Bustle, Busts and Birthdays

A lovely dress arrived and it was not a ball gown for a change. It has a peek-a-boo lace center insert and a corset or zipper back.


What it needed was lots of hemming of the tulle layers and satin and snugging up the top of the bodice and bust pads. With the bustle pinned up for the first fitting,  you can see how pretty the back view will be. 

The modesty panel is very wide and it needs to be shifted over the tighter the lacing goes. You all have seen lacing that is 6-8 inches wide just to bridge the gap but this girl only needs 2.5 inches for it to fit properly.

The lace layer is not machine hemmed, just cut with scissors which is very unusual but it can be bustled with the satin .

Then the remaining layers of embroidered tulle can clear the floor with 5 points.











Even though the bodice is tight with the lacing, one issue seemed to be that the lace layer was not attached to the lining and it bubbled away from her ribs. All the layers will be tacked together by hand. All the pins along the lower line are actually situated above a ribbon inside that is supposed to be sitting on her waist.

Once the dress is tried on after the twill tape is attached to the top edge and the lining tacked to the lace layer in front, everything sits well and the bride can lean forward without exposing anything.

All the excess tulle has been trimmed to floor level all the way around.


Last weekend, Mr. Mole whisked me away for my birthday and some of you may remember that he gave me my very own wormery last year. Good news, it has been flourishing and the worms are producing good soil, castings and baby worms like crazy, in fact they are almost up to the top layer of the 4 layer condo!

So, this year when he told me he had a chance to get tickets to a reptile show up north, I jumped at it. Now, mind you, I have never been around exotic pets or pet stores and not really crazy about snakes and spiders but I do like watching chameleons, so he booked 2 nights away.

This woman is from Creature Teachers and was showing off a rescue snake who was given to them by the owner who could not take care of it anymore.

Other vendors wore their snakes as neck warmers and there were all sorts of spiders:

But what I really wanted to see was the chameleons. They like to hang upside down using their prehensile tail and can change colors according to their mood. To keep a chameleon we were told that they need a very precise humidity and temperature and an owner should have their own generator in case of any power failure so definitely not for the beginner!!!










After the show we went to the largest indoor carousel in the US. It was made in the late 1880’s in New Jersey and stored for many years until it was donated to be restored in the Northwest. All the animals have been carved by volunteers and sponsored by local families to reflect special aspects of beloved family members. Right now the number of animals is 35 but that will eventually be 50. They also swap out animals for seasonal times like Christmas and Halloween.

Here is Mr. Mole standing with one of the original carved lions from the 1900’s and a dragon in progress.


We arrived early on Sunday morning and got a private tour of the carving workshop. You can see the drawings on the walls of the eventual finished projects

Now it is back to business and enough wacky brides and wacky requests to keep me busy!




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22 Responses to Bustle, Busts and Birthdays

  1. Wonderful! Love the snakes and chameleons, but not too keen on the weird leafy spider! Those carvings look amazing- that must have been a fun excursion.

  2. Laura Jansen says:

    I wonder sometimes, if you are certifiably cray cray. Ewwww. Snakes, no problems but the bugs – oh my. Mr. Mole is looking good.

    • mrsmole says:

      After watching David Attenborough on TV featuring chameleons, it really made me want to see them up close. Did you know that to change all the colors, their skin has 3 different layers of tints and shades to do any color they want?

  3. sandra says:

    What sort of wood are they carving from? Very inspiring, want to carve one myself now. You can keep the snakes though.

    • mrsmole says:

      The guide said it is called Bass wood but it is really Linden from the Midwest as it is drier there and the wood does not crack or split. The animals are hollow and keepsakes can be placed inside of the loved one like a time capsule.

  4. Kathy Bell says:

    Hi love reading your blog. While I did not make my daughters wedding dresses we had a few adventures you might enjoy. When my oldest was getting married she was not living home at the time, so Thursday evening my younger daughter and got out the dress to practice bustling up the skirt, when we found it had not been done. I called the bridal shop and they said it wasn’t done until the final fitting and the dress did need any alterations so it was not done. Wedding was to be on Saturday at noon. So after freaking out, I ended installing a bra hook and loop from a bra since it was already painted white, I installed the hook under some trim at the waist and the eye piece in seam of the satin skirt so it only peaked out a little. It held through the wedding and reception.
    My younger daughter not to be left out of last minute craziness. She had a destination wedding in Vegas. Her dress was strapless and she had sleeves added at her fitting, as she was getting into it became obvious that the sleeves were only basted for a fitting and had not been sew on so I ended up sewing them on with the sewing kit from the hotel.

    • mrsmole says:

      What a great story, Kathy! Some of my brides tell me stories like that of attending their friends weddings and when the bridesmaids got too drunk to bustle up all the points, only half the skirt was up and the other half dragging on the ground…but this makes for unique memories no doubt! I tell the brides to try on their dress at home BEFORE the wedding and practice walking and bustling and twirling. That way they can discover any problems but they don’t always listen to me.

  5. Donna says:


  6. Shelley says:

    Wow! The carousel is only 40 mins. away. A must see in the next couple of months.
    The dress came out nicely, as always. ; )

  7. mrsmole says:

    When you go, be sure to check out the green frog with the straw hat called Harriet
    Her 12 siblings and female descendants filled her hollow insides with papers and trinkets from her life as a memorial. I bought a ceramic trivet with her image as she just won me over.

  8. Chris says:

    Hi Mrs Mole. Question- do you trim the tulle layers on the train after you have determined the bustle points and pinned them up or …?

  9. mrsmole says:

    Sometimes you can get all the hems even on the tulle and no trimming is needed but some of that stuff just will not co-operate and you can trim some of the “dog ears” that hang down. Using safety pins along the hem edges spaced about 1 foot apart helps hold all the cut edges together while you pin up the bustle. Then remove the pins and see what happens. Your bustle loops will be sewn through all the tulle layers so they are one unit when they are brought up to the buttons. I don’t know how others do it using ribbons under the skirt.

    • Chris says:

      Thanks! I Appreciate the tip about safety pinning the tulle layers together for better control when trimming. The bride does need to have the train trimmed somewhat as she is having an outside wedding and wants less tulle dragging across the grass and bark chips LOL.

  10. maryfunt says:

    Very pretty dress and the behind scene look at the carousel animals is the best. They are truly works of art. Happy Birthday!

  11. Kim says:

    What a fabulous birthday treat! I love the carved figures – less so the snakes. Glad you had such a good time, and Happy Birthday 🎂

  12. sewruth says:

    I’m wondering why every dress that arrives with you always needs taking up? Do manufacturers make very long dresses or do you have very short brides?
    What an unusual and interesting birthday treat and such a change from tulle and lace. Brilliant.

  13. mrsmole says:

    Yes, Ruth, unless a bride orders her dress custom made with the “hollow to hem” measurement, they are made for 6 foot tall women. If you are over 6 feet, which I have had a few, they can pay extra and order one extra long…imagine? Being swept away for an early Spring birthday always has the potential for rain and wind so finding an inside event is a bonus!

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