Double Trouble

Very rarely do I ever get the same dress twice in a season but this year it has happened again after the last 2 sheer dresses. This time it is strapless lace Wtoo Preston.


Let’s see what both of them need: Twill tape at the top of the bodice, 1-point bustle in lace and a 1-point bustle in satin and lining.

Bride #1

Bride #2

Then they also needed a horizontal waist tuck which would be covered by a grosgrain belt sewn into the zipper edge.

Bride #1

Bride #2 also trying different placement of possible lace flowers:

The difference comes in the straps. Bride #1 wanted romantic tulle straps/sleeves and the other was more streamlined with covered grosgrain straps.


Both would get 1-point bustles in the satin and lace:


But the first bride did not want her lace hem shortened while the second bride was tall and ordered extra fabric at the hem. I understand that ordering an XL style (extra length) you can designate either 3 or 5 inches longer. I’m not sure which one she ordered but we ended up having to remove the edging and raise it up 1.5 inches.

You have to decide where you are going to cut, usually along a stable edge that can be machine stitched later. Using curved embroidery scissors works a treat on curved edges. Scalloped edging pinned on and excess lace folded under for the try-on.


Just before the final try-on, bride #2 decided that she wanted the bodice taken in even more than the first alteration. So, the zipper was removed again and moved over and up to the top of the bodice.

Looks simple enough but wait…what happens to the lining? Of course, the boning has to be shifted over as well.

Remove the side of the label, remove the boning and move it over:

A scalpel does the job removing stitches:

New position for the boning to add extra stability:

Bride #2 has to have her tulle layers trimmed as the XL length also added more tulle:

She also wanted buttons down the back after the belt was hand stitched into place over the horizontal tuck:

The finished dresses are both flattering to the brides and also they don’t have to spend the whole time tugging at the top of their dresses and can just enjoy the event.


Thinking about buttons? Here is a lady who has a world of buttons!

With Fall temps still in the 70’s daytime the veggies are still hanging in there even with frost temperatures dropping to near freezing. The spaghetti squash has done well this season. We have already had one and given one away so that leaves 8.

Happy sewing everyone and welcome to the new followers!


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Twelve Months of Anticipation

Wtoo Lapis on the model in the video looks perfect, no wrinkles or drag lines or puckers.

Some brides are so excited about their wedding that they insist that they make an appointment almost a year in advance just to get time “in the mirror” in my sewing room. So flash back to the first appointment, Nov 2017.

Can you see some problems other than the extreme length? What is that weird indentation where the lace diverts above the tulle in center front?

Can you see that the top edge of the bodice back droops down? Surely the zipper will have to be moved over a couple inches.

Eleven months later nothing has changed:



The front still has that indentation and the bustle will need 5 points.










Oh Happy days…two more layers of heavy nude knit lining to be bustled up and a 5-point tulle bustle too.


The bride wanted her 5 points to be higher in the middle and the side points lower. You can see that even with 5 points we still have some “dog ears” sections of the tulle hem that need trimming off the floor. It would have been clearing the floor with 7 points but that is what you have with tulle.

The finished bustle with lace covered buttons:


This dress also displays the fact that having thick embroidered lace attached to tulle over satin does not always flatter the figure.

Wrinkles occur everywhere as the fabrics do not “play nice” with each other while still needing ease for walking and sitting.















That front indention has been reduced by releasing the lining and satin layer at that junction and the circumference of the bodice especially at the top fits better after removing one inch on either side of the back zipper. Again…hey designer, did you check how the finished gown would hang on a real body? Or did you mean for the eye to focus on that point for some reason?

What about that horizontal waist wrinkle? No matter how much the dress is smoothed down from her waist to her hips, what it really needs are some straps or a halter to hold up the top and keep it from drooping or a belt.

Standing up very straight helps but it is really a day for lots of hugging and dancing!










What does this bride need for walking up the aisle: How about an 8 foot long tulle veil with a blusher? Draping the ironed veil over a sofa helps to keep it wrinkle free.

Very few of my brides opt for the blusher to be brought forward over their face but this time it works well:


This week after months of watching and waiting for our first watermelon experiment, Mr. Mole harvested this beauty when he found it had split itself open. Being a seedless variety and grown from seed (how does that work?) it was amazing to see only a few black seeds and such sweet flesh! I cut it into chunks and took it to my local ASG meeting to share with my friends.


The good thing is that I finished the 13 September brides and am plowing through the 6 October ones while our weather continues to be in the low 70’s and sunny for all the celebrations. This Saturday, I have 3 brides getting married so the push is on to iron more long veils, attach bust cups and steam the dresses ready to go out the front door.

Neighbors have begun decorating their front yards like graveyards with fake headstones and skeletons and ghosts hanging from trees so you know Halloween is near. Happy sewing everyone and greetings to all the new readers!



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Beauty in All Sizes

Not all brides are a size 2 trying to be a size 0 by starving themselves. Not all size 12 brides tell me that they are dieting like mad to be a size 8.

When other brides ask me if working with full-figured brides is difficult, I always answer that larger brides want 3 simple things: a zipper that slides up easily, a bustle that stays up, and good music for dancing.

This summer I met a warm-hearted social worker who wanted all three. In fact instead of being self conscious about her size or weight, she wanted her dress, Wtoo Cynthia to have extra petticoats and a very poofy bustle.

Here is the required model shot:


The scalloped lace bordered hem is gorgeous but you can see this skirt could use a little more poof. In my annex to the sewing room, I store all the petticoats that have been removed from other gowns just waiting to be recycled into another gown. It is always a nice occasion when I can attach one to a dress that needs more lift to get the front hem off the ground without having to cut and move the lace up. I don’t charge for this service, the petticoats are free as well as the labor. It is just a nice thing to do.

Here is the first fitting with 5 point bustle pinned up. All of that horsehair braid trimmed netting hanging down will be hemmed to ground level.









First things first…adding the recycled petticoat:

Next layer on top of that:

Next layer on top of that:

More layers on top of that:

And finally getting to the top layers:

Second fitting with extra petticoat…success…the front hem is off the ground! The satin layer is hemmed and bustled and bust cups sewn in.

Embroidered tulle layer on top with pinned up bustle:












Every first time bride needs a veil:

With 5 points, the train is off the floor for dancing the night away.

Pressed and ready to walk down the aisle:












Just a reminder, do you ever think about your ironing board cover? Since I work on white/ivory dresses every day, I want my cover to stay clean but soot and dust in the air settles not just on wooden furniture, but the ironing board as well. So, as I have described in the past, I spray water on my cover, rub some Resolve Stain stick over it and then wet it again and rub it hard with a white washcloth. It is downright scary what comes off!!!!

With the end of summer, some of the summer squash look a bit sad and hard but I managed to split one, scoop out the seeds, toss in four frozen meatballs, olives and cheese and tomato sauce and bake for an hour:  

Temps are back to the seasonal normal  71 and 45 degrees F!

Hallelujah! Hope you all have a super week…happy Oct 1st everyone!

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Stabilizing Straps and Paper Hems

This Narissa dress is stunning but it falls into the two categories of wedding dresses…nightgown (no boning) and ballgown (tons of boning).

A bride should really assess her assets before buying a dress. Determine if her body (full bust) needs support and choose the right one. Notice the teenie tiny skinny straps?

Can you see where those tiny straps are attached to the sheer lace back? More about that later…nice long and wide train…guess how many bustle points it will take to get it up off the floor along with a heavy knit satin layer and knit lining?

Here’s my bride with her tattoos blocked out. You can see that this dress does not hold up her bust very well and the crystal buttons will be struggling to keep the center back closed with a lot of hugging and dancing.

The lace hem will be shortened along with satin and lining layers too.

Quite the impressive train with the knit layers just pinned up to test the length.


Looks like she will need 5 point bustles for both layers, knit lining and lace.

First, let’s remove the hem edging side seam to side seam:

Angled up to 4 inches to the new hem point:

But wait…how am I going to sew that delicate lace edging to what is essentially just air connected with thread? Somewhere on my bookshelf of “weird things I might need someday” is a roll of this stuff. You heirloom sewing gals probably use a lot of this, it is basically tissue paper on a roll.

Let’s slide it under the lace edging so the machine has something to grab unto:

Before machine stitching and the second try-on, the lace edging is hand basted to the paper, then the paper trimmed a little and the excess netting folded under before the next appointment. After machine stitching the paper will just tear away and excess netting trimmed.

OK, hem secured, let’s get back to those straps. Imagine that entire dress being held up with those straps and a couple of stitches…Lordie… after a few good bear hugs and some wild dancing…poof, they could easily just rip off!

One solution was to put some reinforcement, Stay Tape, in there before shortening them. Inside photo:










Hand stitched in place before strap attachment:

Pin the strap 1 inch lower and wait for the second try-on.

Final try-on has a 5 point bustle in each the satin layer and lace layer. The back buttons popped open when the bride was putting on her pasture boots from the farm. Not a good omen!

You can see the side seam ripples so I tell all my brides size 0 to 26…Formal clothes require formal underwear! I explain how back in the 50’s and 60’s we wore “foundation garments” aka panty girdles to give a smooth look and without going the full thick Spanx route, just upping their game from a pink thong to some tight underpants with a tummy panel, they will make their dress look like the model.









The front view with tighter straps and shorter hem.

Finally at the end of this summer, the peppers are producing fruit:











And the stone crop plants have made an appearance and their tiny pink flowers are covered with bees:

Today I saw Christmas trees and Halloween costumes displayed already in the stores…can’t retailers just wait until we get past the end of September before promoting the next 2 holidays?

Wishing all of you success with your latest projects whether it be knitting or sewing or weaving.

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I’ve Got Wings

Is this what a modern bride wants to wear walking down the aisle?

The skirt is Willowby Annalise

I wish I was as clever as my friend Anne of who does such funny stories about models on the runway!

It has a very high slit up the left leg almost ending at her va jay jay. The waistband is elastic inside and the one lining layer is thick white knit which is hemmed with a coverstitch machine. There are 33, yes 33 twenty-four inch wide panels of tulle attached to the waistband.

My bride is not wearing that top, she has ordered “something special” that she brings to the final try-on.

So here’s the plan: hem the knit lining with my coverstitch machine and take in the waistband 3 inches…sure…why not? 3 inches require me to move all the layers of tulle 1.5 inches each side of the zipper. What could be more fun?

We also tried a bustle gathering up all back tulle strips into a pony tail…not too nice!

Here is the full length of the train:   

So the compromise is to trim every layer to ground level in the front and still keep a little train in the back. Here is the dress with 11 strips contained in each clip just so I can see the one solid layer of netting over the lining. 






















The waistband shows how I don’t cut off anything just in cast the next bride needs all that excess back to the original placement.


Here is the top that we have been waiting weeks for…needless to say I was shocked to see a knit yoga top tucked into the waistband when I was expecting maybe something lacy or beaded or more wedding-ish.


So from week to week we see the diversity of brides…some go Hollywood, some don’t.










As the temps cool we are harvesting the last fruits of the season. Wait…what is that growing out of that tomato? A nose???


More gold and red cherry tomatoes and a box of peaches and pears too!


Here is why we should never toss spent sunflower heads away. The birds all perch in the edges of the flower head and break off seeds. This one is 1/3 eaten. The other thing you should not do is to toss the heads into a compost bin…why? Last year some of the heads got into the compost bins and when that was spread around the garden this year, we got clumps of sunflower sprouts EVERYWHERE!!!

Now I will leave you as I have 3 brides to finish for this Saturday…who knew Sept 22 was such a special day?

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Lace, Hems and Straps

This Wtoo Pippin dress is dramatic and very long. We have seen this dress before and know what has to be done to shorten it.

Even this tall model needs her dress shortened in front!

Besides needing to be shortened 4 inches, the lining and satin layers are that darn thick knit again and they are attached together at the hem.

Testing out a 5 point bustle:

Reminding my brides to suck their tummy in and to buy tight underpants is a daily ritual…a pink thong will not make for good photos!












Before the twill tape:

Pin in place:

Then move the center point over one inch and adjust all the tension:

Finish by doing the other side:

Cups now curve towards the body with 2 inches less ease:

Tackling the hem requires going in through a side seam after thread tracing the new hem level.

Pull all the hem out through the opening that needs to be shortened and lay it flat. Hand baste through the 2 layers. Tuck the new hem back inside and hand baste the edges down for the next try-on. Once the bride is happy with the levels, all this excess can be trimmed away.

Some time between the first fitting and hem pinning and the second fitting…things happen to the dresses in my sewing room…skirts grow and knit hems drop. Can you see the first basting level and then the second basting level? How does this happen?

I have a theory that the longer the dress hangs in my sewing room with spa music playing and scented candles burning…they just relax. So my goal is always, once permanently hemmed, the dress should be picked up asap before it grows any longer.

The dainty beaded spaghetti straps need to be removable so the front edge is wrapped with grosgrain ribbon. A French tack is attached at the very top edge of the twill tape.

Under the ribbon is a huge snap sewn to the bust cup. Once snapped on, the remaining end of the strap with the hooks and eyes can be slipped through the French tack strap and then attached in the back.

I like to attach straps closer to center back to keep them from sliding down during the wedding. Attaching at such an angle gives more torque to the whole system.

The finished photos and can you see a ridge across the bride’s tummy? The designer never thought about how the bodice with all the boning and extra layers of lining would look when it stopped being the bodice and had to transition behind the skirt.

There is nothing I can do to make it any flatter so I have to tell the bride that for her photos she will have to remember to hold her bouquet right there. Now, scroll back up to that first photo on the model…can you see that same tummy ridge?


What this bride needs to cover that ridge might be something inspired from this museum?

Thank you for dropping by this week…still wading through my 13 September brides and freezing buckets of tomatoes!

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Ordering a Gown on Etsy?

How does one decide who should make her gown? Send your measurements into someone you have never met or heard of who has an Etsy page? I find that so scary and who decides what her/his qualifications are? You can’t select the fabrics or feel them but trust that sending them money will make everything OK and you get a custom made dress that fits?

A year ago this bride came for a consultation. She ordered her dress from Etsy.

At the time we thought that she could lose some weight and I could open up seam allowances to bridge the gap in the back.



This year, she returned and things did not get better, in fact they got worse. Only thing to do is offer to make a corset back along with hemming the skirt and tulle.








Even though she said she had sent in her measurements, can you imagine anyone having bust points only 5 inches apart? Most designs/patterns start with an 8 inch spread  up to 12 inches but here we are with bust cups unnaturally close together.

In addition to that, the lining was creeping out over the top edge of the bodice and had to be hand tacked down inside. Bust cups were added to help with the very round bust curve boning.

When I make a modesty panel for a corset back, I use duck cloth for the part next to the skin. Lord knows these summer brides sweat enough carrying around so much fabric and weight of the dress so this helps keep them a little cooler and absorb moisture. Sweat running down you back into your Spanx is not a good thought!

Cutting the right length for the boning strips:

Boning strips sewn inside the panel:

Panel attached with stitching to one side of the opening and a snap attached to the other side for lacing up. The panel was cut from some light peach satin I had to buy at JoAnn’s.

Here we are all laced up really tight and of course, the lacing will be ivory the day of the wedding.

Since the dress comes with a 2 inch wide grosgrain belt and bow, that will go over the lacing too.  The sash tails will also cover the tight lacing down near the bottom of the opening. From the front it looks better without the top edge digging into her skin.

Bunny sent me this link this week of a Canadian woman and her well used Singer treadle machine. Be sure to read to the part with the photos of the native wedding attire she made for her family!

And I did make time to watch the movie “Men of the Cloth” on Amazon Prime. It traces the history of Italian tailors from the age of 6 to 80+ and their stories. Makes me want to hang out with these men to see how the stitches are made and steamed into shape!

Wishing you all a great week of stash busting or knitting or whatsoever you plan on doing this time of year with the kiddies back in school and the temps dropping… whew!

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