Short Trip, Long Trip

Yesterday, a mother brought in a tiny size 4 bridesmaid dress for her 13 year old daughter to wear in a family wedding back East. They had ordered the dress from David’s Bridal in NYC and had it sent to the West coast. Of course, we know it did not fit…the zipper could not be zipped up the last 4 inches.P1180297

So the mother did what all good mothers do…dropped it off at the local dry cleaners a month ago. She waited and waited. Then she dutifully went back 3 weeks later and found that the seamstress there did not want to touch it to let the side seams out. Then the dress made the rounds of other seamstresses who also refused to touch it. Finally she found me.

“All we need is 3/4 inch somewhere so we can zip it up” said the  frazzled mom. I looked inside and sure enough there was some decent seam allowances to let out in the fabric/lace and the lining and the buckram type interfacing with the encased boning. Let’s have a look:

P1180284 First remove the understitching and hang tags and open the seam,

P1180285 The plan is to let out the top section and middle section down to nothing at the waist.P1180286 The boning in the side seam will be removed and the buckram edges sewn together to get that 1/2 extra needed.P1180287 Open the top edge seam,P1180288 now you can see that the boning was never actually sewn in properly nor were the rough ends ever encased in fabric.P1180289P1180290

This buckram seam will be 1/4 wide when finished and lie flat.

Separate the buckram and see what we have!!!!

This makes seamstresses so happy!!!!P1180291

Now open the top section and midriff seam.P1180292P1180293 Now all we have to do is pin them narrower.                                P1180294

Once stitched and old seams removed they will be sewn back together and attached to the lining with the hang tags. New understitching will be used to keep the lining inside and lying flat. You can see the extra 1/2 inch we gained from that alteration…so with both sides done the girl has a full inch so she can breathe and dance.P1180295 P1180296

So how long did that take? I time myself for labor and it was exactly 1 hour. Why was this dress passed around like a game of hot potato? Was it too much trouble to open seams and re-stitch them? Who knows?

The good thing this week was Mr Mole’s return from 2 weeks in the UK visiting his family. He likes to bring me a token of his love and this time it was this box:gift-2 Beautiful isn’t it? But what is inside?gift The most delightful smelling lotion and hand wash is now residing in my sewing room. I’m so glad he visited Wisley Gardens and thought of me.

Time for getting cozy for Northern hemisphere sewers while our Southern hemisphere sisters are looking forward to easy breezy summer wear. No matter what the weather, hug your machine and give it some TLC…open the bobbin case, toss in a drop of oil and brush out all the lint that has been living there…and if you listen very closely, you will hear your machine sigh with delight…replace your used needle and really make her smile.


This entry was posted in challenges and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Short Trip, Long Trip

  1. Linda Craig says:

    Guess it is no surprise to see the poor quality of the construction. Was an easy job yet nobody knew how to do it. Wow. Don’t know how folks get along & how vulnerable they are when they can not sew.

    Good job & love your gift.

  2. RJ says:

    Ahh Bronnley. Just today I speaking with a colleague about Christmas and how my Mum (now passed away) would put a Bronnley lemon or orange soap in our stockings when we were children (back in the 50’s). This was a remembrance of when she was a young girl and the only time they had citrus was at Christmas. Imagine one orange a year!

    I also wanted to pop in via email to thank you for blog. At times I smile, groan and even shake my head at some of the people and gowns that you deal with.

    You make my day every time I check out Fit for A Queen!

    Thank you.


    • mrsmole says:

      It’s entertainment while being all true stories…some of which I WISH I could share but are too familiar in this town and I may have my anonymous cover blown!

  3. Peter says:

    I would have taken me all day to do an alteration like that — amazing!

  4. mary anne says:

    I would venture it was the lace/net they might have been afraid of. My own sewing machine just broke as I was ready to make buttonholes on a cute jacket I made my daughter so I am very frustrated this weekend!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Mary Anne, I am sorry to hear that about your machine. I hope you have someone reliable who can work on it and not charge too much money. Lace and netting is scary but since they were sewn together as one fabric, you just treat it the same way…seams is seams…on narrow ones like I ended up with like almost 1/8 to 1/4 inch I shortened the stitch length to 1.5 and just went for it as I was never going to open this up again!

  5. poldapop says:

    How on earth did you do it that fast??! Do you have a secret for taking things apart quickly, or am I just overly cautious? I’m not scared of stuff like this, but it would easily have taken me twice as long!

    • mrsmole says:

      I don’t know…I just opened up everything, ripped the boning out and pinned the 2 seams both sides…quick stitch and rip the old stitches out, flatten them and sew them back together…add the lining, lay the buckram on top, tuck it all inside and understitch…and all the time taking photos for all of you…it must be magic…ha ha…oh honey, time is money and I have little of both.

  6. Trish says:

    I agree with poldapop, Mrs Mole. I’ve done jobs like that, but they take twice as long as you said. Perhaps I should move a little faster and see how I go…

  7. mrsmole says:

    Once the first side is done and pinned and determined…the second side goes faster, then everything goes in tandem…sort of assembly line…2 side seams, 2 midriff seams, 4 lining seams, slap it all together, understitch and call it a day…oh and I also hand stitched both linings to the zipper edges since that is the way I got into that mess…could be why no one else wanted this job…too scary opening the lining at the zipper teeth…nah…it just must not be worth their time…

  8. Laurie says:

    Lovely gift! And great job on the dress… I have a dress given to my by a friend that I need to find some extra room. Sleeves were too tight and no zip was put in- Thankfully there is a small piece of fabric included to make new sleeves. And hopefully with a side zip she can get it on. *fingers crossed*… I always think about you when someone asks me to alter something. Frankly I don’t like doing it! But I use your blog for tips. THANKS!

  9. Theresa says:

    An HOUR! Good grief, it would have taken me that long just to think about what needed to be done quite likely. But beautiful work and looks like a lovely gift Mr. Mole brought back. Thanks for the reminder on the sm. I clean mine out after each garment and change the needle, but only oil it when I think of it. Certainly due by now. 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      My new Juki has about 8 holes that need oiling so it makes me more vigilant…then I give my Elna a drop just to keep it humming. Working on white dresses makes you more particular about cleaning all the parts that touch the dresses…check out the shaft that holds the needles…dust collects there and turns black…nasty if it got on the dress.

  10. girl in the stix says:

    Great job on the alteration! I think the netting/tulle might have been the stumbling point for the other seamstresses–it always gives me the vapors. (But why wouldn’t they just say so instead of making that poor mother wait for weeks?)

    • mrsmole says:

      This seems to be a common story…by the time they find me they have a whole saga of sadness built up. Just so glad I can help and make a quick turnaround for by then the event they need the dress for is just around the corner!

  11. Janee Connor says:

    Nicely done! I don’t think I could have done it that quickly either. I think the other seamstresses were likely worried that all the layers would need to be done separately – I hear your sigh of relief at the photo labeled “This makes seamstresses so happy!” Hand stitching the lining back to the zipper was a smart decision too, can’t tell you how many times I’ve thought half-way thru struggling to machine stitch the lining back “I probably would have been done by now had I hand-stitched this part!”
    I really enjoy reading your blog – makes me wish I took more photos of my clients and projects to put on my own blog!

    • mrsmole says:

      So much of my work is by hand and I think at one time before sewing machines were invented all work WAS done by hand. My stitches can be very small and tight and so well done that if I ever have to rip them out to redo a section for the client…I just whine at myself. Some really good garments have slipped through the cracks and i too wish I had thought ahead to get before and after photos for the blog. But just when you start thinking about it another garment wanders in to take it’s place. Thanks for dropping by Janee!

  12. sewruth says:

    The North Americans never fail to astound me (OK some of them – mostly your customers!) – a 13 yr old wearing a strapless black lace dress to a wedding! And it was too small as well. After that speedy work I reckon you need a cocktail while having a long soak in a bubble bath and then being liberally massaged with Bronnley lotion.

    • mrsmole says:

      The mother related that the girl is 13 with a D cup bra so no wonder she had a problem getting the last 4 inches of the zipper up!!! I mentioned the lotion massage to Mr Mole over breakfast…he just laughed. A lone cocktail will be my reward…but it is enough.

  13. Very nice job! I love large seam allowances that can accommodate my up and down figure!

  14. K Emerson says:

    I guess that is why we can charge more for bridal and formal, it is such a specialized skill, and no one wants to takle it. Nice for those of us who do it!

    • mrsmole says:

      Another reason why bridal rates are higher is the fact that they come for 3 or more fittings which last an hour or more which are not charged for. People never think of those 3+ lost hours per dress…how do you ever make them up? If bridal rates are 25% higher it barely makes up for all that extra fussing. I only make money when my butt is sitting at the machine, not watching a bride try on jewelry and tiaras and veils and different shoes/boots. As seamstresses age they want less headaches, fewer drama queens and avoid the just plain downright hard physical labor of wrestling with 11-15 pound white satin alligators pushing them under a presser foot. Toss in an hour of steaming this fluffy concoctions in the middle of summer and it does make you wonder if hemming jeans all day might be a better alternative…ha ha.

  15. fabrickated says:

    The idea of jasmine (which I associate with warm nights in Egypt, India and Southern Spain) with orange makes me feel happy. And I too remember those lemon shaped soaps that RJ mentions.

    I have a friend who does alterations for a living – not wedding dresses, more work and cocktail wear – and she compares her job to a surgeon. I feel funny about alterations – done well they change a waste of space into something serviceable, but I still feel it is someone else’s work and I don’t really like the new item. And while I could not do one like this in an hour (really Mrs Mole, you are amazing) the relatively quick turn around from unwearable to OK feel a bit too brief. Funny how sewing brings up so many deep feelings.

    Thank you for sharing.

  16. mrsmole says:

    Oh Kate, without getting into any deep psychological thoughts, what I do is save people’s bacon. I simply solve problems, be it bridal or bridal related. Brides as well as their guests want to look their best and in many cases want to show off and need my help. I like the geometry of altering and being a detective to discover wide seam allowances. Mr. Mole can hear my clients leaving from his office and comments on how many say, “I don’t know what I would have done without you”… it makes my job worthwhile. I’m sure your friend has many days like that and my best ripping tool is a surgeon’s scalpel.

  17. Alex in California says:

    The one hour impresses me the most. Your photos are a great teaching tool. I learn each time i read your blog.

  18. Tee says:

    What a great post! I can so relate!! Love it when there’s plenty of seam allowance!!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s