Nancy Fashions and Soup

What does a girl need on a cold Winter night? How about a new robe made from thick knit sweatshirt fabric?

Nancy had this grey fabric just waiting to be a robe, so using Very Easy Vogue 9232 and a 36 inch long Two Way separating zipper…she is ready for more snowy cold evenings. Besides using a longer zipper than called for, I also made larger pockets to hold a Kindle and iPad.


Then using the eyelet scuba knit fabric she bought in Portland last year, I used the Emma Seabrook pattern Claire for the jacket 

Claire Cover new and Georgie Girl pattern for the top.georgie-girl

The top button actually does match the fabric but the flash made it way too light! It has a snap behind it so no buttonhole to make.


The top has shoulder princess lines front and back and fits so well but Nancy felt that she did not want the short sleeves but wanted to keep the small shoulder pads. In this photo I have just pulled the basting stitches from the top of the sleeve and pulled it under her arm and tucked the seam allowance under to show her. Can you really use shoulder pads with sleeveless tops? You can if they are thin enough and covered. Maybe you are thinking…but wait Mrs.Mole…you can see her skin through the holes! Nancy says she will wear a skin shade undergarment but she will be adequately covered when wearing the jacket with no princess seamlines as well.


Let’s check out that shoulder pad..


Once the tan knit covering is removed we can see what to do. There is enough fabric left over to cover each shoulder pad. Now if you are thinking…why not use lining fabric? I would if I could have found that exact periwinkle but everything I tried was too dark or too light. There will be a seam at the flat edge for stability and I will trim off the little folded over pad section.


After securing the pad to one side of the fabric, I attached the second side and stitched all around and flipped to the right side…but the rounded edge was too bulky with a seam. So that was opened up and serged flat. Some days your experiment fails…and that is a good thing!


The pads are ready to be hand sewn to the top and a button/snap added to the jacket.p1220057

What else is good on a Winter evening?

Let’s assemble the green soup ingredients: Bag of greens (kale, spinach, chard), Romaine lettuce, frozen peas, chicken stock (homemade) and poultry seasoning (from the Dollar Store).

Fry onions until soft with the seasoning. Tear up lettuce leaves and layer with greens, toss in frozen peas, add chicken stock and simmer for 20 minutes.


The measurements are not so exact…normally 1/3 of each to fill the pot.


See how much it has reduced? You can add more of each to make a double batch. Pour or ladle it into the blender jug, whizz until smooth.


Once blended it can be frozen or add 1/2 cup or more of half and half or cream and a chunk of butter and back to simmer for a few minutes.


Now you are ready to eat or save in a plastic container in fridge. Test to see if it needs salt which depends on your chicken broth.

Rain and more snow is predicted for our area this week but I am keeping my fingers crossed for a break in the weather on Saturday for the Women’s March.

Happy sewing everyone!!!!

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Sewing for Me

Some of you may be wondering…What IS Mrs. Mole doing with all her free time in January?

Well, I have been yearning to replace some 15 year old flattened chair cushions in the kitchen, so I did.

I bought four new 2-inch thick foam cushions from JoAnn’s online and added a layer of batting to the top after hand sewing the batting along 4 sides.cushions-1

There is an invisble zipper that runs along one side so they can be removed and washed.


But then the equally old and ratty placemats had to go. had some really nice double sided quilted fabrics so I ordered 1 yard of each which is enough to make 6 placemats for $18.fabrics-1

After cutting the shapes, the edges are serged to keep them neat and crisp before adding the bias bindings.


They make nice presents too!


The fabrics for the double fold bindings were from my stash of cottons.

Also, on Day One of my vacation, I made 2 winter skirts for my daughter in Washington, DC and mailed those off before remembering to take any photos…darn it.

What about the weather? Thanks for asking…here is a photo out my sewing room window when we only had 8 inches of snow…more came later to total 12 inches in one day:jan-2017-5

But the cool part is…our 2 hummingbirds survived the night and came to the feeder this morning:hummingbird-1

Here is what else I found under the covered raised bed of veggies happily growing along:


Yes, that is lettuce and a whole bunch of Swiss chard so next time I’ll have photos and a recipe of a favorite soup that is made from these 2 ingredients and more.

Wishing you all a very good start to 2017 no matter where you live and the seasonal weather! Check out Mary’s photos of recent wedding gowns she had made: for a look at real professional construction and inspiration!

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Knit One, Purl One

Hands up, who likes to knit? I used to knit long, long ago but never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought about making a wedding dress.

This season, a darling girl showed up with a hand knitted dress from Chile. She had called earlier to ask if I could make a lining for it and I suggested that she just buy a nude colored slip and try that. While the slip was perfect, it needed hemming and as the dress was quite heavy,  I would attach the side seams to the slip and shorten the straps.

Here is what the knitter started with…a cone of very shiny soft yarn. I didn’t ask what the content was. The photo of a slip is quite close to the one she bought but floor length and cut on bias.


While pinning the dress, the girl mentioned that she worked for a flower grower in the valley. I told her that a few years ago I did some work for a flower grower.

The flower grower was from Chile but she had lived in Vancouver, BC and Spain. That got us to talking about both locations and we discovered that at one time we had both lived just around the corner from each other back in 1971 in Vancouver in the Greek neighborhood of Kitsilano Beach. And we were both in Spain at the same time too.

Fast forward to today when the bride realizes that I am speaking about her mother. Little did she know when she found my name on the internet that I was already acquainted with her family.

Here is the dress, (please ignore the black bra!) which will be tacked at the underarm and waist to the new nude colored slip.

For the reception and dancing, the bride will wear her very own mother’s short knitted wedding dress because it is knee length and still looks like the day it was knitted 30 years ago! I also had the pleasure of doing a few repairs on the mother’s dress but did not get a photo…darn!


Here is an article (translated from Spanish) written about the woman who makes these dresses:

An inescapable reference to the Chilean fashion of the seventies with its Point store, the designer María Inés Solimano (83) continues to give life to high-priced alpaca blankets and wedding dresses that she makes as if they were haute couture suits, but woven with chopsticks.

An inescapable reference to the Chilean fashion of the seventies with its Point store, the designer María Inés Solimano (83) continues to give life to high-priced alpaca blankets and wedding dresses that she makes as if they were haute couture suits, but woven with chopsticks.

With its Point store, then located in Providencia with Pedro de Valdivia, in the 70s María Inés Solimano became a referent of the national women’s wardrobe. Today, 83 years old, she still works in an old house in the Barrio Bellavista where she has lived since 1981. Although she moves less than the old one, every week, clients arrive to ask for her clothes woven in silk thread and Made with chopsticks. Simple in appearance and handmade, but with long terminations, for them it charges from 500 thousand pesos ($800 US dollars). “I could charge more because my clients can pay. But I just charge what it costs. My weavers take a month to make each dress. Half is for them, the rest is for me. I’m not going to get rich, but I do not care because I like the simple life. “


The bride gave these to me in appreciation…some days are pretty nice!p1210451

So dear readers, as we enter a new year filled with promise and scary political prospects, I know we can all escape the news, good or bad, by trotting into our sewing rooms and losing ourselves in a new project or finishing a UFO. For those who like a fun challenge please check out Anne’s blog with her annual Jungle January contest.

Normally, I close the sewing room in January and escape to warmer places but this year I plan to stay put, keep the bird feeders filled and watch snow fall and sew…sew for me…home dec and finishing projects for Nancy that I started months ago. So stay tuned for more photos of projects with COLOR…Yea!


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Tale of 2 Dresses

Rarely do I get in 2 dresses that could be sisters at the same time for the same date. This year to finish off the 11 month long season I have two that will both be worn on New Year’s Eve but one will be on a sun-kissed beach far away and the other in a local posh hotel.

Each bride has been in for fittings and remarked on the other dress hanging up as to how similar they are. The only difference really is the back…one being more open than the other. Both have back buttons, lovely lace straps and a long tulle train. Both will have similar alterations to make the bust fit (push-up pads) and some tweaking to make the straps fit more snugly.


Beach bride, on the left, needed her zipper tightened from waist to butt, but the upper button section was snug enough.

.         p1210616

Hotel bride, on the right, needed the one side of her zipper moved over 1/2 inch from neckline to waist.


Hand basted and ready for try-on:

While both were concerned that anyone would notice the changes in the back, I always reassure than that no one will be looking at your buttons.

The beach bride’s dress was finished a month early and as luck would have it, she called a week before the event to tell me she MAY HAVE lost some weight and now the top buttoned section was a little loose. The remedy for that was to remove her functioning looped buttons over one inch at the top narrowing down to the top of the zipper. p1220001

The extra fabric was folded under in case in the future she may want to sell this dress in its original state. The weird thing about this dress was the fact that the bodice lace was lined with nude tulle which is nice over skin but they used the same fabric for the buttons so they look tan on the ivory lace.

Hotel bride was having difficulty filling up her bust section even with larger push-up pads so I grabbed some quilt batting and made some little ovals to pad out the top sections and attach to the top of bust pads.

p1210882 p1210883p1210884

With the busts tightened, the rest was to get started on the bustles.

Let’s pin all that tulle up off the floor for dancing shall we? Both brides have the satin layer bustled with one point. Beach bride needs only one point for the train while hotel bride has 3 pinned points but will need 5 to get it even all around.

p1210597    p1210867

That’s where things changed; beach bride said she would rather just drag her dress along the sand and surf and buy another dress for her reception. This, of course, would upset any seamstress picturing all that scalloped lace and tulle covered in sand and seaweed. But we can’t change their minds.

Hotel bride opts for a 5 point bustle so she can dance all night. The satin layer with one clear button:

p1220015  p1220003

Now before I go, I have to share something Mr. Mole sent to me this morning. While we are all sick and tired of seeing stick-insect models walking the catwalk, these women are so gorgeous and sexy and it makes me want to shout, “HOORAY”!

Best wishes for all your last minute sewing and holiday celebration planning!


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Party Dresses

As party season approaches I thought I’d share some hits and misses that my clients have brought in for slight altering.

This is a perfect dress for dancing with your adult son at a military ball.


It just needed the tulle hems shortened and some tweaking on the beaded shoulders.


Next up, dresses with dopey darts needing fixing.

$99…Great price for this dress isn’t it?


It would have been a great price if the dress would have fit but for some reason there was a huge wad of fabric lurking under the bodice dart. I pinned out the excess there and also took in 1 inch down each side seam (total of 4 inches) to the hem. Now some of you may remember the last MOB dress I altered that had the lace layer and knit lining all in one seam…at least this was just one layer but the same deal. Lucky for me that the hem did not need altering.

New darts were basted by hand and checked to make sure they took in enough excess fabric and lining.


With the waist seams all sewn together, I entered through the lining side seams.

p1210547   Can you see the old dart stitching line? and even though it looks like the new dart will be huge, it is really the amount that was needed to make the front lie flat.


The dart in the knit lining matched the lace one.


How about the side seams? If your dress needs 4 inches taken in for the skirt, it makes you wonder if this is really your size doesn’t it?


Here is another dress with weird darts from Spense bought at Ross for $20. It is scuba knit with a knit lining and bust darts that stick out like flags. The client wondered what could be done. I explained that without being able to open up her seams, that if they were serged, they would end at the dart tip with a squared off section.

Once I got inside, you can see the lining dart is certainly made this way and if you follow the threads you can see it makes almost a 90 degree angle. The scuba dart is made with regular stitching but still ends abruptly to make a squared off finish. The pins mark my attempt to round off the ends and make the dress wearable. Last year, I worked on a lacy Australian wedding dress and all the darts were made with a 4 thread serger stitching that gave the same square ends.

p1210573  Can you see how the original dart “fans” away from the bust point?


Once again, the waist seams were all sewn together so entering through the lining side seams which will be closed by hand stitching seemed slick enough.


Here are both darts hand basted longer and wider. My poor mannequin has a droopy left side but I found her on Craigslist for $25 and rescued her.


Speaking of hand basting, recently an ASG member asked me why I never machine baste and always use hand basting on all the garments. Can you guess? Well, the longest stitch I can get on any of my machines is a 5 length which is pretty but after the final 2.2 or 2.5 length of machine stitching, it would take longer to snip threads and carefully remove that basting thread. Using red serger thread, long hand stitches and a long milliner’s size 10 needle I can whip up basted seams and darts in no time and remove them with one tug from either end.

I’ll end with a few concepts from the internet for men seeking to get a woman. It seems these things are what women are looking for along with my  comments:

  1. Brooding man in a corner…mysterious but could be a stalker
  2. Older…ego needs boosting and will not enjoy the same era music as you
  3. Facial hair…mustaches are not magical
  4. Long distance runner…I had one of those and he never made it home to help out with the kids
  5. Musical…a man with a set of drums/bagpipes…not a turn-on
  6. Risk-taker…as long as the life insurance is paid up it is less dangerous handling poisonous snakes and rock climbing
  7. Deodorant…it seems that women go crazy for nice smelling armpits. I think this should be number ONE along with looking clean but call me crazy!  

Don’t let the holiday planning make you frazzled…if someone offers a hand/extra casserole/salad…please tell them Thank You and accept their offer!

So, I want to say thank you to all of you for following along this year and allowing me to share the fun and frustrations of my sewing room.

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3 Dresses

The phone call went like this: “I found your name on the internet, I have a ball gown arriving in the mail tomorrow, I have done extensive research and you are who I want to hem my dress”.

She also stated that she needed it for 10 days later for a huge charity ball. I could just about fit that in so I agreed to see her the next day. But while I was out that morning, the phone rang and Mr. Mole answered it to hear that she was bringing 3 dresses and a sweater and could she come hours earlier. He knows better than to say yes, so he said I was booked.

Here is what arrived and you can see how stunning this $420 dress looks on the model.

Aidan Mattox


As usual, the real fit on a real person is a different story. The zipper just needs another 2 inches to close. Can you see those little annoying loops of ribbon sticking up in the photos? Guess they are for hanging up but they would not lie down when being worn.


Inside the dress, there was enough seam allowances to let out 2 back princess seams and the 2 side seams to get the 2 inches of ease. Then all that was left was to hem both the organza layer and the under layer called mikado…a thick matte satin. When clients think that hemming a dress just involves measuring the same amount all around a voluminous circumference is easy…they are wrong.

Once pinned and thread traced, you can see the difference can be quite shocking…from 3/8 inch to 2 inches just to be level with the floor.p1210849

Need pockets? This dress has one in each side seam.

How about those fancy off-to-the-side straps…here is what is inside holding all that up. Second photo shows where I tacked those pesky ribbons down.


Second dress…here is the same dress in a black floral so you can see the shape  and built-in belt but our dress is white with a pink lining…a little bizarre. For $475 it should fit but as my client is very short-waisted, the alteration was to shorten the shoulder straps by one inch each side. You have seen me do this with a lining in other MOB dresses.

Ted baker London

There is a keyhole opening at the back neck held together with a copper magnet. The magnet is very heavy and when worn, it droops down and looks sad.p1210872 The exposed zipper (I am not a fan) is also copper and very wide and heavy… hey, great for sportswear but not on a slinky dress.p1210873


Another weird thing is the underarm wedge panel. The front and back each  attach there with lined facings that flare away from the body like wings…who needs that? I told the client that flat-chested Gwyneth Paltrow would suit this dress but not a woman with a real bust. For now, I have basted the wings flat and the client says she will lose 10 pounds before Spring to get this to fit better. I think for $475 it should actually have room for boobs…no?p1210853  p1210854p1210855

It also needs a hem that has a lining attached.Inside,  the lining and dress are sewn in a straight line and then the corners veer off at an angle to make a point. I just followed the original lines (in red) and raised them all 2.5 inches and hand basted ready for her try-on. p1210875

What you are left with on the inside is this: p1210876 The lining dips down at the edge of the back slit and then hangs about 1.5 inches higher that the hem edge.

In the first photo, you can see a green sweater on a hanger that she wants all 8 buttons removed and replaced with mother of pearl ones. She says I should be the one to do this along with the 3 dresses as she does not have the right color of thread…sure.

The final dress needs hemming and as the under dress is a poly knit, I will use my coverstitch machine and just use scissors for the tulle top layer. This dress was to be worn first in 6 days and the other two to be finished 2 days later for other balls.

Adrianna Papell

p1210840  e2b5c6eaf74470448e2f6112c3ac5bff

It was very straightforward…thank goodness!

One last thing I have been thinking about when rummaging through my drawer of presser feet…most of my machines all have interchangeable feet being Janome and Elna so when I flipped over a couple of zipper feet, I was surprised. Who knew the bottom surface could become so notched/grooved? It may not make much difference when sewing over cottons but it may make a difference sewing over chiffony fabrics?


As snow is predicted for Tuesday as well as sleet and hail…I’m glad I can stay in and keep sewing! I see lots of you are knitting sweaters/jumpers and socks and thinking about winter coats and yummy thick fabrics.

Happy sewing everyone!


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Adding a Little Something

Another one of my three emergency November brides that was never booked ahead bought her dress at David’s for $99. I was given 2 weeks to make some magic happen.

The dress needed to be “temple ready” meaning long sleeves and the back completely covered. As you have seen in the past, I have done this sort of conversion with laces but working with smooth satin, it will be a challenge.


First, a sleeve pattern is used and marked on the muslin. I added height to the sleeve cap as you can see the straps do not actually end at her shoulder. The muslin will have small puckers and be hand basted to the strap.

Once it was basted, I could see that the grainlines did not fall parallel with the floor, so I slashed the sleeve to allow the fabric to drop to the right level and then added a patch of fusible interfacing. Time was of the essence!


The exact gap that was needed and the fusible interfacing used as the patch.


Now, I had the basic shape and just needed to cut a second one.

Then a second sleeve was cut from an old muslin, not perfect but it will do as a sample.


The muslin sleeves were used as the pattern to cut the satin fabric….oh, I forgot to mention the extra fabric. The bride ordered “white” satin from David’s and when it arrived, it was ivory. They could not get anything whiter so a trip to JoAnn’s produced the LAST 1.5 yards of white satin in the store!

The new satin was 95% poly and 5 % spandex and although the bride was thrilled with the stretch the sleeves and back panel would have, it does add some puckers in some areas. Lesson learned…don’t expect to find white satin in November at JoAnn’s!

The back panel was placed in the vacant back and measured up 9 inches to the drawn finished neckline. There will be a separating zipper used for this separate piece. I know some of you will think I should have been able to rip open the existing top edge of the bodice and make all this in one piece…yes, maybe if I had a load of time and an unlimited budget but this will have to work. Notice the neck darts to help contour the neckline into the body.


The trial panel is a bit off center so let’s re-center it later.


Hand baste everything muslin and do the try-on…the bride likes everything but says she would not mind some small gathers at the sleeve cap…okey dokey!


Still have to move the zipper over to the right a bit:


Let’s guess at how much to enlarge the sleeve cap for gathers…1/2 inch to 1 inch? Machine gather the satin cap and pin in place:


Move the zipper over 1/2 inch to center and use as a pattern to cut 2 double layer satin panels. I chose double layers so I could have a nice clean folded edge for each zipper side insertion. Double layers were also needed to conceal the garment beneath. Choose one of two zippers, both separating but with different thickness of teeth and tips.


Right side panel with zipper pinned and then top stitched. Inside view shows the zipper tape.


Lapped Left side is pinned first and tested. Then it is sewn from the wrong side for perfect placement. The folded edge will just remain on the wrong side.


To attach the sleeves without any stitching showing on the right side, I stitch the gathered cap right along the very edge of the armhole on the wrong side…holding my breath.


The finished panel is in place and pinned. The panel will be stitched exactly like the sleeves and then trimmed and all the excess removed.


All the sleeve edges are pinked and the back panel is serged to within one inch for the curved neckline seam and then hand stitched to the lining.


From the front, things are looking like she wants and her undergarment is covered.


The back with all the hand basting is done and the 3-point bustle just pinned:


I did not get any final, final photos taken with the rush of the date approaching so please imagine way less puckers and more smiles.

Some days I feel like the fairy godmother in Cinderella…singing BibbidiBobbidiBoo and hoping for the best!

I see men in the neighborhood hanging their Christmas lights already…how did this year go so fast? Going through my files, I see I have passed the 80+ mark for gowns finished but still have more to go before New Year’s Eve…the final bride. As snow flurries return to the US, I wish you toasty times sewing indoors and finishing up those Christmas gifts for family!

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