Bust Cups, Buttons and Binding

How about a real classic look with real sleeves?

This Wtoo Nahara certainly delivers the look we remember from the 50’s.

To start, the sleeves are about 2 inches too long but they have a regular hem and no scallops.

With 7 buttons and 7 loops, we need to remove 4 of them at the hem. First detach the loops and buttons. Thread trace the new hem with red thread.

Fold under the hem keeping it for future brides with longer arms. Re-attach the 4 buttons higher up on the underarm seam.

Shortening the shoulders by 1/2 inch (one inch total) requires the removal of the sleeve cap and the tulle binding.

Once the first edge is released, we can see there are more rows of stitching to be removed.

After that, the binding is free and the shoulder seam can be taken in.

Here you can see the 2 layers of sleeve cap and bodice and binding.

Starting at the neck edge the new seam stitching amounts to 3/4 inch down to 1/2 inch at the sleeve section.

Basted by hand before machine stitching

The binding will now be too long and instead of folding it under and making a lump, I cut it and overlap for later.

The nice thing about working with lace is…the air spaces!!! Gathering by hand allows me to decrease the cap by the 1/2 inch it needs. Once attached back to the shoulder, it will behave itself and look nice…really.

With everything hand basted, you can see it works.

Once sewn by machine with white thread and basting removed, it will be fine.

That excess tulle will be folded under cleanly under the edge and hand tacked.

On the outside, it looks good.

The sleeve binding is re-attached

With the sleeves sorted out…what’s next? This bride wanted more coverage and the bust sections closer together. Pinching out 1/2 inch, she asked if it was possible to bring the 2 edges together without looking like it had been done.


Flipping to the back side, you can see the tacking stitches that bind the lace to the tulle base.

Once released, you can see that each “flap” could be lifted. Then what?

Here we have the exposed flat center tulle panel and the flaps pinned back.

I pinned out a 1/4 inch tuck (1/2 inch total) and basted it by hand and later back stitched along the basting to make it more permanent.

Then the flaps were flipped back into place, overlapping, and pinned down.

To secure everything, I ran another row of hand stitching down the center.

Sequins were re-attached and you can see that the coverage was complete and the bride felt confident to walk down the aisle without showing a cleavage crease and not worrying about bending over and exposing too much at the reception.

Another advantage of snugging up the center front is the profile, see how the bodice cups under her bust for a smooth transition down towards the belt.

The final photos of her dress with the veil…just stunning with lace motifs on the edges! The bride was so easy to work with, she gave me free rein to make all the alterations and said she trusted me with whatever I decided to do and try.

Just have to share what Mother Nature has blessed us with…patty pan squash normally are about 3-4 inches across and you need at least 4-5 of them in a meal. What about this one weighing in at almost 2 pounds! This is what happens when you don’t look under all the leaves!!!

How about butternut squash hanging from the cage?

Keeping my fingers crossed that this is the last week of 100 degree temps! Happy sewing to all the moms who waved their children back off to school this week!

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10 Responses to Bust Cups, Buttons and Binding

  1. upsew says:

    beautiful work as always – and it sits beautifully. impressed with your veg haul too, our damp august slowed everything down (except lettuce) here in our garden! 100 degrees Yikes (just looked up the conversion) – we are back to 17C in the west Ireland, I think I would genuinely melt past 28C!

    • mrsmole says:

      Once it gets to 90, we stop doing lots of heavy work in the garden and just want to sit with a drink under the awning and watch the birds. 100 is not my favorite but it does make you long for the Fall season of 80’s!

  2. Chris T says:

    you always make such perfect alterations, your brides are so very lucky. I would love to live nearby so I could ask for your help. Here in the UK I am enjoying a bumper tomato crop. We had to give up our allotment a few years ago and miss all the other fresh, organic produce we used to enjoy.

    • mrsmole says:

      Help is just an email away, Chris. I get emails and photos from all over the world. I would be sad to lose my garden and have to buy produce in the stores. So glad the tomato blight has not affected you!

  3. Your posts are always so informative that I always look first to see if you have a new post. I do have a question: I’m bustling my niece’s chiffon dress with 2 layers of chiffon and 2 layers of lining. The bustle will go to a dropped waist. Is it best to use a button at the top? And what should I use for a loop as I don’t want the loop to let go during the reception. Thank you so much.

    • mrsmole says:

      On sheer layers, I use doubled upholstery thread, run it through a small piece of Stay Tape up and down to be secure, then bring this from the back side up through to the right side. Then I make a French tack just long enough to make a tight loop on the button of choice and then back down to the back side and then knot it in the stay tape 3 times and cut it off. I’ve never had a bad bustle. You can get a metal backed satin button and dye it with a felt marker and sometime if the bustle is heavy, I use a small 2-hole clear backer button behind it as well so that would never pull out. You could use a small piece of chiffon as Stay Tape so it matched and then trim it to the size of a pea once you make the 3 knots. Good luck!

  4. Kim says:

    What a beautiful gown 🙂

  5. Alex in California says:

    Beautiful. I always learn so much from you. I do have a comment regarding the sleeve hem. I too believe alterations should factor in what the next tailor may need to restore the garment. The sleeve hem was done so well but I wonder if the sleeve hem would have looked better if the sheer hem wasn’t as deep. I don’t know if I would consider the next tailor’s needs versus what may be best for the current garment owner. Just a thought.

  6. mrsmole says:

    Well Alex, I would have really preferred to do it the right way with a narrow hem, but when I give the brides the choice, some opt for the saved fabric. The same happens with hems, they can be narrow hemmed or folded under and kept for any future brides. When you are spending $1000 plus for your dress and paying to have it preserved, you can see why they want every bit in reserve. I also give them all the bits I cut off just in case they may come in handy 30 years from now…you never know who will be wearing the dress? I have another similar dress coming up with scalloped hem sleeves..such a beauty!

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