Tighter and Tighter

If you are looking for a long sleeved wedding gown you might seek out David’s Bridal.

This dress is very stretchy crepe with a non-stretchy poly lining.

This year to avoid spreading Covid, some brides in the Northwest still plan a wedding ceremony for a limited family group ….where else but… on the windy beach. This dress will be the star of the show/photos as it is dragged across wet sand and rocks and without a bustle, the whole front hem and train will be filthy.

This model is showing off her J-lo butt and with buttons from her neck to the floor, it makes quite a sight!

For the first try-on you can see there is some wrinkling of sleeves and side seams.

Sleeves are meant to be skin tight aren’t they? So tight that when you bend your elbow…it is very restricted. Brides don’t like to compromise on that tight fit.

If the elbow is that tight, when you try to bend it what happens? Well, like water seeking its own level, so does fabric. The poor sleeve is screaming and it has to “borrow” from either the wrist area or the shoulder…guess which one wins? Hint: (not the super tight buttoned wrist).

No bride seems to need breathing or eating room these days so let’s just take in the side seams too.

Shortening lined and looped and buttoned wrist hems…not looking forward to that. While 2.5 inches is pinned, later we run into trouble.

Front hem in need of shortening so you can walk through sand and seaweed safely, Madam? Oh No…the front hem must “puddle” just the right amount for the photos.

By now you all know how to get into a hem that is sewn to the lining:

Once everything is pulled to the outside, the new hem is thread marked with red thread from the right side. Only little tacks show in the wrong/inside side. 

Bodice side seams are also marked with red thread on the outside.

Do the same for the one underarm sleeve seam, yes, there are 2 underarm seams on each sleeve. I used the non-loop seams for taking in.

Here’s the little trouble I mentioned:

So the bride will have to compromise on the extra 1/2 inch because she does not want to pay for me to remove all the loops and move them up.

You can see the thread marking on the wrong side.

Shortening and narrowing…I might as well just open up everything to get a clear shot.

Lower loops to be removed:

So what does the second fitting bring?

Sleeves have to be taken in more and more thread marking.

The same goes for the bodice side seams…in the end the bodice will be 4 inches narrower and the sleeve 2 inches narrower and shorter. Most of the excess will be trimmed away and seams flattened and pressed and French tacks holding the lining to the crepe replaced at the waistline and underarms.

Can you see how far the new red thread is from the original seam? Once all this excess is trimmed away, the seams can be pressed open and flat as that is such a drastic curve.

Second basting done with white thread by hand:

Same goes for the bodice lining…a huge difference from the original.

More hand basting for the sleeves:

What I didn’t show is the fact I opened the underarm sleeve attaching the sleeve to the bodice. but you know what that looks like.

When I was opening all the sleeve seams, I discovered why some of the buttons didn’t sit flat.

Just basted sleeve hems:

What was cut off and saved:

The front hem:

Pin lining and crepe together:

Ready for machine basting:

The bride decides that she wants the 4 removed loops to be attached higher up the sleeve seam.

Just to give you an idea about how all those back buttons are attached. Did you think that they were each secured between buttons? Ah…no, they are all just connected loosely and if you cut one button loop…you lose the ones next to it.

Once the front hem is stitched, I hand baste the edge before pressing.

I used a very fine thread for the hand hemming: Metrolene but I see it is not still available and it has been replaced with Seralene.

This thread is so fine that it just slides right through my favorite size 11 Milliners needle. Some sewers choose to use silk thread.

Inside the sleeve hem…new upper loops installed and the seam is pressed flat and then clipped and pressed over. Here you can see the second sleeve seam. I used that one for narrowing by 2 inches from armhole to wrist.

Now the fun stuff…hand hemming and seaming around loops and buttons:

Pinked lining hem held in place:

I wanted to save 2 inches of sleeve hem for the next bride. I had already cut off 1.5 inches in the photo above  and then all was hand tacked down at the edge and middle.

Being such a deep hem, the raw edge needed to be tacked to itself before adding the lining.

Lining hem folded under and hand attached:

Just to finish…the front hem side seams were tacked flat originally. I went ahead and hand tacked all the other seams too.

OK….done enough, let’s close this puppy up…close the lining and find the hanger.

Knowing how stunning this dress looks on a real body, it is a wonder it gets to be tried on much in the store. On the hanger is looks so sad and shapeless.

So what else is going on in the Mole’s home? Mr. Mole’s lettuce is doing well.

First harvest washed and ready to eat:

Tiny Tim tomatoes producing like crazy and so sweet!

Thank you all for dropping by and enduring so many photos that show all the steps to making “simple and easy” alterations…yeah right! Now the wait is on to get the Covid vaccine!

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13 Responses to Tighter and Tighter

  1. Annette Bollig says:

    As always, your work is amazing. You really do make dreams come true. A question: Where do you purchase your size 11 milliners as I find that they’re difficult to source. Thank you

  2. Donna says:

    A nightmare job but you did amazing. I wouldn’t have your patience.

    • mrsmole says:

      Every dress is a challenge and some days I wish they got easier instead of harder and more labor intensive. The real issue is how many brides come to me saying, “I can’t afford to pay for David’s alterations and then expect me to drop my normal price to accomodate them.some dresses end up with so much hand sewing and adding in this and that and in the end I’m not sure I actually made any money.

  3. Wow, you are definitely a saint. And a fairy godmother!

    • mrsmole says:

      I just want the dress to be perfect and that involves hours of basting and hand sewing. I know other busy bridal seamstreses who take short cuts with less basting or no basting and never understitching the skirt hem.

  4. Susan Hart says:

    I never understood why brides don’t order a smaller size gown if they want it THAT tight?!😳

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Susan, it’s one or the other and sometimes the bride swear that she will lose weight and orders a size smaller, then the seamstress has a big problem.

  5. Hahaha “eating and breathing room”! Another job well done! Thanks for sharing!

  6. JustGail says:

    This dress is a perfect example of what I call deceptively simple. It looks so clean and straightforward to alter, but there’s nothing to hide or distract from any sewing or fitting errors. Weren’t you retiring from the bridal business at the start of this year, or did that plan change with covid and all the wedding delays?

  7. mrsmole says:

    I’m accepting brides who are refered by word of mouth previous brides. Last year I worked on only 22 brides instead of the usual 60-80 so it is anyone’s guess as to what happens this year. Being told that they want simple alterations like hemming sleeves never figure the lining and all the hand sewing..

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