corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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40 Shades +

The story so far…. outfits in shades of grey for A/W ’16 and hopefully well beyond. My camera battery ran out of power at the last photo shoot so here’s the next installment to finish the mini series. So many pleasant and encouraging comments – thank you all so very much for that, it spurs me on to try better. Lots of patterns coming up for you to try at home

We got as far as the trousers:

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Not my usual style but then that’s the nice thing about sewing, we can try new things.

Pattern is Vogue 9193 Marcy Tilton. Fabric is a weird silk and linen mix in graphite grey from Fabworks, more spongy than stretchy.

J1b1Tiny permanent pleats ripple across the surface of this linen and silk blend, creating a dark graphite toned rather unusual fabric that will definitely suit stunning couture fashion. Silky Ripples is a medium weight with a drapey handle which springs back into shape. There’s a bias stretch plus the pleats create a slight stretch to the length. It’s textured on the face but the reverse is quite soft and silky against your skin.

 

The trouser fronts are much wider than the backs so that when all is sewn together the side seams actually run down the backs of your legs. Ignore all the gathering at the waist in the tech drawing, the actual trousers are nowhere near as gathered.

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Neat little front pockets folded in between the yoke and the legs (think Vogue 1247 Rachel Comey) and a simple elasticated waist makes for a fairly easy sewing experience. No real fitting issues either though I did take in the centre back crotch by 2″. I had to cut the yoke pieces on the cross grain due to fabric limitations and this gives a shading of the greys across the top.

With any fabric that was leftover I made a very simple shell top based very loosely on Vogue 8559 (another Tilton but OOP). There’s not a dart in sight. Neck and armholes are actually bound in navy jersey.

It’s unfitted just enough to wear over the silver grey Tilton tunic.

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So while I was rummaging in the loosely categorised leftovers bag called Jerseys, I found a grey cotton. This became a loose, shapeless T-shirt using Burda 05/2012 #101B  for the basic pattern.  Length dependent totally on the available fabric.

Always needs a cami under it because the V is so low but this is an opportunity not a design flaw – another layer and I’ve always liked the symmetry between a statement colour on top and matching shoes.

Grey is such a neutral colour that it can be worn with every other shade of grey and a host of other colours too. Can you think of a colour that grey doesn’t wear well with?

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Too much grey? Also discovered in the Jersey bag were a few pieces leftover from my forays into the Tilton’s Arty T-shirt.  Not enough of one but reasonably sized pieces of two. DSCN6159

Bring out Vogue 1508  Zandra Rhodes. Front and back are the same shape but reversed, so that one sleeve is one colour and the other sleeve is the other – clear as mud? Seams are like a half raglan – see the diagram below for a much better explanation than I can give.

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Something bad happened at the neckline so I added two stripes of black/grey striped jersey at bra strap position and now I have a half-cold shoulder top! The bands then needed to be balanced out elsewhere and more were added to the dipped hem. The joys of sewing……

As the Zandra Rhodes pattern was out and about and I’d actually run out of greys by this stage I added another colour – lime green.

This fabric was given to me by a local sewing friend, Evelyn, ages ago and I could never think of the right pattern. But here it is…

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It’s a sheer poly chiffon, so camisoles beneath are a must. See the green shoes?

I don’t think it matters which way you put this top on as front and back are the same shape – the pointy hem just shifts from one side to the other. Bit more successful with the neckline this time too. Had to do all that French seam stuff and hand rolled all the hems and neck though.

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Items in stash used up, new patterns tried and old ones reinvented and re-used and a whole A/W collection. A happy ending.

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Special Days

Honestly and truly, every day is special – there’s absolutely no doubt that we all have bad ones but somehow we wake up tomorrow, pull on our big-girls’ pants and deal with it. I’ve been lucky and very recently had the most amazing few days away with some very special people, so let’s start with Day 1 and move on from there.

Day 1

I’ve known for ages that one of my students won Outstanding Student of the Year (Public Services), an international competition organised by Pearson with nearly 1000 nominees and over 1,000,000 possible entrants. There was a media embargo until after the actual ceremony.

Alarm set for 5.00am. I already packed the night before and my outfit sewn and ready for the awards ceremony in London, hosted by Baroness Garden of Frognall in the Churchill Room in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster.

Arrived in London and headed straight to Cosmetics a la Carte for a professional, last-all-day make-up. Cost a small fortune but this is definitely a time to treat myself.

Whirlwind day of receptions, awards, ceremony, fun and networking. So many talented and inspiring young people. Mine is called Clare and we wore matching dresses.

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She is very special, battling illness while studying and then achieving the highest grades possible. A truly humbling experience to teach a student like this and so proud of her.

My dress is Burda 04-2016-119 worn with a light weight bright pink coat, which is a Merchant and Mills Haremere jacket made long. It’s unlined to cope with London city heat so all the raw seams had to be Hong Konged.

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I actually wanted to go for a ‘This old thing? I just threw it on” look: sort of understated, not obvious but still part of an outfit. To achieve this I half-lined the sleeves with dress fabric so that when the cuffs were folded back the cuff lining matched the dress. and when I don’t wear the two together, just unfold the sleeves. It’s a smarter alternative to a cardigan and more relaxed than a jacket.

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I actually got more compliments about the coat that I did my dress – perhaps the colour did it – it’s not easy to overlook. It’s looking a little the worse for wear after a full day wearing in London heat and humidity and then being unceremoniously stuffed into my travel bag.

20.30 Took the train from London to Preston for an extra few days of relaxation and enjoyment with my long-time friend Caroline. Did a bit of hand sewing on my Six Napoleon corset on the journey. Caroline and I re-connected last summer after 20 odd years apart and we haven’t looked back since.

Stayed up to 4.00am Friday, chatting and laughing like we were teenagers.

Day 2

Relaxing, lazy day at Caroline’s home  – I’d been up and on the go for 23 hours. Time to unpack, settle in, finish some conversations from the previous day ( same day). Watched Wimbledon and made plans.

Caroline is a photographer. Recently, we took one of her images and had it digitally printed onto silk. I hand rolled the edges and we both now have scarves that no-one else in the entire world has – that’s special.

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It’s not upside down – it’s a reflection!

Day 3

Darwen –
Day out to meet Mags at Minerva Crafts.

Such lovely people there: a family run business who were more than welcoming, friendly and very patient with us.

49ebbdc43fe9f5e69ec693ba019dd0afWe pulled bolts of fabric from the shelves, mixed and matched and generally created a little bit of mayhem on the cutting table. We advised other shoppers – only when they asked mind you – and had a lot of fun. We all bought loads: Caroline got some grey/taupe jerseys in animal-like prints; Mags got a stash and I got enough for an autumn outfit. We had a light lunch followed by a wander around the speciality food market.

Mags is fabulous; honest, stoic, funny and very, very stylish. I’ll be honest, I was getting a bit fed up with blogging and taking photos and all that stuff but meeting her has re-invigorated me and has made me grateful for those special Internet friends who become real ones.

Day 4 & 5

Hanging out, day trips and shopping – just lovely. Then home again.

Day 6- 9

Hooray, back into the sewing room. I love travelling and going away but there’s nothing like coming home either and doing what I love best. Sewed like a mad woman and before the end of the week I had sewn all of Caroline’s Minerva stash. I did add the odd bit of lace and cotton jersey but from 2.5m, I managed to get three tops and 1m ponte made a perfectly coordinating pair of trousers.

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Mainly the top pattern is Tilton’s Vogue 9057 (first and last) and the trousers are Vogue 8837 , another Tilton.

Caroline wore her first incarnation of this top at our day out at Minerva so I know it fits and suits her. The black and animal print (second) is Vogue 9193, another Marcy. Dead easy to sew as the sleeves are cut on but the pattern pieces are cut single layer and are therefore huge.

 

 

DSCN6354I was on a roll so I just kept going and added a few bonus but coordinating items to Caroline’s wardrobe.

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The light grey knit is a layering piece (the fabric is from my Minerva stash) and is actually the top half only of Vogue 9193. The pattern doesn’t actually tell you to do this but it works really well. So well in fact that I think I need one myself.V9193

The knit top will also go over any of Caroline’s other tunics too. It wasn’t easy to sew though,  the fine silky knit fabric had a mind of its own. I did my best not to stretch it out and used some leftover animal print jersey as a stabiliser around the neck, sleeves and hem. The ‘underneath’ tunic is made from other leftovers and here you can see where the top and bottom meet. There’s a built in pocket on the left hand side. If you sew this top, just watch out – the side seams on top and bottom half do not line up, the bottom half is offset (see the tech drawing). Ask me how I know this because I’m so smart I don’t have to read the instructions….!

All of Caroline’s Minerva fabric has now been sewn, posted and quite possibly already worn as Mr Postman was especially swift this week.

That’s you all up to date until next time…

 

 


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The Artist, Her mate and a Pink Lady

More T-shirts this week ….but I do have loads of knit/jersey to sew through first,so please bear with me. I am beginning to regard these as tunics, not T-shirts because of the length and flare. Personally I like the length and flare but a T-shirt to me is relatively fitted and hip-length. Slide1

The Artist is not for me but for someone else who is an artist and needs some artistic clothes. Five fabrics this time with gold trim and matching infinity scarf because what else are you going to do with little left-overs? The hem is asymmetrical and I added godets at the side seams for extra flare. One sleeves is black lace and the other is patterned mesh. A good mixture of scuba, viscose, cotton, lace and mesh – oh my!

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Her Mate is for me and not quite as artistic but uses the same fabrics and style: here you can see the extra triangle in pink polka dots.

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The Pink Lady is literally what’s still left over and can be put to reasonable use.

All tunics are view D from Vogue 9057 and inspired by the Craftsy class Artful T-Shirt by the Tilton sisters. A good stash buster for panels, godets, sleeve bands and cuffs etc but bear in mind that you do need a decent 1m of fabric for the main body of the tunic and get as wide as you can.

The knits/jerseys are at last diminishing, just a little bit left to go  – normal sewing shall resume shortly.

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I have bought more patterns in the recent Vogue sale, a Japanese pattern book and I’m slowly coming to the very sad conclusion that I do not have enough cash to buy the fab fabrics I want; not enough time to sew everything I want to sew; not enough social occasions to wear all the clothes to! Any suggestions?

 

 

 

 


58 Comments

The Metro, The Cosmos and An Old Lady

The knit stash is just a wee bit reduced, having cut some of it up into T-shirt pattern pieces and sewing them together. The pattern is Vogue 9057, a Marcy Tilton T-shirt / tunic top and came along with the Craftsy class on the Artful T-shirt.

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I started gently and as my confidence grew so did the number of fabrics used. Each shirt is named after the fabric used. The Metro is an American nostalgia theme print with street and city signs, dollars, stamps and a rather creepy image of JFK. The Cosmos is a single jersey printed in a Nebula/universe design. The Old Lady is flowers in lilacs and lace. Here’s the week’s work –

1. One fabric – Vest with neck and armholes bound in coordinating fabric. Pattern view C

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2. Two fabrics – The Metro: asymmetrical T-shirt/tunic with plain fabric sleeve, cuffs and neckband. Pattern view B.

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3. 1 & 2 together – Vest on top and vest below. Pattern views B & C

4. Three fabrics – The Cosmos: asymmetrical T-shirt/tunic with coordinating sleeves in plain and stripes with contrasting cuffs and neckband. Pattern view B

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5. Four fabrics – The Old Lady – Draped hem T-shirt/tunic with lace sleeve, double neckband, contrasting cuffs , sleeve bands and additional hem band. Pattern view D

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Some design details:

Each sleeve has a large cuff like a facing on the inside (apart from the Old Lady where it’s on the outside). This means when I turn the cuff back, as I am apt to do,  there is a contrast fabric.

I secured the facing cuff with an extra contrast fabric band.

The Old Lady has a double neck band – one made with the selvedge of the black lace and the second with the cotton print. There is also an additional 3″ band around the hem.

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Once you choose which fabrics to use and where they will go, the sewing up of the shirt is simple, straightforward and quick – about 1 – 1.5hrs. It’s a good go-to-sleep ritual to consider the fabrics for each shirt so that the next day you’re all ready to go. I straight stitched each seam then finished off on the overlocker. The best thing about T-shirts is that you don’t need an armoury of notions – no buttons, zips, interfacing, hooks or eyes.

Not only did I try to combine colour and pattern but I mixed materials: there is stretch lace with scuba, poly jersey with cotton knit, Lycra and viscose in a one-way stretch and two-way stretch. I experienced no predominantly prohibitive problems with this method of sewing, so I’m continuing with this method on future shirts.

To avoid looking like an old lady myself when wearing the Old Lady, adopt a badass attitude, a scowl, bed-head hair and a plethora of black and silver jewellery.

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But you know that’s not really me so here I am smiling as usual but still trying not to look like an old lady…..so paired with grey skinny jeans and calf length purple boots

 

 

There’s still a small  country’s GDP worth of jersey knits to sew through, so watch this space.

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Get Ready….

Payday! I have purchased in the region of 5 metric tonnes of ‘jersey’

Everything from stretch lace and mesh to scuba with a few cottons and viscose in between.

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I also purchased the Tilton sisters’ Artful T-Shirt class from Craftsy. Blogs and loads of useful information and ideas: one blog each Marcy here and Katherine here. Be prepared for covetable items and just not enough time in the day or a big enough sewing room……

This week I expect some striped jersey and a few bonus fabrics to arrive too, which brings the total jersey count up to one trillion metres.

Stripes from Girl Charlee UK.

Patterns and flowers (above) and bonus plains from Fabworks.

Then I updated the machine needle stash with a few packets of ballpoints from John James Needles.

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The serger is threaded; the colours fit with SWAP and I seem to be on a wine/berry colour phase at the moment; the Vogue 9057 pattern has arrived all the way from America; I’m eating healthily and being nice to other people………

I must be able to sew a T-shirt or two out of that lot!