Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time


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A Glimmer (or two) of Light Dawns

A month or so ago you may all remember my complete disgust with Vogue 8937 and the fabric choice I made. The fabric was a silk boucle’ with little or no staying power. It was a loose weave and it raveled something fierce – and it grew.

I had approached this jacket from my dearth of sewing skills. I think I can safely say this is the first time I’ve used boucle’ for anything. And it was sad.

In my last post about this jacket entitled “A Wadder” I made an offhand comment about needing to interface all of the fabric to keep it from growing. From little acorns……………..

Since that failure, which smoat me in my heart and made me weep, I have been searching for the why. I have found it. You MUST stabilize a boucle’. Wouldn’t it have been great if I’d looked for that information first? Then the jacket would still be alive and not in a landfill in Maine …………….

There are various blogs on the net – particularly this one – http://www.brensan.com/Garment/Techniques/BlackBoucleJacket.html which give you all the steps necessary to complete a stunning boucle’ jacket.

I am a very lucky person. I do still have some boucle’ – a beautiful black wool with multi-colored puffs – waiting to be put to use in my stash. After I gather ALL of the necessary interlinings and linings and read the directions several times again – I’m going to attempt that wadder and turn it into a thing of beauty!

Vogue 8937

Vogue 8937

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Work Work Work – And Fun Fun Fun

What have I been doing? Surprise! I’ve been sewing. Since the failure of Vogue 8937 – which I will insist to my dying day was the result of lousy fabric, I have finished one awesome top and started another.

Here’s the pattern I used – 

Vogue 8151

Vogue 8151

This is a Sandra Betzina Today’s Fit pattern from Vogue. I had read many great reviews on this pattern and I did try it once before. I didn’t like it. It was all my fault. I hadn’t cut the right size, didn’t lengthen the shirt and just generally messed up. But now I LOVE THIS PATTERN.

This time I did cut the right size, after tracing my pattern. I then had a decision to make about darts. Darts in a knit? Well yes it does work. I did also lengthen the shirt by two inches to a length that’s much more comfortable for me. I also fiddled with the neck band and made it smaller to give it more snap. 

Here’s the first shirt all done –

flowertop

 

For some reason the photo looks straight up and down. It is not. It fits like a dream. I only had to do a tad bit of adjusting when sewing the final seams. I took out about 1.5 inches to get the fit I wanted.

I had so much success with that one – I started another one in a really neat fabric.

secondflower

With this one I attached the neck binding before folding it in half and did the fold after it was attached. A little stitching in the ditch and I have a very neat neck band. Here’s the back –

secondflower1

 

Is this not CUTE? 

Since I have sustained my sewing spirit with two successes, I am ready to go back to Vogue 8937 and try it again. The only decision is which awesome fabric to use (and no I will not choose a nasty fabric from the stash again.)

Further on the list is a great pair of pants that FIT – 

 


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Outside the Fatosphere – Wake Up Call #812

For once the plea for help and justice may have been heard. I have been reading that plus size clothing made the runway at NYFW this year. This is very positive news, but more would be welcome.

I make clothes for one basic reason. Because I can’t find anything in the marketplace, excluding jeans and some bras, that doesn’t look horrific on my plus-sized frame. Usually the plus-sized clothes I see are made of incredibly cheap material, in patterns no one would want to wear and cut on the idea that a big dump of square cloth will fit someone who obviously doesn’t care about herself at all because she’s fat. None of these clothes take anything near style into consideration. Nor the fact that I clean up well, as my Dad used to say.

Fat is a word that has no good connotations at all. It either means stuff you eat which clogs up your heart causing you to die young, or it means that you are the opposite of the worshipped body of the eons, the thins. But there is a whole population of non-svelte women dying to find a great place to buy clothing. And the marketplace is keeping them out. Why would this be? Isn’t there just one or two or maybe even three companies that would like to make a lot of money with a built in repeat business? All it would take is clothing with exquisite construction and fit and that added ingredient of style.

This fat-thin complex has been going on in America for as long as I’ve been alive. There has never been a time in the roughly 55 years that I can recall where buying clothing made me feel good. Except for when I worked out at Nautilus and got my fleshiness into shape. I was still large by model standards at a size 12, but I was a compact size 12 and I certainly looked good. This wasn’t sustainable because eventually we moved, there was no Nautilus near me and I quit pumping iron and kept cooking.

The problem that I now face – and why I sew – is not only the incredible cost of decent, long wearing clothes, but the sheer impossibility of finding them. I don’t require much, but I do want to look stylish. And I do want the clothes to be made well. Designer made well, as in when you put it on, you feel fantastic.

When we first came back to the US, I did some in-the-mall shopping. I had to go up to the second floor of Macy’s (where it’s hidden away) to find the plus-size department.  I shuddered. The clothes were shapeless, made from polyester in bright colors. I could see someone who was in her 80s or 90s wearing these. I could not see myself in them.

To give you a general idea – look at this picture

Photo credit blousehouse.com

Photo credit blousehouse.com

Goodness. Square, no shape, gathers everywhere and guaranteed to make you look like a circus tent. And to top it all off? These blouses probably cost a fortune. I don’t know. I wouldn’t go look at these. The fabric is horrible. The colors are garish and I can’t imagine that the construction is worthwhile.

Similar tacky-looking clothes are out there on offer anywhere you want to look. I call it the Walmartization of plus size clothing. We’re letting someone in China make clothes for women with curves and they look bad. Although I will agree that even thin people can have a rough time buying clothing that fits their budget AND them at the same time.

Some of the companies complain that it’s just too expensive to make plus-size clothing because their patterns can only be sized up a certain amount before they need to draft new patterns and plus-size women don’t buy that many clothes. Ha. If you take a look at the above picture, you will see why. Why would anyone consent to wear something like that? And something like that can be found in almost any place that sells plus-sized clothing. It doesn’t have to be this way. We only need a few enthusiastic people to change course –

And it’s not just in the RTW sector of fashion that thin prevails either. Take a look someday at sewing patterns available for plus size women. They’re not a pretty sight. We could use some decent, complimentary patterns too ………….

If there are any clothing companies out there that want to design fantastic, flattering clothes for a real women with curves to match, let me know. I have a lot of good ideas –


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Southwestern Top Finished!

southwest1

 

I have stuck the sleeve up in the air so you can see the fit on this top. It has curves in all the right places, although I could wish I didn’t have quite so many 🙂

southwest3

 

This view gives you a two-sided view of the line of the top. I like the fit on this a lot and will use this adapted pattern often. I used a twin needle to stitch the hems on the bottom and sleeves – pretty neat and looks “store-bought.”

southwest5

 

This is the whole top with the drape from the bust line down and shows the flare at the bottom – that flare was obtained simply by doing a FBA on the pattern and rotating the extra dart amount to the bottom. Love it.

southwest4

 

And here’s the back of the shirt – the same shape prevails and I like to think it is slimming – maybe not with this wild fabric, but slimming enough. I used my serger for all of the seams. I only needed the sewing machine for the hemming, applying the neckband and doing the shoulder seams because I added clear elastic to them to keep them from sagging. I’m very pleased with the serger and it makes everything neat and tidy.

On to the next wardrobe piece!


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A Wear With Everything Hoodie

Today I’ll finish hemming my new shirt and put it in the closet, ready to wear. It’s so nice to look through my closet and see that almost everything in there was made by me. It gives me a great feeling.

It’s turned cold here in a hurry, as is usual in Maine. I’m reminded that I’m going to need a nice warm jacket to throw on over everything before we get to the OMG I have to wear a coat weather. So next on my make it list is this:

blackhoodie

 

I’ve made this pattern already in a red ponte with a hood lining that I’m not nuts about now, but I’ll wear it.

mccalls6614A

 

and the notion info on the pattern was wrong, so I bought a zipper two inches too short. The snap tape looks pretty cool though and since I have my new serger, I’m going to finish off all the seams again on the serger so it looks great inside too.

The one I’m going to start to wear everywhere will be in black double-knit with substantial body. I already have the zipper for it here:

zipper1

 

which will just add that little quirky bit of difference to the hoodie that I’m looking to get. The rest of the hoodie will be black – not going to do any contrast fabric for the inside of the hood. Also this one will be in a size that actually fits me rather than oversized as is the red jacket!

Many more on the make list …………… I also have some fantastic faux leather that I want to use for a jacket too. This is it

white gold

 

This is outside my comfort zone weird wise. I think I can make it work though and the fabric is very soft and malleable so it will work up well. I think this calls for a Riri zipper – which is good because I need one for another outfit and I can get them together and save on shipping – more money for FABRIC!


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The Southwestern Top

While I’ve been mooching around trying to talk myself into actually making something in the sewing room, I finally got the energy to cut something out and start on it. For once I had the right color thread to sew it! That seriously makes a lot of difference.

The pattern I used is a version of

V8582_large

this one by Marcy Tilton. I’ve made many tops from this pattern and I like it much better with the excess “wings” removed. With the wings on the top seemed too long and bulky in the thigh. I mirrored the side without the excess for drape, cut the pattern to match that non-draped side and then did a full bust adjustment on the top. You can see my explanation of a full bust adjustment here http://wp.me/p3i7tb-P.

Once that FBA was done, I had to “rotate the dart” because I don’t want a dart in a knit fabric that’s going to look odd. I rotated the fullness created by the FBA to the side bottom. This gives a nice shape to the top. It has a drape at the bottom creating a nice line from the bust down. It skims my stomach and hips which are definitely areas I want skimmed!

I love the fabric. I was a bit hesitant about the direction until I notice that most of the stretch is lengthwise so I had to use it in that manner. Had I tried to cut the top crosswise to have the pattern vertical, there wouldn’t have been enough stretch for the top to be comfortable.

So far I’ve done the shoulder seams to which I always add clear elastic and then fold over the seam allowance and topstitch toward the back. After that’s done I can trim the seam to neaten it up.

I cut my neckband two inches wide and sewed it into a circle. Then I did an overcast on the two edges because the fabric rolls a bit and the overcast stops it. On my Bernina this is stitch #31 and I use it a lot.

To step back a bit – the neckband needs to be shorter than the length of the neck, otherwise it won’t snap to the edge and you will get a baggy-looking neckband. Not good. On this top I first tried a band that was 75% of the length of the neck. That was too small for the style. It didn’t suite the nice flowing shirt so I cut another one 90% of the length of the neck and that’s what you see here.

The neckband of this top takes the most OMG panicky breathes while sewing. I mark the band in quarters and place pins in the marks. Then I do the same with the neck line itself. This way I distribute the stretch of the band evenly all around the neck. I have also overcast the neckline partially as a stay-stitching, but mostly because it gives a finished look inside the garment once the neckband is applied.

After stitching the neckband on, and congratulating yourself that you don’t have to take it off, all I do is press the seams down toward the shirt and “stitch in the ditch” created by the original seam. This forces the seam allowances to stay down when wearing and gives a nice finish.

I have only to put in the sleeves, sew the side seams and hem and I have a great top. This is a good three-season top because it is an ITY knit. I shudder at the thought of wearing it in 90 degree weather!

Here’s the pictures so far –

More to come ……… I’m getting new ideas ……… the more I sew, the more I want to sew ………….

I’ll show you the bottom drape once the sides are sewn up ……. you’ll be able to see the line of the top better!


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The Thing I Do Best …………

I shop. I am very good at shopping. Particularly with the internet. I know there are lots of you who are too young to remember taking a bus downtown (that’s a place where they used to have stores and now they are bringing them back again because everyone’s sick of the mall) or going to the mall to find what you want. Or having to go to a store to get a music album you want. Can you imagine? How odd …….

I was doing my usual check of fabric at one of my favorite sites – http://www.marcytilton.com and I came across this fabric that I must have or I will die – seriously. She has it in black and navy. I sighed because I have no money until payday to be shooting toward some lovely fabric. I have tons of lovely fabric that caught my eye earlier this summer. I’m just praying the fabric lasts on her site until I can get some ………… if not – I might have to make it myself.

Here it is

NAVY BLUE SWEATER KNIT DETAIL

This is a merino wool sweater knit that is all puckered and has wonderful square areas and lots of poof. I hope you can see this on the photo. I immediately started to plan a fantastic loose top – and it could either be a great cardigan which I would wear over everything all the time or a nice boatneck loose tee. Either way – it’s fantastic.

I also checked out elliottbermantextiles.com because of their unusual collection of digital prints. There are two now that I would snap up in a minute. One of them is a pictorial skyline of New York with the multitude of people and skyscrapers. The other is a pictorial knit panel of Venice. Both of these fabrics lend themselves to a simple style – nothing complex because the fabric speaks for itself.

Years ago, as part of my extreme love of textiles and dyeing and marking up and just generally playing with fabric, I would make textured fabric to use in my wall art. When I saw the fabric on Marcy’s site and figured that it would be gone before I can afford it, I thought about how I would emulate this fabric on my own. A needle, some embroidery floss or other strong thread and I could pucker navy jersey to my heart’s delight. I hopefully won’t have to do that – but if I do – who knows? It could be cooler than the original inspiration ……….. you never know ……………..