Make Me a Sweetheart

Another thing David’s Bridal cannot/will not do is make sweetheart necklines…so it is up to me to make this dream come true for one bride.

Like the rest…here is what we started with:canvas 6

While it is pretty plain the bride had her vision of a deep sweetheart so here is how we went about it.P1190245 P1190246I pinned a piece of cotton fabric on the front and drew a V in pencil to make sure that this is what she had in mind. She also wanted a lace edging hand stitched to the whole top edge of the dress so you can see part of it. On the inside this is what was done:P1190272 Center was thread basted along with the accurate legs of the triangle on the lining. P1190274 Then machine stitching along the lines with that same cotton patch attached to the right side of the front as it will flip to the inside to form a facing.P1190275 Take a deep breath, say a few Hail Marys, and trim away the facing with pinking sheers. Cut away the beaded bodice with regular scissors. Flip the facing inside. All this will be hand understitched along the top edges to keep it flat before adding bust pads.P1190276P1190360P1190361P1190362

OK, top edge done…what next? Hem the front using 2 inch horsehair braid in the hem and lining. P1190277


How about adding/hand stitching a heavy beaded belt and that lace edging? OK, and a back view too?


What you can’t see above the 5 buttons for the bustle are 2 diagonal seams that run either side of the center back buttons. Each of those seams were taken in 2 inches to cup above and below the butt. This puppy had to be TIGHT! Here is one shot of the back diagonal seams pinned out for a second time:


Also, what you cannot see is that the train had pleats near the hem edge created with thread tacks so that even when the train was down, it was lumpy. No matter how much I encouraged her to let me cut the tacks she refused…until the last day when her mother showed up and said I should cut them and I was so relieved! If she had left them there, even the bustle would have had those lumpy hem edges with 2 inch wide horsehair inside as well.

The fabric in this dress was thick upholstery fabric that had been over beaded and embroidered so any altering or even cutting was a chore/bitch. You can see by tightening the back it caused front wrinkles even when standing.

Before I go, I wanted to share a view from my chair of the week ahead…9 brides, nine fittings:


and 2 more brides who cannot fit in my one sewing room and have to hang in the sewing room annex:Aug-2015--2

Two more organza and tulle concoctions with 7 and 8 foot trains to be bustled up…Lord Have Mercy!

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57 Responses to Make Me a Sweetheart

  1. Sarah says:

    You are a saint with super keep-your-mouth-shut powers. I would be muttering and snorting through the entire fitting.

    I can’t wait to see the other gowns after your magic.

  2. robbie says:

    Love the blue and peach gowns–such a break from the usual white-ish colors.

  3. I enjoy your blog so very much.

    I agree with Sarah, you are a saint.

    You also are an incredibly talented tailor who gives women the dress of their dreams for their wedding.

  4. prttynpnk says:

    Not making sweetheart necklines is clearly fascist!

  5. Trish says:

    I’m relieved I’m not the only one who utters the occasional ‘Hail Mary’ when trying something scary like creating that neckline. It’s such a relief when when it turns out well! Brilliant work, Mrs Mole.
    I don’t know how you keep your sanity with all those brides. I’ve only got two at the moment and they’re doing my head in. To think I used to complain about the boredom of shortening jeans…

    • mrsmole says:

      Jeans? 15 minutes and $15…some days I wish I had a few easy peasy projects, Trish!

      • Sandra says:

        It’s good to have a change…..I often say I’m fed up with altering boring beige, black or grey items and it’s nice to work on something ‘pretty’.
        I quite enjoy the challenge of getting my teeth into something a bit more complex than just the ordinary, usual alterations.

  6. Colleen says:

    That neckline rehaping using the facing was wonderful! I am not sure they pay me enough to do that but I hope you made the bride happy. I just see too many brides that their vision does not match reality… For example could that bride sit down at her reception with the second take-in?? Also did the new neckline shape “spread” and make the top gap or hold away from the body since the fabric was not there to stablize it? I hope the bride understands how awesome you are!! Thanks for sharing!

  7. mrsmole says:

    The bride could barely get off my platform, never mind sit or shake her booty. So glad the buttons were so far down so I could grab some fabric to attach them! I warned her early on about opening up the front or back of straight necklines and the gap that occurs but she had to have it. I also had to tighten up the zipper in the back to make everything breathless…no deep breaths at all! The saving grace was the mother…common sense ruled in the end and she was very appreciative. Most times the “vision” is Jessica Rabbit and I do try hard to accomplish that even if the girl is lacking in a few attributes but bust pads sure do wonders! Best of luck with your brides this season!!!!

  8. maryfunt says:

    Nice neckline shaping. I’ve done a few with that super tight fit to the knee. They must just stand all night.

  9. mrsmole says:

    Can you ever convince them to be sensible? I threaten them with the trouble of taking the dress off to pee…even that doesn’t work…ha ha!

  10. SJ Kurtz says:

    I just wonder what sort of industrial zips you need to keep it all together.

    And those skirts in the other room! Oof!

    • mrsmole says:

      Some of the (high end) dresses have very thick zippers with very thick/wide teeth for the invisible type. This dress was just a garden variety lapped zipper…scary, no?

  11. Shams says:

    That sweetheart neckline is so flattering!

    I was thinking about you recently, Mrs Mole. A bride asked me to alter her wedding gown. Normally I have zero trouble saying no, but she is one of the sweetest people on earth, and I really felt backed into a corner, so I told her I’d look at it. (She told me that it should be “an easy alteration” and I told her that’s typical of what non-sewists say.) So I will look at it, but I will steel myself to gently suggest she go elsewhere. Wish me luck. 😉

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Shams….it is not so hard as you can see from my photos but I am sure there is a daring seamstress in your area who can carve out a sweetheart in no time…ha ha…I have to laugh…that phrase, “an easy alteration” like telling a chef that a recipe is a piece of cake…

  12. Sandra says:

    Ha, ha… easy alteration!
    I had a phone call from a bride to be saying she needed her 2 bridesmaids dresses taken in and shortened and her own dress ‘just needed shortening, but it’s really plain’. (I imagined a simple, straight dress. She’s in her mid 50’s and I assumed perhaps a second marriage for her….)
    She came for her fitting with the most enormous, huge pouf of a dress….It was indeed very plain but the top of the skirt has 6 or 7 layers of tulle.
    She filled the room with it and I didn’t know where to begin with the pinning. It’s a first marriage for her and she WANTS a proper wedding dress.
    I’m going to need to remove a couple of items of furniture from the room when I come to alter it because I won’t have the space to work around it properly otherwise.
    Always enjoy seeing what you’re doing, Mrs Mole!
    It worries me having the responsibility of looking after a wedding dress. I’ll be glad when it’s gone.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Sandra, this is going to be a trend for a while according to one salon in town and it is not a nice trend for us. It takes lots of time to hand trim every single layer of tulle while the bride is standing for hours and trying not to bend or wiggle. You can spend over 90 minutes getting a couple layers trimmed straight and then the bride will look down and point out one section that dips lower and want that re-trimmed. I had a bride with 8 layers of tulle and using slightly serrated scissors helped but it made me think that retirement was a good idea.Removing furniture is not a good sign…one of the tulle dresses, the huge champagne one with the 8 foot train and 18 bustle points lived spread across my 9 foot sofa in the living room as hanging it with the rest was impossible.

      • Colleen says:

        My suggestions for cutting all of the layers of tulle is to make the outside layer a bit longer and it works out well or covers “sins!” The other layers always hold it out a bit anyway and it takes less asprin for the headache!! It rarely works out well to cut two layers at once. I place a puffy pillow with a dark solid pillowslip to lay under each layer as I work while the dress lays on a sheet covered twin bed and I sit or stand at the end of the bed. Another idea for cutting tulle is to use a layer of quilt batting (try severl before you find the best type) and the tulle of sticks to the batting to hold still. Two ideas that work well for me. Good Luck!

      • mrsmole says:

        Thanks Colleen…those sound all very doable if I knew the exact amount to cut off but so many times the tulle has been cut so uneven from the factory that I need the body or mannequin to fill out the top part of the dress to get everything even. I’m certainly going to adopt you technique of having the top layer cover all the sins under it…perfect!

  13. amcclure2014 says:

    It’s fascinating to see how you make changes to a dress to turn it into the girl’s dream. Loved how you did the sweetheart neckline. I’m glad the mother here provided her daughter with a much needed injection of common sense. I don’t get why they are so keen to be so tightly fitted (I hadn’t thought of Jessica Rabbit!) and don’t understand how come they buy a dress that isn’t the one they want; I would have understood if these were all ‘pre-loved’, but from what you say, they are not.

    • mrsmole says:

      These are all new and when they buy the dress they all have in mind a TV show where the seamstress can do anything. Depending on where you live and/or your post purchase budget allows, you may not find those “additions” so easy.

  14. Luigina says:

    Mrs. Mole,
    I am somewhat confused by the breast-cups…does the fuller(shelf) side go on the top or the bottom? I am always confused by these and are they meant to replace bra-cups or add volume.

  15. mrsmole says:

    Most dresses have flat cups sewn unto the wrong side of the lining. To give some lift and fill out the unnatural very rounded shape of the boning, we pin in the push-up padded bust cups/pads so that the girl has lift for her breasts. I start with a size A and work our way up as needed. The one thing I caution the girls about is that the dress will start to come away from the chest of the pads are too thick so it keeps them from going overboard. The thick shelf part goes to the bottom and the breast merely sits on top. If you tell the client that we are just filling up a vacancy, then she feels better. I hand sew the pads unto the lining on the right side so they sit next to their skin.

  16. Anne in Melbourne says:

    I enjoy your blog Mrs Mole but I am worried that too many of those dresses with lots of tulle will have you and Mr Mole having to move to the garden to live.

    • mrsmole says:

      Poor Mr Mole is very good about the ever-expanding collection of ivory fluff. He knows that no matter what happens Feb-Jan…the house is wedding gown free in January. He worries about my long hours, sewing during the night most nights and stress of dealing with cranky brides and mothers. When brides show up with sleek form fitted dresses, I want to hug and thank them!!! Thanks for your concern, Anne…it is never as glamorous as it looks…ha ha

  17. beansmum says:

    A girl I work with was asking for suggestions for wedding gowns. I said she should take a look at BHLDN dresses; lots of different style options, and very elegant in my never humble opinion. Then she sent me a picture of her dream dress – it’s the one on the left in your final picture (the one with the ruffled skirt). She hasn’t asked my thoughts on any other wedding stuff since! 🙂

  18. mrsmole says:

    That one is a Lazaro and it is a combo of one style on top and another style on the bottom…totally custom made. The original dress(s) costs $6000 so I imagine asking for a custom design from the designer would cost over $7000. The funny thing is, each bodice and each skirt looked better before the combining…makes sense doesn’t it? But NO…this girl thought she knew better and must have someone paying for the dress sight unseen as it was bought 300 miles from here.More will be revealed as the date approaches…your friend needs an intervention!

    • beansmum says:

      Aaah, you’re right – went back and looked at my friend’s dress and the top is less…blinged out. But she’s looking to get a bunch of lace and crystals added. I promise not to send her your way! 🙂

  19. Thank heavens for mothers with good sense and enough clout to over rule stupid decisions. How’s that dress is tight!

  20. sewruth says:

    I used to think of you as a person with soul – but the audacity of cutting through finished seams and neat necklines – you are ruthless!
    My hero!

  21. Sounded like her mother came in and talked some sense into her? Such a lovely job with the dress – I freak before I have to cut into a jacket for a welt pocket, even if I am sure I am doing it right! Good for you!

  22. mrsmole says:

    Welt pockets…scary…me too! Thank God they don’t have welt pockets…only side seam ones on a few!

  23. June says:

    I literally held my breath when I got to the part about cutting the V and flipping the facing. Hooeee! Amazing work as always!

  24. Robin says:

    Take a deep breath, say a few Hail Marys …. ha ha!! So true!! Wow, I generally wish your brides wouldn’t insist on such tight dresses, but this one looks so beautiful! The bustled train is so great.
    And, Your workload is giving me chest pains & shortness of breath 🙂
    I put my daughter’s gown back together last weekend and it was quite a chore. I am glad I only have one daughter because I am never doing that again (had to take in side seams on the skirt with 8 layers of tulle, fabric and lining) I clipped away the tacks in her skirt without asking.
    I do a lot of stuff without asking, lol. I am nervous about bustling her gown, though. I fear it really is just too much tulle. oh well, we’ll see …

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Robin, you saw the pink gown of tulle with 18 bustle points didn’t you? Surely you won’t have to go to such extremes!!! Email me the photo if you can of the tulle layers and the lining/satin underneath. Maybe we can have a chat about it? Tacks are meant to be clipped…well that is what I tell my girls…you did right!

  25. fabrickated says:

    You did that sweethearting beautifully – I wouldn’t have thought it would have worked (maybe I had better get a job at David’s?). But the below butt indentation is such nonsense, isn’t it? As you say its an almost cartoonish Jessica Rabbit/night club singer look. Modern weddings seem to be all about the spectacle with brides trying to emulate the “celebrities”.

    I like the line up in the overflow room, and all the subtle colours – but it is still like a Dulux paint chart – white with a hint of almond, or mint, or peach snapps or something. I crave a bit of originality – bring back Normal Nancy!

  26. mrsmole says:

    Ha ha…working at David’s will not get you any experience with making sweetheart necklines, Kate! They send those out to the rest of us independent gals. I have thought about printing out a picture of Jessica Rabbit and taping it to my big mirror just for fun. Shades of ivory for sure! Nancy did drop off 2 more fabrics for jackets last week so I had been get a move on!

  27. symondezyn says:

    Wow, Mrs M – amazing job – the sweetheart neckline is really lovely! It’s ridiculously hard to find anything with a deep V, probably because it’s so hard to stabilize, but that just makes it all the more special for those who can find a talented seamstress like yourself, to make their dreams come true! ^_^ I have no idea why anyone would dream of wearing their dress so tight around the midsection and bottom – wouldn’t it be nicer to have sitting/eating cake room? ^__^ I can assure you mine will!!! LOL

  28. Ratrace says:

    I love your job. Thanks for sharing your experiences working with these lovely dresses and the folks that come with them.

  29. angel says:

    just came across ur site tonight,loving it and lots more to read and learn 🙂 Im sewing a baby dress,using duchess satin,could any1 advise on the best lining? (I want it to feel luxurious) I want to add tulle, Im thinking the tulle is sewed to the lining at waist? silky linings are lightweight,will this sit right, if done this way? any advice would b greatly appreciated x (is there a blog here that could help? )

  30. mrsmole says:

    In RTW bridal dresses, the tulle is layered unto the lining which is usually thin and polyester. There can be 2 or more layers at different heights. Maybe searching for heirloom baby dresses might help if they have photos of the insides. As far as a lining, you really need to test a few different thicknesses to get the feel and weight you want. Maybe some of my readers have more experience and can chime in?

  31. angel says:

    Dear Mrs mole 🙂

    I am loving reading about ur experiences.Thank u very much for ur response and ur advice,I have tried a few linings and not happy with the results so far 😦 Its my friends daughters first birthday party in 8 weeks so hoping someone reading can advise,I have fell silk habotia ,it felt luxury,any1 used this to line duchess satin?

  32. Linda Craig says:

    It is a good thing you have a great sense of humor Mrs Mole

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