Repair and Re-Hem

Here are some photos of what NOT to buy when searching for your dream dress. If your dress has been tried on a million times and the whole side of the zipper is hanging loose with no hook and eye…walk away.

If you can shove your fingers through the ripped zipper opening…walk away.

If the label has been removed and also any sizing or fabric content tags...walk away. With no label, I could not give you a website link.

These are just some of the obvious problems but if the salesperson tells you that if you don’t buy this dress today, someone else will snap it up tomorrow…walk away. If they tell you that it is a $2000 dress reduced to $1700…smile and walk away.

Inside some dresses there are built-in elastic bra-type straps at the waist. To make this one side fit her body, I pinned out all the excess on each side. Another clue that your dress has been tried on by many others. There are boning strips sewn to the elastic for support.

Once the safety pins were removed after measuring the proper length, it should be 6 inches but it is almost double that in a saggging mess.

The side seam of the lining will be opened and all the excess will be shoved through and the rest trimmed away.

Just checking the zipper tape and moving it over about 1/2 inch, you can see the holes left by the previous stitching and how stretched out they have become…why? Well, it is back to all those other brides trying to stuff themselves into this dress…zippers cannot handle that abuse!!!

Once the zipper is moved over, I can stitch close to the old stitching catching the tape with the loops too.

Then everything is folded to the inside and stitched flat again for extra supprt.










Let’s tackle the shoulder seams…I have to deduct 3 inches from each side…that seems like a lot and it is. The first basting was 1.5 inches and then I had to go back and increase it to 3. The back view is stunning even with the loose zipper.


The back straps are sheer while the front straps are lined, so all should look like the original when done.

All the beads and sequins will have to be removed and lifted and this French seam opened up to reduce all the bulk. No bride wants to look like she has lumpy lace epaulets on her shoulders.

The sheer base is exposed.

All the lace motifs will be lifted and removed.




After taking in the shoulder seam 3 inches, the seam allowance is divided with the solid going towards the lined front. The sheer is flipped to the back and all hand stitched down.







The original large flower motif is returned and hand stitched down.

Then there is the hem…ahh yes, with 3 inch wide horsehair braid attached to the hem seam and the lining at the top edge. Nothing as tedious as removing this stuff anf re-attaching it 5 inches higher up. Once all the red thread basting has been done, the machine stitiching of satin layer and lining has been done, then that horsehair braid is stitched 1/4 inch away from the new hem edge/seam.

You can see the two rows of stitching and the trimming away about 1 inch away and removed. Now to tuck everything back inside the skirt and finish.










Reaching inside the skirt through the side seam lining, I can pin the top edge to the lining.

Ready for stitching and closing up the side seam.


Stitching between the pins and going by “feel”.










What’s left now??? How about this train?












A one-point bustle works well and the organza layer over the top of the satin layer has been narrow hemmed to just cover the hem edge.

To brighten your Easter/Passover, I wanted to share this photo of my orchid. It has been trying to make a bud and flower for the past 3 years. There are 8 more on the stem ready to open this week…so happy to have not given up and tossed it out!!!

Wishing you all a blessed week to celebrate Spring and for those who are still waiting to get their vaccination…we all have to be patient!!!

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

22 Responses to Repair and Re-Hem

  1. Donna says:

    You are a miracle worker. The alterations must cost more than the dress and should.

    • mrsmole says:

      I was feeling generous so the price was affordable. After meeting her the first time and knowing what she does in the community, I can charge on the low side. Having a nice bride really makes my day!

  2. Well that was a big mess in the beginning. But you did a beautiful job of it! Pretty orchid too ❤️take care!

    • mrsmole says:

      Ha ha, Linda, when I first get a look at the dress, it is always exciting to think, “this will be a good blog”. Having an orchid bloom after 3 years of feeding it and babying it along…what a bonus! Thank you!

  3. Michelle says:

    I have missed your regular posts. I cannot imagine the degree of patience you have when faced with a dress that has been so abused.

    I lost all but one of my orchids 3 years ago. I had an infestation of fuzzy white bugs that killed all but one orchid and my jade plant. The one remaining orchid has sent up a flower stem, it will be a surprise when it blooms, as I cannot remember which type of flower it has. Yours is very pretty.

    • mrsmole says:

      I always wish that I could help the bride when picking out her dress and show her the pitfalls but alas…they see me last. My two orchids have been producing loads of air roots for years but no flower stems…so glad one of them did the job this year! I’ll have to be on the lookout for bugs and such!

  4. Diane says:

    Thank you for sharing. Orchid is beautiful!

  5. ParisGrrl says:

    Granted, that was an amazing amount of work for a much-abused dress, and I’m hoping the bride was properly appreciative, and you were amply rewarded for your work. I would like to award a point in the bride’s favor that she did at least choose a very pretty dress!

    • mrsmole says:

      The back of the dress is stunning and once the zipper closed, it fit so well with just the shoulders being taken up. She did the best she could in a local salon which has a less than stellar reputation!

  6. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) says:

    your patience is amazing, and the result is fantastic. beautiful orchid.

  7. ceci says:

    The dress ended up being pretty, but I am shocked that anyone paid that much for such an abused dress. Unhygenic, for one thing. Yuck.

    Congratulations on re-blooming the orchid! I just think of mine as pampered foliage plants.


    • mrsmole says:

      Brides can overlook rips and tears and dangling beads once they fall in love with the dress and the saleperson tells tham that we can make everything OK. I think they should have dropped the price much lower!

  8. Cheryl Designs says:

    GREAT work as usual 🙂 I don’t see a problem with purchasing a VERY USED gown… IF the price is fair. There is an Ohio bridal shop that sells MANY ABUSED prom gowns 😦 I call them ABUSED because this shop allows customers to SERVE THEMSELVES and gowns are tried on and JAMMED on and off racks 😦 The shop is more careful with BRIDAL GOWNS 🙂 Those stock gowns get pretty damaged too 😦 The shop MIGHT give you a 10% discount for ABUSE but that is NOT ENOUGH 😦 Purchasing a $500-$900 beaded gown with the BEADS falling off with a 10% discount is ridiculous! They bring them to me for alterations. Sometimes my customers ask IF I can replace ALL of the lost beads and sequins? SURE 🙂 But you cannot AFFORD to pay me to do that 😦 PLUS I simply have NO time to do that at prom season 🙂 I suggest shopping USED or CONSIGNMENT PROM wear 🙂 When you purchase ‘new stock’ that has been tried on HUNDREDS of times at a shop…. you ARE purchasing USED but paying a NEW PRICE 😦
    LOVE orchids 🙂 NO patience to deal with houseplants 🙂 HAPPY EASTER MRS MOLE 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      You know all about abused and used gowns, Cheryl! If only gals would pay me for a consult BEFORE buying their dress, they could eliminate so much work. Yes, re-beading a dress one at a time…Lordie…no one has time for that. Even when I tell the bride that she or someone in her family or bridemaid could re-tack the beads and sequins…they never say yes. Buying a dress with no labels should raise some red flags too don’t you think?

  9. Karen says:

    Your work is so beautiful – hard to imagine the patience you must have. So impressed that you carefully save the original fabric when you alter. Have you ever made an alteration for a new bride in a dress you previously worked on for another?

    • mrsmole says:

      Thank you, Karen. No I have never been asked to work on a dress a second time…had plenty of second and third time brides but they always show up with a new dress…maybe new man=new dress?

  10. erniek3 says:

    Between the last child leaving high school and the pandemic, there’s been no prom work and this post makes me kinda grateful. Less $1700 and more like $700 at best for this one. As ever, a nice report on your well considered rebuild. I do hope she is happy with her dress.
    That orchid!

  11. mrsmole says:

    Right now I have 6 wedding gowns that were all bought last year hoping for the best but settling for a later date.I agree, this dress would have been a bargain at $700. You know I never ask what they paid unless they want to tell me what a great deal they got and then I want to scream inside when I hear the price.

  12. Susan Hart says:

    Those dresses I call “trainwrecks”! LOL. It DOES look like someone else added those extra boning pieces, doesn’t it? Fantastic work 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻 and I feel like I get lost inside the lining sometimes with that hidden horsehair braid…LOL
    Happy to learn that my two orchids are taking a really LONG break from blooming and it isn’t anything I’m doing or not doing. I DID repot them with fresh orchid mix, tho….
    Still giving them their ice cubes

  13. JustGail says:

    $2000 reduced to $1700, that much damage, I’d pass. $2000 reduced BY $1700 – I’d give it a shot, especially if i knew someone with your talents that could take on the job. But I can see why the bride took this dress, the back is lovely. And I’m glad she was a good bride to work with.

    I’ve succeeded in killing off the couple of orchids I tried. Even plants I had for years in the old house didn’t seem to like this one. Especially African violets. Oh well, it’s that much less to take care of I keep telling myself. OTOH, the southeast facing bay window in this house is great for seed starting.

Leave a Reply

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

You are commenting using your 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