An Ocean Wedding

When I get a call from a bride who says, “I can’t make up my mind to choose one of 3 wedding dresses I have ordered”…I just shake my head. Instead of going to a bricks and mortar store/salon brides opt to just click on Amazon bridal gowns knowing that they can return all or part of the collection with no strings attached.

I agreed to see the dresses and this time it was easy…like Goldilocks, one was toooo small, another was toooo large , and this one was just right:

Nicole Miller 62444

After the try-on, I examined the inside of the dress she had settled on and it sure did look to me like it had been worn, altered, and returned to Amazon for resale. I told the bride this fact and she returned it, and ordered it again, this time in better shape.

It is hard to see all the horizontal, vertical and diagonal seams online. Also you cannot see or feel the cotton/silk fabric which has no sheen or drape…it might as well be heavy duck cloth. The fact that I can barely get a hand needle through this fabric for basting is a real pain!

The non-wedding will be in Florida on a beach…non-wedding? Yes, it has been explained to me that the couple will fly first class across the country, rent a fancy convertible sports car and glide along the coast until they find a perfect spot, get out of the car and then say a few word and get their photographer to film all this activity as they romp through the waves and seaweed. (Please don’t tell your seamstress this!)

Then, the bride has found a company in NYC that will dye the dress to be worn later. Not sure how the salt water will disrupt that procedure remembering that the fabric is half cotton-half silk.

I offered to make a 3 point bustle to help with the train:

The hem is pinned up and the bustle keeps the train off the floor/sand…but NO.

Having a proper bustle in the sand is just no fun so let’s attach a loop for the bride to carry and fly around for those photos. Let’s pin out the butt area to make it tight…great…can you see how the stiff fabric really does not want to co-operate? Tulle layer will be trimmed to floor length after having a 4 inch horizontal tuck in the lining/petticoat layer.











The front view with a piece of ribbon pinned on which will be later replaced with a strap made from the hem trimmings:















The new hem is thread traced in green and the original hem opened out. This is the first dress in 15 years that I have seen with cheap rayon hem facing. Still wondering how a brand new dress could have such a dirty hem??? Me too!

Another interesting fact….while the whole dress is lined…the front panel is not. Why?

Here’s another thing we don’t want to see …horsehair braid and hem facing and 2 layers of the hem all attached with ONE row of stitching. You start to remove one part and everything releases.

HH braid removed, hem tape removed and HH braid re-attached:

New hem length marked with Frixion pen:

Attach raggedy hem tape and trim off excess fabric:

Pressed and ready to fold under and sew by hand to the lining:

You can see both rows of stitching here so the next seamstress will not have to dread altering. (please ignore poor spelling)

The right side and wrong side of hand sewn hem:

The wrist strap made from scraps from hem:

So… as the bride pushed for me to finish quickly, 6 weeks before the wedding date, I made sure she had what she wanted.

An email came this morning telling me that she had lost a lot of weight in the last month and guess what? She wants her dress tighter and tighter now and how fast can I do this and how much will it cost and when will it be ready? It is 2 weeks until the date.

I did suggest, as I do with all the brides, to wait until 3-4 weeks before the actual date to make sure their weight is what it eventually will be but this girlie had other plans and now we start again. Not looking forward to getting back into those stiff seams!

In the meantime, I was told by one of her friends that the real reason she needed the dress so early was the fact that, like many brides, she held a “reveal party” for 30 of her best friends along with another party as her bridal shower/hen night for another 30 girlfriends. This seems to be a new thing.

So, I agreed to see here one more time for new snugging up. She told me that at her “reveal party” all of her 30 girlfriends were able to survey the dress and give their opinions on what was wrong with the altering and what else they thought she needed…isn’t that something nice? So their collective opinion was that she needed it skin tight…sure…who doesn’t want a skin tight dress to wear in a convertible sports car in Florida? 

After I pinned every last seam, I asked her to try and sit down without popping pins everywhere. She had to take baby steps just to get to the chair and that dress just made the worst horizontal wrinkles ever in her lap! She got up and declared that it was just fine…Okey Dokey!

When this dress left my house a month ago, it was steamed along with the long rhinestone edged veil…now it looks like it has been left in a grocery bag but then it has been on display and handled by many….sigh.

Here the dress is pinned once again, this time removing 2 inches from waist to her knees and under her butt…Yes Ma’am, you have to get that to cup under as tight as possible. Can she now get up or down my platform? NO and she can barely sit down.

This center back seam will be taken in more and more…love those horizontal drag lines! This butt area was so tight, I could not even pin it from the outside!

Now that the evenings are in the 20’s F, I brought the gardenia plants indoors.

This gardenia plant has already produced 3 fragrant flowers.

Wishing you all a super final week of holiday sewing for all those on your Christmas list! Thank you to all the readers who follow along and leave comments! It is so rewarding to hear from other seamstresses who run into challenges!

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50 Responses to An Ocean Wedding

  1. Laura says:

    I read your blog and shake my head. It’s a good thing you have a place to release this craziness that the brides bring to you along with the dresses that need fixing. When ya gonna retire?

  2. Marilyn says:

    It looks exactly like cotton duck, I will wager it will take exactly 15 minutes of wearing it and the seams will POP entering that car lol. OMG, a reveal party? What next? (Don’t answer that lol). What she needs is an extra zipper or two so she can walk and sit down – but what do I know *sigh*. Mrs. Mole, I am beginning to have doubts about this career choice (grin).

    • mrsmole says:

      Sewing for brides is not for pussies…you have to like sewing all night and weekends for 2 tips a year out of 80 brides. Figure taking at least 20 photos per bride…this year I have taken 65 per difficult bride. Bad knees, weak eyes and tired hands are your reward.

      • Marilyn says:

        Amen Mrs. Mole! Thank you for being you! Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and a Wonderful New Year from Texas!!!!

  3. I just don’t get it. And anyway, if she is losing weight for the wedding she will return to her standard weight afterwards and will never wear her dyed dress again. But hey, as long as they paid well. Why a dress in the water? Just don’t get it. And they are not getting married at all, just wearing the gear. A fancy dress occasion?

    • mrsmole says:

      I think she got all this ass-backwards…she is wanting to do the “trash the dress” thing but then wants to wear it as a flaming red dress later…good thing I did not trim away any of the seam allowances!

  4. Gloria says:

    Just want to tell you how much I enjoy your blog. Funny comments and never nasty. Look forward to reading many more. Gloria

  5. Wedding dresses . . . like baby names . . should not be revealed until the big “event”. You’ve got patience.

    • mrsmole says:

      I have learned a valuable lesson this year, Liz…reveal parties are the new thing! I should tell the bride…Hey Girlie, have you reveal party FIRST, hand out pins to every one of your best girlfriends/critics and have them pin all the alterations for me!

      • erniek3 says:

        Precisely! But…no, then they will start altering it and expect you to make it right. Which is another circle of hell I just can’t imagine.
        I take these lessons to heart, and thank you from the bottom of my “I hem and that’s it” heart

  6. eleshia123 says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and absolutely love learning how you tackle such challenging projects (and sometimes challenging clients, it seems).
    A dress reveal party sounds like it’s just asking for everyone’s opinions to rain down on the bride’s parade, oh my goodness! Why the extra stress? I’m glad you’re being paid for all this back and forth labour but man, what a headache.
    Heavy cotton/silk duck would be awfully stiff, but when wet I imagine it would be even less forgiving. People may say they want a skin-tight fit reminiscent of stretch bodycon dresses, but I’d trust a seamstress’s advice, such a skin-tight fit in a thick, non-stretch fabric will inevitably be very uncomfortable to move about in naturally, and if it doesn’t have boning all the way down to the thighs she will be constantly pulling down on it to remove the drag lines. I guess part of the profession is knowing when to step back and say “okay, have it your way, you’ve been warned!”
    Looking forward to many more posts to come, I love that you share your experiences with us.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you eleshia, round about Oct I lose the enthusiasm for dresses and brides asking my opinion and then doing whatever the Hell they want. Now I just say, “it’s your dress and your day and only you know how uncomfortable you can stand”…it never makes them think of change their mind.

  7. Katrina B says:

    I am a newcomer to your blog and it is fantastic! I must say that I scream WHAT? WHY? at some point in every post, but I’m sure you do too. You do exquisite work in unusually demanding circumstances.

    • mrsmole says:

      Just think of all the crap brides ask for that I say no to…ha ha. As soon as they take out their phones with Pinterest pages…I know we are in for a long photo session and “I WANT”

  8. upsew says:

    I am mildly shocked that someone would let their girlfriends (or anyone else) talk them into wearing something with draglines and that is uncomfortable (and probably not easy for running along beaches and frolicking so maybe a good thing!). Gotta wonder at the skin tight look (or bet-on-to-you as we say here). As always in awe of your patience and skill and also on how a new dress had such a grubby hem! (especially given the previous one had work done to it, what a popular dress)

    • mrsmole says:

      Just think of how many times she will have to unzip that dress and slide it down to her ankles just to pee? Yes, sweet revenge…tight at the knees, can’t take a step and then you get the urge…slide out of that fancy sports car unto the sand and hope to find a porta-potty somewhere?

  9. Mem says:

    Moronic is the only word that springs to mind

  10. Tia Dia says:

    Hehehehe… I love getting notifications that you’ve posted again, Mrs. Mole! Always entertaining. Always makes me sad a little, too, seeing how few gracious sober-minded souls walk into your studio.

    • mrsmole says:

      As soon as the bride gets her engagement ring, she looses her mind. she goes to her friends weddings and wants to outdo every one of them…one friend had a photo booth, she orders TWO booths…if you get an early season bride, she MAY be more reasonable but these late season ones are too full of ideas to make their wedding the best of the year!

      • Tia Dia says:

        Bwahahaha! Thanks for the laugh, Mrs. Mole. Bling does tend to blind people to reality. Guilty myself, sometimes, if it’s pretty enough. 😀

  11. ceci says:

    How vulgar, the conspicuous consumption, living through staged photos, the whole thing leaves such a bad taste. Poor groom.


  12. raquel from jc says:

    Mrs. Mole: Merry Christmas to you and yours! All your post should be in a book!

  13. JustGailj says:

    non-wedding? I… umm… ahh…
    I’m not one for being totally traditional any more, when it comes to weddings. This non-wedding thing just… I… errr… ungh… I can’t even put into words my thoughts on this one! Wait, yes I can. In short – What. The. H…!?!?!

    And I’d totally buy the book too! Your stories and instructions are way too good to trust to eternal availability on the internet!

    • mrsmole says:

      I’m afraid that all the posts will remain on the internet for now and as I slow down the bridal side of life, I will be adding more custom clothing projects but not until 2020.

  14. Susan Hart says:

    Mrs Mole,
    This lasy blog really made me laugh out loud!
    I think this whole profession deserves it’s OWN stand-up in a comedy club….these young women are just so obtuse sometimes…I know, I’ve met my share of them.
    You are so, so sweet to always try to explain how things are with fabrics and yet, we have to listen to all their requests and try to “make things work”.

    Merry Christmas to you and the Mr. Gardener…and thanks again for the tomatoes and visit this past August.
    Maybe I can return the favor in the next year….
    Susan Hart

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Susan, describing fabrics and techniques helps the bride think that I am really interested in her and her dress and the reception. It also relaxes the fidgety mother who spends the whole time on her cell phone.

  15. Judith says:

    Wow, just wow. I have no words. Love your posts. You have the patience of a saint. Merry Christmas from Melbourne Australia.

    • mrsmole says:

      I think about my readers from OZ and having barb-ques on the beach to celebrate Christmas and Santa riding in on a surfboard.Being a seamstress is entertaining AND frustrating. Happy New Year to yoiu, Judith!

  16. maryfunt says:

    Sometimes you just need to “give her what she wants.” I agree that if the bride is that resistant to the advice of an experienced professional you throw up your hands and do it. Hope you can take a break and enjoy the holiday.

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Mary…we advise and then do whatever we are commended…ha ha. I do finally get a day off with 2 weeks in January to sit and read my kindle and not have to answer a phone or rip out seams…but the 2 weeks goes so quickly and then I am back to start the season on Feb 1…sigh but I am raising my rates this year. Somehow I cannot imagine dropping my dress off in April and the seamstress working on it all summer and then not thinking that maybe, just maybe she worked on it many long hours during the night and all the weekends and not even give her $5 for a cup of coffee. I see everyone dropping dollar bills into tip jars at coffee shops when the barista just poured ready made coffee into a cup…less than one minute of labor!

      • Taja says:

        Yep! A cup of coffee is valued more than true skill these days. Coffee is “experiential,” while the knowledge and ability to transform a wedding gown from something aspirational (and frequently atrocious) to something close to perfection is just labor–by someone else! Little or no value in our world today. Thankfully, you have some clients with brains! 😉

        Precisely why my designing and fabrication abilities are underutilized. Thankfully, I have a business degree that is fully utilized. Not nearly as satisfying, though.

        Wishing you and Mr. Mole a wonderful holiday and new year. Enjoy your time!

  17. Ellen says:

    Oh lord… I get clients like that sometimes… you just want them to be done and leave, for good, but they don´t… You have amazing patience!

  18. susanv777 says:

    I am home today with a miserable cold and as always, your blog cheered me up! I would never have imagined “revealing” my dress to anyone other than my future mother-in-law who had been a couture seamstress in New York in her youth so she gave me excellent advice about what dresses looked beautiful, would be appropriate for my conservative church, and would be relatively easy to alter. The seamstress at the bridal shop actually loved her as she made only a couple of unassuming suggestions about the bustle as there was going to be ethnic circle dancing at the reception and I was worried about getting my dress too dirty. I an sorry you only get around two tips a year–you should get as many tips as you have brides!

    • mrsmole says:

      How nice of your MIL to only suggest a little help. Watching bridal videos on YouTube, there are “more than one way to skin a cat” and it is so nice to see how others tackle the same problems with ill-fitting gowns too small or too large. Modest gowns are so rare and some of the dresses that return to be preserved look like they were used to mop the dance floor after the reception. It sounds like you have the perfect wedding and reception!

  19. Oh my! At least natural fibers dye beautifully. Problem is that fabric will shrink tremendously when dyed! I hope it doesn’t come back to you a different color to be let out 6″. I hope you get some time off to enjoy the holidays. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Rena…yes, I did mention to the bride that heat and steam is involved in dyeing fabrics and her eyes got real big and she said, “I didn’t know that”…I don’t know how she thinks this whole process works but now she does. I mean it is not like the company is going to mix up a big batch of cherry Jell-o and dip her dress in a cool solution!

  20. Kim says:

    Thank you for reminding me why I walked away from all this! What an idiot 😂
    Have a great Christmas Mikey 😀

    • Kim says:

      Darned auto correct – it said Moley 😡

      • mrsmole says:

        You and you auto-correct Kim…so funny! My dad was named Mike so it works for me too…ha ha I enjoy dropping in on other seamstresses to see some of the wacky things they have to deal with every day so I imagine following my blog helps you celebrate being retired!!!! One day, my dear I will join you!

  21. Pencil Girl says:

    You are amazing! I think the bride needs new friends – or just to “reveal” to her best five. So sorry you had to re-do the dress with the thick fabric. She trusted your advice with the first three dress choices. Too bad she didn’t trust you with the fitting. (I would buy the books!)

  22. Barbara says:

    A long time ago, I used to work at JCPenney in the catalog department of a store. This was in the late 80’s. A lot of brides would “buy” their dress and all the dresses for their bridesmaids, and then return them all after the wedding. JCPenney would always accept the returns. So, Amazon is probably playing that role for a lot of people now. Awful.

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