corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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.


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……


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.