Double Trouble

This week while on hiatus from sewing for brides and my sewing room closed I got this email on my regular/working website from a local gal needing help for her June wedding. Without using her exact words, it went like this:

I have fallen in love with this designer of wedding dresses, Claire Pettibone. But I don’t want to pay her prices in the thousands of dollars and they all look very simple so can you help me to buy fabric while I decide about all the extra things that have to be added on possibly by myself. (REALLY?)I am willing to drive out of state to buy fabric but am not too sure where to start selecting the appropriate fabrics. I would like to hire someone to consult with me before I shop and also to make the dress. Is this something you feel you could tackle?

Here are some styles she might be thinking of:

claire pclaire p2 clairepettibone_dewdrop_d

Now the question is: How much would a seamstress charge to copy/recreate and then some one of these dresses? We don’t charge $5 an hour anymore and the latest wedding dress I saw completed on a blog recently had over 300 hours in it…and it was to use her words “very simple”. Then let’s throw in the fabric…silk? Poly? and the lining, interfacings, boning, zipper, bust pads and laces and some beading and hours and hours of fitting. Fortunately, I declined her offer and suggested maybe buying a previously owned one would suffice with expert alterations to suit her budget. I’m thinking she would actually get a bargain by just biting the bullet and ordering that dress all done and in her size…call me crazy!

Before I resume my relaxed state of mind and body and replace the ice pack on my knee, I will share another cute story. A bride this winter brought this dress to me…remember it had to have big bust pads inserted and EVERY lace layer attached to the horsehair braid layer and be taken in over and over…well after all that fussing, the overly-stressed fabric and screaming invisible zipper in the whole hip area slid/crawled up over her waist as fabric like water seeks the path of least resistance and she (we) ended up with a big flap of fabric at her waist 2 inches deep all the way around her. Nothing to do but fix it/do as I was told…she wanted a hand sewn/horribly home made horizontal tuck so she could cover it up with a belt…nasty…but I did it:P1150589

Once the belt was tied on I took her out into my entryway with a full-length mirror for her mother (who had never seen the dress before) to get a real good gaze.

The mother’s eyes popped out of her head as she stared at the  bust area and exclaimed,”Jennifer, where did you get those boobs?” All this time knowing that the reception would be a very religious one with no bustle, no music, no dancing, and no booze affair for 400 of their closest friends it seemed a little strange that the bride would be sharing her cleavage with the entire congregation. Here she was, minus her jewelry, ready for the grand entrance.                                  


And just when I think I have seen the last of this dress…another bride came by for a consultation with this exact dress but this time with a whole different set of needs/wants … stay tuned!

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20 Responses to Double Trouble

  1. Oh, gosh…that dress is AWFUL! What a tragic design. You’ve worked a miracle to even get it looking decent enough to even walk down the aisle. Personally, the top is actually the prettiest (from a boob-safe distance)…it all goes downhill fast from there! I can’t imagine tackling a wedding dress…must be a death wish!

    • mrsmole says:

      Well, Cheryl, it is the fluffiest dress I had ever sewn with horsehair and lace on every level and 2 layers of tulle/netting too…you need a strong back to carry it off! ha ha The next one is 2-3 inches too long and needs a real bustle and tulle sleeves so just different problems.

  2. jillybe says:

    Thank you for saying “no” to the first bride in this post – my body was tensing up horribly just reading it! I made one simple (truly) wedding dress for my best friend – many years ago before I had a clue as to what I was doing! I cannot imagine doing this as a business! My hat is off to you.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Jilly, relax and be joyful…my hat is off to you for taking on such a daunting task as sewing for a friend!!! Your blog has such cool tutorials and a cake to die for!!!! Your last black dress was inspiring and the jewelry…drool hit my keyboard!

  3. Elle C says:

    Thank god you turned down the first potential client. I hadn’t realized it, but I was holding my breath, until you said you turned her down. Inside I was screaming NO NO DON”T DO IT MRS MOLE. I thought for sure your kind nature wouldn’t be able to say no. I am glad I was wrong.

    I just went and had a look at that designer’s dresses. What on earth does this woman think a extravagant and highly detailed dress would look like, that is if she thinks that Claire Pettibone makes simple dresses? Let us all spell delusional now. All together now.

  4. Yeah the red flag is up when someone is looking to save money by hiring a dressmaker. HA!!

  5. Bunny says:

    Like the others, I was having heart palpitations until you said the word, “No!” Whew!

  6. Karin says:

    I agree with the other commenters, thank goodness you didn’t gree to the first dress!
    The second girl looks lovely in her dress, though I wouldn’t consider it conservative.

  7. You have the patience of a saint! This is exactly why I stopped doing alterations or making anything for another person, the exception of my daughter. People do not have a clue. Not one. Here’s one for you. There was a gentleman who wanted his trench coat hemmed. He said he wanted it 15″ from the floor. He just could not get it through his head WHY he needed to put it on so I could determine where on the coat 15″ from the floor was. I tell you–not a clue.

  8. prttynpnk says:

    Wow ms Pettibones simple dresses are lovely! I like to make simple basics like that, you know how I do, just casual stuff…..

  9. theresa says:

    So, how many time has it crossed your mind not to come back? Sainthood is overrated. No doubt they have parties like the one your bride is having. Just what do 400 people do at a wedding with no music, no dancing, no “Go Fish” or “Old Maid”? Yahtzee anyone?

    • mrsmole says:

      My thoughts about wedding receptions and booze…well even Jesus brought his own wine to his friend’s wedding…how’s that for a BYOB event?

  10. Shams says:

    I had the same reaction, “Nooooooo!!!!!!!” But I knew you didn’t need anyone to tell you that. 🙂

  11. Jane Urbach says:

    I am glad you said “no,” because who knows what she really had in mind. Those dresses are not similar at all. My first wedding dress was my own at age 20. I was lucky my Mother believed I could do it. She took me to San Francisco to find the fabric, I combined 2 wedding dress patterns and made up the train which was a silk framed tulle with lace appliques. I finally wound up using rubber cement to glue the lace appliques on to the train. (No such thing as finding the good glue products like you find at even JoAnn’s today) My Mother really did not sew much, so it was an act of faith. My second wedding was an afternoon garden event, so it just got a flowered cotton long dress, and the third wedding dress I made was my daughters in silk, with lace trim and hand sewn pearls. But in between, many Renaissance costumes for men and women. How I managed to fit that first dress on myself is amazing to think about, but then maybe I was more shaped like the patterns.

  12. Tee says:

    It always amazes me when a client who can’t even sew on a button describes her project as simple or easy. I’ve told a few with a big smile on my face “Oh, so you’ve made a gown before?”

  13. Alethia says:

    OMG, if I’ve heard it once, I’ve heard it a thousand times…”it’s simple…”. But, she had the nerve to say she didn’t want to pay that price, then she wants you to help her find the fabric, make the dress, then guide “her” while she sew the appliques and beading on?!?!?!?! BIG OL’ FAT CHANCE, LOL!!! I’m glad you told her no!
    The last time I had someone ask me “since you are make multiple outfits for me, could I get a discount…?” I told them that what they asked was very offensive to me, I was already making her outfits for dirt cheap; she was bringing me pictures out of these high priced magazines like Neiman Marcus, and having me copy the look with the fabric she provided. She paid no more than $150 for a fully lined detailed 2pc. suit. Needless to say, I have not sewn for her since.
    Another of my clients did the same thing,and she told me I shouldn’t be charging her $120-$150 for a lined coat and dress or a coat dress with faux fur or any other details she wanted. She said I had no over head since I was sewing out of my home….( wait a minute)…I told her if she thought I was high then she should take the outfits to the Asians ( no harm or disrespect intended to anyone) and see how much they will charge you. She stopped coming for a while, then she started coming back.
    Since then, If you ask for something ridiculous, then I give you a ridiculous cost.If you want it bad enough then you’ll pay the cost and it will be worth my time. Otherwise, BE GONE!!!
    I had one bride that took the challenge and I made her wedding dress (everybody says it looks more like lingerie). But, she was getting married in Jamaica and wanted this short see through lacy wedding gown with tiny rows of tulle serged and gathered over the entire skirt and around the center of the bodice…lots of sewing time. No one in town wanted to touch it, so I gave her a very high figure and she paid it because she wanted it that bad….it was a success!!


    • mrsmole says:

      You beat all, Alethia!!!! I am so glad I don’t get your clients!!!! I love your stories and wish I could be a fly on the wall when they prance in with their fabric and ideas…low overhead my ass!
      Do you get free utilities, free health insurance, free trash pick up, free telephone, free toilet paper (yes they can go through that in a hurry) in your home studio? I sure don’t, someone pays for that…and that is the seamstress!

  14. symondezyn says:

    LOL I love how some people interpret ‘very simple’. Good on you declining that job 😉

  15. Monique says:

    All the best with your knee! And good for you. If things were so simple, everyone could do everything.

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