Sentimentality Versus Stunning

Hands up…who remembers 1987?

When I showed this dress to East Coast Sharon, she nailed the date.

My bride wanted to honor her deceased mother by wearing her 28 year old wedding dress for her own wedding. Sometimes this works out well but this girl really gave me the challenge.

Let’s start with the shape and sleeves:

P1190295This poor girl has been swallowed up with shiny fabric and beadwork. The lines hit her in all the wrong places and levels but with adding some straps (one ivory and one blue grosgrain ribbon that was handy) we can hike the front and back up and remove the sleeves. There is one small line of boning in the front princess seam and that is all. The back and train don’t offer much promise either.


I agreed to pin out all the excess and remove the sleeves and use the fabric to make other straps and drooping narrow half sleeves and to re-use the beaded motifs hanging from the gathered centers. Let’s get busy and remove the sleeves and see what is inside.


Quite an elaborate collection of techniques were used back then…ruching, gathering and elastic to hold them up on the shoulder and lace and beaded dangling bits and bows. But what really did the job of holding them solid was the netting…layers of gathered netting.


All the fabric was gathered into a circle and lace motifs applied at one end while the other top end had a tunnel of elastic. What I really found fascinating with was the actual shape of the individual pieces that went into such a sleeve. When I was doing my internship at a wedding dress factory back in 1990, we made smaller versions of this for every dress we turned out, even bridesmaids’ sleeves had these types to mimic the brides.


Check out the shaped components!


So with the sleeves removed, all taken apart, zipper replaced with an invisible one, boning adding to the side seams, the bride called to say she had gone to David’s bridal to check out the dresses for skirt shapes to replace the gathered on that her mother’s dress had.

In the process of checking out skirt styles, she fell in love with this dress. I think you will agree it hugs her curves and makes the most of her figure. She tells me that she feels bad and cannot make a decision but will come around to have a second look at the dress. For me, this is a no-brainer…go with the modern dress and use some of the beaded fringe in your hair or bouquet.


When she arrives she shows me a unique solution to using parts of her mother’s gown for the ceremony by making a lasting reminder to cherish:

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Brides are now opting for fabric roses bouquets that never die. My bride will add some other colors to hers to match her bridesmaid’s colors and have an heirloom to pass unto the next generation.

This week our dying beetle eaten peach tree has produced some delicious fruit:peaches-2015

Next week, a break from ivory satin as Nancy returns with some cool fabric and I make her another jacket and use a new tool that makes life sooo much easier. Until then, thank you for all your comments and I wish you easy sewing with no ripping out!!!

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32 Responses to Sentimentality Versus Stunning

  1. Angela says:

    Wildly waving hands in the air here because I was married in 1987! In fact, 28 years this month. Yes, that dress definitely brings back memories of the styles popular at that time…nothing like a trip down memory lane. 🙂

  2. SJ Kurtz says:

    The bride has made a great choice with the heirloom bouquet; something that she can pass along to her children with use and reuse (and frankly easier storage) in mind. Dang! I could have made one from my MIL’s poor bedraggled dress (a victim of dressup play over the years).

    • mrsmole says:

      I was thinking about how many girls have been bridesmaids and never a bride but now they can have all their dresses cut up and made into a real rainbow bouquet out of the fabrics.

  3. That looks very much like my SOUl’s wedding dress. My daughter still shudders at the memory of her ‘matching’ pink bridesmaids dress.
    The bouquet idea is wonderful, and a much better way of honouring her mother than trying to wrestle that dress into something wearable.
    Enjoy your peaches!

  4. Tee says:

    Hi there! So hope she goes with the new gown. The fabric in her mom’s gown is so crappie!!! I had silk flowers and eleven years later they still look brand new.

    Haven’t had any brides lately, just regular alterations. I’m getting ready for a Ladies Night Out event. I’ll be a vendor. Making some shawls, shoe bags, aprons, fleece hat sets,and tote bags.

    Happy sewing!!!!!

    Have a blessed day!!!


    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Tee and I send you all the best of luck with your sales too! Maybe you should offer silk roses made up into bouquets while waiting for the crazy and nice brides to find you? I offer machine embroidered labels to hand sew into the hem of the wedding gown with the names and dates etc…maybe your machine can do the same?

  5. LeeAnn says:

    What a fantastic idea to make fabric roses. My sister is getting married next Sept (I sent her a link to your blog as a public service to all seamstress’s across America). I have our grandmother’s wedding dress and a hand tatted linen handkerchief from our great grandmother. I’ll make them into flowers for the base of her flower bouquet. THANK YOU!

    And thank goodness she went with the modern dress! That was a nail biter!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh LeeAnn…more readers…thank you sweetie…if my blog can help a handful of readers with the most tense day of their young life, then it is a joy.

  6. S says:

    Lovely post and solution to the dilemma, Mrs. Mole. And mmmm…peaches!

  7. rauten2014 says:

    I think there are many ways to honor a parent, but wearing an unflattering dress doesn’t have to be one of them.

    • mrsmole says:

      You got that right! The main things she was in love with were the beaded dangling motifs and she can even use those somewhere in her hair now that they have been removed from the poofy sleeves. Her mom will be there in spirit…we know this.

  8. Susie says:

    Yet another example of why choosing a classic-styled wedding gown is so important. Not to mention the pictures you get to look at for decades. I was a bridesmaid in the mid-eighties and my friend wore a dress like that. Along with a veiled cowboy hat. And she wasn’t even a cowgirl. Anyway, it’s nice to see she was able to honor her mom and yet pick out a more flattering dress.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Lordie, a veiled cowboy hat…goes right along with the cowboy boots every bride this season seems bent on wearing. Classic means never going out of style…we forget and lose our heads in a bridal salon unfortunately. Did you keep your dress, Susie?

  9. sewruth says:

    Is there such a thing as a timeless, classic wedding dress?
    Fabric bouquets are undoubtedly enduring but there’s something reminiscent of Miss Haversham at the same time.
    Peaches ? See this –
    You (and Mr Mole) deserve it!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Ruth! OMG…peach cocktails…where to start? Miss Haversham…another classic thanks to Dickens…yes…some day in the future we will see these relics from the present in the thrifts and charity shops begging for a new owner and folks will ask…”did they really make and carry those down the aisle?”

  10. Mandykatt says:

    That bouquet idea is fantastic! I wish I had thought of that for my wedding. My mum’s 1980 dress is still in my closet because I can’t stop giggling when I take it out to look at it. 1980 was still very 70’s influenced. I’m hoping to harvest the lace off her dress for any number of my own garments (she’s very tall so had to have 6″ of lace added to the hem to make it the right length. tons of lace on that dress!).
    I was a flower girl in 1988 to my cousin whose bride wore a dress similar to the one you pictured, but silk dupioni. She’s not willing to sell it to me to harvest the fabric even though her daughter married a couple years ago. Perhaps we can make a christening gown from it when grandkids are born.

  11. fabrickated says:

    A friend who has Sky told me she enjoys an American TV show called “Yes to the Dress”. When she described it I said that I don’t watch TV (and certainly we don’t have Sky satellite TV) but we can all read Mrs. Mole’s amazing blog! This story turned out OK – I think it is so nice to have something sentimental at your wedding – but subtle too.

    • mrsmole says:

      I record, “Say Yes to the Dress” just to see the styles and prices but what i would really like to see is all the alterations done in the basement workshop along with Vera the boss and supreme expert on altering gowns…now that would be some show! One thing that the TV shows is brides who shop without their deceased mothers and it is very tearful and emotional. The families do their best to fill in and the sales consultants do there best to make the bride comfortable but it must be extra hard to select a dress without your mom and the cameras rolling. Wish they could all follow your lead and have a sensible outfit and buy a sheath dress that flatters, Kate.

  12. I still have my wedding dress- and I got married in 1987!! Haha… Anyway, my eldest tried it on for fun- I have decided to make satin pillows from it for each of my daughters. That way I don’t feel the pain of tossing the dress so much and they have something special that came from the dress I wore to marry their dad. (BTW- I am no longer married but I have 4 fabulous kids so I wouldn’t trade getting married for anything!)

    • mrsmole says:

      What a clever mom you are! Not all first husbands are keepers…they can be just speed bumps in the road of life on your way to something better! Please feel free to share photos of the pillows when you are finished!!!!

  13. Sylvia Long says:

    Good afternoon Mrs.Mole!,
    I discovered you through SewRuth and Fabrikated. Many thanks to both those talented ladies, and yourself! I am sending out links, to my young friends, to your blog in hopes that many will read it and learn while they enjoy. Thanks for many informative and enjoyable posts!
    I have a very small alterations business that I work part time. I have more bridal work recently, and (thankfully!) have had lovely customers- so far. I’ve been able to talk the youngsters out of the more unreasonable flights of fancy ( wearing a huge,heavy strapless ballgown type bridal dress without a hoop or a waist stay!) into smart solutions, as I said- thus far…Sigh… holding my breath and reading your blog in hopes of not meeting a ‘whopper’ of a problem without some good solutions :). Keep posting, please!
    Blessings to you,

    • mrsmole says:

      Welcome Sylvia…always nice to have a seamstress join us…you have the advantage of adding more weird to the mix…and yes, they will find you! Looking forward to stories from you and your brides!!!

  14. Robin says:

    I am so glad she went with the more flattering modern dress! I looked hard at the photos, before scrolling down, to imagine what could be done. Honestly, I could not think of a thing!! I am sure her mom was lovely in the dress. That was the style at the time and … well, she was young and beautiful and in love!

  15. mrsmole says:

    Yes, Robin…love makes so many things alright but this dress with the gather dropped waist skirt was not going to be brought into the present without a few extra Hail Marys. Don’t you love seeing gals re-make 30 year old dresses into modern garments? I wish there were more places to see the transformations!

  16. Wow that is some dress! I got married in 1988 and made my own dress. A simple pattern with a few special touches. I am glad I did (I loved it) because I couldn’t imagine wearing this style – to each his own though!

  17. Lauren says:

    Great post by the way

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