A Simple Shop-worn Sample Dress Fix

You know when a bride falls in love with a dress…come Hell or high water, she is going to buy it even if every crystal is dangling by a thread or totally missing and it doesn’t fit well enough to flatter her.

This dress was found 3000 miles from here in Washington, DC on a clearance rack in an Apostrophe shop. It is polyester and it shows so much wear with pilling and dangling beads and dirty hems but the bride is thrilled with her choice…it is up to me to make it fit and give it some TLC.

The maker is etoile, Georgia gown. 34991810_011_a

What we have is this:


While the zipper does close, the hips cause the center back seam to buckle up making a ridge in the back and the back straps have no place to go but fan out away from the body. The 2 lining layers have to be shortened 6.5 inches all around and the lace layer as well about 1 inch.P1210205 Shortening the lace layer will eliminate the dirty hem. The original lace edge is raw, just folded under with just a single row of stitching to control it.P1210206P1210207

The last top layer of appliqued tulle will be trimmed with scissors.

There is no fabric to let out so the bride says she will lose some weight before her wedding next year. The best I can do is let out the skimpy side seams in the linings to give her an extra 1.5 inches:

P1210194ย ย 

After letting out the tiny side seams it was enough to allow the hip fabric to drop and get rid of the ridge in the center back zipper. Even the straps lie flatter now. Since the wedding is next year, she will return with shoes and we can trim the appliqued tulle layer for the hem then. Sometimes you get lucky with a sweet bride, sweet mother and a good result with minimal effort!


Mother Nature is really putting in maximum effort is providing more veggies to cook and share with neighbors.

A couple garden shots for you: Aug-25August-2016

This week I have tried to post as a “calm before the storm”…so much more is coming up that makes my head hurt!

Happy Labor Day to my US readers and best of luck for the moms doing all the back-to-school shopping for their families!

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26 Responses to A Simple Shop-worn Sample Dress Fix

  1. Siobhan S says:

    I will never understand why, with the plethora of fabulous and diverse wedding dresses out there, your brides insist on buying damaged or ill fitting gowns. The mysteries of weddings!
    I’m glad you had a sweet client.

    • mrsmole says:

      It is one of life’s great mysteries for sure, Siobhan…almost as mystifying as the choice of grooms…strange chemistry combined with the “vision” from childhood?

  2. maryfunt says:

    Nice to see you have an easy one for a change. The fit looks so much better already.

  3. Tia Dia says:

    Amazing what adding a little width in the hips does to the fit of the entire back of that bodice.

  4. Bunny says:

    Beautiful fix. It is so pretty now! She will look lovely and how nice to get the preliminary work out of the way.
    Your veggies look amazing. I have a pile of tomatoes and eggplant and peppers on the counter and will make a big pot of caponata today and put that in the freezer for this winter. I’ve never figured out a way to effectively freeze squash so we just eat the heck out of it while its here.

    • mrsmole says:

      Make them into soup and freeze them!!! I have run out of empty plastic containers and decided to get more freezer bags and stack them instead. Wish I had more peppers but even with all the heat, they produced 3 flowers and 3 peppers…poor showing indeed.

  5. Andrea says:

    Your garden bounty is gorgeous! ๐Ÿ†๐Ÿ…

  6. Jane M says:

    Happy Labor Day to you and your labors in making brides happy and beautiful. My summer kitchen renovation means I have missed prime fruit and veg preserving and canning times this year so your pictures are a warm comfort.

    • mrsmole says:

      It has been a funny summer for veggies…way more yellow squash and hardly a zucchini in sight while the volunteer cherry tomatoes were dug up and replanted and cared for have produced very little. Soon the butternut squash will be ready to bring into the house and I have my fingers crossed to see if we get any green beans. One day I will get to re-do my 25 year old battered kitchen if I ever stop doing brides.

  7. I wouldn’t want the pressure of having to loose weight on my head leading up to my wedding. Good luck to her. The dress is very beautiful! And again you do wonderful work!

    • mrsmole says:

      She is young enough and determined to do it so I wish her well although living through harsher weather on the East coast might not allow her to eat and exercise like she wants.

  8. Carol in Denver says:

    Your artistic eye shows in both your alterations on the dress and your photography of your vegetables.

  9. Val says:

    Hmm . . . I wonder how far away “next year” is and how successful the dieting regime will be . . . Mrs. Mole: I bow to your experience which greatly humbles mine. But: I would have been mightily tempted to have suggested inserting either a single gore into the center back seam of the lining(s) or two smaller gores in the side seams in order to get the extra room in the hips. I *think* either would be pretty invisible. Of course, don’t know if the lace layer was roomy or if it needed to be let out as well. Just seems like a dog gone shame to have done all that work if the dieting doesn’t go as planned and more ’emergency’ alternations are needed further down the road.

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Val you read my mind, I did tell the bride that with the 2 layers of what I trimmed off the hems we could do just that if we had to. It will be interesting to see her next summer.

  10. sewruth says:

    Your version of ‘minimal’ effort is very far from mine – sewing on a button is minimal effort……..
    Great fit now with your TLC.

  11. erniek3 says:

    I do remember dropping weight I did not want to lose before I got married (short time frame, trying to plan it around the FIL’s heart surgeries) but if I remember correctly I fell in love with my SPOUSE not a dress. We have been together for over 35 years now, so maybe that had a part in it…..
    It would be cruel to take up a betting pool that she drops too much weight. You really are a fairy godmother (minus the pumpkin) to these ladies. And I really do appreciate the master class in making it work.

  12. mrsmole says:

    You have a good point, Ernie! If the wedding was more about the marriage and the spouse and the long road ahead and less about the dress and the event and all the trappings, it might last a little longer. After 2 civil ceremonies, wearing plain cotton dresses, I have managed to log in 21 years and 22 years with 2 men and hoping for another 30 years with Mr Mole if he can put up with me. I hope through my photos that sewers feel they can try simple and scary alterations with good results. Thanks for your insight!

  13. Kim Hood says:

    I’m glad you had a nice bride. They make some of the lemons sweeter ๐Ÿ˜‰

  14. TRE says:

    I think my daughter tried on the very same dress! It was at the Anthropologie bridal shop in Georgetown in September of 2015. I ended up sewing her dress instead of ordering from a salon, and many of your blog posts were key to helping me create a beautiful and perfectly fitted dress from quality fabrics.
    Thank you for all the time you put into this blog – it is a great resource for others who sew!

    • mrsmole says:

      How funny, TRE…for your daughter to have tried on that same dress! I have another dress from that same clearance rack but this time from the West coast branch of Apostrophe coming up. It’s nice to hear that readers can find solutions from my posts and photos! Thanks for sharing!

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