corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Half ‘n’ Half

My goodness, but you girls love a dress, or two!

Today, however, I’m showing separates: versatile, impartial to season (think layering), casual, dressy and no limits on the colour spectrum.

Rarely do I buy factory made clothes. I’ve never sworn off RTW with pledges or promises so sometimes I succumb to the instant gratification of shopping.  I’ve become very fussy about fit since making my own clothes – a downright snob actually – which accounts for my limited shop purchases. I try something on and my first instinct is to examine the drag lines, the wrinkles, the gapes at neck and waist. I look at it and ask “If I had made this, would I be happy with fit?” Inevitably the answer generally is “No”.

I discovered Finery earlier this year – RTW with an edge. I enjoy looking at their use of fabrics and colours and slightly unusual shapes – a great inspiration. I admire the nonchalant styling – I’m wearing this because I want to, not because I want to look like my colleagues or because it makes me look sexy, but it makes me feel good.  I bought stuff………

Let’s stAZ-005_CHARTERIS-TOPS-BLACK-FINERY-LONDON_170_2art with trousers: same style, one cobalt blue and one chartreuse. 7/8 length, side pockets and small front pleats. The pic on the left is the same style in magenta (tempting…..). The trousers do not have the fit I would demand if I’d made them myself but they’ll do. Considering almost everyone else wears RTW, I can’t look any worse than the general population.

 

You all know that I love my colours as much as greys and what a basis these two pairs of trousers gave me to expand upon.

I made just a few tops and now the option for outfits is endless. A perfect travel wardrobe; which it was earlier this summer. This is what I packed and I didn’t have enough days to wear all the combinations.

Cobalt with butterflies and Chartreuse with butterflies

Vogue 1247 (OOP) in poly satin

Chartreuse with pink and Cobalt with pink

Yes, it needs ironing! Pink silk chiffon, pleated blouse free pattern from Sew Easy

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Cobalt with cobalt

My own Three Bears T with added side pocket, ribbed viscose jersey

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Cobalt with blue/green peacock feathers.

McCalls M6078, viscose jersey so old I’ve forgotten where it came from.

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Chartreuse with turquoise.

Modified McCalls M6078 to fit fabric, viscose jersey from My Fabrics

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Chartreuse with orange

Bootstrap Blouse With Button-Decorated Back, not quite made to pattern specifications, Merchant and Mills Indian orange cotton with yellow stitching

And I haven’t even ventured into the other classics of black and navy, and any other colour that coordinates with these colours. Surprisingly, khaki green is also a good colour with both the cobalt and the chartreuse. I love a bit of clashing. Think of this post as a very amateur attempt at the Vivienne Files for non-RTW coordinates to wear with RTW.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


61 Comments

Where’s my Lea?

I’m over 50 and sew a lots of things but really….

I positively 100% knew that I had purchased and printed StyleArc’s Lea wrap dress pattern after reading Sew2Pro’s review. The actual date of said download is a mystery but I am absolutely sure I owned it.

About 4 hours later: found the pattern. Hah! not that old……although I wasn’t sure if it was tiled and taped and ready to go. What joy when I discovered the pages taped and the pieces cut.

DSCN6400Great. Lay the pattern pieces out on Aeolian Ripples from Fabworks- an Avoca jersey knit in burgundy/green and perfect transitional colours for that summer to autumn look. It is also my first step towards my burgundy pieces for A/W.

 

1 hour later: All the pieces are pinned to the fabric and I discover that the pattern pieces had previous pin holes. This means that I had actually pinned each pattern piece to another fabric at some time in the recent past. Could I remember which fabric – no?

LEA-DRESSI showed my husband the pattern drawing and asked if he had ever seen me in this dress. Answer – no. So, maybe I pinned and then abandoned. Yeah. That’s the answer.

Except….each pattern piece had all the notches cut.  I figured that one does not pin and cut out pattern pieces without marking notches. What the ******?

I racked my brain and memory banks for a previous Lea wrap dress. I resorted to old-fashioned private detective techniques – I  tapped phones, sat outside my own house for 48hrs in a van,  planted bugs in the bathroom, all in the cause of  looking for evidence. The wardrobe provided no tangible clues and I came to the conclusion that I had previously cut out all the pieces, made the dress and gave it away. But I still could not think of the fabric used or even a memory of doing all this.

I lay awake for weeks trying to think of when I had made Lea: what fabric had I used; what occasion was I sewing for?  My family queried if I had anything on my mind – YES ACTUALLY – I obviously made a dress but I have no recollection of it and I can’t find the physical item!

So I figured the only way to deal with ghosts is to face them and so I made a Lea Wrap dress (another?).

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I may have sewn wider seams that the pattern allows for (in fact I did) which would account for the top not covering the bits it should cover, so a coordinating camisole is essential.

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Lea Wrap dress is a classic/basic wrap dress with collar a la DVF and 3/4 sleeves. Not complicated and eternally fashionable and stylish.

I love the collar on the dress and the front wrap really does stay wrapped. There are no darts and the sleeves are sewn as in T-shirt construction: one big side seam. Using a two-way stretch is paramount.

The only fiddly bit is sewing on a narrow binding along the front that hides the raw edges of the collar and neatens up the front edges. This needs to sewn on the right side out, then trimmed, turned and top stitched in place. So glad this fabric is busy and you can’t see the wiggly, uneven topstitching line.

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I have ‘thickened’ over the summer weeks so time to do something about that or else I won’t get into any of my clothes. I find that my home made clothes are such a good fit that a weight gain of more that 2kg tells. RTW on the other hand seem to have a 5kg weight gain built in.

I lengthened the dress by 4″ because I like a below-knee skirt – it lengthens the leg and covers knobbly knee caps. I also added an inch or two to the sleeves. The waist ties are the length they are because that was all the fabric there was.

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I have bombarded you, dear readers, recently with posts and makes. I have been playing catch-up with myself; I sewed so much but never took pictures or the time to write. I think I’m almost up to date now and I thank you for your patience. After six wonderfully relaxing and sewing weeks my summer holidays are drawing to a close. Then, as we say here, it’s back to porridge.

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I still can’t find my first Lea wrap dress though.

Have you seen it?


43 Comments

The Adventures of the Six Napoleons

“It’s the Napoleon bust business again,” said Lestrade. “You seemed interested last night, Mr. Holmes, so I thought perhaps you would be glad to be present now that the affair has taken a very much graver turn.”


It’s the finale of the Six Napoleon dress challenge, set by (used to be sewing friend) Marianna of Sew2Pro. About six of us intrepid and quite possibly over-confident sewers decided to take on Sew2Pro’s challenge to make a Six Napoleon dress. None of us challengers met the first deadline of Bastille Day and I have to admit that I was one of those who requested an extension. But here it is, in all it’s Great British Sewing Bee scrappy state – my interpretation and version of Dogstar’s Six Napoleon dress……

It might look OK but truly believe me, the insides and the finish is crap (that’s an official technical sewing term just in case you are unaware of it).

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The bodice is Alabama Chanin’d down one side only with reverse applique. The skirt is 4m of a fine jersey mesh pleated and sewn to the bodice. There’s a white half circle underskirt  which I left on show at the shortest part of the skirt. All fabrics are from Fabworks.

Styling accessories include opera length fingerless gloves and a plaited neckband with intertwined pearls. My nod to the black pearl of the Borgias.

DSCN6538 The hem of the skirt is faced with a 4″ band of red jersey and (lazy girl) just serged the edge. The red peeks out as the skirt drapes and moves.

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The good news, I suppose, is that I can actually get into the dress and it fits well. I am not proud of this dress – well maybe just a wee bit pleased that I got it started, figured out, finished and worn.

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This challenge turned out to be much more difficult than any of us thought. A little bit of tedium was creeping in.

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When did I wear this dress?

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In the kitchen of course! I made a chicken curry for dinner although I did remove the gloves for that part. Then reclined on the sofa to watch the Olympic weightlifting on TV. A totally fascinating sport – a mix of strength, concentration, psychological mind games and sheer impressiveness.

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And Marianna – maybe the next time you set a challenge it could be a shift dress………….?

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“Well, well, we can’t expect to have it all our own way, Watson,” he said, at last. “We must come back in the afternoon if Mr. Harding will not be here until then. I am, as you have no doubt surmised, endeavouring to trace these busts to their source, in order to find if there is not something peculiar which may account for their remarkable fate.”

The Adventures of the Six Napoleons by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 


48 Comments

40 Shades +

The story so far…. outfits in shades of grey for A/W ’16 and hopefully well beyond. My camera battery ran out of power at the last photo shoot so here’s the next installment to finish the mini series. So many pleasant and encouraging comments – thank you all so very much for that, it spurs me on to try better. Lots of patterns coming up for you to try at home

We got as far as the trousers:

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Not my usual style but then that’s the nice thing about sewing, we can try new things.

Pattern is Vogue 9193 Marcy Tilton. Fabric is a weird silk and linen mix in graphite grey from Fabworks, more spongy than stretchy.

J1b1Tiny permanent pleats ripple across the surface of this linen and silk blend, creating a dark graphite toned rather unusual fabric that will definitely suit stunning couture fashion. Silky Ripples is a medium weight with a drapey handle which springs back into shape. There’s a bias stretch plus the pleats create a slight stretch to the length. It’s textured on the face but the reverse is quite soft and silky against your skin.

 

The trouser fronts are much wider than the backs so that when all is sewn together the side seams actually run down the backs of your legs. Ignore all the gathering at the waist in the tech drawing, the actual trousers are nowhere near as gathered.

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Neat little front pockets folded in between the yoke and the legs (think Vogue 1247 Rachel Comey) and a simple elasticated waist makes for a fairly easy sewing experience. No real fitting issues either though I did take in the centre back crotch by 2″. I had to cut the yoke pieces on the cross grain due to fabric limitations and this gives a shading of the greys across the top.

With any fabric that was leftover I made a very simple shell top based very loosely on Vogue 8559 (another Tilton but OOP). There’s not a dart in sight. Neck and armholes are actually bound in navy jersey.

It’s unfitted just enough to wear over the silver grey Tilton tunic.

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So while I was rummaging in the loosely categorised leftovers bag called Jerseys, I found a grey cotton. This became a loose, shapeless T-shirt using Burda 05/2012 #101B  for the basic pattern.  Length dependent totally on the available fabric.

Always needs a cami under it because the V is so low but this is an opportunity not a design flaw – another layer and I’ve always liked the symmetry between a statement colour on top and matching shoes.

Grey is such a neutral colour that it can be worn with every other shade of grey and a host of other colours too. Can you think of a colour that grey doesn’t wear well with?

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Too much grey? Also discovered in the Jersey bag were a few pieces leftover from my forays into the Tilton’s Arty T-shirt.  Not enough of one but reasonably sized pieces of two. DSCN6159

Bring out Vogue 1508  Zandra Rhodes. Front and back are the same shape but reversed, so that one sleeve is one colour and the other sleeve is the other – clear as mud? Seams are like a half raglan – see the diagram below for a much better explanation than I can give.

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Something bad happened at the neckline so I added two stripes of black/grey striped jersey at bra strap position and now I have a half-cold shoulder top! The bands then needed to be balanced out elsewhere and more were added to the dipped hem. The joys of sewing……

As the Zandra Rhodes pattern was out and about and I’d actually run out of greys by this stage I added another colour – lime green.

This fabric was given to me by a local sewing friend, Evelyn, ages ago and I could never think of the right pattern. But here it is…

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It’s a sheer poly chiffon, so camisoles beneath are a must. See the green shoes?

I don’t think it matters which way you put this top on as front and back are the same shape – the pointy hem just shifts from one side to the other. Bit more successful with the neckline this time too. Had to do all that French seam stuff and hand rolled all the hems and neck though.

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Items in stash used up, new patterns tried and old ones reinvented and re-used and a whole A/W collection. A happy ending.

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68 Comments

40 Shades of…….

Well, 3 actually.

One of the things I like about summer is starting to think about A/W clothes. I’ve gathered a few metres together already in greys and burgundy. I like Thornberry’s new approach to sewing – sew an outfit, not an orphan!

I took the Toni dress pattern and made it exactly as is but didn’t sew up the centre front seam.

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What I have is a long, drapey waistcoat with a fab collar and pockets.

This time I added lead weights to the points of the drapes and they hang much better. The fabric is a stretch grey marl, actually quite stable and very good recovery, cotton and elastane blend from Fab Works.

But you can’t have a waistcoat without something to wear with it, like a skirt.

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CC_FOLD_SKIRT__78680_zoom2_grandeThis one is Centre for Pattern Design CC Fold skirt. It’s mock wrap, one seam, waist tied. There’s space for a hidden zip inside the front fold but as this fabric is stretch I left it out.

My ties are also only half length.

I sewed the front fold halfway down just to keep it in place and the waist ties are also sewn together. So this skirt has no fastenings at all. It’s not even hemmed and I quite like the slight dip where the fold is.

Then, there’s fabric left over so you have to do something with it

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This is Vogue 9193 by Marcy Tilton. It’s the top half of the top only.  The sleeves are patched with inside out seams; raw edge bands for neck and hem and finally a little side pocket.

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Altogether now –

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V9193As the Tilton pattern was out and about, I made a full length version of the top in a light grey, almost silver, knit from Minerva.

 

 

 

 

 

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This can now be layered with the dark grey top –

DSCN6462and when it gets really cold, just layer up again with the waistcoat.

But now you need something else to wear with the tops, like trousers. Same Tilton pattern this time made in the weirdest fabric from Fab Works: silk and linen woven into ripples. The trousers have a yoke and horizontal pockets; elasticated waist and ankle length.

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Then the camera battery was exhausted, as was I. So I suppose there’ll have to be a sequel.

 

 

 

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