Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time


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 – 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


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 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 ……………..



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Pattern Drafted and Ready To Go!

I wish I had a picture – promise they’ll come tomorrow. I drafted a hybrid between the bibbed oversized shirt and the empire waisted jacket. The top will have an empire waist with gathers around the “skirt” of the top. I am so EXCITED! It wasn’t as hard as I’d thought it would be – but look I’m saying that BEFORE I start sewing it – so who knows what will happen.

I plan on doing big gathered pockets on the front, of course, and instead of sleeves with cuffs I’m doing sleeves with a binding around the gathered edge. I’m also going to bind the neckline and do a normal placket for the buttons and buttonholes.

I want to make this out of this fabric

Oscar Cotton Twill Emma One Sock Dot Com

Oscar Cotton Twill
Emma One Sock Dot Com

eventually, but I’m going to start with a stretch cotton stripe in aqua and white that I got from Gorgeous Fabrics. It is the most luscious oxford cloth type fabric and I can’t wait to get it all cut out and onto the machine. Again my finishing techniques are going to be thought long and hard. I always want the inside to look as good as the outside. I may try to do a gathered french seam or else just serge off the seam with the gathers once I get to that point. Sigh. I’m not sure about that step.

In order to match everything I’m going to pin the fabric together before I cut so that nothing shifts around. I really want to match the shoulders and sides – not that RTW does that any more! Odd looking stuff they have now ………..

So tomorrow the cut out …………….


Wading Into The Swamp

A Flea Market in Paris

A Flea Market in Paris

Yesterday my son was uploading an animation to YouTube. It is huge, so it took from early in the morning until 4:30 pm. I was having withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal from the internet, that is.

I had the brilliant and soul-fulfilling idea to organize my sewing patterns. I have several that I’ve adjusted and copied from books and I wanted to put them in something just in case I ever wanted to see them again in this lifetime. You see my sewing room is (was) a mess.

I proceeded to the sewing room with some envelopes and a marker. I looked around. If I was going to organize these patterns, where would I put them? Hmm. There was no more room on the shelves. I started looking at the shelves. There wasn’t a lot on them that I use with the exception of the printed patterns. Hmm.

I sighed. Then I went downstairs, got 10 garbage sacks from the kitchen and started pitching.

For some reason, ever since I was an art quilter, I have saved the teensiest bit of fabric – just in case. Who knows what I might need it for? Seriously! I’ve saved everything from the clothes I’ve made. The scraps were taking over two shelves.

I was merciless. If I looked at it and my first reaction was to pitch it, I pitched it. Sometimes I would grab it out of the bag and then put it right back in. I am serious about simplifying my life. I chided myself.

Most of my “good” fabric – stuff that I have recently purchased – was on the floor still in the original boxes. I cleaned out my pretty hot pink plastic storage bins, grabbed two more in the basement and started culling fabric. I may only have created another problem, since some stuff went into the old “spinning room” which is no longer a spinning room because I don’t spin and I sold my spinning wheel – but that room can wait – it needs a major re-order too.

I took all the fabric from their boxes and put them neatly in bins. I now can see what I have without standing on my head. I put all my little pieces of pattern tracing material in a box. Who knows? I may need a tiny piece here or there for a pattern. I think the same scrap hoarding disease may have hit again. No matter. I can control it. I can quit whenever I want.

I also had a pile of clothes/projects on the floor behind my door. Super nasty mess that it was, I went through that pile and pitched a ton of clothing I don’t want and can’t wear. I would like to tell you that I’m taking it to SA or GW but I’m not. Nobody would want this stuff. I am doing them a favor and throwing it out.

I cleaned under my sewing table. I removed 8 or 9 cardboard boxes and 6 full bags of trash. This from a room that is 10 x 12. Imagine if the room were bigger? What would I do?

I still have one shelving unit to sort. It is where I keep most of my notions, hand-sewing supplies, marking tools, interfacing – stuff like that. I have beads in a box, an old shawl I was making from felted wool, a doll I will never finish, a box for my iron, my Bernina sewing machine bag for when I jet to Paris and need to take my machine (I can’t imagine traveling with a sewing machine). And all sorts of other “stuff”. I have a bin full of Lumiere fabric paints and a box full of watercolor paints and another full of brushes. I have a huge box full of buttons from all over. Really nice buttons – I do love a bit of pizzazz! And all of this will be sorted, filed and controlled.

I will not give into the swamp. Today I will wade in again (because my two shelves that are clean look so pretty!) and I will conquer the other shelves, the table and finally get the patterns organized.

This is so strange and so soul-satisfying. For almost 3 years I haven’t had time to do anything other than working, caregiving or worrying. Let me tell ya, the worrying was sure a waste of time! I have managed this week to clean my bathroom storage closet of another huge bag of trash and now the sewing room looks like a real person lives there ————— I have offered to start on my son’s room – he won’t let me in…………………

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Working on a Top


This is not my shirt! It is, however, my fabric. I fell in love with this fabric from Elliott Berman Textiles in New York late last winter. I fussed about what to make from it. Being financially embarrassed at the time, I only bought two yards of this.

In my last post I explained a tee-shirt for which I’ve been looking. It was oversized, boatneck and with dolman-type long sleeves. I couldn’t find it anywhere. I’d seen it on Zulily (check them out they are fantastic). I decided to make my own and figured it can’t be too hard. It isn’t.

I first decided how to orient the fabric. I went with the print going sideways even though it is a bit of a stripe effect. It is so loose and flowing a print that it doesn’t make me look wider. Heaven forbid.

I then marked off what I though would be wide enough. I went with the width of the fabric, 60″. I then calculated length and went with approximately 27″. I cut two rectangles. I found the center of both and marked 8″ on either side for the neck opening. I overstitched the edges of each rectangle and then sewed the “shoulders” together up to the neck opening on both sides. Trying this on my dress form, I found the neck opening too large so I sewed a further 4″ in on each side. This makes the neck opening a comfortable 12″. I then pressed the overstitched edges of the boatneck about 5/8″ and sewed them 3/8″. This gives me a nice finish to the neckline.

My next step is sleeves. I calculated how long I want them. I want them LONG. I like the scrunchy look of super long sleeves. I then calculated width. I decided on 24″ at the top and I want to taper this to 10″ at the wrist.

I will sew the sleeve, which is dropped from the shoulder quite a bit, before I sew the side seams. Really if you do this, putting in sleeves is a snap. I hate setting in sleeves. Just like I hate zippers.

The final step will be the hem – I will probably just overstitch this and leave it. I don’t like bulky hems in a knit fabric.

This is the shirt I was looking for all those hours on Google. I made it myself! I will put up finished pictures as soon as I have them.



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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Lace, Mesh and Your Bra Will Show ……….

I like fabrics with BLING. I want the fabric to do something – not just lie there.

I find using solid colors only works for me if I am doing an “outfit” and intend on wearing the solid with some nutso print

I also find that I love lace and mesh fabrics. I have some gorgeous – from Gorgeous Fabrics – stretch lace in a beautiful color combination of burgundy and beige. There are neat flowers all over – I bought 8 yards. I knew that I would need to double the fabric for a top – but I didn’t need 8 yards to do that – now I’m searching for the way to use the rest of this in something besides a top.

(Had to take a break to eat – I forget to do that in the morning until the coffee starts making me sick.)

Sewing any sheer fabric means your seams will show on the outside of your garment. You’ll be able to see through to the inside. I deal with this by using french seams – that way all that’s visible is a pretty finished seam with no raw edges. I find french seams add less weight than overcasting the edges of the seams. I have yet to try the lace or a sheer with my new serger. I have yet to try much of anything with my new serger!

With a busy fabric like stretch lace the pattern doesn’t need to be complicated and will actually detract from the fabric if it is complicated. I find a simple tee shirt with classic lines suits a stretch lace or mesh. I also double the fabric. I put two shirts inside one another. I put the right side on the outside (duh) and the right side of the inside tee against my skin. I connect them at the neckline just as if I were lining something. Which I am but with its own fabric.

Some of the mesh fabrics are still going to be see through even with doubling them. You’re going to need a camisole or a really nice bra (and this is for those who are 40 and under) that peeks out and looks cute! I am 61 – nobody wants to see my bra. So I would wear a cami under a sheer lace or mesh tee-shirt if the doubling doesn’t cover everything.

I find mesh fabric or stretch lace to be pretty reasonably priced too. Fabric is SO expensive if you are buying good fabric that the mesh and lace is refreshingly affordable. I find great choices at Gorgeous Fabrics, Marcy Tilton, Mood – anywhere you can imagine. Denver Fabrics has some great stretch lace too as does the New York Fashion Fabric website. I buy these whenever I find them knowing I will use them. When it is a lace or a mesh I usually get 4 yards thinking two will make a tee-shirt if I want it long and I will need double that to make the sheer not so sheer. Of course 3 would do or 2 if you’re tiny. You can always leave the sleeves just one layer – which is what I do. Sheer sleeves show no bad things.

Here are some ideas of fabrics that are currently available –

and here are some super inexpensive ones from Denver Fabrics

Denver Fabrics has great quality fabric and the prices are so low they’re scary! They have dance fabric, swimwear fabric – every kind of fabric out there – plus even yarn and notion and books and ……

Have fun finding your own SHEER magic – ha!

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Sewing Notions and The Fear of Not Having THAT One Thing You Need

There are so many “extra” things you need to complete your wardrobe – here are just a few and I’m sure you can think of more ………….


There are several wonderful websites to help you accumulate everything you will need. I like SewTrue for most things – including wonderful patternmaking supplies and hard to find tailoring supplies. Also they have a large thread selection and every weird notion you can name.

Mood Fabrics has a notion department too and it is fantastic. MJ Trim is good for – wait for it – trims. carries pattern tracing material you can sew to fit and it’s $2.15 a yard. Also has muslin which you will need to mock-up your garments.

One thing I love that I cannot live without is my Olfa cutter and mat. I have the 24 x 36 mat and I use it to cut out fabric. An extra supply of blades comes in handy – it needs replacing often if you cut a lot – mine is cutting weird with skipping every so often. I think it’s the cutter itself as I’ve changed the blade and it’s still doing it.

Anything else? Let you imagine run wild.