Taking a Break from Brides

Every once in a while clients want you to do the impossible/insane using their concept of alterations from scrap booking experience. It must be as easy as snip, flip and voila’…a re-designed masterpiece. Maybe it is just me being my cynical self but this is what we started with more or less: VSH-K2168-PEONY Yes folks, we are back to my personal favorite brand of baggy saggy shapeless clothing and constant source of alterations…Eileen Fisher. OK some of you like this “organic” look using linen and cotton etc in bland ways that never manage to have darts or any other shaping features…some call it comfortable, I call it “bread and butter”. This sweater is nice enough and something a client wants to wear to her daughter’s wedding in 3 days…yes she gave me 3 days to re-design this puppy into something she thinks will be more flattering. So when she called to say she wanted to cut off the sleeves and change them, I never thought she wanted something so time consuming and maddening. Her vision was a floaty sleeve made from what we cut off and turned sideways with only 3.5 inches length at the inseam and 9 inches length at the elbow…how chic….hmmmm.

First things first, the sleeves were sewn at the cutting point with 2 rows of an overlock stitch on the regular machine with a space down the middle of the Stay Tape TPE11_20081231045446_1which was placed under to stabilize the loose weave. Then I cut them apart very carefully and zigzagged over the cut edges again to seal them.cut-apart

After removing the sleeves it looked like this:starting-pointside-view

Now to make this oh so original idea pattern and place it on the sleeves:pattern-2-layerschalk-lines Draw chalk lines around and then place bias strips of flesh colored chiffon to the edges to be sewn with a straight stitch and serged later. OK, how many of you are thinking, Hey, Mrs. Mole…just throw that puppy in the serger/overlocker and be done with it….well nice thought Grasshopper but while one edge is being sealed the rest of this linen/cotton loose weave thing will ravel away before you can lift it up off the table…I can’t risk that! So I carry on and attach bias strips and THEN use the serger to trim off what I don’t want and the chiffon acts as a “stay” to keep everything together and yet still soft.bias-strips-pinnedsleeves-done

What do you think these will look like? Well the curved edge is the bottom and the straight edge is the top…didn’t see that coming? Here is the pinned section:sleeve-pinned-on Is THIS any better than what we started with? Two hours of labor plus many hours of thinking time and a trip to JoAnn’s for the chiffon…maybe the client will think it is marvelous…she redesigned this $248 sweater and will wear it to her daughter’s wedding…what more could she want?

Need more ugly? Okey Dokey…there seems to be no end to this crap so here is a groom who ordered his suit from an Asian source…the jacket fit OK but the pants were 2 inches too tight from the waist to the hem and the knee lining was so much wider than the pant legs it was folded under…check this out:knee-lining What I had to do was left out EVERY seam there was…and I mean every! and reduce the knee lining by one full inch but some surprises were waiting for me…get ready…glue Just when you think it is safe to open a side seam…oh no…what the hell is that? Elmer’s craft glue? Who knows, but thankfully most of it was being cut off…crazy construction! The finished knee area now looks like this:  finished-knee-lining Once those wrinkles are made with a too hot iron there is very little to do to make them right. A couple more shots of the huge pockets lurking inside…thank goodness women’s clothes don’t have this much surplus fabric inside!inside-pocketinside-pocket-2

Last photo of flowers a client brought after I worked on a rush job…how pretty. flowers-from-J

Enjoy this Memorial Day weekend/bank holiday wherever you live!

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24 Responses to Taking a Break from Brides

  1. TrishB says:

    Fascinating stuff!
    I think the loose weave sweater looked fine as it was, but am impressed with what you did to meet the client’s needs. I think the final product looked less sophisticated than the original (did she have big arms she was trying to disguise?), but what the client wants…
    I’ve also learnt to seal off open weave fabrics BEFORE cutting. You only make that mistake once!

    The man’s suit pants looked like a challenge. At least with men’s clothes they leave some fabric in the seams (particularly the back seam), so letting out is possible. It is virtually impossible to let out women’s clothing, the manufacturers are so stingy with the fabric. I have found that I often have to find creative ways of making clothes bigger (such as panels created from facings), as there is no fabric to be found in the seams.

    Love reading your blog and learning new tricks!

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Trish she did have big arms to disguise but the long sleeves did that already, this was her new design idea to make it better. The poor groom now has 1/4 inch seams throughout his pants and he wants to dance his ass off at the reception…I’d better warn him about not doing any high kicks!!! Your clients don’t realize how creative you are scrounging for fabric inside garments to make the outside look good!

  2. Your posts are always so entertaining and informative….Yay you!!

  3. You certainly have interesting clients – and give us much to think about! I know I’m putting ‘re make a sweater’ on my ‘forget about it’ list…unless I can get it to Mrs Mole!

    Thanks for another interesting post!

  4. BeaJay says:

    You are a miracle worker. Loving that cardi. Very nice indeed.

    • mrsmole says:

      This gal is a plus size and the cardi can really stretch with that loose weave so wearing this over a black shift dress will make her feel and look slimmer without adding bulk. What she then needs is some killer jewelry maybe even some colored rhinestone types from the 60’s.

  5. Minuit1 says:

    How do you have the patience?!?

    • mrsmole says:

      Working on clothes gives you the chance to learn something about construction, the customer and yourself. The construction is constantly changing from factory to factory even with bridal, the customers constantly change from good to bad and back again, and I learn that there are some days I can be very tolerant of stupidity when there is money involved.

  6. Well done. As ‘The Management’ often tells me ‘You don’t have to like it – just do it and take the money’. Sometimes you do wonder if it is worth the angst though…

  7. Marsha says:

    I can’t imagine paying so much for a few ounces of fabric just to have it altered. I would have thought for that amount of money for a top she could have had something simple custom made.

  8. mrsmole says:

    Absolutely! The fact that she ordered 5 mother-of-the-bride outfits from the internet and settled for this sweater over a black dress is the sad part. Now she gets to send back everything else but some gals do things the hard way. Living in a small rural community does not afford them many possibilities for clothing selection or trying-on.

  9. Jane M says:

    I enjoy these posts so much but certainly don’t envy you working with clients. Your humor shows here so your patience shows up for them:-) One of my friends does custom dress work and always marvels that people will pay for her to alter RTW versus have her create something well-fitting and flattering. Yes, the initial cost may be steep for many people but after that it’s soooo much more flattering and ultimately less expensive and time consuming for a new garment. I’ve always thought that it’s a function of people not having the design imagination (they can’t put together a bolt of fabric and a pattern silhouette) and they can’t try it on beforehand to decide if they like the look.

    • mrsmole says:

      That is probably the half of it…it is way more easy for some to buy something “close” to what they want and have it tweaked than start from scratch not knowing what the labor will be and assuming it will be $5 an hour. The problem comes when they stand in front of my magic mirror which shows up all the things they want to cover up, reduce, eliminate that never showed up in the dressing room mirror at the store…funny how that hides all the flaws? Thanks for dropping by Jane, I’ll have to check out your blog!

    • TrishB says:

      Your last sentence says it all Jane. I run an alterations business in Australia, and don’t do ‘straight dressmaking’ for that very reason. A woman will try on 10 dresses and only like one, yet thinks she can see some fabric and a picture in a magazine, and the two together will look fabulous on her. When that doesn’t happen, who does she blame: the dressmaker!
      I had a similar experience when making the 4 bridesmaids dresses for my daughter’s recent wedding. Being a very visual person, she could only explain what she wanted after she saw it, so I had at least 3 remakes before I got it right. Fortunately it all turned out well in the end, and she (and the bridesmaids) were very happy with the result. It reminded me, however, of why I love doing alterations: at least the client knows that she likes the outfit at the outset.

  10. prttynpnk says:

    My Mother wants me to make her cafe curtains for her new room in my dark moments I will refer back to your posts so I will put my own suffering in perspective!

  11. mrsmole says:

    Oh Anne, it’s not so bad here unless you want to know that the sweater client came today to try on her re-designed garment and spent 30 minutes posing in front of my magic mirror and concluded she did not like the shape of the new sleeves and had me pin them up and pin them down until I wanted to scream…she finally asked my opinion…I said leave them as they are and everyone will think the sweater is beautiful and not looking like grandma had her way with it. Best of luck with the new cafe curtains!

  12. Monique says:

    $248 ?? You must be joking, but I suppose you’re not. Ánd then not to be happy with the own re-design? Thank goodness it was Friday!
    I was thinking you could almost get a pair of shorts out of the surplus in the pants pockets ;-).
    The difficult bit is indeed matching fabric to design/pattern to body in a way that is flattering and special. I wore a me-made yesterday and was happy to hear “you look nice”, rather than “what a nice dress”. With more experience, it’s less of a gamble, but it’s “exciting” every time.
    Enjoy your weekend. We finally have a litte sun, so maybe there’s enough to enjoy clearing up the garden…

    • mrsmole says:

      Don’t overdo the garden work, Monique! Happy to hear you are getting compliments on your me-made dress!!!! The pants pockets…you could certainly hide lots of stuff in there when going through customs!

  13. Pella says:

    Are you never tempted to tell the client exactly what you think ? First a client who wants you to make a pig’s ear out of a silk purse, than one who bought the whole pig.

  14. mrsmole says:

    This week I almost lost my cool…my bride’s mother came back with her other daughter’s bridesmaid dress she would be wearing in the first daughter’s wedding and asked me to pin a square of fabric in the deep V in the front and back of the dress. The front looked like it only needed to be pinned and tacked and I chose to use the stain scrap for the back V which would be attached above the zipper with snaps on one side and sewn on the other. Well to me it looked pretty darn perfect and the mother told me to step back and she took out all my pins and re-pinned the dress, not better mind you, just HER WAY. She didn’t mess with the back piece but said to me “Does that look straight to you?”…can you feel the tension, Pella?

  15. Gjeometry says:

    Wow, what a fabulous re-design of that sweater! I actually really liked it before (I don’t mind loose, flowing clothing, at all), but after, it really has some personality now.

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