Too Big for the Suitcase

Since my last post, things went downhill quickly health-wise. On the Sunday morning, I ended up in the Urgent Care Center/Emergency unable to take a deep breath and an unending tight cough and fever.

Thankfully, I was able to be seen and given a prescription for antibiotics, an inhaler and narcotic cough medicine just like the last time this happened 18 months ago. Then I cancelled all my bridal appointments for the next week and did nothing but rest and drink fluids. You know you are really sick when you have to call brides to tell them that their February wedding plans have been delayed a week when time is tight as it is!

So, now that all I had left is a barking seal sounding cough, I had to resume working on this dress. The bride is planning on a wedding in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico but never thought about packing this dress in a garment bag or any sort of luggage.


Even though this dress was custom ordered, the length was 2.5 inches too long with all the layers from lace embroidered hem and all 9 layers, yes 9, beneath it. Half of the layers had 2 inch wide horsehair braid attached just to keep the hem of this dress poofy enough so lots of labor running all those edges through the machine.p1220199

Normally, you know I like to shorten lace hems from the bottom by cutting/removing the border/motifs and moving them up to the correct level but this was too much for me. The lace was way to tall and way too wide to deal with so I broke down and opened the waist seam to slide the lace layer up 2.5 inches. Now, lots of you write to me privately to tell me that I am doing the lace hems all wrong and should be opening the waist seams and that sounds really nice but the issue is always…what do you do with the top circumference when you slide everything up on an A-line skirt as it gets wider? Do you want to open up and re-do the French side seams…not me. And how smooth a transition can you make reducing 12 extra inches at a waist down to the hips with French seams?

You have seen than many of the dresses I deal with need at least 6 inches of length removed and by the time that amount is raised up at the waist, you have at least another 12 inches of excess fabric to deal with.

This time the excess was only 4 inches so the bride said that she would not mind having small tucks. I also suggested that we replace the 1/2 inch wide white grosgrain belt with a 7/8 inch wide one in a darker shade to make a real feature of her waist.p1220248

The new wider grosgrain ribbon belt hand stitched top and bottom:

Besides the hem, the bodice needed to be taken in at least an inch through the zipper.


We opted for a 3 point bustle (just pinned in the photo) and no, the bride will not be wearing a white bra for her ceremony. Imagine this heavy fluffy dress crammed into a garment bag and the look on the flight attendant’s face as she walks into the plane…brides don’t always match the size of their dress with the destination venue!


Besides phone calls from brides, I also get other calls needing help. Yesterday, a man called to tell me that he has moved to our little rural valley from Hawaii (why would anyone do that?) and he makes the best Panama hats in the world…ok…quite the opening line isn’t it? Then he said, “I saw your reviews online and I decided that you were MY GIRL“. Now for those who know and love me this is just not the phrase I ever want to hear. But he carried on to tell me that he wants someone with skill and precision to sew sweat bands and ribbon trim on his hats. I referred him to a friend of mine who MAY be interested and said that he will have to call her to see if she has the time. His response was, “She had better have the time or I am out of business!” Is this another case of poor planning…moving to a location with no knowledge of the services and resources available?

Wishing you all a healthy week and lots of progress on your sewing projects!


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36 Responses to Too Big for the Suitcase

  1. jrp53 says:

    So glad you are on the physical mend, just in time for the crazy mental bride season! Beautiful fixes on that dress and the waist looks like it was meant to be that way.

  2. maryfunt says:

    So sorry to hear you were ill. Not great having to worry about recovering and having the pressure of brides. That dress would have been a nightmare to do from the bottom and I know what you mean about A-lines growing at the waist if you shorten from the top. I hope she is planning on a LARGE suitcase.

  3. Cheryl Designs says:

    I am so happy you are feeling better 🙂 I agree with you concerning the lace edged hems. I PREFER to shorten them at the hemline when possible. I shorten gowns at the waist but it’s not my favorite thing to do and I charge $150-$180 to do it 🙂 Re-setting the skirt is a pain in the rear and always requires an extra fitting 😦 I see you had no choice with this one. Beautiful work as usual 🙂 I have received those calls from ‘business people’ who didn’t plan ahead for their manufacturing process 😦 Unlike you, I have nobody to refer them to 😦 I have no time for their work and politely listen to their woes, thinking, “You are taking my sewing time, the way I make a living :(” STAY WELL 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      You know it, Cheryl…I’ll bet you have made your share of “prototype” gadgets for inventors and signed a non-disclosure clause and been paid peanuts for all your thinking and labor…I have done my share and can happily say no now. Yes, lace hems take 3-4 hours easy…and it is such a shame the salon do not tell the girls about the added expense.

  4. Elle says:

    Now that sounds like a scary illness–hope it fades away, never to return!

    • mrsmole says:

      Some of my clients have told me that half their office has been out with this and then when they return, the other half goes out sick so it was just my turn, I guess.

  5. Monique says:

    Take care, Mrs Mole, and get completely well very soon!

  6. JustGail says:

    Glad you’re on the mend.

    I was wondering why you couldn’t run the seams a bit deeper and blend in to the originalson the lace layer, then realized that it was sheer fabric. It’s nice the bride was willing to use your suggestions.

    I bet hat guy was planning on paying a pittance on top of expecting his work done yesterday!

    • mrsmole says:

      If it is anything like men’s shops who are looking for gals to hem pants…they offer twice the volume for half the price and we are supposed to snap at that. If you get $16 for a hem and someone offers you $8 is this just so tempting that you drop your regular customers for volume….none of my sewing friends jumped at the chance.

  7. Would the initials of this man be B B by any chance? Friend of a friend of mine, if that’s the case. Business is based in Hawaii, best panamas in the world. A superstar in the hatworld, really, if it is the same man.

  8. And I forgot to say Get Well Soon.

  9. It’s hard to imagine what would happen if she was told there wasn’t space for a large bridal gown on the plane.
    Your hat man’s is just another example of how some people think we are just waiting for their call. I hope he finds someone willing to do the work but why he imagines someone of your calibre would want to sew on that bands beats me.
    Hope you are feeling much better now.

  10. ceci says:

    wow, frightening sounding illness – I hate things that reoccur! I hope its gone for good now.

    Laughing about the hat man – I bet you were supposed to be flattered about being “his girl”!


  11. Miss Celie says:

    That dress is gorgeous. And, thanks for explaining why you do the alteration that way. And, for real. That man planned poorly.

  12. Brenda says:

    Hope you feel better each day! Take care.

  13. poppykettle says:

    Glad to hear you’re on the mend – it sounds like a nasty thing to be lumped with!
    Pretty dress, silly hat man!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Poppykettle…going into week 4 and it is slowly getting better, maybe my cold is waiting for Spring to leave but snow is predicted this week again.

  14. K says:

    I think you did a great job on the dress. Tucking in at the waist worked well on this dress and the result looks as good as the original. I hope you feel all better soon!

  15. sewruth says:

    You know what you need? Hot whiskey. Irish, of course!
    Dollup of honey in a (large) glass; whole cloves stuck into a slice of lemon, or orange; a ‘medicinal’ measure of whiskey; boiling water to top up to rim of glass. Put a metal spoon in the glass before pouring in the boiling water and easy on the water…..stir to mix the honey etc and sip slowly until the glass is empty.
    I’d recommend at least 2 per night before bedtime but 3 will not do any harm.
    At least you’ll not notice your symptoms or forget you even have them – can’t promise that you’ll be bright and cheery the following morning though – so, best advice is to take another….. until you’re better.

    • mrsmole says:

      Your remedy sounds divine, Ruth and I have indulged in a few of those in the past and even after the cold had left, having a hot toddy every evening just sounds so perfect after a shitty day with brides!

  16. fivecats says:

    I am no way a professional seamstress, but I made my own wedding dress. A woman asked me what I would charge to make one, with beading and all the fancy trim. I said about $1,000.00. She got very angry and said she could buy one for that. I said please do.
    I only sew for myself and family, I couldn’t imagine the stress of sewing for others.

    • mrsmole says:

      Back in the day when grandmas made wedding dresses for nothing or the local seamstress whipped up a little number for $10 an hour…those days are gone and no bride wants to wear a dress that looks homemade…they want all the bells and whistles and then some! Adding up all the hours it would take to cut and sew 8 layers of tulle and netting, one layer of lining, one layer of satin and then the lace embroidered top layer would run way more than $1000. So glad yoiu didn’t have to do that job!!!!

      • fivecats says:

        I only sew for myself, God daughter, husband. My wedding dress was a 1984 Priscilla pattern from McCalls. Ivory organza over pale apricot faille. Lace inserts, lace bodice, and galoon lace on the hem. It probably looked homemade, but it was pretty. I wore it for one day. The marriage has lasted 32 years.

  17. Valerie says:

    Lovely bridal dress fix as always Mrs Mole but how ‘dare’ you turn the Panama hat man down. What an ignoramus he is and I hope he ends up learning to sew his own hatbands.

    • mrsmole says:

      That’s what I thought Valerie…shouldn’t you know all aspects of your trade and not have to go looking for others to finish your project?

  18. fabrickated says:

    Sorry you have been poorly my dear – very tricky with your deadlines and commitments. Tough being a sole trader. I love the alterations and think the little tucks and the grosgrain really enhance the dress. Super job.

  19. This is old news by now, I am just catching up! Glad you hear you are feeling better. Did the hat fellow not think that perhaps he could sew his own bands?

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