Reached My Limit

After blogging about brides for almost 9 years, I thought it was time for a small bitch-fest.

Besides brides and mothers-of-the bride and grandmothers and bridesmaids who visit the sewing room, this year almost half of my brides have managed to sneak in little ones like this without me knowing ahead of time.














Sure, he’s strapped into a car seat and the bride assures me that he will be no trouble….except when he sees his mother dressed in ivory standing on a platform…that is when the screaming starts.

Brides who bring babies usually also forget to bring a child minder with them. I don’t know what they are thinking a fitting involves but neither of us will be able to calm that child down with her standing and me on the floor pinning. NEWS FLASH…no awake kid wants to spend an hour or more in a car seat and will not remain quiet!

Some brides bring a mother/grandmother to carry the kid and talk incessantly to him while jiggling the baby up and down. Last week as soon as the bride got on the platform her mother/ the grandmother announced, “well, we have a loaded dirty diaper so I will just change him here on your carpet”…at that point I gave the bride a dirty look and she asked her mother to reconsider and go out to the car to do the dirty work.

Others who have just had their babies want to nurse them before and after the fitting while the child cries. Others bring their best friend who has just had their own baby and want to spread out on the floor and nurse while I try to walk around pinning and fluffing and take photos. Some best friends bring their own baby while carrying the bride’s child too.

This week one of the many pregnant brides insisted on wearing Spanx from under her bust down to her knees and was overcome with a fainting spell twice during the fitting. This resulted in her mother shouting to me, “Get her some water” and me doing as I was told and then sitting for an extra half hour while the bride stood up and then sat back down while her mother fanned her with throw pillows. When the bride finally resumed standing for the final trimming of her tulle hem, the mother insisted that she stand next to her daughter and hold her hand because she said, “she needs me”. Removing the Spanx also helped with the the lightheadedness (my suggestion).

Next year, the salon will be giving out my business cards but I have added a message on the back:

Another issue with brides, as some of you may encounter, in making appointments around town, you will be the one that they feel OK about missing or being extremely late.

I got a call from a bride for her final fitting 2 weeks before her wedding to say it was 2 pm and she and her mother were just getting their preview nails done and would like to come at 4:30 instead of 2:30. Sure, like there is nothing else going on in the sewing room. It must be pretty exciting to be treated like a princess while doing the rounds at getting hair, nails, make-up and fake eyelashes all tested and selected in addition to tasting cakes, signature cocktails and  special music tracks with your DJ. Then there is the photographer and the florist to deal with and pay. In the end, whatever alterations cost on the dress are really peanuts compared to everything else.

Seamstresses that have to deal with the alterations on these wedding gowns day after day know these feelings of helplessness and frustration. Instead of making the seamstress/tailor feel that they are an integral park of the event, we can be relegated to just another stop on her busy schedule but in the end I say, “No dress, No wedding” to put our job in perspective.

The one bright spot is that my sewing room is closed for 2 weeks for me to recharge and dust…yes, dust, how thick can dust get on the top of bookshelves? How thick can dust get on air vent filters? Don’t ask!


Time to clean my ironing board cover too!



Wishing you all a successful sewing week!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 68 Comments

Makes Me Shiver!

How about a Winter wedding dress? This model has the right idea…a woolly hat and a fleece jacket. Notice how the tiny triangles at the bust points are flat and cover her modesty/nipples pretty well while the rest of the dress is essentially see-thru? Not just any bride could carry this off and feel confident. There is also no back coverage either…what a surprise!

Willowby Daylily

My bride is generously endowed and there is lots of side boob exposed so something has to be added to contain those puppies. The side bodice edges gap and with the addition of some sort of sheer patch, I can snug up the sides as well thus killing two birds with one stone.

A piece of linen pinned into the area helps with the gaping and stabilizes the back strap as well once it is also shortened.

Taking the linen as a pattern, I can cut 4 layers of tulle:

Making French seams at the top edge also gives more stability to the soft tulle.

We need a basted placement line for the next step of pinning.

Once pinned in, the gaping lace can be tightened and snugged up along the lower edge.

Now the front sits better  and all that is left is to shorten straps and hem 2 layers of satin and trim off all that tulle to floor level with no bustle.

As I handle and baste the straps, I think adding some Stay Tape down the middle of the straps might help with stretching as we need something strong to keep the breasts from drooping in front. Once attached by hand, it should help.

Basted with red thread…and ready for second try-on:

Warning…graphic photo!!!

Try-on with the real body…more adjusting and snugging and wishing I could have made the section bigger to cover more!!! You can see the lower drag lines under the bust but as this dress has no boning and falls into the category of “nightgown”, there is nothing left to do.

The front view was very revealing so the bride asked if I could drop the teeny tiny triangle pads but I said I should ADD to them lower down. Here is a teardrop pad with a line drawn where it will be trimmed and attached to the upper one:

Using the serger to make a clean top edge to attach to the original pads:

The inside view with pads attached by hand:

The outside view with more coverage:

Back view with 6 inches trimmed off of the train and no bustle:


















With all of Mr. Mole’s winter veggies under plastic, we never thought that we would see so many feathers from an obvious “ambush” of a dove by a hawk.

Whatever your New Year projects are, I hope they go smoothly and the inspiration carries on for 2019! Welcome to all the new followers!

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , | 36 Comments

Christmas Bride

This lovely Wtoo Carrion dress fits like a glove:

Lucky for me the alterations are not too complicated. Take in the hips and shorten the hem:






















Twill tape the top edge of the bodice:

Take in the hip seams and lining seams:

Press flat the seams:

Remove the red thread tracing line:

Some dresses come with a top layer of netting to hold the train out nicely. In this case it was trimmed to floor length as when the bustle is buttoned up, this layer has no where to go.:

Originally I thought 3 points would work but ended up with 5 for the heavy satin layer.

Equally, the tulle ended up needing 7 points instead of 5 to get all of it off the ground…did I mention that I hate tulle bustles?

Once everything is pinned up, it might just work.



















Final try-on and for the reception, the bride will add a rhinestone belt.

She is so happy with the fit and the overall lightness of the dress with excess hem removed and the horsehair braid in the hem removed from side seam to side seam to give the front of the skirt a nice softness.

So a stunning dress with or without the belt!




















Rarely do I get wedding photos but this one came in and it shows my bride in Portland on the train tracks on a deserted street. She was wise to have a fake fur shrug to wear!






Have you ever seen one of these boxes?

My friend Nancy gave this to me for Christmas and I looked up the history of the company. 

Wheeler and Wilson was bought out by Singer but if you scroll down through the link you can see some of the beautiful machines that were produced back then.

The inside just needs a little brushing and then it will be filled with presser feet! She even added some sewing Post-it notes!

Christmas plans were all scuttled this year as I ended up in the Urgent Care facility with severe bronchitis and now I have quite the selection of medicines, antibiotics, an inhaler and Prednisone tablets to help to clear my inflamed lungs and narcotic cough medicine to stop the painful coughing. Hopefully in a week or so, I will be back with more brides to share.

Wishing you all very Happy and healthy New Year’s celebrations!


Posted in challenges | Tagged , , | 43 Comments

An Ocean Wedding

When I get a call from a bride who says, “I can’t make up my mind to choose one of 3 wedding dresses I have ordered”…I just shake my head. Instead of going to a bricks and mortar store/salon brides opt to just click on Amazon bridal gowns knowing that they can return all or part of the collection with no strings attached.

I agreed to see the dresses and this time it was easy…like Goldilocks, one was toooo small, another was toooo large , and this one was just right:

Nicole Miller 62444

After the try-on, I examined the inside of the dress she had settled on and it sure did look to me like it had been worn, altered, and returned to Amazon for resale. I told the bride this fact and she returned it, and ordered it again, this time in better shape.

It is hard to see all the horizontal, vertical and diagonal seams online. Also you cannot see or feel the cotton/silk fabric which has no sheen or drape…it might as well be heavy duck cloth. The fact that I can barely get a hand needle through this fabric for basting is a real pain!

The non-wedding will be in Florida on a beach…non-wedding? Yes, it has been explained to me that the couple will fly first class across the country, rent a fancy convertible sports car and glide along the coast until they find a perfect spot, get out of the car and then say a few word and get their photographer to film all this activity as they romp through the waves and seaweed. (Please don’t tell your seamstress this!)

Then, the bride has found a company in NYC that will dye the dress to be worn later. Not sure how the salt water will disrupt that procedure remembering that the fabric is half cotton-half silk.

I offered to make a 3 point bustle to help with the train:

The hem is pinned up and the bustle keeps the train off the floor/sand…but NO.

Having a proper bustle in the sand is just no fun so let’s attach a loop for the bride to carry and fly around for those photos. Let’s pin out the butt area to make it tight…great…can you see how the stiff fabric really does not want to co-operate? Tulle layer will be trimmed to floor length after having a 4 inch horizontal tuck in the lining/petticoat layer.











The front view with a piece of ribbon pinned on which will be later replaced with a strap made from the hem trimmings:















The new hem is thread traced in green and the original hem opened out. This is the first dress in 15 years that I have seen with cheap rayon hem facing. Still wondering how a brand new dress could have such a dirty hem??? Me too!

Another interesting fact….while the whole dress is lined…the front panel is not. Why?

Here’s another thing we don’t want to see …horsehair braid and hem facing and 2 layers of the hem all attached with ONE row of stitching. You start to remove one part and everything releases.

HH braid removed, hem tape removed and HH braid re-attached:

New hem length marked with Frixion pen:

Attach raggedy hem tape and trim off excess fabric:

Pressed and ready to fold under and sew by hand to the lining:

You can see both rows of stitching here so the next seamstress will not have to dread altering. (please ignore poor spelling)

The right side and wrong side of hand sewn hem:

The wrist strap made from scraps from hem:

So… as the bride pushed for me to finish quickly, 6 weeks before the wedding date, I made sure she had what she wanted.

An email came this morning telling me that she had lost a lot of weight in the last month and guess what? She wants her dress tighter and tighter now and how fast can I do this and how much will it cost and when will it be ready? It is 2 weeks until the date.

I did suggest, as I do with all the brides, to wait until 3-4 weeks before the actual date to make sure their weight is what it eventually will be but this girlie had other plans and now we start again. Not looking forward to getting back into those stiff seams!

In the meantime, I was told by one of her friends that the real reason she needed the dress so early was the fact that, like many brides, she held a “reveal party” for 30 of her best friends along with another party as her bridal shower/hen night for another 30 girlfriends. This seems to be a new thing.

So, I agreed to see here one more time for new snugging up. She told me that at her “reveal party” all of her 30 girlfriends were able to survey the dress and give their opinions on what was wrong with the altering and what else they thought she needed…isn’t that something nice? So their collective opinion was that she needed it skin tight…sure…who doesn’t want a skin tight dress to wear in a convertible sports car in Florida? 

After I pinned every last seam, I asked her to try and sit down without popping pins everywhere. She had to take baby steps just to get to the chair and that dress just made the worst horizontal wrinkles ever in her lap! She got up and declared that it was just fine…Okey Dokey!

When this dress left my house a month ago, it was steamed along with the long rhinestone edged veil…now it looks like it has been left in a grocery bag but then it has been on display and handled by many….sigh.

Here the dress is pinned once again, this time removing 2 inches from waist to her knees and under her butt…Yes Ma’am, you have to get that to cup under as tight as possible. Can she now get up or down my platform? NO and she can barely sit down.

This center back seam will be taken in more and more…love those horizontal drag lines! This butt area was so tight, I could not even pin it from the outside!

Now that the evenings are in the 20’s F, I brought the gardenia plants indoors.

This gardenia plant has already produced 3 fragrant flowers.

Wishing you all a super final week of holiday sewing for all those on your Christmas list! Thank you to all the readers who follow along and leave comments! It is so rewarding to hear from other seamstresses who run into challenges!

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , , , , | 50 Comments

Selection by Posse’ Part 2

As promised…once the skirt has been raised up, let’s tackle that zipper complex.

Check out how many stitching lines have to be removed to re-position the zipper!!! I can see 6 but there are more hidden under the final edge bias binding.

On the outside all you can see is the mesh binding…wait…it is only on the outside while the polyester binding is on the inside? What does this mesh binding do??? Absolutely nothing.

Here is the tail…can you see that the operator sewed the binding in a half circle and it is cupping and making a lump? Who needs that on their butt?

How much time does it take to remove every row of stitching just to free up the zipper? Sequence certainly comes into play here…what the Hell came first or last?

Here you can see how the zipper is stuck in the middle between the inside binding and the outside decorative mesh binding. This is the waist junction and the mesh has to be removed…delicately!

Slowly, the layers are peeled away and I am wishing I had never agreed to this! You can see the operator managed to catch some of the lining into one row of stitching…nice.

For some reason, the designer decided to keep the sequined fabric 1/2 inch away from the zipper and allow the satin layer to run all the away across…why? To reduce bulk? My nail is sliding up under the raw edge.

Let’s hand baste the bodice to the zipper BEFORE the mesh strips return. Now it is ready for the second try-on before adding the mesh.

Zipper hand basted with new darts in skirt:

Onto the zipper binding phase, lay all the parts out flat. The mesh strip remains attached at the very bottom.

With the zipper attached and slid up 2.5 inches, the mesh strips are hand basted before machine stitched:

What happens at the neckline? Well as per the original, this is what it looks like:

Of course, there is another useless strip of mesh along the neckline and it stands up.

Once the center of the mesh is attached, the outside edge is machine stitched to the sequin layer…very slowly and carefully as I am stitching through metal sequins!

Re-attaching the bias binding and discovering that it was sewn VERY tight so now that it is relaxed, it comes up short.

Original factory stitching up close:

Once it is snipped in the middle, you can see the problem. At least the pleat is gone.

Next step is attaching the binding by machine.

The tail has to be bound so I use a strip of lining:

Let’s make it flat and squared off.

Fold under and secure the edges:

Then finally hand baste it to the center back by hand.

Basted and ready for machine stitching:

I made 2 rows of hand stitching to get the teeth closer to the mesh without catching the mesh in the teeth…again…why?

Stitching between the 2 rows for a perfect fit keeping that darn mesh out of the way:

Almost done…just remove the 2 rows of basting and the dress is ready to go out the door…whew!

A couple of you have asked about hours of labor…well, this is one of those projects that you learn a valuable lesson from. I quoted the bride 3 hours before I saw all the steps it would take to remake it. In the end I put in over 6 hours but charged for the original 3…”Lesson Learned”.  I was so happy to see this dress go back out the front door that I forgot to take the final photo and the bride never sent one to me.

After looking through all these steps just for this zipper, any future zipper removal/reattachment will seem easy peasy! Right?

Before I get back to the final 4 brides for December, I wanted to share with you some Gingher scissors I recently purchased. Now, I have used Ginghers for over 40 years and always needed the 7 inch size with my small hands so when the new ones came I was surprised at the difference. The newest pair made in Italy are wider and heavier than the older ones from Mexico. The top blade in these photos really demonstrates:

Whatever your preference for scissors, please clean and oil your favorites from time to time. Another job that had to be done was cleaning out the bobbin case after all that sequin sewing….can you imagine that poor bobbin whizzing around with clumps of lint and a stray sequin?

I remove the rubber ring, clean in there and put a drop of oil into the center wick…treat your machine!!!

Sending you best wishes for all your holiday planning! I still have 4 gowns to finish before Dec 25 so the drama continues and more crazy posts to come!

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , , | 21 Comments

Selection By Posse’ Part One

   This sequined dress from BCBG will be a real challenge!

The bride said that she took her whole family to the salon to select a dress and this is what THEY came up with.

Selection by committee convinced her to buy a dress larger and longer than she needed because…why?…the salesperson told her a seamstress could make it fit.

First, we have to pin out 1.25 inches (total 2.5) at the waist since we cannot just whack off the tulle at the floor level. This will require removing the skirt and lining and bring it up 2.5 inches along with making the circumference the same as the original to be able to attach unto the bodice.

On inspection, all the skirt seams are French, even the sequined layer…wonderful…I love bulk!

Let’s get measuring…the numbers add up to needing to reduce the waist of the skirt by 5.5 inches once it is raised up. So the side seams of the sequin layer will have to be taken in 2.75 inches each side seam and the lining as well along with darts. Notice the fabric label hanging from the waist seam? Yes, it says you cannot return this dress if it is removed.

The tail of the zipper will remain in the center back seam but all the rest will be removed, binding removed and moved up to the neck 2.5 inches. Good thing the salesperson told her this was an easy fix…tearing my hair out!

Only one thing could make this a more un-enjoyable job…have you had clients call “just to check up”?









Let’s pin and mark the 2.5 inches that have to be removed at the top of the skirt:

See the new waist seamline 2.5 inches lower?

Here we have the inside and the amount I have to take in the back hip dart in the lining:

New French seam for the sides:

Skirt hand basted to the bodice:

That center front sheer area hand basted:

Zipper hand basted with new darts in skirt:

After the second try-on, I need to take in the side seams AND darts more:

The white thread indicates the new French seam line:

See how much longer the new dart will be?

French seams in the sequined layer. Every sequin will have to be removed to make this possible. First wrong sides together:

Ready to remove all the sequins in the waistline seam?

Trimmed seams:

There is no way I would run this new seam through my serger without removing those darn sequins!!!!

Hooray…it looks like the original now!

Next time, I’ll show all the steps involving the insanely labor intensive zipper and the mesh strip and the narrow edge binding in Part 2 but here is a little holiday cheer.

Mr. Mole has bought me an amaryllis bulb in the past but this year I sneaked a new one into his study. Not only is this flower a double double but there are 2 more stems ready to stand up and burst forth with more flowers!

Still plowing through wedding gowns…I think I have enough to keep me busy until Santa comes!


Posted in challenges | Tagged , , , , , | 39 Comments

Vintage Look

Now here is a treat for all of you who are tired of strapless revealing dresses!

I didn’t even know that the salon carried something so timeless and modest and feminine as Wtoo Kensington :

On the model, it is perfection, on my bride is just needs a little tweaking up top and a one point bustle.







Can you see what I see? Check out the hem…does the left side look like it is dragging? How could that be? Surely everything was cut perfectly and stitched well? Ah…no.

What we discovered is that that left side is 3-4 inches longer than the rest of the dress so I pin out the excess for adjustment.

Here is the chunk that has to be eliminated… all between the two red thread tracing lines.

First decide where to cut:

Slide the motifs up and pin and machine stitch:

One other area to reduce is the underarm seam of the sleeves. Pinned out and ready for basting. Thankfully it was not a French seam!! What you can’t see are the darling covered buttons in a row at her wrist.


The back neckline flared away from the brides back, so I made a tuck on both sides just behind the shoulder and stitched it down by hand.

To top off this romantic dress a bride needs a really long veil! It took 2 hangers to hold all the folded tulle…about 12 feet long.

Now that the nights bring frost warnings, the succulent tower has been moved into the garage for the winter along with fuchsias and the lime tree. Mr Mole has been busy planting for the winter outside under plastic and has been experimenting with growing lettuce in his study with the grow light.

Ever wonder how permanent pleats are made? Here is a gentleman who knows all about it.

Now the rush to get everyone on the Christmas list taken care of…and maybe get all the cards mailed before Dec 24!

Thank you for all your comments last time!

Happy Holiday Sewing!!!


Posted in challenges | Tagged , , , | 32 Comments