corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Patternless Skirt

As part of our sewing day away the ladies all brought fabric, patterns and notions for the donate-swap table. As I don’t have much of a stash, I had to dive deep into the blanket box to see what lengths and leftovers were lurking there. I came up with a few serviceable pieces, one of them being this, which actually stayed home with me.

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Navy distressed wool pinstripe from The Cloth House, London; the bulk of the fabric having been used to make culottes a few years back.

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Enough to make a pencil skirt, roughly 50″ X 25″ (127 x 64cm). So the fabric was wrapped around Doris while I went off to locate a suitable pattern. However, I looked at the draping on the mannequin and thought – that looks interesting as it is – let’s make a skirt without a pattern. I mean it’s only leftover fabric anyway that had been long forgotten, nothing to lose.

Here’s how to make a skirt without a pattern. It helps if you have a mannequin but if you don’t then just use yourself and get a little help from someone with the pinning for darts.

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This will be a lined wrap skirt with an asymmetrical hemline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pin the fabric to the mannequin, overlapping the fronts at an angle. Pinch out the excess at the back to make two darts and do the same at the sides. Four small darts for shaping.

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Cut a waistband facing (I used another fabric) the same width of the ‘skirt’ and sew to the top edge. Cut the lining a little smaller than the skirt’s width and sew to the facing and the two sides, leaving the hem open.

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Turn to the right side and press well, especially down the short edges. As the lining is smaller the edges should turn under neatly.

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Fold up the raw edge of the hem lining a little higher than the skirt hem and sew.

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The lining is not edge to edge therefore and should not be seen from the outside. You may have to make a few folds/pleats in the lining to make it fit within the confines of the skirt.

Make a buttonhole on the right hand side at hip and sew a button to the left side. This will hold the skirt up.

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Recently I bought a few zips from Minerva and there was this brilliant deal for £1 – a bag full of assorted zips. Most are open ended chunky plastic type zips. I took a black one of these and sewed it to the wrap edge of the skirt.

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No attempt to hide the zip was made because it’s a design feature! This keeps the wrap wrapped.

When you look at a piece of fabric and think it’s not worth keeping – think again.

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Do Ya like Dawgs?

There’s sewing for yourself, which is the best: there’s sewing for others, which is nice: then there’s sewing for dogs!

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Brad Pitt in Snatch: “Do ya like dawgs?”

Now, I’m not a dog-person; I like the things well enough but having never owned one, I suppose I don’t truly appreciate the two-way love, affection, friendship and inter-dependability that goes along with ownership. However, I do understand the bond between owner and animal.

 

 

A few lengths of polar poly fleece (machine washable!) and some fat quarters of Kaffe Fassett quilting cotton and  you too can make the dog-lover in your life very happy – not to mention the dog!

Four dogs and a cat…..

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A dog lover recently told me that dog blankets should coordinate with the colour of the dog so that cast hairs are not so obvious. And that they get dirty easily, so that machine washable requirement is a necessity.

These are really useful items to protect your sofa, other people’s sofas if you’re visiting, car seats and a soft, comfy base for any basket, carpet or fireside mat.

Here’s Luna’s –

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Luna is not actually blue and magenta but her’s was the prototype and made with fleece that was already in the house.

Then Pedro – a golden labrador and while only a pup right now will grow much larger, so this is the biggest at about 75cm X 100cm.

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Then a double dog blanket for Bella and Lulu, in natural colours.

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And because I have a cat – one for Eddie

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Take some quilting cotton, cut into 5″ squares and draw the letters for the dog’s name. Cut around the letters with pinking shears; place upon one layer of fleece about 3″ from the edges and zig-zag in place. Personally I like my random mix of capital and small letters and the somewhat wonky placement. You could always take more care if you wish.

Cut another layer of fleece same size as the first; right sides together, stitch around three sides. Turn right side out, fold in the raw edges of the fourth edge and sew closed. Job done!

You could always add some large hand made blanket stitches around the edges for that extra finishing touch. Even add a layer of batting for extra comfort but be sure to catch the batting in the side seams to hold it in place.

DSCN7469And don’t ever forget your label because although the dog may have a personalised, couture and unique blanket – you made it!

Orders taken…………..name and make of dog, size and colour. POA.

 


48 Comments

Peasant Blouse (Burda)

Good grief, that’s such a not-inspired title…. So let’s cut to the chase and get on with the sewing.

I actually, really and truly, bought a peasant blouse top from a real live shop and loved its gathers, floatiness and ease of wearing. I decided that I definitely needed another one in another colour. I searched for a similar pattern on the Big 4, Bootstrap and all the other indies without success.  I ended up flicking through my old Burda magazines and settled on  01-2012 number 426B.

downloadGood old tracing methodology employed in achieving this pattern – understanding, reading and following the maze of interconnecting coloured lines and sizes on Sheet A, B or C – anyways, I got a workable paper pattern in the end. This can be a tunic as well as a blouse: follow the directions below for the blouse.

This magazine is Burda Plus, for larger sizes. I traced size 44 when I would usually wear a 42 but didn’t worry much as it’s a loose top with not too much fitting necessary.

The original pattern is for a tunic so I just ‘lost’ the piece below the waist. There was still a bit of fiddling to do but it was the closest pattern I could find to meet my original idea.45feb6e2a271dad08607fd37690f2881--xl

Raglan sleeves, elasticated neckline with working ties; gathered and elasticated hem finish;  same for the sleeve hems.  The very fine fabric I used is slightly transparent and I would like a lining, so, a double layer at front and back saves the day!

The fabric came from Sherwoods. A beautifully soft cotton/silk crepe in a range of colours.

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I used Kiwi, second from top of the pile.

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The RTW version I have has a lining and this lining is cut slightly shorter than the outside layer. I tried to replicate this to achieve the blouson effect and to add that extra layer for opaqueness. The sleeves are single layer.

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Now, bear with me on my rather clumsy explanation of how to achieve this….I forgot to take photographs along the way – apologies. Usual construction is that you start at the top of any garment and work your way down to finish at the bottom, in this method the hem is the first thing you do.

Cut 2 fronts and 2 backs. Shorten 1 of the fronts and 1 of the backs by about 1 – 1.5″ (3cm-5cm).

Right sides together, sew around the hem – front to front, back to back.

Measure some picot or thin knicker elastic around yourself where the sewn hem will sit. Zig-zag this to the seam allowances of the hems, stretching evenly as you go. Trim off the excess seam allowance to keep things neat and reduce bulk.

Flip the fronts and backs back wrong side together and hold in place with some pins. The hem is now enclosed but remember it is ‘inside’  and not at the edge. Continue to construct as normal using French seaming on the sides and raglan sleeves.

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For the neckline I cut a bias strip and added this as a casing, hand slip stitching it over the raw edges. Elastic was then inserted with the good old safety pin method, pull it a little tight depending on how low or high you’d like to wear the blouse and secure the ends of the elastic with some machine stitching.

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Make a cross grain strip which will become the ties at the front, so determine what length you want these – short or long. Mine are medium. Cut the strip in two and sew to the ends of the neckline. Turn under any raw edges or insert the ends of the ties into the ends of the casing.

Finally, add a bit of flair by threading some beads to the ties. Use knots to hold the beads in place and knot the ties at the ends, as these will fray over time.

This inside hem creates a lovely gathered look without the elastic showing on the outside – almost looking like it’s ‘tucked in’ .

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The sleeve hems are simply turned under and more picot zig-zagged in place.

Must use more Burda patterns……

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Bonus

I had a little green silk/cotton left over fabric and it just happened to match a striped jersey in stash. I saw a girl on the bus the other day and she was wearing an indigo T-shirt with a wrap over front and ruffle trim. I somewhat copied it.

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Take a bog standard T-shirt pattern and cut an extra front. Cut the extra front in a shape that pleases you. Sew the extra front into the right hand side seam and finish the edges with a narrow hem. I sewed a few pearl buttons along the ‘wrap’.

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To make the ruffle, cut strips about 2.5″, fold lengthwise, press and gather with a large machine stitch along the fold line. Stitch to the edges of your T-shirt, press down and let fray at will.

Hello to Lyn, Kim,  segerskog@webspeed.dkLinda BaldwinMary Ann HugueleMary Ann Huguele, and anyone else who thought this sewing diary might be worthwhile spending your precious time reading. Thank you and please join in with critical comments and personal opinions – there are no boundaries here and I hope you find something useful. Rxx


46 Comments

You Want Two Sleeves?

Most of us have two arms and therefore our shirts generally require two sleeves. When Vogue 9162 asks for 2.4m and you only buy 2m and then use some of it for pocket linings or a waistband facing or some such then you’re left with 1.7m or thereabouts, fitting the pattern onto the fabric can be a bit of an issue. Added to which this Kathryn Brenne pattern is for an oversized shirt – and I mean oversized! The model in the Vogue picture has clothes pegs used for fitting the shirt and jacket at the back! Def sure of that as I used to work in advertising. Anyway, back to real life…….with a pattern that is too big for your fabric.

So you start to edit the pattern to get the pieces to fit onto the meagre amount of fabric – maybe lose the front pocket, perhaps shorten it a bit, maybe narrow the width, instead of concealed button closing just make it normal – and so on until it doesn’t resemble the original pattern at all. Ultimately, I managed to fit the fronts and back on without any editing, the pocket hardly took any fabric at all and the concealed button closing was part of the front anyway. The real problem lay with the sleeves. It never fails to amaze me how much fabric sleeves need – quick guess at 1m?

So, here’s what I did to get two sleeves for both my arms – and you can do it too even if you need to or not…..

Fit the top of the sleeve pattern onto the remaining fabric and cut to suit the available length. We now have the shoulder seam and armscye and when sewing sleeves they are the Very Important Things and demand capitalisation.

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I folded the pattern up for the first cut, then unfolded and repositioned on the crossgrain  scraps for the lower (and generally less important) half. Remember to allow for 1-1.5cm seam allowance. There are no cuffs in this pattern so one less thing to worry about. Join these two pieces together and lo and behold – a whole sleeve! With added design features!

To keep the inside sleeve neat and tidy I actually sewed these two halves wrong sides together! Then I cut a bias strip from more scraps, which is always impressive in a striped fabric, pressed the raw edges under and edge-stitched this onto the right side to hide the wrong side seam. Still with me?

And now it looks like a deliberate and well thought out design element that hides all raw edges.

Recently I’ve been following some French sewing blogs – I say following but I really just look at the pictures as French is not my first language – and they have this wonderful thing called De-Stocking! Nothing to do with bedroom antics but in English (specifically North American) it means de-stashing and the pledge is to sew at least one thing a month from your stock / stash / hoard / treasure / investment or whatever euphemism you choose to describe the metres and metres of fabric you own. I haven’t pledged anything primarily because I don’t know what my school-girl French might be translated into by Google but this grey and white striped poly-cotton was delivered over a year ago and I’m only getting round to sewing it now. So I count this as a positive de-stocking!

I’ve already made the Vogue 9162 trousers and this is the matching shirt.

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Told you it was oversized although I might have made a bigger size than I needed. Anyway, I added a few ‘patches’ around the shirt either to compliment or disguise the hacked together sleeves and balance out the rather large breast pocket. My sleeves in the end product are longer than necessary and are usually worn pushed up or folded back.

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My label was sewn in and I only do that on things I really like or that I am inordinately proud of.

The neck buttoning is stylish with a loop and not a bog-standard hole. I have worn this shirt open-necked and it is just as wearable.

Personal style opinion: such a large shirt looks better with narrow trousers or skinny jeans.

And as the camera was running out of battery, and we all know that feeling, I snapped a few out of focus pics that at least illustrate the overall look.

The remaining garment to be sewn from this single pattern is the jacket and yes, I do have a de-stocking fabric that is most suitable – a raspberry boiled wool – yum. I know it’s officially spring and the sun may break through the clouds on occasion but our temperatures are low and I might just get a few wearable weeks during May.

Talking of which – Me-Made-May launches this weekend. It is an online celebration of hand-made and home-sewn clothes. Personally, about 90% of my wardrobe is now home-made so I don’t have a choice for May or any other month for that matter but you can pledge and promise to wear your unique and beautifully crafted wardrobe every day of May, or every other day, or once a week – whatever suits you. Isn’t that the whole point of making our own clothes – suit yourself!