corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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?’

DSCN7018

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.

 

DSCN7021

DSCN7009

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

DSCN6991

Would have worked though, wouldn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DSCN7022

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)

DSCN7010

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.

DSCN7008

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.

DSCN7007

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.

DSCN7017

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

 

DSCN7014

Now, off to sort out those wrinkles……

DSCN7011

 

 

Advertisements


55 Comments

The Right Tools

I’ve never really understood the joy and enthusiasm some of you have for old sewing machines – you take pics and write posts extolling the virtues of dusty, creaky, black and gold machines and think they’re brilliant. You add them to your armoury and I’ve really no idea if you ever actually use them or why on earth you would buy another machine when you have a fully functioning one already.

I’ll be honest, at best I merely scan such posts and mostly I just skip them: until now…..

My mother LOVES auctions; real live auctions not sterilised eBay, but the type held in wood-clad, stale-cigarette smoke and furniture polish aromatic warehouses with real live characters and stuff you can touch and smell and see before you bid. We’re not talking Sotherby’s or Christie’s  here but mainly local house clearances and bankruptcy sales. There’s not a week goes by that she’s not on the phone asking if there’s anything I need. Actually, there’s nothing I need, I really and truly have everything and very much more but I try to keep my Mother happy so I say something like a “Ming dynasty blue and white serving dish”, or “Clarice Clef tea pot” or “Louis XIV footstool”, knowing fine well that these items will never appear in a local auction house but at least it gives her something to look for.

This week’s phone call asked if I wanted another sewing machine as there was one was listed in the local auction house catalogue. It’s lovely that she supports my hobby and wants to help but I don’t have the space nor the inclination for more stuff.

“Thanks, Mummy but no thanks. I have a machine and it works perfectly well. Why would I want another?”

“Well, you just might.”

“What kind is it?”

“Don’t know, it’s just listed as a Frister and Rossman.”

dscn6599

I left the option open……

Long story short I am now the very proud owner of a vintage Frister and Rossman 45 model II. A bit Internet research places said machine circa 1970. The best bit is that it’s heavy duty, manually operated and I’m guessing will sew through at least three layers of sheet metal if I want it to. And I now completely understand the desire for vintage machines.

It has that lovely ‘beat up’ look; a bit of paint chipped off, a few knocks and dents but in my eyes that only adds to its ugly beauty. Made of real wood and metal, it weighs about seven tonnes and I either need to do more arm exercises at the gym or enlist assistance to lift it onto the table.

dscn6594

My Father bought a new bulb – thank you dad! It has the grand stitching repertoire of forwards, backwards and zigzag. It also came with a little bundle of bobbins, tools, oil, brush and feet.

DSCN6597.jpg

Isn’t wood lovely? I’ve found an instruction manual online – thank you whoever put that up.

A bit of online research discovered that Frister and Rossman are (were) a German company and with a bit of guessing, this machine heralds from around 1970. Nothing like  German engineering – best in the world and will last forever.

There are  Flash Gordon knobs and levers so that alone makes it brilliant – no computer beeps and bloops just clunky operator choices and no Error messages if you forget to lower the presser foot – it lets you make mistakes!

dscn6596

So what’s the point in having such a basic workhorse of a machine?

Well, a few years ago (exactly four) I started a pair of leather trousers. I had to abandon them because my perfectly functioning Janome TXL607 would not sew through the layers – skipped stitches and no stitching at all in some places.  In sheer frustration I started glueing the pieces together which is never a good idea for clothes. The half completed legs were rolled up (never fold leather), stuffed in a plastic bag and have lain at the bottom of the fabric box for four years. However, with that external motor, no computer telling me that I can’t do it and a new leather needle inserted I might just get to finish them.

dscn6598

Would you believe it?                  An actual  pair of leather trousers!

As a pair of leather jeans they’re really really bad: as my first pair of leather jeans they’re brilliant!

The pattern used was my Jeanius draft of a pair of Armani Jeans, next time I’ll be using Bootstrap skinny jeans as there is absolutely no alterations needed for fit.

What’s wrong? A lot.

Back pockets were glued in place years ago and are now double stitched to compensate for crappy modern sewing machine efforts.They’re also positioned too low.

Mismatched back yokes (there’s six layers of leather at that join).

Twist in left leg inside seam???? And the inside finish is shameful.

What’s good?

A completed pair of five pocket jeans, a working fly zip…

dscn6604

 

…..and I can get into them.

dscn6605

I’m tempted to call these ‘a muslin’ but as they’re made from leather it is hardly an appropriate term – let’s call them a ‘learning’ experience – both material and machine.

dscn6607

Best way to press leather is to wear it; any wrinkles or creases tend to work themselves out with body heat and natural stretching. I’m also assured that with enough wear, the leather trousers will take on your shape for good or ill.

You only get once chance to sew leather as those needle / pin holes are there forever.

dscn6608

And …. my mother is now on the look out at the auctions for a sturdy table on which to place my new vintage sewing machine and I’m on the look out for more hides!

dscn6606

 

 

 


33 Comments

Holiday Holiday Holiday Top

Nearly four weeks….but I’m back!

I had yet another birthday and took a Ford Mustang (the only one in Northern Ireland) out for a spin up the motorway. I can’t tell you exactly how fast I drove but…..very.

20160610_110127_resized

It makes me look young and slim doesn’t it? Unfortunately there’s a 12 month waiting list and with a price tag bigger than what we paid for our house, it doesn’t look like I’ll own one soon. Wearing Jungle January’s snow leopard coat – black and white always goes with red.

The exam marking is drawing to a close and becoming manageable, so thoughts are turning more and more to my first love – sewing. Me DS

Let me introduce you to a new-to-me pattern company – The Maker’s Atelier. Based in England, Frances Tobin produces some beautiful classic pieces – think Merchant and Mills without the arty bit. Not cheap and only on paper but neat little envelopes tied with string and they possess an enduring quality.

I’ve started with the Holiday Top – relaxed, boxy with a couple of options.

Holiday Top illus 1

All you need is thread; no zips, buttons, hooks or eyes, not even interfacing. There are little details like the hemline splits and the soft fold-over collar is both classic and casual.

The pattern comes with separate pieces for long and short sleeves: collar or hood.

Stocked up on linen from Fabworks, I started with the short sleeved shirt in the eternal-go-with-anything off-white.

I loved this so much, I carried on and currently now have another three.

Lime green – hood, drawstring made with self fabric

 

Inky indigo – long sleeved, collar

 

Lime green – mid sleeved, collar and patch pockets

As with most Internet fabric purchases you have to buy whole meters, so with the leftovers (about .75m each)  and the machine threaded in the right colour, I also got a simple white tie-neck top and an indigo vest with arty pleats and asymmetrical hemline.

Bonus, bonus.

Worn with the Holiday Tops are my custom fit Bootstrap Skinny jeans – currently at two pairs. Type in your (true and honest) measurements, get your PDF, print, cut out: sew without measuring, trying on or anything and wonders of absolute wonders – a perfectly fitting pair of jeans! Oh, I did my usual 1.5-2″ reduction in the back thigh length to eliminate baggy back thighs – did it work? Did it? It always does.

DSCN6338

This first pair (blue) I sewed with traditional 5/8″ seam allowances, then I read the instructions and there’s a 1cm allowance! So the ‘good’ fit, just might have been a too tight fit…….They are made in a heavy linen-look weave cotton with absolutely no stretch whatsoever. The colour is lovely though, not denim, not royal blue but tending more towards Forget-me-Not blue. From Ray Stitch.

These are not low-rise jeans, mine go all the way up to my waist and a perfect fit they are there too – no gaping or tightness – I don’t even have to lie down on the bed with a shoestring to get the zip up. The second pair were sewn with 1cm seams and are a little looser in that I can get them off without having to turn them outside out over my ankles. I did crop the length a bit for a summer-look but sure, it’s easy to lengthen the next pair.

The second pair are made with cotton twill, again from Fabworks ( I wonder if do they do loyalty cards?). It’s called Hashtag but I opted for the reverse grid side. I did try to get the horizontal stripes to match across the seams but did not achieve a uniform result: sometimes they match sometimes they don’t………

DSCN6322

Photobombed by a husband and a suitcase – he’s not leaving, it’s son arriving…….

The payments are being deposited from the marking – so time to start planning, prepping and purchasing for my Six Napoleon dress.

 

 

 

 


53 Comments

Jinxed Jamie Jeans

I think I’m going to have to find a new hobby and knock this sewing thing on the head. Ultimately I did mange to sew a couple of pairs of jeans but the journey was hard and the road difficult and I made many mistakes…..

While still believing I could follow through on my Sewing With A Plan without a plan, 69_poso_h15_311I had purchased this wine/burgundy/mulberry/pink coloured stretch cotton twill (although, I’m calling it denim) from MyFabrics with the intention of making jeans as one of my wildcards in the Heather colour scheme. One side of the fabric is deep burgundy and the reverse is pink (not sweet or sickly, just pink). First decision to be made was which side of the fabric to use and secondly, which pattern. I trolled sewing blogs and Goggle images, pattern companies and RTW. 011-Jamie-tasoHow about skinny legs so that I can wear my boots on the outside? I settled on Jamie jeans.

Except, every pattern reviewer of Named Jamie jeans is at least a few sizes and, in some cases a few decades, well below mine – would this style look OK on me?

One way to find out, huh? Read on and freely express your views and opinions.

PDF purchased and tiled, cut out, marked and sewn. There is a sew-a-long site that is a great help in construction and techniques, although I didn’t follow it faithfully.

 

Jeans 1

Using the dark side first (ha ha ha), I cut out a 12, one size smaller than usual, as I wanted a tight fit and hoped the Lycra would compensate. These ones are tight, chiefly because I forgot about the 1cm seam allowance and used the usual 1.5cm (5/8″). Very tight around my calves and there’s a bit of bunching at the ankles – design feature, don’t you know?

If you have seen pictures of these jeans or read any reviews or have a pair yourself, you might be able to spot a large difference between any Jamies that have gone before and the ones I present here – the front pockets!

The front legs are made of two pieces with a centre seam (nice little detail). One piece has the pocket and the other has the fly. What did this overly confident and rash sewer do? Only sewed the left side to the right fly and vice versa, so my pockets are slanting the wrong way. Still quite wearable but honestly! I did wonder why the notches didn’t line up when sewing the seams – now I know.

DSCN6083

However, the original purpose of making skinny jeans has worked – I can pull on my knee boots and I don’t get the bagginess and bunching around my knees.

DSCN6094

The pattern calls for 1.4m. I had a total of 2m but squeezed Jeans 1 onto about 1.1m by facing the curved waistband with cotton, not self fabric. A curved waistband is a thing of beauty but it does take up an awful lot of fabric. This left me with close on another metre, so I flipped it and made a second pair using the pink side of denim.

Jeans 2

This second pair are cropped due to fabric limitations. I managed to get the fronts right way round on this pair and I remembered to sew 1cm seams but I sewed the wrong pocket linings to the wrong pieces and instead of having useable pockets that are hand-sized I have these tiny wee things about the size of a credit card. Well, I suppose that’s all you need isn’t it girls? A credit card and lipstick and you can go anywhere!

DSCN6070.jpg

I would have ripped them out and done it again properly, but between seams, understitching, overlocking and topstitching – that’s a lot of ripping out and life really is too short for that malarky.

Apart from the pocket linings, the right pieces were sewn in the right order and to the right pieces on this pair. DSCN6072.jpgFly zip went like a dream with a perfectly matching zip. I tried them on to mark a hem. I rarely wash my fabrics before I sew – especially denim – as I know the ‘fit’ will be fitter after I sew then wash – allowing for 10-20% shrinkage. Now, don’t be telling me off and criticising my methods – I like fitted jeans – that tight fit that you have to lie on the bed and use a shoelace through the zip-pull for extra leverage to get it up and then the thrilling but slightly scary moment to test if the seams will hold. Well, my seams held – the zip did not!

DSCN6074.jpg

Unwashed denim with broken zip

Of course, I had used a double row of stitches on each side of the zip for extra security, so double the ripping out! There comes a time when it is best to walk away. However, I knew that if I didn’t fix it right now then it would never be fixed.

Jilly showed me how to replace a jeans zip. The only zip I had at hand was white – so I used it! Yes, my friends you heard right – a bright white zip in deep pink jeans!

DSCN6097

Washed denim with replacement (and rather scrappy) zip but it holds!

This coloured denim was over-dyed; my hands, nails, ironing board, even my sewing machine turned pink! Perhaps another reason to wash the fabric first…..I know I couldn’t wear either pair and sit on a white leather sofa before washing them both. Into the machine they went and quite uneventful it was. Out they came and dried.

Both pairs have faded to well-worn denim and I like it. The seams have that rippled colouring that only comes from years of wear and washing, similarly on the pockets and fly. Achieving this look would have been impossible if I had washed the denim before sewing, so the pink hands were worth it.

DSCN6079

Needless to say, the white zip tape is polyester and stubbornly remains white even after the wash but the fly is a pretty good construction and covers it completely. Anyway I’m unlikely to be wearing my cropped bra tops with these jeans – LOL!

I did shorten a dress/tunicdsc01127.jpg I’d made a few years ago into a T-shirt/tunic because the colours match perfectly.

DSCN6077.jpg

Construction details for those of you who are interested: I focused on the fronts first as this is where all the hard work is – pockets and fly. Made back pockets with a strip of reverse fabric for added detail and top stitched in place. Jeans 1 – sewed inside leg seams and top-stitched, then outside leg seams, crotch, finally waistband and hems. Jeans 2 – sewed outside leg seams and top-stitched, inside seams, crotch, waistband and hems. I attached the waistbands as per Strides method: overlock one edge, sew as usual and stitch in the ditch on the outside to catch the overlocked edge on the inside. I didn’t add belt loops. All internal seams are overlocked which does create a neat and extra strength inside.

DSCN6080

The verdict: Love ’em! They’re like leggings with muscle. A little bit of stretch so I can at least sit down and walk up stairs but they hold an awful more in place than a four-way stretch and, of course, I’m wearing ‘proper’ trousers, not thick tights.

Back pocket placement – perfect

Fly zip – perfect (and relatively easy!)

Tightness and fit – perfect (when you sew 1cm seams)

Little details – perfect – two-piece back pockets that you can trim, top-stitch or do anything else your heart and artistic inspiration takes you.

Apart from the wrong-way round pockets and the too small pockets and the white zip….

DSCN6091

I don’t usually wear crimson lipstick – blame the auto-correct in iphoto.

I know I’m middle-aged, not a size 10 and have curves and dips and valleys -if you have these things also, then hopefully you can see that you too can wear skinny jeans. Just leave the cropped bra top at home and chose something more becoming or at least, covering……

DSCN6093

A final word on advice for dressing and undressing: put your socks on before the jeans as you’ll never roll the sock legs up under these tight legs to straighten them; the only method I’ve discovered to get out of these jeans is to turn them inside out on the way down, stand on the waistband and pull! Then you’re left with this –

DSCN6095

Hey – if you feel young enough to make and wear skinny jeans then you’re young enough to leave them in an unkempt, inside-out pile on the floor for your mother to pick up tomorrow!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


28 Comments

Navy Daisies

I’ve used so much solid navy in my A/W ’15 wardrobe that it needed a bit of a lift. There’s a small hint with the small neck scarf……..

Slide1

clothhouse-swatch-0347183001441879350849210776The fabric is from The Cloth House, London and was purchased in real life when I there a few weeks ago: it’s a Japanese hammered polyester with a genuinely silky drape and hand – just lovely. Presses well, slight fraying but not excessive and wrinkle free. Black background with navy, cream, lilac and amethyst flowers, all outlined in matt gold. This can be worn with black, grey, navy, cream and purple.

 

spiral_blouse_patt_image__76239_zoom_grandeThe pattern is an old favourite but I’ve not sewn for quite a while – The Centre for Pattern Design Spiral Blouse. There’s just one piece.

 

I’ve previously made this with and without centre back seam; with a front button opening and a sewn closed front; lengthened, shortened; long sleeves and 3/4 length. The original pattern comes with a simple round neckline but you can add any shape of collar you like – and I have – pointed, mandarin, funnel, ties, scarf and scooped out for a lower neckline.

The version presented today has been lengthened 3″ with a centre back seam, enlarged all round by simply cutting 1/4″ bigger than the pattern; scarf-style collar (so as to use all available fabric), and a “design feature” of pointed sleeves. I’ll explain later.

Worn today with cotton navy twill Jeanius jeans, rolled up for styling but in reality they fall slightly over the foot to wear with boots and other shoes. I’ve lost count of how many pairs of jeans I’ve made using this Craftsy class and drafted pattern but certainly way more than I could afford or bothered to buy.

DSCN5774

The scarf ties can be worn in lots of different ways too, depending on mood and outer-layer jacket: pussy bow, wrapped around and tied at back, casual and loose.

Slide1

This little blouse also goes with existing wardrobe staples – the cream and the navy Chanel-style jackets – respectively Vogue  8804 & 8259 (OOP) with modifications:

DSCN5692

DSCN5693

 

The pointed sleeves are due a cutting error while trying to lengthen them but failed miserably. The sleeves are sewn with a spiral seam and I just kept sewing until I got to the end. However, I kind of like the origami-nature of the point and the slit hem – like an exaggerated elbow dart – so it stayed. It also fits with the natural bend in my arm, so as long as I stand with my arm bent, it looks fine!

DSCN5784

The blouse is cut on the bias and drapes/folds/puddles/ drops quite attractively at the back to create an uneven hemline.

DSCN5779

I sewed all French seams within and hand rolled all outside hems using this super quick, absolutely magic and easy method.

DSCN5785

I think I need to alter my Jeanius pattern a little bit to eliminate those back thigh wrinkles using this method – The paper pattern has been used so much that I may need to make a new one! At the same time, these jeans have been worn for two days in a row, so a bit of stretch and wrinkling is to be expected. I just keep thinking…better than RTW!

DSCN5782

And most importantly and significantly …. no-one in the whole wide world has a blouse like his or jeans like these. So pointed elbows and wrinkly thighs – all part of the “look”. You couldn’t do it if you tried!

PS: the neckscarf is made from all the savable leftovers, sewn together into a length long enough to go round my neck and tied in any way that I can. No pattern, no rules, no respect for grainline or pattern – just do it!