corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Not Sewing, Engineering!

Well hello there! Let’s hope the long wait for a new post was worth it…….

Firstly, you are going to try and follow A Train of Thought.

I have a wedding to go to in May and I have about one hundred dresses that I could wear. I checked through this blog for some existing candidates: I am also quite sure that when my S/S clothes come out of the attic there will be a few others to choose from that I have forgotten about!

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Each one is perfectly acceptable with a pair of high heels and a bit of lipstick. But it’s always nice to make a new one, isn’t it, especially for a grand occasion like a wedding?

And so the hunt began…….style, fabric, impact, era, comfort factor etc etc etc.

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I should add that the wedding ceremony will take place in Mussenden Temple, part of the National Trust property at Bishop’s Gate, followed by a reception in a restaurant on the beach. One half of the day is exclusive – the other half is surfer-dude.

After hours of arduous, but pleasantly so, researching I finally managed to narrow the selections down.

These are the shortlisted styles:

Slide2These are the shortlisted fabrics:

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There is a common thread (ha ha) in my chosen styles – asymmetrical, vintage looking, fitted bodice and straight-ish skirts with volume. Put all that together and you end up in Vivienne Westwood land.

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So now, we move on to actual making of the dress. No commercial patterns are available that resemble anything like these frocks [unless you can tell me differently and if you do I’ll really appreciate it] but what do I have in my book shelves, only the complete art of draping? (pic on right).9781780670935.in11

Hurrah! With a tonne of marking to do and the Easter holidays approaching, I ignored the marking, went to Asda and bought some flat white sheets as muslin for a couple of quid and studiously set to work finding grainlines, draping on Doris and having fun.

The Train of Thought has now reached a conclusion and turning that into a real thing now begins. The ‘muslin’ was going to be my pattern. I needed fabric for a toile. I found some cheap but very wide poly taffeta on My Fabrics, ordered 4m and twiddled my thumbs for a few days until it arrived. On our, now monthly, sewing away days, I packed up Doris, the ‘muslin’, the fabric, two pairs of sharp scissors and three million pins and headed to Castleward for a fab day of cutting and pinning and feedback and ideas, all accompanied with buns, cake and lots of chatter.

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There were a few issues: enough fabric for only one sleeve and no back! One sewing pal did point out that a back might be more important than sleeves. Having considered this, I do have to agree with her. The other major issue was that although pinning bits of fabric to a doll might produce ‘a dress’, as a real live person I cannot have pins in my tummy. This dress had to be constructed as a garment that could be put on and taken off. Hence, the engineering………

I’ll cut a very long story short; this project was quickly becoming an epic. With the little scraps left over, I did manage to cut two backs and pieced together enough to make another sleeve. There’s an invisible zip at centre back and that’s the entrance and egress.

This is probably not making any sense to you right now and I can fully understand that because it didn’t make any sense to me and I was there! The dress is actually two pieces because for the life of me I couldn’t figure out a way to join the very full, balloon hemmed side skirt to the rest of the dress.

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The principle dress has a half-circle skirt to one side, fitted back pieces with a zip, two (!) tucked 3/4 length sleeves, a large wrap bodice with lots of gathers that buttons all the way around the waist for a bit of figure enhancement and an added scarf-like collar.

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There was a lot of hand sewing too – a true couture dress. A one-off.

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Please don’t be concerned about the bandages on Doris – she is very old and needs a little patching now and again.

I had a test drive in it the other night to see if it would stand up to the rigours of eating and moving and to see if I could actually wear it instead of just standing still and upright. It passed all the tests. I do need a second pair of hands to get me into the dress which turned out to be not so much fun when I staggered home after midnight and couldn’t get out of it! In actual fact, this dress has a numerical set of instructions on how to get it on and you just reverse these to get out.

We had fun with shoes on the night though including a couple of pairs of VW’s. How appropriate.

OK, enough waffling, here’s the reason you came here today……..

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It was definitely an evolutionary project: the final version bears a remote resemblance to the original draping but has become a new creature in its own right.

Extra bustle options are still available

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The neckline might need a bit of extra work …

I might be wearing a pretty pink floral dress but this took a lot of brain power; 3D mental rotation and all that stuff late at night; design principles that I didn’t even know existed; many, many, many pin punctures in my hands, fingers and other body parts so don’t mess with me! This dress feels like armour.

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At this stage, I’ve spent so much of my time and effort planning and thinking and figuring and sewing and sewing that I don’t think I’ll be making a ‘real’ one. While this was supposed to be a test dress, it is perfectly serviceable, wearable and doesn’t wrinkle much. It also makes a luxurious swoosh sound as it moves.

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I might or might not wear this to the wedding. I might just pick one from last year, then again, there’s another month to go before the actual event – time enough yet……


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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!

 

 


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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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28 Comments

Designin’ Miyake

Here’s a new thing for me although I have watched from afar for a few years: choose a designer garment and shamelessly copy it. Very well organised and the brain child of Linda, nicedressthanksimadeit, there’s still time for you to join in too – and this year there are prizes!

img_6128-e1495776761968“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!
Show us your Designer Original photo and how you put together your Designer me-made COPY.

Here’s my designer originals. Trying to keep in line with the aesthetic of with my A/W “17 O Collection, I went internetting for Issey Miyake and found these.

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If I went shopping, like proper shopping – one top, a pair of trousers and a coat from Issey’s Pleats Please collection would cost me £1,480 (without P&P) or thereabouts. All fabrics are plisse polyester and RTW.

The Oska variations and inspiration are these:

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Hopefully this will be a combination Miyake/Oska outfit: east meets west in my sewing room in Belfast!

So I went ‘our’ kind of shopping and found : green plisse poly on eBay; 3m for £10, along with a crinkle poly at Croftmill for £7 p/m and bought 3. Grand total spent on fabric = £31.

Patterns are already in stash, although some might need a bit of hacking; total spent on patterns = £0

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Thread = £3.48

All other notions/threads/interfacing in stash =£0

Can I get a designer outfit for £34.50  instead of £ 1,500?

Considering that I don’t regard sewing as a chore but rather a pleasure, this should be fun and I’m really keen to see what inspires other people and what they sew.

Deadline for photos is 31 Dec 2017 – it’s a perfect opportunity (excuse) to sew up a new Christmas or New Year’s outfit. As I’ve been wearing the same dress on Christmas Day for years now, I think it’s about time I change it up a bit.


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A/W 2017

All the leftovers from spring/summer are used up so it was time to buy some real fabric for the Autumn/Winter 2017 wardrobe. But what to buy? What should I make?

Enter Oska – my inspiration for this year. They are a German clothing company with real shops and online and I have fallen head over heels in love with their designs and styling. This is who I want to be this year…….

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Oska design on the basis of silhouette types:

A-silhouette – feminine, figure-flattering, subtly elegant
Box-silhouette – casual, comfortable and urban
H-Silhouette – reduced, purist and variable
O-silhouette – expressive, authentic and individual
V-silhouette – casual, relaxed and variable

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Clear simple shapes and choice materials stand for an unostentatious but unique look. It is a style, which does not disguise but brings out the personality and is at the same time casual and elegant.

I delved into the pattern stash and lo and behold, I already own a number of patterns that are suitable and others that will work, with a little tweaking.

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I ordered a lot of fabric from Fabworks (they really are delightful people to deal with)

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Mostly wools, tweeds, a bit of cotton jersey and some cotton shirting. And I think I’ll have to be buying more…..

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The style aesthetic can be summed up as:  loose, layered, cropped wide trousers, unstructured coats and jackets, simple white shirts and plain tops, coordinated.

We can call it art-teacher chic or restricted Lagenlook; but I want to make this style my own. Have I found it? My Style I mean. The elusive holy grail of the middle aged woman and the sewer…..

Time to get started and find out.