Finding Three Inches

What’s a seamstress to do when the client arrives crying with a dress cut off too short? The story involves a bridal salon who swears they took the correct measurements before ordering the custom made Casablanca gown. 2155_22155_3

Once the gown arrives, it is not right, lace layer is 3 inches too short, satin /lining layer is 3 inches too short and no one has a clue as to what can be done. The salon asks another local seamstress to add “something” to the lining. The “something” is a double layer of thick satin edging that should be used for a home dec project or on curtain tie backs or valance boxes. But here it is attached to the thin lining…attached …a better word would be “bolted” as it has been sewn with thick machine-made tacks every 1/2 or closer.


So now, even with this 5 inch wide cardboard-like edging, the delicate lace layer is still 3 inches shorter all around the hem. What can I add to the lace layer to cover the thick edging without looking like what I call, “Grandma had her way with your dress”?

Enter…ivory tulle from JoAnn’s…I offer to make a strip 3 1/2 inches wide, use my ruffler/pleater attachment to make it look a step up from just gathers and attach it.

The crying bride and her mother agreed to this solution along with numerous other alterations to the upper part of the dress. The deep back “V” has already been lowered further down (by someone else) than the original position to accommodate a huge tattoo which I will color out in the photos. In making the “V” lower, the 2 back edges now fan out and are very loose/gaping open…anyone else know that removing fabric causes the remaining fabric to flare away from the body? How do you get fabric that is not there to hug the body? My job is to make the 2 edges cling to each other after someone else deepened it.

The bride tells me that “nobody TOLD me that the opening would be wider”. So, I offer to make a double layer tulle triangular panel to attach, one side sewn on, the other with snaps to hold the edges together without covering up the tattoo.


Also the straps are are too wide for the bride so I remove some of the twirly bits of lace to narrow them. What else? How about adding thick push up bra pads…anything else? Well, the back edges also need some hand made darts in the lace to make it curve into the bodyP1180868…and…yes, we need a bustle in the lace and lining…5 points in the lace and one in the satin lining will do nicely.

Oh, and can you make the side seams even tighter all the way down to my thighs? Sure thing and since each layer is seamed separately, it will be simple…not! Let’s not even think about what bulk will be in those lace seams. P1180866P1180867Only 7 hours of labor and then some will make this dress wearable and the main directive/command from the bride after all this pinning and messing is: “Make sure none of my cowboy boots show at all UNLESS I am walking.”

Let’s do it…ruffler in place, 24 yards of tulle strips cut…ready, set, go:P1190092P1190089

Let’s attach the strip (double layer) to the hem of the lace,  topstitch the seam after flipping it up.


I’m hoping she likes it, as it adds a custom romantic feel and covers the boots. Bustled up, it creates quite a nice silhouette. Tattooed back is painted over and tulle panel is in place.


During all the fittings, the bride stood frozen/mesmerized by her own reflection in the mirror until her mother broke the silent admiring gaze with, “Baby girl, speak up, baby girl, tell the nice lady what you want”.

At this point I just wanted to ask her what my mind was thinking…“in 3 weeks you will be someone’s wife and dirty underwear washer/toilet scrubber and do you even know how to cook an egg?”…baby girl

A view from my garden before I leave you:july-2015-8

Yes, that is me standing behind my Roma tomato plant with my hands in the air. Peppers, Swiss chard and eggplant are in the foreground and squash below: july-2015

This week my clients have been taking these beauties home with them, still 108 F degrees during the day and 78 at night…so glad I work inside! Stay cool everyone!

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65 Responses to Finding Three Inches

  1. Andrea says:

    You garden soil must be just incredible! Our Florida sand leaves much to be desired for growing. Great job on the dress. Baby girl sounded pretty happy in the end.

    • mrsmole says:

      We put fresh dirt from our compost bin into the beds every season. I bought worms 2 years ago and they are in there too enriching the soils. We have 3 plastic compost bins with worms in there too working year round. Our soil is clay which in the summer is like digging through concrete so we have to keep it light and airy and enriched.

  2. claregarden says:

    I have great admiration for your sewing and diplomatic skills, just reading about doing those alterations makes me feel panicked!! And dealing with those women… holey moley…. You deserve a medal !

  3. accordion3 says:

    Oh my – what a lot of alterations. It all confirms how much better it is to get things right the first time!

  4. Sandra says:

    Hello mrsmole…I haven’t commented before, but I’ve been following your trials and tribulations for a little while now.
    I’m in the UK and have been altering/repairing clothes for over 30 years. (I don’t specialise in bridal as you do, but occasionally get small wedding orders….)
    You always make me smile when I read about your busy days. I love seeing your work…you’re very skilled. I couldn’t do your job.
    In my experience, brides and mothers of brides are a different breed.. I feel your pain.

    • mrsmole says:

      There is drama every day…mostly good along with hugs but you do really really remember the tough ones! The first 30 years of my sewing career never involved brides but once they find you, that is it! Now there is little time for anything else. I lived in Southport for 8 years and learned a lot about British traditions…now Mr Mole is learning about all of mine. Wishing you only nice clients, Sandra!

  5. maryglenn says:

    I have used Tulle many times to rescue dresses. I also like lace as you can play around with that too. Great job on the veggies!

  6. prttynpnk says:

    Do you have clips to keep your cape out of the way while you sew? You are a super hero!

  7. Tereza says:

    Wow that’s a pretty dress when all is said and done. I can only imagine how Baby Girl acted at the bridal shop when she tried the short dress on. Epic! I’m always amazed at your talent to transform the deformed!

  8. sewbusylizzy says:

    Apart from marveling at your skills, your sense of humour & sanity in the face of such ridiculousness amaze me even more with every blog post!

    • mrsmole says:

      It helps to be a little nuts to do this work…it also helps to have a husband who listens at the end of the day…without him I would despair!

  9. I am taking a break from the alterations needed on a clients wedding dress so I can eat lunch. Mine isn’t as bad as that, and I know the bride is a sweetheart, but I would be totally unsuited to the diplomacy you provide. I suspect baby girl may be in for a shock once married.
    I hope she is paying well for your magic.

    • mrsmole says:

      Cash was paid and I was happy to hand over the dress…she added to the blog posts so it was a win/win. Hope your brides are all appreciative, Kim!

  10. Robin says:

    Wow MrsMole, The description at the very beginning made this project sound near impossible, but the pictures at the end show the magic. The addition of a double ruffle at the hem is brilliant – and I bet it kicks nicely when she walks. Too bad you had to hide the too-easily-recognizable tattoo in the photo. I would have loved to see how the modesty panel looked in the back. My daughter’s gown also has a very deep V in the back, which is making the foundation more of a challenge than it should have been. It wasn’t a feature she necessarily wanted, but it’s there, and we had no luck shopping for a strapless or convertible bra that would work. I’ve got my own magic to rustle up now. Thank goodness I am not doing this at the last minute like you do all the time!!!

  11. Kathleen says:

    Oh, darn! I wanted to see the huge tattoo! 😄

    You are a saint!

  12. girl in the stix says:

    You are a Miracle Worker!

  13. Suzanne says:

    How can the bridal salon swear they took the correct measurements? Are they saying she grew 3 inches since they measured her? If she did not grow t then it has to be their error, and I hope they paid your bill and not the customer.

    • mrsmole says:

      I think they paid the first seamstress to attach that butt ugly stuff to the lining and then she gave up. I was paid well by the client’s parents who would give their girl anything she wanted.

    • Val says:

      I have to wonder whether the dopey bride was barefoot or had on flip-flops when they did the length measurement….

      • mrsmole says:

        Brides are so dopey they cannot remember to bring shoes for fittings even when we are hemming and bustle positioning. They stand on their tiptoes and tell me, “This is about how high the heels are” and expect to stand that was for an hour or so…really…try that and wait for some leg cramps!

  14. that is such a pretty dress and I agree you are a miracle worker.

  15. Karen Lyon says:

    Jealous of your garden produce. That is not a tomato plant, it is a bush, on it’s way to becoming a tree! What kind of fertilizer are you using down there?! We have to wait until end of May to plant our gardens without risk of frost. So jealous.

    Date: Thu, 2 Jul 2015 08:40:49 +0000 To:

  16. Good heavens! I couldn’t do your job for all the tea in China…lol! I’ve SEEN that dress, and it’s absolutely gorgeous. With her tattoo, I doubt ‘baby girl’ would have managed to pull off that rather elegant look anyway 😉 Really bad error by the bridal salon…but I think given the fact that the bride was wearing cowboy boots with that dress, you added a touch of fun and made it HER by the addition of the tulle ruffle! Well done!
    Any bets on the longevity of the marriage? 😉

    • mrsmole says:

      I don’t know what the success rate is for princesses…probably 50/50. I thought the 5 point bustle really showed the tulle ruffle well.

  17. jay says:

    The tulle was a touch of genius!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Jay…it blended with the embroidered lace very well and didn’t add too much weight.

      • Monique says:

        Learning so much from your expertise and creativity, even though I don’t have anything to do with bridal wear. Thank you!
        Lovely, lovely dress, calling for something other than cowboy boots; what a pity.
        To everyone celebrating: enjoy your 4th of July.

  18. Tia Dia says:

    Again, you’ve worked your magic. Amazing. I would never in a million years have thought of tulle. But this story reminds me of a poor, teary bride, all alone in a very upscale bridal boutique here in TO, looking at herself in her dress in the mirror. She was there to pick it up for her wedding that weekend, and they had hemmed it for her, four inches too short. She was beside herself and the staff did not give a damn. “That’s what we agree on when we pinned the alterations. And you’ve signed the waiver so there’s nothing we can do about it! It’s your fault! You should have known it was going to be too short.” It made me really angry listening to those stupid women. I really hope she knew a good lawyer to sue the bejeebers out of that stupid insensitive salon. I felt so bad for her!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Tia, you know there is a lot of ugly out there and I feel so bad for these gals who have been hung out to dry while spending so much money and then being disappointed. when they leave the dress with me and I can see they are worried, I tell them that it is my dress now and they don’t have to worry anymore. It seems to help.

  19. Fabrickated says:

    I find the idea of an enormous exposed tattoo and cowboy boots and a mama who calls you baby girl rather revolting. But I like the dress. You made her look classy despite herself. And I am amazed at what you managed to do in seven hours! And your courgettes are wonderful. Do you use the flowers at all? Lovely in a pasta sauce.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Kate…no I don’t use the flowers as they are so darn full of bees, I hate to interfere. By the time the bees leave, the flowers are faded and dried up…since we don’t eat pasta, only spiriliized zucchini, it might be something to try. I have seen them stuffed before…but never tried them.

      • Monique says:

        Off topic, but any suggestion as to make of spiralizer? Am switching from pasta to zucchini too, and a spiralizer seems so much fun.

      • mrsmole says:

        We use ours and it takes a small core out of the center of whatever you are running through the machine. If I had more time or desire to cook, I’d be using it way more. I bought a recipe book and there are a few websites devoted to using it for so many vegetables. It does get you to eat more healthy, less carbs and more raw ingredients with fiber while making food look way more interesting. Here is one site that sends out recipes every day:

      • Monique says:

        Thank you for the link! I’ve read reviews of other types which are either very positive or very negative – this one seems to perform the best.

  20. Janet Smith says:

    G’day Mrs.Mole, hooray and huzza for you, I get to wake up and read about your adventures out loud to my husband who had a laugh over the cowboy boots. Thanks for your great stories, Janet.

    • mrsmole says:

      Cowboy boots and brides are a done thing here in the rural area I call home…if I EVER see a nice pair of dress shoes, I get all excited and tell the bride she made a good choice!

  21. robindrush says:

    Am I the only one who noticed the tag “100% polyester, Made in China”? I don’t get these modern brides. We live in an age where $$$ and (cheap) bling is preferred over custom quality. I like your comment “in three weeks you’ll be some man’s wife–do you even know how to cook an egg?” As I’ve said before, I admire you–a lot. I gave up bridal sewing when most brides wanted to buy an expensive but cheaply made, ill fitting gown and have me to do alterations. I preferred to make them a gown to their specifications. Most of them didn’t want a ‘home made’ gown. All this tulle and lace and (I’m sure) expensive alterations on a polyester China made dress and plans to adorn her feet with cowboy boots. SMH-SMH-SMH. Love your posts, Mrs. Mole.

  22. jillybe says:

    Seamstress Extraordinaire – check
    Wonderfully Humorous & entertaining Storyteller – check
    Master Gardener – check
    All around “nice lady” – check

    • mrsmole says:

      Jilly, Jilly, Jilly, where have you been??? I miss your wonderful creations and colors and smiles! Maybe with the weird summer temps you are hibernating indoors? Stay cool, my dear! Thanks for the sweet comments!

  23. Oh my! I think I would have been in tears half way through the session! Looks like you re-invented the dress! Lucky you to have such a nice garden, must be the soil, the compost, all your hard work!

    • mrsmole says:

      Worms do all the work, Linda…they enrich the soil, the birds poop there too so something good is going on…all I do is wait and harvest but this year we have so much i told Mr Mole we may have to open a produce stand out front…but I don’t think anyone wants to see their seamstress peddling veggies!

  24. Leiflynn jeffery says:

    Oh my, well you saved the day again. You are so good! I learned yet another thing from you, using tulle. Good job. How about showing in depth how you do your bustles. Love your blog and your work. Great looking garden.

  25. mrsmole says:

    I try to show all the bustles every time…do you want a photo of me grabbing the fabric and pinning it on the brides butt??? I can do that…I have 4 mannequins of different sizes and maybe Mr Mole will take the shot of me messing with points and pins. It’s not magic, you grab a point, pull it up to the end of the zipper/butt and pin…and keep pinning 1,3 or 5 points until you have all the fabric off the floor. Just let me know what I am missing, ok?

  26. JustGail says:

    A question just occurred to me, reading the comments about imported dresses preferred over made-to-fit dresses, & your gardening – is there a way to do for wedding dresses similar to what’s going on with the local grown, farmers market, farm-to-table movement for food?

    So, on the first rescue attempt, someone tacked heavy satin on the lining, threw lace on that hoping it would all blend in or no one would notice the length difference? Yeesh. And it was a lovely (not strapless – hurrah! ) gown to start with. You did a nice save with the tulle.

    • mrsmole says:

      If you mean why don’t I make dresses from scratch like the ones they can buy in the shops…no thank you. The beaded and encrusted concoctions with internal corsets and rows of boning and layers and layers of gather netting is not what i want to be cutting out and sewing on by hand. Very few people even alter these dresses never mind start from scratch. Grandmothers used to do that job but all the grannies have gone to casinos to play the slot machines or they are busy quilting. I hear from mothers that they made their own gowns but did not want to touch what their daughters wanted…it is that entitled generation that want the biggest most expensive dresses out there to compete with their friends.It is a shame so few tell me that they wanted something simple and elegant…those days are gone for now…so sad.

  27. selina says:

    That tulle ruffle is just lovely. And reading through the post I’m thinking “don’t know about this tulle solution” then you get a visual and wow. Tulle and lace. Who knew. Moral of the story never doubt mrs mole! Why do brides insist on wearing cowboy boots or trainers or flip flops with their wedding dresses. The mind boggles. Selina

  28. mrsmole says:

    Seeing those boots, some right out of the pasture with animal waste still on them just makes me sick when they are going to be paired with lacy expensive dresses…it just is so wrong. One day they will look back and wonder what they were thinking…and maybe feel the same about their choice of husbands too.

  29. Alex says:

    I am in absolute awe of your skills and patience, but your post really made me laugh. As a bride to be, I’d rather suffer making my own dress three times over than let myself go through the hell of knowing I paid hundreds of pounds for a dress that’s unsuitable! Even if there are miracle workers like yourself who can sort it out in the end. Now off to pull my hair out fitting myself :D…

  30. maryfunt says:

    Wonderful solution with the pleated tulle. I’ve had my share of salon disasters, some from the famous Kleinfelds ( too short gowns, armholes too low, etc.). Makes you wonder who is doing the measuring. I hope the bride and her mother appreciated your talent.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh wow…they make mistakes there??? Most of my clients are happy with the results…some cry with joy when they pick up the dress…it’s a good feeling to make a girl look her best for her special day especially if she has been nice and respectful without an attitude!

  31. symondezyn says:

    Blimey, what a terrible situation to find one’s self in! Shocking that they wouldn’t take responsibility for it but then again, people do like to play pass the buck 😛 Beautiful gown, though, and a brilliant fix, as always, Mrs M 🙂 There are a lot of country brides in Alberta that do the cowboy boots thing. Never understood that, but then again I’m not a cowboy LOL.

    I had to laugh at your description of a wife… the wedding can be as precious as they want but the romance will be over as soon as she finds out “wife” does indeed mean “dirty underwear washer/toilet scrubber/personal chef” LOL. Hopefully he makes her laugh – romance fades but if you marry your best friend, it’s all good ^__^

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