Bring on the Bridesmaids

What ever happened to those 10 bridesmaid dresses?

This is the dress from Azazie that needed front modesty inserts, new cap sleeves and the left front leg slit closed up an extra 8 inches by hand to below the knee.

The mother of the bride was clever enough to order one additional dress to be used to harvest the fabric needed to do all these additional alterations.

Let’s get started:

What I needed for the front inserts was ten sections 7 inches by 15 inches of the mesh skirt. Here are the 10 sections all stacked and lined up. Paper pattern cut from my roll of medical exam paper.

Here is the front with the deep “V”. When I first saw these dresses, I thought that these are the most UN-church ready dresses ever! Even on the website model, the cleavage is revealed. The mother was distressed that the bride had chosen this style but I hugged her and told her that all would be finished on time and to not worry.

The first solution is to fold those new inserts in half and pin them into position and try a couple on the local bridesmaids to make sure of the position. Did I mention that only 2 of the 10 girls lived in the area? This doesn’t help when trying to figure out the hem length for each girl as well.

One of my followers asked me a while back how to hem this new chiffon mesh as it is not like regular woven chiffon. It certainly stretches and causes all sorts of headaches but that is what the factories are turning out. One afternoon I visited my local David’s Bridal and discovered that all their dresses are made of this fabric now. We just have to learn to work with it and treat it like the old chiffon.

Close-up of the pinned insert:

To make the new sleeves, I cut the entire knit lining from the extra dress and mapped out the sections to make sure I could get 14 sleeves. Only the 7 married bridesmaids had to have new cap sleeves. I did manage to get JUST 14 cut out but as you can tell, some of the sleeves will have vertical seams from the skirt sections. But all of them will be covered by the deep flounces.

Inside view of eased sleeve cap with one of those darn vertical seams. You can see the mesh flounce peeking out below the sleeve hem.

First, the sleeves were hand basted into place and then machine stitched and excess seam allowances trimmed and pinked off. Each sleeve hem was serged and turned under.

View from the outside with flounce pulled up:

Once the sleeve was inserted, it had to be top stitched from the outside to keep all the layers flat.

Start at the side seam and just sew in a circle:

Finish the circle stitching:

The same technique was used on the front insert. I flipped the front flounces up and away and then machine stitched the new insert down.

You get a better idea of what was added with this photo of the inside. While it might look a little unfinished, I had to console myself with knowing that these dresses would never be worn again and all this was done to conform to the church guidelines in the short time frame I was given.

Out of the 10 dresses, only 4 needed hems shortened as this company asks for the “hollow to hem” measurement like is used for wedding gowns. The only warning I give to you is this: If the measurement is done without shoes and the bridesmaid says she is wearing 3 inch heels…don’t just add 3 inches to that measurement. Why? Well, unless the shoe is a Carmen Miranda platform one, her toes will not leave the floor, only the heels rise up.

Since these days many bridesmaids dresses are longer in the back than the front, 3 inches may be too much to add. We found this with the 4 dresses that had to be hemmed. As the bridesmaids flew in from other states, slowly they arrived to try on their dresses just days before the wedding with one girl picking up her dress the morning of the ceremony!

Here is some more happy altering news. As many of you know, I get contacted all the time for advice on your own altering challenges and one reader sent me this note along with the finished photos:

After more hours than I care to count, I have now finished my granddaughter’s dress. 

 As you suggested, I inserted 5 inches on the waistband on each side. Since the lining of the skirt was relatively flat, I needed to insert additional panels which I was able to harvest from the second dress we had ordered.  The three layers made it quite a challenge to get the skirt to hang correctly. 

I also needed to add additional fabric to the top front pieces (there just wasn’t enough fabric in the original dress to cover her bust without destroying the design).  With the additional fabric, I was able to stitch the front closed a couple of inches for a more modest look.  I also  added a couple of inches to the straps over her shoulders in order to drop the waist to a more comfortable position.

Because the back was a little lower than she liked, I made a small panel that she can snap in above the zipper to cover her bra strap.

Anyway, IT’S DONE!  I don’t know how I would have managed without your advice.  I learned so much, both from your emails and from  your blog.  I can’t thank you enough – you are a real magician and a generous teacher!

It is such a pleasure and treat to be able to share these photos!!!

Close up of added side panels and added shoulder strap panels below:


Didn’t Char do a great job using ruched fabrics and fitting all the new pieces together? The center back panel hides the bra back and the front hangs properly now with longer straps. No one will know that so much was added so precisely and perfectly!


So dear readers, I THANK all of you for your lovely comments every week and when you share photos of your projects that have been successful. That is what I am here for….sharing photos so you can gain confidence to tackle those challenges! There are no books that show how to just jump right in and make up your own solutions or how to harvest fabric to complete them.

Be brave and have a super week!

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14 Responses to Bring on the Bridesmaids

  1. Nancy Figur says:

    Wow! So much to learn from this post! I haven’t come across this mesh chiffon yet because the wedding gowns I get are a few years old by the time I get them to turn into Christening gowns. I do find the knit linings showing up. Smart mom to order the extra dress. Some makers used to let you order yardage. We did that with one of my kids since two bridesmaids were going to be very pregnant by the wedding. The new fabric was used to make new bottoms for the bodices. As always, it made my morning to see a new post show up in my email.

    • mrsmole says:

      Thanks, Nancy, some bridal companies will let you order extra fabrics and laces and I have used that service before. It really helps!

      • Martina says:

        I ordered extra of the fabric from my sister’s bridesmaid dresses to make my niece a junior bridesmaid gown…she was 12, so there was no way we could buy her one of the girl’s dresses, but she looked adorable in her matching dress with a little jacket (she was always cold!)

  2. Yes, when I look at the original dress, ‘church-ready’ does not spring to mind; ‘nightgown’ or ‘negligee’ does. Very clever of the mother to order an extra, and very nice job fixing it all up–

    Reader Char did a great job too on that other project.

  3. Susan Hart says:

    Wow…as always…you did a great job, inserts, hems and cap sleeves…
    I was curious tho, if all the sleeves fitted the b-maids since arms are different too, at the shoulder, especially with out-of-town gals?
    Funny that you mentioned the netted chiffon as I just hemmed my daughter’s b-maid dress for her friend’s wedding and it had this fabric over the regular nylon underskirt.
    I looked up on YouTube and found several techniques. I chose to try the fusible interfacing hack, which worked great!
    And your friend did a really good job with that folded and ruched situation, adding panels and MORE inserts! Aye carumba!

    • mrsmole says:

      I’ll have to check out some videos of the fusible kind. All of the bridesmaids were young and thin and the knit was stretchy enough to accommodate any differences in circumference or reaching forward to hold their bouquets or children. I got lucky in that way! Thanks, Susan!

  4. Colleen says:

    I would like to see more on working with that awful stretch mesh fabric from David’s bridal. My rolled hemmer works up looks less than desirable close up but ok at a distance. That fabric is a headache!

  5. Connie says:

    Do you know why only the married bridesmaids needed cap sleeves?

    • mrsmole says:

      Married women wear a cap sleeved garment under their clothes so by making an identical sleeve from the knit lining, it assured that the garment would not be seen as the flounce moved around.

  6. Sue says:

    I am Char’s cousin. She was telling me about the dress that needed alteration. She had no idea where to begin. I told her she needed to check out “Fit for a Queen” to, maybe, get some ideas. She was so grateful to you. Thank you, Mrs. Mole!

  7. mrsmole says:

    We are both grateful to you, Sue!

  8. erniek3 says:

    This reminds me of the friends who had their ‘official’ ceremony in the temple with her wearing a white mesh turtleneck under her dress. It filled the requirements, and was really pretty. And when they got to the altar, it was apparently not opaque at all.

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