Making an On-line dress Fit

This dress is from JJ’s House.

It is a lovely, well-made modest dress. But like most dresses, it just needs a few tweaks to fit better.  The shoulders look very nice on this model but brides this year seem to all need the shoulders taken up more and more.

Here you can see that the shoulders are pinned up but I explained to the bride that because the sleeves are fittted and the sleeve cap is flat, that I will have to add tucks or gathers to get the sleeve re-attached. By shortening the shoulders, we have to remember that the armhole will also be shortened and much higher up and restrictive.

The bustle will need 3 points attached at the waist.









The shoulder seam is marked along with the 1.5 inches to be taken in on either side of it. The lace motifs will be lifted and removed to make a flat seam. The extra fabric will not be trimmed away in case the next bride is longer waisted and needs longer straps.

What do I find inside? The entire armhole is bound with a folded strip of tulle so that has to be removed as well.

Here is the sleeve cap. With the lace flower motifs, it just was too bulky to pleat/tuck so I made tiny gathers to reduce it by 3 inches which seems like a lot…ok … it is. Then the tulle binding covers all this like the original. While the shoulders will be more of a feature, the eyes will think that her waist is smaller so a win/win.

A side view shows the new gathers but also reveals a need for some small hand made darts in the back. The lace flowers can be tucked over the tulle to make small darts done by hand and then be released for the future.

Almost done except for hemming the lining, the satin layer and trimming layers and layers of tulle. Even though I red thread marked the hem after I pinned the shoulder seams, when the bride returned for her second fitting…well it looks like she grew an extra 1.5 – 2 inches as I had to remark the hem lower with brown thread. This happens when brides finally find their perfect shoe, usually a 3 inch heel and platform sole after swearing that they will only wear flats…ha ha.

The bride also decided to ditch wearing a bra and went with teardrop bust cups instead.

The almost final photo…

The final back view as I leave the bustle loops attached to the buttons to make sure the loops hood for a couple days before the event. The huge clothes pins are from the Dollar Store as they hold the shoulders on the hanger without slipping off. This dress is very heavy so I recommended using a wooden suit hanger, too.

After 4 years our camillia has decided to produce flowers!

Nadine hiding but still curious:

Lovely domestic scene…eggs, over easy for me with spinach, sunnyside up for Mr Mole and a cat just waiting for the bacon to appear from the microwave.

And one last teaser…the beginnings of something for Nancy…see more next time! Happy sewing everyone…OMG, it’s May already!


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13 Responses to Making an On-line dress Fit

  1. ceci says:

    What a pretty dress, and amazingly improved by the final picture! There was a truly terrifying off the shoulder number in the NYTimes today. Double sided tape, maybe? This must have been an especially good year for camellias everywhere. Consolation prize for a difficult year last year, perhaps?


    • mrsmole says:

      I think our camellia put on a good show since we didn’t really have a harse winter with hardly any snow or hail. Poor brides buy these off the shoulder dresses and then don’t want to put up with sliding shoulders. Double sided tape works wonders for photo shoots!

  2. Heidi says:

    That’s some beautiful work on a beautiful dress. I love seeing your work on Nancy’s garments–really curious about how you’re lengthening this jacket!

    • mrsmole says:

      Normally I add 1.5 inches front and back horizontally to make the grainline parallel with the floor. Patterns designed in the flat pattern technique rarely have curves built in so we have to add more volume. More photos to come!

  3. anne stevens says:

    Such a pretty dress, so becoming – and the now-perfect fit makes it look just right. Your camellia is such a lovely one. Here in London UK it has been a wonderful year for blossom; came late but lots of it and our camellia is still going strong too.

    • mrsmole says:

      The only downside of perky spring flowers is the summer drought that follows…in the UK as well as the US. With fire season coming too…it is always a worry! So glad the bride liked the gathered sleeve cap and didn’t expect me to recut the sleeve!!!!

  4. erniek3 says:

    The shoulders are everything. I have spent my life hating gathered shoulder seams, but this does the job. They balance it out.
    The tree peony put out two blossoms this year, one went next door to thank her for the fresh eggs from their chickens! Usually it only manages one. My neighbors’ camelia puts out hundreds of blossoms that all fall off within a day or two.
    Years ago, some very wise person in a book stated that using gingham for test garments was the only way to go, and I forget that (thrift store bed sheets still being in great supply) but for fitted things such as this, it’s done so much of the work for you.

    • mrsmole says:

      When our local ASG gets bolts of gingham donated for our annual fabric sale, I always encourage the members to take some home to make those muslins. Using 1/4 inch squares really helps with adding and subtracting! I don’t know what the answer is to dropping blossoms so quickly, it seems so sad to see them on the ground.

  5. You make fixing these look so easy and logical! Glad you’re still altering brides dresses and thank you for sharing!

    • mrsmole says:

      Most of this year’s brides bought their dresses last year and couldn’t have the wedding they wanted for one reason or another. Some woiuldn’t have the event without the grandparents and so many retired folks live in Arizona or Florida so they could not fly safely. Now with most wise folks having the vaccinations, it seems to have opened up to more travel.So glad to see your creations too, Carolyn!!!!

  6. shoes15 says:

    That bride looks lovely – your magic worked again!

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