Peachy Beachy

Is this beginning of a trend?

Last year, I had a bride who had been with her husband for 10+years and had children plus a brand new baby but never gone through a ceremony. Then she decided to invite all the rest of the family to a fake “family reunion” on a beach in California.

While everyone was frolicking in the sand, dragging seaweed up to make castles, digging for sand crabs and letting ice cream drip down their arms and eating snow cones, she and her groom would appear in gown and tux with a minister and surprise all by getting married. Well, now I have another such event planned.

This Madison James dress is similar to the bride’s but as the label had been cut out, I suspect it was from a past collection.

Let’s see what needs to be done…add some bust cups and shorten the shoulder straps.

Take in the hips in lace and lining, Hem the satin and lining and shorten the lace hem by about 5 inches. The hem had a tiny lace edging which will be removed and moved up. The bustles will be a 3-point for the satin and a 5-point for the lace. This lace looks light but it is very thick and heavy! The satin and lining are peach colored and shiny.


Pinning out a 2.5 inch tuck to mimic the final hem edge at floor/sand level:

Even though I marked the levels 5 inches apart, I changed my mind and removed the dainty edging and used a newer thread tracing level instead. See the black line?

Pinned on the black line and the rest will be trimmed away.

The satin layer ended up needing 5 points, not just 3:

One her left back, the strap has a gap which will be snugged up by hand with a running stitch. The lace layer will have 5 bustle points too. The lace edging is basted and has to be extended further back to the train to skim the floor/sand.



  Picture this train skimming the sand collecting all sorts of rubbish…no don’t!

This photo shows the satin train bustled on it’s own.









The final 5-point bustle with lace covered buttons:

At the end of all this altering and steaming of the dress and veil, the bride asks me the most important question of all, “Can I nurse my baby in this?” Sure…maybe spin the dress around and you have full access?

As we are surrounded by forest fires and the sky is thick with soot and smoke,  

this story of a calmer day on the Thames River takes my mind away:

If you have clean air where you live, go outdoors and breathe deep for me, please!!!!

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A Vintage Look

                              This Catherine Deene dress is so delicate.

You can see that the flare of the skirt comes from 12 lace godets/triangles. The hem is also scalloped. The saleslady told her that any seamstress can raise the skirt by taking apart the waist seams…really?

Remove the entire skirt and zipper to maintain the horizontal patterns of lace, remove the satin layer, remove the lining layer and raise everything up 3 inches…great idea…then the hip circumference will be at the waist…can you say “add a load of darts?”

My solution was to raise just the scalloped hem.


Here is the first photo I received from the bride in a salon. I am always amazed at what they make the bride stand on. Check it out…an old wooden box with barely enough room to move around…watch out you don’t fall off!!!

 Once she arrives, the lace hem is pinned up 3 inches and a one-point bustle is pinned too. Push up bust cops are added too.


Two parallel lines of red thread will be stacked on each other to reduce it by 3 inches.

Two layers of thick stretch satin lining to be hemmed and side seams taken in…oh wait…do you see those French seams? Oh crap, that just adds more labor…let’s see 4 side seams, stitched once WST, trimmed and flipped and sewn RST…yes, 8 separate rows of stitching and pressing and the will never be seen.   

Hems are red thread basted up and ready for try-on and then narrow hemmed.    

Map out the first and second stitching lines for the French seams.

Make first stitching line and pink off the excess as it makes such a curve now. Press and flipped the pinked edge and stitch the second row starting at the top and finishing where the original stitching is.



Take in side seams of lace and trim away excess:

Using the flower and curves as a guide for cutting away and new placement. Using a straight thicker line of lace allows me to use the machine to re-attach it later. The two red thread tracing lines will stack and I will pin.

Starting the pinning

Of course the edging is now much bigger in circumference than the skirt higher up so the  edging will have pinned tucks where it has the original seams first and then each seam will be stitched wider and trimmed.

There were 11 folds of the scalloped edge to be taken in and trimmed away before attaching.

What’s left? The train…is it normal…oh no…it is a center back godet train. Luckily it has its own center back seam for stability when attaching the loop (see the little green thread).

Just a view with the satin bustled on its own and with both layers down:


Brides need to know that some of their pictures can show off the lace better if the satin is bustled up for some views.

The final back view with the lace bustled up:










With another week of 100+ temps, the squash and peppers are producing!

All the larger variety of tomatoes are showing up and this year we have a brown sunflower as a surprise!


Wishing you all a great week of sewing and some relaxing too!


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Just Sweet

First time I have ever worked on this brand…Sweetheart. The dress looks lovely on the model so what could be needed to have a perfect fit and a perfect wedding?











In real life, here is what has to be done to get this bride down the aisle:

Bust cups, hem lining, hem satin, hem chiffon, 1 point satin bustle, 5 point chiffon bustle, take in chiffon skirt side seams, take in the zipper 2 inches and take in the underarm area, then add a new belt. Now that is a lot of hand basting for sure!










The new beaded belt doesn’t quite fit around but her veil will cover that. Once the zipper is taken in it won’t be so noticeable.

Take in both side seams in chiffon and satin layer and lining:

Make a one point bustle in the satin:

Reducing center back seam at zipper one inch on each side:

Second try-on with zipper basted and bustle pinned:


Hemming satin layer by moving the horsehair braid up about 5 inches and  3/4 around the hem:

Five lace covered buttons for the bustle, they do just blend in. To reduce the extra chiffon, I had to make new fish-eye darts in the chiffon from the waist to the hips just under the middle buttons on both sides.

Taking in the side seams 3/4 inch under the arm by hand. Here is the outside view:

Here is the inside view. By sewing by hand you can get just the right amount of excess fabric removed and flat and still leave the excess fabric inside the fold in case the next bride needs it.

The bride is wearing her sister’s veil for “something borrowed” but they discovered it had a hole in it. You can’t just pull the sides together and start stitching. What is required is that same technique doctors use for skin…

Extend the opening to an oval and then bring the flat sides together:















A hole becomes just a slit using polyester invisible thread by hand. Once the bride is wearing it, the repair will just fade away. I just love the dainty pearl and sequin edging!

With our temps being over 100 for the next 2 weeks, our tomatoes are finally ripening. Yes, it IS this big! Mr Mole grew everything from seed this year. The grape tomatoes were grown from slices taken from store bought ones last year.

I leave you with a quote from another seamstress who made history for not giving up her seat on a bus:


Knowing what must be done does away with fear.

Rosa Parks
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I Think I Will Pass

Some of you may think that I accept anything that walks in the front door or gets into my email box…but I don’t!

If the dress and bride present themselves as way too much trouble, I can say I am booked or just decline.

Here are a couple who got a thumbs down:

This was an email asking me for a set price to make this dress fit. Obviously the salon owner convinced her that a seamstress would be delighted to remove excess fabric and remake the dress.

From this view it looks OK…but wait, do you see what I see? Are those 3 industrial clamps on her back?


I’m betting that the clamps are grabbing at least 2 inches all the way down…for a total of 4 inches. Imagine moving all those tulle straps from the gathered/clamped center back to back where they belong under her arms. Do you overlap them or reshape them? Then the zipper…at what point do you have to take in the whole center back of the dress? Maybe all 4 inches are taken out at the side seams…again what happens to the tulle straps under there?

Another dress that was stunning and similar in price to this other Marchesa dress needed some help. The bride’s email and model photo:

I will need to move the waist area up a bit and tightened so it fits more snug and doesn’t fall down. I’m guessing we’ll also then need to take in the sleeve a little bit so it doesn’t fall down. And of course we will have to shorten about a foot and a half or so.



Now, seriously, hands up who wants to remove the cummerbund and huge back bow and trailing sash and raise it up?  How about the sleeve? Want to shorten that too and then whack 18 inches off the hem? What do we do with the flowers? Can you also see a bustle being done? Not me, not this time.

Call me crazy but if you spend $7,000 on a designer dress…shouldn’t it be closer in the fit especially if you are petite? Even Amal Clooney would need alterations on this dress!







How about something simple for a change? All this bride needed was bust pads, hemming the lining and satin and shortening the halter. We added a one point satin bustle but she wanted to keep the tulle train and trim the tulle in front. Here is the model:

Here is the real bride…such a relief that it fits so well!


I don’t have an “after” photo but you can get the idea that this was one of the quicker projects.










Before I go, here are some garden photos now that we have 90 degree temps everyday:

First, we have tomato plants grown from store-bought slices of cherry and grape tomatoes and a wandering watermelon plant:

Next up in the pot are teddy bear sunflowers and zinnias grown from seed along with a huge lettuce grown from seed too:

Another raised bed with marjoram in a pot, pepper plant, more grape tomatoes in a cage, cantaloupe half on the ground and half crawling up the cage and a huge cauliflower with a new bed of asparagus inside a white cage in the far back. The gladioli in the vase were cut and rescued from the birds who like to tear through the buds at the top and shred them. You would think with all the lettuce and stocked feeders, they would leave the flowers alone. 















Here is our weather forecast for Thursday. You can see the high and the nighttime low. Nice to have a 56 degree drop at night to chill the house down and the 15% is the humidity. Dry heat is tolerable as long as the plants get water!

4:00 pm
Sunny Sunny
104 °F
48 °F

Thank you for dropping by…wishing you lots of time to sew and do some weeding in your garden too!


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Summer Shiny Flowers

Hands up, who likes metallic flowers? Wtoo added lots of metallic flowers to this dress.

Can I sew through thick flowers and beads? Probably but who wants all that in the seams?

Like so many other brides, she needed the zipper taken in 1 inch on each side and also something done in the lower bodice to fit back with the narrowed skirt.

The straps were too long as well by 2 inches and the hems needed shortening and a 3 point bustle of tulle and one point bustle of satin.

Besides that, I had to add bust cups and take in the hips 2 inches as well but first had to remove ALL the metallic flowers at the side seams, straps and replace them once I was done. Add in the linings too and you have quite a lot of labor.

Where to start? How about the top…straps. The straps were delicate and just netting so I layered the metallic flowers for stability and kept the larger seam allowance flipped to the back.


How about removing all the flowers, one stitch at a time, and beads that would be trapped in the new seams?

Taking in the side seams and linings:


New zipper seams red thread marked….remove all flowers:

Flowers removed:

Release lining:

Reveal netted bodice attachment to be narrowed by 1 inch:

Bodice released from skirt:

Release zipper and move over 1 inch each side…re-attach:


All zippered up and hook and eye added:




How did I narrow the bodice near the loops and buttons? Well, the flowers can hide lots of solutions so I made 2 darts and hand stitched them down. On the outside, you can’t even tell.

Have a peek at the inside:

All that is left is the 3 point tulle bustle over a 1 point satin bustle and trimming the front tulle after hemming the lining and satin layers.

Ready to be picked up and worn down the aisle! I love the back view!


This week our first seed potatoes were ready for harvest and Mr. Mole dug these up for a scalloped potato side dish along with my first red onion. Of course if there are any small squash available, they will all be sliced very thin and added to the baking dish.

This morning I am headed for a rally in my town in support of the families separated at the Texas border and held in cages. There are 700 of these events scheduled today in the nation to make known our concern for 2000+ children and babies alone away from their parents for an indefinite time.

Keep cool my friends!

Update: The rally was great, good speakers and music and so many signs made by hand to support families torn apart. We were asked to wear white to promote peace so I added a hat with buttons given to me by friends and joined 500 other folks in 90 degree heat to take a stand.

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No Tulle, Just Smooth Satin…Hooray!

This thick satin beauty of a gown showed up and really didn’t need too much done to it like other wedding dresses. The bride must have tried on dozens of dresses from every salon in our valley and also in the Bay area.

She loved all the buttons down the back and just needed a tuck in the bust and an extra petticoat. A dart was pinned out which would later be taken in at the side seam and as I have a second sewing room where I store all the petticoats I remove from other dresses, I can just grab one and baste it in to see if it works…hooray…it did! We were able to get the hem off the ground with no altering.

Once inside the dress, the side boning had to be removed to take in an inch on each side and then the boning was re-attached by machine. You can see that I did not trim away the fabric…saving it for the next seamstress.

As there were 2 layers of thick satin and one layer of lining, I ended up having to trim one layer or all that bulk would be in the underarm area and not lay flat.












I like using pinking shears.




Now the side seams are flat and the hang ribbons replaced.

Inside the dress, the bride wanted me to sew in her strapless bra for support.

Bustled up and steamed, the bride can make a dramatic entrance:


One site I want to share with all of you is something I found on YouTube: where she shows so many of the things we have to deal with everyday. While I don’t agree with every technique as there are many shortcuts, the overall collection of videos are clear and done well and can certainly help anyone dealing with altering a wedding gown.

Today, our temps are reaching 100 degrees but as long as the plants get watered, they are happy. Lots of tomatoes to come and lettuce and eggplants. The sunflowers are reaching for the sky and if I keep on top of the blueberries I can harvest some before the robins fly in for a raid.

Our two fountains, the frog and the new grey urn are usually full of all the birds drinking and bathing. The privacy lattice panels have been installed and soon will have flowers growing up them. Just a few photos for you.

Our backyard has a lower level that we call “the Dell” where we can dine in the shade.

We can sit in the late afternoon and watch birds fly in for drinks in the urn fountain and hummingbirds can sip from all the flowers or the red feeder.

The East side of the house with lettuce and tomatoes.

Yes, that is an orange on top of the pole…sometimes we get orioles!

Wishing you all a super week of what you have planned…sunbathing or sewing! Thanks for dropping by!




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Simply Beachy

Here is a simple dress from Wtoo that needed the zipper taken in one inch on each side, some hemming and a bustle and some boobs.

Can you see the drag line in the side seam pointing to her butt? By taking in the center back that will be eliminated but the other problem that we have is not something I can fix. The actual bodice length is too short for her body. The side view really reveals this.

The top edge of the bodice sits too low on her, meaning she is longer waisted than the dress. As a result, she will want to pull the top of the dress up while wearing it. This dress would suit a shorter waisted bride as it would give more bust coverage.



The tulle layer will be trimmed in front to ground level along with the lining.

To move the zipper over, the lining is released:





Then the zipper is removed. It it one of those thick industrial ones with double thick teeth and wide tape. Removing the zipper allows me to move it up higher as the bodice back dips in the center and moving to the side…well, you just run out of zipper in a hurry.

Taking in the lining the same amount gets us to the first row of boning so that can be saved.


Once the zipper is basted in and bust pads inserted, the bride thinks that she is revealing too much boobage.  Again, the side view shows more than she wants. The top edge cups well back to her chest but again, you can see how the dress just needs to be higher up on her body.


The zipper is moved back 3/8 inch to give her more ease just at the top and maybe allow the dress to slide up a tiny bit and her skin to drop down into the dress.

The zipper is sewn in my machine and the lining attached by hand:


One thing the bride wanted because she is getting married on the beach was to have the lining bustled up and maybe the tulle layers as well.

But then she decided that she would rather drag the tulle through the sand possibly collecting seaweed and bits of shells.









The wrinkle at the waist is her lining that needed to be pulled down. Thankfully she has enough room in the hips to sit down and the waist sits firmly.


The dress will be rolled up into a ball and stuffed into her carry-on bag and steamed once she gets to her venue…Hawaii.

Kate from has released her first book on fashion this week. Those that follow her blog know the work and determination she has put into it. She packs her book with color and style tips that everyone can enjoy and appreciate:






For those bird lovers last week who admired the Papa quail…well…here’s a real treat…this week Papa quail took his brood of 12 new chicks for a walk in the cul-de-sac. Here are a few of the babies huddled under a bush. They are no bigger than a ping-pong ball.

Happy hot summer sewing this week! Our temps will be 90 degrees and the squash should be really producing!

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