Free and Breezy

When a friend gives you a free new Haute Couture by Maggie Sottero wedding dress in a garment bag and tells you it will be perfect for you…it just sounds so wonderful doesn’t it? But if you wait 13 years to set a date and gain some weight, this happens:


This dressย  is a designer gown made when the designer was having a real bad day. To start with the top layer hem is a high-low but not in a good way from front to back, this one is side to side. Then the second layer is some nasty embroidered nylon with fishing line edging to make it curl…delightful. The nylon embroidery matches the embroidery on the dress in burgundy and gold. Then there is a third layer of satin just to complicate things and to add to the weight of the dress and make the train.


Once the zipper is removed, the looped sections are pinned and made…all 16 inches of them.


Once stitched and pressed, they are ready to fold in half lengthwise for attachment. A modesty panel also joins in the mix and then we skip down to the hemming.


The second fitting has a nicer look and the bride has lost some weight so the distance between the edges are narrower.


By the third and final fitting, all the dress needs is the lower nylon ruffle layer shortened (moved up on the under skirt) to just cover the satin layer hem. I used purple ribbon to show the bride that she could purchase any color grosgrain ribbon online from Really Reasonable Ribbon to compliment the burgundy or gold embroidery.


The front view shows the lower ruffle layer pinned up under the second satin layer. She could have left the ruffle dragging but it did look sloppy and is not safe for walking. Thankfully there is no need for a bustle as there will be no dancing.


Now for a little science lesson…you know I like to grow Spaghetti squashP1210041P1210038

but there is one small problem…squash bugs! Here are 2 adults “doing it”:P1210040

Here are the eggs they deposit on the underside of leaves:P1210039 Last year, I had hundreds of these nasty bugs until I went online to find out how to control them without pesticides. It seems that a spray bottle filled with water and a couple tablespoons of Dawn dish washing liquid stops these guys pronto. They absorb the liquid through their wings and they cease to exist/drop dead within seconds. The liquid also releases the eggs from the leaves so they do not develop into adults. Cheap, green and fast solution to a problem…sorry to those folks who honor all life including insects.

Let’s get back to our summer sewing!

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32 Responses to Free and Breezy

  1. An excellent job as always, with [I agree] a rather odd dress. And well done on the bug destruction- will it work on ghastly lily beetles do you think? They’re always at it too, and have wrecked out lily display this year…

  2. Julie says:

    Thank you so much for that squash bug killer!! I haven’t grown any squash lately because they completely decimated my plants the last time I tried. Next summer!

    • mrsmole says:

      I read that these darn critters hibernate over winter and you can never get rid of them but at least you can spray every day and keep the adults and newly hatched babies to a minimum…fingers crossed!

    • Dana says:

      I also add just a touch of cayenne pepper to my Dawn/water spray bottle. That seems to repel them a bit too.

  3. ivygirl2112 says:

    I’ve quite often used the lace up ribbon technique for girls whose prom dresses no longer fit, as they have ‘blossomed’ between purchasing the dress in good time and the actual event.

  4. ceci says:

    The dress actually ended up rather charming……I wonder what color ribbon she will go with? Gold and gold shoes…..?

    Re dish soap and bugs, there was a huge wasp infestation in my husband’s workshop. He has a bad sting allergy – they had to go. Late one night I dressed up in long sleeves and a face scarf and started pulling out the tarps I thought were hiding the nest. Surprise – multiple paper wasp nests, wasps flying everywhere (so much for the “attack at night when they are all in the nest” advice!) and sprayed on Dawn dish detergent. It dropped the wasps out of the air, melted the nests….the whole thing was gone the next am.

    While in general I would preserve insects, when its them or the husband, they have to go.


  5. mrsmole says:

    Even though we have to do these things, I always console the girls that they can re-sell their dress to anyone else no matter what size…that seems to cheer them up.

  6. maryfunt says:

    I agree that it isn’t the best hem design but for a free dress i guess she can live with it. It certainly was well ventilated! Good fix and its wearable. I hope the bugs stay away.

  7. Siobhan says:

    You have made a truly fug dress beautiful. Well done again. When you put the loops in, do you stitch through all layers and fold back, or sandwich the loops between the dress and the lining? I have done it in the past, but it was so time consuming to wrangle all the layers I vowed never again.

  8. mrsmole says:

    Once the ribbon strip is folded in half, it is just places along the old zipper edge (removed first) and then stitched down. The lining is also in that edge so it grabs everything. Then the other side of the ribbon is hand stitched down unto the lining. To put all that between the layers would really take extra time and the ribbon is not too unsightly and with 90% of the bride wanting a modesty panel, it never shows…but wait…I have a bride with no modesty panel coming up…Lordie have mercy!

    • Siobhan says:

      Thanks for explaining. You’ve just made my life a lot easier! Can’t wait to read about the no modesty panel bride, haha

  9. karen says:

    Interesting facts about dawn dish liquid. I live in Central Canada.
    Depending on the amount of rain we receive in the spring, sometimes we are over runwith earwigs. I hate them. They crawl everywhere, they pinch you with their obscene tail pincers. The best way to get rid of them is to spray the outside of windows and doors with any dish liquid and water. The soapy water clogs the breathing holes in their bodies and suffocates them. I suspect that this aspect is what is aiding in getting rid of your squash bug infestation.

    • mrsmole says:

      I remember my first summer in Saskatoon when they had huge fumigation trucks spraying neighborhoods and swimming pools in the evening and yet the mosquitoes could chomp right through denim jeans! Yes, the spray does stop the breathing and it works on aphids and all sorts of nasty small creatures on citrus as well and roses.

  10. sewruth says:

    So this one had the dress but not the husband?
    You could start a side-line business…..another great save on both dress and veg.

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Ruth, she has had a partner for 13 years but he never proposed…yet…so even though this dress is finished, it will have to wait another year or so for the event. You never know…..

  11. Another lovely save! Although this dress was not one of my favourites – but it’s not my wedding. (I thought the design of the hem lines was a little strange.) Eww bugs! I would rather have fresh organic fruits and vegetables.

    • mrsmole says:

      We don’t have to like either the dress or the client to do the job. Not my favorite either! My veggies are all organic, we don’t use any pesticides on the fruit and end up with so many that the neighbors in my cul-de-sac have a constant supply all summer. The birds think our yard is pretty cool too and gobble up blueberries before we can pick them.

  12. Kim Hood says:

    I really can’t imagine saving a wedding dress for that length of time even if it was free. She must really love it so well done making it wearable again.
    I’m not sure we have ‘Dawn’ dish soap in the UK, but I may try another as a bug spray. Your tip seems to be getting good feedback.

    • mrsmole says:

      Probably any de-greasing washing up liquid works, it just needs to break down the surface tension of the water like most soaps do…I remember Fairy liquid was pretty good. Another tip I found was mixing in a spray bottle half white vinegar and half Dawn to use around the house…man o man that stuff cleans everything and leaves a shine. We can buy bottles of vinegar by the gallon in the cleaning section of the market very cheaply as it is not for human consumption.

  13. jay says:

    Another impressive dress rescue! I think I’d have gone for a diet instead of banking on someone being able to work the miracle you just have. Washing up liquid was recommended to me for greenfly on roses, in fact the suggestion was just to chuck your washing up water at them. It worked. Some companion plants work for greenfly, I wonder if they’d do it for squash bugs? Marigolds, garlick and basil were the ones I used last year.

    • mrsmole says:

      I have basil planted right next to the squash but I don’t think it is doing any good…ha ha. Maybe because the bugs/beetles have thick shells and need something stronger. Brides are always on the search for a seamstress silly enough to take on a challenge…we are not very good at dodging a bullet as you know.

  14. I’m not sure about the high low going on the side. The back looks lovely with the new lacing, though. Bustling sure would have been a challenge ๐Ÿ˜•
    Those darn beetles are such a problem here in Denver too. They can consume huge amounts in the garden. Poor roses look terrible. Thanks for the repellent idea. I’m going to try that.

    • mrsmole says:

      Sooo happy no bustle was required! I think if you live where there is a short growing season the bugs are out in force early and know exactly where to start chomping away! My tree roses were planted last year and battled against every darn fly and bug and i sprayed them almost every day to cut down on the infestation. Finally gave up, cut the stems way back and let the tree fend for itself…well this year no bugs and the trees are healthy…maybe I was too caring?

  15. fabrickated says:

    I can’t get too excited about this one, although you work – especially those loops – is lovely. The uneven hem is not to my taste. And I agree with Kim – I can’t imagine hanging on to a dress for 13 years in case I got married. But then I know a girl who has a Pinterest board of her future children’s nursery (and names for them) even though she hasn’t even got a husband yet (she has got a boyfriend but it’s early days). Maybe the dress served as an item of hope and this is why she likes it so much. Washing up liquid does the trick on aphids.

    • mrsmole says:

      Pinterest…for dreamers and planners…I know of girls who have books of photos and names of children they want to have but are a long way off from even getting married. Good thing this dress classifies as “timeless”…or does it? At some point it may just look out of place at a real wedding or the bride can call it vintage? Aphids….they try to cling to my citrus trees but the spray can slow them down too. We don’t ever seem to have enough hungry ladybugs/ladybirds when we need them.

  16. MIchaelC says:

    Oh, the many uses of Dawn. Even can help with skunk spray mixed with hydrogen peroxide. (there is a recipe online). Your work on that dress is beautiful. I don’t like the dress though, if that makes sense. They sure love these boobs a poppin, stuffed sausage gowns. Oh for one greek chiton loose flowing number. But then……
    xoxoxo MichaelC

  17. mrsmole says:

    Thanks, Michael…yes, where are the classic dresses??? Last year I had a bride who lived in the boonies/sticks/back of beyond and just before the wedding a skunk sprayed her dog and the dog got loose in the house and well…the dress she brought to my house had that faint awful smell of skunk. She swore that she washed her dog in ketchup but the smell lingers!!!! I sprayed the dress with Febreeze and it was OK for the sewing part but it would have needed some hanging outside before the event.

  18. Shams says:

    I just read through all the comments and I can’t believe you had to deal with a skunk-sprayed dress! Anyway, it would NEVER have occurred to me to fill in a too-small bodice with a panel that really calls attention to itself with the contrast lacing, but it really works! I’ve seen that you’ve used this technique before on dresses where I would have shrugged and said, “time for a new dress”. But that contrast lacing is really charming. That is a truly weird hem, though.

  19. helenkosings says:

    I always love your blog, but I could KISS YOU for the squash bug spray idea! I have been trying many things over the years to get rid of squash bugs (OK, ok squash vine borers, to be accurate) I’ve never hear of usin Dawn and water in a spray and believe me I have LOOKED. It’s too late for my current batch of squash plants, but next time…. Thank you thank you thank you!

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