corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Linton Pink – Complete 1

This is a bittersweet moment. I have really enjoyed the slow sewing and the self-imposed tailoring construction processes of Paco’s Vogue 1527. This coat has given me joy, a little heartache too along the way but I am unashamedly declaring, it is a thing of beauty. I am just a little bit sad that it is finished.

On the other hand, a finished garment is always an achievement. Luckily, I have a tonne more Linton tweeds to sew through and if they all go as well as this one I shall be one very happy sewer. Jinx!

I left you the last time showing the insides and as a work in progress because that’s where the lion’s share of the work is and I also wanted at least someone else to see and acknowledge it. Which you did – thank you!

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Since then, the hand made shoulder pads and sleeve heads have been inserted and the remaining lining slip stitched/fell stitched and otherwise hand sewn to complete the body. The sleeve underlining is wrinkling because the coat is inside out and bunching up.

DO NOT follow the pattern instructions at this point: insert the sleeves, THEN insert the shoulder pads (Step 27). DO NOT sew shoulder pads in when your coat is inside out. They will not fit when you turn everything right way round. Just tackle the fabric from the right side and get on with it.

The shoulder pads were made with six layers of thin cotton wadding – the same type as used in quilts. Each layer is gradually smaller than the top-most semi-circle, which is covered with a patch of canvas. The whole lot was then pad stitched to form the curve to fit the shoulder. The sleeve head is the same cotton wadding; rolled and hand sewn to the inside of the sleeve seam allowances.

DO NOT trim the arm hole seam allowances – you need these for shoulder pad and sleeve head positioning. DO NOT press this seam; gently steam from the outside only. Yes, it looks really messy on the inside but only you will ever see this but everyone else will only see the outside – choose your battles.

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I do love to see a hand stitched sleeve lining with all its genuine wrinkles and slightly uneven gathers – it definitely demonstrates a passion for honest hand sewing and provides true flexibility in the sleeve/arm-hole that is wholly lacking in RTW.

Buttonholes and vintage buttons have been sewn on the sleeve vents and centre front. And I have yet another gripe about the instructions.

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So…… you take the time to cut and construct a sleeve vent – doing your very best to make the two symmetrical, make a buttonhole and sew on a button and then the instructions (Step 42) tell you to sew the sleeve lining over the whole lot so that the vent won’t open. There may be times in the wearing of this coat that I want the button open and to fold back the cuffs – by this stage I just ignored the instructions and went with what felt right and what would work for me.

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If you buy an original Paco Peralta pattern, it is always beautifully drafted but it comes without instructions.

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They are expensive, I’ll grant you that but they are all hand drawn, not printed, and of course designer. No instructions provides a certain amount of freedom and opportunity for individual ingenuity but may not be suitable for the faint hearted or inexperienced sewer, nor those who like a step by step construction process.

To compensate, there are loads of online tutorials and reviews to support you along the way. Personally, I relish the jigsaw puzzle aspect of sewing a pattern without pre-set instructions and often find a new method of construction during the process.

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This coat is part 1 of a set of three;  I find it is remarkable on its own and I just want to wear it with jeans, frocks and even jammies – I love it that much! It is a mighty weight on its own, what with all the underlining and canvas and what have you but the tailoring makes the coat fit like a glove: it literally drops over my shoulders and remains in place, perfectly draping my irregular frame and making me stand taller.

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I make no apologies for my personal pleasure in just looking at the set in sleeves. This was a slow sewing process and it certainly paid off – exact tailor tacking, basting, fitting and then, only then, sewing. Added to which there was a considerable amount of pressing. When you press wool to tame it into shape, and I mean press not ironing,  leave it to cool and dry in shape. That means you might have to walk away from the ironing board for a wee while. Get a cup of tea and surf the net for inspiration for your next sewing project…..

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I read books to help me along the way……..

And watched Craftsy classes…….

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Front and back – can you tell which one is which?

Here’s the coat, admirably modelled by Doris – front, back, left and right. Sometimes I hate that mannequin, my clothes always look better on her than me!

There are faults in my coat which I’ll document at a later date, for now, I just want to smile every time I see it and turn a blind eye to the picky problems.

The skirt is cut and ready for sewing. It’s going to be made with the coordinating herringbone that is on the coat collar. Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Linton Pink – WIP

The first Linton tweed combination has been cut – and hopefully you’ll appreciate that it takes a very deep breath and a lot of courage to do that, let alone the selection of pattern in which to make something fabulous because this signature and limited fabric requires careful consideration. You may not be aware but Linton Tweeds makes couture fabrics to order for all the best couture design houses. Three years after the designer ‘season’, the fabrics are released for public purchase. The fabrics are expensive but that’s what haute couture, exclusive fabrics are supposed to be. They are special.

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This is not a very entertaining post but more methodical and about sewing. First of all I chose a pattern, Vogue 1527 a fabulous Paco Peralta design that I have wanted to make for a year or so but never had the right fabric to do it justice nor perhaps the occasion to wear it. My version of this suit makes the coat an outdoor layer.  So I took a very deep breath, pinned on grain and cut!

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I do not have a finished item to show you (this is a deliberate and slow sewing project)  merely a work in progress which I am hopeful will be completed to a high standard.

 

You may gain some insight into techniques or tips on how to do traditional tailoring for the very best fitted and finished garment. You do not need to do what I did at every stage but the end result is totally unique. The Vogue pattern does not offer this option and to be honest I found the instructions somewhat confusing and out of order. I will list this later.

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I’m using the checked pink for the coat and the herringbone for the skirt. Biggest problem of course is the check/tartan/plaid. Everything MUST line up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Slightly offset the edges of the fabric so that you can see the bottom layer. Accurately line up the checks (or stripes) and pin together. Try not to shift the fabric around too much while pinning or cutting the pattern pieces. Cut one piece first, then using it as a guide, line up the side seams before placing and cutting the next piece. I have not cut the sleeves out yet as they will have to match the main body of the coat.

DSCN7827Every piece is underlined in cotton lawn. This stabilises the outer wool, gives structure and makes it so much easier to hide hand stitches because you sew to the underlining and not the shell. No dimples in this coat. It involves cutting each pattern piece twice and then tacking the two pieces together, which you now treat as one.

My colours are way off in the following photographs, the true colour is more like the top image above.

The wool frays. My chosen seam finish is a simple one. After completing a seam, press open, stitch down each seam allowance and then trim with pinking shears. Nice, flat not-bulky, non-fraying seams. These were then catch stitched to the underlining.

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I used strips of selvage as stabilising tape on neck edge and shoulders.

Centre back seam from the outside

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The herringbone was used for the contrast collar and pocket facings.

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On the inside, after attaching the lining, I catch stitched the front facing seams to the underlining to make sure the facings wouldn’t flop. Then I ran a running stitch between front side lining and front side seam to keep the lining in place.

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There’s a lot of tailor tacks and basting and tacking and stray threads used in this method of sewing. And they all have to be removed when no longer needed. Even this apparently simple job takes time and a pair of tweezers. I’m even making my own shoulder pads. On the left the pieces are cut out and tacked together. On the right the amazing effects of pad stitching are clearly in evidence.

There’s also a lot of pressing involved. I think I’ve gone through a least four litres of water. Wool is so malleable with steam – can be shrunk and can be stretched.

I’ve been watching Alison Smith on Craftsy / Bluprint the whole time –Essential Guide to Tailoring: Structure & Shape and Essential Guide to Tailoring: Construction and I feel that I have an instructor in the sewing room with me. Invaluable.

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Instead of interfacing, I used canvas. This produces a much firmer finish although somewhat bulky in places. I wanted someone else to see all this work before it all disappears forever under the lining.

Now to my complaints about the pattern instructions.

Fabric cutting layout: indicates cutting a full front of sew-in interfacing. The front pattern piece indicates interfacing on the facing only.

Move Steps 20 and 21 to before 16. This is sewing the back lining and back neck facing together. The back lining piece is sewn to the back split first. Once this is done you are trying to manipulate the full coat at all times instead of just the lining. Sew the back neck facing on to the lining before attaching to the coat.

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The instructions about the lining make it cumbersome. The back lining piece only is attached to the coat. Now you have to sew the sides and fronts to this already attached piece. It is difficult (nay impossible) to turn the whole thing inside out especially once the front facings are sewn to the lining. And you’re lugging the entire coat around between sewing machine and ironing board.

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The instructions also tell you sew the shoulder pads in before inserting the sleeves! NO. just NO. You’d never get the sleeves in….

Personally, I like separate lining pattern pieces. I don’t like having to use the same piece and cutting bits off it for the lining.

The problems are not insurmountable but READ the instructions folks before doing anything. Make sure they make sense in your head before sewing, otherwise you may end up ripping stitches out and tearing your hair out in the process. Another reason I’m taking this one slowly.

There are not many finished V1527s out there. I found Tany – always brilliant, and Gorgeous Fabrics – who has made two. Read these accounts before starting.

At long last my lining is mostly in place, shoulder pads are positioned (not sewn) and now I have to manage to cut out matching sleeves and get them in.


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Holiday Legacy 2 – Suit V1467

Take someone else’s pattern and someone else’s fabric and you can sew a suit, not just an ordinary skirt and jacket suit but a designer version and what’s better than a “designer” suit? Vogue 1467. And even better than that is they all once belonged to my friend, ReAnn. 

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I’m not entirely sure of the benefits of writing about OOP patterns: I suppose if you really like it you could search the Interweb for a copy. However, I have a few insights and thoughts about this suit, hardly unsurprising. I suppose this pattern would fall into the category of an evening or special occasion suit with the long skirt with thigh high split.

Nowadays we tend to think of hi-lo hems as being trendy, modern and current – yeah- think again, this one comes from Lauren Sara (1994) and has a hi-lo hem that knocks the modern renditions out of the water. The front of the jacket and blouse sit just shy of the waist while the back falls all the way to top thighs. I am reminded a little of gentlemen’s tailcoats.

Some gorgeous chocolate brown stretch gabardine and a co-ordinating silk chiffon were kindly provided by my bestest ever sewing mate ReAnn which produced a composite of skirt, jacket and blouse.

The jacket is unlined, so every seam had to be finished neatly. I completed some version or other of Hong Kong seams using satin bias binding but used some leftover silk as the hem finish. I quite like the contrast of the plain and sober outside with the bright and patterned hem. And it does bear a passing resemblance to the silk chiffon blouse.

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And I did the same treatment on the skirt hem because after all, this is a suit and the bits should match each other… I made a little off-centre split and made use of the selvedge edges.

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ReAnn didn’t buy enough of the gabardine for me to make the trousers nor the skirt true to the pattern, so I modified the design to what I had. The skirt became knee length instead of floor and was patched along the hemline to make it mid length eventually.  The most obvious ‘design’ feature of this designer pattern is that the stupid sewer used the wrong side of the gabardine for the main body of the skirt and then reversed the fabric to use the right side for the hemline patch!

To summarise, the jacket and skirt hem are from one side of the fabric and the skirt is the other. Damn fabrics that look the same on both sides until you sew them together….

However, there’s no crying in sewing (Coco) so I have a day suit not an evening one and my lifestyle definitely favours the day. If anyone wants to invite me to a black tie event then I shall make an evening version.

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The jacket has wide flared sleeves which feel decadent and luxurious. I am having a bit of trouble inserting decent sleeves at the moment in my sewing repertoire. Either too confident or lost the knack, I don’t know but I’ll have to go back to basics for the next time. The gabardine had a bit of stretch so in this case, I’m blaming the materials and not the skills LOL.

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The skirt is high waisted but not so high as to be a corset, the blouse should cut just along the top. I’d like to wear the blouse with other things so I lengthened it quite considerably at the front and when worn untucked, I like the break it provides in the head to knee solid brown.DSCN7806

Can’t waste silk chiffon. A scarf was made from the left overs.

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I found the blouse to be very loose (big) and because it’s chiffon, I will always have to wear a cami underneath. But you can see clearly the dramatic hemline. The blouse should mirror the jacket, sleeves and hem. The blouse neckline is a simple scoop while the jacket has a smart mandarin collar.

You can clearly see the change in tone of the skirt’s fabric in the following photos. Remember that ‘design feature’?

A new term has started with all the fresh faced students all eager and keen. My job is trying to keep that enthusiasm going until next June. I’m taking advantage of some lovely sunshine to take these pics, although the temperature does not match it. This suit is finished just in time for autumnal weather and intimidation in the classroom.

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Thank you one and all who provided ideas on what to sew with the Linton tweeds in my previous post. You’ve given me a lot to think about and research – you’re the best!

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In fact, you gave me so much to think about that I just had to go back to Linton and buy another colour way, just in case I had too many ideas and not enough fabric. That makes a pink, a green and now a blue, all with coordinating herringbones.

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……So lots to plan and think about and cut and sew and hopefully, eventually, wear.

 


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Sources of Inspiration

One of my very bestest friends, K, dresses really well. She has chosen the colours that suit her perfectly and wears them with style and panache. Her ‘to-go’ outfit is a beautifully patterned (and usually expensive) shell top, cardigan (if necessary) and a pair of trousers. It looks effortless.

Once a month I go away for a day to sew with my mates. We bring our machines, fabrics, patterns and chat about sewing, patterns, swap tips, techniques and review gadgets. We also eat a lot of scones and cake and might squeeze a wee bit of sewing in between. Most of these lovely sewing ladies are young – I mean way younger than me.

I mostly use Vogue patterns; they use PDFs and mostly independent pattern companies. Sometimes I feel a little old-fashioned and left out because I’m a Big 4 fan. I know my Vogues and know instinctively what alterations I need to make for a perfect fit.

Anyway, one of “Young People” sewing team’s favourite pattern companies is Sew Over It. After our last day away and listening to all their talk , I went delving and came up with this..

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Beautifully presented in tissue wrapped fabric and a study box – I was overjoyed. I bought this little kit. Silk Cami as a proper paper pattern with printed instructions and 1m of pre-selected cotton. I also added a few other metres of alternative rayons just because.

Sew Over It or SOI if you’re in the know, which just happens to be the title of this post – did you notice? Sources of Inspiration (SOI) – good, huh? also sells fabric – good and bad at the same time. It means you can choose a pattern and then go directly to buy appropriate fabric, or find a gorgeous fabric and then find a suitable pattern.

I did both.

This practical, useful and everyday top can easily be sewn up within a hour without interruption. This weekend I managed three……..

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Fabric 1 is from a newly opened local Belfast shop Hab & Fab. Fabrics 2 and 3 are from SOI. I’v got hummingbirds and roses, flowers and bouquets, lilies and vines. These are rapidly taken photos to match the rapid sewing.

To mix things up a wee bit and add a bit of variation I did three difference seam finishes. The instructions go for French seams but I’m lucky and have an overlocker/serger who is particularly good friends with me at the moment (jinx!).

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Fabric 1 is a scuba with a woven cotton backing and was trimmed and finished with pinking shears. Fabric 2 got the French seam treatment but not as we know it. Fabric 3 was straightforward and simply serged.

And now for the French seam treatment. This is NOT my idea. I got this from Kathleen as I read Ozzyblackbeard’s latest blog. I have to tell you it is genius and like all brilliant things, one wonders why did I not think of that? You do need a serger/overlocker.

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Step1 – Wrong sides together, serge the seam 1/4″ or thereabouts.

Step 2 – Right sides together, sew the serged seam within. This is nice as you can easily feel the serged edge through the fabric.

Step 3 – Press the enclosed seam to one side. Perfection, easy, neat – absolutely brilliant!

My SOI box is now empty but I’m using it to hold the next planned patterns……

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I am gearing up for an epic sew – Vogue 1467 – so this little top was for fun and fast sewing; it is a nod towards K’s distinctive style and the direct influence of my sewing away day friends – no matter what age they are – we can all still learn from each other.

 


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Holiday Legacy 1 – Step-In Skirt

For people who sew, no trip away from home is a complete success unless you manage to bring home fabric! Agreed? This is our version of the holiday souvenir.

In Scotland, I visited the Harris Tweed shop but they had so much choice that I couldn’t decide on the day. Added to which £40 for half width/ £80 for double width per metre means a simple straight skirt would cost in the region of £100 including lining and zip etc. TweedsIt was also quite difficult to choose a winter weight tweed in temperatures of 24 with clear blue skies and practically 20 hours of sunshine. A skirt well made in Harris tweed would last at least 30 years and I don’t know if I have 30 years left…..

In Mexico, fabric shops were sadly obscure and the pickings meagre. Thankfully, I was staying with a sewing friend who had boxes and boxes full of stash and I went gleaning. There were also patterns galore with which to pair the fabrics.

I came home with a Japanese print cotton (subject of this post), autumnal coloured silk chiffon and dark brown gabardine. I had selected others but weight restrictions and space in my luggage prevented me from bringing any more home. More about the other fabrics as I sew through them……..

Patterns included:Vogue 2625 – Michael Kors dresses (2002), Vogue 1467 – Lauren Sara suit (1994) and Vogue 8499 – Marcy Tilton skirt and trousers (2008).

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I bought a “designer” linen skirt in Mexico, which is not really a skirt. I don’t know if this item of clothing even has a name, so I’m calling it a step-in-skirt. The linen isn’t the finest nor the best, even for the price I paid but it creases beautifully and looks like linen.

As soon as I came home, I copied it or at least made a similar version – let’s call mine a cousin.

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To cut a long construction story short – make a skirt and sew in between the legs at the hem. Here’s a crappy sketch No 1:

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The RTW one has has a wrap front and tie.

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But I didn’t have enough fabric for a wrap so my version is just sort of a skirt shape with side pockets as pleats at each side and the waistband split and attached one to the front and one to the back.

With only about 1m of fabric to play with I laid the RTW skirt flat on top of the Japanese print and drew around it with some chalk – yeah I know, the technicality and precision is astounding you! Cut out two pieces exactly the same. Here’s another crappy sketch No 2:

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NB: slice through the fold – it is not necessary to the pattern. I cut my fabric in two first because there is a directional design, so just treated it like a nap.  The only critical measurement is the top (waist) of the skirt; it must be your waist measurement + ease + seam allowance: err on the side of way too big. The waistband must be longer than the waist measurement by at least 2″ .

Practically a no-waste pattern, the two pockets and waistband can fit around the pattern of the main skirt pieces on what would otherwise be left-over or dumped.

Flip the pocket pieces and sew to the front and back skirt pieces with the narrowest part close to the waist. Stitch the pocket bags together and sew up the side seams. these will form not only pockets but pleats.

Attach one waistband piece to the front (both front and back are exactly the same) and attach the other to the back. Check for fit and mark buttonholes. I made two button holes on either side of the front section and sewed buttons on the back section which makes a very suitable in and out system. It’s absolutely fine if there’s a bit of overlap – you’re just adding to the design feature pleated sides.

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Mark how wide you want the leg holes to be at the sides, obviously, they need to big enough so that you can get your legs through: leave this open and sew the hem in between together like a normal seam and finish the hem edges around the legs bits. See crappy sketch No 1 above.

DSCN7774There are however, a few experienced disadvantages:

  1. It’s difficult to cross your legs as this not a pair of trousers nor a skirt.
  2. Bodily functions require perfect timing and clean floors – the whole thing has to drop down like a jumpsuit, or whatever the modern day name for they are.
  3. Climbing up step ladders could be problematic so don’t wear this while doing DIY.

Otherwise, it’s easy to sew, uses the most of limited fabric, relaxed, wee bit weird and the Step-in-Skirt is truly comfortable to wear.

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I also added a little fabric stay inside to hold the pockets together, pulls them towards the front and adds to the pleated sides (see, there was a wee bit of posh sewing knowledge used).

The Step-in-Skirt could also be classified as a pair of trousers with the lowest crotch seam ever!

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Thanks to you all for your ever encouraging and supportive comments and messages.

And a very warm welcome to all new readers and sewers.