20 Years Waiting

Back in 2008, this gown was ordered by a local salon and there it has hung until now. Imagine how many girls have tried it on and rejected it for one reason or another.

With its full skirt and heavily beaded organza layer and thick satin skirt, it really is not a favorite with modern brides who are opting for loads of tulle and lace.

My bride has been waiting 20 years to wear a wedding dress but in the meantime she has produced 4 lovely daughters who now have their eyes on this dress as a potential dress for themselves when the time is right for their weddings.




After lacing up the corset back we discuss what the bride wants to make her day effortless and fun. She wants the satin train to be removed and shortened in the front. The organza, even though it is very long and touching the floor will remain intact and we try a one-point bustle. While it works OK, I think we may need a 3 point one to get all the fabric up off the floor for dancing. So, let’s get started and shorten that train:




Knowing that she may give the dress to one or all of her daughters later down the line I suggest that I leave a 2 inch hem instead of the original one with 1/2 inch wide horsehair braid. You can see the hem is pinned and ready to be sewn by hand. And no, the bride is not under all that organza…my mannequin likes to stand in for the brides on the weekends when I do flat-out sewing. The mannequin will stand there for days and never complain about being tired.

Like with many ball gowns, wearing an extra petticoat helps hold the skirt out and this bride managed to find a really fluffy one on Craigslist for $10…a real bargain! Combined with push up bust pads the bodice is fitting very well. Here we are with the 3 point bustle points.

You may notice that the modesty panel is in 2 pieces…Lord knows what happened in the 9 years it was hanging waiting to be purchased but the salon owner gave her 2 smaller ones that could be stitched together and attached on one side with stitching and the other with snaps for the most coverage. Once the lacing is done up, no one will know…except you.

The best part is how the organza looks with the train shortened. If only you could see how heavily beaded it is!

As the nights get cooler and frost descends in the valley, the butternut squash plants have withered and revealed this collection. Last year each squash weighed 3 to 5 pounds each, it feels the same this year. I can’t rave enough about how easy this squash is to grow…you plant a seedling, water it, leave it alone and voila’ pest-free luscious produce to make into soups or baked with nutmeg and butter.

Mr. Mole has his winter crop in one of the beds already and soon it will be covered in plastic until the spring:

Successful sewing is my wish for you this week! Two blogs to check out this week are Ruth’s Corecouture for a fabulous jacket and Kate’s Fabrickated and her boot making skills.

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Hurry Up Homecoming

How many times have we heard, “We bought this online for $20 and it doesn’t fit and the dance is at the end of the week”?

This girl was referred to me from another good seamstress in town who normally does not get into adding extra fabrics to make things fit.

Normally, when the mother describes the zipper not going up “a little” in the back, I picture an inch or so of a gap…ha ha. How about this? Yes, there is a full 6 inch gap at the top working its way down to the bottom of the 10 inch zipper. The hips are so tight that the back of the dress hikes up at the center back hem as well. Can’t even imagine what happens when this girl sits down and that burnout velvet starts to creep up…oh no!

They explained that they wanted to buy an extra large but they were sold out so they bought the large. Seeing as there are only 2 inches in between RTW sizing, even the next size would not have cut it.

I suggested four wedges/godets 3 inches wide and 12 inches long inserted into the side seams and lining seams to get the zipper to close and give some hip ease at the same time. If we follow the drag lines, they are pointing to her butt and bust equally so the wedges will certainly help!

Let’s get started…first chalk out the shapes from a remnant from the local thrift store ($1) and cut out 4 with pinking sheers as this stuff ravels!

I’ll skip the actual sewing part as it is black and not easy to capture. All four panels are attached and serged on the edges inside and the new panels are seamed at the armhole and here it is time for the understitching to hold the whole mess together:

Without the lining this cheap burn-out velvet would be very revealing. Seam allowances inside are pressed away from the new panels and then the seams are tacked together to keep them flat.With the new panels installed, the back hem is straight and the zipper goes up…hooray!


The side seams look nicer now too with less drag lines. On the real body, the fabric will drape better than on this poor stiff mannequin but I am not sure I would want my daughter wearing such a revealing dress to a high school dance.

Once she tries it on, there is a little pinning on the left side panel to tweak but otherwise, this is as good as it is going to get. If you are wondering what the front looks like, sorry I did not get a shot of that but it is a mirror image…narrow strip of fabric to the neckline and not much coverage.

Another darling dress was dropped off and this time the dropped waist skirt was raised 4 inches to sit on the natural waist. Now, I know all of you are thinking, or should be thinking…circumference, circumference, circumference. You can’t just hike a hip level skirt up and think it will work.

This skirt needed to be taken in 4 inches all around and also they wanted the waist to be tighter so once again, those side seams were also taken in 2 inches…so then the skirt had to be taken in another 2 inches for a total of 6.

There was no zipper and the fabrics were all knit but we got a great result. Sorry, I have no photos in the process as again…with less than a week to go, I can’t always get everything done the way I want. The girl was delighted and she was doing twirls in the sewing room and her mother hugged me and said, “this is all a mother wants!”.

I have been following a really cool blog about vintage fashion which really makes me appreciate the more simpler way of sewing.

Have a look and see how fashion has evolved through the decades: https://witness2fashion.wordpress.com/2017/09/16/a-mystery-corset-1820s/

Wishing you all a super sewing week!

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Lace Topper and a Rush Dress

If you are a modest bride and feel like you are revealing too much in a strapless gown…what do you do?

You can think about adding a tulle covered ribbon halter or double spaghetti straps:



You also want the floor length dress shortened to tea length:

Well, if you are in an Outlet store like BHLDN, you can buy a jacket to cover up like this one for $220.


The bride said she paid more for the jacket than the dress and it kept riding up and flaring away from her body so I made French tacks along the top of the bodice to keep the lace in place.

Once a season I get a dress that was made for a bridesmaid or formal occasion that the bride fell in love with…here is a sparkly knit dress that was purchased at Ross for $20 and just needs the side seams to be taken in…sure, should be easy, right? That middle section/cummerbund in front is gathered into the side seam. Red thread tracing in place:

Oh oh, do you see what I see? The side seams and lining are completely enclosed and the horizontal seams have been sewn last and overlocked.

Might as well mark the lining with my green Frixion pen that will disappear with the heat of the iron. What is the weird black area in the serging? Threads caught in the seam in the factory…maybe that is why it was hanging in a discount store…who knows?












Next step is to remove the horizontal serging and take in 6 seams, 3 on each side and lining seams and close everything back up…that’s when I decided to flip the top bodice seams to the inside and serge them before attaching the waist section. It was tough enough grabbing the seams inside all that and taking them in, serging off and then flipping them right side out again with the waist and hip section without wrestling with the bodice.

The last horizontal seams were serged closed and the bride is ready for her wedding in 2 days…nothing like waiting until the last minute!!!


Simple yet elegant for a Fall wedding outside:


Our late Summer harvest before the frost comes:

Every year we have planted pepper plants and they have been disappointing but this year Mr. Mole started everything from Ferry Morse Sow Easy color coated seeds and we have had a real bounty!

This week sewing includes lots of reflection on the hurricane victims and what it would be like to have everything you own blown away or destroyed and no safe drinking water or electricity and now this morning news of the massacre shooting in Las Vegas. Having a sewing room to retreat to makes me very grateful indeed.

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Two Piece One

You would think that being able to buy a 2 piece wedding dress would be a real breeze and the fit would be fantastic. This Wtoo Maelin beaded bustier should fit like a dream. Paired with the Nori skirt, what could a seamstresses have to do?


Well…after being measured and ordering the appropriate size for her bust, waist and hips, the bride shows up with this ill-fitting top: To make this top fit, the center back zipper has to be taken in 1.5 inches on each side for a total of 3 inches and also make darts at the side bust.


You can see from the cleavage that even with ordering a top 2 sizes larger than she needed and larger than the sample top size 12, we were in trouble. The bride kept telling me that the sample top fit her better but they ordered the larger size as she matched the size guide. No matter what I pinned out, she was not happy. She looked frumpy and dumpy but the main problem was that the bustier did not have the power to hold her in and up and support her. So…she went back to the salon and bought the smaller sample one.

While this new one fit better all around in the waist and hips, the bust cups were not big enough to contain her assets without adding some sort of straps. Of course, the bride was totally against ANY straps or halter so I said I would add a strip of twill tape along the top edge to snug in an inch on each side to help pull that top edge closer to her.

While it helped a bit, 4 more boning strips were attached by hand to the lining. In these photos you can see that the bust cups are merely foam knit and about a size B and the bride needed more room.

Moving unto the skirt we discover that to shorten the front, every single vertical panel with side ruffles has to be taken up by making horizontal tucks which will be hidden by the top layers of ruffles. In this photo, you can see 3 of the 6 panels that were altered, some as much as 3 inches deep. All those ruffles for the train will be bustled up using 3 bustle points to clear the ground for dancing. And speaking of dancing, even with the twill tape and extra boning, the top will still droop and jiggle and expose the bride which she did not want.

So, I again brought up the prospect of adding straps and I made 2 versions for her to choose. As the dress came with a matching tan satin ribbon belt that was not going to be used, I covered strips of 1/4 inch wide grosgrain ribbon and also folded the belt on itself for a softer style.

She opted for the one with grosgrain inside as it was sturdier and looked richer being padded slightly and we crossed them in the back to add some design and stability.

Mission accomplished with straps that the bride now loves and ruffles up  and hidden under the top layers and out of the way for a night of dancing.

I don’t know who has decided that 2 inch wide horsehair braid is now the “thing” to add to all the ruffle edges but it makes altering a real challenge and coming up there will be another skirt like this with even more issues and more horsehair braid!

As Summer has turned into Fall and the veggies have slowed down production, I wanted to share the star of the garden. This year I planted seeds for a Russian Giant sunflower that was supposed to grow to 10 feet tall. Here I am reaching up before the flower emerged:

Now the flower is open and soon the birds will be feasting on the seeds before Winter arrives.







Wishing you all a great week of cooler weather in the Northern Hemisphere and as we have had our first snowfall in the mountains it has aided the firefighters in battling and trying to get our forest fires under control. Hooray!

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Slick Zipper

This sold out $1595-$1895 dress  appeared in my sewing room with a mother-of-the-bride.

It was made in Estonia with a blend of fibers that had some stretch that gave it the look of satin. Only problem was the area of the back shoulders was too wide and flared away from her center back. I pinned halfway down the zipper to take it in and get a better fit. It is enough to say that this has been the most expensive MOB dress I have ever worked on. The bride’s dress is being custom made in Portland.





So, let’s get started…thread trace the new zipper placement line and remove all the stitches that hold the lining and fabric to it.

Now comes the surprise….the invisible zipper is sewn to a band of its own which accounts for the 1/8 inch strip of fabric running the length of the zipper edge on both sides. Why would this be? Well, I’m guessing that with all the zippers pre-attached, they can be inserted into many dresses very fast in the factory. Love the fact that the zipper is dyed the exact shade of fuchsia!

Another clue to the insertion is the top edge snip, to insert the zipper, first the lining is sewn on using white thread (?) and then the whole back bodice is flipped over and the final stitching is done encasing the zipper strip…pretty slick.

Let’s pin the zipper band to the new position leaving all the excess fabric inside for the next seamstress.

See the 1/8 inch border band?

Finished right side and inside:

Yes, the top of the zipper teeth are now further down the center back but there will be a hook and eye at the top edge. One other thing that needed tweaking, was the dart that makes the shoulder curve, it needed to be flatter.

How about these raglan seams? Faggoting at it’s best, no?

Love the contrasting purple seam binding too! Front facing is just the front section folded to the inside with no seam.














Speaking of purple, for the past couple days I have been harvesting eggplant/aubergines like crazy! Here are 2 batches from the garden. You may notice that the one green bell pepper and one eggplant are way bigger than normal. Mr Mole says it is because he added chicken manure to the beds. One reporter for our local newspaper says that because we now have “filtered” (smoke filled) sunlight, our plants are enjoying the diffused lighting…whatever it is…it’s wild. Even the pear tree is dropping fruit and my worms are enjoying all the trimmings.

The brides continue to roll in with the new 2 piece dresses that don’t seem to fit any better than the regular gowns so I have lots to share next time.

Our thoughts are with all those who have weathered the last 2 hurricanes and the devastation left behind. Breathing smokey air is nothing compared to what they have endured and the clean-up and re-building ahead.

Wishing you all a successful week of new projects and completing old ones…the stores are filled with Halloween stuff already…7 weeks ahead of time and I have even seen Christmas displays set up too…HELP…can we just enjoy the second half of September first, please?

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Snug Me Up

Stunning isn’t it? Notice how each cord hugs her body and how well the lace lays flat against her butt. This dress is by Willowby and is a real show-stopper.

The challenge is to make all those cords and neckpiece to actually lie flat on my bride. Can you guess she bought 2 sizes too big? In the first photo below you can see how much has to be removed from the lower cording and neckpiece. I felt like a mother cat picking up her kitty by the scruff of the neck! It looks as though all the cords are wrapped around one main cord. We may also have to take in the side seams.


Let’s not forget messing with the zipper too…yes, don’t you get bored seeing me take in back zippers at least 2 inches on every bride?

What about the hem? I was just itching to remove the scalloped edging and raise it up 6.5 inches:

Once the hem and knit lining are shortened a one point bustle will be attached.





After checking out all the wrapped cords on both sides where they attach using a hook and eye, I decided, if it was possible, to open up the side bodice and fish out the neckpiece straps to shorten the whole back structure from the front.

What was needed was to remove 2 1/4 inches in length each side to make the neck sit high and nice.

In the photo below you can see the red basting thread where I went in to pull the strap down inside.


Each strap was pinned separately down the full back to make them tight once the neck was adjusted.

A shot of the hem and zipper in progress:


Every back cord is repositioned, not trimmed, double tacked inside in case the dress is to be sold later.



First, I stitched the zipper along the new line. Then I pinned the new interfacing to the back of that line. The interfacing was hand basted in place before making a second row of stitching as this was a knit lining along with knit lace so everything was stretching!





In the end, we had a happy bride with a dress that hugs her curves just like the model. The last photo still has the basted zipper and safety pinned bustle, but you get the idea.                            


This week Mother Nature continues to send messages to the veggies to keep producing. All that green is 2 basil plants which were turned into 3 quarts of pesto sauce  for the freezer.

Saving squash in the freezer too after shredding to make into soup or something in the future when the brides have eased up.

As some of you may know, we are experiencing forest fires on the whole West Coast and even though the smoke and soot has reached health hazardous levels in our valley, we can’t imagine what life is like for the firefighters who work every day to control the spread. Praying for rain!

Wishing you all a super sewing week!

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Killer Lace

This Willowby Sookie dress is really quite striking on the model. It sits well on her waist and there are no gaps anywhere.


The only problem is…my bride needs the center back taken in 3 inches at the zipper. Now we know that there are 2 inches in between RTW sizes so this size 8 will be reduced down to a tight 4.  All the thick lace motifs will be removed before moving the zipper over.

Here is the zipper area with the lace removed, zipper basted and ready for stitching:

The waist is tight enough, the straps have to be shortened 2 inches by sliding the inside lower edges down below the waist edge. Maybe you can see the pins along the top of the waist edge? I will drop a triangular wedge of lace on tulle below the waistline to snug up the straps but not remove any lace motifs so she can sell the dress later.

You can also see that the lace below the end of the zipper is pinned and overlapped and will have to be done by hand. The back princess seams over her butt have been taken in one inch each side in the satin layer along with the lining.

Here the side seams are also pinned out an inch (total 2 inches) at the top down to nothing at the waist. The waist pins are more visible in this photo. There are also red thread tracing where a dart might have gone but that is not going to happen.

Here is the right side wedge flipped up:

The left side flipped down:

The new side seams are stitched and the waist is basted and you can see how the lace below the waist is attached….by hand and just overlapping the top edge.

Center back seam below the zipper tail with bustle point safety pins will require removing lace motifs and taking in the tulle and satin and lining:













Third fitting shows that the zipper will not close once the straps have been shortened, so I will drop the skirt 1/2 inch along the top and also move the zipper over 1/2 inch each side.

When you shorten straps like these they can bring the back skirt higher on the body and at that point the body widens for the ribs but it is a compromise in what you want tighter or comfortable. Brides also admit they feel “fluffy” for some fittings. Please ignore the black bra.

Last shot is of the one-point bustle that was eventually made so the bride could dance all night.

As summer winds down, the garden is still producing like crazy:

Mr Mole grew the little red potatoes in a plant pot as an experiment and they were successful! It was the first time growing red cabbage too and cantaloupe! Yellow plums have been abundant and the birds didn’t eat too many. The peppers were grown from seed as well as the squash but the fall fruiting raspberries are just starting to turn ripe along with a few good blueberries.

One of the 4 butternut squash plants coming to the end of the season and as soon as the squash turn a golden color they will be turned into all manner and variety of soup and given away to neighbors.

Wishing you all a calm September with kiddies going back to school and maybe more time to sew. Here the temps are still in the high 90’s and we are dreaming of a cooler Fall.

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