Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time


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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Changing Course

Yesterday was the LONGEST day I’ve known for some time. It seemed like the time crawled. It wasn’t just me, DS noticed it too.

I started my day errand running. I needed to get gas for the trips to the nursing home. My cat, who will not eat hardly any food, needed to be tempted by kitten food from my pet store, medicine needed to be picked up. All of these were accomplished by 11:30 and after procrastinating on the internet for as long as the non-updated web could hold my attention, I had to sew.

I finished the seam on the front of the shirt from Vogue 1247. I used the sewing machine to stitch it down properly and then serged the seam to trim off the excess and finish it nicely. Then I lost interest . . . . this often happens while I’m making a muslin. I just get bored with it. I’d probably be better off just cutting the good fabric and going with it, but I try to not ruin fabric I’ve paid a ton of money to own.

For the last year or so, the cushions on my dining room chairs have been shot. The set, purchased here in Maine, is one of my favorite things. The chairs have wicker bottoms and rungs across the back. They are wide – over 26″ and they are on rollers. Each chair has arms and it is cream in color, much as you would expect cottage furniture to be. The table looks like it is made from planks, although it is just channels routed out of a single piece of wood. The cream finish has been distressed on the chairs and the table to give the impression of old furniture.

The original cushions were a cream and light green plaid with a tiny red line for accent. These have been on the chairs for 6 years. Enough. They have had stuff spilt on them, some have had to be washed in the washing machine and they all look way past presentable.

Yesterday, in the midst of my lethargy, I decided to make cushion covers. I have several pieces of fabric with large yardage. Years ago, while still living on PEI, I travelled all the way to Borden-Carelton from the east side of the Island. It was a Sunday and pouring down rain. Really pouring down. There was a bargain barn type fabric store that was advertising a sale. I wanted drapery fabric for a couple of rooms. So we went.

I brought home two fabrics that look like quilts. Naturally. One is beige/black/red/indigo/cream in a one-patch pattern. The other has small 9-patch blocks in various colors on a dark green background. And I have a bright, almost olive-green Tattersall plaid.

I more into decorating with floral instead of quilt-like fabrics these days, but needs must. I can’t afford to go looking for new cushions – the only ones I’ve found would cost over $200. That’s not going to happen. And also new fabric for the cushions just isn’t in the budget. So I had to choose. I did it the way I usually do. I asked my graphic designer son which one he liked. He chose the beige/cream one and I started cutting out the covers.

The cushions are curved on the bottom front. I took my trusty pattern material, placed a bottom cushion on it and traced the outline, being careful to add an inch all around for seaming and fitting. I then did the same with the top cushion although this time I just did it straight on the fabric with the pattern material.

I now have all of the fabric cut out and ready to sew. Today I’m going to get these done and on the chairs. I also have to make two ties for each upper cushion and I’ve cut these too. The dining room is going to look lovely with clean cushions on the chairs!

I visited DS on Saturday and he is doing very well. He’s so much perkier. His walking seems to not have improved at all and in fact may be worse. I notice the dragging of his right foot more. Luckily he has learned at the memory care unit that he must walk with his walker. Here he didn’t want to. It may be that the walker with wheels in front is much easier for him to walk with, however it happened, it is a good thing. Whenever I visit I am seriously tempted to grab him and bring him home. Knowing that I cannot take care of him keeps me from doing this. I don’t think that he has recognized yet that he won’t be coming home at some point. I hope I can be strong enough to break this to him and as gently as possible. I miss his company a lot and am having a tougher time with this than I thought I would. Probably because now that he’s not here, I actually have time to think. Before I only had time to rush around and do things that needed to be done to take care of him.

Pictures to follow – which is what I always write – but today they WILL follow.


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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.


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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!




Washing Buttons


I recently purchased this pile of buttons and buckles from a nice lady on Ebay. There are some real treasures here and I am pleased. They all felt just a teensy dirty though. Kind of like they’d been in the garage or attic for years.

I put them all in a dishtowel this morning and tied the dishtowel. I am soaking them in dish soap and hot water and I will get them out and let them air dry once they are clean.

Before I stuck them in the towel, I separated out the fabric-covered buttons and anything I thought wouldn’t survive the swimming trip. Most of them are not fabric-covered so I will be able to get them clean and fresh.

I’ve been doing quite a lot of drawing using this book as a reference

fashion illustration


and I am going to take pictures of my work for you all to see. I hope to post those pictures later today. I still have the problem of the Nikon D50 residing upstairs in my sewing room while my Mac is downstairs ………… I think I need two computers and two cameras. Or I need not to be so lazy.

I am cutting out a new shirt today. I haven’t decided yet if it will be this



or if it will be this



For the first shirt, I am using this fabric

Whew this is cute


and I have several for the second – here’s a few of them

Alas I have more ……………… my fabric buying in April and May got a bit out of hand …………… I think I’m stocked up for a LONG time – especially since I still have the entire order of fabric from way back in 2011 AND fabrics I bought longer ago than that. I have marvelous fabric ………………

Update with pictures of the drawings and pretty purple shirt later!



Purple Sari Silk Shirt Done! Brownies Baked!

Well except for sewing on buttons – then it’s totally pressed and into the closet. I’m very happy to finally get this done so I can cut out a knit tee to serge. I love my serger and I want to use it!

I’ve been scouring websites for buttons lately. I need nice buttons for shirts and jackets and new ones are so ah plain. They just look  – ordinary. I want bling boom fireworks. So I went looking and today these arrived in the mail!

These are fun. I need to wash the big lot of buttons – they have been stored somewhere a long time. There are some real beauties in the bag!

Given the new styles, it doesn’t matter so much if the buttons on your shirt don’t match. They purposely don’t match on some RTW. If I have buttons of the right size and shape but don’t like the color – woosh out comes the Lumiere paints and I paint them. I’ve used lots of Grandma Nannie’s buttons this way and I love the look. Nothing like a bunch of silver buttons to perk up a gray shirt or a nice metallic indigo on a navy shirt.

After I finished the shirt I whipped up a bunch of Sinful Brownies – oh boy. They have 1 and 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 cup cocoa,  1/2 pound butter,  2 cups of sugar, 4 eggs, 1 tsp vanilla  and a pinch of salt – you melt the butter with the cocoa in the microwave and then stir the other stuff in until combined. You bake these in a jelly roll pan (15 x 1) for 20 minutes at 350. While they are still slightly warm you spread them with frosting made like this – 1/4 cup melted butter, 1/3 cup cocoa, 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla and enough milk to make it thick and spreadable. I use about 1/3 of a cup of milk but I don’t pour it in all at once – I want to get the right consistency so I play with splashes of milk. After these are frosted I let them cool completely (because they will kill you with richness if you eat them warm!) and they are the best brownies I’ve ever eaten – really.

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The New Wardrobe!

The fabric has arrived. This is the latest (and last) in my fabric splurges. Some would say compulsions. At any rate, this is it for a very long time. One cannot eat fabric. I will try to stuff it in a casserole and see if the boys eat it. I don’t think they will …………

I do have clothing in mind when I buy my fabric. I look at the patterns I have – hopefully I won’t have to buy more – and determine what fabric I need from there. I try not to START with the fabric – I have started with fabric way back when I was doing “art” quilts and it led me in various wonderful ways but I would always find I didn’t have enough of one or too much of another. Better to have a plan.

The latest arrivals are these

They are going to make up into these wardrobe itemsM6531M6563


The two silks will be the same pattern – the top, of course. I will need zippers. I’ve already looked at the outside of the McCall’s jacket pattern and can’t find the size of the zipper – I have had the size of the zipper on the pattern be wrong before so I will wait until I am ready to put it in to measure the opening and buy the zipper.

I have black pants. I have lots of black pants. I purchased a bunch from Talbots when they have been on sale and they fit beautifully. I have thicker ones for the dead of winter and thinner ones for warmer weather. I also have made several pairs of black pants. I have some thicker legging-type pants with an actual waistband and zipper but my legs are so small compared to the rest of me – I need something really long to come down around my knees before I put on leggings.

Much sewing will occur after we get to the going to the nursing home part. I keep thinking he won’t have to but then something happens and I know he will. He stayed up until 4:45 am and then got up at 7. He fell asleep and almost fell off his chair while trying to eat his cereal. He can’t go on like this and neither can I. I have to get some sleep sometimes.

More after I visit the nursing home today – I’m there in just an hour and a half and I am looking forward to getting some of my questions answered!