Custom All the Way

Remember when we last saw Nancy modeling her muslin in this post?

Well, do you want to see what happened next? Bet you are tired with seeing bride after bride and want to see some real sewing, don’t you?I have made a Pinterest board for all the photos here.

After pinning and pinning and marking where slashing would occur the next step was altering the paper pattern before cutting into her very thick ponte knit fabric.6-pattern-pieces-front The center front was elongated by combining the lower section # 14 with the upper section for a taller smoother look…who needs more horizontal lines on their tummy?7-bodice-back The back has the added upper back slash and spread…notice the curve it makes, it is OK since an invisible zipper can handle the curve. The swayback and short-waisted overlaps are included too.9-front-basted11-back10-side-view So here we are…even with paper pattern altering we still have some tweaking to do…why? Well this pattern calls for a woven fabric and we are using a knit…holy crap…you can do that? Yes, but you have to be willing to pin out more than normal and a couple times to get the fit right. You can see the sway back short waist overlaps were not enough, the upper back is a little too wide but the hips can be reduced…happy days!

Let’s take in the side seams and stabilize the shoulder seams with tape.

15 take-in-side-seam14 basted-shoulder-seam


The zipper seam is widened and the shoulder seams are topstitched flat. Also the waistline seam is topstitched from the zipper to the front panel to be decorative but also hold that seam opened flat.


16 taken-in-zipper-seam17 topstitch-shoulder19 topstitching18 waist-seam-open

The neckline is square so the corners have to be chalked and interfaced with fusible tricot before adding the lining. I opted to use a knit lining but only in the center panels and full back to make the neckline more stable.


21 chalk-corners22 reinforce-corners

Lining is attached and flipped and will be hand sewn along the zipper to allow for stretch.

23 pin-lining-to-neckline24 back-neck-lining Let’s see what the inside looks like:

30-hanging-front29-hanging-back Lots of wrinkles but I hang the garment for a day to relax everything and re-pin and hand attach down all the seams. The front princess seams are pressed flat and open and held that way with the lining. the armholes are left raw and waiting for a bias binding.25-basted-edges The neckline is hand basted and will be topstitched to hold the lining flat and always on the inside.32-armhole-binding35-armhole-done

The hem is done with a coverstitch and the back vent is reinforced before sewing the end and then topstitched to match the rest.




What’s left? Just the hook and eye at the top of the zipper and some pressing.

34-top-hook And the finished dress modeled:

37-finished-front38-finsihed-back Nancy apologized for not wearing the proper underwear for the photo shoot. She will of course, wear a half slip and stand up straight to avoid wrinkles and adorn herself with some really cool jewelry now that she has such a perfect backdrop. What’s next…well we are working on the next dress Vogue 8969…one of those Very Easy Vogues that requires more fitting and altering than normal and weirder sizing that normal.

Just a few shots of the squash garden…remember when they were just baby plants back in May? Well, to save space, I trained the crookneck and butternut squash up metal tomato cages and they are now almost 6 feet tall:crookneck-squashP1170769butternut-squashbaby-butternut

Hope your gardens are producing loads of produce and flowers and can give you a time of rest in the middle of summer sewing…more crazy sewing fixes next time! Oh…last week when uploading my post about the gold bride, WordPress had a delay in processing so it was not available to everyone…so if you missed it, please flip back to the previous post to see such a pretty gown.

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24 Responses to Custom All the Way

  1. rosalyn says:

    Gorgeous dress! Impeccable work as always.

  2. Kat Jackson says:

    Thanks for sharing the details of this process. Speaking for myself, I love to see how a “nearly perfect” pattern can be altered to suit different fabrics and bodies. This is one heck of a flattering dress, your client looks great!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Kat. The funny thing is Nancy always wants me to try on her custom clothes and even though we share some of the same measurements…her clothes only look good on her…rarely on me. She will have a ball adding accessories to this one!

  3. What a wonderful dress! I love the knit, too. Your client will be very happy 🙂 Just bought some really pretty ponte and am looking forward to playing with it.

    The garden is coming along nicely! Love your idea about growing upward – perfect space saver. Enjoy the bounty 🙂

  4. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Cheryl…I may get to the point of having WAY too much bounty…can I send you some squash? I will look forward to seeing any ponte gracing your blog posts!

  5. Tia Dia says:

    Love seeing these posts. Thanks for sharing all the before and after tweaking pics. Enjoy your garden. I don’t have the appropriate space/sunlight for a garden, so we always buy at our local farmers’ market and thoroughly enjoy all the fresh tasty produce.

  6. BeaJay says:

    Great dress and perfectly fitted. Thanks for the details.

  7. June says:

    Fantastic fit on that dress – you are amazing!

  8. Bunny says:

    Great watching you work out the fit on this dress. It looks wonderful as does Nancy wearing it.

  9. kathydykstra says:

    Beautiful fit and perfectly executed dress. I enjoy reading about the whole process. 😀

  10. Bonnie says:

    Just discovered your blog. Love it! Spent summer of 1973 doing alterations at a bridal shop. There were challenges (bride who gained 50 lbs after dress was bought) but nothing like what’s happened since “Yes to the Dress” and my favorite show where they chop up mom’s bridal gown (and her heart) only to have the daughter dismiss the restyled garment as a mere rag. You have my utmost respect for your extraordinary talent and patience.

    • mrsmole says:

      Welcome Bonnie…hope these posts don’t bring back bad memories from the 70’s…ha ha. I like that Something Borrowed, Something New to see what magic the seamstress whips up in supposedly 24 hours…I can’t imagine she does it all from the back of the studio while the mother secretly cries at the demise of her wedding gown which half the time, the daughter refuses to wear.

  11. jay says:

    Perfect fit, very elegant!

  12. girl in the stix says:

    Beautiful dress–I really enjoy reading about the details that go into making a custom outfit. Re: gardening–zucchini WILL take over the world if my garden is any indication. Pumpkins are coming along nicely, and they always make me smile. Hope your day is going well.

    • mrsmole says:

      Squash…so wonderful, but all so spreading! The challenge of making a custom dress is all in knowing the client and how she is going to wear the garment. You have to watch her movements and know her social life and see her with her scarves and jewelry and know the impression she wants to create…it can be magical, it is a privilege!

  13. fabrickated says:

    What a relief to read in detail about a normal dress for a normal, (nice) customer, after all those drama queens, yards of lace and peculiar people. I look forward to reading more about fitting and making regular clothes (although I do love the horror stories too). Thank you.

    • mrsmole says:

      I personally would like to do pattern perfection and muslin making every day if the brides would leave me alone…that is my passion but the brides pay the bills…ha ha I would also like to use my duct tape dummy more as she is a little different in her fat distribution…and may help more busty women understand how really crappy modern patterns are and how they overlook anyone larger than a D cup with narrow sloping shoulders. Thanks for dropping by, Kate.

  14. denise says:

    Your site is very interesting! As a sewing pro, do you have a short list of sewing books that you highly recommend?

  15. mrsmole says:

    Well Denise, it really depends on what you are interested in learning or reviewing. There are so many books on tailoring, knits, children’s clothes, heirloom etc…some very basic and some more on paper pattern work. Having a subscription to Threads magazine is always my treat…they make you think and suggest new things and new ways of doing old things. If you buy a subscription you can also read it on an iPad and enlarge the photos to get more details up close.

  16. sarahfburns says:

    Nancy’s dress looks fantastic!!!

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