corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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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.

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This is What Happens When…..

A home sewer joins a gym……dscn6568After the flurry of sewing posts in August I fell silent for a few weeks and this is the reason why.

Yes, you heard that right. I looked at my thickening waistline in my not-lost Lea wrap dress and decided to take affirmative action. I’ve joined a gym! (Again). However, this time, it’s different – why? Because I sew……….

1980sclothes_p3tauqI really didn’t want to look like Jane Fonda (actually I did!) or wear the 1980’s aerobic  workout gear with headbands and leg warmers.  I know vintage is fashionable but really, there is a limit….bc7df4e1f23e67fbf3ef826d50d85dc5

It seems to be the style nowadays, at least at my gym, to not look like you try too hard with workout clothes – it doesn’t matter if they don’t match or belong to a ‘set’. It’s the “I just threw this on” look.; “I’m more interested in my workout than my workout clothes”.

I don’t do running and jumping stuff and my chest dimension is moderate so that gives me an opportunity to sew some easy workout gear.

Rhonda wrote a very timely post this week about athleisure clothes and I took some inspiration from this. Thankfully we don’t have to spend $98 for a pair of Lululemon leggings – just 1 metre of lycra fabric at £5 makes up a pair of leggings and a cropped top.

I’m doing lovely posturing exercise classes – Yoga, Pilates, BodyBalance etc and they need flexible leggings and tops that don’t ride up. The gym sessions include rowing, cross trainers and mucking about on weight machines. So I tried to sew a workout wardrobe that encompasses both.

Most fabrics are from Fabworks and as far as I know are not specifically manufactured for working out but so far, they’ve performed very well, unlike myself.

Why sew your own? Well, I suppose it’s the same reason we sew normal everyday clothes: no-one else will be wearing the same thing, I can make whatever length and breadth I like, I can choose my colours, I can add little details like tabs for locker keys or pockets, and the cost!

Mainly sewed in a palette of turquoise and pink with a bit of black and grey and, when combined with some RTW navy, black, grey bottoms, forms a very versatile collection that will take me easily from one week to another.

Some details: I changed the tension in the left needle on the overlocker with a contrast thread for an interesting stitch detail in black and white leggings: sliced up a leggings pattern to include a contrast spiral: drafted top from RTW with shoulder strap bands.

Want some action shots?

Leggings pattern – McCalls  6173 and takes 30 mins to sew6173

Dark pink top – drafted from RTW

Pale pink top – Merchant & Mills Bantam top with hemline band and added shoulder contrast.

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Leggings – Vogue 9108 (Marcy Tilton)  with added spirals

Top – drafted from RTW with added side panels

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Top – as above in turquoise knit marl.

I have lengthened most of the tops and dipped the back to cover my backside. As the tops are racer-back, I have made cropped tops – essentially half a T-shirt, to wear underneath to cover the bra straps.

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And when it’s time to go home, just throw on a Holiday top with added front pouch. Same fabric as top above.

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The girl who would only ever wear sleeves is now wearing racer back T-shirts…..

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and getting muscles.

 

 


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Special Days

Honestly and truly, every day is special – there’s absolutely no doubt that we all have bad ones but somehow we wake up tomorrow, pull on our big-girls’ pants and deal with it. I’ve been lucky and very recently had the most amazing few days away with some very special people, so let’s start with Day 1 and move on from there.

Day 1

I’ve known for ages that one of my students won Outstanding Student of the Year (Public Services), an international competition organised by Pearson with nearly 1000 nominees and over 1,000,000 possible entrants. There was a media embargo until after the actual ceremony.

Alarm set for 5.00am. I already packed the night before and my outfit sewn and ready for the awards ceremony in London, hosted by Baroness Garden of Frognall in the Churchill Room in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster.

Arrived in London and headed straight to Cosmetics a la Carte for a professional, last-all-day make-up. Cost a small fortune but this is definitely a time to treat myself.

Whirlwind day of receptions, awards, ceremony, fun and networking. So many talented and inspiring young people. Mine is called Clare and we wore matching dresses.

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She is very special, battling illness while studying and then achieving the highest grades possible. A truly humbling experience to teach a student like this and so proud of her.

My dress is Burda 04-2016-119 worn with a light weight bright pink coat, which is a Merchant and Mills Haremere jacket made long. It’s unlined to cope with London city heat so all the raw seams had to be Hong Konged.

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I actually wanted to go for a ‘This old thing? I just threw it on” look: sort of understated, not obvious but still part of an outfit. To achieve this I half-lined the sleeves with dress fabric so that when the cuffs were folded back the cuff lining matched the dress. and when I don’t wear the two together, just unfold the sleeves. It’s a smarter alternative to a cardigan and more relaxed than a jacket.

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I actually got more compliments about the coat that I did my dress – perhaps the colour did it – it’s not easy to overlook. It’s looking a little the worse for wear after a full day wearing in London heat and humidity and then being unceremoniously stuffed into my travel bag.

20.30 Took the train from London to Preston for an extra few days of relaxation and enjoyment with my long-time friend Caroline. Did a bit of hand sewing on my Six Napoleon corset on the journey. Caroline and I re-connected last summer after 20 odd years apart and we haven’t looked back since.

Stayed up to 4.00am Friday, chatting and laughing like we were teenagers.

Day 2

Relaxing, lazy day at Caroline’s home  – I’d been up and on the go for 23 hours. Time to unpack, settle in, finish some conversations from the previous day ( same day). Watched Wimbledon and made plans.

Caroline is a photographer. Recently, we took one of her images and had it digitally printed onto silk. I hand rolled the edges and we both now have scarves that no-one else in the entire world has – that’s special.

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It’s not upside down – it’s a reflection!

Day 3

Darwen –
Day out to meet Mags at Minerva Crafts.

Such lovely people there: a family run business who were more than welcoming, friendly and very patient with us.

49ebbdc43fe9f5e69ec693ba019dd0afWe pulled bolts of fabric from the shelves, mixed and matched and generally created a little bit of mayhem on the cutting table. We advised other shoppers – only when they asked mind you – and had a lot of fun. We all bought loads: Caroline got some grey/taupe jerseys in animal-like prints; Mags got a stash and I got enough for an autumn outfit. We had a light lunch followed by a wander around the speciality food market.

Mags is fabulous; honest, stoic, funny and very, very stylish. I’ll be honest, I was getting a bit fed up with blogging and taking photos and all that stuff but meeting her has re-invigorated me and has made me grateful for those special Internet friends who become real ones.

Day 4 & 5

Hanging out, day trips and shopping – just lovely. Then home again.

Day 6- 9

Hooray, back into the sewing room. I love travelling and going away but there’s nothing like coming home either and doing what I love best. Sewed like a mad woman and before the end of the week I had sewn all of Caroline’s Minerva stash. I did add the odd bit of lace and cotton jersey but from 2.5m, I managed to get three tops and 1m ponte made a perfectly coordinating pair of trousers.

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Mainly the top pattern is Tilton’s Vogue 9057 (first and last) and the trousers are Vogue 8837 , another Tilton.

Caroline wore her first incarnation of this top at our day out at Minerva so I know it fits and suits her. The black and animal print (second) is Vogue 9193, another Marcy. Dead easy to sew as the sleeves are cut on but the pattern pieces are cut single layer and are therefore huge.

 

 

DSCN6354I was on a roll so I just kept going and added a few bonus but coordinating items to Caroline’s wardrobe.

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The light grey knit is a layering piece (the fabric is from my Minerva stash) and is actually the top half only of Vogue 9193. The pattern doesn’t actually tell you to do this but it works really well. So well in fact that I think I need one myself.V9193

The knit top will also go over any of Caroline’s other tunics too. It wasn’t easy to sew though,  the fine silky knit fabric had a mind of its own. I did my best not to stretch it out and used some leftover animal print jersey as a stabiliser around the neck, sleeves and hem. The ‘underneath’ tunic is made from other leftovers and here you can see where the top and bottom meet. There’s a built in pocket on the left hand side. If you sew this top, just watch out – the side seams on top and bottom half do not line up, the bottom half is offset (see the tech drawing). Ask me how I know this because I’m so smart I don’t have to read the instructions….!

All of Caroline’s Minerva fabric has now been sewn, posted and quite possibly already worn as Mr Postman was especially swift this week.

That’s you all up to date until next time…

 

 


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Out of Step

The academic marking season has begun and my time and mind are being forcibly distracted away from sewing – my blogging updates are suffering the consequences and are therefore sporadic and random, so much so that I am now “out of season”.  We have had a wonderful week of sunshine and warmth to accompany it – as usual, just when the exam season starts the weather improves immeasurably. And so here I am wearing a lined boiled wool jacket with matching scarf (slightly wrinkled) in 25 degrees C!

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It’s a perfect example of one of those strange ironies of life – when it rains constantly and you don’t have a raincoat, then you go off and make one and then it stops raining for weeks on end. Or you don’t have a sun dress to wear when the temperatures unexpectedly hit 30, so you make one and the first day you wear it you need a cardigan, thick tights and a pair of boots because by now it’s freezing.

The third and final item from Vogue 9162, this jacket completes The Look.

There’s quite a bit of work involved in this unfitted, loose and boxy jacket, such as interfacing on all hems and full interfacing on the fronts – I didn’t as my fabric is stable. Welt pockets – Oh my!

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Catch stitching the hems to the interfacing and slip stitching the lining to the turned-up hems.

Hand top stitching around the edges and on and on…….

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Well, it’s finished and will now be folded and packed away until next A/W! I’m pretty sure Mother Nature is watching my sewing room: she waits until I have wools and tweeds cut out and sewn, then she tells the sun to shine, the rain clouds to dissipate and the temperatures to rise

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I know the jacket is supposed to be loose but mine is positively huge! I cut the medium size all round – for the trousers, shirt and jacket. The trousers are fine, the shirt’s a little big but the jacket’s a size all on its own. I suppose it has to be this loose to slip on over the oversized shirt without creasing it. The sleeves are really long. If you make this I think you could go down a size and still have room to play.

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I’d love to get all dressed up for you and wear all three items together but, honestly…..just use your imagination and put them altogether

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I’m out of step with my sewing makes and blogging too – I’ve got quite a bit to share but haven’t got round to taking pics or thinking of witty things to write. I’ll tell you all about the jeans in the next instalment.


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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!