Couture Lunacy

Exploring Fashion One Thread At A Time


Work Work Work – And Fun Fun Fun

What have I been doing? Surprise! I’ve been sewing. Since the failure of Vogue 8937 – which I will insist to my dying day was the result of lousy fabric, I have finished one awesome top and started another.

Here’s the pattern I used – 

Vogue 8151

Vogue 8151

This is a Sandra Betzina Today’s Fit pattern from Vogue. I had read many great reviews on this pattern and I did try it once before. I didn’t like it. It was all my fault. I hadn’t cut the right size, didn’t lengthen the shirt and just generally messed up. But now I LOVE THIS PATTERN.

This time I did cut the right size, after tracing my pattern. I then had a decision to make about darts. Darts in a knit? Well yes it does work. I did also lengthen the shirt by two inches to a length that’s much more comfortable for me. I also fiddled with the neck band and made it smaller to give it more snap. 

Here’s the first shirt all done –



For some reason the photo looks straight up and down. It is not. It fits like a dream. I only had to do a tad bit of adjusting when sewing the final seams. I took out about 1.5 inches to get the fit I wanted.

I had so much success with that one – I started another one in a really neat fabric.


With this one I attached the neck binding before folding it in half and did the fold after it was attached. A little stitching in the ditch and I have a very neat neck band. Here’s the back –



Is this not CUTE? 

Since I have sustained my sewing spirit with two successes, I am ready to go back to Vogue 8937 and try it again. The only decision is which awesome fabric to use (and no I will not choose a nasty fabric from the stash again.)

Further on the list is a great pair of pants that FIT – 



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Beautiful Seam Finishes and a Sheer Shirt

McCall's 6605

McCall’s 6605


I’ve wanted to get to this project ever since I finished the “muslin” using the sari silk, which you see here:


I did totally finish this shirt with a tie at the neck and buttonholes. It fits very well and will be great under a cardigan for winter. The version in red above is slightly longer and has a nice collar. My only issue with this shirt is that I want all of the seams finished so they look great from the inside too. I didn’t have much luck with the Hong Kong seams on the silk as it added too much weight.

I’ve been thinking about doing french seams on the yoke gathers but I think that also will add more bulk than I want. I’m also going to add sleeves to the red version so it will be wearable with or without a sweater. And my fabric is sheer. Not too sheer, but sheer enough to need a nice finish on the inside.

I think I’ve finally figured this out! Whew, sewing involves so much thinking! I am going to line the yoke pieces which will very nicely cover all the seams and the shirt will look fantastic inside and out. I’m going to use a thin weight interfacing for the button band and some nice antique buttons for the front. I think it will be marvelous! Here’s the fabric I plan on using:


I will, of course, be wearing a navy cami underneath this. Gorgeous, don’t you think?

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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!

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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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Couture Fashion and Wardrobe Building

What is “in” these days and what someone will actually wear are two different things. The above pictures show clothing that  I, given a size 0 body, would wear. There are some fashions here that I would wear even at my size.

I find that I tend to choose fashion that is simple with lots of straight lines. I go nuts with the fabrics and chose my favorites that are either textured, highly patterned or geometric in nature.

I like bright colors and black and white. I usually wear jeans to work – so it isn’t as if I need seven silk shirts to wear with them – but I love silk shirts and hey they look great with a stunning pair of jeans and sandals with a 2″ or greater heel.

These are my go to sandals this year:


BOC Rae Floral Wedge

BOC Rae Floral Wedge

born salima


I already have the top two and am working on the bottom two joining their friends in my closet soon. The sandal at top and bottom is by Born. These are incredibly comfortable and sturdy. I don’t feel like I’m going to fall off my shoes – which I have done many times. These feel like walking on air or in a favorite pair of Birkenstocks. I have finally had it with most of my Birkenstocks. I have one pair from the 90s that was called Ibiza and has an ankle strap. They are a denim blue leather and those I still love. I have the Salina in brown and those are good for around the house everyday type shoes.

Couture clothing means one thing to me and one thing only. It is handmade. The clothes you see on the runway are not machine sewn but rather there are as many as 200 or more seamstresses hand-sewing everything. Each seamstress has her or his own speciality and it has been honed over years of work. This isn’t a field that you can get into without a lot of education and experience.

One seamstress may be very talented in hemming, the other in applying beads or sequins, another in inserting a zipper, another in hand-attaching lace and trim, another – cutting the design. Hand sewing is fascinating work. I have made entire king-size quilts totally by hand only using the machine to attach the bias binding on one side only and then hand-sewing that down. Every block or appliqué was stitched by hand by me and then the quilt “put down” with the backing and batting. Then I would hand quilt it sometimes in a pattern I had marked before making the quilt sandwich and sometimes with a random quilting pattern. I have never quilted anything by hand less than 1/2″ apart. I like the look of texture that close quilting adds.

I have yet to branch into making clothing entirely by hand. I doubt that I will,  except for  the finishing touches or to apply trimming or hem or embroider.  Sturdy is how I want the clothing I make. I also want it well-finished though – so that if by some accident I end up in the ER and the nurse takes off my clothes – I don’t want her screaming “Euwww these are made by a home sewer. Euwww.”

I want the inside of my clothing to be just as beautiful as the outside. I will take the time to either do a Hong Kong seam on a woven or a french seam on a sheer or silk fabric – or one that ravels easily. I will finish knit seams with my new serger. And I will make sure nothing glares at you from inside the garment.

Second only to clothing that does not fit well is clothing that looks homemade in the great scheme of “I won’t wear that.” I did a lot of “fast” sewing when I was a teen. And it looked like it. I was impatient to get something done – thinking that I would wear what I created. I would not. I am a lover of fine clothing and have been known to spend copious amounts of money on designer clothing. I once bought a three-piece outfit from the designer department of Jacobson’s in Grosse Pointe Village. The sales clerk was totally shocked that I, in jeans and a tee-shirt, would want to try on a $350 outfit (marked down from $1100). It had the most wonderful black silk pleated skirt in pleats of 1″. There was a blouson shirt – didn’t like that – in ivory with black trim and a polka-dot ivory on black scarf. The jacket was ivory/black in a geometric pattern and totally lined in black. Everything was silk. It was also a size 10! At that time I wore a size 14 so getting into a 10 was WOW awesome!

I wore that outfit to death. I found a silk sweater with a draped asymmetrical collar that I wore with the skirt and jacket. I would wear the shirt but not outside the skirt as intended. Instead I would tuck it in and wear the awesome scarf tied under the collar of the shirt. This outfit screamed quality and one day I wore this to work at a law firm. The older partner remarked on my outfit and said that his wife, now deceased, had worn lovely clothes like this. He had donated them to a museum in Detroit. I thought that was a marvelous idea because I’ll just bet her clothes cost a lot more than what I was wearing – but he noticed the quality.

Now you can hardly get a pair of jeans and a shirt for $350. Not if you’re buying quality. If you want you can find inexpensive clothing all over the place – but will it last long enough? Usually, no. Most inexpensive clothing will be worn out or look tacky within 6 months to a year. You can save some of this wear and tear by not putting things in the dryer. It sounds old-fashioned but dry your kids’ and husband’s clothes and hang yours. They will last longer. I do this with what I make no matter what the fiber content. I don’t need my knits exposed to heat for a long period of time and the wovens always shrink just a tiny bit each time they are dried. So I don’t do it.

If you work in a professional setting – you are going to need a wardrobe specifically for work. A suite seems to be everyone’s first idea of what to buy. I would suggest getting a suit not in black or dark blue but another neutral that suits your coloring. I love gray and wear it a lot. I must say I do not like suits. I’m not sure why everyone thinks that to beat men in the marketplace we have to dress like them? I would suggest a jacket and skirt that aren’t the same fabric and texture. A good jacket that can be worn with slacks and skirts in many different neutral colors and skirts that go along with the jacket.

I would start with a skirt shape that flatters the waist, hips and legs. A pencil skirt if you have the figure for it or a nice pleated skirt like the one mentioned above. Mine grazed my ankles. After many years of wearing 17″ mini skirts – I am so glad this is behind me now. Knee-length skirts are great if you are going to wear heels and if your legs from the knee down are shapely and not big. Has anyone seen Hillary Clinton’s legs? There is a reason she wears slacks.

Add to this a few shirts in solids and prints that make you feel pretty. For goodness sake take someone along if you’re store shopping so they can tell you if the color makes you look sick. I am sallow in complexion with big dark shadows until  I wear makeup and so I cannot cannot cannot wear yellow, green or even lavender. Nothing that’s going to make me look like a nice washed out dead fish.

Spend some time thinking about what colors make you feel good. Red is great for days when you know you may have a contentious time at work. Believe it or not they won’t be fighting with you. You have already told them with your clothes that you are not in the mood for arguments but if they want one you will be glad to fight – to the death.

Pinks will let your colleagues know  you are amenable and that you are in a very good mood. They will be more apt to agree with what you say – not a bad thing!

Orange is a bit adventurous for work unless it’s an accent in a shell or scarf. Orange makes people think you are not serious? Don’t know why.

Yellow isn’t a color most people look good wearing – but if you’re a platinum blond with a stunning figure and pale skin – you can pull it off.

Blues are fantastic work colors. People trust people who wear blue.

Greens come in so many different shades – I don’t look bad in kelly green – although I don’t like it – but look awful in olive, lime and kiwi or neon green. These colors are popular but they are not flattering.

Purple is also a work choice if it is dark and somewhat muted. The new orchid color that’s all the rage is gorgeous in itself but a little strong unless in small doses.

Black and white and gray are my go to colors. Even if they are not necessarily color. I can do a lot with patterns in black and white or black and ivory. Gray is fantastic for comfort for me. I guess I equate gray with sweatshirts or something because I feel at home in it. I mix it with black or navy and I can feel well-dressed in these.

And don’t forget to get a few dresses – ones you can wear with a neutral jacket or on their own. They look smashing!

I think you can dress yourself for work for about $1,000 if you’re buying RTW and for about $500 if you’re sewing the wardrobe. So you can have twice the wardrobe if you make it! That’s why I sew ……………..




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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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!