Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Blog Hopping

Thanks so much to Sewing Elle who invited me to contribute to the world wide blog hop  – so a hop, skip and jump from Down Under to up here.

I am soooo behind in blogging that those who I’ve invited to take up the torch have actually posted their hops before me! So I’d better get a move on……

Why do I write what I do?

To be perfectly honest, a few years ago my conscience pricked me. At the time I was sewing solo and felt I was bleeding dry the good work and expertise of others – I’d hit a tricky bit of sewing and immediately went to sewing blogs: I devoured the information and never left a comment but bookmarked the pages. Then I began to secretly and regularly read a few blogs and then a few more and one day took the leap of “following” a few. And then I began to feel guilty – I was taking all this knowledge and not giving back. That’s when I took the dive.


Longish hair

I ‘came out’ and started commenting, photographing, styling, writing and sewing.


then shorter…

And I’ve been doing it for 3 years now, in fact November is the anniversary. I started with the notion that if no-one read my posts then I’d just pack up and disappear. I set an indefinite trial period and if it didn’t work, no big deal and maybe I’m still in my probation time……


And shorter…

I asked DH the other day if he ever read my blog and he said ‘No, I don’t need to I have the real thing.’ And that’s a little bit about why I write too … there are apparently so few of us who sew, especially in Belfast, that the Internet is a fabulous way of connecting with like-minded people and the very fact that they are half-way round the world is so unimportant and yet at the same time so appealing. I really never thought that I’d make such good friends without ever having met any of you!



Sometimes I crave approval, sometimes I want to share a new idea, style, fabric or pattern and sometimes I just want to show off – LOL! I appreciate comments – good and bad – at least it tells me that someone is reading!

Last and not least – it’s like a diary isn’t it? When I scrolled though all my posts so far I had a hard time believing how long ago I made some of my clothes. Many are still in circulation. I even use my own tips and tutorials when I can’t figure something out. And just look at the hair styles – like old photo albums!


What am I working on now?

Oh…. I have so many plans and patterns and fabric! In reality, I still have an Alabama Chanin tank dress to hand sew and I set myself the deadline of October 30th.

In the meantime, I’ve started a tailored jacket – Jean Hardy 875 already cut and partly started. I’ve made this twice before but as it’s tailoring and a lot of hand sewing involved, every jacket is like a brand new pattern.


There is nothing that make my heart sing so much as seeing the inside of a tailored garment – such beauty in the invisible.


How does my work differ from others in the genre?

I don’t know that it actually does (and I know everyone says that ) but it’s absolutely true. I love tailoring because I adore perfectly made jackets and skirts – they make you stand taller and make you feel really good  – so still striving for that, but I don’t do spectacular ball gowns or  drop dead gorgeous dresses. I just make clothes for me. I do try new things because it’s fun and challenging – I do like a challenge, and I’m a wee bit tenacious, so I won’t let things beat me.

I diversifier this year into Alabama Chanin cotton jersey sewing, but after a bit of consideration – this is really just haute couture using a cheaper fabric!

I sew all types – 1 hour T-shirts, Vogue is my favourite simply because their fit is best for my body, draping was a new diversion this year thanks to Sew2Pro, but I’m not convinced this is my singular route  I’d rather someone else does all the hard work and I just use their pattern!

I’d love to have a defining ‘style': something you could look at and immediately think of ME. Just like Laura-Mae or Gertie. However, I like many different styles – sometimes casual, sometimes sloppy, sometimes dressy – everything really and that is hopefully reflected in what I sew and what I write about.


How does my writing process work?

Firstly, I’d like to start with with what I’m not – and thereby actually complimenting those bloggers to whom I aspire:

I’d love to have the rapid repartee and wit of Pretty Grievances, but I don’t.

I want to write (and sew) as prolifically as Rhonda, but I can’t.

I desire to to be as meticulous and accurate as Mrs Mole, but I don’t have the skills.

So what you read is what you get. A little libation sometimes helps. I know I am good with words – I teach so I hope I am! I tell stories to small children and they are often mesmerised but maybe this is the power of their imagination. I often feel like the speccy-spotty girl in big school, as opposed to being the cheerleader or the captain of the 1st II when I look at the stats on my blog. But, then again, I didn’t start this to compete on the popularity stakes (in fact it didn’t even occur to me at the time) I started this because I felt I was sucking so much out out of others that I was obliged to return to favour and give something back.

I’ll be sewing or driving or watching the potatoes boil and an idea will come to me: I like to link blog titles with garments or patterns – a little segue never hurts does it?  Thereby, perhaps, offering a small glimpse into my very normal life with a little bit of light entertainment and maybe a sewing scattered tip here and there.

The gaps between my posts is getting more and more stretched. There was a time when I posted twice a week, then that dropped to every five days and recently it’s down to once a week or less. Do blogs have a natural lifespan? Some of my favourites have stopped and I might just be heading in that direction too.  I look at my photos now and see a middle aged woman who has put on weight and is resembling her mother more and more – maybe it’s time for the next generation to take up the baton and carry it on with all their enthusiasm and freshness.

One genuine reason for not blogging might actually be SEWING! I really do prefer to sew than blog……..



Thank you so much for reading and for your support. I’ll leave with the very first photo I ever posted and I’m wondering now how I ever thought anyone would want to make a top like that! It’s Vogue 8616 if you’re interested.


I’m passing this blog hop honour to Coco who sews such perfectly fitted clothes in her loft and hasn’t put a single pound on since she was 17! She is so popular that she has been asked by 3 or 4 bloggers.

And to Marianna who sews everything from pencil cases to shark dresses and pushes me to try new things.Keep pushing Marianna…..



Firing up the Machine

I so enjoyed the hand sewing and stitching of cotton jersey but it was time to move on, plug the machine back in and get sewing things that take a week to make not a couple of months.

I ordered some corduroy during the summer from MyFabrics in prep for A/W 14 with the intention of a pair of jeans. A most unusual fabric, it is batik dyed in shades of brown, rust, blue, brown, olive – it sort of looks like I stripped down the car engine and wiped my hands on my clothes; subtle but interesting. I love it. It is also so soft as it’s 100% cotton and very finely corded. As with all internet fabric purchases I tend to buy in full metres and 2m were ordered.



I made the jeans (not round-a-cords this time). Made these a million times (Craftsy Jeanius) so not much to say about them.  Straight-legged and a wee bit shorter than normal for wearing with flat boots. More later…








But I did have about 0.8m of the cord left over. I downloaded and taped together Grainline Moss skirt ages and ages ago and never made it, so a perfect opportunity to use up the surplus. This did require a certain amount of ingenuity as the pattern actually calls for 1.2m and I like my skirts a little longer! I made the version with bottom band and added 1″ to the skirt length before hand.

All the inside bits were cut from scraps of quilting cotton and the waistband was hacked out of two bits of cord.

12001ViewBFrontDespite steam stretching, there’s very little shaping and it is a bit big, so belt carriers were added and I’ll wear it with a belt – problem solved!


I topstitched in a pale blue and added the bottom hem band – I like this extra detail. The instructions tell you to sew the skirt’s side seams, make the band and then sew the two together at the hemline. To me that’s just asking for trouble, I’d never match the side seams with my non-accuracy of sewing, so I sewed one side only on both the skirt and the band: stitched these together and then sewed the other side seam all the way through the band – perfect seam matching and no worries about the band being too big or too small.


You can see the shading in the fabric here


There are so many very good examples of this skirt for you to view and get inspiration from – from traditional denim to patterned cotton and some fabulous versions in-between. Just Google Grainline Moss and you’ll see….I’m sorry I didn’t make this sooner – but is it a replacement for Vogue 1247? I’m not going to do a pattern review as it’s been done to death and I’ve nothing much to add. We all have different shapes and bodies; we have different expectations of patterns and we all like different things.


The blouse/shirt was made to co-ordinate with the jeans but it is better with the Moss skirt.


Fabric is a drapey viscose from Chrysalis Autumn ’14 collection and reminds me of granddad’s pyjamas. So retro, yet so modern, with muted shades of blue and rust and ivory and as slippery as silk. Just lovely (to wear, not so much to sew).

If you want sleeves but don’t want to sew them in, then this is the pattern for you! Named Fran blouse has kimono cut on sleeves without the tonnes of fabric that makes it difficult to put a jacket on. Slim-line sleeves that have a deep but straightforward slit, fastened at the wrist with snaps and disguised with a button (no instructions for this BTW).


Downloading and tracing patterns is not without its tribulations, especially as the downloaded pattern is a Burdaesque contour map without the colour!  UntitledUntil I double check my actual pattern I can’t confirm that this is the pattern’s fault or mine – but one sleeve was a few inches longer than the other! I also noted on the website that the model’s version had very long sleeves (see pic above), so I’d already decided to shorten mine to normal length. It’s easy to fix but just a little bit annoying and somewhat puzzling at the time.











Pretty tie bow at the neck and shirt tails – so it sort of straddles the dressiness of a blouse with the relaxed fit of a shirt.


I couldn’t quite figure out the instructions for the front button band so I just went with what I knew. For a blouse that has no darts, mine is a wee bit ‘fitted’. You might also notice that I’ve been laying down a few layers of fat for the winter – that has taken at least 10 weeks of concerted effort BTW! I cut a 14 which matches my measurements but Scandinavian ease seems to be slightly more restricted than Vogue’s. I’ve had to add a snap at the bust line to stop the gap! Next time, I’ll cut a bit bigger.


And of course there was about 0.8m leftover of the granddad viscose but we’ll leave that for another day….this is getting too long already.

What’s better than making something you didn’t plan to make and finding that it also goes with items already in your wardrobe?


AC beaded T-shirt in dusky pink with boyfriend style cardigan in Noro ( I’m sorry, I can’t remember the colour-way or content) – pinks and olives and burgundy, knitted at the tale-end of last winter to wear with burgundy round-a-cords and back in circulation this year with a new lease of life.

And what’s next?


Well, I have a most sumptuous 2m of wool tweed (also from Chrysalis) that co-ordinates perfectly but not matchy-matchy with the jeans, skirt and blouse. A tailored jacket will definitely not be made in a week, so I’d better get cracking……..if I can settle on a design – any suggestions?



CCN Ep2/S1

Second edition of CoreCouture News….

I went away at the week end with a couple of friends and a good time was had by all. As a consequence, there was no sewing done but plenty of shopping, trying on, browsing and talking and we managed to sort out our fashion fears, dressing for occasion angsts, marriages, children and even the world – so rest assured, you can all sleep peacefully tonight – me and my mates have it sorted!

I did wear my AC coat over jeans in Fermanagh but honestly it is so unseasonably warm here in Northern Ireland that my summer gear is still in rotation – I’m still wearing linen trousers and cotton tops in October!


Top50-winner-160Quite honestly, I have absolutely no idea how this happened or actually what this little blog is doing here, however, apparently Corecouture has been voted as a Top 50 Sewing Blog by Burda fans. I’m guessing that I’ve scrapped through at number 50 but nevertheless, it is an honour and thank you very much to anyone and everyone who voted for me. I had no idea I was even nominated which makes this win ever better.

Part of the ‘win’ is a prize of 5 free patterns and a free on-line class on tailoring, which is brilliant as my next big make is a jacket. I’ve done tailoring before but you can never know too much.

The 5 patterns I’ve chosen are a mish-mash of styles and sewing ability but I tried to fill the gaps in my pattern stash and just a little bit of what took my fancy: I also have most of the fabric just folded and waiting to be made into something fabulous for A/W 14/15- here’s hoping!

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Needless to say, I’ll be making some Burda patterns in not too distant future. I have to admit that my success with Burda has not been without its tribulations in the past, mainly due to to the tracing issues – but I’m ready to give it another go and more than willingly to be proved wrong, especially as the styles and fashion look as good as this…..

Blog Hopping

The absolutely  inspiring and role model – Sewing Elle has nominated me to do a Blog Hopping. There are some hard questions to answer but I’ll do my best – so add her to your blog roll. You should add her to your blog role anyway…..

In typical academic methodology, I’ve researched blog hopping and it is similar to linky-things( technical jargon, you understand)

A Blog Hop is a linky list that is shared between a group of blogs so people “hop” from blog to blog seeing the same list on each blog. 

Anyone who blogs knows how time consuming and fraught with tribulation the process is – the sewing, the pressing, the styling, photos, light, etc, so I’m taking this seriously and hopefully the results will bear fruit to the efforts invested.

Which kind of takes me back to Burda….. obviously they want to use blogs as marketing tools. I’ve been offered a percentage commission on any Burda product that I advertise on this site. Whilst tempting, this is not what I starting blogging for  -this is primarily for you!  Definitely not for for my readers to be bombarded by adverts and deals and most certainly NOT for me to make money. If I like a pattern, or learn from an on-line class I am more than happy to share this with you without personal benefit: I have a full-time job which I love to bits and sewing is a hobby – see the difference?

I’ll probably be relegated to “beyond” the Top 50 Bloggers now!


Belfast Sewers

The doyen of frocks Ozzyblack Beard (she is our own home-based Dolly Clacket and you should add her to your blog role too – no commission, honestly) and I are attempting to arrange a get-togther of local sewers and crafters. I’m afraid I’m falling into the Irish attitude of ‘whenever’, but if you are interested and from NI, ROI or any where in the world, email myself or Lynne and we will try to arrange a day and time properly – like they do in New York, London and Brighton. We can’t promise garment district shopping as there are only one and half fabric shops in the greater Belfast area but we can at least have a pleasurable morning/afternoon together: swapping fabric stashes, patterns and sharing website and experiences. While Ozzy and I are both sewers of garments, we would love creative and artistic folks to join us too. We can all learn from each other. Lynne, I promise I’m seriously thinking about this but weekends away with friends are sooo good and it takes a few days to recover………..



After all the hand sewing stuff for Alabama Chanin (which is totally addictive, yes I agree Mrs Mole) I did fire up the Janome and sewed some things. These are Indie patterns, probably downloaded and taped together about a year ago but I’m only getting around to making them now.

No time for ‘action’ photos right now so here is Doris in all her glory wearing the latest from Corecouture – these are – Named Flan blouse, Grainline Moss skirt and self-drafted jeans





Steam pressing, real life photos and fabric and sewing details to follow….. stay tuned – `I’m not getting paid anyway” LOL


Falling Leaves

Just in time for autumn, although right now the sky is blue, the sun is shining and temperatures are hotter now than in August, my penultimate Alabama Chanin outfit from the flurry of needles and thread that started in the summer. I feel a wee bit daft wearing all this black and autumnal colours when it’s still practically summer.

This is especially for all those sewing bloggers who have decided to retire – this outfit is for you……(oh! and me too!). I miss you.

A knee length skirt with leaf applique, a coat embellished with black bugle glass beads with a reverse applique collar to mirror the skirt (the T-shirt is shop bought). Hand sewn in black and brown, it is supposed to straddle the navy/black outfit and the brown/pink outfit.


The coat is the fabulous vintage Vogue 8875: fitted and flared, cut on sleeves, princess darts, detachable collar, tie belt and I added two patch pockets. I shortened it quite considerably as I wanted the co-ordinating skirt to hang below. This is a double layer – black on the outside and brown on the inside, both mid-weight cotton jersey.

V8875 V8875







Quite honestly, the coat could be made out of sack-cloth and still look good. It is such a good shape. Mine is more like a cardigan because it’s made from cotton jersey but still retains an element of formality when paired with a skirt and hopefully will work just as hard well with a pair of jeans.



Two strips of cotton jersey around the hem held in place with a catchstitch and a running stitch, embellished with glass beads. And adds a good weight to the hem


Additional patch pockets made with a double layer of black and brown: more glass beads along the top and matching beading on the sleeve hems.



Detachable collar with one row of glass beads along the edge

The Vogue pattern instructs you to slip stitch the detachable collar in place but in my eyes that’s not detachable, so I sewed a few snaps to the back neckline and waist. Now it’s truly detachable and I might just make a navy/black version if I have enough fabric left over to perfectly match the navy/black skirt and tunic.



Detachable collar detached in an instant and last week’s brown bolero sleeves worn long under the bracelet length coat sleeves.


DSCN4536 And onto the skirt….

Pattern from Alabama Studio Style book; mid weight black cotton with light weight earth brown leaves. Knots left on the outside.


The stencil pattern was downloaded for free from AC website and printed out full size. I used a piece of heavy weight interfacing to make the stencil, although it wasn’t large enough for the whole stencil, so I just used part of it.


I’ve given up with dying and fabric painting techniques and now just trace the shapes with felt-tip pens directly onto the skirt pieces.


Then a fast and large running stitch around each shape. I’ve also abandoned the buttonhole thread – this skirt was made entirely (seams and all) with embroidery floss – a single strand doubled over. And it hasn’t fallen apart yet!


Once a reasonable area is stitched then I cut the uppermost brown layer away, leaving the leaves (ha ha)



Four panels later; the centre and side seams are stitched and felled, a bit of elastic stitched to the waist, a wash and press and Bob’s your uncle – a skirt!


My original intention was to embellish the coat the same as the skirt but it really would have been tooooo much, so I’m happy with the plainness and a bit of decoration on the collar only. Anyway, I’ll be able to wear with coat with more things.


The skirt also goes with the brown bolero from the pink/brown set – a real mix ‘n’ match ensemble.


Anyway, I’ve somehow acquired a steadily growing pile of wovens – wool and tweed and cotton and viscose and rayon and corduroy – Oh my! so I suppose I ought to cut into it and get the sewing machine cranked up again.


A last glance at a hand sewn outfit (for a little while anyway….) And let’s hope autumn comes soon so I can wear it!


For £62.82, some thread, a few packs of needles and some beads I’ve now got – three skirts, a tunic, two boleros, a T-shirt, a coat and a scarf  and a dress (unfinished) – about £8 each!




Are You Bored Yet?

Indulge me.

The next Alabama Chanin outfit.


No applique on this set – all plain – except for thousands of glass beads on skirt hem, T-shirt neck and sleeves. It weights a tonne and could easily be used as a weapon – one swipe of that hem as I sashay by and some innocent bystander would have bruises!

I did not do this in one week, so no comments about productivity  please – I had already started many of these pieces in the summer holidays and alternated between stitching, beading, seaming, cutting:  I had at least 5 garments on the go all at the same time! The benefit of this method is that each item moves forward little by little and then all of a sudden, one weekend, it only takes a few seams, a little washing, pressing and voila – all’s done!

I present to you for critical feedback and commentary – the plain brown and dusky pink beaded ensemble……mid-length skirt, T-shirt and bolero.


I added a 1″ strip of jersey and sewed the beads through both the sleeve and the strip for added strength.


For the skirt I sewed the beads onto a strip of jersey first, then stitched the beaded band to the skirt hem.




Bolero sleeves are folded back to show off the T-shirt sleeves beading



Mid weight cotton jersey for the skirt. Light weight for the T shirt and bolero

All patterns are from Alabama Studio Sewing and Design and made entirely by hand. There is a definite softness to hand stitched seams and once again very comfortable to wear. I’m not 100% convinced about the colour of the T-shirt but the original intention was to for it to be worn under a dress…..


One panel almost completed – only another three to go………………and if I still don’t like the colour it’s easy to change – as the fabric is all cotton – just dye it!



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