corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


36 Comments

Sewing the Genuine 70s

A quick look on ebay, few clicks later and I bought a real life vintage 1970s dress pattern – Simplicity 5728 printed in 1973. I won’t do a full pattern review because most (if not all) of you will never make this dress.

dscn6881

 

dscn6884

The fabric is one of the rayons I got from Craftsy sale: black with flowers and foliage.

dscn6869

Updates for 2017 include a 32″ length on the skirt, an invisible zip and a belt rather than ties. I did include single welt pockets in the skirt too – so useful.  Otherwise the dress is as the dress is: long sleeved with cuffs and something called an “Italian” type collar and a centre back zip. there was only a white plastic buckle in the notions box so it got a few coats of nail polish to turn it deep pink.

So, to the dress. Pics are a bit fuzzy – apologies in advance.

I love my pockets; I love the Italian-style collar, although I’ve never heard of it before.

d9787fa5340e58354bafbf15e85d083b

0b32c388ceb7322f876e5d745f557ceeItalian style collars are from men’s dress shirts and describe the amount of spread between the collar points and length. (I think).

dscn6890

I love the length – it looks good with shoes and boots alike. I love the gathered sleeves.

TIP: If you can’t put a sleeve in without gathers, then just put in a gathered sleeve!

One more rayon to go, then off to mark 10,000 exam questions and a quick trip to London.

dscn6888

I shall be maintaining radio silence for a week or two but I haven’t gone away, you know!


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?


61 Comments

It was 50 Years ago today……

…. I was three years old and a flower girl at my Auntie Jean and Uncle Lewis’s wedding. My mummy made me a blue velvet dress to wear and someone lent me a white fur stole with matching muff. I wore white knee socks like a big girl (and scowled like one too!) accessorised with my beautiful Sunday best black patent shoes with buckles (not shown). I wore Chanel No 5. Only joking.

dscn6768Standing directly behind me is my daddy who was Best Man and on my left, my eldest cousin and idol in a red coat- see, she has knee socks. Beside her and behind a gate post is my second eldest cousin, also my childhood and continuing idol. On my right is the bride and groom; totally in love and eyes for no one other than each other. 50 years on from that day, Jean and Lewis are still together, still devoted to each other and because of that I got another two cousins! Auntie Jean is the youngest of six siblings, my mother’s youngest sister. A family of three boys and three girls – all the boys are dead but the girls are showing no signs of giving up just yet! And they are either in or heading towards their 80s, but Jean’s the baby.

The photograph is therefore 50 years old and the version you see here is a photograph of a print of the original photo – hence the quality, but you get the idea.

To celebrate their Golden Wedding Anniversary, my Uncle Lewis has invited the whole family to the Slieve Donard hotel for dinner – and bed and breakfast!slieve-donard-resort-spa-newcastle-ireland_010720140930446342

The hotel resides beneath the Mourne Mountains in Newcastle and is right beside the shore – what could be a better location?

view-of-slieve-donard-co-down-northern-irelandMy lovely Auntie Jean spends most of her time these days in a wheelchair because she has MS (Multiple Sclerosis). My own bridesmaid suffered the same disease from the tender age of 22 and is now dead. She was tall, beautiful, elegant and stylish and actually put me in the shade, even on my wedding day, but I could never resent a single moment we spent together. She stood totally unaided beside me as my witness and best friend. Julie is the one in blue. Isn’t she gorgeous?dscn6769The 50th wedding celebration is not only in honour of the golden couple but also to raise money for MS. It is a devastating disease that seems to be common ( in that I know of loads of people with a diagnosis) in Northern Ireland. Auntie Jean’s son, Ian, my youngest cousin 46, has also been stuck with this incapacitating illness: he is an award winning press photographer, who was also our wedding photographer – his first private commission. And what memorable images he took that day and how unaware we all were to what the future held. These are photos of the photos, if you know what I mean? Relaxed, genuine captures in time of each special moment.

Ian is a husband and a father to a gorgeous and clever daughter but he now lives in residential care. Ian cannot eat, drink or swallow; cannot dance or walk, not even stand; cannot read because he can’t turn the page; cannot scratch an itch; and can no longer take photographs because he can’t even press the shutter and yet everytime I visit him, we have a laugh and reminisce good times and make fun of our family traits.

Julie was the same; never complained, never moaned, just had a very optimistic view of life and relished every moment with a smile.

If you feel so inclined, you can make a small donation to MS through Just Giving

This is a sewing blog, so let’s get to the sewing……..

What better way to celebrate a Golden Wedding Anniversary than to re-create what I wore 50 years ago as a flower girl?  I made a grown up version of my blue velvet dress. Looks like a sack on the hanger …..

dscn6762

The pattern is from Bootstrap – asymmetrical off-shoulder dress and custom fitted to me. 44849mainThis really is the way to go – type in your measurements and you get a pattern that’s perfect – no adjusting, alterations etc, just cut and sew.

As the wedding was in the mid 1960s, I wanted to link to that era and this design seemed to fit the brief as it had a slightly vintage look. It probably fits better into the late 1950s but we are always 10 years behind the rest of the world in Northern Ireland. I also used Google images for inspiration of the fashion of the time.

dscn6796

The fabric is from Croftmill and is described as the richest possible dark navy blue – perfect – not black but nearly, it’s still blue and because it’s velvet it has every shade in between. This is a cotton velvet because it is so much more stable and resilient than the silk version. If you read advice about sewing with velvet, you’ll be told not to press, use a walking foot, use a million pins, sew once and don’t rip out, etc etc etc – it’s enough to put you off sewing with velvet at all. Look, just buy the stuff and make a dress – it really doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just make sure the nap (pile) all smoothes down the same direction when you place your pattern pieces, so you will need more fabric than usual, at least 1/2 metre.

dscn6798

Yes, I’ve made mistakes but we all know that only another sewer will notice the errors. I pressed, I ripped out, I used the normal amount of pins and I did not use a walking foot. If you do nothing else, you MUST use a a velvet pressing cloth. This is just a scrap of the same fabric and when pressing seams flat place velvet to velvet and gently, gently steam press. Be wary of pressing hems and sleeves. I do know that once pressed, the velvet pile will never recover. Go on, ask me how I know that??

dscn6795

Because this is a party dress, I moved the centre back zipper to the left-hand side – I mean who wants to spin round and round at 2am in the morning trying to pull a zip down that you can’t reach to get out of the dress. Mind you, I suppose you could always sleep in it.

dscn6801

When I make a dress I like long panels, from shoulder to hem, in other words no waist seam that cuts the dress in half. This dress has a waist seam at the front only. I disguised it with a half belt, sewn into the sides and blinged up with a pearl and diamond cabochon. (DH has advised to remove the pearl – opinions please.)

dscn6766

I sewed the back split closed – there was no need to fiddle around with lining as I can walk just fine without it.

dscn6790The dress is fully lined and if I could take back time, I would underline it actually – but I didn’t, so just move on. The hem is very narrow deliberately. I like this length, so I sewed a wide band of lace to the very edge and slip stitched this up.

dscn6785

The sleeves were lengthened to 3/4 length, this is December after all, but they looked a little clumsy and heavy. I sewed three little tucks so that they became slightly gathered above the elbows and reflect the gathers in the front bodice. It creates an uneven sleeve hem so the lining needs to be tucked inside to mirror the shape.

dscn6764

Off the shoulder dresses may be sexy and dramatic but create a whole new category of underwear problems. A bog-standard bra ain’t gonna work. Do you bdscn6789uy special undergarments, do you adapt existing bras? The number of YouTube videos I watched on how to insert cups into dresses reached record breaking numbers and in the end I opted for the easiest, and possibly the best solution, hand sew a couple of bra strap tabs with poppers and then wear my favourite bra. Job done.

 

 

dscn6793

No-one has lent me a white fur stole to wear this time round and I think I’ll leave the big girl white knee socks off too…….

dscn6794

I know we all have extra expense at this particular time of year but, you know what, we can walk, talk, dance and we can relish in our pure physical ability, however clumsily, to enjoy life – even if it’s just to thread and use a needle. Don’t forget, if you’d like to contribute to support MS click here. I’d ask you to NOT buy those two metres/yards  to sit forlornly in your stash but instead give the £/$ 12-15 to MS instead.

dscn6797

Many, many thanks. My Auntie Jean, cousin Ian, bridesmaid Julie’s legacy and countless others will benefit from your generosity and kindness.

 

 

 

 

 


21 Comments

Back to the Future

Kate – wait ’til you see what I found!

Like many of you I learned to sew at my mother’s feet. In those days the choice of fabric and patterns was very limited. I don’t even know if Vogue had made it as 4b0b84485c8d81fc7ad906927far as Northern Ireland in the 1960s – Simplicity was about the height of it. All, or at least a large part, of my childhood wardrobe was ‘home-made’ on a Singer treadle machine and my father often remarked that my mother was married to her sewing machine and not him!

Growing into my teenage years I realised the benefits of having a mother who could sew: while I loved to go shopping with my friends and my wardrobe became increasingly RTW, I also had the advantage of owning unique items. I clearly remember a green striped jumpsuit, a brown pinafore maxi dress , peasant skirts by the bucket load – it was the 70s and I thought I was IT!

What I failed to acknowledge at the time was that my mother was also making clothes for herself. I vaguely remember that these were ‘party clothes’ and I was mightily impressed by a certain ombre pink polyester halter neck maxi dress with really long ties, similar to the pattern below.

3476737565_62d5450f04

Nowadays, my mother doesn’t sew so much but has passed the beacon to me. Now, it is me that she comes to for alterations and fixing instead of the other way around. Recently I have narrowed two pair of trousers legs for her.

At the weekend I entered (voluntarily) the blackhole of my parents’ attic. A treasure trove of memories, useless items, old school books and projects, suitcases and pictures, and racks and racks of clothes. There, the whole history of the late 20th century hanging in garment form resides. I headed straight to an old battered brown leather suitcase and unearthed exactly what I was looking for……..this is the only garment that my mother has kept all those years that she made for herself.

DSCN6147

Made in silk dupion, of the richest peacock blue, a tunic and trousers, it completely encapsulates the late 60s/early 70s style. There’s not one sequin missing from the trim and the creases and wrinkles are 50 years old.

Nehru collar, bell-shaped sleeves, hip length tunic with little side splits and trimmed with sequinned braid. The tunic has a long centre back zip, metal of course. Princess seams with additional bust darts for extra shaping. The main body is lined but the sleeves are not and all seams are pinked.

What makes this even more special is the story in the seams – the tunic had to be taken in at the sides for a better fit and the first row of stitches is still visible.

DSCN6135

The trousers are narrow legged with a side zip opening. Unlined and with a grosgrain waist. Four darts both front and back.

I’d love to model this outfit for you but the waist measures a tiny 26″ and mine doesn’t.

DSCN6143

We looked for the original pattern in the attic but regrettably it remained elusive – we did however uncover hoards of McCalls and Simplicity children’s patterns from 1960-1970: and then the Vogues from 1980 through my teenage years. I can even remember the fabrics that were used for most of them. A quick look through Google images produced the following, which are close to the tunic outfit but not the same.

My father suggested that if we looked through 50 years of photographs we might be able to uncover the original photo of my mother wearing this – I’d love to see the shoes. But time is not what it used to be and 21st century pressures demanded my efforts to be spent elsewhere.

DSCN6152

If you know the pattern, please let me know – perhaps a 21st century version (in a larger size) is just what my wardrobe needs.

 

 


112 Comments

Vote For Me

Let’s pretend that you have a really important thing to go to and you can have my clothes………

You have to look good, so choose clothes that fit and suit you and the colours are highly complementary to fair hair, blue eyes and pale skin tone. Appearing thinner that you actually are is also a benefit.

You have to demonstrate your own style, so the clothes should reflect your personality and make you feel good.  You want to stand out but not look ridiculous and you want to be unique but not weird. Think classic, Chanel, timeless (I hope).

You will be in front of many people, you will be questioned and scrutinised and you must remain calm and collected at all times, so nothing fussy or distracting.

You have to wear these clothes all day, from 6.00am to 11.00pm, so comfort and ease are essential and no wrinkling would be an advantage.

You need a coat to get to the really important thing but will probably remove it once inside, so the coat has to be complementary to the outfit but the outfit underneath also needs to stand on its own.

I have saved you the bother of rummaging through my chaotic wardrobe and pre-selected some possible candidate outfits. For speed, I’m wearing the same pair of red shoes throughout and there’s little or no styling in the following photos. For the real thing (I’ll) you’ll have scarves and sparkly things and matching footwear, bag and gloves.

Slide1

SUITS:

1 – Coral wool 1960s style with patterned sleeveless blouse.

2 – Pale grey ponte DK jacket and StyleArc pencil skirt

3 – Same as 2 but with coordinating magenta skirt

Slide2

DRESSES

4 – Ivory boiled wool sheath, fitted with darts and Merchant and Mills navy coat

Slide3

5 – Navy wool crepe Vogue 1121 dress with same coat as 4.

Slide4

6 – Vogue opera coat in petrol and gold with Vogue 8825 in petrol poly

Slide5

7 – Same opera coat as 6, with DK skirt in pale blue and gold zig-zag pattern with pale gold satin tie neck blouse.

Please vote for which one you think is best – 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 or 8 – offer suitable alternatives and additional advice. I mean, there’s lots available  –

DSCN4532DSCN5013DSCN5599DSCN4008DSC00596More than a Dress

Many, many thanks

Ruth