Two Piece One

You would think that being able to buy a 2 piece wedding dress would be a real breeze and the fit would be fantastic. This Wtoo Maelin beaded bustier should fit like a dream. Paired with the Nori skirt, what could a seamstresses have to do?


Well…after being measured and ordering the appropriate size for her bust, waist and hips, the bride shows up with this ill-fitting top: To make this top fit, the center back zipper has to be taken in 1.5 inches on each side for a total of 3 inches and also make darts at the side bust.


You can see from the cleavage that even with ordering a top 2 sizes larger than she needed and larger than the sample top size 12, we were in trouble. The bride kept telling me that the sample top fit her better but they ordered the larger size as she matched the size guide. No matter what I pinned out, she was not happy. She looked frumpy and dumpy but the main problem was that the bustier did not have the power to hold her in and up and support her. So…she went back to the salon and bought the smaller sample one.

While this new one fit better all around in the waist and hips, the bust cups were not big enough to contain her assets without adding some sort of straps. Of course, the bride was totally against ANY straps or halter so I said I would add a strip of twill tape along the top edge to snug in an inch on each side to help pull that top edge closer to her.

While it helped a bit, 4 more boning strips were attached by hand to the lining. In these photos you can see that the bust cups are merely foam knit and about a size B and the bride needed more room.

Moving unto the skirt we discover that to shorten the front, every single vertical panel with side ruffles has to be taken up by making horizontal tucks which will be hidden by the top layers of ruffles. In this photo, you can see 3 of the 6 panels that were altered, some as much as 3 inches deep. All those ruffles for the train will be bustled up using 3 bustle points to clear the ground for dancing. And speaking of dancing, even with the twill tape and extra boning, the top will still droop and jiggle and expose the bride which she did not want.

So, I again brought up the prospect of adding straps and I made 2 versions for her to choose. As the dress came with a matching tan satin ribbon belt that was not going to be used, I covered strips of 1/4 inch wide grosgrain ribbon and also folded the belt on itself for a softer style.

She opted for the one with grosgrain inside as it was sturdier and looked richer being padded slightly and we crossed them in the back to add some design and stability.

Mission accomplished with straps that the bride now loves and ruffles up  and hidden under the top layers and out of the way for a night of dancing.

I don’t know who has decided that 2 inch wide horsehair braid is now the “thing” to add to all the ruffle edges but it makes altering a real challenge and coming up there will be another skirt like this with even more issues and more horsehair braid!

As Summer has turned into Fall and the veggies have slowed down production, I wanted to share the star of the garden. This year I planted seeds for a Russian Giant sunflower that was supposed to grow to 10 feet tall. Here I am reaching up before the flower emerged:

Now the flower is open and soon the birds will be feasting on the seeds before Winter arrives.







Wishing you all a great week of cooler weather in the Northern Hemisphere and as we have had our first snowfall in the mountains it has aided the firefighters in battling and trying to get our forest fires under control. Hooray!

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46 Responses to Two Piece One

  1. Theresa says:

    THAT is some sunflower! Our hummers have left but I see you still have your feeders out. I’ve cut down to one for those migrating through. Isn’t it just awful that you never seem to get what you order with wedding gear? Great fix though!

    • mrsmole says:

      We have a couple of green bodies hummers left after the rest of the Rufus variety left for Mexico. Normally we have a couple strong ones spend the winter in our yard so we keep the feeders full and under the eaves to avoid the frost. We also bring one feeder in during the night and put it out early as the hummers are already tweeting when the sun rises. All the chickadees are landing on the sunflowers and stocking up before the frost.

  2. Tia Dia says:

    That is a crazy tall sunflower!!! I’ve never seen anything like it.

    I love the idea of a two-piece dress, but that’s a lot of alterations. Of course she wouldn’t consider a proper fitting undergarment, right? It’s ridiculous that people think garments should do the job of underwear. And there’s some pretty sexy pieces she could have chosen for her special day. Would save the risk of jiggling around and eventually falling out…. 😀

    • poppykettle says:

      It’s almost like people aren’t aware that this is even an option!!! It certainly made the difference for me, both in looks and in comfort!

    • Val says:

      Yeah, I’m old as dirt, so I wasn’t sure if anyone still makes long line strapless bras. Yes they’re still available and they’re available at big, basic retailers with stores all over the U.S. NO EXCUSE for not buying one and having it sewn into the bodice.

      • mrsmole says:

        Thanks, Val for letting us know that it is still an option. I have seen nice supportive bras from Victoria’s secret as well but it seems the bigger the girl, the less she wants to wear under her dress which makes no sense!

    • mrsmole says:

      Having to add boning strips by hand is not my favorite job and wearing the proper bra would solve so many problems! Didn’t brides used to buy really fancy sexy underwear?

  3. jay says:

    The skirt is lovely. The straps on the bodice are the best compromise. I’m probably in a minority of one, but I’m not a big fan of bustier styles for weddings.That’s some sunflower!

  4. Elizabeth Harber says:

    I started following your blog as I was preparing for my daughter’s wedding, and I get a happy heart when I see a new post. I love to sew but don’t have much time to do it. Thank you for letting me come along for the ride as you problem solve and transform these beautiful garments. Your wit, skill, and style are a real treat for me -and others I’m sure.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Elizabeth…sharing these dresses and wacky solutions is my way of letting others know that you can certainly make up techniques to suit the occasion and not to be scared of gaping and too tight garments. I wish I could share more details of the bride and her story but I have to remain anonymous.

  5. poppykettle says:

    Poor bride – I remember so clearly before I started sewing how it felt to really want a certain style to work for you, but being RTW, it was never in a million years going to get close to what I would have wanted. The straps really do make her bust look so much better – and here’s hoping she was able to dance the night away without feeling conscious of a possible disaster!
    That sunflower is amazing!!!

  6. kathyh says:

    Loving your extra tall sunflower. I planted all of my sunflower seeds and got a good showing plus enough for my rabbits to snack on the seedlings. I have some reddish orange ones plus a pincushion one in bright yellow gold – it stands 7 feet tall. I am really enjoying you work your magic alterations. So inspiring.

    • mrsmole says:

      I hope I can encourage all my followers to attempt altering formal clothes…you still have the basic features…side seams. hem and zippers that can be changed, tightened and altered to get a way better fit. Some of my new teddy bear sunflowers were just darling too this year. Now the hungry birds and new baby birds are making quick work of the seeds!

  7. Carolyn says:

    My grandmother use to grow them this large. It’s why I love sunflowers so much! I’m glad that you were able to get the dress to work for your bride…though this seems more like a manufacturer issue than a bride not buying a proper fitting dress.

    • mrsmole says:

      I did feel sorry for the bride not knowing how the larger top would fit but so happy the salon owner agreed to swap it for the sample one. I just wish it had more supportive boning to start with! and maybe detachable straps like bridesmaid dresses sometime do.

  8. I would be so afraid to wear a dress without straps and I’m not as endowed as this lady. Her wedding dress is now lovely! I love sunflowers. My mother used to grow them but she is unable to garden now.

  9. upsew says:

    I have never ever seen a sunflower that tall – wow – I used grow them years ago, but have not done so in my new garden (I went extreme low maintenance), I may try them as they are such a happy flower (I used try and grow them in with sweetcorn and squash – but the sweetcorn used never thrive as we live in Ireland).

    Amazed that retailers will not make these bustier tops with a bigger cup option, as my own feeling is that a C cup is the average these days? also pity there is nothing extra given in seams ‘these days’ to alter, in the 80s I would always have to take out skirts at hips and in at waist for myself and my sis and there was often sufficient fabric in the seams to eek it out
    Well done on your challenge

  10. mrsmole says:

    Trying to grow sunflowers in Ireland…that’s a real challenge! Yes, I agree upsew…”C” cup and beyond is certainly the norm and it would have been nice to see real sturdy cups inside that top and more boning but we work with what they bring in. It gives us seamstresses a chance to get creative…ha ha. The dream is always to find extra fabric in seams allowances but most days you can only find 1/4 inch of serged seams…darn!

  11. Sue in MN says:

    I love your alteration stories – they just make me ever more glad that I opted for an alterations professional for my daughter’s dress, and she for a dress she could try on before buying (she is a size 0 with a 32G bust.) I can draft a pattern from the bottom up, but altering someone else’s work still scares me. On a different note, the movie ads in your latest post were totally annoying – my screen kept jumping to them and it took forever to read the blog – what happened?

    • mrsmole says:

      Movie ads? I don’t see anything like that…I’m sorry…does everyone get ads??? Working on other people’s clothes is a bit scary but after almost 50 years of doing it, you make little rules for yourself like never opening up a seam without knowing how to put it back like the original and taking lots of photos!

  12. JustGail says:

    That’s an impressive sunflower. It would have no chance against the wind in my garden.
    About that 2″ horsehair braid, without it adding that much definition in both support and visually defining the hems, this skirt would be rather blah, IMHO. Would narrower braid keep the vertical ruffles nice and fluffy? It seems like they might need more help than a horizontal ruffle.

    • mrsmole says:

      It’s true that the horsehair braid did its job but the fact that you cannot alter with it makes the problem. Another skirt I have been working on had to be taken up at the waistband since it did not have the advantage of horizontal tucks but you will see that in the future. Bustling up snappy horsehair braided ruffles just makes a seamstress cry….ha ha

  13. Jane Urbach says:

    As the bride and groom were getting ready for their couple photograph, I walked deliberately in front of the camera man to ask the bride to pull her dress up a bit. It was only showing the rosy part around the nipple, but I was pretty sure if I could see it from several feet away, that it would probably look really bad in the photo. Bride grimaced and was most appreciative of the warning. Busty bride, with borrowed barely fitting dress and no straps. She looked O.K., but did not need the embarrassed view for history.

    • mrsmole says:

      Bridal photographs are forever…good thing you managed to make an “oops” moment into something respectable!

    • Cheryl Designs says:

      Good for you 🙂 That was very nice of you 🙂 She probably didn’t want to pay to have the gown altered. I receive calls now and then from brides who spent $500 and UP for their gowns but don’t want to spend $100-$200 to make it FIT 😦 That’s fine, their decision. I am a professional. I sew to make a living 🙂 I am NOT donating alterations to everyone 🙂 It amazes me when a bride will spend $100-$200 on hair, nails, tanning and NOT have their gown properly fitted 😦

      • mrsmole says:

        Add in fake eyelashes….they cost $150 and take 3 hours on the table to have them added along with hair (2 visits), make-up (2 visits), nails, spray tan (2 visits) not to mention a 3 day girly weekend in some exotic venue…go somewhere and stay drunk for 3 days…great way to celebrate the future being a wife…call me crabby…it is late in the season and I have less patience.

      • Jane Urbach says:

        It really was a borrowed dress, and she had almost no money. Actually, I am not sure the marriage lasted a full year, don’t know if they managed to pay for the photos. As for underwear, I managed to get on a Facebook posting for Russian designers. The models are tall, skinny and almost flat chested, and one can usually see through the dresses, but at least they wear some sort of skin colored panties. The flowers, crystals, and other decorations are heavily located in appropriate areas, but the legs showing through an apparent wedding dress is very distressing. I guess since the Hollywood stars are wearing see through for fancy events, I wonder when bride will start?

  14. maryfunt says:

    Too bad that manufacturers don’t offer cup sizing, especially for a bustier style. There is no way that something made for a 38B will fit and support a 30F even though the bust measurement may be the same. The skirt should also have been offered in custom lengths. There are some styles that just don’t lend themselves to extensive alterations. Nice save with all the changes you needed to make.

    • mrsmole says:

      Paying over $800 for a top that does not fit nor support the bust is a real head-scratcher, Mary. We do the best we can to snug everything up, add straps and keep our fingers crossed!!! Custom length skirts…now that would be heaven!

  15. Cheryl Designs says:

    Yep-I say MOST of the bodice fitting issues are caused by brides who do NOT WANT TO WEAR A SUPPORTIVE UNDERGARMENT 😦 I love my brides and formalwear customers 🙂 I EXPLAIN to them, especially when they are ‘older’ and have given birth a time or two.. they NEED support. BRALESS isn’t going to EVER-EVER-NEVER make their bridal gown look perfect no matter how good I am at alterations 😦 They listen to me half the time.. AGREE-DESIGNERS-stick all of that horsehair braid up your—$)^*^*#( 🙂 🙂 I warn customers IMMEDIATELY if I see I am going to need to ADJUST a lot of horsehair. It IS COSTLY. Shortening at the waist is COSTLY. Sometimes if it is a Narrow strip attached to linings, I just remove ALL OF it from a bridal gown. Hem as usual, saves bride a TON of $ and NOBODY knows the difference 🙂

  16. mrsmole says:

    I love you Cheryl…I always offer the bride the chance to NOT put the horsehair back in the hem…I say it will lay nicer and smoother and be cheaper…some go for it and I smile!!! No one wants to wear a bra or any underwear…even decent tight underpants…whoever said a pink lace thong would make the dress look good? Do what is right for the figure revealing dress/skirt…get yourself some tight undies or Spanx and be glad when you see the photos of a flat tummy and perky butt!

  17. Susan Hart says:

    Hi there!
    Loved seeing your recent trip across the pond! We went to England in 2004 and stayed for about 2 weeks. Need to go back for sure but I hear ya on the long flight time etc and cancellations.
    I say Sir Richard Branson needs to bring back the Concorde or something, right?
    On the subject of the visible horsehair braid for a hem, I agree… seamstress’ headache.
    Have you had to work with fishing line hems? Oye! Worse than anything!
    I altered a niece’s prom dress with this crap on 3 layers of frilly gown! BUT! I was so freaked out about trying to do anything with it so I ended up raising up at the waist.
    I totally hear your frustration or worries and craziness.
    Susan in Aloha

    • mrsmole says:

      I have only seen that fishing line hem in bridesmaids and hope to never have to see them again. So glad the trend has almost disappeared. It makes me laugh to read through older sewing and serging books where they demo how to make this fabulous (not) hem treatment. Back in the 80’s even puffy sleeves on wedding gowns had that. Yuck!

  18. Kim says:

    I agree that the idea of two pieces is good – such a shame it didn’t work this time. You did say great job as usual 😃.

  19. Karen Roy says:

    Regarding the sample size fitting and then the bridal shop ordering a larger size based on her measurements, I wonder if they measured her OVER her bra, and maybe the bra had extra foam in the cups or something!

    • mrsmole says:

      The salon owner tells me that the bride dropped 2-3 dress sizes between the ordering and the pick-up….no wonder. Even the skirt waistband was loose.

  20. I am a sewist and have been following your blog for a long time and really enjoy it even though I don’t do alterations for a living. I am currently doing an alteration for a coworker because she hates the bridesmaid dress so much she doesn’t want to take it to a professional. (Truly, it is one of the ugliest bridesmaid dresses I have ever seen) I am referring to your blog a lot as I make these alterations. Thank you for blogging and helping me make her alterations look decent.

  21. mrsmole says:

    You can always send me photos or write to me privately so we can share the challenge at An upcoming blog will feature dresses that readers have made and worked on.

  22. Pingback: Two Piece Two | fit for a queen

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