Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time

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Southwestern Top Finished!



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 🙂



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.”



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.



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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The Southwestern Top ……… Update



I put in the sleeves and sewed the side seams up – the top looks gorgeous. I’m hoping I can get a great picture for you tomorrow. The line from the bust, where the top is fitted, to the hem, which is flared – is beautiful and gives this top great shape. I hope to be able to show this well enough in the photo tomorrow.

I’m being told by my photographer son to get as much natural light as I can so the picture will be sharper and it won’t wash out details ……… I will try.

I had a spooky few minutes with this top – learning to use my serger to sew in the sleeves and do the side seams. I am a slow adapter so actually using my serger requires me to jump unknowingly into the project! It’s so silly ——- but I feel accomplished today after getting this much done. Now I just need to finish the edges and hem it and I will use a twin needle for that – I love twin needles!

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Working on a Sweater



Over the last couple of months, I have had no energy to start new projects. I’m treading water, waiting for enthusiasm to return. I don’t like being in these periods of stress, gloom and doom. But I am and there it is.

While I have toyed with ideas for shirts (gave it up), vests (gave it up), more shirts (gave it up), I have at least been able to continue knitting. It doesn’t require any effort for me. As long as I’m not under pressure for a deadline and as long as the knitting is easy. Very easy.

I started knitting around my birthday last year. I had learned the basic cast on and off technique as a teen, but I never followed a pattern or knit anything other than a scarf. It was so time-consuming! Now I am happy to be time-consumed because I have so much time on my hands.

This sweater is the Boxy by Joji from that I got from Ravelry. I had been working on a pink one but made so many mistakes that I knew I wouldn’t wear it. So I started this one – with the pattern and it’s requirements fresh in my mind. I know that I have to learn to do a three-needle bind off and I am committed to doing that. Doing it any other way distorts the pattern on the sleeves and shoulder.



I like this sweater a lot and I know once I conquer the binding off and getting all the pattern elements correct without making a major error, I will wear it.

Thank God knitting is something I can do to keep my hands, and my mind busy. Once again, having time off from visiting my husband at the nursing home, I’m in the sewing room waiting for inspiration to strike! With persistence, it will.

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I Take Back Everything I Said – Style Arc May Top



Okay. Wow. I got the May top sewn together at the side seams and, of course, the sleeves on, and I tried it on! Wow again! It fits beautifully and it is SUPER CUTE.  I will have pictures this afternoon so you can all drool over this top!

The rest of the sewing was pretty easy – just sewing in sleeves and then doing the side seams. I did the side seams on my serger (!) and it was SO easy to use. I am in love with this top now and I plan to make many, many more – difficult under bust seam or not!

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Project Runway – Yes, I Do Watch This

Heidi Klum

Heidi Klum (Photo credit: fervent-adepte-de-la-mode)

Given all the SH*T that’s happened over the last week here in America – the bombings in Boston, the explosion in West, TX and the manhunt, I thought I’d change the tone a bit. Write some FLUFF – give us a break from Sturm and Drang. Make us feel better, if we can. So let’s leave fear and loathing on the table and talk about Project Runway. Well we’ll leave fear anyway. Loathing I am not so sure. . . .

I was really looking forward to Thursday’s episode. I knew Michelle would create a fantabulous bunch of clothes. I thought Stanley would too and I was sort of surprised that the judges didn’t like them. Daniel was a shoo in I thought. I thought that FINALLY they would bounce Patricia. Oh woe is me – they did not.

I honestly DO NOT UNDERSTAND the fascination with Patricia. The Big Bird Blue Mop was disgusting. Who would wear that? The collection she showed does not coordinate. It does not look like it belongs together. I would not wear horse hair. I would not wear a ruffled shift with huge sequins that must weigh a ton.

Here we have Stanley hand beading his designs. We have Michelle creating a whole story out of the theme of being isolated – and then we have this stuff from Patricia. And they let Daniel go because all of his clothes were black? WHA? Are they nuts?

If Patricia wins this challenge, which I fear she might since she’s stayed on through bad design after bad design – I will never watch the show again. I will not buy L’Oreal products nor read Marie Claire. I will shun Heidi Klum at her next party and I will never Tweet Nina Garcia again. I will be pissed.

There should be an outcry of disgust that someone with so little fashion sense is on this program. How in God’s name did she ever get in? If I send a video of me making ugly pieces of fabric and then making potato sacks out of them – will I get in? What do you think?

I say probably not. I say something is fishy here. I haven’t even seen Patricia WEAR anything I would put on my body. I just don’t get it.

On the other hand – look at the simplicity and meticulous construction of Michelle and Stanley’s designs. They are interesting, wearable, classical and yet forward-looking. They have style. Daniel’s designs were well thought out and were beautiful. I agree that solid black in all of his three designs was a mistake – but not as bad a mistake as that blue mop thing. I am so sorry he’s out. He is such a wonderful designer and his ability to create wearable clothing is immense. This old-fashioned thing I don’t get – ah maybe because I am old. I don’t wear frumpy clothes – and I think Patricia’s things are either frumpy or weird. No cohesion – no sense of style. She took white leather and painted it to make it look like a gingham shirt? Who wears gingham shirts? Did you see the leather shorts? The crotch was bagging. The legs were smaller than the hips. They looked odd on a dress form. Can you imagine wearing leather bagging at your crotch and the legs on the shorts cutting into your legs? What are the judges thinking?

Sigh. I was glad to see Layana and the rest of the sewing helpers. I don’t think Layana can drag Patricia through Fashion Week. But I am afraid the FIX is in and she will win because the judges are so determined she shall win. And as I said – that will be it for Project Runway – do not give the win to someone who is not a fashion designer. Please.

Deutsch: Die Beetrose "Heidi-Klum-Rose&qu...

Deutsch: Die Beetrose “Heidi-Klum-Rose” (Tantau 2006) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Tonight Project Runway!

I’m so EXCITED. I really am into Project Runway this season. I haven’t been for a while so it’s great to come back to a show and enjoy the episodes so much.

I’ve watched about half of the shows. I got hooked on Michelle when she was scorned for that ABSOLUTELY FANTASTIC BEAUTIFUL CHIC AND LUMINOUS

Michelle Lesniak Franklin's Awesome Design

Michelle Lesniak Franklin’s
Awesome Design

pant and tee shirt by the judges. I would wear this.

We had Patricia making a shift dress that didn’t fit with leather fringe that didn’t fringe going down the front. It looked like maybe 20 minutes at the sewing machine and no minutes at the design board.

Patricia's Design

Patricia’s Design

And then we had the perfection that is Michelle. And Patricia went on to Paris.

Luckily for the judges they did not send Michelle home. There would have been immense outcry of foul from all of the Project Runway fans. I do not see what Heidi sees in Patricia. I know she can do textile manipulation but then again I thought this was fashion design???????????? Am I wrong?????????????

Tonight we will see what they have all done with their $10K and their time to actually create something. I am looking forward to this. I’ll just betcha Patricia has made sack dresses out of weird fabric. After all, when you go to Paris and are only inspired by graffiti ……………..

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Stitching and Sewing

I am going to be adding some pictures of the current work in progress today. This is what I am working on and it’s very sexy! Even for an old bat who by the way, doesn’t wear tennis shoes or things that don’t match —–

Gorgeous Silk Blouse  McCall 6605 Version B

Gorgeous Silk Blouse
McCall 6605 Version B

This was a super easy cut out. For all of us who sew, I think cutting something out is the hardest part. If you’re like me, you have to cut fabric on a flat surface that is NOT the floor. I clean off my sewing table which is 36″ x 80″. It is too low. Its former incarnation was as an old kitchen table. It has a “wood” grain formica top. This is great because I don’t care if I mess it up. Also I can paint, etc. on it and not worry about damaging wood. I have hungered for an adjustable height table but the cost is around $2,000 so that will not be coming to my house unless I win the Powerball.

I am doing a muslin of sorts for this shirt. I’m using old sari silk I purchased for $8 and there was quite a lot of it. It is magenta and gold with a border typical of this kind of fabric. I wasn’t able to include the decorative border in the shirt. At first I thought I could use it for the tie but it isn’t wide enough.

This fabric ravels something awful. I have to put in the gathers on the front and back yoke and a french seam wouldn’t work there. I have wrapped seam binding around the raw edges before I gathered them. This is a Hong Kong seam. It will keep the fabric from raveling and looking nasty. I overlocked the other edges with the #31 stitch on the Bernina 440 QE.

A word about sewing machines – a serger would be a wonderful thing to have. I don’t have one as I spent my allotted machine money on a Bernina – which I got really cheap at the time. Oil was $4.00 a gallon and no one in Maine was spending any money. The machine dealer had a special to get business in the door and I got my life-long dream of a Bernina.

If you have a serger you are familiar with how to use it. You also know you need a sewing machine too. I can sew clothing with just the machine but I do have to take extra steps. I think a serger is great for knits. For a fine woven like this I would also stay with the sewing machine.

I read a post where a sewist was having trouble with puckered seams on silk. There is a fantastic trick to sewing with silk or other slippery fabrics that tend to pucker after sewing. Take some tracing paper or other thin paper and cut strips – these can be an inch or just a bit more. Put the layers down paper first then the two fabric layers. Stitch. Then carefully rip off the paper which will have been perforated with your stitching. This will stabilize your fabric and it won’t pucker.

I purchased some great buttons from Waechter’s Fine Fabrics in Asheville. Also a great source of fabrics and you can find them at – check out the cool silks! These are the buttons for this shirt

Pink Shell Button Waechter's Fine Fabrics

Pink Shell Button
Waechter’s Fine Fabrics

Once I sit down and start putting this together it should only take a couple of hours. Basically because I sew slow making sure I get all the finishes right. Then sewing on the buttons and pressing and I’m done.

On pressing – read the blog at Gorgeous Fabrics. Ann is a pressinatrix of the first order. It is important that you press as you go – not just at the end of the construction. I press each seam after I sew it to set the stitching into the cloth. Then I press it open or not depending on how the seam will be finished. I’m doing french seams in this shirt so I will press the first 1/4″ seam then trim it and then do the seam on the wrong side and press it. Every step I sew will be pressed. This keeps the shirt from looking ah sloppy. It is an absolute necessity.

Pictures today of the actual fabric and seams …………. stay tuned!

or Hong Kong finish, a seam-binding technique

or Hong Kong finish, a seam-binding technique (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

French seam

French seam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)