Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Ziggi 2

My mother is not exactly IT literate if you know what I mean? The absolute polar opposite of her fourth grandson (my teenage son). She’s a great baker, homemaker, carer, chatterer and mum but Anna and computers are an oxymoron.

She tries….she really tries….mostly our patience, God bless her…..She has completed at least one 12 weeks’ course on how to work e-mail and internet; my father’s endless patience has actually been empirically proved to Harvard mathematicians that infinity is NOT infinite, and she doesn’t read my blog because she can’t find it as HER version of Google doesn’t include “Corecouture” in its search.

So when I turned up at their house the other day wearing my fab Ziggi jacket I was met with two opposing points of view….

1. My own mother did not believe that I had sewn this jacket with my own fair hands and asked which shop I bought it from.

2. That I did such a good job that it would actually be impossible for me to have sewn it and so indirectly, it’s a compliment.

Hence, to literally to prove a point – if you ever see this Mother…. this is for you….. if your Google isn’t broken….

Fabric before it was cut


Half made Ziggi 2 on Doris; sleeves pinned on. Recognise the background?DSC01316


A sleeve

And for the rest of you….. I set up my own GNISB (Great Northern Irish Sewing Bee) in the sewing room over the last few days and quite literally got stuck in to sewing another StyleArc Ziggi biker jacket. Thankfully, I had all the necessary bits and pieces and so did not need to stop for anything. Mind you, the seam ripper is used a lot with this jacket!

Cut out on Friday night, all ready to sew the next day; 4 hours on Saturday, 3 hours on Sunday, 2 hours Monday, 6 hours Tuesday and 1.5 on Wednesday to do some hand sewing, finishing and final press. These are guessimates really as I sew in spurts but I suppose a good 20 hours would see this jacket completed. And it is my second one, so I knew what to watch out for. However, this sewing marathon has made me neglect internet reading and catching up on all your wonderful makes – so for the next few days, I’m not sewing anything and will be commenting prolifically…..

Main fabric is from Chrysalis No. 20 – a very interesting fabric, distressed leather-look jersey. No fraying, stretchy but yet stable, not quite black but not any other colour either. I used a ball-point needle in the machine for sewing this. It would make fab leggings and I have a little bit left over which I might turn into sleeves on a T-shirt a la Elizabeth from Sewn (scroll all the way to the bottom).


The shoulder yokes, sleeve tops and sleeve gussets are black lamb’s suede – soft as velvet, a small hide that was purchased via ebay. And the left over suede was cut into strips and used as zipper pulls.

I quilted the shoulder yokes, the sleeve tops, the bottom half of the sleeves and the back peplum in Burberry inspired rows of single stitching. I did add one layer of cotton wadding and a woven cotton backing to all quilted pieces. I like the way this works on the shoulders as it feels like shoulder pads and just in case I ever fall off a motor bike, my ass is protected too! It also really surprising how effective a few rows of straight stitching actually are.

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For this one I lengthened the sleeves by 1″ but sewed it up with 1.5cm seam allowances instead of the recommended 1cm – with this stretchy fabric I reckoned I could do with the extra fitting. I always nip in a the waistline too. Apart from that, it’s cut from the pattern.

Lining is a silky smooth patterned poly.



I have to thank Maris, from Sewmaris without whose excellent blog tutorials on Ziggi construction would have made this project twice as long. It’s always nice to have a friendly voice of experience in the background for reassurance and advice, just when you need it. Thanks Maris.

Maris was extra nice to me when she nominated me for a Liebster Award too. Thank you once again.

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After all that colour sewing for SWAP ’14 I’m inclined now towards monochrome…

and Wow! the sun was shining today too (hence the squinty eyes). Perfect day.






SWAP ’14

I’m finished sewing and have just a wee bit of knitting stuff to do. There are some absolutely fabulous collections this year – totally unique, distinctive wardrobes that a personal shopper at Sak’s Fifth Avenue or Harvey Nicks would be really hard pushed to match.

SWAP ’14 is nearly concluded, we have until the 30th April to complete all sewing,  and here for your enjoyment (criticism, amusement, undisguised horror, whatever) are some photos of the final set 3 – the blue/green spectrum. I’ve made all three patterns previously so I didn’t encounter any nasty surprises but I did try to add some new twists to each item.

Yes, there is a big blue fish looking slightly incredulous behind me. I’ve cropped out the tourists! We (the locals) battle others (the tourists) to have photos taken with the fish…..I won and they slunked round the other side!



Jacket is Vogue 8887, made in royal blue fleece and lined with the poly satin blouse fabric. I sewed the jacket edges wrong sides together and then trimmed off the excess seam allowance. This means the raw edges are on the outside but will not fray because it is fleece.


I also made a small brooch with the same buttons that were used for the white shirt. This jacket is supposed to be cut on the bias but I reckoned with a stretchy fleece it wouldn’t make that much difference and cut it on the lengthwise grain. I sewed patch pockets to add to the casual look.


I wore this this evening and you know what people complimented me on  - the brooch! Geez, the effort you put in and all people see is a couple of odd shaped circles of fabric with a few buttons sewn on that took you all of 10 minutes and they think it’s brilliant – I ask you!


The blouse is Kwik Sew and is now OOP. Made many, many times before. This version is sleeveless (to conserve fabric for the lining) and I shortened the tie considerably and turned it into a small bow tie instead.


Jeans are the rub-off from my Armani’s. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve used this pattern. It all started with Kenneth D. King’s Craftsy Jeanius class and I reckon the number of pairs of jeans I’ve made has more than paid for the initial cost of the class. This time made in apple green denim with 2% Lycra and boot cut shaped legs. To show everyone who owns these jeans, I sewed my label to the money pocket on the outside.



You sure?


You’re absolutely certain you have made 3 X 3 + 2 wildcards? Really?

Have you not forgotten something?





CCN (CoreCouture News)

The opportunity for photo taking of finished items has yet again escaped me this week so here’s a newsletter of sewing, plans, ideas and other stuff. There’s lots of links to really interesting sites, so settle down with a cup of tea or a cocktail (recommended by Mrs Mole  and The Material Lady), stick the needles in the pin cushion, ensure you have reliable broadband and indulge.

p01s0x1qFirstly, the Great British Sewing Bee. Technically, Northern Ireland isn’t in GB, it’s in the UK, so any sewers from here are politically illegible to participate. I’d thought of throwing my hat into the ring for the next series just to have the chance of sewing uninterrupted for  two days – bliss. But the challenges aren’t really the type of clothes I want to make and you all know that if your heart is not in a project it’s doomed to failure. Also, I’m not competitive at all. I like sewing things to the best of my ability but my elbows aren’t sharp. I mean, I entered PR’s fitted shirt contest but that was really only because I happened to have completed a fitted shirt. Having said that, I love this TV show. After every programme, I stare into space and think “What would I have done?”.

This can be a challenge in itself: I review my patterns for wrap dresses or which ones would be suitable for velvet trousers; images-2what fancy dress costume would I have made out of a pillowcase and a mis-matched sweatsuit?; I don’t have patterns for prom dresses and for the foreseeable future I never will! But a winter coat in just 6 hours! I can only think the finishing and the inside seams must be a mess.

The stylish and creative Marianna of Sew2Pro fame, has set a challenge too this week – choose a garment from the show that has inspired you and you have 1 week to make it! She has also managed to locate the programme’s accompanying book’s publisher and they have very kindly posted all the patterns for FREE download.
014pppI’ve got the patterns for the draped top and the 1930s blouse, but I’ve no material nor a well stocked haberdashery in the room next door and the week has run away from me so unfortunately I’m unlikely to participate. I will make the blouse at some point but right now I’ve other things to start and finish…..






SWAP ’14 is drawing to a close – by the end of April I have to have another three things made: a jacket, a blouse and a knitted cardigan. I started the cardigan ages ago knowing that I am a slow knitter  - it’s Noro Kirara, a multi-coloured yarn of silk, angora, wool and cotton. Quite fine and most suitable for spring/summer.


I’ve got a printed poly satin ready for the blouse in the blue/green colour set but in reality it is another rainbow fabric that will go with lots of things.


The jacket will be a rather rushed affair methinks, not tailored but a relaxed casual throw-on made in blue fleece or sweatshirt material and hopefully lined with the same poly satin as the blouse. I owe so much to Coco Chanel’s ideas!

We had a rush of lovely spring weather a little while ago and so the summer dress patterns were dusted off and I began yet again the Dress Quest. I like to think of myself as having some influence – my offspring, students, even maybe one or two of you but I am now beginning to think I might possess powers beyond human as every time, I mean every time, I start to sew a sleeveless cotton dress – it rains! The temperature drops and I regard my burgeoning summer wardrobe with despair. If I make a coat, the sun shines.

Anyway, ignoring my apparent and inadvertent influence on the weather, I ordered the spring/summer Marfy catalogue. There seems to be a current surge of interweb interest in this Italian pattern company or else I’m late to the party  and it appears that many others have quite a bit of influence over me so I bought the book. Euro 20 and you get 20 Free patterns! That’s quite a bargain when you consider that the full retail price of a Vogue is about £15 – 20.


DSC01265I could never figure out the fascination with Marfy patterns – the sketches all look like cartoon girls dressed as wedding guests to me and there’s no technical drawings. You can say that I’m not competitive but I am a trier. I traced off one of the free dress patterns – 0303 – and have got this far.


The main fabric is a pale airforce blue, quite a substantial cotton and the collar is a paler light blue fine shirt linen. There are no instructions with any Marfy patterns, so thinking and figuring out time are essential – no good for the GB Sewing Bee then – but I’ve enjoyed the problem solving and technical know-how. Mine’s lined too and I probably over-complicated the make, but heck – put it all down to experience.

I have a budding stash. A spring-like apple green linen which might end up as this Vogue 1381 – Ralph Rucci with lots and lots of topstitching.V1381










And a muted pink and cream polka dot which might end up as Rachel’s Brasilia dress – another free pattern which she designed and has very, very kindly shared with us all. Go to Rachel’s Pinterest board to see all the wonderful variations of this super pattern.


Both fabrics are from Chrysalis.



The very talented and versatile Beata from Red Point Tailor commented on a post a little while ago so I went to have a look at her  blog offerings. Thankfully I did because she makes sumptuous glass jewellery – like boiled sweets for your ears, neck and wrist. I ordered some blue stud earrings ostensibly to wear with the Ziggi jacket but will be lovely with the Marfy dress and a green glass bracelet for the green linen dress. I have the accessories – I just don’t have the clothes yet!

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Easter holidays are looming on the horizon and this is the time I generally use to settle down and do some serious sewing. In between the church services and the choir practices, I sew.

Apart from finishing SWAP and the Marfy dress and maybe a few unknowns, I also plan to make another StyleArc Ziggi biker jacket. I love my first one so much that it really has to have a companion. With all those pastel, muted tones being used for dresses, I decided I needed to ‘harden’ them up a bit and have got some black. The main jacket will be in black distressed leather-look, with black suede sleeve tops and yokes and a black and white swirly lining. The black leather-look fabric is also from Chrysalis.


It seems that material shops in the UK do not sell the same zips in different lengths! But I learned from the first Ziggi that on the finished jacket if the zips are similar it’s OK, they don’t have to be exact copies  of each other. I’ve opted for brass teeth this time to try and warm up the black. I don’t wear black so it’s a strange choice for me.

Is your tea cold or your cocktail glass drained? Go and get another one because you are now about to enter an exclusive world of fabrics. No poly satins here! Sheer utter indulgence and fantasy……

It was always my aim this year to sew with very good fabrics but make fewer items and somehow so far I haven’t seemed to get round to it sticking with that idea. DH has a notion for me to make a classic navy wool crepe dress – the type of dress that stands the test of time, day to evening, perfectly fitted, style not fashion. So when I wasn’t sewing, working, leafing through Marfy or reading, cooking or cleaning this week I Googled ‘wool crepe UK’ and this came up – click on the logo for the treat of your life……see you in about an hour or so……..


Guipure lace at £600 p/m anyone?




Suiting with 24K pinstripes at  £1, 500 (it’s on sale, it’s normally £1,900, so hurry) – that’s the per meter price by the way.

Hand sewn sequins on silk, laser cut motifs embroidered on chiffon, brick wall silk lining and trims and embellishments that bring tears to your eyes. Unique, luxurious, absolutely fabulous fabrics.


Thankfully, for us mere working mortals there is a remnant section and a bargain basement. My finger slipped and I bought 2m of black and ivory wool patchwork fabric and 1m of a loosely woven black and ivory herringbone wool. No sooner had I ordered the fabric, it had arrived at my door – really, less than 24hrs!

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I buy a lot of my fabric online: sometimes it comes in a cardboard box wrapped in brown paper, sometimes it comes in a plastic envelope, sometimes it’s folded and sometimes it’s rolled, but look at the way this one came…


Each length of material folded around tissue paper and inserted into protective bags sealed with a Joel & Sons silver label; two woven labels for sewing into the finished garments; a handy tape measure for my handbag; a pretty little postcard thanking me for my order and my definite belief that I will shop again.

Finally…. and if you have any money left….



Just very recently I found a linen weaver who is still in business and only 40 mins drive away. I haven’t made it to the factory shop IRL yet but I plan to do just that some time over the Easter break. So until I do here’s a sample of genuine Irish linen available online. Not cheap at £50 p/m but then again it is 3m wide! Have I read that right?


Don’t know yet for sure what I’m going to make from all this gorgeous stuff but you can bet that when I start sewing with wool the sun will be shining and the temperatures will rise!






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