A Final Date

For two years, I have been pinning and unpinning this bride’s dress with no idea of a set date. She and her mother have finally made the leap and selected a date so I can finally get started on this dress:

Like so many brides who shop at BHLDN….the dress never fits but they buy it anyway as the salesgirl tells them that it will be an easy alteration.

Their website promotion is:

The drape, the details,
the dreamy silhouettes;
take a closer look…

but my response forthe seamstress is…THEN RUN!

This makes me think of the famous Mexican song: Cielito LindoΒ with the refrain “Canta no Llores”…sing don’t cry. Just get on with this!!!

You can see that she needs the side seams taken in at least 2 inches on each side for a total of at least 4 inches from armhole to hips.








Great…so I can open up every vertical and horizontal seam involved and just pin out, hand baste and attach it all back together for the next fitting…but wait…the skirt involves layers of netting and tulle and flowers and it is currently covered with 4 panels of thick lace.

This lace overlay is attached to itself and another one below it with machine tacking…yes, you know the type that is a tiny little ball of thread almost impossible to cut free…let’s see…how many do I have to cut through….at least 20.

Then, take in the layers and layers of tulle and netting 8 inches each side (total of 16 inches) and then lap the top lace panels over to make it look like the girl has no hips. No hips?

That’s right and the second request was to turn this dress into a mermaid…really…really! Maybe it makes sense if you have 2 years to look at your dress and imagine every mermaid dress on Pinterest being worn by you…I’m sure the seamstress can deliver.

All layers machine basted and folded/wadded up under and as flat as I can get them:

Align the top edges and pin those puppies:

Hand baste all layers…why by hand? Well, you know darn well that I will have to go back in there and trim all the new seams and probably have to make it even tighter…don’t you just love planning ahead? The skirt lining is that slippery knit crap we love, so I hand basted the new seams there too.

Flip to the bodice side seam…I may trim some of this away depending on what the bride wants:

OK…and what does all this look like from the right side??? The 4 front and back lace panels are now overlapped and as flat as my mannequin. If the bride is happy, I will hand tack all that down and remove the safety pins.



















Where are the hips?
















While the knit lining will be hemmed with my Coverstitch machine, what happens to the train?


A 3-point bustle will bring the train up to ground level…not the most attractive but what the bride wants.




As I work on this dress and 4 others hanging in the sewing room, I got in this special wedding dress from 1980 to be preserved. It was the bride’s mother’s dress and unfortunately none of her 4 daughters could fit into it and now they want it preserved for another future generation.

The fabric is acetate, yellowed and very stiff so the preservation people charge more as they have to soak the dress in special solutions to bring it back to life and they scrub it by hand with toothbrushes but in the end it will come back looking brand new.

The train is truly attached that high up and the bow that holds it all together is sewn to the dress on one side with a snap to clip it to the opposite side across the back zipper. There was a cathedral length veil too but I forgot to include it in this photo session.

Last photo…Mr Mole’s veggie seedlings are doing well under the grow lights and in a month or so they will be strong enough to go outside to the mini greenhouse to harden off. The top containers are self-watering and the lower ones have been transplanted into single pots as they have outgrown the starter cells. Way in the back is a zucchini plant that has already got 5-6 flower buds…makes you want to shout…Whoa…it’s still winter!


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29 Responses to A Final Date

  1. Tia Dia says:

    That 80s dress is amazing with that high train attached with the bow. And how nice to stop dilly dallying and decide on a date! Good heavens! And no hips…. I’m not going to say a word.

    • mrsmole says:

      Just when you think a bride is going to be reasonable…Bam…she drops a request that makes you smile…sure, no problem…delete/erase hips….just like using Photoshop isn’t it?

  2. Amy says:

    I love the 80s wedding dress.

    Thought of you and this blog when I got a phone call from a friend. She had been asked to alter a size 10 wedding dress down to a size 4. She wanted to know my thoughts since I’m more advanced in sewing. I told her to say NO WAY!

  3. thanderina says:

    Hmmmm makes you wonder how the bride feels about the groom if she took two years to pick a date…
    And how do you make a mermaid silhouette AND make it look like you have no hips? This bride is clearly a bit confused about what she wants in life.

    • mrsmole says:

      I have a florist friend who says the worst thing to ever happen to HER business is Pinterest where girls go to dream about their perfect bouquet and never think about what season produces what flowers…they just want the biggest and best no matter what.

  4. Donna says:

    Amazing as always. Great gardening Mr Mole.

    • mrsmole says:

      Last year Mr Mole forgot to plant butternut squash and we had an abundance of spaghetti squash so this year things will be different. Funny how when I lived in OC I did my apprenticeship at a wedding factory and now I get these challenges every week. Thanks, Donna!

  5. Kim says:

    Did the groom have any input on the date? Or the wedding? Or anything? If not I give it two years max.
    How often do daughters actually want to wear their mothers wedding dress? It’s a nice idea but I do wonder just how worthwhile archiving these dresses is – unless they are fabulous designer at megabucks. Even when they are attractive (and you’ve shown a few in the past that demonstrate both sides of the coin) it often takes massive amounts of work to make them fit.
    (Sorry, this comment wasn’t supposed to sound quite so negative πŸ™)

    • mrsmole says:

      Kim, Kim, Kim…do I EVER mention the groom? Really, they never enter into any of the planning unless I ask the bride about what he is wearing just to be polite. Grooms are just the backdrop for the special bride…they just have to show up in a khaki vest for a country/barn wedding or a rented tux for a formal one. I have remade 4 or 5 mothers’ dresses in the past 15 years so thankfully modern brides do want to have their own gowns. I really don’t ever see myself working as hard on another re-make ever again. You don’t sound negative…just realistic!

      • JustGail says:

        I think you’ve helped me make a decision on my own dress. I don’t have a daughter, and I’m guessing even fewer want to wear MIL’s dress. I think It needs to be moved on, esp. since Mom’s been gone for 4 years now. Maybe a couple more photos (I still have the pattern) maybe a snipped of the fabric. I’ll always have the memories of how hard she worked, cussed and threatened us with death should we come within 10 feet of it without washing hands (or showering if coming in from doing chores)…

  6. upsew says:

    a mermaid sillouhette! – it reminds me of the clip from the film ‘Educating Rita’ where Rita complains that as a hairdresser people bring a picture from a magazine, and expect her to transform them – and then cuts to a heavy set lady handing over a picture of ‘lady di’ to Rita to work the magic!!!

    Great Mr Mole getting such a start on the veggies, I am terrified we will get late frosts here and my plum tree blossoms will suffer

    • mrsmole says:

      We have tried 3 different year to grow apricots but when the blossoms start this time of year, a late frost just makes all the blossoms drop off and the tree withers and dies. I have had brides show me photos of Beyonce and ask for her shape in their dress…I can’t work miracles!

  7. jay says:

    I’m constantly amazed that brides pick and pay for dresses several sizes too big or too small, that the vendors promise gold at the end of the rainbow, and that you then find it for them! (I thought the point of a mermaid was hourglass, so with hips)

  8. mrsmole says:

    Oh Jay, I did pluck up the courage to ask the bride, “what exactly did you LIKE about the dress since you want me to change the whole bottom half?” And her answer was, “I liked the top half”…silly me for asking!

  9. maryfunt says:

    Don’t brides realize that taking that much out changes the entire proportions of the dress? Another amazing save. I can’t imagine anyone wearing the 80’s dress and it isn’t like it’s made from silk and costly lace. Who are they saving it for???

    • mrsmole says:

      Not sure what the reasoning is behind preserving the 80’s dress unless grandma still has high hopes that in another 20 years it will be claimed? You know most brides and their mothers have never had sewing classes and know very little about altering clothes so it is up to us to make it all right/snug it up!

  10. celestial says:

    My wedding was in 1980 and I had a train just like the vintage one. It was called a Watteau train and I thought it was so neat. I made my own dress, first scouting out wedding shops to see what I liked and then fashioning my own version. My youngest sister remade my mother’s wedding dress for her own wedding; it was very personal for her and she is the recycle queen. I do not know how you deal with all the current layers and layers of wedding dress polyester; they make my skin crawl just to see the photos. You are a hero, Mrs. Mole!

  11. erniek3 says:

    Another dream state bride and another epic engineering feat. I appreciate the 80s dress; acetate was a very prevalent fabric for formal wear then, and I remember hearing a dry cleaner go off on a pal about it and what a mess it was (although there was another word before ‘mess’ used) for them. Guy wouldn’t touch it. “Go home and burn it” was his advice.
    What I want to know concerns the grow lights. Are the height adjustable stands a part of the lights, or were they acquired separately? That’s the thing that undermines my veggie starts. I have the heater pad and lights but have never figured out how to gradually raise the lights without hanging something from the ceiling (and that trick doesn’t work out here)

    • mrsmole says:

      Mr Mole send this link:https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B074SG33M2/ref=oh_aui_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1
      The lights do go up and down and he does not use a heated mat as his room is always 70 degrees. He says he has also seen them at Lowe’s DIY stores.
      Amazing that a dry cleaner would suggest burning a dress…wow!

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        Hi Mr. Mole πŸ™‚ I decided to start my peppers and tomatoes again this year πŸ™‚ I spent 1990-2005 starting and growing ALL of my own plants. I re-opened my biz in 2006 so I just purchased plants 😦 I was NOT HAPPY 😦 I LOVE odd varieties that you just cannot PURCHASE, you have to grow your own. I splurged on a heat mat and thermostat this time πŸ™‚ I am starting just TWO each of a few varieties so I am planning on PERFECT germination and growth πŸ™‚ GOOD LUCK to both of US πŸ™‚ BTW-I bought the mat and thermostat off of Amazon…I believe just $50 for both. MUCH MUCH cheaper than the garden supply people. I just use a 2 bulb…4 foot shoplight after they germinate with a growlight bulb AND a cool white bulb. My babies were started today and they are in a humid environment with a 78 degree mat under them. I shall BLOW THEM A KISS every time I walk by πŸ˜‰

      • erniek3 says:

        You are just the best ever! Maybe a little late this season, but just in time to start casing the stores for next year!

  12. Cheryl Designs says:

    GREAT work on that gown πŸ™‚ When a bride asks me if I can TOTALLY change a skirt into another shape… A-line to mermaid..mermaid to A-line, Ballgown to A-line, etc . I just tell them sure πŸ™‚ I can do anything πŸ™‚ (Really I can and I have. ) Let me give you a GUESSTIMATE for labor on that. The quote is so HIGH they always change their minds. Rebuilding a bridal gown is NOT cheap πŸ™‚

    • mrsmole says:

      Absolutely…take every piece apart, change it and then put it back together…madness really but expensive madness and no one will remember what your dress looked like will they? That’s what the expensive professional photos are for.

  13. Miss Celie says:

    I would kill to have that 80s wedding dress to get married in. Also, why was that first dress so big??

  14. mrsmole says:

    Oh Renee, you do ask the easy questions…the first dress was so big because she “fell in love with it.”…of course….and then wanted it changed. It should be mandatory that a bride bring a seamstress with her when trying on dresses!!!!! I can see you swanning along the shore in your Watteau gown from the 80’s and a fancy Fascinator hat on too!

  15. LinB says:

    Both my mother and my mother-in-law wanted me to wear their wedding dresses. One weighed 90 pounds when she got married, was three inches shorter than I. I might have been able to fit the other’s waist around my upper arm … and her dress was made to wear in August, in Georgia. I was getting married in November, farther north.

    So, I made my 1982 wedding dress in the cheapest satin I could find — it was a costume, to be worn once for a few hours, then never again. I did not want to waste money on such a thing.

    I kept it mainly because it was an 1880s silhouette, thus useful for amateur theatrics. Tried to donate it to several high school theater departments. They’d use it, but always as a white wedding dress — and they’d return it to me, every time, certain that I really did not mean to give away that precious, precious memory.

    That “white whale” is still in the back of a closet somewhere … Darling Daughter very sensibly went out and bought a gown in the correct size that needed no alterations whatsoever. Perhaps I can dye my old horror of a dress and save it for grandchildren to play with. It did have a nice swoosh factor.

  16. mrsmole says:

    Sounds like your wedding dress has had a brilliant afterlife! I’d dye it and wear it as a saloon dress in a Western theme event.

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