9 Days to Work a Miracle

Lovely dress, no?

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Here is it on a real woman, not a model.


There are 2 sets of beaded straps and I have pinned up the train with 6 points (one satin layer and 5 ruffle layers)  just to see where we are under all these organza ruffles. While the dress is zipped in the photo, the bride is not taking any deep breaths nor able to sit down. What she needs is 3  extra inches of ease with a corset back.


See the wrinkles under her bust? The boning is 2 inches too short to do any good in keeping the side seams vertical.


The problem is the drooping top. Even though there are boning strips in the side seams, they only go part way to the armhole so I need to cover some new ones and attach them by hand.

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What you can’t see is the fact that every circle ruffle is attached vertically to triangular panels for maximum drape and edges/hemmed with 2 inch wide horsehair braid making it almost impossible to hem this dress without taking the ruffles off and re-positioning all the horsehair braid. Can you say, mucho trabajo/a lot of work??


Corset loops made and attached and the grandmother told me to leave the zipper in instead of removing it. She says she sews and knows these things. Sure…it is always nice to have a zipper tab hanging down at the end of a corset.


What else needs to be done? My idea to help lift the hem of all those ruffles was to attach a discarded/recycled petticoat from another wedding gown. But first we have to find the right layer.P1210309P1210311P1210315

Even with the new petticoat the front panel was too long and the ruffles attached to it were too dangerous to walk with that way. The only quick and cheap solution is to make a tuck in that center panel to hike up the front hem and the lower edge of the top ruffle will cover that stitching and fold.P1210331

Corset loops basted in and bustled up with 5 points for ruffles and one point for satin underskirt. Once the corset was laced up, the bodice dropped down and the front under-bust wrinkles disappeared while the new boning kept the side seams vertical and no drooping. The outside straps were re-positioned closer to center.


The train un-bustled


Here is the ironed dress with 5 bustle buttons and loops…can you see any of them??? Nope, me neither…but I’m sure the grandmother who sews will have a good time looking for them.


You also cannot see the front horizontal tuck as it is hidden by more ruffles…hooray!


Now the princess is ready for her walk down the aisle without tripping on all that organza…success! The real secret of the day is the bride is 22 weeks pregnant. Good thing the corset is adjustable! Only 4 days to go before the wedding and everything is on schedule!

Our aging strawberry patch was pulled up this year and replaced with 2, only 2 butternut squash plants grown from seed. Well, they have crawled up out of the cage and are now wandering the length of the side of the house. Each of those bricks is over 12 inches wide so you can see how much they have grown and spread. There are about 6 squash maturing now.sept-2016-2

While our temps have dipped down to the 80’s this week for a little break, they will certainly climb back up to 95F this weekend to keep my bride toasty under all those ruffles!

With the kids back in school, maybe the moms can get to some much needed sewing and finish projects that they started months ago! Happy sewing!



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64 Responses to 9 Days to Work a Miracle

  1. JLC of Perth says:

    The dress looks lovely on the model but very unflattering on the bride. The model must be standing on a box. Or Photoshopped. Yes, models are tall and slim, but even a model doesn’t have legs that long.
    You did a great job of making it fit. I wouldn’t even know where to start!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, JL…you never know what goes on in photo shoots! Take a look behind models wearing sample dresses and they are all tightened up with clips back there…and your suggestion of a box to stand on…It would not surprise me at all!

  2. Fabrickated says:

    I really like what you have done with this – the extra foof really makes it stand out in more ways than one. And it covers up the bump very effectively. The boning is a real improvement too. I had a vision of you working under this dress as if you were in a collapsed tent – it must have been quite a challenge.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Kate, you know I do spend half the time UNDER the dresses as well as outside of them. So glad we did an over-bustle and not a French one! the everyone would have had to crawl under that skirt to find buttons and loops!

  3. Siobhan S says:

    Good grief! You’d think granny would have done the alterations herself if she was such a good sewer.

    • mrsmole says:

      That’s when I really have to bite my tongue! But the more they say about their knowledge of sewing, the more likely they will end up in the blog…it’s all good.

  4. Sue says:

    At the end, you’ve created a lovely dress for the expanding bride! I hope granny is happy, too.

  5. ceci says:

    I’m in awe of the result and laughing about the zipper. You are so good with people, giving Granny a win when she probably needs it.


  6. Mem says:

    I actually think that the lacing at the back of this dress is an improvement !!! Well done Mrs Mole I am in awe if your skills

    • mrsmole says:

      I love corset backs too…they really add something to look at while the ceremony is going on and then you can sell the dress to almost any sized bride later…so adjustable!

  7. twotoast says:

    Looks lovely Mrs M. You have the patience of a Saint. I’ll bet granny is thinking of the re-sale value of the dress – leave in the zip, multiple closure and size options. Sigh . . .

  8. Dear Mrs Mole, I just wanted to say how much I love reading what you write – you are my hero! I so appreciate you sharing how you fix these dresses! I just don’t know how you do it 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      I just do it because I am warped and love hopeless cases and hopeless dresses. Also when someone is paying you to come up with solutions, you can do it. Thanks for dropping by, Vicki.

  9. Tia Dia says:

    I hope I am NEVER one of those grannies when it comes my turn…. sheesh.

  10. Sharon P says:

    A miracle indeed. Putting in a simple tuck to hike up the hem was purely brilliant. Who knew ? Frumpy to stunning in less than 9 days. Hope you are keeping track of the number of miracle ‘saves’ you’ve performed. It’s not easy being a saint, is it Mrs. Mole?

    • mrsmole says:

      No, Sharon, it is not that easy…and you know because you have had a lifetime of miracles come out of your sewing shop! The tuck was a last ditch effort to make this dress wearable and safe to walk down the aisle…the sewing fairies whispered in my ear…”DO IT”. I got lucky!

  11. You are a miracle worker AND for a very pregnant bride too?! I am in awe of your skills!!!

  12. Pauline Wright says:

    I love to see your fixes. Fancy having to work round a zip to do the corset back!

  13. Jenny says:

    I am as usual in awe of what you achieve. It reminds me of the 6Nap dress in a way. Great job Mrs Mole.

  14. brendamarksstudio says:

    You sure did manage to pull off another miracle!

  15. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) says:

    I don’t understand how all these brides buy dresses that are so much too small! and while you work miracles if I saw a dress with that lacing in the back all I would think is eek – why didn’t she buy the proper size.

    • mrsmole says:

      I think her 4 month bump suddenly expanded faster than she planned at 5 months. But she can dance and breathe and eat on her wedding day…I’m so happy for her.

  16. ParisGrrl says:

    There’s a reason they’re called Squash. 😉 As usual, you’ve performed a miracle with that dress; I never cease to be impressed by your adventures.

  17. Elle says:

    The “before” and “after” is a testament to your skill. Why do people buy dresses that don’t fit? Yikes!

  18. Heidi says:

    Amazing work, and you are the most patient person! I can’t imagine dealing with stressed out brides and their sewing relatives.

    • mrsmole says:

      It is not everyone’s cup of tea, Heidi, but it keeps me out of the shopping mall and one day when I get to pearly gates and St. Peter asked what i did with the talent of patience I was given…he checks my blog and says I can go right in.

  19. JudyJ says:

    You really saved the day for the bride! Keeping the zipper in place sounds odd to me, but you were able to keep the Granny happy — what tact you have. Enjoy your thorough documentation and explanation of the alterations. Genius! Many thanks.

  20. This is one of the best dresses you have done in a long while, but I would have nipped off the zipper tab with some pliers. Snap! Gone. In an aside, can’t remember when I have seen coloured nail varnish on you before, it is usually immaculate clear nails! I wasn’t sure who was holding the dress, Mrs Mole or a stand-in. I know, it was the Grandmother Who Sews!

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha, Queensberry, I think the grandmother wanted to keep that zipper tab and all! I rarely wear nail polish as it wears off in a day or two with hand sewing and needles stabbing into fingers but once in a while I do it to piss off my 90 yr old mother. It’s a long story….those were my hands in the photo.

  21. mhdwileski says:

    Spiral steel boning is the way to go with wedding gowns. It’s very flexible, even though it sounds like something out of the Knights of the Round Table! The plastic stuff just can hold up the weight of all those layers of fashion fabric, underlining, lining, etc., and I’m surprised that supposedly exclusive bridal designers don’t automatically use it in their construction. They certainly charge enough for the gowns! I always replaced the plastic with the spiral steel when I had gowns that needed alterations where the boning was. I had to take it out anyway, no sense in pulling out my hair when it was just as easy to replace.

  22. mrsmole says:

    I’ve never seen steel boning and as this bodice was sheer, I wanted to use covered Rigilene boning and just overlap the new onto the old for double strength. One day I may see this amazing product but so far none of the gowns come with it in already…sounds like a real winner.

  23. Janee says:

    I had a gown with rows of organza ruffles this year – not the swirly ones like on this gown, but tiers of them, all with the wide horsehair edging on the hems. No way I was going to shorten those ruffles! But the gown needed hemming as well as bustling – so it was a good candidate for shortening the skirt from the waist. It worked out well, too – I wanted to remove the crinoline/petticoat layer to be able to work on the bodice, and when I unpicked the stitching to put that out, guess what? The entire skirt and lining were attached to the bodice with a single line of stitching!
    On the boning – your addition is brilliant! I agree with mhdwileski that spiral steel is the most comfortable and supportive boning there is. I put it in custom gowns, but not usually in the RTW pieces I’m altering. Farthingale’s is the best source for them that I’ve found – and the casing for it is great, too.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Janee, bummer when everything is connected with one row of stitching!!!! So many horsehair braid hems are done that way as you start to remove stitches you realize the whole mess is held with one row. I may have to get some of that metal boning but I assume you need special metal cutters to shorten the strips?

  24. Urbanite says:

    That was an amazing rescue. The before photo: OY! it just looks as though the dress would never work with her body. She really looks quite fetching in the after photo. Incredible work.

  25. JustGail says:

    When I read Grandma wanted the zip left, I also was thinking she had resell plans. But mine were more “she’s gonna cut those loops out and sell it as no major alterations done”. And the next miracle worker will wonder why she’s adding loops when there obviously were loops in the past.

    • mrsmole says:

      As my loops are sewn to grosgrain ribbon, Grandma can just cut the stitches on that strip and sell the dress as new. Working on dresses that have been worked on before is always a challenge…like making things right by working backwards.

  26. maryfunt says:

    Another amazing fix. Your back lacing blends in very well and complements the design. Another reader mentions spiral steel boning. I’ve never seen it seen it used in RTW but use it all the time in my custom work. It’s so much superior to Rigelene. If Granny was such an expert why didn’t she tackle the job? You are a saint! I love the bustling and your ingenious use of tucks.

  27. mrsmole says:

    Oh Mary, isn’t everyone an expert sewer once they get into your sewing studio? Recently a fancy wealthy lady who wanted a MOB dress fitted could not stop talking about the skirt she made in home ec class in junior high. I wanted to say “if you are 60 and made a skirt when you were 14 and nothing since…YOU ARE NOT A SEWER!” After making so many bustles, you just get stuck right in and make those points work no matter what. But with the wave of tulle gowns, those trains just will not ever look right bustled when you have 8 layers or more. Ruffles can be a bit more manageable.

  28. sewruth says:

    And you worked your miracle (again)!
    Lucky bride.

  29. mrsmole says:

    Yes, Ruth and you also work miracles in your sewing room! Who knew that finding a vintage machine would get those leather trousers out of the UFO bag and unto your body ! Everyone will be green with envy over your new vintage machine!!!! http://corecouture.wordpress.com/

  30. Another happy bride saved from wearing a dress disaster 🙂 You did a great job with this – the skirt is lovely the way it drapes…but what a challenge! I’ve actually seen that dress and it’s so pretty ‘in person’ the way it flows. I’m sure it was a huge project to fix – aren’t you glad you had so much ‘help’ from the family? 😉

    One more thing I have to say…Am I the only one who HATES that corset back? It may be from having seen so many installed to make a 2-3 sizes too small dress work, but I find them so unattractive. Many will disagree, I’m sure – and they’re a decent fix to a fit problem…but, good heavens…BUY the right size, people!!

    Garden is looking great!

    • mrsmole says:

      Love them or hate them…corset backs…what is your suggestion for a bride that buys her dress a year in advance and then grows out of it? Or the pregnant bride who has no control over the growth of her baby before the wedding? If someone has a better solution, I would try it. I think paying me $120 to make a corset back all by hand is still cheaper than buying a new dress. If every bride bought the correct size, this blog would would fade away…ha ha.

  31. prttynpnk says:

    I was treated to much petulance from the husband over the weekend. He finished his dinner and announced that I could have the leftovers for my work lunch. Butternut squash had soiled it for him!

  32. Shams says:

    Oh wow, what a difference. It’s quite lovely after you fixed it up!!

  33. Kim Hood says:

    Another win for you – the dress looks great now. And isn’t it wonderful to have an expert to help with your job 😂

  34. poppykettle says:

    The italics made me giggle! She who knows these things, huh? ha!
    I really love the look of the braid to hem the ruffles – but geez what a lot of work to make it work! It looks great 🙂

  35. Karine says:

    Wow, the work you’ve done here is just amazing !
    I’m kind of looking how to make the same kind of wedding dress actually but I’m stuck with “how to do these curly ruffles” do you have any tips to share or any links?

    Thanks a lot for your help,
    Greetings from France !

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