So Many Lace Flowers

                                                          I hate clamps!

When I see photos of potential brides with clamps all the way down their center back…it makes me realize that a salesperson could sell any dress if it is clamped tight enough.

The devil be damned if a seamstress can’t make every chunk of fabric under those clamped lips disappear and fit like a glove and yet, every day a bride is promised that a seamstress can fix ANYTHING!

My job is to make the sheer back fit tight tight and hug the lower back curve like a second skin. Does any seamstress want to remove ALL those buttons and loops and try to snug it all up? When no clamps are present the fabric flares away from the lower back in a bubble.

There are side seams but even when they were pinned, that was not the answer, we still had the bubble. I believe that RTW clothing is produced without any reference to the lordotic curve.

As the lower spine curves inward, fabric cannot always follow that curvature and we are stuck with making the impossible possible with darts and all sorts of weird solutions. Also to sell this dress, the salesperson tucked ALL of the powernet downward to inside the dress. One small problem…the powernet is the ONLY thing holding that dress up on her shoulders!

Here is a close up of a similiar gown showing the dart at the shoulder of the powernet fabric. Now our dress comes with nude full length sleeves of powernet but they will be removed and the straps attached before trimming away.

You can see where that top dart should be, on her shoulder, but it will sit lower and cause a groove on her upper arm. It is always nice to see what the dress is SUPPOSED to look like on the website model.

Here is the Okasana Mukha Ulla dress without the long sleeves made in the Ukraine.

Why is this? Well, the weight of this heavily bead encrusted gown pulls everything down and the dress is short-waisted. Another thing to notice when dress shopping is boob coverage. Can you see the bride’s left breast is more exposed? Why? Well the flowers are not placed symmetrically and it appears that the left breast is droopy.

Other issues are the lining and satin layers are way too long, about 4 inches too long as is the front lace layer with a 4 inch wide horsehair braid at the hem. Every bead and pearl and sequin is attached individually through to the horsehair braid. What does the bride want me to do?

She wants to drag her dress around in the front and hopefully bustle everything in the back.

First pinning of the bustle will need more time to map out all the points of the lace layer and the satin layer under it. The lining layer will be trimmed at floor level.

To snug up where the clamps were, the zipper will be removed and moved over 1.25 inches for a total of 2.5 inches too big. More lace flowers to be removed to avoid bulk.

Same goes for the lining and then hand sewn later.

What happens to all the clamped powernet? I will tuck all the excess behind the back neckline and hand sew everything to secure it. Then it will be able to be released in the future if the next bride needs it.

All the extra powernet is tacked behind the edge of the lace.

Let’s add some boobs while we are at it.

The top edge of the sleeve strap is attached 5 inches from the shoulder.

The sleeve band is basted by hand before cutting the sleeves off.

In hemming the satin layer, we ran into a snag. So much labor would be required to remove the horsehair braid and then re-attach it that the bride asked me to remove it instead and hem the satin to floor level.

So that is what I did for the front from side seam to side seam.

After the second try-on, the bride wanted the zipper area even MORE tight…remember the lodotic curve? So, as I am removing the zipper to move higher up the skirt, I slide the zipper pull down past the lining inside and that is when I discovered that the zipper had no clamp/stop at the bottom. The pull came off in my hand and there were some swear words spoken!


Now, I know lots of you seamstresses don’t mind fiddling with trying to get the pull back unto the teeth, but I can insert a new invisble zipper faster, so that is what I did. As the “V” of the waistline goes up the further you place the zipper, it is nice to have plenty to work with with a new fresh zipper.

All the lace flowers that were removed before tucking the powernet inside.

Flowers removed and hand basted to the lace edge:

What else? How about a 3 point satin layer bustle.

More hand basting for the third try-on:

Just before cutting off the sleeves:

The lower sleeves were cut off:

New zipper basted:

With the new zipper sewn in by machine, I hand tack all the excess fabrics to the back of the bodice fabric.

You can see both sides all hand tacked down for the next bride.

Then the lining is hand sewn over all of this mess.

All bustled up and sleeves removed and that extra 4 inches of front hem to be dragged around:









Let’s finish with some beefsteak tomatoes…with 100 and 97 degree temps every day, these beauties can be harvested. Thank you all for dropping by, fingers crossed this hot weather will lessen and maybe move on and help the firefighters in their battle to control all the fires here in Oregon.

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26 Responses to So Many Lace Flowers

  1. Susan Hart says:

    OMG! Can we just say… you are very patient and a miracle worker!
    Her boobs still looked uneven but I think she wasn’t standing up straight enough because I KNOW you would make things perfect!
    I hope she was grateful for your hard work and new zipper!
    Worried about you, we can smell the smoke all the way up here in Aloha!

    • mrsmole says:

      Right now the wind is blowing the smoke away so it is not too bad. When the fires all join up together, then we may see more evacuations. If brides could take a cold hard look at what the dress actually looks like on them instead of the dream dress in their mind, they would see the weird little things about it.

  2. Nancy Figur says:

    I can’t believe how nicely that turned out. You truly are a miracle worker.

  3. Helen says:

    you did a great job! It is too bad that the sales people pretend that the job is an easy fix. They should not be selling dresses that are so much bigger on the bride.

  4. Laura says:

    Miracle work again. Well…..actually not a miracle because you know your stuff! Great job and yes, I so hope those fires in Oregon can be lessened QUICKLY!

    • mrsmole says:

      Well, Laura, it seems it doesn’t matter where we live…the fires will find us! Brides can still ask for stuff that I have not done before…then it gets scary or just plain frustrating.

  5. Donna says:

    All I can say is WOW AND YOU ARE A MIRACLE WORKER. I would not have your patience at all!!

  6. Elizabeth Harber says:

    Thank you for another entertaining and informative post.


    LOVE it without the sleeves 🙂 I do the SAME thing with the horsehair braid hems sometimes 🙂 I OFFER customers an ESTIMATE…. KEEP the braid and move it or DO AWAY WITH IT=cheaper 🙂 THEIR decision 🙂 I just worked on a gown from LUXE REDUX in COLUMBUS OHIO. Their selling point seems to be their gowns are one of a kind~special~blah blah blah 🙂 They are SAMPLES and gowns worn for photo shoots or whatever, that are USUALLY damaged by the time I see them but prices are still high 😦 THIS ONE is gorgeous- no doubt- but it was still $1,600 and three sizes too large 😦 PS-CLAMPS were involved I am sure 😦 It is BEAUTIFUL after MANY MANY hours of removing back zipper, taking it in, recutting the back neckline, re-appliqueing, etc. Cost about $500 or so for labor. That is HIGH for me but it took what it took as far as TIME 🙂 TIME IS MONEY 🙂 I want to ADVISE BRIDES. Do NOT listen to the shop telling you ‘YES IT CAN BE ALTERED’. I am VERY experienced in bridal and formal wear alterations. YES. I CAN do ANYTHING 🙂 BUT… it might be VERY expensive. HUNDREDS and HUNDREDS of dollars just to make it FIT, NOT including hemming and bustling. BUY a gown that ‘almost’ fits ladies. It is expected to take in here or there or a dart here or there. When your seamstress has to RE CUT the body of your gown-it IS going to be pricey 😦 MOST bridal shop employees don’t have a CLUE about how to alter clothing. HA HA They cannot even sew on a hook and eye 😦 Hope you are well Mrs. Mole 🙂 I have about 50% MORE brides than usual this year and 2022 looks about the same 🙂 My area seems to have a LOT of engaged couples 🙂

    • mrsmole says:

      Oh Cheryl, do you think the volume of brides has something to do with the 18 month lockdown? I know some brides are from 2020 but there seem to be more than normal too. I agree with all you share. I too have had to alter dresses when the bill came to $500 and I feel bad but hey…labor is labor and they are warned ahaead of time. Just wish, like youi, that they could buy a dress closer to their size. Lordie, the salons around here take measurements and order as close as they can to the correct size. But when they leave the dress buying until the last month, then they have to buy off the rack of sample dresses…all with dangling beads and dirt and zippers in need of repair after 100 other gals have been their before them, they need our help.

      • Cheryl Designs says:

        HI 🙂 I also thought the increase was Covid related but I have just a handful of those cancellations from last year. My area is just FULL of people in the marrying age range 🙂 I have already chatted to almost a dozen engaged bridesmaids that will be calling me in 2022 🙂 Wait until the BABY BOOM hits in a few years after all of these marriages 🙂 I am actually so busy Prom 2022 might be my last prom season. I already shut down ALL street clothing alterations 🙂 I will just be bridal and formal wear 🙂

  8. ParisGrrl says:

    That is one gorgeous alteration job. Were you able to repurpose one of the removed flowers to even out the bust situation, or did the bride prefer to leave it as-is?

  9. Wow. Anything for a sale, I guess (I’ll be heading to the bridal shops with daughter #2 shortly . . . ). That asymmetrical bust is really not my thing.

    • mrsmole says:

      You will be overwhelmed with styles and prices!!! Good luck, Liz!

    • Cheryl Designs says:

      Keep in mind… An un-embellished hemline costs less in alterations than removing lace, pearls, horsehair braid, etc 🙂 Do NOT purchase the embellished sash from the shop for $100-$400 🙂 Go to Amazon-BRIDAL TRIMS and buy a yard of trim for $20-$50 and have your seamstress attach it to your gown 🙂 Amazon has AMAZING veils for $10-$100 🙂 Just read the reviews concerning fabric quality 🙂 Hope this saves you $ on your shopping trip 🙂

  10. Pencil Girl says:

    What a challenge! I am so sorry to hear about the zipper pull sliding off the teeth! Oh no! However, you made the dress look fabulous on her by the final fitting! What a difference from the first photo to the final one! You are amazing!

  11. Rena says:

    I have a bridal alteration I’m working on right now that I could smack the bridal salon. It has NO structure for a 50-ish woman. When she came for the initial consult, it looked terrible. Saggy boobs, droopy top. I sent her off to buy a corset and come back with it so I could stitch it into the top. She then says “oh I tried it on with a corset in the shop”!!! Now I’ve got to figure out how to take this in because they ordered 2 sizes too big because it was all they could get.

  12. mrsmole says:

    I’m pulling my hair out for you, Rena! I have a bride coming up like that…photos to come…really…boning is your friend and the older we get, the more we need!!!! Like moisturizer and sunscreen…ha ha

  13. Sparkle Wench says:

    Good Grief!! Just looking at all that needed correcting gave me a giant headache! And let’s face it: bridal fabrics are not cottons, ripping anything out can produce fabric disintegration and then where are you? And I am not going to approach the zipper falling apart! The finished product is pure magic! I wish I could give you a crown! You deserve it! Admire you very much!

  14. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Sparkle…every dress is a challenge for sure! Yoiu are right…bridal fabrics are not tough…and when removing sewn down lace, yoiu have to be so darn careful not to nick the lace itself and just cut the threads holding it on…and then you discover they used invisible thread aka fishing line and you wish you had another diet Pepsi.

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