Mother of the Bride

Sometimes mothers work too hard at searching for the perfect navy blue dress to comply with their daughter’s wishes. They will drive over 5 hours north or south and troll through racks at Nordstrom and Macy’s to find a dress that works for them. Sometimes, they just give up and buy something, anything that is navy.

Enter the size 14 unforgiving dress:

After lots of grunting and shoving and holding of breaths…we got the zipper up only to realize that this dress had other problems. The back was way too wide at the neck and the lace panels were too long and would need to be moved lower under the satin bodice…not too bad but wait!

With the mother facing to the left, you can see the zipper is flipped up making a darling duck tail and the side seams are screaming as the butt yanks fabric one way while the front tummy yanks the upper side seam in the other direction. Have you ever seen such a thing? Not me!

The back view is even more weird!

Mother facing right you can see the right side seam screaming from the butt borrowing fabric

What the mother wanted was for me to find some extra fabric and let out all the seams to make the duck tail lie flat and add to all the side seams to make them hang straight…some days I have to “cry uncle”.

But I didn’t….I told her I would harvest fabric from the hems and try my best to make it work and then quoted her a ridiculously high price for all this labor with no guarantee it would look good in the end.

An hour later, I got a phone call from her saying she had found a size 18 in navy at a local shop and all it needed was a hemming.

She showed up days later with this dress in navy.

We had the same issues with this Jade by Jasmine dress…too wide back and too long lace panels and she did not want the bust boning. The lace was dropped and pinned lower and the center back zipper was marked for taking in at the waist. The boning was removed and I found the nicest boning soft rubber end covers…so I kept them.

Here is the new seam line basted and also the new placement for the 3 buttons that will be moved over.


The invisible zipper will be taken in too to give her a shaped waist.

Lace panels pinned and ready to hand baste:

Seams basted:

All seams hand basted and ready for machine stitching, please ignore the puckering!

Once all the seams were machined shut and pressed, 3 layers of chiffon and satin hemmed, I had one very happy mother indeed!

So now starts the season with 9 wedding gowns to work on this month and I hope to avoid bridesmaids and mother of the bride dresses altogether. I have changed the message on my answerphone to reflect the booked brides on the calendar…“I’m sorry to tell you that I am booked solid through October, but if you are a November or December bride please leave your message and speak slowly”. In the collection in the photo above are 2 vintage wedding dresses to be made over…one is from 1973 and the other from 1953…challenges for sure!

Welcome to all the new readers this week…I do answer questions if you have any…

Spring is coming….it really is and our clocks spring forward one hour tonight…I HATE daylight saving time!

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33 Responses to Mother of the Bride

  1. maryfunt says:

    My reaction to the first photo was OMG, how are you going to make this work! People have no idea that there is simply no extra fabric in these dresses and letting them out isn’t possible. Nice job on the version that finally came closer. I cant’ wait to see the vintage gowns. Good call on keeping the brides and hopefully getting rid of MOB and bridesmaid dresses.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Mary…at first I thought because hardly any women sew, they have no idea what can and can’t be done with a dress but more women brag to me that they CAN sew and still ask for ridiculous alterations…ha ha. What people do not think of is that you can spend as much time pinning up 3 layers of bridesmaid and MOB dresses as a bride and not really be able to charge for that time on top of the actually ripping out and sewing time. There is a break even point where I actually don’t make any money doing them. Even once the narrow hems are done, the girls want to come for a second fitting because they changed their mind about the height of the shoe…tick tock…

  2. Elle says:

    Desperation does seem to drive people into some crazy wishful thinking. Yikes!

    • mrsmole says:

      Mothers do get desperate and want to please the daughter especially if they only have one. I get the feeling that brides put so much pressure on them too and don’t realize that there is not much out there to choose from that fits and flatters never mind in the precise color that they want. It is easier to buy a wedding gown than a MOB dress!

  3. MichaelC says:

    You always make me smile. These dresses!!! I’ve been seeing a commercial from D”s Bridal for these $99 dollar dresses. I can only wonder how many might end up at your atelier!!! Glad you recorded that message when you did.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Michael, I don’t get too many of those, thankfully! This year with the vintage gowns, as they didn’t pay a dime for them, they don’t care what the alterations will cost or the hours of labor adding up to the big day. I get to “read” the previous sewer’s handiwork and think back to the time before sergers, invisible zippers and smile at pinked seams, no linings and no boning. Realizing that wedding gowns now are on steroids and it is really overkill for the few hours the dress is actually worn makes you understand the billion dollar business of the wedding industry. Maybe these little princesses need to be reined in and snapped back to reality before their parents have to spend $20,000?

  4. erniek3 says:

    The first photo is a nightmare I’ve had many times. Luckily it’s never shown up for me in real life.

    I’ve already booked next fall’s choir dress work and picked up more of it. As far as I can tell, the other folks who were doing the other choir alterations are already booked up with more bridal alterations than they’ve ever had before AND IT IS BARELY MARCH. Is everyone buying those imported dresses and planning ahead? Is 2017 wedding year?

    On the other hand, it’s nice to know there’s a steady paycheck for most of this year.

    • mrsmole says:

      I don’t know if 2017 is the best wedding year but everyone I know is having babies. One of my former brides married a firefighter and this year every wife from that fire station had a baby and they took a group photo of all the children all spread out like numbers on a clock on a circular tarp…it was darling. Knowing you have 6 month’s worth of work booked in is a nice feeling and every happy customer tells all their friends so it never stops growing. Best of luck with all your singers!!!

  5. Paola says:

    Thanks for the link explaining “cry uncle”. This Australian has never heard it before. This blog is an education in more ways than one.

  6. mrsmole says:

    Every American child has had to “cry uncle” growing up when being tickled or tortured during play. My poor British husband is still getting used to my strange idioms even after 22 years with me…there must be days when he wants to cry uncle too! I dare say I would be at a loss to understand all your rich local phrases too!

  7. Tia Dia says:

    Oh. Em. Gee. That first picture is a nightmare! I think Mary’s comment said it all. Looking forward to seeing what you do with the vintage gowns. I always like ‘reading’ garment constructions/alterations, too. So much to learn!

    • mrsmole says:

      I tell Mr. Mole that getting in a garment is like going on a treasure hunt…you never know what you will find and that for me is the intriguing part. He always asks me “why did you agree to work on this dress?” and my answer usually is, “It would make a good blog and I want to see what is inside”.

  8. Ellie says:

    I’d be interested in the final count of people who charge on past your message and “hope you can squeeze in” one emergency – that only needs a hem.

    And I am completely with you on daylight savings time. As an early morning commuter, I will miss the slightly lighter sky as I get on the bus.

    • mrsmole says:

      Maybe after a while they may get the hint? If I stop answering the phone in person and being polite, it might help too…I’ll keep track and see what happens. I don’t envy you having to commute early in the morning!!! I’d rather work all night than face the morning whether it is light or dark, Ellie.

  9. I wonder, why did she buy it at all? What was she thinking? It cannot be that there are no dresses in your size. America is not short of larger women, so the dresses are there to fit the market. And yet, she thought this was a good idea… I really don’t get it. I did once tailor a coat for a woman who was so large she could not go out in winter as she didn’t have a coat. My tape measure didn’t go round in one go. She was a case for made to measure, but this woman here should be able to go out and just buy one.

    • mrsmole says:

      Some gals blame their bad choices on being pushed by a saleswoman or husband to just wrap it up and buy something. Some blame it on medication and frayed nerves. Some blame it on lack of time and deadlines…it all boils down to poor planning whether they are so consumed by doing all that is needed to make their princess daughter’s wedding as magical and wonderful to outdo all the other brides in the valley or they are exhausted just in the trying. In the end it is the poor seamstress who gets to make the real magic!!!!

    • JustGail says:

      You’d think that larger sizes are readily available. But based on my shopping for casual clothing, no they aren’t, at least not for sizes 16-20. All kinds of clothing on the racks for size 14 and under, or size 22-24 and up, size 16-20 racks are nearly empty. I don’t know how it is for things link MOB or other gowns, and since DS is 21, I hope it’s a few years before I need to find out! πŸ™‚

      Mrs Mole – have you ever had someone buy 2 identical dresses and tell you to use one for parts? Not expensive wedding dresses, but cheaper MOB type ones….although if they’re buying cheap, they probably aren’t even thinking alteration costs and materials.

      • mrsmole says:

        No Gail, this has never happened but I used to do that with cotton muumuu/house dresses for a gal for her 90 yr old mother in a rest home. So glad I only do weddings now! If the most popular size for US women is 16…no wonder that is the size that is always in short supply when we go looking.

  10. Yvonne says:

    Love the idea you can just “get more fabric” and “make it larger”. Sounds simple enough, right? Baaahaaaa. πŸ™‚ I am SO with you on daylight saving time. I loathe it. Time should be left alone. Period. End of story.

  11. Oh. My. Word. This is just another example of clients imagining you have a magic wand rather than a sewing machine. I’m so glad she found an alternative that needed more realistic alterations.
    DON’T ANSWER THE PHONE! That will give you time to organise your response so you won’t be bulldozed into ’emergency’ jobs you don’t want.
    But keep on accepting nutty jobs that we can enjoy πŸ˜ƒ

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Kim…I will certainly keep entertaining you with stories or brides and mothers. So far the messages on the answerphone talk about all the crap they have and how they want to drop it off but my message sounds like I am too busy to call them back…yeah, you got that right!

  12. fabrickated says:

    Make it larger made me laugh like the time when I went for a curry and one of the customers sent back his curry and asked for it to be made less hot. Most things only go one way (I quite often get milk in my tea although I prefer it black – want to send it back for them to take the milk out). I really don’t get the mothers who obey their daughters. A friend of mine was asked to wear a gold polyester cravat at his daughters’ wedding and he just said NO. I am excited about your vintage alterations and I do hope that you manage to stagger your work so it doesn’t exhaust you. You are way too kind Mrs Mole.

    • mrsmole says:

      Black tea…I spent 8 years asking for tea WITHOUT milk when I lived in the UK…never did seem to get what I asked for…ha ha.So glad when my son got married last summer, there was no color theme and I could just wear what I wanted. The other pressure on MOB is the Mothers of the groom…9 times out of ten then want to dress like a sparkly Las Vegas show girl with their boobs showing and high slits in the skirt to outshine the bride…I’m sure their are psychological issues there concerning losing their little boy to a new women…hmmm

  13. So they don’t even care if the dress doesn’t fit? They just want you to find the exact fabric to put in a few very large inserts? Oh my! You must have a fabulous reputation if you are so busy and booked until October… very professional!

  14. mrsmole says:

    Well, Linda, if you had reviews online like “I wouldn’t trust anyone else to work on my wedding gown” and “she was amazing and made my dress even better than I could have imagined” you would have to make choices and restrict who got on the calendar too…we are all victims of our own expertise, be it good, bad, or ugly. No, they don’t care if the zipper can’t even zip up…they figure we seamstresses are all just waiting by the phone to get the call….

  15. AranB says:

    I’ve just discovered your impressive blog, and I’m hooked. I do alterations at a bridal shop in SW VA, and after reading some of your stories, all I can say is “Amen, sister!” Many of your delusional dress disorder victims have the same syndrome as the folks here, as we deal with the same problems every day. Thank you so much for your detailed explanations and photos of your work, I’m eager to learn from your experience.

  16. mrsmole says:

    Lordie, Aran…I’m still learning every day myself. Just when you think you know how to solve a problem…another new one walks in! Once you get inside the dress and see the wacky sewing sequence your mind starts spinning and making connections to past experiences in the hope you know how to get in and get out again without making the dress look like “grandma had her way with it”. Welcome and feel free to share any weird stuff that finds it’s way to your shop!

  17. poppykettle says:

    Wait… wha? You don’t like daylight savings?
    We’re just about to end DLS where I am and that makes me sad as I love having the extra light in the evenings!

  18. mrsmole says:

    When you live as far north as I do…the summer nights stay light very late normally. It seems it takes the whole summer to finally catch that missing hour and then thankfully come November…we can have our scant 4 months of real time back. One state, Arizona, opts out of this madness every year…smart folks down there! Hope you have had a great Summer and Fall!

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