Darts and Scallops

This Enzoani Maya gown fits the model well but not all brides can pull it off without alterations.


Thee main challenge would be getting all of this skirt bustled up for dancing.

The first challenge is making the bodice fit. While normally the circumference of the bodice can be taken in moving the zipper, this one needed all the excess fabric removed as darts in the front.

So I pinned out both sides:


Right side thread basted to mark the new dart. The top decorative lace border will be lifted so the dart can be made and then replaced back down.

Left side thread basted to mark new dart:

The darts will be made between strips of boning. Here you can see the lace motifs flipped up and away.

While the darts will be 2 inches wide at the top down to nothing, the length is 6 inches. OK, now you might be thinking than all of this will not look right…me too. But some dresses just do not let you alter in any other way. Taking this much out of the side seams, I tried pinning them, just did not do the trick, unfortunately.

Right side dart finished with lace motifs flipped back down and hand sewn. Now if you didn’t know that this dress did not start its life with that fitting dart, you would never even notice it.

Left side finished dart

But what you would notice is the support that the darts give to the bust! Taking out 4 inches made those cups perk up!

So, just when one problem is solved, a couple others pop up. Dresses with lace overlay layers have another problem…and for those of you who write to me asking about what to look for when buying a dress…here’s one.

The lace layer is loose and does not perform properly so it makes poofs and lumps and has to be tacked by hand to the lining and lower layers as where the red pins are.

Next problem…are you long or short waisted??? Guess what happens when the bride’s waist or hips are larger than the dress? The skirt, like the nature of water, seeks it’s point of least resistance…the skirt section slides up to make a nice horizontal ridge. At this point, there is nothing to do except to actually make a seam there but the bride wanted a faster cheaper fix to cover it up.

Enter a 1.5 inch wide grosgrain ribbon…the dull finish does not draw too much attention and bridges the gap and lumps and can be hand tacked. This way the next bride , maybe taller, longer waisted can remove the belt and be back to the original.

OK…what’s left? Oh Yeah, the scalloped lace hem…how much too long is it?

Only 4 inches…

Green thread marks where all the lace motif points will be moved to after cutting all the lack border away.

Here are all the points pinned to the higher level before sewing. Did I mention that the front lace hem was over 5 yards (4.5 meters) wide. That translates to lots of hand basting before machine sewing. When brides wonder why I have to charge 3 hours of labor for this section, that’s when the photos do all the explaining.

Once the hem is sewn, the bustles have to be made. When I flip the lace layer up what do I see???

Oh Crap…the entire tulle layer is pleated and machine tacked to the lining/satin layer. Why would any manufacturer/designer do this?

Thankfully I don’t have to shorten this layer…only bustle it up with one point.

Then back to the lace layer and that huge train. Using 7 points the train will clear the floor.

And here we have the finished side view without the ribbon belt

Has anyone seen or worked on this puzzle?

It took me three weeks to complete it and the shapes were so weird.

Here are the last two pieces that fit…no they are not inside pieces, they are straight edges.

The selling point listed the fact that the puzzle had color coding on the backside and came with this diagram of the color placement…see the right-hand 1000 piece one? Looks like there are 6 color sections…now precise, how neat! This feature is supposed to make everything easier!

Once the puzzle was complete, I decided to flip it like a pancake.

Well, talk about SHOCKED! Here we have 12 different color families and polka dots and white junction lines. So much for the gridded diagram!

Wishing you all easy solutions to sewing problems and puzzles!

This entry was posted in challenges and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Darts and Scallops

  1. Brenda says:

    My dad had a puzzle similar to this. The back had letters. The puzzle was so difficult that I cheated and put the “A” pieces in a pile, “B” pieces in a pile, etc and that helped in putting it together! The shapes were very odd! But, it was fun working on it with my dad.

    • mrsmole says:

      In the end it went better because I flipped the pieces over and like you, put them in piles of color. If I had known that the back colors were NOT in perfect squares, I would have not been so frustrated. My next puzzle is the same…fingers crossed!

  2. Nancy Figur says:

    Instead of hand basting and then machine sewing the hem up could you just sew it all by hand once. I just had to take a dress apart that had that kind of hem. I just did it all by hand. When you do it by machine do you drop the feed dogs and freehand it? What thread do you use when you machine sew it.
    That alteration at the top of the dress is invisible! Amazing.

  3. mrsmole says:

    Hey Nancy, I do sew half of the hems by hand especially if they are beaded with sequins. I don’t drop feed dogs or use invisible thread. I used to but it made so many laces pucker. I use matching poly thread top and bobbin and go slowly around every nook and cranny. I know gals who remove the presser foot completely and drop the feed dogs but it seems more like what my quilting friends do…ha ha My presser foot holds the wiggly lace edges flat so they don’t fold back on themselves.

  4. I am not familiar with the term lack, i.e. lack border, motif, can you enlighten me please

  5. Rena says:

    Ravensburger puzzles are the best on the market. I’ve found them at Tuesday Morning occasionally. I love that the back is so pretty on that puzzle though! Great job on the dress! I believe the bust darts work because there’s too much bust so pulling the side seams doesn’t fix the problem because it makes less room for the bust instead of more. The darts work because it adds more shaping for the bust. Correct? Lumps and bumps are definitely a challenge to work around!!! I’ve seen numerous dresses that the wearer says are too loose and it’s almost always a too large bust for the dress. It can cause gaping at the sides and back. At least lace camouflages the darts well. I can’t imagine dragging all that dress around all night. It looks romantic for the wedding but the for the reception, it’s just a nuisance!

    • mrsmole says:

      Yes, Rena, the darts act like boning and I don’t cut any excess fabric away in case the next bride needs it. The stitches can be snipped and released in future. The darts make the top of the bodice form better cups for the breasts while pulling the top edge back into the chest with no gaps. Trains…what are they for anyway? Photos and for dragging twigs and weeds along. I’ll have a look at my Tuesday Morning for those puzzles! Thank you!

      • John Yingling says:

        You better hurry to the nearest Tuesday Morning, sadly, they have filed for bankruptcy, and will be closing all their stores.

  6. ceci says:

    Pretty dress but wow, very bare up top! Having just been on the periphery of a family wedding where cape sleeves had to be added to a spaghetti strapped bodice (which was actually quite modest even without the sleeves) to meet the requirements of the church where the wedding was held, I’m guessing this was not for a church wedding.


  7. mrsmole says:

    Funny how I can go a whole season without one bride getting married in church. Parks and backyards and wineries are the main venue these days. The only reason to cover up is for warmth in the Fall or Winter.

  8. Ruth Parfitt says:

    I have to write & say i enjoy your blog & look forward to it arriving in my email box , i used to make wedding dresses for a living [& design them-steer the bride in the right direction] they can have what they want ,but i always pointed out all pros and cons, and yes a lot thinks it takes 5 minutes & query everything even though they can not even sew a button on lol, but i do admire your patience and love your descriptions about it all ,your are amazing .Brides love em & bless them all.
    Ruth [soon to be again ]Great Britain.

  9. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Ruth…brides…a different breed during the preparation time. The excitement and expectations overwhelm them and their mothers who want to relive their own weddings only better.

  10. Tia Dia says:

    I love that puzzle! We are a big puzzle family, and I have never seen one with the back like that!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s