Got My Belt, Bustle, and Real Shoes

Last week, I left the sewing room to fly across the country to meet up with relatives traveling from the UK but had this recent post to share:

Another form-fitting dress that needs hemming, a belt and bustling but this lace is special. To feel it you might think it is burnout velvet.


But is was stitched on organza with a flocked fluffy thread to add some weight to it.


Besides looking lovely on the outside, you have to see what I see when lifting the skirt for the first time…this mass of wrinkles and nastiness is the netting and petticoat layers. Most dresses come into my sewing room like this.

Lord knows how they can sell a dress without having steamed or pressed the netting which, as I explain to my brides, is the main structure holding the shape of your dress.

The netting is all balled up and it takes about 30 minutes of hot steam from my new generator iron to get every layer to lie flat and thus do its job. Then we can go about deciding on how many points are needed to hike the train up off the ground for dancing.


Since all the satin layer lower points will be attached along a line at the top, here is the mapping. I use buttons and loops but they could easily be done with ribbons. So, I think 5 or more points for the satin will work. Notice the lovely wrinkles fresh from the salon.


The lace layer also gets 5 points and will attach the same way but the buttons will be satin covered metal backed ones. The lace layer has 2 or 3 other tulle layers and one organza layer with a rolled narrow hem all sandwiched together.


We ended up using 7 satin bustle points as it was way more evenly spaced and pretty and really makes a nice sturdy structure base for the lace.


Like most brides, this one added a blinged-out type belt with lace edges and I sewed it to the dress by hand and cut off the tails and attached it on either side of the zipper.


Satin bustle buttons in place and belt attached with vertical buttons sewn back over the top left edge.


The front hems were done with rolled hem for the organza, scissor trimmed for the tulle and scissor trimmed for the lace as it had a raw edge. This was the before photo.


And what does this gorgeous bride and her dress have under it on her feet…OMG…cowboy boots?… won’t believe it….real shoes…Jimmy Choos!  They are perfect for walking through tall grass and twigs without getting heels stuck in the mud but the price is almost more than the dress!


The wedding season is far from over with Thanksgiving November brides coming for appointments and December and January brides calling so the posts continue. Soon my client, Nancy, and I will do a buying trip to purchase new fabrics for her upcoming wardrobe now that we have identified her with a Type 2,   summer,   color palette.

Hope all the ghouls and goblins visiting your door this Saturday are friendly little ones…Happy Halloween, everyone!




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21 Responses to Got My Belt, Bustle, and Real Shoes

  1. Krysti says:

    I think I can speak to the question of why the bridal shops don’t steam a dress before fittings. I do contract work for a bridal shop. The dresses come from the factory in boxes, usually in plastic bags similar to the kind that you use for travel (the ones you suck the air out of). They are folded up and very flat. Of course the crinoline and the fabric is very wrinkled. The dresses are then hung up and put in a zipper bag. If the shop was to steam a dress before they were fitted, they would most likely have to hire someone do only do that. Sometimes we have 30 dresses in a week to check in and hang up. Then they get put in the bag and crinkled again. After each fitting they get put in the same zipper bag – so it doesn’t really make sense to steam it before the fittings are all done. When I do a fitting, I pull all the tulle/crinoline down and smooth it best I can and have never had a problem with the fitting working out. The other thing that can happen if the crinoline is pressed or handled too much is that it loses its stiffness. I have seen this with sample dresses that have been tried on a lot. So there is a reason – even though it is a bit annoying!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Krysti for sharing that information. I can understand a high volume shop just stuffing the dresses back into the bag and handing them to the bride but a smaller boutique like this one does actually have the staff to steam or dry iron one dress at a time before handing it over. The hem of a dress, especially a lace one is really determined by the actual circumference of the layers of tulle and once pressed they can make or break the alterations. It brings a smile to my face when the petticoat holds the hem far enough away from the wearer to avoid hemming and by making sure all the tulle and netting layers are looking their best, I don’t need to hem scalloped lace and add more labor cost to the bill. The same things happens to those petticoats gals buy in a tiny plastic bag from David’s…all balled up and you wonder what is the use to cram all that under the dress without pressing? The funny thing is, most of my brides ask my where to get their dress steamed or dry-cleaned after the alterations…like they expect this will all have to be done anyway. I tell them the dress is ready to wear once I am done so there is no need to add further expense and time before their special day. Being a home-based business I am lucky to be able to provide this but I can see how this step has to be skipped in a high volume bridal salon.

  2. Angela says:

    The dress is lovely! About the iron – is there a post somewhere about why you chose this particular model? I’ve been looking at gravity fed irons, a Reliable steam generator, and now yours popped up in this post, and I hadn’t heard of it before. I would LOVE to read any input you have about irons.

  3. fabrickated says:

    It is a pretty dress and the advice about getting the petticoat to do it’s job properly is very interesting. I am also keen to invest in a better iron at some point so this was a good recommendation. Like Angela I would love a post on your iron choice at some point. Hope you enjoyed yourself with the British relatives, and I bet they were happy to escape the rain and cold we are experiencing.

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Kate, the weather was good for the first week but with the intense humidity we felt like we were being rained on most days. I told Mr Mole that I could never live in that part of the country as my underpants were damp from sweat running down my back every day and the towels smelled of locker room mold…so glad I live on the dry side of the country. The relatives spent most of their days at theme parks doing water based thrill rides wearing their bathing suits so it was a real treat for them to be warm and wet while gaining a tan.

  4. mrsmole says:

    Hi Angela, I have been using steam generator irons since I bought my first one in England 21 years ago. At that time coming from the US, I had never seen one but they are so popular that they are sold in grocery stores and there are many brands and styles to choose from. At the time, the Italian ones, T-Fal brand, were very good. Once I returned to the US 8 years later, I assumed that they would be here as well but found that to be not true. I bought a Black and Decker steam generator iron that lasted 2 years and died and was discontinued, then I bought a Laura-Star that lasted 12 years and died, and now I have this one that is the most powerful and versatile of all the irons I have had. Some of my friends suggested gravity feed types but I did not want water bottles hanging in my sewing room. This iron holds 2 quarts of distilled water and can send steam, across the room or vertically. I love it. I read about more irons on the PatternReview website and the Amazon reviews as well before I bought it. If I was not steaming dresses everyday I might go for a smaller version in the same brand from Wawak who was the supplier through the Amazon purchase.

  5. fabricfan says:

    Another beautiful dress.

  6. This is such a lovely dress. I love the button up bustle. Such a great idea. I didn’t see such things when I got married so long ago. A very lovely style! Happy Halloween to you too!

  7. S says:

    Very interesting post, Mrs. Mole. I had never thought about the petticoat in such a dress before and I was interested to read the bit about the irons above.

  8. accordion3 says:

    The whole family prefers natural fibres especially cotton, wool and linens. I have a boiler iron too – the Laurastar. Everytime I steam a seam, or iron a shirt I am glad I have it. I LOVE it. When it dies I’ll probably get another. I’d like the model that has a suction/steam puffer top.

    • mrsmole says:

      I looked at those too but the price was double and they have special filters that have to be replaced every 6 months or more. With the amount of pressing I do, I was needing a very low maintenance iron that would perform day after day just pouring water in one end and getting steam out the other. My old Laura Star worked well until the inside guts started disintegrating (red flakes of sealant) and dropping bits unto the dresses. The tech told me they do not make replacement parts and once the flakes show up, there is nothing left to do as the whole boiler unit is like a sandwich so when one layer starts to go, the rest follow. It worked well for 12 years.

  9. maryfunt says:

    This one looks pretty and I love the shoes. I have the same type of iron and absolutely love it; tons of dry, hot steam and no spitting. They are pricey but last forever. I hope pressing time is calculated in the bill as it can take hours. Enjoy your trip!

    • mrsmole says:

      Like many things I do, pressing is just free. maybe one day I will get tougher with myself…ha ha. Two days of fabric shopping with a client will be a real treat! Just being a town with something other than a crappy JoAnn’s with polar fleece piled up to the ceiling will be a bonus!

  10. Martina says:

    What a pretty dress, and it fits her to a T! I wonder if she’s wearing a veil?

    • mrsmole says:

      Most of my brides do just for the ceremony and some find ones with a lace or rhinestone edging to match the dress in some way. I get to steam them and imagine the bride all dresses up with hair and make-up done.

  11. Tia Dia says:

    Great post, Mrs. Mole! And I always enjoy reading the comments, too. It’s a very pretty dress, and I really like those shoes!

  12. Colleen says:

    I had a bride this morning that they said the shop charged just over $100 to steam her veil and dress (large puffy bottom and long train)…The netting underneath was not steamed. Oh my!! This is a new process that I think has recently been added. The store I do contract work for a bridal store that steams it once very well when it comes in and then only a small charge such as 25-50 if they wanted to resteamed before picking it up and stored at the store. I think smaller stores are trying to be more competitive with their tag price and add more small charges along the way…Just a thought to share.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Colleen, I think somewhere along the line the whole dress has to be steamed and once the petticoat/netting is done, it rarely needs more as long as it is not crammed into a bag. It has to be nicer for a bride to get a freshly steamed dress ready to wear than go all over town trying to find a dry cleaners to do the job and then cram it all back into that bag. Half of my brides lay the dress in the back seat on sheets to keep it fluffy on the way home instead of using a plastic garment bag which can add wrinkles. Some tell me they have their own steamer for the bridesmaids dresses so they will touch up the dress that day…nice touch!

  13. prttynpnk says:

    I thought of you a lot this week at Disney- our hotel had 5 weddings this week and I was quite the gawker! There is nothing pleasant about being makeup free and in caffeine withdrawl at 7 am when you run into a herd of teased pastel sorority maids in platform pumps and major bling heading for their photo shoot!

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