corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Patternless Skirt

As part of our sewing day away the ladies all brought fabric, patterns and notions for the donate-swap table. As I don’t have much of a stash, I had to dive deep into the blanket box to see what lengths and leftovers were lurking there. I came up with a few serviceable pieces, one of them being this, which actually stayed home with me.

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Navy distressed wool pinstripe from The Cloth House, London; the bulk of the fabric having been used to make culottes a few years back.

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Enough to make a pencil skirt, roughly 50″ X 25″ (127 x 64cm). So the fabric was wrapped around Doris while I went off to locate a suitable pattern. However, I looked at the draping on the mannequin and thought – that looks interesting as it is – let’s make a skirt without a pattern. I mean it’s only leftover fabric anyway that had been long forgotten, nothing to lose.

Here’s how to make a skirt without a pattern. It helps if you have a mannequin but if you don’t then just use yourself and get a little help from someone with the pinning for darts.

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This will be a lined wrap skirt with an asymmetrical hemline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pin the fabric to the mannequin, overlapping the fronts at an angle. Pinch out the excess at the back to make two darts and do the same at the sides. Four small darts for shaping.

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Cut a waistband facing (I used another fabric) the same width of the ‘skirt’ and sew to the top edge. Cut the lining a little smaller than the skirt’s width and sew to the facing and the two sides, leaving the hem open.

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Turn to the right side and press well, especially down the short edges. As the lining is smaller the edges should turn under neatly.

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Fold up the raw edge of the hem lining a little higher than the skirt hem and sew.

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The lining is not edge to edge therefore and should not be seen from the outside. You may have to make a few folds/pleats in the lining to make it fit within the confines of the skirt.

Make a buttonhole on the right hand side at hip and sew a button to the left side. This will hold the skirt up.

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Recently I bought a few zips from Minerva and there was this brilliant deal for £1 – a bag full of assorted zips. Most are open ended chunky plastic type zips. I took a black one of these and sewed it to the wrap edge of the skirt.

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No attempt to hide the zip was made because it’s a design feature! This keeps the wrap wrapped.

When you look at a piece of fabric and think it’s not worth keeping – think again.

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Dior-esque “17

Quite honestly, I have no idea where this came from…there I was (almost) happily sewing up an Oska inspired winter collection and then I veered way off track. 51CSULc-dUL._SX385_BO1,204,203,200_Oska and related designers leave out the feminine hourglass shape and go for comfort. I have totally adopted this aesthetic and find it both comforting and classy, yet, I still harken after a fitted look.

I have been reading, and I mean actually reading and not just looking at the pictures, The Golden Age of Haute Couture 1947-1957. A V&A book production that is a combination of history, academic research, fashion and insight. The principal designer covered in the book is Dior and his post-war New Look -full skirts and nipped in waists – a rebellion against austerity and rationing.

I have worn the same two dresses on the Big Day and accompanying festivities for about five years now, so it really is about time I updated. Mind you these two dresses are true classics and will survive for many more years yet.

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Linton Tweed red and ivory boiled wool. Both are sewn from McCalls 2401 – a true classic sheaf dress with loads of variations and options. I believe it’s OOP but it shouldn’t be – if you ever get a chance – buy it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tartan/plaid/checks are always popular around the Christmas and the New Year period.

bobby-brown-red-grey-check-plaid-tartan-cotton-fabric-cudI found some non-traditional tartan at Croftmill in greys (my fav colour) with reds and orange and navy – all my other favourite colours in one cloth! Too good to pass over. This is a shirting cotton but in my winter muddled mind I envisioned a festive dress in lightweight wool: I truly and actually know it’s cotton but I can sew it to look like wool – Can’t I?

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Patterns

Skirt is the first major absorber of fabric as I opted for a circle. Best option is always Paco Peralta’s half circle skirt. This skirt feels and moves like a full circle but is much more manageable and uses half the fabric. You get the drape and swirl without the girth. il_570xN.271636588Honestly, let’s face it, hips that are hips do not need extra attention drawn to them.

A beautiful pattern – every sewer should have this one in their arsenal too. The original pattern includes two lengths, lining and personally, perfectly hand drafted. No sewing instructions but you only have to look online for real-life sewers contribution tips and finished versions and it is actually a relatively simple but deceptively well crafted skirt that it could be figured out by beginner-intermediate sewers and additionally you get the perfect garment. I’ve made it loads of times – cotton, jersey, linen.  This time, I also managed to include an inseam pocket and cut the longer length for holiday drama.

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As swirly and drapey as this skirt is on its own, I then moved into the Twilight Zone and thought – what if I put a petticoat underneath? I am moving into an alternative universe at this point – I am a person who has always eschewed the full circle skirts of the 1950s and opted for the more slimline pencil silhouette. But Hey ho… I bought some red netting and red poly cotton and hacked together a puffy petticoat.

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Using the same Paco skirt pattern for the petticoat, I get the same drape and fullness as the skirt. Even if I say this myself, I did some nice sewing on a garment that will (should) not be seen: ribbon trims on the netting seams and French seams throughout, just in case it does actually comes on show. The waist is merely closed with a tie which should allow for easy release after a Christmas dinner.

Shouldn’t everyone have a red petticoat even if it only hangs in the wardrobe??

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Needless to say there was leftover fabric and you know I can’t leave well enough alone, so I made the bodice from vintage Vogue 1136 (OOP) . I added a few inches to the bodice length but that was the only alteration. I think we should all look a little more closely at dress bodices that can be made into tops.

A beautiful back neckline with cross-over back bands and generous sewn-on  cap sleeves.

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In order to to be able to actually get this ‘top’ on, the zip is reversed and opens from the bottom. As I was working with leftovers, matching checks was random and I don’t mind in the slightest. It may not be acceptable in the haute couture houses in Paris but for a Christmas dinner in Belfast, it’s fine!

And….then there were more leftovers but we are down to scraps at this point, so I made a eight core corset belt from Burda (so old I have no record of the issue date or number). No chance of putting on weight with this one…..

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The corset belt was stiffened with all my scraps of interfacing – iron-on, sew-on and every weight available – a bit like a patchwork of interfacing. It is firm but soft enough to sit down in without causing a loss of blood or oxygen to vital organs.

The belt is secured with true corset hooks and eyes purchased from the Aladdin’s Cave of Sew ‘n’ Sew in Belfast city centre. You want what?? Yeah we have that somewhere…..

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Instead of a Christmas dress, I have Christmas separates that look like a dress.

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Hopefully, I have paid homage to Mons. Dior with his revolutionary skirts and used Sn Peralta designs to make this idea a reality.

The skirt and top without the belt…..but with cat

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An inordinate amount of space on the sofa is taken up with skirt and petticoat however…..

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I do not have the hand-span waist (19″) that Dior designs demanded but perhaps some 21st century Spandex might help.

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My apologies to the perfectionist but I find interest in a certain amount of originality and uniqueness in mis-matched checks especially for the minor pieces in this ensemble.

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Truly, I thank you, one and all, for your support, comments, reading, encouragement, inspiration and for just being there in 2017.

I respect and admire the pattern designers and creators whose ideas we humble sewers try to turn into reality. Thank you.

I salute the coming year with positive enthusiasm and I hope you will come along with me too.

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I wish you all a peaceful, restful Christmas (Holiday) break and the healthiest of New Years.

Let the sewing begin 2018!

 

 


11 Comments

No Fabric…. 2 & 3

To cut a long story short and to skip to the chase I’ve made two more things without fabric.

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First up, cotton jersey leftover from Donna Karan dress. Enough for a T-shirt with sleeves or something longer without sleeves. Out came my old favouriteMerchant and Mills Bantam vest except this time I cut the vest in half and inserted a mid-riff band to make it into a dress.

A bit boring on its own and time to spare to sew without fabric, I beaded the neck and along the edge of an added pocket.

The beading took about 4 weeks! It’s dense and heavy; sparkly and shiney.

 

Needless to say, summer has long gone from our shores.

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The middle band had to cut on the cross grain due to fabric restrictions but I quite like the subtle change in tone between the blues.

 

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Next, is another favourite skirt from StyleArc – Zoe. Wears like a pencil skirt walks like an A-Line. Designed for wovens.

This up-to-the-minute longer-line pencil skirt incorporates clever design features to set this style apart. The darted back line finishes on the front and the front side seam moves towards the centre resulting in a slimming silhouette.

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This fabric is leftover from Vogue 1531.

And then I managed to pick up a long line cardigan in the sales that coordinates perfectly – much better in real life than in the photos.

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To sum up: I  finished a long awaiting linen dress, I’ve made a beaded sun-dress and a fully lined skirt – not bad for having no fabric!

Lessons to take away: buy for a project and maybe buy just a little more than you actually need so that you can add to the leftover pile and just look what can be made from that pile. However, use the leftovers, otherwise it will get out of hand!

The autumn/winter 2017 wardrobe has now thankfully arrived – albeit in kit form – plans and ideas to follow…………

 


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.

 

 


69 Comments

40 Shades of…….

Well, 3 actually.

One of the things I like about summer is starting to think about A/W clothes. I’ve gathered a few metres together already in greys and burgundy. I like Thornberry’s new approach to sewing – sew an outfit, not an orphan!

I took the Toni dress pattern and made it exactly as is but didn’t sew up the centre front seam.

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What I have is a long, drapey waistcoat with a fab collar and pockets.

This time I added lead weights to the points of the drapes and they hang much better. The fabric is a stretch grey marl, actually quite stable and very good recovery, cotton and elastane blend from Fab Works.

But you can’t have a waistcoat without something to wear with it, like a skirt.

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CC_FOLD_SKIRT__78680_zoom2_grandeThis one is Centre for Pattern Design CC Fold skirt. It’s mock wrap, one seam, waist tied. There’s space for a hidden zip inside the front fold but as this fabric is stretch I left it out.

My ties are also only half length.

I sewed the front fold halfway down just to keep it in place and the waist ties are also sewn together. So this skirt has no fastenings at all. It’s not even hemmed and I quite like the slight dip where the fold is.

Then, there’s fabric left over so you have to do something with it

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This is Vogue 9193 by Marcy Tilton. It’s the top half of the top only.  The sleeves are patched with inside out seams; raw edge bands for neck and hem and finally a little side pocket.

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Altogether now –

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V9193As the Tilton pattern was out and about, I made a full length version of the top in a light grey, almost silver, knit from Minerva.

 

 

 

 

 

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This can now be layered with the dark grey top –

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But now you need something else to wear with the tops, like trousers. Same Tilton pattern this time made in the weirdest fabric from Fab Works: silk and linen woven into ripples. The trousers have a yoke and horizontal pockets; elasticated waist and ankle length.

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Then the camera battery was exhausted, as was I. So I suppose there’ll have to be a sequel.