Life Happens

When one seamstress friend is ill in town, we ask another to help out. A friend that has her own shop called to say I would be hearing from a bride as she could not work due to an upcoming surgery. I said I would help but I needed time to fit her in.

The first week of October the bride called to tell me she was losing weight but needed a corset back for her size 8 dress. She also needed a hem and bustle but wanted the first seamstress, my friend, to do that work. It really did not matter to me if she wanted to split up the work, so I agreed. The wedding was to be in November, so we were planning just in the nick of time. Then, I never heard from her again…no appointment arranged, nothing.

She then called back the second week of Nov. to make an appointment. She said she would be bringing her girlfriend who has a wild toddler and she would also be bringing her own wild toddler to be in the room. That’s when I said, “AH NO, no children are allowed”. She said her boy could climb over anything, like this would make me allow her to bring him? I said I lived in a cul-de-sac and the friend could run the kids around there but not come in.

Then 30 minutes before showing up for the appointment, she called to say that one of her kids was sick and she was not able to come. We rescheduled for the end of the week. She was 45 minutes late blaming someone else for that. At this point Mr. Mole, the voice of reason, said I should have told her NO. But it was too late.

Now, the bride falls into the emergency category, the second this month with one more to come to squeeze in with the booked brides.

David’s Bridal sold her this dress:images


It is one of the heaviest dresses I have ever worked on with the train weighing at least 10 pounds all by itself…nothing like that for a simple bustle.

Here is the dress on my client:


Can you see a corset coming? I know lots of you HATE them but how does one bridge the 7 inch wide and 16 inch long gap? Suggestions?

Here is the back story…the size 8 dress was bought many years ago when she fit into it…that was 45 pounds ago. In the meantime, she has had two children and cervical cancer. Getting past that, she really wants a white wedding and thinks that planning it 3 weeks in advance should be plenty of time. She says she does best work with a looming deadline. I said “I do not”.

OK, so I get the job of making the corset and as my seamstress friend is still not up to speed having had wrist surgery, I have to do the bustle too and we skip the hem to save money. Luckily, the bustle will work with one giant button on her butt and one giant double loop to hike all those ruffles up. After the ceremony, an old denim shirt will worn over it.


Just as a refresher…how I make the loops…pinning, stitching, zigzagging, fold under, stitch again.


Making the modesty panel I line the satin with cotton drill fabric used for work-wear pockets from Wawak. This absorbs sweat and beefs up the satin without interfacing.


Mark on the drill where the boning goes on the top edge and middle. Stitch and flip to the right side, insert boning and press and stitch all around leaving the bottom open, pink across.


Pin and hand baste loops in place, machine stitch and hand sew the lining to the grosgrain ribbon.

Pin the left side to the dress and it is ready to be sewn. Right side will have a big snap.


After steaming all the ruffles you get an idea of what has to be bustled up just to be able to walk.


One point bustle is in place:


The bride wanted a huge fancy button for her bustle so she picked this jeweled one. I used a double loop of this pre-made crochet thread from Wawak.



Keeping my fingers crossed that everything holds for her special day and the kids don’t cause too much trouble and the rain/snow stays away as she is having this outdoors at a picnic site and dragging that very long dress through tall grass, dead leaves and weeds and twigs.

Yes, the blue grosgrain ribbon will be replaced with white.

p1210805Β p1210807

Wishing all my US readers a good week before Thanksgiving. May your bird be tender and your dressing moist!

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

48 Responses to Life Happens

  1. LOL…yes, you know I am not a fan of the corset back when there’s so much space to cover πŸ˜‰ Ordering the correct size to begin with would be my solution, but I guess at this stage in the game, that’s a moot point. Covering it with a little jacket might not be a bad idea…or a denim shirt πŸ™‚ Looks like you got this bride beautifully ready for her special day, as usual! Sounds like she could use a special event in her life πŸ™‚

    Hope you have a relaxing time planned for Thanksgiving! Put the needle and thread aside and enjoy family and friends πŸ™‚

    • mrsmole says:

      This might be the first Thanksgiving in 10 years that I am not working flat out like it was just another Thursday. Mr Mole bought a turkey roll and some scalloped potatoes from Costco so we just have to add some wine and pumpkin pie (mincemeat for him being British). Yes, the bride has waited for her big day and now she has a dress that fits and I wish her well and good weather!

  2. Your friend went to extreme lengths to get out of doing this one, faking a bad wrist, enduring surgery, anything but working on THIS DRESS!!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha…we all try to do our best in this valley to get the clients in and out in a timely manner and cover for “downed” sisters. Making corset loops certainly can stress your hands and your patience so I was happy to help.

  3. Oh boy ,I must admit it’s somewhat of a comfort to see the things we all do to get things right for the customer .Have a wonderful thanksgiving!

  4. Siobhan S says:

    I quite like the look of the corset back, and like you say, what other option do you have? But I will never understand brides buying dresses that are several sizes too small.

    • mrsmole says:

      When you buy a dress so far in advance and then eat you way out of it…even the best intentions go out the window….that’s when you have to call in the seamstresses to bail you out!

    • Nakisha says:

      I almost had to add a corset. I got engaged 6 months before the wedding and got the dress about 3 months before and STILL managed to “eat my way out of it”! hahaha! This was before I learned to sew and she was not happy to have so little seam allowance to work with. But she was able to open it up enough that it fit…and on the day of the wedding, the zipper broke as my mom was zipping it (yep!). BUT my mom being my mom…she had a sewing kit in her bag and sewed me right into the dress! Ahhh good times! LOL!

      Another fantastic save MrsMole.

  5. I SERIOUSLY hope you have an ‘express charge” for certain rush-rush conditions. You do such excellent work, and it is fine to have a surcharge for rush handling. It’s also fine to say “sorry can’t fit it in”!

    • mrsmole says:

      I don’t charge for rush jobs even though I should. Maybe I feel I am earning my karma and these brides need me more than the rest. I have given away over 15 brides this year to others when I could not fit them in so I am getting better at saying no.

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        I envy you πŸ™‚ I have NOBODY to refer customers to except two local drycleaners 😦 I have seen the work of two local seamstresses and the dry cleaners are better..and THAT is not saying much 😦 I don’t charge extra for rush jobs. Either I have TIME or I don’t. ANY amount of $ will NOT create MORE TIME πŸ™‚ Ok..MAYBE a few HUNDRED dollars extra but that’s not going to happen, it’s a daydream I have πŸ™‚ I can lose some sleep for a few HUNDRED bucks πŸ™‚

  6. Sandi says:

    Mrs Mole, you are a miracle worker, I swear! What a great job you did to make the bride happyπŸ‘πŸ»πŸ˜Š Have a great ThanksgivingπŸ¦ƒπŸ—!

  7. Elle says:

    Another amazing save! Enjoy your thanksgiving–hope key lime pie is on the menu.

  8. Carolyn says:

    I seriously bow down to your talent…and patience! That is an awesome fix and it looks soooooo much better on her!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Carolyn, Your garments are so perfect for your work and play days…no wonder you have so many followers. Your photos and suggestions make all of us more confidant to tackle making copies of RTW only better fitting!

  9. Brenda says:

    No wonder you are the “go to” person in the area. You do make every bride look wonderful. Makes me want to get married again so that I can work with you. ; )

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Brenda, it makes me want to wear a wedding gown too…having had 2 marriage ceremonies wearing dresses out of the closet…in my next life, I’m going whole hog…tiara too!

  10. erniek3 says:

    Ah, the next project where I say I just don’t think you can make something so small go that far, I can hear it now: “But I was looking at this website where this woman’s teeny dress was made to fit HER”.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Lordie…maybe I should stop posting disasters to dream dresses??? I am my own worst enemy in that respect…brides tell me, “my friend said you could fix anything”. It has been a long trying year!

      • Monique says:

        Having the rush miracles as your specialty would help you raise your prices…
        The work you do is amazing, every time.
        Enjoy your Thanksgiving!

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        ‘My’ girls at Jo-Ann Fabrics LAUGH when I come dragging gowns into the store πŸ™‚ “WHO are you trying to SAVE NOW.. CHERYL ??” πŸ™‚ I always tell my customers I can figure out a way to do ANYTHING πŸ™‚ I do πŸ™‚ Eventually πŸ™‚ PS-I call them MY girls because I see them more than my friends and family πŸ™‚ HECK, I give them Christmas gifts πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

  11. Again, lovely work! I like the corset back. That is quite the train to be dragging around though… but that’s just my opinion!

  12. Val says:

    I never would have thought of using a big, sparkly button [ahem, broach?] for the bustle but it works! Happy holidays to you & Mr. Mole and your family!

  13. fabrickated says:

    What interests me with these corset-back fixes is that the dress is normally the right size on the hips, not too bad on the waist (well only an inch or two out!) – it is mainly the bust that is way too small (ahem, 7 inches!). Are all your brides “top heavy” Mrs Mole or is it the effect of the lacing? Also I was interested to read about the cotton drill – that is a useful tip.

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Kate, not all my brides are top heavy but they all want the biggest push-up bra cups we can stuff into the bodice. The reason why the first photos look so dramatic is that the ribs need the majority of the circumference of the dress and they don’t allow the top edges to meet. Once the lacing is done, that 7 inches is reduced down. I have done lacing that meets at the top and gets wider at the waist…you never really know what it will look like. Cotton drill absorbs heat and sweat for summer brides while maybe the winter brides should have that panel lined with polar fleece!

      • fabrickated says:

        Well it snowed for my Mum’s 1955 1 March wedding and her dress was lined with a “chilprufe” (woolen) vest. Thanks for the explanations on the corsets!

  14. sewruth says:

    Not a pretty dress to start with, back corset notwithstanding, and the denim shirt doesn’t help either.
    You have some seriously style-challenged clients. How do stop yourself from laughing out loud?

    • mrsmole says:

      I guess the Native American phrase of not knowing a person until you have “walked in their moccasins” always comes to mind. Even though brides tell you many things during their visits, not all reveal the real struggles they have gone through to reach this point so I am a little more understanding and “cut them some slack”. Knowing I will get paid well in the end also helps…ha ha. There seems to be a trend to wearing practical jackets/shirts for winter weddings…they are buying plaid flannel lumberjack shirts as well.

  15. Kim says:

    Well done working with that dame. Not popular it seems but I kind of like the ruffles.
    You have planned time off over the holidays. Haven’t you? Please take time off!

    • mrsmole says:

      I like the ruffles as well, just maybe needed half of them! I will take off Thanksgiving day and Christmas day to stuff myself and drink champagne but I do have brides up to New Year’s Eve booked in. Hope to not answer the phone in January and lock the front door to sew for myself and family…we shall see, Kim.

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        Ruffles are popular here in Southeastern Ohio πŸ™‚ Late 2016 will be remembered as the year of the GIANT TULLE SKIRTS 😦 Gee πŸ™‚ Those things can get HEAVYYYYYYYYYYY. I admit I tend to procrastinate on those because I KNOW the work-out I am going to get πŸ™‚ I am also slow in Late Dec-Third week of Jan… Let’s both SING PRAISES to SLOW TIMES πŸ™‚

  16. Sharon P says:

    Whoa up ! Denim shirt over ruffled gown ? No, no, no !! Whether it’s nasty barn boots, high top sneakers, brown leather belts or flannel shirts, your seamstress doesn’t need to know! I have stopped customers in mid sentence, asking them to please not tell me all the details, as I cringe easily. Remember a few years back when the craze was to ‘trash the dress’ ? A gal once told me she was a having a destination wedding in Mexico and as soon as they were pronounced husband and wife, she in her silk gown and he in his tux, were jumping in the ocean. Noooooo !

    • Cheryl Designs says:

      πŸ™‚ Hi Sharon πŸ™‚ Toughen up πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ You would probably HATE the fact that one of the most POPULAR venues in my area is an old SLAUGHTERHOUSE/BARN on a FARM 😦 They use porta-lets…. And it’s NOT exactly CHEAP… About $1,200 to START the rental for the day. Food MUST be TRUCKED IN….. Not something I would choose 😦 I alter LOVELY gowns to be worn at that venue too πŸ™‚ 95% Cowboy boots being worn πŸ™‚

  17. karen says:

    WTH? 45 pounds? What was she thinking? This is not stretch fabric and even if it was, there are limits. Mrs. M , sometimes your job is an exercise in frustration. Better times next week!

  18. reuwen88 says:

    As a seamstress that has faced similar challenges and wondered where brides lose common sense thinking in the planning process, I very much appreciate your positive outlook. I once made a new bodice to fit, removed the lace and skirt from the old and applied it all to the new correct fitting bodice. Not an easy fix, but necessary for a size 12 dress that needed to be a size 20.

  19. Girl in the Stix says:

    Thanks for showing how you do the corset loops–they’re not likely to pull out with the double stitching. And as always, you did a fantastic job!

    • mrsmole says:

      That would be the last thing I would want to see!!!! Also, I anchor the bustle buttons with backer buttons and the loops with interfacing…so nothing is going to escape on that wedding day!

  20. Robin says:

    Really beautiful work, and what a tight time frame!

  21. mrsmole says:

    You know, Robin…they can and will cut it closer! I have living proof next time!

  22. Ruth says:

    love your blog ,and dont worry about peoples negative comments you do a wonderful job on all the bridal dresses [i used to make bridal gowns for a living -too many to count ] brides expect and usualy get miracles, well done to you.
    amd i really enjoy reading your blog [i no longer make bridal gowns due to very bad both forms of arthritis .] and yes the dresses can be very ,very heavy .

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s