corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


11 Comments

Back to Black

My goodness! Thank you all so much for all the very constructive, knowledgeable and well thought out responses as to the “what length of dress” question. I have read every one and will follow the majority – I shall henceforth shorten the Park Lane. What I did like from your suggestions was that I should make this dress again in a solid colour and try the longer length. Mrs Mole (God bless ‘er) suggested that I not only shorten the dress but rip out the side seams and re-create the entire thing! Maybe…..all good ideas are not out the question, only my time and inclination to do them.

Anyway, back to other stuff. The black and white/ivory combination has got me on a roll.

I never wear solid black close to my face – it makes me look half dead – so I normally drape a coloured scarf or something around my neck to break up the mono-colour. I’ve recently taken to sewing tops in black/white and every shade of grey in between. This is in reaction to colour and encouraged when I bought a pair of black RTW trousers……

This was also an opportunity to catch up with those Interweb favourites – Fave Top, Grainline Hemlock T plus a few others. Quick easy sewing and easy comfy wearing.

Ink splattered jersey from MyFabrics made into Hemlock T.

I made the Katherine Tilton trousers V8837 (OOP) for a remotely located friend whose measurements I didn’t have and surprise, surprise, they didn’t fit her, so she returned them. I nipped in the centre back seam and now I have a pair of lounging pants, however still baggy that need a little bit more tweaking but they’re perfect for the sofa and watching box sets.

I had enough Jackson Pollock ink splattered fabric left over for a M&M Bantam – part of the Merchant and Mills Workbook– love this top.

And, would you believe it?  The shawl below is merely the shape of the leftover’s leftover. Just trimmed, hemmed and worn as is. Bonus!

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Then another Fave Top in a multi sized polka dots patchworky  jersey from Fabworks.

And then enough left over for an Ogden Cami. And it doesn’t matter how straight your seams are with this fabric……but STAY STITCH the neck line.

Now on to a more intricate but not difficult top: Bootstrap halter-neck top in a chiffon-like poly decorated with large brush strokes bought from an eBay shop ages ago. Just in case you don’t know this – Bootstrap take your measurements and produce a PDF pattern to fit – no alterations or tweaking needed.

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So, lots of things to wear with plain black or white trousers and I’m absolutely sure will also service red, blue, chartreuse, green, grey, along with the eternal jeans.

Nothing too difficult or complicated about any of these tops which makes them speedy sewing projects and (hopefully) impressive coordinates that add to my wardrobe and versatility.


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?

 

 

 


48 Comments

Peasant Blouse (Burda)

Good grief, that’s such a not-inspired title…. So let’s cut to the chase and get on with the sewing.

I actually, really and truly, bought a peasant blouse top from a real live shop and loved its gathers, floatiness and ease of wearing. I decided that I definitely needed another one in another colour. I searched for a similar pattern on the Big 4, Bootstrap and all the other indies without success.  I ended up flicking through my old Burda magazines and settled on  01-2012 number 426B.

downloadGood old tracing methodology employed in achieving this pattern – understanding, reading and following the maze of interconnecting coloured lines and sizes on Sheet A, B or C – anyways, I got a workable paper pattern in the end. This can be a tunic as well as a blouse: follow the directions below for the blouse.

This magazine is Burda Plus, for larger sizes. I traced size 44 when I would usually wear a 42 but didn’t worry much as it’s a loose top with not too much fitting necessary.

The original pattern is for a tunic so I just ‘lost’ the piece below the waist. There was still a bit of fiddling to do but it was the closest pattern I could find to meet my original idea.45feb6e2a271dad08607fd37690f2881--xl

Raglan sleeves, elasticated neckline with working ties; gathered and elasticated hem finish;  same for the sleeve hems.  The very fine fabric I used is slightly transparent and I would like a lining, so, a double layer at front and back saves the day!

The fabric came from Sherwoods. A beautifully soft cotton/silk crepe in a range of colours.

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I used Kiwi, second from top of the pile.

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The RTW version I have has a lining and this lining is cut slightly shorter than the outside layer. I tried to replicate this to achieve the blouson effect and to add that extra layer for opaqueness. The sleeves are single layer.

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Now, bear with me on my rather clumsy explanation of how to achieve this….I forgot to take photographs along the way – apologies. Usual construction is that you start at the top of any garment and work your way down to finish at the bottom, in this method the hem is the first thing you do.

Cut 2 fronts and 2 backs. Shorten 1 of the fronts and 1 of the backs by about 1 – 1.5″ (3cm-5cm).

Right sides together, sew around the hem – front to front, back to back.

Measure some picot or thin knicker elastic around yourself where the sewn hem will sit. Zig-zag this to the seam allowances of the hems, stretching evenly as you go. Trim off the excess seam allowance to keep things neat and reduce bulk.

Flip the fronts and backs back wrong side together and hold in place with some pins. The hem is now enclosed but remember it is ‘inside’  and not at the edge. Continue to construct as normal using French seaming on the sides and raglan sleeves.

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For the neckline I cut a bias strip and added this as a casing, hand slip stitching it over the raw edges. Elastic was then inserted with the good old safety pin method, pull it a little tight depending on how low or high you’d like to wear the blouse and secure the ends of the elastic with some machine stitching.

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Make a cross grain strip which will become the ties at the front, so determine what length you want these – short or long. Mine are medium. Cut the strip in two and sew to the ends of the neckline. Turn under any raw edges or insert the ends of the ties into the ends of the casing.

Finally, add a bit of flair by threading some beads to the ties. Use knots to hold the beads in place and knot the ties at the ends, as these will fray over time.

This inside hem creates a lovely gathered look without the elastic showing on the outside – almost looking like it’s ‘tucked in’ .

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The sleeve hems are simply turned under and more picot zig-zagged in place.

Must use more Burda patterns……

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Bonus

I had a little green silk/cotton left over fabric and it just happened to match a striped jersey in stash. I saw a girl on the bus the other day and she was wearing an indigo T-shirt with a wrap over front and ruffle trim. I somewhat copied it.

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Take a bog standard T-shirt pattern and cut an extra front. Cut the extra front in a shape that pleases you. Sew the extra front into the right hand side seam and finish the edges with a narrow hem. I sewed a few pearl buttons along the ‘wrap’.

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To make the ruffle, cut strips about 2.5″, fold lengthwise, press and gather with a large machine stitch along the fold line. Stitch to the edges of your T-shirt, press down and let fray at will.

Hello to Lyn, Kim,  segerskog@webspeed.dkLinda BaldwinMary Ann HugueleMary Ann Huguele, and anyone else who thought this sewing diary might be worthwhile spending your precious time reading. Thank you and please join in with critical comments and personal opinions – there are no boundaries here and I hope you find something useful. Rxx


18 Comments

All for Free

One Pirate pencil skirt

One Sorbetto top

One pair Barb pants

A few metres of Jacobean Floral Fantasy – a pique waffle type ponte double jersey in stylised Jacobean floral print. Fairy tale tree of life branches with deepest green foliage, and exotic blooms in coral, turquoise, aqua, gold and chartreuse intertwine across the dark cream base colour – from Fabworks (not for free!)

Put these elements together and you too can get the astronaut’s wife look.

If you are not already aware, then I’ll tell you –  it’s Indie Pattern Month at The Monthly Stitch. Four weeks in July of competitions, challenges, inspiration and sewing fun.

Week 1 – Dresses

Week 2 – New to Me

Week 3 – Hack it

Week 4 – Indie Royalty (Two garments that work as an outfit)

There’s some amazing prizes too, so get those machines threaded up and the Indie patterns out…..

I’m not planning on entering any of the competitions but I have discovered some amazing Indie patterns and some lovely sewing already, so the site is definitely worth a visit.

The real benefit of sewing very basic pieces is the little personal touches that you can add to them. Some extras that I added include – front welt pockets to the Barb pants.

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And that deep elastic waist is so comfortable and stable on the Barb pants that I used it on the pencil skirt too.

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Suck it in girl…

The Sorbetto top when tucked in and worn with a belt could create the impression of a dress or in combination with the Barbs – a jumpsuit: the most impracticable and useless garment ever designed for women (am I alone?).

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With so many colours in the three main pieces, adding a solid coloured top/skirt/trousers triples the wearing combinations.

With absolutely no intention of matching patterns nor concern for pattern placement, all the pieces are easy sews – quick to cut out (each piece has two pattern pieces apart from the waistbands), quick to sew, easy to wear. Use stretch fabric, that’s the only condition.

I folded the front pleat to one side of the Sorbetto and sewed a few buttons for a mock closure.

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Those Barb pants are the best! Much more flattering than leggings and just as comfortable and an added bonus is that you can nip down to K-Mart or Tesco’s without looking like you’re still in your jammies. I reckon these would work for yoga/exercise pants as well as PJs.

Sorbetto top is the most versatile and adaptable sleeveless top ever – whenever I have 1/2 metre leftover, I always reach for this pattern. Easily worn on its own but just as perfect as a camisole or a layering piece in colder seasons.

The Pirate pencil skirt is fast becoming another staple and elevates a simple knit skirt to sophisticated yet comfortable work-wear if sewn in a solid colour for conservative boardroom-wear.

Hello to all new followers and readers of this little amateur sewing blog. I hope you find something worthwhile.

 

 


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.