corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


34 Comments

AUFO

Or – to add another acronym to the lexicon of sewing terms – Abandoned Un-Finished Object. I’m giving you the punchline at the beginning here.

You know when all of a sudden and out of the blue you need an item of clothing that you do not own but you really, really want to have and so you spend near 100% of your precious shopping time, planning time, thinking time etc etc to find perfection. NO? Just me?

Today the holy grail is……A lightweight summer raincoat/trench: sling on with jeans; slide on over cotton dresses; slip into for shower proofness with pencil skirts and pussy-bow blouses; leave lying in the car for emergencies or pack for weekends away for just in case; pull on regardless just to nip to the shops or just because.

I found one in M&S but it has too many buttons and too elaborate with belt and flaps and other stuff.

I found another in Dunnes which looked perfect from the front but hideous from the back with an long inverted pleat (swing-like) and slightly too dark a colour – I was aiming for stone/off-white/ivory).

Zara had some offerings too but nothing that floated my boat. While they are delicious coats they are just not what I had in mind.

What’s a girl to do? Get a sewing machine, some material, a pattern and a wee bit of time – that’s what.

I found Waffle Patterns and the Bamboo Straight cut coat. – Now this is perfection – it fits all my requirements for a summer trench – now all I have to do is find the perfect fabric. The pattern was purchased, printed and tiled (PDF) and we’re ready to go.bamboo_019_1024x1024

I headed off to Croftmill and purchased some stone coloured, light-weight cotton along with 3m of Barbour (no less) lining.

Over the first week of the Easter holidays, all was cut out and anticipation was high, very high….

And here we have my part in the perfect Trenchcoat downfall.

First advice I can offer you is to follow the instructions – I did not and thought I knew what I was doing and we all know how that goes…

Windowpane pockets with flaps are disasters. Lots of wrinkles, tucks and sloppy sewing – bad, bad, bad. And no amount of pressing is going to get that lot flat!

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The cotton that was in stash that was used as interfacing shows through; not really that noticeable but to me it is.

Not everything I cut out and sew is wearable. Wisdom in sewing is knowing when to persevere and when to give up. This is now an abandoned project and I’m moving on to something more inspiring, exciting, colourful and hopefully more successful.

Back to M&S me thinks. Buy a coat and replace all the buttons.

…..or Zara to buy a coat and then cut 12″ off the hem….

Or Dunnes and sew closed the back inverted pleat….

Yeah, go buy and dog and bark yourself!

 

 

 


25 Comments

Banana or Primrose?

The other day a very good friend and I were poking about the posh shops in Holywood (NI not US) and we had a short conversation as we perused the rails:

ME: “I’m going to make a pair of yellow jeans.”

” Not banana, I hope”

ME: ” Emmmm, ahh, yes……….” fading into silence as I see the pastels and shades of lemon hanging on the racks – Oops.8201tech-1

Soooo, anyway, I made the banana yellow jeans using a custom made pattern from Bootstrap in skinny jeans version: no need for fitting adjustments or anything else – just cut out and sew. Extra benefit with this fabric from MyFabrics is that it has a few % Lycra  included .

These were supposed to be worn with my (very expensive) silk top made to just simply match the single large flower motif and they did match perfectly but the constant echoing of ‘not banana?’ ‘not banana?’ kept resounding in my head.  ‘not banana?’

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Original patch with bleached jeans.

I relented….the finished banana jeans went into a bath of bleach for an hour or two – they were also subjected to a spray bleach treatment for a more random fading effect and ultimately – this is the result – with added personalised back pocket.

 

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Instead of the half-cold shoulder top as a topper which was a perfect yellow match  before the bleaching episode, that I had originally intended, I searched elsewhere for inspiration.

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Would have worked though, wouldn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I made a camisole instead in a delicious silk with a Jackson-like spatter design that will wear with absolutely anything. (Fabric from Sherwoods but I think they’ve sold out)

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The pattern is True Bias Ogden Cami and you really should add this to your pattern library – honestly. Plain and simple on the outside but with a half lining underneath. In my opinion a true classic. My back hemline dips longer than the front and I really don’t know if this is intentional or just my bad cutting.

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I had a little bit of a beginner’s issue in matching the lining to the outside [see under right-hand arm] but I truly appreciate something so straightforward to bring one back to earth and make you hone your skills again. See the gathers/pleats – that needs to be sorted out? They didn’t look too bad in the mirror but they’re really obvious in the photos.

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On the front lining I sewed in a strip of picot elastic just trying to keep my bits and pieces in place. It doesn’t really work and I’d suggest a strapless bra or flesh coloured if you don’t mind showing a bit of strap.

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Anyway – I’m glad I bleached the banana out because I bought a cheap cardi to perfectly match the not banana jeans.

 

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Now, off to sort out those wrinkles……

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55 Comments

Half a-Cold Shoulder

Like many of you when Vogue bring out their new season’s patterns coupled with a 4 day sale at $4.99 each  (cheaper if you’re in BMV Club) I just have to take advantage. My problem is that I buy the patterns I like and then procrastinate for months and months before I get round to actually sewing them which is usually the following season!

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For UK and EU customers – it always pays to purchase 3 patterns at a time: postage is $15 whether there’s 1, 2 or 3 in the parcel; 4 patterns and the postage goes up to $25.

DSCN6989This started as Vogue 1516 with some fabulous and expensive Italian printed silk chiffon from the hallowed Joel and Son. And just for the record, it was bought in a sale and probably a remnant, in case you thought I’d won the lottery. On a purple background, there’s red, yellow, pink and olive green – luscious.

The silk has large hand-painted watercolor-type flowers and I wanted a pattern that didn’t cut into them – so something simple. The Tom and Linda Platt pattern has a loose-fitting pullover top with side seam slits, topstitching, and three-quarter length bat-wing sleeves. I went for view A: where the front and back yoke extend into sleeves with slits. View A has sleeve slits from shoulder to end.

V1516Now, I say this started as V1516 and it did but a few “design” (Corecouture) alterations happened along the way…..partly because of fabric and partly just because….
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I’m not that keen on boat necklines for myself so the first thing I did was scoop the front neck. One issue creates another and the new scoop neckline creates a natural drop shoulder issue – bra straps on show! If you are content with this then there’s no issue at all. Hooray for being over 50!

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As always, I never seem to have enough fabric because sometimes I buy fabric and then decide what to make: I would strongly suggest that you decide what to make and then buy the fabric,  but anyways, the sleeves were elongated with deep cuffs – narrower and more fitting than a loose sleeve. Also it gives to option of wearing high towards elbow or low down to wrist.

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The silk chiffon is translucent and that’s part of it’s beauty however, I would always have to wear a cami underneath – is there an alternative?

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Yes. Buy a small length of coordinating plain silk chiffon and line the top. Due to the seam along the above-bust line this was the perfect location for a slip stitched red chiffon,  leaving gaps for the sleeves. It was cut long deliberately so that it hangs below the top and adds an extra dimension.

And it works a treat – no see-through but the top still retains the ethereal silk touch.

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The shell fabric was hemmed with a hand-rolled hem stitch and the lining was  finished with a deep hem, slip stitched in place.

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All internal seams are Frenched but there’s top stitching in yellow along the front and back yokes to emphasise the arm slits.

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I wasn’t that enamoured with total sleeve slits so these are shortened from shoulder to long cuff – there’s a bit of upper arm on show but not everything – bingo arms and lower arms are covered.

The neckline was also treated to some extra attention. I cut a bias strip of ivory silk organza and this became the facing (binding). Machine stitched first, then turned inside and top-stitched in place, it adds the perfect neck-line finish that’s almost invisible.

A wee bit of hand tacking (basting) really doesn’t go amiss here. If you are going to splurge on silk organza then my advice is to always choose ivory instead of white, it’s so much more versatile and will blend with many, many more colours.

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Silk chiffon shifts; sometimes it’s square and sometimes it’s wonky – learn to live with this quality. I really and truly measured the hemline but when wearing the top it moves and is organic – different hem lengths mean just that……

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And what do you do with those teeny tiny silk leftovers? Well you don’t throw them out that’s for sure; those poor silkworms had to spin for hours and hours – you utilise every inch…… Grab some cheap plastic/wooden bangles and wrap them in silk.

Fold the leftover fabric in two to hide the raw edges and wrap around and around, glue in place or stitch to secure. Always make three – two is not enough and four is too many.

This particular top may appear to be an orphan but wait…..there’s more to come and everything will fall into place (promise) …

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20 Comments

Every Quilt I’ve ever Made

Firstly, that title sounds like I’ve been making quilts for 100 years – I haven’t. It’s been two years.

Secondly,within 10 minutes of starting to patchwork and quilt I started to gather and collect all my scraps of fabric from every project. You know how that goes…….

Thirdly,  if you are a quilter you might want to look away now. This is not accurate block making nor a precise method of patchworking but it certainly uses up those scraps.

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So following Demented Fairy’s good advice, I sorted all the scraps into colour-ways and stuffed them into plastic freezer bags and stashed them away.

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However, fast running out of freezer bags and space I decided it was time to do something with all these scraps. Now, when sewing clothes, your scraps might be in the region of 0.5-1m. With patchworking, the scraps are 2″ -4″ and below!

So I delved in and dug out a bag: this one happens to be mostly orange.

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The scraps were then pressed, laid out for possible colour combination options with some being removed, then roughly sorted into shapes ready for sewing.

And start sewing random bits together……..1/4″ seam allowance and a pale grey thread.

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When it becomes too difficult to sew any more pieces, like the angle is too acute and there are no more straight edges, trim to make the patchwork squarish and carry on.

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I kept up this process until the block was close to 15″ or so. Pressed really well…….

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…..and then just picked another bag and started the process all over again, and again, and again. Then all of a sudden, I had 20 blocks! Each block was then trimmed to 14″ in a rare attempt to square things off. Can you spot the original start point in this block?

I bought some plain yellow (now I have scraps of yellow!) and made a quilt top with all these random blocks with 2″ yellow sashing – 4 X 5 blocks and big enough to lie atop a UK king-sized bed.

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In this quilt, there are fabrics left over from summer dresses, shirts, totes, skirts, scarves, wash/cosmetic bags and, of course, other quilts.

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So, I’m feeling quite pious at this point. I’ve put the otherwise useless scraps to good use and made a quilt top. But of course, that’s not the end of the quilt. It now needs wadding and a backing to make it complete. I went and bought some of my favourite fabrics by Kaffe Fassett for the backing (I now have scraps of backing).

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Fabulously bright and happy. The quilting of all layers includes wiggly lines on each block and straight line sewing along the sashing. It looks good from both sides.

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It’s teenage son’s girlfriend’s birthday in March so guess what’s she’s getting as a 20th birthday present? Which reminds me that teenage son will not be a teenager for very much longer – like where did those years go?

Every finished quilt needs a title and a label. This one is called “The Learning Years”. I have learnt so much about patchworking and quilting in the past two years and teenage son’s girlfriend is at university – so it’s a title that refers to both our journeys.

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Of course, there’ll always be more scraps………

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Bin ’em!


36 Comments

Sewing the 70s Today

Thank you very very much for all the lovely comments on my Sewing the 70s dress. It was wonderful to hear that so many of you had made this dress first time around and even more wonderful that you are still sewing 40 years later. I hope that seeing the pattern brought back happy memories for you and isn’t it surprising that we can remember each and every pattern we ever sewed? I think this shows the level of emotional involvement we put put into our makes.

Welcome to all new readers and followers too. Lovely to have you join us and thank you.

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Today is the showcase of the third and final dress made from my Craftsy rayon haul. I dscn6881loved the Simplicity 5728 so much that I made another, this time in a rust coloured rayon with stylised cream sprigs and twigs. Instead of just showing a few photos of me in a dress, I’ve detailed the method I used to create the single welt pockets in the skirt. NB: this is what I do and is not necessarily the right or best method available.

I’ll intersperse the instructions with a few pics of the dress too.

This version of the dress has a decorative button at the neck, a fitted belt with a heart-shaped fastener and I moved the centre back zip to the side so that I can get dressed all by myself.

I read and noted every comment made on version No 1. Wendy gave a little tip on adding height to those gathered sleeves – thank you, I got the height I wanted.

Mrs Mole mentioned platform shoes, so here’s me in my new Trippens – a modern nod to platform shoes. Thanks, I’d forgotten about that particular style of footwear.

The pattern has instructions for adding lace around the collar and some of you mentioned contrast collars and trims to showcase the Italian collar. I didn’t add trim in this version but I wish I had – maybe next time??

dscn6870A few asked about the stays in version 1.  These are strips of fabric stitched between pockets at centre and from pockets into side seams. Just keeps everything smooth and flat. The top of the pockets are stitched into the waistband.

Thanks again for each and every comment. I truly appreciate your time and effort and only sorry that I didn’t reply to each one but life’s been a bit hectic recently and meant that I had a lot of time spent away from keyboard……..and sewing machine.
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Pockets

These pockets can be inserted into any skirt or trousers.

You will need:

Fusible interfacing – 2″ strips at least 6″ long, 4 in total

Ruler, pencil, pins

Fabric for pockets or 3-4″ wide strips of self fabric if you don’t have enough left for pockets or your fabric is bulky.

  1. Decide on the location of the pockets – close to the centre seam will produce small, shallow pockets or closer to the side seams for a ‘whole-hand’ pocket.
  2. Pocket opening will always be 51/2″ . This is a golden rule.
  3. Pockets can be vertical or horizontal, or as in this case, slanted. Slanted is an old couture trick to visually create a narrow waist and flattering the figure. They are also easier to actually use. Generally, with a slanted pocket there is a 2″ offset from top to bottom but this is personal choice.
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Side zip that doesn’t require endless turning and twisting to get it up or down

  1. If there are two front pieces in a skirt then sew the centre seam. If not, mark the centre line and use this as a guide. For trousers, keep both fronts separate but constantly check that the pockets, left and right, are at the same height and width from the seams.
  2. Drape the skirt front upon your body or mannequin and mark your chosen pocket placement with some chalk or pins. Practice pretending to use the pockets to confirm the location. When happy,  tidy up with a ruler for precision on a table top.
  3. On two of the fusible interfacing strips, draw out the pocket opening: the centre and 1/4″ either side of this. Remember, always 5 1/2″ long. Iron to the inside.dscn6871

5. On the inside of the skirt, machine stitch along the outside pencil lines (not the centre). Start in the middle of a long edge with 1mm stitch length, change to normal stitch length and at corners and ends revert back to 1mm: go all the way around and finish off with more 1mm stitches. This does 4 things; holds the interfacing in place, prevents fraying, strengthens the pocket opening and clearly marks the pocket on the right side.

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6. Prepare the welts. Take some leftover fabric, about 4″  x 6″. Fold on the long edge and use some more fusible interfacing for extra strength. Press well. Mark 1/2″ from the fold and you can even stitch this in place. The pocket opening is 1/2″, 2 x 1/4″ = 1/2″. See I can do maths!

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7. Pin the 1/2″ line marked welt to the lower stitching line on the outside, making sure they line up. Have the folded edge away from the pocket opening, so raw edge is towards the side seams.

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8. Stitch the welt in place from the wrong side over the same row of stitching.  Stitching should start at the top of the rectangle and finish at the end.

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I now have to move to another project to show you the final stages as I forgot to take photos on the dress. Same process though.

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9. Time to cut!!!. Slit through the skirt only along the pocket centre line. Stop a good 1″ or so from each end and clip to the corners, creating triangles. Push the welt and raw edges through to the inside. Manhandle this and don’t let the fabric take charge of you. Press very well.

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10. On the inside, flatten out the little triangle tabs at each end and stitch them to the ends of the welt. Go over this line two or three times, just to make sure.

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11. Nearly there. Now just to add the actual pockets to the inside using the raw edges. Bottom pocket piece should be the shell fabric. I didn’t have enough left, so I patched some remaining scraps to lining. It just means that if your pockets gape a little bit then they match the outside.

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12. Stitch remaining pocket to the other side and join the two pockets together.

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Press well again. Job done. If you like you can always add a few hand stitches at the corners to doubly make sure that nothing will unravel.

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You should end up with a couple of pockets that are practically weightless and invisible but so useful, even if it’s just for posing! This method has worked well in this flimsy rayon and is just as effective in the heavier wool tweed shown above. Change the weight of your interfacing to suit your fabric though.

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You know, I love dresses and it’s obvious, from the number of comments posted on my dresses rather than separates, that you do too but I actually rarely wear them. It’s a shocking admission, considering I make so many and fantasise about making many more. Must try harder – must wear more dresses.

I’ve kinda/sorta been a wee bit promoted at work. It’s a posting that takes me away from my students for one whole day a week –  a desk job!  I’ve decided that henceforth and until this contract finishes, Wednesdays shall be Dress Day. Now there’s a weekly blog post idea – want to join in? Even if you don’t work outside the home, you can still wear a dress for one day of the week, or maybe you already do and it’s just me who doesn’t.

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I liked the photos of my reflection in the wardrobe doors – that’s why there’s two of me. There isn’t really, thank goodness.