What Brides Want-March 2013

It has been quite the week! I don’t remember getting in so many gowns quite so early in the season and with so many alterations needed/wanted.

As I totaled up the costs per hour on some of these dresses, I questioned the brides as to whether these are all worth it…they nodded and said, “YES!”

OK then…let’s start with the most expensive and work our way down.

Paying over $3000 for your dress has some advantages…you are way more careful with the fit and style…enter Alvina Valenta 9155…silk with jeweled flowers. All this dress needed was to be shortened 1/2 inch and a 3 point bustle…easy peasy and a sweet bride.6-side  5-back 47-buttons

Remember this fairy tale Tara Keely layered lace dress from last year?

front-hem-pinned-up-2-inche Well this bride is shorter and needs the lower level shortened by at least 4 inches so a horizontal tuck will be taken under the upper level of lace and of course the petticoats will need to be shortened as well by that much. Then let’s add a bustle.  

side-view-hemmedbustle-over-final 5 hours of labor coming.

People ask me if I ever re-make a mother’s dress into a gown for her daughter and I say it has not happened…until now. This dress was given to another local seamstress who made a real “dog’s dinner” of it. The bride said they had left the gown for a month and what the woman had done was horrible. A belt was added to the empire style Gunnie Sax dress, 2 inch unnecesaary side panels and huge vertical darts and she also cut off lots of fabric inside to make a fluffy dress into a mermaid…an insane request to start with. Here are some nasty photos of bad work:


I took over 40 photos of ugly work, bunched up seams, blood stains, 4 rows of uneven seams and told the client that even though I am never one to make work for myself or inflate fees, this dress had to be taken back to the original to make it right. She and her mother agreed so that is what I did. All seams were opened up, restored and pressed to reveal a pretty dress.

40-restored-repinned-front41-restored-repinned-side Then we had a try on and changed a few more things. The back belt was shortened and pinned lower in front to eliminate folds in the satin.46-front-alter45-side44-future-back-panel In order to keep the huge ruffled back panel while allowing the front to mimic a mermaid, I decided that a false panel sewn to the lining side seams would keep this all towards the back. The ribbon pinned to the side seams will give me the exact dimensions. Then I will make long vertical tucks under the lace panel to pull the front tighter and give the illusion of sleekness. Click on the photos for a closer look. A French bustle will be added under the new corset back:

42-under-bustle  Is your head hurting yet? Only about 7 hours of labor to go with this dress.

Here’s a real honey…the bride says she got it for a half priced song ($1200) since a wedding was cancelled and she just had to have this dress…never mind that it was 4 sizes too big. This bride sees herself flowing through a park, train sliding through damp grass and a wider corset and tight, tight back section (Is there any other kind?).

6-alter-back5-back-train All I have to do is put 5 hours+ into this to make it fit. The petticoat and lining will be shortened 4 inches, the center back of all seams taken in 4 inches and widen the corset back by 4 inches and move the ready made loops over and make a bustle.

And finally a dress that was bought online for $89. Yes there are dresses out there for that price. Now they leave off boning but they are lined and the chiffon is nice but this poor girl had some fitting issues. First of all, not all brides are a size 4…some are a 24+. On the phone she said her weight “fluctuates”.   Be prepared! The size 20 dress needed a corset back to span the 8+ inches across the top center back. I made loops yesterday and strung some white ribbon across just to see the total effect. Darts were added to the massive front section for some shaping and boob containment. A modesty panel was made with horizontal boning and attached on one side to be snapped on the other. Here is the result:1-corset-pinned2-corset-ribboned3-front  The white grosgrain ribbon in the photo will be replaced when I get in my ribbon order from Really Reasonable Ribbon in NY as they are the only ones who carry off-white in 5/8 inch wide. So far it has been quite a week of pinning but my new platform has been wonderful!

Next time…it’s Prom season too….get ready!

This entry was posted in challenges, Corsets and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to What Brides Want-March 2013

  1. Alethia says:

    Yes, my head hurts just reading all off that,lol! My fingers would cramp up just trying to tell you about the brides I took in…probably just as many and with crazy fitting issues…. However, the first thing I noticed is your new platform, it looks great!! I’m sure your brides are extremely happy with your service, you do amazing work! I hope you are pacing yourself.

  2. mrsmole says:

    Thanks, Alethia! You have to be a master alterations wizard working at David’s with all those styles and fabrics and body variations! Thank goodness I only get in so many a week and I can control the flow…well most weeks anyway…that is my new approach…spacing and elevating…ha ha.

  3. theresa says:

    So glad the platform is working for you! It has got to make life a bit easier, especially with some of those “minor” alterations! 😉 What a master you are. I marvel at your skills and know-how, not to mention the effort you put in with some of these garments. Well deserved kudos. I hope at least some of those brides appreciate your dedication and expertise.

    • mrsmole says:

      Word of mouth is everything so I rely on them for spreading the good news about me. I also have a handout sheet of how they can leave a review for me with different search engines. I don’t feel very masterful when starting a new project but after much thinking time, something usually comes to me…normally when I am up during the wee hours working on something else.

  4. Tia Dia says:

    Wow and Wow. Amazing that the most expensive dress is the “easiest” job. But I guess you get what you pay for! And I am truly horrified at the mess that was brought to you after someone else had worked on it. Good grief! I would be so ashamed to give something to myself to wear, never mind a paying client!!! And your red platforms look wonderful. I hope they’re making life easier and more comfy for your knees.

    • mrsmole says:

      That dress was a bonus, what I didn’t add is that I get her mother’s dress and also many of the bridesmaids this week who bought online and you know they don’t fit. Not many dresses only require an hour of work but hers did…I got lucky!

  5. I cannot even begin to imagine taking on those projects! Truly, your talents are incredible! The girls must be so excited to see the finished products – of course, they don’t realize the time and effort required other than the number of ‘hours’…! Amazing results – and that person who butchered the mother’s dress should have her sewing privileges revoked! That looks like what MY results would be had I taken that on 😉

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Cheryl! The other seamstress is well know for her crappy and late and expensive attributes and we sewing “sisters” in town have spent many hours re-doing her work to a higher standard. Her reviews on Google say “Don’t go to her, she will ruin your wedding dress”…but not everyone reads Google reviews sadly.

  6. ellecsews says:

    I cannot understand how someone without some serious skills could even go near a wedding dress. I was once asked to alter a grad (or prom) dress. I took one look at the inside and realized there was no way I could do anything without a very large chance of ruining it. It boggles the mind. Thank goodness for talented women like yourself that can repair this kind of damage. I am certain these brides don’t appreciate you anywhere near as much as you deserve, but your loyal readers do!

    • mrsmole says:

      What I hope they understand is my hourly rate…it takes a “I got this for a song” dress up to “I should have bought a new one in my size” level. Just this week I got an email from a gal who has bought a vintage/retro pattern for her wedding dress, yards and yards of silk fabric and then thought she would look around for someone to “help” her make it for her June wedding…there just are not a lot of “helpers” out there.

  7. Monique says:

    Lucky brides, all happy with their dress on their big day, no doubt. Sheer wizardry on your part!

  8. BeaJay says:

    That really was a hatchet job done to the the Gunnie Sax dress. That “seamstress” should have her needles taken away from her. Great restoration job.

  9. mrsmole says:

    Looking through all the other photos all you can say is “OH NO!” Bad construction and internet purchases keep me in business so I can’t complain, just like to share with all of you…it’s a jungle out there! ha ha

  10. prttynpnk says:

    Im just always so swed by your ability to figure out and make it happen! You are 6 fairy godmothers and a side of fries!

    • prttynpnk says:

      That was ‘awed’ and Bruder apologizes for butting in!

      • mrsmole says:

        Bruder is excused…she just got excited seeing so many gowns in one sitting! Pets see new fabrics and think about having a nap on them to break them in. Yesterday I got in 2 new bejeweled bridesmaids dresses covered in cat hair…so much long white hair that the gals immediately said…”Henry” when I asked which of their 3 cats were to blame.

      • prttynpnk says:

        Ah, the ‘Henry service charge’ is born!

  11. Ruth D says:

    A quick thank you for sharing your bridal escapades with us. My daughter is getting married at the end of September. She bought a dress that fits but probably will need hemming once she gets her shoes but she’ll make sure she leaves a couple of months to have that done so it’s not a rush job.

  12. Ouch. That alteration you had to re-do was a real stinker. I agree she should have her pins taken away. I’m glad I haven’t had anything on that scale – although I have had to bite my lip a couple of times. (Including a ‘new’ wedding dress straight from the shop which I could see had been altered when I got inside!She loved the dress so I thought it better not to say.)
    I’m really glad that your platform is working so well for you.

  13. mrsmole says:

    I got in a “sample” dress like that last year and did a post on it. It had been altered at least 3-4 times as the seams had that many rows of different stitches. Instead of telling the bride what a mess it was inside, I wrote to the company in San Francisco telling them they were selling very very used goods under the name of designer “samples”. They wrote back saying that their dresses were only used on runway shows and had minor repairs….I sent photos to them as well confirming my allegations…they just denied them…beware “sample” dresses…they have been dragged from pillar to post and back again. The lower hems on the inside may even look like they have been pulled across the parking lot with black marks and stains. I love my platform!!!!

  14. Pella says:

    My head is spinning. How do you envisage such drastic size alterations?

  15. mrsmole says:

    It is all in the pinning, I guess. As soon as the client leaves, I thread baste all the lines and remove the pins, then I can see what a holy mess I have. Remember, it is not just the outside that has to look good…those damn cheap and nasty linings have to be taken in too. Everything is then hand basted and ready for try on before the machine is switched on. Convincing the client and her mother that everything will be OK is a challenge. Many come from a crafty/scrapbook background and think if you can fold and clip with paper, you can easily do the same with satin fabric…OH NO!

  16. Bunny says:

    Oh, my, do you need a vacation after all of these? I sure would! It’s a good thing you love what you do!

  17. mrsmole says:

    Oh Dear, Bunny, I just had a vacation in Jan before my knee surgery…it is a long way to next January so I had better like what I do…ha ha. Just had a consult today with a gal who bought a $5000 custom made silk ballgown in Seattle and they did not sew on enough bling for her at the neckline and dropped waist. She wants to pay me to encrust this sucker…I said what it needs is LESS bling but I would rearrange what they had added to look more sophisticated and less craft store. Every day there is a new story….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s