3 Dresses

The phone call went like this: “I found your name on the internet, I have a ball gown arriving in the mail tomorrow, I have done extensive research and you are who I want to hem my dress”.

She also stated that she needed it for 10 days later for a huge charity ball. I could just about fit that in so I agreed to see her the next day. But while I was out that morning, the phone rang and Mr. Mole answered it to hear that she was bringing 3 dresses and a sweater and could she come hours earlier. He knows better than to say yes, so he said I was booked.

Here is what arrived and you can see how stunning this $420 dress looks on the model.

Aidan Mattox


As usual, the real fit on a real person is a different story. The zipper just needs another 2 inches to close. Can you see those little annoying loops of ribbon sticking up in the photos? Guess they are for hanging up but they would not lie down when being worn.


Inside the dress, there was enough seam allowances to let out 2 back princess seams and the 2 side seams to get the 2 inches of ease. Then all that was left was to hem both the organza layer and the under layer called mikado…a thick matte satin. When clients think that hemming a dress just involves measuring the same amount all around a voluminous circumference is easy…they are wrong.

Once pinned and thread traced, you can see the difference can be quite shocking…from 3/8 inch to 2 inches just to be level with the floor.p1210849

Need pockets? This dress has one in each side seam.

How about those fancy off-to-the-side straps…here is what is inside holding all that up. Second photo shows where I tacked those pesky ribbons down.


Second dress…here is the same dress in a black floral so you can see the shape  and built-in belt but our dress is white with a pink lining…a little bizarre. For $475 it should fit but as my client is very short-waisted, the alteration was to shorten the shoulder straps by one inch each side. You have seen me do this with a lining in other MOB dresses.

Ted baker London

There is a keyhole opening at the back neck held together with a copper magnet. The magnet is very heavy and when worn, it droops down and looks sad.p1210872 The exposed zipper (I am not a fan) is also copper and very wide and heavy… hey, great for sportswear but not on a slinky dress.p1210873


Another weird thing is the underarm wedge panel. The front and back each  attach there with lined facings that flare away from the body like wings…who needs that? I told the client that flat-chested Gwyneth Paltrow would suit this dress but not a woman with a real bust. For now, I have basted the wings flat and the client says she will lose 10 pounds before Spring to get this to fit better. I think for $475 it should actually have room for boobs…no?p1210853  p1210854p1210855

It also needs a hem that has a lining attached.Inside,  the lining and dress are sewn in a straight line and then the corners veer off at an angle to make a point. I just followed the original lines (in red) and raised them all 2.5 inches and hand basted ready for her try-on. p1210875

What you are left with on the inside is this: p1210876 The lining dips down at the edge of the back slit and then hangs about 1.5 inches higher that the hem edge.

In the first photo, you can see a green sweater on a hanger that she wants all 8 buttons removed and replaced with mother of pearl ones. She says I should be the one to do this along with the 3 dresses as she does not have the right color of thread…sure.

The final dress needs hemming and as the under dress is a poly knit, I will use my coverstitch machine and just use scissors for the tulle top layer. This dress was to be worn first in 6 days and the other two to be finished 2 days later for other balls.

Adrianna Papell

p1210840  e2b5c6eaf74470448e2f6112c3ac5bff

It was very straightforward…thank goodness!

One last thing I have been thinking about when rummaging through my drawer of presser feet…most of my machines all have interchangeable feet being Janome and Elna so when I flipped over a couple of zipper feet, I was surprised. Who knew the bottom surface could become so notched/grooved? It may not make much difference when sewing over cottons but it may make a difference sewing over chiffony fabrics?


As snow is predicted for Tuesday as well as sleet and hail…I’m glad I can stay in and keep sewing! I see lots of you are knitting sweaters/jumpers and socks and thinking about winter coats and yummy thick fabrics.

Happy sewing everyone!


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31 Responses to 3 Dresses

  1. Carolyn says:

    I’m not surprised at the ill fitting dresses cause hey we all know they’re out there. What I’m more surprised at is that she showed up with three of them without speaking to you. Isn’t that kinda rude? Or am I just being grumpy?

    • mrsmole says:

      It is rude and here is another fact…before her dresses were ready, she told another woman to bring her ballgown around as I probably could fit her in as I was “her girl”. Needless to say, I am not going to be “her girl” for any future projects. You are not grumpy, Carolyn, just astute!

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        AGREE…OMG!!!!!!..’her girl’ 😦 I LOVE the fact that my customers are happy and refer others to me. I am NOT….. THEIR GIRL 😦 I am a professional and deserve RESPECT for my talent. 2017 is bringing a few changes to my business 😦 First, I am raising prices 10%. I haven’t raised my prices for over 6 years but the electric, phone and insurance rates have risen. Second, I am DIVORCING a few customers 😦 Just the FEW regulars who REGULARLY MISS appointments or arrive an hour LATE, or I have to CHASE THEM DOWN to pick up their items and PAY their invoices. I am finished with a few of them 😦 NOT worth the hassle 😦 There are times in the year when I have to turn work away because I am so busy. I kiss…nobody’s A** 🙂 95% of my customers are GREAT 🙂 LOVELY and appreciative of my talent 🙂 I am grateful 🙂

  2. Emma Gibney says:

    Your patience is beyond admirable! I always enjoy your stories. Ted Baker always fits me badly – narrow upper bust adjustment needed and very tight in the hips. A girl in my sewing group who is way more petite window shops there for ideas and then purchases Liberty silk to make similar dresses that actually fit and cost a little less 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      Ted Baker and J.Crew don’t realize that they are making clothes for women with money AND boobs. Hooray for your friend who can create custom and cheaper dresses from window shopping! Thanks, Emma.

  3. Donna says:

    Hi You are a genius. Miss you. Hope you get some rest soon. Love you dear friend.

    • mrsmole says:

      Hey Donna, yes with January coming soon, I will finally get a day(s) off to sew for myself, the house and my kids and grandchildren in a bride-free zone. Wish we lived closer so we could sew together and eat M&M’s.

  4. Wow, it started off with one dress… then it was three. I’m sure you did a lovely job but doesn’t it make you stress out when the order changes like that?

    • mrsmole says:

      It is stressful and this becomes what I call “resentful sewing” by being taken advantage of without being asked first. It is like when brides bring in a dress with hours and hours of changes they want done and then announce they have 5 bridesmaids dresses they want to drop off too. And then they add their MOB dress and fiance’s workshirts etc. When I mention that I sew during the night almost every night just to get the garments done on time, it does not even phase them.

  5. Suzanne says:

    I’m in love with the print on that first purple/blue dress.

  6. You are a genius…a very patient genius!

  7. jay says:

    Your clients buy such beautiful dresses. I love looking at them, but how you get them to expand to fit the hopeful purchaser is nothing short of magic.

    • mrsmole says:

      I was so lucky that the seam allowances were just there and waiting for me and wide enough, otherwise….we might be looking at a corset situation!!! Forgot to mention that every seam allowance edge was bound in a solid fabric so there was way more work done on the inside than the outside.

  8. I am a better sewer because of you. I think twice before neglecting to cut away waste as I think to myself ”WHAT WOULD MRS MOLE THINK???” and I get busy making it neater. Just in case you ever have to unpick any of my work.

  9. erniek3 says:

    As ever, giving the clients miracles they scarce understand.
    The Ted Baker dress makes me wistful; they used to be an excellent shirtmaker with prices to match (and the shirts my spouse got from them 30 years ago are still in super great shape, so they were a great investment when we had the $). The things I’ve seen from them recently are made of weird blends and not cut well at all. Guess they got bought and remade into another kind of fancy.

  10. I’ve recently discovered your blog, I absolutely love reading it! Thank you for sharing your experience and adventures 🙂

  11. sewruth says:

    You should get Mr Mole to answer the phone more often………

  12. mrsmole says:

    With his Liverpool accent, my clients just want to stay on the line and listen to him speak, when all he wants to do is hang up. Anyone who wants to walk down memory lane should visit your blog and see how you made a modern vintage inspired dress, Ruth! http://corecouture.wordpress.com/

  13. JustGail says:

    I doubt I’d last long doing bridal/formal alterations! I don’t know that I’d have agreed to do more than 1 dress in that short of time, especially if already booked full with prior work. As much as I hate mending DH’s & DS’s jeans, at least I can usually ignore those jobs until I’m mentally prepared (resentful sewing seems to end badly for me!).

    I love the first dress for the fabric – unusual colors & pattern is a nice change from the standard solid black, red, white, etc. with beads or sequins. The 2nd dress – something about chopping that big flower in front with the plain white waist band doesn’t work for my eyes.

    • mrsmole says:

      Some days you have to adopt “I don’t give a rat’s ass” attitude to stay in business. All of this silliness is blog fodder and I can share it with all of you. I don’t have to like the dresses or the client, just finish on time and collect the check…some days that is the only reward. You also get to see the latest trends without leaving the sewing room and since the nearest Nordstrom’s is 6-7 hours away.

  14. I love the first dress- very pretty, and fortunately concealing generous seam allowances as that lady clearly doesn’t realise how much space you had to create. Sadly the situation where you agree to one garment and are hit with multiples is far from unusual. I hope you were well rewarded for your expertise and patience.

  15. mrsmole says:

    She paid and the check cleared and now I have some Christmas money to spend on the family…a win-win!

  16. symondezyn says:

    Wow, does anyone try anything on anymore before dropping a cool thousand on a couple polyester dresses??? Makes me glad I can sew, that’s for sure, and I’m sure it makes you scratch your head constantly!! I share your aversion to the exposed zipper, as well – it may suit a sporty body-con type dress (I still don’t like it LOL) but totally doesn’t suit that airy floral dress at all!

  17. Lakaribane says:

    Just want to point out that Vogue 1392 Rachel Comey dress has the same hidden “shoulder stay” treatment and a bias bodice! Love your posts. Merry Christmas!

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