corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


16 Comments

Sucker for Sales 2

And here we are again…… fabric sales purchases and what to do with them. This time it’s a fluffy, soft knit made with a remarkable combination of fibres such as cashmere, mohair, a bit of silk and a few sparkly threads and from – yeah, you know where – Joel and Son…..a cut length of 1.5m.

The fabric is sort of like a boiled wool; it’s a knit, like a proper knit with no fraying but softer with a right and wrong side. It’s primarily grey (my favourite) but has tones of violet/lilac – more of a heathered look that is not readily recognisable in my crappy photographs. The inside is sparkly and I suppose could have been used the other way round for evening wear. I choose day wear. Believe me, this is a complicated fabric.

I pressurised myself into making something that warranted the price: not sure I achieved that goal but I did get a very serviceable skirt and top: that can be worn together and also separately which stretches the serviceability.

Skirt pattern is Vogue, Katherine Tilton 8837 (OOP). This skirt has four seams with a hip yoke, elasticated waist(!) and curved hemline with small splits. The instructions are for lapped over side seams but I ignored that bit.

Easy to sew up and easy to wear. I serged the seams for extra strength as it’s a pull on skirt and it looks nice in the inside too.

dscn6838

The top pattern is based on Burda 0521012 /101, cut short due to fabric limitations and whatever serviceable piece was leftover was used as a pocket.

101b_technical_large

I had a bad experience with this dress pattern previously but I’m learning to love it and see the potential in many other ways apart from a sack-like shift dress.

dscn6846

I just used the selvedge edge of the fabric as the top’s hem. The deep V neckline was stabilised with some black satin ribbon to keep it from stretching any further. It is not a top to wear on its own….

dscn6842

This little outfit has a relaxed, yet ‘pulled together’ look, I think. The skirt is very comfortable and worn with the top, it creates an outfit. Best worn with a white shirt underneath for contrast and to break up the solid grey. Perfect for wearing under a coat as it keeps me warm without creating bulk.

It may not be the most flattering combination for my body, but sometimes (often) practicality and comfort are the priorities.

dscn6844

So, elasticated waists in trousers was first and now in skirts! The real benefit of elasticated waists is that you can wear either the trousers or the skirt high up at actual waist level or pulled slightly down to hips, which changes the length.

The other day, one of my students asked if she could ‘touch’ my skirt – such is the tactile, fluffy and comforting appeal of this fabric – just like being wrapped in soft, delicious natural fibres. I let her……..

dscn6843

Well, the winter holidays are finished – back to work tomorrow and half-way through the academic year. Marking papers will intensify from now on and hence, sewing time is reduced. Blogging will also therefore be restricted but I’ll do my best, after all, sewing keeps me grounded, sane and clothed!

dscn6840

I often think that I could survive wonderfully on permanent holiday – like retired – but I am actually looking forward to going back to work. I love my job, I’m lucky. I like the routine, the pressures and even the stress – it pushes and challenges me. Sewing is my escape. Without the constraints of employment I don’t think sewing would mean as much to me as it currently does. We are constantly learning about ourselves – see Felicia’s honest assessment of herself, her 2016 review of sewing and her developing style to get you thinking……..


44 Comments

Sucker for Sales

dscn6825If you’ve never been on Joel and Son website, then you need to set aside four or five hours, lock your credit/debit card in the glove compartment of the car and lose the keys or give both card and keys to a responsible adult and then be prepared to drool, dream and digest the fabulous fabrics.

r1158c

Here’s one for Jungle January – from £495 down to £240 for 4m. Quick girls, quick.

 

7979c

For that special occasion how about the laser cut embroidered butterfly fabric that you’ve been hunting for ages: a mere £2,500 p/m

 

10186bOr for that ever more special occasion how about an ivory lace appliqué on a printed organza with gold anthracite stones dotted throughout;  yours for £7,500 p/m

It does my heart good that such retailers are still around and selling the most special and unique of fabrics. I’m also glad that fabric weavers and mills are still producing these beautiful fabrics. I’d like to be able to buy said fabrics and have loads of occasions to which to wear the finished garments but that is not my life.

Thanks to our U.S. cousins, Black Friday is now a common occurrence in UK and for a while between November and December my email inbox was full every quarter of an hour with ‘offers’. One of the offers came from Joel and Son and like so many of you, I couldn’t resist.

 

Now, while the fabric might be discounted and it’s an offer too good to miss new problem are encountered; what to make and what to wear with it? It’s like being back in RTW land and purchasing that fabulous blouse because it was in the 50% sale but you’ve got absolutely nothing that coordinates with it and therefore a total waste of money. From last summer and Black Friday I have bought but not sewn quite a few metres, including:

2.5 cut length of wool crepe with Lycra, pale coral/terracotta – Dec 2016

4m of fine cotton print in reds, greens, burgundy and shades thereof – July 2015

Cutting into fabric from the hallowed Joel and Son is a daunting experience: you know how expensive it is and therefore you don’t want to waste it or make a Horlicks. I always think long and hard before making anything from my precious Joel and Son stash. I’m the type of home sewer who first thinks about a garment and then seeks out the fabric – when Joel et al are involved, it’s the other way round. Hence some fabric lies in wait for a very long time……until now…….dscn6826

 

The long cardigan is a terracotta fine knit from MyFabrics (probably also in a sale) and although made, I had nothing to wear with it apart from black…..but that’s not the star of the show.

There are high waisted trousers and then there are HIGH waisted trousers and these are they. No longer are waistbands hanging low on the rear but sitting where they should be – at the waist. These ones, however, go way beyond.

Vogue 8604 is a long time in my pattern box. 8604

Wide legged, front and back darts with a couple of front pleats into the bargain, back zip closure and in-seam side pockets. My fabric is somewhat robust, almost heavy althodscn6829ugh fluid and drapey at the same time. The side pockets were made but swiftly removed because they just didn’t sit flat and these trousers need a smooth silhouette.

The high waist is supported by a facing that I interfaced with canvas for extra strength as my post-Christmas tummy needs some restraining.

An invisible zipper in the back would be the best option but as my notions box is practically empty and I couldn’t be bothered going to the shops for a single zip I had to use a regular red one and put it in a lapped style.

To show off the very high waist, one’s top should be tucked in and deciding on a suitable pattern was a small challenge, considering I’ve hardly any buttons hanging around.

I opted for Vogue 7876 – five versions of a wrap blouse. All the pattern options have waist ties to keep the wearer of the blouse decent, but that wasn’t going to work with these trousers. In overcoming the tucked in without ties and acres of ease of the wrap blouse I may just have solved the age old problem of gaping too. Mostly I made version E.

Add buttons! No honestly, it’s that simple. Do not cut out the ties but make your blouse without them and try on. Pin the wraps well to where you think it looks best and bend, stretch, make the bed and change a car tyre. If the blouse is still in place after all this then you’ve got the sweet spot. Pin mark and make two button holes and sew on two buttons – job done!

The buttons are so discreet that no one will see them and you get a very reliable blouse. The space behind the button holes and button is reinforced with fusible interfacing on self fabric as the cotton is very fine. See irrefutable proof below

dscn6831

To finish version E blouse flared sleeves, I gathered the hems into  narrow bias cut bands. I’m having a 1970 revival at the minute and gathered sleeves are forever in my memory of my early teens’ clothes.

dscn6836

There’s something Agatha Christie about the style of trousers; totally cruise ship, lounging and swanning with cocktails and cigarette holders.

dscn6828

So, the first outfit of 2017 is completed: trousers, blouse, cardigan and leftover’s scarve. I keep putting my hand on my waist, just to show you where it is as it can get lost in the high waist.

dscn6824

Thanks to Thornberry for promoting the outfit-not-orphan sewing idea and if we all did this, then there would be no more random fabric purchases or 50% off RTW blouses in our wardrobes that don’t go with anything else, well, maybe…………..

dscn6833

I’m glad I saved the patterned cotton for when I needed it and when I had a fabric that coordinated instead of sewing some random stuff.

dscn6832

I’ve informed my husband that I have a new outfit and that I’m ready to wear it out to dinner anytime……. really, W. anytime at all!

A review of Pantone’s new colours revealed that this shade of red/terracotta/coral pairs nicely with teal and sea green  etc – my goodness, don’t I have a coat in that colour?

fd0720234bfb0150a538293f1cac9831What are your opinions of trousers waistlines, if you have one? I mean, for years I swore I’d never wear elasticated waists and, guess what?


39 Comments

A/W ’16 Mustard

My husband, before he became my husband, used to tell a very rude joke and the punch line was “mustard, custard and you, you big sh***!”  Anyway………he doesn’t tell the joke anymore and my next outfit for autumn/winter is complete.

Same trousers as the burgundy ones but this time with added inseam side pockets and turn ups at the hem.dscn6753

I like cropped winter trousers: they remind me of plus fours and country living, and I can wear either boots or shoes. Worn today with the shirt you’ve seen before.

lydonbutter

Johnny Rotten as an English country gentleman

 

All fabrics are from Fabworks – I’m Fabworks head to toe today! (Not sponsored by them btw).

18 TwistThe trousers are Donegal tweed: Warm, mellow, sunflower, saffron and turmeric tones weave through this gorgeous Donegal Tweed herringbone, evoking memories of relaxed autumnal strolls and the resting evening sunshine. Woven with the ever-present charcoal warp to form a reassuring background of chevrons; the Donegal yarn sitting in the mellow sunflower and mustard warp has pale straw, saffron and honey coloured flecks. This 100% new wool has a reassuringly soft texture, but remains a medium weight with a great handle and drape.

I mean, really, how could you not not fall for that?

dscn6734

An easy method to elasticate a waist is this:

  1. Measure the elastic to your waist, stretching a little, and sew the ends together to make a band.dscn6678
  2. Quarter this band with pins and then match each pin with the four seams, front, back and sides.
  3. Serge or small zig-zag this band (yes, that is bra strap elastic) to the inside of your garment, lining up edge to edge.dscn6679
  4. Fold the elastic over to the inside and zig-zag in place to form a waistband.dscn6683

Neat and easy

The trousers are lined too. The lining is slip-stitched to the ‘waistband’ and hides the serged edges.

Even neater.

dscn6751

As Sunflower Chunky Ribbed Knit is a beautiful knitted all wool fabric from Avoca, it’s a superb, brushed fabric with a medium weight soft drape and handle, and due to being knitted rather than woven it has a good natural lengthwise stretch with some stretch on the width too! The beautiful sunflower coloured yarn with darker and lighter tones throughout, has been knitted in a double row ribbed construction that has alternating fine black bands knitted in between to create the chunky rib affect.

See what I mean? I fell for that one too.

The jumper is hacked from a Burda pattern for a cardigan. I prepared the pattern many, many years ago before I understood and realised that patterns require an organisational system  of their own. I can’t bring to mind the actual pattern number ….It’s the one with the girl standing in front of a barn door……..

I used the raglan sleeves and the back yoke and front (with a centre seam) but I just made up the V neck front and added a small patch pocket. I also made front and back different lengths and put small slits at the sides to mark the step.

dscn6735

It was fun mucking about with the stripes on the pattern pieces creating some interest and directional movement. The sleeves are bias cut, the back yoke and pocket on the horizontal, the fronts and lower back on the vertical.

dscn6741

 

To keep the V neck as a V, I faced it with some cotton bias binding as a stabiliser. The fabric doesn’t fray but I thought that narrow cuffs would be a nice finishing touch on the sleeves. All seams are serged just in case.

dscn6750

And of course there were leftovers and cut-offs. I used these up in the form of a beret and a couple of scarves in preparation of anticipation of a cold winter.

dscn6747

Other things….

The postman brought some lovely things recently, mainly courtesy of a Vogue pattern sale. Fabworks also sent me the checked cotton shirting (far right) after I ordered and paid for it.

dscn6668

One plus one together makes this, not 2.

The selvage was too good to cut off and throw away so it was used as a trim on all edges; cuffs, collar, button band and hem.

dscn6733

I had fun with the stripes on this fabric too and I do hope you notice the almost perfect alignment across the fronts!

dscn6729

Life’s been quite busy recently including a very pleasant weekend spent in London, England. A few weeks ago I flew out early on Friday with plans afoot to spend a lot of money and spend a lot of money I did! The fruits of these purchases to be revealed soon. The highlight of the trip was dinner at Kate’s. Marijana was there too and we all wore our own individual, handmade, couture and unique versions of the Six Napoleon dress. We had a 6Nap party!

20161028_205246

I look like a giant in comparison to my petite and neat sewing companions. Additionally their dresses were so much better than mine. Both ladies are fabulous and I’m so pleased to have met them online and then followed this up in person. Thank you Kate and Marijana, it was so much better than sitting in a hotel room on my lonesome wearing a party dress with no party to go to.

dscn6739

 


37 Comments

A/W ’16 Burgundy

All this fabric was bought in July and is only being sewn up now, but then again it was always intended for this autumn/winter’s wardrobe, so I suppose it’s timely. For once there was a little bit of forward planning that might have actually worked out. I’ve been busy doing other things for a few weeks but I’m back home now and – sewing!

DSCN6400

The two fabrics on the right are from Minerva and generously gifted from my very dear friend Caroline on the day we went shopping with Mags. The far left fabric is from Fabworks and the burgundy ponte is a long forgotten purchase from somewhere, just patiently waiting for its time.

Lea wrapped dress already completed and worn multiple times – featured on Fabworks’ Customer Catwalk.

DSCN6504Eventually I actually got started on the A/W ’16 wardrobe, though it has been late because of the mild weather here and a personal reluctance to admit that summer has left.

One pair of cropped trousers – cropped because I bought only 1 metre planned for a pencil skirt and in real life I realised that trousers would be more practicable. (Fabric on the far right).

dscn6706

Pattern: Vogue 1508, Zandra Rhodes.

I added front welt pockets and, obviously, shortened the length to suit the available fabric rather than style. They are lined, elasticated waisted and although made from polyester they look like  tweed and hence there is no wrinkling or shrinking, or wet-dog smell when wet with rain. I’d just like to point out the relative width difference between the pattern envelope and my actual trousers………

Worn firstly with some delicious silk from Joel & Sons (bought in a sale), and the fabric design and colour reminds me of autumn leaves, firesides and fireworks. This top was made in a very haphazard way – using a basic block and then sewing on the leftovers as a sailor’s neck and front tie and asymmetrical hip edges: just trying to use up every last scrap of this relatively expensive silk.

dscn6708

dscn6707m7247

Next, the trousers are paired with a fine mesh polyprint (second from right) and made up in McCalls 7247. This pattern is intended for jersey/stretch but I took a chance and it worked.

View D, at the bottom is the one I made.

While I added bands to the neck and cuffs I left them with raw edges so that they fray. Heck, un-hemmed edges are all over Vogue magazine; if it’s good enough for them, it’s certainly good enough for me.

If I wear it with enough panache, then it’s ‘designer’.

 

dscn6711

I do need to wear my very reliable, RTW and cheap  burgundy cotton sleeveless T-shirt underneath but, heck, it’s winter and it’s going to get cold and your Mother always told you never to leave the house without clean pants (knickers), a handkerchief and a vest, just in case you were in an accident. Hopefully, I’m safe.

Then I added to the burgundy stash and purchased some jersey marl that I think is from MyFabrics but I’ve fallen out with them recently, so they are absolutely last-resort now. This was transformed into a Vogue 9193, a Marcy Tilton tunic.

dscn6717

Trying to replicate the Tilton sisters, I tried to do a bit of artistic-stuff around the neck  with a double layer loose neck edge, which I’m not quite convinced worked out but then again this is not intended as a spectacular designer top, rather as a normal, everyday pull-on type of top. With the leftovers I sewed up a scarf-like thing, basically a couple of rectangles sewn into a hoop (worn on the right pic) and looks like a cowl neck.

So, one pair of trousers, three tops, a dress and a bit of ponte left to sew. Those of your follow the Vivienne Files will be capable of calculating how many outfits that will make. Personally I just reach into the wardrobe and hope for the best and not an orphan in sight!

dscn6727

Next, I’ll move onto another A/W ’16 colour……..guesses?

 

 


20 Comments

Half ‘n’ Half

My goodness, but you girls love a dress, or two!

Today, however, I’m showing separates: versatile, impartial to season (think layering), casual, dressy and no limits on the colour spectrum.

Rarely do I buy factory made clothes. I’ve never sworn off RTW with pledges or promises so sometimes I succumb to the instant gratification of shopping.  I’ve become very fussy about fit since making my own clothes – a downright snob actually – which accounts for my limited shop purchases. I try something on and my first instinct is to examine the drag lines, the wrinkles, the gapes at neck and waist. I look at it and ask “If I had made this, would I be happy with fit?” Inevitably the answer generally is “No”.

I discovered Finery earlier this year – RTW with an edge. I enjoy looking at their use of fabrics and colours and slightly unusual shapes – a great inspiration. I admire the nonchalant styling – I’m wearing this because I want to, not because I want to look like my colleagues or because it makes me look sexy, but it makes me feel good.  I bought stuff………

Let’s stAZ-005_CHARTERIS-TOPS-BLACK-FINERY-LONDON_170_2art with trousers: same style, one cobalt blue and one chartreuse. 7/8 length, side pockets and small front pleats. The pic on the left is the same style in magenta (tempting…..). The trousers do not have the fit I would demand if I’d made them myself but they’ll do. Considering almost everyone else wears RTW, I can’t look any worse than the general population.

 

You all know that I love my colours as much as greys and what a basis these two pairs of trousers gave me to expand upon.

I made just a few tops and now the option for outfits is endless. A perfect travel wardrobe; which it was earlier this summer. This is what I packed and I didn’t have enough days to wear all the combinations.

Cobalt with butterflies and Chartreuse with butterflies

Vogue 1247 (OOP) in poly satin

Chartreuse with pink and Cobalt with pink

Yes, it needs ironing! Pink silk chiffon, pleated blouse free pattern from Sew Easy

DSCN6562

Cobalt with cobalt

My own Three Bears T with added side pocket, ribbed viscose jersey

DSCN6560

Cobalt with blue/green peacock feathers.

McCalls M6078, viscose jersey so old I’ve forgotten where it came from.

DSCN6542

 

Chartreuse with turquoise.

Modified McCalls M6078 to fit fabric, viscose jersey from My Fabrics

DSCN6548

Chartreuse with orange

Bootstrap Blouse With Button-Decorated Back, not quite made to pattern specifications, Merchant and Mills Indian orange cotton with yellow stitching

And I haven’t even ventured into the other classics of black and navy, and any other colour that coordinates with these colours. Surprisingly, khaki green is also a good colour with both the cobalt and the chartreuse. I love a bit of clashing. Think of this post as a very amateur attempt at the Vivienne Files for non-RTW coordinates to wear with RTW.