The 60’s Bride

Every wedding dress has a story and history and I feel blessed to handle and alter them.

This month I accepted a bride with a dress she found and bought in a consignment shop. It was definitely from 1960 and too tight and too sheer in the skirt. The bride has come for fittings wearing different colored thongs complaining that you could see her underwear and I thought of how often this happens. It made me smile to think of how many hundreds of times I have told the brides to wear proper undergarments. I say “formal clothes require formal underwear”. It reminds me of the Dr. Seuss rhyme “Red Fish, Blue Fish“.

My poem would go like this:

Red thong, Green thong,

It’s all wrong

Pink Thong, Blue thong,

It’s still wrong

Buy, Try, Why?

Tight pants, Right pants,

Wear them for a while

Flat tum, tight bum,

Makes a bride smile.

Here we go…let’s have a look …from the outside it looks homemade and from the inside it looks homemade:5-front6-inside-bodice 7-inside

But after digging around inside I found this tag:P1180136 Yes, it IS a union label when seamstresses had protection when they worked in US factories. Back then, wedding dresses didn’t even have linings or boning or mounds of tulle and petticoats or a myriad of buttons and bows…they were just a dress to be worn once.

This dress was very tiny and had a metal zipper up the back which is being replaced with tiny loops for a corset back. The original bust measurement was 30 inches and waist of 24 inches but the side seams had been taken in 2 inches making the bust 28 inches…imagine!8-loops

The lace overlays were all intact, no tears or holes but the lining did have a horizontal tear at the hip level that had to be fixed using some fusible interfacing strips and hand sewn invisible thread.9-torn-lining   P1180143

The bride is opting for a 3 point bustle and will have ivory stain ribbon instead of the green color I used for a trial lacing up. A skirt lining was added and stitched by hand to all the raw edges inside to follow the empire shape. Now her underpants, no matter what she wears, will not show through:P1180145

Two things I want to mention this week are 2 solutions for strapless dresses that can make the day for a bridesmaid a lot nicer. The first is adding a halter strap. This is just a 1 inch wide piece of grosgrain ribbon covered with the chiffon I cut off the hem. One side is sewn to the dress and the other side has 2 big snaps inside so the bridesmaid can remove one side and hide the strap for the ceremony but use it for dancing.


The other is adding small straps on both sides to keep a big collared strapless dress from falling down:

P1180141P1180142 These straps are organza ribbon but they will be covered with the lace removed from the side seams once they are taken in. This dress was made in China and was too long and too wide so the bridesmaid asked for a small bustle to help shorten the dress for dancing.

Before I get back to the October brides, I want to share half the harvest of butternut squash from the garden cages:

Happy cooler weather sewing whether it be for real clothes or Halloween costumes!

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33 Responses to The 60’s Bride

  1. sewbussted says:

    That wedding gown is, at least in my opinion :), one of the loveliest that you’ve shared with us.

  2. Tia Dia says:

    What a gorgeous vintage find! She is going to be beautifully and modestly dressed – just like a bride should be on her wedding day!

  3. Pretty wedding dress, but I must confess I am NOT a fan of the corset back. PLEASE, trend gods…make that go away. I’ve seen very few people on whom it looks really classy.

    Great idea on the strap for those strapless styles! Girls just wanna have fun on the dance floor – and sometimes that’s a risky business in a strapless number 🙂

    I continue to have severe garden envy…!

  4. Susan says:

    Very nice, great ideas! Just curious, did you make the loops for the corset back, or can they purchased that way? They appear to be on some type of strip you are attaching to the back.
    Thank you

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Susan, I make my own loops attaching them to grosgrain ribbon and then attaching to the dress. There may be ready-made loops but I have never seen any. I buy the nylon and rayon rattail cords on-line to get various shades of white to ivory. If you need the link just write to me.

  5. BeaJay says:

    Your post made me laugh. Loved the poem. Down here in Australia a thong is rubber foot wear known in other countries as flip flops and the underwear is known as a g-string. Made for some interesting times when I was in London and asking the shop assistants if they sell rubber thongs.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh BeaJay, we have g-strings here too but normally those labels are for strippers and lap dancers…refined ladies wear things AND flip flops…ha ha

  6. Luigina says:

    I am new to your blog and I was wondering how you do your bustles: hook-up or French bustles. Have you posted (in the past) how you do your bustles? I am very interested. Thank you

    • mrsmole says:

      Welcome Luigina, I do all my bustles whether under/French or over with a button and a thread loop. The buttons are satin covered metal ones from for the ones that show and clear plastic flat buttons for when they don’t show with under/French bustles. If the train is heavy, I always use small plastic clear backer buttons on the wrong side of the fabrics to make the satin buttons more stable. When I make the thread loops I use strong upholstery thread and also back that area with some folded over small square of silk organza or other sheer backing to prevent the loop pulling through and making a hole. If you skip back through the posts you can see lots of solutions for bustles when they are 2 layers with one top layer being lace and being bustled all on its own and the satin treated as one as well. I think my loops and buttons (which can be color co-ordinated when used under and more than 3) are easier for the bridesmaids to find and secure even if they have had a few drinks.

      • Luigina says:

        Thank you for the prompt reply. Your method sounds very clear and i cannot wait to try it out. I a working on a wedding gown now and I may have other questions for you if that is OK. Thanks again!

  7. mrsmole says:

    It’s fine…I’m here every day and you can send photos if you need to.

  8. accordion3 says:

    Yes I had a giggle too. Can’t imagine why you’d need several pairs of rubber casual beach footwear, or, how uncomfortable they would be, anywhere but on your feet. My husband calls G strings “bum floss”.

    The dress remodel is beautiful. I’m not a fan of the corset back either, but they do solve a lot of fitting issues. Is it just the light? The corset cord looks almost green on my iPad.

    • mrsmole says:

      The corset cord is green…just a trial lace-up before her big day when the cord will be satin ribbon in ivory. When I do the regular wider loops in corsets I use blue ribbon as a test…maybe you have seen it before in other posts? I always tell the girls that a thong is not formal underwear…go get yourself some Spanx or other tight pants and your dress will look its best! In the old days we wore control top panti-hose and everything was nice and tight.

  9. Colleen says:

    Thank you for sharing your idea of putting grosgrain ribbon inside the shoulder straps….you just saved me a heap of trouble!!
    Recently I made some satin straps for a wedding gown cut on the bias to shape to her shoulders and over a bit where the bride requested them….but they stretched with the weight of the dress and I had to shorten them….Maybe support with the ribbon would have helped there. This particular conservative bride wanted to cover the shoulders and have a privacy insert in the sweetheart neckline…but she wore a red thong!!
    My last bride wore “No” underwear and hasn’t since high school. She is 33 now and needless to say she did not want help into her dress. I told her to wear underwear the next fitting. I am going to remember “Formal wear requires formal underwear!” Thanks for the quote and help!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Maybe we seamstresses should buy some cheap underpants and have them in a drawer ready for “pantless” babes? I find the tiny straps that come with bridesmaid dresses, you know the ones with snaps or hooks can really stretch with the weight of the dress and boobs. They are usually attached too wide and I bring the back of the straps closer to the center back seam to give more “torque” and to keep them from sliding down the shoulders. The more you snug them up in the new position, the bigger the smile comes on the bridesmaid/bride. Grosgrain ribbon in multiple widths is a lifesaver.

  10. fabrickated says:

    My Mum told me that in the 1950s in Manchester there were quite a number of “actresses” who turned up to department stores buy a frock without knickers. The shop assistants responded by bringing out a silk petticoat to cover it all up before offering various dresses. But thongs of any colour are horrendous and to my mind worse than nothing. I did try one once and spent the day tugging the darn things – well you know…. But the dress is lovely. I thought the lacing and bustle were ingenious. And those butternut squashes are fabulous even if they look a bit like ladies with big bottoms.

    • mrsmole says:

      That must have been a real sight for your mum! Thongs/g-strings do nothing for clothes and when I am asked to enter the room to zip up a client my age or older and see a “tramp stamp” tattoo just above the thong back…it makes me cringe. While not everyone likes corset backs…this dress would have been ruined to start adding new fabric to old fabrics up the back or at the side seams. She was so tiny as it is and didn’t want a modesty panel to keep it light and airy. She gets married this weekend and so far we still have 90 degree temps so she will be very comfortable.

  11. girl in the stix says:

    Lovely job on the vintage dress. And thanks for the tip on the covered grosgrain ribbons!

  12. metoosewsnh says:

    I, too, like your quote and plan to borrow it the next time a thong shows up in my fitting room! Lovely idea about the grosgrain ribbons. Thank you for your very enjoyable posts.

  13. Ann says:

    You are a genius with a needle! Thanks so much for sharing your expertise and experiences.

  14. Shams says:

    A 28″ bust??? I wonder if this was for a child bride!

  15. prttynpnk says:

    Ah the underwear on view- after these brides return from the honeymoon, they get jobs at hospitals and wear these thongs under white scrub pants!

  16. Fashionista says:

    Gorgeous dress, you really are a star. On the underwear thing, I would make the bride buy her underwear at the start of the dress process, then I would keep the underwear in my studio so that it was always there for fittings. I was sewing in the strapless/strappy meringue fashion period so the style of knickers didn’t matter so much but the bra/.corsetry was vitally important.

  17. mrsmole says:

    Not sure about storing underwear in my sewing room but the garment bags are real neat places to stash stuff along with the fabric scraps and shoes they don’t want to bring back and forth. I can imagine me saying, “Just leave your underpants in the bag dear before you leave…ha ha!

  18. Bunny says:

    Nothing is uglier than a year old thong that has come through the washer and out of the dryer. Nasty, nasty, nasty. I have daughters.

  19. jay says:

    Beautiful lace top on the gown, those almost cap sleeves look so much more refined than strapless gowns.

    • mrsmole says:

      Absolutely and the funny thing was while her dress was hanging in the sewing room all the other brides said the same thing and wanted to touch the sleeves. Her photos 30 years from now will just look beautiful and classy while all the strapless gowns will look…well…like they are missing something.

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