Emergency or Not?

My real business website brings in new possible customers all the time. People find me on Google and Yelp and send me emails or phone to ask questions. So this came in last week:

Sent: Monday, September 07, 2015 1:45 PM
Subject: Wedding gown emergency!
My name is Melinda and I have a bit of an emergency.

I have a gorgeous wedding gown that I need taken in about 3 inches in the waist by Sept. 20th. The gown fit perfectly initially, however I fell very ill recently have lost a lot of weight. Which is wherein lies my dilemma, I cannot gain weight now, I have tried everything but because although I am much better than I was, I am still not well.

So all that aside, I was hoping to get a general price range from you so I can budget it in and also let my mother who lives out of state know who may be helping me pay for the alteration.

I am in a bit of a panic, this day only happens once and I have waited nearly 32 years for it so naturally I want my gown to fit perfectly. Please let me know if you can help me and if the time frame is feasible, also if possible, how much the alteration may cost. Thank you so very much for your time and consideration.

Hi Melinda,
You will need to make an appointment so I can see the dress and give you a price. I am booked through Nov, but I will see you and help you out. I have openings Wed, Thurs and Friday this week, please let me know if you have time to drop by.


Thank you so very much! I will give you a call tomorrow, Tuesday, to schedule an appointment, as I have been busy with my niece’s birthday and getting my daughter ready for the first day of school today…5th grade. Thank you again, ever so sincerely.

Hi Melinda,
I have 2 openings for an appointment tomorrow Wed at 12 noon and Friday at 2 pm. Since I did not hear from you today as you said you would call, I have to say that time is running out and I have no other openings for new brides until the end of Nov. If you want either of those times, please tell me which one, otherwise, I am afraid you will have to find someone else who will alter your dress within 10 days.

It is now 5 days before her wedding and no word from her…makes you wonder how the emergency is going to pan out?

Another emergency came in from a bride, her mother’s mother-of-the-bride dress was custom made in Los Angeles at Siri. It was a gorgeous bias cut pleated silver silk dupionni dress that for some reason was made at least 2 sizes too big. Her measurements were taken at a very posh salon in Portland where the alterations were done. The fact that the seamstress told her that she was a professional and the best in the business and that she would be thrilled with the results gave the mother some false reassurance that the dress would be perfect. The price of the dress was expensive enough but the alterations, according to the mom, cost a fortune to take in side seams, straps and hem.

I opened up the left side zipper at the lining so we could both look inside and what we found was the shoddiest work ever! Old seam allowances left inside, nothing trimmed away properly or trimmed within 1/8 of an inch. Lots of rows of stitching leaving bulk and seams not opened up and pressed flat…in other words, very amateurish at best.

The mom was shocked and asked if I thought I could make things right and expand the armholes wider to allow her arms to actually move. After checking seam allowances, I said I would do whatever I could and then started taking photos and documenting the procedures for the mom to present to the salon owner. I have listed all the photos of before, during and after on my Pinterest page as there are way too many to show here. 

Once my alterations were done, the dress fit well and the mom was delighted!

Gail-2   Gail 1

Another week of harvests from the garden…thank you Mother Nature!sept-2015

Crookneck squash and peppers with hundreds of baby squash on the vine:


Happy Fall sewing, Everyone!


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37 Responses to Emergency or Not?

  1. I’m guessing this wasn’t the emergency she thought it was as her priorities indicate otherwise 😉 Hope you’re not hit with a last minute call on the 19th…!

    That last dress is beautiful! What an interesting shape and color. She must have been very happy.

    As always, the produce is making me green with envy! I’ve missed having a garden!

  2. Sharon says:

    I suggest that if the bride calls back, tell her that her lack of planning does not constitute an emergency on your part. She had her chance. Her use of the term “budget” also sends up a red flag for sure!
    Any seamstress that professes to be the best in the business may be stretching the truth a bit. If you are good, your reviews and word of mouth will do the talking for you.
    And as usual, Mrs. Mole has saved the day! Good job, the silver dress looks gorgeous!

  3. celeste says:

    Mrs. Mole, you have every right to publish the “Professional’s” name and address to warn future customers. I cannot imagine such a mess that you cleaned up so beautifully. I’m appalled she couldn’t even use the correct thread color! The finished silver dress looks exquisite and I know the owner must be so glad she found you.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Celeste, I only can relay the stories I am told from distressed clients. If she wants to carry this further, she will. Her initial response was to want to call the owner because this could happen to others and with such an expensive dress, it really should have been handled better. Using black thread was just the icing on the cake….Lordie!

  4. prttynpnk says:

    That’s lovely- you really saved it. I get a lot of emergencies that turn into no shows in my job too- so disrespectful of a professionals time.

    • mrsmole says:

      But in your case, Anne, it could be that they “chickened out” before entering the surgery waiting room? It is not only disrespectful, it wastes the time and efforts of those preparing the room and instruments and it creates a gap in the work schedule that someone else could have filled and needed but they are not thinking of anyone else, are they?

  5. ceci says:

    I hope the emergency bride didn’t become ill again……could be a sad rather than goofy story?

    Very envious of the squash, I have never seen a plant set multiple babies like that! Ours did so poorly this year that we have been buying squash all summer.


    • mrsmole says:

      We will never know what really happened with that bride unless I check her Facebook page for wedding photos…which I will. The squash seemed to got nuts after I sprayed it with diluted soap to kill some bugs. Funny how some years one plant will do really well and you have to give the neighbors all the excess and some years things just never get started and produce…those are the years we are glad not to be farmers battling Mother Nature.

  6. Roseann says:

    I love to see your great work. You are an angel,saint and miracle worker rolled into one. I admire all your talents. I was wondering if you could recommend a book or guide book on how to do basic alterations on everyday wear. I recently had to fix torn pant lining for my niece and couldn’t find anything to guide me. Thank you for your input, Roseann

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Roseann, I looked through my library and realized that I don;t have any books on altering but I have read that this is a good place to start: http://www.maryroehr.com/ So many of the alterations we do are made by thinking backwards and getting creative. Repairing holes can be done in so many ways with patches, fusing interfacing and machine stitching over to re-enforce the area, cutting away the damaged part and attaching new fabric to equal the old…well, you get the idea. Maybe what I am saying is that you can make up stuff as you go along and things develop into your own personal style of doing the same alteration as someone else. I have a good friend of mine who alters the waist in jeans by making darts in the waistband and top edge of the body of the pants at the back hip area without opening up any seams…it is her technique and it works well. Threads magazine has some creative solutions to real problems and if you type the problems into Google chances are someone has made a video of your very issue…I do that all the time…or if you have a presser foot that you don’t’ know how it works…Google it and there is someone happily sewing away with it…like magic. Good luck!

      • Roseann says:

        Thank you so very much for your reply. I know you are very busy and appreciate you taking the time to give me an answer. It’s funny, but basically I did exactly what you said, make it up as I went along for the best solution.
        Thanks again, Roseann

  7. Colleen says:

    I do not aways trim the seams because if an alteration is done far ahead of an event…sometimes there is weight gain…of if the store pins the alteration and I do not see the client on the first fitting. I like the insurance of knowing the extra allowance is there as long as it does not interferr. Having the extra allowance still there may have helped you to adjust the fit. I do always use matching thread however! Just another side to the story but I would always check the fit after the alteration. Many in my area resell their dresses also I do a lot of prom dresses where girls say tighter…tigher…and then say ohhhh too tight!! 🙂 You do great work!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Colleen, if I tell the client that I am leaving the seam allowances in a dress for the next owner/bride/bridesmaid then they have the decision to make about it. Some say they want everything trimmed away and some like the idea they can sell or give away an altered dress and make the next seamstress very happy. That said, there seems to be no communication in this instance and the lumps were so obvious that the mom was distressed and I was disgusted enough to open the lining up and search for clues…there they were…inside bulk and rows and rows of stitching that caused the outside to look so nasty. I think the dress would have worked if the seams had been opened and pressed flat but someone skipped that part. I can’t imagine having someone else pinning for me as so much of the pinning involves the precise viewing of drag lines and tension of the fabrics and the planning for the end project looking perfect. You know yourself when you are doing the pinning, a lot more is going through your mind than just the taking in of the seam like how much or how little you can jiggle things at the sewing machine later. Using the correct thread and checking the alteration on the body later are wise choices…it shows that you care! Your clients are fortunate to have you.

  8. I would think if the job was done properly everything would at least lie flat! Terrible work! And again don’t these clients realize that it takes time to do good work? Chin up, Mrs Mole! On the other hand, the dress is a beautiful colour.. Like silver but not!

    • mrsmole says:

      There is a fine line between “good enough” and lumps showing on the outside of the dress. If your finished project looks like as I tell my clients, “grandma had her way with it” then it may not flatter and fit well. The richness of silver silk dupionni is just so divine! The mom did leave the dress for quite a while at the posh salon and only just got it 2 weeks before the wedding so she just went along with their program…Lord knows what she would have got if it was a rush job!

  9. fabrickated says:

    I really love the baby squashes. Aren’t they adorable? I never knew how they grew. The silver dress is pretty neat too – well done. As for the emergency bride – who knows – maybe she did it herself, maybe she is too busy eating peanut butter to come along, maybe the whole thing is a hoax, maybe the wedding was called off or postponed, maybe she bought “a second dress”. I am beginning to think this would make an interesting start to a novel. But then I always think Mrs M should write a book.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Kate, you are reading the book every week, just in small doses….ha ha Of course, Mr. Mole thinks it would make a funny sit-com of a sewing studio and the weird clients and their requests but unless you have been or worked in one, you would think this was all made up. I’ve never seen so many baby squash on one plant. Normally they are spread out along the ever expanding stems/vines but this one just went nuts. It could be because I sprayed for bugs using water and Castille soap and it liked it…who knows? Yes, the infamous “second dress”…the get-out card…fingers crossed she managed a better alternative.

  10. It is annoying when you are left wondering if you are going to get an 11th hour panic call. This bride had her chance to call, and whilst I hope she isn’t relapsed, so she has missed her opportunity to have your help. Sadly I know it is quite possible. Don’t cave in Mrs Mole!
    The silver dress is lovely (now) and I hope the other dressmaker reads your blog and is blushing in shame.

    • mrsmole says:

      My client was overwhelmed by her arrogance, I mean, who tells the client that they are the best? Modesty is a good buffer and offering a reasonable result often brings about great results and tears of joy…a real bonus for me and the client! Even if the first seamstress was pleased with her work, chopping off the lining to 1/8 of an inch in some places and leaving 2 inches in others was madness. No doubt you have seen this before, Kim, in your business!

  11. sewruth says:

    You are always ready at the 11th hour – even if the bride isn’t!
    Like the MOB dress and of course, what you did to it.

  12. maryfunt says:

    What a mess and you worked your magic. Your Pintrest page documented the poor workmanship. I just finished a Chanel suit remake and saw equally as poor sewing by a previous “professional”
    Great fix. I hope the “emergency” bride found a solution and you don’t hear from her the day before the wedding.

  13. Bunny says:

    The MOB dress is a positive stunner. Beautiful work, Mrs. M. The original seamstress sounds a bit like Donald Trump!

  14. I stopped sewing for others after one too many ’emergencies’! A genuine emergency requires an ambulance surely not a dressmaker!! Plus, no one wants to pay what an on-call doctor would charge, which is what you’d need to deal with some people 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      Folks think you are just sitting by the phone waiting for the job. This morning a girl called to say her friend had “just found” her perfect wedding dress for Saturday…2 days away and “how would I like to take in the seams to make it fit?” When I answered NO…she was shocked.

  15. terri says:

    I, too, am impressed by your patience, professionalism, and amazing work!

    I found your blog a few months ago, but this is my first time commenting. Like Roseann above, I, too, am trying to learn how to alter clothes. (In my case, it’s a necessity–I’m 4’10”, so nothing fits off the rack, even “petite” clothing.) You’ve convinced me of why I would want to trim seams, but I don’t own a serger. Are there ways to finish the trimmed seams without a serger, or should I start saving up to buy a serger? If I need to buy a serger, do you have any recommendations for brands/ what I should look for in a serger/ etc? I’d appreciate any suggestions. Thanks!

    • mrsmole says:

      There are sewing machines that have presser feet and stitches that mimic a serged/overlocked edge but you have to trim the seams first. Check your manual to see if you have such a machine. In the old days we used to just zigzag over them or use pinking shears which I use all the time. Using pinked edges allows you to press without seeing the bulk of serged edges on the right side of the garment. I own 2 35 year old Bernette sergers and one newer version. Mine are 3 and 4 thread with a differential which back then was amazing but now most sergers come that way. You can get used ones on eBay and Craigslist but you being new to this really need to sit down in a dealer showroom and run fabric through them and listen and feel the differences. My newest serger is set up to do 2 thread only which is less bulky on fine fabrics. I have never used my 4 thread function and find 3 threads are the most versatile for going around corners and curves but if I was going to be sewing lots of knits, the 4 thread is more sturdy so it depends on what your sewing plans are. If I were to buy a new machine, I would consider the Juki but visit different dealers and see what they are offering in styles and prices and even used floor models…sergers last forever, don’t be put off by an older model. My last Craigslist purchase was a Bernette 334D that was 35 years old and never been used by someone’s grandma in the original box. I paid $75, another one I bought for my daughter was a basic Juki with no differential for $50.

      • terri says:

        Thanks, Mrs. Mole! This is really helpful.
        I don’t mind older models–after all, my sewing machine is my mom’s old machine (a Bernina 730 record). I think I can get an overlock foot for it. I may try that first, while I look into options for sergers. (The only serger I’ve ever used is the one my mom has–it’s a Babylock that’s probably at least as old as your Bernette sergers.)

  16. symondezyn says:

    Wow, that silver dress is STUNNING!! Gorgeous style and a superb fit – beautiful as always, Mrs M!! ❤ As an aside though, looking at the shocking photos of the insides (which that "posh salon" should be ashamed of), I sure feel better about my own personal wedding dress seam dilemmas! LOL

  17. Linda Craig says:

    Hi Mrs Mole

    Were is your professional web page? Don’t want to miss anything

  18. mrsmole says:

    I can answer you privately.

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