Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

CCN (CoreCouture News)


The opportunity for photo taking of finished items has yet again escaped me this week so here’s a newsletter of sewing, plans, ideas and other stuff. There’s lots of links to really interesting sites, so settle down with a cup of tea or a cocktail (recommended by Mrs Mole  and The Material Lady), stick the needles in the pin cushion, ensure you have reliable broadband and indulge.

p01s0x1qFirstly, the Great British Sewing Bee. Technically, Northern Ireland isn’t in GB, it’s in the UK, so any sewers from here are politically illegible to participate. I’d thought of throwing my hat into the ring for the next series just to have the chance of sewing uninterrupted for  two days – bliss. But the challenges aren’t really the type of clothes I want to make and you all know that if your heart is not in a project it’s doomed to failure. Also, I’m not competitive at all. I like sewing things to the best of my ability but my elbows aren’t sharp. I mean, I entered PR’s fitted shirt contest but that was really only because I happened to have completed a fitted shirt. Having said that, I love this TV show. After every programme, I stare into space and think “What would I have done?”.

This can be a challenge in itself: I review my patterns for wrap dresses or which ones would be suitable for velvet trousers; images-2what fancy dress costume would I have made out of a pillowcase and a mis-matched sweatsuit?; I don’t have patterns for prom dresses and for the foreseeable future I never will! But a winter coat in just 6 hours! I can only think the finishing and the inside seams must be a mess.

The stylish and creative Marianna of Sew2Pro fame, has set a challenge too this week – choose a garment from the show that has inspired you and you have 1 week to make it! She has also managed to locate the programme’s accompanying book’s publisher and they have very kindly posted all the patterns for FREE download.
014pppI’ve got the patterns for the draped top and the 1930s blouse, but I’ve no material nor a well stocked haberdashery in the room next door and the week has run away from me so unfortunately I’m unlikely to participate. I will make the blouse at some point but right now I’ve other things to start and finish…..






SWAP ’14 is drawing to a close – by the end of April I have to have another three things made: a jacket, a blouse and a knitted cardigan. I started the cardigan ages ago knowing that I am a slow knitter  – it’s Noro Kirara, a multi-coloured yarn of silk, angora, wool and cotton. Quite fine and most suitable for spring/summer.


I’ve got a printed poly satin ready for the blouse in the blue/green colour set but in reality it is another rainbow fabric that will go with lots of things.


The jacket will be a rather rushed affair methinks, not tailored but a relaxed casual throw-on made in blue fleece or sweatshirt material and hopefully lined with the same poly satin as the blouse. I owe so much to Coco Chanel’s ideas!

We had a rush of lovely spring weather a little while ago and so the summer dress patterns were dusted off and I began yet again the Dress Quest. I like to think of myself as having some influence – my offspring, students, even maybe one or two of you but I am now beginning to think I might possess powers beyond human as every time, I mean every time, I start to sew a sleeveless cotton dress – it rains! The temperature drops and I regard my burgeoning summer wardrobe with despair. If I make a coat, the sun shines.

Anyway, ignoring my apparent and inadvertent influence on the weather, I ordered the spring/summer Marfy catalogue. There seems to be a current surge of interweb interest in this Italian pattern company or else I’m late to the party  and it appears that many others have quite a bit of influence over me so I bought the book. Euro 20 and you get 20 Free patterns! That’s quite a bargain when you consider that the full retail price of a Vogue is about £15 – 20.


DSC01265I could never figure out the fascination with Marfy patterns – the sketches all look like cartoon girls dressed as wedding guests to me and there’s no technical drawings. You can say that I’m not competitive but I am a trier. I traced off one of the free dress patterns – 0303 – and have got this far.


The main fabric is a pale airforce blue, quite a substantial cotton and the collar is a paler light blue fine shirt linen. There are no instructions with any Marfy patterns, so thinking and figuring out time are essential – no good for the GB Sewing Bee then – but I’ve enjoyed the problem solving and technical know-how. Mine’s lined too and I probably over-complicated the make, but heck – put it all down to experience.

I have a budding stash. A spring-like apple green linen which might end up as this Vogue 1381 – Ralph Rucci with lots and lots of topstitching.V1381










And a muted pink and cream polka dot which might end up as Rachel’s Brasilia dress – another free pattern which she designed and has very, very kindly shared with us all. Go to Rachel’s Pinterest board to see all the wonderful variations of this super pattern.


Both fabrics are from Chrysalis.



The very talented and versatile Beata from Red Point Tailor commented on a post a little while ago so I went to have a look at her  blog offerings. Thankfully I did because she makes sumptuous glass jewellery – like boiled sweets for your ears, neck and wrist. I ordered some blue stud earrings ostensibly to wear with the Ziggi jacket but will be lovely with the Marfy dress and a green glass bracelet for the green linen dress. I have the accessories – I just don’t have the clothes yet!

DSC01276 DSC01285










Easter holidays are looming on the horizon and this is the time I generally use to settle down and do some serious sewing. In between the church services and the choir practices, I sew.

Apart from finishing SWAP and the Marfy dress and maybe a few unknowns, I also plan to make another StyleArc Ziggi biker jacket. I love my first one so much that it really has to have a companion. With all those pastel, muted tones being used for dresses, I decided I needed to ‘harden’ them up a bit and have got some black. The main jacket will be in black distressed leather-look, with black suede sleeve tops and yokes and a black and white swirly lining. The black leather-look fabric is also from Chrysalis.


It seems that material shops in the UK do not sell the same zips in different lengths! But I learned from the first Ziggi that on the finished jacket if the zips are similar it’s OK, they don’t have to be exact copies  of each other. I’ve opted for brass teeth this time to try and warm up the black. I don’t wear black so it’s a strange choice for me.

Is your tea cold or your cocktail glass drained? Go and get another one because you are now about to enter an exclusive world of fabrics. No poly satins here! Sheer utter indulgence and fantasy……

It was always my aim this year to sew with very good fabrics but make fewer items and somehow so far I haven’t seemed to get round to it sticking with that idea. DH has a notion for me to make a classic navy wool crepe dress – the type of dress that stands the test of time, day to evening, perfectly fitted, style not fashion. So when I wasn’t sewing, working, leafing through Marfy or reading, cooking or cleaning this week I Googled ‘wool crepe UK’ and this came up – click on the logo for the treat of your life……see you in about an hour or so……..


Guipure lace at £600 p/m anyone?




Suiting with 24K pinstripes at  £1, 500 (it’s on sale, it’s normally £1,900, so hurry) – that’s the per meter price by the way.

Hand sewn sequins on silk, laser cut motifs embroidered on chiffon, brick wall silk lining and trims and embellishments that bring tears to your eyes. Unique, luxurious, absolutely fabulous fabrics.


Thankfully, for us mere working mortals there is a remnant section and a bargain basement. My finger slipped and I bought 2m of black and ivory wool patchwork fabric and 1m of a loosely woven black and ivory herringbone wool. No sooner had I ordered the fabric, it had arrived at my door – really, less than 24hrs!

3839b 3875c


I buy a lot of my fabric online: sometimes it comes in a cardboard box wrapped in brown paper, sometimes it comes in a plastic envelope, sometimes it’s folded and sometimes it’s rolled, but look at the way this one came…


Each length of material folded around tissue paper and inserted into protective bags sealed with a Joel & Sons silver label; two woven labels for sewing into the finished garments; a handy tape measure for my handbag; a pretty little postcard thanking me for my order and my definite belief that I will shop again.

Finally…. and if you have any money left….



Just very recently I found a linen weaver who is still in business and only 40 mins drive away. I haven’t made it to the factory shop IRL yet but I plan to do just that some time over the Easter break. So until I do here’s a sample of genuine Irish linen available online. Not cheap at £50 p/m but then again it is 3m wide! Have I read that right?


Don’t know yet for sure what I’m going to make from all this gorgeous stuff but you can bet that when I start sewing with wool the sun will be shining and the temperatures will rise!





27 thoughts on “CCN (CoreCouture News)

  1. So many thoughts and plans, it is nice to “hear” you think through what you plan to make and why. And thanks for the links to those two fabric sources. I dont have that much money burning a hole in my pocket, but i do love me a nice remnant. I’ll go check them out right now 🙂

  2. Joel & Sons is fabulous to visit as well. The fabric is absolutely beautiful. Like you I managed to buy a couple of wools and some lining fabric which was also more expensive than most fabric I had bought before but oh so worth it.

    • I think if I ever visited I might not ever leave…….I had to laugh at your lining fabric costing more than your usual fabric. but also good to hear that it’s worth it.

  3. Thanks for the mention Ruth, you’re marvellous! It’s brought a few visitors today and you never know, maybe one or two may join in (fingers crossed).

    Joel & Sons is one of the first places I discovered when I started sewing. A real treasure trove. I’d horrify the staff there by leaving my daughter in pushchair next to stacks of bolts threatening to tumble down… I’ve bought some fine stuff there but only cotton (printed) so amongst their less expensive….

    And you know, that V1381 dress might just work out for me in a light, summery denim!

    • My pleasure Marianna. Next time I’m in London guess where I’ll be? On careful scrutiny V1383 might just have a dodgy neckline, might have to reconsider

  4. Great post, I finished a whole cup of coffee and then some. Great links to the fabric shops, I’m sure I won’t be making any purchases any time soon, but good to know where to go if I want some Irish linen. I was thinking that the prices weren’t off the charts until I remembered that they are in pounds sterling. Oh dear, maybe not this year or the next year then!

    • Hi MsMcCall. I think the postage and not the price of the fabric would be the most expensive part. Get someone at home to do your shopping for you! Thanks for dropping by

  5. I slipped over to Pattern Review. Looked carefully at all offerings. Voted ONCE. I thought your use of buttons set your entry apart. Nicely done.

  6. So, dear lady, which contestant are you rooting for on the Sewing Bee? Thankfully I have UK connections and have been watching every episode each week and am amazed at the stuff they have had to create in such a short amount of time! Thank you for the “shout out” to my blog and I look forward to seeing your posts just to get a flavor of the stuff that rattles around in your head before they all turn into marvelous projects! Describing Marfy pattern envelopes with cartoon characters for a wedding…never thought of them that way but you are right! And no directions? Who needs that? Good luck on this latest attempt!!!!

  7. It looks like you made good use of that ‘down time’. Sometimes stepping away from the sewing does us good and going back is fresh and fun. You have some great plans – and I didn’t know that Marfy came with 20 patterns included! That looks like a bargain now.
    I’m sure that your next jacket will look wonderful, and you have already done all of the experimenting needed to just ‘go for it’.
    Have fun.

  8. Ruth – You know you are JUST what The Great British Sewing Bee is looking for!!

    I’m pretty certain that put you in that sewing room and ask you to sew competitively, that you’d rise to the challenge like the best of them! And to be sure, it’s about time they had a Norn Irish contestant – so why not you!!

    Go for it Ruth. You KNOW you want to. You just need a little persuasion, that’s all.

    So c’mon all you Sew Ruth fans out there, tell her she’s just gotta apply!! 😉

  9. You have just cost me £75 plus p&p! But beautiful stuff, so thanks for the recommendation. I’m sure it won’t be the last time I spend money at Joel and Sons either. Might just have to make a trip to London. I love your blog btw, having on,y recently discovered it

  10. Good luck with all your plans – so many great garments! It is time to make something as well…

  11. You have no idea how grateful I am for your opinion about Marfy patterns. Your description is perfect. I always thought I was the only one who didn’t swoon over them. I have honestly never seen one pattern of theirs that I would be tempted to make, but then again e I don’t have the necessary skills either 8-).

    Thank you for the excellent links to fabric eye candy. I only wish I could feel the fabrics at Joel and Son. I wonder if they let us mere mortals into the shop or if they have security to keep out the riff-raff. Such loveliness.

    • I’m still not 100% convinced about the Marfy designs either- if you want a dress they’re perfect. The coats are pretty fab but a cotton top or T-shirt – no.

  12. What a great breezy post! Love all the newsy bits, ideas and new fabric stores to spend money. I’m looking at that Rucci dress for spring, too. Re: Marfy: I remember yeeeeers ago seeing catalogues in one of my fave fabric stores and thinking “yeah, right.” however, I have a collection of them now, and love them. Your dress looks wonderful with the bodice detail.

  13. Ruth, I think you would be an awesome GBSB contestant! And I can’t wait to see your next Ziggi – SUCH a great pattern, eh? You are making me want to run to my sewing room and whip up SO MANY THINGS! 🙂

  14. Great article! Joel and Son has a bargain basement? And I missed it? I think I will have to remedy that. I have talked to people who think they can save money buy sewing. You can buy a pair of pants cheap. What you are getting when you sew is fit and design. Good design starts with great fabric!

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