I didn’t HAVE to remove the old HH braid and just add a new strip but sometimes I just want to do it this way for the photos.

Re-attaching the old HH to the new hemline:

Once the HH braid is sewn, it is time to trim away very close to the HH lower edge.

To make the new hem match the original, I need to stitch two rows through the HH braid. The lining is pulled away.

OK, hem done and tucked back inside and side seam closed we move unto the layers of netting. Dresses always have a generous length of tulle and netting to hold the hem of the satin out and fluffy but when a bustle comes into play, you need to trim it to ground level.



The three points for the bustle…the pink waist button will be replaced with a larger ivory satin covered on.

Pinned up bustle and no netting showing at the hem…hooray!

The final buttons and loops:








Remember the veil with all the silk flowers that was dragged through the mud?

Well, the gown and veil were sent for preservation and here is what came back:

The red line marks the edge of the veil as it is displayed over the bodice of the dress. Every section is like new!

Speaking of new…a new puzzle was completed this week:

Mr. Mole has stocked up on his English treats and it proves that 6,000 miles is no impediment to enjoying Christmas.

For me, I am looking forward to popping open this bottle and waving goodbye to 2020:

Wishing I could hug all the devoted caregivers who have worked so hard this year keeping people and schedules running when surrounded by viruses, greedy politicians, fires, severe weather and disasters.

Wishing I could hug all those who are homeless due to no fault of their own and the hungry children they are trying to protect.

Wishing I could hug the teachers who have battled along making videos and classes and preparing lessons that may never be seen and homework never turned in.

Wishing I could hug all the farm workers and postal employees who have worked in the most adverse conditions but still delivering food and medicine and letters and most importantly…BALLOTS!

A toast to all those who have worn a mask to protect their fellow human beings and may 2021 be filled with hope and empathy sorely lacking these past 4 years.

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Heavy Dress, No Support

Another backless dress showed up Wtoo Oona/Ursa:


First try-on revealed gaping under the arms, too long in length, 3 point bustle and too much room in the bust area with too high bust pads. New bust pads were attached and lowered.

A quick pinning up on the outside to imagine the over bustle shows me that regular buttons and loops will not hold all the weight of the train.

The top back closure does not lie flat and has only two hook and eyes. I will add a third one.


















Under her arm, I fold over the lace motif to tighten it up and give more support. Then the sides will be basted with red thread. Nothing will be trimmed away and left in place in case the next bride needs it.

Right side bodice.

Left side bodice under the arm:

Front hem pinned up on the outside:

Hem pinned on the inside…can you tell that the whole original hem is 3 inch wide horsehair braid? The lining is also attached to the braid as a sandwich. To remove all this and re-hem the entire dress would cost a lot so the bride says she will be fine with just folding it under and stitching by hand. That way, the next future bride can drop the hem if she is taller. With the HH briad being flat, in the back where the train curves and the HH doesn’t, I have to make tiny tucks which won’t show on the right side.

Right side bodice basted:

Left side bodice basted:

Inside of the hem basted:

New push up bust cups attached:

Adding extra hook and eye for strength:

As with another recent gown that had a very heavy train, I suggested that this should be made into a French under bustle using 3 thick crocheted loops and grosgrain ribbons. Here it is just safety pinned up. Bustling under can make some lovely folds and always hangs flatter than an over bustle. You have to ask your bride if she is going to be dancing or sitting as it can determine what style you make.

The side view…I know it sticks out but at least it would not fall during the dancing. This fabric is so thick it has been like working with cardboard even though it is lovely and reminds me of Imperial Russian court gowns.

Can you see the drag line/ridge between the bust points? How did that get there? Well, if you attach bust pads that are too big, that happens. We dropped the pads down a size and the ridge disappeared. Also, even with the first alteration of folding over lace motifs, this dress has more issues of wrinkles from the underarm to the waist…why? When a bride is shorter waisted than the dress, this happens. Excess fabric wants to released and drop but cannot in this case because the waist and hips are too tight.

On other dresses, this could be fixed by shortening the straps but the bust curve is already too high by design. I pinned out two horizontal darts in the lace to make it all lie flat. Once they are stitched flat, no one will know that they are there.

Then I added 4 new boning strips inside for more support as this dress with all its weight had no boning at all…imagine!!! Sorry no photos of the boning.

The basted hem looks good.

The bride still did not feel secure so I pinned on some beaded belt straps to anchor the top to the skirt. The top closure hook and eyes will be overlapped to make that flat as well. I wish brides would realize as they are looking for backless dresses, they will have no support back there. Also, there could be excess skin folds and tattoos that you don’t want in the photographs. Most of her tattoos have been erased in Photoshop.






















Smaller bust cups = no ridge/drag line.

After all this, many of her family decided not to travel during the pandemic and the date has been moved to next year.

Other brides this year have delayed their wedding dates and one bride confessed that she did not have the money to pay for her alterations after everything was done. I handed the finished dress over to her, unpaid, with the hope of never seeing her again when she chose the future date. It makes me wonder when a bride gets a reasonable quote from me, I take all the photos for her, do my alterations, adding lots of hand sewing and handmade corset loops etc, she expects she will get it for nothing. Sometimes it is just best to hand the dress over and call it a day…lesson learned.

I know you all will say I should get a deposit up front but I have also learned that if a bride puts down money in advance, she becomes the boss of my work and demands more and more fittings and free time and I have lost control of time and labor.

Before I go, I wanted to share a couple things…I made a mincemeat pie for my British husband.

The last puzzle has been completed…2000 pieces on a cardboard platform and a month later it is done. Did you know that you can buy used puzzles on Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist really cheap? So nice to find $25 puzzles going for $5…OK…it can get addicting!!!

Wishing you all stress free sewing as we approach Christmas! Thank you for dropping by!!!

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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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