Making Two Pieces Work

Once in a season, a two-piece gown comes into the sewing room. Normally it is when brides travel way out of town with their entourage for a 3-day hunt for the perfect wedding gown.

Here we have a classic example:

Catherine Deane bodysuit made out of acetate and spandex.



Combine that with a heavy multilayered tulle skirt. Here is one I found on eBay.

Let’s start with the skirt…first thing the bride wanted was to have one of the 3 layers of heavy stain removed to make it lighter. I think the skirt alone weighed over 10 pounds so removing just one layer didn’t do that much. The waist band was 4 inches too big…no problem for a seamstress right? Wrong! Detaching the band and tightening up all the gathered tulle layers, (3 of them) and then coming up with a way to hold all that on a small waist should be easy. Can you see that the hook is hanging on by a thread and there is also a clear plastic snap? How many poor brides have tried this skirt on before??? Hundreds?

My first attempt to tighten the waistband involved moving the zipper over 2.5 inches total to the pins the FIRST TIME.

After the first try-on it was obvious that more needed to be taken out to fit snugly.

Left side with final 4 inch total pinning and green thread being the new zipper edge.

Right side with pins holding pleats flat.

Left side (under flap) with pinned zipper face down:

Left side lapped with zipper pinned:

Inside of lapped side with all the excess fabric to be trimmed away:

Hand baste the lapped side down in white thread:

Machine stitch the lapped side and cross over to stitch up the under flap:

















The lining was pinned the same amount of the satin and will be trimmed away and used as a mirror image pattern for the other side.

Excess trimmed and pinned read for hand sewing:

Excess waistband folded under. You know I hate cutting away any fabric that might be needed later:

Moving along to the top…that zipper needed to be moved over one inch each side. After removing the zipper early on, you can see the previous seamstress in the factory trimmed away lots of zipper tape near the top:

Both sides were really jagged and raveling so the edges were sewn and stabilized:

The bride wanted two new additional straps made to match the original one and moved more toward the center back to look “modern”. There was no fabric to use so I lucked out when I found that the hanging tags were actually the same as the straps…how lucky was that?

The only problem was that they were too short so I added tabs at the end so they could have something to attach.

Close-up of the new strap added in front:






Once the zipper was moved a total of 2 inches, the lining is folded under and hand stitched. Thread knots mark the position of the new straps to be hand sewn on.

A blurry photo of the new straps and the missing hook and eye at the top and the skirt not properly pulled up covering the back waist: 









Toss in some teardrop shaped bust pads and hook and eye with the final try-on photo with shiny wrinkles and double straps. Sadly after all this was done, the wedding that was scheduled to be in Europe on a wind swept cliff overlooking the Atlantic ocean was cancelled due to the Corona lock-down. Maybe by the end of this year, she will be able to have a nice reception after getting married in the forest in hiking clothes with a solitary minister.


Last week Mr. Mole bought a jigsaw puzzle for me. As I spread the pieces on the table to find all the straight edge pieces…I slowly realized that the photo on the lid did not match the factory sealed puzzle inside. Mr. Mole searched the internet to find the real photo, printed it out and sealed it in a plastic sleeve.

Lots of activity going on the garden this week with transplanting all the rest of the tomatoes, beans, squash, onions, eggplant, peppers and watermelons pictured below.

Stay safe everyone and happy Mother’s Day to all who get to celebrate today!

PS. Lynn has found her wedding photos of her 2 piece dress with no zipper. What a romantic dress:


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23 Responses to Making Two Pieces Work

  1. lesleyshepherd4342 says:

    Mr Mole was lucky to get a new jigsaw for you, mostly sold out or the few that are available are overly expensive here in the UK. Currently only supermarkets or on line-shops are open here, we are keeping safe.

    • mrsmole says:

      He had to pay a premium price for the puzzles but they can be resold. It seems certain things have had the prices inflated to take advantage of shortages.

  2. Cynthia Jenkinson says:

    What an inspiration you are! I so enjoy your posts…oh, the challenges you deal with!

  3. Kim says:

    Can’t say I particularly like that dress even after you worked so hard to make it fit. It takes all sorts.
    I’ve brought some of the jigsaws I’ve been given over the years out to do sometime soon. Mr Mole did well – and even found the correct picture! Well done him 😊

    • mrsmole says:

      For Mother’s Day, he found yet another cat puzzle for me to work on. Once it is done, I’ll take another photo. The wedding outfit is not the most flattering and I forgot to mention that under all that tulle was another layer of stiff organza over 3 layers of polyester satin. Can’t imagine stuffing all of that skirt into a suitcase for a destination wedding.

  4. Sandi says:

    That was a lot of work for a cancelled wedding and then to hear she got married in the forest and wore hiking clothes😕 Hope you are having a wonderful Mother’s Day Mrs. Mole from you know who💐💖

    • mrsmole says:

      The bride will certainly have a good story to tell her grandchildren about adapting to a crisis! You really don’t know what drives brides to have the perfect day and perfect timing and location. I know you have kept busy making quilts to give away to the VA and other charity groups, Sandi!

  5. LinB says:

    Good Lord in heaven above, that bride didn’t ask for much, did she? It would have been simpler and probably less expensive to have started from scratch with a custom gown from your hands. You are a saint among seamsters.

    My own wedding dress was a two-piecer, but worn as two pieces. The peplum from the jacket/blouse top nicely hid the waistband of the skirt … and a cummerbund/sash topped off the whole shebang. No zippers were involved in either garment.

    • mrsmole says:

      Wow, Lin…no zippers? Do you have a photo to share?

      • LinB says:

        Hmmm. Where DID I put that wedding album? Will search it out and see if I can find a decent photo of the dress. Used an 1890s walking skirt as inspiration for the skirt, so just had a button and placket at the waistband. Hooked the jacket shut, and snapped the cummerbund shut around the waist.

      • LinB says:

        Found it! Now to figure out how to get it onto your screen.

      • mrsmole says:

        I will post your photos at the end of the post…thank you so much!!!

  6. Nancy Figur says:

    This just proves there are no really easy alterations just different difficult varieties.
    So many brides with cancelled weddings. My daughter’s brother in law was to be married in early June and they cancelled it before having to put down final deposits. They have no idea when they will be able to have the wedding.
    I love when you don’t cut off those little extra fabric places. I never do either. You might remember that the two things I do are make christening gowns from wedding gowns and part of the year I make theater costumes. Both of those are garments that hopefully will be worn again and so many times I have been saved by leaving some extra fabric inside so that a larger baby or a larger actress can wear the original garment.
    That bodysuit top is very similar to ballet costumes (another thing I used to make lots of) but I think to wear them you need to be shaped like a ballet dancer. Although I did have to make many of them in larger sizes.

    I love when I get a notification of a new post and get to see one of your projects.
    Nancy Figur

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Nancy…in a way having a ballet bodysuit and a poofy skirt just didn’t look all that cohesive…but hey…it was her vision and believe me, that skirt had been tried on by lots of gals before her as up close, the tulle was full of pulls and small holes. You know you can tell how “shop worn” a garment is by the way the hook and eyes and snaps have been treated. If the hem of the lining is dirty, it means it has been waltzed around the showroom a lot. Such a great idea to leave extra fabric inside a christening gown!

  7. JustGail says:

    I hope it still fits, IF she has a reception later and decides to wear it. I wonder how many dresses will be hauled back in for re-work when the rescheduled weddings do take place.

    I like the actual puzzle better than what the box shows – funny, yet a bit too close to truth I think. My plants are waiting a few more days yet until it stays in at least upper 40s at night, preferably 50s. Even then, I remember way too many cold wet Memorial Day picnics! Selection of veggies is pathetic this year, at least in the 3 places I checked last week.

    • mrsmole says:

      It is anyone’s guess how things will fit down the line. I have my fingers crossed that I won’t be the one involved!!! Mr. Mole’s watermelon plants are shivering and struggling and the birds have attacked my sunflower seedlings and eaten some down to the ground. Last week we have a 93 degree day and this week we can’t get much over 55 and 45 at night…crazy May weather!

  8. I’m just wondering did your brides start to back out as the virus raged? Because it looks like the bride is wearing a mask in the picture above. I hope you didn’t lose too much business because of the virus.

  9. mrsmole says:

    Oh Carolyn, all the April and May brides were cancelled but I had 4 dresses here to work on in the meantime. Now I have the June brides and July gals but it is still iffy whether they can have a gathering of more than 2 people. Yes, they are all wearing masks for their fittings and I take their temps and make them scrub up before getting into their dresses. I’m afraid there might be a real log jam of brides in September!!!

  10. Rena says:

    I like the idea of 2 pieces just maybe not this one. Why did she order such a large skirt? Seems like she could have gone down at least a size if the waist was that big.

    I just started seeing people again. I had a bridal gown that was for a cancelled June wedding. They got married in the back yard but will have a reception in September. I have pageant girls that may or may not have pageants. Since GA has opened back up, they’re not cancelling anything in July.

    • mrsmole says:

      The skirt was not ordered, she bought it off the rack in a hurry without thinking…”hold on a minute, I can grab 4 inches of fabric on the waistband and if I didn’t hold it, it would slide off my hips unto the floor”. The bodice was somewhere in the back storeroom and they dug it out to show her and as it didn’t fit either…the deal was done. Two badly loose fitting pieces to bring back to Mrs.Mole to fix. I’m hoping that we don’t have another wave of cases late summer!!! Yesterday we had a march of 1000 protestors from a local church wanting all stores and offices to be open and to abolish wearing masks…it is mind boggling! Pageants…forgot about those…great breeding grounds for germs! Good luck Rena!

  11. LindaC says:

    I’m curious why the skirt was recommended “dry clean” when it was 100% polyester. Would it really NEED to be dry cleaned?

  12. mrsmole says:

    The skirt had 3 layers of polyester satin, then one squirrely layer of nasty organza and then 3 layers of tulle so in this instance recommending dry cleaning probably saves the manufacturer some grief.

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