Strap Me In!

If you have brown hair and tan skin, this is the dress for you. The bodice includes a mid-range shade of tulle so it looks like the lace is just floating on the model.


But if you have light skin, the tan tulle makes your skin look dirty and drab…what to do?

3-2    1-2

Let’s tackle that lace hem first. Yes, you know I have to remove the bottom edging one stitch at a time and then reposition it higher up…this time a full 5 inches higher.All the excess tulle will be cut off later.


It is pinned and then hand basted with red thread and the bride tries it on.


She likes the length and spreads her skirt out like a butterfly. But now the real challenge: she wants to remove all the tan tulle in front but leave the tulle in back…WHAT?

I grabbed some of my favorite nylon (not shiny rayon) rattail cording from the corset making box and pinned on some to give her an idea of what might be done. The edge of the tulle would be wrapped around the cording and hand stitched with tiny stitches all on the wrong side. Then the tulle would be cut away. Have I ever done this before…Hell No…but it was worth a try.


First side done and tried on…the cording will continue across the back to the row of buttons and under the back armhole.


Here is the close-up…can you spell T-E-D-I-O-U-S? and S-C-A-R-Y?


After both straps were attached, the front tan tulle is cut away.


And the result is just what she wanted…hooray! There is still a strip of tan tulle between the new straps but it is way less noticeable.


All that is left is the 5 point bustle to get all that gorgeous lace just up off the floor for dancing. There are 5 buttons at the back waist to hold all this double layer tulle skirt and a one button bustle for the satin under skirt. I only buttoned up every third button for the photo so they look a little weird.


Thank you for the comments on the last post of Nancy’s new jacket. I didn’t make time to answer your kind words as we have been a little busy for the last 2 weeks with moving my parents into assisted living, sorting and selling all their treasures from collecting over 70 years together and clearing and cleaning out their house to list for sale this week. It has been a whirlwind of packing and carting boxes off to charity shops and storage units after having a 2-day estate sale…Mr. Mole and I have been going through a lot of Tylenol and rum and diet Pepsi after logging in over 100 hours of manual labor. Fingers crossed we can both get back to normal soon.

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42 Responses to Strap Me In!

  1. Trish says:

    Your alterations look perfect but so time consuming. I’m sorry to hear about the moving and clearing. It’s a weary business!

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Trish, the labor costs really mounted up but that is the only way to get that “dream dress”. Moving for other people and selling their stuff is something to avoid!

  2. raquel from jc says:

    Moving, clearing and cleaning treasures, oh my. I hope you, your husband and your parents are doing ok.

  3. Bunny says:

    This came out beautifully, Mrs. M. I would have been scared of this alteration for sure. So glad the bride was happy. It’s a lovely gown. Is it a silk or cotton tulle? It hangs beautifully with the weight of the hem lace.

    That is a HUGE project, cleaning out your parents home of 70 years. I just can’t imagine and the two of you must be totally wiped. And you are working with the summer brides on top of that! you must be so wiped. Hope that rum bottle is ever ready for you and hubby. You deserve it.

    • mrsmole says:

      I think the tulle was nylon in the bodice like old style stockings…remember those before pantyhose…yes, you do. That lace hem was so heavy and thick that the bustle hung very flat in the back so the tulle skirt did not have that airy feel. We just want to see the end of the tunnel now!

  4. jay says:

    That was an inspired fix, but the labour! You weren’t tempted to suggest she reach for the fake tan and keep the tulle?
    Health and strength to both of you after the marathon cleaning and sorting. It can be a weird, heart-wrenching business putting objects which have a strong link with past times into charity boxes; let the rum and pepsi ease the process.

    • mrsmole says:

      She had such lovely ivory skin so we just had to eliminate that nasty tan tulle to show her best features. Poor thing went out last weekend and tried to tan in the sun but ended up with tan lines but nobody will notice once the festivities begin. My parents did not really go through all their things and just walked away and left them for us so he are storing them to troll through in the future. Folks in their 90’s pretty much do what they want these days.

  5. Your repairs/updates are always so amazing! I’m sure your parents appreciate everything you’ve done to make it easier for them to go to Assisted Living.

  6. mrsmole says:

    I would like to think that this all makes a difference but we will wait and see if any thank yous are given…so far none have been heard…sad.

  7. Elle says:

    Ugh! My body aches just thinking about your herculean efforts with your parents. And I’m re-committed to sorting and streamlining, so that no one has to inherit my mess.

  8. Sheila says:

    Brilliant work

  9. Tia Dia says:

    What a beautiful dress. And a brilliant feat of engineering, Mrs. Mole. It’s so lovely to see a dress that’s modest and just so pretty. Lots of hand work…. Ah, well…

    Moving 90 years of accumulated stuff is a nightmare. I do hope the estate sales were a success.

    • mrsmole says:

      We sold almost everything and took the rest to the dump, charity shops and recycling depots. Standing in a garage for 9 hours for 2 days and selling stuff is not my forte but it had to be done to sell the house. We almost went through 1000 price stickers! At least I had lots of hand sewing to make me stop and sit down and meditate on the future of how to spend the money…the nice part!

  10. Dara says:


  11. Nicely done, as usual. I don’t know how you do it – work, blog and take care of your parents. I am doing the same and I can’t help it – something suffers.

    • mrsmole says:

      My schedule is sew and see clients from 11am to 11 pm, sleep until 3 am, get up and sew for 2 hours, go back for a nap until 8 am and start all over again. And like the instructions on a shampoo bottle…lather, rinse, repeat…I keep doing this 24/7 over and over for 11 months and stop to take a breath and read my Kindle. We all have our little jobs to do…trying to avoid the speed bumps is the key and having a great partner and a drink at the end of the day…ahhh. Wishing you an easier road ahead, Linda.

  12. That looks great now – particularly now that she has the right underwear on so it doesn’t show. Another miracle suitably completed.
    I hope life is becoming a little easier now for you. Yourself and Mr Mole deserve things to ease up. x

    • mrsmole says:

      We can see the end of the tunnel! Funny how brides think they have to wear lots of underwear until they find the perfect dress and want to show off lots of skin. This bride had such a perfect shape.

  13. Elle C says:

    I have been involved with people moving out of their lifetime home that fight kicking and screaming trying to hang on to every single thing they have ever owned (imagine medication that they don’t even make anymore). As bad an experience as this was (and I’m sure it was a nightmare) it could have been worse.

    Great save on the dress, I like your altered version better than the original.

    • mrsmole says:

      My parents thought they would stay in this house until the end. But once my 93 yr. old father stared falling and cracking ribs, my mother decided to move to where people could watch him and pick him up off the floor. We avoided the kicking and screaming you mentioned but were left with everything to settle and sell and haul to the tip/dump.

  14. MIchaelC says:

    Beautiful work on the dress. I hope your parents adjust well to new living arrangements.
    Now relax for 5 minutes before the next bride comes in. xoxoxoxox

    • mrsmole says:

      You know it, Michael…with July and August brides, the weather and the tension is really heating up! My parents are doing well, gourmet meals, free transport and 8 activities every day and maid service…who wouldn’t enjoy that? When you get to your 90’s things can still be great pushing a walker.

  15. amcclure2014 says:

    I’ve just helped move my mother into sheltered accommodation so I know exactly what you’re going through. It came as I was sewing my daughter’s wedding dress and that made it very difficult. Move is over, house sold and wedding was last week. We’re starting to get back to normal, I hope! There is light at the end of the tunnel!
    I had tulle or rather no tulle issues with my daughter’s dress.

  16. Val says:

    First off: I feel your “pain” in helping your parents make this difficult transition.

    Secondly: I know you’re an expert in alterations so why wouldn’t it be easier / faster to adjust the length by opening the waist seam, reducing the length, and resewing the waist seam. It seems like that would be faster than picking out the stitching on all the lace at the hem, then moving it up and resewing it. Yes, on this particular dress you would have had to unpick the lace at the waist and restitch it but the circumference of the waist is soooo much smaller than that at the hem…

  17. mrsmole says:

    Your suggestion to take up the skirt from the waist is what most brides think can and should be done. What most people do not realize is that the tulle is cut on-grain and as soon as you start to remove/shorten from the top by 5-6 inches, the tulle skirt and all the heavy lace edging will be tweaked and on-bias nearer the side seams and never lay flat. Seeing as I only shorten from side seam to side seam, and leave the rest to be the train, the transition areas would be very noticeable. Most dresses have no waist seam and the tulle is one solid piece from neckline to hem, all cut on-grain. On every dress I have to weigh up the time involved and on this dress it would have involved removing every single dangling branch of lace from the waist down into the skirt, which is every single tiny machine stitch, then bring the skirt up and then make the circumference smaller by taking in the side seams of two layers of tulle and then hand sewing all the branches back down. It would be 3+ hours either way and I think working on the hem using the border edging alone is way less messy. I would never call myself an expert, just sharing the solutions that are the fastest and cheapest for the bride. There is surely more than one way to skin a cat as my grandma used to say.

    • Val says:

      Thanks for the explanation! Now that I’ve read it I get your point. (I knew you would have a very good reason for approaching it the way you did based on experience!) I never considered that the rehemming would run from side seam to side seam only. And adjusting from the waist seam would clearly work only in cases where there is a waist seam. Hope your Mom and Dad are working their way through the adjustment to their new home! There are many pros and cons to a move like they’ve made but I keep trying to encourage my own mother to consider and give more weight to the wider world of social contacts that would be available to her.

  18. Sue in MN says:

    Great Save for a beautiful dress.
    Having twice (15 years apart) been through the cleaning, sorting & selling adventure, I can tell you I try hard to keep my possessions under control – encouraging my mate to do the same is not so easy. He still has all of his belongings from clearing out of the laundry room 2 years ago stacked around his workroom, and keeps bringing more home. I won’t let him move back into cleared out space though, so he has to get rid of “stuff” just to have room to move. Next week begins the clearing of a shed he hasn’t unloaded for 20 years!

    • mrsmole says:

      Wow, a 20 yr old shed…you will find lots of goodies and bugs for sure! We found 4 gallons of windshield wiper fluid and 5 huge bags of lawn fertilizer and enough tools to start a lawn maintenance business and my father never used any of it. The more stuff we found, the more I just wanted to get in the car and drive home to be with the wedding dresses…clean and white and safe…ha ha!

  19. Valerie says:

    You wouldn’t call yourself an expert in bridal dress remodelling but I bet most of us would! The dress turned out better than I thought it would from the first few photos of the bride. Impressive work!

  20. fabrickated says:

    I often think my own Mother’s unwillingness to part with any aspect of her entire life history will make my job of sorting out her belongings after her death a long, tedious task. My poor ex-husband ordered his wife to take all his clothes, gardening equipment etc to the charity shop in his last weeks to spare her the sad task after his demise. I aim to leave my place tidy and minimalist if I can. However, on the other side, for older people to reduce their life to a room or two can be very shocking and heartbreaking, so it was kindness itself that you carried out this task for your parents.

    I hadn’t thought about the shade of tulle – it is a bit like the wrong colour of tights – isn’t it? I remember when American tan was about the only shade available and it made me look ridiculous. Now there are so many versions of “nude” that I can get some nice light colours that look almost barelegged. Your alterations are wonderful by the way.

    • mrsmole says:

      It did seem a bit dark and as you say like “American tan”…almost that spray on tan color…tangerine…ha ha We had expected the folks would gather their things together in plastic boxes and cardboard boxes that we provided but it was almost like the more they left for us, the better things would be…bizarre. I swear we went through almost 1000 price stickers and hauled more stuff to the tip/dump and charity shops than most. We filled our entire SUV with old cardboard that had been stored in the attic. Then there were huge boxes filled with burned out light bulbs and camping stoves and bottles of propane. Lordie, my parents never went camping!

  21. maryfunt says:

    Another marvelous fix. I sympathize with you on unpicking all that hem lace but that’s the only way! I’ll keep your idea of the tulle stitched to satin cording in mind for future use. What a job to get your parents moved. You are truly a saint.

  22. mrsmole says:

    Thanks, Mary, the one thing I learned was that pure white cording looked the best under the tan tulle. I tried off white/ivory and if looked dirty. It was good that it worked well this time but I sure hope I don’t have to repeat this very soon!!! Parents can be very needy…we have learned many things in the past 2 weeks.

  23. prttynpnk says:

    You made this really pop with the edging- you saved it from figure skating glory!

  24. mrsmole says:

    Just the perfect dress for a double lutz!

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