Ten to Zero

Weddings involve lots of forward planning so most brides think about the dress first…but not all of them.

Six weeks before the event this bride decided it was time to start the search for her “dream dress”. She went to David’s to order a dress in size 0 but was told it would take 6 weeks. Then she went to the other salon in town to order a custom made dress and was told it would take 20 weeks. Finally, she decided to try on a dress on the rack and she liked it…only trouble was it was a size 10 and she wanted a zero.

I met her at the salon and pinned out the entire center back which with the lace overlay was the only/easiest/cheapest place to alter it. What you cannot see in this photo is that 6 inches have been pinned out. So, yes it involves removing 23 buttons, taking in 2 layers of linings, removing 2 sets of boning just to see where we are going. The hem will also be shortened and the hem of both the linings.

P1200400ย  P1200399P1200401

After the first try-on with everything basted by hand and the zipper re-attached and hem basted up, the bride wanted it even tighter from the top edge of the bodice all the way down to the bustle point below her butt. I have thread traced the new seam lines in red and drawn them for you:P1200445 So here we are with the whole dress opened up flat:P1200448P1200447

After removing the hand basted zipper, you can see the added amount that has to be removed.



Another row of boning will have to be removed from the lining as well and everything trimmed away as we don’t need an extra 8 inches of fabric inside. Each layer of lace, tulle and 2 layers of satin lining will all be taken in separately and trimmed and pressed before the bustle is done. Will this cost a lot in labor? You bet! But with many mothers of the bride, nothing is too much for their little princess. Oh, and yes, don’t forget to sew all those buttons back on! Thankfully, there was only a one point bustle.


Maybe you are thinking like most sane people…surely she could have found a simple lace dress closer to her size…yes, she could have, but she didn’t want to and the tight time frame didn’t seem to bother her either. All she wanted was a perfectly tight dress to wear with her old cowboy boots.

As a reference, here is the same dress, in the correct size from the same salon ordered ahead of time and trimmed with a beautiful pearl and rhinestone belt.


Sensible brides make my day!

Other things make my day as well like a box from Wawak:


Nothing like taking possession of 60 pairs of boobs for upcoming brides this season!

Upcoming posts include a bride who needed to ADD 8 inches instead of remove and Nancy’s new Grainline jacket is almost finished!

Happy sewing everyone and thank you for dropping by!

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46 Responses to Ten to Zero

  1. I am in awe of your tact and patience! I’d kick ’em in the backside and send ’em elsewhere lol

    • mrsmole says:

      Well, it is my business and my reputation that keeps me from being violent…ha ha! This blog would be boring if all I had were sensible brides don’t you think?

  2. fabrickated says:

    I don’t know what is worse Mrs M – making something smaller, or bigger. You tell me. I often buy bigger sizes in the sales and reduce them but I wouldn’t go the other way. Love the box of boobs. I imagine my little grandsons would have a field day with that as he seems to be obsessed with what he “charmingly” calls “boobies” (should have gone with the bunnies word instead, less obvious in the library cafe).

    • mrsmole says:

      Every alteration has it’s pluses and minuses so it really is not easier either way, Kate. At least with making something smaller you have a few more options without having to find fabric that matches. Small boys or grown men would like to get their hands on the “box of boobs” in my sewing room…I think it is in their genetic code…ha ha.

  3. mrsmole says:

    Ha ha…if I wasn’t getting paid for this, I surely would not be working this hard! I do like the money side of altering and the challenge it offers my aging brain…who needs crosswords to avoid dementia…sew for crazy people!

  4. ceci says:

    As a frequent wedding guest lately I’m puzzled by the cowboy boots that seem to be a theme with your bride population – perhaps its regional? Not seeing it at weddings here in the southeast. Altho come to think of it there was a recent wedding with LLBean duck boots, in Maine. So odd with the bridal party’s lovely chiffon dresses and dinner jackets…. I stuck to my comfy silver pumps!


    • Bunny says:

      I don’t get it either. I can just imagine people looking at those wedding pictures in years to come. My pictures make me sort of wince when I see the bridesmaids in their big picture hats, but at least that was appropriate to their dresses. Cowboy boots? who wants to look like they just shlepped a load of horse manure before stepping into their wedding gown?

    • mrsmole says:

      We do live in a Pacific NW rural setting but unless you are planning on walking through stacks of “cow patties”, I say leave the boots in the barn, Missy! Wearing cowboy boots on a hot August day is not my idea of comfort!

      • Sarah says:

        That’s the difference between people who wear cowboy boots as a fashion statement and those who wear them to work.

  5. Bunny says:

    Nothing like a box of boobies showing up with the UPS guy. Great work as always!

  6. mrsmole says:

    If the UPS guy only knew what he was delivering, he might have to open the box in the back of the truck and rummage through it first!

  7. Tia Dia says:

    Wowsa. That is a LOT of fabric to remove! But, as always, you are a saint, Mrs. Mole! Old cowboy boots…. hmph!

  8. I found the majority of bridal work to be for crazies which is why I avoid it now. If I had to deal with all you do Moley I would be altering my own straitjacket by now!

  9. Rena says:

    I just got a box of boobs myself…for prom dresses! What is the proper way to install them? I always wonder if I’m doing it correctly! Also I’m curious about taking 8″ out of the back…doesn’t that throw the side seams way off? Strangely they looked fine in the pic.

    • mrsmole says:

      That was the weird thing, Rena, normally I could not get away with that but the side seams ended up right where they belonged. If yoiu can take that much out of the back, it says the front of the dress was way narrower than the back to start with. Boobs, I only attach them along the top edge by hand to the lining, the underneath edge is left free as it has to slide under the breast as a shelf and fill up the boning curve. I have seen them done professionally with 3 tacks, 2 sides and one at the top…not as secure or as flat.

      • Rena Pearson says:

        That is bizarre that the front was that narrow??? What would that have looked like on a size 10?! Thanks for the “boobs” tip ๐Ÿ™‚

      • mrsmole says:

        The dress was a sample dress so there could have been something not quite right from the beginning and in the end it all went OK…we have to be thankful for small mercies!

  10. jay says:

    I think I’d prefer shrinking something to enlarging it, but really, who buys something way off their size? No need to answer that, you already have.

  11. I don’t get the boots thing… I bought (actually my poor mom bought) the most beautiful designer high heeled shoes for my wedding. I still have them, although I cannot get my feet into them anymore! You have made another lovely save! Nice work! That was a lot of inches to take in and you can’t even tell when you’re finished!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Linda…some days you get lucky! I’ve never had a wedding gown or nice shoes despite 2 marriages but I tell Mr. Mole that when I come back in my next life…I’m going whole hog with a big dress and a tiara and great shoes!

      • birdmommy says:

        I got married young (and broke!), so didn’t have the full White Dress Experience. I’ve already warned my husband that our family (husband, son, and I) are sitting for some excellent photos for our 25th anniversary. I’m not going to wear a wedding gown, but by golly we will all be impeccably dressed!

  12. dr P says:

    What’s with the tight tight tight dress trend? Do they not care about back flab and the like?
    I don’t know how you do it! I would be constantly gnashing my teeth and counting to ten. You have the patience of a saint!

    • mrsmole says:

      Mostly Mr. Mole has the patience of a saint listening to me and my stories…he makes sure I have a drink at the end of the day…God Bless him!

  13. In Australia I have not seen much in the way of cowboy boots at weddings, but plastic flipflops (do you call them that in US?). Or as my dad would say ”Bathing shoes, she’s wearing bathing shoes!” I guess we are a casual bunch at times…
    If you saved all the fabric you cut out, over a year you could made a whole new dress. Patchwork bride, anyone?

    • erniek3 says:

      Flip flops, slaps, zories, shower shoes are all the US same as bathing shoes.
      My father paid for half of my relatively cheap wedding in exchange for me wearing high heels. I was going to go for nice flats.

    • mrsmole says:

      Now that would be some cool dress with all the shades of ivory and laces and such but I never keep any scraps, they get given back to the bride for whatever it is they do with them…sometimes, it is the whole train and long enough to make a flower girl dress!!!!

  14. JudyJ says:

    Thank you for sharing this amazing save! I, too, wondered about the choice to take in the excess all from the back. My thought was “how can this alteration be done without having to remove buttons!” Your solution must have taken many hours of precision work, but since you are so experienced and skilled — just the usual challenge. BRAVO!!! I always learn so much from your posts. Thank you!

  15. mrsmole says:

    Buttons are just a speed bump in the road…they come away really easy but the tedious part is getting the spacing right when you re-stitch them. Normally invisible zippers do not have buttons down one side, only lapped zippers but lace dresses can get away with them.

  16. sewruth says:

    Your next bride could have swapped with this bride and then they each would have had the right size dresses! But we wouldn’t get to see your beautiful handiwork nor been entertained.

    • mrsmole says:

      You know it, Ruth…there are days when I wish I COULD swap brides and dresses! But what a boring life it would be if they all bought their correct size. A couple of new brides have entered the sewing room this week with more problems to share…yippee!

  17. Jane Urbach says:

    All those stories about kids playing with the boobs. One of the group I play with is a plastic surgeon, and she brought the gel filled “boobs” used in breast enhancements to a friendly group gathering. It was pretty funny to see grown men playing with the packets and tossing them about. Glad you don’t have children running about, you would really go crazy making magic for brides and supervising kids.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Lordie, Jane, I don’t EVEN want to picture grown men playing with silicon boobs!!! Kids and sewing rooms just don’t mix but I do have brides asking on the phone, “do you have a play area for the children?” And my answer should be, “This ain’t no McDonald’s, leave the kids at home with grandma”.

  18. Suzie says:

    You are a saint!!

  19. maryfunt says:

    I too would have thought pulling in the back would have left the side seams way out of whack but you’re probably right about there being something off with the sample dress. At least you made it work and how lucky for the ditsy bride that she found you.

  20. mrsmole says:

    I got lucky, Mary and I would do anything to avoid taking in side seams that slope to the back and have that “step-down” along with top edge lace edging and beading and all that other stuff that has to be removed to do it right and the layers of boning in fabric and lining…the zipper trick comes in handy for sure!

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