Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time

Flattering Clothes – and Life in Front of a Mirror

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Dress forms of 1893

Dress forms of 1893 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Someone once said “Clothes make the man.” Sorry I don’t know who said this. In my life clothes have been the stuff of dreams. I planned outfits before I would go to sleep as a small child. My closet was arranged by item and color. I needed new clothes regularly to keep up with my new shoes. Mom made a lot of my clothes but would also give me her charge card and let me shop. That was incredible and fun! I once bought a circus striped trench coat. I love that coat. Yellow and purple and pink and traditional trench coat styling. I wore it for years.

I make a great percentage of my clothing now. I don’t make jeans or too many pants – I do have a pants pattern on the burner though. I don’t wear skirts or dresses anymore. I might if I find something cute. I did buy a Fashion Star pattern from McCalls for a really cute dress. I’ll probably turn this into a top

McCall's M6553 Fashion Star Pattern

McCall’s M6553 Fashion Star Pattern

As a tunic this would be fantastic. I’ve also taken a couple of Style Arc patterns and made them into something they weren’t

Cruise Club Kim and Laura Dress from Style Arc

Cruise Club Kim and Laura Dress from Style Arc


I made the Cruise Club Kim into a maxi dress by extending the length. I made it out of denim jersey from Mood Designer Fabrics. I also made a cardigan from Hot Patterns

Miss Moneypenny Coco Twinset - Hot Patterns

Miss Moneypenny Coco Twinset – Hot Patterns

For the cardigan I used a panel print from Mood Designer Fabrics with pattern pieces and drawings in black, medium blue and cream. I used snap tape for the closures and no rick rack trim. I took the front facings and put them on the inside and used a twin needle to stitch the topstitching. It is a great outfit.

For Lara’s dress I first made the dress. Cute but not really wearable for me so I shortened it into a top. The Style Arc patterns were a bit too large under the arms. I had to take in 6″ in the Cruise Club Kim Dress so that it wouldn’t bag. The same thing for the Laura. Odd that these are too large and a woven pattern I purchased from Style Arc is too tight in the same place. Same size – fit different.

You can make any pattern into anything you want. It does take time and practice. I fit everything on my adjustable dress form. I can see then how it looks and if there’s any adjusting needed. I sometimes make a pattern in fabric I’m not nuts about just to fit the pattern. This is sort of a muslin – a copy for fitting of a pattern. I usually sew knits so I make a knit muslin I can wear if I want. I’m going to be sewing more woven clothing now, in particular this shirt

McCall's 6605

McCall’s 6605

I’ve already cut out one in sari silk which is going to serve as the muslin as the fabric is not fantastic. It is pretty – a magenta with a gold fleur de lis – but the silk ravels. I’m doing Hong Kong seam finishes where I have to gather the pattern and I will do french seams on the underarm seams. I think it will be cute.

If you are fortunate enough to be thin – you can wear almost anything except anything too big. Why hide what you have? Being a chubette (actually had to buy chubette clothes from Sears as a child – how awful) then you want the clothes to fit but skim over the big parts. Wearing clothing that it too large and baggy isn’t flattering at all for heavy women. It makes you look larger. So finding what will flatter you is a damned if you do kind of thing.

I always look to highlight my best features. Color is important. I am sallow skinned highlighting my Native American heritage with dark brown hair (yes it is enhanced by color HA) and brown eyes. I can’t wear yellow or acid green or olive. I look sick. I have a large stomach. I carry most of my weight from my boobs down to my hips. My hips are small for someone my size. I always have to buy my tops larger and my pants smaller. My legs are small and skinny. Look kind of like sticks on a balloon –

With the legs – I don’t wear anything tight. I love leggings but with my legs so small and my stomach/boobs so big they look silly. I have to balance out the chubby parts with wider legged pants. I buy straight leg natural cut jeans from Eddie Bauer. I would buy them from the Maine outdoor outfitter I work in the call center for except they make them too short! Honestly like 29.5″. They fit like high waders. I hope they change this soon – I get so many calls about returning stuff because of the length.

Anyway I try to make shirts and tops that will at least cover the pendulous stomach. I won’t wear it if it comes above the stomach because then you can see it. Yetch. And my arms – oh dear they look like Mom’s arms. Crepey and baggy. I worked out at Nautilus when I was in my 30s and I would love to do that again. My muscles need tightening and firming. I see so many heavy women wearing sleeveless shirts. I don’t even like the look on really skinny people. Nobody’s arms look that good. So just like the Twiggy styles that were popular in my teens – the sleeveless look is not for me.

I like sweaters. I am learning to knit them. I buy them on sale. I purchased 7 Eddie Bauer sweaters on sale for between $14.99 and $19.99 in February. These were originally $69,99 to $79.99, Good deal. I got ones I had been drooling over for a while but couldn’t justify buying. Since I usually go back to work in summer and stay through February I do need sweaters. Summer I’ve got licked – a few fancy tee shirts and I’m good. Around the house I’m just starting to wear an old pair of Eddie Bauer jeans and tops and sweaters from 6 years ago. I’m a pig when it comes to spilling stuff on my shirts. I have to wear stuff that I don’t want to wear to work.

So how do you determine what flatters you? First you will feel good in it. Second you will want to wear it a lot. Third look in the mirror. I hate mirrors especially now that I’m starting to age. I don’t even recognize me. I did mention I need a Lifestyle Lift. I do. The hangy downy stuff on my neck needs pulling up …………..

If you look at clothing on skinny models you will fool yourself into thinking that it will look good on you – unless you are skinny. I’m not nuts about photos of heavy women in clothing someone’s trying to sell – like Talbot’s – because they look unflattering even on a model. So I can’t get excited about wearing them. Unless I’m going to take the plunge and lose weight which I would love – I need to make my clothing and put it up on my dress form.

Add that to your list of items you need for your Atelier – a dress form. An adjustable dress form – who knows what size you’ll be next year? If it fits the dress form and looks good – then you will know that you will wear it. And stay out of range of the mirror until you finish it – you will love your clothes and they will love you back.

valentino haute couture

valentino haute couture fw12_09 (Photo credit: SharonaGott)


Author: Jennifer

I came from a family who made things. My father was a carpenter with a passion for making furniture. My mother sewed, crocheted, cooked and made a home on a shoestring. My grandmothers both quilted. As a teenager, I found batik through a wonderful art teacher who allowed me the freedom to batik yards of fabric. I then cut them up into a pattern and wore the item I made. I was ecstatic. I painted in my teens and twenties and my parents gracefully supplied me with oil paints and turpentine. When I needed an easel, my father took me to the shop where he worked and made me one. When he found unused and unwanted canvas, he brought it home and stretched it for me with wood from his shop at home. I was indulged at every step of the way. I wasn't ever told that I could not do something or that I should not do something. I was given freedom to chose my path in life. A blessed life I have lived, for sure.

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