corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


43 Comments

The Only Park Lane

DSCN7260A long, long time ago I bought a dress pattern from Merchant and Mills: the company started in 2010 and  I’ve a sneaking suspicion that I purchased the pattern not long afterwards. It is stored in a sturdy cardboard tube and the pattern pieces are equally sturdy manilla card that require weights and not pins to hold them to the fabric. It will last for years and years. I never made the dress. There were no pattern reviews, no Google images (apart from M&M’s, below); I was a little wary and then I lost the whole lot!

Quite recently I relocated The Park Lane and just happened to have a very fine windowpane wool that didn’t have a pattern partner, so the two were paired together.

The dress is simplicity itself: sheath style, shaped shoulders that elongate into short sleeves, funnel neck and comes with a tie belt, in-seam pockets. I don’t do belts on loose dresses as they create folds and gathers on my considerable sway back and looks terrible – belt was ditched. I ditched the pockets too because this fabric is practically transparent and the black lines of the window panes showed through to the right side.

 

However, without a belt the dress was even looser and, quite honestly, shapeless. There are two little dart/pleats at centre front which are relatively pointless – I added three more on each front, total of 8.

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I get to keep the shift style but with the extra pleats I get a bit of shaping at the waist and creates some construction interest too.

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I like this dress. It’s not weird, far-out dressing, just a classic shape with a wee bit of unusual that might make someone look twice – in a nice way!

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I have a small dilemma that you, dear readers, can help and advise on. I made the dress straight from the pattern and this is the length (which I personally like).

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Here it is pinned about 6″ shorter.

Which looks better?

It is difficult to raise one’s arms as the whole dress lifts up; I’m not planning on cleaning out the high kitchen cupboards so it’s not that much of a problem.

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I went with matching the horizontal windowpanes. They match up (mostly) at centre back and side seams.

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Merchant and Mills no longer sell this pattern and I’m truly wondering if this is the only one ever made – please let me know if you’ve made it too or know somebody who has.

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Should I sew another one?

 

 


36 Comments

Sea of Silk

DSCN7240Look – photographic evidence that sometimes, just sometimes, the sun does shine in all its glory here.

More blue and I really mean true, royal, luscious, rich, deep, drown-in, indulgent blue crepe de chine. Thank you very much to those of you who commented out loud (or silently) that this is a good colour for me.

A bit (mind you, quite a bit) of silk crepe de chine was left over from the Donna Karan slip and of course, just absolutely and categorically,  had to be put to use.

Apparently, the dress I’m wearing today is the most popular pattern from Vogue this summer and here’s me, who thinks I’m above following fashion trends, but still apparently fell unconsciously into the trap….mind you, every version I’ve seen of this dress looks so unique that it would be difficult to say that they’re all from the same pattern.

 

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Vogue 9253 – sort of a caftan dress but better: kimono cut on sleeves, high waist with ties, pleats rather than darts at front but darts at back, very deep V neckline, centre back zip, huge in-seam side pockets, any length you desire. My pattern description, not Vogue’s. 

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Let’s start with what I didn’t do: centre zip was eliminated – more on this later; only one pocket added; deep V neckline not so deep.

What I did do: trimmed the neck edge with some cotton jersey instead of a narrow hem; raised V neck with some hand stitches; shortened the waist ties made in same cotton jersey; pocket opening/closure instead of zip; length of finished dress was determined by amount of available fabric and not the pattern skirt length.

There was no way on earth that I was going to put a zip into this ethereal silk but the waistline is somewhat fitted and really did need to be opened for dressing and undressing situations. Problem……..

Problem solved: the two pocket pieces were sewn top to top, trimmed down and sewn in the side seams as usual but all the way up to underarm.

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The side seam and pockets were then sewn, creating a very large ‘pleat’; the pocket is the pocket and the above bit becomes a gusset.

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A very useful hook and eye were then sewn to the waist seam to close the pleat, a bit of smoothing of the pocket to the inside and now I can get in and out of my dress without a zip. And if I hadn’t shown you this, you’d never know it was there.

I started one of those Instagram thingies. I’m not very good at it and am always forgetting to take photos along the way and any I have taken I haven’t added #.  Anyway, if you’d like to follow a very erratic and learner then here’s the name – ruthforrester.corecouture

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If you’ve made this dress or are about to make it, McCalls are running a V9253 competition mccallpatterncompany Announcing the #v9253 contest! Featuring the hot dress pattern of the season. You could win $100 worth of fabric from @stylishfabric & $100 worth of new patterns! The competition is WORLDWIDE!

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I probably won’t be entering the contest as most entries are made in fabulous prints or stripes but we all want new patterns and fabric, right?

 

 

 


30 Comments

Border Debate

Blah…blah…blah ….That’s all we hear on the news these days, what with Brexit, border polls, import/export and other stuff – what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland (UK) and Southern Ireland (EU)? At the moment, there isn’t a border, we just drive along a road and all of a sudden the road signs are ringed in green and the speed limit is in KPH instead of MPH.

I’m not here to discuss political borders but border print fabric – much less contentious and infinitely more colorful.

I purchased two panels of border print polys from some or other ebay shop and they just lay about the sewing room for ages while I waited for inspiration to hit. Eventually I just took the scissors and cut….

First up is Fave top (another freebie) in a huge blue flower border print. This pattern is designed for stretch knits but even as there’s no stretch in my fabric it sews up fine because the top is so loose. If using a woven, just cut a little more generously and/or reduce the seam allowances.

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Most important measurement with a woven is the sleeve hem, so take note and make this a little wider than normal.

On my left it’s all white and on my right it’s all swirly blue flowers.

 

Next, a straight up and down halter neck holiday dress for sultry evenings on a location much closer to the equator than where I am presently; cocktail in hand, gentle waves in an azure blue ocean quietly breaking on white sandy beaches with a full moon and no mosquitoes – Yeah, like my life is like that!

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There’s no pattern with this one – here’s how you too can sew this up in about 1 hour and stun your friends and relatives with Cote d’Azur style in the Irish summer rain.

  1. Find border print fabric in a suitable weight and drape – rayon, poly, silk etc.
  2. Measure the widest part of your body (hips) and purchase enough width of fabric to go around plus about 4″ (10cm) minimum wearing ease and don’t forget about seam allowances.DSCN7114
  3. Cut fabric into two rectangles – front and back.
  4. Sew sides seams up to a comfortable underarm wearing position (mine is a tad high, so take care). Leave 6″ (15cm) open at the hem for two side splits to allow for walking.DSCN7115
  5. Shape the neck, front and back, from the underarm by cutting triangles off. The angle and size of these triangles will determine the ‘coverage’ at front and back. Cut with care first and then gradually increase the angle as you become bolder.
  6. If you feel it’s necessary, add a couple of bust darts for better fit.
  7. Turn under a narrow hem at the sides and sew. Make a channel at the top edge of the necks. But do it neater than I did!DSCN7215
  8. Purchase, source or re-purpose a necklace that is about 18″ (45cm) in length. DSCN7216
  9. Thread this through the neckline channels and secure the chain in place with a few hand tacks. Some minor adjustments may be needed to ensure even gathers at the neck edge. I have some to do yet……Make sure you leave the clasp easily accessible. This is your means of getting in and out of the dress.DSCN7218
  10. Hem, if you want or just leave the selvedge edge (as I did).
  11. Style and wear as desired.

This can truly be one of those day-to-night dresses. With a belt, the dress can be hoiked up to any length, the top draped over and may even resemble a skirt and top…….

Sewn in a finer fabric and with possibly a bit more width, it would also make a perfect pool cover-up so you can go and fetch those cocktails in style.

So there you have it – dress and jewellry all in one and in under one hour!

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Happy summer sewing people – may the sun shine on your beautiful clothes.

Are you thinking of next season’s sewing yet?

 


65 Comments

The Last of the Donna Karans

When Vogue lost the licence to produce DKNY patterns, my little sewing world became yet another wee bit smaller. However, I did take advantage of a $4.99 sale earlier in the year and bought them all up – I’m only sorry I didn’t buy more designs when I had the chance…..

1489To be honest, I only bought this dress pattern because it was the last one and I never really intended to sew it up, rather to keep it as a collector’s item. A very good friend was having a birthday night out recently and I thought I should show my admiration for her by making an effort and dressing up – I was thinking of something a little unusual, special, dressy but not dressed up, if you know what I mean?

I reached for the sacrosanct V1489 (OOP), bought 4m of lapis blue cotton jersey from Fabworks and got mentally and physically prepared for gargantuan pattern pieces the size of Montana and three thousand tailor tacks (I’ve made DKNY before!). The sewing table was cleared of all debris and extraneous items; nine hundred needles were threaded ready for those crucial tacks, one deep breath, bit of yoga and meditation and I’m ready to go.

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Most pattern pieces in this pattern are cut on a single layer of fabric because it’s an asymmetrical dress and left and right are different – this makes cutting out only slightly easier. There are still three thousand tailor tacks to sew (well, in reality, about 12) but every one of them is important – so don’t scrimp. Best advice I can give is, if you have a mannequin, use it now: cut out, mark and pin on your own Doris so that you know what piece goes where and, more importantly, what side it should be on.

Cutting out and marking up all safely negotiated, the sewing is relatively simple. I do own an overlocker and it would be easy to construct the main body of the dress on such a machine, but the pattern instructions assume that the sewer does not have one and directs you to sew a double seam. I did this and still achieved a lovely, flat finished inside seam. Just remember to trim carefully after sewing the second row of stitching.

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The pattern includes a slip that the shell dress should be sewn to: this helps with the drape and fit and additionally provides an extra safety layer below a rather low front and back neck neckline and a high front split.

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Usually I cut a 14 in Vogue but with DKNY I’ve learned to cut a 12 due to use of stretch fabric and the pleats/drapes/gathers that add yet more ease. For the actual finished dress, my plan worked, except for the under slip! I should have cut a 14 for the slip because it is very, very fitted.

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Please excuse my blotchy legs – I have deliciously sweet blood that Donegal midges just could not resist. It’s not just my legs – my arms, feet, scalp, face, neck, back and any other easily accessible skin was subjected to intensive feeding in the last two days. I’m applying anti-itching/anaesthetic lotion.

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This is one really and truly fitted slip – mine’s that tight that it’s acting like a corset and I was somewhat concerned about undressing after a night out with the girls! The original photo from the catwalk shows the dress to be rather loose with no sight of the slip but I rather like my dress slightly more fitted.

I splashed a wee bit of extra cash on some silk crepe de chine for the slip (also from Fabworks).  In my defence, it was a perfect colour match for the cotton jersey shell fabric and it’s luxurious against the body. It has managed to hold the dart stitches despite of my best efforts to tear them apart with indulgent dinners and perhaps one or three cocktails. However, I didn’t sew the dress to the slip as it was just too tight to comfortably pull on. So I have a separate slip with a wrap dress on top. It works for me.

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Sewing notes and minor alterations:

Lengthened slip by 4″, merely for modesty’s sake and decorum.

Did not add a snap fastener to the front side closure as per instructions as I didn’t think this would hold fast against the onslaught of my current diet and stomach. I adapted this to a long loop with a toggle-style button that will provide extra ease and flexibility around the mid-front while providing a stylish, yet secure closure.

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I also raised this closure to waist level. The original pattern is for the closure to be about 5″ lower – somewhere  around hip height (one of those tailor tacks, if it hasn’t fallen out by this stage).  The offset closure creates the asymmetrical hemline (as seen in the photos) but I was totally prepared to forego this look in place of a dress that stayed closed.

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Ultimately, I totally adore this dress. The fitted slip keeps me feeling secure, while the draped, crossover neckline at front and back and the front split can drape and gape as much as they want without any personal embarrassment to me whatsoever.

Because I work hard and am (usually) really nice to other people I treated myself to a matching DKNY handbag (in the sales, of course) …..

Other completed versions of this dress that you might like to see are:

Pomona with a beautiful chartreuse version.

Mousseline in totally Greek goddess vibe and shows the original front wrap placement

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I’ve just completed a marathon photoshoot today: this was Blue, next time will be Green, specifically the Burda peasant blouse showing my special adaptations and additions. Then, we’ll do the monochrome – black and white. So there are at least another three blog posts this summer.

So stay tuned by friends – much more to come…..

As always, truly grateful thanks for all encouragement, enthusiasm and engagement with my sewing and sewing exploits on this blog.

 

 


40 Comments

The Shirt (Dress)

DSCN7133This one will not be going to Donegal with me!

 

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Undoubtedly the Internet is a fabulous creation but there is such a thing as ‘too much information’ – I made the fatal mistake of looking up the five day weather forecast for the west of Ireland….you guessed it, rain, some more rain, a few showers and cloudy.

A loose cotton shirt dress must be worn in temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius and above (preferably above).

There has been a plethora of shirt dresses recently on the sewing Internet as we all sew for summer: here’s a few to get you going –

Style Arc – BlaireBLAIR-SHIRT-DRESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closet Case – KalleKalle_shirt_dress_Technical_flat-02_ca619977-8709-4422-8faa-a3c801b98fe9_large

Vogue 1541

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Now, I do have to say this out loud, while these dresses are extremely comfortable and easy to wear, I really don’t think they are the most flattering of garments. Personally, I need a defined waistline to help reduce the hip girth and you don’t get that with this style. I suppose you could always add a belt but that kinda defeats the purpose – and with my sway back and gathers over the rear, that’s definitely not a good look. So, I give you the straight up and down version.

downloadThe Makers Artelier produced a lovely pattern Flip Collar Shirt Dress  early in the season and I was smitten with the waist seam detail. However, these patterns are quite costly (£22) and if you’re not sure about a style, that’s a lot of readies to splash out on something that you may not like.

I delved into my hectically organised sewing patterns and found Vogue Very (very) Easy 8708 – OOP. Looked close enough and easy to hack.

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I split the paper pattern at the Lengthen or Shorten Here line and inserted something like 25″. I kept the shirt tail curved hem from view A and cut out the lower front on the crossgrain while everything else was cut on the lengthwise; this created the subtle change in the fabric at the front.

G3c17.jpgFabric is from Fabworks and is a delightful shirt-weight cotton. Ivory/not white with lines and dots. Perfect to cut, sew, press and wear. Couldn’t recommend this enough.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah, I also added in-seam side pockets – that’s where my hand are!

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Front detail with the change in fabric direction which is noticeable but not glaring.

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This is great, simple shirt pattern with cut on sleeves, back yoke, fold-over collar and optional tabs on the sleeve cuffs.

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I did some nice work on this shirt dress: fully felled seams throughout, silk organza used as interfacing on the collar but the fronts are completely interface-free for a softer lie.

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The back is not flattering. There is an inverted centre pleat, which is neat in shirt but in dress length just loses it’s impact and moves into cocoon shape. Some of you may like this but I believe it’s not for me.

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While waiting for summer sunshine 2017, I made a new seat for my trusty old deckchair. Fabric is from Ikea and doesn’t it make you happy just looking at it?

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There’s enough Ikea fabric left over for a skirt too…….

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The second reason that this will not be packed for Donegal is because it’s not a favourite from the thigh down. So, instead of making another shirt dress, I think I’ll shorten this one to be A Shirt.