Muslins and Mothers

Welcome to all the new viewers this week who found their way from Ruth’s blog:! While my sewing is dictated by clients I follow her and envy her creations and final great fit and choice of fabrics and colors.

This last week was filled with anxious teenage girls and their mothers and Prom dresses that would need some work and mothers with children who reeked havoc in my sewing room. The first mother called to ask about dropping off 5 pair of new pants to be hemmed and after making a date and time she added,”I apologize for my children in advance, they are 4 years old and 10 months and are very inquisitive and crawling.”  After feeling my stomach start to churn, I replied, “My sewing room is a very dangerous place with machines and pins and someone will have to be watching your children while you try on the pants.” She decided to come alone.

The next mother came to have her bridesmaid dress hemmed and brought along her 8 year old daughter as a surprise and in the 30 minutes they were there that girl went through my entire room touching picking up and moving everything I hold near and dear no matter how many times I asked her not to. At one point I wanted to ask the mother to put the kid back in her car but having someone jumping off the sofa unto the floor and opening drawers can really speed up the pinning process!!!

The third mother brought her 6 year old pageant princess to have a dress hemmed. Now I don’t know if many of you have seen Toddlers and Tiaras on TV but it involves taking average looking girls and transforming them into mini Elizabeth Taylor and Marilyn Monroe with fake teeth, fake hair, thick make-up and lots of drama all competing for a prize/crown. The mothers whip these little girls into a frenzy to perform dances and strut their stuff for the judges. The tiny girl in my sewing room was a size 4 and her custom made dress ($350) needed hemming but during this process of pinning up 20 vertical flounces and hem and linings she really had ants in her pants. The mother said they had to wear 5 different outfits for the competitions and the prize was a trip to Disneyland. Lord only knows how much money is spent for each competition!


The real fun this week was having my client/model Nancy over to try on her Vogue 8947 muslin. In my last post I showed the sample dress on the dress form but once she tried it on, the weird sleeves had to be removed. Then we got to pinning and marking and laughing.1-front-pinned Can you see where the designer thought the bust points should be? The neckline had already been moved in on the sides 5/8 inch on paper but the eventual finished edge will be the cut edge. What we really like is the princess seams extended all the way past the waist instead of a seam there, so the paper pattern will be altered to reflect that. It will elongate her and draw the eye up and down instead of across her waistline as in the photo with red lines. Since Nancy is 2 sizes or more different from bust to hip, I cut the dress for the hip ease and pinned out the excess in the top. Since she is short waisted, I prefer to pin out instead of make patches.2-back2-side You can see the drooping center back before and after and the side seams in the bodice that need to be tightened up. Can you see the rounded back line across her shoulders? That will be added on paper later.

3-back4-back-pinned Besides the shoulders pinned up, the zipper will also be taken in and the amount I add to the upper slash will be removed from the swayback area at the same time…why? Well the length we have here is perfect so adding at one area and taking away at another on a straight center back seam will cause the seam to conform to curves and that is what we want. The hips fit so well and the skirt falls from the yoke just right. 5-front-neckline

The neckline will be raised, the edges you see will be the finished edge with seam allowances added on paper and center front folded out on paper too. Without making that adjustment, the shoulders tended to slide off…who needs that?

Next time I have wild Prom dresses and brides to delight you and more hoochie-mama dresses that need some modesty adjusting! Nancy has a new floral jacket coming and lots of paper pattern adjustments too! Have a super week for sewing for Spring!

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22 Responses to Muslins and Mothers

  1. I love seeing your muslins with lines all over them – the pictures are almost self explanatory. Nancy seems like a perfect client- one with patience to let you get everything looking the way it should. 🙂

  2. Tia Dia says:

    Me too! I love seeing all the adjustments you make on the muslins, and I’m always grateful for the posts! And I hear you on the children who obviously have no expectations for propriety in their poor indulged lives. Unfortunately, I don’t care much about how I offend the mothers while enforcing the basic rules of respecting others’ property in their untaught offspring. 😀 Someone’s got to expose those kids to the real world of civil and polite behaviour.

    • mrsmole says:

      So glad I caught the first woman with the TWO children because the last time I had TWO kids, they had a pillow fight while spinning in my work chairs while mom just admired herself in a bathing suit in the mirror.

  3. Why, oh why, can’t mothers control their children in our workrooms? They wouldn’t consider allowing them to behave like that in a factory so what’s the difference? I’m afraid I am with TiaDia and have risked losing work by being VERY direct with the mothers of offending brats.

    • mrsmole says:

      Another lesson learned, Kim…from now on…no more precocious pageant princesses with poofy dresses. I have to say I hate to judge but the mothers have all been the same and very much like the women in the TV show.

  4. Lynda says:

    I love your posts. I learn so much from you about what is possible and how to adjust patterns to actually fit a body without causing more and more problems.
    Good luck with the bratty kids. I think the mothers never learned manners and comportment so don’t have a clue their children are out of control.
    Can’t imagine those dresses on a child. I am so appalled at the Toddler’s and Tiaras show. To me it looks like mothers pimping out their young children. Just sad and wrong IMO.

  5. mrsmole says:

    Oh Lynda, one mother brought her girl to me for just 50 measurements for her whole new wardrobe for pageants and then showed me a photo of her girl dressed up with make-up and jewelry…SCARY…it looked NOTHING like the little 6 year old…NOTHING! Let’s say high class Call-Girl would be a good comparison…you are right…there is a whole lot of pimping and primping!!!

  6. I loved reading all your explanations about the adjustments, especially about extending the princess seams so that it elongates the waist.

    I would be worried that these people with unruly children would be the kind to sue when their precious child hurts themselves in your business, perhaps you should make them sign a liability waiver?

    • mrsmole says:

      Good idea but I worry when the switch my machines on and then start pushing buttons…I couldn’t give a rat’s ass if they step on a pin if they jam or damage my machines. The last girl starting pulling all the thread off the wall holders and grabbing all the bridal gowns and pulling the sequins off. When I get a phone call from a new bride and I hear screaming children in the background, I always say that children are not welcome for fittings…maybe I should say that to ALL new clients? BTW love your latest girl’s tutu…just darling:

  7. prttynpnk says:

    God Bless Nancy- I’ve got that pattern and this is a huge help! Also, my pink organza meringue pageant dress is coming along well- you know I’ll do anything for a trip to Disney- can I use a flaming baton with organza?

    • prttynpnk says:

      By the way- I have a my little pony on my desk at work and a whole bag of Disney costumes for it- if a child gets all the way to my office I use it as a distraction from all my good toys!

  8. mrsmole says:

    Careful, Anne…is your sparkly organza fireproof? I have seen boxes of toys at boutiques where children are supposed to play while their mothers wander and spend money but I don’t want to encourage them…ha ha. sometimes I give a good child (rare!) a piece of sugarless candy for staying on the sofa. Glad you can follow along with us as we re-create that pattern into something flattering. BTW I cut the “C” cup bodice just for shape…it was perfect but then took out volume in the side seams.

  9. theresa says:

    Seems to me with the cost of the pageant costumes, make-up, tanning, and all the other ridiculous things parents do to their kids for these things, couldn’t they just use that money to go to Disney without all the hoopla? Poor kids, but lucky Nancy! Can’t wait to see the finished dress.

  10. mrsmole says:

    That’s exactly what i was thinking, Theresa. We know how long it takes to drive there and stay in a budget motel. If you keep on doing these pageants in succession and paying the entry fees, clothes, make-up etc…adding that up, they could have gone there and back a couple times!

  11. sewruth says:

    Excellent fitting advice yet again – we are indebted. How I wish you could zoom around the world pinning out our excesses! Also makes me glad I had a son…..

  12. mrsmole says:

    Oh Ruth,I would love to pin out excesses and give advice and draw on muslins every day if I could!!! Altering paper patterns for me is a joy. The sewing bit is just construction, not creativity and diversity. Fitting all sorts of bodies is where you learn to “read” the fabric grain and the woman’s body. And as we are all aging at different rates and versions it sure ain’t going to get any easier and patterns will not get better fitting. I sewed for my son as well as my two daughters and all the grandchildren get handmade outfits when I can sneak in the time. Hope your pink corduroy pants are coming along well!!!!!

  13. Tee says:

    I, too, am in the throes of proms and weddings! My contract states “no children, unless they are clients”! I had a child break a picture frame once. I am also worried about liability issues!!!!

  14. mrsmole says:

    Thank goodness, Tee, it was only a picture frame!!! Glad you have managed to make a rule about children…I don’t know what mothers are thinking…would they bring them to a hair salon or dentist’s office or massage room??? Spending an hour in front of a mirror does not allow ANY mother to control her children!

  15. June says:

    OMG, I am dizzy with all the alterations on the muslin. I will have to take some time to study them closely (but not when I’m at work, ha ha).

    Being an “owner” of several small, weasly children myself, I am well familiar with the child-unfriendly hazards of the sewing room. I am constantly barking “Iron! HOT HOT HOT! Don’t touch!” and “Watch out for pins on the floor!” and “Don’t drop my scissors… no, don’t even pick them up! No! Put them down! Ah, honey, did you drop them on your foot? Dangit, is your foot ok? ” Gah.

    I know it’s a horrible idea to bring A Little along for a fitting, but if they’re there and you have no other recourse, a movie (Disney Princess, if it’s a little girl) goes a long way toward keeping a child still. By the time they’re old enough to not care for princesses, they’re old enough to entertain themselves with a book or electronic device (or not come along in the first place).

  16. symondezyn says:

    I read a sign in a shop once that read “unattended children will be given sugar and a free puppy” – unsurprisingly. there were no small children in that shop LOL. Having worked in several shops where people thought it was entirely acceptable to leave their children running amok while they went about their business, I can totally sympathize with your frustration; good thing for them you don’t have a supply of candy and free puppies to send them away with!! LOL (YET…..)

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