corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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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!

 

 

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69 Comments

Wearin’ Designin’ December

The A/W O collection is nearly complete so I turned my sewing attention to knocking off a few Issey Miyake Pleats Please pieces. This was driven, inspired and encouraged by Linda, Nicedressthanksimadeit.  for her annual Designin’ December event.

“Why buy when you can make it yourself – better and for less money?”
We have all seen something we LOVE either in the stores, online or on the runways, but don’t actually want to buy for some reason.  So I propose that we sew that garment that we see/want.  Now if you are lucky and you already have an exact pattern, either an indie pattern, your own self-drafted, or a “Big 4” pattern, that you can use – then go for it!  If you have to alter a pattern that you already have, or draft your own pattern, you can do that too.  Whatever works for you.  Let’s make what we see and want!

Here are my designer originals….

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…..and here’s what I made

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The olive green plisse poly was found on eBay for a song – 3m for a paltry £12. It looks much more shiny in the photos than in real life which is more like a sheen than a shine.

The black crinkle fabric for the duster coat is from Croftmill and I used the wrong side on the right side – bit classier in my opinion.

Trousers

Two patterns were involved – Vogue 1550, Paco Peralta for the leg width and length and Vogue 1508, Zandra Rhodes for the elasticated waistband.

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I just laid both pattern pieces on top of one another and cut the shape I wanted – no drafting needed and no pattern was harmed in the making of these trousers.

The plisse poly is slightly stretchy and doesn’t fray – here’s me ‘hemming’ the trouser legs:

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I made the trousers with a deep elasticated waistband and a few belt carriers added to hold the self fabric, non-edged, single layer tie belt. Simple.

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Top

I used Drape Drape 2 asymmetrical top and, while this is not an exact copy of the Miyake original, it served my purpose admirably with its lopsided look and Japanese aesthetic.

After sewing up the one-piece piece of fabric, the front neckline was truly low! I may have made an error somewhere in the cutting or sewing – who knows?  Easy fix though, I wear the top back to front. However, I did add another little pleat at the old centre front which is now the new centre back to draw the neckline up a bit. With me here?

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The sleeve edges and neckline are turned over and sewn but the hem is not – it matches the trouser hemming technique.

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Coat

Using StyleArc’s Toni dress as a basis for the coat I lengthened the sleeves by simply cutting long along the pattern lines; the front seam is not sewn closed but turned in, sewn and left open, I added a single button closure; the side seams are sewn as far as the ‘drape’ to create side splits. There are no pockets.

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I added some cuffs to the sleeve hems just because I had a little bit of fabric that suited the purpose.

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Buttoned up and showing the height of the side splits.

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Here’s an out-shot showing the actual right side of the fabric in the inside which I choose as the wrong side (bottom left) – everybody still following me here?  I just thought the matt side was classier and a good contrast to the sheen of the plisse. You can also get an idea of the waft and drape of the coat.

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The Designin’ December outfit was paired with Trippen boots, pearls, full make-up and blow-dried hair. I was actually going on a very posh night out – hence the extravagance – I don’t usually hang around the house looking like this! Actually I do………..no I don’t!

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Many thanks to Linda for getting me involved and for those of you out there who are inspired by designer clothes, it’s not too late to join in.

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Show us your Designer Original photo and how you put together your Designer me-made COPY.

Hopefully I’ve done that and in your opinion – did I get a designer outfit for around 34 quid  instead of £ 1,500?

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41 Comments

A/W ’17 O4

Not everything I make is successful or wearable or makes me happy: outfit number 4 of the O Collection falls into this category.

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Tops – Hemlock T . Underneath is brown poly jersey and top one is dark green, knitted jersey.

Scarf – see here. Scroll down

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Trousers – Vogue 9035. Marcy Tilton design.

Fabric is from Fabworks, but is no longer listed so it must have sold out. It is a fairly stiff wool in a brownish/olive/beige Prince of Wales check – and this, I believe, is the culprit. There’s no drape, I didn’t line them hence every time I sit down I manage to ‘bum’ and ‘knee’ the trousers, so that within 30 mins of putting on they’ve changed shape and not in a good way.

Ironically with many items that don’t make me happy, I actually do some nice sewing along the way which makes it even more frustrating.

Instead of making pleats at the hems I sewed up five pintucks of graduating lengths. The trousers finish just above ankle length.

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I added almost perfect welt pockets – they are sewn to perfection.

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But they are only almost perfect because they slant the wrong way! I have to practically dislocate my arm just to put my hands in. Duh!

Anyway – here’s the head to toe: dislocated arms and all……

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Good pattern matching across the legs though.

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I really do like this trouser pattern and I like the fabric, just not together. I like the overall shape which is fitted with a yoke around the upper hips, a neat waistband and fly front opening and then those ovoid shaped legs. The fabric would be much better used as a tailored jacket with a tonne of interfacing or as an unfitted cape/poncho.

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And here’s the principal issue – the baggy bum…..

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On the other hand, maybe it’s my bum that’s the problem and not the trousers!

The trousers will be harvested for the notions and fabric will be stuffed in the obligatory plastic bag until such times that I get round to rethinking a use for it, if ever.

I took great pleasure in making the trousers though; the hemline tucks, the welt pockets, the flat fly front, finished seams and so on, but I won’t wear them. So it got me thinking

  1. Do you sew because you enjoy finding pattern and fabric that are ideal together?
  2. Do you sew because you simply like the sewing process – the challenge and finish?
  3. Do you sew because you want unique clothes?
  4. Do you sew because……….?
  5. What’s your favourite part of sewing?


33 Comments

A/W ’17 O Collection Add-ons

It’s all very well having a few well sewn and well fitting trousers as part of my O collection (check out the last few blog posts for an update) but they are quite useless without tops. I am in Hemlock T-shirt overload…..

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Enough…….. Blue, grey, mustard, brown, forest green, dark green and I have some burgundy jersey in the waiting room but I don’t think I can face another one just yet.

I can sew up one of these tops in under one hour so please don’t think I’m mega prolific – it’s much quicker than going to the shops or trawling the Internet for a long sleeve T-shirt –  but I got a little bored and sometimes I added a centre front seam, sleeve cuffs, hem band, added little seam details etc etc etc. anything to ring the changes.

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Each one has a complementary scarf (a signature look of Oska) made from leftovers. Some are dip-dyed and some are bleached and some are as they are. Keeping the scarves relatively narrow ( 8-9″) means I can twist two together to create different look.

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Sometimes I cut the Hemlocks large and sometimes I cut them close to get different drapes, fit and looks. It also means I can wear one over another so that the neckline, hem and sleeves show below the top layer. Fabric properties also contributed to the finished look and fit. I’ve used organic cotton jersey, poly knits, poly jersey and practically any other fibre that has been transformed into a knit fabric.

I made a little cropped cardigan (middle pic) with more leftovers just in case I need another top over a top.

However, I do have to say that while I have made a plethora of Hemlocks and ennui is setting, these are the best ever, easiest and most versatile tops I’ve ever sewn.

Out the other side of sewing – I have really and truly completed another knitting job and this time it’s for me.

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Using Knitting Without Tears ; an Elizabeth Zimmerman yoke jumper in moss green with bright green highlights and the blame lies fairly and squarely at the feet of Kate. Drops Angora yarn which is soft and stable.

The sleeves are unshaped because I started with the recommended finished number of stitches and hence I avoided having to think about increasing every 4th row and all that stuff: they sort of resemble a gentle bell-shaped sleeve and one, I personally like.

I couldn’t decide whether I wanted a cowl/high neck or a low/round one so somehow I managed to get both!

The jumper is finished with a simple round neck in the bright green wool. Afterwards, I fired up the round needles again with twin yarns of the dark and bright green and knitted a 2 X 2 rib cowly sort of thing. I started with the number of stitches that the neckline finished with (top view), ribbed a few inches, increased a few stitches to create a flare (bottom view), ribbed a few more inches and cast off.

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I can wear the jumper in its natural state

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I can fold the addition in half and add a Polo neck

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I can add a cowl neck, wearing the looser edge on the outside.

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And when every other bit of my body is warm enough except my ears I can have a head band

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With a little bit of green wool leftover (sorry, I can’t help it) I’m now attempting socks! Honestly though, there are times when buying RTW makes a lot of sense……

In other news, please check out my long distance sewing friend’s brand new website – http://wendykarnish.com/

Wendy takes custom orders for outfits and clothes, makes all her own, of course and develops her own designs. She is now ready to sell some of these unique creations to a very select few lucky people.

I met Wendy in real life last September when she visited her sister who lives in Donegal. We had a very enjoyable afternoon wandering around L’Derry. We had the same lipstick, both shade and make, we ordered the same thing for lunch and we liked the same clothes, styles, colours and everything else. How wonderful to meet someone so like me!


30 Comments

A/W O3

Just bear with me here for a wee minute……….look at these images…….nice?

Used as inspiration for colour matching, co-ordination options, pairings, etc. the Oska website displays images (mostly from nature but not always) that perfectly capture the tones, tints, looks and outfit options for each season. Below – some of the Oska inspiration images.

Normally I would never even consider wearing yellow and green together, although it does occur in nature quite liberally – mind you, it might be better in nature than on me, you can be the judge!

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This is the outfit for A/W O collection, number 3.

While I waxed lyrical about a good hairstyle on my last post, I am only going to the hairdresser tomorrow and it is well overdue. Look beyond please. Additionally, it is half-term here – hooray! These photos were taken at a very empty college by a very obliging colleague. Yeah, us poor lecturers have to work at some time over the holidays.

Patterns and Fabrics

Jacket: Vogue 8430 Marcy Tilton. Made ages ago for SWAP “14 but hardly ever worn so I modified the rather loose neckline on the original to form a collar and provide a little bit of structure.

slide1Fabric is a yellow boiled wool and if I remember rightly was bought in real life from Craftswoman, Carrickfergus. I felted the red/burgundy lines.

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Trousers: Vogue 1550 Paco Peralta.

V1550If you didn’t buy this first time around – get it now! These trousers are brilliant. You will also get the tunic too, so it’s a bargain pattern. Wide-legged in two lengths but you can always change length to suit, with the simplest of constructions; facing instead of waistband, a centre back invisible zip. I did add two in-seam side pockets and changed the front darts to pleats. Firstly, I cut the long length but then cut off the difference for the cropped version and used the cut-offs to make turn-ups. I think cropped trousers always look more finished with a turn-up – like this is the length they are supposed to be and just not ‘too short’.

Fabric: Wool tweed from Fabworks in a lemonish/brownish sort of colour. Possibly too heavy and robust for this pattern as I’m getting knees and bum after wearing for a day – or maybe they should be lined!

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Under top: Hemlock (yes, again!)

Fabric: Green jersey from EmmaOneSock. Delight to sew and is a soy/organic cotton/spandex 4-way stretch lightweight jersey. This is my first time purchasing from EOS and believe me, it will definitely not be the last. The personal touch is part and parcel of your order, immediate dispatch, fabulous choice of fabrics and generally an all round very pleasant shopping experience for even those of you who live beyond the north American border. I bought way more fabric than this green jersey of course just to justify the shipping costs, so stay tuned……

Over top: Vogue 1526 Paco Peralta. Really, really modified:

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I used the jacket pattern mainly for the over sleeves but made this top double layered with all edges and seams enclosed; closed up the centre opening and added cross grain panels for interest and included a very wide neck band that becomes a cowl. Very similar to the blue over-top. Some seams were kept as raw edges. This was inspired by this Oska top

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Fabric: From Minerva. A ribbed knit in dark forest green but is a very loose weave and slightly transparent, which explains the double layer.

 

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Behind me taped on the cupboard doors are my weekly timetables and more importantly – my days off! No wonder I’m smiling!

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I just can’t leave those leftovers alone…..I got a drapey scarf with all raw edges to match the Hemlock.

I’m like one of those flower images except I’m upside down –

Regardless of the colours, I do feel really comfortable in the shapes and style of this outfit. Worn today with Clark’s lace-up tan ankle boots and bad hair (access badge is optional).

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Hallowe’en is getting out of hand in my opinion. Just saying…….