corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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The Trouble with Knitting

I love sewing: we all do – that’s why we’re here ….the pairing of pattern and fabric, the choice of garments, trying on and (almost perfect) fitting, the construction techniques, the uniqueness. But knitting! I could swear here %***!*&

When I sew something, I try it on halfway through its making. If it’s too loose I sew a wider seam allowance, if it’s too tight I sew a narrower seam allowance. Simple.

But knitting – honestly – you have to get practically to the end for trying on purposes and if it’s not right then there’s only one thing to be done – swear repeatedly and loudly, stick the whole lot in a plastic bag, hide it and go back to sewing. And it takes soooo long to do.

Knitting – it’s a demon. About three years ago my husband asked me to knit him a sweater. I sent him off to hunt around Ravelry and thought that’s the end of that. Ha! However, he found a pattern and ordered wool – expensive stuff like alpaca and silk. I started the sweater five times! I’d knit up about 10cms then lose my way in the K1,P2,YO,K2,P3, K1 (that’s made up BTW) complicated rib; rip it out and start again, and again, and again. Then one day I did the only sensible thing and the whole lot ended up in a plastic bag and hidden from sight.

downloadKate got us all started on knitting over the summer with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting without Tears. I remembered the luxurious yarn that was sweating in a plastic bag so I bought the book and the circular needles and got stuck in.

Kate has knitted some stunning jumpers herself and is a real inspiration. See some other sewers whom she has encouraged and enabled to knit and their finished versions here.

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eks-1-2The yarn that was purchased many years ago for the doomed jumper is Drops alpaca in indigo with a second yarn of Drops silk in a lighter blue, knitted as one strand. It produces a lovely mottled/marl effect. It really is the softest thing. If I remember correctly it was bought from Purple Sheep Yarns – really quick dispatch and the cheapest, even though this is not cheap yarn.

 

The pattern is the mock raglan sleeve jumper from EZ book with the only bit of sewing being under the arms.

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But look…….

Only joking!

 

 

It’s not for me, it’s for him….

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The sleeves are a little long but not too bad. I just left the edges to curl – as per my customer who wanted something loose and relaxed. I didn’t cry. I didn’t swear. The plastic bag is empty. He got a jumper.

My confidence with knitting has risen slightly. EZ has a lovely, friendly way of writing that makes you feel that everything is OK. One extra stitch is not a disaster and I love her instructions for ‘approximately’ 10″ – my kind of rules. Of course, Kate has demonstrated many times that knitting is not the black art that I thought it was and that I Can!

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I’ve started my second and this time it is for me.

I’m enjoying shopping for yarns – the colours, the thicknesses, the options……

It still takes me ages and ages to knit but at least now it gets finished and there are no tears, no stuffed plastic bags out of sight, nor swearing!

(Well maybe just a wee bit @*#*!)

 

 

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A/W 2017

All the leftovers from spring/summer are used up so it was time to buy some real fabric for the Autumn/Winter 2017 wardrobe. But what to buy? What should I make?

Enter Oska – my inspiration for this year. They are a German clothing company with real shops and online and I have fallen head over heels in love with their designs and styling. This is who I want to be this year…….

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Oska design on the basis of silhouette types:

A-silhouette – feminine, figure-flattering, subtly elegant
Box-silhouette – casual, comfortable and urban
H-Silhouette – reduced, purist and variable
O-silhouette – expressive, authentic and individual
V-silhouette – casual, relaxed and variable

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Clear simple shapes and choice materials stand for an unostentatious but unique look. It is a style, which does not disguise but brings out the personality and is at the same time casual and elegant.

I delved into the pattern stash and lo and behold, I already own a number of patterns that are suitable and others that will work, with a little tweaking.

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I ordered a lot of fabric from Fabworks (they really are delightful people to deal with)

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Mostly wools, tweeds, a bit of cotton jersey and some cotton shirting. And I think I’ll have to be buying more…..

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The style aesthetic can be summed up as:  loose, layered, cropped wide trousers, unstructured coats and jackets, simple white shirts and plain tops, coordinated.

We can call it art-teacher chic or restricted Lagenlook; but I want to make this style my own. Have I found it? My Style I mean. The elusive holy grail of the middle aged woman and the sewer…..

Time to get started and find out.


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No Fabric…. 2 & 3

To cut a long story short and to skip to the chase I’ve made two more things without fabric.

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First up, cotton jersey leftover from Donna Karan dress. Enough for a T-shirt with sleeves or something longer without sleeves. Out came my old favouriteMerchant and Mills Bantam vest except this time I cut the vest in half and inserted a mid-riff band to make it into a dress.

A bit boring on its own and time to spare to sew without fabric, I beaded the neck and along the edge of an added pocket.

The beading took about 4 weeks! It’s dense and heavy; sparkly and shiney.

 

Needless to say, summer has long gone from our shores.

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The middle band had to cut on the cross grain due to fabric restrictions but I quite like the subtle change in tone between the blues.

 

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Next, is another favourite skirt from StyleArc – Zoe. Wears like a pencil skirt walks like an A-Line. Designed for wovens.

This up-to-the-minute longer-line pencil skirt incorporates clever design features to set this style apart. The darted back line finishes on the front and the front side seam moves towards the centre resulting in a slimming silhouette.

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This fabric is leftover from Vogue 1531.

And then I managed to pick up a long line cardigan in the sales that coordinates perfectly – much better in real life than in the photos.

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To sum up: I  finished a long awaiting linen dress, I’ve made a beaded sun-dress and a fully lined skirt – not bad for having no fabric!

Lessons to take away: buy for a project and maybe buy just a little more than you actually need so that you can add to the leftover pile and just look what can be made from that pile. However, use the leftovers, otherwise it will get out of hand!

The autumn/winter 2017 wardrobe has now thankfully arrived – albeit in kit form – plans and ideas to follow…………

 


29 Comments

No Fabric…..1

For a few weeks I didn’t have any fabric! OK, we all know that is a bare faced lie but really, all I had were offcuts, leftovers and scraps; no 2 or 3 metre lengths with which to create and sew. My money had all been spent on frivolous things like food and petrol and there wasn’t much to spare. However, with a need to sew I started delving into those leftovers…..so some posts coming soon on how you can sew without a fabric stash!

While riffling through the leftovers, for a piece large enough to place a paper pattern upon I found this – last seen in June 2014.

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To make sense of today’s post, you really should read this one first.

The plastic bag was emptied, all the pieces ironed and smoothed. A little bit of dedication, concentration and determination has now resulted in one finished dress that was started three years ago!

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Vogue Ralph Rucci 1381.

There was more thread, pattern pieces, basting, tacking, pressing, top stitching, understitching, quilting, cutting, clipping, trimming, hand sewing and machine sewing involved in this one dress than in a fully tailored jacket, waistcoat, trousers and coat combined!

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All the fit issues and reservations that I mentioned in June 2014 were largely ignored this time and I just went for a finished dress. While it’s not spectacular (despite all that work) it’s OK .  I lengthened mine (as usual) and raised the front gap and that’s all the alterations I did.

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The dress weighs a tonne! If I ever fall overboard while wearing this I’ll sink like a stone. In some places there are five layers of various fabrics and it’s fully lined; the linen wears really well, softening but not wrinkling too much. Although made in linen, this is not a summer dress but would ease the transition in early autumn / spring.

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The hem has a bias strip sewn to the edge, then pressed up and slip stitched. I think this gives a bit of weight to the skirt so that it hangs better. The belt is sewn to the dress on one side so that you don’t lose it. And those front pockets are the best ever.

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If you follow the instructions to the letter, then the pocket edges and neck facings would be finished with more bias strips. I’d had enough and the raw edges were serged. When it came to French tacking the lining to the skirt – that was one stitch too many and I called it a day.

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It’s finished and it’s been worn. I got compliments and pleasant comments and no one noticed the mis-matched zip, the gathers and wrinkling, the wobbly topstitching, the unsymmetrical quilting lines; or if they did, they never said. Can’t ask much more than that really.

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Do You Want More Gravy?

There’s a tradition in our house that, when cooking dinner, you always prepare enough food for the Uninvited Guest. If they don’t show up then there’s plenty for seconds or enough for dinner the next day. I learned this from my mother as a child and she still cooks this way. Another ritual at dinner is purely my mother’s – at a certain point, usually mid-way through the main meal, she will invariably ask each person “Do you want more gravy?”

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It has become a standing joke and now at every family get together dinners, we all take turns asking “Do You want more gravy?”

So what else could I name a quilt made for my mum and dad except “More Gravy”?

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The design is actually Spellbound found free at Moda’s Bake Shop. MBS-spellbound-pinI made mine a little bigger than the pattern for a generous drop off each edge on a double bed. I also choose gentle colours, vignetting from green – pink – blue, on a neutral cream background. A easy and quick way to increase the size of any quilt is to add borders and I added two.

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The fabrics are tea dyed cloth from Doughty’s, which is also appropriate for my parents as they drink gallons of the stuff and no matter what is wrong or what problems are worrying you, a cup of tea will fix it.

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The quilt is sewn in strips, left to right, the squares of one row beginning the row below. There are hundreds of little pieces to make one row:

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The reverse of the quilt has a centre panel made up of all the little cut-offs and a few patches of leftover fabrics.

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And of course there’s always more fabric left over, so I made two matching pillow shams.

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More gravy and cups of tea, sunshine and a handmade quilt – what could be better?

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