Rodeo Queen

Just got a call from a desperate mother needing her daughter’s floor length gown shortened. Since there was a break in between brides, I agreed to see the dress.

Of course, it was bought online from one of the many sites selling prom and formal dresses which means it may or may not fit.

The daughter will be wearing this dress at formal events when she represents our area across the country. Rodeo queens compete in many events and when I asked her if she has a horse, her answer was, “I have 4”.

She was told the dress must have sleeves and a collar and be covered up.

Here is the back with a cut out:

The front after having trimmed all the tulle layers by 6 inches:

The satin skirt fabric was covered in tulle and appliques. The skirt was full circle satin and a lining attached at the hem edge.

You know the type…to shorten it, you reach inside a side seam in the lining and grab everything to haul it out, stitch the new hem line, trim and then shove it all back inside and seal up the side seam. After I explained this to the mom, she said she did not want me to do it that way…really?

Yes, really.








So, I asked her how she wanted it shortened the 5-6 inches. Well, she wanted is all just folded under as it might be cheaper…sure, hand stitching a circle skirt to the lining would NOT be cheaper or faster but, hey, I have to do what I am asked. So, after pinning the whole hem up, I re-pinned the original hem edge up and attached it to the lining. Guess what happens when you attach a larger circumference to a smaller one???

Can you say …pleats and tucks and lots of labor? Can you say bulk? Well, the mother said she thought it would be OK as no one would be looking at the hem anyway. She also said the next girl could just let the hem down and be happy….never mind that the tulle layers will have been trimmed off by 5-6 inches so letting the satin skirt down would just look weird.

In the end, I agreed to do it her way and started making a second appointment for her and she says…”there won’t be a second appointment, we need it tomorrow.” I take a deep breath and tell her to come back in the morning and bring a check. Then she says she wants to add some bling to the lace motifs and I found some dark blue sequins and put some in a bag for her to try an glue on. The little bag is hanging from the right sleeve.

Amid all the chaos of the virus openings and not openings and protests in the streets and more bad news hitting us, maybe it is a good thing that rodeos remain the same…encouraging young girls to compete in something that does not require a bathing suit, fake teeth, fake hair and showing way too much skin to be judged by old white men at a desk. The mom showed me a rehearsal video of her daughter going through her paces on her horse and carrying a flag at the end…it was a bit of good cheering up!

So what is going on in the garden? After Mother Nature dumped a week of rain on us, she came back with a week of 90-100+ temps so the flowers and veggies have gone nuts.

The first dahlia to open up:

Our butterfly bush/tree with red crocosmia flowers:


Yellow Calla Lilies and blue agapanthus.



The fly bag is really jumping with lots of visitors who cannot escape.






Remember the little bean plants? Well the scarlet runner beans have reached the top of the netting and the bush beans and Lima beans are on the move.



The corn is ripping away too with lots of sunshine and heat.

Our lime tree is happy with baby limes and the purple leaves are the Canna lily ready to produce hot orange flowers. The pot in front has more calla lilies and to the right is the end of the Lupins after making a real good show of deep purple flowers. We are saving the seed heads to plant next year.

Our Magnolia tree finally made the huge white flowers that smell like lemons.

Thank you for dropping by and many thanks to those of you who have sent emails about your bridal successes after following this blog. The whole reason for having this blog is to share techniques and possible solutions to problems that happen in my part of the world.

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24 Responses to Rodeo Queen

  1. Nancy Figur says:

    Good thing I went back and re-read that entire post. I was trying to figure out how she was going to ride a horse in that dress – haha. You are a saint. I would have told her to do it herself if she knew the best way to do it. Your garden looks beautiful. Ours is very flowerful this year too – we need that in all this craziness.

    • mrsmole says:

      Absolutely, Nancy…sitting out in nature has a grounding and calming effect. Yes, the dress is only for the formal part of the competition. Riding a horse requires much more rugged clothes!

  2. Janey says:

    Great that they require a dress that covers the body, but in my opinion that is the most horrible looking dress I have ever seen!

  3. Sandi says:

    Mrs. Mole, I have to agree with Janey, that is a horrible dress and you did a great job with what you had to work with!

  4. ceci says:

    Don’t you just love people who know how to do EVERYTHING better than the professionals?? However, I’m envisioning a healthy looking blond kid in this dress, probably quite striking, especially if everyone else is in hot pink. And yes, more bling seems more rodeo!


    • mrsmole says:

      The girl was calm and very normal looking and not boastful as you might imagine a queen to be. Competing in barrel racing and all sorts of other events and maintaining her composure and that of her horse requires lots of practice…long days in the corral and lots of grooming of her horses for the shows.

  5. ParisGrrl says:

    Speaking as a former pageant girl, that dress is actually a great choice for its purpose…but I would Never have asked for overnight turnaround, let alone demanded it. If I were in your shoes, I’d have quoted two prices for the alterations options –making sure the way you preferred to do it was the more inexpensive option– and adding an additional charge for rush service. We will all learn your real identity the day a statue is erected in your honor.

    • Kim says:

      ParisGrrl I’ve met Mrs Mole and she’s lovely. Definitely deserves a statue for putting up with some of the aggravation she gets from brides (and beyond!). I’m sworn to secrecy so won’t be telling who she is 😎

      • mrsmole says:

        Thank you, Kim and Paris! Last time you saw me Kim I had super short hair but with no hair salons open, the mane has grown down to my shoulders and even Mr Mole thinks he has a new woman in his life…ha ha I should have had the guts to charge extra for rush jobs long ago!!!

  6. Kim says:

    I’m with ParisGrrl. Quote high for the way you DON’T want to work. We’ve all met these ‘experts’ at some time when working. I’m absolutely in with the rush service surcharge – I eventually out a sign on my wall giving the information about extra costs for any rush jobs IF it was possible to achieve it with the current workload. Saved a load of agro (and astonishment from the majority of clients who wouldn’t dream of asking).

    • mrsmole says:

      The remarkable thing is now with places opening up in big cities, haircuts that used to be $18 are now $25 and up because they need to recoup the losses during the last 3 months.If ALL of us added 50% extra to our hourly rate, it would shock the new clients.

  7. mem says:

    Ok so I am at a loss as to how ANYONE could ride a horse in that dress shortened or not πŸ€”πŸ˜³πŸ™ƒit’s a pretty ghastly dress too . I feel your pain

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Mem, she won’t be riding a horse in that dress…it is only for formal events. Most of the time she will be wearing cowgirl gear from her hat to her boots.

  8. JustGail says:

    I’m hoping this is one of those dresses that looks way better on a person than on the hanger. Something just seems… odd? about it. Then again – it’s not a sleeveless strapless skin tight cut down to (or up to) there confections, and I do like the color. Even though I sew, if I ever take something to an alterations professional, I’d hope any questions I have about how the alterations would be done would be make it clear that I want to learn, not “I know better than you”.

  9. mrsmole says:

    Ha ha, Gail, we are so used to seeing little hooker dresses and sleazy outfits, it makes us take a step back when we see a dress that covers a girl properly. My thoughts are that being so covered up and competing during the summer months in states like California, Arizona and New Mexico , she is going to do a lot of sweating and it is so fitted that air will not be circulating much!

  10. Rena says:

    Your garden looks amazing! Hmmmm, just fold up a circle skirt. It’s obvious the mom knows best ;). My pageant girls always want to be able to let stuff out. I was happy to find 2 extra inches inside a gown and the saved stones to cover up letting it out! Mom was so thrilled. Several girls had gained weight during shut down and had gowns that no longer zipped!

    • mrsmole says:

      The brides have had similar problems so corset backs have had to come into play. When I leave excess fabric inside a dress, I always tell the bride that the next seamstress will be thrilled to find it even if it is 30 years from now. Like you, Rena, when I find wide seam allowances…I could jump for joy!

  11. John Yingling says:

    Ms. Mole, you handled that client quite nicely. It reminds me how I once dealt with a meddlesome client. I used to have a freelance design business 30 years ago in downtown Seattle (if you have been following the national news, it was one block away from the so-called β€œCHOP” zone). A client hired me to make her daughter a pageant swimsuit, and I proceeded to do the usual make up a muslin, fitting, second muslin, etc. During the second muslin fitting the Mother told me her friend who sews would do it β€œthis” way. I stopped in the middle of the fitting, gathered up the patterns and samples, gave them all to her, and said, as I showed her out the door, β€œIf your friend knows so much about designing a swimsuit, let her make it!” That’s how I impetuously handled that client trying to tell me how to do my job, but neither did I make any money; probably should have been more diplomatic and profited from containing my anger.

  12. mrsmole says:

    Oh John, we have all had those moments when we could bundle up all the fabrics and hand them back to the client!!! In the past 19 years I have gotten less and less tolerant of clients comparing my prices and skill to others. In fact 3 clients really pushed me to the limit after I had worked so hard and long on altering their old clothes that I packed their things into a box, sealed it shut and had poor Mr Mole hand deliver their package to where they work. While he passed for a delivery man, they seemed excited to receive it not knowing what was inside. Once they opened the box and realized that they had their clothes finished properly and NOT charged, they called to say that they were just kidding when they bad-mouthed my service and begged to for me to reconsider having them back. Knowing that I had dismissed them gracefully with no charge it gave me a feeling of satisfaction and power. By not charging, they cannot tell anyone in town that I was a bad seamstress. After all, it was just labor. I have been following the CHOP section of Seattle online and certainly anything West Coast that affects me directly or indirectly like the order to wear masks for all indoor facilities in Oregon starting today…hooray! Are you still designing?

    • Cheryl Designs says:

      John and Mrs Mole πŸ™‚ I have RARELY had problems with customers πŸ™‚ I re-opened my studio in 2006 πŸ™‚ I listen to my inner voices during the original phone contact πŸ™‚ If I get a ‘bad vibe’ I create a reason why I cannot do their job πŸ™‚ I READILY give my customers a GUESSTIMATE. I had a bridesmaid about 10 years ago that I couldn’t have made HAPPY if I would have gifted her with a POT of gold 😦 Her sister, the BRIDE, was SWEETNESS itself πŸ™‚ September 2019 brought me a LOVELY young bridesmaid that was PREGNANT and her gown needed gussets and hemming of MULTIPLE layers. She left the studio with her TOTAL.. add gussets-$60 and hem was $90 plus sales tax. She called me a WEEK later and said she had talked to NUMEROUS friends and she thought my pricing was INSANE!! ‘THEY’ had decided I was HORRIBLY EXPENSIVE!!! Well..Well… I told her I had NEVER experienced this PROBLEM before 😦 I told her to bring $100 with her at pick-up. She was THRILLED with my work. (OH YES-I forgot to tell you guys- it was a 10 day RUSH JOB at my BUSY TIME 😦 ) I was perfectly NICE to her but I told her, PLEASE do NOT tell anyone I accepted LESS than my TOTAL INVOICE from you because THIS is just not something that is ACCEPTABLE to me 😦 YES-I will ALWAYS remember her name πŸ™‚ I don’t have much competition in my area πŸ™‚ I WILL remember she basically STOLE $50 from me 😦 Of course, the CUSTOMER doesn’t view themselves as a THIEF 😦 I bet I WILL hear from her again at some point and will I sew for her ? NOPE 😦 OR I will add that STOLEN $50 to her bill πŸ™‚ HAPPY 4th πŸ™‚

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