Nancy’s Jacket and New Job offer

For those of you who wanted to see more of Nancy’s floral jacket…here we go! It was made from my blouse pattern a couple posts back…the camo looking one. I made Nancy try it on and she decided to try the floral fabric, Alexander Henry, for a summer jacket. An Ambiance lining would help sliding it on and off so that was cut from the floral fabric pieces used as patterns in the last post. Now we have the rest of the photos of finished sections…the lining is caught under the facing and topstitched:


The inside of the vent has the lining hand stitched.outside-vent

The outside of the vent continues the 1 inch spacing for topstitching.attach-binding The neck edge is bound with self made bias binding flipped to the wrong side. The bulk of the seam will be trimmed with pinking shears and clipped,


then hand sewn to the lining to stay put:inside-neck and result is:finished-front finished-back  back-neck-darts

Here are back neck darts and rounded back alteration and added 2 vertical back fish-eye darts. Yes, there are 2 large lined pockets…can you see them? One is invisible with a scrap matching exactly the right position and the other a bit off but no scraps were left that matched the fabric below. Nancy did not want any closures but she may opt for a top button later if the jacket fronts slide around too much. She likes 3/4 sleeves and the shoulder pads could have been thicker but it is a casual jacket to cheer up all her other clothes.

This week I got a phone call from the local David’s Bridal manager…it goes like this:

Manager: I want to invite you down for a sewing test and if you pass, I would offer you a job altering bridal gowns in our back room.

Me: Really? Don’t you have your own seamstresses?

Manager: Well 2 of our girls have left to go on their own and we are down to only one girl. If you pass the test, we might even LET YOU pin as well as sew. And if you show some expertise I would offer you $1 more per hour to start.

Me: Well, what is your starting pay normally?

Manager: $10 an hour and you must work weekends.

Me: I don’t mean to be rude but you are going to be hard pressed to find ANYONE let alone someone who can sew well to work for $10 an hour.

Manager: We have had women come in for the test and just leave shouting, “TOO MANY LAYERS”.

At this point in my career (40+ years) I will not be taking any sewing test as I have enough pinning and sewing going on right now in my 2 sewing rooms…ha ha. So the next time you gasp at the prices for alterations at bridal salons…know what those hard working ladies in the back room are making…the same as folks stocking shelves at Walmart or bagging burgers at McDonald’s…sad isn’t it?

Be thankful most of you sew for fun and as a hobby or can actually charge decent rates for decent work you take pride in!


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40 Responses to Nancy’s Jacket and New Job offer

  1. It is no wonder they can’t keep any seamstresses. A seamstress hemming pants on her own can make more than that and bridal is MUCH more technical than hemming pants.

    • mrsmole says:

      The manager is really stuck between a rock and a hard place…the alteration rates are set by the corporation as well as the labor rates…a win/win for the national chains.

  2. sewbussted says:

    What’s even more amazing to me is that they actually acted as though they were doing you a do or to offer you the job….as long as you passed the sewing test. Shaking my head in amazement.

    • mrsmole says:

      It was funny offering me a job when I have been doing this on my own for so long and my website and Google ad (where they found me) state all this along with my experience and degree…the phrase comes to mind “grasping at straws”.

      • Monique says:

        I had the same thought – it seems like this manager knows very little about the work itself, and only concerns him/herself with the costs. It sounds like a terrible place to work, no matter how much you like sewing.

  3. Tia Dia says:

    Wow! The wedding dress world is a major lesson in scammery and exploitation of skills. I’ll remember that when my daughters’ turn to walk down an aisle come ’round… or prom… or any other “big fancy gown required” event. Brother.

    • mrsmole says:

      Everyone should use a good independent seamstress who will actually “recycle” her wages into the local economy. My wages stay in town and help others to feed their families…isn’t that how it is supposed to work? Thanks for your comments, Tia!

      • Kat Jackson says:

        You are both so right. If I hadn’t been confident to sew my own dress, my next plan was to find a local seamstress who could really add to the economy *and* provide what I actually wanted (instead of what was in stock).

  4. Lynda says:

    Love Nancy’s jacket. What a great casual jacket.
    I hope you laughed out loud at the manager at David’s. What chutzpah to anticipate anyone would come and work as a slave for them for $10 per hour and then work weekends on top of it!
    I’ve seen alterations that come out of there and now understand why they are such poor quality!
    Hope you have a great weekend!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Lynda…just imagine how fast those poor gals have to work to churn out gowns and hems especially during prom season and wedding and cotillion…no time for second guessing!

  5. prttynpnk says:

    Oh lovely, if you pass the sewing test, you can go to the ball with your sister! Mrs Cindermole!!!
    I love the jacket, that shape is so versatile…..

  6. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Anne….we were both so happy to have a collarless jacket from a blouse pattern! If I went to work for David’s Bridal they would surely have to have a fridge filled with diet Dr Pepper!

  7. Wow, I would’ve been turned off just by her approach…she reached out to you, it’s not like she’s calling the local sewing school to recruit one of the students, she’s calling a proven alterations professional. And it’s not just handling multiple layers, it’s also expensive fabrics and delicate lace, and most of all…deadlines!!

  8. mrsmole says:

    Yes, yes, the deadlines will kill you and just when you think you can manage a certain date, the bride throws in, “I want my dress early so I can have my hairdresser/nail girl/ florist/caterer see the dress” or “I am flying to the wedding on the East Coast a week early”. She probably called every name in the phone book related to sewing because if you are down to one seamstress, you are up the creek with just one paddle!

  9. Bunny says:

    Wow! The brass balls of that company/manager! Did she really think you made so little and would just die to work weekends at ten bucks an hour for her company? I’ve got a name for someone like that!

    Love your friend’s jacket. Great job, Mrs Mole, and I couldn’t even see the pockets.

  10. mrsmole says:

    Well, thanks, Bunny…the pocket on Nancy’s right hand side is perfect…the other fits in ok with the swirls etc. At one time I did charge $10 an hour but that was a very very long time ago! Is Spring there yet?

  11. Cindy says:

    Been there! Done that!! And you had better make them money! The store I work for now is only moderately better but the pressure to make money is not there, I suppose if I wasn’t earning my keep I might hear about it but at this point no pressure. I would love to be out on my own but I just don’t seem to have the knack for drumming up the business so for now I’ll do what I have to. Some days it is easier than others, today was a pick up day and I had an unhappy bride, she couldn’t understand why her dress was too long, my boss had pinned the length so it was ” to the bottom of her feet” and now it was still too long. My first question was do you have your shoes on? “No it’s a beach wedding and I’m going barefoot” Our paperwork shows you were fitted with a 4″ heel. “Yes but she marked it at the bottom of my feet!!” Ok what do you say to that?!? I told her I could re-hem it but she would have to pay for it again or perhaps put her 4″ heels on. She just didn’t understand that not wearing her shoes= dress too long.
    But I know you deal with those kinds of situations also, I’m just glad they can’t hear what I’m thinking!

    • Din says:

      I just laughed at this story for about two minutes . Thank you so much for the most fun I’ve had today!

    • mrsmole says:

      Me too, Cindy! Mr Mole is my sounding board…he can laugh and grumble along with me at the hysterical antics of my brides although I rarely have anyone change their mind about shoes or heels…thank God! My brides wear cowboy boots, pasture boots, barn boots or flip flops. If one arrives with a real shoe box and some silver sandals with heels…I swear I just go crazy and stare at those beauties! Thanks for sharing you back room sewing adventures…sorry you are stick there and not on your own but maybe the timing is not right yet. Some gals can work out of their home on the side and ease into the home business side of sewing and make four times the amount…keeping my fingers crossed you can do the same soon!

  12. I get a kick out of the brides that come in and tell me they are planning on wearing 4 inch heels for the ceremony, but flats for the reception, and somehow I am supposed to do a miracle and make the hem work for both. Right!?
    I have found it interesting that this season so far I have had to fix several wedding gown alteration problems – and very shoddy work. One dress I had to completely take out the seams (fortunately the fabric had not been trimmed) and she will be coming next week for me to start over with pinning. I guess finding a WG seamstress that is good is harder than I would expect.

    • Cindy says:

      Try bustling the front of the dress too, it can solve the problem depending on the style of the dress but if they really want to switch from heels to flats it works. It also helps if they do ballroom dancing and need the front short for their dance moves.

  13. mrsmole says:

    You sure learn to make miracles in this business, Krysti! ha ha…they want a bustle that works for both shoes don’t they? I hand the moms safety pins and tell them if anything is hanging too low, go ahead and start pinning up since the low parts will be hidden by everything above. Love your recent makeovers!!!! Stunning!

  14. Elle C says:

    Oh goody, They would “let” you pin and sew. Wow. What an honor that would be. Being able to pin and sew for $10 an hour, and Wow, they would let you work on weekends too. I really don’t know how you managed to turn down that incredible offer.

    We really need a font called Sarcastica. Really.

  15. mrsmole says:

    A new font for sarcasm….what a brilliant idea!!!! One of my clients told me they pay “runners” who walk around the courthouse delivering papers to different departments $13 an hour and they get every weekend off and full benefits. Once when I was standing in line at JoAnn’s, a mailman announced to the cashier that he loves his job making $35 an hour (full benefits and pension for life) walking the neighborhood delivering mail…the women in line with me almost fainted.

  16. lisalaree says:

    Did you offer to let them hand out your business cards if their sewing staff had more work than they could handle? 🙂 Just when you think you’ve heard everything…wow…

    • mrsmole says:

      Just before I hung up I did mention to her that “I am always here if you need help” and that day may come. Usually the brides find me after hearing what they charge for their alterations…sometimes it totals more than they paid for the dress, Lisa.

  17. Susie says:

    Well, this says a lot about the state of the fashion industry. I am glad to see that your David’s store is feeling a labor pinch. Hoping that means wages will have to come up to meet local demand. Of course, they would probably rather sacrifice quality to keep wages low, and continue to “train” seamstresses that eventually go out on their own, since $10/hr is not a sustainable living wage.

  18. mrsmole says:

    Some inner cities are now training people to become seamstresses for factories after they realized we don’t have too many left. There are real courses to learn factory sewing and production but we still have to educate women that just because a bridal salon or dry cleaners has a sewing machine in the back room, you may not get a quality product.
    If you spend $1000+ for a gown you have to think about who is handling it…are they taking their lunch break next to your dress? Do they have pets nearby or small children with sticky fingers, do they take smoking breaks, and do they ever wash their hands themselves before handling your pristine dress? Is the floor vacuumed every day, is the ironing board and iron clean…so many things to be aware of when you drop off the most expensive dress of your life for altering…scary stuff!

  19. Andrea says:

    Lovely, bright, and colorful jacket, Mrs. Mole. With all those colors it will be a versatile piece in her wardrobe for many years. The last time I had a dress altered for myself at Nordstrom’s (didn’t have time to do it myself), my dearest childhood friend was with me. The alterations lady, Maria, was from Italy, as is my friend Anna. We had a lovely chat (in Italian – to which I contributed only listening!) about how she learned her trade very young back in Italy. You know I examined the insides when I picked up my dress and got it home, right? Maria’s work was impeccable. It is sad to think she makes only $10 an hour for such quality work.

  20. mrsmole says:

    Amazing, Andrea! If we dug any deeper into women’s wages it would be really sickening. Some men in this country don’t believe there is a real crisis for women earning 77% of what men earn. They say we don’t need new laws and that women would find it demeaning to get paid more for their work…these men need to try and do the same job as women and see what it is really like and then try to buy groceries and pay rent on what’s left. I’m sorry your friend is stuck on that job when she could be earning way more with better hours and working conditions on her own with her expertise.

    • Monique says:

      The logic escapes me completely of “women would find it demeaning to get paid more for their work”. What planet do those men come from?

  21. Great jacket Mrs Mole – your talent really shows and is beyond needing to be tested by some idiot offering $10 an hour provided you pass. Sadly these people rarely read the information in your listings and I too have had people call offering me a great opportunity to work my guts out for nine tenths of naff all. Not going to happen. I’m sure that you too would rather spend time in the sunshine with a long drink and a good book than step back that far.

    • mrsmole says:

      When I started sewing here in this rural town 12 years ago I made $7.50 an hour working in a quilt shop selling, cutting, making samples, cleaning toilets and demonstrating Janome sewing machines and sewing for customers on the side. I would never want to go back to those days.Slowly, every year as my reputation has spread, my prices have increased and I have been able to be more picky too.

  22. sewruth says:

    Nancy’s jacket is just perfect (but of course it is).
    I don’t mean to rude to ’employed’ seamstresses, but don’t you end up re-doing quite a few of the alterations anyway? Test you! that’s a laugh. The manager does sound a little desperate though.

  23. mrsmole says:

    I’d be a little desperate too if I had only one seamstress for a whole store full of brides and bridesmaids dresses!!! Love YOUR latest jacket too…ignore your mother, as I ignore mine…they have so few clues as to our talents and skills. Ruth, your channel quilted peplum is exquisite!

  24. twotoast says:

    What a fabulous jacket – I love it! What a lucky client you have!!

  25. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, June…remember it is just a blouse pattern without the collar and cuffs…anyone can do it!

  26. symondezyn says:

    Haha I had to laugh at Anne’s comment about “Cindermole” – what nerve of them to act like “letting” you pin and sew would be an honour! I’ve seen ads for seamstresses at rates that low for chain brands but it’s kind of surprising that the bridal industry wouldn’t pay at least a bit more, considering how much more is involved. While I’m surely not good enough to charge for my sewing, I’m very grateful that my (meager) knowledge is at least enough to not have to put my wedding dress in the hands of chain stores who don’t appreciate true expertise and skill enough to pay for it!

  27. Pingback: Nancy Brought Me Clouds | fit for a queen

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