Blush or Champagne?

She ordered her custom made dress 6 months ago. She wrote and asked me first if she should add an extended train to the totally tulle skirt…I said no, as it could not be bustled up for dancing…she ordered it anyway and didn’t tell her mother.

The appointment was confirmed, she and her mother arrived on time after rushing over to the bridal salon for the late but promised wedding gown of her dreams. Never thinking to open the garment bag before paying for the dress was the first mistake.

I welcomed them into the sewing room and unzipped the garment bag…the bride covered her mouth and shrieked, “That’s not my dress” and the tears started to flow. I sat her down, gave her a glass of water and discovered that the dress was meant to be ivory but had been confused with blush and now we have a very tan/pinkish dress with a very long extended train on our hands. The new garment bag was so full the zipper was already broken.

She tried it on anyway and we got all of it back into the garment bag for her to return to the salon to try to make things right. The salon owner refused to own any responsibility and would not do anything to remedy the situation. The next day, the bride called to tell me the bad news but asked if she could return and work with me to make the dress work. She said, “I own it and I’m going to make sure everyone at the wedding knows that I OWN it.”

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The dress will need to be shortened in front from side seam to side seam and something done with that train. Because the train was lengthened in the factory, to control it the hem of the train had been tacked to the lining every 4 inches to look like a balloon shade. This would not allow me to make a proper bustle so I had to remove the tacks all around the entire train by hand.

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The center back zipper area flared away from her back just below the waist as it had not been cut on the straight of grain. To bring it back to being flat, I pinned a huge chunk, you can see the pins:

P1190293 The first thing to do was take in the center back zipper (remove the zipper) area below the waist as it flared away from the body. Later, I would discover that it would have to be re-attached completely by hand as none of this would fit into the sewing machine. There were 2 rows of pearls on the cap sleeves so they had to be removed and the sleeve narrowed (removing the cap) so that a strip of lace edging could be attached. The shoulder seams had to be taken up 1.5 inches as well.

P1190304   P1190305 The bride wanted the straps to be 3 inches wide as the finished width.P1190306P1190294 Once attached and the under fabric trimmed away it looked like it was made that way originally.

The inside corset had to be taken in twice as the bride started losing weight which meant the skirt lining also had to be removed and taken in and re-attached.

 

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After the straps had the lace edging attached, the underarm area had to have the original tiny bias binding re-attached by hand. I pressed them flat first and then got to work.P1190329P1190330

 

Another issue was the front neckline with lace edging and the bride wanted small darts made to keep that edge flat.

 

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Now that the top had been fitted we move unto the 8 foot train. What will it take to get all that fabric up off the floor for dancing in cowboy boots?

One Saturday morning, the mother came along, and I used her to help me decide on all the bustle points. We both worked pinning up and down for 3 hours. Nothing pleased the bride…nothing. She actually wanted all that fabric to be perfectly straight across the bottom and the satin bustled with the lace as one unit. This would never work as in most dresses the lace layer is 3-6 inches longer for a nice effect. I sent them home and got to work on making all of this work.

How about 11 bustle points for the lining???

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and how about 7 bustle points for the 2 layers of tulle??? All seven points are hidden up under all that bling hanging down from the waist. The bride was insistent that no one could see her satin bustle buttons. You can’t see the small clear buttons or the loops and the tulle folds nicely into flat triangles without adding too much bulk…well, we can only hope for the best with 8 feet of fluff to start with!

At one point during all this pinning, the frustrated, overheated mother asked the bride, “Remind me again why you needed such a long train?” and her answer was, “because I want one”. When the mother suggested trimming the tulle shorter to have a more manageable length the answer was “NO”.

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In the end, it was a relief to have it all done and just thinking about all those points being attached the day of the wedding made me smile.

Another thing that makes me smile are the regular harvests from the veggie garden. Here’s what I found yesterday:July-2015-13

Wishing all of you easy breezy summer sewing and time to reflect on your blessings.

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Guess Who is Back?

Remember my 3-dress bride?

She wrote to me last week with this request on the number 2 lacy dress:

Getting down to the last days before my wedding! I am curious if you’d have time to fix the lining of my dress. I’m noticing some issues with the seams building a bit at the sides and they make the dress stick out a bit and also Id like to make the long lining short… its floor length but I’d like to bring it up to my mid thigh… I don’t want to be too hot!

I don’t think it would take much time but I know how busy you are! If you don’t have the time, that’s fine..

I agree to see her lacy dress..OK, I have to admit I was just a little curious as to how it fit so here are 2 photos:

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The lining in the hip area was too large and it had to be taken in on the curve along with extending the side dart (no side seams) which was serged so it did not have a smooth ending point. This whole dress is serged on every seam and you can see how very long the dress is and how very short the lining will be. The lining is fabric you would make into swimsuits or dance wear…very thick, snappy and not drapey at all.

Here are the alterations:P1190258P1190259P1190260P1190261

I also had to attach some of the lace motifs on the sleeves as they have come undone with them being so darn tight. For women who think they would look good in this dress…guess again…the 2 layers of swimsuit material will be like wearing 2 pair of Spanx and then the flimsy lace overlay that has been sewn badly and missing areas make it a dress with a warning. 

So after a couple hours, I was pretty pleased I was able to finish this dress….but you know what’s coming don’t you???? Cue the soundtrack from Jaws…..

With the wedding  in 10 days and I received this email last night:

“Don’t pull your hair out just yet… Just a simple fix on the original strappy dress, I swear ! :)

I’m here trying on the original strappy dress again for my mother.. she’s recommending that I alter it as a hot day alternative/backup… I must say, after today’s heat and after sweating in the long sleeves in your home, I have to agree! I have taped myself into the bust and tied the shoulder straps together with the extra length of rattail  that you left for me. That all looks great and I can see it working just fine. The remaining issue is the waist/back area near the zipper could use taking in… At this point I don’t care about little buttons or fake boobs :)

Are you available to fix another crazy bride’s dress, her first dress, or would this throw you over the edge?! :)”

I did agree to see her again and work on dress number 1. Now before you  pick your jaw up off the floor and say, “No way I would agree to that!”, it all boils down to honor.

My honor compels me to finish something I started albeit pinning and planning and suggesting. My honor also comes into play when dealing with a sweet salon owner who sends me almost 20 clients a season, who trust her judgement and sincerity in recommending my services, so her “girls” get the best treatment I can provide.

Do I ever feel like saying “tough titty”…of course I do. Do I ever feel like my back is up against a wall and as one client’s aunt told me recently, “You will just have to be gracious and suck it up”…of course I do.

But remembering the late Maya Angelou’s quote, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,  people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel,” draws me to do the right thing. Making brides feel beautiful is my job but making brides feel respected also goes along with the service.

The bride picked up both dress #1 and 2 today but still had not decided which wil be worn…I asked her to send photos of the day so I would know.

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The wedding was last week and guess what dress was worn for the ceremony?final

Yes,  she went with the first dress for the ceremony but wore her 3rd dress for her Facebook photos. She will probably be selling that lace dress on Ebay or Craigslist pretty soon.

A little photo from the garden bounty this week:July-2015--18

Happy sewing everyone and welcome to all the new followers!

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Waiting for 32 Years

When I moved to this rural town 14 years ago, I had heard about a woman who was selling wedding gowns out of a shipping container. It seemed to be a strange thing  to operate a business with no dressing room or storefront,  just meet her in an alley and buy a dress from a huge metal box. She has since folded up shop and I never thought I would ever see one of her gowns…until today.

The bride called telling me that she had this precious gown in a storage box for 10 years after waiting and living with this man 32 years and having his children.

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She was adamant that I would have to take in all the side seams to get it to fit her now smaller body after losing 35 pounds. She sent me lots of photos of the dress packed in the box but nothing could prepare me for the real thing.

I was told that what was most important was the moment she appeared to walk down the aisle, she wanted EVERYONE to GASP!

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Let’s all take a deep breath and figure out what has to be done besides the obvious…a corset back. The front hem with lace borders will have to be removed and re-attached higher up and there will be a bustle for dancing. What you don’t see is the 7 foot long detachable train also heavily beaded that will have to have some sort of contraption to make it attach once the corset is laced up.

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Loops sections made and zipper removed and the final product basted and laced up with my famous blue grosgrain ribbon.P1190168

Another thing I noticed was a huge rusty water mark shape on the lining. It must have been acquired as it hung in the shipping container. I have placed arrows along the edges.

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What about a modesty panel, surely there will be too much skin exposed even with all that ribbon:

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Here are both sides of the panel, one side using the dull side of some satin and cotton pocket lining (drill) for the back against the skin. I mark the location of the boning to be inserted and stitch them together and turn right side out.

P1190170P1190171P1190172 Boning is inside and ready to stitch to the lining on one side and snaps on the other.

Want to see the train that will attach at the waist with hooks and eyes?P1190228P1190217

Second fitting shows the lacing dimensions…we start with 4 inch spread at the top 2 positions and work our way to 6 inches at the waist. I write these numbers down for the bride as on the day of her wedding someone will have to get close to these numbers to make it fit. You can see her bra straps will show so she will be wearing a different bra and I have made bra strap guides inside at the shoulders. She was wearing basically a tube of Spanx for this try-on.

She will be using red grosgrain ribbon as her theme is “Christmas in July”…imagine…108 degrees and she will expect the guests to be dressed in holiday attire and everything will be decorated in red and green. She will be carrying a red rose bouquet and dragging the 7 ft train.

She was happy with the results, she was sent off for 2 weeks while I finished attaching all the lace at the hem. When she arrived for her final 3rd fitting, she had a new sort of Spanx contraption. Instead of just being a tube of tight elastic, it had straps up over her bra and is extra, extra tight, industrial tight. It managed to pull every bit of tissue up from her hips to her waist and no matter how hard I tried to pull this corset thing down lower, it was almost melted into her body, in fact I could barely get my fingers under the edge of the spandex to yank it down. The main reason for all this struggling was the fact that when the lacing progressed from the 4 inch width at the 2 top places, it widened out to 10 inches at the waist.

OK…no big deal, Mrs Mole, you have lots of blue ribbon, just let it out….but remember the tapered modesty panel? It is about 7 inches wide at that point and all I can see is bulging Spanx in this huge 3 inch wide gap!

I told her that there was no way this dress will get laced up today or any other day unless something happens…aka a freaking miracle!

At this point I would have taken her final photo but I decided this would only make me sadder than I was and I had her change back into her clothes. Then I asked her what has she been doing in the past 2 weeks. Well, she had this long list of possibly why the dress is not fitting:

I went away to a family gathering and drove through a couple In-N-Out Burger fast food places.

I have been eating protein bars between every meal.

I have been eating all the summer fruit I can get my hands on.

I have not been riding my exercise bike.

Everything my husband eats has been jumping unto my body.

So, she has been warned that she has to get real now…3 weeks to the wedding of her dreams and she is the only one to make this work. She left with her train and told me everything will be all right…

Mr. Mole wandered into my room to find me in utter despair…my job is to make the dress fit the best I can…the client is supposed to keep her weight stable in partnership with me. She has let me down, she has gone hog wild eating and enjoying the freedom of having a very adjustable corset back dress. I want to cry, I want to shout.

The final try-on went much better and here we are with the red ribbon minus the train, short single bustle point and she is thrilled…Lordie…I am thrilled…sometimes you just have to get tough with the brides and spell it out and cross your fingers.

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Once her shoes are on, hair hanging down in curls, she will look like she imagined on her special day.

Wishing you all much easier alterations and here is a sneak peak at something growing in the garden:

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Never Ever Tell Your Seamstress…

Over the years, you think you have heard all the stupid, disrespectful phrases from clients but they keep coming. I asked some of my professional sewing buddies if they had some favorites to share.

From Kim:
I am on a diet. I’ve lost 6lb this week! (When collecting what you thought was a finished garment).

But it only cost ….. (in response to the quote. My usual response is that it is the same work whether Primark or Prada)

I want to wear it on ……. . That gives you enough time, right? (Only if I give this job priority over everything and make everyone else wait. And do without food and sleep).

I used to sew my own stuff.

I made a start myself but ran into problems.

Is this your ‘actual’ job?

From Tee:

I don’t get paid until next Wednesday can I still pick up my gown in Monday and write you a postdated check.

I found this cute dress for $10, it’s too small, but I know you can do something to make it fit!

My wedding gown budget is only $300 from a client who is 7-months pregnant and shows you a picture of Heidi Klum in a designer maternity gown.

Oh yes, people showing up with children and McDonald’s bags to sit and eat in your living room. No no lady, they will have to sit in your car!!!!

From East Coast Sharon:

Can I have this done by tomorrow? It’ll only take a minute !

If you charge me $15 to hem my pants, will you give me a deal if I bring you ten?

I forgot your Christmas gift, I left it on the back porch. (I’ve been told that by the same woman for 5 years in a row ……she needs to clean-up her back porch!)

I know you have 3 dozen prom gowns to do by next week, but I’ll pay you extra if you do MY daughter’s first.

You are going to charge me how much? Oh no, I can’t afford that, I’m on a fixed income, can’t you give me a cut in the price? Then the customer gets into her BMW and drives away .

After listening to a customer beg & plead to have an alteration done by the next day, and I finally give into their whining, they don’t show up for 2 weeks to pick-up and pay for their clothing.

When a customer brings in multiple garments to be altered ( arms full/shit load ), then when they come back to pick-up and pay, they select only 1 or 2 items, promising they will return soon to get the rest.

Customers that flip out because I choose to be closed due to : hurricanes, blizzards, or national holidays

And my personal favorite : Do you like to sew?

From Melanie:

I’m so glad I found you. I can have you make me some Chanel jackets that won’t cost so much. ;(
I didn’t take her on as a client.

From Alethia:

” It’s should be real simple to do (alterations).” In other words, ” It shouldn’t cost me too much.”

(After bringing 7-10 pair of pants to even up and hem after you butchered them)–“Ooo, I didn’t know it was gonna cost that much!” ” Can you do it for (x amount of dollars)?

Me: I need the full balance up front.
Client: “My policy is to pay you half of the balance.”

“Why do you charge so much, you don’t have overhead”?

From Mary :

Bride: I found this dress at David’s Bridal and it’s $500. Can you make it for less?
Me: You should run there and buy it immediately. No way am I going to going to compete with that quality fabric and labor!

Bride: Here is a photo of my dress. It needs to be let out, hemmed and bustled. Please give me an estimate based on the photo so I don’t have a make a trip to your studio.
Me: No way can I possibly guess at the work involved. Please visit your local seamstress.

Client: I bought fabric at JoAnn’s ( polyester) and a pattern but am overwhelmed. Can you make my dress? I figure it will cost about $100.
Me: Sorry but I’m totally booked. ( I would make about $2.00 per hour).

From Me:

I could have done this alteration myself but I decided to LET you do it.

I was going to bring you a bottle of wine, but I forgot.

I left the house without my checkbook and I have no money with me. (There is an ATM machine just down the road)

When the dress is done I am bringing Champagne to share with you, (this never happened)

I have had this wedding dress for 3 months. (after squeezing her in 10 days before the wedding date)

I have 5 bridesmaids dresses to be altered, we bought all the same size, all larger than the girls needed and figured you could make them fit each different body.

I’m waiting until ALL the bridesmaid dresses are here before I bring them…it may be the day before the wedding.

I don’t know anything about sewing but I do scrap booking.

I can’t pay $16 to hem the pants, I only paid $10 for them. (Please go back and buy more)

I have a laundry basket of Walmart tube socks to be mended. (Please go back and buy more)

If the prom dress ordered from China is delivered the night before the prom can I drop it off?

Do you have a play area for my children? (Try McDonald’s)

Will you come the day of my wedding and get me dressed?

If I lose another pound can you take my dress in the morning of the wedding?

Can you make the bustle work for both 5 inch stilettos and flats?

So dear readers…these are just a sampling of comments from clients that we hear daily and it helps to know that other seamstresses have the same clients no matter where they live. 

Before I go, I will include a photo of the day from the veggie patch but please make sure the children have left the room…it is rude, it is real and I found this under a leaf…I really did!

Crookneck squash! What a handful!

 

 

 

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Finding Three Inches

What’s a seamstress to do when the client arrives crying with a dress cut off too short? The story involves a bridal salon who swears they took the correct measurements before ordering the custom made Casablanca gown. 2155_22155_3

Once the gown arrives, it is not right, lace layer is 3 inches too short, satin /lining layer is 3 inches too short and no one has a clue as to what can be done. The salon asks another local seamstress to add “something” to the lining. The “something” is a double layer of thick satin edging that should be used for a home dec project or on curtain tie backs or valance boxes. But here it is attached to the thin lining…attached …a better word would be “bolted” as it has been sewn with thick machine-made tacks every 1/2 or closer.

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So now, even with this 5 inch wide cardboard-like edging, the delicate lace layer is still 3 inches shorter all around the hem. What can I add to the lace layer to cover the thick edging without looking like what I call, “Grandma had her way with your dress”?

Enter…ivory tulle from JoAnn’s…I offer to make a strip 3 1/2 inches wide, use my ruffler/pleater attachment to make it look a step up from just gathers and attach it.

The crying bride and her mother agreed to this solution along with numerous other alterations to the upper part of the dress. The deep back “V” has already been lowered further down (by someone else) than the original position to accommodate a huge tattoo which I will color out in the photos. In making the “V” lower, the 2 back edges now fan out and are very loose/gaping open…anyone else know that removing fabric causes the remaining fabric to flare away from the body? How do you get fabric that is not there to hug the body? My job is to make the 2 edges cling to each other after someone else deepened it.

The bride tells me that “nobody TOLD me that the opening would be wider”. So, I offer to make a double layer tulle triangular panel to attach, one side sewn on, the other with snaps to hold the edges together without covering up the tattoo.

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Also the straps are are too wide for the bride so I remove some of the twirly bits of lace to narrow them. What else? How about adding thick push up bra pads…anything else? Well, the back edges also need some hand made darts in the lace to make it curve into the bodyP1180868…and…yes, we need a bustle in the lace and lining…5 points in the lace and one in the satin lining will do nicely.

Oh, and can you make the side seams even tighter all the way down to my thighs? Sure thing and since each layer is seamed separately, it will be simple…not! Let’s not even think about what bulk will be in those lace seams. P1180866P1180867Only 7 hours of labor and then some will make this dress wearable and the main directive/command from the bride after all this pinning and messing is: “Make sure none of my cowboy boots show at all UNLESS I am walking.”

Let’s do it…ruffler in place, 24 yards of tulle strips cut…ready, set, go:P1190092P1190089

Let’s attach the strip (double layer) to the hem of the lace,  topstitch the seam after flipping it up.

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I’m hoping she likes it, as it adds a custom romantic feel and covers the boots. Bustled up, it creates quite a nice silhouette. Tattooed back is painted over and tulle panel is in place.

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During all the fittings, the bride stood frozen/mesmerized by her own reflection in the mirror until her mother broke the silent admiring gaze with, “Baby girl, speak up, baby girl, tell the nice lady what you want”.

At this point I just wanted to ask her what my mind was thinking…“in 3 weeks you will be someone’s wife and dirty underwear washer/toilet scrubber and do you even know how to cook an egg?”…baby girl

A view from my garden before I leave you:july-2015-8

Yes, that is me standing behind my Roma tomato plant with my hands in the air. Peppers, Swiss chard and eggplant are in the foreground and squash below: july-2015

This week my clients have been taking these beauties home with them, still 108 F degrees during the day and 78 at night…so glad I work inside! Stay cool everyone!

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All That Glitters

When you dress in gold, you get noticed.

This week, I got a frantic call from a mother of the bride with a request. It seems she ordered a gold sequined dress for some girls to be hostesses at the tables for her daughter’s wedding and one dress was too big. She told me she would drop off the dress and she wanted it taken in 2 inches in each side seam and 2 inches in the zipper. When I asked that the dress AND the intended girl come so I could pin out the excess fabric, she seemed confused/annoyed. Yes, Ma’am, I need to see the dress ON the girl before I agree to work on it and, yes, I realize I have 4 days before the wedding.

Here is what we started with: gold-sequins-1

Yes, an exposed brass jacket zipper (I think they look cheap and unfinished) and waist cutouts (also cheap and unfinished) that leave little to the imagination along with a deep V back. P1190237

In the photo on the website link, only in the silver photo can you see the gaping openings. So, after pinning out the center back seam/zipper I realized that this whole zipper will have to be removed, taken in 3 inches, then  re-aligned with the new neckline and re-attached after moving up 2 inches. The skirt portion below the zipper will also be taken in to make the skirt hug the body/butt.

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Let’s remove the 2 rows of stitching to release the zipper. The lining and sequin layer have been serged together but I am NOT tossing this in MY serger…the edges will be trimmed and tucked under the zipper tape later.

gold-sequins-3gold-sequins-4 In the original seam there were lots of flattened sequins really close to the teeth which will not be the case when it is done.

gold-sequins-5 Zipper is hand basted.gold-sequins-6 See the gap at the bottom? It will be closed and sewn by hand later.gold-sequins-7  Zipper front, the right side

gold-sequins-8 Time to trim off all the excess fabric and sequins. I am using my craft scissors instead of the Ginghers.gold-sequins-9 Trimmed and tucked under and topstitched from the inside. See the lining below the zipper? All closed up and lying flat so no one will know it was altered. After an hour and a half of labor, the girl can perform her duties as table hostess…whatever that title involves?

One more gold dress to share from my East Coast seamstress friend. She had a client bring in this NY designer knit dress to be shortened. It had vertical rows of silver beads attached and nearer the hem the beads stopped and a hem was stitched in the fabric. Here is her description as only Sharon can tell it:

There are 2 layers, both are polyester knit. Both layers need to be shortened 3″. I’ve done the lining, no problem. Normally to shorten the top layer, I measure 3″ from the bottom of each row of beads, secure that bead, then cut the threads releasing the beads below that 3″ mark, then hem. To my horror, I have just discovered these bastards are glued on. Glued on real good! I’ve tried tugging and they are not coming off without damaging the fabric.
Now what do I do?????
I’ve thought about just clean cutting 3″ from the bottom, but afraid the fabric will curl or get a run, like this crap fabric is apt to do.

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 OK…what DO you do when the beads are super-glued to the fabric? You ask a seamstress friend…you stress over it, you sure don’t just jump in and make a mess of it. If it is at the end of a long day…we hang it up, turn off the lights and face the music in the morning when many things look more doable in the first light of day. My suggestion was to try a hammer to crush each bead so the fabric could be hemmed, Mr Mole suggested using a hair dryer to soften the glue to remove each bead below the safety pin marker, but in the end she did just cut a straight horizontal line at the hem level and the fabric behaved itself and did not curl or run…whew! We see things that most folks only dread and have to find solutions for a quick turnaround. Good Going, Sharon!

Before I leave you, Mr Mole took this photo of 2 of the veggie beds…peppers, tomatoes, chard, onions, beets and lettuce are doing fine. Fruit trees (pear, plum and peach) in the background and cages ready for butternut squash to crawl up inside. Veggies---150618

We have been promised 108 degree temps this weekend so watering will really have to be the main concern along with those toasty brides…3 completed last weekend and 3 finished this weekend …halleluiah!

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One is Not Enough

Call me crazy but this season I have have had 3 brides already who bought dress number one and then fell out of love with it and went back and bought dress number two.

But one bride has gone completely off the charts with 3 dresses.

Her first $1300 Love Marley Watters dress was “too revealing and needed more back straps” like this dress, so at her first fitting I showed her how we could replicate her dream dress version with criss-cross straps and extra loops. The zipper would be taken in too for a nice tight fit. Add a simple one point French bustle and voila’ just what she wanted…

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Until she decided what she REALLY wanted was more lace and more coverage, so she bought this $3000 dress from Grace Loves Lace of Australia which seems to have very little lining:

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But then the thought occurred to her:

I purchased some nice wedges and another simple ivory dress from Free People which came earlier today. I thought it might be nice to have as a dancing dress if the Inca became too much to wear all evening. I’m sensitive in that way and always choose comfort over style even though the Inca felt very comfy. I was more worried about getting sweaty on the dance floor and wanted something free and loose. So it’s no surprise that after spending some time in this 3rd dress that I like the way it feels the best.
That being said, I think I will still keep the Inca in case I want to go with a more traditional gown instead of a simple dress. I’m attaching an image of the final dress choice just for fun! It’s a size 6 and a bit big so I reordered a 4… Who knows, I may be calling you again!!

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So dear readers for $148 she will be wearing this dress.

The one good thing about this bride is that she wanted to pay me for the first fitting and sent a check. I wish her well and hope that she doesn’t change her mind again before the wedding date!

With 3 weddings this weekend and 3 weddings next weekend, I’m running around my sewing room like a headless chicken and don’t know how some of you can create blog posts so often, even daily, with such interesting content…such variety, quilting, felting, dyeing and re-organizing your sewing room and your lives…Holey Moley! Bless you and stay cool!

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