Saved the Best (hardest) for Last?

Is it my imagination or just plain weariness after completing 48 bridal gowns and 41 bridesmaids this season that the last one is more challenging?

First, the bride lives 111 miles from me through a dense National Forest with mountains and rivers and the trip one way is almost 3 hours. Second, she bought the dress Allure P960 many, many sizes too large. No additional pressure but she is getting married in India with hundreds of local guests and family in attendance to fawn and inspect her authentic American wedding gown.

Let’s start with some first try-on photos and see what she wants and doesn’t want:

First, we have to hike up the shoulder seams almost 3 inches (remove beads, take in seams, replace beads), then narrow the shoulder straps to one inch (remove beads, stitch a guide line, trim away excess, replace beads). Whatever I cut off the straps has to be inserted into the center “V” for modesty as this will be a Christian ceremony in a Hindu culture.

try on 3 Let’s pin out the center back (remove lapped zipper, remove 12 buttons, remove beads, take in 4 inches, replace with invisible zipper, replace beads, re-attach 12  buttons. What you can’t see is a long hook and eye boned corset inside that also must be taken in and boning re-arranged and re-attached to the bodice.try on 2try on 1    13-corset

The front lace hem is about 1 inch too long but she decided to keep it that way as long as I can hike up the entire train so she can dance. Initially, I had hoped/prayed to have only 3 bustle points but the weight of all that tulle will require 2 separate bustles like in other lace dresses.try on 4try on 5try on 6try on 7

After she leaves the dress, I get to work basting the new invisible zipper in and trimming the layers of tulle and netting that are way too long. “Why change the zipper” you might be thinking…well, have you ever tried to make a lapped zipper curve into the body 4 inches and then back out again…at least an invisible one will make the turns needed and I use the thicker ones designed for wedding dresses. 1-flip-over-head First, the entire train is flipped up and over the front of the mannequin and clipped.2-under-bustle All the netting and tulle will be trimmed level and bustled with 3 points.3-ready-to-cut Using my favorite scissors I’m ready to sit on the floor and trim away.4-trimmed-layers5-trimmed-front


Next I try a 3 point bustle but lots still hangs in drooping “dog ears”.

6-3-point-bustle Then I try a 5 point bustle7-5-point-bustle but it is still dragging bits that will get stepped on and rip the hem.

With 7 points most of the hem is up and even off the floor.P1180353

What next? Let’s see about those straps and find the best place to cut off the extra. I run a line of short machine stitches to keep the lace and tulle under it together.9-left-strap-front10-back-left-strap11-right-front-strap Thankfully there are breaks in the lace design that allows for separation and won’t look like the edges were chewed off by a hungry badger.P1180354 You can see the narrow and shortened straps and the modesty section. Every bead and sequin and pearl along the neckline front to the back was hand sewn/secured as they were all very loose and dangling.

The final 12 buttons were re-attached and now all I need is the bride to arrive the day after Thanksgiving for her final try-on. This lovely heavily-beaded dress will be stuffed into a suitcase for the long trip and hopefully steamed before the ceremony.12-final-back

Before I leave you, I want to say I bought myself a gorgeous cashmere scarf this week from a site that was set up by American Air Force servicemen to help Afghanistan women be more independent. If you have a chance please click on this link for some real affordable beauties!

Happy Thanksgiving!

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35 Responses to Saved the Best (hardest) for Last?

  1. Ines says:

    Oh my! I’m exhausted just reading about it! Well at least you made another bride happy, good lord it was like making a dress all over again ( but worse)! Congrats! Happy Thanksgiving! You’ve earned it!

  2. Colleen says:

    Awesome job!!! She should be a happy bride and hopefully appreciates the skill required. I do! I loved seeing the details of this alteration. Sewing buttons around an invisible zipper would have been a pain to make them appear straight. I probably would have tried to talk her out of replacing the buttons. I am thankful for your willingness to share to learn I do somethings the same and other times see another way to accomplish a task. Happy Thanksgiving to a giving lady!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Colleen there is always “more than one way to skin a cat”. The trick to the buttons is placing a pin every inch along the way and sewing them with the metal shank the same direction and knotting in between buttons…those little critters have no way to twist or turn.

  3. It’s a beautiful gown and as usual, your tireless work is outstanding, but why in the world did she buy it so large? Did it come in only one size?

  4. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Caroline, bridal salon owners tell the customer that a seamstress can re-size any gown and they buy off the rack so they are stuck with what is available. The next gown coming up is the reverse…stay tuned!

  5. Mary says:

    This is one of my favorite wedding gowns you have shown. It is beautiful!

  6. Barbara says:

    I love reading about your wedding dress adventures Mrsmole. This one is beautiful. Happy Thanksgiving.

  7. Good job Mrs Mole! And I love your ‘hungry badger’ comment.

    • mrsmole says:

      You know how we strive to make our alterations look flawless and undetected! I always tell the brides we want the alteration to look like it never happened and not like grandma had her way with the dress.

  8. Summerflies says:

    Another great job… you answered my question already about why she would buy it so big. I’d like to thank you for the link to those scarves…. beautiful and although it is way too long before needing one I think I’ll buy one or two anyway.

    • mrsmole says:

      I think buying a luxurious scarf is definitely an indulgence but with all the proceeds going to other hard working women is just makes sense. The hard part is choosing a color!

  9. Tia Dia says:

    What a gorgeous dress, and I love what you did with the neckline to make it more modest. Such fun beading and re-beading! 😀 Have a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration this weekend.

  10. Susie says:

    What a beautiful dress. I’m sure she will be so happy she brought it to you for resizing, etc. thanks for the scarf link. I will do my Christmas shopping for my mom and daughter there this year.

    • mrsmole says:

      The bride picked up the dress yesterday and could not stop gushing about how it was exactly how she wanted it…and she posed with her tiara and rhinestone shoes and beaded purse and jeweled necklace and earrings…she promises to send me a wedding photo…I can’t wait!

  11. Shari says:

    Thank you for brightening my day! No progress on the shirts yet – where DOES the time go…
    The link is appreciated – beautiful scarves.

    • mrsmole says:

      Time…is something my labor charges are hinged to. I know where my time goes because I give printed receipts with every detail listed in minutes and hours. But it sure would be nice to have time for myself and my own clothes. I envy all of you who can make time for such things. Thank you for dropping by, Shari!

      • Shari says:

        I love being able to sew for my family. They appreciate the underwear, shirts, pajamas, fleece jackets, etc which are so easy for me and so incomprehensible to them. I don’t think I’ve ever sewed for outsiders, except baby gifts and some theater costumes. People do ask, and I offer to mentor them – and for some strange reason am never taken up on the offer…

  12. prttynpnk says:

    Wow- I really like your bodice better than the original! Another beautiful job….

  13. girl in the stix says:

    Lovely job, as always. You must have the patience of Job! All that unstitching and restitching–arrgh! I once made a boned leather corset (lined in satin, of course) for a raffle. The winner asked me to size it down for her. I thought about it for two seconds and said no (politely). Undoing miles of topstitching in leather? Not a chance.

  14. mrsmole says:

    Unpicking leather…Oh Lordie! she would have been better off stuffing padding inside instead!

  15. Stephanie says:

    You’re amazing! My head was spinning while following the process, but the end product is wonderful. It does seem rather like making a new dress. Happy Thanksgiving! (Loved the hungry badger line.)

  16. fabrickated says:

    This must be one of your most challenging projects, and I think the outcome is lovely.

    I had not understood why brides bought the wrong size until you pointed out that the shops do not always stock all the sizes. Maybe there is a need for a bridal design that is easy to alter. Also I was thinking how ubiquitous the white, flouncy, lacy, beaded, trained dress has become so that in India and China in particular they are unfortunately substituting their amazing traditions with the American ideal. I long to see more creativity in the design.

    • mrsmole says:

      It is so sad that other cultures are switching over to gaudy white dresses when their own cultures have such rich tapestries and colors and designs. Buying a dress off the rack/peg forces brides to buy what is close to their size but even those who custom order 6 months in advance can end up with the same issues although not such a wide difference in sizing. Those that order online have the greatest challenge of all!

  17. sewruth says:

    You deserve a medal!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Ruth but cold hard cash is most welcome and the really rare commodity…a tip! This year so far after 48 brides I have received 2 tips. Mr Mole says I should start adding a tip to the initial bid…maybe he is right?

  18. June says:

    If you haven’t, you should see the movie “Monsoon Wedding,” I bet you would enjoy it.

    So glad that the bride loved your work, you are truly a miracle maker! Seven-point bustle, oh my!

  19. mrsmole says:

    Thanks, June. I have seen Monsoon Wedding and it is surely is a slice of life of cultural weddings. We watch lots of foreign films for the emotion and depth of spirit that they contain. The traditional Hindu weddings that last 3+ days with many changes of clothing and the groom riding in on an elephant or white horse is truly fantastic!

  20. jillybe says:

    You could not pay me enough to do what you do! Not that I could…but even if I could, I would not.

    Beautiful results! One of my faves, for sure!

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