corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


30 Comments

Border Debate

Blah…blah…blah ….That’s all we hear on the news these days, what with Brexit, border polls, import/export and other stuff – what will happen to the border between Northern Ireland (UK) and Southern Ireland (EU)? At the moment, there isn’t a border, we just drive along a road and all of a sudden the road signs are ringed in green and the speed limit is in KPH instead of MPH.

I’m not here to discuss political borders but border print fabric – much less contentious and infinitely more colorful.

I purchased two panels of border print polys from some or other ebay shop and they just lay about the sewing room for ages while I waited for inspiration to hit. Eventually I just took the scissors and cut….

First up is Fave top (another freebie) in a huge blue flower border print. This pattern is designed for stretch knits but even as there’s no stretch in my fabric it sews up fine because the top is so loose. If using a woven, just cut a little more generously and/or reduce the seam allowances.

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Most important measurement with a woven is the sleeve hem, so take note and make this a little wider than normal.

On my left it’s all white and on my right it’s all swirly blue flowers.

 

Next, a straight up and down halter neck holiday dress for sultry evenings on a location much closer to the equator than where I am presently; cocktail in hand, gentle waves in an azure blue ocean quietly breaking on white sandy beaches with a full moon and no mosquitoes – Yeah, like my life is like that!

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There’s no pattern with this one – here’s how you too can sew this up in about 1 hour and stun your friends and relatives with Cote d’Azur style in the Irish summer rain.

  1. Find border print fabric in a suitable weight and drape – rayon, poly, silk etc.
  2. Measure the widest part of your body (hips) and purchase enough width of fabric to go around plus about 4″ (10cm) minimum wearing ease and don’t forget about seam allowances.DSCN7114
  3. Cut fabric into two rectangles – front and back.
  4. Sew sides seams up to a comfortable underarm wearing position (mine is a tad high, so take care). Leave 6″ (15cm) open at the hem for two side splits to allow for walking.DSCN7115
  5. Shape the neck, front and back, from the underarm by cutting triangles off. The angle and size of these triangles will determine the ‘coverage’ at front and back. Cut with care first and then gradually increase the angle as you become bolder.
  6. If you feel it’s necessary, add a couple of bust darts for better fit.
  7. Turn under a narrow hem at the sides and sew. Make a channel at the top edge of the necks. But do it neater than I did!DSCN7215
  8. Purchase, source or re-purpose a necklace that is about 18″ (45cm) in length. DSCN7216
  9. Thread this through the neckline channels and secure the chain in place with a few hand tacks. Some minor adjustments may be needed to ensure even gathers at the neck edge. I have some to do yet……Make sure you leave the clasp easily accessible. This is your means of getting in and out of the dress.DSCN7218
  10. Hem, if you want or just leave the selvedge edge (as I did).
  11. Style and wear as desired.

This can truly be one of those day-to-night dresses. With a belt, the dress can be hoiked up to any length, the top draped over and may even resemble a skirt and top…….

Sewn in a finer fabric and with possibly a bit more width, it would also make a perfect pool cover-up so you can go and fetch those cocktails in style.

So there you have it – dress and jewellry all in one and in under one hour!

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Happy summer sewing people – may the sun shine on your beautiful clothes.

Are you thinking of next season’s sewing yet?

 


36 Comments

Sewing the 70s Today

Thank you very very much for all the lovely comments on my Sewing the 70s dress. It was wonderful to hear that so many of you had made this dress first time around and even more wonderful that you are still sewing 40 years later. I hope that seeing the pattern brought back happy memories for you and isn’t it surprising that we can remember each and every pattern we ever sewed? I think this shows the level of emotional involvement we put put into our makes.

Welcome to all new readers and followers too. Lovely to have you join us and thank you.

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Today is the showcase of the third and final dress made from my Craftsy rayon haul. I dscn6881loved the Simplicity 5728 so much that I made another, this time in a rust coloured rayon with stylised cream sprigs and twigs. Instead of just showing a few photos of me in a dress, I’ve detailed the method I used to create the single welt pockets in the skirt. NB: this is what I do and is not necessarily the right or best method available.

I’ll intersperse the instructions with a few pics of the dress too.

This version of the dress has a decorative button at the neck, a fitted belt with a heart-shaped fastener and I moved the centre back zip to the side so that I can get dressed all by myself.

I read and noted every comment made on version No 1. Wendy gave a little tip on adding height to those gathered sleeves – thank you, I got the height I wanted.

Mrs Mole mentioned platform shoes, so here’s me in my new Trippens – a modern nod to platform shoes. Thanks, I’d forgotten about that particular style of footwear.

The pattern has instructions for adding lace around the collar and some of you mentioned contrast collars and trims to showcase the Italian collar. I didn’t add trim in this version but I wish I had – maybe next time??

dscn6870A few asked about the stays in version 1.  These are strips of fabric stitched between pockets at centre and from pockets into side seams. Just keeps everything smooth and flat. The top of the pockets are stitched into the waistband.

Thanks again for each and every comment. I truly appreciate your time and effort and only sorry that I didn’t reply to each one but life’s been a bit hectic recently and meant that I had a lot of time spent away from keyboard……..and sewing machine.
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Pockets

These pockets can be inserted into any skirt or trousers.

You will need:

Fusible interfacing – 2″ strips at least 6″ long, 4 in total

Ruler, pencil, pins

Fabric for pockets or 3-4″ wide strips of self fabric if you don’t have enough left for pockets or your fabric is bulky.

  1. Decide on the location of the pockets – close to the centre seam will produce small, shallow pockets or closer to the side seams for a ‘whole-hand’ pocket.
  2. Pocket opening will always be 51/2″ . This is a golden rule.
  3. Pockets can be vertical or horizontal, or as in this case, slanted. Slanted is an old couture trick to visually create a narrow waist and flattering the figure. They are also easier to actually use. Generally, with a slanted pocket there is a 2″ offset from top to bottom but this is personal choice.
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Side zip that doesn’t require endless turning and twisting to get it up or down

  1. If there are two front pieces in a skirt then sew the centre seam. If not, mark the centre line and use this as a guide. For trousers, keep both fronts separate but constantly check that the pockets, left and right, are at the same height and width from the seams.
  2. Drape the skirt front upon your body or mannequin and mark your chosen pocket placement with some chalk or pins. Practice pretending to use the pockets to confirm the location. When happy,  tidy up with a ruler for precision on a table top.
  3. On two of the fusible interfacing strips, draw out the pocket opening: the centre and 1/4″ either side of this. Remember, always 5 1/2″ long. Iron to the inside.dscn6871

5. On the inside of the skirt, machine stitch along the outside pencil lines (not the centre). Start in the middle of a long edge with 1mm stitch length, change to normal stitch length and at corners and ends revert back to 1mm: go all the way around and finish off with more 1mm stitches. This does 4 things; holds the interfacing in place, prevents fraying, strengthens the pocket opening and clearly marks the pocket on the right side.

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6. Prepare the welts. Take some leftover fabric, about 4″  x 6″. Fold on the long edge and use some more fusible interfacing for extra strength. Press well. Mark 1/2″ from the fold and you can even stitch this in place. The pocket opening is 1/2″, 2 x 1/4″ = 1/2″. See I can do maths!

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7. Pin the 1/2″ line marked welt to the lower stitching line on the outside, making sure they line up. Have the folded edge away from the pocket opening, so raw edge is towards the side seams.

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8. Stitch the welt in place from the wrong side over the same row of stitching.  Stitching should start at the top of the rectangle and finish at the end.

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I now have to move to another project to show you the final stages as I forgot to take photos on the dress. Same process though.

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9. Time to cut!!!. Slit through the skirt only along the pocket centre line. Stop a good 1″ or so from each end and clip to the corners, creating triangles. Push the welt and raw edges through to the inside. Manhandle this and don’t let the fabric take charge of you. Press very well.

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10. On the inside, flatten out the little triangle tabs at each end and stitch them to the ends of the welt. Go over this line two or three times, just to make sure.

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11. Nearly there. Now just to add the actual pockets to the inside using the raw edges. Bottom pocket piece should be the shell fabric. I didn’t have enough left, so I patched some remaining scraps to lining. It just means that if your pockets gape a little bit then they match the outside.

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12. Stitch remaining pocket to the other side and join the two pockets together.

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Press well again. Job done. If you like you can always add a few hand stitches at the corners to doubly make sure that nothing will unravel.

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You should end up with a couple of pockets that are practically weightless and invisible but so useful, even if it’s just for posing! This method has worked well in this flimsy rayon and is just as effective in the heavier wool tweed shown above. Change the weight of your interfacing to suit your fabric though.

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You know, I love dresses and it’s obvious, from the number of comments posted on my dresses rather than separates, that you do too but I actually rarely wear them. It’s a shocking admission, considering I make so many and fantasise about making many more. Must try harder – must wear more dresses.

I’ve kinda/sorta been a wee bit promoted at work. It’s a posting that takes me away from my students for one whole day a week –  a desk job!  I’ve decided that henceforth and until this contract finishes, Wednesdays shall be Dress Day. Now there’s a weekly blog post idea – want to join in? Even if you don’t work outside the home, you can still wear a dress for one day of the week, or maybe you already do and it’s just me who doesn’t.

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I liked the photos of my reflection in the wardrobe doors – that’s why there’s two of me. There isn’t really, thank goodness.

 


40 Comments

A/W ’16 Mustard

My husband, before he became my husband, used to tell a very rude joke and the punch line was “mustard, custard and you, you big sh***!”  Anyway………he doesn’t tell the joke anymore and my next outfit for autumn/winter is complete.

Same trousers as the burgundy ones but this time with added inseam side pockets and turn ups at the hem.dscn6753

I like cropped winter trousers: they remind me of plus fours and country living, and I can wear either boots or shoes. Worn today with the shirt you’ve seen before.

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Johnny Rotten as an English country gentleman

 

All fabrics are from Fabworks – I’m Fabworks head to toe today! (Not sponsored by them btw).

18 TwistThe trousers are Donegal tweed: Warm, mellow, sunflower, saffron and turmeric tones weave through this gorgeous Donegal Tweed herringbone, evoking memories of relaxed autumnal strolls and the resting evening sunshine. Woven with the ever-present charcoal warp to form a reassuring background of chevrons; the Donegal yarn sitting in the mellow sunflower and mustard warp has pale straw, saffron and honey coloured flecks. This 100% new wool has a reassuringly soft texture, but remains a medium weight with a great handle and drape.

I mean, really, how could you not not fall for that?

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An easy method to elasticate a waist is this:

  1. Measure the elastic to your waist, stretching a little, and sew the ends together to make a band.dscn6678
  2. Quarter this band with pins and then match each pin with the four seams, front, back and sides.
  3. Serge or small zig-zag this band (yes, that is bra strap elastic) to the inside of your garment, lining up edge to edge.dscn6679
  4. Fold the elastic over to the inside and zig-zag in place to form a waistband.dscn6683

Neat and easy

The trousers are lined too. The lining is slip-stitched to the ‘waistband’ and hides the serged edges.

Even neater.

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As Sunflower Chunky Ribbed Knit is a beautiful knitted all wool fabric from Avoca, it’s a superb, brushed fabric with a medium weight soft drape and handle, and due to being knitted rather than woven it has a good natural lengthwise stretch with some stretch on the width too! The beautiful sunflower coloured yarn with darker and lighter tones throughout, has been knitted in a double row ribbed construction that has alternating fine black bands knitted in between to create the chunky rib affect.

See what I mean? I fell for that one too.

The jumper is hacked from a Burda pattern for a cardigan. I prepared the pattern many, many years ago before I understood and realised that patterns require an organisational system  of their own. I can’t bring to mind the actual pattern number ….It’s the one with the girl standing in front of a barn door……..

I used the raglan sleeves and the back yoke and front (with a centre seam) but I just made up the V neck front and added a small patch pocket. I also made front and back different lengths and put small slits at the sides to mark the step.

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It was fun mucking about with the stripes on the pattern pieces creating some interest and directional movement. The sleeves are bias cut, the back yoke and pocket on the horizontal, the fronts and lower back on the vertical.

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To keep the V neck as a V, I faced it with some cotton bias binding as a stabiliser. The fabric doesn’t fray but I thought that narrow cuffs would be a nice finishing touch on the sleeves. All seams are serged just in case.

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And of course there were leftovers and cut-offs. I used these up in the form of a beret and a couple of scarves in preparation of anticipation of a cold winter.

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Other things….

The postman brought some lovely things recently, mainly courtesy of a Vogue pattern sale. Fabworks also sent me the checked cotton shirting (far right) after I ordered and paid for it.

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One plus one together makes this, not 2.

The selvage was too good to cut off and throw away so it was used as a trim on all edges; cuffs, collar, button band and hem.

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I had fun with the stripes on this fabric too and I do hope you notice the almost perfect alignment across the fronts!

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Life’s been quite busy recently including a very pleasant weekend spent in London, England. A few weeks ago I flew out early on Friday with plans afoot to spend a lot of money and spend a lot of money I did! The fruits of these purchases to be revealed soon. The highlight of the trip was dinner at Kate’s. Marijana was there too and we all wore our own individual, handmade, couture and unique versions of the Six Napoleon dress. We had a 6Nap party!

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I look like a giant in comparison to my petite and neat sewing companions. Additionally their dresses were so much better than mine. Both ladies are fabulous and I’m so pleased to have met them online and then followed this up in person. Thank you Kate and Marijana, it was so much better than sitting in a hotel room on my lonesome wearing a party dress with no party to go to.

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43 Comments

SWAP A2, A3 & A2 Again

I’ve been away from blogging for a week or two so just to remind you that this is SWAP combination A.

Thank you all so much for such generous comments on Jungle January coat – it’s a welcome relief from forced coordination wardrobe planning.

In the silent weeks I made this.

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It was part of SWAP and the cornerstone of combination A – 3 garments that make an outfit and based upon my colour scheme of heather.

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Simplicity K1465 made in a ‘found’ mixed wool fibre tweed in pink and olive green houndstooth. The fabric came from an antique shop in Greyabbey and what you got was what you got. The pattern is a straight mock wrap skirt with a 360 peplum and a frill along the edge of the wrap. Fully lined, completely and utterly understitched, frill hand stitched down at crucial points; there isn’t a seam or join that isn’t sewn at least twice. The peplum and frill were laboriously hand frayed. The finished skirt length was totally determined by the amount of fabric.

Looked like this…

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Along the way I sewed a Paco Peralta Draped Top (A3) in olive green wool crepe to wear with the skirt. il_fullxfull.292016701I’ve made this many, many times before. This time I added a little back neck opening with a button closure. Otherwise, nothing’ s changed and it’s still a very stylish and classic contribution to any wardrobe. In fact, I don’t think I’ve made a SWAP in the last 3 years without a Paco Draped Top being part of it. It’s a foundation and at the same time an embellishment.

I have another me within my head and sometimes (actually, many times) she is 100% right but I have developed the ability to totally ignore her. She had severe reservations while sewing this skirt but I carried on regardless of her little voice that kept saying ” No. This isn’t you. This isn’t your style. You will never wear it.”

And what do you know – she was right again! I hate that.

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So, I unpicked and cut and salvaged and saved what I could and ended up with a straight skirt without peplum or frill or mock-wrap and too short.

Undeterred, or maybe foolishly, I couldn’t leave the blasted thing alone.

Also along the way I sewed a pair of winter Strides in olive green Donegal tweed – both pattern and fabric from Merchant and Mills.DSCN6064

As usual after every make I had a little bit of tweed left over; this was added to my not-peplum-anymore skirt.

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I made some pleats like this:

Sew a big long ring of fabric, overlock the edges and hem. Hemming must be done before pleating. Mark out regular divisions – I used 1″.

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Concertina the fabric to the marks and pin. Then tack securely.

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Press extremely well with a damp pressing cloth and lots of steam on both side of the fabric.

I sewed the pleats to the lining and catchstitched the lining to the skirt.

The skirt’s side seams were rounded to reveal more pleats. And this is the ‘new’ skirt

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Swishy hemline with an apron-effect top skirt….

that goes with my pink fleece jacket

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as does the new Strides

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I have absolutely no idea what part of SWAP is done or has to be done or even what part of SWAP I’m working on – I just seem to be sewing clothes in a couple of colourways and hoping that I’ll end up with 3 + 3 +2 +3 coordinating garments.

My first item, the pink coat, was cut down and altered into a short fitted jacket and now the peplum skirt has been completely refashioned using pleats. I’d save a lot of time if I just managed to sew it right first time!

I actually think I’m doing APWS – a plan with sewing rather than sewing with a plan.

With these four things plus the grey Vogue trousers I now have five garments – almost halfway there.

 

 


35 Comments

Plain and Simpler: Avoid Baggy-Thighed-Pants

This is my method to avoid baggy-thighed-pants (acknowledgement goes to Miranda for that title)

I’ve had loads of requests to explain what I do to avoid wrinkles at the back thigh on trousers. Firstly, a big thank you to you all who contacted me via e-mail, Pattern Review, personal messaging, blog comments etc etc etc. and your inherent trust in my abilities. I started replying to each one and then I got overwhelmed so Instead of replying to each and every one, here’s a post about what I do. Absolute disclaimer: this is what I do for me – I have no idea if it’s right, acceptable, taught, recognised or standard fitting procedure – but it works for me so why not try it – it could work for you too.

I’m now acknowledging those brave sewers who have publicity shown the world what what baggy-thigh-pants look like:

Tasha, Stephanie, Jennifer – thank you from the bottom of my ****

Trousers are notoriously difficult to fit because there are so many points of contact with the body – waist, hip, thigh, knee, calf, length and worst of all crotch! My advice – make a skirt -LOL! Just kidding, but really take your time, trace your pattern alterations (I know it’s a pain but think of the long-term gains), do not intend to make a pair of trousers, take a weekend and work on the fitting. Please believe me, it is time well invested and you will have a perfectly fitting crotch pattern for only YOU and it didn’t cost you a Craftsy class.

I’m starting from a toile that has good fitting crotch curve. Sorry I’m leaving this bit to you but here are some resources that you might find useful – my crotch experiments, Colette’s pant fitting cheat sheet, crotch measuring.

You are now going to be subjected to many images of my backside: if you want to see the original post then click on my bum!

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Back thigh adjustment on jean-style cords

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Early days of development – Here I moved the crotch curve. See how it rides up and there are still wrinkles on the back thigh

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Similar to pic 1. Reduced the depth of the back thigh only and pattern based on RTW Armani .

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No adjustments made at all and wrinkles galore!

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New trouser pattern with now almost automatic back thigh adjustment. Vogue 1204

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Wide leg trousers show much less wrinkling, so this could be an alternative option for fitting.

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Tapered trouser legs still need an shortening on the back thigh for me but not as much as fitted trousers maybe just an 1″ (2.5cm).

Here’s my method of removing those wrinkles that are so evident in RTW and many of my early hand made trousers. It happens at the cutting stage so I’m afraid if you have already cut and sewn – it’s too late! Do it next time.

First off, be brutally honest. Stand sideways in front of a mirror and measure or mark your front bit (know what I mean?) then mark or measure your back cheek crease.

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In my case the difference between the front and back is roundabout 4″ (10cms). Gosh – see that sway back? That’s another post just on its own!

Right, back to the topic for today. Now, following conventional fitting methods  you will be instructed to do all sorts of things with the crotch curve – see my pin stripe jeans above – lengthening, shortening and changing the angle of curve but my method is simpler and easier. I half the measurement taken from real life and fold this out of the way on the back pattern piece, close to but not at the crotch line.


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Take the back pattern piece and fold up half the difference of your measurements. In my case it’s 2″ (5cms). Make this fold below the crotch line that’s marked on the pattern piece. We are not altering the crotch curve but working below it.

At the side of the pattern there will be uneven edges – when cutting the fabric, gently curve this to join with your already perfected crotch. Please check your crotch point before doing this alteration see my crotch experiments above for how to do this.

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Edited for clarification: All the notches and marks on the back pattern piece will not line up with the front now. Either reposition the back notches or as I do, ignore them. Lengthen the back piece at the hem by the same amount you folded out.

I’m just at the beginning of making New Look K6231 trousers in a woven cotton with no stretch. In my previous post I recommended using a fabric with a bit of Lyrca so stay tuned for an update on how I totally ignore my own advice and how it all turns out in the end.

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OK, maybe I don’t heed my own advice all of the time – or is it just the nature of the fabric?