Horrible Horsehair

When you see this Tara Keely dress you might imagine that you will get this exact dress but something happens between the photoshoot and the actual delivery. See how there are 3 layers of horsehair braid hemmed tulle? Three quite elegant layers, nice symmetry and flow…but…

In the real world, you get 4 shortened layers that just look bulky and there is no way to shorten the lower layers from the top as the top layer is only 1.5 inches from the seam.You can see in the next photo how much too long the front ruffles are. The one good thing is that the bustle can be hidden under the top two layers. The bride has chosen a beaded belt with a satin bow and tails and a fingertip veil.


The hidden 3 satin buttons for the bustle:

To shorten the double lower layers, yes, there are two, I will have to remove the horsehair braid 3/4 around of the circumference and raise it up 3.5 inches along with the lining which also has 2 inch wide horsehair braid and the satin layer which has 1/2 inch braid and 3 netting petticoat layers and more tulle layers…let’s say over 7 hours of labor easy. Oh and put in some padded bust cups and take in both hips and one side zipper…anything else…sure…    Have you ever seen a dress with buttons on the shoulder? Me either, but this one has them too. The whole weight of the dress hangs on those buttons and tiny loops so I added 3 hanging snaps to help keep the loops from stretching and breaking. Hanging snaps? Yes, you attach one side as normal and the other side is only attached through one hole as it “hangs” and can keep the two edges flat.  The belt will not have anything to keep it in place so I made thread carriers at the side seams and center back as the bow will be heavy and want to droop:

So here we are…bow tied quickly and badly, sorry, and all bustled up and front now short enough to be safe for walking and dancing…hooray! Ready for the final try-on…


At the final appointment, the bride brings along a non-sewing friend for moral support. It is not a good sign when this happens as these extra women have their own opinions and they suggest to have things changed at the last minute having not seen the dress in its metamorphosis from the beginning/first fitting.

This chick stood over me the whole time and got real close to check out my stitching and every time I explained to the bride about what I had done and the reason why I had done it, the friend said, “Yes, I would agree or I concur”.

WHAT? After 7 hours of labor and lots of brain power and planning and some swearing…this friend thinks she might have a better idea but for the moment will just play along and give me her benediction? Finally, I told her politely that if she sat on the sofa she could see everything well enough (and stop breathing down my neck!)

Before I go I wanted to share a couple bird feeders, an upside down suet feeder on the left for woodpeckers and chickadees and the hummingbird feeder on the right filled with sugar water and in the middle is a new grass that was supposed to go into the ground. I couldn’t decide where it should go so I hung it up and now we call it “Boris”. My UK followers will recognize the resemblance!

The coming week will be in the high 80’s to 90’s so now the battle is on to keep all the baby plants wet and healthy. Happy sewing and gardening everyone! Thank you for all your kind comments last week for the vintage gown…it was fun for me too!

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51 Responses to Horrible Horsehair

  1. fabrickated says:

    It’s massively better after you long, laboured alteration. But the design and the supplied dress are completely different. The bust pads make a real difference too. And I can’t imagine how horrible it must be to deal with “friends of the bride” who interfer. Interesting post. Thanks.

    • mrsmole says:

      Usually the photo matches the sample dress but this time things were not so perfect but we have to work with what comes through the front door. At least I managed to quote a more accurate price for labor this time.

  2. sewruth says:

    I may not be able to sew like you or make invisible alterations but I can count – three balanced tiers to four flamenco flounces. I would have sent the dress back.

    • Jean says:

      I agree. That top short ruffle is an atrocity. Back it would go!

      • mrsmole says:

        Flamenco for sure but the bride was happy that she could do spins and dance…Neither of us knew that the dress should have been different so I just got on with the altering. Even if the right dress showed up, the length would have been too long as most dresses are.

  3. upsew says:

    you are a miracle worker- the hang and fit of the dress after your work is amazing – cannot believe the difference between the photo shoot esp re number of frills and also the what height was the model in the photo!!! really illustrates how misleading these photo shoots are – wonderful work (friend of bride not so wonderful)l (and love ‘borris’ btw)

    • mrsmole says:

      Imagine how misleading photos can be when US brides drool over dresses from Australia and order them without trying them on…now that can really be disappointing as they can be very thick and heavy with 2 layers of knit linings and fragile lace. At least this bride tried on the sample dress and bought it.

  4. Chris T says:

    You really must have the patience of a saint and the finished product looks good but why didn’t the bride send the dress back as the skirt was completely different and looked out of proportion.

  5. Trish says:

    I agree with Ruth that it’s really not the same dress as the photo, in view of the fact that the frills are such a vital part of the design. I also would have sent to back!
    It did, however, look great after you worked your magic, Mrs Mole.
    That idea of the ‘hanging snaps’ is great and could be used in many tricky sewing situations. After so many decades of sewing, I’m always excited to learn something new.😊

    • mrsmole says:

      Hanging snaps are great on a bias bound back neckline opening to everything lies flat. No one at the wedding will know what the real dress should have looked like and they will be focused on the beaded belt and not on the weird ruffles.

      • erniek3 says:

        The guests will smile at the bride and be happy/horrified at her choice in groom or some other aspect of the ceremony. They will love the dress. Me, I love that snap technique. And you.

      • mrsmole says:

        Thank you, ErnieK…and some people at the wedding will only be there for the free food and drinks!

  6. Well done you! I also would have sent it back in disgust. I wonder what the rationale is there- 3 long tiers on a tall model standing on a box, versus four short flounces on a normal height human being. Weird. [Got my mathematical head on today, it offends my sense of proportion!]
    Nice save!

    • mrsmole says:

      Just so glad that the bride was happy and spinning around the room. She was a hoot and her mother was darling so that side of the work was a pleasure.

  7. Oh, those knock-off dresses are the worst to work on. You did well!

    • mrsmole says:

      It is the real deal with authentic labels…that’s the mystery of why they don’t look alike. Could be they made the sample first, changed the design and then discontinued the dress if no one ordered it…who knows?

  8. If I’ve learned anything from your experiences, it’s NEVER order a wedding dress! I agree with everyone else that I would have sent the thing back. Thanks again for sharing – you continuously amaze me with your Midas touch!

    • mrsmole says:

      You know, Vicki, I have to admit my brain hurts at the end of some of these projects but sewing to the date makes all the difference…no time for daydreaming of sneaking off to a coffee shop!

  9. Laura Jansen says:

    Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. Some just don’t get it. You are the magician, genius, fixer-upper extraordinaire! So glad you told the friend to sit on the couch!

    • mrsmole says:

      You know Laura, I would love to say, Back off, Bitch” but I can’t…ha ha. Just saying, “Relax on the sofa and listen to the spa music” sometimes does the trick.

      • Alex in California says:

        I am thinking that the bride brought along the friend because the friend may be known as someone who speaks her mind. Bad move. How obnoxious to have her nose deep into your work as you are speaking to the bride. The only way that this could be acceptable is if the friend was paying for the alterations.

  10. Looking at the pics I sure would have thought it was a knock-off dress and not the real deal. What a disappointment for the Bride. You did an amazing job. The hanging snaps technique is a great tip. Another job well-done.

    • mrsmole says:

      The bride has no idea what the dress was supposed to look like…good thing really. she bought herself a discounted sample dress and will be stunning no matter. I have asked for wedding photos so we shall see.

  11. Bunny says:

    I agree with Ruth. The arrived dress is nothing like the original. For me it’s that top foofy layer that ruins the proportions. I would have been tempted to just take it out. You did an amazing job under difficult circumstances with the friend. I think I would have swatted her.

    • mrsmole says:

      I do have to temper what I would like to do with what seems to be a fair price and amount of time. I want to say, “if this was my dress….” but the labor costs would certainly exceed the purchase price!

  12. Graca says:

    You are a saint for putting up with people that display no concept of manners and personal space. Never mind the magic you do to save all these bridal dresses. I’m in awe of all your work and your patience.

  13. I was trying to figure out if the dress shop photo and the photo of the gown was the same thing. For some reason they don’t look the same. But it’s nice to see you got all those layers under control. And thank you for the tip with the snaps. I never thought of that!

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, the horsehair braid can be tamed and stitched on all the edges…but removing it was another matter. Trying to snip each stitch and not cut into the weave itself. As I raised it up 3.5 inches you have he dilemma of the circumference being smaller the higher you go so the braid had to be shortened and sewn back together.

  14. ceci says:

    The back is quite pretty though, in both versions…….

  15. maryfunt says:

    Was this a copy of the designer dress gone wrong? The three layered skirt looks right but the four shortened layers are all wrong. As far as the weight of the dress hanging from the shoulders what about some boning at the side seams and a waist stay to support the skirt weight. Good save on what looks like an inexpensive copy.

  16. mrsmole says:

    This was a sample dress bought from the best salon so something went wrong from photo to actual dress. Normally, I get the name of the dress from the shop owner before the bride’s appointment so I can see what I am in for. This time things were mighty different with a real tag inside.

  17. abbey says:

    You worked your usual magic 😉. I do love Boris. abbey

  18. mimijackson says:

    Beautiful work! My inner snark would have said to the hovering friend, “I could have used you while I was doing this! Tell me… how would you have done it? What type of needle/thread/stitching would be best in your opinion?” And then, to the bride, “I’ll bet she coulda saved you a whole lot of money, and done it for free!” To friend, “Can I refer the occasional client to you when my schedule is full? You’d get the hang in no time!”

  19. erniek3 says:

    He makes a better hanging plant than a mayor, but does he scare the birds away?
    And what is your ‘spa’ music playlist?

    • mrsmole says:

      The birds love to sit on him and poop…a message there? Mr. Mole has many albums on our music computer that plays relaxing tracks on the ceiling speakers throughout the house. They are labeled “Reiki” “Relaxation” “Spa Sounds”…CD’s like that…harp music too and monks chanting…anything to slow the frantic brides and mothers!

  20. Kim says:

    Oh, you have to love the expert friend. I have been known to ‘accidentally’ stand on a foot or bump them hard when I moved. Fun is found in strange ways 😂

  21. Debbie says:

    I sell and alter those Tara Keely dresses and no way was that style an original. Did I read she bought it in Australia? They are an American brand made with European fabrics. If it was an original it must have already been altered already. There’s certainly a tail behind the purchase

    • mrsmole says:

      The dress was bought from the same salon that sends me my other brides. She is a reputable seller and owner of the salon and must have been sold this dress by the company. I am sure she will investigate the differences in the photos. The dress was bought here in the US. Such a mystery!

  22. barb bachmann says:

    You never cease to amaze!

    • Lisa Emery says:

      OH, Mrs Mole! I always love to read about your magic. And then I say smuggly to myself that I don’t do rescues. Why on earth does Mrs Mole do that? And then a bridesmaid walks in this week with a size 28 dress and extra fabric, because they knew it wouldn’t come close to fitting her! 13 inches from zipper edge to zipper edge. I felt the most amazing rush taking on the challenge! 6 days to make magic!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, barb…just trying to get the dresses OUT the front door as fast as they are coming in!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, barb…just trying to get the dresses OUT the front door as fast as they are coming in!

  23. I’m a little late commenting, but wanted to say how lovely it is to see dresses that are not strapless/ballgown ‘ten-a-penny’ designs. I love the dropped waist/fishtail design and would be happy to never see another strapless gown in my lifetime! As always, great alterations and patience!

    And Boris – love it it. Maybe the next PM?

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