Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Another Small Break……

This is just the best ever FB message you could ever receive:

“Come and visit me in Mexico.”


Now, I suppose if you live in Mexico that wouldn’t be too exciting but for someone who doesn’t and hasn’t been on a proper holiday for years, this is an offer too good to reject.

I said “Yes”, then I said “No”, then I recanted and I’m off to stay with ReAnn for a fortnight in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.


There are number of ‘firsts’ for me with this trip:

First trans-atlantic flight

First foot fall in USA (even though it’s only for a few hours hours stop-over)

First single long-haul journey.

ReAnn found me via this blog so that is reason enough to keep posting – who knows what else this will lead too?  She has independently travelled the world, is a living role model and fabulous fun to be around. Check out her adventures. 

I’m just back from a week camping (yes, in a tent) in Scotland with two girlfriends. We had an absolute blast and the weather was brilliant. I’ll cover the Me-Mades on that trip when I return from this next one.

I’ve set up a timed post for next week but please don’t be offended if I can’t respond to any comments – ReAnn and I will be having too much fun. So just as I get going again on the blogging front, I am away for a fortnight on an adventure.






Beautiful Life

Goodness, here we are again so soon and all is well….

Recently I lost my right hand…, no, not really,  but my sewing machine is in for service and it kinda feels like it – what purpose do I now serve?

_The+Curated+Closet_+A+simple+system+for+discovering+your+personal+style+and+building+your+dream+wardrobe_Recently, one day in town I was a little early for an appointment and I went to a bookstore and bought The Curated Closet to read in order to fill in the time.  Think of Me-Made-May for people who buy clothes and you’ve got the idea……there are a lot of ‘exercises’ and ‘things to do’ and ‘lists to make’ and ‘photos to take’ in order to achieve your individualised curated closet. Personally, I couldn’t  be bothered with all that palaver but it was an interesting read regardless.

Then, as if by serendipity, Kate sent me a PDF version of her newly released book to review and that has certainly helped filled the not-sewing time. Making Life More Beautiful is also an interesting read. You really have to admire FabricKated – she never seems to sit still and when she does, she’s knitting, writing, thinking, plotting and planning the the next project. Unlike myself, Kate’s blogging has remained consistent and regular. She writes and researches everything, from what other people wear and how they wear it to what she sews and knits and then throws in the odd post about family and exhibitions. You never know what you’ll be reading about from one day to the next. And such is the content of her book. Here are the chapters and what a variety they are:






Make your own textiles 


Based primarily on her blog posts, Kate has enhanced, elaborated, edited and added to her prolific writing to independently produce a book that is beautiful to look at, fascinating to read and with a few added projects, an activity book too. The photography is refreshingly natural and real. Kate completed a photography course (one of many artistic classes she has completed) and the evidence of her learning is evident in the book.

The photographs are of ‘real people’ in natural settings and are simply inspirational on their own. Kate includes her own images and garments which certainly elevates this book beyond the commercial and sets it into everyday and real life.

Maybe a coffee table photography book is next, Kate??

Kate’s book was launched at a grand London location with much festivity and many activities. I wasn’t there in person but if I could I would have. I was certainly there in spirit.

51O173L4ixL._SX348_BO1,204,203,200_Making Life More Beautiful is not so much a set of rigid rules to dress by but a guidebook that gently guides the reader to better and more refined dressing and styling, using examples from real life and the all important advice on how-not-to-wear. It is also Kate’s personal journey through her own life and significant eras and hence, this book is somewhat biographical. We learn from Kate’s mistakes!

I’ve met Kate IRL (she’s one of my favourite blogging friends) and a more hospitable and welcoming host I couldn’t hope to meet. Here’s our night of Six Napoleon dresses 20161028_205233 which Marijanna (on the left) organised.

In her own inimitable style, Kate says it as she thinks – she is a truly no-nonsense girl.

“Isn’t it amazing? Today the democratic medium of blogging allows anyone to communicate with many, freely and easily, turning the old publishing model completely on its head. I wanted to write about a subject that would inspire me. I work in housing, I have a family, I enjoy travel, architecture and good design, I love London, and at least three times a day I think about food. I might have landed on any one of these subjects, and sung like a canary.”




So while I can only try to emulate Kate’s candour on style, colouring and life, I simply feel compelled to make my own reference to the inconsistent misuse of the apostrophe throughout the book.  From the front cover and inside fly page, to dates and otherwise scattered throughout, the apostrophe seems to have been inserted at random with no thought (knowledge?) whatsoever to meaning or grammar. Please tell me I am not the only person still alive who knows how and where to use the correct punctuation, including the elusive colon and its cousin the semi-colon, not to mention brackets?

Anyway, if you can read beyond the punctuation errors this book will happily fill a summer’s afternoon and you will find yourself delving in and out throughout the autumnal days and long winter nights for inspiration, advice, happy images and the knowledge that it was written and produced by a very accomplished sewer/knitter/blogger/writer/photographer/shoe-maker/critic/jewellery-artist/ weaver/mother/art lover/CEO/daughter/wife/home-maker/friend/blogger. Have I left anything out?

To me, this will will be henceforth be known as Kate’s book, until she publishes another that is……






Is this the end or the beginning?

An unusual ennui seems to have inflicted my favourite sewing bloggers and I too am not immune. Time between posts just stretches into longer and longer periods. I’m sewing lots, what I’m not doing is standing in the garden with carefully selected shoes and full make-up, salon hair, a smile and taking photographs.

Maybe it’s the summer season; maybe it’s holidays and days away; maybe we’re all busy with life and other stuff; maybe we’ve nothing left to say; maybe it’s the end of blogging…….bit like gym membership.

Anyone remember recording songs off the radio onto cassette tape, listening to your Walkman, watching videos, talking to people via landlines? See what I mean, everything has its day. Mind you, my 21 year old son is gradually building an impressive collection of vinyl LPs – what comes around, goes around. If we stick this blogging lark out, then maybe we’ll be back in vogue!

I have made some very good friends via blogging. I’ve met a few in real life and many more virtually. Every one is special and valued and I would not have have this connection without this blog. Hence, I’m rent in two like a beautiful piece of linen, right across the grainline. Do I continue to write this blog?

I have other on-line platforms – Instagram, Pintrest, Facebook and I don’t update those either. I’m really lazy or more to the truth, I couldn’t be bothered.

I have sewn so many garments since my last post that I probably have enough material (ha ha!) to complete a blog post every day of summer. The thing is – are you interested? Will there really be anything new? I’m beginning to think that blogging is just an internet version of “Show and Tell”: “Look how good I am”.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I find daily inspiration, advice, tips, laughs and stimulation from the blogs of other sewers and I still feel I should contribute too. And that’s the dilemma. Those of you who have not written for ages either must surely recognise this quandary.

To try and inject a new level of energy and re-kick-start regular broadcasts on Corecouture – I bring you the actual and real Wedding Guest Dress.  I made a prototype here but then had enough time to make another. Hence, I’ve dusted off the camera and tripod, taken off my jeans, found the shoes, put a bit of lipstick on and here we go…….


There is no pattern for this dress. Well there is but you need to get hold off Bootstrap Off Shoulder dress for the top half and back and then the free download Julies Sissions Scarlett backless red dress for the front skirt. You put these two together, look at loads Vivienne Westwood frocks online and make the rest up as you sew.



Fabric is Romance Rose from Fabric Godmother and is fabulous but sold out I’m afraid. A cotton sateen with 98% cotton and the difference made up from Lycra/elastane. Fitted but with room to move.

Those front pleats cover a multitude of sinful late night snacking and still they keep giving…..even after a wedding dinner. I wore this dress for 14 hours straight and it looked as good at the end of the day as it did at the beginning. I didn’t, however wear the VW shoes for 14 hours – I had flats at the ready.


While it might look like those shoulders are about to fall off and cause untold embarrassment to the wearer, they will not. Take a little bit of scrap fabric or ribbon and a snap; sew along shoulder seam and put your bra strap through the loop. Perfection and totally secure. Wee haute couture tip there for you. You’re welcome.


Then I obviously still had too much time left over for sewing because I also made a coat and bag to match.

The bag pattern was a free download years ago from Hot Patterns.


The wedding was in May, which can be chilly at night here so this was not wasted effort. downloadThe pattern is vintage Vogue 1137 which I have made many, many times and as usual this version has a few modifications such as narrowing the swing and widening the sleeves. The coat is a light boiled wool, unlined, with patch pockets from Fabworks and if I had my wits about me I might be able to tell you exactly what it is.


I sewed flat felled seams and used a pleasantly matching grosgrain ribbon on the front facings and hem. The sleeve hems are faced with the dress fabric for that totally co-ordinating outfit – a very, very haute couture touch.


Oh yeah, I also managed to sew an eternal corsage from all the left over fabrics, a few spare ribbons and a button.


Till next time.

Whenever that may be….


Thank you so very much for your loyalty, consistency and continual reading. My words are not enough to express this gratitude.

You want a few pictures of the wedding though now, don’t you?




Not Sewing, Engineering!

Well hello there! Let’s hope the long wait for a new post was worth it…….

Firstly, you are going to try and follow A Train of Thought.

I have a wedding to go to in May and I have about one hundred dresses that I could wear. I checked through this blog for some existing candidates: I am also quite sure that when my S/S clothes come out of the attic there will be a few others to choose from that I have forgotten about!


Each one is perfectly acceptable with a pair of high heels and a bit of lipstick. But it’s always nice to make a new one, isn’t it, especially for a grand occasion like a wedding?

And so the hunt began…….style, fabric, impact, era, comfort factor etc etc etc.


I should add that the wedding ceremony will take place in Mussenden Temple, part of the National Trust property at Bishop’s Gate, followed by a reception in a restaurant on the beach. One half of the day is exclusive – the other half is surfer-dude.

After hours of arduous, but pleasantly so, researching I finally managed to narrow the selections down.

These are the shortlisted styles:

Slide2These are the shortlisted fabrics:


There is a common thread (ha ha) in my chosen styles – asymmetrical, vintage looking, fitted bodice and straight-ish skirts with volume. Put all that together and you end up in Vivienne Westwood land.


So now, we move on to actual making of the dress. No commercial patterns are available that resemble anything like these frocks [unless you can tell me differently and if you do I’ll really appreciate it] but what do I have in my book shelves, only the complete art of draping? (pic on right).9781780670935.in11

Hurrah! With a tonne of marking to do and the Easter holidays approaching, I ignored the marking, went to Asda and bought some flat white sheets as muslin for a couple of quid and studiously set to work finding grainlines, draping on Doris and having fun.

The Train of Thought has now reached a conclusion and turning that into a real thing now begins. The ‘muslin’ was going to be my pattern. I needed fabric for a toile. I found some cheap but very wide poly taffeta on My Fabrics, ordered 4m and twiddled my thumbs for a few days until it arrived. On our, now monthly, sewing away days, I packed up Doris, the ‘muslin’, the fabric, two pairs of sharp scissors and three million pins and headed to Castleward for a fab day of cutting and pinning and feedback and ideas, all accompanied with buns, cake and lots of chatter.


There were a few issues: enough fabric for only one sleeve and no back! One sewing pal did point out that a back might be more important than sleeves. Having considered this, I do have to agree with her. The other major issue was that although pinning bits of fabric to a doll might produce ‘a dress’, as a real live person I cannot have pins in my tummy. This dress had to be constructed as a garment that could be put on and taken off. Hence, the engineering………

I’ll cut a very long story short; this project was quickly becoming an epic. With the little scraps left over, I did manage to cut two backs and pieced together enough to make another sleeve. There’s an invisible zip at centre back and that’s the entrance and egress.

This is probably not making any sense to you right now and I can fully understand that because it didn’t make any sense to me and I was there! The dress is actually two pieces because for the life of me I couldn’t figure out a way to join the very full, balloon hemmed side skirt to the rest of the dress.


The principle dress has a half-circle skirt to one side, fitted back pieces with a zip, two (!) tucked 3/4 length sleeves, a large wrap bodice with lots of gathers that buttons all the way around the waist for a bit of figure enhancement and an added scarf-like collar.


There was a lot of hand sewing too – a true couture dress. A one-off.


Please don’t be concerned about the bandages on Doris – she is very old and needs a little patching now and again.

I had a test drive in it the other night to see if it would stand up to the rigours of eating and moving and to see if I could actually wear it instead of just standing still and upright. It passed all the tests. I do need a second pair of hands to get me into the dress which turned out to be not so much fun when I staggered home after midnight and couldn’t get out of it! In actual fact, this dress has a numerical set of instructions on how to get it on and you just reverse these to get out.

We had fun with shoes on the night though including a couple of pairs of VW’s. How appropriate.

OK, enough waffling, here’s the reason you came here today……..


It was definitely an evolutionary project: the final version bears a remote resemblance to the original draping but has become a new creature in its own right.

Extra bustle options are still available


The neckline might need a bit of extra work …

I might be wearing a pretty pink floral dress but this took a lot of brain power; 3D mental rotation and all that stuff late at night; design principles that I didn’t even know existed; many, many, many pin punctures in my hands, fingers and other body parts so don’t mess with me! This dress feels like armour.


At this stage, I’ve spent so much of my time and effort planning and thinking and figuring and sewing and sewing that I don’t think I’ll be making a ‘real’ one. While this was supposed to be a test dress, it is perfectly serviceable, wearable and doesn’t wrinkle much. It also makes a luxurious swoosh sound as it moves.


I might or might not wear this to the wedding. I might just pick one from last year, then again, there’s another month to go before the actual event – time enough yet……


All Together Now

This is for One of Our Own.

You may or may not know Spotty Dog Social Club, written by the ever smiling Two Toast. A pioneer of Lagen look, expert purveyor of Tina Givens patterns and, of course, exquisite sewer – and I haven’t even mentioned the knitting….

Please swing by her blog. Please. You will not be disappointed and very pleasantly inspired.

Do not leave comments here but send them directly to Lorraine. She needs us now.