Barbara Stone Q&A
Dressmaker & Alterationist

Q: Can moth holes in my husband’s wool jacket be repaired? Diana M., Redding

Moths and other fiber-eating critters are a big problem in the north state, and they like the best fabrics. Cashmere seems to be their favorite. Holes in wool garments can be repaired, but how well depends on the kind of weave and the extent of the damage. If the hole is larger than 1/4 inch in diameter, it gets more difficult, but there are tricks that can be used.

Sometimes the hole can be backed with its own fabric and fused. Other times, it must be rewoven. Reweaving is more expensive and it’s difficult to find someone trained in that craft. Textured and nubby cloth can be fixed so that only a trained eye would be able to see the repair. A smooth cloth, such as gabardine or satin, is practically impossible to repair invisibly because the weave is so fine.

Prevention is the best cure for fiber-eating bugs. Make sure food spots are cleaned immediately. Give your garments a thorough cleaning before storing them for the off-season. Store them away from light, heat and moisture, preferably in a cedar closet or on a cedar hanger. Moth balls are an old way to prevent bugs, but you have to be willing to tolerate the fumes.

Q: I have gained weight in the past several years; going from a size 8 to a size 12. No matter how much I diet, I don’t think I’ll ever be smaller than a size 10. I have some beautiful dresses in size 8 that I just love and hate to give them up. Is it possible to have them altered to fit me? Wanda P., Roanoke, Va.

It is possible to increase the size of a dress or gown. In fact, these kinds of projects have been some of the most challenging and creative of my career. The seam allowances in better gowns are usually bigger and when let out will increase the size. If you have had the gowns altered in the past that will work in your favor because a good dressmaker will leave as large a seam allowance as possible. Or, if you had the dresses hemmed and you kept the extra fabric, your dressmaker will have something to work with.

If you have not had the dresses altered, don’t despair, there are still many ways to make a garment bigger, however, it may involve some re-styling, so prepare yourself mentally for that. The change in your figure may also require the style to be changed. You need to find a dressmaker who is skilled in this area so call around or ask friends and relatives to recommend someone.

Q: When I bought my wedding dress recently, the store tried to sell me a corset-like undergarment that was so uncomfortable! I didn’t buy it even though the saleslady insisted it would make the dress look better. I will need some alterations on the dress but do I have to wear the corset?

It’s true that a properly fitting undergarment will smooth out your natural curves and lumps and bumps and make the dress lay nicely, especially if the gown is one of the less expensive ones. The more expensive the gown, the better the understructure and fewer undergarments are needed by the bride. But the corseting shouldn’t be uncomfortable. Try on several different kinds until you find one that works for you. Make sure you can return it and then take it home and try it with the dress. That is the only way you’ll know what will work with the shape of the neckline, underarms, straps, etc.

Enlist the help of your maid of honor, sister, mother, or friend to make sure it’s not peeking out anywhere. And make sure you can actually wear it for an entire day. You want to be able to breathe deeply for dancing and eat that wedding cake!

Barbara Stone is the owner of Barbara Stone Designs, a full-service tailoring and dressmaking business at 5200 Churn Creek Rd. Suite P, Redding, CA, 96002. She can be reached at (530) 222-1340 or
Barbara Stone
Barbara Stone is the owner of Barbara Stone Designs, a full-service tailoring and dressmaking business at 5200 Churn Creek Road, Suite P, Redding, CA, 96002. She can be reached at (530) 222-1340 or
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1 Response

  1. Avatar Jan Stone says:

    The best part of this whole question is that people still want to repair clothing and that it is possible to do it! Our throw-away society is prevalent, and as an elderly person who has had the same clothes in her closet for years (by choice), I applaud repairing and using.

    Another reason, of course, is that Barbara Stone is my daughter, and I have watched her build a business of making beautiful clothing!

    Love to all, Jan Stone