corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


52 Comments

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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30 Comments

End of Knits

Really and truly, how could I not venture into Alabama Chanin territory, what with all that jersey / knit / stretchy stuff just lying about like washed-up treasure on a beach in a spring high tide?

My fingers were itching and twitching; the hand sewing needles were singing like wind through railings; thread was twanging like guitar stings in an attic; it was calling, calling…

So, a marriage between the Tilton’s Artful T-shirt and Chanin’s plain foundation wardrobe pieces. Like all marriages (at least mine anyways) some things work out without effort and some things need a little bit of work. These items were mostly sewn on the machine and overlocker, not by hand – a compromise. …

AC basic T-shirt with contrast sleeves, neck band and uneven cuffs

AC A-line skirt. Double layer with asymmetrical top layer, tied waistband (not seen).

AC poncho: one rectangle sewn together off kilter, with contrast bands and inset piping to match the T-shirt body. This one was hand sewn with thick pink silk thread and coordinates with almost all my olive green and raspberry clothes that I have (or not) sewn for the failed SWAP ’16.

I know the poncho-thing is not to everyone’s taste and I have only worn it at home on the sofa watching House of Cards, but maybe I’ll venture out in it one day and demonstrate my 50 and Not Dead Yet styling.

The T-shirt pattern is in Studio Sewing and Design. I scooped the neckline way more than the original design. The poncho pattern is also there. The skirt is the Swing skirt from Stitch Book. Fabrics are from Fabworks for the print the solid.

There’s very little jersey fabric left now after this adventure, so I might venture back to wovens and see what happens.

Welcome to all new readers and followers and I hope you gain some nugget of experience or inspiration for your own sewing. It’s lovely to have you along for the journey. Thank you.

 


10 Comments

The Ponte Club

Donna’s Vogue pattern 1440 was still sitting about the sewing room after her uninvited visit so I thought I’d might as well just use it to save me rifling through my very untidy, uncategorised and unKondoed collection. I rely on memory as a filing system, although it has let me down previously as I’ve actually purchased a Vogue pattern that I already owned!

I’ve never sewn with Ponte before but found some on offer somewhere on the Interweb a month or so ago and bought a goodly amount of their stock: a pale grey, magenta, dusky pink and obligatory black. It’s probably too late for this query – but does ponte have a right and wrong side? It is a great fabric to sew with – no fraying, stable and behaves well, it stretches and recovers, no wrinkling but presses well. Details about what ponte is here.

I’ve had my eye on a few StyleArcs for absolutely ages…… although delivery from Australia can take weeks and weeks and weeks. I ordered a skirt and along with this pattern came the free monthly one of a coat- in the meantime I patchworked and quilted instead. I’d obviously ordered just before the container was full and I only had to wait 3 weeks for the patterns to arrive. BTW – StyleArc have an Etsy shop for instant PDFs and I’ve been availing of this facility a lot recently. …..

A marriage between StyleArc and Vogue and Ponte, even if some of the patterns are for wovens!

Skirt is Zoe

Coat is Mason (knit fabric)

Jacket is Vogue Donna Karan 1440

Top (plain grey) Donna Karan Vogue 1282 (knit fabric)

Top (patterned grey) McCalls M6078 (knit fabric)

Shoes are Vivienne Westwood

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The Mason coat has raw edges but is trimmed with the selvedge from the pale grey on cuffs, pockets and round the neckline and lapels. Real easy to put together just watch your fabric choice as the wrong side shows at the fold back lapels. I serged all internal seams for a more finished look and the collar has a flat felled seam at centre back. The selvedge trim was sewn with a fancy wiggly stitch and ties the weird no-colour coat to the pale grey skirt for a ‘set’.

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The Donna Karan jacket is fab and I have another planned in a linen woven which I anticipate will be more difficult to sew as in this case I just pulled and stretched the ponte to make the notches match especially round the curves. I didn’t bind every seam, just serged again, and I raised the shoulder seams by 1″ and left the shoulder pads out.

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The jacket is waterfall and loose at the front but shaped and fitted through the back. This one is trimmed with a strip of magenta ponte – sewn on with a fancy stitch – and goes all the way around the whole jacket and cuffs which are folded back (extremely long sleeves).

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The magenta trim then ties the pale grey jacket to the magenta Zoe skirt for another ‘set’.DSCN5260

The Zoe skirt is an unusual pencil: two huge open darts at the back from hem to bum, and a front that is narrower at the hem than waist to pull the sides seams forward. The back also dips down a little to create a curved hem. There is an invisible zip at the side and no waistband, just facing.

My first one was a muslin in the black ponte (not shown). It ran a little big. StyleArc’s patterns have 1cm (1/2″) SA so the magenta version was sewn with the usual 1.5cm (5/8″) SA and the zip was ignored. I can just pull the skirt on thanks to the stretch and recoverability of the ponte. And the fit was better.

By the time I got to the pale grey Zoe, the seam allowances had increased to 2cm (closer to 1″). The fit is much better although the ponte shows every knicker line, lump and bump, so robust undergarments are in order (or none at all!) And I can still just pull it on, so no zip required.

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Seams were serged and the hem just machined. None of the skirts is lined but I would like to do this soon. The ponte clings to tights and a lining might help smooth out some of the body flaws.

The McCalls drape top still remains one my favourite one-hour sewing projects: front and back, two side seams and just narrow hems on armholes and hem and it can be cut from the narrowest of fabrics.
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I have mixed emotions about the Donna Karan draped top. All the Pattern Reviews raved about it and when it is sitting perfectly, it is fab. But, every time I move the drape un-drapes. The pattern calls for a weight to be inserted in the inside to hold the drape in place – well, the weight went in, the weight came out; the drape was stitched in place and then ripped out. I might even be using a good ol’ safety pin in these pics!

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The Pattern Reviewers stated that the armholes were large and low, so I sewed mine tighter from the outset. This alteration for modesty’s sake had an effect on the drape. The armholes were then ripped out and cut larger. OK, bad selfie below – but you can see the drape on one side with the larger armhole falling all the way from the breast and the ‘fitting’ on the other side with the smaller armhole.

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Not my proudest moment in sewing……

DSCN5228 I ended up cutting all that mess off and adding a band. So much effort and time, adjustment and agony over a top that will now only ever be worn (if at all) under a jacket or cardigan. It does have a lovely drape and if I don’t move it hangs beautifully.

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Three skirts, two jackets, two tops and a multitude of outfits!

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A really big thank you for all your suggestions about what to make with the patterned silk. I think we’ve covered every garment possible and even DH suggested trousers! I’m still considering but might have settled on a pattern, if I don’t change my mind again that is! We’ve got a Bank Holiday weekend here, lots of sewing and wardrobe sorting planned. Hope you have too.


35 Comments

Patchwork Clothes

When you hear that phrase, what do you think of?

Tree huggers and hippies? Charlie Chaplin and the Kid?

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Maybe the 1970s –

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Late ’90s flirt with bohemia –

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YSL and Giorgio Sant’Angelo again 1970

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6a01156f47abbe970c014e8be876b5970d-800wi1970spatchworkprinttietop1_grandeCertainly colourful, flowing, full skirted and wide bell-bottomed trousers – oh the things we wore!

Everything comes around and this year, patchwork is back! Albeit a little more refined perhaps and with a 2015 price tag.

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Gucci patchwork S/S 2015

 

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Gucci silk patchwork joggers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Gucci silk patchwork jacket $7,200

The late, great Koos van der Akker shared many of his design with us via Vogue but I have never been brave enough to try one.
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And catwalk trends this year are harking back to the 1970 vibe – which ultimately means patchwork and colour.

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Now to my quilting class and my idea to sew a patchwork scarf. Scarf made, and a skirt, and a bag!

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I believe this is called a French braid and the fabric selection is designed by Minnick & Simpson for Moda and called Lexington: the colours include whites, creams, tans, and blues.. Do you really want to know about strip sizes and patchwork techniques? Nah, we’ll just look at the pictures…….

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I bought an extra 1.5m of the large flower design and made the best skirt in the world – V1247, lengthened, as always. I used up every scrap of my fabric: the skirt has a patchwork inset around the hem. It is lined with a heavy muslin and the patchwork bit is lightly quilted to it.

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And with all the bits left over, you sew these together and create another 1/2m of fabric and I got a matching bag – Japanese Knot, downloaded from here.

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So far I’ve worn the skirt and scarf with a big tough Ziggi biker jacket and navy boots to make it seem a little less twee and because it is winter and cotton skirts in February are really not such a good idea. So while Lizzy is making winter clothes in summer, I’m making summer clothes in winter.

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Now, I know this isn’t actually possible…..but…..I buy little bitty bits of fabric, sew them together and end up with more yardage than I started with!?

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See, I knew those quilters had the dark forces on their side and now I have the proof.

 

 

 


20 Comments

Jersey Blue Relax

Thank you all so very much for the useful comments on the cosmic AC bolero! It’s so refreshing to have honest and candid remarks and I have taken the overwhelming majority advice and set it aside. Phew!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I have been hand sewing other items for SWAP ’15. A few 20 mins here and there soon add up to some very productive hours and AC is portable so it can be sewn in the kitchen in between stirring stuff in pots or on the bus or on the sofa with one eye on TV.  I usually have 3 or 4 different items on the go at any one time: when I get fed up beading (you know about that one!) then I applique, when I get fed up appliqueing I seam. It helps to vary the work and each garment gets moved on little by little.

This one is nothing too exciting but fast becoming a favourite. Come home from work, kick off the shoes, strip off the dress and slip into this.

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Burda maxi skirt 1/2013 #116 with deep waistband and AC long sleeved T-shirt with a bit of placement applique.

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There is a mix of reverse applique (for the stem) and bog standard applique (leaves) and a few stitches here and there for extra texture. But this one is just slightly more unique because the design goes over the shoulder and drapes over the back, like a real branch.

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I love the flared sleeves of this T-shirt pattern from AC book Studio Sewing and Design. It’s quite fitted not loose at all but I like that too although I have scooped the neckline way more than the original. The leaves are sewn on with a parallel whip stitch which is a stretch stitch to ease getting in and out of the T-shirt without them falling off and I used a mix of different blue threads.

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Pre-washing. You can see the felt tip pen lines used for cutting out the shapes.

 

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The skirt is really easy to sew and I reckon if you use a machine or serger, it would take no more than an hour to whip up: two side seams and attach the waistband. I don’t hem any of my AC items so that saves time too. There’s no embellishment on the skirt other than the stitching to hold it together. The waistband is really deep, so I gathered either side with some tight running stitches to ruche it a bit and it is sewn on with a herringbone stitch because it needs to stretch (a lot) to get the skirt on. When worn, the waistband sort of pleats itself.

Tia started me off on this outfit idea – she developed a LATH wardrobe (lounging around the house) and has also made this skirt with her own mods. Although hers could easily be worn out to dinner.

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The whole outfit is comfortable and just perfect for relaxing in (pink fluffy slippers are mandatory footwear!).