Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time


Style Arc’s May Top



Finally! I went to the sewing room and just said – get over it and make something! And today I have cut this top out of a wonderful printed crinkled knit – in all sorts of bright colors (pictures later).

This top, like all of the Style Arc patterns, is very simple. The only thing I’m the teensiest bit worried about is the under-bust seam which is just a slash/gather/sew proposition. I’m supposed to begin the seam at zero and go to 1/4 inch. I hope I can start at zero! I don’t want any little pointed seams here at all. I think I can handle this.

There are only four pattern pieces. Chloe at Style Arc drafts these patterns (and the fit is fantastic!) on large pieces of blueprint type paper. There’s no cut on fold stuff going on with these patterns. I already have 6 more in my shopping cart. I will weed them out and get the two or three I absolutely must have next time I have any appreciable cash.

The nasty sewing block from hell has been broken – photos as soon as I finish!



Fashion Finds and Patterns to Make Them

It will come to no surprise to any of you that I LOVE clothes. I always have. I was pretty particular about what I would wear even at the age of 5. Mom tried to put me in ruffles and lace – let’s just say that didn’t work out so well for her. If she’d tried bright colors and clean lines, she’d have been nearer the mark.

I was browsing through some new “styles you must have” type magazine articles and I found these items.

I also found, with the exception of the seamed jacket, patterns for all of these. Yes ma’am you can make them. The only item that would require a tad bit of experience is the white jacket. And that’s not impossible for even a new sewer. It has clean, simple lines and would be lined. It is a fantastic look for wearing with anything.

These are the patterns I’ve found.



This looks EXACTLY like the tank top I found. Only it will be much much cheaper if you make it!



The marvelous jacket which also will enable you to make several for the price of one. That’s why sewing your own clothing is so much better than buying it.

And lastly



I have discussed leggings and me. We don’t mix well. I’m a bit long in the tooth for these at any rate. Also the body shape isn’t flattered by leggings. I am not, however, adverse to wearing them in the house. Or sleeping in them!

These are just a few examples of how you can make the current fashion trends for a fraction of the cost. All of the patterns are available from And their patterns FIT. They do expect you to know some sewing terms, but whatever you need to do you can find assists on their website and also on the web.




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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Pictures Today!

I finally brought the Nikon D50 down so I can hook it up to the laptop and transfer pictures.  Somehow I would love to get these on the same floor. Hmm I’ll have to think on that.

First I have some pictures of the progress on the fantastic purple shirt here

McCall's 6605

McCall’s 6605

And here’s mine so far



And I thought you might want to see some of my quilts = traditional ones this time

The quilt in pink was machine pieced and quilted using my Bernina with the BSR (stitch regulator). Doing large quilts on the machine is boring. Really boring. I prefer hand quilting both for the appearance and the pleasure of doing this. The Russian Sunflower quilt is all hand pieced, hand appliqued and hand quilted every 1/4 in the sunflowers and in a rose leaf and crosshatch pattern in the plain setting blocks. Each sunflower has 45 pieces and piecing those tiny little triangles was a pain – so was cutting them out – and then I appliqued the sunflowers onto the base fabric. I must say I do love it!

Many things to do today so I’ll keep this short – have a great day!



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Knitting and the Life Behind the Wool

I’ve recently started following Juniper Moon Farm and Shepherd Susie on WP. I’ve had so much fun during lambing season watching the little gals and guys come into this world – well, seeing their pictures after they are here.

This farm is the epitome of sustainable. It is life in action. Susie’s trials and tribulations are the trials and tribulations of all of us – but she has a secret weapon – the love from all of her animals. In the photos she takes you can see the love from the eyes of the lambs. When I gaze upon them I am so glad I do not eat meat and I wish desperately that no one would.

Susie sells Yarn Shares on her website – she was the pioneer in fiber CSAs which help the farmer financially throughout the year maintain their farm and gives the owner of the share a stake in the farm. When you purchase a CSA you get fiber or yarn. What a treat! It is enough just to see the babies and then to get the wool – oh my that is heaven!

Susie is moving now. She packed up all the critters on a van and took off to her temporary home until she can find that just right place for her and the babies. This is a monumental task, as we who have ever moved know. I’ve moved 16 times in 35 years of marriage and countless other times before marriage – but I never had to haul a trailer of animals behind me. My wish for all of them is a safe arrival and enjoyment of their new adventure.

Soon’s the ship comes in – I’m buying a CSA. It doesn’t cost any more than buying a few skeins of yarn from the retail shop and it is so much more IMPORTANT.  All knitters and spinners – heads up – charge to the website above and let’s get cracking! You know you want that wool – and those cute little lambs can’t wait to give it to us!

I’ve added some pictures of baby lambs here – none of these are Susie’s lambs but you can see her lambs on her blog – there’s a link at Fiber Farm.

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I love to shop. I have always loved shopping. I am so glad the days are gone when I have to leave my home to shop! No more trying to find a parking spot at the mall – although these days you can get right up to the door – NOT the great economy of the 90s or even after the millenium. With the internet – I have found a whole new universe of STUFF to look at, if not to buy.e

Step back just a sec. Whenever my family and I went on vacation – I went to shop. We went to Toronto to see Phantom of the Opera. I shopped. We went to Niagara Falls to see well, the falls – and I went to shop. We went to Santa Fe – I went to shop. We went to Paris and my soul exploded with the sights and sounds and smells. I shopped. I went to Souleaido. The shop girls spoke no English and I spoke no French – I bought so much fabric I think they thought I was nuts. I am. Certifiable.



I looked at quilts. Being in the quilt business. A lady in Paris tried to sell me American quilts. Non non non. Provincial quilts – that’s what I wanted –

I bought a Limoges egg with fantastical painting on it and a little teensy perfume bottle inside. I bought art supplies at Sennelier – can you imagine? I need to go back to Paris. I really really do ………………

Ok back to shopping. I actually spend some time pretend shopping. I used to do this with catalogs – now I do it via the web. I see something I want and poof it’s in my shopping cart. And I keep going – adding everything I want from that site. You see just in case I win the lottery, I want to know what I’m going to do with that money besides buy a home on the ocean and one somewhere warm and go to New York and …………….

So I pretend shop. I do a fair bit of real shopping too – especially for my sewing hobby. Fabric is enticing and it is so cool to be able to look at fabric and buy it online. I don’t need to travel 2 hours to see if fabric stores in Portland have any fabric I want. I just go to my favorite fabric websites and troll for beauties.

Shoes are great fun too. I’ve always liked shoes. Ever since I got my first pair of red rubber boots when I was 5 years old. I got up in the middle of the night and put them on. Then I went back to bed. Mom thought that was funny. I thought it was normal and that everybody did that.

And then there’s underwear. I don’t know about you but I hate ratty underwear. And for some reason it doesn’t last long. I recently purchased 15 briefs. I decided to skip white because you just can’t keep it white no matter what you do and I don’t use bleach. My mom died from cleaning fluids. I don’t use nasty cleaning fluids. So the white underwear looks nasty in a few weeks. I went with blues and lavender and purple. I hand wash my underwear.

I graduated from high school in 1969. 🙂 Believe it or not, while I was in school we couldn’t wear pants to class. We had to wear skirts or dresses and they had to come to our knees – until I got to be a junior in high school. Then they could be shorter – thank God – one of my skirts was 17″ long – and blue jeans – flared-leg blue jeans – became really popular. I don’t know if Champaign was behind the times but I remember wearing my first tee shirt in 1969. It was maroon with white lettering – my high school’s colors. I have pictures of me in that and damn I was cute. I was cuter than I knew …………

Nowadays I like shopping for anti-aging creams and make-up to hid the wrinkles – although I do have less than I expected at this age. I like shopping for hair color – although not totally gray I do have these annoying white strings on my sides. And my hair is dark brown with I swear every other strand white or silver. Yetch. Nasty.

And I like shopping for socks. Have you seen the cost of socks lately? Gawd. I have to buy several pair at a time ……….. and there’s another foible of mine –

I buy in bulk. Say there’s a tee shirt I like. I get it in every color – or try to. How about a sweater? I buy those in bulk too. And socks, done that.

And fabric – oh boy fabric – ever since I started making quilts and wall hangings I started buying fabric in clumps. It was kind of hard then to co-ordinate them together into a quilt. Sometimes I wouldn’t have enough of one that I wanted to use so I would go to the stash and start pulling out possibilities. My friend once said I used more different fabrics in a quilt than anyone she knew. And she owned a quilting shop. I could always use bits. Fat quarters were the staff of life.

And then there’s fabric to sew into clothes. I make a lot of tee shirts. And jackets and pants …………. if I see something I like I buy it. If it’s 60″ wide I buy 2 yards for a tee and if it’s something I like a lot I’ll get 3 yards. If I find great fabric for a cami I’ll buy a yard. Pants need 3 yards for the length I find. And woven shirts – I like floaty so I’ll get 3 if it’s wide and 4 if it’s 45″. On and on and on …………

Whenever I want to make something I just have to go to my stash. And decide which one to use. If I have any time left from pretend shopping on the internet ……………….

A Flea Market in Paris

A Flea Market in Paris