Down to the Wire

Some seamstresses work well under pressure, they can be sewing at the last minute for a wedding or special event and it invigorates them…the rush, the tension, the stress…the black coffee, the chocolate…and then the finished project delivered minutes before the final deadline…that’s not me. I’m a planner, thinker and engineer who gets up every night to work on garments when it is quiet and dark but this week all that went down the toilet.

A wedding I have been working on for over a month ended up needing major dress alterations for 6 bridesmaids and flower girl…why? Well that bad old internet just likes to have last minute deliveries to make everyone crazy and of the six size 10 dresses…none of them fit…surprise surprise.

The mother of the bride also ordered 3 dresses from another company in China and brought those along to see which was the closest to fitting. We decided on two with the perfect colored one having sleeves so narrow she could not slip her thin arms into them…how does that work? I ended up removing the sleeves and binding the armholes all around by hand and taking up the shoulders 2 inches and the floor length chiffon and satin too…the day before the wedding.

lilac-sleeveslilac-dress The dress ended upย  looking way better without the Bollywood sleeves since they didn’t match the color at all.

The next problem that arose was the fact that the bride needed sleeves and had ordered, or the salon was supposed to have ordered sleeve material and 12 beaded lace motifs to attach to the newly made sleeves. We waited and waited and 2 days before the wedding the fabric finally arrived from China. Here is what I started with:components

Two yards of tulle, a test sleeve of chiffon and 12 motifs and a change of plans from the bride almost sent me screaming. All along the sister was supposed to embellish the new sleeves but things went so hectic that I was asked to do it all….make, embellish and attach.

Next time I will show all the steps involved but before I get back to the next bride in the line here is a little darling dress that had to sneak in that final day as well….you have heard this story before…the dress was ordered online, it arrived 1 day before the Winter formal dance and since the girl was 6 ft tall…the hem of this dress barely covered her cheeks in back or her lady parts in front. Then she added gold glitter 5 inch stilettos with 1 inch platform soles…taking her to 6’6 easy….

The girl said she could go to the dance and be happy but Grandma drove her over and said different…Grandma armed with a ballpoint pen started drawing lines on the girl’s legs where she thought the hem should be. Girlie said we could add 1.5 inches and Grandma said, “Make it 5 inches”. So off they went to JoAnn’s for some black chiffon to make the new underskirts. The next day I cut and measured and mini pleated the lower layer and darted the upper layer to make the dress look like it had come this way:


Close up of the 2 new layers inside under the Georgette over skirt and knit lining:gold-and-black-waist

So now Cinderella can get herself to the Formal high school dance and not look like she is a working girl! It is a battle to keep that hoochie mama look at bay!

I had to laugh just before I tossed out a cardboard box into the recycling bin this week. Maybe you have seen this before but it was so clever:cat-box

Happy Spring sewing everyone!

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29 Responses to Down to the Wire

  1. Trish says:

    I share your horror of deadlines, but, as you said, thanks to the internet, they are becoming very familiar! I have a theory that these sites deliver them perilously close to the event (especially wedding dresses) so that you don’t have time to return them when you realize how horrible they really are.
    That gold sequinned black number looked excellent after you worked your magic. I’m intrigued as to why you needed to add the darts to each layer. Would it have been too full otherwise?
    That idea of layers of two different lengths is brilliant. I must remember that when next I’m asked to do that (and I will be).๐Ÿ˜

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Trish, yes the skirt circumference was 90 inches and the waist was 25…the first layer of chiffon was mini pleated down to 25 and then I darted the second layer to be even flatter and stitched that over the mini pleats. The alternative would have been to just gather both layers but there would have been a nasty ridge showing through the Georgette…can’t have that! Getting the first layer at the right hem level was the toughest but the second layer was just measured, hemmed on one edge, serged on the other and slapped down…easy peasy!

  2. Alethia says:

    ROTFLMBO, at the grandmother drawing on her legs, lol!!!!
    This reminds me of the year that David’s started selling these below the rim of your butt dresses, stiletto heels, and garters for the prom girls….gheeesh!!!

  3. mrsmole says:

    Poor girl had 3 horizontal lines down down her legs front and back…in ink…but Grandma got her way…ha ha. Why do we need 16 and 17 years olds looking like this?

    • sdbev says:

      I agree with you completely. A 16/17year old girl is fresh and lovely beyond appealing. I don’t get trying to change such a vision into a , um you said “working girl”.

      • mrsmole says:

        Mr Mole is always telling me that when young girls strive to attract boys with sexy clothes, in reality they do not realize what feelings of lust they are stirring up. To the girls they are dressing up, making up and having fun experimenting but it drives young men crazy.

  4. Andrea says:

    The young lady’s dress is beautiful with the new addition, and a much better length. All that last minute work, it sounds like you need a break – maybe a nice sewing day for you!

    • mrsmole says:

      You are right, Andrea. This week will be slower and I can catch up on other things like filling out my taxes. I have a project of my own that needs attention and will soon be a blog post to share.

  5. June says:

    Three cheers for Grandma! Good for her for sticking to her guns. I share your distaste for last-minute work.

  6. Easily Amewsed says:

    I would be that kind of grandma and what you did for that dress definitely elevated it from glam to glamorous. I really don’t know how you stay sane sometimes, but the solutions always seem to come to you.

    • mrsmole says:

      All the good ideas come to me in the middle of the night so I have learned to go with the flow and get up and experiment, baste, draw, whatever it takes to make something work. I do ask the client what THEY think they want to make something wearable and most times they say to just follow my instinct as they are not the one with the sewing background. If they trust me to do it right, that makes it easier.

  7. Monique says:

    You’ve worked miracles again. Surely, dresses need not come all the way from China? How about local industry? When it’s cheap, cheap is what you get. Such a shame. But grandma was funny.
    Enjoy your Sunday (off maybe?),

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Monique, almost ALL dresses come from China whether bought online or in stores. Sadly very few clothing lines are made in the US and certainly not dresses meant to be worn once like these. The prices match the quality of the work and quality of fabrics. Where can you find a dress for under $39? Only online and the websites have beautiful tall thin models to promote sales. When the dress arrives late and it is not quite what they thought they had ordered, it is too late to return it as Trish mentioned earlier and they are stuck. Maybe we can both enjoy our Sunday…fingers crossed!

      • Monique says:

        Maybe I’m lucky, living in Europe. Although I returned to sewing for myself because of all the shoddy stuff in the stores. One asks oneself “how do they do it for so little?”, and compares fabric prices and hours of sewing – but of course recent events have shown us how clothing can be so cheap. I suppose people need to realize first what sort of industry they’re supporting, and need to want quality too – of goods, and of life for the workers – before things can change for the better.

        A heavy-handed start to the week, but wishing you and all readers a great one all the same! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. makeandwear says:

    Hi there:) a new follower here. Just wanted to say that your posts really make me smile. I used to do a lot of bridal alterations and just couldn’t take the stress of all the last minute extras that always turned up! Dressmakers really need so much patience and not just for the sewing part! ๐Ÿ™‚ Chris

    • mrsmole says:

      AMEN. Chris! I’ll bet you remember having to be a counselor and hand holder and psychologist all in one. Some days you need to be the go-between for mother and daughter or grandmother and Mother of the bride. So much tension and drama and in some cases resentment and envy from the mother of the bride seeing her daughter made into a princess. Mothers want me to know they didn’t have a beautiful dress or a fancy wedding, they eloped, had a civil ceremony, wore a borrowed dress etc. and feel so jealous of their daughter being fussed and given the wedding of her dreams. You want to say to the mother, “Leave that resentment on the doorstep, my sewing room is a happy place”. The brides feel it, their posture reflects the bad feelings coming from the moms and it is deflating for everyone. So when I get a mom and daughter that are happy for each other, I celebrate them and tell them how refreshing it is to work with them…good feelings all around!Thank you for dropping by and commenting…have a super Sunday!

  9. prttynpnk says:

    She will secretly thank Grandma when she realizes a cold folding chair at a dance and ones naked nethers are a bad combo!!!

  10. mrsmole says:

    Absolutely, Anne and in fact that is what I did to start with…made her sit on a chair and ask if there was ANY fabric under her butt…when she answered NO…we got to work! It is still 27 degrees here so those metal folding chairs can give your hiney a jolt!

  11. Sewbussted says:

    You did incredible repairs on all of the pieces, but here’s my question, and maybe I am totally out of line with this, but when are we going to stop being lured by the cheap garments from China? What happened to appreciating quality?

  12. mrsmole says:

    Maybe spending $39 for a throwaway dress makes sense to parents…they could spend $200 for a US made one in a nice boutique but then they would still have to buy shoes and pay for the fancy hairdo and nails to be done…and still worry that their daughter might come home pregnant. Quality clothes are for those who appreciate them and can buy them themselves. Also for brides who buy all 6-7 of the new bridesmaids dresses…spending $39 each makes sense since those friends will NEVER wear those gaudy dresses again. The “kind” bride tells her bridesmaids to just buy a certain color dress in a nice flattering style so they can wear it again. One day no one will be able to buy cheap fashion because it will not be made, wages will stabilize, raw goods will cost more and shipping will cost more…slowly manufacturing will return to our own countries….but that will take a while won’t it, Rhonda?

  13. Shay says:

    It sounds like you did an incredible job with the wedding…I hope they paid you what you are worth (yeah….right).

    If that high school girl is 6’6″ in gold stilettos, her gramma might have carried the day by pointing out her dress was going to make her look like Patrick Swayze in “To Wong Foo.”

    • mrsmole says:

      They paid well enough and I learned more lessons…sigh…Lordie, we never want a young girl to look like a transvestite from a movie! OH NO! Thanks for the flash back to that movie!

  14. Lynda says:

    As always, stellar work. I am so impressed with you not only being able to carry off all the craziness and get the alterations right, but to also generally have happy clients who understand what you have done to make them beautiful.
    I’m also going to try the cookie recipe on the side of the box when I have some time. Kudos, love your blog!

  15. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Lynda…that cookie recipe did tempt me too! If I had a cat I would make the box into a cat bed but wedding gowns and cats don’t mix very well!

  16. I salute you (and Grandma!) ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. mrsmole says:

    I know you would have done the same, Kim!

  18. Bunny says:

    Oh, my, I am worn out just reading this saga of a week that you had. You are the queen of it all and in the end made everyone happy. I do believe that your husband, like his much treasured spouse, is a man of deep wisdom. Party dress up time can make these boys crazy in a might regret it later way. Grandma deserves the plaque of the week for overseeing her granddaughter’s hoochy wants. Great save on that one, Mrs Mole.

  19. symondezyn says:

    Bravo!! Well done keeping the hoochie mama at bay! You are a pro indeed! ^__^ It floors me how many people buy dresses online at all, let alone from China… what are they THINKING??? I hope they’re at least wise enough to appreciate your extreme talents in making internet crap not just wearable, but beautiful ^__^

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