Pearls and Pockets

Hands Up, who remembers the totally silk beaded dresses of the late 1980’s? 

Maybe some of you even have some hanging in the back of the closet in a garment bag…I know I do in 3 colors, pink, black and blue. But this week I got in a real beauty covered in pearls! It weighs about 7 pounds and will be worn to a gala ball in Paris at the end of the summer. My client needed it hemmed 1/2 inch all around as she was not going to wear her stilettos from that era.pearl-dresspearl-dress-close-up

Yes, those are huge shoulder pads…remember those too? See the cuffs and the hem below: pearl-dress-cuffpearl-dress-hem
Once all the alterations and bead repairs were done I wrapped the entire dress in tissue paper for the journey on the plane. Each sleeve was stuffed with tissue paper and the neck edge filled and then everything was folded and then wrapped again and taped shut. pearl-dress-wrapped My client says she is going to keep the dress in her lap during the flight so it will be placed into a cotton pillowcase.

At the other end of my sewing room I have a man’s project…a tall man about 6’2 with huge shoulders and a particular issue he needs to conceal. A beer belly? Oh no nothing that obvious…he is licensed to carry a gun so I was asked to make a vest that allows a holster to be worn and not to be seen from the outside. I started with NewLook 6839 as he wanted a collar but it only went to the shoulder seam. He wanted huge pockets as well but not in the side seams. I made up a muslin after taking his measurements, adding ease for a waist holster and decided that what this basic pattern needed was to be cut up into sections to add what I wanted. I also noticed that he had a slight curve at the top of his upper spine so he needed a curved section there too. Here is the muslin with all the markings for cutting apart and adding seam allowances and pocket. Please ignore my crappy drawing of a side gun…I realize now it looks more phallic than firearm.1-front-alter To get what was needed here are the pattern pieces cut up, seam allowances added:back-pattern By making the top, a yoke piece, it could be split in the center and curved on it’s own and then sewn to the rest of the back which is cut on the fold. The back darts are sewn all the way to the hem without narrowing. Let’s see the front pieces: front-patternpocket-facingfront-pattern-pieces By extending a “cut on” pocket and making a separate pocket facing it will be less bulky and I eliminated the darts. Sometimes I have actually used a French dart to add a sneaky pocket in women’s clothes. So we have a new upper front yoke and new vertical seams which will all be topstitched for added interest. There will be a center front separating zipper. One problem left…the front collar piece needed extending to reach around to the center back neck.collarcollar-front

It was a strange little thing so I kept the straight of grain and let the new back piece just go bias so it would be all one piece. Here is the paper pattern altered:collar-pattern Fingers crossed everything will come out OK. Next time the finished vest!

Checking my book of brides for the season I have 13 already…throw in prom dresses, mother of the bride dresses, some of my favorite clients custom clothes and I have enough to keep me out of trouble. One of my regular clients has lost over 20 pounds so I have some things to make smaller for her…hooray Nancy!

Wishing you a great week filled with easy projects and co-operative fabrics!

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24 Responses to Pearls and Pockets

  1. Tami says:

    Beautiful dress, yes, I remember them. I’m not surprised your client isn’t trusting it to the baggage handlers. I about choked on my lunch when I got to your picture of the handgun! Good instructions for modifying the vest, this will be helpful for my daughter when she sews a similar vest for her brothers. Your posts always are interesting and brighten my day!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Tami. If you want any further help you can use my email address on the About page and I will try to help.

  2. Teri Moran says:

    Hi Ms Mole ~ from Palm Desert! You are one clever writer … not a bad seamstress either!! You make me smile & that’s a good thing! Happy Spring … you live in such a lovely place. Hope to see you this summer.
    xxoo Teri

  3. Gjeometry says:

    Woah, 7 pounds! And, I hope that most people will not have to make a vest with a holster for a gun!! That’s certainly different, isn’t it?

    • mrsmole says:

      I had never seen a gun up close so I asked to see it…compact little devil with a red laser light for focusing.

  4. BeaJay says:

    That is a lovely dress – but I am much more intrigued by the vest (LOL at the drawing of the gun!!). What an interesting alteration to make.

  5. theresa says:

    Well, no one can say your clientele isn’t varied and interesting! Oh my I do remember those beaded/baubled dresses from the 80’s. I think I have a size 4 tank top somewhere. Like that one is ever going to fit again! I didn’t know we had concealed weapons laws here…am I having a flashback to my Texas years?

  6. Donna says:

    OK…….I’m wondering what he will put into such large pockets!!!!!!

  7. Jane Urbach says:

    It is fun to make something you have never tried before like the vest. I once made a bright orange satin “Denim Style” jacket or what ever you would call the blousey jacket with a waist band. Esienhower Jacket, Military Jacket? He was in a rock band. I also made a velveteen short formal jacket to be worn with a man’s kilt. The ones in the catalogue were several hundred dollars from Scotland. My charges were not cheap, but much less than from Scotland.

    • mrsmole says:

      Well, Jane this is just the beginning of what this man wants for vests. I have the feeling he will want more styles as long as they have room for the holster. Interesting working with men’s fashions…no front darts to worry about!
      Did you take any photos of those jackets? I’d love to see them!!!!

      • Jane Urbach says:

        No Photos of the orange jacket, it was a long time ago, but I am pretty sure I have a photo of the gentleman in his kilt and jacket. I also pre-pleated his kilt onto a band, so he could wrap himself into it “Great Kilt” style, not the kilts like you see today. The old way was to lay your belt on the floor with plaid on top and pleat to fit, lay yourself on top of it, and wrap it around and buckle the belt. He didn’t want to do the pleat to fit part, but still had to lay down to get dressed. Not sure how to send you a photo of him.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Jane, I’m trying to picture this man with or without underpants rolling on the ground wrapping pleats of wool around him…too funny! You can always send photos to my blog email:

  8. Marsha says:

    Now to add a concealed holster pocket to a silk beaded dress….

  9. Andrea says:

    Oh yes I remember the beaded dresses. Long time to fly with that dress on her lap. Very nice phallic gun. Or is it a gunny phallus?
    Sounds like you have your work cut out for you!

  10. Trish says:

    That vest is amazing. I thought I had been asked to do some interesting jobs in my time, but firearms were never involved! I can’t wait to see the finished product. What fabric are you planning to use for the vest? I imagine you would need something sturdy to support the weight of the contents of the pockets (and keep its shape).

  11. mrsmole says:

    He selected black denim but the pocket facing is a lighter weight black cotton to reduce bulk. The pockets will be sewn right up to the center front zipper and the one inch hem. I also cut the under collar in the lighter cotton otherwise around the neck there would have been so many thick layers. The zipper has been pre-shrunk (soaked in hot water) before insertion as there was no fabric content on the label…just Made in China.

  12. I think I might be arrested in the UK if I assisted someone to carry concealed! What an interesting project.

  13. Beautiful dress! I still have one from that era – and it weighs a TON! Crazy. Love the pearls 🙂
    The hidden gun pocket – too funny! Of course, there would be a need for that – maybe you’ll launch a new industry!

  14. Bunny says:

    Once again, you’ve made my day! Where else can I nurse a fever and learn how to hide a phallic gun on a very big man? Thanks for waking me up from my stupor!

  15. mrsmole says:

    Oh Bunny, I’m sorry you are ailing…having a good laugh will speed the recovery, I HOPE!

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