A Little Stress, A Little Hem

Those of you who know me or write to me regularly know me to be a calm, patient and very non-confrontational introvert who just wants to help clients look good but this week someone changed all that.

It started with a phone call from an older woman:

Woman: I have a very much loved 1939 jacket I want perfectly copied and a perfect pattern made.

Mrs Mole: I can do that, please tell me more about the jacket

Woman: I bought it in a thrift store in California for $14 and it has to be reproduced in the finest wool available and be perfect, every seam, every detail.

Mrs Mole: I can do that, but normally I don’t take apart the garment to copy it and make a pattern.

Woman: I WANT it taken apart and copied exactly and I WANT many more jackets made in all colors.

We make an appointment for the following day but after speaking to my friend andย  fellow seamstress, Joyce, she says she sees “red flags” and warns me yet again this gal may/will probably be trouble. But, ever the optimist, I decide to not judge the woman too harshly as on the phone some come off as bossy/hostile/demanding but in person they are more relaxed and easier to work with.

The doorbell rings the next day, 20 minutes early, an in she walks, complete with Kabuki make-up kabuki 2 on an 80 year old face. She looks around my sewing room and asks, “How long have you been sewing” and I reply “only 40 years for clients” and she replies, “And you LIKE doing this?” My response is always, “Yes, I love it”.

She immediately tells me that she was a “wardrobe consultant in a fashion institute” and she continues to know all about fashion and pulls the old jacket from an old bag. It is a raggedy, stretched out, sagging black wool one-button waist-length jacket with a narrow shawl collar and 2 double welt pockets and the weirdest shoulders I have ever seen. They look like someone shoved a baked potato in each where the shoulder pads should be so I mention to her that they look a little wide. “Well”, she says, “That is what I love about this jacket and you can see I have worn the elbows completely away and put on suede patches by myself. Yes, indeed, there they were both put on with long hand stitches and even they look very worn through.

She continues to parade around my room admiring herself posing in the mirror telling me how well it fits, pulling it at the sleeve hems and waist and primping and repeating how perfect it is on her and how perfect it has to be once reproduced and how she wants these exact baked potato shoulders. That’s whenย  I straightened up and told her: “I won’t be copying your jacket.”

Her totally encircled black kohl-lined eyes opened wide and her heavily hot pink rouged cheeks sank and her mouth dropped open in shock. She said she did not drive all the way to my house (7 miles) to be told NO. Then I explained that I did not judge her on the phone but noted that every third word was “perfect” and I decided to meet her in case things were different in person but they are not. I said I could not work with someone who expected such perfection because instead of looking forward to the process and client I would DREAD it every day. I said that at my stage of life it is wise to honor instincts and gut feelings and not add more stress than is necessary.

She puffed up and corrected/blasted me and said, “I am very easy to work with as long as the jacket ends up exactly perfect and you can find the finest wool in the world just like this one”.

I said I was sorry but I was set on not doing this for her and there was nothing she could say to make me change my mind and wished her well on her quest to find someone who COULD work to her specifications. Once she was on her way to her car, I wandered into Mr. Mole’s office to tell him what had happened and he said he did not know how I could have been so brave and stand my ground so well since this is not my nature. To recover, I managed to pour myself a diet Dr. Pepper and take a few deep breaths and try to stop shaking….whew!

So, back to sewing projects, just to tempt you, here are a few photos of lined sleeves for a new jacket for Nancy.


The sleeve lining is cut the length without hem allowances. The sleeve hem is 1.5 inches with a 1/2 inch seam, that leaves a 1/2 bagging for the lining hem. I stitch the sleeve and the lining separately and then together in the round RST. Pulling the lining flat I stitch in the ditch on the wring side and this makes an inch topstitching on the right side and allows the lining to bag a little.

sleeve-liningstitch-hempin-lining-to-cap Pin the lining to the gathered cap, the underarm seam and allow the hem to bag a little:pin-lining-to-underarm Fingers crossed it will be finished this weekend so Nancy and I can go out to lunch and celebrate my birthday.

Wishing you all stress-free clients and easy sewing!


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67 Responses to A Little Stress, A Little Hem

  1. Good heavens…that woman must have been a sight! So glad you’re not dealing with that ๐Ÿ™‚

    PS…You could write a book…!

  2. mrsmole says:

    Only wish I would have taken her photo!!! A book, yes, but it would only contain a finite amount of stories where a blog can share the endless stream of insanity…ha ha!

  3. Tia Dia says:

    Some people are just downright scary. *eeeeep!* Love the fabric on the jacket you’re making for your client. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Cindy says:

    Somewhere there is a padded cell she has escaped from and her keepers are frantically searching for her!! What I want to know is how she slipped the jacket with the sleeves that tie in the back, that is a handy trick to know! I guess it takes all kinds but I’m glad you stood your ground she sounds all kinds of crazy and would have made your life miserable. Knowing when to say no is very a valuable skill, that or charging the you are annoying fee, which in her case would have been astronomical!!

    • mrsmole says:

      A friend of mine who also tries to massage this craziness out of my shoulders once a month says you have to know when to add the PIA (pain in the a**) extra fee unto bills. This would have been a whooper!

      • I totally agree with your friend! I am cracking up laughing over here. I don’t know how you kept a straight face through that. I couldn’t look at her and be serious, but you did it! Way to go! All kind of red flags popped up in that phone conversation. But, I would have done just like you, given her the benefit of the doubt. And, I would have quoted an outrageous amount to recreate the jacket. If she accepted it, it (PIA) would have been worth it. If not, good riddens.

  5. sewbussted says:

    I don’t know how you were able to keep a straight face! Too funny ๐Ÿ™‚ Well, it keeps it fun ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. Well done Mrs Mole! It gets easier now that you have turned one away. – and she certainly sounded like one to be turned down ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. eeps1 ebay says:

    I am a painter and you did the right thing. I have refused many a commission when instinct told me it was not going to end well….

  8. poldapop says:

    Nicely done, Mrs Mole! That would have been a disaster. And I admire that you said all of this calmly, without getting defensive and angry yourself. What a relief!

  9. Anne W says:

    Oh blimey! Well done in sending her on her way! I must confess I would probably have told her I was too busy on the phone already! Sounds like a complete nightmare.

  10. prttynpnk says:

    That picture! I love it! Im getting such a visual of her specialness!!!
    Happy birthday

  11. Meigan says:

    Well done Mrs. Mole. I think you really dodged a bullet there. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Barbara says:

    Phewwww! Your Aries nature kicked in and not a moment too soon. Brava!
    I love the fabric (what I can see of it) of the jacket you’re working on and hope you will show us the finished product. I love a highly pattererned jacket, being an Aries myself. When is your birthday?

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Barbara, I did let the Mars-driven Aries side kick in…April 5 is the day. The new jacket will make an appearance next time. When is your day?

      • Barbara says:

        April 9 is my day. So looking forward to seeing the new jacket.
        I love your blog but sometimes have a hard time reading it because of the shenanigans of your clients. I think you must have the “patience of a Saint”! Glad the patience kicked her stained $200 silk blouse out the door.

  13. Linda Craig says:

    Thank you for the laugh Mrs. Mole, that is hilarious, well done!

  14. I admire you! You gave her a chance but didn’t leave yourself to weeks of drudgery. Woo hoo!

  15. It sounds like she sees herself through the past’s reflection, kind of like body dysmorphia…so sad. Sometimes the kindest thing you can do is to be the person that says NO.

  16. mrsmole says:

    It was almost like the old Carol Burnett characters of aging movie stars…all made up and reliving the past…so sad really but she didn’t need to team up with me.

  17. Mema says:

    Oh, I like every of your storys. And this is one of the best. Have a nice day and an happy birthday.

  18. mrsmole says:

    Danke, Mema Es ist mir eine Freude, mit Ihnen und Ihren Blog mit klassischen und geschmackvolle Kleidung und wunderschรถne Stoffe zu teilen. Happy Spring!

  19. Elle says:

    Good for you! It’s a two-way street: those looking for your skills choose you (or not) and you select them (or not). And for this one, NOT!!!

  20. mrsmole says:

    Oh Laurie, I looked down the tunnel ahead of me with this babe and saw nothing but misery and ripping out to make that 1939 jacket over and over…maybe the fact of my stomach rising in the back of my throat forced the right words out…like Kenny Rogers sang “you have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them”.

  21. Lynda says:

    Good job. Love Nancy’s jacket. I may actually get back to mine this weekend. Who knows? Hope your current brides are a sweet lot!

    • mrsmole says:

      The brides are pretty good so far, all excited, a couple of sisters as well a month apart (that poor mom!). Nancy’s jacket is made from my blouse pattern in the camo fabric a few posts back.

  22. Rachel says:

    Sounds like you dodged a bullet there – very smart!

  23. Bunny says:

    OMG! I would have collapsed in laughter at the front door. Great job on being assertive!

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Bunny, you must see sights like this at work, no?

    • mrsmole says:

      Trying to remember the nuns’ voices telling me not to judge while I opened the front door while gasping at the sight of her was difficult enough but I was intrigued just the same to hear what she had to say…you know what I mean?

  24. candicero says:

    Excellent radar! I am working on sharpening my own – will take your story as a lesson!

  25. Valerie says:

    This is just too fabulous. I would almost be tempted to take on this job for the experience of writing about more visits from this unique character..almost. I am so glad she let you take her picture. BTW Why didn’t she hunt down the perfect wool and bring it to you?

    • mrsmole says:

      Well, Valerie, she didn’t actually let me take her photo…it is one I found on Google but so identical I laughed. I did suggest places up and down the West Coast that she could troll through but some clients feel that they pay for a full service and I should do all the running around. The original wool was a cross between a crepe/twill/waffle weave from 1939, I guess. Nothing Like I have seen ever and i have the feeling that no matter how well the jackets would have been sewn…the wool would have not come up to her perfect expectations.

  26. Well done on saying “no” and standing your ground! It’s hard to do, but it would definitely have been even harder to work for someone that difficult!

  27. theresa says:

    Oh my and good for you! And Happy Birthday! I’d say you gave yourself the ultimate gift. The jacket for Nancy is lovely, I hope you two have a wonderful birthday outing.

  28. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Theresa…be on the lookout for that Kabuki lady…she shops where you do!

  29. TinaLou says:

    Oh my goodness; as my Mom says, ‘it takes all kinds’. The first time I read this, I actually went back to see when you posted it as I thought for certain this HAD to be an April Fool’s Day post – but no!!

  30. mrsmole says:

    Ha ha….Tina, I never thought of doing an April Fool’s Blog….what a hoot though! Sadly, this is for real and can be quite entertaining once the initial shock has wore off!

  31. Barbara says:

    Happy Birthday, on your day. Hope it’s all that you want it to be. I wish you a plethora of wonderful clients in the upcoming year!!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Barbara. I Had a very productive sewing birthday and Mr Mole surprised me with a Mexican dinner out! Fingers crossed for only delightful brides as the season progresses!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Barbara…and the same to you on the 9th! I sent you a private email so please check your trash to see if it went there.

  32. Laurie says:

    You were VERY brave! Once someone was at my house I do not know if I would have enough guts to say “no thank you I don’t need this job because of the extra stress YOU would add to it!” You are awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Happy Birthday! Hope it is a marvelous one! ๐Ÿ˜€

  33. mrsmole says:

    Thank you so much, Laurie! It was productive and with 4 lace gowns hanging waiting to be finished, I just worked on Nancy’s jacket for a change of pace to see COLORS! Speaking of colors…my oh my your last blouse is stunning! http://sewexhausted.wordpress.com

  34. Monique says:

    GOOD FOR YOU MRS MOLE! I’ve learned the hard way too, with weird would-be clients, who were always grief if I went ahead with them. But I agree, this is the way to go. You get used to standing up for yourself, and it even gets easier when your professional pride kicks in and you trust your insight (instead of calling it unhelpful, unkind, rude and judgmental). I always try to refer to someone who would be a better “fit”, to soften the blow, but a “no” stays a “no”.
    Hope you enjoyed your birthday! Another Aries here. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Hey Aries girl, we know we have the power to stand our ground and be firm but we don’t always make use of it. Yes, telling someone they will find someone who will “want” to work with them is kinder than just saying “no”. She lives in a very theater orientated town and I said she will eventually find someone who will work with her to produce a pattern and more perfect jackets. My birthday was very productive…lots of white hemming and tulle tucking…ha ha. So many days I can spend 10 hours burrowing through laces and satins and netting on the inside of the dress and not really see ANY progress from the outside…thanks for dropping by, Monique…wishing some Spring to visit the Netherlands soon!

      • Monique says:

        Thank you! We’ve had an extraordinary Spring already, dry and sunny. Now it’s normal again – rain and around 13 degrees Celsius, which is fine by me.
        I know, I know, big mouths, tender hearts, we is. I’m not always the best match for them and their problem, and would rather see them having good results, than me stringing them on for what becomes ill-begotten gains. In the end, that sort of care is usually appreciated, and leaves me with a clear conscience. Undoubtedly, your lady will find someone with the right temperament and hopefully the skills to go with it.
        Wishing you patience with all that unseen work – not Aries’ best trait, but we can work on it…

  35. Martina says:

    Good for you, Mrs. Mole. If you want a laugh, google Marilyn Riseman. She actually was a famous fashionista here in Boston, and was never seen without her “iconic” makeup. She was very nice, though, if a little eccentric.

  36. June says:

    I am so proud of you!
    Hope you had a lovely birthday.

  37. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, June. I see you have been busy making socks and darling twirly dresses for your daughter: http://www.twosheep.com/blog/?p=3139
    So funny to be recognized after all those years after college…lucky you…you must not have aged at all!!!!

  38. symondezyn says:

    Wow, what a story!! If I hadn’t worked in the fashion industry myself I wouldn’t believe such people exist, but sadly, they do, and lucky you – you got one! LOL. You stayed so professional and firm in your refusal of her – that’s really admirable, and most definitely for the best in saving your sanity!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Too bad we couldn’t follow her saga to the next ‘fortunate’ seamstress ๐Ÿ˜‰

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