corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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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

 

 

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44 Comments

SWAP A1 (again) & B2

I asked, you answered, I acted….

SWAP Combination A, first garment looked like this

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I listened and contemplated your very appreciated comments (thank you), then I got to work……….

Method: Lob off a wack of fabric from the bottom and remove patch pockets.

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Put on Doris and pin out two shaping darts at the back

and two fitting darts on the front – sew.

Fold over the big collar to narrow it and do some stuff with trims and topstitching along the hem, darts and other edges

Make a buttonhole and sew on an almost coordinating button found in stash. My little Janome’s buttonhole contraption won’t sew a hole for a button this big so I just cut a rectangle and small stitched in place for extra reinforcement. The fleece won’t fray.

So almost back to the original plan. I should have stuck to it the first place and not try to be smart.

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Worn today with the first garment for SWAP combination B (slate greys).

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The most delicious Italian finest fine wool in tiny herringbone bought from Joel & Sons in their end of year remnant sale. Made into Vogue 9162. I am planning on making all three items from this pattern for SWAP B. The pattern includes a loose-fitting, lined jacket with welt pockets, an oversized shirt and these wide-legged pants.

Slide3The wide legged trousers have in-seam side pockets and an elasticated waist (honestly, I really did type that and I made them and I wear them!).

Let’s have a word about elasticated waists – the good things are that you don’t need a matching zip, buttons, hooks and eyes to finish; easy to make; easy to fit; easy to pull on and off. The bad things are that it’s an elasticated waist! Gathering, bunching, I can’t help associating them with women of a certain age……and it feels like I’m not sewing a ‘real’ garment and taking an easy way out.

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Anyway, the trousers are actually quite good. They are supposed to worn with loose shirts on the outside to hide the elastic, so nobody but you and me will ever know. Just in case I ever decide to wear a short top or tuck in a shirt I added belt loops and made a button belt for a more polished look.

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The trousers are unlined so I always wear my trouser-petticoat to prevent bumming and kneeing in the fine wool. These are always excellent for extra warmth in wintery weather.

BTW – just look at the difference in my colouring when I wear just dark grey and how much warmer I am wearing the pink jacket, so I might now have to rethink the solid grey combination for SWAP combo B!

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Only second garment in and once again a possible change of plans.

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SWAP will have to be put on hold for a week or two while I go on safari for Jungle January. Actually, my contribution for 2016 is heralding from the frozen heights of the Himalayas rather than the heat of the savannah ….

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As always I’m in two minds about wearing animal printed fabric. This is the 5th year of me joining in and every year so far my efforts are inside, under or otherwise somewhat discreet. This year I’ll either look devastatingly Parisian or else a very poor imitation of Cruella de Ville.

101 Dalmations - Live Action Remake.Copyright: Disney.

101 Dalmatians – Live Action Remake. Copyright: Disney.

Just for fun – spot the snow leopard

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10 Comments

BOGOF

I’m always far behind with the fashion trends – this particular one by 4,000 years!

The Japanese have kimono, the Americans have poncho and the Northern Europeans have Bog Coats – all of them are the simplest of shapes, straight line cut, easy sewing and minimal waste. I suppose in the days when you had to weave your own fabric you certainly weren’t going to cut it up and throw most of it away like we do today.

aw15libe1041000bI picked up a few metres of vintage Varuna Liberty at a craft fair recently – a fine woven wool in a long ago colourway. The design is still available but not in wool although in new and now up-to-date colours: called Deborah.

My particular colours are  maybe not something that I would necessarily choose right now but at a very cheap price and with the Liberty pedigree I couldn’t resist.  I didn’t want to use it all in one go, so some went on the bog coat, some went to a sewing friend and 1/2m leftovers went to stash box.

I could go into detail here about how to make a bog coat but quite honestly loads of other people have done it before me and probably much better than I could. Here’s a few links to what I picked out as the easiest and best –

Threads PDF with clear instructions, tips and ideas –

Video with construction technique –

How to weave your own (if you have a loom) –

Mine turned out to be more dressing gown than coat so that’s what it became – a lightweight gown for early autumn mornings.

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I added two ties at the side for a wrap-around and cut off 2″ from the hem for a binding at the open edges.

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Front seam that is the extension of the sleeves and edge binding – sewn with the overlocker.

V8888And the Buy one get one free? – Two nightdresses, one to match the bog coat and one to match the other one.

Vogue 8888 made with some ‘beige’ cotton jersey that never got dyed or made into an Alabama Chanin masterpiece. There comes a time in a woman’s life when only natural fibres will suffice for sleep – and when you have to throw the duvet off in the middle of the night you at least want to keep some decorum while tossing and turning all sweaty and hot.

One nightdress has some spare Liberty fabric, cut on bias, for bodice and straps, the other has some brown lace left over from my foray into bra making.

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All the seams are machine sewed and semi-flat felled, in that I just pressed the seam to one side and top-stitched it in place.

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I finished both with picot edging around the armholes and back. And both have extensions on the hem to lengthen them and continue the colour trim theme – Liberty edge on one and brown lace on the other.

The thing about the bog coat is that not only being easy-peasy to cut and sew, and leaving no detritus in its wake, it’s as versatile as it is old. You can make it in any fabric, add trims, embellishments, fastenings, pockets; you can make it any length depending on your fabric availability and the sleeves can be as wide as you want. It is generally made on the lengthwise grain of the fabric so try to use one that is 60″ wide to give yourself the full width to play with, this should be enough for full length sleeves.

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Balenciaga

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Kelly

Balenciaga dipped his toes into bog coat philosophy in the 1960s with his one seam coat and this Patrick Kelly pattern for download (thanks to Pattern Vault)  for a 1980s version.

Issy Miyake also developed the one seam, straight cut coat into his famous cocoon coat 1976.

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Miyake

If this idea takes your interest I would also encourage you to take at look at Well-Suited and the Erte take on the kimono.
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Just goes to show you – there’s really nothing new….


10 Comments

Hybrids

I had intended to create a new Alabama Chanin collection this summer but my desire for instant gratification triggered a flurry of machine sewing and I’ll be lucky to get one AC skirt finished at all. I had a tonne of cotton jersey that was ordered in prep DSCN5343for hand sewing but it was crying out to be made into something to stop me feeling guilty about not meeting my own goals and objectives. There now follows a collection of stuff that has no skirt to match……..

First, Drape Drape 2 asymmetrical top. I received the book as a birthday present – lovely, and traced off the eponymous top immediately. Ironically, this was hand sewn, AC style. Reading reviews, everyone said that the sizing is small so I graduated the pattern up, especially around the hips for me, but I think the neckline is now too loose. Small adjustments to be made on the next (and there will be) one.

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The body is pale grey with dark grey neck and hem bands attached with embroidery thread using a slightly stretchy back-stitch. The single side seam and the sleeve hems are hand sewn too.

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Next,  Alabama Chanin’s corset top. This pattern is included in the new Patterns book but I had it already traced off from one of the earlier books. Except this time the serger was employed and not a hand stitch in sight.

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The top is double layered with a neutral coloured cotton jersey as this is a very fitted top and it needs a bit of strength. No embellishments apart from a little strip over the back neckline; the armhole bands are machine stitched with a large zig-zag.

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I do like how the back is dipped lower than the front in this top – means when you sit down there’s no flesh on show.DSCN5404

Finally, Alabama Chanin’s classic jacket from the Patterns book except my version is a little weird. A simple pattern with front, back and one-piece sleeves but I cut a load of 1″ strips and sewed these onto the jacket to resemble a check or a convict?

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I serged the side seams and then sewed the strips sort of straightish onto the ‘flat’ jacket.

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And the benefit of sewing your own stripes on is that you can be sure they match across the seams…

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It’s a great wee jacket – cardigan-like, easy to wear yet finishes a very simple outfit. Mine is the length it is because of fabric limitations but the pattern comes with various lengths including a long version. The edges are finished with a handsewn band. I didn’t add pockets and I miss them.DSCN5396I did make a fundamental mistake with the stripes though – I sewed them with a straight stitch and some rows have broken. If you are mad enough to try this for yourself – use a small zig-zag or lightning bolt stitch to allow for natural body stretch and movement. I’m going to have to go back and mend the broken bits before the stripes start falling off!

And finally a scarf and brooch. The scarf is what’s leftover from the dark grey and I’m being bold calling it a scarf – it’s a bit of fabric! The brooch is beaded and slightly resembles a flower.

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Gather your bits and pieces together – strips of fabric, brooch pin, beads and thread: start with a circle of fabric and I put a bit of batting behind mine for a bit of structure. Turn under a hem and you’re ready to go.

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Start on the outside edge and sew on one of the strips. This one was gathered first but it’s easy to pleat as you go.

DSCN5371The next strip covers the raw edges of the first and so on until you reach the centre.

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I beaded the centre but another little circle of fabric works too.

DSCN5375The back is a mess, so cover this up with another circle of fabric and sew on the pin. I used larger circles that show at the front of the brooch too.You’re not aiming for perfection here – merely the hint of a bloom of some sort – a hybrid.

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Pin to your scarf or lapel and wait for the compliments! In my experience, people always comment on the brooch and not the clothes beneath!

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So, there you have it – Alabama Chanin patterns made on a machine and a Japanese pattern made in AC style. DSCN5410DSCN5398


35 Comments

Patchwork Clothes

When you hear that phrase, what do you think of?

Tree huggers and hippies? Charlie Chaplin and the Kid?

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Maybe the 1970s –

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Late ’90s flirt with bohemia –

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YSL and Giorgio Sant’Angelo again 1970

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6a01156f47abbe970c014e8be876b5970d-800wi1970spatchworkprinttietop1_grandeCertainly colourful, flowing, full skirted and wide bell-bottomed trousers – oh the things we wore!

Everything comes around and this year, patchwork is back! Albeit a little more refined perhaps and with a 2015 price tag.

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Gucci patchwork S/S 2015

 

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Gucci silk patchwork joggers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gucci silk patchwork jacket $7,200

The late, great Koos van der Akker shared many of his design with us via Vogue but I have never been brave enough to try one.
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And catwalk trends this year are harking back to the 1970 vibe – which ultimately means patchwork and colour.

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Now to my quilting class and my idea to sew a patchwork scarf. Scarf made, and a skirt, and a bag!

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I believe this is called a French braid and the fabric selection is designed by Minnick & Simpson for Moda and called Lexington: the colours include whites, creams, tans, and blues.. Do you really want to know about strip sizes and patchwork techniques? Nah, we’ll just look at the pictures…….

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I bought an extra 1.5m of the large flower design and made the best skirt in the world – V1247, lengthened, as always. I used up every scrap of my fabric: the skirt has a patchwork inset around the hem. It is lined with a heavy muslin and the patchwork bit is lightly quilted to it.

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And with all the bits left over, you sew these together and create another 1/2m of fabric and I got a matching bag – Japanese Knot, downloaded from here.

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So far I’ve worn the skirt and scarf with a big tough Ziggi biker jacket and navy boots to make it seem a little less twee and because it is winter and cotton skirts in February are really not such a good idea. So while Lizzy is making winter clothes in summer, I’m making summer clothes in winter.

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Now, I know this isn’t actually possible…..but…..I buy little bitty bits of fabric, sew them together and end up with more yardage than I started with!?

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See, I knew those quilters had the dark forces on their side and now I have the proof.