Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time


It’s All Done! Style Arc May Top!

This top is fantastic. I wasn’t at all sure about it until I tried it on. Even seeing it on the dress form didn’t appeal to me that much. When I put it on I felt like I’d just gone out and bought a VERY nice top.

The fit is fat-lump skimming – if you know what I mean. One day – soon – I am going to get this stuff off – but until then I need clothes that make me look good. And this top does that.

The neck line is just a teensy bit low but nothing extreme, so it’s very wearable. Also that weird, hard to do seam under the bust means that it is very flattering. It hides the old tummy and it has a flattering A-line.

I hemmed it with a double needle which always turns out looking professional. I just have to keep reading the directions on how to thread the two needles because I don’t do it often enough to keep it in my head.

Here’s the pictures!!

And on another high note – I spoke to my husband just a few minutes ago and he’s doing well. He let’s me know that he likes where he’s at – that’s so good. I’m glad he’s adapting and I know I wouldn’t do it as well.

And on the second note? I have a job interview tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!! I got the call at around noon today and I cannot. wait. I love that I will actually be able to work and my husband will be taken care of at the same time!



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Revamp of Vogue 1247 Complete

I loved the look of the top on the Vogue 1247 pattern by Rachel Comey. The shirt has such a casual yet stylish feel about it. The only difficulty is that the pattern only goes up to size 18. This is common in patterns from some designers. It’s very frustrating because there are those of us who can wear that style that are not small. I decided not to let the size bother me and bought it anyway – on sale, of course.

Here’s the technical drawing of the shirt and its components


If you look closely, you’ll see the bottom half of the front has four triangular pieces. The top portion has two pieces joined at center front. There are pleats from the shoulder and the line under the v-neck is really  two darts, one on each side.

Being somewhat mathematically challenged, I spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what the garment would measure in a size 18 when finished. Unlike most normal patterns, Vogue did not put this table in this pattern. Instead they marked the width of the finished garment on the pattern piece. Which was way odd because they had one width on the back and one on the front and there’s no way you could add them together and get a top out of it – it would be around 100″ around. So I measured each piece.

I figured the shirt would end up being 52.5″ when complete in a size 18. This is okay in a knit, but this will be out of a woven and that’s way too small. It also allows for around 12″ of ease in the design. So I commenced to adding 12″ to the pattern for ease to fit me.

You’d think that I would know there are two pieces to the front. Duh. Well I didn’t pay attention and I added 12 inches to one side. The next morning it dawned on me that if I did add that much to each side, I would effectively add 24 inches to the shirt. No way I need the shirt to be 76″ around!

Back to the slicing board, I cut out two of the 4″ pieces I had added to my pattern material. I then left only one 4″ piece which will add 8″ to the finished garment, making it 60″ around and giving me 10″ of ease in the garment.

I then had to add to the other pieces the same amount so they would fit when sewed and also add to the back pattern piece. I will make a muslin of this and see if everything fits. For those of you who have read this far and don’t sew – a muslin is just a trial garment which you do to fit yourself. You don’t have to finish it once you get it to the point where you like how it will fit. For this, I highly recommend a dress form because taking it on and off gets boring and you still can’t really see it. You need to look at it as others will look at it and this is best done on a dress form.

I may have to add more to the back piece. I’m not sure yet and I don’t want the back to be super baggy but I want the pieces to fit together. Since I did the enlargement of the whole front of the pattern, I don’t need to do an FBAfull bust adjustment – on the pattern.

Yesterday my latest and last big fabric purchase arrived. I have been maniacally buying fabric. I am now not allowed to go to the fabric website where I always shop. I must contain myself as I have plans in the fall I want to keep and I will need all the money I can get.

I was knocked flat by the absolute perfection of my order. Some of the fabrics looked not at all like I expected. Particularly the french cotton dots which I purchased in red/white and black/white. These will be the shirt that I made in the dark teal gauze. The dots were much smaller than I thought and I love it all the more for that.

I had been hankering after this Burning Torch embroidered cotton for months. Knowing that it wouldn’t be there forever, I finally got it. It is not inexpensive and I needed at least 3 yards. Here’s the fabric – which is even better in real life.


Also in the box were these two faux leather fabrics. These are so malleable and fine. The copper I had planned for a bag but I may make a vest instead or a jacket.

The white gold is destined to be a jacket.

I also received these fabrics

The navy print lacy fabric is fantastic with a tiny floral and a nice sheer but not too sheer look. I purchased 4 yards of this because of the width but also because I am unsure which shirt pattern I’m going to use with this.

After my fabric arrived yesterday I spent a great deal of time jumping up and down screaming whoopee! I love the fabric from Emma One Sock. I’ve never been disappointed in anything I’ve ordered. That I cannot say about every online purchase of fabric I’ve made. Although I am certainly not made of money, I do follow the concept that in fabric, you get what you pay for. There is nothing worse than doing an excellent job on a garment using cheap fabric. It will look cheap no matter how great you sew. If you like disposable clothes then it’s not an issue. I want stuff to last. I had my fill of disposable clothes buying RTW.

Today I will be back in the sewing room working on the muslin for the shirt. As fast as I can because I can’t wait to get to the main event!


I Need Help Finding Something and Here’s How to Get Good Clothes Cheap

A few weeks ago I saw a really cute boxy boatneck top on It was a colorblock and it was pink over gray. It was super-oversized and had long sleeves. I want that tee. Of course, once the sale is over, it is no longer on Zulily. I have done so many google searches I’m ready to try bing.

If anyone out there has seen this or knows what brand it is – let me know. Whimper.

Thanks to a WP post I found Free People! I went to their site and yes, they are geared to skinny women, but a lot of their tops would work for any size as they too are oversized and awesome. They are kind of pricey so I will probably be doing the theft thing with a pair of scissors and my sewing machine. I love thieving styles!

Here’s how I do it. I look at the top I want to copy. I figure out what the main pattern piece elements are. I get out my trusty pattern material which costs $2.15 a yard at and I start drawing out the shapes – aided by my straight edge and a flexible french curve. I approximate the shape and fit it to my size.

Most RTW is pretty simple. You can see the shape in the top easily. I would have more trouble with pants, but I have so many pants patterns that I love I just use those and tart them up a bit.

I get inspiration from the embellishments of RTW too. There may be two or more fabrics used. As long as they’re the same weight and will hang the same, they’re good to use together. You wouldn’t mix a woven and a knit because they act different when on and one would drag the other down. I prefer fabrics with some drape and give. I find I use knits a lot for casual clothes (and dressy for jackets and pants) and woven fabrics for more classic styles. My last project, the Origami blouse, I used a crinkle cotton with a lot of give and the pattern was also oversized. This shirt is comfortable and I wore it yesterday. It’s very cool too in hot humid weather as it doesn’t cling anywhere.

Shortly I’m going to get a scanner so I can show you some of my concept drawings for clothes. I was going to use a tablet but I’m not an early adopter of new technology! Ha! Actually DS talked himself out of a $2500 tablet for digital illustration and has decided to keep his current tablet. Thankfully.

Dresses and skirts are also easy to copy from RTW. I highly recommend a draping class from Paul Gallo which is on On Craftsy you can find hundreds of garment construction classes to broaden your toolbox. The Tilton sisters have one on making tee shirts – they do a lot of surface design work and are a fun couple of people to watch. Their creative juices flow out of the computer.

If you’re like me, you have sewing patterns. In each of these patterns are components of a style that you can take and mix with another pattern to get the look you want. Don’t be afraid to mix and match! I have various patterns for tops that I change the neckline on, make longer, change the drape, add sleeves and embellishments. You can do anything to your pattern to make it yours – but I would highly recommend you trace it off onto pattern material. You never know when you might want to make another style from that pattern and you will need the original pattern intact as it was in the beginning.

All you need to make clothing from RTW inspiration is your eyes, your tools and a sewing machine. I find a dress form to be helpful too and there’s a good one that is adjustable to your measurements. I think it was $165. It has simplified my life no end. I can see what something looks like on my double and I know it will look fine on me.

Hey – if you find that shirt I’m talking about – let me know – I’m going to steal it too.


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Origami in the Sewing Room


This shirt is my newest project. It comes from a book entitled Drape Drape 3 – I need to collect Drape Drape and Drape Drape 2!

Unfortunately my bust is not 90 cm. It is 127 cm or 50″.  The largest size for the clothing in this book is the 90 cm – so I have to add around 30″ more or less to the patterns. These are intended to be oversized so I don’t have to go crazy adding inches but I do want the oversized look –

I traced the pattern off the sheets in the book and pinned it down onto more pattern material. This stuff is non-woven but it is strong and can be sewn. And it is all of $2.15 per yard at – one of my favorite places.

I managed to get both pieces – the front and back – added to and cut out by using my flexible french curve (lovely blue bendable curve!) and my ruler. It was a bit tricky going around some of the shape parts because I wanted to keep the same sillouhette and not distort the shirt.

I then tried to align the back with the front as stated in the directions. I couldn’t do it. It didn’t look like the picture of the piece on the fabric in the instructions. I stewed. I came downstairs with the book. I looked at it from 3 pm until around 7. I went back upstairs and started playing with the front and the back. I had to completely disregard any thought that I had about how it should go together – then I got it!

Things take a while to sink in when I am doing something mechanical. I need visual references and plenty of patience. My clothing looks good when it is finished because I will NOT GIVE UP. Not even if I am screaming in frustration – which is a metaphor for sewing!

Today I am going to fit this to my dress form and see how it looks. If I need final adjustments to the pattern I can do that before I even cut anything out. Then I’m cutting it out – the first one anyway – and this baby will be done in no time.

I have several pieces of fabric I want to make this out of – here’s just one –



This is quite sheer so I will also be making a tank to wear under it – no problem!

More as I get it picture ready!



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So Many Choices

Vogue 1247 Love the Top

Vogue 1247
Love the Top

Since I came back to sewing my own clothes, I’ve been amazed at how many patterns there are – how many new independent pattern companies – and the wealth of possible designs.

When I first started sewing I used Simplicity and See and Sew patterns. They had few pattern pieces and simple instructions. I wasn’t always able to execute the patterns effectively. Most of the time, and for several years, I wasn’t thrilled with my results. I would sew something and then stick it in the back of the closet. I had an urge to sew, but really no skills.

I learned to sew from Home Ec classes and my mother. Mom was a meticulous sewer and everything she made was gorgeous. I wanted to sew like that.

We always cut out our fabric on the floor of the living room. Our home was small and this was the largest space. If I had to do that now nothing would get done. I don’t like being on the floor because I can’t get up off it! I use my sewing table. I have to clean everything off of it – sewing machine, box of notions, sewing machine accessories, etc. The bad thing about this is cleaning it off, which is also the good thing. I can start anew and decide what goes back on that table.

When I first find a pattern I want to make I determine the size. Easy for me because I usually choose the largest unless it’s a Today’s Fit by Sandra Betzina or a Burda Plus pattern. When I’m looking at patterns online I think back to my pre-teen years when a friend of mine and I would go to Robeson’s in Champaign and ask if they had any old pattern catalogs! So much fun because the patterns were current and I could still get them. And it was much easier to look at them at home.

Vogue 8883

Vogue 8883

So back to the sizing. Each company and independent designer doesn’t necessarily use the same sizing. Patterns within one company will vary in the finished measurements. I look at the bust measurement for direction as well as the hip measurement. They don’t usually give you anything but these plus the back length.

I know my bust measurement and I can tell from the technical drawing how much ease I’m going to want. I love knits as the fit is so flexible but still needs to be finely tuned. Some patterns are generous, some are not. If I really love a design I will buy the largest size even though it may be too small. I know I can adjust the size to fit.

I trace my patterns onto pattern paper or material. I use a non-woven pattern material that you can sew together. This helps with fitting. I detest those tissue paper patterns because they rip no matter how careful you are. I don’t want to cut any elements off including optional sizes so I trace. If the pattern is something I’m going to adjust, which it nearly always is, I add an inch to the seam allowances as I trace. This gives me a start on adjusting on the dress form.

I use the traced off pattern to make my full bust adjustment (see post on this) and any other alterations I need for fit. I may need to lengthen a top or shorten a dress pattern to a top or fit the pants to my larger waist and smaller hips. The pattern is just for reference. I like to think of the pattern as a design concept which I can finely tune to be unique.

I find that Vogue Patterns come in smaller sizing whereas McCall Patterns (same company, different name) are more generous. Burda Style through Simplicity Patterns do not offer many patterns. Most of the cute ones are not in my size. I have purchased only one Butterick pattern recently as Katherine Tilton went from Vogue to Butterick with her latest designs.

Some independent pattern designers I like are Hot Patterns, Christine Jonson and Style Arc – Style Arc being in Australia. Being financially embarrassed most of the time – Style Arc patterns are hard to come by as shipping from Australia is ridiculous. The cost for shipping can be more than the patterns.

After tracing off the pattern and doing the FBA, I fit the pattern to my dress form which is adjusted to my size. I get an idea where it needs to come in or out. And I can then pin the mock-up together on the form and see how it will look. I think without this visual aid it is hard to make good-looking clothing. A dress form is around $160 and is so worth the price. It pays for itself with the fabric you don’t throw out because the item you made doesn’t look good on your figure.

After the alterations are made I make sure all markings are transferred to my new pattern. You need these. This aids you in putting the garment together. Then I cut the fabric. If I am not sure about the pattern I will first make it in a fabric that I’m not that nuts about – I have lots of those. – before I cut the good stuff. This way I have a wearable muslin if it turns out and if it doesn’t I don’t have to finish it – I can just either make more adjustments or decide to scrap the pattern. This happens. I no longer have the Pilgrim voice in me that says YOU MUST use this no matter what. No. If it isn’t going to be worn I don’t need to waste my time. I used to finished reading books I didn’t enjoy – now I don’t do anything that I don’t like unless you count cleaning house.

Once I get the wearable muslin fitted and see that it works, I can either stop on it and go to the good fabric or finish it. I have made muslins for clothing patterns that actually I love in the not-so-favorite fabric. This is a bonus. I’ve learned a little about buying fabric which I will share with you in another post.

So here’s where you begin …………… more adventure to come!

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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 ……………..