corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


43 Comments

Toni 3 with Mods

It’s a Toni Jim, but not as we know it……

First one was as per pattern: second one was as per pattern with the centre front seam left open.

Third one is this…..

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The other day I went away for the weekend to the north coast where I met a fabulous lady from America. I’ve now met two fabulous ladies from America who read this blog, sew and travel. They don’t specifically  travel to Ireland just to see me of course but it’s always nice to combine the two. Are all ladies who sew fabulous in America?

Wendy is from Boulder, Colorado (which I thought only existed in the Westerns). She teaches classes from a beautiful fabric shop and also sews very special things for a select client list. Her work is fabulous – can I use that word again without losing its potency?  But truly, her jackets are tailored but not conventional, little personal touches that elevate the wearer to absolute uniqueness: mostly sewn in silk or linen, always muslined first and lined. She makes her own patterns and is a living, breathing, walking encyclopedia about fabrics, style, techniques and colour. Wendy is building a website at the moment and I can’t wait to show you her work when it goes live.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, knowing that we were meeting, Wendy carried all the way from Boulder a length of fabric just for me. Truly kind. I’m rarely gifted fabric but when I am I always feel a little pressured into making something  special with it.

I received about 2.5m of burn-out cotton/poly jersey, very akin to a Marcy Tilton fabric. One side is pure grey, the other is black with random circles cut out to reveal the grey backside. You know how I love my greys…….

I really wanted to maximise all the fabric in one garment and decided a top/T-shirt just wouldn’t do. I opted for a winter version of StyleArc’s Toni dress, with modifications.

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First, I lobed off the pointy bits at the sides – mainly to fit on the fabric and secondly because the drapes just don’t work.

I also cut the back on the fold to avoid the centre back seam ruining the circles.

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I used the ‘wrong’ side of the fabric for the collar and eliminated the in-seam pockets in preference for front patch ones.It would be really good if both pockets lined up…..duh!

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I added full length sleeves by just using the pattern as a cutting guide at shoulder height and shaping down the width to fit my wrists – essentially two rectangles. And when folded back the insides match the collar and pocket tops.

It’s loose and long and I just adore the collar. Housewifey with a touch of elegance. So easy to wear – pair of boots and you’re ready!

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The dress still has flare and drape even without the pointy bits but somehow is also elongating and skims the body without bulk or being baggy.

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Thank you very much Wendy . This dress will (has) become a very firm wardrobe favourite.


63 Comments

Where’s my Lea?

I’m over 50 and sew a lots of things but really….

I positively 100% knew that I had purchased and printed StyleArc’s Lea wrap dress pattern after reading Sew2Pro’s review. The actual date of said download is a mystery but I am absolutely sure I owned it.

About 4 hours later: found the pattern. Hah! not that old……although I wasn’t sure if it was tiled and taped and ready to go. What joy when I discovered the pages taped and the pieces cut.

DSCN6400Great. Lay the pattern pieces out on Aeolian Ripples from Fabworks- an Avoca jersey knit in burgundy/green and perfect transitional colours for that summer to autumn look. It is also my first step towards my burgundy pieces for A/W.

 

1 hour later: All the pieces are pinned to the fabric and I discover that the pattern pieces had previous pin holes. This means that I had actually pinned each pattern piece to another fabric at some time in the recent past. Could I remember which fabric – no?

LEA-DRESSI showed my husband the pattern drawing and asked if he had ever seen me in this dress. Answer – no. So, maybe I pinned and then abandoned. Yeah. That’s the answer.

Except….each pattern piece had all the notches cut.  I figured that one does not pin and cut out pattern pieces without marking notches. What the ******?

I racked my brain and memory banks for a previous Lea wrap dress. I resorted to old-fashioned private detective techniques – I  tapped phones, sat outside my own house for 48hrs in a van,  planted bugs in the bathroom, all in the cause of  looking for evidence. The wardrobe provided no tangible clues and I came to the conclusion that I had previously cut out all the pieces, made the dress and gave it away. But I still could not think of the fabric used or even a memory of doing all this.

I lay awake for weeks trying to think of when I had made Lea: what fabric had I used; what occasion was I sewing for?  My family queried if I had anything on my mind – YES ACTUALLY – I obviously made a dress but I have no recollection of it and I can’t find the physical item!

So I figured the only way to deal with ghosts is to face them and so I made a Lea Wrap dress (another?).

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I may have sewn wider seams that the pattern allows for (in fact I did) which would account for the top not covering the bits it should cover, so a coordinating camisole is essential.

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Lea Wrap dress is a classic/basic wrap dress with collar a la DVF and 3/4 sleeves. Not complicated and eternally fashionable and stylish.

I love the collar on the dress and the front wrap really does stay wrapped. There are no darts and the sleeves are sewn as in T-shirt construction: one big side seam. Using a two-way stretch is paramount.

The only fiddly bit is sewing on a narrow binding along the front that hides the raw edges of the collar and neatens up the front edges. This needs to sewn on the right side out, then trimmed, turned and top stitched in place. So glad this fabric is busy and you can’t see the wiggly, uneven topstitching line.

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I have ‘thickened’ over the summer weeks so time to do something about that or else I won’t get into any of my clothes. I find that my home made clothes are such a good fit that a weight gain of more that 2kg tells. RTW on the other hand seem to have a 5kg weight gain built in.

I lengthened the dress by 4″ because I like a below-knee skirt – it lengthens the leg and covers knobbly knee caps. I also added an inch or two to the sleeves. The waist ties are the length they are because that was all the fabric there was.

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I have bombarded you, dear readers, recently with posts and makes. I have been playing catch-up with myself; I sewed so much but never took pictures or the time to write. I think I’m almost up to date now and I thank you for your patience. After six wonderfully relaxing and sewing weeks my summer holidays are drawing to a close. Then, as we say here, it’s back to porridge.

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I still can’t find my first Lea wrap dress though.

Have you seen it?


69 Comments

40 Shades of…….

Well, 3 actually.

One of the things I like about summer is starting to think about A/W clothes. I’ve gathered a few metres together already in greys and burgundy. I like Thornberry’s new approach to sewing – sew an outfit, not an orphan!

I took the Toni dress pattern and made it exactly as is but didn’t sew up the centre front seam.

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What I have is a long, drapey waistcoat with a fab collar and pockets.

This time I added lead weights to the points of the drapes and they hang much better. The fabric is a stretch grey marl, actually quite stable and very good recovery, cotton and elastane blend from Fab Works.

But you can’t have a waistcoat without something to wear with it, like a skirt.

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CC_FOLD_SKIRT__78680_zoom2_grandeThis one is Centre for Pattern Design CC Fold skirt. It’s mock wrap, one seam, waist tied. There’s space for a hidden zip inside the front fold but as this fabric is stretch I left it out.

My ties are also only half length.

I sewed the front fold halfway down just to keep it in place and the waist ties are also sewn together. So this skirt has no fastenings at all. It’s not even hemmed and I quite like the slight dip where the fold is.

Then, there’s fabric left over so you have to do something with it

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This is Vogue 9193 by Marcy Tilton. It’s the top half of the top only.  The sleeves are patched with inside out seams; raw edge bands for neck and hem and finally a little side pocket.

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Altogether now –

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V9193As the Tilton pattern was out and about, I made a full length version of the top in a light grey, almost silver, knit from Minerva.

 

 

 

 

 

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This can now be layered with the dark grey top –

DSCN6462and when it gets really cold, just layer up again with the waistcoat.

But now you need something else to wear with the tops, like trousers. Same Tilton pattern this time made in the weirdest fabric from Fab Works: silk and linen woven into ripples. The trousers have a yoke and horizontal pockets; elasticated waist and ankle length.

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Then the camera battery was exhausted, as was I. So I suppose there’ll have to be a sequel.

 

 

 


36 Comments

Panelled Toni

Neglectful, that’s what I am. I’ve been sewing nearly everyday since the beginning of July and I’ve hardly shared a thing with you. So time to stop sewing, take a few photos as proof and start blogging.

Style Arc’s Toni dress has been on my To-Do list for months: I printed the PDF way back just waiting for the right fabric to find its way home to me. Surfing the net turned up some hits and misses with this pattern – let’s just say it’s not your regular dress and most of the misses are just not getting the drapes right which is not the sewer but the fabric. Style Arc sell both paper patterns from their online shop in Australia: they are also on Etsy for immediate PDFs.

The simplicity of this pattern is the key to this designer dress. The wide side drape falls softly into the narrow hemline. You will love the flattering collar that sits high on the neck and continues into the front “V” insert panel. This is such a comfortable, easy-to-wear dress with a designer look. STYLE ARC 

 

Loose and draped and long and with the best collar ever, Toni encapsulates the classy art teacher; the confident woman; the I’m not buying M&S again this year; the individual.

Let me show you these:

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Cyberdaze

The Needle Works (double)

Material World

Pattern Review

MeggiPeg

 

Now, let’s step away from Toni for a moment and go to Mezzo  Couture and her ingenious use of bordered fabric. We all love a border print fabric but are often at a loss to make the most of it.

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A very lightweight rayon from Croftmill, vignetted white to pink with line sketches of flowers and roots in black. I bought 3 panels. The most obvious way to use this fabric is to have the graduated tint running lengthwise down the body, white at the neck to pink at the hem. Let’s turn it 90 degrees instead: now we have one colour at the front and one colour at the back.

Of course, nothing ever goes to plan and there’s a major problem to be solved……….

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Once the panel is folded for cutting it’s 5″ (10cm) short! There was a bit of patching and hacking and make-it-up-as-you-go-along style of sewing and I got the width needed to make the dress. NB: you need at least 48″ wide fabric for a single cut.

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I’m only standing in front of the laundry just to show you that sometimes the sun does actually shine here and  it can actually get very warm. Having said that, white on white is maybe not such a good idea….

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The drapes at the sides might need a weight stitched in to hold them down but this fabric is so lightweight that I’m wary of doing that and am happy to let things flow.

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There’re pockets – but you all knew that already

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I absolutely adore the collar but my little dumpy not-ballerina neck is not the best to showcase it. Just as well it can be worn folded down.

Indulge me enjoying the sunshine – you look at the dress and I’ll document this historic weather moment; the sky so blue it is reflected in the white sheets.

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A Jekyll and Hyde dress this one – white on front and pink on back. Just a different way to use a panelled fabric.DSCN6419

Construction is fairly simple and straightforward: two fronts and backs with centre seams and remember StyleArc use 1cm. Collar and revers are the most complicated and really they’re not that complicated – take your time and mark the notches as you cut – the notches are very important. The side pockets are inseam and attached just above the flare for the ‘almost’ drapes’.

 

One of the last things to be sewn closed is the centre front, which got me thinking……

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18 Comments

SWAP A 1

So the whole Christmas/New Year shebang is over and the first item of 2016 is sewn and complete, and it’s the first garment for SWAP ’16!

 

MASON-JACKETI picked an easy one to start with, StyleArc’s Mason coat – no lining, raw edges, no fastenings, one piece sleeves and not a strip of interfacing in sight. I chose a bright pink fleece which was cheap as chips and it brightens up the most dismal of dull, wintry days. Funnily ecolour,motion,colors,swirl,wallpaper,color-b56ebd20797d4bf238e5f5fe3530d371_hnough this colour goes with so many others. You wouldn’t think so would you? But it does lift any colour – white (as in the following photos), jeans, grey, black, navy and hopefully the mossy green of the other items in this SWAP pack A.

Slide1Pack A is based around the colours of heather on moorlands – pink and mossy green. The other items will be a moss green top and a checked pink and moss green skirt.

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As you can see, I have already changed my plans and only one garment in! I ditched the short jacket for the longer length and more relaxed coat. I do sometimes wonder why I even call my Sewing With a Plan, a plan at all….

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I did make a bit of an effort by adding fold-over flaps on the patch pockets and simulated cuffs on the sleeves. To fasten, I cut narrow strips, made a loop and a couple of ties. The same strips were sewn all along the edges, so while un-hemmed they are ‘finished’.

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Fleece is a wonderfully easy fabric to sew with and I would strongly recommend it if you are new to sewing: it stretches slightly so it’s a breeze to ease into place if your cutting out isn’t perfect; it doesn’t fray so you don’t need to finish seams, you don’t even need to hem anything or turn raw edges under; it’s very forgiving on a lot of fronts – doesn’t wrinkle, is incredibly cuddly and keeps you warm.  The slight downsides are that there is a nap, much fainter than velvet for sure but for cutting out you do need to fold the fabric selvedge to selvedge (long and narrow) and place all pattern pieces in the same direction (ie. all tops facing the same way). It is made from polyester and all the disadvantages that entails: non-renewable raw material (oil), can create static electricity, it does not wick sweat but ironically, this hydrophobic quality can also be an advantage in the rain; additionally, cheaper fabrics are prone to pilling.

Most of my other SWAP garments are planned in natural fabrics like silk and wool, so this one item is the renegade rebel of the bunch.

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As the coat is un-lined, it is kinda nice to have the inside a little refined just in case you meet a fellow sewer in the street and they want to inspect your clothes. For this coat I sewed faux-felled seams. I don’t know if that’s a real seam finishing technique or not but this is what I did….

Sew a normal seam, trim one side away close to stitching (always the seam allowance closest to the back – all seams should fold around the body towards the back, just a little bit of couture info there.

Flatten the untrimmed allowance over the trimmed edge and stitch down with a longer stitch – 3mm or so. On the outside the seams look like they are proper felled and it creates a little bit of interest but because of the wonderful non-fraying and stable quality of the fleece on the inside the seams are relatively tidy too.

Of course there were leftovers that were just begging to be used up instead of taking up space – Rhonda provided the inspiration and I sewed up a scarf/hood thingy.

A scarf when it’s cold and a hood when it’s colder.

However……however….

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….there is something akin to a dressing gown about this coat when made in fleece and hanging on a hanger. I sort of like that I can wear this outdoors (and I have) and yet still keep it on indoors like a cardi. Honestly, what do you think? Only over jammies or also over a tweed skirt?

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Do I need to revise my SWAP again!? ? Even before I’ve hardly even got started.

The coat does cover the butt which is always a good thing but is that a huge iron impression on the back? Another disadvantage of fleece that I forgot to mention before…

Welcome to 2016 – may you sew to your hearts’ content and within your own time-management limits; I sincerely wish you no ripping out, no iron marks or burns on your precious fabrics and wishing you a perfect fit every time.