Saturday, December 17, 2011


One of my favorite things to do, when altering wedding gowns, is the bustle.
For many gowns, the bustling comes naturally; either your traditional bustle -

Where the back of the skirt/train is pulled up to be fastened at the waist or hip. This bustle is used when I want to showcase the detail of the train (as in lots of beautiful beading or lace), or,as in this case, where the skirt is so fully embellished that any other bustle would create too much bulk.

Or, the French Bustle -
Shown here on a fairly straight skirt with just a slight flair, but length that needed to be pulled up.

Here is the French Bustle done on a cathedral length train, with several tiers.

Then there are the bustles that are combined traditional and French - 
Although you only see the traditional bustle here, underneath it is 2 French Bustles.
And here, in Matthew Chrsitophers gorgeous IRIS gown, is another combination bustle.

But I believe my favorite bustle, to date, is this one. The beauty of this dress just begged for an outstanding bustle. Not your traditional, not the common French, but something truely unique. After playing with the train for a few minute, I came up with the "Rose" -

From another angle -
Just don't ask me how I did it!

Unconditional Love

Unconditional Love . . .  The thing everyone wishes for. Hard to find in this life, especially in humans. But if one looks to the animal world, it really isn't so hard to find.

After our son left for the wilds of Wyoming, taking his precious Saber, with him, our home was much quieter. More peaceful. Lots less barking. The food bill went down by half, and our older shepard, Shaba, settled in to a life of a single dog, once again. The first week or so he was lost, looking for his buddy around every corner. But once he became used to the soltitude, I think he started enjoying having my husband and myself, all to himself.

I, on the other hand, had a harder time with it. Shaba, after all, was really my husbands dog - and they both knew it. Saber, while he was with us, had become my dog. Followed me around, and just generally seemed to be more attached to me.

Now, with out my shadow following me, I felt kind of left out.
SO, we decided to go puppy shopping. What we found was a litter of German Sherhards that we fell in love with. Choosing just one was difficult, so we ended up with the one who really choose us.

He wasn't quite old enough to come home with us, yet. But 4 weeks later, he was . . . .

We named him Turk. For the first week after I brought him home, it was just he, Shaba, and me. My husband was out of town that week. That first day, he slept in my lap all afternoon. He quickly became my new shadow.
He loves his crate, but would much prefer to sleep with me. If I am sewing, he is at my feet. If I am in the kitchen, he follows me. If I am in the living room, he is trying to get in my lap. He cries when I leave him, and when I arrive back home, he yips his excitement to see me.
To those who have had the pleasure of having a dog, these things might seem like no big deal. But, with all the dogs we have had as pets, Saber included, none of them have ever really belonged to ME.
So, I am now experiencing for the first time, the joy of having a dog who is my very own. He loves me unconditionally, without fail. Even when I get frustrated with his chewing or other puppy behaviors, and scold him, he still wants to be near me, still follows me around, still wants to climb in my lap.
The only problem I am having is that, at 12 weeks, my sweet adorable puppy is 40 pounds. Not exactly  a lap dog. But just as sweet!

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Another Internet Dating Wedding!

My client came to me back in the summer with a sweet story of meeting her fiance through pone of the dating sites online. I used to be pretty skeptical about these sites, but I have been fortunate enough to meet plenty of "Internet Brides" as I call them, to start to believe in them.

The wedding was small, just family and close friends. The design she came to me with was so sweet and feminine. It was truly a pleasure to work with her.

Her dress is a tea length ivory satin dress with a crotched lace bodice
and a dropped waist with a satin ribbon sash. It has a light crinoline underneath, and covered buttons embellish the back zipper.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Valentino and Me!

I was recently asked to come by a new shop in Senoia, Ga., - Fabulous Frocks ( to see about doing some alteration work for Abriel, the owner.

I left with a gown to work on that basically needs taking in, a hem and bustling. Then, a few days later, Abriel called me back about another gown. This one is kind of exciting!

The work I will be doing will be 'pro-bono'. It is for a mock wedding photo shoot, by PaperLily Photographers.( The mock wedding shoot will be so very cool! I won't give away any details, but I will show you pics of the dress they chose!

Who would have ever thought that I would be working on a Valentino Gown?!
The delicate fabric on this gown seems so fragile, that I was truly nervous about working with it. The couture workmanship is perfect. Lots of hand sewn detail.
This photo is the "before". Fortunately, it only needed a hem and bustling.

After the  hem

The train before bustling

And the train after the bustling.

I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work on such an exquisite piece of workmanship!  

Monday, October 31, 2011

Dear Ms Bridezilla . . ..

We've all had them. Some are worse then others. Some are just laughable. Others are truly horrid.
And some things just need to be said -

Dear Ms Bridezilla,
I knew at our first meeting that this relationship would be, well, unfortunate.

It came through in the "I'm the most important one in the room" attitude.
It was reinforced with the disappointment in your perfect dress. And then the insistence in needing multiple fittings because of flaws you kept remember seeing.

I am honestly very sorry that you are so unhappy. I'm sorry I can't find padded bra inserts that fit you to perfection. I'm sorry that your dress is actually made of fabric and not plastic, so it wouldn't have the natural folds and creases that allow it to move with you. I'm sorry that I couldn't find that perfect place on your dress that allowed it to be so tight that it showed your lovely figure off , yet still allowed you to walk and sit. I'm sorry that the wide seam allowances on your gorgeous gown felt too thick against your skin. I'm sorry I couldn't make the sash fit tighter around your waist then your dress is. I'm sorry I can't move all the other clients that are on my to-do list, to the back burner so as to get your dress done first.

But mostly, dear Ms Bridezilla, I am sorry for you. I am sorry you can't see your own beauty while in the dress. I'm sorry that you can't see how perfectly it frames you. I'm sorry that you can't see the generosity of the gifts given to you in free jewelry, free veil, free alterations. I'm sorry you are so obsessed with percieved perfection that you can't see true beauty.

But mostly, I am sorry for you that the most important thing about your wedding seems to be the dress. It's just my opinion, but I believe that most important thing should be the fact that you are beginning a new life together with the man you love and plan to spend the rest of your live with.

For your sake, and the sake of your fiance, I hope with all my heart that your bridezilla-ness is just bridal nerves, and not a true indication of your spirit and personality.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Beach Gown for a Tom - boy!

Michi came to me, needing a very specific gown for her wedding.  She had several pictures of gowns she liked; but admitted that she has never been very 'girly'. However, because it was her wedding, she wanted someting very special.

Once we had measurements taken, and went over some of the most important design details, she headed off to Gail K Fabrics, in Atlanta, to look for the perfect lace. And boy did she find it! 

It took a couple days of playing with the muslin, but in the end, the finished muslin was perfect. It fit her perfectly - even with her loosing a bit of weight (as all brides tend to want to do!).  Putting the dress together, with all the details (not included in the muslin) took some time and work, and a bit of tweaking in the end, but my lovely bride teared up when she put it on, and that is always a good sign.

Here is the lovely Michi, on her wedding day-  The gorgeous lace she found for the bodice and straps, is framed with criss-cross straps of appliqued chiffon. The skirt is actually two skirts. The under skirt is detatchable, as seen here - 
 I also made a light wrap from the chiffon, which she made use of at the restaurant, after the ceremony.

During the ceremony, however, the wrap was attached at the back of the dress as an additional train!
 Michi made a gorgeous bride - especially for a self - proclaimed  tomboy! I was blessed in being able to work with her on this beautiful gown.

Monday, October 10, 2011

A Boy and His Dog

My posts have been few and far between lately, I know. And this one has nothing to do with my sewing; atleast not directly. But it's on my heart this morning, so I needed to share.

3 years and 3 months ago, my son was living in Panama City, Fl., working at the airport. He called me up one day, asking if he could bring me home a puppy. He had found a puppy wandering around the airport, lost and hungry. It needed a home, and Derek wasn't in a position to be able to keep it himself, just yet, but as soon as he 'got settled' he would take this pup off our hands. Well, I wasn't exactly in a place in my life where I wanted another dog around. But, between my son and my husband, they somehow convinced me.

A few days later, Derek arrived home with puppy in tow.  Except that it wasn't exactly a puppy. It was a 9 month old German Shepherd. With no discipline, and no manners. His name was Saber, and he was about as ADHD as they get! He had never been worked with. He knew no commands, and was not house broken. What we learned quite quickly, though, was that he had been locked up, was terrified off loud noises (thunder, guns, loud machinery), and had no idea how to play.

Well, Derek had to leave again, leaving Saber with us. Over the last 3 years, Saber has grown into an adult dog; fully disciplined, fully loved and loving.  He is still a bit hyper, but one of the most loving dogs I have ever been around. When he is lonely or scared, he sticks like glue to me. During the day, he will come upstairs to check on me and just lay down in my sewing room to keep me company. When Emma Grace had her kittens, Saber became the babysitter. If one of us isn't feeling well, Saber is right there to lay beside us and comfort. If my husband is gone overnight, Saber takes his place in bed beside me.  We have often noted that Saber has 2 goals in life: one is to make everything 'fun', and the other is to give love.

 Each time Derek has come back home, there is never any doubt as to who is Saber's 'master'. There is always instant recognition and excitement. And, when it comes time for Derek to pack up again and leave, there is always sadness, confusion and depression left behind.

Well, Derek arrived home again, about a month ago, from his deployment in Afghanistan. He now has a plan for his life that includes having his dog beside him. He will be far away, across the country, but it is where he belongs.

He started packing his things up several days ago, making a corner of the dining room into his 'pile'. This always is the point where Saber, as well as the other dog, Shaba, begin to go into their depression mode. They know that the packing means he is leaving. This time was confusing, though. Because Derek added Saber's toys to the pile. And then his leash.

At 5:30 this morning, we all got up to say good-bye. Derek fed Saber, then washed out his bowls, and added them to the packed truck. Now Saber knew something really exciting was about to happen! This time, when Derek left, Saber got to go, too! Such excitement! I so wish I could be a little bug in that truck, watching as the boy and his dog, finally get to live their adventure together. 

Now that they are both gone, I am not sure who I will miss more, the boy, or the dog.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Tempermental Dresses

First, let me apologize for my lack of posting in the last few weeks/months. I normally have a good slow down between July and the end of August. Not this year. I have been busier than ever this year. I don't know why, except that there seem to be alot of people getting married this fall! I will try to do better - but I can't promise anything!

Most of the time, the dresses and gowns I work on are pretty basic - take it in at the back or sides, rip it open, remove boning, re-enforce beading, remove any buttons or zippers and then put it all back together; or your basic hemming or adding cups. Most of it I can do without a whole lot of thought or  effort.

This week was a different story!

Dress # 1 -
A gorgeous, fun dress by Allure Couture. Every time i have worked on this gown, the bride has wanted it taken in from the hips down, to make it more form fitting. Not too difficult; you just have to remove the large circular flowers and beading at the skirt side seams, then replace them after taking it in. And, int he case of taking it in at the back hip, the buttons and lower zipper need to removed and then replaced.  However . . . .

This time, the dress needed a 7 inch hem. Yeah. An entire row of these fun flowers needed to be removed, then dress hemmed, then some of the flowers needed to be replaced and repositioned.
Removing them took almost 3 hours. the actual hem on this layer only took about 20 minutes! But replacing them . . . lets just say I was at it for a while. They all had to be hand sewn back on. And then the beading at the center of each flower had to be redone.

The back of the dress, the train, is full and lovely -

And it makes a beautiful bustle!

All of this is really not a big deal - after all, it is what I do! The frustrating part for me is that every day for the next month, I am in a time crunch. In order to stay on top of my deadlines, I must get a dress done each and every day for the next 5 weeks. That's 7 days a week. It's like April through June all over again!

But the really frustrating dress of the week is the one I just finished yesterday.  I didn't take photos of it, simply because I didn't have time. To look at the dress - it is beautiful! Just the right amount of beading/bling, just the right amount of lace. Feminine and elegant. But, about 5 sizes too big. It needed taking in 3 inches at the back. 4 inches at the sides - from the top of the bodice to the mid thigh. 6 inches at the hem. Again- non of which would normally be a big deal. Until you open it up to find more layers hidden under the first one. This dress was a true case of  "overkill". A hidden corselette. Two linings.  A separate underlining layer. Boning in 2 layers! All together, 6 layers that all had to be taken in separately. All had to be measured and marked, separately. Not to mention, being able to get to each layer and fit each on into my machine between the other layers. What a nightmare! Now I just hope it fits - because having to do it all over again is NOT an option!

At the peak of my frustration, I had to vent to my sweet husband, who, instead of turning a deaf ear or telling me to get over it, goes out to buy me an ice cold diet coke (which I really really needed, after not having one for  a week!). I've said it before, I'll say it again - he is my biggest cheerleader, and I couldn't do it without him!

Monday, July 25, 2011

That's A Lot of Bustle!!!

Yes, I know, it's been awhile since I've posted (again).  There simply hasn't been a lot to post about! I've been up to the same old alterations; take it in, hem it, put in padded cups, bustle it. Some re- beading, some veil work, but always busy!

Today's post, however, is about a gown I worked on today. The bride didn't need much - just the straps adjusted and the bustle. Which is actually the subject of this post!

The gown is a lovely embroidered and beaded gown with a long cathedral length train.

At my first fitting with this bride, we had decided on a tiered french bustle. I was't completely happy with it, though, as it still dragged a bit, and much of the gorgeous beaded embroidery was hidden.
So, I took the original bustle down and started to play.

Here is what I finally came up with -
It starts at the top with a traditional button bustle. It is followed by 3 tiers of french bustles, 3 in each row for a total of 9. The beauty of the train is not hidden, but it is up off the floor. Very pretty - yes?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Dress Designs

I am finally taking a day to get caught up on my blog reading, my blog posting and maybe even clean up my Etsy Shop!
I had planned to spend ALL day doing this, but I got a last minute call last night on an emergency fitting, so I will have to take an hour off to get that done. Bummer. At least business is good - right?

About a week ago, I delivered another beach wedding gown to a very happy client! I didn't take any photos of it, because they just didn't do it justice on the dress form. She has promised me photos from her Hawaii wedding, which was yesterday. Can't wait to get them and share!

In the meantime, I have been working on a Drum Major outfit - it's kind of become a tradition. I started making them for the local high school about 4 years ago, and it has continued through the years since.
I've also been doing plenty of my regular alterations; although it has slowed down some. I can finally take a day or two off every week!

Lately, I have been playing with one of the pieces of fabric my husband brought me back from his first trip to Malaysia. I want to make my annual 'ICAS' gown for our convention in Vegas (December) out of this fabric, but the nature of the fabric calls for a special design. Here is where I need your help dear readers!
The fabric is an embroidered georgette, with a heavily embroidered border. There are about 8 yards of it, although it is only 42" wide, and if I remove the border it is about 6" more narrow.
In playing with it, I have come up with a few designs.

In this first draping, I have the border edge falling vertically in folds down the front, slightly off center. The bodice is a strapless draped silk doupioni.

Here, I have pleated the bordered edge of the fabric into a skirt, with the silk doupioni bodice in a sleeveless surplice style, and using the border trim of the fabric for the other side of the bodice.

These last 2 designs are similar in that they have the same bodice style, and the skirt is draped on the bias. In the second one, however, I left the border, which I like. Not sure about the bodice style on this one.

Ok - readers - I would love some opinions! Remember - these are just draped designs and by no means are they 'finished'!!!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beach Wedding 'Dress'

Several months ago I was approached by a lovely young lady, Jennifer, who needed a very special and unique outfit for her beach wedding.

She wanted something very non-traditional, very beachy. At our first meeting, she explained to me her wants and needs, and I drew out on paper what I envisioned for her. In all humbleness, that seems to be a gift of mine - to be able to envision what is descibed to me.

Several fittings later, and after several alterations, she took her beach ensemble home.

Today I received pictures from her of the beach wedding which occurred a couple weeks ago. She looks lovely! In her letter, she told me she got lots of compliments on her outfit, and was thrilled with it!

I live to serve - and I really love it when my brides are this happy!!
The happy bride!
The wedding Corset and Sarong
The back of the wedding corset

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Alterations on an Antique Gown

When the bride first brought this gown to me, I was rather unimpressed. It was obviously old, certainly considered an antique. I would venture to guess that it was perhaps made in the late 40's, early 50's. I've not been able to find out any information from the label.

But, I digress. . . .

As mentioned, I didn't see the beauty in this dress when I first saw it. We discussed what she wanted/needed done. The basque waistline needed to be moved up 2 inches. It needed taking in several inches. Some boning was needed for support, as well as cups. A hem would be discussed at a later visit.

So, I took it home and promptly forgot about it until it's scheduled work day showed up on my calendar.
I took it out of the bag and put it on my dress form to look at more closely.
As you can see, the bodice is done with tiny half inch diagonal pleating. The skirt, at first glance, looks like it is formed of narrow bands of ruffles. Upon closer look, it is actually many, many pick - ups.

As I started to remove stitching at the back of the dress (at the zipper), I had a slow realization that I was being awarded the priveledge of working on a gown made in  true couture fashion.

So much hand stitching!
Here, you can see some of the stitching around the zipper.It was hand stitched  in  2 places before being machine sewn. The zipper facing was overcast by hand and then hand sewn to the underlining.

Here is the thread covered 'eye' for the hook at the back. When do you ever see that in clothing these days?

Each of these pleats was hand sewn to the backing fabric.
As I work on this gown, I am seeing the beauty in it. It is a style from an era long gone. Each stitch was sewn with such precision and care. Little details in the construction are so much different from what I have learned.  I find I have much to learn from working on this lovely gown. I wish I could find some information from the label -
I will continue to search, as I continue to work on this unique gown. I will post more photos as I go. Perhaps you will be as intrigued as I am by the construction of it.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bridal Fashion Show

Long time no post . . . .

But I am back, if only for this posting. I am still pretty crazy busy with 'the season', but had some time left over this evening and wanted to get photos posted from the Bridal Fashion Show of May 1.

The girls all looked gorgous, as did the dresses!
I won't post all of the photos, but here are the best ones - enjoy!

And finally - all my beautiful models together!