A Vest and a Guess

Finally the man’s denim vest is finished and I have photos to share.

This was not a simple straightforward project but then working with men never is. First, finding the pattern was a big deal and after trolling the internet, finding it with a front collar, the client wanted a back section to the collar and no lining or facings…great. All of a sudden he has gone from building contractor to clothing designer. A denim collar with a facing is a thick enough item and having a neckline facing or lining holds the layers down nicely and cleanly…but hey, the client is the boss so I worked around that issue. I made yoke linings and used them to hold down the inside collar edges and the armhole binding covered up those raw edges as well. Everything was topstitched on both sides of the seam lines for a more masculine/macho effect:

inside-front-yokeinside-yoke Here is the inside and you can see that the lower raw edges of the yoke linings were bound with bias binding before the topstitching. The top of the pockets are free and open so he can stuff papers in there to keep safe and dry while the outside pockets hold phones and truck keys etc.


One thing I mentioned last time was a change with the original drafted collar back piece. While it did look great being one piece, the center back section did not like to lay flat being bias so I cut a separate one (center back on the fold) and it worked better.collar-changecollar-change-2

You see Mrs Mole is still learning…sometimes the stuff I come up with works and sometimes it doesn’t so I share with you the problems and reverse decisions. If you think someone who has been sewing for clients for 40 years knows all the solutions…GUESS AGAIN! I can make up stuff and cheat and do shortcuts but you don’t always get lucky…this was one of those projects…this 3 hour project really racked up extra labor hours…it was a “doing my Penance” project or as some say “Earning jewels for my crown”.

Enough suffering, how about some fancy prom dresses? Here are 2 that wandered into the sewing room on the same day. Here is the guess part of my post….can you tell which dress was the more expensive?


The only difference between the two is the purple one needed 4 inches taken out of the center back:

sabrina-purple-prom-zipper Have you figured it out? Both are polyester, both weigh about the same, similar beading, pleating, netting underskirt….well, the pink one was bought on line and cost $29 and fit perfectly. The purple one was special ordered from David’s Bridal and cost $300 and needed major alterations. The girl claimed they told her she was a size 6, ordered her a size 6 and she is actually a size 0…go figure? She gets to pay me over 2 hours of labor to make it work.

Before I leave you I want to share something from my husband, Mr Mole. Now since he is a business writer he shares information about what he is researching for clients. It can be the fascinating world of vehicle insurance, waste water recycling in the UK, underground irrigation programs in Israel…all riveting shit but he was reviewing a business book about branding and the importance of getting the visuals right so the consumer would never forget the brand name. Have a look at this video and if you don’t laugh you might want to check your pulse:

Have a super weekend! You know I welcome comments nice or nasty…ha ha.

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29 Responses to A Vest and a Guess

  1. jenerators says:

    $29? where did she get it?

  2. mrsmole says:

    I knew someone would ask that…the label was something like Beautiful Model or some such translation from China. Sorry, I didn’t ask this time.

  3. Tia Dia says:

    I know the dresses look alike, but my guess was the purple one cost the extra moula – just a hunch – something about the jewels made me suspicious! And so nice to read about your experiments and successful challenges! And I will forever remember Panda cheese. And I’ve never heard of it before!!! LOL

    • mrsmole says:

      I think the commercial came from Egypt so it must be a big seller there…or will be if the Panda has anything to do with it…ha ha.

  4. mrsmole says:

    Even in another language the message comes across…too funny!

  5. Andrea says:

    “It can be the fascinating world of vehicle insurance, waste water recycling in the UK, underground irrigation programs in Israel…all riveting shit….”
    You make me laugh!
    The video is great, my husband will love it too I’m sure.
    I really like the way the vest turned out. Next time I get around to making outerwear for myself, I’m going to add interior pockets. Why should guys have all the cool inside stash pockets???

    • mrsmole says:

      That’s true…guy clothes have cool features we don’t have. Recently I washed one of my husband’s fleece vests and after checking all the outside pockets for old tissues imagine my surprise to find the clothes covered in bits of torn wet tissue when I went to put them in the dryer…lesson learned…always check that inside pocket…there may be things lurking in there besides tissues…old candy wrappers, paper clips…you never know!

  6. Monique says:

    Well done on the vest, it looks really good!
    As for the panda ad, don’t know whether I’ll ever hear that song without feeling iimpending doom, or look at a panda thinking “sweet”. It must have been so much fun playing the panda! 🙂
    Have a great weekend – Spring has finally settled in a bit more over here.

    • mrsmole says:

      It does make you wonder why they would have chosen that particular piece of music. My husband says it is Buddy Holly singing.

      • Monique says:

        Thanks, I did wonder. It may be broadcast more often now, as there’s a Buddy Holly musical here in Holland at the moment, though I doubt it features a panda. 🙂

      • mrsmole says:

        You never know once this video makes the rounds…I’m sure you will share it with friends, Monique!

      • Monique says:

        Oh, yes, shared already. 🙂 Your husband is welcome to contribute with these tidbits any day.

  7. Thank you. You have validated my frustration and slight anger. I recently volunteered for a charity that provides prom gowns to those who cannot afford them. I was asked to perform feats of magic such as finding 6 inches of fabric in the 1/4 inch seam allowances, cut a full length multi layer tulle skirt into a mini, take in fully beaded boned bodices. Big deal you say. Yes, but I was expected to spend no longer than 15 minutes on each alteration. When I spend longer I was hounded, nagged and criticized for being too slow. The girls sulked and the mothers yelled. I worked from 10 in the morning until 6 in the evening. I took one bathroom break and received countless dirty looks for it. At the end of the day I did not even receive a thank you.
    I really felt bad that I was not able to preform to their standards. So thank you for saying that the bodice alteration will take you over two hours. I now know that the problem was them and not me.

    • mrsmole says:

      I have been told by clients or their mothers or grandmothers or crafty friends how easy the alteration is going to be…like isn’t it just like scrap booking? Fold a little under, trim off and voila’ perfection? Oh wait…there’s a lining, boning, a zipper and hundreds of beads and sequins….hmmmm And the other little duty is supposedly a bonus for the seamstress; “Well, what you cut off the hem can be used for the side seams and other places…you are lucky we asked you to shorten the hem”. Doing charity work will not always bring even a thank you and that is sad. Taking out a zipper, taking in the center back and replacing the zipper, beads and all is no quick fix along with attaching the lining back over the zipper tape by hand. I have gotten faster over the years but it is not the first choice of seamstresses I have found. Some prefer to take in side seams or make little darts in the back somewhere. I always take the excess out of the zipper area as it can be snugged up so much just like the girls want and after you have done about 100 invisible zipper jobs…it’s a snap…ha ha Jan, if you were being paid a decent wage of $32 an hour for that sort of workday with one bathroom break you could have had $256 in hand. Maybe you can get a receipt from the charity for 8 hours of sewing and take it off your taxes as charity donations. We have big hearts but so many more lessons to learn in life. I hope this won’t sour your desire to help others with your obvious sewing skills. Your local ASG may need your help to make clothes for poor children and foster children which is not so time sensitive and you can meet some great ladies and have a laugh and some cookies.

      • Tee says:

        Wow, how unfortunate!!!! Whenever a client tells me its simple I tell them well why don’t you try to do it yourself with a big smile. A lot of my clients are surprised when they get their garments back and they can’t even tell I did anything but know I did because it fits better. I had a brides mother say I didn’t hem her gown because I cut it and re-hemmed to exactly like the manufacturer did. I had to have hemmed it, it had a train which I removed!!!!! I also learn a lot from doing wedding and formal wear alterations which I use when making garments.

    • TrishB says:

      I run a business similar to Mrs Mole’s, and I assure you, everything takes much longer (if you do it properly) than the clients are willing to admit.
      I’ve stopped apologising for the time a properly done alteration takes, and make it clear that if people want to take their chances with the quick-sew crowd, then they are most welcome to do so. I have clients telling me about the appalling jobs they have had done e.g. taking in a boned strapless prom dress by taking big tucks under the arms(!) and most people (if they are honest) don’t want to take the chance of having their clothes ruined.
      I think the only way we will raise the profile of good seamstresses is if we ALL refuse to be told how to do our job, how long it will take and what it’s worth!

      • Ahmen to that! Thanks for the solidarity. And thanks Mrs. Mole for the raise. I have never been paid $32.00 an hour. I am upping my rates.

      • mrsmole says:

        Here is some more good news, JanLynn, for bridal you can charge $40 an hour and up. Check around at national and private bridal salons for prices and you will be amazed! My clients often have quotes which cost more than the dress and really want to share this information after I tell them what my fee will be. And when they ask me why I have 2 sets of prices I tell them it is to cover the physical work I have to exert to get their big fluffy dress across the room and under the presser foot of my machine, keeping it clean and steaming it for nothing and not charging for follow-up fitting times.

      • mrsmole says:

        Yay, Trish! Some dresses that will only be worn once like prom dresses the owners just want it done cheap while wedding gowns can command more attention and fees. Maybe we need a sign that says: “I hope you did not come to my sewing studio looking for cheap and nasty work – I do neither”….ha ha Thanks for chiming in with more support!!!

      • Alethia says:

        I second that!!!

      • Tee says:


  8. Pella says:

    I laughed at the working with men comment and the cheese advert, and guessed the purple. But what I can’t guess is how you find the patience for your clients’ wacky demands.

  9. mrsmole says:

    I have no idea why I try to please everyone who walks in the front door…maybe some of you have less than wonderful maternal units and can explain it to me? For the few brides I have suggested to do something less flamboyant or sensible, I have been shot down and told “I WANT IT” so again, it is easier to comply than fight. A seamstress can always nod her head and say “Yes, I can do that” and add that labor unto the bill…anything is possible for a price! Referrals are essential for my business and if someone tells a friend that Mrs Mole did the impossible…well that is cheap advertizing! Love your Made in May fashions on your blog: patternpandemonium.wordpress.com

  10. jillybe says:

    I’m not sure which made me laugh more – your writing or the commercial 😀

    I’m almost afraid to say it :::looks furtively around::: but I’ve never heard of Panda….

  11. mrsmole says:

    But now that you have…how could you ever forget it? Those eyes, that fur…that attitude…OH MY! Thanks for dropping by, Jilly!

  12. Alethia says:

    Let me just say, first, that Panda commercial is hilarious,lol! I love the way he just pops and stares at you with this intimidating look, lol! Thanks for sharing!!
    You got me on the dresses…the pink one looks just like a DB gown, but the purple one is the one I would have sworn was more expensive and on-line! And, at least you got the girl who’s dress you had to take in…all mine that purchased on-line, came too small, thus the corsets I end up doing every year. I, myself, have seen one too many beaded and feathery gowns for one year, lol! I have one more beaded prom dress to do. And, one more middle school dance formal that I have to alter. This little 13 yr old, in my presence, tells her mother how she is going to wear her gown, overgrown boobs revealing…OH NO! I said to her, in mom’s presence, “you will not go to your dance with your girls getting the center of attention…you are too young for that.”
    Mom agrees. First of all,she shouldn’t be telling mom nothing. If that were me and my mom, I would no longer be going to the dance because my teeth would be shoved so far back in my neck that “I would no longer be attractive, lol! kids these days, SMH!
    Needless to say, against the daughter’s will, she will be getting a modesty panel added to cover her cleavage.
    BTW, great job on the vest! Our customer’s need to stay in their lane and let us do what they have paid us to do!

  13. Debbie says:

    I’ve sewn for years and now operate an embroidery business in my home. I make lots of military flags because they are flat and don’t require fittings! For years embroidery shops have dealt with people wanting it fast and cheap. One gentleman in my industry made a sign for his shop with a triangle labeled at each point “fast”, “good” , “cheap” – pick 2 of the 3 – fast and good won’t be cheap, fast and cheap won’t be good, etc…..you get the idea. I love embroidery – it’s the customers that drive me nuts!!

    • mrsmole says:

      How perfect, Debbie! What a clever and telling sign to have! Customers are the one variable that makes our work harder than it is…as Alethia says if they would just get out of our way and let us get on with our work without suggestions. I used to teach machine embroidery in my garage to 12 women who would bring their machines but they either forget their power cord or their hoops every class…all different brands but the same problems. Finally, the bridal side of life took over. Thanks for sharing!

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