corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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One Thing……

…..leads to another, and possibly another and yet another.

Paco's Skirt - Finished

Once upon a time, long, long ago there was a lady (and I use that term advisedly – those who know her might well chose an alternative nomenclature) who sewed her own clothes.

Quite happily alone she bought fabric and patterns; cut and sewed and wore the things she made. Sometimes when making these things there were techniques and skills which she didn’t know how to do nor understand, so she researched and learned these things the old fashioned way by reading books.

One day, under advisement from her partner, she trawled the Internet to see if there was any information on making welt pockets.  He, apparently, was adept at making scale models of ‘things’ and was already a member of many well known Internet forums who specialised in such details. Not really expecting to uncover anything of much value to home sewing, the lady was overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of sites that seemed to be in existence solely to help her make some pockets. What was most amazing was that many of these sites were written and photographed by people who seemed to be just like her – sewing at home and wearing their makes with the exception that they were freely sharing their experiences and clothes with the rest of the world. The lady obsessively read, devoured and scoured all the blogs and posts she possibly could and learned so much more than just how to make welt pockets.

After a little while, the lady began to feel slightly guilty about all this taking from others and not giving anything back, so she started her own sewing blog on the off-chance it might just help and inspire someone else – just as she had been helped and inspired by others’.

Like life, the more you put in the more you get out and over time other sewers contacted the lady via comments and email. This made her feel vindicated about the earlier guilt and additionally reassured her that she was not alone. Until this happened she erroneously thought she was a sewing Robinson Crusoe, isolated on her island home. She was really happy when a sewing lady from the same island made contact, then another and another.

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This little band of lady sewers and crafters met each other in real life and had occasional outings and cups of coffee together and everything was fine. They went home afterwards and sewed.

One day a New Lady arrived from France via England.  She had magical powers.

 

 

The New Lady was motivated and organised…. for years and years the individual island sewers sewed solitary in their separate dining rooms and kitchens but now they were presented with A New Way.

The New Lady used Instagram (janeinireland) to weave her magic spell.

castle-ward-6The isolated island sewers were enchanted. Under the direction and experience of the Lady Jane they negotiated and discussed and planned and one day, equipped with the special tools of sewing, they gathered together at a Castle by a lough.

 

On the last Saturday in the month of the New Year only six months after she had arrived, Lady Jane arranged for the island sewers to have exclusive use of the stables at the Castle. A large, well heated room with long bench tables for each sewer, lots of power points and a kitchen was made available all day. Tea and coffee, scones and cake, buns and tray bakes magically appeared and just as magically disappeared.castle-ward-county-down

And what did these, until recently, isolated sewers do? They sewed. There was also a lot of talking and laughing; ohhing and ahhing; fondling of other people’s fabric and personal reviewing of patterns but that did not apparently interfere with the main purpose of gathering together.

They made tops and dresses and skirts and coats and home decorations: they cut out and sewed and overlocked and ate and chatted; they swapped unwanted fabrics and patterns with those they desired: everyone went home happy.

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Picture via the courtesy of Jane’s IG

I’d like to tell you that they all lived happily ever after – but. of course, that’s not the end of the story…….

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Armed with fabric from Fabworks and a pattern from Bootstrap, the lady taped and cut in readiness for assembly on the magical sewing day at the Castle. Just before the bewitching hour, about 4.00pm, the only thing left to do was hemming and a bit of hand stitching. A few days later a skirt was complete.

Not content with only one item, the lady had a little spare fabric leftover which was put to very good use by being transformed into a Paco Peralta draped top.

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Worn together, the skirt and top could pass for a dress with a very slight Vivienne Westwood-esque vibe.

The skirt has folds at the wrap. a deep waistband that is practically a yoke and is fully lined, which provided no end of headaches involving mental rotations, inside out flipping and turning, to get right.

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All of this was sewn because the lady’s partner bought her a navy blazer for Christmas….and she had absolutely nothing to wear to the ball….

That’s not end of the story either because the Fabworks fairies sent more fabric but we’ll save that for another day…….

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@ozzyblackbeard, @ailz_, @seasaltstitches, @loridux, @stitchandink, @janeinireland

#castleward, #sewingtogether

 

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Special Days

Honestly and truly, every day is special – there’s absolutely no doubt that we all have bad ones but somehow we wake up tomorrow, pull on our big-girls’ pants and deal with it. I’ve been lucky and very recently had the most amazing few days away with some very special people, so let’s start with Day 1 and move on from there.

Day 1

I’ve known for ages that one of my students won Outstanding Student of the Year (Public Services), an international competition organised by Pearson with nearly 1000 nominees and over 1,000,000 possible entrants. There was a media embargo until after the actual ceremony.

Alarm set for 5.00am. I already packed the night before and my outfit sewn and ready for the awards ceremony in London, hosted by Baroness Garden of Frognall in the Churchill Room in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster.

Arrived in London and headed straight to Cosmetics a la Carte for a professional, last-all-day make-up. Cost a small fortune but this is definitely a time to treat myself.

Whirlwind day of receptions, awards, ceremony, fun and networking. So many talented and inspiring young people. Mine is called Clare and we wore matching dresses.

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She is very special, battling illness while studying and then achieving the highest grades possible. A truly humbling experience to teach a student like this and so proud of her.

My dress is Burda 04-2016-119 worn with a light weight bright pink coat, which is a Merchant and Mills Haremere jacket made long. It’s unlined to cope with London city heat so all the raw seams had to be Hong Konged.

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I actually wanted to go for a ‘This old thing? I just threw it on” look: sort of understated, not obvious but still part of an outfit. To achieve this I half-lined the sleeves with dress fabric so that when the cuffs were folded back the cuff lining matched the dress. and when I don’t wear the two together, just unfold the sleeves. It’s a smarter alternative to a cardigan and more relaxed than a jacket.

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I actually got more compliments about the coat that I did my dress – perhaps the colour did it – it’s not easy to overlook. It’s looking a little the worse for wear after a full day wearing in London heat and humidity and then being unceremoniously stuffed into my travel bag.

20.30 Took the train from London to Preston for an extra few days of relaxation and enjoyment with my long-time friend Caroline. Did a bit of hand sewing on my Six Napoleon corset on the journey. Caroline and I re-connected last summer after 20 odd years apart and we haven’t looked back since.

Stayed up to 4.00am Friday, chatting and laughing like we were teenagers.

Day 2

Relaxing, lazy day at Caroline’s home  – I’d been up and on the go for 23 hours. Time to unpack, settle in, finish some conversations from the previous day ( same day). Watched Wimbledon and made plans.

Caroline is a photographer. Recently, we took one of her images and had it digitally printed onto silk. I hand rolled the edges and we both now have scarves that no-one else in the entire world has – that’s special.

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It’s not upside down – it’s a reflection!

Day 3

Darwen –
Day out to meet Mags at Minerva Crafts.

Such lovely people there: a family run business who were more than welcoming, friendly and very patient with us.

49ebbdc43fe9f5e69ec693ba019dd0afWe pulled bolts of fabric from the shelves, mixed and matched and generally created a little bit of mayhem on the cutting table. We advised other shoppers – only when they asked mind you – and had a lot of fun. We all bought loads: Caroline got some grey/taupe jerseys in animal-like prints; Mags got a stash and I got enough for an autumn outfit. We had a light lunch followed by a wander around the speciality food market.

Mags is fabulous; honest, stoic, funny and very, very stylish. I’ll be honest, I was getting a bit fed up with blogging and taking photos and all that stuff but meeting her has re-invigorated me and has made me grateful for those special Internet friends who become real ones.

Day 4 & 5

Hanging out, day trips and shopping – just lovely. Then home again.

Day 6- 9

Hooray, back into the sewing room. I love travelling and going away but there’s nothing like coming home either and doing what I love best. Sewed like a mad woman and before the end of the week I had sewn all of Caroline’s Minerva stash. I did add the odd bit of lace and cotton jersey but from 2.5m, I managed to get three tops and 1m ponte made a perfectly coordinating pair of trousers.

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Mainly the top pattern is Tilton’s Vogue 9057 (first and last) and the trousers are Vogue 8837 , another Tilton.

Caroline wore her first incarnation of this top at our day out at Minerva so I know it fits and suits her. The black and animal print (second) is Vogue 9193, another Marcy. Dead easy to sew as the sleeves are cut on but the pattern pieces are cut single layer and are therefore huge.

 

 

DSCN6354I was on a roll so I just kept going and added a few bonus but coordinating items to Caroline’s wardrobe.

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The light grey knit is a layering piece (the fabric is from my Minerva stash) and is actually the top half only of Vogue 9193. The pattern doesn’t actually tell you to do this but it works really well. So well in fact that I think I need one myself.V9193

The knit top will also go over any of Caroline’s other tunics too. It wasn’t easy to sew though,  the fine silky knit fabric had a mind of its own. I did my best not to stretch it out and used some leftover animal print jersey as a stabiliser around the neck, sleeves and hem. The ‘underneath’ tunic is made from other leftovers and here you can see where the top and bottom meet. There’s a built in pocket on the left hand side. If you sew this top, just watch out – the side seams on top and bottom half do not line up, the bottom half is offset (see the tech drawing). Ask me how I know this because I’m so smart I don’t have to read the instructions….!

All of Caroline’s Minerva fabric has now been sewn, posted and quite possibly already worn as Mr Postman was especially swift this week.

That’s you all up to date until next time…

 

 


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Sewers Break Into Jail

If you live in New York city then Peter organises the MPB meet-up and takes you to the very best fabric shops in the world only to be found in the garment district, then on to lunch at some fabulous Greenwich Village bistro.

If you live in London, then Pinheiro schedules a world record breaking meet-up to fit in with a stupendous exhition at the V&A of some world-renowned designer and a gourmet lunch for pattern and fabric swapping.

Anywhere else in Great Britain and you get the chance to join the Minerva meet up for demonstrations and workshops.

If you live in Sydney then Velosewer shows you how to go for extravagant fabric shopping and English afternoon tea.

If you live in Belfast, Northern Ireland, where do you go for your first ever local sewers’ meet-up?

A jail, of course!

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This is the Crumlin Road Gaol, or the Crum , as it is known locally. Closed to the last prisoners in 1995 and now open to the public for tours, concerts, plays, exhibitions and nights out in a genuine Victorian jail setting.

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Through some sort quirk of international politics involving NATO, the Cold War and east-west relationships the Bolshoi Ballet and the Russian Museum of Ethnography released some of their costumes for an exhibition in Belfast: the first time these costumes have been allowed out their country of origin. I got a wee bit lost in the explanation as to how this occurred but I’m very glad it did. From Bolshoi to Belfast  – now there’s a phrase you don’t hear everyday!

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The costumes were arranged along B wing with the exhibits in cells. This was an excellent way of showing the clothes as you had to walk into each cell to see what it held.

The operatic and ballet costumes were works of art; beaded embellishments, applique, embroidery – just breathtaking.

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And the original ethnic clothes were inspiring and detailed.

Look at this little bolero – no shoulder seams, so obviously cut on the fold with a little shaping for the back of the neck. And the dress/apron underneath is entirely worked by hand using red cross stitching on white. This was a wedding outfit.

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This one is entirely hand-made – see the little stitches? Done in white thread, no attempt to disguise the stitches.

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We fell in love with this style of sleeves – slit so the blouse/garment underneath shows.

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And while this one was for the chorus line, its simplicity impressed. It is cut on the bias and we all pictured ourselves wearing this in summer. The pattern is painted on the pale yellow linen and buttons are for decoration only, there are snaps underneath the front band (quick costume change I suppose).

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Some of the later (1990s) costumes were just downright colourful and reminded us a little bit of Disigual

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And if you have a stack of single buttons then make a collar

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Here’s the four of us with some tutus – now there’s another phrase you don’t hear every day – LOL

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From L – Lynne, Evelyn, me and Stephanie.

Each of these wonderful ladies was resplendent in their own makes: Lynne in one of her signature print dresses, Evelyn in a very stylish grey/silver skirt and matching top and Stephanie adorned with her incredible bead work in the form of a delicate bracelet and matching necklace. I wore black and brown AC.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I had to leave to go to see the newest edition to our family – baby Harry, 15 days old today!

Thank you ladies for a great morning out and we’re planning on meeting up again in a few months time. So if anyone else out there would like to join in there’s plenty of advance warning. Can’t promise you an Alexander McQueen retrospective or Goldhawk Road fabric shopping but good chat, good fun and meeting some incredibly talented people.