Hurry Up Homecoming

How many times have we heard, “We bought this online for $20 and it doesn’t fit and the dance is at the end of the week”?

This girl was referred to me from another good seamstress in town who normally does not get into adding extra fabrics to make things fit.

Normally, when the mother describes the zipper not going up “a little” in the back, I picture an inch or so of a gap…ha ha. How about this? Yes, there is a full 6 inch gap at the top working its way down to the bottom of the 10 inch zipper. The hips are so tight that the back of the dress hikes up at the center back hem as well. Can’t even imagine what happens when this girl sits down and that burnout velvet starts to creep up…oh no!

They explained that they wanted to buy an extra large but they were sold out so they bought the large. Seeing as there are only 2 inches in between RTW sizing, even the next size would not have cut it.

I suggested four wedges/godets 3 inches wide and 12 inches long inserted into the side seams and lining seams to get the zipper to close and give some hip ease at the same time. If we follow the drag lines, they are pointing to her butt and bust equally so the wedges will certainly help!

Let’s get started…first chalk out the shapes from a remnant from the local thrift store ($1) and cut out 4 with pinking sheers as this stuff ravels!

I’ll skip the actual sewing part as it is black and not easy to capture. All four panels are attached and serged on the edges inside and the new panels are seamed at the armhole and here it is time for the understitching to hold the whole mess together:

Without the lining this cheap burn-out velvet would be very revealing. Seam allowances inside are pressed away from the new panels and then the seams are tacked together to keep them flat.With the new panels installed, the back hem is straight and the zipper goes up…hooray!


The side seams look nicer now too with less drag lines. On the real body, the fabric will drape better than on this poor stiff mannequin but I am not sure I would want my daughter wearing such a revealing dress to a high school dance.

Once she tries it on, there is a little pinning on the left side panel to tweak but otherwise, this is as good as it is going to get. If you are wondering what the front looks like, sorry I did not get a shot of that but it is a mirror image…narrow strip of fabric to the neckline and not much coverage.

Another darling dress was dropped off and this time the dropped waist skirt was raised 4 inches to sit on the natural waist. Now, I know all of you are thinking, or should be thinking…circumference, circumference, circumference. You can’t just hike a hip level skirt up and think it will work.

This skirt needed to be taken in 4 inches all around and also they wanted the waist to be tighter so once again, those side seams were also taken in 2 inches…so then the skirt had to be taken in another 2 inches for a total of 6.

There was no zipper and the fabrics were all knit but we got a great result. Sorry, I have no photos in the process as again…with less than a week to go, I can’t always get everything done the way I want. The girl was delighted and she was doing twirls in the sewing room and her mother hugged me and said, “this is all a mother wants!”.

I have been following a really cool blog about vintage fashion which really makes me appreciate the more simpler way of sewing.

Have a look and see how fashion has evolved through the decades:

Wishing you all a super sewing week!

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28 Responses to Hurry Up Homecoming

  1. mhdwileski says:

    Talking about fashions evolving through the decades – I just went to an exhibit this morning entitled “Well-Dressed in Victorian Albany: 19th Century Fashion for the Albany Institute Collection”. This was an outstanding exhibit; there is so much history wrapped up in these garments with the well-connected Albany elite. (This is Albany NY, BTW) Their website, if you are interested, is And, coincidentally, this exhibit co-incides with the Albany Suffrage Movement. Quite interesting. There was so much design crammed into these dresses, I think I may have to go back for a second look!

    • mrsmole says:

      Imagine being able to see 250 years of fashion in one place…oh my! I live 5-7 hours away from a major city so no chance to see such fine exhibits with vintage clothes. Thank you for the link!

  2. Thanks for mentioning witness2fashion. And congratulations on making that black dress wearable — not easy. As a witness to the fifties and sixties, I admit that prom dresses have changed a great deal! So have wedding dresses…. Brides have always wanted to look beautiful, but they have not always wanted to look “hot.” I loved the body-skimming dresses of the sixties — one of the best lines in Mad Men was the observation that, in the sixties, women could choose between dressing like Jackie and Marilyn. What a relief it was to have a choice!

    • mrsmole says:

      I too lived through the 50’s and 60’s when women wore proper undergarments and hats and gloves. In fact, we were not even allowed into church without a head covering and whole wedding parties wore 3/4 of 7/8 length gloves. Do you remember glove counters in all the department stores where your elbow was secured into a platform and the glove fitter pulled every sample over your fingers and then yanked the rest down your arm?

      • I certainly do! And I had to remember both my glove size (7) and my stocking size ( 9 1/2 long), For that matter, shoes also came in an amazing number of sizes, because I wore a B width shoe with a narrow (N or NN) heel, so stores must have stocked all the standard sizes (5 through 9, in those days) in three or more versions: e.g., six and a half N, six and a half NN, six and a half NNN, six and a half B, six and a half B with NN heels, six and a half D or W, etc. I often used to see size 6 or 7 NN or NNN Ferragamo shoes at thrift stores, most of them barely worn. Buyers’ remorse? Or store samples? Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  3. Tina says:

    Thank you my wonderful sewing artist !

  4. TheCompassionateManager says:

    I am amazed how you can just add a shaped piece into a dress and make it look OK. The match was very lucky and it hangs well. But I just can’t understand why someone would be so in love with a dress that they buy it three or four sizes too small. They would not be able to try it on and see what it looked like. I am not sure it is that flattering even with your expert alterations. And as you say it is not as if it is beautiful fabric or anything. It may have been cheap but if you pay for alterations not so cheap. Suprises me every time!

    • mrsmole says:

      It does make you wonder as up until now they have been buying from real stores in the area but maybe the girl just wanted to be more trendy…but trendy has a price…ha ha If the dress cost $20 and you pay me $70 to make it git…then you really have a $90 dress with panels…go figure. In the end it was a velvet pillow case with straps. Love your pink jacket, Kate!

  5. Cheryl Designs says:

    HA HA HA 🙂 LOVE those phone calls 🙂 “Cheryl, we can ALMOST zip it up:) ” I now KNOW what to expect 🙂 I LOVE my customers 🙂 They bring me prom, bridal, etc. that aren’t even CLOSE to zipping 🙂 Apparently, THEIR 2 inches is REALLY 4-6 inches or more 🙂 They know I can ‘make it happen’ so we move forward 🙂 Their ‘cheap’ purchase turns into 50-150 dollars in alterations. I felt bad about this in the past. I got over it 🙂 Your ill-fitting purchase is NOT my fault. TRY THESE GOWNS ON in the REAL WORLD- LADIES 🙂 Saving 50$ online might turn into paying ALOT in alteration fees 😦

    • mrsmole says:

      Wise words, Cheryl, but as you say…they pay us for their mistakes and bad purchases. I have more to come and wondering if $20 is the magic number to entice buyers into losing their minds?

  6. I am not fond of the black dress, besides the lack of fabic, I just don’t think it’s very special. But that’s just me. The other one, is it peach or cream coloured? Is very pretty. I would pay to have that one altered. Nice work again, Mrs Mole!

    • mrsmole says:

      Linda, it is both cream and peach jacquard knit and you can see that the skirt was cut in a circle as the lines drop down at the side seams.She will be able to wear this dress for many more times even if she grows a little.

  7. upsew says:

    you really are the dream maker for your clients!

  8. mrsmole says:

    But that cuts both ways…they can continue to buy bad choices with the hope I can turn it around. Every so often I get to tell a middle aged woman, “This is not your dress” and really mean it because there is nothing I can do to make it flattering. Thanks for your kind comment!.

  9. Tia Dia says:

    That black dress is just awful. Hideous! Every time I take my daughters shopping I pick up dresses like that and give them a lesson in quality. *shudder*

    At least with the pink dress you had more of a style to work with. And twirly skirts are super fun.

  10. mrsmole says:

    The black dress was a bag with straps, now it is a bag with panels and being barely long enough to cover the lady parts…I warned the girl about sitting down. It only works on skinny girls, not ones with hips like my client. If only young girls had role models that dressed for style and not for sleaze!

  11. racurac2 says:

    After reading some of the comments I’m going to talk like my daughter (a college freshman this year): Mom I need a dress for prom, but I don’t want to go to the mall because everybody is going there! No mom, my sister’s dress is not my taste. No mom, I want something unique. Look mom! Only $20!!!! and free shipping!!!!

  12. Marina Porter says:

    I am dealing with same problem dress too small, body 2 big, am going to try side panels and a lace up back panel, ( corset style).

  13. JustGail says:

    I kind of like the black fabric, but NOT in that dress, no matter who would be wearing it. That 2nd dress makes the fabric evem prettier. Am I off-base in thinking that if the cut and lines of a dress don’t flatter the fabric, it probably won’t flatter the wearer?

  14. mrsmole says:

    Guess that depends on the intention of the buyer. I think mothers know what will look good and suitable for their daughters, but like brides…the girls want to look sexy and they can get very close to the hoochie mama look in a hurry!

  15. maryfunt says:

    Yes the black dress is absolutely hideous. Your alterations at least made it wearable but instead of a $20 sack she now has a $90 patchwork sack. Go figure the reasoning. You should charge more to work on those cheap fabrics that fall apart if you touch them. Thanks for the vintage fashion link. Today’s shoppers have no idea of what quality workmanship is.

  16. Kim says:

    Well done on another miracle. I’m so glad I’m out if this now (but my ‘oh, just one more job is turning into a saga 😭). Will email soon.

  17. sewruth says:

    Honestly, I have no comment.

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