Ruffles, Bows and Tomatoes

What do these two have in common?

Willowby Sookie by Watters

Wtoo Effie

How about combining them? Yes, you can put that huge fluffy skirt over an existing dress for maximum drama walking down the aisle!

Let’s compare the model’s skirt to the real skirt before steaming/pressing with my generator iron. The skirt was a mass of Horsehair kinks. Under all that is one layer of satin with 8 layers of tulle and netting below. Then above the satin layer is 2 continuous layers of circles staring at the hem and rising up to the waist.

It took me one hour of solid steaming to get it looking good.

Second fitting with the skirt and without but with a 1-point bustle for the reception.

You may have noticed that it came with a 2 inch wide belt of Horsehair (what else?) covered on one side with more tulle so it had a shiny side and a dull side. The bride wanted me to fold the HH braid in half and cover the waistband and still have the belt open up to make a bow in the back….well. That was never going to happen and look nice and tidy. If you have ever handled the 2 inch wide version, you just know that this cannot be done.

I thought a lot about the solution and decided to cover the waistband with a chunk taken right out of the middle of the belt as the ends were properly sealed and finished.

Knowing that HH braid stretches and shirks when handled and cut, I cut the length 4 inches longer than the waistband to allow for shrinkage. But before cutting the middle section out, I satin stitched 2 rows where I was going to cut to prevent raveling…you know that stuff likes to unravel like crazy.

Once removed, the band is folded in half, tulle side out, pinned and stitched along the long edges and short ends to tame that puppy.


Using a strip of satin, the rough ends are covered and attached to the waistband away from the actual edges to prevent lots of bulk.


Then things got creative…if you are left with 2 ties, how do you attach them to the 1 inch waistband so they can be tied into a bow? You may have noticed that the original bow in the model and bride photo looks twisted and awkward…duh! First I thought… well maybe just attaching the ties on either side of the back opening would work but that HH just will not lay flat for a nice bow. Yes, I also covered the raw edges of the ties with satin.

If I just made the bow flat to start with, it would work and look better. The loops were folded and measured to 6 inches each and then folded down at a 45 degree angle and pinned in place. Then grabbing some more satin, I wrapped the center of the bow and hand tacked the whole thing down. Before I did this, I sent photos to the bride and she approved it.


Then came the problem of how to attach it and still be able to open the waistband. One side of the bow was sewn at the satin knot and over lap side and a large snap was added to the under lap side.

After all this messing and fussing, I left the sewing room and wandered outside to see Mr. Mole in his usual smoke mask harvesting. Every day we can harvest this same amount of tomatoes both large beefsteak and little orange ones as we have way too many plants producing. It is the first year we have planted carrots and pulling them up when they are smaller we hope they are not too woody. The pear tree is ready to be relieved of it’s fruit too.

We ended up with way more than 2 Moles can eat so I have been processing the tomatoes and freezing. So, one solution is to halve them,  season them, broil them for 10 minutes each side and dump the whole mess into a plastic container and toss into the freezer for future dishes like soup. Having the skins slightly toasted/burned adds to the sweetness. Other batches have had bell peppers added too.

Just plowing my way through the 13 brides for September now and hoping for cooler weather as the neighborhood kids return to school today.

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26 Responses to Ruffles, Bows and Tomatoes

  1. But the organza doesn’t look the same as the pic! It’s shiny and cheap looking like Joann’s awful poly stuff. I would imagine the one on the web is silk. Who thinks horsehair is going to make a nice bow anyway?? Fabulous work as always and your tomatoes look amazing. Ours have been good this year but too much rain and humidity makes them split and rot.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Rena, it could have been my Photoshop that made it look that way when I clicked on the sharp focus feature. In person it does look like the model. In past years we have had the rot and splitting too…maybe tomatoes like soot and smoke to grow even bigger…who knows?

  2. maryfunt says:

    Nice solution and the only way to handle HH braid. Your veggies look wonderful and I hope you able to breathe outside soon.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Mary, the air is a bit nicer today and I will sure be glad when designers stop making HH braid the feature instead of inside the dress where it belongs..ha ha.

  3. Laura says:

    Why? I look at the top dress and wonder why? It looked so beautiful on the owner too. Thank goodness some want to do things different – keeps you working in your patient, genius way.

  4. jay says:

    An impressive result for the bride as always! I only get surplus plums and chestnuts now, but in a different place I did get tomato gluts. I got sick of the work preparing for the freezer, then found that if you just halve the raw tomato and freeze them cut side down on a tray until hard you can store them in a plastic bag and use them for cooking when defrosted.

    • mrsmole says:

      We just toss the cherry ones in a bag and stack them in the freezer too. What do you do with the chestnuts, Jay?

      • jay says:

        Also freezer food. Take a few out as wanted, pour boiling water on them, peel and use in soups, stews risotto etc. Although this year, by the look of the trees I’m going to be passing bagfuls to a neighbour!

  5. shoes15 says:

    I roast tomatoes like that too. Toss the tomato pieces in a tiny bit of olive oil first.

  6. Susan Hart says:

    Loved getting to meet you in person and see your sewing studio!
    Thanks again for letting me visit!
    I’m very impressed with the way you did this one, what a LOT of work for a bow!
    Thanks for the tomatoes also, I made salsa with the biggest ones who didn’t fair too well in our cooler on the trip back home.

  7. mrsmole says:

    Happy to meet you, Susan, and to pass along those tomatoes to a good home…ha ha.

  8. Sandi says:

    Mrs. mole those tomatoes are to die for! If you get overloaded, I will be happy to take some more of your hands. The little orange ones are scrumptious as are the large red ones😋😋😋😋😋😋

  9. Nancy Figur says:

    I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw your post. I am working on an almost identical project. I make Christening gowns from wedding gowns and the gown I am transforming is one that had the nearly exact top fabric and then mermaid style the exact hh braid skirt. The one I am working on is all tulle and 5″ wide braid with an up and down hem. That is a lot of fabric to put on a size three month gown but it is working out and I am taking tips from your post especially about the ends of the horsehair braid.

    I am trying to post a picture to show how similar the original gowns are but I am not sure it will work. I love what you wound up with. The dress I am working on is a Pnina Tornai from Kleinfelds in NYC.

    • mrsmole says:

      Sorry I can’t access the photos. Please send them to me at and I can post them next time. 5 inch braid…OH MY! I worked on one of those from NYC. It was a 2 piece and neither piece fit and for $7000, it really should have!

      • Connie says:

        If you omit the [IMG] at the beginning and end of each line, you can see the pictures.



        The christening gown is impressive. How will anyone find the baby in all the fluff?

      • Nancy Figur says:

        Great to know about deleting the img. Exactly but mom loves it. The picture is the mockup and just pinned. Now i am forging ahead for real. I hope steaming thar hh braid will let me put the peaks and valleys in the right spots. I did just as you showed with the edges of the hh and it worled out great. The thing i was most surprised at with this expensive gown was the quality of the zipper and the lack on any hand stitching.

  10. Shelley says:

    I did not know you could freeze tomatoes. I have 3 plants, but I’m the only one who actually likes tomatoes. The Willamette and the chocolate cherry are ripening in a big batches so freezing sounds like an excellent solution. The gold nugget has gone though one wave, but is still putting out flowers for a second one.
    I swear I can’t see how you keep track of all that froth in these gowns. Amazing as always.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Shelley, it’s great that we can freeze tomatoes raw or scorched or cooked depending on what they are going to be used for later. One of our gold tomato bushes is so heavy with fruit and flowers that it collapsed even with a cage around it. Could the smoke be causing this abundance this year?

  11. Kim says:

    Well done on another well thought out solution.
    Your harvest looks great – is the smoke you are getting affecting the flavour at all?

    • mrsmole says:

      Not sure about the increase in flavor but with no splitting or blossom rot…I ain’t complaining! Other plants that have never looked so good are crepe myrtle bushes and trees and spaghetti squashes.

  12. fabrickated says:

    Gilding the lily. Thanks for tomato advice. We have tried drying them in the oven and it really concentrates the flavour, and then storing in the fridge until we eat them all up. But we don’t have kilos – just buy a few too many from time to time.

  13. You are a master at your craft! I was lost for a solution. Thank you for teaching me something every time I stop by! (Lovely produce too!)

  14. Cheryl Designs says:

    THIS is what I LOVE about your bride 🙂 NO TATS 🙂 🙂 I know tattoos are popular, it is not my place to advise about that 😦 But I must say’s becoming RARE..when I see a bridal back with NO tats and it’s LOVELY 🙂 Now and then a bride will ask ME how WE can cover those! Well-we can ADD a solid BACK to your gown for a couple of hundred + $ …. 😦 Your garden produce looks EXCELLENT 🙂

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