corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Every Quilt I’ve ever Made

Firstly, that title sounds like I’ve been making quilts for 100 years – I haven’t. It’s been two years.

Secondly,within 10 minutes of starting to patchwork and quilt I started to gather and collect all my scraps of fabric from every project. You know how that goes…….

Thirdly,  if you are a quilter you might want to look away now. This is not accurate block making nor a precise method of patchworking but it certainly uses up those scraps.

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So following Demented Fairy’s good advice, I sorted all the scraps into colour-ways and stuffed them into plastic freezer bags and stashed them away.

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However, fast running out of freezer bags and space I decided it was time to do something with all these scraps. Now, when sewing clothes, your scraps might be in the region of 0.5-1m. With patchworking, the scraps are 2″ -4″ and below!

So I delved in and dug out a bag: this one happens to be mostly orange.

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The scraps were then pressed, laid out for possible colour combination options with some being removed, then roughly sorted into shapes ready for sewing.

And start sewing random bits together……..1/4″ seam allowance and a pale grey thread.

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When it becomes too difficult to sew any more pieces, like the angle is too acute and there are no more straight edges, trim to make the patchwork squarish and carry on.

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I kept up this process until the block was close to 15″ or so. Pressed really well…….

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…..and then just picked another bag and started the process all over again, and again, and again. Then all of a sudden, I had 20 blocks! Each block was then trimmed to 14″ in a rare attempt to square things off. Can you spot the original start point in this block?

I bought some plain yellow (now I have scraps of yellow!) and made a quilt top with all these random blocks with 2″ yellow sashing – 4 X 5 blocks and big enough to lie atop a UK king-sized bed.

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In this quilt, there are fabrics left over from summer dresses, shirts, totes, skirts, scarves, wash/cosmetic bags and, of course, other quilts.

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So, I’m feeling quite pious at this point. I’ve put the otherwise useless scraps to good use and made a quilt top. But of course, that’s not the end of the quilt. It now needs wadding and a backing to make it complete. I went and bought some of my favourite fabrics by Kaffe Fassett for the backing (I now have scraps of backing).

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Fabulously bright and happy. The quilting of all layers includes wiggly lines on each block and straight line sewing along the sashing. It looks good from both sides.

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It’s teenage son’s girlfriend’s birthday in March so guess what’s she’s getting as a 20th birthday present? Which reminds me that teenage son will not be a teenager for very much longer – like where did those years go?

Every finished quilt needs a title and a label. This one is called “The Learning Years”. I have learnt so much about patchworking and quilting in the past two years and teenage son’s girlfriend is at university – so it’s a title that refers to both our journeys.

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Of course, there’ll always be more scraps………

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Bin ’em!


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!


47 Comments

Sewing the 70s

When the 1970s started I was seven; when they finished I was 17. The world was going to hell in a handcart (not much changed there then) but they were the very best years of my life (so far)…..

I began the decade as a child and left it as a teenager on the cusp of adulthood. These were my formative years – personality, temperament, style, likes and dislikes were all set in concrete during the ’70s. – which might explain a lot……  My happiest and lasting memories were formed and the trials and tribulations of the world did nothing to dissuade my youthful, energetic optimism for the future. Years and years later, my optimism is still not dampened although it’s not so youthful nor energetic these days. God bless all of you who marched for Women’s Rights this weekend! Thank you. I think we will be marching a lot over the next four years…..

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Recently I watched Divorce (HBO) on TV. The storyline is not the most addictive aspect of the series, however, Sarah Jessica Parker’s clothes are. I watched every episode just to see her wardrobe. Apparently, they bought genuine vintage 1970 dresses, ripped them apart and remade to fit SJP with slight style updates for 2016.

This is also a Sucker for Sales post – Craftsy had a January sale and usually I ignore all offers from America because of the import tax. There was a time about six years ago when I started sewing seriously again that I, and I alone, managed to sustain the UK economy with my fabric purchases from USA. Every. Single. Time. All my packages were caught at customs and wouldn’t be released until I paid the import duty. Then I found some UK and EU fabric sites and used these instead. This time next year I might have to leave off the EU sites as there will now probably be import duty applied to all purchases from Europe – thanks everyone who voted Out!

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Anyway, I got 3m (sorry, yards) of three rayons for a song and reckoned that if I had to pay the tax, it would still be a good deal. From a great distance I psychically draped a tax-invisibility cloak around the Craftsy box and it worked! No tax, no import duty, just delivered virgin-like to my home.

Way to start 2017!

I might be a wee bit stupid here but can we get rayon in the UK?

This fabric is fab. Drapey, robust, opaque with deep printed colours, presses well, slight fraying but nothing excessive – I love it.

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This one today is an Italian crepe in green with a blue border print. Just had to put that border print to good use….

If you’re still with me at this point, here is the actual sewing inspiration in a nutshelldscn6856:

1. 1970s

2. Sale fabric

3. Wardrobe from Divorce

Not having a genuine 1970 dress pattern at hand I hacked one together. There are certain characteristics that define The Dress and I tried to incorporate these into my (first) Sewing The 70s frock. Based upon extensive Internet research these are the essentials for an authentic 1970 frock –

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  1. Patterned fabric – no solid colours
  2. Flared A-line skirt – tending towards half-circle, although gathered/pleated skirt is also acceptable
  3. Neckline detail – collar/tie/lace
  4. Defined waist – two-piece dress in other words
  5. Belt – covers the waist seam and helps 4
  6. Sleeves, preferably gathered/puffed – full

I took Kwik Sew 3782 imgres-1for the top and a four gore skirt using the border print at centre front and just stuck them together literally with the sewing machine. Had to shorten the top and used the skirt waistline as a guide.DSCN6852.jpg

I also used the border print at sleeve hems for a bit of continuity and at centre back on the button belt. The neck tie is cut from the blue border too. I also added a few other things.

Single welt front pockets, with inside stays to stop them from flopping around inside the dress. Secured at side seams and across the centre front.

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Can you see the pockets?

Changed the length; because I like this midi length, it suits my legs and the 1970s either had very high or very low, so a little bit of of the 21st century added.

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More 21st century with an invisible side zip closure.

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Additionally I made a button belt to cover the bodice/skirt seam. Just completes the dress somehow although a purchased belt would also serve the purpose just as well.

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Finally, I just had to have new shoes that reflect the 1970s aesthetic and match my new dress.

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1117035Clarks Cass Pop in bottle green and I really do hope they are named after Mama Cass – a V&A 1970 inspiration style and, of course, bought in the January sales.

Oh and green tights to match….

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The first of my Sewing the ’70s. What’s that you say? Are there more……?

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Shall we start a sewing challenge Sewing the ’70s? (motivation/inspiration)

 

 


16 Comments

Sucker for Sales 2

And here we are again…… fabric sales purchases and what to do with them. This time it’s a fluffy, soft knit made with a remarkable combination of fibres such as cashmere, mohair, a bit of silk and a few sparkly threads and from – yeah, you know where – Joel and Son…..a cut length of 1.5m.

The fabric is sort of like a boiled wool; it’s a knit, like a proper knit with no fraying but softer with a right and wrong side. It’s primarily grey (my favourite) but has tones of violet/lilac – more of a heathered look that is not readily recognisable in my crappy photographs. The inside is sparkly and I suppose could have been used the other way round for evening wear. I choose day wear. Believe me, this is a complicated fabric.

I pressurised myself into making something that warranted the price: not sure I achieved that goal but I did get a very serviceable skirt and top: that can be worn together and also separately which stretches the serviceability.

Skirt pattern is Vogue, Katherine Tilton 8837 (OOP). This skirt has four seams with a hip yoke, elasticated waist(!) and curved hemline with small splits. The instructions are for lapped over side seams but I ignored that bit.

Easy to sew up and easy to wear. I serged the seams for extra strength as it’s a pull on skirt and it looks nice in the inside too.

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The top pattern is based on Burda 0521012 /101, cut short due to fabric limitations and whatever serviceable piece was leftover was used as a pocket.

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I had a bad experience with this dress pattern previously but I’m learning to love it and see the potential in many other ways apart from a sack-like shift dress.

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I just used the selvedge edge of the fabric as the top’s hem. The deep V neckline was stabilised with some black satin ribbon to keep it from stretching any further. It is not a top to wear on its own….

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This little outfit has a relaxed, yet ‘pulled together’ look, I think. The skirt is very comfortable and worn with the top, it creates an outfit. Best worn with a white shirt underneath for contrast and to break up the solid grey. Perfect for wearing under a coat as it keeps me warm without creating bulk.

It may not be the most flattering combination for my body, but sometimes (often) practicality and comfort are the priorities.

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So, elasticated waists in trousers was first and now in skirts! The real benefit of elasticated waists is that you can wear either the trousers or the skirt high up at actual waist level or pulled slightly down to hips, which changes the length.

The other day, one of my students asked if she could ‘touch’ my skirt – such is the tactile, fluffy and comforting appeal of this fabric – just like being wrapped in soft, delicious natural fibres. I let her……..

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Well, the winter holidays are finished – back to work tomorrow and half-way through the academic year. Marking papers will intensify from now on and hence, sewing time is reduced. Blogging will also therefore be restricted but I’ll do my best, after all, sewing keeps me grounded, sane and clothed!

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I often think that I could survive wonderfully on permanent holiday – like retired – but I am actually looking forward to going back to work. I love my job, I’m lucky. I like the routine, the pressures and even the stress – it pushes and challenges me. Sewing is my escape. Without the constraints of employment I don’t think sewing would mean as much to me as it currently does. We are constantly learning about ourselves – see Felicia’s honest assessment of herself, her 2016 review of sewing and her developing style to get you thinking……..