Ordering a Gown on Etsy?

How does one decide who should make her gown? Send your measurements into someone you have never met or heard of who has an Etsy page? I find that so scary and who decides what her/his qualifications are? You can’t select the fabrics or feel them but trust that sending them money will make everything OK and you get a custom made dress that fits?

A year ago this bride came for a consultation. She ordered her dress from Etsy.

At the time we thought that she could lose some weight and I could open up seam allowances to bridge the gap in the back.



This year, she returned and things did not get better, in fact they got worse. Only thing to do is offer to make a corset back along with hemming the skirt and tulle.








Even though she said she had sent in her measurements, can you imagine anyone having bust points only 5 inches apart? Most designs/patterns start with an 8 inch spread  up to 12 inches but here we are with bust cups unnaturally close together.

In addition to that, the lining was creeping out over the top edge of the bodice and had to be hand tacked down inside. Bust cups were added to help with the very round bust curve boning.

When I make a modesty panel for a corset back, I use duck cloth for the part next to the skin. Lord knows these summer brides sweat enough carrying around so much fabric and weight of the dress so this helps keep them a little cooler and absorb moisture. Sweat running down you back into your Spanx is not a good thought!

Cutting the right length for the boning strips:

Boning strips sewn inside the panel:

Panel attached with stitching to one side of the opening and a snap attached to the other side for lacing up. The panel was cut from some light peach satin I had to buy at JoAnn’s.

Here we are all laced up really tight and of course, the lacing will be ivory the day of the wedding.

Since the dress comes with a 2 inch wide grosgrain belt and bow, that will go over the lacing too.  The sash tails will also cover the tight lacing down near the bottom of the opening. From the front it looks better without the top edge digging into her skin.

Bunny sent me this link this week of a Canadian woman and her well used Singer treadle machine. Be sure to read to the part with the photos of the native wedding attire she made for her family!

And I did make time to watch the movie “Men of the Cloth” on Amazon Prime. It traces the history of Italian tailors from the age of 6 to 80+ and their stories. Makes me want to hang out with these men to see how the stitches are made and steamed into shape!

Wishing you all a great week of stash busting or knitting or whatsoever you plan on doing this time of year with the kiddies back in school and the temps dropping… whew!

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29 Responses to Ordering a Gown on Etsy?

  1. Fab work as ever, and what a lovely tale of the sewing machine. Very sweet

    • mrsmole says:

      It does give us an insight into how sewing machines are woven into our lives through generations.Her machine deserves a well earned rest back with the original family. Imagine how soft the materials were for her to sew through them with that machine after she tanned the skins.

  2. Kathy says:

    I just hemmed a dress for a friend from work who was not the bride,but in the wedding party. She had ordered it and sent her measurements to have it made, and her height is 63 inches. It was snug to zip up, which she just chose to deal with, and I did not have time or the desire to tackle. It was easily 6 inches too long. She wondered if they read her 63 inches height as 6 feet, 3 inches. Who knows. I turned up the lining and the chiffon layer and hemmed them on the machine in time for her to travel to the wedding. Thank you for taking time to share. If I ever really have a need to make a modesty panel and change the back to lace up, I know how I should do it.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks for your story, Kathy. I once altered a MOB and bride outfits that were measured in a shop in Portland and then told they would be made on the premises only to find later the labels were in Vietnamese and bore no resemblance to the actual bodies.

  3. Nancy Figur says:

    Another bit of magic. The top does look so much better not digging into her. I wondered if the tulle layer came with the lace motifs or were they stitched on. I agree about taking that kind of a risk by find a seamstress on Etsy. I would never be willing to take the chance that the gown would fit. And this is from someone with an Etsy shop. However, I sew for infants and fit is much more a suggestion than an exact size for tiny babies.
    Nancy F.

    • mrsmole says:

      The lace motifs were not stitched on, they were woven in. The dress had no labels of any kind, not sizing, fabric care or fabric content so it was different. Sewing for little bundles of joy must make you so happy and way less scary than making wedding gowns for clients you never meet.

  4. mainelydad says:

    I haven’t checked in to your blog in awhile. I see nothing has changed! What’s with brides and their obsession with strapless gowns that are way to small???? I don’t know how you do it. I just got suckered into doing some shirt alterations for a friend (gratis), and swear I will never do that again. Thanks for being my hero! Oh, and I LOVE that movie. In my fantasy life, I quit my job and go to tailoring school in Italy or England.

    • mrsmole says:

      Me too, I could stand over a steam iron all day sniffing wet wool!!!! You continue to amaze me with your men’s clothing and such great colors and fabrics! Maybe in our next life, we will both come back as highly skilled tailors!!! Thanks for dropping by!

  5. ceci says:

    Pretty dress, pretty bride – and the sweat absorbing lining is a genius idea!

    Touching story about the sewing machine – surely $50 was a lot of money in those days!!!


  6. jay says:

    Another brilliant save, but how sad that the bride threw her money at this site. I wonder if she measured herself in the wrong places? Sounds daft but I’ve known people put the tape measure at the wrong level for bust measurement.

  7. mrsmole says:

    Lordie, Jay, you never know! Speaking of measuring, your last couple of blog posts have been so enlightening! http://patternpandemonium.wordpress.com/

  8. maryfunt says:

    Great solution as always. I agree that it’s rolling dice to order a dress online. Having drafted many, many patterns, a 5 inch bust point width is ridiculous; whoever made the pattern has no idea of sizing. As Jay mentioned, I’ve had clients show me their “waist” and it’s nowhere close to their real waistline. Thanks for the links. I loved the tailoring video and will check out the sewing machine.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Mary, every time I read a post from you I have to say, “Now that’s real sewing! “http://atelierdesigns1.wordpress.com/

    • pdxknitter says:

      I had a dressmaker/alterations person insist my ‘waist’ was the flat part of my ribs under my boobs because ‘that’s the smallest part of your torso’. So she was going to make that measurement my ‘waist’ and then my hips would be 16″ lower than that. Pretty sure I’d look like a 90 yr old man with his trousers up under his armpits. Even skinny as a rail, I’ve always had to add 1-3 inches to the bodice in patterns. RTW dresses are all empire on me.
      RE 5″ bust points I’m not sure my friends 5 year old daughter has 5″ bust points. LOL

  9. Sarah says:

    Thank you for sharing the story of the treadle sewing machine! Wonderful!

  10. Kim says:

    Great work as usual – I hope she appreciated it! Thanks for the links – I will check out the Italian tailors soon.

  11. Kathy niskanen says:

    It is such a treat every time I see your e- mail come up. Wonderfully entertaining. Thanks for taking the time to share your genius. Always inspires me to be a better seamstress.

  12. It’s a pretty dress! I bet she was happy she came to you! Now I’m going to go back and watch your video. Thanks!

  13. fabrickated says:

    It seems extra-ordinary to order a tailor made dress online, especially one that has to be closely fitted. But I think the dress is lovely actually. Really pretty and flattering once you had sorted out the back and bust for her. Somehow reminds me of Snow White! I have been meaning to watch that tailoring video for ages – I seem to remember them crowd-funding to get it made.

    • mrsmole says:

      Snow White…the original princess waiting to be awakened by her prince…isn’t this every girl’s dream? I think you are right about that video when they tried to get it started, Kate.

  14. pdxknitter says:

    I just loved Men of the Cloth. They showed it at the ASG National Conference in 2014 when it was in St Louis. The thing that bothered me though was that they complained that ‘no one wants to do this’, and yet they only wanted boys. Moaned about how few tailors, then… no women allowed. In that factory there were some women, but none in lead or manager positions. I guess it IS Italy, but still. It was disappointing.

  15. mrsmole says:

    While many careers are “men only” like professional chefs, slowly women are being recognized and accepted. Imagine what would happen if more women took up tailoring? Certainly the industry could use the sewing skills of patient sharp eyed females both at the work table and in the board room!

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