corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Suggestions/Ideas/Inspiration

Please……

Last week while I was sewing up a storm with OOP Vogue 1467, a few minor interruptions relating to Life interrupted proceedings. I took a small break and temporarily lost my mind. I went shopping at Linton Tweed. I know, I know, it’s a really good shop to go browsing but the actual shopping tends to tilt this side of “How much???”

I may have spent my entire Autumn/Winter ’18/19 budget in one fell swoop. And I’ll be requiring lining, zips, buttons, interfacing and what-have-you. So I’m not done yet. I’ll be sewing with scraps until next April!

Hopefully this week the adorable postie will be delivering the following:

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The main problem was that I couldn’t decide between the pink check or the green check and this where I lost it and bought both and then I bought the co-ordinating herringbone tweeds too. 100% wool.

Now I need your help. Imagine you have 3m of each check and 2m of the herringbone with which to sew an outfit……anything you like.

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Say ‘Linton’ and I immediately think of Chanel. I’m quite prepared to do some slow, haute couture because, quite honestly, there won’t be too much more fabric purchased this side of Christmas.  I was gifted some fabulous Linton by The Material Lady a few years ago and I made use of every inch (including selvedge on neck, pockets and hem) to make my Christmas dress a la Oscar de la Renta.

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I already have four Chanel style jackets that are in constant rotation plus a traditional tailored one all using Linton tweeds but let’s face it, one more won’t hurt my wardrobe.

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Vogue magazine is promoting checks and tartans for this season with a nod towards the 1970s and please check (ha ha) out Pattern Vault’s recent post on Ralph Lauren.

I’d love your suggestions for making this delicious fabric into something stunning, timeless and of course, something that suits me and that I will wear, although I am always open to new ideas and new patterns so don’t feel you have to go full traditional. I don’t know the actual weight/hand of the tweed yet but sure I can control that with interfacing and lining.

Thanking you in advance and hopefully I’m giving you the chance to go flawless virtual sewing and imagining the perfect finished outfit.

 

 

 


30 Comments

Dior-esque “17

Quite honestly, I have no idea where this came from…there I was (almost) happily sewing up an Oska inspired winter collection and then I veered way off track. 51CSULc-dUL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_Oska and related designers leave out the feminine hourglass shape and go for comfort. I have totally adopted this aesthetic and find it both comforting and classy, yet, I still harken after a fitted look.

I have been reading, and I mean actually reading and not just looking at the pictures, The Golden Age of Haute Couture 1947-1957. A V&A book production that is a combination of history, academic research, fashion and insight. The principal designer covered in the book is Dior and his post-war New Look -full skirts and nipped in waists – a rebellion against austerity and rationing.

I have worn the same two dresses on the Big Day and accompanying festivities for about five years now, so it really is about time I updated. Mind you these two dresses are true classics and will survive for many more years yet.

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Linton Tweed red and ivory boiled wool. Both are sewn from McCalls 2401 – a true classic sheaf dress with loads of variations and options. I believe it’s OOP but it shouldn’t be – if you ever get a chance – buy it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tartan/plaid/checks are always popular around the Christmas and the New Year period.

bobby-brown-red-grey-check-plaid-tartan-cotton-fabric-cudI found some non-traditional tartan at Croftmill in greys (my fav colour) with reds and orange and navy – all my other favourite colours in one cloth! Too good to pass over. This is a shirting cotton but in my winter muddled mind I envisioned a festive dress in lightweight wool: I truly and actually know it’s cotton but I can sew it to look like wool – Can’t I?

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Patterns

Skirt is the first major absorber of fabric as I opted for a circle. Best option is always Paco Peralta’s half circle skirt. This skirt feels and moves like a full circle but is much more manageable and uses half the fabric. You get the drape and swirl without the girth. il_570xN.271636588Honestly, let’s face it, hips that are hips do not need extra attention drawn to them.

A beautiful pattern – every sewer should have this one in their arsenal too. The original pattern includes two lengths, lining and personally, perfectly hand drafted. No sewing instructions but you only have to look online for real-life sewers contribution tips and finished versions and it is actually a relatively simple but deceptively well crafted skirt that it could be figured out by beginner-intermediate sewers and additionally you get the perfect garment. I’ve made it loads of times – cotton, jersey, linen.  This time, I also managed to include an inseam pocket and cut the longer length for holiday drama.

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As swirly and drapey as this skirt is on its own, I then moved into the Twilight Zone and thought – what if I put a petticoat underneath? I am moving into an alternative universe at this point – I am a person who has always eschewed the full circle skirts of the 1950s and opted for the more slimline pencil silhouette. But Hey ho… I bought some red netting and red poly cotton and hacked together a puffy petticoat.

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Using the same Paco skirt pattern for the petticoat, I get the same drape and fullness as the skirt. Even if I say this myself, I did some nice sewing on a garment that will (should) not be seen: ribbon trims on the netting seams and French seams throughout, just in case it does actually comes on show. The waist is merely closed with a tie which should allow for easy release after a Christmas dinner.

Shouldn’t everyone have a red petticoat even if it only hangs in the wardrobe??

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Needless to say there was leftover fabric and you know I can’t leave well enough alone, so I made the bodice from vintage Vogue 1136 (OOP) . I added a few inches to the bodice length but that was the only alteration. I think we should all look a little more closely at dress bodices that can be made into tops.

A beautiful back neckline with cross-over back bands and generous sewn-on  cap sleeves.

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In order to to be able to actually get this ‘top’ on, the zip is reversed and opens from the bottom. As I was working with leftovers, matching checks was random and I don’t mind in the slightest. It may not be acceptable in the haute couture houses in Paris but for a Christmas dinner in Belfast, it’s fine!

And….then there were more leftovers but we are down to scraps at this point, so I made a eight core corset belt from Burda (so old I have no record of the issue date or number). No chance of putting on weight with this one…..

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The corset belt was stiffened with all my scraps of interfacing – iron-on, sew-on and every weight available – a bit like a patchwork of interfacing. It is firm but soft enough to sit down in without causing a loss of blood or oxygen to vital organs.

The belt is secured with true corset hooks and eyes purchased from the Aladdin’s Cave of Sew ‘n’ Sew in Belfast city centre. You want what?? Yeah we have that somewhere…..

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Instead of a Christmas dress, I have Christmas separates that look like a dress.

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Hopefully, I have paid homage to Mons. Dior with his revolutionary skirts and used Sn Peralta designs to make this idea a reality.

The skirt and top without the belt…..but with cat

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An inordinate amount of space on the sofa is taken up with skirt and petticoat however…..

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I do not have the hand-span waist (19″) that Dior designs demanded but perhaps some 21st century Spandex might help.

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My apologies to the perfectionist but I find interest in a certain amount of originality and uniqueness in mis-matched checks especially for the minor pieces in this ensemble.

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Truly, I thank you, one and all, for your support, comments, reading, encouragement, inspiration and for just being there in 2017.

I respect and admire the pattern designers and creators whose ideas we humble sewers try to turn into reality. Thank you.

I salute the coming year with positive enthusiasm and I hope you will come along with me too.

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I wish you all a peaceful, restful Christmas (Holiday) break and the healthiest of New Years.

Let the sewing begin 2018!

 

 


21 Comments

Back to the Future

Kate – wait ’til you see what I found!

Like many of you I learned to sew at my mother’s feet. In those days the choice of fabric and patterns was very limited. I don’t even know if Vogue had made it as 4b0b84485c8d81fc7ad906927far as Northern Ireland in the 1960s – Simplicity was about the height of it. All, or at least a large part, of my childhood wardrobe was ‘home-made’ on a Singer treadle machine and my father often remarked that my mother was married to her sewing machine and not him!

Growing into my teenage years I realised the benefits of having a mother who could sew: while I loved to go shopping with my friends and my wardrobe became increasingly RTW, I also had the advantage of owning unique items. I clearly remember a green striped jumpsuit, a brown pinafore maxi dress , peasant skirts by the bucket load – it was the 70s and I thought I was IT!

What I failed to acknowledge at the time was that my mother was also making clothes for herself. I vaguely remember that these were ‘party clothes’ and I was mightily impressed by a certain ombre pink polyester halter neck maxi dress with really long ties, similar to the pattern below.

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Nowadays, my mother doesn’t sew so much but has passed the beacon to me. Now, it is me that she comes to for alterations and fixing instead of the other way around. Recently I have narrowed two pair of trousers legs for her.

At the weekend I entered (voluntarily) the blackhole of my parents’ attic. A treasure trove of memories, useless items, old school books and projects, suitcases and pictures, and racks and racks of clothes. There, the whole history of the late 20th century hanging in garment form resides. I headed straight to an old battered brown leather suitcase and unearthed exactly what I was looking for……..this is the only garment that my mother has kept all those years that she made for herself.

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Made in silk dupion, of the richest peacock blue, a tunic and trousers, it completely encapsulates the late 60s/early 70s style. There’s not one sequin missing from the trim and the creases and wrinkles are 50 years old.

Nehru collar, bell-shaped sleeves, hip length tunic with little side splits and trimmed with sequinned braid. The tunic has a long centre back zip, metal of course. Princess seams with additional bust darts for extra shaping. The main body is lined but the sleeves are not and all seams are pinked.

What makes this even more special is the story in the seams – the tunic had to be taken in at the sides for a better fit and the first row of stitches is still visible.

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The trousers are narrow legged with a side zip opening. Unlined and with a grosgrain waist. Four darts both front and back.

I’d love to model this outfit for you but the waist measures a tiny 26″ and mine doesn’t.

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We looked for the original pattern in the attic but regrettably it remained elusive – we did however uncover hoards of McCalls and Simplicity children’s patterns from 1960-1970: and then the Vogues from 1980 through my teenage years. I can even remember the fabrics that were used for most of them. A quick look through Google images produced the following, which are close to the tunic outfit but not the same.

My father suggested that if we looked through 50 years of photographs we might be able to uncover the original photo of my mother wearing this – I’d love to see the shoes. But time is not what it used to be and 21st century pressures demanded my efforts to be spent elsewhere.

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If you know the pattern, please let me know – perhaps a 21st century version (in a larger size) is just what my wardrobe needs.

 

 


29 Comments

Don’t bother me – I’m Sewing Princess Seams

This week my little boy turned 18 years old and to congratulate myself for managing to keep him alive and also to legally relinquish my parental duties I bought new shoes and made a new dress.

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The shoes are Vivienne Westwood for Melissa: nude (go with anything) with big tartan hearts.

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The dress is Vogue 8648 and it’s the one Susan Khaljie uses for her Craftsy class on couture sewing. I had the class playing in the background while I sewed but I didn’t go all the way with the couture techniques – and anyway she just made me feel guilty. I gave in eventually and hand-picked the zip which I’d shifted from the back to the left-hand side. I had to do it this way because the bodice of my dress is a completely different colour from the skirt so at least my threads match now and it was so much easier to match the horizontal seams too.

I used a white cotton/linen nubbly weave fabric by Linton Tweeds mixed with a petrol blue silky poly with white horses and carriages on it for the bodice. I made the short sleeved version and kept the back neckline low. Always a little self conscious about arms and my scarred back, I do like a cover-up. With the leftover Linton I made a half of a Paco Unique jacket: ie. just the upper part and sleeves only. The fronts are faced with the same fabric as the dress bodice. And I made a belt too.

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If you are wondering, “Is cutting out and sewing your own individual and personalised bunting satisfying and worthwhile?” – NO , it’s not! Just buy the fecking stuff.

And while we’re talking about sewing – the dress…….

Princess seam central. Two-piece sleeves (sort of princess seamed), back bodice – princess seams, back skirt (you guessed it) princess seams….Do it all again for the lining….Get the picture? I don’t mind princess seams usually but they can be tricky especially if your fabric doesn’t stretch at all and your cutting out of the slippery, silky poly is rather inaccurate to begin with. Princess seams allow a lovely fit on the bodice which is easy to alter and creates a much softer silhouette than darts. Just watch those notches and make sure they line up, hence the copious amount of concentration.

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Slide1What do you think is better  – princess seams or darts?

I’ve actually just realised that I didn’t topstitch my dress as marked on the illustration, so I suppose the sewing police will be round in a moment or two. Better hurry this up…

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We went out to dinner to a really posh hotel and brought the son with us – although he has been there loads of times before of course, while his mother and father haven’t so much as set our poverty stricken feet over the threshold.

Not so much as a new dress but a complete outfit – so I did all right out of that celebration, oh and the boy’s not bad either.

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38 Comments

Tweedy Jacket Wrinkling Issues

Do me a favour? Try on one of your  RTW or hand sewn jackets and look very carefully at the bit between the lapel and the armhole; just above the breast and below the shoulder. Stand naturally in front of a mirror; button the jacket, unbutton the jacket; put your hand the the pockets, sling a shoulder bag on – just do whatever you normally do.

Does it wrinkle? Does it crease?

Mine do – both in RTW and hand made. And for the life of me I cannot think of a reason or a solution! Well, actually, I think I’m a bit round shouldered and this is creating a hollow at the front and hence the wrinkling. But even on Doris the wrinkling still exists, and she’s perfect!

There seems to be too much fabric – I can pinch the excess.

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So I set to try and remove the wrinkles. I inserted the sleeves a million times, each time moving the armscye more  and more forward, thereby removing the excess on the fronts until my sleeves practically emerged from the princess seam and making me look more round shouldered that I actually am! I ripped out the entire insides and took in a bigger seam allowance on the princess seam and all this did was pull the armscye forward.

I narrowed the shoulders but then the sleeves didn’t hang properly. BTW, want to see perfectly hung sleeves?

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Slightly forward to mirror the natural shape of the arm and according to my tailoring books – this is what a sleeve should look like.

I thought the armhole was possibly too small but I didn’t want to cut into the jacket in case that didn’t fix the problem.

I tried a couture shrinking technique – tacked in some pleats and steam pressed until the fronts almost turned to felt!

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All I achieved with this was to overwork the fabric which will now never recover from its trauma.

In the end I re-sewed everything exactly as it was back in place and left well enough alone. I did make some extra padded floating breast shields and sewed these in but I still have wrinkles and they’re doing my head in.

I’ve tried to disguise one side with a rose which I’m hoping will fray into a delicious melange of tweedy bits.

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When the jacket is buttoned and I stand with shoulders back and head erect, the wrinkles disappear. But I have to hold my breath and suck my tummy in and gradually turn blue – so it’s not really a practicable way to solve the problem.

Even Cate Blanchett in Armani has wrinkles. I have an Armani Jacket and yes, there are wrinkles there too but not as much as in my own hand made ones. There are loads of images of women’s jackets without wrinkles but I worked in the print industry for years and I know how much retouching is done before a picture is deemed acceptable to be included in an advert. Is it a feminine issue with tailored jackets? Are we presented with a retouched, perfect image that is, in reality, unobtainable?

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Any ideas?