Stabilizing Straps and Paper Hems

This Narissa dress is stunning but it falls into the two categories of wedding dresses…nightgown (no boning) and ballgown (tons of boning).

A bride should really assess her assets before buying a dress. Determine if her body (full bust) needs support and choose the right one. Notice the teenie tiny skinny straps?

Can you see where those tiny straps are attached to the sheer lace back? More about that later…nice long and wide train…guess how many bustle points it will take to get it up off the floor along with a heavy knit satin layer and knit lining?

Here’s my bride with her tattoos blocked out. You can see that this dress does not hold up her bust very well and the crystal buttons will be struggling to keep the center back closed with a lot of hugging and dancing.

The lace hem will be shortened along with satin and lining layers too.

Quite the impressive train with the knit layers just pinned up to test the length.


Looks like she will need 5 point bustles for both layers, knit lining and lace.

First, let’s remove the hem edging side seam to side seam:

Angled up to 4 inches to the new hem point:

But wait…how am I going to sew that delicate lace edging to what is essentially just air connected with thread? Somewhere on my bookshelf of “weird things I might need someday” is a roll of this stuff. You heirloom sewing gals probably use a lot of this, it is basically tissue paper on a roll.

Let’s slide it under the lace edging so the machine has something to grab unto:

Before machine stitching and the second try-on, the lace edging is hand basted to the paper, then the paper trimmed a little and the excess netting folded under before the next appointment. After machine stitching the paper will just tear away and excess netting trimmed.

OK, hem secured, let’s get back to those straps. Imagine that entire dress being held up with those straps and a couple of stitches…Lordie… after a few good bear hugs and some wild dancing…poof, they could easily just rip off!

One solution was to put some reinforcement, Stay Tape, in there before shortening them. Inside photo:










Hand stitched in place before strap attachment:

Pin the strap 1 inch lower and wait for the second try-on.

Final try-on has a 5 point bustle in each the satin layer and lace layer. The back buttons popped open when the bride was putting on her pasture boots from the farm. Not a good omen!

You can see the side seam ripples so I tell all my brides size 0 to 26…Formal clothes require formal underwear! I explain how back in the 50’s and 60’s we wore “foundation garments” aka panty girdles to give a smooth look and without going the full thick Spanx route, just upping their game from a pink thong to some tight underpants with a tummy panel, they will make their dress look like the model.









The front view with tighter straps and shorter hem.

Finally at the end of this summer, the peppers are producing fruit:











And the stone crop plants have made an appearance and their tiny pink flowers are covered with bees:

Today I saw Christmas trees and Halloween costumes displayed already in the stores…can’t retailers just wait until we get past the end of September before promoting the next 2 holidays?

Wishing all of you success with your latest projects whether it be knitting or sewing or weaving.

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45 Responses to Stabilizing Straps and Paper Hems

  1. jay says:

    I was given a tip for those sewing air situations if you find yourself out of the proper stuff. The cash register print out you get from the supermarket works a treat.

  2. mrsmole says:

    I was lucky enough to find rolls of that register paper at a garage sale a couple years ago. Back in the age of dinosaurs we all had rolls of that for our “adding machines”, you know the type of punching the numbers and then grabbing the lever to pull down while the paper tail grew and grew. Thanks, Jay!

  3. Carol Mendoza says:

    Your message about foundation garments is so true. I listened to the latest Threads podcast and Susan Kalji was the guest talking about wedding dresses. She said the same thing about foundations. That you can’t make your dress so what your foundation garment does. She said it would be like someone asking you to make a pair of pants with a girdle inside…..that’s not the job of pants! If you get a chance to listen do so, it was a great episode. She even speaks about Megan Markle’s dress and her opinion on the fit of the dress.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Carol, I will search out the Susan Khalje podcast. It was funny how many people commented on Meghan’s dress being so damn wonderful while the rest of us saw such bad fitting issues.

  4. Christine Taylor says:

    What wonderful gowns you always produce, no matter what the problems, your brides are lucky to have found you.

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Christine, they tell me that too and then tell me that I don’t charge enough…next year, that will change!

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        YAY 🙂 R U raising your rates? Mine have been stable since 2015…. I AM RAISING THEM 🙂 It is very RARE that someone questions my rates. THUS, I believe they are acceptable. When I discovered what some of the dry cleaners charge AND what some of the POOR seamstresses charge…well…. I am re-evaluating for 2019 🙂 I will probably lose a few potential customers- so be it 🙂 I also know how many bridal gowns I have to re-do from poor jobs by other seamstresses 😦 I am highly skilled, personable and professional 🙂 I LOVE my job and I love my customers 🙂 I DESERVE a good wage. I make sure ALL of my customers are HAPPY with my work when they leave.

      • mrsmole says:

        Just thinking about what brides spend on hair and nails and make-up and fake lashes for one day and then it is all gone…spending $300 on a gown alteration that lasts forever makes more sense. Mr. Mole says I should just be more accurate as to the time spent doing all these steps and techniques. I raised my rates for bustles and boobs but the rest will have to start Feb 2019.

  5. Laura says:

    First – you see the issues. Second – you FIX THE ISSUES! The amazing Mrs. Mole.

  6. ceci says:

    I’m still not optimistic about the straps making it through the reception……


    • mrsmole says:

      All brides get told to bring safety pins…just in case!

      • Nancy Figur says:

        I cant count the wedding receptions where i am summoned to do something to reattach the brides straps. Everyone knows i sew so i wind up being the go to when the strap lets go. I always keep a sewing kit in my bag. By this time the formal part is over and the repair can be more utilitarian than pretty. I love the way you reinforced the strap.

      • mrsmole says:

        I always tell my brides, “I sew things as secure as I can because I never know what you girls get up to at the reception”.

  7. kssews says:

    This dress is STUNNING! I love the fit on her too…very nicely done.

  8. maryfunt says:

    Too bad the manufacturers don’t understand that these dresses can’t be supported by skinny straps. The weight of the skirt needs to be held up at the waist which requires an inner corset. I’ve used skin tone tulle (2 layers) or soufflé (a skin tone fabric with light texture which absolutely disappears next to the skin). That would preserve the sheer back. You do an amazing job with your brides and make everything work. I usually cut my own tissue paper strips; now I need to look for precut rolls. Thanks for the tip.

    • mrsmole says:

      What the photo can’t show is the weight of that airy looking dress…so between the girth of the bride and the tiny straps…Lordie, she will have to be careful! It would have been nice to add some sort of flesh-toned lining to stabilize the sheer back but not all brides want to spend anything extra once I give the price for hemming a scalloped hem.

  9. Kim says:

    I’m constantly amazed by the choices some people make – blinded by the promotional photography I presume. Well done for working your magic again, and thanks for the link too 😘

  10. Colleen says:

    Good call on those straps and use of paper on the hem! As always, thank you for taking time to share!

  11. JustGailj says:

    I have some lingerie laundering bags made of netting very similar to this dress. And have a chair/sofa throw made of yarn woven thru a similar netting. I never in a million years would have thought to put lace on it and use in a gown. I guess that’s why I don’t make the big bucks as a designer. I walked into a Joann on Friday, and was assaulted by the stench of the vile pine cones. WAY too early for that!

    • mrsmole says:

      I went to JoAnn’s today to buy tulle and the whole place is packed to the rafters with polar fleece and every imaginable form of Pumpkin Spice jar and bath salts and Cinnamon concoction…guess we have to be grateful they are not displaying Christmas trees just yet!

  12. Make a knit dress, it fits everyone! I’m seeing more and more knit linings and cheap knit dresses. I just had an amazon purchased skirt that had a hem so crooked it was anywhere from 1/2” to 1 1/2” turned up to make it even. The lining hung out on one side and the zipper was sewn all wonky so it puckered up the back. And people still buy them…

    • mrsmole says:

      You got that right, Rena. I’m just finishing up a lace gown that was 4 inches longer on one side seam than the other. It only showed up when I pinned the bustle up and I saw the dreaded “dog ear” hanging down.

    • Cheryl Designs says:

      I have been wondering about the influx of knit linings 😦 2018 has been the YEAR of KNIT LININGS. I am accustomed to the BAD-BAD bagged linings 😦 I HATE THEM 😦 I always hem them separately. They NEVER hang properly if you try to ‘bag’ them again so I gave up YEARS ago. Not worth the effort 😦 I had CHEAP SEQUIN Amazon dresses that had bagged linings AND the sides were attached to the lining. This resulted in RUCKED sides and the chicks couldn’t SIT DOWN 😦 The customers paid me as much to REPAIR them as they paid for them originally=NOT A ‘DEAL’ 😦

      • mrsmole says:

        If tossing knit linings into everything makes fiscal sense, then we had better get used to them! I don’t think designers EVER think about who is going to be wearing the dress OR sitting in it! It is a world of stand-up clothes!

      • Rena says:

        What’s so sad is nobody knows what quality is anymore. Just because they pay $400 doesn’t make it high quality. All the popular formal dresses the teens are buying are so cheaply made. But those knit linings make them “comfortable”!

  13. Susan Hart says:

    Hi again….
    I’ve been in withdrawals, not being able to read your blog since we went to Las Vegas last week.
    Too dang hot there but still fun….lot’s of pool time after visiting outside the Strip area.

    I have to say as always….AWESOME!!!
    If the bridal designers would put their gowns on some real women with curves and a little extra, then the brides WOULD get a realistic look at what THEY could potentially look like.
    Such a racket…lol
    Your peppers look great.
    And I’m still enjoying the tomatoes you gve me from August. I froze some, made salsa and also sauce for pasta.
    Keep up the good fight and….RAISE THOSE PRICES! 💪🏻

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks Susan, I have to laugh to think about those summer tomatoes still being eaten! If I could raise my rates equal to my hairdresser…now that would make me happy!!!

  14. Oh my! Is there ever a day when you don’t give the “under garments” lecture! Your bride looks lovely! Nice work Mrs Mole!

    • mrsmole says:

      My lecture starts when I zip up the dress and see a pink thong knowing that a thong will do nothing for the dress. I think I might be the first person to ever instruct these brides about tight underpants…ha ha One mother recently told me that she used to wear control top support pantihose in the 60’s from JC Penney’s and how good her legs felt after a shift at the hospital. I agreed that I wore them too back then when I was an X-ray tech wearing a lead apron all day doing heart caths.

  15. smgj says:

    Thanks to you all – I went and got myself some heavy duty undergarment. 😀
    And yes – I’m getting wed in knit. (In an informal dress – it’s both our second weddings and we’re opting for “just getting it done”, with just parents and witnesses. )

    And yes – the dress is looking better on a less bumpy foundation. 😉

  16. Ellen Boykin says:

    This post is about Barbara Pierce Bush’s wedding dress. Wow! She could have used your expertise with the bodice. It looks too big and shows too much! (This is NOT a political comment; just a thought on a wedding gown gone wrong.)
    What do you think about the dress?

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Ellen, I had not seen her dress until you mentioned it. Vera Wang described as “custom ivory silk crepe Very Wang gown featuring a spaghetti strap detail and a cowl draped neckline”. Wow, that sure did reveal a lot of skin and the skirt was revealing clinging to her stomach and thighs. Then I saw the back…not much there either! Some of the photos showed side boob too:

      • Nancy Figur says:

        I agree about that dress. All the money in the world and that is what you wind up with. I thought she is so skinny that she needed more dress. Just not flattering. I am sure she did this small wedding so her grandfather could be there which was so sweet. She seems very sophisticated normally so I wouldn’t expect a ball gown skirt, but the fit could have been better.

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