Flip, Chip and Tips

One of my last brides of the season picked up her dress at 10:30 Saturday morning for her 3 pm wedding.

She was cutting it close but I had enjoyed working on her dress and her goofy personality. As she, a hairdresser, was writing the check she mentioned to me that lots of her own clients like to give her a tip in cash instead of writing it into the check. So I was thinking that she will write a tip into her check as well with over 6 hours of labor on the invoice. NOPE, Nothing, NADA. And before she left, she asked, “can you do me a little favor?” I assumed it was to ask to steam her veil or something small…oh no….it seems one of her out-of-town bridesmaids never bothered to get her Vera Wang dress hemmed and it is 6 inches too long even with 6 inch stiletto heels. Can I hem her dress right now?

OK, it is 10:30 a.m. so I said call her right now and get her here. The phone rings later and it is the bridesmaid who says she is at the gym and will come by after her shower. Of course one works out in a local gym the morning of her best friend’s wedding. She arrives at 11 and spends the next 15 minutes bitching about the whole wedding agenda starting with the dress:

“I don’t know what I am doing here wearing a purple dress, the bride knows I ONLY wear black.” (But it is HER wedding not yours)

“I am a size 00 and David’s only carries size 0. This dress makes me look like a whale. I will never wear this dress again it is horrible. Even with my normal 6 inch stilettos it is too long. ” (Normal sizing reflects normal people)

and then the CHIP on her shoulder starts to slide:

“I was engaged once until it was called off and I was stuck with the dress.” (the groom got out in time?)

“It is now 11:15 and I need this dress by 1 pm as the photo shoot is at 2 pm, you CAN do it can’t you?” (Sure flipping is my specialty)

Now, we get the picture…someone who resents the whole wedding and the joy it will involve. Here are some photos of the dress hem shortening.

First chalking the lining:

P1180419 Then chalking the chiffon and 12 vertical bias ruffles to be trimmed off and re-attached after a narrow hem is done.P1180422 Removing each ruffle:P1180423 P1180424

Stitching the first fold, trimming off and stitching the final narrow hem in chiffon.



Trim off ruffle level with new hem and turn under 1/2 inch as original hem. Notice embedded dog hair? The bridesmaid said for me to ignore the totally dog hair-covered dress as they owned Labradors…so this made it OK? Lab hair…nice touch!



Trimmed and folded under and ready to stitch.


And the finished product:P1180432

Dress was hemmed and all ruffles steamed flat to avoid the “whale look”. I timed myself as I had quoted the girl 1.5 hours of labor. Working like a mad woman it took one hour of flat-out sewing and cutting, then steaming added another 10 minutes so the dress was ready in plenty of time for the 1 pm pick-up.

The resentful/reluctant bridesmaid dashes in, gets into the dress and is ready to pay me. I hand her the invoice and she pays me exactly the amount…no tip, nothing extra for a rush job. She leaves behind the hanger and the plastic garment bag filled with dog hair and a lasting memory as she drives away.

The rest of my day was a blur, I could not get focused and by 6 pm Mr Mole and I decided what we needed was a dinner out at the local Sushi bar…that would fix everything…and it did. A serving of delicious Monkey Brain appetizer just works wonders!

I can certainly celebrate the New Year arriving this week…with almost 100 gowns altered and finished on time. My 2015 book already has 5 brides on the list so it looks like another banner year. Wishing you all the best for 2015 and may your bobbin never run out half way through the hemming…

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

54 Responses to Flip, Chip and Tips

  1. rowsella315 says:

    I think I’d make a day long appointment at the said hairdresser’s salon and order the works (wash, cut color, condition, facial, wax, mani/pedi and up do– and pay the exact price just to give Karma her due. I promise you will feel Wonderful.

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha…I do spread my dollars around town to beauty professionals who can work their magic on this old body and face and hair and leave tips to let them know I love what they do…my comfort is being able to write about that experience and share it with all of you. Thanks for dropping by rowsella!

  2. oh dear.

    But, having worked providing custom-produced items for a number of years, i can say that the first words out of your mouth should have been ‘Rush Fee of 50%’. Next time!

    Congratulations on a wonderfully productive year. Your wish for all of us: “may your bobbin never run out half way through the hemming” lets me know that you are a dreamer of the highest order who still has stars in her eyes. Happy New Year!

  3. mrsmole says:

    You are right, of course, Stephanie….I need a new sign on my mirror stating that for 2015! If they let women design sewing machines we would have a huge cone of bobbin thread feeding into the machine instead of little bobbins…yes, dreaming…that’s me! Thank for your comforting comment!

    • Trish says:

      I had a Husqvarna machine about 20 years ago, which had a sensor which told me when the bobbin was about to run out. My next machine many years later (same brand) had eliminated that fantastic feature! Obviously users of the machines weren’t asked for their opinions!
      By the way, Mrs Mole, with some of your clients, the term ‘justifiable homicide’ springs to mind. Lucky for them you are so patient…

      • mrsmole says:

        Even the most temperamental and trying clients are always there as blogging material…ha ha! I’d love to have a bobbin case attached to a cone of thread or a bobbin the size of a round margarine container!

  4. Colleen says:

    You are impressive and your humor makes my day! You should require a rush fee up front for that quick turn around or she will expect the same quick service another day from another seamstress. A friend with a lawn care business says they will add a fee for a “rush” to meet a customer’s last minute request before an event of sorts. Men do not have a problem for charging when their schedule is interupted but I hesitate as well… Happy New Year…I think you need a restful few days (weeks) before the race begins for spring events! Thanks again for sharing, Colleen

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Colleen…I will be closing the sewing room for a while to relax and re-group but the posts will continue as there are many stories left to tell. Happy new Year to you and your family.

      • Carolyn says:

        I’m so glad that you are getting some time off because with almost 100 dresses altered you have been very productive this year! Thanks for sharing the stories with us and I hope that you have an awesome New Year!

      • SunGold says:

        So glad you’ll be blogging on – I love your posts! They make me laugh when they don’t make me cringe for the whole human race. I second the 50% rush fee idea.

  5. poppykettle says:

    I’m with Stephanie. Supply and Demand…. you demand it in a tight time frame, you gotta pay over and above for it! Can’t believe that though, that they would wait until the day of the actual wedding to get the dress hemmed. Or to even pick up the dress. Yikes!! Have a wonderful break 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks Poppy…we all need a break from the intense side of working for others. I’m glad you found a reasonable solution to cleaning your wedding gown. Best wishes for 2015!

  6. Mem says:

    YEesh what a total lack of self awareness . I am with the others . Slug them where it hurts if they are so late .After all if they are nice people who are in a tight spot which you can help them with then you can always give them a discount !

  7. Anne says:

    There’s always one bitchy bridesmaid! I can’t believe the audacity of both her expectations and comments. Something about weddings brings out the inner crazy in people.

    In addition to charging a 50% rush fee I think you need a big sign that says “Failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.”

    • mrsmole says:

      Resentment is a powerful emotion and I guess I was the only one she could unleash her feelings on that day. You would think spending the whole morning at the gym would have knocked it out of her…ha ha Maybe a couple drinks at the reception might have softened her bad attitude. Poor planning…you know that goes hand in hand with weddings and bridesmaids….maybe the plan should be to have LESS bridesmaids!

  8. Krysti Emerson says:

    My recent bride was a story. The first two fittings she left pretty much in tears. She was sure she picked the wrong dress. Mom and bride had words, not super unkind, but uncomfortable for me. I assured her that I could fix it based on what I was hearing from her. At this point she didn’t even know what would make her happy. Fortunately I changed the whole illusion top, removed lace, made it higher in the back, and the next fitting I heard the words we all wait for, “It’s perfect, I love it!” I wish I would have gotten photos – you do such a great job of telling the story! In the end making a bride happy is what it is all about.

    • mrsmole says:

      Clients have no idea how much time and thinking goes into altering and sometimes remaking their gowns. They do not realize we are listening and watching every time they try on the dress to get clues into their comfort zone and self image. Once we home in on their ideas we can run with it and produce that perfect fitting and styling dress whether it be pushing the boobs up and out or snugging up the dress to accentuate their bottoms. We work magic every day and they tell their friends…it is a win/win! Congratulations on making that bride look her best and feel her best!

  9. accordion3 says:

    I used to take my bike to a mechanic who had a sliding scale of add on costs. Started with an extra 30% for watching the service, rising to 60% for “helping” the service along with an extra pair of useless hands and advice. The highest fee was for using the workshop & tools. He didn’t trust his equipment to anyone!

    A closer shop opened up, with a much better mechanic, who has no hassles saying “NO”.

    Arriving on the day is incredibly rude.

    • mrsmole says:

      Can’t imagine anyone touching my tools or machine….ha ha I don’t mind brides picking up their dress the day of the wedding and writing the check but I never expect they will bring along another dress at the last minute. And if they do, there really should be a gratuity left behind no matter what service you are providing. Class is a commodity that cannot be bought…some folks have it , some don’t.

  10. Kim T says:

    OMG, how inconsiderate can a bride be; I mean NOT choosing black as her bridesmaids colour as one of the bridesmaids only wears black! Shame this inconsiderate, self-centered, conceited, young lady (and I use that word very loosely) did not remember that it was a wedding she was attending, not a funeral. My goodness, I cannot believe the nerve of some people. I am with Anne in that I too think that a rush job should incur a 50% surcharge; if they complain you simply shrug your shoulders and show them the door.

  11. mrsmole says:

    I will have to practice smiling and saying, “Yes, sure I can do that rush job and the normal fee is 50% extra”. This New Year’s resolution is on my list!Thanks for dropping by, Kim!

  12. girl in the stix says:

    I’ve worked with printers, and their rush fee slides from 50 percent to 100 percent. Day of? 150 percent–that bridesmaid (and bride) had no class! I admire and respect the work you do–you have mad skillz! I hope there was a large rum and diet Pepsi at the end of the day!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Honey, there is always a Rum and Diet Pepsi waiting for me if I really need it! As far as printers are concerned we would all pay whatever they wanted for that rush job! Almost as important as a bridesmaid’s dress before the photo shoot, no?

  13. sewruth says:

    ….and therapist, psychologist, expert seamstress and general all round good egg!

  14. prttynpnk says:

    Paying on time is not a gift- its required. Not tipping implies that you don’t appreciate what went into the work. It amazes me that people think tips are somehow included in a price. Nice.

  15. Anne Frances says:

    Your posts always make me smile ( and I learn a lot too, and not only about amazingly helpful sewing techniques). This one reminds me of when, decades ago, I lived in a tropical country where sudden thunderstorms were frequent. The local umbrellas usually cost one dollar. But if it was actually raining when you bought one it cost two dollars. I think you should adopt the same principle.
    With best wishes for the festive season and for 2015.

  16. Martina says:

    I am going to print out a sign in my office that says “Your failure to plan is not my emergency”. I won’t stick to it, but it’ll make me feel better!

    • mrsmole says:

      Like my sign that says, “Only clean clothes accepted, all others will be cleaned and charged”. It is amazing how many clients ask why I have that sign….I say you would not believe the state of the clothes I used to accept before I went totally bridal/custom. Now this is a “clean room”…no shoes, no drinks, no food, no children…all stain causing for bridal gowns.

  17. Shams says:

    It’s amazing that this sort of behavior and treatment doesn’t make YOU bitter! Good for you to find a way to cope and, yes, start charging more for rush jobs. 🙂

  18. mrsmole says:

    I guess the key is to not take it personally…they probably treat everyone like that…word gets around town. As my grandmother used to say, “I have bigger fish to fry”. Digging through my patterns to find some January things to make during the quiet time.

  19. Just another wonderful day at the office, huh? Hope you have a Happy Prosperous New Year!

  20. Pingback: Remember Clover? | corecouture

  21. The surcharge is a really good method of jolting memories! I had a recent request that ‘cant make it to you today but I need this by Thursday’. It was Monday at that point which allowed two days for the work. When I mentioned the extra charge it seemed the garment wasn’t as essential as she thought……
    There isn’t such a tipping culture here in the UK so I wouldn’t expect it but since it is pretty much standard in the US that client seems to have been very rude. One to add to a mental blacklist?
    Enjoy your quiet period 😃

  22. mrsmole says:

    This year was exceptionally meager with tips….out of 100 dresses, only 2 tips. But the word of mouth referrals are worth gold! Yes, Kim, that extra charge sure works wonders…that dress they found on the sale rack for a cheap price doesn’t seem so wonderful when the alterations charge is higher. Looking forward to seeing some new projects on your blog for 2015!

  23. Morgan says:

    Wholeheartedly agree with a surcharge for a rush job, especially if it pushes previously planned work into another slot or one that incurs overtime. I like the suggestion of keeping within your gift the possibility of reducing the surcharge should you feel very kind that day.

    I find the comments about tips quite interesting. On both my visits to the US I felt rather uncomfortable about tipping – when and why should a tip be given, is it expected when there is a service charge item on a bill, is it too much, too little, how do I find out what is the right amount to give, do you tip the individual or is it better to put the tip in a tip box to be shared by all the employees, do you tip for each service at the hotel or give cash in envelopes at the end of your stay, and so on. I find the whole tipping thing a nightmare.
    In the UK it would be unlikely that the owner or senior manager of a business would be tipped. In places such as a hairdressing salon or restaurant the employeeds may be tipped but not the owner. In the UK if a service charge is included on the bill, tells the customer that tipping is unnecessary.
    As for tipping itself, I prefer to choose to give cash and I detest it when you’re presented with the the card machine to add an amount to your bill to pay a tip. That comes across as manipulative and tacky.
    Depending on the service provided, there are other ways of showing appreciation or acknowledging good where where someone has gone the extra mile.

    • accordion3 says:

      Here in Aus it is incredibly rare to tip for anything, except brilliant table service at a restaurant. And then it is usually a case of rounding up the bill – from $95 to $100. I find tipping when overseas to be incredibly fraught too.

  24. Roseana Auten says:

    Your work is beautiful, but I don’t know how you do it, dealing with these people. Nothing would get their attention (and respect) more than offering them the “screw you” price . . .

    • mrsmole says:

      True…but for me it is all about referrals…you present a happy face and do good work and they tell their friends. Imagine if i said what I really think….I’d have an empty sewing room…ha ha!

  25. barb bachmann says:

    After such a day I am surprised you didn’t turn into “monkey brain”!! And I agree with the added charge for a rush job.

  26. mrsmole says:

    I did add a 50% extra the day before New Year’s Eve when a lace dress had to be hemmed in less than 24 hours. The customer said she would be happy to pay ANY amount to get the dress done for a party…so desperate times call for desperate measures!

  27. francescamw says:

    I would never think to tip a dressmaker any more than I would tip a carpenter or plumber. (esp a plumber!). I would expect them to charge what they want to be paid and I’ll pay. Some people say that it’s unnecessary to tip the owner of a business either, although I always tip hair stylist, owner or not.

    • mrsmole says:

      Tips are nice when that professional has done a huge favor as in altering a dress in one hour or a plumber or electrician has gone the extra mile for you. My sewing machine repairman does a quick turnaround on my machines because he knows I need them back quickly so I think this deserves a tip. When a tree trimmer cuts down my 65 foot tall tree and offers to take away all the logs and debris instead of leaving it for me to sort out, that deserves a tip. So many professionals that have worked for me seem to do special things that make my life so much easier and I want them to know it is much appreciated. I lived in Europe and when service was excellent and beyond the norm required for the job, I gave tips. Maybe it is not the cultural thing to do but I was raised to show appreciation whether it be with money or fresh vegetables from the garden. To me, anything given in gratitude says, “I honor your work and effort and spirit”. It is simple, it says, “you are valued”.

  28. symondezyn says:

    Wow, Mrs. M – you are definitely a saint 🙂 I think everyone should have to work in the service industry sometime in their life so that they can appreciate the amount of hard work it takes to get them the things they take for granted – and which they so often undervalue. Tipping notwithstanding (in some cultures/countries it is not done, however there is no excuse where it is custom) at least they could learn to show appreciation and respect 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      My issue was the 1 hour turnaround with no prior warning…try doing that in any other service…and the answer would have been, “NO CAN DO”. People tip the valet parking their car, people tip the barista pouring a cup of coffee, people tip the cloak room girl and the bathroom attendant to gain 2 sheets of toilet paper so what I am talking about is not that weird. Some brides have brought me a plant or box of chocolates or just a thank you card…but it is the little something that says your effort was valued. It is not enough to say, “You saved my bacon”.

    • mrsmole says:

      OH Carmen! What a selection of nightmare dresses! I have seen many like this with brides crying and expecting me to “fix” the dress by removing all the lace and replacing it. So many of these dresses cost $120 so the labor alone to remove bad lace/plastic beads and cheap tulle would be so expensive. Thank you for sending the link, I read the Daily Mail every day online and enjoy so many of the articles and photos…this one is one that EVERY bride should be made to read and learn from…Shocking!

  29. Annie says:

    I would never think to tip a professional either. If you think your services are worth more, YOU are the one setting your prices, so CHARGE MORE.

    Definitely you should charge a rush fee.

    Don’t expect others to value you more than you value your own work.

Leave a Reply

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

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com 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