corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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The Woman on the Tube Train

Not quite The Girl on a Train, but will show that you can get inspiration for sewing from anywhere – trains, the Underground, books, TV, movies, each other……

Not blogging doesn’t mean not sewing: I’ve been doing the latter but not the former so in an attempt to rectify that here’s a few recent makes.

First up is the Anderson blouse from Sew Over It. Inspiration for the pattern came from Gillian Anderson’s character in The Fall. Her wardrobe consisted of silk blouses, dark pencil skirts and Louboutins,  ’cause you know how easy they are to wear all day, every day!

Previously I made this blouse in a very fine pale peach wool but the colour was all wrong for me and although it was a thin wool there was no drape and the whole thing was a waste of fabric and time. Needless to say the pattern went to the back of the pile.

I read lots of reviews about the Anderson blouse and every one of them stated that a fluid, drapey fabric is a must: there’s also a consistent wardrobe malfunction with the front wrap over – with varying methods for dealing with this – from wearing a camisole to wrapping the fronts high up to the throat. Here’s a super version by Heather but I don’t think one sewer didn’t make some alteration or adjustment to the pattern. The conclusion from all this research is that is a blouse that MUST be worn tucked in…. and tucked in tightly! If you don’t like tucked-in stuff, then this is not for you.

I came across this digital print poly satin on Croftmill in greens and pinks and decided that I’d give the Anderson a second chance. My notions box is quite depleted at the moment, so any pattern that doesn’t require buttons, zips, hooks and eyes is an attractive option.

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Leaving off the drawstring hem and cuffs, this was quickly sewn up on the serger and as long as I stand erect with shoulders back and the fronts well tucked in, the front doesn’t gape at all.

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Always there are leftovers so I decided to line a coat with them…….

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One day while I was visiting London earlier this year, a woman got on the Tube and sat opposite me. She had on an apple green jumbo corduroy coat, 1970s style, a black shift dress and apple green opaque tights. The coat looked so lived in and comfortable that I quickly determined that it must have been a favourite item in her wardrobe. She wore it so well – casually stylish; effortless.

Once home the hunt was initiated for jumbo cord in green – found at long last on Croftmill. Not in apple green but sea green instead.

The pattern is Vogue 1266: semi-fitted, lined, slightly flared coat, above ankle length, princess seams, two-piece sleeves and back centre split. Lots of variations with collars, pockets and cuffs.

I went for view B – double breasted but with the front welt pockets with flaps from view A and the cuffs from view C. You need a whopping 4m of fabric for this coat.

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I just love the way the corduroy nap creates different shades of green.

 

I cut my usual 14 but ended up doing alterations by nipping in tight at the waist and raising the shoulders/sleeve heads by about 2″. I wanted a more close fitting coat.

dscn6802It’s not perfect – I messed about too much with the front princess seams and they’re wrinkling and stretched but then I also wanted a coat that looked like I’d had it for years and had that well worn look, just like the woman’s on the tube.

dscn6813This is intended as an everyday coat not special occasion and I’m hoping that with more and more wear it will soften and mould and last for years.

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There’s a puckering/wrinkle in two places on the hem that I just can’t figure out. It looks like the lining is caught but it’s not and there are no stray stitches either. Another good pressing may be in order.

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c57d989594c64506123ee3b90765053fIt billows out as I stride along and reminds me somewhat of a WW1 great coat.

This coat was worn by officers and was usually made from heavy wool and tailored specifically for them by their Savile Row tailors.

Obviously much better made than my humble version but there’s a historical link here. Check out the development of the trench coat, for example.

I had contemplated adding epaulets and a belt but was too impatient to get the coat finished and worn that I never did.

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Now, you all knew that the coat came first, didn’t you? dscn6811

I haven’t done a Best /Worst 2016 post but this coat, despite all its flaws, is definitely one of my favourites; the Anderson blouse  – not so favourite…….

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And to finish the 2016 sewing blog posts : Cat endorses WW1 great coat/1970s corduroy inspired by woman on a tube train coat.

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Thank you very much for all your support,encouragement and feedback in 2016.

Thank you also to all of you who read my previous post and donated to MS. Truly, you are generous and big hearted.

Here’s wishing everyone a very Happy New Year and may all your sewing dreams come to fruition in 2017.


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I Can Kantha 2

With the seasonal transition fully fledged I bought another Kantha quilt to cut up and sew into a long, loose coat-like thing. First one here.

This quilt is mainly blue and white with a little bit of green in the border; plain blue back and those fabulous hand wrought running stitches.

The pattern chosen is from The Pattern Company – a German company who have thousands of patterns online. The only gripe about the Internet site is that the pictures are too small when scanning for designs.

Anyway, this is not a new pattern but one I’ve made before way back in 2012 as a summer-weight raincoat. This newer version was hacked and lengthened and widened and actually bears no resemblance to the original at all.

 

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Makes me wonder why I used a pattern at all!

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The finished coat has that unique hand-made wonky look which is a combination of the original fabric and my rather laissez-faire approach to pattern cutting……

The coat is reversible so the seams were flat-felled.

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Side seam: flat-felled

I managed to place the pattern pieces so that I could use the original hand sewn edge finish of the quilt as my hem on both the body and the sleeves.

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And today has the perfect conditions I envisioned for this coat – clear blue skies, brilliant sunshine but with that nip in the air that reminds us that it’s now time to pack away the cotton skirts and sleeveless sundresses.

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As usual, I can’t bear to not use any viable leftover fabric, so I sewed the remnants together and made a long scarf, which could also act as a belt should I ever desire.

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To make pockets that are accessible from both sides on reversible coats/jackets see here.

In summary, make a window-pane opening with a flap or welts on one side and on the reverse add a patch pocket positioned to cover the messiness of the welts on the inside. One pocket- two openings.

My sleeves are too long but that’s the result of using the original edges of the quilt. I usually fold them back to reveal the plain blue insides, or if wearing the other way, the border pattern.

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The hand running stitches are a pattern all on their own and too good to hide away.

Underneath the coat today is Bootstrap skinny jeans and a RTW vest. I think of this coat as a dressing gown that is perfectly acceptable to be worn outside in public but it has that homely, comfort feeling – just like wearing ‘a quilt’!

I certainly could have made it a lot narrower and more fitted and it probably would have looked ‘more polished’ but with this style I can wear sweaters underneath and still slip it on. Personally, I like the looseness as it retains some of the original quilt qualities – wrapping up in comfort. It also bellows out majestically behind me when I stride along.

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Sewing projects are slightly on the back foot at the moment as the new term settles in and the better part of my time is spent on salary paying duties. However, just because I’m not producing finished  items to wear, rest assured I am scheming and planning and watching everything you produce……..sewing by proxy!


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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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Jungle January

Here we are again at that time of the year when all my good taste and style goes out the window and I embrace the gaudy (tacky?) world of animal print fabric. It’s always Prttynpnk’s fault and she knows it! I never use this fabric at any other time of my sewing year.

In recent years I have always joined in Jungle January as it pushes me way outside my comfort zone but my use of prints has generally been well out of sight, like underwear for last year and a dress lining a few years back, or else the fabric itself is a muted and discreet print. This year I have embraced the animal print aesthetic and it’s in your face and out there!

Before we get to the finished garment and I only got this finished so quickly because the weather has been dreadful that I’ve been forced to stay indoors and sew and also because it is very easy and quick to make.

mini-panda-m-(product-photography)The fabric this year comes from Croftmill -bunch of headers them but they do stock some lovely fabrics! They describe it as a panda footprint but I’m more inclined to associate it with a snow leopard ’cause they’re sexier instead of cute. Snow-Leopard-Blue-Eyes-Wallpapers.pngOstensibly a black and white repeating pattern. It is a coarse weave cotton suiting but stable, takes a good pressing and doesn’t wrinkle. Has a slight tendency to fray and pluck though.

V8841Paired with Vogue 8841, now unfortunately OOP. This coat pattern was perfect as it has minimal seams so that I didn’t have to do much pattern matching. I eliminated the centre back seam and instead of inseam side pockets made some welt ones, that are perfectly camouflaged in keeping with the true purpose of animal prints in the wild.

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I was aiming for Parisian chic at Fashion Week and not Cruella de Ville managing to get her hands on the dalmatians, I’ll let you decide ………

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I modified the coat pattern to a round neck instead of a collar, revers and lapels – simpler to do and more Chanel-like.

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The length was purely determined by availability of fabric as I had only bought 2m not knowing what I was going to do with it. The pattern requires 2.4m.

I wanted the darker spine strip to run along centre back so the fabric was folded off-centDSCN6020re. This created a long extra strip of single width left over which was sewn into a wrap-around tie belt. This can worn to close the coat as there are no buttons or snaps or hooks and eyes, or as a belt for coordinating whatever is underneath.

 

 

 

And underneath is a red dress in a poly crepe with the tiniest amount of stretch made into StyleArc’s Cleo dress, which is supposed to made from jersey.

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A lovely simple design of a dress with two darts front and back and pulls on over your head. Mine’s a bit tight because there’s hardly any stretch and every lump and bump shows up. My fault. I found the fabric in my fabric box and I think it might be leftover from the Scarlett dress. I had about 1.2m.

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I didn’t do a sway back adjustment and this is the result, so in future I’ll just pinch out a horizontal fish-eye dart at the back waistline and add the difference to the length – that should fix it.
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The coat is fully lined, hand sewn edge to edge. I drafted some neck facings and interfaced these for a bit of shape. I didn’t have a set of shoulder pads so I used two padded bra cups instead! Worked a treat.

Thanks, as always to Anne who organises and collects all manner of animal print garments from around the world – a veritable menagerie.

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Right – that’s out of the way now, back to tweeds and solid colours! Phew!

 

 


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SWAP A 1

So the whole Christmas/New Year shebang is over and the first item of 2016 is sewn and complete, and it’s the first garment for SWAP ’16!

 

MASON-JACKETI picked an easy one to start with, StyleArc’s Mason coat – no lining, raw edges, no fastenings, one piece sleeves and not a strip of interfacing in sight. I chose a bright pink fleece which was cheap as chips and it brightens up the most dismal of dull, wintry days. Funnily ecolour,motion,colors,swirl,wallpaper,color-b56ebd20797d4bf238e5f5fe3530d371_hnough this colour goes with so many others. You wouldn’t think so would you? But it does lift any colour – white (as in the following photos), jeans, grey, black, navy and hopefully the mossy green of the other items in this SWAP pack A.

Slide1Pack A is based around the colours of heather on moorlands – pink and mossy green. The other items will be a moss green top and a checked pink and moss green skirt.

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As you can see, I have already changed my plans and only one garment in! I ditched the short jacket for the longer length and more relaxed coat. I do sometimes wonder why I even call my Sewing With a Plan, a plan at all….

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I did make a bit of an effort by adding fold-over flaps on the patch pockets and simulated cuffs on the sleeves. To fasten, I cut narrow strips, made a loop and a couple of ties. The same strips were sewn all along the edges, so while un-hemmed they are ‘finished’.

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Fleece is a wonderfully easy fabric to sew with and I would strongly recommend it if you are new to sewing: it stretches slightly so it’s a breeze to ease into place if your cutting out isn’t perfect; it doesn’t fray so you don’t need to finish seams, you don’t even need to hem anything or turn raw edges under; it’s very forgiving on a lot of fronts – doesn’t wrinkle, is incredibly cuddly and keeps you warm.  The slight downsides are that there is a nap, much fainter than velvet for sure but for cutting out you do need to fold the fabric selvedge to selvedge (long and narrow) and place all pattern pieces in the same direction (ie. all tops facing the same way). It is made from polyester and all the disadvantages that entails: non-renewable raw material (oil), can create static electricity, it does not wick sweat but ironically, this hydrophobic quality can also be an advantage in the rain; additionally, cheaper fabrics are prone to pilling.

Most of my other SWAP garments are planned in natural fabrics like silk and wool, so this one item is the renegade rebel of the bunch.

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As the coat is un-lined, it is kinda nice to have the inside a little refined just in case you meet a fellow sewer in the street and they want to inspect your clothes. For this coat I sewed faux-felled seams. I don’t know if that’s a real seam finishing technique or not but this is what I did….

Sew a normal seam, trim one side away close to stitching (always the seam allowance closest to the back – all seams should fold around the body towards the back, just a little bit of couture info there.

Flatten the untrimmed allowance over the trimmed edge and stitch down with a longer stitch – 3mm or so. On the outside the seams look like they are proper felled and it creates a little bit of interest but because of the wonderful non-fraying and stable quality of the fleece on the inside the seams are relatively tidy too.

Of course there were leftovers that were just begging to be used up instead of taking up space – Rhonda provided the inspiration and I sewed up a scarf/hood thingy.

A scarf when it’s cold and a hood when it’s colder.

However……however….

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….there is something akin to a dressing gown about this coat when made in fleece and hanging on a hanger. I sort of like that I can wear this outdoors (and I have) and yet still keep it on indoors like a cardi. Honestly, what do you think? Only over jammies or also over a tweed skirt?

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Do I need to revise my SWAP again!? ? Even before I’ve hardly even got started.

The coat does cover the butt which is always a good thing but is that a huge iron impression on the back? Another disadvantage of fleece that I forgot to mention before…

Welcome to 2016 – may you sew to your hearts’ content and within your own time-management limits; I sincerely wish you no ripping out, no iron marks or burns on your precious fabrics and wishing you a perfect fit every time.