corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Is this the end or the beginning?

An unusual ennui seems to have inflicted my favourite sewing bloggers and I too am not immune. Time between posts just stretches into longer and longer periods. I’m sewing lots, what I’m not doing is standing in the garden with carefully selected shoes and full make-up, salon hair, a smile and taking photographs.

Maybe it’s the summer season; maybe it’s holidays and days away; maybe we’re all busy with life and other stuff; maybe we’ve nothing left to say; maybe it’s the end of blogging…….bit like gym membership.

Anyone remember recording songs off the radio onto cassette tape, listening to your Walkman, watching videos, talking to people via landlines? See what I mean, everything has its day. Mind you, my 21 year old son is gradually building an impressive collection of vinyl LPs – what comes around, goes around. If we stick this blogging lark out, then maybe we’ll be back in vogue!

I have made some very good friends via blogging. I’ve met a few in real life and many more virtually. Every one is special and valued and I would not have have this connection without this blog. Hence, I’m rent in two like a beautiful piece of linen, right across the grainline. Do I continue to write this blog?

I have other on-line platforms – Instagram, Pintrest, Facebook and I don’t update those either. I’m really lazy or more to the truth, I couldn’t be bothered.

I have sewn so many garments since my last post that I probably have enough material (ha ha!) to complete a blog post every day of summer. The thing is – are you interested? Will there really be anything new? I’m beginning to think that blogging is just an internet version of “Show and Tell”: “Look how good I am”.  Please don’t misunderstand me, I find daily inspiration, advice, tips, laughs and stimulation from the blogs of other sewers and I still feel I should contribute too. And that’s the dilemma. Those of you who have not written for ages either must surely recognise this quandary.

To try and inject a new level of energy and re-kick-start regular broadcasts on Corecouture – I bring you the actual and real Wedding Guest Dress.  I made a prototype here but then had enough time to make another. Hence, I’ve dusted off the camera and tripod, taken off my jeans, found the shoes, put a bit of lipstick on and here we go…….

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There is no pattern for this dress. Well there is but you need to get hold off Bootstrap Off Shoulder dress for the top half and back and then the free download Julies Sissions Scarlett backless red dress for the front skirt. You put these two together, look at loads Vivienne Westwood frocks online and make the rest up as you sew.

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Fabric is Romance Rose from Fabric Godmother and is fabulous but sold out I’m afraid. A cotton sateen with 98% cotton and the difference made up from Lycra/elastane. Fitted but with room to move.

Those front pleats cover a multitude of sinful late night snacking and still they keep giving…..even after a wedding dinner. I wore this dress for 14 hours straight and it looked as good at the end of the day as it did at the beginning. I didn’t, however wear the VW shoes for 14 hours – I had flats at the ready.

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While it might look like those shoulders are about to fall off and cause untold embarrassment to the wearer, they will not. Take a little bit of scrap fabric or ribbon and a snap; sew along shoulder seam and put your bra strap through the loop. Perfection and totally secure. Wee haute couture tip there for you. You’re welcome.

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Then I obviously still had too much time left over for sewing because I also made a coat and bag to match.

The bag pattern was a free download years ago from Hot Patterns.

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The wedding was in May, which can be chilly at night here so this was not wasted effort. downloadThe pattern is vintage Vogue 1137 which I have made many, many times and as usual this version has a few modifications such as narrowing the swing and widening the sleeves. The coat is a light boiled wool, unlined, with patch pockets from Fabworks and if I had my wits about me I might be able to tell you exactly what it is.

 

I sewed flat felled seams and used a pleasantly matching grosgrain ribbon on the front facings and hem. The sleeve hems are faced with the dress fabric for that totally co-ordinating outfit – a very, very haute couture touch.

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Oh yeah, I also managed to sew an eternal corsage from all the left over fabrics, a few spare ribbons and a button.

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Till next time.

Whenever that may be….

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Thank you so very much for your loyalty, consistency and continual reading. My words are not enough to express this gratitude.

You want a few pictures of the wedding though now, don’t you?

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51 Comments

Not Sewing, Engineering!

Well hello there! Let’s hope the long wait for a new post was worth it…….

Firstly, you are going to try and follow A Train of Thought.

I have a wedding to go to in May and I have about one hundred dresses that I could wear. I checked through this blog for some existing candidates: I am also quite sure that when my S/S clothes come out of the attic there will be a few others to choose from that I have forgotten about!

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Each one is perfectly acceptable with a pair of high heels and a bit of lipstick. But it’s always nice to make a new one, isn’t it, especially for a grand occasion like a wedding?

And so the hunt began…….style, fabric, impact, era, comfort factor etc etc etc.

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I should add that the wedding ceremony will take place in Mussenden Temple, part of the National Trust property at Bishop’s Gate, followed by a reception in a restaurant on the beach. One half of the day is exclusive – the other half is surfer-dude.

After hours of arduous, but pleasantly so, researching I finally managed to narrow the selections down.

These are the shortlisted styles:

Slide2These are the shortlisted fabrics:

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There is a common thread (ha ha) in my chosen styles – asymmetrical, vintage looking, fitted bodice and straight-ish skirts with volume. Put all that together and you end up in Vivienne Westwood land.

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So now, we move on to actual making of the dress. No commercial patterns are available that resemble anything like these frocks [unless you can tell me differently and if you do I’ll really appreciate it] but what do I have in my book shelves, only the complete art of draping? (pic on right).9781780670935.in11

Hurrah! With a tonne of marking to do and the Easter holidays approaching, I ignored the marking, went to Asda and bought some flat white sheets as muslin for a couple of quid and studiously set to work finding grainlines, draping on Doris and having fun.

The Train of Thought has now reached a conclusion and turning that into a real thing now begins. The ‘muslin’ was going to be my pattern. I needed fabric for a toile. I found some cheap but very wide poly taffeta on My Fabrics, ordered 4m and twiddled my thumbs for a few days until it arrived. On our, now monthly, sewing away days, I packed up Doris, the ‘muslin’, the fabric, two pairs of sharp scissors and three million pins and headed to Castleward for a fab day of cutting and pinning and feedback and ideas, all accompanied with buns, cake and lots of chatter.

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There were a few issues: enough fabric for only one sleeve and no back! One sewing pal did point out that a back might be more important than sleeves. Having considered this, I do have to agree with her. The other major issue was that although pinning bits of fabric to a doll might produce ‘a dress’, as a real live person I cannot have pins in my tummy. This dress had to be constructed as a garment that could be put on and taken off. Hence, the engineering………

I’ll cut a very long story short; this project was quickly becoming an epic. With the little scraps left over, I did manage to cut two backs and pieced together enough to make another sleeve. There’s an invisible zip at centre back and that’s the entrance and egress.

This is probably not making any sense to you right now and I can fully understand that because it didn’t make any sense to me and I was there! The dress is actually two pieces because for the life of me I couldn’t figure out a way to join the very full, balloon hemmed side skirt to the rest of the dress.

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The principle dress has a half-circle skirt to one side, fitted back pieces with a zip, two (!) tucked 3/4 length sleeves, a large wrap bodice with lots of gathers that buttons all the way around the waist for a bit of figure enhancement and an added scarf-like collar.

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There was a lot of hand sewing too – a true couture dress. A one-off.

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Please don’t be concerned about the bandages on Doris – she is very old and needs a little patching now and again.

I had a test drive in it the other night to see if it would stand up to the rigours of eating and moving and to see if I could actually wear it instead of just standing still and upright. It passed all the tests. I do need a second pair of hands to get me into the dress which turned out to be not so much fun when I staggered home after midnight and couldn’t get out of it! In actual fact, this dress has a numerical set of instructions on how to get it on and you just reverse these to get out.

We had fun with shoes on the night though including a couple of pairs of VW’s. How appropriate.

OK, enough waffling, here’s the reason you came here today……..

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It was definitely an evolutionary project: the final version bears a remote resemblance to the original draping but has become a new creature in its own right.

Extra bustle options are still available

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The neckline might need a bit of extra work …

I might be wearing a pretty pink floral dress but this took a lot of brain power; 3D mental rotation and all that stuff late at night; design principles that I didn’t even know existed; many, many, many pin punctures in my hands, fingers and other body parts so don’t mess with me! This dress feels like armour.

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At this stage, I’ve spent so much of my time and effort planning and thinking and figuring and sewing and sewing that I don’t think I’ll be making a ‘real’ one. While this was supposed to be a test dress, it is perfectly serviceable, wearable and doesn’t wrinkle much. It also makes a luxurious swoosh sound as it moves.

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I might or might not wear this to the wedding. I might just pick one from last year, then again, there’s another month to go before the actual event – time enough yet……


30 Comments

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!

 

 


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.

 


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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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