Sweet and Simple

Remember this dress? We go from a size 20 down to a size 10 this time.

This sample dress is Willowby Geranium.

She opted to not trim the train and just carry it using the long thread tacks at center back holding the layers together.

As  with the previous dress, this one also needs to have darts made between the boning strips to draw it into the chest and make it more stable. From the outside, it will just blend in and look like a side seam.

Once the dart is machine stitched and flipped right side up, the fold can be hand tacked to the nearest boning strip.

Maybe you can see through the front section of lace that there is darkness behind it. The bride revealed that she has a tattoo of words there in black ink and she wanted some solution to cover it up.

Since the lining was going to be trimmed, I knew I had some skin toned fabric to insert there. Here is the pentagon patch that was added to cover the dark tattoo:

This bride liked the original mauve velvet belt so I added French thread loops to keep the eventual bow from sliding around at center back.

Almost finished, just have to add the fingertip length veil:

Just a small shot of the bride and groom just after saying their vows in a ranch setting. Faces were blurred out.

Last week I wandered around our back yard and took a few photos to share:

We tried growing strawberries in these purpose built planters but they never did well. This year I plunked some onion sets into the sections and they love it!

It is the first year we have grown scarlet runner beans like they grow in the UK. The plants started well running up the wigwam sticks but soon outgrew them so a plastic cage was introduced.

Mr Mole’s Swiss chard nursery. To keep birds from eating those baby plants down to the ground he uses metal baskets from Walmart and the Dollar Store to protect them in the beginning.

If you ever think that sewing was an intricate and tedious art-form, have a look here at a real patient artist!

Thanks for dropping by, next time I hope to have some more complicated and swear word inducing fashions for you!



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Wedding Venue in Nature

Another favor done for a fellow seamstress. This dress is Wtoo  Locklin but bought out of town. The beading is dainty along all the edges and fits well except I raised the straps.


The hem layers of satin and lining were shortened and the train was trimmed all around.

The bride ordered a silk belt from Etsy and she wanted it narrowed to half the width.

Here we are trimming the satin train and lining away.





The too-wide belt will be narrowed.











But how to do it? Does anyone have pressing bars that they bought to make tubes and never managed to do it? Let’s get busy…reducing a 1.5 inch wide belt down to .75 of an inch.

Open the belt and re-stitch the seam down to .75 inch. Trim and flip and then slide the 3/4 inch wide pressing bar inside to press flat. The flat straps/bow were pleated to adjust to the new width.

I like to make French tack belt loops to hold the future knot in place and keep the belt from shifting and spinning around her waist.

How do you trim away so much from the train and still be accurate through 3 layers of tulle. You know that stuff shifts like crazy! Well, I trim only half to the center back seam and then pin that cut off section to the remaining half of the train and use it as a guide. I find it is better than eyeballing or measuring down from the waist which is so tiring and awkward!

Keep trimming until to get back to the front side seams…whew…we are done!

Have you run into that annoying lower layer of really stiff netting? Of course, it is not the same circumference as the tulle…oh Hell no, that would make too much sense so it has to be cut separately.

To tame that sucker, I cut it at floor level.

Wouldn’t this make a nice soft cat bed?

The finished front with narrower belt:






















To add interest to this story, the bride had a destination wedding in Southern Spain on her French grandfather’s ranch but they would take photos closer to the seaside and she warned me that they might have to walk down a slope. Such lovely scenes for a couple so much in love.

To finish this week with a nature theme, here are some flowers from my garden:

They are gladiolus that were leaning over and ready to hit the ground. There are plenty more outside where the hummingbirds enjoy drinking from them.

The crystal vase is from a special sewing friend who moved to Texas a few years ago, Barbara, who I really miss having lunch with. The ceramic vase is from a Basque relative of mine living in Pamplona, Spain and the gorgeous paperweight was given to Mr. Mole from a good friend and business colleague who recently passed. All these things reflect on great relationships we have had but life brings us so many changes.

Thank you for following my adventures in bridal sewing!!!

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One of the Favors

Let’s start with the Mara Hoffman Rehearsal dinner dress:

Interesting how the ArtDeco style is reflected in this and her wedding dress.




This dress is 100% silk and beaded with bronze bugle beads and gold and silver metallic thread and  some weird fuzzy pink threads. The beads look a little precarious up close and indeed they are.



The weight of all this embellishment on thin silk chiffon is not the dress to be dancing in so good thing all she will be doing is eating.

All I had to do with this rehearsal dress was repair the French shoulder seams and even up the hems of the silk and the linings and re-attach some loose beads and once the steamer had done it’s job…it looked like a new dress with no wrinkles. Then we move unto the wedding dress that I previewed last week.

Chic nostalgia bridal wedding dress at the seaside with a perfect model:

As I shared before, the previous seamstress thought winding the straps with pearls would be just the ticket to making it fit better and taking up the straps at least 3 inches would not impact the rest of the dress…wrong!

Once the lame/useless pearls were removed, it fit better and looked like it should. But we still have wrinkles under the bust as it was too high on her body.

Again, the previous seamstress decided to take in the center back zipper and didn’t think it was too important to match the chevrons. Are we getting to see a pattern here??? There is also a wedge of excess fabric above the first chevron.

Once she moved the zipper over and didn’t trim any of the excess fabric away, she also forgot to add the hook and eye at the top of the zipper…no one will notice right?








Before I added 3 inches to the straps, another solution would have been to attach the strip that was cut off the hem to the lining to make an additional layer to cover her feet. To say the bride was desperate is an understatement! Here she has pulled the top layer up to check the pinned-on strip.

Here is a close-up of the strip that was cut off…can you see all the red felt marker? Insane! It is a fine line between sewing and crafting and someone stepped over it by using the wrong tools.

Close-up of the basted new section:














Here is the final try-on and the bride is so happy but I still need to take up 1/2 inch on the shoulders.

Can you see the wad of fabric at the top of the zipper? There is no way I was going to go in there and start messing with it as it now sits on her waist well enough. You can see the final 1/4 inch pinning on the shoulders. This is the last photo I have of this very grateful bride.















Every so often Mr. Mole and I talk about what we can do when we retire…my idea is to eat Jaffa Cakes like I did when I lived 8 years in the UK. They don’t have them here in the US grocery stores so he surprised me this week with my very own imported box of deliciousness!

This week, while watching our birds through the kitchen window, I noticed that for about 5 minutes, these two gold finches didn’t move at all. It was like something had frozen them in time and no other birds came in for a landing. It was spooky! Yes, that is a giant sunflower and all the bottom leaves have been stripped by the birds.

Until next time and more favored garments….happy sewing everyone and many thanks for all your comforting comments last week!!!

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A Season of Favors

Last week I was surprised with how many new followers I had acquired. Then I checked for where they were coming from.

It turns out that on https://thesewingplace.org.uk/index.php/topic,7615.15.html a member commented on a suggestion from another reader about searching through my posts for help with a wedding gown.

“Just had a quick look at this blog and the fit of the dress in the last picture of today’s post is terrible, so unflattering.”

I guess this member could have made the size 20 dress way more flattering than I did.

No doubt she would have waved her magic wand over the Cinderella dress and it would have resulted in making the bride thinner, taller and younger than I did. But,  I want to thank her for sending 400 readers and now new followers to my blog. With 9 years of posting possible wedding gown alterations and solutions, my only hope is that someone might be able to use a tip or two to make their own altering a little easier and give people the confidence to try new techniques.

After sewing for clients for over 50 years, I have learned that being honest with prices, expectations and to deliver on time or even earlier than the date keeps me happy and in turn keeps my brides happy. Satisfying 80-100 brides a season is a continuous challenge!

This last week was stressful as two seamstresses that I send everything that is not bridal to, sent an email to say that one of them, recently widowed, was moving out of state and the other seamstress had to go into hospital for emergency abdominal surgery. As a result, I have inherited their final projects that they could not finish.

First up is a knit jumpsuit with a weird looking crotch area. While the outside knit lace fabric sat well in the crotch area, I discovered that the knit lining was really grabbing so it needs to be dropped. The shoulders needed taking up along with tacking the front wrap and adding some teardrop bust pads. We will add a removable grosgrain belt with a flat bow in the back. As there is no zipper or opening to get in and out of this garment, the bride just steps in and pulls it all up so the belt will have snaps for those much needed bathroom visits.












The final bride comes with an Art-Deco style dress that had been butchered at the local sewing center. They removed 3 inches from the shoulder seams, 4 inches from the lace hem, and added some sort of weird pearl wrap to the front straps to make them really hideous. It reminded me of what would have been worn in Mayberry on the Andy Griffith Show by Aunt Bea.

By raising the bodice 3 inches, the center back does not lay flat against her waist and forms a huge gap.  I will add back in the 3 inches to allow everything to drop and get back to the correct levels.

So dear readers, besides the 10 bridesmaid dresses that wandered in last week, these additional garments keep me up sewing every night but in the end, everyone will be happy and feeling beautiful.

Last photo…this morning 2 robins were chasing a hawk keeping it from eating their babies and when the hawk rested, I got this photo! Happy sewing everyone and welcome to all the new followers!!!

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Getting the Fit Right

This sample dress is Willowby Geranium. It is the trend to have a sheer bodice, little boning and the ubiquitous layered tulle skirt. While that works OK on a size 0 model, when the size range is extended for a larger bride, that’s when things can change and not for the better.

At the first fitting you can see that the bodice top edge needs a couple darts to bring it back to her chest. I like to pin a ribbon to show the bride what a halter would feel and look like.

Attaching a 1.5 inch wide grosgrain ribbon as a belt enhances her waist.

This bride was not loving the eyelash lace edging on the top edge of the bodice, so I was asked to give it a haircut. Also, she was not a bow person so the ribbon belt will be sewn next to the zipper teeth with no bow. The train will also be trimmed off.

Besides making the upper bust darts in the front, making darts between the boning strips will give her waist some more definition. Making darts between existing boning on the inside will stiffen the sides for more support.

New bust dart with the red thread tracing lines:

Once the new side darts are sewn, you cannot see them. You have the option to make the darts right up close against the boning strips to be more hidden.

The flat bust cups are folded over to make the darts and they will cover them up. You can see how far the back zipper will be moved over. Say goodbye to those eyelashes!

Inside view of side seam darts:

With the skirt lining detached and pulled away you can see the new zipper placement line:

The bride was thrilled to see a smooth top edge to the bodice. The top edge is folded inside and pinned flat.

In this photo, you can see that the bride wanted the whole top edge of the bodice folded to the inside. Another set of side seam darts will be taken in.


We’ve gone from what the bride called, “a big white box shape” to a flattering silhouette.


















Here is the inside view of all the top edges folded back. The bride wanted push up cups added to the flat pads already inside.

The seam allowance for the zipper has not been trimmed away in case the next bride that wears this dress might need it.

The bride opted for criss-cross straps that can be added after the ceremony. I covered 3/8 inch wide grosgrain ribbon with 6 layers of tulle by hand.

To make the straps removable, I sew one end (the front section) to grosgrain ribbon and make sure I have the right angle using the red thread tracing. This added ribbon will hold the 2 large snaps.

Once the front straps are snapped into place, the back straps are machine sewn and will remain dangling inside until needed.

There will be a little “play” in the front straps so I add a French tack to hold them closer to the top edge.

The back straps are attached by machine and hand tacked. You can see the first and second darts.


Before attaching by machine, you can see how flattering they are along with being very stable with no slipping down her shoulders. The grosgrain belt is pinned into place.














More pinning of the belt in front and the added push up bust cups will be changed to a smaller size to allow the breasts to settle into the bodice better.







While this alteration might look like a nightmare of techniques and made-up solutions and a messy inside, working with this understanding and non-demanding bride was a real joy.

After this bride, I ended up with 3 princesses who really tried my patience, but more about them another day.






We have had a reprieve from the 100 degree temps this week and Mr Mole snapped this shot of me watering some parched plants on Father’s Day.

Stay cool and keep sewing!

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It’s All About the Back

Sometimes, I get a request for a special alteration from a former client to see if I can squeeze in one more for the month. This spectacular dress is from the brand Sincerity Bridal.

While the front view looks pretty good, a warning to brides who like to wear racer back tank tops…see the tan lines?

This voluminous train will need at least 5 bustle points and check out those butt pleats…this dress really flatters that area and draws attention!

The bride wants the lower portion of the skirt tightened up over the thighs to be more mermaid, too.


The bride will have to get higher heels to bring the front lace hem off the ground:

With the side seams taken in, and the final bustle preview, we have decided to make it a 7 point lace bustle along with a one-point satin bustle underneath.

We ended up with 7 lace bustle points and 7 lace covered buttons and 3 satin bustle points. The difference between what it looks like on a hanger is quite different from being on a real body!

Mr Mole planted yellow cauliflower seeds last September and we finally have something to harvest:

Just when I was coming to the end of the 12 June brides, this was delivered yesterday…what could it be?

Ten identical bridesmaid dresses for a long-time client. I have worked on the first 2 daughters’ wedding dresses ( https://fitforaqueen.wordpress.com/2013/11/01/make-mine-modest) and now her third girl needs my help. The dresses all have to have front inserts to cover the deep “V” cleavage, the front slit hand sewn shut another 8 inches and hidden cap sleeves to be attached under the shoulder flounces for church modesty rules.

With less than 2 weeks until the wedding, I won’t be getting much time in the garden to do any weeding, but with the temps so high right now…being inside suits me just fine!!!

Stay cool and keep sewing!

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Can You Help My Daughter?

Dear Readers,

My youngest daughter is flying from Washington, DC to the UK for a wedding and she bought an expensive lovely maid of honor dress but the tailor she hired in DC made a real mess of it and now she says the back is shorter than the front and the hem is uneven and wavy. Being 3000 miles from her and the flight being on Monday, I have to ask if anyone can help her while she attends the wedding in Bath. If you can or know of anyone that can help her, please email me privately at: surroundedbywhite@gmail.com.

Thank you for any help!!!!!

Mrs Mole

Good news…after less than 24 hours, I have received many offers of help on both sides of the Atlantic so now she will have more options to save her dress and save the day. Many heartfelt thanks to all my followers for sending me emails with the information!!! You are super! Thank you!

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