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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Sleek Sheath

Anyone born in 1950 who lived through the 60’s would recognize this silhouette. We saw all the movie stars and President’s wives and just regular women  wearing this style.

This dress by Enchanting by Mon Cheri reminds me of the ones worn back in the mid-1960’s.

These dresses were seen everywhere…weddings and proms …all you needed was some dyed-to-match satin pumps and a string of pearls and gloves and yoiu knew you were dresses appropriately.

Here are some tasteful examples from catalogs and offerings on eBay:

                     

Only this gown will not be worn with dyed-to-match satin heels…the modern look is to accessorize with high-top tennis shoes…and wait…take 7 inches off the hem so that everyone can see your shoes.

There were extra wide straps that came with the dress in a little bag and the bride wanted them added so that the narrow straps could drape over her upper arms.

The wide straps were positioned to just cover her bra of choice but in the end she opted to not wear a bra and not worry about a strap sliding around. While she originally wanted me to raise that back slit higher, I made her hold unto the upper edge and then try to sit down. Then I asked her to tell me where that edge went and to her amazement and dismay, it crawled way up her backside and way too far to be decent!

It is always a good idea for the seamstress, when asked to make an alteration like enlarging a back slit or making the thigh area of a mermaid dress tighter and tighter, to make your bride sit in a chair to see if the pins pop or bend or the slit goes too high.

 

 

 

Speaking of sleek…how about this trick? Did you know that you can grow lots of veggies from the cut-off section of a plant? There are many articles about how to do it and I finally decided to try it for myself. We all toss the root end of green onions away, right? But if you just put that discarded end in a glass of water, you will get more fresh onions to snip and use.

What about romaine lettuce? Yes, it works, this end of the lettuce is just 2 days old!

Two years ago, I had bought a new rose bush and instead of throwing the trimmed odd branches away, I tried this trick. You are supposed to slide the cutting into a potato. Supposedly, the potato provides sugar and other nutrients to make the cutting have a good start. OK….I did it and planted it in a pot with good soil and waited….and waited all summer. The cutting eventually rotted and when I tipped the dirt out, I had a nice pot full of tiny potatoes…so for me not all of these ingenious projects will bring about great results.

The next few weeks will be a mad scramble to get all 12 dresses for June out the door before the July brides arrive. Just when you think the last wacky bride with her attached sash was weird enough…Lordie, another one comes to take her place and with only 7 days to make another miracle…sewing every night during the early morning hours when even the birds are resting is the only way to get through all this! Some of you who write to me and I reply at any time between 2 and 6 am in my timezone, know this is true.

Give the windowsill veggie gardening a try and I will see you next time!

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Simple Sample

Back in 2013 this Wtoo Leighton was just enough to show off a good figure and still look princess-like:

It hung on a rack waiting for just the right bride to come along and see the value in a sample dress. Up close, the skirt was tulle but with embroidery on both layers for a sort of peekaboo elegance.

The bodice was heavily beaded and the lining was perfectly boned.

Here you can see the different layers of tulle and how simple the lines are:

You can see the train can be bustled up with 3 points of tulle over one point of satin:

Only one small problem with a 6 year old sample dress…tulle and satin do not do well after so many brides have tried it on over the years. Brides are not that careful in the dressing room and there can be injuries to the fabrics especially at the end of zippers.

This dress had not only one long tulle tear down the vertical seams but also a diagonal one. Usually I wrestle with invisible thread and hand sew the torn edges together but this time using regular thread was a better choice as I would cover up the repair with a lace motif.

Checking underneath, I found more repairs to be done on the second tulle layer and the satin.

I removed a small lace motif from the skirt and used it cover up everything:

Once the repairs were done, you can see that the bustle buttons will replace the safety pins. This was one of the more easy-peasy dresses and bride to deal with and as a tip, her mother brought over 2 dozen eggs from her backyard chickens.

From simple to muy complicado!!!

Here are the final photos of the sash adding gown. You can barely tell that I added 1.5 inch extensions to the top edge of the front bodice and 1 inch extensions to the back bodice. The rhinestone motif is still pinned into place:

The rhinestone motif up close hand sewn unto the pleats. I told the bride that she can play with the pleats to get them the way she wants, mostly flipped upwards but on the mannequin they flopped down.

The final photo of the sash hand stitched to the zipper edges and the new 15 lace covered buttons and 5 point bustle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With Spring rains come fabulous growth and flowers…it is still raining and the plants all look so happy!

Wishing you all a great week! Thank you all for stopping by!

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Cold Brewed Coffee

Mr. Mole and I like to have a pick-me-up drink in the afternoon and I have been trying Cold Brew coffee bags from local and online retailers. They have been good but the price for a 3 oz bag can run from $3 to $12.

Once I figured out that I could do the same cold brew for way less, I got to work.

If you live near a Walmart, you can find this 12 oz bag for $3.50. Yes, that is correct…where can you find good coffee so cheap? It comes in 4 flavors!

   

 

 

 

Then make a muslin sack and place 3 oz of coffee in it just like the store bought bags. Put a clip at the top open end.

 

You can weigh the 3 oz or measure out in a cup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill a pitcher/jug with 45 oz of water…or 1.3 liters

Toss in the bag leaving the clipped top tucked into the spout for easy removal later.

Wait 24 hours in the fridge, pop some coffee ice cubes (don’t want to dilute the coffee strength)  and preferred sweetener or liquid flavoring and top it with some cream. Remove the bag and dump the contents into your compost bin or wormery and wash the bag by hand in the sink for next time.

You now have enough for 4 large servings per pitcher for the cost of 22 cents each instead of what a coffee shops charge. You can vary the flavors as Walmart offer 4 flavors and you can make it with decaf for less of a jolt.

 

Time to stop and enjoy…which I have already done by the lowered level of my drink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Mother’s Day was last Sunday, I wanted to share what my family gave me. My oldest daughter sent this darling set of llama containers…like nesting Russian dolls:

 

She also found this darling pendant too!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My youngest daughter sent this to me knowing that I spend time in the garden when I am not cranking out wedding gowns. Aren’t they just the most gorgeous tools?

Mr. Mole heard me mention that there are some days when I get out of the shower in the morning I just want to roll myself up in the thick Costco towel and crawl back into bed and wait for a servant to bring me some chunks of mango. Well, not having servants, he did the next best thing…he bought me my own bag of fruit!

I’m a lucky mom/wife!!!

I hope all the moms out there had a great day yesterday!

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Adding Part 2

Are you ready for more adding?

On the second try-on, the top edge of the new panel was not cupping back unto her chest so I made darts to make it do the right thing. The bride wanted the amount to be 1.5 inches taller than the original bodice edge. See the red thread tracing line for positioning.

Two darts would not be enough so I added one more to really make it curve.

Then the cotton muslin layer was darted and added and boning was attached to the muslin.

The bride asked for more 1 inch wide panels to be added to the side and back edges so I pinned another strip of cotton to those edges to make a pattern piece to cut out all 3 layers again.

You can see the final fabric used for the sash. Before I removed the test black sash, I traced the exact placement lines on the lace bodice as I know brides lose track of what they want. The green tracing lines helped me position the new fabric exactly where she wanted…for now.

The new back panels have to angle down and disappear at center back:

Layering and making the new back panels:

Pin on the outside making sure the tension is tight enough to hold back loose skin and back fat:

Tuck everything inside and baste all the layers together. New sash is basted unto the placement lines…for now.

Flip to the inside for a look…what a mess! But once all the outside is perfect, I can trim away all the excess and attach a lining strip.

Third try-on…notice the new panel is wrinkling? Have to add boning strips to this piece as well at the underarm and back princess area to keep it from drooping down.

Also notice that the sash has been lifted up from the original green thread position. Once the sash is attached on either side of the zipper, I have to add lace covered buttons all down the back because without them…well,  just because, I guess?

Front panels in place and curving nicely. For this third try-on, the bride brought a friend for “moral support” and her friend’s comment was, “Wow, you didn’t have much coverage without the new panels!” Again, notice the lower green thread position has been changed.

As the bride scrunched the sash more and more to make it narrower, I explained that it would not be very nice to have all that fabric all wadded up under the pleats and it would add bulk. I pinned under what she wanted and said I would trim it all away later.

The rhinestone motif will be attached by hand later. Every inch of new panels will be covered in new lace motifs that the bride ordered from the factory. I asked her if I could have any of the curvy lace stick up above the top edge to soften it and look like it had come that way. You know, thinking of how to slap lace over all this mess and make it look original…just a thought…she quickly snapped back…”It has to be perfectly smooth with no little bits sticking up!”

Bummer, it really would have been very pretty to have tiny bits over the edge to look more feminine. What do I know? After sewing for clients for 50 years, I must be brain dead by now!

What else do we need? How about a 5 point bustle for the tulle and a 1 point bustle for the now trimmed shorter satin train?

Here are 3 points pinned up and tulle trimmed shorter to be just 3 inches longer than the satin train. I trim the back tulle train starting at the side seam and ending at center back so I can use one trimmed bit as a pattern to trim the other side to match (mirror image).

Now for all of you are trying to imagine what all the labor will be for this….what about at least 11 hours and $120 for the bustle. Yes, totaling that up in your head takes us over $700 not to mention sewing 14 buttons down the back and steaming every last wrinkle out to be perfect.

After all this messing, did I mention that I have 8 other dresses to finish before the end of the month? Thank God they are not all like this!

To reward myself for not losing my temper with crazy brides, I bought myself 2 new books.

First one is by David Page Coffin:

and the second one is by Kenneth D King:

Great reading and some fabulous photos by two very experienced men!

Wishing you all more successful sewing and nice temps for seasonal veggies and flowers this week! Thank you all for sticking with me through all this chaos!

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Adding and Adding

The bride fell in love with this dress because of the sash: DaVinci 50161

 

 

 

 

But what she bought was a Wtoo lapis:

The bride needed more coverage:

She ordered extra lace motifs so we could play with some sort of extensions. I thought the lace alone would be pretty as you can still see through the motifs:

Besides adding to the top edge of the bodice, the zipper will be tightened up 5/8 inch on each side. The pins show the new seam allowances.

That all important butt tuck involving all layers:

Then hem 2 layers and shorten the train and tulle by 10 inches. The trimmed away layers will be used for the bodice extensions.

 

The bride opted for a solid extension using the extra lining fabrics, 2 layers of tulle in this basic shape. I traced the shape and added seam allowances to two layers of cotton muslin.

She wanted one inch added to the top edge.

Add some seam allowances:

Let’s start stacking and sandwiching 6 layers without the final lining layer.

Once 5 layers were stitched and flipped to the right side, they were pinned to the original bodice. The new lace motifs will be hand sewn on to cover the joined edges. The top edges may need to have some twill tape added to pull the cups back into her chest and be more rounded.

Hand basted back zipper:

Grab a diet Pepsi and get pinning with a sample using a double layer of a black satin scrap. No, the final sash will be beige lining fabric and will have a row of buttons down the back like in the website photo.

The sash will be hand sewn to both sides of the new zipper placement and hand tacked along the top edge with the side seam placement spreading up and down before gathering/pleating  at the princess seam under the left bust.

  

A beaded lace motif will be attached but for this shot, I just used a regular lace one:

Keep pinning and wrapping tight as you go until you get back to the center and pin in those pleats again. I flipped the excess fabric up to show the second row of pins.

A little bit uneven and in need of tightening but you get the idea…OK, now try picturing it in beige with the edges touching.

I’ll share the final photos with you as we move along. This dress will take 8 hours of labor.

Last week, I was in San Diego with Mr. Mole’s 3 grown-up daughters and family after hosting the first week in our home.

When I boarded the plane, I knew I had 5 new brides scheduled for this week but found 4 more new ones who had left messages on the answerphone. The phrase, “if you play, you have to pay” comes to mind, so my penance for visiting the Old Town, Seaport Village, La Jolla and Balboa Park is to park my butt on the floor and pin, pin, pin for the next 2 weeks and help Mr. Mole with the veggie gardening/transplanting.

As our temps rise here on the West coast and summer seems not-too-far-away, I wish you all a great week of planning and sewing!

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