Party Dresses

As party season approaches I thought I’d share some hits and misses that my clients have brought in for slight altering.

This is a perfect dress for dancing with your adult son at a military ball.


It just needed the tulle hems shortened and some tweaking on the beaded shoulders.


Next up, dresses with dopey darts needing fixing.

$99…Great price for this dress isn’t it?


It would have been a great price if the dress would have fit but for some reason there was a huge wad of fabric lurking under the bodice dart. I pinned out the excess there and also took in 1 inch down each side seam (total of 4 inches) to the hem. Now some of you may remember the last MOB dress I altered that had the lace layer and knit lining all in one seam…at least this was just one layer but the same deal. Lucky for me that the hem did not need altering.

New darts were basted by hand and checked to make sure they took in enough excess fabric and lining.


With the waist seams all sewn together, I entered through the lining side seams.

p1210547   Can you see the old dart stitching line? and even though it looks like the new dart will be huge, it is really the amount that was needed to make the front lie flat.


The dart in the knit lining matched the lace one.


How about the side seams? If your dress needs 4 inches taken in for the skirt, it makes you wonder if this is really your size doesn’t it?


Here is another dress with weird darts from Spense bought at Ross for $20. It is scuba knit with a knit lining and bust darts that stick out like flags. The client wondered what could be done. I explained that without being able to open up her seams, that if they were serged, they would end at the dart tip with a squared off section.

Once I got inside, you can see the lining dart is certainly made this way and if you follow the threads you can see it makes almost a 90 degree angle. The scuba dart is made with regular stitching but still ends abruptly to make a squared off finish. The pins mark my attempt to round off the ends and make the dress wearable. Last year, I worked on a lacy Australian wedding dress and all the darts were made with a 4 thread serger stitching that gave the same square ends.

p1210573  Can you see how the original dart “fans” away from the bust point?


Once again, the waist seams were all sewn together so entering through the lining side seams which will be closed by hand stitching seemed slick enough.


Here are both darts hand basted longer and wider. My poor mannequin has a droopy left side but I found her on Craigslist for $25 and rescued her.


Speaking of hand basting, recently an ASG member asked me why I never machine baste and always use hand basting on all the garments. Can you guess? Well, the longest stitch I can get on any of my machines is a 5 length which is pretty but after the final 2.2 or 2.5 length of machine stitching, it would take longer to snip threads and carefully remove that basting thread. Using red serger thread, long hand stitches and a long milliner’s size 10 needle I can whip up basted seams and darts in no time and remove them with one tug from either end.

I’ll end with a few concepts from the internet for men seeking to get a woman. It seems these things are what women are looking for along with my  comments:

  1. Brooding man in a corner…mysterious but could be a stalker
  2. Older…ego needs boosting and will not enjoy the same era music as you
  3. Facial hair…mustaches are not magical
  4. Long distance runner…I had one of those and he never made it home to help out with the kids
  5. Musical…a man with a set of drums/bagpipes…not a turn-on
  6. Risk-taker…as long as the life insurance is paid up it is less dangerous handling poisonous snakes and rock climbing
  7. Deodorant…it seems that women go crazy for nice smelling armpits. I think this should be number ONE along with looking clean but call me crazy!  

Don’t let the holiday planning make you frazzled…if someone offers a hand/extra casserole/salad…please tell them Thank You and accept their offer!

So, I want to say thank you to all of you for following along this year and allowing me to share the fun and frustrations of my sewing room.

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16 Responses to Party Dresses

  1. Karen Lyon says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Mr. Mole! I love to read your blog, but could not do your job for anything! Ha ha, even if I had the requisite sewing skill. Dealing with people who think anybody can fix a gown with a few stitches is frustrating. The nut jobs that have already made some attempt to alter fine clothing without having a clue how to do it properly means they should not be working in the alterations section of a store. You need to charge higher fees for some of these jobs, because some of your clients are crazy AND stupid!

    Try to relax and enjoy a break in the crazy flow before Christmas.




  2. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Karen, and I hope you have the best and warmest of holidays. Next year I am cutting back on the amount of gowns I accept although the crazies will always slip through…ha ha!

  3. JenL says:

    Great work, as usual, on all! As for the list, I do think that number 7 should be number 1 also. Being here in NYC, and the close proximity of people on the subway, I would add – dry cleaning. It’s amazing how many people (men usually) that wear a super smelly coat/jacket all winter long.

  4. Marianne says:

    First time commenter. I love your blog! Just thought I’d let you know that you were in my mind as inspiration and encouragement today as I did an alteration for DH on a man’s jacket. The jacket was purchased today at a thrift store, for an event tomorrow. My job was to add a little length to the sleeves. This is not the first time I’ve done this particular alteration, but there was something very unusual about how this sleeve was sewn. I could not figure out how to take it apart! Never mind, I told myself, just act like you are Mrs Mole. She always figures out how to do the impossible! So I forged ahead, picked things apart and resewed them, and now there is a beautiful jacket hanging up, ready for an important meeting tomorrow. Of course the whole thing took me 3 hours, not the one hour I had estimated, but I have a feeling this happens to Mrs Mole too, from time to time.

    Anyway, thank you for your stories. They are very entertaining, and educational as well!

    • mrsmole says:

      You know Marianne, I have to make this stuff up all the time and just figure if I put enough pins into a garment, it will eventually show me the way to go. So happy others try the same “fly by the seat of your pants” methods!!! Time estimation is always the issue…all my friends who are seamstresses in business say the same, “wish we were better at quotes”. So glad your project turned out great!!!!

  5. Fabrickated says:

    I love your blog, your alterations, your writing and your humour. And your gardening prowess. Happy Christmas and I hope that you can get the balance right next year between work and leisure.

  6. Wead Library says:

    Merry Christmas, Mrs. Mole! You know I love your blog. It’s a gift that keeps giving all year long, humor, enlightenment, and great knowledge. Thanks for that and for that high bar you set for all of us in the sewing community. You do it with such fun and style!

    The scuba dress – I’ve seen those rigid, puffy darts on other scuba designs. Can’t say that I like that look! It just triggers memories of seventies sewing when this was what was available for fabric. We just called it polyester back then. Same feel, hand and look once sewn.

    • Bunny says:

      I’m not at work! Somehow my response came up with my work signature and this response is really from your cyber sewing buddy, Bunny. Sorry I didn’t catch that but I’m under a fog of still not being quite awake! …..Bunny

    • mrsmole says:

      It’s true, Bunny…those of us who learned to sew using polyester double knits can just relax with the scuba ones…funny how things make the rounds again. Our local chapter of the ASG has garbage bags of poly knits from the 70’s and we make them into throw rugs with weaving etc…those suckers will last a lifetime! Your blog delights and educates and just makes me want to move to Maine….NOT!
      It gets cold enough and snowy enough on the West coast!

      • erniek3 says:

        I have inherited a vast collection of vintage multicolor textured doubleknits in the last few weeks (after hunting them for years). They are crucial to recreating those 60s dresses and pant/vests of the 70s for theater costumes. If you can keep them from smoke or gasoline or volatile oils, they will last forever. They do suck up scents and keep them, which is how they get thrown out.
        Which makes me wonder: does scuba do the same thing?

  7. Merry Christmas and have a Happy New Year! Thank you for your educational, shocking and funny posts!

    • mrsmole says:

      Most days I am just the middleman…stuff wanders in and stuff wanders out and we all learn a little with each garment. Wishing you a blessed holiday season too, Linda…thanks for following!

  8. More great saves from the unacknowledged superhero Mrs Mole. I hope you really enjoy a fantastic Christmas with Mr Mole, and good luck (and a firm resolve) reducing the number of gowns next year.

  9. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Kim…I want to follow your lead and cut back and have some fun. You photos of fabric shopping gatherings and lunches in the UK just make me drool!

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