A Very Long Tail

I knew I was in trouble when the new bride sent me these photos from the website: 675Ad-Martina-Liana-Wedding-Dress-775x1024blog-header-675-1024x510

Here is the list of what had to be done to make this dress fit BEFORE we even tackle that bustle:

Add bust cups, hem front lace, hem 2 layers of satin lining, take in zipper 1/2 inch each side, move buttons over 1/2 inch with interfacing behind.

So with those things done, let’s get to the bustle…the bride says it is only 7 feet long…only. The satin layers will be bustled on their own first and then the lace.

The bride wanted the bustle to form an upside-down “V” in the center with the other points dropping down to each side.  She wanted to be able to grab both sides of the center bustle and wrap the lace around her like a cape.


Here is what we came up with just using safety pins:

P1200398-2P1200441P1200443 There are 7 lace bustle points and 1 satin one. It seems a shame that with such a gorgeous train, it will all be hidden for 90% of her day and the weight of all that fabric will be buttoned to her back.

She will not be wearing a veil but another older bride decided that what she needed for her second time around wedding was a killer veil. That is her bustled dress under it,  complete with beaded belt and lots of lovely lace bordered lace. And yes, there are an additional 8 dresses that have to finished this month with more in the annex waiting to be basted.


Now that the tulips are up and trees are showing their buds and the days are brighter, Mr Mole and I realize that we will have to get cracking on the veggie garden planning and planting soon. Our schedules have to include weeding AND weddings, sewing AND sowing, writing AND righting of planting structures and re-potting and re-painting of fence panels and gates before the temps get too high.

Wishing you all care-free sewing time and time to sit and listen to the Spring chorus of birds seeking mates!

Almost forgot…thank you to the folks who suggested using a pant hook for the last bride on her bra strap. She picked up her dress today and with much pulling and pushing we got that puppy hooked and snapped and ready to walk along the beach…whew!P1200456P1200455

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Keeping the Bunnies in the Hutch

Some brides just expect that the dress will do more than it can possibly do.

The only thing holding this dress together is this strap with 3 small hooks and eyes with a small one inch under-flap. Again like with lace dresses these days, the lining is knit so it stretches and the lace screams/does not stretch. While the bride wanted the side seams to be taken in 2 inches so that the dress was skin tight from armhole to thighs, this also places even more stress on those 3 hooks!


I suggested the under-flap be extended and a big snap added. A piece of nude woven polyester lining fabric triple thick was added inside.


First, the male side was attached and then chalk is rubbed on the tip before placing over the location where the female side would be for accurate marking.


Here it is snapped shut and secure….off the body. Once tried on, the snap kept popping open when she took a breath and the hooks were straining, so I thought it would need to be lengthened more and more snaps added.


Second attempt to secure the back strap is this double thick strap of grosgrain ribbon with 3 large snaps:                         P1200390      P1200391 P1200392

To take in the side seams (red lines), the boning in the short facing had to be detached and moved over.


Meanwhile the bride says she wants more seams taken in under the bust to be snugged right up under the bust and tighter and tighter to be a shelf for the bunnies. This photo shows the pins:


Once everything is snugged up, the lining had to be hand tacked along the top edge where the pins are placed to keep it from sneaking up and out:


The last view is of the front slit and back bustle…yes, this Faviana Glamour gown slit ends right at the panty line.


Thank you to Anne of Pretty Grievances for the generous loan of her apropos  phrase,”Bunnies in the Hutch”.

Happy Easter Everyone and thanks for following my blog and leaving your comments!



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Bride and Baby

What happens when you plan your dream wedding and buy a tight mermaid dress and discover you are pregnant?


This bride went right out and bought herself a more appropriate dress to cover the expanding body.

df8e41068667c56d2e7d1608b9a0c5bdfront 2

OK, you are all thinking that this is a super idea but wait! Does anyone remember being pregnant the first 18 weeks and not gaining weight but the clothes don’t fit quite the same? Well, this bride is experiencing the same feeling with all the weight being distributed to her breasts. And while this dress covers her tummy well, the bodice has no boning or support to contain her ever enlarging heavy boobs. What it needs is some structure and really tightly engineered straps.

The zipper was taken in 1/2 inch each side, short covered boning for the front and taller covered boning for the side seams all inserted by hand.

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All of the back straps were moved and adjusted and re-tacked and the halter neck taken in 2 inches on each side.P1200299

After the first try-on, the bride wanted the waist even tighter by another 1/2 inch and the straps shorter in the back and as the front bodice was wide, could anything be done to narrow it?

Since the cups were spread apart with some center section of tulle, the only place was to remove the binding/straps  and move them more toward the center. The pin shows the new placement line for the strap/binding. Unfortunately, the inside cups will have to be cut down as well…can you hear me growling?


OK, let’s thread mark the new edges:


Then separate the lace from the cups by cutting tacking threads and remove the binding:


Pin the binding back in place and open the satin cups, remove the second strap and tuck everything inside:


Edge stitch the cups closed and add the strap back inside and tack at 90 degree angle to the first strap:


Take in the zipper one more time and add 2 hook and eyes at the top:P1200370P1200371

The final try-on:P1200402-2P1200403-2

The bride was so happy now that everything was tight and contained with 10 days to go before the Easter wedding.

Happy Spring sewing everyone!


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Roses and Lace

Have you ever worked on a $2000 dress? Me either…until now.


Catherine Deane makes such dreamy dresses and this one is covered in handmade roses:


Even the back dips very low with roses:


Yes, every one of those “dots” on the front are seed beads on tulle over 2 layers of satin knit. For some reason the back panels on either side of the zipper were wrinkling and all that was needed was to take in the back darts over the butt cheeks a little deeper and wider to flatten that area.

Another little challenge this week was this grey lace dress with another 2 layers of knit lining…this is really a trend and not a good one.

04630825_zi_dusty_blueWhile the dress feels nice next to the skin, the lace itself does not stretch as all. This time it just needed hemming and the original was just folded under twice and machine stitched across leaving threads hanging and big gaps as this lace is mostly air and vacant spaces. I suggested to the MOB that it would be a good idea to stitch the new hem to a strip of rayon hem tape first and then use that as a straight edge to sew to the dress. She agreed. Once the uppermost satin lining layer was hemmed by hand, the rayon tape was hand sewn to that which kept everything soft and free hanging.P1200342

You can see the one inch gaps between the designs. The hem from the right side looks nice:

P1200345    P1200344

Now there are probably half a dozen other ways to deal with this gaping lace but this was my fast solution. It can also be altered later by releasing the rayon hem tape because I am always thinking of the next seamstress who will have the lucky job of re-altering later on.

Mr. Mole shared a site he came across the other day of a new young designer Angela Clayton: http://www.earthables.com/dresses-fit-for-disney-princesses-1534021625.html?c=wp

angela clayton

Wishing you all stress-free sewing this week while you are planning some Spring wardrobe like Kate and her SWAP (Sewing with a Plan) collection. Her sweet pea colors and silver accents just inspire! Don’t miss Ruth and her latest purchases of knit fabric for her Spring collection! She will wow us for sure!





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Nancy’s New Jacket

With so many brides dropping off their dresses, it was nice to start something new for Nancy, my client, using one of the fabrics we purchased on our Portland trip in November.

Here is the fabric:P1200339 and a close-up…yes Anne, it IS Jungle quality! You don’t often find Type 2 summer colors all together in one piece.It might be a home-dec fabric but the woven threads are just so yummy.

The pattern is from Grainline Gear

P1200340                  abdcaefbf97c3ca14eb601025c894482

A muslin was made using a few alterations on the paper pattern like adding a center back seam for better fit and rounded back adjustment. The front with pocket and front bands were left as is. While the front bands were too short, I added to their length along with adding 3 inches to the jacket length. The back has a 2 piece sort of apron over-layer but I did not include it.


Here we are for the first try-on with shoulder pads and horizontal lines drawn and pinned at buttonholes:


Can you see the drag lines pointing to above the bust points? Can you see how the horizontal line just under the bust arches up? Remember the past slash and spread techniques we have done? OK let’s do it:P1200352

While adding 1.5 inches make the front look good, how about the back? We could use some center back taking in at the waist and some side darts too but the excess fabric across the upper back needs to be there for reaching and driving ease. A slash and spread at the yoke area allows the horizontal lines look better too.

P1200350   P1200354

Just a few other tweaks, a pinch at the shoulder and the waist:


So there we have a good start on this jacket right out of the envelope. Next time Nancy visits we will use these muslin pattern pieces to place them on the huge color sections to create a very unique color-blocked jacket.

In the meantime, I have 30 brides booked in for the start of the season, 3 known pregnant ones and a few with over-sized egos…what does that mean, Mrs Mole?

Well,  just last week a bride marched in with her 3-girl posse and 2 wedding dresses. She warned me she may bring 3-4 dresses but decided against it. She was 30 minutes late and one of her girls was 45 minutes late. When the last girl arrived she asked the bride where they had been and the bride said she and the other 2 had been getting their trial wedding make-up done (July date). Then the late girl asked what did the beautician charge and the bride snapped back, “Any make-up artist knows that she cannot charge ME for the service as I will take that into consideration when selecting who gets to do it the wedding day. I will be consulting every make-up artist in the valley before I make MY decision”.

I learned something new this week at the local ASG community sew gathering…how to make a churn dash quilt square:


Then I made 11 more and stitched them together:quilt-squares-12

And while it is nothing compared to quilts that Ruth makes, mine will be finished and be given away to a charity for homeless teens and children in shelters. My learner mistakes will be passable and overlooked!

Spring is coming soon!!!! I saw a huge robin this morning!


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Crummy to Cute

We all have wadders from time to time and they happen here too.

Over my vacation, I made up the quilting cotton bird fabric that I bought in Portland using a pattern I had used before. It was going to be fast and easy. Alterations were made on the paper pattern and cut out thoughtfully.bird-blouse

The back had the usual alterations too, rounded back, sway back and extra length added. The 2 previous blouses I had made with this pattern were rayon batik and very soft linen.


Yes, it was a no-brainer, raise neckline, add the previous bust dart and make the facing to match…but as I have warned people in the past…a cut-on sleeve is never your best look…I ignored that and went ahead with this quilting cotton. It was basted and tried on.

In this first photo, it looked like a sack and the top of the front flared away from my body so I tried making vertical tucks on the left side. It was a little better but not great, then I decided to pin out the front shoulder seam on the right of the photo…a little better. Then I pinned out the shoulder seam both front and back and side seams…a little better.

P1040772  P1040774

A close-up of the shoulder pinned out:


Close-up of the tucks:


Taking in the side seams and shoulder seams and removing the tucks:


The final result…a better fitting sack/pillowcase top with those folds of fabric where the armscye should be and a sad looking droopy sleeve…not for me. For you gals who think you can wear this style with narrow sloping shoulders like me…guess again. This does nothing for you or me. How did I manage to get that lens cover right over my bust point?


So what can be done? Well, I have a 12 year old granddaughter who could use a new skirt…let’s open the side seams and shoulder seams and re-cut this puppy. The center back seam was already French seamed so that became the back seam. The center front seam was piped and topstitched in pink and a pocket was added along with elastic in the waistband and the curved hem edges bound with the pink fabric and buttons.


Do I have any grown up clothes to work on this week?…well so glad you asked.

Has anyone ever heard of a Canadian designer from the 40’s and 50’s called Rae Hildebrand? No, neither had I until this dress came in to be altered:P1200228P1200256

The sleeves and neckline were way too wide so I have pinned/taken in 2 inches and hand basted all the way from the neckline down tapering to the wrist. To keep this dress on the client’s shoulders a thin strap will be attached from the front to the back and perhaps beaded using the original beads from what I will cut off.

Here are some other vintage styles from the same designer I found on Google:9760ab57f2128f9a8eef54ed668ef6baaut_0198images

So, this dress has started the season off nicely. My first 3 brides have announced they are pregnant and have moved their dates up and one has also already bought a larger empire dress to accommodate the tummy. There are now 21 brides on the schedule and I sure hope this is not going to be a trend this year although it makes you really good and fast making corset backs!

This advert came out in a local special wedding edition magazine yesterday…makes you wonder? The perfect wedding gift?shotgun

Happy Sewing everyone! Check out Anne’s new dress at Pretty Grieveances.

She has definitely found her way out of the Jungle…welcome back into civilization!



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Vacation Over

I have squirreled myself away for the month to re-charge and make a few things before the onslaught of brides for the 2016 season.

You have asked to see photo of my projects…none are earth shaking or trendy or artistic, just functional for working on the floor. If you are expecting to see useless angled pockets or off center collars and flared hems…ah no.

Before we arrived at our destination, I was rummaging through my overnight bag and my finger caught the edge of a new disposable razor that had lost its cover. It sheared off a layer of skin and there was blood all over the place. Now one week later you can see the length and width of the slash:P1040762

To start with I am sewing in a rented house with my Janome Jem and a bag of fabrics and patterns and an iron I found in the closet:iron-2 Can you see the bottom edge? Yes, this puppy has seen some rough treatment…I’m guessing it has been dropped unto the tile floor more than once. If you pour water into it for steam, it just drips out the bottom…nice.

But what can you sew on vacation while sharing opposite ends of a narrow dining table with your husband? You can see my “station” in the background…machine and ironing board and after cutting my TNT tunic on the kitchen counter, it is pinned and ready to stitch in the round. The crummy part was…this fabric has the circles wandering off at about a 30% angle so there is no hope of matching anything so using it on a baggy tunic seemed the best way to use it without folks thinking I have cut everything lop-sided.


When sewing in the round, each section is fed into the machine right after you back stitch the last section, then cut the short connecting threads after you get to the last section. Yes, I know lots of you want to sew “directional”…I have seen all the shows that say side seams are sewn from top to bottom and shoulders are sewn inwards towards the neck…lovely for home sewing and if you think this matters when sewing on quilting cotton. I learned this way in college and in the factory so I am stuck doing it this way.

sewing-in-the-round-2  sewing-on-the-round-3

I ended up adding vertical front and back darts to eliminate the bagginess and added the sleeves. The red thread tracing will be where I topstitch the inside facings to add a little pizzazz to this plain tunic…I may use the blue thread so it shows up instead of black.tunictunic-2

You can see all the angles now and how your eye is doing flips just following the circles…what a mess, but it is my work uniform for sitting on the floor and it will look fine with black shorts.

What else was sewn you ask? Remember that other co-ordinated cotton with the blue dots? I had just enough to make some shorts and some other blue quilting cotton to make a longer version of cropped pants…all with elastic waistbands for sitting and pinning all day. Can the new blue shorts be worn with the new tunic…sure, but the white striped pair will have to be worn with a plain white blouse.P1200221

Now I have a question for you…yoga pants…the type with at least 6 inches of fold-over at the waist…WHY? I ordered some online and then tried them on…who needs all that extra fabric around your waist if you don’t do Yoga? I decided to fold the top over and thread trace the top edge with a fold back to insert some 1 inch wide elastic. This seems way more practical for my life style. You can see I cut off 2.5 inches, serged the top edge and will fold it down.


I used a 3-step zigzag to sew over the serged edge and use navy thread just in case I ever have to unpick that to put in new elastic…you would never see the black thread…ever!


OK, with the pants sorted out…what did I find when I got home from the desert? How about some fresh snow on my raised covered veggie planter…can you guess what has been growing inside since Mr. Mole planted seeds in Oct?


How about this….happy and healthy rainbow Swiss chard…yummy and bug free and the more you pick, the more you get and they can produce for 2 years if you keep the hungry birds off them.


Next time some not so happy sewing and maybe a peak at some of the new brides finding their way to my doorstep…so far there are 17 signed up starting this week…a couple have grown out of their dresses already due to over-eating and pregnancy…I feel some corset backs coming….

So glad to be back home in the sewing room with carpets and heating and my grown up sewing machines! Wishing you all a great week of sewing and maybe for the US gals…some special time to get away from the Super Bowl football watching husbands and sons…one can only hope!

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