Make Mine Modest

This season has been a blur of strapless gowns with girls wanting to flaunt their wares/boobs for everyone to see so it was refreshing to have a bride come with a beautiful lace dress that needed a little more coverage for her religious wedding.

To start the dress had a real top with shoulders but a very deep open V in back and a revealing cutaway dip in the front. The goal was to make a separate bodice that would raise the front neckline under the lace and completely close off the open back. To do this I used my favorite pattern copying stuff on a roll from Home Depot...sheer fabric they use to wrap underground drainage pipes also known in the sewing world as Do-Sew. I traced and pinned it right unto the dress and got a general pattern:pattern The new bodice was to be make out of poly lining fabric and then the new piece would be lined in Ambiance rayon lining to be next to her skin. The back pieces would have their own new lightweight separating zipper to avoid ripping out the existing one and make a better transition from heavy lace to lighter lace.

Here we go:side-view-no-petticoat The dress was  about 6 inches too long in front and would have a small French bustle.

The new back panels in place:back-pinned

All the lace motifs cut off the front hem will be used to “fill in” the backs, Eventually the buttons will continue to the top edge.front-pinned The front is more covered but still resembles the original sweetheart neckline shape. Let’s apply and play around with the motifs:back-lace-sleeves The bride’s mother was a dream to work with and took photos along the way and just let me do what I thought best. In this photo you can see 2 organza test sleeves, one long and one short to get an idea of the bride’s preference. The satin sleeves would also be covered in lace and lined but as we ran out of the original lace her mother stepped in with lace motifs cut from her own wedding dress from 25 years earlier and they color matched!

front-lace-sleevesfront-with-short-sleeves Here are the basic sleeves that will be covered in lace. Every bit of lace was attached and sewn by hand and even the sleeves and every bit of lining was stitched by hand.


Once the back lace panels were in place they got their own

Loops were added to one side and satin buttons on the other to complete the original look.

frontback Here is the finished bodice on the outside and now how about the inside? inside-front

Princess seams flat felled and bust pads attached.hand-stitches-back All lace attached through to the lining by hand.

sleeve-lace Mother’s lace attached to sleeves by hand.

sleeve-lining Sleeve lined with Ambiance by hand.mirror 3 A happy bride with her custom dress and her pink shoes peeping under the hem…oh wait…what about that scalloped lace hem edge…you can’t just cut it and fold in under can you? Of course not, that would be way to easy.

Like the 3 lace dresses that came before this one, every bit has to be cut away and raised up and attached so it looks like it came that way…and it does!new-lace-hem The edge was all hand basted first, tried on and then I used invisible polyester thread in the needle and ivory poly thread in the bobbin to attach it. The layers of satin beneath it were hemmed along with the lining and we removed the netted petticoat to get a slimmer silhouette.

All in all quite a lot of labor but since this was my first temple-ready gown, I learned a lot and was challenged to be creative. This bride and her mother worked as a team and could not have been more fun! I certainly look forward to working with them again when her sisters set their wedding dates in the future!

The only downer this week has been some minor surgery to remove a screw that was inserted into my foot a year ago to hold my little toe straight in place. It was bothering me and I could not wear shoes with the screw rubbing just under the skin so my doctor slit open the side of my foot, in his office and removed it. Then he asked if I wanted it to take home but after I saw it…a plain old 1.5 inch brass screw, I said I had plenty of those in my garage. It will be nice to wear regular shoes again!

Thank you to all my readers and to all those who comment…sewing is a joy to be shared!

PS: my original link to the sheer copying fabric at Home Depot was linked to a product called Weed-X by mistake, the real product is called Soil Separator…the link has been corrected…sorry!

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66 Responses to Make Mine Modest

  1. Meigan says:

    This is a beautiful dress. It’s so nice to hear about a pleasant mother of the bride and a bride with class enough not to let it all hang out. The dress is lovely and to have pieces of the mother’s wedding gown incorporated into makes it even more special.

  2. theresa says:

    Lovely modifications to that gown! It looks beautiful on her and yeah for easy modifications to your foot too!

    • mrsmole says:

      I had to laugh when the doctor was digging around trying to get the head of the screw close enough to the edge of the skin to grab it and twist it and remove it…he said what i always say…”deconstruction is always more difficult than construction”.

  3. ceci says:

    so the post is a story of 2 modifications, one to gown and one to foot – hope they are wildly successful in actual use! Thanks for sharing the artistry you bring to each sewing project – I hope reading your posts helps me improve my skills.


  4. Susie says:

    That is beautiful! What nice work. It is nice to see a more modest bridal gown. I’d forgotten they existed.

  5. Wead Library says:

    Stunning transformation. It is lovely to see her gorgeous figure without all that skin hanging out. I think Kate Middleton is influencing us. At least let’s hope so!

  6. KayoticSewing says:

    What a beautiful dress!! And how nice to hear that the customers were pleasant to work with!

    Ouchie about the screws and yay! to be able to wear shoes of your liking!

  7. Wonderful work – you should be really proud of that dress. It is wonderful to see a wedding dress where ‘the goods’ aren’t all on show.
    I hope your foot is feeling much better now.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Kim…the foot is swollen but in my sewing room I wear stretch slippers so the recovery is easier. The bride was able to wear her dress for 3 occasions and I was so happy for her.

  8. Miss Celie says:

    That is a beautiful dress! I like the back and sleeves. It doesn’t look fussy or prudish.

    • mrsmole says:

      Renee,some of these modest conversions end up very bulky with so many layers thrown in so my aim was to make it look like they bought it off the rack that way. Being a new bride yourself you have a good eye for quality!

  9. That dress is stunning and you do AWESOME work!

  10. Monique says:

    The dress looks really wonderful, and having such nice clients this time is a sort of karmic justice after all the problematic ones 🙂
    Hope your foot heals well! Have a nice weekend,

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Monique…winter is coming, leaves have fallen and the bridal parade has slowed down,,,thank goodness…hoping the karma keeps up!

  11. Tia Dia says:

    Love this dress! What a gorgeous bride, and how refreshing to have something modest! It sounds like you enjoyed working with this family, and I hope you get many more clients like this!

    • mrsmole says:

      There are more daughters coming up so that is a given! Very few mothers work well with the daughters and that is such a shame. Sometimes it is a huge battle and then they throw a grandma into the mix and she throws in her two cents…some days you have to wear your counselor/psychiatrist hat while you pin the dress!

  12. Cindy says:

    Just lovely! As always your work is amazing.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Cindy, I did get permission to show the photos as it might have been a more personal situation for the bride to share everything that went into her perfect dress.

  13. symondezyn says:

    Unbelievable job – the dress and the bride are stunning, and you are amazing!! 🙂 I think the extra modesty really makes this dress a stunner – too much skin plus a very fitted style like that just looks trashy to me, personally… idk why so many brides want to show off the goods when they’re committing it to someone else… one last flash i guess? LOL Glad to know there’s still some classy gals out there ^__^

  14. sewexhausted says:

    Fabulous work! I think she looks like a bride a mama would be proud of! I am always so impressed with the amount of work you put in to wedding dresses. I am pretty sure I would not have the patience! ~Laurie

    • mrsmole says:

      Since every dress I work on sort of has my name on it, it is so important to go the extra mile! Patience was given to me…it is a blessing when dealing with alcoholics, small children and brides….ha ha. Thanks for dropping by, Laurie.

  15. June says:

    I have no idea how you so invisibly merged all of that lace on the back. Fantastic!

    • mrsmole says:

      Lots of messing around and previewing every shape and position….patience comes into play and working on jigsaw puzzles as a child helps too…ha ha!

  16. Pella says:

    Lovely dress. (I do prefer the more modest variety of wedding dress, more in keeping with the occasion, and nicer in photographs viewed fifteen years on.) The lace additions you made merge perfectly.

  17. mrsmole says:

    Yes, Pella, 15-20 years down the line, if they are still together, the photos will be something to look at and wonder, “what WAS I thinking?

  18. prttynpnk says:

    I love how sleek and elegant this is- a lovely column of lace.

    • mrsmole says:

      The bride has been a sports star all through high school and she has a very toned body which worked well with that dress. The lace was embroidered on tulle…can’t get much prettier than that!

  19. Elle C says:

    What a treat to see a bride who doesn’t look like a stripper at her wedding.
    Yup. It’s official. I am old.
    But really. No rhinestones, no cleavage, front or back. How refreshing. I am so pleased for you that you got to work with a nice mother and bride. It must make the whole process so much more satisfying and rewarding for you. And there are more daughters! Win win win!
    As always you did beautiful work (goes without saying).
    I hope your foot gets better soon.

    • mrsmole says:

      A stripper at her own wedding….ooo wee….you hit the nail on the head there, Elle. Some brides can make an expensive dress look cheap with all the tinsel and bling they attach to it when simple can be elegant and memorable….you see the bride, her face and her smile….never mind her butt, her back and her bust….all that will droop with age…I am old too so I know it happens.

  20. Valerie says:

    Mrs Mole I always enjoy your creative solution-for-every-problem process but the two zipper idea is pure genius. The gown is perfect on that girl. It doesn’t say ‘I had to cover up’ but ‘This gown, this day, and I are all special’.

    • mrsmole says:

      When I described it to a friend of mine she immediately thought of using this technique for sleeping bag when they break the one end of the zipper…adding a new separating one would do the trick and avoid doing the full length…you never know where good ideas come from or evolve. Thanks for dropping by, Valerie.

    • Valerie says:

      p.s I have to ask – is the added zipper extra long or does it separate at the end?

      • mrsmole says:

        It is just a lightweight separating zipper from JoAnn’s. I bought a white one and an ivory one but the white looked best. The tail end sits just under the top edge original zipper below it.

  21. Louisa says:

    Looking for advice on removing too long flared cuffs on a wool cardigan (?) I somehow found your page and am so delighted to see a dress similar to my own wedding dress which my mother-in-law made for me. Your work looks amazing, painstaking but must be so satisfying. Best wishes for the foot healing 🙂

  22. Kath says:

    Understated elegance and beautiful sewing beats flesh any day. Religion should not be the only reason a bride should think of those photos which will come back to haunt her.

    • mrsmole says:

      But having to comply with your church’s regulations does make for a more sensible dress and classy photos that you will cherish in the future…that’s the good thing!

  23. Andrea says:

    What a beautiful dress, Mrs. Mole! I love a more conservative dress myself, especially for church weddings. We were just taking a walk down memory lane last night, and looking at pictures from our wedding. How young we looked! I loved my dress – and there was no boobage showing.
    I hope your foot is healing well and feeling better. Have you tried Orthaheels? They are my saving grace.

  24. Sheila Codd says:

    Great work, beautiful gown. You give much pleasure with your sewing, wish I was as good.

    • mrsmole says:

      You know, Sheila, just as many women want their new jeans hemmed or kitchen curtains made and I send them to other gals who send me brides in return. We all have our little niches and we can take pride in doing a good job. I am sure you have your favorite projects too that you put a lot of time and effort into.

  25. Ruth says:

    Beautiful transformation – as always! Incorporating the mother’s lace is a lovely touch – you’ve created an heirloom.

  26. Lyrique says:

    Your creativity and amendments are pure artistry in lace and tulle. I am constantly in awe of your skill.

  27. Alethia says:

    Beautifully done! It looks awesome! I love how you added the second zipper. And, thanks for the great tip on the Landscape Fabric for modifications. I just posted last night on another blog on how I use Brown Builder’s Paper to copy patterns. But the Landscape fabric allows your pattern to be wearable the mods. Making sure I add that to my shopping list.

    • mrsmole says:

      I’ll have to check oiut that paper next time I am trawling though HD. I like the landscape fabric for copying patterns and clothes as you can see through it and it almost molds to the body better than stiff paper. Then it can be layed on top fresh paper and a new altered pattern can be traced and grainlines saved…Lord knows we need all the help we can muster!!!!

    • Alethia says:

      *…wearable “for” the mods.

  28. Marlene says:

    I’m so in awe of your work and always fascinated at your “outside the box” thinking on alterations.

  29. mrsmole says:

    Oh Marlene, I have to come up with solutions as I don’t have anyone to ask for help with bridal alterations in this little rural valley. I have had days where I am almost in tears and say to Mr. Mole that I am defeated….then during the night when I am up sewing an idea can come to me…there must be sewing angels flying around my room…I sure hope so!

  30. This has to be one of the best wedding gowns I have seen – and really embodies what a bridal gown should be IMHO. It sounds like although lots of work it was a pleasureable experience alround. Thank you for the details they make for a great Saturday morning read – a real fangirl here!!

  31. Mary says:

    This was a lovely read in the morning-I am astounded at your skill. Beautiful dress, and a very lovely bride.

  32. Sewellen says:

    Stunning dress! Great job on the handwork! All of it, just gorgeous!

  33.! I love it and I too am glad to see a return to modesty. I have to work on a client’s coat and this post inspired. I want to get to your level of mastery one day and I know that even the less glamourous jobs are part of the package. Also, thanks for the tip about “Do Sew” from Home Depot – I’ll definitely grab some on my next trip!

  34. Karin says:

    I found your blog yesterday and promptly bookmarked it. Your posts makes me laugh and also hum “ooh” and “aww”. This dress is so beautiful and your work is amazing, both with the new garments and the alterations. And then coping with some of those customers…! Your a genius!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Karin…you acquire more knowledge with difficult garments than with the easy ones but I do wish more easy ones would find their way to my front door! ha ha

  35. Pingback: It’s All About the Back | fit for a queen

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