A Rockin’ Halloween 2019

From and undisclosed residence, Darq video chats with author Catherine E. McLean . . .

DARQ: Hello! I’m having a Rock-n-Roll time at this year’s Halloween Party where the theme is a “Sock Hop.”

CATHERINE: I love the Halloween decor – and you fit right in with your 1950’s Poodle Skirt!

DARQ: I actually stand out in my outfit – very retro as they say, and to satisfy the curious who read last month’s post about what’s under my poodle skirt –

CATHERINE chuckles, then says: A nylon net petticoat – how quaint! And itchy.

DARQ: Not so itchy. That’s because the layers of net are attached to my taffeta underpants, I mean pettipants.

CATHERINE: Okay, put the skirt down. I also see you’re wearing plain old saddle shoes. Considering how much you love bling on your shoes –

DARQ: Oh, ho – not so plain. The black is all glittery. The picture probably doesn’t show that very well. So my track record with blinged-out shoes still stands.

CATHERINE (mutters): except for the one time . . .

DARQ: Hey, Catherine, you won’t believe the party’s food – it’s retro-retro.


DARQ: Really-really. You should see the jello. Every color of the rainbow. Some dishes have three layers of color, others have veggies or fruits mixed in – one platter has mini watermelon-looking wedges –

Jello with veggies
Jello wedges

And then there is this –

An elaborately molded Jello.

But my favorite is this one infused with vodka!

CATHERINE: 1950’s food . . . Do they have any celery and cheese whiz? Spam on skewers?

DARQ (chuckles): Yes, those are on the buffet tables. They even have an old-fashioned Ice Cream Soda Fountain set up opposite the bar that offers 1950’s delights like Manhattans, Screwdrivers, and something I’ve yet to try – a Singapore Sling.

CATHERINE: Careful you don’t get tipsy.

DARQ: No chance with the rock-and-roll dances. I’ve already jived to Rock Around the Clock, and done The Twist, flubbed at the Hula Hoop Contest, and I’m on my way to the DJ with this album from the Rolling Stones.

CATHERINE: What’s the tune you’re going to have the DJ play?

DARQ: Heart of Stone.

CATHERINE: Rather a mild rock and roll tune.

DARQ: You think so?

CATHERINE shrugs, then says: I was never a music lover.

DARQ: Pity. I rather like this party’s rock-n-roll tunes. And speaking of parties, I finally have my itinerary of events for the coming months.

CATHERINE (groans): What costumes do you need?

DARQ (flashing a grin): No costume-costume. I need ball gowns.

CATHERINE: Ball gowns? Surly not for every occasion. How many of the events are themed affairs?

DARQ shakes her head: None are themed. I take that back. Maybe the overall theme is simple elegance.

CATHERINE: Elegance? As in, Erte and haute coutour fashions?

DARQ: Well, maybe one or two can be Erte-esque. As always, I’ll leave the designs to you. Just make me look sophisticated and lovely as always.

A voice booms out over the loudspeaker: Number 52 – Bring your song!

DARQ: That’s my number. I have to go. See you when I get back to the farm! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Where will Darq be for Thanksgiving?

What kind of ball gown will she wear?

Stop back on Thanksgiving Day and see!



Making the poodle skirt brought back memories of the 1950’s and wearing one!

The skirt is felt (as was the original Poodle Skirt).

The poodle on the skirt is a purchased applique, but I embroidered the leash using crewel cotton, then laced the leash with metallic silver embroidery floss.

The saddle shoes are white felt with adhesive backed black glitter art foam. The laces are pearl cotton. (It wasn’t easy to tie those little bows!)

I sewed layers of orange, black, and green netting onto Darq’s taffeta pettipants.

I was going to add a belt, which was usually part of the costume, but the felt proved too bulky to be cinched in, so no belt.

SPECIAL NOTE – I took the inspiration for this costume and diorama from reading Liz’s post at the blog Vintage Inn . You might want to indulge in a bit of nostalgia there –

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Posted by on October 31, 2019 in Uncategorized


October 1, 2019 – Darq Returns!

CATHERINE: Welcome back to the farm Darq! My but you look like a weary traveler.

DARQ: I am a weary traveler, mostly because of the stormy weather delaying air flights to Pennsylvania — and spending way too many hours in waiting areas. I’m feeling as rumpled as my traveling vest!

CATHERINE: Such a pretty vest with all that embroidered applique work.

DARQ: It’s a Wysotti design vest I bought on my homeworld. There’s a bigger applique on the back. Take a look—

CATHERINE: Wow, that’s gorgeous. So is your hairpiece.

DARQ: The hair decoration was a gift from both my sisters. Such medallions worn in the hair are the current fad on my homeworld.

CATHERINE: And speaking of fancy, turn around and show me your shoes.

DARQ turns around —

CATHERINE: Definitely bling-worthy!

DARQ: By the way Catherine, the flowers are for you. I know how much you love wild flowers, so I brought you some from my homeworld.

CATHERINE: Aren’t there laws against bringing real flowers and plants to Earth? Didn’t the MIB [Men in Black] tell you that?

DARQ (chuckles): Even though these flowers are an accurate depiction of the flowers of my homeworld, they are fakes. Synthetic materials. No pollen, no scent, no bees, no seeds.

CATHERINE (sighs with relief): Thank you for the flowers! Now, what’s on your schedule of appearances while you’re here on planet Earth?

DARQ: First up will be a Halloween Party at the end of the month.

CATHERINE: And the party’s theme?

DARQ: A Sock Hop.

CATHERINE: Oh, what fun. Rock-n-Roll, Poodle Skirts —

DARQ: I’m to wear a skirt made from a dog’s hide?

CATHERINE (laughs): No! Poodle skirts are made of felt. The skirt has an applique of a Poodle dog on it. (Catherine smirks.) And, oh, my dear, just wait until you find out what you have to wear under that skirt.

DARQ: What?

CATHERINE: I’m not going to tell. You and this blog’s readers will just have to stop back on Halloween to find out what your Poodle Skirt looks like and what’s under it!

DARQ: Sounds like a plan.

~~~~~~Note to Sewers~~~~~ I hand embroidered the symbols on Darq’s vest and then machine appliqued them to the fabric. I used my sewing machine’s stitch features to put the feather/leaves onto the garment. The vest fabric is corduroy with a neon blue metallic lame lining. The rest of her outfit is a polyester blouse over linen slacks. Comfy clothes for traveling!


Stop back on Halloween to see the Sock Hop reveal of Darq’s Poodle Skirt and accessories !


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Posted by on October 1, 2019 in Uncategorized


Heading Home . . .

DARQ: Well, Catherine, and all you have dropped by this past year and in previous years, it is once again time for me to go home to my husband and children. As the sign indicates, I’ll be back October 1 to resume diplomatic relations with Planet Earth. Of course, the running joke with this blog is that I’m a shoe-aholic and love bling. The above photo is misleading. There’s plenty of bling on my shoes. Let me just lift my pant legs a bit —

So I’ll see you all come fall! Have a great summer, Catherine.

CATHERINE: Have a safe journey home!


NOTE TO SEWERS: The fabric is faux-suede. The “flower sprays” are iron-ons. The larger daisies are sewn down. The blouse is a cotton print. Nothing fancy, but all of it is comfortable wear — and very travel worthy!

Stop back October 1 and greet Darq when she returns for another season of fashionable outfits and gala events!


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Posted by on May 1, 2019 in Uncategorized


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Easter 2019

DARQ: I’m running a bit late due to rainy weather, but I am posting this quick –

Happy Easter !

CATHERINE: And the same to you, Darq, and all who drop by this Easter Sunday.


Of course the running joke with this blog is that Darq is a shoe-aholic and loves bling, so here’s a look at her Easter Shoes –


NOTE TO SEWERS – the jacket is a circle folded back and has arm holes. The flowery trim is a self-adhesive I found in a bargain bin – and I used all three yards on the spool because the trim went on the inside and outside of the jacket. The pants are linen. The purse opens and is actually a charm that could have gone on a bracelet.


Darq will be returning to her homeworld on May 1, so drop by to wish her a safe journey home. She’ll return come fall.



Posted by on April 21, 2019 in Uncategorized


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St. Patrick’s Day 2019

DARQ: Top o’ the morning to ye and —

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

CATHERINE: And the same to you, Darq. Oh, my, I know where you are in the world!

DARQ (with a puzzle frown gracing her brow): You can’t possibly know where.

CATHERINE: Okay, I can’t precisely know where you’re at, but I know it’s got something to do with the tropics.

DARQ: How can you tell?

CATHERINE: First, your sign has palm fronds on it. Secondly, you’re not wearing “winter-wear.” Third — the water in the frog pond isn’t frozen, and there’s a giant frog sitting on the edge of the pond. Man, that’s some frog!

DARQ chuckles, then says: You missed the leprechaun behind the hat.

CATHERINE: Did not. And just why does he have his hands behind his back?

DARQ: Magic! All this is his magic to put me ankle deep in shamrocks and greenery so I would have a sensational picture to send to you. Just look down —

CATHERINE mutters something about blinged out shoes covered in bling before saying: You’re in such good spirits. Any chance you’re tipsy on green beer?

DARQ stifles the urge to laugh: Not yet, but the party’s only just beginning. I have to go. Have a great St. Pat’s Day!


NOTE TO SEWERS: Darq’s pants and the darker green trim on her top are corduroy. The green top has a V-yoke with a 4-leaf clover decal. Nothing fancy but Darq is a-wearing GREEN!


Darq will be off somewhere in the world for Easter. Stop back and see what she’s wearing .

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Posted by on March 17, 2019 in Uncategorized


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Valentine’s Day 2019

CATHERINE: Now just who’s behind that little ol’ hat?

Why it’s — Darq!

DARQ: Hi, Catherine, and yes, it is me. Don’t you just love the hat?

CATHERINE: Being a Red Hatter, of course I love a blinged out hat!

DARQ: Can’t stay to chat, the tea’s being served out on the lawn. Some lawn! It’s as big as your front corn field. They’ve got long rows of tables filled with cleverly crafted and brightly colored mignardises (which they tell me is another name for petit fours) and a whole bunch of tiny sandwiches on six-tiered platter towers. Gotta go!

CATHERINE: What? Go? Without showing off your shoes?

DARQ: Oh, right. They’re not too fancy, but they are comfortable and practical for traipsing on grass. (Darq lifts the hem of her dress to reveal — )

DARQ: Now, I really must go! (And she dodges the hearts strewn about the walkway to the gates and onto the lawn.)


Stop back on Saint Patrick’s Day to find out where in the world Darq is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day and what she’ll be a’wearin’!


NOTE TO SEWERS: Sometimes the simplest gown can be remarkably pretty. This is a white on white cotton fabric with pink trim. The print on the fabric is a heart made of hearts and love birds.


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Posted by on February 14, 2019 in Uncategorized


2019 – Happy New Year

DARQ: Happy New Year 2019! As you can see, the midnight hour was a gay one and this mansion’s filled with streamers and confetti!

CATHERINE: What’s that horn-like thing against the wall?

DARQ: It’s not a horn but a cannon, well sort of a cannon. (Darq chuckles.)

CATHERINE: What do you mean by sort of a cannon?

DARQ (who stifles her chuckles): It was filled with streamers and confetti. When they hit the blast button, it went off with a POOF, not a BANG. Most of the streamers just plopped out. So funny! Oh, and I have been getting awesome compliments on my outfit! The fabric is so fluid and drapes like a dream. Thank you for making it for me.

CATHERINE: You’re very welcome, Darq. So tell me, did anyone remark on your shoes?

DARQ: I doubt anyone even noticed them, but that was the point, wasn’t it?
— not to have my shoes distract from the impact of the outfit?

CATHERINE: Oh, definitely! So, go, enjoy the party —

DARQ: And breakfast and the New Year’s Day Parade?

CATHERINE: Exactly. See you when you get back to the farm.


Note to Sewers: This is another Erte-inspired outfit for Darq. It’s also the easiest one I’ve ever created. Here’s the original sketch—

The fabric is gold crepe satin, underlined with tulle (which made making the hems look nicer without creating bulk that would keep the crepe from draping well. The actual Erte design was for a 2-piece pajama outfit, with the jacket having the sleeves laced to the jacket. Since I didn’t have such small grommets available, I sewed the sleeve in, then laced gold cord over the seam and topped the jacket side with gold beads (mimicking the grommets). As to the culottes— Darq got pants because the original culottes had slippers incorporated. Yeah, slippers, and those slippers had soles of multi-colored woven straw! That’s way beyond my couture abilities. Also, I didn’t include initials on the jacket nor put in a pocket on Darq’s pants. For the curious, the jacket pattern is just two big rectangles with a back seam and the front opening. The sleeves go in along the top edge (shoulder seam). I truly enjoyed making this project (but I certainly did not enjoy tying those itty-bitty front ties!).


Stop back Valentine’s Day to see what Darq’s doing and wearing!

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Posted by on January 1, 2019 in Uncategorized


Christmas 2018

Happy Holidays to All !

DARQ: I’m enjoying a winter wonderland Christmas. Best gift I got from Catherine is my newest blinged out shoes!

CATHERINE: Be sure to stop back on New Year’s Day to see the new Erte-inspired gown Darq will be wearing.

***NOTE TO SEWERS from Catherine: I was inspired to make Darq’s tunic from a picture of a sweatshirt that had such a ribbon-bow configuration. The striped tunic Darq wears is a cotton stripe. The pants are sparkly white denim (the photo doesn’t do the sparkles justice).

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Posted by on December 25, 2018 in Uncategorized


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Thanksgiving 2018

DARQ: Greetings Catherine — hope you’re having a better Thanksgiving than I am.

CATHERINE: What? Oh, right. Freezing weather for the northeast and the winds might mean the balloons won’t fly for the Macy Parade.

DARQ: It’s not about the parade or the weather. It’s that some ashraf  —  some idiot — overbooked me for this day.

CATHERINE: What do you mean?

DARQ:  Remember me telling you I needed an outfit that could weather me traveling to two different locations?

CATHERINE: You said the outfit had to go from cold to hot climes, but as usual, you and the Men in Black never tell me exactly where in the world you’re going, security and all that.

DARQ: Right.  Well, instead of breakfast and freeze-my-butt-off at the parade and then travel to a sit-down dinner in the tropics, I’ve done breakfast —  Turkey and eggs, who knew, and—

CATHERINE: You’re digressing.

DARQ: Right. Sorry. Okay, I leave the breakfast and then found myself detoured to a Friendsgiving Brunch sponsored by Ambassador —  never mind who — that included twenty turkey dishes from twenty different nations, plus a dessert buffet of at least a  hundred different kinds of miniature fruit pies and sweets. 

CATHERINE: And you sampled and sampled?

DARQ: Of course! Everything was wonderful. But if I had known about the rest of the day, well —  

CATHERINE: You wouldn’t have chowed down so enthusiastically?

DARQ: Exactly. I’m now en route to a brunch, then the parade, then a Post Parade celebration. A couple hours later, the MIBs will whisk me off to a Thanksgiving High Tea! Followed by a late afternoon-early-evening buffet,  and then, finally,  finally, I’ll end up at the sit-down dinner.

CATHERINE: I’m guessing turkey will be the main course at all of the events, along with pumpkin pies?

DARQ: Exactly.

CATHERINE: As the sign you’re standing beside says, give thanks with a grateful heart.

DARQ mutters something under her breath that sounds like Wysotti profanity, then says:  Don’t remind me. And, yes, I am grateful for all the wonderful people I’ve met and befriended in my role as my world’s ambassador here on your planet.  But if I don’t partake of what’s offered at these Thanksgiving events, people will likely consider me rude and not very thankful. By the time I get back to your farm, I will be one over-stuffed turkey! 

CATHERINE (stifling chuckles):  You could just peck at your food.

DARQ: Yeah, right. Look, I must go. See you tomorrow – Happy Thanksgiving.

****** Darq will blog again for Christmas, so if you’d like to be notified of her activities, follow this blog.

CATHERINE:  Hmmmm. Darq, the notorious shoe-a-holic, got so upset with the events of the day that she didn’t mention her shoes. Not that they were all that fancy. Ah, well, she might make up for the oversight in her Christmas post.  Lastly, here’s —

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Posted by on November 22, 2018 in Uncategorized


Halloween Masquerade 2018

Catherine’s screen winks on and an image flares in brilliant color  — 


DARQ: Hi, Catherine! Happy Halloween! And, yes, that’s me behind the mask. The 1830’s Themed Masquerade Ball has wound down. Soon I’ll be escorted by my MIB team to the airfield, and on my way back to your farm.

CATHERINE:  Happy Halloween to you, too. How was the party? Can you show me how your costume looks on you?

DARQ: As you wish —  [She hands one of the Men In Black her cellphone and steps back to the ballroom’s decorated wall. The MIB takes the picture.]

IMG_7613 Use (2)

As soon as the MIB returns the phone to Darq, CATHERINE says: Oh, wow. You look like you stepped out of the 1830’s!

DARQ: I’m not sure I would have wanted to live in that era.  You wouldn’t believe the problems I and the other women had with our costumes.

CATHERINE: I might. So, what kind of problems?

DARQ: Where to start —  ah, yes. At the top  — with the hairdos and elaborate feather headpieces. It took an hour for the maid to do up my hair, but the style was very becoming, don’t you think?

CATHERINE: Indeed I do.  Now, what about the fascinators?

DARQ: Fascinators?

CATHERINE: That’s what we humans currently call such hat-like concoctions. They’re back in popularity these days, particularly in England and for Derby Day here in Kentucky.

DARQ: I didn’t realize that. Anyway, to answer your question  —  no, the fascinators were not the problem  —  it was the feathers that were part of the headpieces. My headpiece has only a few tastefully arranged feathers, but the party hostess had such an elaborately feathered piece that the meter-long ostrich plumes curled forward. They drooped and bounced onto her face. Then there was the woman who kept shedding her headpiece’s little feathers, which made many a guest sneeze and jokes abound about snow falling indoors in these tropics —  oops. Forget I mentioned tropics.

CATHERINE knowingly smiles that no one is supposed to know where in the world Darq travels: Done. No problem. So —  how did the feathers on the masks work out?

DARQ: I didn’t notice any problems with mine or others. Those feathers seemed to be held down tighter than the chocks on a Ky fighter.

CATHERINE: Any other problems?

DARQ: Plenty.  Take the shawls. Nearly all the woman had a lacy shawl, ones like mine. Trouble is, the ballroom was cold. Lace is not warm. And besides, no one dared to put a  shawl around their shoulders.


DARQ: Because they didn’t want to squash their gown’s elaborate sleeves or get the lace snagged by jewelry.

CATHERINE:  You do realize that an 1830’s ballrooms was likely lit with tons of candles, which give off heat? Add to that the body heat of the crush of attendees and ballrooms back then seemed like hot houses. Therefore, a lace shawl was more about propriety than usefulness.

DARQ: No, I didn’t know that. Which explains a lot and makes me ever so grateful for your modern air conditioning  — just not appreciative of how cold things got. But, onward, let me tell you about the problems with the dresses. 

CATHERINE: Big skirts?

DARQ: Exactly! Such flared skirts, held up by tons of lacy petticoats  like mine  —  [Darq lisfts her skirts and takes a selfie.] 


CATHERINE: Oooo, nice shoes.

DARQ, dropping her skirts: They’re custom made. I wanted more bling. but I took the shoemaker’s advice. He said that in the 1830’s a woman wore ballroom slippers. So, I ended up with slippers and darned little bling. Anyway, back to what held up and flared out the skirts  —  petticoats, hoops, and “cages.” In other words, no one could get close to anyone without smashing into a skirt, hoop, or cage. Thus the noise level was louder than a rock concert. 

CATHERINE chuckles.

DARQ: And what do you suppose is under all the petticoats, hoops, and cages?

CATHERINE: Bloomers? 

DARQ: Exactly!  Some women even had stockings under their bloomers that were anchored to their corsets. Two woman had what the MIB told me were wasp waists. [Darq stifles her own chuckles.] You wouldn’t believe the problems all those underpinnings generated when someone needed a potty break!

CATHERINE [smiling]: Did they bring out chamber pots?

DARQ grins, then says:  That was suggested.

CATHERINE: Did you have problems?

DARQ: I had the foresight to wear panels  —  fighter pilot nappies.

CATHERINE bursts out laughing. After her laughter subsides: What else? 

DARQ: Of the hooting-laughable variety? Well, there were a few instances of skirts getting tipped, legs exposed, while going through a doorway.

CATHERINE: So, what’s on the non-hoot-worthy list?

DARQ: Let’s see. There was plenty of bling in the form of jewelry about bare necklines. A considerable amount of gems dangled like chandeliers from earlobes.  Speaking of the lighting,  wall sconces emitted candle-glow light. That light reflected on the gowns and jewels, making things seem more magical than spooky. 

CATHERINE: You didn’t wear a necklace?  

DARQ: No, I didn’t, and my earrings were conservative but elegant. As elegant as my dress and the lace of my sleeves. To which, that little pumpkin you saw me holding was my prize for winning the Billowing Sleeve Award. No one had bigger, poofier sleeves than me!

CATHERINE: They gave out prizes? Not candy?

DARQ: Yes, they gave out prize cauldrons and yes, the cauldrons were filled with various gourmet chocolates and wine samplers, but I only won the one prize. There was the Deep Throat Award that went to the most daringly low neckline.  The French widow, whose big breasts strained the confines of her gown’s neckline, won that award. [Darq chuckles.] When she reached for the cauldron-prize,  one of her breasts popped out!

CATHERINE chuckles, then: Any other prizes?

DARQ: One for the Most Unique Headpiece, one for the Most Authentic Reproduction Gown, and one for the Most Elaborate Sleeve. That sleeve award went to a woman wearing a plaid gown, the sleeves were a beribboned, pleated-smocked short sleeve with a froth of heavy Guipure lace underneath.  [Darq shrugs.] My sleeves weren’t all that elaborate, just puffy.  [Darq beams a smile.] All in all, it was a fun party.

CATHERINE: Will you save me some chocolate?

DARQ looks off to the side then back at the screen and Catherine: I’ll try, but with an escort of six MIBs, I’ll be lucky to eat a couple pieces myself, but I’ll try to save you some. Oh, there’s the signal. Have to go.  See you in a couple days and we’ll talk about Thanksgiving.

CATHERINE: Have a safe flight home. 

………the screen winks off.


NOTE TO SEWERS: This is the inspiration for Darq’s 1830’s ball gown  —  


Darq’s gown is shantung and pink satin with velvet ribbon and a little trim along the neckline collar. There are three sleeves, sewn down as one: The cap sleeve, the billowing lace sleeve under it, and the mutton-chop sleeve beneath. 

To won and all who read and enjoy this blog, Darq and I wish you a  —  



Stop back on Thanksgiving Day to see what Darq is wearing and where she’s celebrating the holiday.  

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Posted by on October 31, 2018 in Uncategorized