corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Out of Step

The academic marking season has begun and my time and mind are being forcibly distracted away from sewing – my blogging updates are suffering the consequences and are therefore sporadic and random, so much so that I am now “out of season”.  We have had a wonderful week of sunshine and warmth to accompany it – as usual, just when the exam season starts the weather improves immeasurably. And so here I am wearing a lined boiled wool jacket with matching scarf (slightly wrinkled) in 25 degrees C!

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It’s a perfect example of one of those strange ironies of life – when it rains constantly and you don’t have a raincoat, then you go off and make one and then it stops raining for weeks on end. Or you don’t have a sun dress to wear when the temperatures unexpectedly hit 30, so you make one and the first day you wear it you need a cardigan, thick tights and a pair of boots because by now it’s freezing.

The third and final item from Vogue 9162, this jacket completes The Look.

There’s quite a bit of work involved in this unfitted, loose and boxy jacket, such as interfacing on all hems and full interfacing on the fronts – I didn’t as my fabric is stable. Welt pockets – Oh my!

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Catch stitching the hems to the interfacing and slip stitching the lining to the turned-up hems.

Hand top stitching around the edges and on and on…….

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Well, it’s finished and will now be folded and packed away until next A/W! I’m pretty sure Mother Nature is watching my sewing room: she waits until I have wools and tweeds cut out and sewn, then she tells the sun to shine, the rain clouds to dissipate and the temperatures to rise

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I know the jacket is supposed to be loose but mine is positively huge! I cut the medium size all round – for the trousers, shirt and jacket. The trousers are fine, the shirt’s a little big but the jacket’s a size all on its own. I suppose it has to be this loose to slip on over the oversized shirt without creasing it. The sleeves are really long. If you make this I think you could go down a size and still have room to play.

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I’d love to get all dressed up for you and wear all three items together but, honestly…..just use your imagination and put them altogether

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I’m out of step with my sewing makes and blogging too – I’ve got quite a bit to share but haven’t got round to taking pics or thinking of witty things to write. I’ll tell you all about the jeans in the next instalment.


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You Want Two Sleeves?

Most of us have two arms and therefore our shirts generally require two sleeves. When Vogue 9162 asks for 2.4m and you only buy 2m and then use some of it for pocket linings or a waistband facing or some such then you’re left with 1.7m or thereabouts, fitting the pattern onto the fabric can be a bit of an issue. Added to which this Kathryn Brenne pattern is for an oversized shirt – and I mean oversized! The model in the Vogue picture has clothes pegs used for fitting the shirt and jacket at the back! Def sure of that as I used to work in advertising. Anyway, back to real life…….with a pattern that is too big for your fabric.

So you start to edit the pattern to get the pieces to fit onto the meagre amount of fabric – maybe lose the front pocket, perhaps shorten it a bit, maybe narrow the width, instead of concealed button closing just make it normal – and so on until it doesn’t resemble the original pattern at all. Ultimately, I managed to fit the fronts and back on without any editing, the pocket hardly took any fabric at all and the concealed button closing was part of the front anyway. The real problem lay with the sleeves. It never fails to amaze me how much fabric sleeves need – quick guess at 1m?

So, here’s what I did to get two sleeves for both my arms – and you can do it too even if you need to or not…..

Fit the top of the sleeve pattern onto the remaining fabric and cut to suit the available length. We now have the shoulder seam and armscye and when sewing sleeves they are the Very Important Things and demand capitalisation.

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I folded the pattern up for the first cut, then unfolded and repositioned on the crossgrain  scraps for the lower (and generally less important) half. Remember to allow for 1-1.5cm seam allowance. There are no cuffs in this pattern so one less thing to worry about. Join these two pieces together and lo and behold – a whole sleeve! With added design features!

To keep the inside sleeve neat and tidy I actually sewed these two halves wrong sides together! Then I cut a bias strip from more scraps, which is always impressive in a striped fabric, pressed the raw edges under and edge-stitched this onto the right side to hide the wrong side seam. Still with me?

And now it looks like a deliberate and well thought out design element that hides all raw edges.

Recently I’ve been following some French sewing blogs – I say following but I really just look at the pictures as French is not my first language – and they have this wonderful thing called De-Stocking! Nothing to do with bedroom antics but in English (specifically North American) it means de-stashing and the pledge is to sew at least one thing a month from your stock / stash / hoard / treasure / investment or whatever euphemism you choose to describe the metres and metres of fabric you own. I haven’t pledged anything primarily because I don’t know what my school-girl French might be translated into by Google but this grey and white striped poly-cotton was delivered over a year ago and I’m only getting round to sewing it now. So I count this as a positive de-stocking!

I’ve already made the Vogue 9162 trousers and this is the matching shirt.

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Told you it was oversized although I might have made a bigger size than I needed. Anyway, I added a few ‘patches’ around the shirt either to compliment or disguise the hacked together sleeves and balance out the rather large breast pocket. My sleeves in the end product are longer than necessary and are usually worn pushed up or folded back.

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My label was sewn in and I only do that on things I really like or that I am inordinately proud of.

The neck buttoning is stylish with a loop and not a bog-standard hole. I have worn this shirt open-necked and it is just as wearable.

Personal style opinion: such a large shirt looks better with narrow trousers or skinny jeans.

And as the camera was running out of battery, and we all know that feeling, I snapped a few out of focus pics that at least illustrate the overall look.

The remaining garment to be sewn from this single pattern is the jacket and yes, I do have a de-stocking fabric that is most suitable – a raspberry boiled wool – yum. I know it’s officially spring and the sun may break through the clouds on occasion but our temperatures are low and I might just get a few wearable weeks during May.

Talking of which – Me-Made-May launches this weekend. It is an online celebration of hand-made and home-sewn clothes. Personally, about 90% of my wardrobe is now home-made so I don’t have a choice for May or any other month for that matter but you can pledge and promise to wear your unique and beautifully crafted wardrobe every day of May, or every other day, or once a week – whatever suits you. Isn’t that the whole point of making our own clothes – suit yourself!


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and counting…

No use having pretty PJs and not having a pretty bed to lie in.

I’ve been making patchwork quilts for just over a year now and I’ve managed to rack up quite a collection but surprisingly we don’t have one for ourselves. The very first one (my ‘learning quilt’) was backed with a cheap shower curtain and given to my mum as a picnic blanket ( no pics); the next (still learning) went to my sister as a spare;

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with a bit more experience and practice I made a very special one for her which helped heal emotional wounds. Rockpools.

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I concentrated all my efforts and sewed up the universe for my son going off to uni. Big Bang
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I made little ones for my niece and grand-nephew.

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I repaid my long-lost friend’s kindness and hospitality with a giant all out Kaffe Fassett infused quilt. Frames

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So enamoured with Kaffe Fassett fabrics I selfishly made and kept one for myself but it resides in the living room and is for snuggling under when watching TV. For Me

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Each quilt so far has stretched my sewing repertoire, design and skill. I’ve done strips, triangles, circles, diamonds and squares.

Our bed is bare!

I know my husband would not appreciate my penchant for mega colour or real fancy piecing and there would be arguments about a quilt cluttering the marital bed, so with this in mind and in an attempt to keep the peace, I restricted the palette to blue and white in a geometric block. This is called by the manly name of Carpenter’s Square. Sources of inspiration for many quilts are either domestic objects or natural elements. It is unusual to find a quilt which is directly named after a tool.

It is just about complete, only the binding to hand sew on another 2 sides. But the sun was shining early this morning, so while the rest of the house lay asleep in their (unadorned) beds and the dew was fresh on the grass I took some photos. BTW, it’s hanging upside down!

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Each block is a different mix of blue and off-white with sashing in between and five borders which really add to the overall size. It measures 2m square and is just big enough to cover the bed with a little overhang down the sides.

I got the pattern from this book Quilts: The American Story which I bought for a song online as an ex-library book. Its condition is perfect and this is probably the first time I have loosely followed a pattern for a quilt. The original inspiration quilt was sewn up in traditional red and white and heralds from the late 1800s. The book rates this design as ‘advanced’ but to be perfectly honest with you, I am by no means an ‘advanced’ quilter and I managed it. The original is 3 X 4 blocks but I made mine 4 X 4 for a square quilt not a rectangle.

As far as quilt patterns go, I tend to ignore them and use the design as a starting point – I just buy a load of fabric, cut it up, sew it back together again and that’s the finished size of my quilt. I managed to just about get two blocks from 2 long quarters: one blue and one white.

The binding is made from all the little scraps and cut-offs, just pieced together in strips of 3.5″ and folded over. There’s a mighty lot of seams inside that binding but they’re acting like extra batting to give a padded effect to the edge of the quilt. And I like that it is random and improvised to counter the precision of the blocks.

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The back is just one extra wide fabric in a flowery cream on blue.

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The quilting is a very, very random and badly executed free motion stipple over the blocks with straight line stitching down the centre of the borders. This creates a rather stiff quilt due to the density of the stitching but in reality, this quilt will lie flat on the bed during the day and will no doubt be folded out of the way during the night (hot flushes determining the amount of bed linen employed).

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In a sense then it is purely decorative rather than useful but then you never know if the electricity will fail and we might need an extra layer. The quilt is still is sewn well and can withstand daily use if necessary.

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The label is yet to be sewn on; like a launching of a ship, this is the last thing to do and marks its completion and transition into use. The quilt is called “…and counting” – a multiple purpose name – firstly, to my continuing quilt making but more importantly as a testament to the years already shared with with husband and to the many more to come. He’s a patient, good man, he has to be, living with me. He has put up with a lot and is still here………

I am also constantly reminded of blessings – and taking time to count them. When days drudge by and worries spiral just take 5 minutes and reflect on the good things. There is the real – family, friends, house, food, constant flowing clean water, electricity and freely available energy, good infrastructure and free health care, employment and salary; and then there is the abstract but no less important – security, freedom, learning, sharing, choice, equality, creativity, happiness and contentment.

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Rest assured that I did not make this in one week! I started in October 2015 sewing one block a week in between clothes and other stuff. So it has only taken 6 months to make but hopefully there will be many years of use.


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The Morning After

 

Welcome to the world of the everyday, the normal, the commonplace – unfortunately no ballgowns or exquisite wedding dresses, no perfect prom frocks or elaborate costumes – just plain and simple stuff. I’ve a girly weekend away and that’s as good as an excuse as any to make something new.

I’ve made my very first pair of cotton pyjamas for myself. Now, you’d think is would be easy, simple, a quick sew but there’s so much that needs to be decided upon – the options are endless and I was obviously in “decision dilemma” mode during the process. The sewing itself is not difficult, but I hmmm’d and ahhh’d  for ages.

Trousers

To add piping or not? Pockets and where? Elastic closed waist or ribbon tied? Ankle length or cropped? Topstitched or plain? French seams or flat felled or overlocked? Etc……

With two main fabrics – a blue and a pink – I eventually made some decisions. I added piping to the trouser outside seams, finished the legs with deep bands, made a front tie (useless, just for show and to signify the front so I don;t put them on back to front), sewed on two trimmed pockets. The pattern is Vogue 8641 (OOP) and is meant for stretch but I’ve found it works for woven too – just add 1cm to the side seams and cut the waist a little larger.

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Top

Darts or no darts? Edge finishes – bias bound and slipped stitched, folded and edge stitched, frayed, overlocked and topstitched? Front placket with buttons? Button opening the full length? No opening at all? Simple hem, bound hem, depth of band for hem? Breast pocket or not? Indecision and changing-mind half way through has resulted in a rather scrappy and patched button closure  – but heck, they’re jammies and I’ve learned stuff.

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The jammie top is Sorbetto (free download). Just Google Sorbetto images and you’ll see what I mean about variations, options and design decisions. In the end I opted for no bust darts, but took a little bit of time and care with bias bound edges and creating a short front opening with a button, which is also useless as the Sorbetto slides over the head with ease. The opening leads into a pressed pleat. To balance the trousers, the top is also finished with a contrasting band.

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Gown

Then you need a dressing gown or some such to complete the ‘outfit’. With not enough of either fabric left to make a brand new one I dug out an old pale pink cotton dressing gown that I used to use when dyeing my hair and was stained and splattered. This is the ‘before and after’ shots.

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It was shortened and a contrasting band added to the new hemline. An inverted pleat was inserted in the back for extra room, pockets on the front, new neck edge bands added to cover the stains, a strip of blue sewn along the back to hold the pleat, the sleeves were given an elongation with cuffs – endless stuff done. I think I only stopped when I ran out of fabric.

Now I know why I use patterns – they have taken all this decision making out – that’s the designer’s job; perhaps I have a pair of designer jammies though……

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BTW – the photos were taken first thing in the morning – no make-up, no styling, bed head hair – just what I’d look like when wearing these for real. And don’t you dare say that I don’t look any different than when I spend 30 mins prepping each morning!


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End of Knits

Really and truly, how could I not venture into Alabama Chanin territory, what with all that jersey / knit / stretchy stuff just lying about like washed-up treasure on a beach in a spring high tide?

My fingers were itching and twitching; the hand sewing needles were singing like wind through railings; thread was twanging like guitar stings in an attic; it was calling, calling…

So, a marriage between the Tilton’s Artful T-shirt and Chanin’s plain foundation wardrobe pieces. Like all marriages (at least mine anyways) some things work out without effort and some things need a little bit of work. These items were mostly sewn on the machine and overlocker, not by hand – a compromise. …

AC basic T-shirt with contrast sleeves, neck band and uneven cuffs

AC A-line skirt. Double layer with asymmetrical top layer, tied waistband (not seen).

AC poncho: one rectangle sewn together off kilter, with contrast bands and inset piping to match the T-shirt body. This one was hand sewn with thick pink silk thread and coordinates with almost all my olive green and raspberry clothes that I have (or not) sewn for the failed SWAP ’16.

I know the poncho-thing is not to everyone’s taste and I have only worn it at home on the sofa watching House of Cards, but maybe I’ll venture out in it one day and demonstrate my 50 and Not Dead Yet styling.

The T-shirt pattern is in Studio Sewing and Design. I scooped the neckline way more than the original design. The poncho pattern is also there. The skirt is the Swing skirt from Stitch Book. Fabrics are from Fabworks for the print the solid.

There’s very little jersey fabric left now after this adventure, so I might venture back to wovens and see what happens.

Welcome to all new readers and followers and I hope you gain some nugget of experience or inspiration for your own sewing. It’s lovely to have you along for the journey. Thank you.

 

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