A couple weeks ago, I said to Mr. Mole that with all I had stacked up for July, the 8 brides and additional bridesmaids and custom sewing, I could use a whole week to myself with no clients.
Then the universe sent me a mean sore throat which turned into a nasty cold which turned into a gut-wrenching cough that landed me in the Saturday clinic at the hospital. After x-rays and a thorough listening to my lungs the verdict was “acute bronchitis”. At least I now had a reason why I could cough non-stop day and night and not get better. With the 2 prescriptions of steroid tablets and codeine laced cough syrup, things are better.
In the meantime, during this recovery phase, I have been getting inside some complicated bridal gowns to solve problems. Somewhere “up North” there is/are Cambodian dressmaking shops where one goes to be measured and then 7,600 miles away silk is cultivated and cut and made into wedding dresses and formal wear. But somewhere along the way, something happens to the measurements…like they disappear into the mists because the garments then arrive back here and the local shop has to alter them.
My latest bride did not buy her Cambodian silk wedding gown new…she found it in a consignment shop complete with sweat stains up top and water marks on the hem. She did ask a dry cleaners if they would get the stains out and they said they were afraid if they started, the dress would disintegrate…lovely! She decided that what she liked about the dress and then paid someone to change the one thing that didn’t/shouldn’t need changing…the length of the zipper. What started it’s life as a 18-20 inch invisible Swan brand zipper was shortened to a 8 inch length…we are talking center back zipper here…not a fly front crotch one! So the seamstress did what she was told but instead of shortening from the bottom and just sewing the center back seam up higher and letting the zipper dangle inside or secure the bottom teeth with thread and cut it off, she removed it, moved it up and then tucked the entire rest of the zipper under at the top edge leaving a nice lump/
speed bump. In moving the zipper up, the matching sides of the bias ruffles had no place to go so she dropped them lower and lower which distorted the butt area and made the remaining ruffles stick out like a point. Now the bride had her tiny zipper but with a sort of butt flag waving in the breeze…delightful!
My job, should I accept it, is to eliminate the flag and make all the butt ruffles minimize her backside…sure easy peasy…NOT! Once the ruffles were lifted up you could see the problem: it had been sewn at least 1.5 inches too low. Now pinned at the correct original level you can see the cut edge that used to be sewn to the zipper and is the issue. It will be darted to lay flat
Where the arrow is pointing is a 1/2 in folded under rolled hem edge made of shiny rayon thread. In fact the entire dress is made of bias strips folded under 1/4 inch at the top and stitched to a base fabric in a spiral pattern and the lower edge is totally rayon rolled hemmed. You can also see that the center seam line is tilted to the left but even letting out the left side seam did not alter the angle.
Bust points 5 inches apart with boning running somewhere between bust points and side seams. Now hands up…how many women do you know with their nipples 5 inches apart? Really, 5 inches is the distance from the tip of your thumb to the tip of your pinky…really, ask any old female x-ray tech how to measure for an object centered on an 8 by 10 inch film…you all know your apex to apex measurement from measuring patterns and yourself by now after seeing me work on Nancy’s patterns and custom clothes.
Other issues include the zipper not closing 3 inches from the top…needing more fabric from somewhere, taking in the side seams more at the hips and beyond to be a mermaid shape, adding bust pads and shortening the hems. Now Cambodian dresses are made fronts and backs all ruffled and then stitched together, be they cocktail length or floor length. This means the side ruffles never match…how can they…they are running diagonally all the time. Here is the hem(s) that need shortening: So how does one shorten all these bias strips to keep the bride from falling but also dancing until 3 am when their band will be let go and NOT cut anything off? Well, Mrs Mole is sure as Hell NOT going to remove the layers and move them all up…so by making horizontal tucks in the base fabric I will be able to raise every layer to the desired floor length. but not all alterations can be so hidden. Here I let out one side seam 1/2 inch and you can see the previous needle marks and darker sweat stains as the new seam allowance is lighter…
Work continues but you get the vague idea of what I am up against:
Ribbon straps are attached while I use the dress form to help me make all the horizontal tucks in the bottom 3 layers. If you can imagine this same dress made over and over in a little sweat shop and the only variation would be cocktail length (above where the ruffles get much deeper) or floor length…this is my 4th dress like this in the past couple years…none fit no matter what the perfect measurements were.
While I wait for the drugs to take over and let me breath more and cough less, I wish you all healthy and happy sewing this week!