Swapping Scary Stories

Having a sewing blog enables you to connect with the nicest people who don’t have time to blog because they sew full-time for others. For the past year, I have been sharing stories with an East Coast Sewing Sister named Sharon who told me this story and I could only imagine what it was like in person:

It had been another day filled with marathon sewing, people coming in 5 minutes before I was finished with their order, receiving annoying phone calls, answering stupid questions, tending to numerous drop-ins for fitting, and dealing with people pleading to get their special shit done in record time. An hour before closing, a rather stout woman comes in (I’m estimating about 200 lbs.) approximately our age, 60’s, with a plastic grocery bag and announces she has a gown to wear to her daughter’s wedding (in a week of course), and she was supposed to lose 15 lbs. but first she broke her foot and gained weight and then she broke her rib and gained more weight.

Let’s stop here for a moment………
She must live one hell of a life to have 2 separate incidences where she breaks first a foot and then a rib !! ??
Then she announces that the dress is too small and she tried fixing it herself (Oh sweet Jesus, why oh why do they try to help us?)
Out of the plastic bag she pulls a battleship gray, cheap, flimsy, shiny, polyester, fresh from China, racer back “gown”.
The pix I am sending is the closest thing I could find on-line to show you what I was dealing with.

When you open the link, disregard the front and focus on the back of the dress please. And trust me, this old broad looks nothing at all like the model in the pix !!!!

http://www.malltop1.com/Products/2014/8/Open-Front-and-Back-Gown-N9108.htm

o_Open-Front-and-Back-Gown-N9108_22_16_276o_Open-Front-and-Back-Gown-N9108_22_15_905

The straps that meet in the back were wider and self pleating, then sewn into a rhinestone encrusted ring.
However, because it was too tight, she felt the need to cut the straps that start at the side seams (boobs) at the point that they were sewn into the ring. But wait, she didn’t stop there. She had also cut off (scissor happy woman) the white twill tape loops whose original purpose were to help keep the gown stay onto the hanger, which she did not have because this whole mess had been jammed into that plastic grocery bag. She had tied one end to the now dangling strap that originated from the side of the boobs with the white twill tape and the other end of the white twill tape was tied to the ring, holding the entire mess in a somewhat original racer back fashion.

……“Can’t you just put something where the white string is?”……..
I swear to you, my first thought was, how the hell am I going to get away with taking a photo of this to send to Mrs Mole?
Deer in the headlights moment ……………..

Ahh……..give me a minute …… maybe you should try it on and then perhaps I can see what I can do ……..
Did you bring proper undergarments with you?
As soon as that came out of my mouth I knew that there were no undergarments on the planet that could possibly save this catastrophe, forgive me, but I was in shock.
Her response was “No, what I have on is fine”, and into the dressing room she went.
At this point I was already rubbing my temples.

When she came back out sporting this little honey of a dress and turned around, it was even worse than I had imagined.
She had on a ragged, nasty old flesh tone bra and the straps of the dress that started at the sides and now tied to the ring, were gaping at the side seam/zipper area, and in the back, the top of the waist was all twisted weird and when she put on the dress, she hadn’t pulled the lining down over her fat ass so it was now poking from the top of the waist and out the sides. And of course there was fat back bulging and attempting to escape at every open area.

At the front of the gown, the fabric covering the cups is also self pleating. In my world the cup should caress the entire breast, but the bottom of these cups were hitting her right about nipple height and the tits were literally spilling out over the top. She would stuff in the right one and then the left one would pop out. As soon as she had that one under control, the right one would flop out again. Thank God for that ratty old bra !!
Miss, I have no idea what I would use in place of your white string.

“Can’t you just cut some off the bottom of the dress and use that? I don’t mind if it’s a little shorter”
Miss, only if you want the dress up above your knees and even then, I don’t think I have the powers to save this.

“Oh darn, and I really loved this dress !” “Where am I going to find another dress that I like this much, that will fit, in time for the wedding?”
At that moment I was thinking ….. how much tequila is in that bottle at home?

Meanwhile, a long time gentleman customer had come in and was in the other fitting room trying on pants for me to pin. I was desperately trying to hold it together, so not to make an ass of myself in front of him. But, like most men, he was totally oblivious!

Then from behind curtain number 1, I hear her voice asking me if I know where to get a machine that does nothing except sew. Her question: “Is there a machine that doesn’t do anything but sew?”
……long silence on my part…….
All that poured out of my mouth was,”I don’t know how to answer that!! I don’t know how to answer that!!”

Then she came back with ( I assume to further explain herself ) : “One that you don’t have to worry about the thing down on the bottom or all the stuff on top, one you just push a button for the color and go?”
That’s when I lost control and think I peed a little.

I gotta get me one of them contraptions !!!!

I’ve consumed 2 extra large margaritas and I think it would be best to go lie down now !

So dear readers, you have another insight into the wonderful world of running an alteration business…East coast, West coast…makes no difference.

Sharon will read any comments you want to share after you stop shaking your head.

Next time more ridiculous bride stories will be coming, happy sewing everyone!

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93 Responses to Swapping Scary Stories

  1. stella says:

    I want to know – did she actually attempt to rescue this debacle??

  2. splendidcakes says:

    Oh for a picture… but then again, our eyes would bleed, wouldn’t they.

  3. mary anne says:

    how do these people arrive at point B from point A every day?!! or from whatever planet
    they are on to ours?

  4. Tia Dia says:

    Oh. My. Goodness. People really have no idea of decency, do they? Or perhaps a warped sense of ‘sexy’. Crikey! And I’m with stella: did she fix the dress or beg off completely?

  5. S says:

    I am at the airport and laughing out loud in the lounge. I honestly think that some kind of fashion decorum should be taught at school. Poor lady for being so oblivious! Funny friend you have.:)

  6. This is why I pretty happy with my decision to not do sewing for a career. I remember an old alterations book suggesting that male customers were easier to deal with because while they just wanted things to fit, women often expect alterations to transform their entire appearance.

    • I can absolutely agree with that book! My experience with alterations was the majority of time was spent managing expectations.!

    • I’m with you, clothingengineer, I stopped doing alterations and custom sewing because I just couldn’t keep my foot out of my mouth. Unfortunately, said foot was starting to get out of control because the customers just made it so easy with their demands. I had several excellent customers over the years, but, unfortunately, the bad apples did spoil the whole basket!

      • mrsmole says:

        Those bad apples/brides just make you appreciate the grateful nice ones even more. I tell my clients that working on 100 dresses a year makes me remember the really good ones and the really bad ones…the rest is a blur.

    • Jen (NY) says:

      I give credit to those who do this work. My grandmother did it, and I remember a few of her stories. Years ago I did a kind of barter with a friend, at her request – I made a dress for her, to her specifications. She was on the short and stout side, and against my recommendations, insisted upon a baby-doll style made out of a dense woven fabric. The skirt on the dress was quite gathered. It wasn’t easy to do that with the heavy fabric she had chosen, but she was persistent about what she wanted. Needless to say, in the end she did not look like the bohemian waif that she had apparently imagined and did not have any appreciation for the work that I put into her custom dress. (I was definitely on the bad end of that barter!)

      Anyway, hilarious story – thanks for sharing!

      • mrsmole says:

        Kudos to you for trying to make a heavy fabric into something ethereal! We do the best we can but if the client starts with inappropriate fabric and pattern…the rest is downhill…it seems they have their heart set on an image and it is up to you to produce it. I remember a woman way back in the 80’s who wanted an Ultrasuede coat made for a trip to Europe and told me it had to make her look at least 10 pounds lighter…I explained that if I could do THAT, I’d do it for myself but it was next to impossible in Ultrasuede!

    • mrsmole says:

      Absolutely….that is magic wand time!

  7. Cindy says:

    Hilarious!!! “and I think I peed a little” Bwaaaaa……

  8. Unbeeeeelievable. The visual image of this scared me. I laughed so hard, too. Another good reason to stick to custom work.

  9. prttynpnk says:

    Wait- mother of the bride or Madame of the bride? I’m appalled on more levels than I knew I had!

  10. Colleen says:

    Thanks for sharing! No one could make up something like this! I laughed so much I think I can count it as aerobic exercise! …..and you hopefully did a good deed and she went shopping for something that fit!

  11. Laura says:

    Out of this world, I had a good time reading this. My colleague was looking at me like I was raving mad

  12. Linda says:

    Thank you so much for that. I’m going to be laughing for days.

  13. symondezyn says:

    Oh I’m giggling so hard…. hilarious!! I chuckled a bit at “special shit” but then lost it entirely when I saw the picture of the dress and the mental imagery that ensued! πŸ˜€ Also if either of you finds one of those machines that does nothing but sew, be sure to let us all know ^___^

  14. fabrickated says:

    Ha ha ha. Nice one Sharon. I love the image of the boobs popping in and out in stereo.

    Like Symondezyn I too am intrigued by the machine that does nothing but sewing. What sort of wonderful addition that would be to my life. My machine cooks, irons, cleans the floor and feeds the kids.

  15. Lydia says:

    So happy I am retired.

  16. sewruth says:

    If you lot aren’t on prescription drugs I’m actually mightily surprised! How about a different line of work – like sorting out juvenile delinquents or heroin drug addicts – anything simpler than MOBs!
    Mind you a sense of humour really ‘seams’ to help you cope.

    • mrsmole says:

      It seems Sharon’s drug of choice is tequila and you all know mine is rum and Diet Pepsi. Having a blog is the best way for me to let off steam other than moaning to Mr Mole who has his own weird clients. Sharon sends her photos and stories my way so we can both have jaw-dropping in tandem.

    • Sharon says:

      Not on prescription drug ….. yet ….. Sometimes I think I need psychological help, but then after a day with “special” clients, I go home feeling so much closer to normal. And I am also blessed to be able to vent to Mrs. Mole. Shhhh….Don’t tell her but, she should really charge me for listening to my tales ,calming me down and making me laugh.

  17. erniek3 says:

    Between this and the McCalls Pattern blog photos of the retro satin dress out for a smoothie break, I have had the best and deepest laughs of the year. And who says sewing is boring?

  18. wendyww says:

    That is hilarious! Your poor friend! I bet she has holes in her tongue from biting it hard enough.

  19. I just snorted red wine down my nose laughing. Oh, this is why I avoid all things wedding related.
    That said, I have been drawn into making shirts for someone with a 180″ (yes, inches not centimetres) waist. The pattern has been fun to draw out 🍸🍸🍸😱

  20. jrp53 says:

    I am speechless to think the woman was serious about all this. I’m between laughing so hard and being completely flummoxed. Hope she found something at David’s bridal!

  21. Valerie says:

    Oh dear..It’s like something out of Candid Camera or Punk’d….

  22. BeaJay says:

    Oh Mrs Mole and Friend Sharon, you have really really made me laugh. I had a horrible night with no sleep and a hellhole load of crap to deal with. You have no idea how much I needed this huge laugh this morning.Thank you so much for sharing.

  23. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for the picture approximating the dress, until I saw that pic I couldn’t appreciate the full horror of the story.

    • mrsmole says:

      Not every woman looks good in a dress with a rhinestone circle holding all the parts together, never mind cutting the parts apart for a better fit. Celebrities can pull this look off…the rest of us should not attempt it!!! It is a good visual isn’t it, Suzanne?

  24. Carol says:

    I wonder if your friend Sharon will find out how this disaster ended? I don’t think Davids Bridal will have anything like she wants in her size. (lord, I hope not!) My brain hurts just trying to picture it! Please share if you hear the end of this tale!

  25. Sharon says:

    No ladies, I did not rescue
    the MOB gray gown. Guess that battleship has been decommissioned ! She was just one of my “special” whack-a-doodle customers!
    Thanks for listening to my story and all your kind comments.

  26. Judi in NJ says:

    The writer’s frustration was obvious and well earned, but I can’t help but wish that the story was told without the snide, cheap shots. We do ourselves and each other no favors by knocking someone down, even someone as socially unaware as this customer seems to have been. . I may be showing my age, but I think the story is funnier when told with more restraint. On the other hand, I learned my lesson long ago; now I sew for family and a few close, appreciative friends.

    • mrsmole says:

      How fortunate that you do not have to earn your living sewing for others, Judi, and can choose your clients. Those of us who have this career put up with wacky clients and abusive clients do the best we can and try to find humor in what can be very long days and very trying hours of smiling and assuring nervous clients that their garment can be altered or resurrected to their satisfaction in a rush time and for a cheap price.
      Sharon runs her shop from 8 am till 6 pm six days a week so she sees plenty of variety/weirdness.
      I personally sew from 10 am until 11 pm at night and then also get up and sew from 3 am until 5 am to make the wedding gowns perfect and on time and then start my day all over again. Getting by on 4 hours of sleep a day could make me really grumpy and really sarcastic and resentful but my passion for making clothes fit right and keeping paying customers happy and good reviews keeps me going. When I reach 70, sooner rather than later, I hope I can stop and be more selective but for now I and Sharon and many others who write to me just are holding on until the eyesight or knees or hands give out and forces us to end our businesses. The sad part is, there are NO professional seamstresses coming along to fill our shoes, we are a dying breed, the last of this kind.

      • Mary says:

        I thank God every day that I do not have to sew for other people. God bless you all.

      • Alethia says:

        So true Mrs. Mole! And , let me just say, I totally appreciate the honesty and candor that you bring and that you share, like this story. When dealing with clients like this one and others, you have to have an outlet to express yourself and get it out off of you. What better way than to share with mostly like-minded. This is stuff you can’t make up. Sometimes all you can do is to laugh to keep from crying. So, don’t stop sharing your honest opinions and true stories. One day I may write a book of my own, LOL!

    • Martina says:

      I have to agree with Judy…the question about the sewing machine made me think that this woman was cognitively impaired, and the remarks about her ratty bra just made me sad. I don’t mind laughing about the mean girls you have to work with, but the numerous remarks about this woman’s weight and her “fat ass” were just offputting. Just my opinion.

  27. EasilyAmewsed says:

    OMG.. sometimes fact trumps fiction! < : ) Lucky for you, I was not drinking anything when I read this or my monitor might have been fried.

  28. Lynda says:

    OMG… thank you so much for sharing this. I always love Mrs. Mole’s comments, but this one is quite as good. Imagining her in her dress, shoving the boobs in and out, and then looking open mouthed when she asked if there was a machine that would do that sewing stuff… yeah, I wouldn’t have been able to hold it together. I have tears running down my face just reading about it, and for sure, I wouldn’t have wanted to be needing the bathroom…
    Today was a bad day, and you made all of that disapper. :p))

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Lynda….we just share what we see and most times leave out stuff because no one would believe us if we told the whole story!

  29. I am naughtily reading this at work (very serious work btw) and I would love to lol heartily, guess I’ll have to wait ’til I get home!

  30. I can understand Sharon’s frustration. Something she loves to do has turned into a terrible chore. And it doesn’t surprise me that men just want their clothes to fit, while women want to be transformed. I always wondered how it came to be that way. It was definitely a funny story though! I hope Sharon feels better too now that she has gotten it off her chest. Maybe the bride herself will be the next to walk in Sharon’s door. Traditionally they show up for alterations a few days before the wedding, don’t they?

  31. mrsmole says:

    You are so sweet, Linda, Thank you!

  32. Theresa says:

    Honestly, I would last about a nanosecond in business doing what you two do, assuming I had the exceptional sewing chops you gals have. I would have been reduced to tears…of laughter and how mean is that! Who is the patron saint of seamstresses?

    • mrsmole says:

      I think it is St. Anne. Some days our clients are pure entertainment and joy, the other days…teeth-clenching trouble…but finding the balance is the key along with alcohol…ha ha

  33. LeeAnn says:

    I would keel over if my mom arrived in a dress like that to my wedding. She needs some good, honest girlfriends in her life!

  34. birdmommy says:

    I was advised many years ago by an elderly Eastern European lady that ‘you – you must always buy the bra first, then look for the dress’. I have always heeded that advice, and it has kept me from choosing a variety of disastrous dresses over the years. Though I think the bra may have been the least of that outfit’s problems.

  35. Bunny says:

    I totally enjoyed the East Coast story. People never cease to amaze me.

    This is the big reason I did not want to do interior design any more. You do a gorgeous room and the husband won’t let you get rid of the horrid lamp that stands 6 feet tall and 3 feet wide on an end table and was a gift from his mom on their wedding 20 years previous. This post brought back many of those memories. Then there was the master bedroom with pics of a naked wife on every wall and I was asked to redo the room (mirror on the full ceiling) but the pics had to stay. Oy, you ladies earn every dime you charge and then some.

  36. Claire Ramsey says:

    Recently a dressmaker told me that she has a very hard time finding “appropriate clients” – the ones who understand that fitting and constructing garments is not a type of cosmetic surgery and who understand that it costs actual money to have a garment custom made just for you!!! You (and today Sharon) really add humor to my day with your tales! Thank you!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Most clients admit that they know nothing about sewing so we do our best to explain what can and cannot be done and try to reach a compromise but some garments have to be “released” to swim away. Those are the ones we have no time to photograph and can only write down the most memorable details of their visit. If clients realized that their dimensions must actually work with the dimensions of the dress it would be easier but we work with what walks in the door and dig around for the magic wand. Thanks for sharing, Claire.

  37. Oh, my…I could NOT do what y’all do, that’s for sure! Cannot imagine dealing with some of the crazy clients you have…I’d win the record for quickest business to alienate its customers…lol! It would be SO hard to not just SAY what needs to be said πŸ˜‰

    Wishing you both a pitcher of your favorite beverage, a comfortable chair and PEACE! Oh, and a string of model clients!

    • mrsmole says:

      Being a seamstress requires an huge amount of optimism at the start of every day. I know Sharon fuels her best attitude by picking up coffee on her way to work and enters her building with her fingers crossed hoping for something that resembles normal…we both wish each other normal days as the great days are very rare. If we can just get more OUT the front do than what comes in…it’s a winner! Thanks, Cheryl.

  38. denise devine says:

    I love your blog! I have been asked many times to “teach” sewing- it is a lifetime of learning – where do you begin? and where can I get that machine! thanks for the laugh.

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha…Denise, you begin by finding students who know way less than you do…which is in abundance since school stopped teaching sewing decades ago. When they start producing that machine I will have put a deposit down on the first one!

  39. selina says:

    So so funny. Some ladies look in the mirror and see a Victoria’s secret model even if the reality is a bit mutton! My inner wannabe twenty years younger raver self tries to get out but she’s well sedated. Interested to know what she was wearing when she arrived for alteration.se Thanks for the Friday lols.

    • Sharon says:

      I think she had on slacks and a button front blouse. Dull, drab, nothing as eye opening as the gown.

  40. Ria says:

    Sooohhh…funny !!!! πŸ™‚

  41. Alethia says:

    I have NO words…I laughed so hard until I cried!!! I would have lost it when she first came out if the fitting room. Most times I can control my outbursts of laughter, then there are those times, like this, that I have no words and no control over my response…I, mean, I possibly could have been slapped by the client, LMBO! The bible says laughter is medicine…I want to thank my east coast sewing sister because I believe I have been healed of anything ailing me…HILARIOUS!! Thanks for sharing that Mrs. Mole!

    • mrsmole says:

      I’m sure you have a lifetime of funny stories and sad ones too of women emerging from the dressing rooms where you used to work, Alethia! At least David’s did not carry hooker dresses so you were spared that sight. The ironic thing was that this woman was perfectly fine wearing that dress to her own daughter’s wedding…not a disco or girl’s night out.

  42. Azar Lo says:

    Mrs. Mole, I don’t know if you heard back from Gabriela regarding the link to the McCall’s Reto Satin dress, or, if the one I found is the one she was referring to. For your entertainment if/when you get a break:

    http://blog.mccall.com/2015/05/14/bringingbackhollywoodglamour/

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Azar….makes you wonder what the whole point of this photo shoot was…it certainly was not bringing me back to the glamor of Hollywood!!!! Ha ha!

  43. LynneW says:

    I couldn’t stop laughing!!

  44. Karen Lyon says:

    I don’t get where anybody would think that dress appropriate to wear to a wedding much less the (presumably) aging mother of the groom. What I wouldn’t give to see candid shots from that wedding! Karen

    Date: Thu, 14 May 2015 16:08:24 +0000 To: grumpykaren@hotmail.com

  45. mrsmole says:

    Love to be a fly on the wall for that reception too!

  46. I wonder why the mother of the bride would want to go almost naked to the wedding. Really, a little respect for the daughter! And! I just can’t stop thinking about that bra! Yikes!

  47. misslolamae says:

    This made me laugh so hard… Oh man – am I the only one who is just like – NO, er sorry…

  48. Okay-this is the best so far! I have been doing this for 21 years, so I can totally relate to these.

  49. Pingback: East Coast Woes | fit for a queen

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