corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Linton Pink – Complete 1

This is a bittersweet moment. I have really enjoyed the slow sewing and the self-imposed tailoring construction processes of Paco’s Vogue 1527. This coat has given me joy, a little heartache too along the way but I am unashamedly declaring, it is a thing of beauty. I am just a little bit sad that it is finished.

On the other hand, a finished garment is always an achievement. Luckily, I have a tonne more Linton tweeds to sew through and if they all go as well as this one I shall be one very happy sewer. Jinx!

I left you the last time showing the insides and as a work in progress because that’s where the lion’s share of the work is and I also wanted at least someone else to see and acknowledge it. Which you did – thank you!

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Since then, the hand made shoulder pads and sleeve heads have been inserted and the remaining lining slip stitched/fell stitched and otherwise hand sewn to complete the body. The sleeve underlining is wrinkling because the coat is inside out and bunching up.

DO NOT follow the pattern instructions at this point: insert the sleeves, THEN insert the shoulder pads (Step 27). DO NOT sew shoulder pads in when your coat is inside out. They will not fit when you turn everything right way round. Just tackle the fabric from the right side and get on with it.

The shoulder pads were made with six layers of thin cotton wadding – the same type as used in quilts. Each layer is gradually smaller than the top-most semi-circle, which is covered with a patch of canvas. The whole lot was then pad stitched to form the curve to fit the shoulder. The sleeve head is the same cotton wadding; rolled and hand sewn to the inside of the sleeve seam allowances.

DO NOT trim the arm hole seam allowances – you need these for shoulder pad and sleeve head positioning. DO NOT press this seam; gently steam from the outside only. Yes, it looks really messy on the inside but only you will ever see this but everyone else will only see the outside – choose your battles.

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I do love to see a hand stitched sleeve lining with all its genuine wrinkles and slightly uneven gathers – it definitely demonstrates a passion for honest hand sewing and provides true flexibility in the sleeve/arm-hole that is wholly lacking in RTW.

Buttonholes and vintage buttons have been sewn on the sleeve vents and centre front. And I have yet another gripe about the instructions.

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So…… you take the time to cut and construct a sleeve vent – doing your very best to make the two symmetrical, make a buttonhole and sew on a button and then the instructions (Step 42) tell you to sew the sleeve lining over the whole lot so that the vent won’t open. There may be times in the wearing of this coat that I want the button open and to fold back the cuffs – by this stage I just ignored the instructions and went with what felt right and what would work for me.

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If you buy an original Paco Peralta pattern, it is always beautifully drafted but it comes without instructions.

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They are expensive, I’ll grant you that but they are all hand drawn, not printed, and of course designer. No instructions provides a certain amount of freedom and opportunity for individual ingenuity but may not be suitable for the faint hearted or inexperienced sewer, nor those who like a step by step construction process.

To compensate, there are loads of online tutorials and reviews to support you along the way. Personally, I relish the jigsaw puzzle aspect of sewing a pattern without pre-set instructions and often find a new method of construction during the process.

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This coat is part 1 of a set of three;  I find it is remarkable on its own and I just want to wear it with jeans, frocks and even jammies – I love it that much! It is a mighty weight on its own, what with all the underlining and canvas and what have you but the tailoring makes the coat fit like a glove: it literally drops over my shoulders and remains in place, perfectly draping my irregular frame and making me stand taller.

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I make no apologies for my personal pleasure in just looking at the set in sleeves. This was a slow sewing process and it certainly paid off – exact tailor tacking, basting, fitting and then, only then, sewing. Added to which there was a considerable amount of pressing. When you press wool to tame it into shape, and I mean press not ironing,  leave it to cool and dry in shape. That means you might have to walk away from the ironing board for a wee while. Get a cup of tea and surf the net for inspiration for your next sewing project…..

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I read books to help me along the way……..

And watched Craftsy classes…….

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Front and back – can you tell which one is which?

Here’s the coat, admirably modelled by Doris – front, back, left and right. Sometimes I hate that mannequin, my clothes always look better on her than me!

There are faults in my coat which I’ll document at a later date, for now, I just want to smile every time I see it and turn a blind eye to the picky problems.

The skirt is cut and ready for sewing. It’s going to be made with the coordinating herringbone that is on the coat collar. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Linton Pink – WIP

The first Linton tweed combination has been cut – and hopefully you’ll appreciate that it takes a very deep breath and a lot of courage to do that, let alone the selection of pattern in which to make something fabulous because this signature and limited fabric requires careful consideration. You may not be aware but Linton Tweeds makes couture fabrics to order for all the best couture design houses. Three years after the designer ‘season’, the fabrics are released for public purchase. The fabrics are expensive but that’s what haute couture, exclusive fabrics are supposed to be. They are special.

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This is not a very entertaining post but more methodical and about sewing. First of all I chose a pattern, Vogue 1527 a fabulous Paco Peralta design that I have wanted to make for a year or so but never had the right fabric to do it justice nor perhaps the occasion to wear it. My version of this suit makes the coat an outdoor layer.  So I took a very deep breath, pinned on grain and cut!

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I do not have a finished item to show you (this is a deliberate and slow sewing project)  merely a work in progress which I am hopeful will be completed to a high standard.

 

You may gain some insight into techniques or tips on how to do traditional tailoring for the very best fitted and finished garment. You do not need to do what I did at every stage but the end result is totally unique. The Vogue pattern does not offer this option and to be honest I found the instructions somewhat confusing and out of order. I will list this later.

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I’m using the checked pink for the coat and the herringbone for the skirt. Biggest problem of course is the check/tartan/plaid. Everything MUST line up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slightly offset the edges of the fabric so that you can see the bottom layer. Accurately line up the checks (or stripes) and pin together. Try not to shift the fabric around too much while pinning or cutting the pattern pieces. Cut one piece first, then using it as a guide, line up the side seams before placing and cutting the next piece. I have not cut the sleeves out yet as they will have to match the main body of the coat.

DSCN7827Every piece is underlined in cotton lawn. This stabilises the outer wool, gives structure and makes it so much easier to hide hand stitches because you sew to the underlining and not the shell. No dimples in this coat. It involves cutting each pattern piece twice and then tacking the two pieces together, which you now treat as one.

My colours are way off in the following photographs, the true colour is more like the top image above.

The wool frays. My chosen seam finish is a simple one. After completing a seam, press open, stitch down each seam allowance and then trim with pinking shears. Nice, flat not-bulky, non-fraying seams. These were then catch stitched to the underlining.

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I used strips of selvage as stabilising tape on neck edge and shoulders.

Centre back seam from the outside

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The herringbone was used for the contrast collar and pocket facings.

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On the inside, after attaching the lining, I catch stitched the front facing seams to the underlining to make sure the facings wouldn’t flop. Then I ran a running stitch between front side lining and front side seam to keep the lining in place.

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There’s a lot of tailor tacks and basting and tacking and stray threads used in this method of sewing. And they all have to be removed when no longer needed. Even this apparently simple job takes time and a pair of tweezers. I’m even making my own shoulder pads. On the left the pieces are cut out and tacked together. On the right the amazing effects of pad stitching are clearly in evidence.

There’s also a lot of pressing involved. I think I’ve gone through a least four litres of water. Wool is so malleable with steam – can be shrunk and can be stretched.

I’ve been watching Alison Smith on Craftsy / Bluprint the whole time –Essential Guide to Tailoring: Structure & Shape and Essential Guide to Tailoring: Construction and I feel that I have an instructor in the sewing room with me. Invaluable.

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Instead of interfacing, I used canvas. This produces a much firmer finish although somewhat bulky in places. I wanted someone else to see all this work before it all disappears forever under the lining.

Now to my complaints about the pattern instructions.

Fabric cutting layout: indicates cutting a full front of sew-in interfacing. The front pattern piece indicates interfacing on the facing only.

Move Steps 20 and 21 to before 16. This is sewing the back lining and back neck facing together. The back lining piece is sewn to the back split first. Once this is done you are trying to manipulate the full coat at all times instead of just the lining. Sew the back neck facing on to the lining before attaching to the coat.

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The instructions about the lining make it cumbersome. The back lining piece only is attached to the coat. Now you have to sew the sides and fronts to this already attached piece. It is difficult (nay impossible) to turn the whole thing inside out especially once the front facings are sewn to the lining. And you’re lugging the entire coat around between sewing machine and ironing board.

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The instructions also tell you sew the shoulder pads in before inserting the sleeves! NO. just NO. You’d never get the sleeves in….

Personally, I like separate lining pattern pieces. I don’t like having to use the same piece and cutting bits off it for the lining.

The problems are not insurmountable but READ the instructions folks before doing anything. Make sure they make sense in your head before sewing, otherwise you may end up ripping stitches out and tearing your hair out in the process. Another reason I’m taking this one slowly.

There are not many finished V1527s out there. I found Tany – always brilliant, and Gorgeous Fabrics – who has made two. Read these accounts before starting.

At long last my lining is mostly in place, shoulder pads are positioned (not sewn) and now I have to manage to cut out matching sleeves and get them in.


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Is this the end or the beginning?

An unusual ennui seems to have inflicted my favourite sewing bloggers and I too am not immune. Time between posts just stretches into longer and longer periods. I’m sewing lots, what I’m not doing is standing in the garden with carefully selected shoes and full make-up, salon hair, a smile and taking photographs.

Maybe it’s the summer season; maybe it’s holidays and days away; maybe we’re all busy with life and other stuff; maybe we’ve nothing left to say; maybe it’s the end of blogging…….bit like gym membership.

Anyone remember recording songs off the radio onto cassette tape, listening to your Walkman, watching videos, talking to people via landlines? See what I mean, everything has its day. Mind you, my 21 year old son is gradually building an impressive collection of vinyl LPs – what comes around, goes around. If we stick this blogging lark out, then maybe we’ll be back in vogue!

I have made some very good friends via blogging. I’ve met a few in real life and many more virtually. Every one is special and valued and I would not have have this connection without this blog. Hence, I’m rent in two like a beautiful piece of linen, right across the grainline. Do I continue to write this blog?

I have other on-line platforms – Instagram, Pintrest, Facebook and I don’t update those either. I’m really lazy or more to the truth, I couldn’t be bothered.

I have sewn so many garments since my last post that I probably have enough material (ha ha!) to complete a blog post every day of summer. The thing is – are you interested? Will there really be anything new? I’m beginning to think that blogging is just an internet version of “Show and Tell”: “Look how good I am”.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I find daily inspiration, advice, tips, laughs and stimulation from the blogs of other sewers and I still feel I should contribute too. And that’s the dilemma. Those of you who have not written for ages either must surely recognise this quandary.

To try and inject a new level of energy and re-kick-start regular broadcasts on Corecouture – I bring you the actual and real Wedding Guest Dress.  I made a prototype here but then had enough time to make another. Hence, I’ve dusted off the camera and tripod, taken off my jeans, found the shoes, put a bit of lipstick on and here we go…….

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There is no pattern for this dress. Well there is but you need to get hold off Bootstrap Off Shoulder dress for the top half and back and then the free download Julies Sissions Scarlett backless red dress for the front skirt. You put these two together, look at loads Vivienne Westwood frocks online and make the rest up as you sew.

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Fabric is Romance Rose from Fabric Godmother and is fabulous but sold out I’m afraid. A cotton sateen with 98% cotton and the difference made up from Lycra/elastane. Fitted but with room to move.

Those front pleats cover a multitude of sinful late night snacking and still they keep giving…..even after a wedding dinner. I wore this dress for 14 hours straight and it looked as good at the end of the day as it did at the beginning. I didn’t, however wear the VW shoes for 14 hours – I had flats at the ready.

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While it might look like those shoulders are about to fall off and cause untold embarrassment to the wearer, they will not. Take a little bit of scrap fabric or ribbon and a snap; sew along shoulder seam and put your bra strap through the loop. Perfection and totally secure. Wee haute couture tip there for you. You’re welcome.

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Then I obviously still had too much time left over for sewing because I also made a coat and bag to match.

The bag pattern was a free download years ago from Hot Patterns.

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The wedding was in May, which can be chilly at night here so this was not wasted effort. downloadThe pattern is vintage Vogue 1137 which I have made many, many times and as usual this version has a few modifications such as narrowing the swing and widening the sleeves. The coat is a light boiled wool, unlined, with patch pockets from Fabworks and if I had my wits about me I might be able to tell you exactly what it is.

 

I sewed flat felled seams and used a pleasantly matching grosgrain ribbon on the front facings and hem. The sleeve hems are faced with the dress fabric for that totally co-ordinating outfit – a very, very haute couture touch.

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Oh yeah, I also managed to sew an eternal corsage from all the left over fabrics, a few spare ribbons and a button.

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Till next time.

Whenever that may be….

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Thank you so very much for your loyalty, consistency and continual reading. My words are not enough to express this gratitude.

You want a few pictures of the wedding though now, don’t you?

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Wearin’ Designin’ December

The A/W O collection is nearly complete so I turned my sewing attention to knocking off a few Issey Miyake Pleats Please pieces. This was driven, inspired and encouraged by Linda, Nicedressthanksimadeit.  for her annual Designin’ December event.

“Why buy when you can make it yourself – better and for less money?”
We have all seen something we LOVE either in the stores, online or on the runways, but don’t actually want to buy for some reason.  So I propose that we sew that garment that we see/want.  Now if you are lucky and you already have an exact pattern, either an indie pattern, your own self-drafted, or a “Big 4” pattern, that you can use – then go for it!  If you have to alter a pattern that you already have, or draft your own pattern, you can do that too.  Whatever works for you.  Let’s make what we see and want!

Here are my designer originals….

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…..and here’s what I made

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The olive green plisse poly was found on eBay for a song – 3m for a paltry £12. It looks much more shiny in the photos than in real life which is more like a sheen than a shine.

The black crinkle fabric for the duster coat is from Croftmill and I used the wrong side on the right side – bit classier in my opinion.

Trousers

Two patterns were involved – Vogue 1550, Paco Peralta for the leg width and length and Vogue 1508, Zandra Rhodes for the elasticated waistband.

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I just laid both pattern pieces on top of one another and cut the shape I wanted – no drafting needed and no pattern was harmed in the making of these trousers.

The plisse poly is slightly stretchy and doesn’t fray – here’s me ‘hemming’ the trouser legs:

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I made the trousers with a deep elasticated waistband and a few belt carriers added to hold the self fabric, non-edged, single layer tie belt. Simple.

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Top

I used Drape Drape 2 asymmetrical top and, while this is not an exact copy of the Miyake original, it served my purpose admirably with its lopsided look and Japanese aesthetic.

After sewing up the one-piece piece of fabric, the front neckline was truly low! I may have made an error somewhere in the cutting or sewing – who knows?  Easy fix though, I wear the top back to front. However, I did add another little pleat at the old centre front which is now the new centre back to draw the neckline up a bit. With me here?

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The sleeve edges and neckline are turned over and sewn but the hem is not – it matches the trouser hemming technique.

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Coat

Using StyleArc’s Toni dress as a basis for the coat I lengthened the sleeves by simply cutting long along the pattern lines; the front seam is not sewn closed but turned in, sewn and left open, I added a single button closure; the side seams are sewn as far as the ‘drape’ to create side splits. There are no pockets.

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I added some cuffs to the sleeve hems just because I had a little bit of fabric that suited the purpose.

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Buttoned up and showing the height of the side splits.

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Here’s an out-shot showing the actual right side of the fabric in the inside which I choose as the wrong side (bottom left) – everybody still following me here?  I just thought the matt side was classier and a good contrast to the sheen of the plisse. You can also get an idea of the waft and drape of the coat.

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The Designin’ December outfit was paired with Trippen boots, pearls, full make-up and blow-dried hair. I was actually going on a very posh night out – hence the extravagance – I don’t usually hang around the house looking like this! Actually I do………..no I don’t!

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Many thanks to Linda for getting me involved and for those of you out there who are inspired by designer clothes, it’s not too late to join in.

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Show us your Designer Original photo and how you put together your Designer me-made COPY.

Hopefully I’ve done that and in your opinion – did I get a designer outfit for around 34 quid  instead of £ 1,500?

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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!