corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Sea of Silk

DSCN7240Look – photographic evidence that sometimes, just sometimes, the sun does shine in all its glory here.

More blue and I really mean true, royal, luscious, rich, deep, drown-in, indulgent blue crepe de chine. Thank you very much to those of you who commented out loud (or silently) that this is a good colour for me.

A bit (mind you, quite a bit) of silk crepe de chine was left over from the Donna Karan slip and of course, just absolutely and categorically,  had to be put to use.

Apparently, the dress I’m wearing today is the most popular pattern from Vogue this summer and here’s me, who thinks I’m above following fashion trends, but still apparently fell unconsciously into the trap….mind you, every version I’ve seen of this dress looks so unique that it would be difficult to say that they’re all from the same pattern.

 

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Vogue 9253 – sort of a caftan dress but better: kimono cut on sleeves, high waist with ties, pleats rather than darts at front but darts at back, very deep V neckline, centre back zip, huge in-seam side pockets, any length you desire. My pattern description, not Vogue’s. 

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Let’s start with what I didn’t do: centre zip was eliminated – more on this later; only one pocket added; deep V neckline not so deep.

What I did do: trimmed the neck edge with some cotton jersey instead of a narrow hem; raised V neck with some hand stitches; shortened the waist ties made in same cotton jersey; pocket opening/closure instead of zip; length of finished dress was determined by amount of available fabric and not the pattern skirt length.

There was no way on earth that I was going to put a zip into this ethereal silk but the waistline is somewhat fitted and really did need to be opened for dressing and undressing situations. Problem……..

Problem solved: the two pocket pieces were sewn top to top, trimmed down and sewn in the side seams as usual but all the way up to underarm.

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The side seam and pockets were then sewn, creating a very large ‘pleat’; the pocket is the pocket and the above bit becomes a gusset.

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A very useful hook and eye were then sewn to the waist seam to close the pleat, a bit of smoothing of the pocket to the inside and now I can get in and out of my dress without a zip. And if I hadn’t shown you this, you’d never know it was there.

I started one of those Instagram thingies. I’m not very good at it and am always forgetting to take photos along the way and any I have taken I haven’t added #.  Anyway, if you’d like to follow a very erratic and learner then here’s the name – ruthforrester.corecouture

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If you’ve made this dress or are about to make it, McCalls are running a V9253 competition mccallpatterncompany Announcing the #v9253 contest! Featuring the hot dress pattern of the season. You could win $100 worth of fabric from @stylishfabric & $100 worth of new patterns! The competition is WORLDWIDE!

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I probably won’t be entering the contest as most entries are made in fabulous prints or stripes but we all want new patterns and fabric, right?

 

 

 


65 Comments

The Last of the Donna Karans

When Vogue lost the licence to produce DKNY patterns, my little sewing world became yet another wee bit smaller. However, I did take advantage of a $4.99 sale earlier in the year and bought them all up – I’m only sorry I didn’t buy more designs when I had the chance…..

1489To be honest, I only bought this dress pattern because it was the last one and I never really intended to sew it up, rather to keep it as a collector’s item. A very good friend was having a birthday night out recently and I thought I should show my admiration for her by making an effort and dressing up – I was thinking of something a little unusual, special, dressy but not dressed up, if you know what I mean?

I reached for the sacrosanct V1489 (OOP), bought 4m of lapis blue cotton jersey from Fabworks and got mentally and physically prepared for gargantuan pattern pieces the size of Montana and three thousand tailor tacks (I’ve made DKNY before!). The sewing table was cleared of all debris and extraneous items; nine hundred needles were threaded ready for those crucial tacks, one deep breath, bit of yoga and meditation and I’m ready to go.

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Most pattern pieces in this pattern are cut on a single layer of fabric because it’s an asymmetrical dress and left and right are different – this makes cutting out only slightly easier. There are still three thousand tailor tacks to sew (well, in reality, about 12) but every one of them is important – so don’t scrimp. Best advice I can give is, if you have a mannequin, use it now: cut out, mark and pin on your own Doris so that you know what piece goes where and, more importantly, what side it should be on.

Cutting out and marking up all safely negotiated, the sewing is relatively simple. I do own an overlocker and it would be easy to construct the main body of the dress on such a machine, but the pattern instructions assume that the sewer does not have one and directs you to sew a double seam. I did this and still achieved a lovely, flat finished inside seam. Just remember to trim carefully after sewing the second row of stitching.

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The pattern includes a slip that the shell dress should be sewn to: this helps with the drape and fit and additionally provides an extra safety layer below a rather low front and back neck neckline and a high front split.

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Usually I cut a 14 in Vogue but with DKNY I’ve learned to cut a 12 due to use of stretch fabric and the pleats/drapes/gathers that add yet more ease. For the actual finished dress, my plan worked, except for the under slip! I should have cut a 14 for the slip because it is very, very fitted.

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Please excuse my blotchy legs – I have deliciously sweet blood that Donegal midges just could not resist. It’s not just my legs – my arms, feet, scalp, face, neck, back and any other easily accessible skin was subjected to intensive feeding in the last two days. I’m applying anti-itching/anaesthetic lotion.

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This is one really and truly fitted slip – mine’s that tight that it’s acting like a corset and I was somewhat concerned about undressing after a night out with the girls! The original photo from the catwalk shows the dress to be rather loose with no sight of the slip but I rather like my dress slightly more fitted.

I splashed a wee bit of extra cash on some silk crepe de chine for the slip (also from Fabworks).  In my defence, it was a perfect colour match for the cotton jersey shell fabric and it’s luxurious against the body. It has managed to hold the dart stitches despite of my best efforts to tear them apart with indulgent dinners and perhaps one or three cocktails. However, I didn’t sew the dress to the slip as it was just too tight to comfortably pull on. So I have a separate slip with a wrap dress on top. It works for me.

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Sewing notes and minor alterations:

Lengthened slip by 4″, merely for modesty’s sake and decorum.

Did not add a snap fastener to the front side closure as per instructions as I didn’t think this would hold fast against the onslaught of my current diet and stomach. I adapted this to a long loop with a toggle-style button that will provide extra ease and flexibility around the mid-front while providing a stylish, yet secure closure.

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I also raised this closure to waist level. The original pattern is for the closure to be about 5″ lower – somewhere  around hip height (one of those tailor tacks, if it hasn’t fallen out by this stage).  The offset closure creates the asymmetrical hemline (as seen in the photos) but I was totally prepared to forego this look in place of a dress that stayed closed.

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Ultimately, I totally adore this dress. The fitted slip keeps me feeling secure, while the draped, crossover neckline at front and back and the front split can drape and gape as much as they want without any personal embarrassment to me whatsoever.

Because I work hard and am (usually) really nice to other people I treated myself to a matching DKNY handbag (in the sales, of course) …..

Other completed versions of this dress that you might like to see are:

Pomona with a beautiful chartreuse version.

Mousseline in totally Greek goddess vibe and shows the original front wrap placement

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I’ve just completed a marathon photoshoot today: this was Blue, next time will be Green, specifically the Burda peasant blouse showing my special adaptations and additions. Then, we’ll do the monochrome – black and white. So there are at least another three blog posts this summer.

So stay tuned by friends – much more to come…..

As always, truly grateful thanks for all encouragement, enthusiasm and engagement with my sewing and sewing exploits on this blog.

 

 


40 Comments

The Shirt (Dress)

DSCN7133This one will not be going to Donegal with me!

 

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Undoubtedly the Internet is a fabulous creation but there is such a thing as ‘too much information’ – I made the fatal mistake of looking up the five day weather forecast for the west of Ireland….you guessed it, rain, some more rain, a few showers and cloudy.

A loose cotton shirt dress must be worn in temperatures of 25 degrees Celsius and above (preferably above).

There has been a plethora of shirt dresses recently on the sewing Internet as we all sew for summer: here’s a few to get you going –

Style Arc – BlaireBLAIR-SHIRT-DRESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Closet Case – KalleKalle_shirt_dress_Technical_flat-02_ca619977-8709-4422-8faa-a3c801b98fe9_large

Vogue 1541

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Now, I do have to say this out loud, while these dresses are extremely comfortable and easy to wear, I really don’t think they are the most flattering of garments. Personally, I need a defined waistline to help reduce the hip girth and you don’t get that with this style. I suppose you could always add a belt but that kinda defeats the purpose – and with my sway back and gathers over the rear, that’s definitely not a good look. So, I give you the straight up and down version.

downloadThe Makers Artelier produced a lovely pattern Flip Collar Shirt Dress  early in the season and I was smitten with the waist seam detail. However, these patterns are quite costly (£22) and if you’re not sure about a style, that’s a lot of readies to splash out on something that you may not like.

I delved into my hectically organised sewing patterns and found Vogue Very (very) Easy 8708 – OOP. Looked close enough and easy to hack.

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I split the paper pattern at the Lengthen or Shorten Here line and inserted something like 25″. I kept the shirt tail curved hem from view A and cut out the lower front on the crossgrain while everything else was cut on the lengthwise; this created the subtle change in the fabric at the front.

G3c17.jpgFabric is from Fabworks and is a delightful shirt-weight cotton. Ivory/not white with lines and dots. Perfect to cut, sew, press and wear. Couldn’t recommend this enough.

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah, I also added in-seam side pockets – that’s where my hand are!

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Front detail with the change in fabric direction which is noticeable but not glaring.

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This is great, simple shirt pattern with cut on sleeves, back yoke, fold-over collar and optional tabs on the sleeve cuffs.

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I did some nice work on this shirt dress: fully felled seams throughout, silk organza used as interfacing on the collar but the fronts are completely interface-free for a softer lie.

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The back is not flattering. There is an inverted centre pleat, which is neat in shirt but in dress length just loses it’s impact and moves into cocoon shape. Some of you may like this but I believe it’s not for me.

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While waiting for summer sunshine 2017, I made a new seat for my trusty old deckchair. Fabric is from Ikea and doesn’t it make you happy just looking at it?

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There’s enough Ikea fabric left over for a skirt too…….

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The second reason that this will not be packed for Donegal is because it’s not a favourite from the thigh down. So, instead of making another shirt dress, I think I’ll shorten this one to be A Shirt.


22 Comments

Batteries not included…

My little big world of sewing blogs is gradually shrinking: and I am wholly admitting my contribution in that reduction. I cannot deny it…. I have been sewing but not photographing, posing nor posting. Life, life, stuff, more stuff, technical stuff and ………….whatever……

Some of my blog-feed sewing posts are from people who have been blogging for 10 (this is totally admirable) and more years but the posting rate is slowing/sporadic/stopped.  I mean, here I am only six years in and feeling that I’ve had enough. I love the clothes I make (mostly). I love the clothes you all make (always), otherwise I wouldn’t do it: do I need assurance and confirmation in the comments section of my blog? Simple answer is – No.

However, I really do appreciate your honest feedback, comments, encouragement and engagement.

Genuinely, thank you all for years and years of reading this sh*t*, supporting and pushing me to go further, try new things, test new skills, designs, fabrics, patterns and techniques.

Would I be the sewer I am now without your contribution? Absolutely and categorically – NO!  

How can I ever repay that? I am constantly reading and keeping up to date with your sewing exploits and although I may not comment, this only means I don’t have the wit and repartie readily available to do so. It most certainly does not mean I don’t appreciate or learn from your experiences.

So, just to show you that I have been busy sewing and not just wasting my time being a mother, wife, teacher, friend, daughter, sister, aunt, examiner, exam marker, blog reader, sewer …..

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I bought some RTW black trousers way back and felt the need to make some  coordinating tops because I don’t really wear black much, so I started with monochrome ( left).  While I was Internet shopping for black/white/grey, of course I just happened to find colours and patterns and my self imposed discipline wavered and my finger slipped. I bought greens and flowers and blue and orange (centre-right).

I have silently joined and followed the Internet/Instagram bandwagon by sewing T-shirts, shirt dresses, camis and pants from popular Indie patterns. I do not have Instagram/Twitter etc etc. Should I? Am I the girl on the sidelines because I don’t have this social media stuff? Because, in reality, I can still cut and sew and wear my own clothes. I have made simple things that took 2 hrs from cut out to wear and a complicated dress that tooks 3 days.

On my bed, in front of your eyes includes – a Grainline Hemlock T (free down load), StyleArc pants, Bootstrap halter neck top, Burda peasant blouse, Vogue DKNY dress 1489 (OOP due to USA licensing regulations), downloadhacked Vogue/Atelier shirt dress, Pirate pencil skirt, Vogue culottes 9091, Ogden cami, good old Sorbetto top , Tessuti Fave Top and another T shirt hacked together from seeing a girl on the bus and whatever else I could make from leftover fabric.

 

If you ever have the chance to download a free PDF – take it! Save the virtual data and print out at your leisure. If you never print out or make the item – so what – nothing lost.

All in good time I will (hopefully) detail each of these items.

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I’m sorry for the hiatus. I’m Internet free for the next five days, no re-charging points, no Wi-Fi or 4 G which also means no electricity and no sewing machine – gasp-gasp-gasp ! Just plenty of fresh air, good company and bracing Irish coastlines.

Perhaps knitting will fill the void…………….. don’t need batteries for that!

If you have a preference for a preview – let me know and I’ll move it to the top of the list.

Since I started sewing for “summer”, we’ve had nothing but rain – C’est la vie.


42 Comments

Start Living…

“Let’s start living and dressing like every day is an occasion because it is!”          Julia Alarcon. Lialia

I have a true friend whose life has been turned upside down recently: she is remarkable; she is shining and glowing; she is optimistic, strong and positive; she is discovering her true self and loving what she finds and I like it too. I’m so glad I know her. She’s not suffering so why should I fret about a half made rain coat?

So, in a new positive and optimistic frame of mind I made a dress – a fierce blue dress mind you. An opportunity to hone those sewing skills, slow down a little and enjoy the process, take your time, do it right and end up with an ISFO (impressive successful finished object).

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I subscribe to Vogue patterns and was email bombarded recently by images of Julia Alarcon’s Lialia V1531. If you too received the emails, then you’ll know what I mean; I succumbed and after the disaster of the trench coat I was looking forward to a successful make.

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Got the pattern – needed fabric. Off to ClothSpot for some poly crepe which is the most perfect fabric for this pattern. I chose a violet-blue, sort of a bluebell blue – touching on forget-me-nots – it’s a super fabric, drapey and robust but watch out for the fraying and plucking. There’s loads of other colours available and I’m so tempted…..so tempted..

The dress itself is a gorgeous, simple, close fitting dress with drama – a very deep cowl at front and totally backless. This is not your everyday, wear to the office dress but boy, it packs some punch.

Princess seamed bodice, a 4 gore back skirt mirrored by a centre seam in the front skirt and side seams, there are lots of places for perfect fitting opportunities. I cut a 12 and literally sewed up as seen. It is a close fitting dress (at least mine is) ………..hold those tummies in, go to the gym three times a week (and NOT to the bar) and don’t breathe!

The dress has a self-lined bodice and a separate lined skirt. This means that if your stitching at neck or armholes is less than perfect, it doesn’t matter too much as it’s the same fabric on show.

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I read reviews of the pattern and everyone seemed to have trouble attaching the dress to the lining. I did too… There are alternative ways to sew the two together and previous sewers did what we all would do in the same situation, just figure out a working solution. The big problem with this dress is the cowl neck which is sewn on early in the construction as it takes up 360 degrees and prevents any turning out at all.

It went from this, to this to this.

And nothing worked. I followed the instructions, sewed and when it came to turn right sides out, it was impossible.

Conventional dressmaking dicates that to attach a lining, you turn the dress inside out, match the seams, sew and then turn right way out. And this is what the rather scant instructions state you should do. I followed this but it didn’t work.

So, I  stood on one leg and tried to turn the whole lot right sides out – No.

I threw it in a corner and hoped it would figure itself out: that somehow miraculously all would be well without any intervention from me at all – No, hardly surprising really.

I employed the services of shamans and wickens but that didn’t work either.

It took me two days to figure it out – all that mental rotation and geometry is exhausting and took up an inordinate amount of wine – but here’s how to do it. This will probably only make sense to you if you too are struggling to attach the lining as per the pattern instructions.

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As usual, in the end, it’s relatively straightforward and while not difficult, just a wee bit ackward.

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I lengthened my skirt by 3″ and with a 1.5″ hem it just about hits my knee. I’m 5’6″ so not very tall, just normal.

I adore the large drapey cowl. There’s an option for a drawstring thingy in the cowl but I left this out. The instructions also advise Hong Konging the seam in the cowl with lining fabric. Again I didn’t do this and made a flat felled seam instead which is so much neater and works equally well right side or wrong side out. According to Vogue it can be styled in lots of different ways but in end I just like it as it is.

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Dramatic as the front cowl is – the real action is at the back – or rather the lack thereof:

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Completely backless, this dress either requires a specialist bra or none at all. I was expecting the ‘hole’ to gape but it sits very comfortably and flat.

There’s a short invisible zip at centre back with a very important hook and eye – it’s this little unimposing notion that keeps the back fitted to the body, so don’t skip it and get it in the right position for perfect finishing.

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I hardly ever show my upper arms and have rarely displayed my bare back. It’s an unusual look and might take a little getting used to. I have hundreds of moles, every one a potential cancer site and I’m slightly self-conscious of them, added to which I already have scars from melanoma surgery. Usually, I’m not bothered as I don’t ever see my own back, let alone show it off, so except for these photos I didn’t really know what I looked like from this perspective.

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This is not a straightforward or simple make, despite the simplicity and clean lines of the finished garment. Vogue have rated it as Average but I’d tend to nudge it towards the Difficult rating.

Best advice I can offer if you intend making this beautiful dress –

  • Don’t turn off your iron – pressing is critical.
  • Be bold clipping the seam allowances
  • Keep old fashioned needles threaded – when the going gets tough sew by hand.
  • Take your time, seam ripper always within easy reach
  • Follow the instructions for order of construction.

Maybe every sewing project should begin with a positive state of mind……