Bad Backroom Alterations

This morning, the phone rings and the voice says, “Hi, I’m Lydia and I need some advice if you have the time”. So, I say, “what do you need?”

It seems that a group of 5 bridesmaids just received their dresses for a wedding and 2 girls need some help. The caller says her dress needs to be taken in 1 inch on each of the side seams and her girlfriend needs something added to hers. She wants to know if it is possible to use the 2 one inch strips from her dress to add to her friend’s dress. I tell her that even if they are used, by the time you make a 1/4 inch seam on either edge, you will end up with just two 1/2 inch strips and that does not seem like much. She says that they have shown the dress of her friend to other seamstresses in town and no one will touch it. What does this tell us?

I tell her that the best bet will be to go to JoAnn’s and find some material close to the color and ask the seamstress to add it on. I never asked when the wedding was as I was not going to be involved other than to give advice.

2 hours later there is a girl standing at the front door with this dark teal dress d2ef916cadba3a4110ba5265e81401d6

and some bright lime green polyester in a JoAnn’s bag. I know immediately that this is the friend of the earlier caller. My first question as always: “When is the wedding?” Her answer: “In 4 days”.

It seems that the bride bought her own corset back dress at David’s but went to every bridal salon in the state to order this particular color of teal/peacock and ended up buying them from a high end salon 5 hours away in Portland. Once I look inside the dress it screams “someone has been here before you!” And here is why:P1210069P1210071 You all know that you would never see home sewing hem tape in a RTW gown…never! Obviously, someone at the salon let this zipper out to make it larger and then did not manage to sell it. With more inspection we find lots of ugly in the lining and the chiffon. I will post all the photos on my Pinterest page but here are just a few boo-boos: Left side inside top of bodice.P1210062

Right side inside


Want to see more? Let’s see the real nasty stuff…take a deep breath!P1210083P1210081P1210082

So besides letting out the lining with the badly replaced boning strips, they only used an 1/8 seam which has already broken open. They also did the same with the chiffon layer:P1210072

OK…but beyond all this releasing of seams, did the dress fit the bridesmaid? You be the judge:P1210059

With a 6 inch gap in the zipper…you know what is coming don’t you? Let’s make some loops for a corset back. Like my East Coast sewing sister, Sharon, I tell the girl that I will use her removable straps to make the loops. I make the loops like bridal ones, basing them on some grosgrain ribbon folded in half. I don’t have enough strap length to make curved loops so I opt for just flipped over pointed ones.


With both sides finished all she has to do is try it on and see if we still need the zipper or can I sew up the lower opening.

After the fitting she does still need the zipper which will be only 4 inches long and I offer to add a panel/flap of the material to cover where her underpants would go. Two rows of stitching is also added at the top edge to hold the lining inside and that weird pleat thing is released and everything is now flat.



Even with the zipper zipped up, the whole center back seam is straining so I cut off 2 inches from the second layer of lining and made 4 oval shapes to add to the side seams of the2  layers of lining so she can actually sit down.


Am I charging for any of this extra work? Nah…I believe in karma and the power of the universe to bring me people who need my help in an emergency. The fact that this poor single girl had to buy her own dress for $200 and pay for the alterations is enough stress. She did tell me the name of the boutique where the girls ordered and bought their dresses and just 2 days before the wedding she finds out that 3 other dresses all have similar problems and had been pre-altered like hers. It is definitely a place to stay away from!!!! If anyone wants to know the name of the bridal salon, please email me privately to save yourself a lot of grief!

So let’s close on a happy note shall we?


Mr Mole bought this bag of frozen Pacific tuna caught with a rod and reel:fish-bottom-2

Best tuna we have ever tasted! And from Walmart.

Hope you all have a stress-free week of sewing!!!!


This entry was posted in challenges, Corsets and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

42 Responses to Bad Backroom Alterations

  1. Speechless. That’s half a dress missing there.

  2. Jessie says:

    My husband buys that brand in soups for lunch. The pouch goes right in the microwave and he says they’re super tasty (I’m allergic so I take his word for it)

  3. erniek3 says:

    Lime green? With teal? eh, nope.

  4. Did the bridal shop LIE to them? That gown has been altered previously ( badly 😦 ) . OR-did your customers LIE to you? Did they know it had been previously altered? 😦 It’s PRICELESS when they call us and state a woman just needs ‘a little’ extra in her gown. RIGHT 😉 5 or 6 INCHES is just a ‘little’ ? I hope they appreciate the fact you can fit them in on short notice. I cannot 😦 Business is booming here and I have NO TIME to fit emergencies in 😦 I also have NO SEAMSTRESS to refer to them 😦 Just the two dry cleaners in town and their work is often-BELOW BAD but… sometimes SOMETHING is better than NOTHING 😦

    • mrsmole says:

      They didn’t lie, they just gave them dresses that had been altered without telling anyone 4 days before the wedding…pretty tricky. It’s always a shock to see the zipper teeth that far apart isn’t it?

  5. fabrickated says:

    Hee hee! I remember my Mum’s friend who said her boobs were too big and my skinny Mum asking if she could have a bit. It’s a funny fantasy in dress making too. Well done for making a go of such a horrible bodge, and your generosity.

    Albacore tuna started turning up here – much less pink that the normal stuff, but much cheaper and just as tasty.

    • mrsmole says:

      I remember a gal who ran a Breast cancer clinic giving a talk for our hospital auxiliary…she said boobs come in two sizes…Too big and too small.

  6. Val says:

    Like ‘Cheryl Designs’ I’m just gob-smacked that a “high end salon” would sell merchandise that’s been altered without (1) telling the customer and (2) giving a steep discount on the price. Furthermore a “high end salon” should have salespeople that give competent recommendations on what sizes to order. In my view a “high end salon” is just plain incompetent if they don’t measure – or obtain exact measurements – for the women who will be wearing the dresses they’re selling.

    I can see that someone didn’t know that “ready to wear” bridesmaids dresses are NOT sized like other ready to wear clothing because this dress is around 2 sizes too small. (Mrs. Mole: correct me if I’m wrong but bridesmaids dresses are sized to the same measurements that sewing patterns still use which are at least 1 if not 2 sizes different from ready to wear. If you wear a size 8 in something from – say – Macy’s, you’re a size 10 or 12 in a sewing pattern.)

  7. mrsmole says:

    Yes, I tell the brides that all the time…i don’t care if you are a size 8 in real life and RTW…in bridal you can be a 12…bridal dresses make you feel bad…this is normal! The measurements must have been thrown in the trash can this time!

  8. sewruth says:

    Not only skilled but big hearted too. I’m glad you don’t get to see the insides of some of my dresses though!

  9. dr P says:

    Nowadays you’d need to take a sewing expert to go look at dresses rather than your best mate or mum. Unbelievable!

    Another great save!

    • mrsmole says:

      I have been called upon to go to buying expeditions with brides who do not want to be told by the saleslady that anything can be altered when it cannot. Mt Mole says I should write a book about this subject…maybe one day when I retire.

  10. Sandy says:

    Do you typically replace the bodice under stitching by hand as shown in the photo? It’s usually hard-to-impossible for me to wrangle multiple layers under the presser foot. I’m relieved to see that hand stitching is also your fix here and not just my last resort technique for lack of experience in this situation. So far, I’ve worked on dozens -but not hundreds- of dresses and am still learning the tricks of the trade as I go along. Thanks for each and every post you do!

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Sandy, I normally do this by hand as it is faster, easier and you can actually make those stitches tighter in order to pull the lining closer to the outer fabrics so it never escapes. I don’t know how anyone can get that little space under a presser foot once everything else is machine stitched down. It’s all about the sequence and some dresses just to make it easy to get back in there.

  11. Tia Dia says:

    You SHOULD write a book. It would be highly entertaining and a scathing indictment of the rip-off world of bridal wear. You are a miracle worker, Mrs. Mole!

  12. Shams says:

    OMG. That shop is criminal. As I said on today’s blog post, you are a saint with the patience of Job. And this post shows why!!!

  13. That’s so crazy that the boutique sells pre-altered garments as if they’re new! They really need to put a review on yelp so that other buyers can beware.

  14. Alethia says:

    OMG! Why am I not surprised. She was very blessed that you even took her dress to work with it, at this late date in the game. SMH!

  15. maryfunt says:

    Definitely someone else had been there. What poorly done alterations and you are a saint to have taken on this one. Amazing that a reputable salon would have let the poor girls out the door with such dresses.

  16. I can’t believe it. Was there only one choice for dress size? That was really small! Why do you bother buying a dress so small. What if you can’t find the filler fabric to fix it! You have had to make so many changes to the style of the dresses just to make sure that the girl can fit into it. Amazing!

  17. Nubia says:

    Wo! That’s some serious work right there (I can only imagine, I’ve never worked on gowns), I think it’s so awesome. The way you worked around all the obstacles, way to go! I hope to one day work at a bridal shop. It’s long ways off, but I’d love to work on something like this. Karma DOES work in mysterious ways sometimes 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      Be careful what you wish for, Nubia!!!! When my clients describe this work as glamorous…they have no idea how glamorous wrestling with white alligators is every day. Try getting layers of fabric under a tiny presser foot while the rest of the dress is heading for the floor…who needs to visit a gym?

      • Nubia says:

        Omgoodness, I think this is why the universe/life/God sent me my three children and picked out MY mother to be my mom. Lol. I deal with this type of stress like a star. I work realllly well under pressure and thrive under lose-your-hair type of situations. I’ve been preparing my entire life 😂😂😂.

        I am loving your blog!!

      • mrsmole says:

        Then I wish you well in your search for the perfect sewing/altering experience!

  18. prttynpnk says:

    It could be that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing in the salon, but I think it’s more like recoup, recoup for all their excellent alteration time spent!
    You are like seamstresses without borders- helping the hopeless!

  19. Angela says:

    Hello Mrs Mole, I discovered your blog this afternoon, its fantastic and you must have the patience of a saint! Love seeing the before and after pictures. Got to stop reading now though, two and half hours is enough for today!!!! Till tomorrow – Angela

    • mrsmole says:

      Please do not overdose on pages of ugly and desperate!!!!! Patience was given to me by the good Lord when he ran out of all the other talents…next time around I want to be able to sing and dance! Thank you for your nice comments, Angela and welcome.

  20. Awful, but as you well know not as unusual as it should be. I have had occasion when I just kept quiet – no way does a bride want to know she has unwittingly bought second hand for her perfect day.

    • Pressed the wrong button!
      Well done with your solution, and only days before the wedding. Do you find time to sleep?

    • mrsmole says:

      Many of the dresses that were bought “new” have been worn before and altered…we can tell, but a starry-eyed bride who fell in love with the sweetheart neck or the lace can overlook the obvious make-up stains and torn bits…it is our job to work to make it all better.

  21. mrsmole says:

    Well Kim,
    I do sleep from 11-4 and then get up to do all the hand sewing and basting. I try to have a cat nap from 6-8 and start all over again.

  22. Becky says:

    The state of the dress was shocking. What did you use for the extra material? You mention lining, but was there enough?

    • mrsmole says:

      The dress had 2 layers of poly lining, I cut off 2 inches of hem from the innermost layer and used it for the hip patches and the loops were made from the existing straps.

  23. Rena Pearson says:

    I always worry about my alterations not being “perfect” and then I see this sort of thing and realize I have a much higher perfection scale than most people! Back in the spring, I got a text from one of my prom girls (I’ve altered her dress EVERY year of high school) with a picture of her in a dress that didn’t zip in the back. It was on discount because it was a store sample. I love that she texted me and asked if I could make it work BEFORE she bought the dress. It didn’t zip in the back so I added a corset back. The first year it was a dress from China that was so wrong…

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