Can You Make This Fit?

An email came to me with these photos and a request…”Can you make this fit?” and “What will it cost?” Here it is on the model.


















Well, let’s start adding up the items…see the lovely red clamps on the shoulders? Don’t we all love working with fine netting and lace appliques? Will the appliques be removed easily? Are the sewn on or glued?

Then, there is the issue of the hem…we have seen this before haven’t we? A skirt that is 5 inches too long and lots of thick scallop lace trim. Is it removable or will it have to be cut away first and then hand sewn back into place higher up? Then, there is the skirt lining with 2 inch wide HH braid and any netting to deal with.

What else?  A bustle…sure.


Here is something I have never seen before…a double layer of chiffon hemmed together at the floor.


It will be hemmed using an opening in the side seam or each layer will be  hemmed separately.












The lace hem has to be raised 4.5 to 5 inches:

The shoulder seams have to be taken in 2 inches and the lace motifs removed first. See that fishing line/invisible thread sticking up?

A 5-point bustle will be needed to get all that train up for dancing.








Again, another first…under that lace edging is a 3 inch wide strip of Horsehair just sewn on for stiffness so if I want to shorten the hem, the HH braid has to be removed…by unpicking all the 3 lines of stitching. The bride says she is not fussy about putting the HH back so we may leave the front hem soft instead.

Just beyond the side seams, I cut the HH braid away.

Starting about 12 inches from the side seam, I measure up at an angle to the 4.5 inches level:

Then I red thread trace the new placement line for the top edge of the scallops. Just yesterday I was watching a video of how to do this, well, someone else’s version of how to do this on YouTube and she whipped off the edging and CUT OFF the extra tulle and re-attached the lace border higher up and I was gasping! Beside not taking into account that the bride might change her mind/wear different shoes or the lace/tulle relaxes between fittings, she just machine sewed all the lace edging on without a fitting. Scary or gutsy?

This lace edging has been sewn with teeny tiny stitches and impossible to remove so I will cut around each top edge first.

The scary part…done…and ready to be pinned higher up before the next fitting.

Each tip of the lace is now pinned and ready to be hand basted with white thread.

The bride decides that she does not want her chiffon train. First the double layer is pinned along the hem and then the row of pins are matched up after thread tracing the new hem level.

Using the Frixion pen to mark the chiffon which will disappear with the heat of the iron.

Once marked, the dress is tried on the mannequin to check for the levels.

The two chiffon layers are now going to be separate and way shorter.

Let’s not forget to trim the organza layers once the lace border is basted and ready for try-on.

Even after hand basting, the lace hem needs to be raised up another inch.

But at least the altered shoulders sit well.

The final fitting yields a bustle that clears the floor evenly and a front that clears the floor perfectly too. Some days I am amazed at how well things turn out…must be those fairies who come in and sew during the night every night…God Bless them!


On the gardening front, we have new photos. First are Bing cherries, California peppers and finally lots of lettuce, spinach, chard and tomato plants.

Happy sewing everyone! Stay hydrated!

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52 Responses to Can You Make This Fit?

  1. That’s a beautiful gown! So happy you “made it fit”. So much work goes into these alterations. I happy you are willing to share your techniques. Lovely garden … you’re all set for winter now, aren’t you?

  2. Miriam says:

    You never cease to amaze me! Your work is amazing I love reading your blog, thank you so much for sharing your work with us!

  3. erniek3 says:

    It is a pretty dress on her. That’s a nice change. And the lace border transplant looks great. Aw, you’re the best!

  4. Tia Dia says:

    Such an ethereal bodice on that gown. So pretty. You have the patience of a SAINT!

  5. Elle says:

    A lovely dress, now beautifully fitted. And a bride who sounds like a reasonable person!

  6. Lori says:

    I just had a prom dress with the double layered lining sewn together at the hem. I had never seen it before either! I did go into the side seam and replicated the original. It was interesting to see that.
    I love reading how you solve the mysteries of gown alterations!

    • mrsmole says:

      When you explain to the client that the hem was made first and then attached to the dress it just confuses them. I tell brides that their dress was made from the bottom up and going back into the closed-in hem is harder than it looks.

  7. Colleen says:

    The current gems are a lot of work with all of the House hair braid. I did a prom dress that had multiple layers with the three inch braid. A ton of work but I was amazed how well it worked out. I have decided much of the lace edges are sewn on my computer memory and so very difficult to remove. I am cutting more but oh so scary! Love seeing your post and the use of your marking pin. I need to try that one. Thank you for taking time to share!

    • mrsmole says:

      Be sure and test a small area to make sure the iron will make the lines disappear! Way faster that thread tracing in some cases. I love them!

  8. The bit of smile I can see on the bride’s face screams joy! And it should :))

    • mrsmole says:

      She was so sweet and at the end I gave her the final bill and she said she should be paying more for all my care in getting it right…makes me smile too. Thanks, Marcy!

  9. Dara says:

    I would love to meet you one day and give you a BIG HUG for all the joy you bring to brides!

  10. Fabrickated says:

    Another interesting expert alteration. Lifting and shortening all that lace makes me feel a bit quesy but you take it in your stride. It looks great and really flatters her figure. And I envy your fruit and veg.

    • mrsmole says:

      Cutting lace it not everyone’s cup of tea, Kate, but one gets more darling day by day. Now…the veggies…check around at your new house and find a little patch where you can plant Swiss chard…the neighbors will think it is decorative plants and you can harvest all summer into the fall. Three minutes in the microwave to wilt it and a knob of butter…yummy!

  11. jay says:

    Great work again, and a beautiful result. I enjoy ‘watching’ your work, but I’ve got to say it’s a bit of a relief when you don’t have to magic up an extre three or four inches of girth to make the back fasten. The dress looks perfect on the bride, all the repositioning of lace and hemming so worthwhile.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Jay, I say to Mr. Mole that sometimes even I am surprised at how well re-positioned lace hangs so straight! Corset backs…wait a minute…isn’t it time for another one??? What’s coming up? How about metallic flowers covering a dress that has to be altered big time??? Wishing it was just a simple corset…hmmm.

  12. Donna says:

    Another amazing job.

  13. YOU are the amazing sewing fairy! Lovely job!

  14. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) says:

    I agree with the comment above – you are the sewing fairy. Amazing!

  15. sdbev says:

    You are amazing! I am in awe of your sewing.

  16. Alex in California says:

    Thank you for the extended post. If people don’t learn from you it’s because they are not paying attention. I always look forward to the next posting.

  17. mrsmole says:

    OK Alex…maybe I should title a post: “Wake up folks and save this for the future”? So many crazy requests this year…but so many good posts in the pipeline!

  18. Elle C says:

    If you are a cherry lover (as I am), see if you can find a Sonnet tree, without a doubt the best cherry ever. I live close to the largest cherry exporter in BC, and they sold me on Sonnets. They are big, crisp, bright red, with a tiny pit. Awesome. And they are an early variety.

    Of course your sewing is amazing, As always.

    • mrsmole says:

      I’ll have to check that out, Elle, thank you. So many plants have restricted areas and cannot be brought across state lines. We found this out while searching for different blueberry bushes. Even butterfly bushes are illegal to bring in.

      • Elle C says:

        I did not know that, I know I can’t cross the border with plants or fruits, but I didn’t realize individual states had restrictions.

  19. Martina says:

    That’s one of the prettiest dresses you’ve shown us, and so flattering on the bride. Marvelous!

  20. Arted1 says:

    Thank you for sharing. It is amazing the workmanship done on these gowns. Really enjoy reading your adventures in wedding gowns. Great garden.

  21. Beth says:

    Your skill and veggies never cease to amaze me as I live in the land of red clay. How has your experience been with the frixion pens? I have heard horror stories of the ink reappearing once exposed to cold.

    • mrsmole says:

      That might be something to test on a scrap of satin. Even if the color comes back slightly, the marks are on the very hem edge so that should not be a problem as the overlay of tulle etc covers the satin and lining. But I will check…thanks for bringing that up, Beth

  22. Anya says:

    You must be treating those fairies very well…they just keep coming back to you! Wonderful job! And the bride kept her purchase to be altered within a reasonable size-range, too! I have been following your blog for a while, and I admire your patience and determination to make (just about) anything fit!

    • mrsmole says:

      It seems to be a season of letting out hips as well. I have photos coming up of dresses I refused to work on after seeing salons that can clamp 4 inches out on a dress just to entice the bride to buy it with the promise, “A seamstress can make it fit”.

  23. La Sewista says:

    Bing cherries? Oh, my, what a treat! Your produce all looks so lush. Do you can or freeze the cherries?
    Lovely gown and what an amazing amount of work went into this one! Questions: Is the edge of the nude tulle just a cut edge at the neckline? I am thinking it is. Also, I would love to know how those buttons were applied to the tulle in the back. It is a lovely effect but must have some sort of reinforcement, right?

    • mrsmole says:

      It is our first year to see cherries, so I’m not sure what will happen to them. There may be just enough to eat for 2 moles after the birds have their fill. The buttons are merely sewn to the folded edge of the netting, no reinforcement at all and they are heavy pearls. Sometimes there is a strip of something behind them but in this case…nothing. The edge of the nude tulle/netting is just plain, not even any support stitching. So happy to see you back commenting, Bunny!

  24. maryfunt says:

    Beautiful dress. Don’t you wish that the manufacturer would just send the dress unhemmed with lace edging & HH braid in a bag. It often takes more time just getting the dress taken apart so you can actually work on it. It’s nice to know that this bride appreciated your talent.

  25. Bonnie says:

    Wish you had been the one to fit Meghan Markle’s wedding gown. What a disappointment after seeing the perfectly sculpted one Kate wore.

    • mrsmole says:

      The first thing Mr Mole said to me that morning was, “What’s up with all those wrinkles in her side seams?” I had to laugh…yes, poor fitting and who needs drag lines on your wedding day?

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