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Core Couture Blog by Sewruth - 5M ago

Many of you have commented previously about my apparent productivity and how I seem to sew a lot of things, well sit back and be prepared to be astounded…. this week I sewed…

…. pair of jeans, a skirt with cross over straps, two pair of leggings, a bag, a coat and coordinating wrap skirt, a red dress, a tunic (or two), lacy tights, two pair of knickers, a posh frock for the opera, a t-shirt with sequins, a tulle skirt and maybe a few other things…

I would never, ever have considered myself I person to sew for dolls – honestly – it’s the very last thing I would do with my time….. except this time was different and very, very fulfilling and this is something I would never, ever admit to publicly (except I am). It’s also a very good use of teeny tiny scraps of fabric.

Oh yes, her auntie has the exact same coat/skirt outfit made in Linton tweed too…

Here’s Leigh – my one and only niece – nine years old and as a Christmas present, this was a little risky; I mean how many pre-pubescent girls play with dolls any more?

But this is her… Hair, face and glasses. Just imagine receiving a Christmas present that was You!

We had to manhandle the doll from her mother last night, who is now asking for one who looks like herself. The poor doll had every outfit on and off within 20 minutes. At least it was a real test of my sewing.

The pattern is the Kimberly Doll by Caroline, of Hand made by Caroline.

Available https://www.etsy.com/au/listing/644214086/kimberley-doll-pdf-sewing-pattern?ref=shop_home_active_2&crt=1

Priceless……

Wishing every one of you the best for the coming year.

Ruth

x

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Thank you so very much encouraging me to sew with your lovely comments on the kilt. I think you all secretly, or not so secretly, long for one and truly I would encourage you to make one for yourself: that swish at the back is hard to beat and actually changes how I walk. I do believe I have re-discovered the hip sway.

Moving on with sewing with Linton Tweed, I’m coming towards the end of my purchases and am now in the blue colour range. Pink here and here and green here and here.

This Internet sewing community we all share has provided so many opportunities and contacts for me and this coat is not an exception. I met Wendy a few years ago while she was visiting her sister who lives in Donegal. Now, Wendy lives in Colorado, so this was something special: she found me via this blog and we arranged a day out. I admired her clothes and especially her coat; she admired my clothes back. We had so much in common, it was like meeting ourselves: we ordered the same thing for lunch, same wine, and after eating we both pulled out the same lipstick! Uncanny.

We were supposed to meet again this year but sadly things just didn’t work out, however, Wendy very kindly gifted me the pattern for her coat, which by the way, she designed herself and has produced as a paper pattern [see below]. Wendy has been working in wardrobe consulting, custom design and teaching as well as producing ready-to-wear collections for years now, as well as sewing exquisite made to measure items for her clients.

The pattern is called ‘Simple Coat’ and technically, I suppose it is but do not be deceived – you can make this as easy or as complicated as you like – it’s that versatile – and gorgeous, I may add. Unlined, lined, any fabric you have, any closure you want, full length sleeves, 3/4 length sleeves, patch pockets, welt pockets, collar up or down – add, subtract, change at will to adapt to suit your sewing skills, allocated time, seasonal requirements, fabric restraints and personal taste. Who doesn’t love a pattern like that? Yeah, I went for the complicated in winter……

This coat has no seams! Well, a couple at the shoulders but that’s it. It has a vintage inspired shape, reminiscent of the 1920s and the 1960s. The first thing DH said when he saw me wearing this was ” That’s lovely.” I can assure you that he was not around in 1920 but he was in 1960 and he hardly ever comments on my attire.

Enough of the build up….. I give you The Simple Coat. The uneven hem edges are due to me sticking my hands into the patch pockets….the hem edges line up perfectly when I’m not wearing the coat

Mine is a lined version with added ‘special’ lined pockets [see below], co-ordinating facings, turned back sleeve cuffs and edge to edge closures. So let’s get to the details.

I used the blue/grey herringbone tweed for the coat to co-ordinate with the blue check fabric. The blue check has a stripe of burnt orange running through it and that’s what I focused on. I just thought that too much blue/grey would be dull. The lining I chose is a paisley orange/red/yellow blend which I am in all honesty in two minds about but it’s in now and will stay there. I added width to the facings with the blue check and faced the hem too. The sleeves I’ll cover next…

As you, hopefully can see, I have the sleeves turned back. I cut the full length sleeves but changed the lining thereof.

I replaced 8″ (20cms) of lining with the co-ordinating blue check wool. The cuff edge of this ‘lining’ was then sewn to the sleeve edge.

Turn the whole thing right side out and you have a proper sleeve, already lined, with the option of contrasting turned back cuffs, should you desire. And my reason for doing this is the trousers (and skirt, yet to be sewn): so now I have An Outfit.

On to the pockets then…. I opted for patch ones. Can you see them?

I have two full-hand pockets on either side with a little more secure inset pocket just on the left. This was a practice version of a lined patch pocket which I put to good use…

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Core Couture Blog by Sewruth - 6M ago

Have you read Outlander? Have you watched the TV series? Are you?

Get a cup of tea, or in keeping with the theme, a glass of golden, smooth whiskey…..to be savoured and slowly, very slowly enjoyed: sipped and tasted recalling ages past and past lives.  Irish is of course much better but I am a wee bit biased although I will totally allow you to enjoy the Scottish equivalent while you read this. Don’t ever go for blended – single malt cannot ever be beaten. Take my word on this.

I’m hooked on Scotland and I blame my wayward and totally original, unique friend ReAnn who makes me do all sorts of things and pushed me to reading this series. To say I’m becoming obsessed with Scotland and all things Scottish may be a slight understatement: books, Amazon Prime viewing, whiskey (apart from the blended) and now clothes……..I’ve always had a hankering for the northern hemisphere, believing myself to be descended from Viking stock whether I am or not and Scotland meets my beliefs half-way. I holidayed in the very far north of Scotland last summer and had the most wonderful time. If you have nothing else to read – go to Scotland.

As a consequence of Outlander and all that tartan (plaid) I was compelled to make a kilt. A kilt is a man’s garment – an extremely long length in the region of 5 – 8 yards of clan tartan, loosely pleated by hand around the back, held in place by means of a belt and the excess draped over the back to be easily hauled up over shoulders as an impromptu cape and sleeping quilt. The quintessential clothing item – provides for all eventualities.

You really must watch this….

Scotland - How to make a kilt - YouTube

and this… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R71wNqcRn7k

A kilt skirt is the female version. Now the real problem between a kilt and kilt skirt is the ratio between waist and hips. Conveniently, I happen to have 10″ between the two: 30″ waist and 40″ hips. I did not consider this as I was pleating but more on this later.

With 3m of Linton Tweed wool in a non-traditional check, in other words, not a clan tartan that I had to divide into useable length. My married name is Forrester and my maternal family name is Stewart so there are recognised and recorded tartans for both. I know it’s unbelievable to most of us but there is an organisation who regulates tartans – brilliant!

I took the 140cms width of Linton wool and bravely sliced up the centre, resulting in 3m of length and 70cms (27″) of drop. This was to be the basis and total width of the kilt skirt also determining the length. Nothing like working to restraints to focus the mind. Bear in mind that a man’s kilt can use up to 8 yards of fabric……

With the total width laid out flat I set aside 70cms – 80cms or so on each end for the flat front overlaps and then proceeded to pleat the backside. This had to fit 40″hips. I marked the side “seams” which are not seams at all because this is one single length of fabric but it helped with construction.

There are two types of kilts nowadays: the first being the traditional hand pleated version and the second being the military style which is pleated aforehand and secured with straps. This is the version I followed.

There was simple maths involved: this width between the non existent side seams had to be reduced by pleating to comfortably fit 40″ hips. Easy. For example, if the fabric measured 80″ then each pleat would be 2″.

However, not as easy as that….

I pleated this way

and then that way

and maybe another – to follow the sett, ie. the lines of the check.

I spent a whole week, every day pleating this way and that. To pleat to the sett/ the check / the plaid (pattern) or to go random. To go knife pleats or double pleats or box??

Interestingly, the pleat depth and style changed the colour of the tartan – see pleated and non-pleated on the right – and almost created a brand new fabric. Then the penny dropped with me – straight pleating of fabric just simply makes a large rectangle of fabric a smaller rectangle of fabric. There is no shaping……

To fit a female’s body, the pleats have to be tapered. Each pleat had to be slightly angled from the 40″ hip width to fit the 30″ waist. Look, I couldn’t be bothered to do proper maths and just re-pinned each pleat so that I had the required waist width, combined with the necessary hip width. Use your tape measure. Waist = 32″, hip is 8″ below this and measures 42″.  You have now included ease and wearability as well as a personalised kilt. Use your own measurements in accordance.

Each pleat was tacked in place and pressed to within a thread’s breadth of its life. I scorched the wool in this process [see the brownish tinge above] and the whole house stank. Thankfully, it was on  the inside. So take caution at this stage. I know you want sharp pleats but burnt wool does not make a pleasant smell, nor a perfect garment. Take the time and pleasure in tacking those knife pleats in place, pressing and then take as much care and diligence in ripping out the tacking ….

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Core Couture Blog by Sewruth - 6M ago

Here we are at the next set of Linton tweeds: green this time and I’ve got my head back.

I am truly happy with my Linton Pinks but I have a few more Linton’s to sew and hopefully transfer their meticulous weaving  into wearable garments.

I have wanted a herringbone wool jacket for ages and ages that I could wear with jeans and skirts and really and truly just be a good wardrobe staple that will see the years and fashion trends into oblivion.

This is a really great little jacket pattern V8887 that I’m sorry to say is OOPS and probably for many years now but is a little gem that allows you to sew as is (as I have) or you can have the option of adding tailoring, couture variations at will. I choose to tailor the collar and sleeve heads but otherwise I left it alone. It’s a perfect jacket pattern for those entering the tailoring journey : you can select what to spend time and effort on and what not. Previously I’ve made this twice before – flowery cotton and blue fleece.

Makes for a more relaxed jacket that will soften with wear and with the leftovers, I managed to sew up a skirt. So now I have a suit that was not planned. Nice. The skirt is a simple straight A line but I added welt pockets – just because.

Then I had the green check to coordinate/match with the brown olive greenish herringbone. I think went for the most complicated – a kilt skirt without a pattern.

Truly, this this probably the most simplistest of garment ever if we followed the traditional version – a long length of woollen fabric wrapped around the waist and held up with a belt, but a kilt is a male’s garment, a kilt skirt is a female’s, and we all know that there is a distinct difference between waist and hip ratio in the genders.

I watched a lot of online videos on how to make a kilt: I read books and researched it in depth; in the end I just did what felt right….I think I’ll leave this for another post entirely because I’ve a lot to show and tell.

Going back to what I actually made though …. I had enough fabric to make a dress too

McCalls 2401-  always a good staple with so many variations all in one envelope. Reach for the pattern and all will be well. I have used this pattern many, many times and it has become my go to dress for Christmas and beyond when you only have a metre or so to use.

As I was using whatever fabric I had left over from the kilt thing, I didn’t really care at this point if the checks matched…….I’ve seen worse in RTW.   And so have you.

This is not my usual standard I’ll have ye know but fabric dictates the limitations…

It didn’t help that I inadvertently reversed the pieces because the inside and outside of this fabric looks the same. I did get patch pockets though and used the selvedge as trim around the armholes, frayed the hem and pockets too.

Anyway, I sewed the jacket I’ve always wanted and got a skirt to match. Then I sewed a kilt and got a dress out of the bargain too… so by my reckoning, two free items. Two metres of herringbone got me a jacket and a skirt: 3 metres of green check got me a voluptuous kilt and a dress.

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Core Couture Blog by Sewruth - 6M ago

This was not a good day for taking photographs – I’ve apparently lost my head!

However, I do have a matching skirt for my Linton checked tweed coat from Vogue’s 1527 Paco Peralta’s suit. I’ve bought the silk for the blouse, so that’s on the to do list if I can muster the courage to cut into it.

The skirt was underlined in cotton at the back only and fully lined.

The front split is indeed a split!

Worn together the length of both are exactly the same.

With the little scraps of leftovers, I patched together a scarf….

…..and a wonky scrap boy ….

He’s a scrap boy because he’s filled with strips and strips of leftover fabrics.

Just to prove that I do actually have a head, here’s a little preview of my next Linton project – Green.

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This is a bittersweet moment. I have really enjoyed the slow sewing and the self-imposed tailoring construction processes of Paco’s Vogue 1527. This coat has given me joy, a little heartache too along the way but I am unashamedly declaring, it is a thing of beauty. I am just a little bit sad that it is finished.

On the other hand, a finished garment is always an achievement. Luckily, I have a tonne more Linton tweeds to sew through and if they all go as well as this one I shall be one very happy sewer. Jinx!

I left you the last time showing the insides and as a work in progress because that’s where the lion’s share of the work is and I also wanted at least someone else to see and acknowledge it. Which you did – thank you!

Since then, the hand made shoulder pads and sleeve heads have been inserted and the remaining lining slip stitched/fell stitched and otherwise hand sewn to complete the body. The sleeve underlining is wrinkling because the coat is inside out and bunching up.

DO NOT follow the pattern instructions at this point: insert the sleeves, THEN insert the shoulder pads (Step 27). DO NOT sew shoulder pads in when your coat is inside out. They will not fit when you turn everything right way round. Just tackle the fabric from the right side and get on with it.

The shoulder pads were made with six layers of thin cotton wadding – the same type as used in quilts. Each layer is gradually smaller than the top-most semi-circle, which is covered with a patch of canvas. The whole lot was then pad stitched to form the curve to fit the shoulder. The sleeve head is the same cotton wadding; rolled and hand sewn to the inside of the sleeve seam allowances.

DO NOT trim the arm hole seam allowances – you need these for shoulder pad and sleeve head positioning. DO NOT press this seam; gently steam from the outside only. Yes, it looks really messy on the inside but only you will ever see this but everyone else will only see the outside – choose your battles.

I do love to see a hand stitched sleeve lining with all its genuine wrinkles and slightly uneven gathers – it definitely demonstrates a passion for honest hand sewing and provides true flexibility in the sleeve/arm-hole that is wholly lacking in RTW.

Buttonholes and vintage buttons have been sewn on the sleeve vents and centre front. And I have yet another gripe about the instructions.

So…… you take the time to cut and construct a sleeve vent – doing your very best to make the two symmetrical, make a buttonhole and sew on a button and then the instructions (Step 42) tell you to sew the sleeve lining over the whole lot so that the vent won’t open. There may be times in the wearing of this coat that I want the button open and to fold back the cuffs – by this stage I just ignored the instructions and went with what felt right and what would work for me.

If you buy an original Paco Peralta pattern, it is always beautifully drafted but it comes without instructions.

They are expensive, I’ll grant you that but they are all hand drawn, not printed, and of course designer. No instructions provides a certain amount of freedom and opportunity for individual ingenuity but may not be suitable for the faint hearted or inexperienced sewer, nor those who like a step by step construction process.

To compensate, there are loads of online tutorials and reviews to support you along the way. Personally, I relish the jigsaw puzzle aspect of sewing a pattern without pre-set instructions and often find a new method of construction during the process.

This coat is part 1 of a set of three;  I find it is remarkable on its own and I just want to wear it with jeans, frocks and even jammies – I love it that much! It is a mighty weight on its own, what with all the underlining and canvas and what have you but the tailoring makes the coat fit like a glove: it literally drops over my shoulders and remains in place, perfectly draping my irregular frame and making me stand taller.

I make no apologies for my personal pleasure in just looking at the set in sleeves. This was a slow sewing process and it certainly paid off – exact tailor tacking, basting, fitting and then, only then, sewing. Added to which there was a considerable amount of pressing. When you press wool to tame it into shape, and I mean press not ironing,  leave it to cool and dry in shape. That means you might have to walk away from the ironing board for a wee while. Get a cup of tea and surf the net for inspiration for your next sewing project…..

I read books to help me along the way……..

And watched Craftsy classes…….

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The first Linton tweed combination has been cut – and hopefully you’ll appreciate that it takes a very deep breath and a lot of courage to do that, let alone the selection of pattern in which to make something fabulous because this signature and limited fabric requires careful consideration. You may not be aware but Linton Tweeds makes couture fabrics to order for all the best couture design houses. Three years after the designer ‘season’, the fabrics are released for public purchase. The fabrics are expensive but that’s what haute couture, exclusive fabrics are supposed to be. They are special.

This is not a very entertaining post but more methodical and about sewing. First of all I chose a pattern, Vogue 1527 a fabulous Paco Peralta design that I have wanted to make for a year or so but never had the right fabric to do it justice nor perhaps the occasion to wear it. My version of this suit makes the coat an outdoor layer.  So I took a very deep breath, pinned on grain and cut!

I do not have a finished item to show you (this is a deliberate and slow sewing project)  merely a work in progress which I am hopeful will be completed to a high standard.

You may gain some insight into techniques or tips on how to do traditional tailoring for the very best fitted and finished garment. You do not need to do what I did at every stage but the end result is totally unique. The Vogue pattern does not offer this option and to be honest I found the instructions somewhat confusing and out of order. I will list this later.

I’m using the checked pink for the coat and the herringbone for the skirt. Biggest problem of course is the check/tartan/plaid. Everything MUST line up.

Slightly offset the edges of the fabric so that you can see the bottom layer. Accurately line up the checks (or stripes) and pin together. Try not to shift the fabric around too much while pinning or cutting the pattern pieces. Cut one piece first, then using it as a guide, line up the side seams before placing and cutting the next piece. I have not cut the sleeves out yet as they will have to match the main body of the coat.

Every piece is underlined in cotton lawn. This stabilises the outer wool, gives structure and makes it so much easier to hide hand stitches because you sew to the underlining and not the shell. No dimples in this coat. It involves cutting each pattern piece twice and then tacking the two pieces together, which you now treat as one.

My colours are way off in the following photographs, the true colour is more like the top image above.

The wool frays. My chosen seam finish is a simple one. After completing a seam, press open, stitch down each seam allowance and then trim with pinking shears. Nice, flat not-bulky, non-fraying seams. These were then catch stitched to the underlining.

I used strips of selvage as stabilising tape on neck edge and shoulders.

Centre back seam from the outside

The herringbone was used for the contrast collar and pocket facings.

On the inside, after attaching the lining, I catch stitched the front facing seams to the underlining to make sure the facings wouldn’t flop. Then I ran a running stitch between front side lining and front side seam to keep the lining in place.

There’s a lot of tailor tacks and basting and tacking and stray threads used in this method of sewing. And they all have to be removed when no longer needed. Even this apparently simple job takes time and a pair of tweezers. I’m even making my own shoulder pads. On the left the pieces are cut out and tacked together. On the right the amazing effects of pad stitching are clearly in evidence.

There’s also a lot of pressing involved. I think I’ve gone through a least four litres of water. Wool is so malleable with steam – can be shrunk and can be stretched.

I’ve been watching Alison Smith on Craftsy / Bluprint the whole time –Essential Guide to Tailoring: Structure & Shape and Essential Guide to Tailoring: Construction and I feel that I have an instructor in the sewing room with me. Invaluable.

Instead of interfacing, I used canvas. This produces a much firmer finish although somewhat bulky in places. I wanted someone else to see all this work before it all disappears forever under the lining.

Now to my complaints about the pattern instructions.

Fabric cutting layout: indicates cutting a full front of sew-in interfacing. The front pattern piece indicates interfacing on the facing only.

Move Steps 20 and 21 to before 16. This is sewing the back lining and back neck facing together. The back lining piece is sewn to the back split first. Once this is done you are trying to manipulate the full coat at all times instead of just the lining. Sew the back neck facing on to the lining before attaching to the coat.

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Take someone else’s pattern and someone else’s fabric and you can sew a suit, not just an ordinary skirt and jacket suit but a designer version and what’s better than a “designer” suit? Vogue 1467. And even better than that is they all once belonged to my friend, ReAnn. 

I’m not entirely sure of the benefits of writing about OOP patterns: I suppose if you really like it you could search the Interweb for a copy. However, I have a few insights and thoughts about this suit, hardly unsurprising. I suppose this pattern would fall into the category of an evening or special occasion suit with the long skirt with thigh high split.

Nowadays we tend to think of hi-lo hems as being trendy, modern and current – yeah- think again, this one comes from Lauren Sara (1994) and has a hi-lo hem that knocks the modern renditions out of the water. The front of the jacket and blouse sit just shy of the waist while the back falls all the way to top thighs. I am reminded a little of gentlemen’s tailcoats.

Some gorgeous chocolate brown stretch gabardine and a co-ordinating silk chiffon were kindly provided by my bestest ever sewing mate ReAnn which produced a composite of skirt, jacket and blouse.

The jacket is unlined, so every seam had to be finished neatly. I completed some version or other of Hong Kong seams using satin bias binding but used some leftover silk as the hem finish. I quite like the contrast of the plain and sober outside with the bright and patterned hem. And it does bear a passing resemblance to the silk chiffon blouse.

And I did the same treatment on the skirt hem because after all, this is a suit and the bits should match each other… I made a little off-centre split and made use of the selvedge edges.

ReAnn didn’t buy enough of the gabardine for me to make the trousers nor the skirt true to the pattern, so I modified the design to what I had. The skirt became knee length instead of floor and was patched along the hemline to make it mid length eventually.  The most obvious ‘design’ feature of this designer pattern is that the stupid sewer used the wrong side of the gabardine for the main body of the skirt and then reversed the fabric to use the right side for the hemline patch!

To summarise, the jacket and skirt hem are from one side of the fabric and the skirt is the other. Damn fabrics that look the same on both sides until you sew them together….

However, there’s no crying in sewing (Coco) so I have a day suit not an evening one and my lifestyle definitely favours the day. If anyone wants to invite me to a black tie event then I shall make an evening version.

The jacket has wide flared sleeves which feel decadent and luxurious. I am having a bit of trouble inserting decent sleeves at the moment in my sewing repertoire. Either too confident or lost the knack, I don’t know but I’ll have to go back to basics for the next time. The gabardine had a bit of stretch so in this case, I’m blaming the materials and not the skills LOL.

The skirt is high waisted but not so high as to be a corset, the blouse should cut just along the top. I’d like to wear the blouse with other things so I lengthened it quite considerably at the front and when worn untucked, I like the break it provides in the head to knee solid brown.

Can’t waste silk chiffon. A scarf was made from the left overs.

I found the blouse to be very loose (big) and because it’s chiffon, I will always have to wear a cami underneath. But you can see clearly the dramatic hemline. The blouse should mirror the jacket, sleeves and hem. The blouse neckline is a simple scoop while the jacket has a smart mandarin collar.

You can clearly see the change in tone of the skirt’s fabric in the following photos. Remember that ‘design feature’?

A new term has started with all the fresh faced students all eager and keen. My job is trying to keep that enthusiasm going until next June. I’m taking advantage of some lovely sunshine to take these pics, although the temperature does not match it. This suit is finished just in time for autumnal weather and intimidation in the classroom.

Thank you one and all who provided ideas on what to sew with the Linton tweeds in my previous post. You’ve given me a lot to think about and research – you’re the best!

In fact, you gave me so much to think about that I just had to go back to Linton and buy another colour way, just in case I had too many ideas and not enough fabric. That makes a pink, a green and now a blue, all with coordinating herringbones.

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Please……

Last week while I was sewing up a storm with OOP Vogue 1467, a few minor interruptions relating to Life interrupted proceedings. I took a small break and temporarily lost my mind. I went shopping at Linton Tweed. I know, I know, it’s a really good shop to go browsing but the actual shopping tends to tilt this side of “How much???”

I may have spent my entire Autumn/Winter ’18/19 budget in one fell swoop. And I’ll be requiring lining, zips, buttons, interfacing and what-have-you. So I’m not done yet. I’ll be sewing with scraps until next April!

Hopefully this week the adorable postie will be delivering the following:

The main problem was that I couldn’t decide between the pink check or the green check and this where I lost it and bought both and then I bought the co-ordinating herringbone tweeds too. 100% wool.

Now I need your help. Imagine you have 3m of each check and 2m of the herringbone with which to sew an outfit……anything you like.

Say ‘Linton’ and I immediately think of Chanel. I’m quite prepared to do some slow, haute couture because, quite honestly, there won’t be too much more fabric purchased this side of Christmas.  I was gifted some fabulous Linton by The Material Lady a few years ago and I made use of every inch (including selvedge on neck, pockets and hem) to make my Christmas dress a la Oscar de la Renta.

I already have four Chanel style jackets that are in constant rotation plus a traditional tailored one all using Linton tweeds but let’s face it, one more won’t hurt my wardrobe.

Vogue magazine is promoting checks and tartans for this season with a nod towards the 1970s and please check (ha ha) out Pattern Vault’s recent post on Ralph Lauren.

I’d love your suggestions for making this delicious fabric into something stunning, timeless and of course, something that suits me and that I will wear, although I am always open to new ideas and new patterns so don’t feel you have to go full traditional. I don’t know the actual weight/hand of the tweed yet but sure I can control that with interfacing and lining.

Thanking you in advance and hopefully I’m giving you the chance to go flawless virtual sewing and imagining the perfect finished outfit.

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One of my very bestest friends, K, dresses really well. She has chosen the colours that suit her perfectly and wears them with style and panache. Her ‘to-go’ outfit is a beautifully patterned (and usually expensive) shell top, cardigan (if necessary) and a pair of trousers. It looks effortless.

Once a month I go away for a day to sew with my mates. We bring our machines, fabrics, patterns and chat about sewing, patterns, swap tips, techniques and review gadgets. We also eat a lot of scones and cake and might squeeze a wee bit of sewing in between. Most of these lovely sewing ladies are young – I mean way younger than me.

I mostly use Vogue patterns; they use PDFs and mostly independent pattern companies. Sometimes I feel a little old-fashioned and left out because I’m a Big 4 fan. I know my Vogues and know instinctively what alterations I need to make for a perfect fit.

Anyway, one of “Young People” sewing team’s favourite pattern companies is Sew Over It. After our last day away and listening to all their talk , I went delving and came up with this..

Beautifully presented in tissue wrapped fabric and a study box – I was overjoyed. I bought this little kit. Silk Cami as a proper paper pattern with printed instructions and 1m of pre-selected cotton. I also added a few other metres of alternative rayons just because.

Sew Over It or SOI if you’re in the know, which just happens to be the title of this post – did you notice? Sources of Inspiration (SOI) – good, huh? also sells fabric – good and bad at the same time. It means you can choose a pattern and then go directly to buy appropriate fabric, or find a gorgeous fabric and then find a suitable pattern.

I did both.

This practical, useful and everyday top can easily be sewn up within a hour without interruption. This weekend I managed three……..

Fabric 1 is from a newly opened local Belfast shop Hab & Fab. Fabrics 2 and 3 are from SOI. I’v got hummingbirds and roses, flowers and bouquets, lilies and vines. These are rapidly taken photos to match the rapid sewing.

To mix things up a wee bit and add a bit of variation I did three difference seam finishes. The instructions go for French seams but I’m lucky and have an overlocker/serger who is particularly good friends with me at the moment (jinx!).

Fabric 1 is a scuba with a woven cotton backing and was trimmed and finished with pinking shears. Fabric 2 got the French seam treatment but not as we know it. Fabric 3 was straightforward and simply serged.

And now for the French seam treatment. This is NOT my idea. I got this from Kathleen as I read Ozzyblackbeard’s latest blog. I have to tell you it is genius and like all brilliant things, one wonders why did I not think of that? You do need a serger/overlocker.

Step1 – Wrong sides together, serge the seam 1/4″ or thereabouts.

Step 2 – Right sides together, sew the serged seam within. This is nice as you can easily feel the serged edge through the fabric.

Step 3 – Press the enclosed seam to one side. Perfection, easy, neat – absolutely brilliant!

My SOI box is now empty but I’m using it to hold the next planned patterns……

I am gearing up for an epic sew – Vogue 1467 – so this little top was for fun and fast sewing; it is a nod towards K’s distinctive style and the direct influence of my sewing away day friends – no matter what age they are – we can all still learn from each other.

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