A Vintage Look

                              This Catherine Deene dress is so delicate.

You can see that the flare of the skirt comes from 12 lace godets/triangles. The hem is also scalloped. The saleslady told her that any seamstress can raise the skirt by taking apart the waist seams…really?

Remove the entire skirt and zipper to maintain the horizontal patterns of lace, remove the satin layer, remove the lining layer and raise everything up 3 inches…great idea…then the hip circumference will be at the waist…can you say “add a load of darts?”

My solution was to raise just the scalloped hem.


Here is the first photo I received from the bride in a salon. I am always amazed at what they make the bride stand on. Check it out…an old wooden box with barely enough room to move around…watch out you don’t fall off!!!

 Once she arrives, the lace hem is pinned up 3 inches and a one-point bustle is pinned too. Push up bust cops are added too.


Two parallel lines of red thread will be stacked on each other to reduce it by 3 inches.

Two layers of thick stretch satin lining to be hemmed and side seams taken in…oh wait…do you see those French seams? Oh crap, that just adds more labor…let’s see 4 side seams, stitched once WST, trimmed and flipped and sewn RST…yes, 8 separate rows of stitching and pressing and the will never be seen.   

Hems are red thread basted up and ready for try-on and then narrow hemmed.    

Map out the first and second stitching lines for the French seams.

Make first stitching line and pink off the excess as it makes such a curve now. Press and flipped the pinked edge and stitch the second row starting at the top and finishing where the original stitching is.



Take in side seams of lace and trim away excess:

Using the flower and curves as a guide for cutting away and new placement. Using a straight thicker line of lace allows me to use the machine to re-attach it later. The two red thread tracing lines will stack and I will pin.

Starting the pinning

Of course the edging is now much bigger in circumference than the skirt higher up so the  edging will have pinned tucks where it has the original seams first and then each seam will be stitched wider and trimmed.

There were 11 folds of the scalloped edge to be taken in and trimmed away before attaching.

What’s left? The train…is it normal…oh no…it is a center back godet train. Luckily it has its own center back seam for stability when attaching the loop (see the little green thread).

Just a view with the satin bustled on its own and with both layers down:


Brides need to know that some of their pictures can show off the lace better if the satin is bustled up for some views.

The final back view with the lace bustled up:










With another week of 100+ temps, the squash and peppers are producing!

All the larger variety of tomatoes are showing up and this year we have a brown sunflower as a surprise!


Wishing you all a great week of sewing and some relaxing too!


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24 Responses to A Vintage Look

  1. maryfunt says:

    Beautiful dress but cutting the flare into the skirt panels definitely makes shortening an issue. Your way, although tons of work, was still easier than raising the entire skirt. Wonderful fresh veggies!!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Always going for the quickest and cheapest…and avoiding the waist seams!!!! You must have a ton of experience dealing with these issues, Mary!

  2. Laura says:

    Genius!!! Again.

  3. Donnalee says:

    What a lot of work–well done. I hope you get some rain in with those high temperatures. We have nice rain today and yesterday, and last weekend, so fortunately it isn’t droughty right now.

    • mrsmole says:

      The main problem here is the dry thunder storms bring lightening and small fires grow into large ones overnight. We are surrounded right now, in fact the whole state seem to be on fire and the smoke invades everything even with windows shut tight.

  4. Why not just let the bride wear some stylish Boris Karloff shoes, saves on all that altering. http://myauctionfinds.com/2010/12/17/stepping-up-to-frankenstein%E2%80%99s-monster/

  5. erniek3 says:

    As the auntie of a human who just handed me a dress that has NO SEAM ALLOWANCE and wants it wider….I get it. You wave your wand and magic happens. But there’s just no …..no way you can take that up at the waist and not ruin the overall effect of the lace, which is the reason you bought that dress. Unless you’ll say anything to the customer to make the sale.
    I work customer service in the summertime, and the ONLY reason I can still do this is the first rule of the office: Never Lie. I can do that. Some times the long road is faster.
    As ever, looks great. You inspire me every post. Thanks lady!

  6. mrsmole says:

    Just got a call from one of my Sept brides and it seems she has bought a dress for her new step daughter and it is too small and she tells me that I will have to find the exact color of grey fabric to match and make a corset back for this child. I corrected her and said, “No, YOU will have to scout out matching fabric at JoAnn’s and bring a sample to me”. You want to say, “Look, I have a backlog of dresses until Oct and I never leave the house…take responsibility please!”

  7. jay says:

    Beautiful solution, presumably the salesperson didn’t notice how the designer had arranged the lace pattern waist to hip!

    • mrsmole says:

      The key word is SALESperson….it is all about the sale and not the fit. There is a high end salon 5 hours from here that sells these dresses, then arranges for the girls to come back for their first fitting with a SALESperson…not the seamstress. Then for their second fitting, they finally meet the real seamstress who pins things. Then they have to return again for additional fittings. It gives the bride the feeling that whatever they are charging is worth it doesn’t it? Local brides who choose to buy their dresses far away end up spending more money in gas/petrol, hotel stay and meals for the 3-4 additional trips they have to make instead of buying locally. People ask me why I just don’t alter these dresses at the waist…but guess what happens to the train, especially a short one???Taking up the skirt (3-6 inches) to keep the lace motifs horizontal ends up eliminating that dainty train altogether! At least the way I work, I can just take up the front and leave all the rest as is.

  8. These people really should just get the ruddy dresses made to fit in the first place! Paying for all that quality lace THEN paying more for alterations? Madness. ‘My’ bride is wearing Doc Martin’s with her dress…only another week to go and I can blog the whole saga!

    • mrsmole says:

      Isn’t it a great feeling to come to the end of a project? Maybe you can share a photo when you are done???

      • There’ll be a few blog posts on the process. It’s no masterwork, but it’s what she wanted, and I’m pretty pleased with it. The wedding is Saturday so I hope to get some good pics then

  9. Susan Hart says:

    I had a customer that also needed more fabric added to her dress. Lucky for me she bought it @ David’s Bridal and I told her to find out if they offered fabric to match for sale.
    They did and she paid for the exact fabric I needed. And I didn’t mind gently nagging her to be sure I got it in a timely fashion to complete the alterations! one gal bought hers @ DB and her sister or cuz needed a new gown from me! So I kinda used that as leverage (you know like how long it will take to make her dress etc so lets get this extra fabric quickly)…but nicely worded of course….walking on egg shells etc…lol

  10. Susan Hart says:

    You did a beautiful job moving that lace up, having to sacrifice a smaller part of the design in the lace.
    I DO wonder tho how the dresses DO differ in design when the heights are different.
    Spacing of rows etc and all…be nice to see three side by side 5′ woman, 5’5″ woman, 5’9″ woman
    You know?

    • mrsmole says:

      Some of these gowns are custom made and they are measured from “hollow to hem”, the base of the front neck to the floor but even then things get screwed up. The other gowns that are not bought through a salon just take their chances and you can see how many times I whack off 5-6 inches of lace and satin. Yes, Susan it would be really interesting to see the differences and also, as you surely know…short waisted gals do not look the same as long-waisted gals in the same dress. You can have a 5’9 bride who is very short-waisted and a 5 foot tall bride who is long-waisted and the dress will look not-quite-right on both of them.

  11. Stunning as always….and what a beautiful dress she chose!

  12. pdxknitter says:

    That is a lovely dress. Wish that had been around when I got married. 🙂 I’ve got green beans going crazy. Maybe we could trade. Tomatoes are a-comin’.

  13. Wendy says:

    You added bust cops???? I love it!!!!

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