Change of Pace

After altering strictly wedding gowns for 16 years and blogging about them every week for 9 years, I am reflecting over how many techniques have been sewn and shown and documented.

Working on 80-100 gowns every year over this long period of time has me thinking that you readers have had to wade through hundreds of photos of the same things like how to shorten a scalloped lace hem, how to use twill tape to snug up bodices, how to make a bustle and how to make a corset back. To help you find these particular techniques, I have made 2 new pages with examples of past projects in the upper right hand corner of my home page. More pages will be added.

It is time for me to make sure that future blogs have something new and unique instead of the same old thing. If I think that a dress has features that are new and unusual enough to photograph and share…then I will post it.

If not, I will wait until there is something more interesting for both of us and then post about it. There will be more time between posts but they will be more diverse. Watching and reading other blogs is always encouraging and my favorite wedding alteration videos are here: Bridal Sewing Techniques

There will be more posts with Nancy and her custom clothes which are always so much fun for me working on cool fabrics that she finds during her travels and fitting issues that crop up between the paper pattern and a real live model.

So, in keeping with this new idea, I will share the few things I had to do on the first wedding jumpsuit that came my way.

This jump suit was ordered from Etsy. It is nylon lace knit lined with polyester knit. The wrap front needed to be tacked down, teardrop bust cups added, shoulders taken up and some attention given to the weird crotch issues. Here is the website model:

 

Here we are with a real bride. With the shoulders pinned and teardrop bust pads pinned on and suggested grosgrain belt we may be able to make this fit better and look more festive. Can you see the crotch area? What is going on there? I’m guessing the pulling is due to a too short lining.

Sometimes when a nervous bride is worried about her tummy showing in the photos, I always say that her bouquet will cover any bulges but we both had a laugh when this bride says she can’t carry her flowers over her nether regions.

 

 

 

My bride is 6’2 and could never see herself wearing a wedding gown. She ordered the sleeves to be elbow length. Happily the length is perfect for her enviable long legs. To show off her best feature, we are adding a removable belt.

The bride wanted a non-fussy bow so I made a sample flat one that will snap open for bathroom visits. with no zippers and an elastic waist, there is no other way to get this jumpsuit on or off except stepping into it and pulling it over the shoulders.

Side seam thread loops help keep the belt from riding up or down. The red thread shows where the top of the belt should be as the bride is longer waisted than this jumpsuit waist.

Pinned at the front for hand tacking although there is elastic inside that is trying to gather up all the fabric along with the belt.

Getting accurate placement of bow:

To remedy the weird crotch seams, the lining needed to be dropped to equal the lace although they will not stretch the same when sitting.

Let’s tackle that too high lining seam…the first basting was still too high after the second try-on. Dropping the seams 1.25 inches from the original should do the trick.

Using the zigzag/lightening knit stretch stitch will make this permanent and ready for serging.

What stitch did I use? On my Elna it is number 066.

Bow and belt are ready for back snaps:

Six snaps should do the trick along the top edge.

The tails of the bow will be trimmed at an angle when she decides how long they should be. If they are too long, you end up sitting on them and yanking the bow off.

The front belt tacked on and stretched to sit flat. The front wrap section is also flat and hugging her chest after tacking it on the wrong side.

Finally, the squash are producing with a new striped version of zucchini and a shiny dark green patty pan also new to the garden this year with temps yesterday at 100F.

Wishing you much success with your sewing projects and continued learning and experimenting with all our challenges.

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45 Responses to Change of Pace

  1. heidi says:

    you share so much. Maybe I can help. The crotch curve is not right. It must a) cut deeper maybe 1 cm in back and b) in front you must cut the cirve more “curvy”. There is not enough inside romm for her front. The curve would be deeper in back than in front – not horizontal!
    lg
    heidi

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Heidi. I did try to match the two curves but lace does not stretch like a solid knit. The back crotch did not have any issues, just the front being so much higher on her body than the lace layer. Hopefully now being the same length and drape, they will behave themselves. I’m sorry you thought the curve was horizontal. The photo is turned sideways as it was sewn in the machine.

  2. Marilyn Sweet says:

    You have never bored me with repetition. All your work is fascinating!!! Thank you for sharing all this with us. I love seeing a new blog post of yours pop up but will somehow manage under your new system [😌]. You are just pretty terrific.

  3. Chris T says:

    I so enjoy all your posts, please keep them coming, I never get bored.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I agree I’ve never been bored, but, as a blogger I know that taking pictures really slows down the work flow/process and it gets boring writing the same things over and over again. Looking forward to your new adventures in sewing.

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Elizabeth, talking to clients and pinning and tweaking and then taking just the right photos can get a bit tricky and time consuming but I just think of my readers saying…”oh no not another scalloped lace hem!”

  5. Suzie Simpson says:

    Never bored, but ALWAYS amazed at the things you can do with needle, threads, and wonderful talent. And I am in awe of your patience! I always look forward to your new posts.
    Suzie

  6. lesleyshepherd4342 says:

    Like others I’m never bored, always fascinated by how each of the brides see themselves, the hurdles to be overcome and choices they have made (often crazy, but not always). Hay, the best decision they made was to have you on side, making the dress the best it can be. I’ll look forward to your adventures with Nancy, gardening, delicious fruit and veg and I love your very occasional bird updates. Very best wishes, Lesley

  7. Suzanne says:

    The picture of the bride on the website looks dark in the crotch area. I don’t know if it looks like that in person but remind her to wear some solid fabric undies so it looks lighter.

    • indigotiger says:

      I saw that too, and was reminded that years ago Threads magazine had an article about how using skin tone fabric that matches as well as possbile ones skin color helps various things “dissapear” under lacey fabric. So undies that match her legs and abdomen would be the way to have that area not be visually obtrusive.

      • mrsmole says:

        Believe it or not, she is wearing thick nude colored Spanx. The darkness is from the air gap between the two fabrics like on the model. In the end the crotch looked like the close-up photo of the two layers together…just white. I didn’t think to get a close-up of her crotch on the last day…a bit too weird…ha ha. Both fabrics now have the same curve and drape to match exactly.

  8. Nancy Figur says:

    I never get bored. My favorite thing is to see that you posted a new project. I can’t imagine taking time to get a picture of all the alterations. Taking pictures during construction is one of my least favorite things to do when I am converting a wedding gown to a Christening Gown – but for me it is necessary since the Moms are not local and need pictures to make style decisions or to choose between equally good options.

    That jumpsuit looked so much better when you got through with it. I guess her height had her not thinking of wearing a gown but I am sure she would have looked beautiful, especially if you had it fitting her correctly.

    I look forward to whatever you decide to post going forward.

    Nancy F

    • mrsmole says:

      At least your photos are not done on a moving target like mine…ha ha. Blessings to you for doing such a superb job making wedding gowns into christening ones! Keep up the good work, Nancy, and if you ever want to share your work here, just send along some photos to surroundedbywhite@gmail.com and I will post them. thanks for following along!

  9. MadebyMeg says:

    Very interesting, and excited to check out your new pages! I hope you still continue to share bride horror stories though, even if they don’t include new techniques! I started following along as a bride making my wedding dress, but love to hear about crazy customers demands πŸ˜‰

    • mrsmole says:

      Crazy demands will continue…even as I am typing now I have come across a bride who wants to change her mind about not wearing shoes to wearing shoes to avoid paying $28 for the front hem to be shortened. Go figure? The gown is over $1000 and the venue alone will be over $8000.

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        PLEASE tell me you are NOT hemming bridal gowns for $28 ? Did you misplace a ZERO? I charge $15 for simple machine pant hems. BRIDAL gowns START at $90 and go HIGHER from there. A gown with lace and horsehair braid and layers and layers can cost $200 or so. I had one gown that had beads and sequins AND lace and horsehair and the cost was $300 to hem it. It took FOREVER… I charge $30 per hour but I am nudging UP to $40….. WE DESERVE IT πŸ™‚ We are TALENTED ARTISANS πŸ™‚ We are also RARE GEMS these days. Remember if they can spend $1K PLUS on a GOWN they can AFFORD a few hundred to make it FIT PERFECTLY πŸ™‚ That is their decision to make πŸ™‚ I have a FEW brides that decide to purchase higher heels and have their gown a BIT too long to save money. Whatever πŸ™‚ Also keep in mind… Brides/Bridesmaids/Prom attendees will spend $100-$200 on HAIR and makeup!! PS-Our local POPULAR venue is up to $5K now. LOVELY place but that is the STARTING price… I would guess AVERAGE cost is close to that $8K… I live in southeastern Ohio… AVERAGE INCOME…?? MAYBE $30K per working person? PSS-EIGHTBALL ZUCCHINI πŸ™‚ Pinetree Garden Seeds sells the seeds πŸ™‚ I LOVE THEM. They are SMALL… size of a softball or so. GREAT for small families πŸ™‚ They seem to be pretty resistant to bugs and disease too πŸ™‚

      • mrsmole says:

        Oh Cheryl, I should have clarified….the lining and satin layer (same cheap lining fabric) were only going to be machine hemmed side seam to side seam….maybe 2 yards across and only up about 1 inch. Both would have taken 30 minutes so half my hourly rate of $56. Certainly on all the other ballgowns with horsehair and beads and you-name-it the time and rates are much higher. Most gowns require $200 minimum fees without adding boning,straps, corsets, bustles…the works. When I have a gown that needs 8 hours of labor…that is what they pay for. Bust pads sewn in are $20, bustles are $20 per point so it all adds up. When you see I have done a scalloped lace hem shortening, that sucker can run 3-5 hours alone. Next year my rates go up to what David’s charges $60 per hour and did you know that the closer to the date that their brides require their alterations, the price goes up every week so if the gown is altered one week before the date, the alterations price is FOUR times the price instead of what it would have been at 4 weeks prior. Pretty good? What do the gals in the back workroom get per hour? Don’t ask…it is not much more than flipping burgers. I’ll have to check out those eight ball zucchini for next year! Thanks! Now…raise your rates, girl!

  10. Val says:

    I’m always interested to read anything you post Mrs. Mole and if I have to wait a bit between posts – well, so be it. Although I’ve never worked on wedding or ball gowns I feel pretty comfortable with most sewing techniques. What I don’t know much about and haven’t ever learned is making pattern (or toile) adjustments for figure “challenges” — I find that valuable.

    • mrsmole says:

      Nancy offers me enough fitting challenge and I keep learning right along with her to use on my own clothes. So all will be shared in the Fall with her new clothes.Keep sewing up a storm, Val.

  11. Kim says:

    Lovely! I really like jumpsuits and this is a great garment for ladies who really don’t want to wear a dress.

    • mrsmole says:

      Especially athletic gals who don’t want all the fluff and bling and strapless issues…why not be comfortable on your special day? But as you know with jumpsuits…it is all about the crotch depth and easy escape for bathroom visits!

  12. upsew says:

    I love your posts and marvel at how you are able to fit in posts as well as alterations – while as you say the techniques can be the same, each persons fit issues are all their own challenge. Great work on the crotch and nice touch with the bow. It looks great. I think getting the crotch adjusted from another persons cut (and the fabric looks tricky) is a tough one – and a jumpsuit which has the added issue of the movement from the upper body, tricker again. Lucky bride to have met you to have her ready for her big day.

    Your gardening posts also inspire and I planted a few veg this year. The courgettes (zuchini) were surprisingly slow here in Ireland his year as we had a mixed summer, but I did manage to have some for a tray bake and it was a novelty to have smaller tastier ones to eat (rather than the huge supermarket ones)

    • mrsmole says:

      It seems the smaller the zucchini, the nicer they are especially just sliced down the center and oiled up with herbs and tossed on the BBQ. even the round patty pan ones slice flat have a wonderful flavor, almost smoky. Now just waiting for the Japanese eggplants to be ready for the same treatment only not sliced, just used whole.

  13. Men says:

    I will miss your regular mind boggling posts but I get your rationale for changing your procedure . I will look forward to your posts even more .
    Mmmm jumpsuits , I am not so sure !!!

    • mrsmole says:

      Jumpsuits will take some getting used to just like accepting pantsuits for women back in the 70’s with flared pants and then they were everywhere!

  14. really interesting and I like that choice of a lace jumpsuit as an alternative to a wedding gown. She looks great in it. Thanks for all your posts and I look forward to reading whatever you write!

    • mrsmole says:

      It is the same for me reading your posts, Beth. Your photos and great planning just raise the bar with every garment! The added bonus of having your friend being the client/model is just too cool!

  15. Brenda says:

    I love the stories about the brides and seeing pictures of the dresses. I don’t need to see all the photos of the alterations since I never alter wedding dresses and I much prefer to sew new clothes for myself. I rarely do alterations! I say keep up the postings but with fewer alteration photos! Did I say I hate doing alterations? πŸ˜€ I love your blog!

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Brenda, I love reading other blogs about things I will never sew as well. For me it is all about the engineering and the planning. I like seeing blogs about dyeing fabrics, stenciling fabrics and embellishing even though right now I cannot try out new artsy techniques.

  16. Rena says:

    I love all of your posts! The stories of the actual brides are usually pretty amusing too. If you ever need a guest blogger, just let me know. Heaven knows I have some crazies ;). Right now I’m making Vikings!

  17. Mary says:

    I haven’t been reading your blog long enough to notice any repetition. I have been doing all kinds of alterations for 25 years and I’m still learning new things. I love seeing how you work, in pictures. It helps those of us that understand things best when we see them instead of just reading about them. I’m always thrilled when I see something here that I had to figure out for myself and realized that I did it right! I’m looking forward to your changes even if it means we see less of them. There’s always something in each post that I can take away and use or store away for later. The gardening and birds are just a bonus, as far as I’m concerned!

    • mrsmole says:

      Hi Mary, and welcome! When i tell the brides that i learn something new with every dress…I mean it. Just when you think you have seen it all, the designers toss in new ways to make seams and altering more complicated or like recently they switch from real woven dependable chiffon to this new nasty mesh type that stretches. With the birds and veggies…it is seasonal so things change and flourish and falter and when I find a pile of feathers on the lawn, I know one of the many doves has become lunch for the hawks.

  18. Lynne Heersink says:

    Thank you, thank you! You posts are always so educational and eagerly anticipated. I love reading about your sewing adventures and dealing with the brides and their families. Although I personally will never alter wedding dresses I have learned so much from your blog.
    Thank you for sharing your time and talents. I am in awe of your talents.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Lynne, it is all a matter of looking at things one way and then going to bed and discover some time during the night, your brain wakes you up with a better solution. Then I get up and try it out.

  19. Monique says:

    Just like the previous comments, mine is: thank you, I always enjoy reading and I look forward to more. It’s great to be able to look over your shoulder, as I would not otherwise get the chance. And even though I don’t do this sort of work, I do sew and so learn a lot from the way of thinking in the construction. So…I’m happy, and pleased you won’t forget to keep it fun for yourself!

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Monique, I am blessed with crazy brides and their mothers and complicated dresses which are just enough to keep my aging brain functioning at top speed! Thank you for being a loyal reader!

  20. Urbanite says:

    At this “blog crossroad” I just wanted to let you know that I look forward to reading your blog and appreciate the effort you put into it. I’ve learned so much from you. I enjoy every word of your experiences as you help brides and harvest garden bounty. I never mind repeat topics, although it must seem like senseless rehashes to you. For me, it reinforces various techniques. You’ve made me a better sewist. Thank you.

  21. mrsmole says:

    I used to teach machine embroidery and digitizing to 8 ladies in fabric stores and my garage.I also taught 13 private students, one-to-one in my home and students would ask me when the techniques I was teaching gets easier. My answer whether it be installing zippers or making a fancy design was, “It gets easier after you do 50” A funny answer but I think it applies to most things…do something 50 times and you can be pretty sure things will ring a bell!

  22. helenkosings says:

    mRS. mOLE, i WILL READ WHATEVER YOU CHOOSE TO WRITE ABOUT – EVEN IF IT WAS ONLY ABOUT HEMS IN PERPETUITY!

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