Princess and her sparkly Prom dress

Last week I mentioned this project and thought you would enjoy me sharing what I found inside the recent Prom outfit.

First thing out of the mother’s mouth was, “The day my daughter was born I knew she would be a princess and wear sparkles the rest of her life“. REALLY? Or was that just wishful thinking and the drugs given during the delivery?

The girl said as soon as she saw this dress it “WAS HERS” and nothing would stop her from having it…BUT…the big BUT in the meantime it was at least 2-3 sizes too big for her after they ordered it from China. Most dresses even from Chinese websites have a label proudly proclaiming who made it…this one did not…no tags, no label, no washing instructions…not a good sign. So normally I like to give you a link to the website and skinny model wearing the said dress but not this time…sorry.

Here it is hanging up…doesn’t look too bad…covered in bling (fake boobs on the side).


The straps were long and connected to a flap of fabric at the bottom of the armhole…weird place to put cross-over straps so that was remedied and they were re-located to the back neckline. The weird thing about the straps was they were a different length and one had an added bit tacked on and they were hand sewn to the red dress with pink thread.

The center back area was pinned out (4 inches total) so that the zipper could be removed and re-attached tighter. The lining was that crappy bagged type. They hang awful and bubble under so I told them I would hem them separately to hang flatter. Then the pinning up of the bling-laden chiffon. The front and sides were pinned up and when I got around to the train I offered to make a single bustle loop so the girl could dance without stepping on her dress and she said, “I MUST have my train“…OK then. I noticed that there was a huge vacancy in the bust area where boobs are supposed to be and offered a good sized push-up bra cup to fill the void. Then the side seams had to be taken in both lining and satin and of course those French seamed chiffon ones…don’t you just love re-doing French seams?

How soon could I finish the dress since the Prom was in 3 days? Why did they leave it so late??? Well, they drove around town to all the other seamstresses and sewing centers where they were told to “buy a new dress” as they did not want to touch it. That’s where I came in…they had finally called the Viking dealership and the manager there, thanks Julie, referred them to me…she may own me a favor in the future.

Let’s look inside shall we?First thing to notice is the food stain just above the basted new hem line, there is another on on the back. All beads had to be removed from the zipper area and re-attached later by hand NOT with a glue gun.




You can see besides hot gluing all the railroad track rhinestones and large baubles they used white thread to anchor them down as well. P1170421P1170423P1170424

At the final try-on we could barely get the zipper up but the girl said the dress was perfect and paid the bill. I did caution her that if the dress is dry cleaned the glue might dissolve and ALL the beads would fall off. Another thing I forgot to mention is that whoever glued all the center back beads and baubles on let the chiffon rest on the satin and the whole mess was actually glued together so I slowly pulled every layer apart so they could hang separately instead of bunching up.

So now ladies…lesson learned…if this shows up in your sewing room/studio…DON’T TOUCH IT!

P.S. the dress cost $250 and the alterations were $150…next time they may just buy off the rack in a real store.


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43 Responses to Princess and her sparkly Prom dress

  1. Tia Dia says:

    And this is why when my girls go gaga over something RTW, we discuss its construction and the quality of materials it’s made of in the store so they have some idea of what they’re getting… and what they should walk away from!

    • mrsmole says:

      It can be a real expensive adventure buying online…but these mothers say they do not want their princess daughters wearing the same dress as anyone else at the Prom…why? why not?

  2. sewruth says:

    You’re amazing! No one else would alter the dress but you rose to the challenge! I can’t help but wonder, why? Well done anyway – another perfect fitting and happy customer.

    • mrsmole says:

      I tackled this because it was a referral from a good friend…maybe I would have said no otherwise. OK, I tackled it so I could share on my blog…another good reason…ha ha.

  3. sdbev says:

    “The lining was that crappy bagged type. ” OMG I could give you hugs and kisses. I hate bagging a lining. I don’t care if it is in a vest, jacket or coat. Bagged lines are difficult for me to press and always seem to affect the hang of the final garment. That’s besides making alterations or fitting tweaks dern near impossible. But I thought I was the only one who felt that way. So glad to read your opinion, even if it is directed towards dress linings.

    • mrsmole says:

      After rummaging around in so many Chinese bridesmaids gown you get to know what bagged lining work and which ones don’t…most don’t work and hang so badly that you cannot even shorten them using the same hem seam so i do the separately. They hang badly because the fabrics are so different…cheapy satin and cheapy poly lining and if they are for the same size…that’s a bonus!

      • THANK YOU πŸ™‚ How did I FIND YOU????????? I sew for a living in Southeastern Ohio πŸ™‚ 96% alteration work. This year was my FIRST for dealing with a lot of CHEAP CHINESE CRAPPOLA 😦 Of course, ALL of the gowns are made there, these are NEWLY~~ CHEAP CHEAP…….OMG OMG 😦 The linings that have to be hemmed separately, the satin that is SO CHEAPLY MADE it UNRAVELS if you LOOK AT IT.. Much less try to STITCH IT 😦 I FEEL YOUR PAIN 😦 PLEASE CHARGE ENOUGH for your EXPERTISE πŸ™‚ We, seamstresses, cannot feel GUILTY because our customers bought…CRAP 😦 Cheryl of Cheryl Designs πŸ™‚

  4. Tee says:

    LMBO!!! I just altered a dress for my sister-in-law. She purchased it from China for around $200 paid $85 for shipping. They told her it was custom made for her. When she got it, she couldn’t zippen it! LOL I explained to her that if it was custom made for her the would more than 3 measurements!!!!! I asked her why she didn’t she ask me to make the dress, she said she just didn’t think of me. Oh but you thought of me to fix this mess!!!!! Well there was enough fabric in all of the seams to let it out so that she could wear it. You have inspired me to take pics of these situations. Oh BTW, when she called to complain they told her to take it and get it altered! The nerve!!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Once the dress is ordered and bill paid…the company does not want to know you….sad but true and very few allow returns. Thanks for sharing your sister-in-law’s story, Tee!

  5. prttynpnk says:

    What the crap. I wonder what one pays for what seems to be a used, lousy dress. I’m on board with the bagged lining- yech!

  6. mrsmole says:

    $250 plus $150 for altering….That’s a $400 dress at Nordstrom’s or Macy’s isn’t it?

  7. Trish says:

    Oh this is so familiar (or, ‘Welcome to my World’). I had a very similar situation with a dress last year, where the girl wanted the beads removed from various parts of the dress (straps, bodice), but, as with the dress you described, the beads were both glued and hand stitched. The glue tracks were so obvious, I had to do major work reversing the straps and finding fabric to re-cover the bodice. I hadn’t anticipated the glue problem, so of course I hadn’t quoted for the time it eventually took me. The really crazy thing was that the dress looked totally blank without the beading.
    Never again!!!

  8. mrsmole says:

    Thanks Trish for letting us know wacky clients are everywhere…even Australia! I have a bride right now with a totally beaded lace dress with miniature pearls…and she is thinking of removing every last one of them…I say, “Have at it girlie,” because you can’t pay me to do that.

  9. sewbussted says:

    Sometimes I don’t know how you do what you do.

  10. poldapop says:

    Oh, I hope they know how lucky they were to find you! (Or how unlucky you were that they did . . .)

    • mrsmole says:

      They, as my husband says, “made all the right noises” to sound grateful but I gave them the business card of another seamstress if they need help again.

  11. twotoast says:

    You have the patience of a saint!

  12. theresa says:

    Oh my , now that certainly qualifies as a real hot mess!

  13. mrsmole says:

    Never seen so many glued on beads before and hope to never see them again!!!!

  14. I can’t believe they paid $250 for that dress, it looks like one of the cheap $75 ones I see down in LA’s fashion district.

    I interned at a place where we had to glue on hot fix rhinestones to bling up shirts, we used the plastic sheets with a design already created (or made our own using marker dots for reference), and then pressed it on with a machine. We made samples, so they didn’t really worry about a little glue if there was a mistake, but I’ve heard Goo Gone and lighter fluid takes off the glue without staining (but as always, test first)

    • mrsmole says:

      Goo Gone and lighter fluid together? Sounds dangerous around an open flame…ha ha
      If it had been my dress I would have tried removing the snail trails of glue but for this dress to be worn one night…I skipped the offer. Thanks for the tip…it may come in handy in the future!!!!

  15. lisalaree says:

    Every time I hear of someone mail ordering the dress from China, I shudder…why??? I have yet to hear of one that fit and was actually what it was purported to be…

    • mrsmole says:

      The bridal ones have problems as well and yet the photos on the websites look exactly like designer gowns…tricky and sneaky…how can you buy a designer dress worth $1500 for $149? A bride emailed me this link today and asked if I would make this dress for her to save some money:
      I declined.
      P.S. The wedding is the first week of July so she has waited until the end to find a dress.

      • Cindy says:

        What? Why do people think that custom, made to measure dresses should cost less than cheap mass produced ones? It boggles the mind.

        Lovely work on the prom dress!! It was a hot mess before you got your hands on it. Where do you suppose the food stains came from? OH…..nevermind. I don’t want to know. LOL

      • Elle C says:

        How, what? I am flabbergasted. She wants a wedding dress for less than $149?? I bet they photocopied the invitations too. I have seen some wedding dresses at Value Village for cheap, send her there.

      • jenerators says:

        Hehe just have to mention that the ad at the top of the site mentioned says,”Happy Easter’s Day” which has me wondering…

  16. poppykettle says:

    I’m shaking my head in disbelief that you took this monster adjustment project on… Yikes!! Such a lot to spend on something you can’t see, touch or try on! Beggars belief….

    • mrsmole says:

      As my youngest daughter said, “Mom you take trash and turn it into a work of art”…maybe to prove it can be done? We all have challenges, some bigger than others…ha ha

  17. Rena says:

    Oh you win the China dress prom disaster award for this year! At least the beads on the one I fixed were sort of sewed on…no knots or anything so they kept falling off. Sort of like a red carpet effect leaving sparkles wherever you go!

  18. Cindy says:

    They expect a miracle and you provide it. Hopefully you didn’t hear the dreaded “That’s as much or almost as much as the dress cost!” I always love that one. Just because the dress is on sale or “custom made” from China doesn’t mean it’s a good buy. If the clearance dress is 3 sizes too big it’s not a bargain because we don’t have clearance prices on our price list and it will most likely be way more than the dress cost. Add the cost of the alterations to the sale price of the dress and look in that price range but in your size and although you may still need some alterations you shouldn’t need the dress remade. They can’t seem to see that. I must admit I do like the look of shock on their face when I quote them prices.

  19. mrsmole says:

    Because I charge by the hour and my prices are posted, they almost know ahead of time how high it will be. I say, “It will take me an hour to remove the zipper and re-attach it” and “I will have to remove all these beads to do it and re-attach them”…at that point they are adding all this up in their head so the shock is not so bad. What I don’t know is what they are spending on the fake nails, full make-up session and elaborate hair do and designer shoes never mind the cost of Prom itself and the meal and after prom parties…maybe my fee is just a small part of that. Sometimes I preface my quote with, “I don’t know what you paid for this dress but it will cost $XX to make it fit, your choice”.

  20. Dis says:

    Saint Anne is the Patron of Seamstresses, you come very close as far as I am concerned.

  21. mrsmole says:

    Thank you for checking that out, Dis!

  22. Monique says:

    What an awful, ugly dress you got to work on! Just this afternoon, I got my Mango newsletter with the sweetest stuff (prom dress style) selling for around 100 euros. If it has to be cheap, why not make something in nice cotton? Cheap stays cheap, looks cheap, feels cheap and must be awful to wear and nigh impossible to upgrade with personality alone. But anyway, you did a wonderful job, as always!

  23. mrsmole says:

    Thanks, Monique! When I think about prom gowns from back in the 80’s when my kids went to dances it does boggle the mind to think how cheaply things are made now and with glued on beads they will not last long enough to be passed down or sold to another girl. Eventually I will see these same girls back with their wedding gowns in a few years. Thank you for adding St Claire to the list of saints!

  24. June says:

    I haven’t shopped for prom dresses in decades, but for $400… OK, that’s insane. Although I guess if Mommy is paying for it, the girl doesn’t need to concern herself with costs. I just went to Nordstrom and looked at their prom collection, $300-500 range. Each Nordstrom has an on-site tailor and alterations office. Surely for $400, one could get a reasonably well-fitting and beautiful blingy dress that needs but minor alterations, rather than to risk a “custom” dress from China…?!

  25. mrsmole says:

    You are so right, June…what is that saying…”A bird in the hand”? Having a dress that fits must be worth more than 2 that don’t! Just wait until your girls are asking for crazy blinged out dresses for their prom….what will you do?

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