Modesty Please

Summer weddings in a garden bring up visions of airy and floaty dresses and a soft feminism as in the photo below:

This gown is Wtoo Juno and you can see a lot of cleavage but we can fix that.

Not much more coverage in the back and no chance of wearing any sort of bra.

My bride decided to have the train shortened so let’s start with the satin layer. Pinning all the layers together keeps everything equal. The ruler is at center back so you can see the gradual reducing towards the side seams.

What can we do with the front? Well, there is plenty to be trimmed from the train and we can use the satin as a patch. The triangular area has to be 4 inches wide and 8 inches deep.

First, I find the straight of grain and cut two layers of fabric:


The the top edge needs to be curved, sewn and flipped and pinked down the sides:


Hand basted placement line keeps the level for modesty.

Side edges are serged together and then pinned into position.

With the patch hand basted into place, I can attach the teardrop bust cups by hand. With so  many of these nightgown types, this is the only structure in the bodice.

Shoulders needed to be shortened as well. Sometime I can trim away the netting but I left this extra in for stability.

Since this gown did not have any boning, I decided to add some under bust help to the lining. The patch is now hand sewn to the lining and tacked to the front layer of tulle. I like to use the plastic cotton-covered type of boning that I can hand sew to the lining and fold under the fabric ends.

Did you know that even though boning comes on a roll and looks like you have to work with the original curve…you can iron that sucker flat? People ask me, “which way should my boning curve?”, so the answer is…it doesn’t have to curve at all.

The final photo with the boning and patch…still some wrinkles but the bride felt more secure and could actually bend down to hug someone without feeling too showy. Having boning also reminds the bride to stand up straight especially for the professional photographer.

We’ve had 2 nice days in the garden with 75 degree temps…unusual for March and while all the trees have buds…look what is happening in Mr Mole’s nursery in his study under grow lights. ..a very impatient zucchini plants is producing flowers already!!! Slow down there Buster , it is still too cold at night to go outside!!!

Just had my dryer vent cleaned out and old hose replaced so I’m feeling safe for another 2 years. Having a vent run under the house, the length of the house is a scary thought with wet lint causing a clog and a fire like so many that occur this time of year. Wishing you all lots of sewing inspiration as the seasons change and the clocks go forward!

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A Final Date

For two years, I have been pinning and unpinning this bride’s dress with no idea of a set date. She and her mother have finally made the leap and selected a date so I can finally get started on this dress:

Like so many brides who shop at BHLDN….the dress never fits but they buy it anyway as the salesgirl tells them that it will be an easy alteration.

Their website promotion is:

The drape, the details,
the dreamy silhouettes;
take a closer look…

but my response forthe seamstress is…THEN RUN!

This makes me think of the famous Mexican song: Cielito Lindo with the refrain “Canta no Llores”…sing don’t cry. Just get on with this!!!

You can see that she needs the side seams taken in at least 2 inches on each side for a total of at least 4 inches from armhole to hips.








Great…so I can open up every vertical and horizontal seam involved and just pin out, hand baste and attach it all back together for the next fitting…but wait…the skirt involves layers of netting and tulle and flowers and it is currently covered with 4 panels of thick lace.

This lace overlay is attached to itself and another one below it with machine tacking…yes, you know the type that is a tiny little ball of thread almost impossible to cut free…let’s see…how many do I have to cut through….at least 20.

Then, take in the layers and layers of tulle and netting 8 inches each side (total of 16 inches) and then lap the top lace panels over to make it look like the girl has no hips. No hips?

That’s right and the second request was to turn this dress into a mermaid…really…really! Maybe it makes sense if you have 2 years to look at your dress and imagine every mermaid dress on Pinterest being worn by you…I’m sure the seamstress can deliver.

All layers machine basted and folded/wadded up under and as flat as I can get them:

Align the top edges and pin those puppies:

Hand baste all layers…why by hand? Well, you know darn well that I will have to go back in there and trim all the new seams and probably have to make it even tighter…don’t you just love planning ahead? The skirt lining is that slippery knit crap we love, so I hand basted the new seams there too.

Flip to the bodice side seam…I may trim some of this away depending on what the bride wants:

OK…and what does all this look like from the right side??? The 4 front and back lace panels are now overlapped and as flat as my mannequin. If the bride is happy, I will hand tack all that down and remove the safety pins.



















Where are the hips?
















While the knit lining will be hemmed with my Coverstitch machine, what happens to the train?


A 3-point bustle will bring the train up to ground level…not the most attractive but what the bride wants.




As I work on this dress and 4 others hanging in the sewing room, I got in this special wedding dress from 1980 to be preserved. It was the bride’s mother’s dress and unfortunately none of her 4 daughters could fit into it and now they want it preserved for another future generation.

The fabric is acetate, yellowed and very stiff so the preservation people charge more as they have to soak the dress in special solutions to bring it back to life and they scrub it by hand with toothbrushes but in the end it will come back looking brand new.

The train is truly attached that high up and the bow that holds it all together is sewn to the dress on one side with a snap to clip it to the opposite side across the back zipper. There was a cathedral length veil too but I forgot to include it in this photo session.

Last photo…Mr Mole’s veggie seedlings are doing well under the grow lights and in a month or so they will be strong enough to go outside to the mini greenhouse to harden off. The top containers are self-watering and the lower ones have been transplanted into single pots as they have outgrown the starter cells. Way in the back is a zucchini plant that has already got 5-6 flower buds…makes you want to shout…Whoa…it’s still winter!


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Smoking Hot

Maybe some of you remember reading Wind in the Willows as a child. When Mr Mole and I have been on road trips we have listened to audio versions by Alan Bennett of the story. Then, one year I ordered 4 prints from Geldart in the UK for his home office wall.

Below is Mole, Ratty and Toad from the collection.


But his favorite is Badger:

I think the nostalgic notion of wearing a smoking jacket has been on his mind ever since…so this year, I have made time to tackle this project. I searched for patterns and found this one:

And while it just looks super, after you buy it and open up the papers, you discover it is sorely lacking in suitable and necessary pieces. While the quilted lapels should be cut in all one piece, they actually do NOT have any facing pieces nor a top collar piece nor lining. The directions show construction for a different notched collar and they expect you to make up your own missing pieces. There are no expected notches for matching the pieces either. Thankfully there are “straight of grain” lines and closure markings but that is it.

Also interesting is the fact that the purple model has it closed right over left.

The pattern is for the shorter higher lapel but even then they do not include the pattern pieces. If you want the deeper lower shawl collar…you are out of luck unless you know how to draft patterns.

Despite the disappointing and crappy start, I made a muslin to work out the bugs. Lots of draglines to pin out make this a little challenge.

I drew lines to make sure the sleeves were set correctly as there is no mark for where it attached to the shoulder seams as the shoulder seams are 1.5 – 2 inches further back than normal and angled…very vintage I guess? They included a notch where the two piece sleeve seams are supposed to join the body but that is a joke as well. Notice the side seams are also positioned way to the back by about 3-4 inches, almost princess seams! Vintage?

Here is the shorter lapel but without any facings and the one collar pinned on.

Can you see the dart from the body on the under collar? Then the seam from the collar crossing that? What a holy mess! It is nothing like the artist’s rendering on the envelope.

At least the sleeves sit OK but my oh my they are wide and way too long…again vintage? At least when pinned, the double breasted fronts close, but on the pattern, it says they can be single-breasted using the one and only front pattern piece…really?

To keep from looking clown-like, I am tapering the sleeves and removing 3 inches in width and also 3-4 inches in length as there are cuffs to be attached later.


Have to drop the back neck one inch:

If you make this jacket, you have to like seeing a dart here and have to cut an additional upper collar to cover this lower one:

You will also have to figure out where the center front is on both front pieces to line them up. I drew a vertical line where the center front should be between the marks for the closures.

Here is the preferred version, deeper shawl collar with all 3 closures matching.

So let’s make that front facing/upper collar missing piece shall we? Lay some tracing paper over the top and draw the collar with the facing about 4 inches wide…I’m guessing here. Add seam allowances to the inside curved edge.

Making a lining is the same, more tissue paper and trace it and add seam allowances to attach to the facing.

The back gets its own lining and a center back pleat. Even though the jacket center back seam is curved, the lining will be cut on the fold and the waist area will be sewn shut a little for shaping. The lining will not have a little shaped neck facing as in other jackets.

OK, that’s the beginning of the pattern work…how about the fabrics?

Mr Mole was adamant about this…Burgundy wide wale corduroy and black satin quilted lapels. Do you know any online shops who carry wide wale corduroy? After a day of searching the internet, I found seller in Australia who was willing to send me 3 yards after he orders it from…South Korea!

So far I have had a nice slow start to the wedding season but it will not be without a few “howlers” as Kim calls them!

We are expecting snow and sleet today and the gold finches are eating up a storm at the feeders in preparation for Spring flirting and mating. The males are getting their bright yellow feathers to attract the ladies!


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Goodbye to the 80’s

Did anyone forget the 80’s MIL gown??? Want to see the final steps?

The final fitting reveals that the front lower skirt has a few points/scallops touching the ground so they will be altered/raised up from the upper seam.

Also the side seams do not match so that section of the lower skirt will be raised up to match. The satin layer will be narrow hemmed.

The right side seam wrinkles need some boning and the shoulder seams will be taken in too as the bride has a low right shoulder. Final safety pinned bustle in place.



















The back lace yoke is pinned back unto the back bodice to be sewn by hand.

The front lace yoke is pinned into place and the front darts are deepened. The bride asked me to remove every sequin on the front and back lace yoke…and save every one. So I did in this bag:    

The bride wants the side seams tighter before adding the armhole binding and boning.

I used covered plastic boning stitched on the side seam allowances.

Then a strip if bias silk is added to the armholes, trimmed and flipped to the inside and hand stitched down.

What is left??? Another satin bias strip to cover the front neckline seams and back seams.

Toss in some push-up bust pads:

The 5 point bustle up close:


Side view of the pinned bustle:

















Final front view and the bride swears that she will wear tight underpants the day of the wedding!

Did I ever mention that I was asked to tighten EVERY single silk flower on the dress as they were all loose and dangling by one thread? I lost count after 100!

And so dear readers, after spending almost one year in my sewing room and endless fittings…the dress is done, transformed into something clean and modern and just what the family wanted. A hard lesson to learn for me…never take on such a project again!

Here is what I found this morning in my backyard:

The weather service claims that more snow is on the way…I hope so as our daytime temps are already causing this beautiful scene to melt away.



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Wine was Flowing

After 2 non-sewing weeks, I am back to resume the process of starting and finishing projects. Later today, I will drop by and pick up my machine that has been living at the repairman’s house for its annual check-up. I had some time to work on a new Alabama Chanin project for myself and hope to have more time to turn it into something wearable and fun. Part of my time away from the sewing room I was able to start Michelle Obama’s book and it is hard to put it down!

Maybe you might remember the bride who wanted the sheer knit inserts under her arms to reveal her skin?

Well, as I also offer the preservation service, I do get gowns back for shipping off to New York to and they all have a bit of dirt at the hem and twigs and grass stains but I have never seen one quite this bad.

It seems as though there must have been lots of red wine spilled on the dance floor and the gown just mopped it up.

Someone tripped and tossed her wine glass on the bride:

Looking inside we can see spray tan on the straps and waist and what is that weird pink/magenta staining on the bust cups? Looking under the one bust cup, I found magenta confetti and sequins which must have released their dye as the bride warmed up.

After removing the bust cups, I found some evil creatures lurking:

The straps so lovingly sewn by hand and pressed to be flat…now covered in spray tan:

Check out the entire lining…now a nice shade of ocher:

Even though the bustle was up, the wine must have been pretty deep for the hem to be so soaked through:

Have you ever heard of Madge Gill? I hadn’t either but here is a fascinating article about her and her embroidery.

Still working on that vintage 80’s gown covered in new lace and flowers etc…BUT….by next month it will be done and paid for and out the door…HOORAY!!!!

I want to leave you with some recent photos taken while we were away…can you guess where we went?

Looking forward to starting Feb 2019 with real gusto as Mr Mole’s veggies under plastic covers are ripping away…yea…Swiss Chard!


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Reached My Limit

After blogging about brides for almost 9 years, I thought it was time for a small bitch-fest.

Besides brides and mothers-of-the bride and grandmothers and bridesmaids who visit the sewing room, this year almost half of my brides have managed to sneak in little ones like this without me knowing ahead of time.














Sure, he’s strapped into a car seat and the bride assures me that he will be no trouble….except when he sees his mother dressed in ivory standing on a platform…that is when the screaming starts.

Brides who bring babies usually also forget to bring a child minder with them. I don’t know what they are thinking a fitting involves but neither of us will be able to calm that child down with her standing and me on the floor pinning. NEWS FLASH…no awake kid wants to spend an hour or more in a car seat and will not remain quiet!

Some brides bring a mother/grandmother to carry the kid and talk incessantly to him while jiggling the baby up and down. Last week as soon as the bride got on the platform her mother/ the grandmother announced, “well, we have a loaded dirty diaper so I will just change him here on your carpet”…at that point I gave the bride a dirty look and she asked her mother to reconsider and go out to the car to do the dirty work.

Others who have just had their babies want to nurse them before and after the fitting while the child cries. Others bring their best friend who has just had their own baby and want to spread out on the floor and nurse while I try to walk around pinning and fluffing and take photos. Some best friends bring their own baby while carrying the bride’s child too.

This week one of the many pregnant brides insisted on wearing Spanx from under her bust down to her knees and was overcome with a fainting spell twice during the fitting. This resulted in her mother shouting to me, “Get her some water” and me doing as I was told and then sitting for an extra half hour while the bride stood up and then sat back down while her mother fanned her with throw pillows. When the bride finally resumed standing for the final trimming of her tulle hem, the mother insisted that she stand next to her daughter and hold her hand because she said, “she needs me”. Removing the Spanx also helped with the the lightheadedness (my suggestion).

Next year, the salon will be giving out my business cards but I have added a message on the back:

Another issue with brides, as some of you may encounter, in making appointments around town, you will be the one that they feel OK about missing or being extremely late.

I got a call from a bride for her final fitting 2 weeks before her wedding to say it was 2 pm and she and her mother were just getting their preview nails done and would like to come at 4:30 instead of 2:30. Sure, like there is nothing else going on in the sewing room. It must be pretty exciting to be treated like a princess while doing the rounds at getting hair, nails, make-up and fake eyelashes all tested and selected in addition to tasting cakes, signature cocktails and  special music tracks with your DJ. Then there is the photographer and the florist to deal with and pay. In the end, whatever alterations cost on the dress are really peanuts compared to everything else.

Seamstresses that have to deal with the alterations on these wedding gowns day after day know these feelings of helplessness and frustration. Instead of making the seamstress/tailor feel that they are an integral park of the event, we can be relegated to just another stop on her busy schedule but in the end I say, “No dress, No wedding” to put our job in perspective.

The one bright spot is that my sewing room is closed for 2 weeks for me to recharge and dust…yes, dust, how thick can dust get on the top of bookshelves? How thick can dust get on air vent filters? Don’t ask!


Time to clean my ironing board cover too!



Wishing you all a successful sewing week!

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Makes Me Shiver!

How about a Winter wedding dress? This model has the right idea…a woolly hat and a fleece jacket. Notice how the tiny triangles at the bust points are flat and cover her modesty/nipples pretty well while the rest of the dress is essentially see-thru? Not just any bride could carry this off and feel confident. There is also no back coverage either…what a surprise!

Willowby Daylily

My bride is generously endowed and there is lots of side boob exposed so something has to be added to contain those puppies. The side bodice edges gap and with the addition of some sort of sheer patch, I can snug up the sides as well thus killing two birds with one stone.

A piece of linen pinned into the area helps with the gaping and stabilizes the back strap as well once it is also shortened.

Taking the linen as a pattern, I can cut 4 layers of tulle:

Making French seams at the top edge also gives more stability to the soft tulle.

We need a basted placement line for the next step of pinning.

Once pinned in, the gaping lace can be tightened and snugged up along the lower edge.

Now the front sits better  and all that is left is to shorten straps and hem 2 layers of satin and trim off all that tulle to floor level with no bustle.

As I handle and baste the straps, I think adding some Stay Tape down the middle of the straps might help with stretching as we need something strong to keep the breasts from drooping in front. Once attached by hand, it should help.

Basted with red thread…and ready for second try-on:

Warning…graphic photo!!!

Try-on with the real body…more adjusting and snugging and wishing I could have made the section bigger to cover more!!! You can see the lower drag lines under the bust but as this dress has no boning and falls into the category of “nightgown”, there is nothing left to do.

The front view was very revealing so the bride asked if I could drop the teeny tiny triangle pads but I said I should ADD to them lower down. Here is a teardrop pad with a line drawn where it will be trimmed and attached to the upper one:

Using the serger to make a clean top edge to attach to the original pads:

The inside view with pads attached by hand:

The outside view with more coverage:

Back view with 6 inches trimmed off of the train and no bustle:


















With all of Mr. Mole’s winter veggies under plastic, we never thought that we would see so many feathers from an obvious “ambush” of a dove by a hawk.

Whatever your New Year projects are, I hope they go smoothly and the inspiration carries on for 2019! Welcome to all the new followers!

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