Waiting for 32 Years

When I moved to this rural town 14 years ago, I had heard about a woman who was selling wedding gowns out of a shipping container. It seemed to be a strange thing  to operate a business with no dressing room or storefront,  just meet her in an alley and buy a dress from a huge metal box. She has since folded up shop and I never thought I would ever see one of her gowns…until today.

The bride called telling me that she had this precious gown in a storage box for 10 years after waiting and living with this man 32 years and having his children.


She was adamant that I would have to take in all the side seams to get it to fit her now smaller body after losing 35 pounds. She sent me lots of photos of the dress packed in the box but nothing could prepare me for the real thing.

I was told that what was most important was the moment she appeared to walk down the aisle, she wanted EVERYONE to GASP!


Let’s all take a deep breath and figure out what has to be done besides the obvious…a corset back. The front hem with lace borders will have to be removed and re-attached higher up and there will be a bustle for dancing. What you don’t see is the 7 foot long detachable train also heavily beaded that will have to have some sort of contraption to make it attach once the corset is laced up.


Loops sections made and zipper removed and the final product basted and laced up with my famous blue grosgrain ribbon.P1190168

Another thing I noticed was a huge rusty water mark shape on the lining. It must have been acquired as it hung in the shipping container. I have placed arrows along the edges.


What about a modesty panel, surely there will be too much skin exposed even with all that ribbon:



Here are both sides of the panel, one side using the dull side of some satin and cotton pocket lining (drill) for the back against the skin. I mark the location of the boning to be inserted and stitch them together and turn right side out.

P1190170P1190171P1190172 Boning is inside and ready to stitch to the lining on one side and snaps on the other.

Want to see the train that will attach at the waist with hooks and eyes?P1190228P1190217

Second fitting shows the lacing dimensions…we start with 4 inch spread at the top 2 positions and work our way to 6 inches at the waist. I write these numbers down for the bride as on the day of her wedding someone will have to get close to these numbers to make it fit. You can see her bra straps will show so she will be wearing a different bra and I have made bra strap guides inside at the shoulders. She was wearing basically a tube of Spanx for this try-on.

She will be using red grosgrain ribbon as her theme is “Christmas in July”…imagine…108 degrees and she will expect the guests to be dressed in holiday attire and everything will be decorated in red and green. She will be carrying a red rose bouquet and dragging the 7 ft train.

She was happy with the results, she was sent off for 2 weeks while I finished attaching all the lace at the hem. When she arrived for her final 3rd fitting, she had a new sort of Spanx contraption. Instead of just being a tube of tight elastic, it had straps up over her bra and is extra, extra tight, industrial tight. It managed to pull every bit of tissue up from her hips to her waist and no matter how hard I tried to pull this corset thing down lower, it was almost melted into her body, in fact I could barely get my fingers under the edge of the spandex to yank it down. The main reason for all this struggling was the fact that when the lacing progressed from the 4 inch width at the 2 top places, it widened out to 10 inches at the waist.

OK…no big deal, Mrs Mole, you have lots of blue ribbon, just let it out….but remember the tapered modesty panel? It is about 7 inches wide at that point and all I can see is bulging Spanx in this huge 3 inch wide gap!

I told her that there was no way this dress will get laced up today or any other day unless something happens…aka a freaking miracle!

At this point I would have taken her final photo but I decided this would only make me sadder than I was and I had her change back into her clothes. Then I asked her what has she been doing in the past 2 weeks. Well, she had this long list of possibly why the dress is not fitting:

I went away to a family gathering and drove through a couple In-N-Out Burger fast food places.

I have been eating protein bars between every meal.

I have been eating all the summer fruit I can get my hands on.

I have not been riding my exercise bike.

Everything my husband eats has been jumping unto my body.

So, she has been warned that she has to get real now…3 weeks to the wedding of her dreams and she is the only one to make this work. She left with her train and told me everything will be all right…

Mr. Mole wandered into my room to find me in utter despair…my job is to make the dress fit the best I can…the client is supposed to keep her weight stable in partnership with me. She has let me down, she has gone hog wild eating and enjoying the freedom of having a very adjustable corset back dress. I want to cry, I want to shout.

The final try-on went much better and here we are with the red ribbon minus the train, short single bustle point and she is thrilled…Lordie…I am thrilled…sometimes you just have to get tough with the brides and spell it out and cross your fingers.


Once her shoes are on, hair hanging down in curls, she will look like she imagined on her special day.

Wishing you all much easier alterations and here is a sneak peak at something growing in the garden:



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

57 Responses to Waiting for 32 Years

  1. Michele says:

    You must be a saint!

  2. jay says:

    I don’t think I can say anything. Faced with delusion what can anyone do?

  3. mary anne says:

    those before pictures?.. the guests would have needed drop down oxygen masks.

  4. mrsmole says:

    I’m still laughing so hard….imagining a chapel wedding with yellow masks dangling….you are too funny, Mary Anne…thank you so much for that visual!

  5. Way to go, Mrs Mole. Sorry for your troubles.
    I had that happen, too with one of my Central City Opera debutantes. We had already fit her dress perfectly and the girl’s mom sent her to some day camp for two weeks to keep her out of trouble. She had just come home from a boarding school. The day before opening night and the girls presentations, the mom called to say the dress was way too tight. There was very little fabric left to let out since I’d already used up most of it on the last fitting. It was still tight when I got done and I prayed all evening that she wouldn’t split her zipper open. At least the mom knew it wasn’t anything I had done and she had this brat of a daughter to deal with. After 10 years of making the girls dresses I’m so glad I’m out of it.

    • mrsmole says:

      All those treats add up don’t they? These formal dresses are not stretch and hide nothing! Those poor zippers really are screaming and we do keep our fingers crossed that all goes well…can’t imagine presentation dresses…oh my! You earned your pay, Melanie!

  6. Well it certainly made me gasp – though maybe not for the reasons she would want!

  7. Well! Looks like another successful story for Mrs Mole and her client! Be careful with Spanx. A lady at our office broke her thumb one morning trying to get her Spanx on – no lie! They should put warnings on the labels!

  8. Tee says:

    Kudos! I tell you we should be called miracle workers!!! Poor lady 32 yrs!!!!!

  9. accordion3 says:

    OH dear! I gained a bit of weight in the weeks before my wedding, nothing like this.

  10. Alex says:

    I just love your blog! And I continue to think you are indeed a miracle worker. Admittedly, you do come across some of the weirdest brides… But all the more amusing to us :D. I’m just going through the back catalogue and laughing my head off!

  11. After 32 years of putting up with him and bearing his children, he should’ve bought her a dress of her dreams that FITS! =oP Based on the before and after, and the stress of constant adjustments during, you’re a miracle worker!

  12. Cactus says:

    Why, oh why do women “of a certain age” insist on wearing white bridal gowns? That ship has sailed!.. She would be much more beautiful in a well-fitting suit in a pastel color.

  13. Sarah says:

    It’s a great day when your latest post hits my news feed. I love your attention to the fine details of sewing and your talent for story-telling. Your clients are lucky folks!

  14. Suzie says:

    You, my dear, are a saint! As in capital letters SAINT!

  15. Suzanne says:

    You did good. Those before and after pictures are night and day.

  16. Are you kidding us? That is the craziest thing I have ever seen. Some of these brides lose their minds! If they had any brains to begin with. You are a miracle worker. Also the Christmas in July thing, in the typical heat, eek. I was in a wedding ages ago outdoors 108˚F full sunshine, in poly taffeta long dresses. After the ceremony the bridal party walked indoors and as soon as we got into the shaded building all the girls lifted their skirts up and flapped them to cool off and the guys ripped their ties off. The bride and groom who were in front of all of us turned around and looked at us with amazement “what are you doing?” they didn’t even feel the heat! I guess it was their perfect day but the rest of us were just happy to escape the sun and the bees which were attacking our bouquets.
    So I am not a fan of outdoor summer weddings – just too much nature 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      I always ask the brides if they are having the reception at a winery/outdoors if they have planned on any shade for the guests…some look pretty clueless…

  17. Lydia says:

    Miracle worker, saint, person who can hold it together…you have done it again!…..Lydia

  18. Carolyn says:

    Is it just me but after 32 years of living with a man and having his children doesn’t the Justice of the Peace do the same thing?! Then you have a really nice party and wear a brand new dress that fits you now instead of all this?! Seriously I missed something right? And I agree with the first poster – you ARE a saint!

    • mrsmole says:

      I’m with you, Carolyn! When I married Mr Mole 21 years ago, the second for both of us, the courthouse vows were plenty and I wore a cotton floral dress that I had made. I would have felt silly in a white virginal gown with a train.

  19. Oh, my gosh…I have absolutely no words! Bless her heart…living with this guy for THIRTY TWO YEARS and is just now getting married – in full regalia? Just shoot me now. As a guest at that wedding, the red ribbons lacing up the corset would do me in…lol! I’m a big fan of the ‘get married at the justice of the peace’s office and have a big party to celebrate’ contingent…! You did your best…obviously short of wiring her mouth shut, there’s only so much you and industrial (INDUSTRIAL?!) Spanx can accomplish…lol! Hope she has the day she’s been dreaming about for so long!

    Love your garden pics 🙂

  20. erniek3 says:

    I have enjoyed living vicariously through you for many many dresses, but the telling of this tale exceeds many. I was slackjawed until the Christmas theme reveal, and now I just hurt from laughter. And yet I don’t feel as if you made sport of her, just the behavior. Brilliant on all fronts.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you for noticing that I didn’t make fun of her on purpose. Some brides deserve a whole post filled with outrageous comments from them to me and bad behavior but I usually refrain from that as it would just be a whole load of moaning. I try to highlight the problems with the dress and toss in a few zingers from the bride to show the craziness of the project.Some brides leave such a nasty taste in my mouth that I cannot even bring myself to write about them. Those are the days you want to air out your sewing room and light up some sage and smudge the room to get rid of the bad spirits after they leave.

  21. sewruth says:

    Definately delusional this one however she’s absolutely correct in one thing – everything my husband eats goes straight to my hips! Best excuse ever…..

  22. fabrickated says:

    Everything about this story is hilarious. The container shop. The Christmas in July. The woman’s diet. The industrial spanx tube. Her imagination. The only thing that is real is the amount of clever work you did to save this tale ending up in a Sit-Com.

    • mrsmole says:

      You can’t make this stuff up, Kate…it is real and raw and needs fixing NOW! Some of my clients could surely use you help with their personal style image that you have been sharing. The draping posts have been extremely fascinating too…http://fabrickated.com/

  23. Mem says:

    Oh my Goodness mrs mole you seriously need to write a book . You have a wonderful gift for story telling . This was the best post yet . I dooooo hope she has a wonderful day and feels like the queen she so yearns to be .

    • mrsmole says:

      She will have a super day and her family and friends WILL gasp at her dress as she mainly wears jeans and t-shirt where she works. A book could never contain all the stories I have written in the past 5 years. Once a week I have been about to record these clients and their garments and share them with all of you. My husband says this would be a better comedy sit-com for TV.

  24. Shams says:

    OMG. And you say she’s not even your Bridezilla-ist. You worked miracles, once again!

    • mrsmole says:

      Both she and her dress were challenging but her attitude was always respectful, and that goes a long way in making things the best I can for her. What I do not share is the back story that clients tell me of how they got to this point in life…way different from a giggling 20 year old all excited about changing her name.

  25. Kathleen says:

    If this is what makes the lady happy, so be it. After 32 years she certainly deserves to have her dream wedding. Not my taste AT ALL, but if she is happy, that’s all that matters, right? Lovely that you could help her fulfill her dream, Mrs. Mole! Kudos to you!

  26. maryfunt says:

    Guests will gasp, but maybe not for the reason she thinks. What a job! Your experiences make me appreciate my brides more than ever. Wonderful job saving her day. I hope she appreciates you.

    • mrsmole says:

      She was so happy, she gave me a tip….my second this year and after completing 39 brides and 20 bridesmaids so far…that is something!

      • Jacqui says:

        Isn’t it amazing the people who leave tips and those that don’t? Although never even thought of as I sew, it surprises me – usually the most thoughtful clients are the ones who will tip. O

  27. Paola says:

    Heh, I love the “what my husband ate” excuse – it’s a classic. I wonder if it’s because so many of our everyday clothes are knits or have Lycra woven into them that some people don’t get that not all clothes will stretch with them. Just wondering.

  28. KarenW says:

    Thank you… I’ve been enjoying your blog for some time, but this tale is the most surreal yet! You must think you’ve dropped into Wonderland, sometimes. And yet you keep your cool and the dress is always done!

    You’ve also given me the inspiration to start sewing again… Next up is a gown alteration for my daughter, she bought this at a charity sale for $5 and it fits great waist-down, but she swims and thus has lats… So the zipper won’t pull up the last 2″. But thanks to you I know it can be done!

  29. urbanite says:

    You are the sewing version of “The Perils of Pauline” with you as the heroine. Whew!

  30. prttynpnk says:

    Ok, 32 years? Seriously? Huh. Ok. I’m taking deep breathes. I can keep this in.
    WHY BOTHER????????
    Sorry, it slipped out.
    So you’re saying that spanx can’t cure everything? But Kim K promised me it was a miracle!?

  31. mrsmole says:

    Kim lied to you, Anne.
    My bride wanted one day of her life to be beautiful and wear Christmas colors…she got her wish! Your Wearable Wednesday blog post this week was amazing and everyone should go and see it and drool! http://prttynpnk.wordpress.com/

  32. girl in the stix says:

    Your kindness, as well as your skills, allowed her to have the day of her dreams. Thanks for sharing this story.

  33. selina says:

    Poor Mrs Mole getting upset because client ate too much and expanded. You are like a lovely schoolteacher who really cares about her students. She was lucky you told her off otherwise she would have put even more weight on. Probably pre wedding nerves made her do it. Selina.

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