corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Same but Different

A little diversion (or two) from my own personal A/W wardrobe which features some sewing for others. Based upon the available evidence I have come to the conclusion that I do not make subtle quilts!

DSCN7371Well, maybe one, but all the rest are riots of colour, patterns and random designs. I follow my personal edic for quilt making: buy fabric, cut it up, sew it back together again and that’s the quilt done.

My oldest cousin’s eldest daughter (have you all followed that line of ancestry?) had identical twin girls at the end of summer. Imagine – two of everything!

My mother knitted two little jackets, other people bought two baby gros, two jammies, two cots, two Moses baskets, two cardigans, two of anything….a double buggy, two car seats etc etc etc…..

I contributed to the next, next generation by sewing two quilts – almost the same but different, as will be these two little girls: identical but with individual personalities.

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The Hungry Caterpillar collection of fabrics featured widely, boosted by Kaffe Fasset designs and a few odds and ends.

These are not pretty pink and pastel shades but vibrant, rainbow, crazy. Hopefully gender ambiguous and therefore can re-used for other offspring.

The block is really simple: a 5″ square with 2.5″ border on two sides. When assembled, it makes a four patch with edges. One fish, one heart, one, rainbow, one alphabet.

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Each quilt has 2 X 3 blocks and are probably more suited to lying on a cot or baby bed rather than a pram or crib.  They measure in and around 28″ X 42″, but that’s an approximation. Always suitable to laying on the floor too. The babies are tiny and currently both of them will easily lie side by side on one of these quilts together. I’m hoping that in time they will both claim each quilt as their own.

I did succumb to a little gender identity to suit the current recipients – one quilt has a pale pink backing and the other a pale lilac. Names and dates regulatory.

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Zoe and Sophie – welcome to the world…..

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I hope you both make it as colourful and as chaotic as your namesake quilts.

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O1 Jacket

As promised, here’s the low-down on a few of my pieces for O1 specifically, the reversible jacket made as part of my O autumn/winter collection and the doubled layered top. My first outfit has the really imaginative title of O1 and this jacket will also form part of the equally imaginatively titled O2 ensemble.

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The fabric is a double sided wool knit – navy and grey – comes from Fabworks.

The pattern is Vogue 9162: Kathryn Brenne design which includes shirt, trousers and the jacket. I made all the pieces last year so I already knew what was involved in the construction of the jacket – the original is fully lined with hand top stitching and acres of interfacing – there were many modifications made for this version, mostly eliminations!

Interestingly, when I look back on the photos from May 2016 I see a change in myself; I don’t know if you do too- but only 18 months ago and I appear completely different. Maybe it’s a state of mind. One of the added benefits of blogging is not just a diary of sewing but the alterations in one’s self:

I started this log of sewing adscn0495nd other things back in November 2011 – almost six years ago – and while the photographs document the onslaught of age I also see a change in personal style and knowingly personal attitude.  I’ve lost weight, started exercising regularly and generally am feeling much better about my life and really comfortable in my own skin – clothes are just the accessories.  I also found a hair stylist who understands and knows me and what’s more important, knows what suits me – invaluable!

Look at that hair! I thought is was great at the time! I still have the boots, scarf and the jacket  and still wear them.

Let’s bring you back to the present……

Double faced (two sided) fabric is made with two separate fabrics that are bonded together. It tends to be heavy-middle weight, obviously, but is perfect for reversible garments or those whose inside will be on display, like the revers of a jacket or a turned back cuff. On the whole, this type of fabric does not fray so leaving edges unfinished and naked can only add to the overall style.

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There are various ways to sew seams on double faced fabric, depending on what you want the final the garment to look like:

  1. Sew as usual; no special treatment or considerations. This produces a ‘raw’ edge on one side that displays both sides of the fabric and can be attractive. It is best to trim the raw edges evenly.

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2. Flat felled seams, as in a shirt, which results in a tidy, neat finish but tends to be bulky and lumpy, depending on the weight of your fabric. Sew the seam as usual, trim away one side, fold over the untrimmed edge over the other side to hide the raw edge, sew in place.

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3. A half flat felled seam. Sew as usual and trim one side of the seam allowance; fold over the larger seam and stitch close to the edge. Less bulky than 2. On one side some colour of the reverse will be visible.

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4. Overlap seam. Match the seam allowances on both pieces and overlap, ie. lay one on top of the other. Sew both seam allowances close to the edge like an edge stitch. Much flatter than 2 and 3; the reverse side tends to show on both both sides, however minutely and might well add to your final design.

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5. Separate the two layers by pulling apart. It helps to hand tack or machine with a very large stitch to mark the seam allowance as this stops you separating the two fabrics too far. Sew one layer as usual, right side to right side. On the reverse, trim the excess from seam allowance, on the matching seam allowance fold over and under the trimmed side – totally encompassing the raw edges of the original seam. Hand stitch the reverse fabric in place using a fell stitch or slip stitch – whatever is best for your look, fabric and finished garment. This produces a neat, relatively flat seam that is equally tidy from both sides. The downside is that this method is time consuming and laborious.Slide5You then have the option of machine top stitching the finished seam or leaving as is, albeit with an extremely good press.

For instructions on sewing with double faced fabrics, download this and keep it for future reference. It’s really useful.

I opted for No. 5 seams to sew O1 jacket but didn’t do the machine top stitching, just left the hand stitching to pucker and display for all to see.

There are pockets on both sides of the jacket – rather, there are pockets on one side with an opening on the other: navy side has a welt opening, the grey side has patch pockets that cover the welt’s insides and are the actual pockets. The stitching that sewed the patch pockets on the grey side defines the pocket on the navy side.

The collar is a 2X2 rib, knitted on large needles in mottled grey wool. The fabric was separated around the neck edge, raw edges folded under and the knit collar sandwiched between the two. Machine stitched in place. I took this idea unabashedly from Shams – thank you.  

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Along all the edges – fronts, hem and cuffs – I separated the two layers, folded under the raw edges and slip stitched together for a neater, tidier finish, although this is unnecessary because the fabric doesn’t fray. I just liked the more ‘complete’ look.

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What I didn’t do: a lot!

No lining. No interfacing. No front facings – these were cut but trimmed narrower for the jacket’s fold over. No hand top stitching. In fact, all I cut out was a back, two fronts and sleeves. I lengthened the body by a few inches. The sleeves are just folded back to whatever length I fancy on any given day which means the reverse side, whatever which one, is always on show.

There’s no closure on the original jacket and no closure on this one either. I’ll have to get one of those impressive and elaborate safety pins to hold the front closed.

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My jacket is too big. My original is too big too and I should have remembered this or at the very least, read my own blog! The sleeves are mega long and I always fold them up.  Anyway, I’ll still be wearing both (not together mind you)  while going for that oversized look.

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May 2016

Which now makes me wonder if I have always had a secret hankering for an Oska look without actually admitting it. When I surveyed my pattern stash I found quite a few that fitted with the aesthetic and I have a few completed items that will already work with my intended O collection.

I still love a pencil skirt and a fitted dress that defines the waist and skims curvy hips but loose, relaxed clothes certainly have a strong pull, especially for the everyday. Maybe there’s a way to combine the two…..

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Double Layered Top

The double layered, front-split top was self-drafted. Made from cotton jersey, elbow length kimono sleeves, scarf-type collar (cut from whatever was leftover) and is as versatile as it is practicable.

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Underneath layer tucked in with outer layer loose. The fronts have centre front seams that allow for the split to made easily.  It’s just a scooped neck T-shirt with an off-centre round edge collar.

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All loose; It can be worn on its own but I usually have a long sleeved T underneath – I like the contrast colours worn together.

The layers are both right side out and the hems in the sleeves are sewn on the inside which does require a wee bit of fabric manipulation and 3D mental rotation but there are no raw edges on show.  All finishing was done on the serger/overlocker.

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And then the realisation hit that while I had plenty of fabric for trousers I had very little for coordinating tops etc. Christine sent me to EmmaOneSock…..a mega amount of dollars lighter I’m hoping to complete some of these outfits in time for winter. Of course, I completely adore and appreciate everyone’s advice, suggestions and information -and I know Chris was trying to help and be a good sewing friend however, I do have a mortgage to pay and while I still own a dining table, I need to put food upon it!!! Mind you, hopefully, I’ll look damn good serving.

And we if can’t afford heating, I have a cosy jacket (or two) to wear!


59 Comments

A/W ’17 O1

This year it has taken three weeks of timetabled classes for me to become accustomed to constantly check my (apparently old-fashioned) wrist watch [does anyone else still wear one of these?] in order to ensure I am where I should be at a pre-designated time and additionally be well prepared for the scheduled lesson. This is the first week since the beginning of term that I haven’t been zombified by Friday. So, here I am out the other side and the best thing is that there has been time for sewing!!

Slide1You and I and been very patiently waiting for my homemade version of Oska. I am slightly wary of using the tradename just in case I get sued or something, so from now on my autumn/winter 2017 collection will be known as O.

 

I was hoping to visit a real live Oska shop in London when I was there for a short weekend a few weeks ago. However, my lunchtime flight was cancelled (not Ryan Air!) and I didn’t arrive until 11.30 at night. I believe most shops are closed at this time and the next day was spent in a hotel conference room with no windows before heading directly back to Heathrow. No shopping done at all, not even browsing. Going to an Oska shop is still on my To Do List.

I was very pleased to read your comments on my O plans and how many of you admire this style. Thank you. On with the show….

O1 constitutes one pair of trousers, two tops, a scarf and a jacket: worn today with a pair of Clark’s dark grey short biker boots.

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This is layered look – so let’s dissect.

Trousers: Marcy Tilton Vogue 9035 made in some Tencel type fabric in dark grey picked for for a fiver on the bargain table at the Spinning Wheel in Belfast. Pants (loose-fitting through) hips have waistband, yokes, side-front/side-back seams, no side seams, pleated lower edge, stitched hems, and fly zipper closing. All have topstitching.

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V9035Love ’em! Fitted at the waist and through the hips but flare out along the legs with pleats at the ankle to bring them back into narrowness. Two major issues though – no pockets (which is verging on catastrophic) and the interfaced back yoke which doesn’t have a facing – like honestly – we’d wear trousers with the interfacing showing! We may be home sewers but we do have standards. If you are making these, cut two back yokes and sandwich the interfacing in between; then treat as one piece.

The tops and scarf are made in cotton jersey that is somewhere between a T-shirt and sweatshirt weight in sky blue – no idea where I bought this from but I wish I could remember because I’d love some more in white, navy, olive, black and any other colour that’s available.

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Top layer top is a self made-up pattern: double layered with a front slit; elbow length kimono-like sleeves and scarf-like collar. The front slit allows for the bottom layer to be tucked in while the top layer hangs loose.

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Underneath is a long, long sleeved Grainline Hemlock T-shirt. Get your free pattern here.

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The scarf is just a long strip of leftover cotton jersey, dipped dyed at the ends and middle for a slight ombre look and ties the blues to the greys.

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To top it all off, the jacket is Kathryn Brenne Vogue 9162 with mods. Made from double faced wool jersey, in navy and grey. To be honest, the jacket deserves a write up on its own, so for now we’ll just look at it and I’ll provide in depth details another time.

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The best thing about the jacket is this….

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It turns inside out.

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Only three weeks until half-term… just where does the time go?


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The Trouble with Knitting

I love sewing: we all do – that’s why we’re here ….the pairing of pattern and fabric, the choice of garments, trying on and (almost perfect) fitting, the construction techniques, the uniqueness. But knitting! I could swear here %***!*&

When I sew something, I try it on halfway through its making. If it’s too loose I sew a wider seam allowance, if it’s too tight I sew a narrower seam allowance. Simple.

But knitting – honestly – you have to get practically to the end for trying on purposes and if it’s not right then there’s only one thing to be done – swear repeatedly and loudly, stick the whole lot in a plastic bag, hide it and go back to sewing. And it takes soooo long to do.

Knitting – it’s a demon. About three years ago my husband asked me to knit him a sweater. I sent him off to hunt around Ravelry and thought that’s the end of that. Ha! However, he found a pattern and ordered wool – expensive stuff like alpaca and silk. I started the sweater five times! I’d knit up about 10cms then lose my way in the K1,P2,YO,K2,P3, K1 (that’s made up BTW) complicated rib; rip it out and start again, and again, and again. Then one day I did the only sensible thing and the whole lot ended up in a plastic bag and hidden from sight.

downloadKate got us all started on knitting over the summer with Elizabeth Zimmerman’s Knitting without Tears. I remembered the luxurious yarn that was sweating in a plastic bag so I bought the book and the circular needles and got stuck in.

Kate has knitted some stunning jumpers herself and is a real inspiration. See some other sewers whom she has encouraged and enabled to knit and their finished versions here.

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eks-1-2The yarn that was purchased many years ago for the doomed jumper is Drops alpaca in indigo with a second yarn of Drops silk in a lighter blue, knitted as one strand. It produces a lovely mottled/marl effect. It really is the softest thing. If I remember correctly it was bought from Purple Sheep Yarns – really quick dispatch and the cheapest, even though this is not cheap yarn.

 

The pattern is the mock raglan sleeve jumper from EZ book with the only bit of sewing being under the arms.

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But look…….

Only joking!

 

 

It’s not for me, it’s for him….

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The sleeves are a little long but not too bad. I just left the edges to curl – as per my customer who wanted something loose and relaxed. I didn’t cry. I didn’t swear. The plastic bag is empty. He got a jumper.

My confidence with knitting has risen slightly. EZ has a lovely, friendly way of writing that makes you feel that everything is OK. One extra stitch is not a disaster and I love her instructions for ‘approximately’ 10″ – my kind of rules. Of course, Kate has demonstrated many times that knitting is not the black art that I thought it was and that I Can!

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I’ve started my second and this time it is for me.

I’m enjoying shopping for yarns – the colours, the thicknesses, the options……

It still takes me ages and ages to knit but at least now it gets finished and there are no tears, no stuffed plastic bags out of sight, nor swearing!

(Well maybe just a wee bit @*#*!)

 

 


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A/W 2017

All the leftovers from spring/summer are used up so it was time to buy some real fabric for the Autumn/Winter 2017 wardrobe. But what to buy? What should I make?

Enter Oska – my inspiration for this year. They are a German clothing company with real shops and online and I have fallen head over heels in love with their designs and styling. This is who I want to be this year…….

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Oska design on the basis of silhouette types:

A-silhouette – feminine, figure-flattering, subtly elegant
Box-silhouette – casual, comfortable and urban
H-Silhouette – reduced, purist and variable
O-silhouette – expressive, authentic and individual
V-silhouette – casual, relaxed and variable

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Clear simple shapes and choice materials stand for an unostentatious but unique look. It is a style, which does not disguise but brings out the personality and is at the same time casual and elegant.

I delved into the pattern stash and lo and behold, I already own a number of patterns that are suitable and others that will work, with a little tweaking.

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I ordered a lot of fabric from Fabworks (they really are delightful people to deal with)

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Mostly wools, tweeds, a bit of cotton jersey and some cotton shirting. And I think I’ll have to be buying more…..

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The style aesthetic can be summed up as:  loose, layered, cropped wide trousers, unstructured coats and jackets, simple white shirts and plain tops, coordinated.

We can call it art-teacher chic or restricted Lagenlook; but I want to make this style my own. Have I found it? My Style I mean. The elusive holy grail of the middle aged woman and the sewer…..

Time to get started and find out.