Tiers Not Tears

Can you picture this Allure dress worn with a 12 foot long veil edged in lace? Can you picture it bustled?

Now can you picture it being worn on a short girl and not a 6 foot tall model?


Here is my bride striking the same pose:P1200478-2P1200482

Maybe you can see the ridge created by the too-long boning strips across her tummy. Maybe you can see the front lace scalloped hem is hanging over the edge of the platform and will surely drag on the ground…not a good sign.

So let’s list the alterations: bust pads, take in top of the hip area, shorten 9 boning strips, move zipper to tighten, shorten lining, shorten the satin layer, trim all netting, 5 point bustle, shorten a beaded belt, hand tack lining to top edge of bodice, and remove the 4 inch wide lace edging and move up…my personal favorite.

The zipper and bust pads you have seen a zillion times but shortening boning by 2 inches when it is securely sewn to the lining…let’s get started.P1200487

The stitching was removed and the little binding squares saved for the lower edge of each bone. Easy right? Cut off excess with paper scissors and then attach the squares, but how?


You can’t get that area under the presser foot so what else is available? How about fabric glue? Yes, it works to hold the ends together long enough to hand sew them back unto the lining.


The lace bordered hem was 1.5 inches too long so that was removed and re-attached higher up. The crummy part was instead of just being attached with a straight stitch at the top of each motif, it was also sewn all along the scalloped hem edge too…double the labor and half the fun.


Then the edging was hand basted into position and machine stitched top and bottom edge and the extra tulle trimmed away.


Of course, the beaded belt was 1/5 inches too long so all the beads were removed at the end and Velcro re-positioned and hand stitched down. Adding 2 snaps helps keep the underside secure.


Bustle time…how to get all those layers to look nice and play nice…maybe having all the buttons up under the top “apron” will work and it will cover the whole bunched up mess…finger’s crossed!


The loops will be at these positions to pull everything up off the ground…did I mention that this train weighs a ton? The top apron in the photo is flipped up to show the numbered .safety pins


In the meantime, the bride has been losing weight so from one visit to the next, the bodice is getting looser and her boobs have been disappearing so the bust pads have been doubled and the zipper and corset moved over twice.P1200591P1200586

Hand stitch and machine stitch the binding to both sides.


Machine stitch the zipper from the wrong side and add the buttons back on.

Hopefully when this bride comes on Thursday to pick up her dress, the top will be as snug as she wants and she won’t be able to take a deep breath like she asked for. When I mention to her that with a wedding starting at 2 pm and reception following until 2 am…it will be a long day to be in such restrictive dress, but she says this is exactly what she wants.

Another bride came to pick up her dress and related to me that she is so worried about the size of the zipper tab that she has stopped eating completely and would I be able to replace the factory zipper with a smaller tabbed one. If I had refused, she said she doubted whether she could go through with the wedding…REALLY?

So, I did replace it, otherwise I would have never been paid! She also has been losing weight and I have moved her zipper over of a total of 2.5 inches in 2 weeks and she says she cannot guarantee that she will not lose more before the June date…HOLD ON…my alterations do not come with a lifetime warranty. She has insisted on making 5 visits when all my other brides get 3…she has brought in her granny, her granny’s friend and sent the photos to her whole family asking over and over what they think every step of the way. She even sent me a YouTube video of how to bustle a lace train like I had never done it before. You may have ascertained that this has not been a good week in the sewing room.


What I really need is more time to sit in the patio and listen to the birds and the fountain with Mr. Mole.P1200562  P1200559

If your seasonal allergies allow…enjoy the blossom-filled week!

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Crying Thighs

This gorgeous beaded dress is stunning…if only it fit! It has the most unusual train…uneven layers of tulle and organza. My first thought was – what would the bustle look like? But let’s not go there just yet…


What bridal gown factories don’t want you to know… If you custom order a size 4…your dress probably started life as an 8 or larger and someone took in the seams and trimmed away the excess and shipped it out as a 4. Anyone looking at the inside seams can see what a hack-job was done to make this dress smaller.


As a result, the seams in the thigh area after one try-on are shredded and strained with French seams in the organza.


A patch was needed so I cut away a wedge from near the hem to use at the top of the skirt.

The new wedge in place to give some ease to the rest of the organza seams.


What else had to be done? How about adding new panels to the under skirt/satin layer. Center panels were added under the zipper and 2 side panels were added for a total of 8 inches so the dress would actually drop down over her thighs and get rid of all the wrinkles and bunched-up fabric around the waist. No amount of yanking would get the hip and thigh area down where it belonged without some intervention/patching.P1200497P1200498P1200529

After working on all the top layers…what about the lining layer where all the netting/petticoat is attached? Well, I opened the entire seam and netting seams down to the knee level and folded back the edges and hand stitched them down. When the dress is on, the opening is 8 inches wide and the bride says she wants it to stay open without a patch so she can have “air conditioning”. Last year, when I worked on a $6000 Lazaro dress, I discovered that their linings were not attached and left open below the zipper so it is works for Lazaro, it’s just fine with this dress.


How about bustling all these sheer layers, first we start with the satin layer, one button-one loop. Then drop the skirt back down and see all the 5  bustle points (safety pins) with the matching safety pins below:


Let’s attach them all and see what happens…on the flat-butt mannequin we have a few “dog ears” drooping down but on the bride herself…


The bustle clears the floor and with a little extra hemming in the front (still pinned) to be done, she is almost done and she can actually lift her knees to walk and dance and sit down…all it took was 8 extra inches in circumference. So we went from a size 4 to a 12 if you figure 2 inches between sizes.


What is the lesson with this dress??? The lesson is the same as for any dress and that is to check the hips and thighs circumference. Many dresses that LOOK like they have volume and flare from the waist only do that with the top layers and you are stuck with a tight pencil skirt underneath which will not allow you to dance, climb steps or even pee. There is a bridesmaid dress that displays this even better in an up-coming post.

Also, Nancy is back with more goodies and things to fit and finish!

Happy and successful sewing everyone!

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Ten to Zero

Weddings involve lots of forward planning so most brides think about the dress first…but not all of them.

Six weeks before the event this bride decided it was time to start the search for her “dream dress”. She went to David’s to order a dress in size 0 but was told it would take 6 weeks. Then she went to the other salon in town to order a custom made dress and was told it would take 20 weeks. Finally, she decided to try on a dress on the rack and she liked it…only trouble was it was a size 10 and she wanted a zero.

I met her at the salon and pinned out the entire center back which with the lace overlay was the only/easiest/cheapest place to alter it. What you cannot see in this photo is that 6 inches have been pinned out. So, yes it involves removing 23 buttons, taking in 2 layers of linings, removing 2 sets of boning just to see where we are going. The hem will also be shortened and the hem of both the linings.

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After the first try-on with everything basted by hand and the zipper re-attached and hem basted up, the bride wanted it even tighter from the top edge of the bodice all the way down to the bustle point below her butt. I have thread traced the new seam lines in red and drawn them for you:P1200445 So here we are with the whole dress opened up flat:P1200448P1200447

After removing the hand basted zipper, you can see the added amount that has to be removed.



Another row of boning will have to be removed from the lining as well and everything trimmed away as we don’t need an extra 8 inches of fabric inside. Each layer of lace, tulle and 2 layers of satin lining will all be taken in separately and trimmed and pressed before the bustle is done. Will this cost a lot in labor? You bet! But with many mothers of the bride, nothing is too much for their little princess. Oh, and yes, don’t forget to sew all those buttons back on! Thankfully, there was only a one point bustle.


Maybe you are thinking like most sane people…surely she could have found a simple lace dress closer to her size…yes, she could have, but she didn’t want to and the tight time frame didn’t seem to bother her either. All she wanted was a perfectly tight dress to wear with her old cowboy boots.

As a reference, here is the same dress, in the correct size from the same salon ordered ahead of time and trimmed with a beautiful pearl and rhinestone belt.


Sensible brides make my day!

Other things make my day as well like a box from Wawak:


Nothing like taking possession of 60 pairs of boobs for upcoming brides this season!

Upcoming posts include a bride who needed to ADD 8 inches instead of remove and Nancy’s new Grainline jacket is almost finished!

Happy sewing everyone and thank you for dropping by!

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A Very Long Tail

I knew I was in trouble when the new bride sent me these photos from the website: 675Ad-Martina-Liana-Wedding-Dress-775x1024blog-header-675-1024x510

Here is the list of what had to be done to make this dress fit BEFORE we even tackle that bustle:

Add bust cups, hem front lace, hem 2 layers of satin lining, take in zipper 1/2 inch each side, move buttons over 1/2 inch with interfacing behind.

So with those things done, let’s get to the bustle…the bride says it is only 7 feet long…only. The satin layers will be bustled on their own first and then the lace.

The bride wanted the bustle to form an upside-down “V” in the center with the other points dropping down to each side.  She wanted to be able to grab both sides of the center bustle and wrap the lace around her like a cape.


Here is what we came up with just using safety pins:

P1200398-2P1200441P1200443 There are 7 lace bustle points and 1 satin one. It seems a shame that with such a gorgeous train, it will all be hidden for 90% of her day and the weight of all that fabric will be buttoned to her back.

She will not be wearing a veil but another older bride decided that what she needed for her second time around wedding was a killer veil. That is her bustled dress under it,  complete with beaded belt and lots of lovely lace bordered lace. And yes, there are an additional 8 dresses that have to finished this month with more in the annex waiting to be basted.


Now that the tulips are up and trees are showing their buds and the days are brighter, Mr Mole and I realize that we will have to get cracking on the veggie garden planning and planting soon. Our schedules have to include weeding AND weddings, sewing AND sowing, writing AND righting of planting structures and re-potting and re-painting of fence panels and gates before the temps get too high.

Wishing you all care-free sewing time and time to sit and listen to the Spring chorus of birds seeking mates!

Almost forgot…thank you to the folks who suggested using a pant hook for the last bride on her bra strap. She picked up her dress today and with much pulling and pushing we got that puppy hooked and snapped and ready to walk along the beach…whew!P1200456P1200455

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Keeping the Bunnies in the Hutch

Some brides just expect that the dress will do more than it can possibly do.

The only thing holding this dress together is this strap with 3 small hooks and eyes with a small one inch under-flap. Again like with lace dresses these days, the lining is knit so it stretches and the lace screams/does not stretch. While the bride wanted the side seams to be taken in 2 inches so that the dress was skin tight from armhole to thighs, this also places even more stress on those 3 hooks!


I suggested the under-flap be extended and a big snap added. A piece of nude woven polyester lining fabric triple thick was added inside.


First, the male side was attached and then chalk is rubbed on the tip before placing over the location where the female side would be for accurate marking.


Here it is snapped shut and secure….off the body. Once tried on, the snap kept popping open when she took a breath and the hooks were straining, so I thought it would need to be lengthened more and more snaps added.


Second attempt to secure the back strap is this double thick strap of grosgrain ribbon with 3 large snaps:                         P1200390      P1200391 P1200392

To take in the side seams (red lines), the boning in the short facing had to be detached and moved over.


Meanwhile the bride says she wants more seams taken in under the bust to be snugged right up under the bust and tighter and tighter to be a shelf for the bunnies. This photo shows the pins:


Once everything is snugged up, the lining had to be hand tacked along the top edge where the pins are placed to keep it from sneaking up and out:


The last view is of the front slit and back bustle…yes, this Faviana Glamour gown slit ends right at the panty line.


Thank you to Anne of Pretty Grievances for the generous loan of her apropos  phrase,”Bunnies in the Hutch”.

Happy Easter Everyone and thanks for following my blog and leaving your comments!



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Bride and Baby

What happens when you plan your dream wedding and buy a tight mermaid dress and discover you are pregnant?


This bride went right out and bought herself a more appropriate dress to cover the expanding body.

df8e41068667c56d2e7d1608b9a0c5bdfront 2

OK, you are all thinking that this is a super idea but wait! Does anyone remember being pregnant the first 18 weeks and not gaining weight but the clothes don’t fit quite the same? Well, this bride is experiencing the same feeling with all the weight being distributed to her breasts. And while this dress covers her tummy well, the bodice has no boning or support to contain her ever enlarging heavy boobs. What it needs is some structure and really tightly engineered straps.

The zipper was taken in 1/2 inch each side, short covered boning for the front and taller covered boning for the side seams all inserted by hand.

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All of the back straps were moved and adjusted and re-tacked and the halter neck taken in 2 inches on each side.P1200299

After the first try-on, the bride wanted the waist even tighter by another 1/2 inch and the straps shorter in the back and as the front bodice was wide, could anything be done to narrow it?

Since the cups were spread apart with some center section of tulle, the only place was to remove the binding/straps  and move them more toward the center. The pin shows the new placement line for the strap/binding. Unfortunately, the inside cups will have to be cut down as well…can you hear me growling?


OK, let’s thread mark the new edges:


Then separate the lace from the cups by cutting tacking threads and remove the binding:


Pin the binding back in place and open the satin cups, remove the second strap and tuck everything inside:


Edge stitch the cups closed and add the strap back inside and tack at 90 degree angle to the first strap:


Take in the zipper one more time and add 2 hook and eyes at the top:P1200370P1200371

The final try-on:P1200402-2P1200403-2

The bride was so happy now that everything was tight and contained with 10 days to go before the Easter wedding.

Happy Spring sewing everyone!


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Roses and Lace

Have you ever worked on a $2000 dress? Me either…until now.


Catherine Deane makes such dreamy dresses and this one is covered in handmade roses:


Even the back dips very low with roses:


Yes, every one of those “dots” on the front are seed beads on tulle over 2 layers of satin knit. For some reason the back panels on either side of the zipper were wrinkling and all that was needed was to take in the back darts over the butt cheeks a little deeper and wider to flatten that area.

Another little challenge this week was this grey lace dress with another 2 layers of knit lining…this is really a trend and not a good one.

04630825_zi_dusty_blueWhile the dress feels nice next to the skin, the lace itself does not stretch as all. This time it just needed hemming and the original was just folded under twice and machine stitched across leaving threads hanging and big gaps as this lace is mostly air and vacant spaces. I suggested to the MOB that it would be a good idea to stitch the new hem to a strip of rayon hem tape first and then use that as a straight edge to sew to the dress. She agreed. Once the uppermost satin lining layer was hemmed by hand, the rayon tape was hand sewn to that which kept everything soft and free hanging.P1200342

You can see the one inch gaps between the designs. The hem from the right side looks nice:

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Now there are probably half a dozen other ways to deal with this gaping lace but this was my fast solution. It can also be altered later by releasing the rayon hem tape because I am always thinking of the next seamstress who will have the lucky job of re-altering later on.

Mr. Mole shared a site he came across the other day of a new young designer Angela Clayton: http://www.earthables.com/dresses-fit-for-disney-princesses-1534021625.html?c=wp

angela clayton

Wishing you all stress-free sewing this week while you are planning some Spring wardrobe like Kate and her SWAP (Sewing with a Plan) collection. Her sweet pea colors and silver accents just inspire! Don’t miss Ruth and her latest purchases of knit fabric for her Spring collection! She will wow us for sure!





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