corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Second Home (Mexico)

Get a cup of tea…..

There are many things I’ve never done in my life so far – I  have never travelled beyond the equator; been to the continents of Africa, Australia, Eurasia; nor even across the Atlantic Ocean. This summer I managed to accomplish one of those nevers: at the ripe old age of middle I managed to cross the Atlantic and for the very first time in my life set foot on USA soil, albeit for a few hours stop over in Atlanta airport on my way to Leon, Mexico.

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Leaving Mexico

I haven’t been beyond UK borders for years. For 10 years or so as a family we took many holidays all over mainland Europe but generally speaking that’s just like being at home except for a different language and warmer weather; travelling to Mexico is culturally unique. I feel a trifle guilty showing you my suitcase because I did not sew everything I packed.

There are occasions in our lives when you have to make decisions and sometimes buying holiday-one-off clothes makes a lot more sense. My suitcase compromised a mix of RTW and sewn. I cannot foresee some of my Mexican wardrobe ever being worn in the very near future – I mean temperatures of 26 degrees and above are relatively unknown in my part of the world – and so I truly wasn’t prepared to spend money, time and effort on sewing things when I could buy them in the summer sales. This one of the reasons that I never signed up for 100% 12 months of sewing my own wardrobe. You never know what life will throw at you, offer you or knock you sideways.

In May this year I was diagnosed with yet another malignant melanoma – good grief, it’s my third! If not identified and cut out, this is a 80% death sentence. Wear the sunscreen people!! A temporary, damaging sun tan is not worth it. Take it from a bottle if it’s that important to you. My gratitude to our British National Health Service cannot be expressed enough. Obviously……

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Proudly displaying my newest “I’m still alive” scar

So when I received an invitation from ReAnn to visit Mexico my first thoughts concerned my life, health, skin, potential sunburn and subsequently the consequences. I have typical Irish, Northern European skin – pale, freckly and my delicious blood is a gourmet meal for every flying insect

 

Decisions to travel were – Yes, then No it’s too risky – life’s short and all that sun is dangerous:  then YES! Life is really and truly too short so take all and every opportunity whenever they present themselves.

Thankfully when the husband was asked if he wanted to come too he gave the right answer – No!

So off I went solo.

 

Packing philosophy

Choose a base/primary colour and add co-ordinating colours to ring the changes.

Slide1My base colour was royal blue, it is surprising how many colours coordinate with this principal colour and the co-ordinating ones were neutrals of white and natural linen. I had a little bit of space left in the case so in went one black and a couple of patterned items.  Mostly my clothes were solid colours but I did add these few patterns for variation.

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I bought two items while I was there – an expensive designer linen step-in skirt (a perfect opportunity for another blog post) and some khaki shorts from the tenguies (market) simply because I didn’t own a pair of shorts.

DSCN7751Merchant and Mills Bantam vest in lime green rib

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I packed two pair of shoes – flip flops for pool and early mornings, one pair of blue flat sandals and I wore the leather lace-up shoes for travelling because I don’t like moving through heavily populated areas such as airports and underground stations with my toes exposed in case of back-stomping and trampling.

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You will excuse me, I’m sure, that I do not model the entire suitcase. Everything that I packed was worn and most pieces at least twice, although I had the advantage of having a washing machine. Some items of clothing are very old and have been blogged before and it was ultimately very beneficial and gratifying that I had already spent the time making them, just waiting for their day in the sun. The olds include:

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Donna Karan wrap dress

See the lotion on my pale Irish legs? (Emm delicious). This photo was taken last year after the Donegal midges attacked. The DK dress was worn at dinner one night and turned out to be a ‘signature’ look – see below….. I had a posh meal out at the Insitutio while a world renowned classical guitarist played and who happened to know I was from Ireland and played a little ditty with Latin influences. God bless him.

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Self drafted T-shirt dress with beading

This self-drafted, beaded neckline dress was  worn for dancing the night away to what else but ‘the blues’. I went dancing with Jan to a Blues night uniquely sung in Spanish with the most adorable lead guitarist. I even got asked to dance.

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Sateen patterned cotton trousers, so old now that I cannot rightly remember when these were made. The new additions were a hybrid Alabama Chanin/ CfPD Bias top in white cotton jersey.

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Location is someone’s exquisite bathroom….

DSCN7752The white cotton CfPD Spiral Top with a little waist tie detail and needs an ironing…..

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My version of Monsoon blue and white striped cotton trousers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A homemade copy of Oska summer linen dress, made in a fine checked natural linen and the base pattern was StyleArc’s Toni.

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Another modification of the Toni was the black muslin over-dress.

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I bought a few plain white T-shirts, a swimsuit, a cover-up. I didn’t pack enough loose tops even though I’d made them, such was the temperature. Lesson learned.

At least now I have stuff that will travel the world with me wherever I go in the future- I have a wardrobe for all seasons and all temperatures.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0694So anyway, poor ReAnn felt a little under the weather one day and I set off to visit Canada de la Virgen (ancient pyramids) all on my own.

On the bus to the archaeological site this couple asked me if I had had dinner at a place the night before and that they remembered me because of my lovely blue dress (the DK). They then ‘looked after’ me for the rest of the day.

See – sewing has many unknown and undocumented advantages!

 

 

 

 

Then one other day as I was sitting by a fountain and waiting for ReAnne who was having her hair cut some American ladies walked by and commented that I should have a photograph taken. I gave them my phone and this is it. We met them again later that day.

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On another day ReAnn and I had a fabulous day tour around Guanajuato.

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I wore my black muslin over-dress with white cotton shift and white linen trousers and she wore a plain black dress too, both of us in total contrast to the colourful houses – we must have looked like two devotees of some religious sect together. Apparently Guanajuato was the backdrop for some Disney animation film recently but my days of watching such genre has become temporarily dormant.

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One evening we went to a really bad fashion show which I would not have missed for all the tea in China or all the Tequila in Mexico – it was so bad it was good!

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On Tuesday morning I shopped at the local market and had the best meal of the entire visit – a whole fried fish, crispy on the outside and creamy white on the inside. We were the only gringos at the long table. Perfect.

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I had tequila. Salt and limes included.

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I helped ReAnn fit and finish her Vogue 1442 dress.

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I advised and assisted Kathy with fitting and understanding the instructions for her very complicated Vogue 1424

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For which she very kindly gifted me the best present ever – a cactus pincushion.

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And within an hour of unpacking, my cactus had fruit, just like the real thing.

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I regularly sent home pictures of Car of The Day from San Miguel.

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There was art, churches, markets, eating, walking, talking, cooking class (thanks to ReAnn for the following photos), characters, sunshine, scenery, mountains,

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When I had 30 mosquito bites, I stopped counting!

I didn’t have altitude sickness (6000ft), I didn’t suffer jet-lag, I didn’t get sunburn, so a few irritating insect bites were a small price to pay.

Believe me, I saturated myself with insect repellent, Avon’s Skin So Soft – you name it, I lathered it on and the wee sh*tes still found the areas that I hadn’t covered – between toes, fingertips, thumb.

Other wildlife included Silence of the Lambs sized butterflies (moths) in the bedroom.

IMG_0760Amazing hummingbirds….honestly, can you ever imagine an Attenborough thingy visiting your garden???

 

 

 

 

I had an absolutely brilliant time in Mexico – a unique lifetime experience for which I wholly and truly have to thank ReAnn and will probably never have ample opportunity to repay ….and of course, sewing which was our initial reason for contact.

I have henceforth decided on a new acronym: AFS = away from sewing machine! What was the first thing I did on my return home??? You guessed it.

Suitcase still packed and I hit the sewing room………there was no time to suffer jet-lag.

Take life’s opportunities NOW.

Do not wait until next year, next week, next month, tomorrow……..and if ever anyone says to you that sewing is a solitary, isolated activity – here’s absolute proof that it is not and if anyone ever offers you anything – take it!

 


52 Comments

Zippy

Here’s how another One Thing can lead to another, which can lead to many more…..I just love the trail of thoughts and ideas and discovering where they all end up. Starting points……

Mags sent me to Croftmill for grey ponte at £7.00 p/m: Elaine sent me to Kaliyana for asymmetrical zip jacket and the Anti-Suit: one of the lovely ladies from our Sewing Away Day donated a fine grey spotted cotton jersey: Julie wore a jacket on the same day that had droopy back pockets and was so casually impressive and understated that I want one: Anne showed the most beautiful Chanel suit this week: many, many other blog active sewers have been showing and telling their cropped/wide leg/trousers/culottes. I put in the hours of planning, cutting and sewing.  Armed with a bag of assorted open ended plastic zips, some almost-matching thread, some patterns and a bit of flexible time – this is the result from my too short half-term break.

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Many patterns were gathered, edited and then finally selected to the finalists – Vogue 8641 five easy pieces, Vogue 1550 Paco Peralta, Vogue 8559 Marcy Tilton, self-drafted Three Bears T.

I’ll start with the jacket as it is a wee bit impressive, even if I have say so myself because there’s no one else writing this. We’ll call it an idea in progress.

Start with Marcy Tilton’s 8559 (OOP) cardigan-wrap top; no side seams and cut on the fold, no back seam either. A waterfall front, centre back seamed collar and shoulder seams. Clever pattern placement can easily incorporate selvedge edges too, although using the dark grey ponte fraying isn’t an issue and raw edges are abundantly on view. I added a whopping 9″ to the length, then got to work on adding zips!

Three zips on either side. Hopefully they form some sort of design feature on their own but they are also functional – an infinity jacket? I had to press gang Doris into modelling today because, quite honestly I couldn’t have been bothered. Hopefully you’ll understand why in a just a moment.

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Left open and unzipped, the zips provide a bit of weight to help the fabric drape (ha – I like to believe this is similar to Chanel’s chain on the bottom of a jacket – dream on….).

Zip 1 – short centre fronts. Zip 2 – bottom right edge matching with a right hand side princess seam location. Zip 3 – 45 degrees on right hand side and shoulder width on left.

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All the zips zip into one another; that is, zip 1 will zip into zip 2; zip 2 will zip into zip 3 and so on. This multitude of zips allows for a multitude of closure options; exaggeration of the draped front and hemline, cowl necklines, loose or square body shape.

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Zip 3 zipping into zip 3 pulls and is quite difficult to do up so I might have to rethink the position of these ones. However, I can close zip 1 with zip 2 or zip 3 for yet more variations.

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If zips do not provide enough variations for your taste, then add a sewn brooch to merely clip various points of the jacket closed to suit your mood and the weather conditions.

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But wait, that’s not all. Being very impressed with Julie’s jacket, I added a deep strip of leftover fabric to the back and sides of the jacket matching the raw edges to provide those covetous voluminous back pockets and I also managed to get two at the fronts too. They will be very handy to hold emergency rations such as Kendall Cake and Mars Bars.

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And because this ‘pocket’ band is on a different grain there is a gentle shading that I always find attractive in unique clothes. Other waste selvedge cut offs were added to the sleeves as mock cuffs, adding weight and extra finishing.

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I did experience the dreaded jersey wobble – which could be an acronym from suburban New York for cellulite but I mean the stitching of a zip to stretch fabric. Is there a remedy? I know I could have added interfacing but this is an unlined jacket and visual evidence of reinforcing would be unacceptable. All suggestions welcome for both problems……….DSCN7564

The tunic top was quickly made from the donated cotton jersey in Vogue 1550. There’s nothing fancy or notable about this, apart from the fact that IT IS Paco Peralta. I didn’t add the signature inserts but did manage to do admirable mitred corners on the side drape points.

The pale grey ponte was put into use as a pull on pair of trousers from Vogue 8641 (OOP). Again, not too much to declare about these apart from adding two, shaped patched pockets on the front and cropped, more because of fabric restrictions than trends.

Finally, I just had to make use of the leftovers and cutoffs and managed to sew a Three Bears T (see link above) that became more of a sweatshirt. It has two layers below the bust seam that allows for minor variations of styling. There’s a few raw edge seams to follow the theme, such as cuffs, hems and bust line.

I don’t like the matchy-matchy trousers and top – too much like PJs. It looks much better with a dark grey bottom and believe me, I have many dark grey trousers to wear with this.

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So, there you have it – four pieces that became an outfit and what’s better, they can all be worn with existing wardrobe items that hopefully coincide with Oska and Kaliyana aesthetics.

This has got me thinking of joining SWAP this year although I am late to the party. My primary colours being grey and adding highlights of whatever colour I like because grey is such a neutral. Is there a colour that does not wear well with grey?

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This style of dressing is definitely not form fitting, no pencil skirts or slim-line trousers here but so comfortable, transitional and, dare I say it, unique?

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I mean, how many of your jackets have back pockets?

Now, in which pocket did I put that Mars Bar?


30 Comments

A/W O3

Just bear with me here for a wee minute……….look at these images…….nice?

Used as inspiration for colour matching, co-ordination options, pairings, etc. the Oska website displays images (mostly from nature but not always) that perfectly capture the tones, tints, looks and outfit options for each season. Below – some of the Oska inspiration images.

Normally I would never even consider wearing yellow and green together, although it does occur in nature quite liberally – mind you, it might be better in nature than on me, you can be the judge!

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This is the outfit for A/W O collection, number 3.

While I waxed lyrical about a good hairstyle on my last post, I am only going to the hairdresser tomorrow and it is well overdue. Look beyond please. Additionally, it is half-term here – hooray! These photos were taken at a very empty college by a very obliging colleague. Yeah, us poor lecturers have to work at some time over the holidays.

Patterns and Fabrics

Jacket: Vogue 8430 Marcy Tilton. Made ages ago for SWAP “14 but hardly ever worn so I modified the rather loose neckline on the original to form a collar and provide a little bit of structure.

slide1Fabric is a yellow boiled wool and if I remember rightly was bought in real life from Craftswoman, Carrickfergus. I felted the red/burgundy lines.

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Trousers: Vogue 1550 Paco Peralta.

V1550If you didn’t buy this first time around – get it now! These trousers are brilliant. You will also get the tunic too, so it’s a bargain pattern. Wide-legged in two lengths but you can always change length to suit, with the simplest of constructions; facing instead of waistband, a centre back invisible zip. I did add two in-seam side pockets and changed the front darts to pleats. Firstly, I cut the long length but then cut off the difference for the cropped version and used the cut-offs to make turn-ups. I think cropped trousers always look more finished with a turn-up – like this is the length they are supposed to be and just not ‘too short’.

Fabric: Wool tweed from Fabworks in a lemonish/brownish sort of colour. Possibly too heavy and robust for this pattern as I’m getting knees and bum after wearing for a day – or maybe they should be lined!

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Under top: Hemlock (yes, again!)

Fabric: Green jersey from EmmaOneSock. Delight to sew and is a soy/organic cotton/spandex 4-way stretch lightweight jersey. This is my first time purchasing from EOS and believe me, it will definitely not be the last. The personal touch is part and parcel of your order, immediate dispatch, fabulous choice of fabrics and generally an all round very pleasant shopping experience for even those of you who live beyond the north American border. I bought way more fabric than this green jersey of course just to justify the shipping costs, so stay tuned……

Over top: Vogue 1526 Paco Peralta. Really, really modified:

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I used the jacket pattern mainly for the over sleeves but made this top double layered with all edges and seams enclosed; closed up the centre opening and added cross grain panels for interest and included a very wide neck band that becomes a cowl. Very similar to the blue over-top. Some seams were kept as raw edges. This was inspired by this Oska top

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Fabric: From Minerva. A ribbed knit in dark forest green but is a very loose weave and slightly transparent, which explains the double layer.

 

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Behind me taped on the cupboard doors are my weekly timetables and more importantly – my days off! No wonder I’m smiling!

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I just can’t leave those leftovers alone…..I got a drapey scarf with all raw edges to match the Hemlock.

I’m like one of those flower images except I’m upside down –

Regardless of the colours, I do feel really comfortable in the shapes and style of this outfit. Worn today with Clark’s lace-up tan ankle boots and bad hair (access badge is optional).

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Hallowe’en is getting out of hand in my opinion. Just saying…….


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.


44 Comments

Sucker for Sales

dscn6825If you’ve never been on Joel and Son website, then you need to set aside four or five hours, lock your credit/debit card in the glove compartment of the car and lose the keys or give both card and keys to a responsible adult and then be prepared to drool, dream and digest the fabulous fabrics.

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Here’s one for Jungle January – from £495 down to £240 for 4m. Quick girls, quick.

 

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For that special occasion how about the laser cut embroidered butterfly fabric that you’ve been hunting for ages: a mere £2,500 p/m

 

10186bOr for that ever more special occasion how about an ivory lace appliqué on a printed organza with gold anthracite stones dotted throughout;  yours for £7,500 p/m

It does my heart good that such retailers are still around and selling the most special and unique of fabrics. I’m also glad that fabric weavers and mills are still producing these beautiful fabrics. I’d like to be able to buy said fabrics and have loads of occasions to which to wear the finished garments but that is not my life.

Thanks to our U.S. cousins, Black Friday is now a common occurrence in UK and for a while between November and December my email inbox was full every quarter of an hour with ‘offers’. One of the offers came from Joel and Son and like so many of you, I couldn’t resist.

 

Now, while the fabric might be discounted and it’s an offer too good to miss new problem are encountered; what to make and what to wear with it? It’s like being back in RTW land and purchasing that fabulous blouse because it was in the 50% sale but you’ve got absolutely nothing that coordinates with it and therefore a total waste of money. From last summer and Black Friday I have bought but not sewn quite a few metres, including:

2.5 cut length of wool crepe with Lycra, pale coral/terracotta – Dec 2016

4m of fine cotton print in reds, greens, burgundy and shades thereof – July 2015

Cutting into fabric from the hallowed Joel and Son is a daunting experience: you know how expensive it is and therefore you don’t want to waste it or make a Horlicks. I always think long and hard before making anything from my precious Joel and Son stash. I’m the type of home sewer who first thinks about a garment and then seeks out the fabric – when Joel et al are involved, it’s the other way round. Hence some fabric lies in wait for a very long time……until now…….dscn6826

 

The long cardigan is a terracotta fine knit from MyFabrics (probably also in a sale) and although made, I had nothing to wear with it apart from black…..but that’s not the star of the show.

There are high waisted trousers and then there are HIGH waisted trousers and these are they. No longer are waistbands hanging low on the rear but sitting where they should be – at the waist. These ones, however, go way beyond.

Vogue 8604 is a long time in my pattern box. 8604

Wide legged, front and back darts with a couple of front pleats into the bargain, back zip closure and in-seam side pockets. My fabric is somewhat robust, almost heavy althodscn6829ugh fluid and drapey at the same time. The side pockets were made but swiftly removed because they just didn’t sit flat and these trousers need a smooth silhouette.

The high waist is supported by a facing that I interfaced with canvas for extra strength as my post-Christmas tummy needs some restraining.

An invisible zipper in the back would be the best option but as my notions box is practically empty and I couldn’t be bothered going to the shops for a single zip I had to use a regular red one and put it in a lapped style.

To show off the very high waist, one’s top should be tucked in and deciding on a suitable pattern was a small challenge, considering I’ve hardly any buttons hanging around.

I opted for Vogue 7876 – five versions of a wrap blouse. All the pattern options have waist ties to keep the wearer of the blouse decent, but that wasn’t going to work with these trousers. In overcoming the tucked in without ties and acres of ease of the wrap blouse I may just have solved the age old problem of gaping too. Mostly I made version E.

Add buttons! No honestly, it’s that simple. Do not cut out the ties but make your blouse without them and try on. Pin the wraps well to where you think it looks best and bend, stretch, make the bed and change a car tyre. If the blouse is still in place after all this then you’ve got the sweet spot. Pin mark and make two button holes and sew on two buttons – job done!

The buttons are so discreet that no one will see them and you get a very reliable blouse. The space behind the button holes and button is reinforced with fusible interfacing on self fabric as the cotton is very fine. See irrefutable proof below

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To finish version E blouse flared sleeves, I gathered the hems into  narrow bias cut bands. I’m having a 1970 revival at the minute and gathered sleeves are forever in my memory of my early teens’ clothes.

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There’s something Agatha Christie about the style of trousers; totally cruise ship, lounging and swanning with cocktails and cigarette holders.

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So, the first outfit of 2017 is completed: trousers, blouse, cardigan and leftover’s scarve. I keep putting my hand on my waist, just to show you where it is as it can get lost in the high waist.

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Thanks to Thornberry for promoting the outfit-not-orphan sewing idea and if we all did this, then there would be no more random fabric purchases or 50% off RTW blouses in our wardrobes that don’t go with anything else, well, maybe…………..

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I’m glad I saved the patterned cotton for when I needed it and when I had a fabric that coordinated instead of sewing some random stuff.

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I’ve informed my husband that I have a new outfit and that I’m ready to wear it out to dinner anytime……. really, W. anytime at all!

A review of Pantone’s new colours revealed that this shade of red/terracotta/coral pairs nicely with teal and sea green  etc – my goodness, don’t I have a coat in that colour?

fd0720234bfb0150a538293f1cac9831What are your opinions of trousers waistlines, if you have one? I mean, for years I swore I’d never wear elasticated waists and, guess what?