corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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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……

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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

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?

 

 

 


30 Comments

Border Debate

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Are you thinking of next season’s sewing yet?

 


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.