A Work in Progress

                                    Some girls wear their mother’s wedding dresses.









But some girls are pressured into wearing their soon-to-be mother-in-law’s old stained dress.

Supposedly this dress was cleaned back in the day and then put into a box …looks like they forgot to do the cleaning part BEFORE putting it into a box.

                                 So what does the bride want done?

Well, remove the basketball sized sleeves and use all those covered buttons down the back of the dress, remove every single lace motif and save for future projects, remove every single pearl and discolored sequin and save them for some future project…OK

Then, open up all the seams to get the fit right …OK

Narrow the straps and move front and back pleats to the side seams…OK

Make a new bustle that will clear the floor for dancing…OK

Remove the netting petticoat…OK

Let’s first tackle the front bodice…how many drag lines can you see? Reminds me of the same draglines that were on Meghan Markle’s wedding dress.












Straps will be narrowed.


Move front pleats

Move back pleats and test a 3-point bustle

With all the lace and beads and sequins removed except for the top edge and straps that will be saved…here is is:



OK…all pearls and sequins removed and saved, all lace motifs removed and saved, petticoat removed…now what?

The bride says she wants the entire dress covered in new lace fabric...great. She plans a family trip to Fabric Depot in Portland to select her perfect choice. She returns to present me with her choice.

This is what she fell in love with…is it lace fabric? No, it is netting with thick fake flowers and more pearls and bugle beads.












Can anyone cut and sew through this?


What WAS going to be a simple challenge measuring and make new lace panels will now require taking the whole dress apart and using it as a pattern to get the flower placement correct and away from seams. Also I have to use the scalloped edges of the new fabric in the best was possible to highlight it.

This is the furthest thing from my mind of a dress make-over. When asked what the date of the wedding is, the answer from the 5 family members she brought with her…”we don’t know…maybe next year.”

I wish I could share the tension in the room when I had 6 ladies all shouting their opinion about what should/could/would be done on the dress. Eventually after 90 minutes of this circus, I heard a soft knock on my studio door from Mr. Mole.

He whispers through the opening, “there are 3 kids running amok in the cul-de-sac alone.” Then a couple of the women jump up and run out the door as the three toddlers they left in the 3 huge trucks parked outside finally got bored and let themselves out to run screaming.

Yes, there are days I want to run screaming too. Just a good thing I have Mr. Mole to remind me that better days are ahead when I retire.

Wherever you live, I hope this weekend brings good weather and time to relax planting seeds or raking leaves or pulling weeds…nature…it’s good medicine. Thanks for  visiting!

This entry was posted in challenges and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to A Work in Progress

  1. mltothill says:

    Oh my goodness! You are a saint to put up with all of that.

    Why on earth would a bride agree to wear her mil to be’s dress? Especially an out of style dress like that. Wouldn’t it be easier and less expensive to start off with a new dress that does not scream the 1980-1990’s?

    I think the way the bride’s fists are clenched in the full length photos indicates that she was pretty stressed by all of this too. Poor woman needs to learn how to stand up to her mil sooner than later, or she is going to take over her marriage as well as her wedding day.

    Who the dickens leaves children in the car?

    • mrsmole says:

      With all this drama…it could be a scene from a sit-com, no? It is too late for this girl to have a voice, she knows she just has to go with the flow or be swallowed up in the wave. My “no-kids” policy keeps children out of the sewing room but I guess getting a babysitter was not their choice. It is a miracle that the UPS truck did not run them over or be mauled and trampled by neighborhood dogs. For all this remodeling labor costs and 6 yards of embroidered netting, they could have bought a new well-fitting dress…go figure…MIL control?

  2. It would have made a great zombie vampire dress for Halloween . . . . too bad she couldn’t have just used some of the embellishments off the old dress to make a belt or something for a new dress. I hope they paid a good deposit . . . they may never come back.

  3. mrsmole says:

    Deposit??? I never ask for one as usually the dress is deposit enough. But I do have the 6 yards of exquisite embroidered lace…that must have cost a fortune too!

  4. Carolyn says:

    Absolutely priceless! You should definitely write a TV sitcom about your sewing adventures. You have the patience of a saint!

    • mrsmole says:

      It would be fun to organize such a project.Remember Designing Women? It had so little to do with their work and just the quirky personalities. It would be funny to have a show where my honest thoughts are revealed instead of always having to nod and say, “sure, if that is what you want”…ha ha.

      • Kitty says:

        Thought bubbles floating over your head, a version of Luther, Obama’s anger translator, chyrons scrolling past with commentary and your real thoughts. It would be hilarious.

  5. sewruth says:

    I hope Joan and Jackie Collins are rolling in their graves (even though they’re Not Dead Yet!)
    God bless you for your patience, perseverance and not learning from previous brides……

    • Susan Hart says:

      Jackie died in 2015, but Joan is still alive!

      • Susan Hart says:

        I was gonna say that if they were all talking and shouting at once about the design, I’d be too scared to ask if you DID quote them a price for alterations!
        Imagine that cacophony! 😜😳

  6. Susan Hart says:

    Have you tried GONZO Natural Magic non-toxic stain remover and cleaner?
    I LOVE it! It works on everything and is gentle to delicates and I use a cotton swab amount many times for small ink marks etc.
    My daughter asked me for a sample to take out old baby food stains on clothing she wanted to consign and she loves it too!

    • mrsmole says:

      Never used it before or heard of it, Susan, but is sounds like something that would be handy. I normally use Resolve/Spray and Wash stick and plain water, I’ll have to find some! Thanks!

  7. Liz Thacker says:

    I feel your pain. Sometimes what seems an ok alteration degenerates into madness, and by then it’s very hard to back out! I have learnt the hard way to take a deposit for major dress revamps. Can you cut the lace to make appliques ?

    • mrsmole says:

      We share those times, Liz…in too deep to back out! I can cut the netting but the whole idea of the women is to cover the satin completely…probably to tone the whole shiny mess down a bit. I’ve never had to cut and sew with fake flowers or decide where to place them…certainly no where near the bust points!!!

  8. Theresa says:

    Honestly, I don’t know why the title of your posts sometimes isn’t something like “Kill me now…”
    or you could hang a shingle out that says Bates Alterations! 😉

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Theresa, you read my mind…I was going to make that my final comment but thought it might sound desperate…ha ha…which I am!!!!

  9. Donnalee says:

    You are always lucky with your clients, but I don’t know how much is good luck and how much bad luck–you certainly have a lot of interesting challenges and I am always amazed at how well all your hard work turns out, and you have been lucky no tots have gotten squished or stuck in sewers, thank goodness.

    • mrsmole says:

      Now wouldn’t that be nice…a flattened child or one stuck in the rain drain in the gutter…Lordie…I’m always hoping I have learned a lesson to say no again and again but it seems way more interesting to share these stories with all of you.

      • Donnalee says:

        It seems like some of your clients are more unusual than some of my tarot clients, and I cater for a sometimes very unusual crowd myself–I guess people are just people, with similar concerns of romance and appearance and money and interpersonal struggles etc. No kids allowed at my office though! The client has to make arrangements elsewhere that don’t concern me. Fortunately downtown Woodstock is a place where someone can walk around and be entertained for free most of the time.

  10. Sarah Gilbert says:

    Glad I’m not the only one who thinks Meghan’s designer/seamstress should be embarrassed by that fit.

    • mrsmole says:

      It would not have needed much tweaking and the photos would have been so prefect! But it probably will spend the rest of it’s days in a museum on a mannequin who stands very upright.

      • Bonnie Bolden says:

        The official photos, you will notice, are all perfect. Bless Photoshop! (Yes, a week later I am still obsessing over this one.)

    • Fiona Vincent says:

      You’re definitely not the only one who thought that…. and Mrs Mole agrees with us! Even Katie Perry has said that another fitting was required. I’ve noticed that the darts of some of Meghan’s other dresses finish in the wrong place too. The amount of money she must be paying you would think she would end up with clothes that fitted properly. I know that a lot of the general public seem to have no idea about correct fit and dart placement but surely designers should.

      • Sarah Gilbert says:

        I remember how Princess Diana’s style evolved over time so maybe Meghan will get lucky with her next stylist and learn the importance of proper fit. Or maybe the tailors who made Harry’s coat can take her in hand.

        Wouldn’t it be great if Mrs. Mole started getting classy dresses like Kate’s and Meghan’s to alter instead of the wedding fairy barf she magics into treasure?

  11. Judy Cinerari says:


  12. Kai Jones says:

    I wore my future MIL’s bridal gown at my first wedding. Once I had a decent quality corset, it fit me like it was made for me–as long as I wore flats (she was a couple of inches shorter than me). So I did, my grandmother hand-painted some ballet shoes with pale pink roses and sewed ribbons on to tie around my ankles.

    The dress was absolutely beautiful, a classic mid 1950s off-white ballgown of sheer, light-as-a-feather silk with appliqued flat lace embellishments, lined in matching slightly heavier opaque silk, with a sweetheart neckline and the bodice left unlined through the shoulders and long sleeves, a gazillion buttons, a hooped petticoat, and a short train. She didn’t let me keep it but wanted it back in case her youngest (a daughter) wanted to wear it. It was definitely the best part of that whole relationship, both with her and her son!

    But the bride’s dress you are showing looks so fake, that shiny polyester satin is awful stuff. She’ll have to have it pressed or steamed while she’s standing in it right before going down the aisle!

  13. SJ Kurtz says:

    I do very much remember my MIL handing me the remnants of her wedding dress at some point and telling me I would wear it when Spouse and I finally got married (and that was pretty much the exact phrasing). I did not. It had spent a long time in the dressup box, and there would be nothing to wear and nudity was not in the program. I’m sure you know how hard that was for her to take, and it was RIBBONS south of the bustline. This is more intact but….oh my. I thought for a minute that the embroidery had colored flowers…oooh.
    I got nothing but admiration for your temperament. And Mr Mole has perfect timing.
    As for Ms Markle’s dress, I enjoyed that her spouse’s uniform was far more entertaining than her dress. That is a formal uniform with…. Flaps? ….She knew no matter what she wore, someone would take issue with it. It’s a no win situation (and my proof is this dress in this post. Serious Diana Sleeve flashbacks here).

    • mrsmole says:

      I liked the Meghan dress as it reflected her modern style minus the wrinkles. Harry’s outfit cost 10,000 pounds and they said it took a whole day to make the sleeves. Not sure what that rippling braid/ribbon was doing down the front of the jacket but it was pretty special.So glad none of my mother-in-laws had a dress to pass down to me and neither did my mother. I wore a dress from the back of the closet…perfect for the courthouse.

  14. maryfunt says:

    The dress is absolutely hideous and the shiny polyester fabric is the worst. Are you really going to take it apart, cut the lace to match existing sections and then put it all back together? You are a saint. She could have gotten a new dress for probably less money. I’m not that bothered by the slight drag lines on Meghan’s dress. It fits without being skin tight and looks very classy and elegant to me. She has a great figure and could have worn the skimpy styles brides often buy but chose not to show up half naked.

  15. mrsmole says:

    Yes, I am going to take the dress apart and plan where those darn flowers will sit and have the scalloped edge at the hem. The women are so picky and sticking to their guns about what they want. They love the fact that the shiny cheap fabric will be able to be seen through the netting…sigh. I’m glad Megan chose to cover up for the church service and had some fun with the halter dress later.

  16. Carol Pannkuk Therneau says:

    Haven’t you had a post about this ugly wedding dress before? Sure looks familiar.

  17. NancyJean says:

    I’m surprised they even found that lace at Fabric Depot. Every time I go in there, their bridal department has gotten smaller and smaller so that now it’s nearly gone, while the quilting cottons are taking over the store.

  18. upsew says:

    that dress is a soap opera of its own….. and interested on your comments on Megan dress – I was rather surprised at the plain cut and that the dress creased so easily at the waist – I was surprise a more imaginative treatment was not given to cut and darts – bless your patience for this dress – a lesser woman would have run for the hills a long time ago!

    • mrsmole says:

      It was hard to tell if there were any “princess” seams which would have helped. They described it as having 3 layers so maybe all the layers didn’t play nice? Soap opera…yes…it is and will be unto it is finished.

  19. jay says:

    That dress is grounds for divorce, she should shove a photo of the original at the bottom of a drawer for use when love no longer balances out living under mil’s thumb. What fun awaits you unpicking cheap worn satin. Got fraycheck?

  20. JLC of Perth says:

    That dress is a horror. Fortunately, it will be unrecognisable after you finish the alterations. The bride has found a way to have the dress she wants while technically wearing the MIL’s dress. But what a lot of work for you!

    • mrsmole says:

      These are the dresses that are donated to thrift stores and they cannot find a buyer. It would have made a good costume of some sort…maybe without the sleeves…a saloon gal.

  21. sounds like the dress is the least of this brides issues.leaving toddlers in a truck by themselves …urgh I don’t leave my dog like that .All that dress work musty be costing a fortune ,crazy people.Its not like its old enough to have real sentimental value .Sounds like an episode of jerry springer lol.

  22. I hope you’re charging an arm and a leg for this monkey business!

  23. poppykettle says:

    yeuch – the fabric looks ghastly! Poor girl, not to mention you with that mammoth task. And goodness me, leaving kids in cars by themselves is illegal where I live!!

  24. mrsmole says:

    It should be illegal here too…imagine if I lived on a regular street…those kids would be “toast” by now. Bringing 5 women to a fitting is really not necessary.

  25. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) says:

    you have shown us a lot of questionable bridal choices but I think this one takes the cake. That dress is hideous and there is some serious drama and manipulation going on for the MIL to want the bride to wear that. And 6 people giving their opinion, eek! I think you could write a book with the dramas you observe. thanks for sharing, I love your blog.

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha…reading my blog must make you so glad you don’t have to mess with these chickies! We both have nice custom clients that appreciate good fit that flatters. I love it when you make clothes for your friends and show all the insides of the dress/jackets…I learn so much from you and your great photos.No wonder you teach classes, Beth!!!

  26. KS Sews says:

    It never ceases to amaze me that people feel ready to get married but are unable to stand up for themselves on something like this. There is NO WAY.

  27. Michele says:

    Got to add my two cents worth! The dress ‘as is’ is terrible! I am so interested to see what your magic wand will do! As for Prince Harry’s beautiful uniform, we watched the wedding on PBS and I seem to remember the description of the coat as a frock coat. There was also a spot on the business that makes the uniforms and they showed how the frogging was done, carefully not mentioning that this would be the coat of choice!

  28. Bemused Observer says:

    Also does the MIL know that her original dress will be “altered” beyond recognition? I bet her (MIL) vision of alterations is Letting out the waist or shortening the hem. Why insist the DIL wear her dress , if the look and style is gong to be so different from the MIL’s day? iMHO, the dress should have remained n the box and let the bride buy what she really waned.

    • mrsmole says:

      I’m with you on that! Here’s betting that in the end the bride doesn’t even keep the dress as her own as the MIL will reclaim it.There is even more control in this situation that I cannot reveal…just so sad to start married life this way.

      • Bemused Observer says:

        I don’t how you have the patience to deal with these crazy brides and their complicated family relationships! But I am glad you blog about them! Ha! Really enjoy reading about how you come up with great solutions to make these ladies look great on “their” day.

  29. Tee says:

    This is not an alteration. It’s a restyle! I hope you’re charging accordingly. Never ask for deposit—wow. I always get half upfront! You’re a saint my dear!

    • mrsmole says:

      While 99% of my brides spend over $1000 for their dress, I just feel that they will always come back to get it when it is done. On this particular re-make, I am holding over $600 worth of fabric as hostage but I am sure the MIL will never leave the dress without paying dearly. Only once did a client insist on paying up front…the lesson that I learned was…once she pays, she is in charge. She came back for 6 fittings (normally I only have 2) always demanding that I lace her up each time and let her try on 5 different sets of jewelry and veils and shoes each time…never again!

      • La Sewista says:

        After a career selling I agree, payment in full is the kiss of death. It is a guarantee things will go wrong. The buyer knows it, knows they have a history and has a routine for getting control, pay in full upfront.

  30. S.D. says:

    When I read that they were going to get some new lace at Fabric Depot, I actually groaned out loud. I was there about 6 weeks ago and was shocked at how little garment fabric they carry nowadays. (Though they’re still a step up from Joann’s and the like.) The Mill End Store isn’t that far away from FD, and in my opinion (granted, I’ve only been there once) they have a MUCH nicer bridal selection.

    Ugly dress, ugly family…I do not envy you this project at all.

    • mrsmole says:

      When Nancy and I went to the Mill End Store 2 years ago, I loved seeing so many beautiful bridal things!!!! I think that the whole family went to Fabric Depot and it was a group decision…

  31. Kim says:

    I’m pretty sure that’s the same dress my sister-in-law wore for her wedding and I disliked it even then. Good luck with that one Moley!

  32. mrsmole says:

    OH MY, Kim….you mean there were more of these out there???

  33. Kathy niskanen says:

    I see reality tv in your future. No children I understand , how about fire code on how many people in a room?? Love your blog.

  34. mrsmole says:

    Oh Kathy, you know how small my room is and with 5 big ladies…it just got warmer and warmer even with the ceiling fan on and the A/C!!!! Ha ha!

  35. La Sewista says:

    This is the worst starting dress I think I have seen on your blog. There have been lots of brides with visions that would never work without your magic touch but this one is THE DRESS and it is butt fugly. I can see where the DIL knows enough to wear the old gal’s dress to keep her off her back but also how to manipulate it so it ends up being a totally different dress that she prefers. I’m imagining here but that’s my impression. We all know that in the end you will make her day as magical and memorable.

  36. Val says:

    I’ve been looking at this dress for a week and the more I look at it the more I think it can’t be saved. In a perfect world I’d (1) remove and toss out all the old lace; (2) cut open all the seams in the satin and cut new pieces as best as possible to form an under layer for the new “lace”. Yes, the satin layer would have to be pieced pretty aggressively but – theoretically – the piecing seams wouldn’t be visible. for example: I don’t think opening the seams in the bodice will be enough because the new bride isn’t shaped like her MIL. Maybe some sort of gusset would have to go in the sides? I think the best that can be done is create a strapless underlayer from the old satin and create a brand new overlayer with the new net/lace stuff. No train – not enough fabric in the satin for that.

    Mrs Mole: I sure hope you gave this family group a fair price for your labor charges!

  37. Karen Roy says:

    Too bad you can’t turn the satin and use the matte inside for the outside; it would look classier! I am watching this re-make with great interest! I know that you’ll find a way to give the bride something special for her day!

    • mrsmole says:

      I never know what the bride may want or change her mind…and as the date for the wedding is up in the air…”maybe next year” is the family’s answer…there is no rush to work on this dress before all the rest that are hanging and calling me name…ha ha.

  38. Pingback: With a Little Help from my Friend (Mary) | fit for a queen

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s