Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


St Paddy’s Day Blues

Right you lot, stop distracting me with your Kantha coats and Japanese draped tops and patchwork quilts – I’ve a SWAP to finish.

Today is St.Patrick’s Day and I usually wear something green but today I’m in blue.

Three more items done for SWAP ’15 and likely two that required the most work (at least I hope so, or else I’ll never be finished in time!).


Corset top and pencil skirt, reverse applique with leaves, and a long cardigan/coat, single layer with applique strips around hem and sleeves.

DSCN5105The top and skirt are relatively small items to sew in that they are fitted and there’s not a lot of fabric involved and so hand sewing round all the leaves didn’t take as long as say a flared maxi dress.



The corset top pattern comes from Alabama Stitch Book and I love it – form fitting, flattering and wears really quite like a – corset. Bit of structure with just a few running stitches; hard to believe this is possible in cotton jersey.
















The skirt is self drafted pencil skirt – essentially two rectangles wide enough for my hips and curved at the waist and hem. No darts or waistband, I rely on the cotton jersey to stretch and fit.


The cardigan is Burda suit coat because I liked the piecing and thought this would show off the stitching better.


So a recap on completed items:

1 pair of trousers

1 long sleeved T-shirt

1 maxi skirt

1 cardigan/coat

1 corset top

1 pencil skirt

1/2 a bolero

2 tops/3 bottoms and a wildcard – good grief, I’ve a lot to do. Only 6 out of 11 and I have to figure out a refashion/reversible item yet.

I need 5 tops/3 bottoms/ 2 wildcards/ 1 reversible by end of April.


I may have to instigate radio silence until then…..



Remember Clover?

You know that flush of enthusiasm and excitement you feel when you get new fabric?

I had thought I’d go all classy and monochrome and so I have been stocking up on whites, ivory, blacks, monochrome tweed etc. But the fabric bundles just sat there as I became increasingly distracted by colourful chiffon prints and orange mohair. I did manage to make a black and white coat which has seen a lot of wear recently but I deviated big time.

Miss Diana from Chrysalis sends out her winter ’14 samples and I succumbed. I ordered a wool twill in the most delicious colour called dark chilli, a couple of metres of the softest thistle coloured knit and, wait for it, shiny gold denim! The sewing machine has been smokin’!






First up, the wool twill: No. 29, Dark chilli chocolate, 100% Wool, 144cms, Pure wool Venetian twill.

A fantastic colour that is brown when brown is placed beside it, aubergine when purples are present and a good dark neutral for loads of other colours and it isn’t black! The fabric is fairly heavy so no flowing skirts or wide-legged trousers but something tailored and fitted. Most of my trouser patterns (apart from jeans) are wide legged having decided some time ago that this was my preferred style and suits me best. I did, however, jump on the Clover bandwagon a few years ago and I dug out the pattern again.

Kate has been forensically investigating tailored trousers for her impressive SWAP ’15 and maybe she subversively sent me down the slim legged trouser route – I’m glad she did.

DSCN4853A cold but wintery bright morning to showcase Clovers 2014.

Fully lined, with turn-ups, a lapped side zip and the cute front pockets. The new 7/8ths length to show off shoes and boots.




The pattern stipulates a fabric with a little bit of stretch – 2% Lycra or such, but this wool twill has none. These are not yoga pants!

To complete the Clovers I had to go to a real live shop for lining and thread. Armed with my swatch, I bumped into the remnants rack and found a cotton poplin that otherwise I wouldn’t have looked twice at but the colours were perfect: yellows, purples, browns, touch of green. On the spot I realised I needed a blouse to wear with the Clovers.



And then I needed a cardigan to go with the Clovers and the blouse….. off to Minerva to pick up another batch of knitted mohair but this time in saffron yellow.




and of course I had the original thistle knit, which just happened to co-ordinate with the Clovers and the blouse……


So from one pair of trousers, I have linked a blouse and two cardis, and re-invigorated a lot of other items in my wardrobe.

In the meantime, have a great New Year: may you all have good sewing, good ideas and to quote

may your bobbin never run out half way through the hemming……”


  • Trousers – Colette Clover
  • Blouse – Kwik Sew 3782 (OOP, shame as this is an all time favourite)
  • Yellow cardi – Burda pattern 08/2012/117D with mods   
  • Thistle cardi – self-drafted: How to make the thistle waistcoat in the next posting….




imagesThe only word in the English language that has a full rhyme with orange!

A sporange is botanical terminology for the part of a fern that produces the spores.

Yeah, but you all knew that!




Burda – a confusing collection of lines on paper that when cut out in fabric and sewn by people who know things produces clothes (sometimes).

On the whole, I really like Burda designs and styling but the thought of tracing, or tiling and tracing, or tiling, tracing and adding seam allowances just makes me reach for my Vogues every time. If you feel the same, then this might help or read on.

However, since I was voted onto Burda’s Top 50 blogs, I am feeling an obligation to make more of an effort despite the fact that I’m ranked in the 40s and just made the cut by the skin of my teeth. Thank you to those who nominated and supported me anyway. If I had known about this beforehand I would have done much more to support your efforts. Anyway I’m towards the 50s in real life so it’s a relatively precise mirror of 20th/21st century life and times.

One day while sitting on the veranda of my holiday hardwood timber log cabin by the coast with a coffee and Danish within reach, instead of just perusing my collection of BurdaStyle magazines in an armchair and living in fantasy land of youthful slimness and sunshine, this time I really and truly selected a few designs to seriously sew, or sew seriously?

My fabrics are this – an orange mohair mix knit and a multi-coloured poly chiffon.

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Process – a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end.

Here’s my tip on adding seam allowances to Burda patterns. You will need a Clover tracing wheel tool or similar and a soft lead pencil (at least a BB).

Trace the pattern onto tissue or pattern drafting paper as per normal but with enough excess around each piece to mark the SA.

Remove the second tracing wheel from the Clover thingy and with technical, LASER-guided precision, sticky tape the pencil at the 1.5cm (5/8″) mark (give or take).

DSCN4678Now roll the Clover wheel around the sewing line, making sure the pencil is always on the outside of this line and fairly level with the wheel. You might need to sharpen the pencil as you go along.

DSCN4679DSCN4681BTW – This specialist and highly secretive technique also works for marking SA on sew-in canvas interfacings that need removing from the seams: replace the pencil with a disappearing fabric marker pen. Shhhh…….


Collar stand for Burda Style Suit Coat

Take BurdaStyle magazine pattern 08/2012/117D.   








Round off the waterfall fronts and make a 2″ band all round.

Add cuffs to the sleeves and stabilise the loose knit with some left-over lining around the back neckline and band. Add lined patch pockets.










Cut the stabilising fabric at 2″ and the knit at 4″. Fold the knit over the stabiliser and serge to the outside edge of the garment.

The 2″ band was sewn on the reverse side of the knit fabric. Sew the entire band on the overlocker (serger) or else stitch and zig-zag the edges.


This is relatively straightforward make: raglan sleeves, two fronts and a back. The entire thing was sewn on the serger (overlocker) apart from the patch pockets.

Next, take BurdaStyle magazine pattern 05/2012-101B and totally forget the first attempt and remember the appeal.

101B_BS0512_B_largeTwo fronts and backs with centre seams and side in-seam pockets. Facings for the neckline, narrow hems on the cap sleeves. Remake in patterned chiffon, remove pockets and add ties at sides for a slight waist definition, soft gathers and variation of styling. Deep hem for a bit of weight. Also mostly sewn on the overlocker so that I didn’t have to do French seaming.

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There’s a very low V-neck.




Note to self – always wear a co-ordinating T-shirt! – You don’t live in the tropics, you don’t have a flat chest and you’re over 50!!!!










Result – a thing that is caused or produced by something else; a consequence or outcome. (Not always perfect!)


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Credit – publicly acknowledge a contributor’s role in the production of (something published or broadcast).

My initial jumping off point was Scruffy Badger making and wearing this. She’s brilliant, so I bought the same fabric, thank you Winnie for the inspiration.111_0913_B_sweater_large

I saw this  Burda Style 09/2013 UK cover but I’m just a little bit older, a little wider and I live in a city and work a proper job; modifications were needed.

Eternal thanks to Lynne from Ozzyblackbeard who told me to take my time and re-thread the serger in proper thread order because those machines have some preternatural ability to sense the scared and inexperienced.  Until this advice, the serger was in the dog-house again, now it’s currently contributing to my wardrobe and paying for its board and keep; 20 minutes of cajoling and wine induced threading and now it is fully trained. And,  I’m beginning to benefit from the genuine benefits of meeting real live sewists. Thanks forever Lynne.




Analysis – The separation of a whole into its constituent parts for individual study.

I’m still tracing Burda patterns at the wrong size – always too roomy. In this case it doesn’t matter too much but for anything fitted or structured I think I’ll stick to my trusty Vogues.

Should have lined the dress. I’m wearing a white slip and it shows through. But I know I won’t.

I still have the notion that Burda makes are  quick makes. I just can’t bring myself to spend the time doing things ‘right’ The hem on the dress is atrocious and it’s only the fabric design that is camouflaging the wobbly stitching line. The facings won’t lie flat despite under stitching and catching them at four points around the neckline, so I’m forever tucking them back in. A narrow hem here would probably do the trick.

The colours are great though – I can also wear teal tights and T and raspberry colours and the shift dress just acts as a cover-all. The orange cardigan lifts dark grey and is quite stunning against black and white.

So, there you have it: a ‘model’ who’s over 50, the other side of 67Kgs and wearing a chiffon shift dress in November in the northern hemisphere with a granddad cardigan. There are no limits!!  Or have I read the wrong rule book?

If you can,  watch this……

If you can’t – do what you need to do so that you can…..







Almost Trendy

Wasn’t it interesting to hear all the different opinions about a jacket? Thanks so much, as always, for your contributions to what looks best and how to fix that which doesn’t. I’ve had a hectic week and just didn’t get round to replying to each comment individually but thank you for taking the time and dispensing such invaluable advice.


You are probably well aware of the trend this season for oversized coats; voluminous cocoons of luxurious wool and cashmere in which to wrap up and snuggle. Well, I think I unintentionally made one and therefore I’m bang on trend!

fall-2012-2013-winter-rtw-coats-voluminous-oversize-style-fashion-trend-runway-acne-3-1-phillip-lim-hermes stella-mccartney-oversized-coats-w724

















This little blog was voted as one of Top 50 by Burdastyle followers – thank you. One of the rewards was a selection of five patterns and I’ve finally got round to making one of these up.

Burda 12/2010 120A Suit Coat. Based on masculine tailoring with a narrow collar and lapels, boxy, back vent, mid-thigh length but with little interesting details like the pockets sewn in to the front panels. Can also be made to jacket length. I liked this because it’s the type of coat you can wear over a suit – the final topping of an outfit.

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My fabric was from Joel and Son and may well be the most expensive cloth I’ve ever bought, although I did buy it from their sale section before the summer. It’s a black and cream patch-worky wool, really loose weave and frayed like mad.

Having just finished one tailored item, I wanted this make to go a little quicker and easier and hence I mixed some tailoring techniques with bog standard sewing. I pad stitched the collar and hand sewed the lining in with a little fancy piping; but !shock/horror! I used fusible interfacing (hate the stuff) on the fronts, back vent and hems.


The unintentional bit of this make was in the sizing! Last time I bought some clothes I wore an European size 42/44. So without thinking, measuring or anything else really, I tiled up the PDF pattern and traced a 44. Off I went, cutting out the fabric and sewing up the seams. When draped over Doris, I thought it looked a bit big and that’s when I checked Burda measurements! Like most of us I span across a couple of sizes but none of them 44! I’ve made a UK size 18 and I’m closer to a 14 – so instead of crying and wailing and tearing my hair out: no ripping out or re-cutting – no – this is now an oversized coat!


I narrowed the shoulders and inserted huge shoulder pads. I just made sure the sleeves are the right length which helps to make it look like the coat was made for me! I didn’t have enough fabric for the lapels and facings so I used a fine black wool to make up the difference.


The lining is black with embossed circles and for a pop of colour the inside piping is a bright pink silk scarf cut up into a bias strip.

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However – my coat is not a pale pastel: the lapels are too narrow: the shoulders too boxy and so not really on trend at all!

But I like it.

I made no attempt to match the pattern as I thought the pieces of the pattern would work with the patch work fabric and apart from the fact that I didn’t have enough to do meticulous matching.


I don’t sew many Burda patterns but now that I know what my Burda size is – I will be making more……


I always think that Burda patterns are for ‘quick’ makes but this one took me ages (tailoring aside). I know that Marina takes Burda and haute coutures her sewing,  so I suppose it’s a state of mind and approach. Sewing a garment can be as quick and easy or as precise and detailed as you want to make it.

Anyway, my almost trendy coat is certainly big enough to wear over a suit. It’s certainly big enough to wear over another coat!

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CCN Ep2/S1

Second edition of CoreCouture News….

I went away at the week end with a couple of friends and a good time was had by all. As a consequence, there was no sewing done but plenty of shopping, trying on, browsing and talking and we managed to sort out our fashion fears, dressing for occasion angsts, marriages, children and even the world – so rest assured, you can all sleep peacefully tonight – me and my mates have it sorted!

I did wear my AC coat over jeans in Fermanagh but honestly it is so unseasonably warm here in Northern Ireland that my summer gear is still in rotation – I’m still wearing linen trousers and cotton tops in October!


Top50-winner-160Quite honestly, I have absolutely no idea how this happened or actually what this little blog is doing here, however, apparently Corecouture has been voted as a Top 50 Sewing Blog by Burda fans. I’m guessing that I’ve scrapped through at number 50 but nevertheless, it is an honour and thank you very much to anyone and everyone who voted for me. I had no idea I was even nominated which makes this win ever better.

Part of the ‘win’ is a prize of 5 free patterns and a free on-line class on tailoring, which is brilliant as my next big make is a jacket. I’ve done tailoring before but you can never know too much.

The 5 patterns I’ve chosen are a mish-mash of styles and sewing ability but I tried to fill the gaps in my pattern stash and just a little bit of what took my fancy: I also have most of the fabric just folded and waiting to be made into something fabulous for A/W 14/15- here’s hoping!

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Needless to say, I’ll be making some Burda patterns in not too distant future. I have to admit that my success with Burda has not been without its tribulations in the past, mainly due to to the tracing issues – but I’m ready to give it another go and more than willingly to be proved wrong, especially as the styles and fashion look as good as this…..

Blog Hopping

The absolutely  inspiring and role model – Sewing Elle has nominated me to do a Blog Hopping. There are some hard questions to answer but I’ll do my best – so add her to your blog roll. You should add her to your blog role anyway…..

In typical academic methodology, I’ve researched blog hopping and it is similar to linky-things( technical jargon, you understand)

A Blog Hop is a linky list that is shared between a group of blogs so people “hop” from blog to blog seeing the same list on each blog. 

Anyone who blogs knows how time consuming and fraught with tribulation the process is – the sewing, the pressing, the styling, photos, light, etc, so I’m taking this seriously and hopefully the results will bear fruit to the efforts invested.

Which kind of takes me back to Burda….. obviously they want to use blogs as marketing tools. I’ve been offered a percentage commission on any Burda product that I advertise on this site. Whilst tempting, this is not what I starting blogging for  -this is primarily for you!  Definitely not for for my readers to be bombarded by adverts and deals and most certainly NOT for me to make money. If I like a pattern, or learn from an on-line class I am more than happy to share this with you without personal benefit: I have a full-time job which I love to bits and sewing is a hobby – see the difference?

I’ll probably be relegated to “beyond” the Top 50 Bloggers now!


Belfast Sewers

The doyen of frocks Ozzyblack Beard (she is our own home-based Dolly Clacket and you should add her to your blog role too – no commission, honestly) and I are attempting to arrange a get-togther of local sewers and crafters. I’m afraid I’m falling into the Irish attitude of ‘whenever’, but if you are interested and from NI, ROI or any where in the world, email myself or Lynne and we will try to arrange a day and time properly – like they do in New York, London and Brighton. We can’t promise garment district shopping as there are only one and half fabric shops in the greater Belfast area but we can at least have a pleasurable morning/afternoon together: swapping fabric stashes, patterns and sharing website and experiences. While Ozzy and I are both sewers of garments, we would love creative and artistic folks to join us too. We can all learn from each other. Lynne, I promise I’m seriously thinking about this but weekends away with friends are sooo good and it takes a few days to recover………..



After all the hand sewing stuff for Alabama Chanin (which is totally addictive, yes I agree Mrs Mole) I did fire up the Janome and sewed some things. These are Indie patterns, probably downloaded and taped together about a year ago but I’m only getting around to making them now.

No time for ‘action’ photos right now so here is Doris in all her glory wearing the latest from Corecouture – these are – Named Flan blouse, Grainline Moss skirt and self-drafted jeans





Steam pressing, real life photos and fabric and sewing details to follow….. stay tuned – `I’m not getting paid anyway” LOL