corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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6Nap – The Skirt Plot

d7c25edc67374953149e8e261cd02e96“There are no limits to the possibilities of monomania,” I answered. “There is the condition which the modern French psychologists have called the ‘idee fixe ´ ,’ which may be trifling in character, and accompanied by complete sanity in every other way. A man who had read deeply about Napoleon, or who had possibly received some hereditary family injury through the great war, might conceivably form such an idee fixe ´ and under its influence be capable of any fantastic outrage.”

The skirt is mega….it really doesn’t matter what your preferred design is or your gathering/pleating method but if your cutting table, floor space or other substrate is not big enough, then move to one that is.

DSCN6380DSCN6374I did some really hard maths from my Storm Trooper skirt and it measured out as a ratio of 1.7 from short drop to pointy bit drop and the actual golden scale is 1.6 – so I consider this an achievement. I scaled it up to my measurements and went to the largest flat cutting table I have readily available- the lawn (I use that term advisedly – no croquet played here).

 

 

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I marked the five crucial points with tacks and patches, then placed my metre rule as close to the desired angle and – cut! For a size guide, the top edge is in the region of 2m; as it’s doubled, there’s close on 4m of fabric at waist.

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I kept the fold so only side seam needed.

This not-skirt-yet needed something to be draped upon. I quickly made Paco Peralta’s half circle skirt in the lightweight burnout cotton. Sewed up both side seams – no zip needed. This is the underskirt, partly for structure and partly for modesty.

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Off we go…..my pleats are turning into gathers and the weight of the top skirt is dragging the underskirt down. My fabric is a stretchy mesh so the not-so-precise pleats and folds are somewhat arbitrary. I was never going to achieve crisp pleats like the original using this fabric.

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I’ve been at the “let’s see if that works” point in this dress’s construction since the beginning. I joined the party late and didn’t really plan and plot. I can put the corset top on and I can pull the skirt on without any zips  (benefits of using stretch jersey) but I’m not 100% sure when I attach the two together that I’ll be able to wiggle and squirm my way in. This may well be a Hanger Dress only.

The corset top is now attached and the skirt hem is faced with red jersey for weight and body.

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Almost finished. Only a few little hand sewing and tidying up things to do and then see if I can get into it…..

 

 

Oh look – snap!

When our visitor had disappeared Sherlock Holmes’s movements were such as to rivet our attention. He began by taking a clean white cloth from a drawer and laying it over the table. Then he placed his newly-acquired bust in the centre of the cloth. Finally, he picked up his hunting-crop 8 and struck Napoleon a sharp blow on the top of the head. The figure broke into fragments, and Holmes bent eagerly over the shattered remains.

Next instant, with a loud shout of triumph, he held up one splinter, in which a round, dark object was fixed like a plum in a pudding. “Gentlemen,” he cried, “let me introduce you to the famous black pearl of the Borgias.”

https://sherlock-holm.es/stories/pdf/a4/1-sided/sixn.pdf

 

 

 

 

 


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6Nap -Chapter 2

“Madness, anyhow. And a queer madness too! You wouldn’t think there was anyone living at this time of day who had such a hatred of Napoleon the First that he would break any image of him that he could see.”

My Chapter 1 (the corset) is still a work in progress – a bit of editing is needed before it’s ready for publication so I’m making a start on chapter 2 – the skirt.

 

Ideas and tutorials on how to re-create the skirt are thankfully fast becoming available on the Interweb:

Ernie K – double box pleat, godet pleat, single pleat, bias end pleat. All wonderfully origami’d from butcher’s paper

Sew2Pro has enlisted the very welcome assistance of Anita from Studio Faro for skirt analysis and drafting. Anita will be providing three methods of drafting the skirt. The first is available on Sew2Pro’s blog now.

Pattern Pandemonium has overtaken us all with this.

Even Dogstar, the original designers, are in on the act but keeping the skirt’s secret close to their chests. Facebook here

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Let’s look at the skirt and its major features: this image is of a Dogstar skirt that has been colour adjusted not the actual Six Napoleon dress but it’s kinda the same.

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  • d7c25edc67374953149e8e261cd02e96one long pointy bit off-centre front (assume same at back): connects at centre-side seam on corset: inverted pleat
  • higher hemline at sides: mix of small inverted pleats and single pleats/folds
  • at least 4″ hem for weight
  • has appearance of a gathered flared skirt, so narrower at waist than hemline?
  • follows line of corset: longest point of corset is shortest length on skirt: inverted pleat
  • double layered skirt

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the twilight of just-before-sleep-thoughts I came up with this:

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So I tested it. I don’t have professional drafting paraphernalia like a quarter sized mannequin but I do have a (rather dusty) Storm Trooper.

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Pointy bit is too long. Scissors out and trimmed a bit off.

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Better. Drape is way off as this was knocked up in a bit of cotton jersey but I think the essence is there. Do you?

Un-skirted the Storm Trooper, unpicked the tacks and this is the shape

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I’m sure there’s some sort of geometrical formula at work here between side seam length and long pointy bit (technical term!), and the waist width and size of pleats. All I have to do is figure it out. Or I could just make version one and whack a bit off. Works for me………

“Thank you!” said Holmes. “Thank you!” and as he turned away it seemed to me that he was more nearly moved by the softer human emotions than I had ever seen him. A moment later he was the cold and practical thinker once more. “Put the pearl in the safe, Watson,” said he, “and get out the papers of the Conk-Singleton forgery case. Goodbye, Lestrade. If any little problem comes your way I shall be happy, if I can, to give you a hint or two as to its solution.”

The Adventure of the Six Napoleons by Arthur Conan Doyle

 

 

 


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Special Days

Honestly and truly, every day is special – there’s absolutely no doubt that we all have bad ones but somehow we wake up tomorrow, pull on our big-girls’ pants and deal with it. I’ve been lucky and very recently had the most amazing few days away with some very special people, so let’s start with Day 1 and move on from there.

Day 1

I’ve known for ages that one of my students won Outstanding Student of the Year (Public Services), an international competition organised by Pearson with nearly 1000 nominees and over 1,000,000 possible entrants. There was a media embargo until after the actual ceremony.

Alarm set for 5.00am. I already packed the night before and my outfit sewn and ready for the awards ceremony in London, hosted by Baroness Garden of Frognall in the Churchill Room in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster.

Arrived in London and headed straight to Cosmetics a la Carte for a professional, last-all-day make-up. Cost a small fortune but this is definitely a time to treat myself.

Whirlwind day of receptions, awards, ceremony, fun and networking. So many talented and inspiring young people. Mine is called Clare and we wore matching dresses.

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She is very special, battling illness while studying and then achieving the highest grades possible. A truly humbling experience to teach a student like this and so proud of her.

My dress is Burda 04-2016-119 worn with a light weight bright pink coat, which is a Merchant and Mills Haremere jacket made long. It’s unlined to cope with London city heat so all the raw seams had to be Hong Konged.

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I actually wanted to go for a ‘This old thing? I just threw it on” look: sort of understated, not obvious but still part of an outfit. To achieve this I half-lined the sleeves with dress fabric so that when the cuffs were folded back the cuff lining matched the dress. and when I don’t wear the two together, just unfold the sleeves. It’s a smarter alternative to a cardigan and more relaxed than a jacket.

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I actually got more compliments about the coat that I did my dress – perhaps the colour did it – it’s not easy to overlook. It’s looking a little the worse for wear after a full day wearing in London heat and humidity and then being unceremoniously stuffed into my travel bag.

20.30 Took the train from London to Preston for an extra few days of relaxation and enjoyment with my long-time friend Caroline. Did a bit of hand sewing on my Six Napoleon corset on the journey. Caroline and I re-connected last summer after 20 odd years apart and we haven’t looked back since.

Stayed up to 4.00am Friday, chatting and laughing like we were teenagers.

Day 2

Relaxing, lazy day at Caroline’s home  – I’d been up and on the go for 23 hours. Time to unpack, settle in, finish some conversations from the previous day ( same day). Watched Wimbledon and made plans.

Caroline is a photographer. Recently, we took one of her images and had it digitally printed onto silk. I hand rolled the edges and we both now have scarves that no-one else in the entire world has – that’s special.

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It’s not upside down – it’s a reflection!

Day 3

Darwen –
Day out to meet Mags at Minerva Crafts.

Such lovely people there: a family run business who were more than welcoming, friendly and very patient with us.

49ebbdc43fe9f5e69ec693ba019dd0afWe pulled bolts of fabric from the shelves, mixed and matched and generally created a little bit of mayhem on the cutting table. We advised other shoppers – only when they asked mind you – and had a lot of fun. We all bought loads: Caroline got some grey/taupe jerseys in animal-like prints; Mags got a stash and I got enough for an autumn outfit. We had a light lunch followed by a wander around the speciality food market.

Mags is fabulous; honest, stoic, funny and very, very stylish. I’ll be honest, I was getting a bit fed up with blogging and taking photos and all that stuff but meeting her has re-invigorated me and has made me grateful for those special Internet friends who become real ones.

Day 4 & 5

Hanging out, day trips and shopping – just lovely. Then home again.

Day 6- 9

Hooray, back into the sewing room. I love travelling and going away but there’s nothing like coming home either and doing what I love best. Sewed like a mad woman and before the end of the week I had sewn all of Caroline’s Minerva stash. I did add the odd bit of lace and cotton jersey but from 2.5m, I managed to get three tops and 1m ponte made a perfectly coordinating pair of trousers.

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Mainly the top pattern is Tilton’s Vogue 9057 (first and last) and the trousers are Vogue 8837 , another Tilton.

Caroline wore her first incarnation of this top at our day out at Minerva so I know it fits and suits her. The black and animal print (second) is Vogue 9193, another Marcy. Dead easy to sew as the sleeves are cut on but the pattern pieces are cut single layer and are therefore huge.

 

 

DSCN6354I was on a roll so I just kept going and added a few bonus but coordinating items to Caroline’s wardrobe.

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The light grey knit is a layering piece (the fabric is from my Minerva stash) and is actually the top half only of Vogue 9193. The pattern doesn’t actually tell you to do this but it works really well. So well in fact that I think I need one myself.V9193

The knit top will also go over any of Caroline’s other tunics too. It wasn’t easy to sew though,  the fine silky knit fabric had a mind of its own. I did my best not to stretch it out and used some leftover animal print jersey as a stabiliser around the neck, sleeves and hem. The ‘underneath’ tunic is made from other leftovers and here you can see where the top and bottom meet. There’s a built in pocket on the left hand side. If you sew this top, just watch out – the side seams on top and bottom half do not line up, the bottom half is offset (see the tech drawing). Ask me how I know this because I’m so smart I don’t have to read the instructions….!

All of Caroline’s Minerva fabric has now been sewn, posted and quite possibly already worn as Mr Postman was especially swift this week.

That’s you all up to date until next time…

 

 


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6Nap: The Plot

optimized-maxW950-The-Adventure-of-the-Six-NapoleonsOnce upon a time there were six identical porcelain busts of Napoleon and inside one of them was a black pearl that belonged to the Borgias. The busts were stolen from their owners, one by one, and smashed as the thief attempted to find the priceless pearl.

Sew2pro has gathered together a small but talented team to find the gem by each one recreating their own priceless Six Napoleon dress.

There are few rules; one of them being that we have to at least show a bit of progress……I’m far behind the others of the crack detective squad who have sketches done, bodices fitted and made and are now draping their skirts. The original dress by Dogstar, Japanese fashion designer Masayo Yasuki’s brand is our inspiration (centre below): it has a black organza skirt with a black boned bodice.

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Red, white and grey are my colours and all in stretch. The roses is a mesh fabric probably used for underwear and the red is a solid cotton jersey and the white is a burn out cotton jersey.

No time to learn how to bone a bodice right now but I do have Alabama Chanin’s jersey corset pattern. To shape the bottom hem I just cut the bodice longer and will mark the off-centre point later.

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I found the muslin pattern from my Vivienne Westwood knock-off (another of Sew2Pro’s challenges).

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Put the two together to get a dress.

Then I thought that if I’m using an Alabama Chanin pattern I may as well Alabama Chanin it too.

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I’ve got a plot: red jersey bodice with roses underneath, roses skirt with a white underskirt. The bodice is half-way Alabama Chanin’d and should be completed this week. Then on to that 14m skirt………

 


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Holiday Holiday Holiday Top

Nearly four weeks….but I’m back!

I had yet another birthday and took a Ford Mustang (the only one in Northern Ireland) out for a spin up the motorway. I can’t tell you exactly how fast I drove but…..very.

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It makes me look young and slim doesn’t it? Unfortunately there’s a 12 month waiting list and with a price tag bigger than what we paid for our house, it doesn’t look like I’ll own one soon. Wearing Jungle January’s snow leopard coat – black and white always goes with red.

The exam marking is drawing to a close and becoming manageable, so thoughts are turning more and more to my first love – sewing. Me DS

Let me introduce you to a new-to-me pattern company – The Maker’s Atelier. Based in England, Frances Tobin produces some beautiful classic pieces – think Merchant and Mills without the arty bit. Not cheap and only on paper but neat little envelopes tied with string and they possess an enduring quality.

I’ve started with the Holiday Top – relaxed, boxy with a couple of options.

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All you need is thread; no zips, buttons, hooks or eyes, not even interfacing. There are little details like the hemline splits and the soft fold-over collar is both classic and casual.

The pattern comes with separate pieces for long and short sleeves: collar or hood.

Stocked up on linen from Fabworks, I started with the short sleeved shirt in the eternal-go-with-anything off-white.

I loved this so much, I carried on and currently now have another three.

Lime green – hood, drawstring made with self fabric

 

Inky indigo – long sleeved, collar

 

Lime green – mid sleeved, collar and patch pockets

As with most Internet fabric purchases you have to buy whole meters, so with the leftovers (about .75m each)  and the machine threaded in the right colour, I also got a simple white tie-neck top and an indigo vest with arty pleats and asymmetrical hemline.

Bonus, bonus.

Worn with the Holiday Tops are my custom fit Bootstrap Skinny jeans – currently at two pairs. Type in your (true and honest) measurements, get your PDF, print, cut out: sew without measuring, trying on or anything and wonders of absolute wonders – a perfectly fitting pair of jeans! Oh, I did my usual 1.5-2″ reduction in the back thigh length to eliminate baggy back thighs – did it work? Did it? It always does.

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This first pair (blue) I sewed with traditional 5/8″ seam allowances, then I read the instructions and there’s a 1cm allowance! So the ‘good’ fit, just might have been a too tight fit…….They are made in a heavy linen-look weave cotton with absolutely no stretch whatsoever. The colour is lovely though, not denim, not royal blue but tending more towards Forget-me-Not blue. From Ray Stitch.

These are not low-rise jeans, mine go all the way up to my waist and a perfect fit they are there too – no gaping or tightness – I don’t even have to lie down on the bed with a shoestring to get the zip up. The second pair were sewn with 1cm seams and are a little looser in that I can get them off without having to turn them outside out over my ankles. I did crop the length a bit for a summer-look but sure, it’s easy to lengthen the next pair.

The second pair are made with cotton twill, again from Fabworks ( I wonder if do they do loyalty cards?). It’s called Hashtag but I opted for the reverse grid side. I did try to get the horizontal stripes to match across the seams but did not achieve a uniform result: sometimes they match sometimes they don’t………

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Photobombed by a husband and a suitcase – he’s not leaving, it’s son arriving…….

The payments are being deposited from the marking – so time to start planning, prepping and purchasing for my Six Napoleon dress.

 

 

 

 

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