Life Happens

When one seamstress friend is ill in town, we ask another to help out. A friend that has her own shop called to say I would be hearing from a bride as she could not work due to an upcoming surgery. I said I would help but I needed time to fit her in.

The first week of October the bride called to tell me she was losing weight but needed a corset back for her size 8 dress. She also needed a hem and bustle but wanted the first seamstress, my friend, to do that work. It really did not matter to me if she wanted to split up the work, so I agreed. The wedding was to be in November, so we were planning just in the nick of time. Then, I never heard from her again…no appointment arranged, nothing.

She then called back the second week of Nov. to make an appointment. She said she would be bringing her girlfriend who has a wild toddler and she would also be bringing her own wild toddler to be in the room. That’s when I said, “AH NO, no children are allowed”. She said her boy could climb over anything, like this would make me allow her to bring him? I said I lived in a cul-de-sac and the friend could run the kids around there but not come in.

Then 30 minutes before showing up for the appointment, she called to say that one of her kids was sick and she was not able to come. We rescheduled for the end of the week. She was 45 minutes late blaming someone else for that. At this point Mr. Mole, the voice of reason, said I should have told her NO. But it was too late.

Now, the bride falls into the emergency category, the second this month with one more to come to squeeze in with the booked brides.

David’s Bridal sold her this dress:images

 

It is one of the heaviest dresses I have ever worked on with the train weighing at least 10 pounds all by itself…nothing like that for a simple bustle.

Here is the dress on my client:

p1210770

Can you see a corset coming? I know lots of you HATE them but how does one bridge the 7 inch wide and 16 inch long gap? Suggestions?

Here is the back story…the size 8 dress was bought many years ago when she fit into it…that was 45 pounds ago. In the meantime, she has had two children and cervical cancer. Getting past that, she really wants a white wedding and thinks that planning it 3 weeks in advance should be plenty of time. She says she does best work with a looming deadline. I said “I do not”.

OK, so I get the job of making the corset and as my seamstress friend is still not up to speed having had wrist surgery, I have to do the bustle too and we skip the hem to save money. Luckily, the bustle will work with one giant button on her butt and one giant double loop to hike all those ruffles up. After the ceremony, an old denim shirt will worn over it.

p1210772

Just as a refresher…how I make the loops…pinning, stitching, zigzagging, fold under, stitch again.

p1210774p1210775p1210776p1210777p1210778

Making the modesty panel I line the satin with cotton drill fabric used for work-wear pockets from Wawak. This absorbs sweat and beefs up the satin without interfacing.

p1210779

Mark on the drill where the boning goes on the top edge and middle. Stitch and flip to the right side, insert boning and press and stitch all around leaving the bottom open, pink across.

p1210780p1210781

Pin and hand baste loops in place, machine stitch and hand sew the lining to the grosgrain ribbon.

Pin the left side to the dress and it is ready to be sewn. Right side will have a big snap.

p1210783

After steaming all the ruffles you get an idea of what has to be bustled up just to be able to walk.

p1210791

One point bustle is in place:

 

The bride wanted a huge fancy button for her bustle so she picked this jeweled one. I used a double loop of this pre-made crochet thread from Wawak.

 

p1210803

Keeping my fingers crossed that everything holds for her special day and the kids don’t cause too much trouble and the rain/snow stays away as she is having this outdoors at a picnic site and dragging that very long dress through tall grass, dead leaves and weeds and twigs.

Yes, the blue grosgrain ribbon will be replaced with white.

p1210805 p1210807

Wishing all my US readers a good week before Thanksgiving. May your bird be tender and your dressing moist!

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , | 47 Comments

60 Years in the Back of the Closet

The phone call went like this:  “Another seamstress in town told me you were the only one to call to deal with this.” Intriguing? Possible blog post? You bet!

It seems this girl is getting married and her grandfather says he has a surprise for her at the back of the closet. After much rooting around, he produces this gem…her grandmother’s wedding dress from 60 years ago. She tells me that it has been stored “badly” since 1956. Badly meaning never cleaned since the ceremony and it looks like a cat got into the closet and did a little damage to the top layer as the lining is showing through at the waist.

The question I ask first is, “are you attached to this dress?” She says she never even knew it existed but now that she has it, she has to wear it even though her grandfather is unable to attend the wedding in a faraway venue.

So, let’s try it on see what has to be done shall we? Obviously women were way smaller back then and busts were higher too. The side zipper gives us no options to enlarge it.

p1210551-2p1210552-2

You can see how there is a huge chunk of top layer missing at the waist and the seams are ripped open. This will not be an easy fix nor cheapy cheapy.

p1210553

For some reason even the shoulder seams did not survive the past 6 decades.

I will add a 2 inch section here to drop the bodice.

p1210554

Out comes the famous blue grosgrain ribbon to bridge the gap at the zipper to determine the amount needed to add somewhere. Wonderful…only 4 extra inches!

p1210555

This dress was not bought in a store, it was made by a loving seamstress. There are no tags. Inside, under the lining, there is a petticoat made from waxed open weave fabric that is attached to the waist with a bias strip of lining. It has snaps to keep it closed.

p1210556p1210557

The top layer is badly stained everywhere and shredded beyond repair.

p1210558

The lace bust cups are intact and see-through…quite racy Grandma!

p1210559

At the top of the side zipper, each side is shredded and you can see that the bias binding was just hand tacked here and there. The zipper is thick metal as was the style back then. The added bonus of sweat stains never removed makes me wish this dress could be cleaned without shredding away.

p1210560p1210561

The petticoat suffered some damage being pulled away from the bias strip so that is easily repaired.

p1210562p1210563

Now what? The bride and I discussed removing the top shredded layer and using the lining as the dress. Amazingly the seams on the lining were sewn like the dress with the raw edges on the inside so it works well. I cut away all  of the top fabric to reveal the almost pristine lining and remove the thick zipper which will now allow me to close the side seam and find another way to enlarge this mess. Fusible interfacing to the rescue, which will be applied before any seaming.

p1210565

Once the top layer is removed, I decide to soak it to see if any stains will come out. Bizarrely, the water turns dark green and after rinsing and hanging we end up with this:

p1210577

After pressing it looks so nice, even with the shredded sections. The bride tells me that it had been in the basement so the green may have been mold…nice.

I will use this fabric to make loops…why? Can you feel a corset back coming on? We need 12 inches of loops down the back. Of course, there is no center back seam. The dress is opened up where a center back seam would be and I get to work making the loops. Normally, I use rayon or nylon rattail but that would add bulk so I opt for flat fabric loops cut on grain. But the technique is the same using grosgrain ribbon and folding it in half.

p1210613

Using my Fasturn tool makes the job easy. The 2 looped strips are basted on for the next try-on.

p1210614p1210615

Second visit shows the 2 inch piece added to the shoulder allows the bodice to drop to fit her bust and the lacing up the back works. This opening will be extended another 3 inches to make it easier to get in and out of. That means making 6 more loops.

p1210749 p1210750-2

The bride will purchase a 3 inch wide strip of grosgrain ribbon to attach at the waist. The coolest part of this outfit is the jacket. Other than needing some fabric inserted into the side seams to she can use the buttons, it looks cute.p1210751-2

Just open the side seams about 8 inches.

p1210756 

Cut a double layer of fabric and serge the edges. Hand baste it to the side seams. Flip up a small hem edge. It will blend in with the bias cut border hem of the jacket.

Machine stitched in and new seams pinned to be tacked down. The finished wedge is looking nice in place and gives an extra 3 inches on each side.

p1210760p1210761  p1210765

Maybe you would like to see the inside of the dress so far? Both looped strips are lengthened and pinned in place.

p1210762

Inside the front you can see the fusible patches. Also, you can see that the bias strip that attaches the petticoat to the dress is very uneven with the center being sewn higher. This causes the stiff petticoat to stick out in the front of the skirt. I will re-sew that to be even.

p1210763

Loops are stitched flat and flipped to the inside and hand basted before the machine stitching.

p1210764

The finished outfit minus the ribbon lacing and for those of you who like a good story…here is one. I was hand sewing on a 2 inch wide ivory grosgrain ribbon to the waist while the bride waited to carry the dress out and I asked if her own mother had also worn the Grandma’s dress and she said no.

It turns out that her grandmother was just a few weeks pregnant with her mother but no one knew. So the mother decided she had already been “in” the dress once and bought her own. But isn’t a lovely thing that the 3rd generation can wear it with pride?

With the new side wedges, the jacket closes and buttons…hooray!

p1210767 p1210768

Before I leave you, here are some garden harvest photos:nov-2016

Just to get an idea of the length and weighing the smallest butternut squash it weighed 2.4 pounds.

nov-2016-2 nov-2016-3

The largest weighed 5.2 pounds, the same weight as my firstborn child 41 years ago.

nov-2016-4

nov-2016-5

Wishing you all a peaceful weekend in the aftermath of the US elections. With only half of the population voting, the outcome was decided by only 25% of the people…sad.

 

Posted in challenges | Tagged , | 59 Comments

Butchered Bridal Gown

Just when things were going along smoothly for the Fall season, I got a phone call from a frantic mother.

Her daughter’s dress is being held hostage at another sewing center and the seamstress there is not co-operating with them and they realize this is heading in the wrong direction. They are also running out of time and patience as the wedding is in 9 days. I tell the mom to just go down and demand they release the dress and to be strong as it is HER money and HER dress. I got a little suspicious when it was the mother who was doing all the arranging for her 40+ year old daughter’s second wedding.

The dress and bride arrives and we inspect what has been done already and it is not pretty and barely salvageable. There are still dozens of big old plastic head yellow quilting pins everywhere!

There is excess fabric in the satin side seam (from pin to pin) but I can feel that the lining layer (with boning) is way too tight and the last seamstress stopped at the lower pin and did not continue the seams to the hip and left a lump there…nice. Some seamstresses cannot be bothered to remove beads to continue a seam…sad.

p1210626 p1210627

The other issue is the hem. There is an organza embroidered border strip that can be removed and re-positioned up higher on the satin which has been done in the front but the bride wants most of the train removed as well. I pin up the excess.

p1210628

The previous gal also cut off the horsehair braid that must have held the lining and satin together but did not leave enough to even do a narrow hem. While I am pinning up the tiny hem, the bride tells me that unlike most dresses that have the satin hem 1/2 to 1 inch shorter than lace to show off the scallops…SHE wants the satin to show exactly 1/8 inch lower than the scallops all the way around. Can you see this may be impossible?

One reason why this dress was altered so poorly could have been that while the owner pinned the dress, her assistant/apprentice may have done the sewing. What clients do not realize is that as we pin, we notice other features that need work and can correct them along the way.

p1210629

Inside we can see what was done. For some reason the side seams were taken in, but not equally. The front edges were taken in 1 inch and the back were taken in 1/4 inch. Also, you can see when the seamstress ran into some beading at the hip, she just stopped and left a lump. My job will be to smooth all that out.

p1210631

When side seams are opened out flat, you can see nothing was trimmed away. We have the original seams plus 1.25 excess inches on each side, so 2.5 inches of excess satin fabric under each arm…for what? Absorbing sweat?

p1210633

The lining is equally untrimmed..nothing like double bulk under the arms. All this will be trimmed. There is a line of damage from opening the seam too.

p1210673

Other cool features are at the hip , no need to remove the original stitching, just leave it in there to cause puckering. No need to remove beading and make the hip line smoother either, I guess.

p1210634

The other side seam looks the same:

p1210635

Letting out by straightening the lining layer side seams and replacing the boning will make the bride more comfortable.

p1210670p1210672

Here is another WTF adjustment. For some reason, the front top edge of the bodice was being pulled to the wrong side and I thought that I could release the top edge of the lining and let it drop back inside but when the bride took off the dress I could see the problem…who does this?

p1210637 p1210636 p1210638

Inside the top of the side seam there are huge long hand stitches holding the seams together and the top beaded edging. There is no understitching- just a mess.

Let’s flip this to the right side…can you see the edging is badly overlapped and most of the beads are hanging? Who sews like this?

p1210642p1210645

Hold on, it gets better…how about the straps? Attachments held with 2 hand stitches…sure that will do nicely for dancing and tossing the bouquet!

p1210643

But when I remove the straps for a new position…guess what I found? How can you loose beads on a strap? Were they chewed off?

p1210653

Another nice feature occurs when you don’t care about side seams in the lining…puckers and pleats…we love them!

p1210646

Let’s check out what is left of the satin hem and lining hem. In some spots, I have less than 1/8 inch to fold under for either one. Originally the two had been stitched together along with a 1 inch wide strip of horsehair braid…where’s the braid… rolled up in a ball and pinned to the outside of the dress.

I tell the bride and mother (who claims she sews) that the only way to salvage the hem is to put the horsehair braid back unto the satin layer and use a 1/8 inch seam allowance. the bride balks and says, “I want it drapey”…well, honey you can have it drapey and frayed. They agree that I might know what I am talking about.

p1210647p1210648

The finished horsehair braid lies flat on the backside of the satin layer.

The lining will be hemmed separately. How about the previous gal’s attachment of the organza border…surely she used a sewing machine to stitch the swirls down…no? Who sews like this, long hand stitches spanning the curls and leaving gaps? Of course, I will remove this mess and make it right, as from now on, this dress has MY name on it not the first gal’s.p1210655

So, now after all the ripping out and re-sewing…what do we have?

On the mannequin, we can see the hips are smooth and less drag lines at the waist.

p1210676

On the bride, it feels better and it is the first time I see her smile. With each visit the bride has been murmuring under her breath that she never wanted her second-time wedding dress to be beaded or fancy or shiny…just something simple but her mother had other ideas. Her mother is repeating over and over, “But we got a bargain” and that seems to make everything alright. Once the bride remembers to wear her wedding shoes, stands u straight, the hem will not touch the ground except for a very slight train.

p1210723-2  p1210725-2

I never asked what they had to pay for the first alteration but for the second one, they got their money’s worth in corrections in less than a week.

I must apologize for not visiting other bloggers posts for a week or so. For a couple weeks there have been more emergency brides coming to the sewing room…I’m sorry for not leaving comments on your blogs…hopefully this month will allow me more time to sniff around the web and see all your new creations!

I’ll leave you with the Word for the Day from Gratefulness.org

Expect nothing. Live frugally on surprise.

Alice Walker

 

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , | 45 Comments

Indecision

Mothers of the Bride/Groom have it rough in our little valley when looking for dresses to fit and flatter.

One mother had a headstrong/controlling daughter/bride who planned a 3 day event/wedding. She told her mother to buy this dress to wear to one of the events. I wish I had taken a photo of the actual dress but I made a sketch to remind myself of the odd angles and scraps of fabric that made up the skirt.

The dress was made out of some black gauze fabric and was cut very low at the non-existent side seams, center front and center back. The mother asked me if I could just stuff some lace triangles into the vacant areas so it would be wearable. I stood back and took a deep breath before I told her, “This is not your dress”. If you wear this dress is says, “I don’t know who I am”. Everyone will think it is an apron. Well, this came as a shock, but she did ask for my honest opinion and she got it.

She explained it was very expensive and her daughter wanted her to wear it. OK, maybe a flat chested 20 year old would get away with this much exposure, but not a mature woman who wanted to impress the new in-laws and celebrity guests. I suggested she send the dress back and visit a local salon to see what they had to offer that would be more fitting and flattering for a grown-up woman.

We have a small Macy’s, a David’s Bridal and a couple small salons so the internet comes in handy. The first 2 dresses came from a local salon and were sample dresses that had been discontinued. Original price was $250 but the owner let them go for $50 each! Both are thick satin and have pockets.

Here is one dress:

8550-whbq-front-mid8550-whbq-rear-mid

and here is the other one, only the skirt is black satin.

8387iv-htgn-front-mid8387iv-htgn-rear-mid

Yes, both will be worn for the 3 day event/wedding in a Southern state. 

THEN 12 other dresses were ordered from Bloomingdale’s in New York by the daughter/bride to decide which dress her mother needed to wear to mingle among celebrity types. Out of the 12, the black knit with gold lace was chosen below. Here is a third one:

25f508c866987a9019d13ccbe5e77e17513f2c193727243f47462f0471e5729aThe black knit dress only needed hemming while the first 2 needed hemming and raising the skirts at the waist seam for the short-waisted mom. The cream/black topped halter one needed the top of the back zipper moved over 1/2 inch each side to pull the front up higher.

p1210578

The blue floral skirted one needed a halter made from whatever was left from trimming off the hem. Lucky for me, the hem was curved slightly.p1210583

Folded in half to cut a lining, you can see the curve betterp1210584

Once sewn down one side, the seam was clipped and understitched. The raw side was folded under and hand basted as I do not know how wide the strap needs to be until the MOB tries it on.

p1210586p1210587

The halter is just pinned to the side of the boning under the princess seams.p1210588 p1210669-2

Halter is finished and sewn to the bodice.

p1210693 p1210703

The black knit with gold lace has a funny hem. You need to open the 4 side seams and remove the lace from the tulle after thread marking the new hem line.

The word should be “knit” instead of knot:

p1210603

Once the knit portion is hemmed, the side seams are re-sewn. The seam is flipped to the knit side.

p1210605

To keep the side seams under the knit, I top stitch over the lace.p1210606

The wrong side shows the new stitching.

p1210607

Flip the lace and tulle back down and ready for trimming off with scissors:

But wait….as I press the tulle and lace I see a piece of metal on the wrong side…what is that?

It is just a pin left in from the factory from when they were attaching the lace with clear monofilament thread. One thing I noticed when removing the stitches on the knit was that the mono thread left holes as it cut into the knit…something to be aware of next time.

p1210611

In the end, the mother and bride are happy and I am thrilled to have the check in hand and out of the drama!

With Halloween less than a week away the phone has been constantly ringing with requests…masks needing stronger elastic and one man in an Egyptian mummy costume who wanted to know if I could install a zipper in the crotch so he could relieve himself. Thankfully I can refer them to another friend who may have time. Hoping none of your projects are scary ones!

 

 

 

 

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , | 36 Comments

High Flyers

This time of the year we have a wall of orange berries on our Pyracantha bushes. This time of the year, and no other, we have hoards of marauding birds called cedar waxwings who devour these berries. So you may wonder…what is the big deal?

oct-2016

Well, the more berries the birds consume, the drunker they get and they fly into buildings and can kill themselves from a concussion. See the yellow tips of his tail feathers…this may be where they got the name. Not all birds who crash into fences and windows die, if you leave them for the day to “sleep it off”, they will be gone and off scavenging with their friends the next time you check.dead-bird

Besides walking over stoned sparrows, Mr. Mole has planted some winter veggies…lettuce and Swiss Chard and beets and things. The cage he made keeps the hungry birds away.

But back in the sewing room…

Lots of folks find me on Yelp and Google and while I limit my business to wedding gowns and refer everything else to other seamstresses I know, sometimes you just have to get stuck in and do something unexpected.

Here in the Pacific Northwest we have huge forests and huge summer forest fires that require many firefighters on the ground and those in the air to drop water and survey the spread and damage. This client needed some extra room in his flight suit while carrying out his helicopter duties in the field.

He bought extra fabric at our JoAnn’s and tried on his 2 sets of clothes so we could determine how much was needed.  This jacket needed 3 extra inches down each side seam and the Velcro moved over for the belt.p1210487

The pants had the same story to add 3 inches with a wedge.

p1210488

Before opening up the side seams, I noticed that a previous seamstress had added a football shaped patch and serged it with white thread on the inside.

p1210489

You can see from the outside, it was inadequate and was starting to tear away and fray.

The opened side seams were placed on the new fabric, yes, it is not a proper match nor Kevlar, but it works OK. Then a chalk line was drawn and seam allowances added.

p1210491p1210492

A pair were cut and serged.

p1210493

The side seam edges were cleaned up and serged and the patch added and Velcro re-positioned.

p1210494p1210495

The patch edges were double stitched after being flipped to the jacket sections.

The pants got a wedge as well and the back belt loop was re-attached. The seam allowances were double stitched after being flipped all one direction.

p1210499

He can wear these comfortably and do his job now.

p1210502

The other jacket needed wider wedges as it had been worn in Afghanistan and he had expanded a bit more since his service there. Once again, the side seams were opened, serged edges and patch attached and Velcro re-positioned.

p1210536

It looks good hanging up on both sides. Even though this took time away from my bridal sewing, it is always a pleasure to work for hard-working, dedicated men and women who have served in the military and continue to serve now that they are back home.

p1210566p1210567

Now, I know that I am just adding Kona cotton to his clothes and not Kevlar but this is what was brought to me and I’m working with it.

The pilot just picked up his garments after being in San Diego, California  fighting fires down there. The valuable work they do in the sky assists the workers on the ground with water drops and search and rescue.

For those of you who still need a bridal “fix”, you can check out Anne’s post with some daring bridal fashion!    https://prttynpnk.com/2016/10/12/wearable-wednesday-meets-the-brides/

Have a great week everyone…run through the falling leaves!

Posted in challenges | Tagged , | 25 Comments

Mama in Charge

Do you remember a couple weeks ago I mentioned a very controlling mother that removed all my pins and proceeded to re-pin the daughter’s dress?

Well, let’s start here…the phone call. The mother calls to tell me that she has a second-hand wedding dress that needs sleeves because her daughter is so modest and can I do such a project. Of course, I say, and the mother says that her daughter has hundreds of photos of what she wants on Pinterest….great. She continues describing the dress and what she wants done and the time frame and on and on and we make the appointment. The one thing the mother doesn’t bother to tell me is…the name of her daughter. Why? Because it is all about the mother and her need to control.

The girl, fresh out of high school, arrives with this heavy strapless dress and the mother tells me to get some fabric from my stash and drape sleeves to cover the front and back and her arms. The front of the additional fabric MUST BE a precise 7 inches wide in front and be very gathered. I tuck some loose satin fabric under the top edge and take the photo for them to have an image to think about. Yes, the mother says…that is what we want, the bride says nothing and shows no emotion. The dress weighs a ton and includes some sort of wacky bustle configuration that involves broken buttons, missing loops and 4 sets of huge 1 inch wide plastic snaps.

p1210184

Here is the basic shape they ordered…the finished dimensions MUST BE 7 inches in front and 5 inches in back (pleated) and be 24 inches long. So to get enough gathers, I cut the front 12 inches wide and line the straps so that it is 1/2 inch narrower to pull the satin to the backside.

p1210391p1210394p1210396

I’m supposed to match the gathers of the dress so no one knows the sleeves were added. I use 3 rows of gathering stitches for the front for stability.

p1210397p1210399

Second fitting allows me to pin the sleeves in front and pleat the back attachment. I stand back and ask the bride to decide if this is her idea of what she envisioned. She says nothing and shows no emotion. The mother removes all my pins and starts to make it her way. I don’t know what to do but step back and almost leave the room. After she is done she says she knows how to sew and what looks best. All I can say to her is, “This is usually what I do”. The bride says nothing nor shows any emotion. The mother then decides that the front gathering is enough but the sleeves are too wide and need to be more like wide straps and tells me to make them 5 inches wide at the shoulder and 4 inches wide at the back…essentially re-cut and remake them. More photos on that later…let’s try to pin a new bustle shall we?

Using different points than the original ones it looks like 5 points will be enough to get the 6 foot long, heavy train up off the floor. p1210571At this point the mother grabs my colored safety pins and wants to change what I have done. I step back and tell her, “YOU MUST sit on the sofa and let me do my job”.

She sits down and shakes her leg nervously like a hyperactive teenage boy and tells me that she is OCD and must be involved and cannot sit still. I explain that I have done hundreds of bustles and she will have the final say when I am done pinning. There are 2 huge box pleats in the back skirt which will hide 2 of the 5  buttons and make the fabric lie flat. I turn the bride around in the mirror and show her how nice it is…she says nothing and shows no emotion. You can see the top of the knit tube top that she is planning on wearing under the dress.

p1210436

End of the second fitting session, the bride has said nothing, showed no emotion nor answered any questions I have asked. Because the mother is so controlling and hints at not believing that I will actually do what SHE wants, I make thread tacks where the pins marked the edges of the new sleeves/now straps and email her the photos for my own protection later.

I also send her the photos of where she placed all the pins for the decreased width of the sleeves/now straps. I tell her that one cannot decrease the width so dramatically to 5 inches and still keep the front gathers at 12 inches. That is when she tells me, “It will be OK, I know how to sew”. (Blood pressure rising)

p1210440p1210441

Her pinning, my thread tracing…keeping it real.

p1210442p1210443p1210444

The front coverage is now narrowed to 5.5 inches from 7.

p1210445

Can you see the weird shape this is taking?

I spread the gathers out to get an idea of the shape. I send more photos to the mother and she says she does not want that shape. Well, she is getting that shape for now until the next fitting. My experience tells me that the very narrow edge of the gathers where it drops off will have to be placed lower inside the dress to sit properly.

p1210448

p1210454p1210456

Let’s pin and trim and stitch and flip right side out again.

p1210459

At the first fitting, the mother told me that she did not want me to shorten the separate petticoat 4 inches with a 2 inch horizontal tuck because she knows how to sew and will do it herself. She takes the petticoat home and this is the result:

It would have been nice to let a machine do its job with long, even, secure stitches but Mama knows best and wanted to hand tack here and there and leave gaps.

In the meantime, I send more photos and I get this email back:

“I’m hopeful that next week will bring a smile to my daughter’s  face. For someone who is painfully indecisive, and has trouble sharing verbally, it’s hard for her to know, and be able to say what she wants. I help based on small comments she has made over time, but it’s difficult.”

After the second fitting, I am exhausted and very frustrated and wising I had never answered the phone and agreed to take on this project. Mr. Mole reminds me that since I have not even altered or cut into the dress that I can hand it back to them…it is tempting…but I feel so sorry for the bride and want to do right by her.

Third fitting shows how much of the straps have to be dropped inside the dress to sit well.

p1210514

See the new rows of gathering? Yes, that will be the new attachment line and new shape for the front straps. Mama was not right this time.

p1210518

The back straps will also be gathered and not pleated (my decision) and are angled as well to sit better. Mama got this wrong too.

p1210512

Let’s see inside the bodice:

p1210533p1210535

In the beginning, the mother told me to shorten the front skirt hem and to just fold under the front skirt hem and hand sew it to make it a cheap fix. I agreed, but once I got to that section I realized that the skirt was actually two layers of satin and one layer of lining…3 layers plus the horsehair braid. If I had done it her way there would have been a huge wad of 6 layers of fabric all rolled under. So once it was opened up, I shifted the horsehair braid, pinned it, stitched it and did it more like the last person who altered this dress hem. Now, as you can see in the next photos, that person did not do it the right way as the factory so I just continued in that vein.

p1210522p1210523p1210524p1210525

The lining will be shortened and attached by hand just at the horsehair stitching but the edge looks like the previous seamstress chewed it away:

p1210526

As I move along the lining edge I see that the previous seamstress made a 2 inch tuck without trying to ease in the fabric…how clever! This will not be done that way this time! Also the hand stitching will not show.

p1210527p1210530

My hand finished hem with no tucks…it can be done if you take some time to do it right.

p1210575

The final 4th fitting, the mother mentions that the gathered top looks like it needs some fluffing up so I offer the bride some bust pads to slip in and try. For the first time in a month, her eyes light up…I mean really light up and she SMILES!

Call me crazy, but I sense she realizes that for the first time while wearing this used dress that was way too old and heavy for her, she may just carry it off. I tell her that she can dispense with wearing the knit tube top she has been using for each fitting and I will sew the cups securely into the lining.

Without fail, Mama steps in to tell me, “You had better not sew the cups any lower that the horizontal ruffled section”… like I had never done this before nor had it crossed my mind to position them correctly. I take a deep breath and show her to the front door and imagine them handing me a check next time.                     p1210576

The final project (missing the petticoat) is finished and waiting to be picked up for the wedding this Saturday…ahhhhh.

p1210569      p1210570

At the end of this project you just have to ponder the words from other clients, “your job is so glamorous” and pour a tall rum and diet Pepsi and sit in the patio and thank the Almighty that this has come to an end before the next catastrophe arrives with the Fall/Winter brides.

Thanks to all my readers for visiting and enduring the chaos and stress. It helps to know you are there to share and understand.

Posted in challenges | Tagged , , | 83 Comments

Too Much Tulle

This dress looks so simple from the front doesn’t it? But are no side seams in the lace as the scalloped design is placed over the satin under-dress to form a continuous pattern all around. This will become the main problem for this princess bride.

12b4aea44062d6595ed2806f14374a5c

How about the back? A six foot long train with 5 layers of tulle and netting is lurking there over a satin skirt and lining. What looks airy and ethereal is really just a mess of fabric that acts as a comforter/duvet for a hot late summer wedding.

P1210211

The satin layer can be bustled up and the lining layer can be hemmed to floor level. Isn’t that tulle just lovely all rolled up?

P1210260

The bride wanted twenty five new buttons attached down the back and bust pads sewn in. You can see the scallop pattern with all the sequins and pearls and seed beads up close.

P1210295-2

But there is no way I am going to get all this train bustled up and looking nice and flat so the bride says she will just carry it around all day.

P1210336

After sitting on the ground for an hour and trimming all those layers with scissors so they just sit perfectly level on the floor, the bride decides that she wants another inch taken off ALL layers after she takes the dress off. So, after she leaves, I trim more away. Lots of grumbling can be heard in my sewing room.

p1210259p1210267

She returns 2 more times just to stand in front of the mirror with her mother (talking baby talk to her) to complain that the dress is not skin tight.

With the bodice being a dropped style and just above where the front of her leg breaks to walk, I explain for 2 more times that it cannot be any tighter or she could not lift her leg to walk at all but she keeps grabbing at the zipper and whining that she wants it all tight, tight, tight.

When she sits down to try out the circumference of the dress, I can hear the side seams screaming! When she stands up the entire lower half of the bodice is wrinkled up and has to be smoothed down many times to get it flat. The mother gets into the act of smoothing the fabric layers down while cooing to her daughter that everything will be OK. All the bride can do is frown.

So, I ask her to walk down my hallway and do a turn to see how the tiny excess of fabric at the lower edge is really needed to raise her leg and if we make it any tighter her tummy will really stick out. Finally, she gives in and realizes that nothing more can or should be done. In her desire/vision to be a fairy tale princess with a long tulle gown, it never crossed her mind that she would have to carry/drag all that fabric along with her all day and night.

p1210264-2

After 8 months of dealing with 60 persnickety brides and not taking a day off, Mr. Mole booked 4 days away in a salmon fishing village to get me out of my sewing room. It was lovely to not hear a phone ring or client knocking on the front door or cooking or cleaning. Here is the view from the rented apartment:fishing-village

While the weathermen predicted 4 days of storms and unending rain, it ended up only raining at night and we had 3 full days to walk and breathe in sea air along deserted beaches and also see sights like this in town:dog-walker

This local lady walks her rescue Basset hounds around town and tries to keep them organized and going in the same direction.

After a 4 hour drive home, there were new messages on my answerphone from brides for November and December weddings…so, no rest for the wicked and it is back to reality for me. Cooler weather now makes sewing easier and I hope all of you are looking forward to fun Fall events!

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 42 Comments