Lumpy Lace

Some brides troll through the racks at David’s Bridal, some troll through racks at Outlet bridal stores or boutiques and try on dresses until they find one that fits close to what they want and need.

Then there are brides that wander into the murky world of eBay and fall in love with a photograph. This is where I got involved…bride tries on the bargain $140 dress and we start pinning out all she wants tighter and shorter.

To start with, this dress needs to be a petite, so the shoulders will be shortened to bring the waist up and the princess seams will have more taken in at the armhole and the zipper will have to be removed and moved in 2 inches…but wait…back up, girl, FIRST, all the lace has to be removed from those areas or we will have a huge thick mess.


Let’s pin out 3/4 inch on the shoulders to start while the rest of the dress is pinned and tucked. The whole length of the zipper is pinned out as well.

As the dress warms up and starts to droop, the shoulder tuck is increased to 1 inch for a total of 2 inches each side…and yes, there is sheer lining as well to take up separately…where is my Diet Pepsi? Can you see the bust cups? Yes, I can too as they are not nude colored, they are rock hard white puppies…where did the seamstress get these? They will be replaced with nude colored soft push-up ones from Wawak. Yes, this dress is not a RTW dress…it was homemade.

Remove the zipper and a pile of lace:

Red thread trace the new seam lines and clean up the area.

Red thread trace the extra amount to be taken in the top of the princess seam like a dart…and yes, there is a separate lining too to deal with…it is just more labor.

Red thread trace the new zipper seams:

Measuring the shoulder liningg to be taken in before being attached back into the fabric with lace.

Let’s do the other side…I think I will leave that little sliver of lace edge in the seam…at this point I am fed up making everything perfect.

Measure the dart intake…1.5 inches:

The length will be 3.5 inches and taper off into the original seam.

Lace is removed and flipped back to make the seam and then flipped back into place and overlap.

Since the rest of the dress has overlapped thick lace…why not just do more of it?

Don’t forget the lining under the princess seam dart!

With all the bodice alterations done, the bride wants a belt attached. Let’s sew a rhinestone chunky thing onto the pre-crinkled ribbon and tack the whole thing around at the top edge.

No ribbon bow for this girl so the ends are tucked under and stitched down at the zipper.

The satin hem and lining have been shortened and then the tulle skirt will also be shortened by trimming with scissors. The satin layer/lining has a 1-point bustle and the tulle has a 3-point bustle.

The final photo shows the great fit in the bust area along with the almost invisible bust cups.

Maybe you’ve notice that I use a nice ruler in my photos and work.

For 40 years I have been using the same C-thru brand of rulers.

The markings are embedded inside the plastic and do not wear off but recently I lost one of the 6 inch ones and went crazy trying to find it. In the end, I resorted to buying one online and the new one is a cheap imitation with the marking just painted on the surface and rough. It seems the original company folded and were bought out and this is the crappy substitute we are being sold. I wrote a review to the drafting company selling these and asked them not to claim they were the same quality. They thanked me…we shall see. Even Amazon is selling these cheap versions so beware!

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30 Responses to Lumpy Lace

  1. You rock!!! Great alterations and lovely remake of a gown!!!

  2. ParisGrrl says:

    Lovely job with that dress. Not sure if it’s exactly what you’re looking for, but you can find a similar ruler at

  3. Tia Dia says:

    Well done, Mrs Mole!!! Your comment about the dress growing as it warmed up was interesting… I’d never thought of that!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Even corseted dresses need to be tight right in the beginning as the body adjusts to the tightness and shifts fluid (and fat) to other areas. I can start pinning a hem of a dress and by the end of the hour, it has grown the longer it is worn…just a little something to make you double check. Also the weight of all those layers does pull everything down.

  4. Chris T says:

    The fittings and alterations you do are just amazing and keep me enthralled every time, its so interesting to see the fine work you do and the wonderful results. Thank you for sharing these with us.

    • mrsmole says:

      These babies manage to find me no matter what I do…ha ha. So you have the benefit of being warned about what is lurking out there! Thank yoiu for your kind comments, Chris.

  5. Connie Turner says:

    The gown had potential and you made it look really beautiful and glamorous. I do understand why the bride fell in love with it.

    • mrsmole says:

      Up close with that dress…it was not very nice. The tulle was pretty nasty and the lace just overlapped and thick in places just showed the lack of thought that went into the dress. The bride thought it was made by a student as it did not have any labels.The photos made it look nicer and the bride had a vision. She will add lots of accessories on the wedding day as well.

  6. Laura Jansen says:

    Another wowzer dress, only because of the magic you do!

  7. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) says:

    eek, well the fit is now fantastic due to your magic but I can’t imagine buying a dress like that, the tulle things hanging off the skirt look to me the color of old pantyhose. not exactly luxurious 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      You hit the nail on the head, Beth…yes…old pantyhose for sure. I called it the brown dress when describing it to Mr. Mole and it was a relief the day it left. Now the bride has a zip-lock bag filled with lace motifs and nasty tulle trimmings and her dream dress.

  8. Beautiful style! I’m glad you were able to make it work! I’m going to have to go check my rulers now to see how good, or bad, they are!

  9. celeste says:

    Mrs. Mole, what is the prettiest wedding dress you have ever seen/helped with? I think you have more experience than 99% of us, so I am just wondering what YOU like. Is it lace, intricate, or smooth, or fluffy?

    • mrsmole says:

      Lace or smooth satin works for me. This current trend of mountains of cheap tulle just makes me laugh and feel sad as well. Instead of quality performing fabrics that give the feel and look of luxury, brides are being conned into buying layers and layers or inexpensive tulle which does not bustle well or flatter the figure. If yoiu figure the fabric cost of tulle compared to real satin or lace it makes sense to crank these latest versions out. Just make a visit to the fabric store and price 100 inch wide tulle…around $1.50 a yard compared to bridal satin…some company is making a lot of money!

  10. Elle says:

    Beautiful fit in the end!

  11. ceci says:

    The final product is of course lovely but….rather odd conceptually to start with, the long tan tulle OVER the shorter lace skirt, and the rigid white cups shining thru the lace bodice – did you get the feeling that it had been worn originally like that? Perhaps just a style I’m not familiar with – it IS nice to see something other than strapless and startlingly low cut which seems to be the norm at weddings I attend (in my former job I worked with many young people starting careers and they kindly invite me to weddings or send pictures…..).


    • mrsmole says:

      We think the dress was a school project as it was very basic inside and the lace was just overlapped. The lace was also missing in the back from the waist to the hem in certain areas like maybe they had run oiut and just left it blank. Also the portion over the tummy was totally blank so it looked like her tummy was bulging out. More than one client pointed out these flaws to me while I was hemming their dresses. It was probably worn an a school runway and looked good from a distance.

  12. erniek3 says:

    I had to back up and look at this dress again a couple of times. It is lace motifs sewn onto a powernet dress? Huh? The more I look at it, the less sense it makes. I know, it’s tulle, but….it’s a power net dress. On the other hand, the lace isn’t knit into the net, so it picks right off and moves just so. And she’s going to look so naked in the photos.
    I love those rulers as well. They do break in time. I have a couple and they don’t leave the room with anyone for anything. I love my family, but ….no. Hands them another one. Use this, lose this.

    • mrsmole says:

      I got the feeling that this dress was on eBay because someone was having a closet clean-out like mothers do when their daughters leave home and leave all the unloved prom dresses behind. I eventually found my missing ruler in a box I keep all my grosgrain ribbon in. So it was a happy day indeed!

  13. Val says:

    This wouldn’t have been the dress for me but I give full props to the person (people) who originally sewed it. My great-grandmother made my maternal grandmother’s wedding dress but that was back in 1925. What was your impression, Mrs. Mole? Was this dress created from a pattern or was it self-drafted? Either way, even after having been a home sewer for almost 50 years I don’t think I would have the guts to make a wedding dress!

  14. mrsmole says:

    Depending on whether it was actually made for someone or just as a school project it might have been drafted from scratch but nothing remarkable, basic princess line bodice and A-line skirt. I think making a wedding dress at home would be a challenge if we are talking about yards and yards of fabric needing to be spread out on a table. I always imagine that you would need a huge table like folks who make draperies have. I have 2 vintage dresses from the 50’s coming up that you will find interesting from the photos of the insides.

  15. JustGail says:

    Thank you ParisGrrl for the link to the good rulers. What’s worse than the rulers being rough and losing numbers is rulers that look the same but aren’t marked the same! I have 2 similar to the C-thru and could not figure out why my projects were “off”. Finally I realized I was switching rulers and found even though they are the same length, the measurement markings are off by about 3/8″ over the entire ruler. !?!?!? WTH :-< !?!?!? I've scribbled on the incorrect one that it's not to be used for measuring, but I should just pitch it.

    Mom made my wedding dress, and yes it was quite the challenge to lay it out and cut, not to mention the entire household was under threat of dire consequences if we touched it with unwashed hands. The coffee table left the living room, so she could lay it out on the floor. I don't know that she'd have made it if it were not the first she made.

  16. It’s quite astonishing just what variations there are in wedding dress styles – and the thought process in choosing. This wouldn’t be my favourite but I’m sure you have made this bride very happy.

  17. sewruth says:

    Diet Coke plus rum!

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