Lace and Layers

Once again we have lace embroidered on tulle and delicate straps and the killer lace back:

Wtoo Shelia on a real body:

Pinning up a bustle using all the layers together…not a great idea!

Maybe just start with the straps and leave that crazy bustle till the end.


Here is another alteration, tightening up at the back neckline, with lace, the swirls can be overlapped and hand tucked to be released later if needed.

With this being a sample dress, a button has escaped but will be replaced by the last one at the end of the zipper.

Before I start, I like to iron all the layers flat to see what needs to be shortened. The first layer needs a 4 inch horizontal tuck all the way around. I do this so I don’t have to mess with the 2 inch wide horsehair braid in the hem also attached to a layer of netting. You can follow along with all these photos below:

Hand basted 4 inch hem:

Getting closer:

More wrinkled tulle:

Now we have the maximum lengths for all layers before being trimmed/hemmed.

To shorten the shoulder straps, each side/flap of lace is detached and folded back to reveal the seam. A new seam is taking in by hand to equal 1 inch total on each strap.

New hand basted seam that will not be trimmed. You know by now that I try not to trim off the original seams and save them for the next bride. The raw edges will be turned under and whip stitched flat.

The lace motifs overlapped and pinned:

Thread basted into place and ready for try-on:

Time to kick back a Diet Pepsi and get to it…the big bustle. All the layers are tossed over the mannequin’s head to reveal the satin layer with 3 points. The satin layer will be hemmed in front and not trimmed away as the bride wants to keep her dress for any future daughters.

The 3 point bust for the top layers:

Finally, it is looking almost presentable albeit just needing a little haircut for the dangling bits.

The side seams had to be taken in to give a more mermaid look just above where the bustle starts. At least she could still sit without popping any seams open.







While these alterations and ironing seemed simple enough, I had just 2 days to get it done from Monday night to Thursday morning. The MOB was in a hurry to get the bride in a white wedding dress and legally married before she would grow out of the dress so time was on our side.

When the bride came to pick up her dress, she gave me a lovely thank you card and a nice tip and these roses.

So much to do in the garden this time of year…OH MY…the leaves from neighbor’s trees are clumping everywhere! But Mr Mole has most of his winter veggies and seeds planted so looking forward to that later!

More unusual projects to come…one involving a flag…yes, a flag and patriotic braid!

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16 Responses to Lace and Layers

  1. Nancy Figur says:

    Fascinating as always!

  2. Leslie Dolin says:

    I sew a lot but have no desire to ever fit a bridal gown, yet I find your blog fascinating, and love seeing what you do. I can’t figure out why I love it so. Perhaps because it shows the variety of life, fantasy versus reality, the weirdness of some off the rack clothing, and I am astonished at the amount of work (and the wonderful quality of it) you do to put things right! Thank you for a fascinating read.

    • mrsmole says:

      Well Leslie,
      I feel the same way when I unzip the garment bag and see the dress for the first time…”what have we here?” The website models and photos only show the ideal shape and style while the real life brides have to suck in their tummies and wear Spanx to make it all work and flatter. I wish there were more bridal blogs and videos out there for all of us!!! Thank you for following along!

  3. Kai Jones says:

    Now that bride has good manners.

    • mrsmole says:

      Tips are always welcome…ha ha! Some brides just capture your heart…and this one did. I told her that she was welcome to come back and visit any time even just for a chat or sage advice.

  4. What a wonderful and kind bride! It’s good to read some of these type stories too because my faith in humans is being sorely tested lately!

  5. Kim says:

    Always nice to get flowers – although a sincere thank you and paying the bill is appreciated too!
    Sympathies about the leaves in your garden. I have to clear mine later but the tree is mine so I’m the one apologising to neighbours 😉.

  6. as always you are a wizard with tulle and lace! and whenever they say they want to preserve the dress for fitting of future generations – I always think oh no, it will probably be out of style by then and also you are depriving that future bride of the fun of choosing her own dress….

    • Nancy Figur says:

      I agree, how many people do we know who wore their Mom’s wedding gown. I know one and I am 69 years old. Some girls do sell their gowns and if they intend to recoup the initial expense it is a big plus to have the extra fabric in there. That is much more common and might be what they actually have in their heads but don’t want to say that. I have a Christening gown business with the main focus being making the gowns out of a wedding gown. I do many from the Bride’s Mom’s gown and about an equal amount from the new Mom’s own gown. This way the dress is worn again, possibly more than a few times again. A fun thing they do is to sit the baby in the middle of the bodice of the wedding gown spread out on the bed and take a picture. Then I get it to take it away and transform it. The pictures of the transformed gowns are shown on my Pinterest page which is Well Blessed Baby. I love when I find extra fabric inside the gowns I work on because sometimes it makes a big difference in how I lay out the pattern.

    • Connie says:

      My mother wore her mother’s wedding gown, which was a separate top with leg o-mutton sleeves and long skirt, undoubtedly high style in 1904-ish. My sister wore the gown again for a 1970’s wedding.

      • mrsmole says:

        Yes, Connie, you just need to find the right gap in years to recycle a style. I wonder when the leg-o-mutton sleeves will make a resurgence? I altered a dress with those from 1980 and I removed the sleeves to be saved for another time frame and used the dress without them. The issue can also be that the next generation of brides can be larger and taller than the previous and lots of panels have to be added.

    • mrsmole says:

      When a dress has a real waist seam, I tell the brides to think about their dress as “separates” where the skirt can join a new top in future years or the reverse, if the lace top is gorgeous, the next bride might change the skirt in the future. I seems a shame to just toss the dress, not preserve it or use it for any other event when they have spent $1200+. Thrift shops don’t want them, theater acting companies don’t need them, donating to have them make into christening gowns or burial gowns are another option but what do you do with yards and yards of fabric, pearls, sequins, beads. Some of my brides actually WANT to wear their mother’s dress but I agree that if the dress is intended for the daughter/granddaughter, she should not have pressure put upon her to wear it altered or not.

  7. Erin says:

    How in the world do you hem a dress without cutting it away? Ive always been taught that there is not a way to keep that hem. How do iron tulle? I usually just steam it but I’m open to using a iron. Lol

  8. mrsmole says:

    The satin layer is just folded under and hemmed by hand like any skirt but just side seam to side seam in front. The rest of the skirt is not touched as it is the train. Since the tulle or lace layer is longer, it covers up the new satin layer hem. I have a Hi-Steam generator iron from Wawak and I just press the tulle like in the photo. Using a floor steamer never seems to get all the wrinkles out and it is just as fast as tossing each layer over the board and pressing each layer. I tell the brides that they can press their dress with a steam iron on medium or low and they can press from the wrong side if they are nervous.

  9. LinB says:

    I’m with you on the whole “save my dress for a possible future daughter” to wear.
    My mother weighed 90 pounds when she was married … my father could encircle her waist with his hands. There was no way on God’s green earth that I could wear her dress! Ditto for my mother-in-law’s dress. She was highly offended that I chose not to wear her far-too-tiny-dress; but, 35 years later, I scavenged lace and buttons from it to make a jacket to accompany her granddaughter’s wedding dress.

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