Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Ch.. C.. Ch..Changes

Things are changing around here.

I've lost a load of photos from this blog - actually I deleted them from an online photo album not realising that they were connected to the blog posts! Technie, me?

I had given up on SWAP '13, then I was on track, then I got fed up and now, I might just be back in....

I have a new blog over at Wordpress -
It has a new name -  corecouture, but all the usual rubbish is still there!

I'm still learning and changing things, so please bear with me until I get it all sorted.

Some things I'm not sure about are:
1. Where do the followers go to? I'm sorry if you have signed up to follow SewRuth, I'll try and move you over to corecouture.
2. My inspirational blog list needs reconfigured in corecouture - do not be alarmed - I'm still reading your wonderful postings
3. In time SewRuth will be deleted.

Thanks for meeting with me here and it was great fun getting to know you all.
Please pop over to corecouture to continue our friendship.

In the meantime, I'll be sorting out corecouture and making another Chanel jacket.

I may be some time......

Love Ruth

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Unforgettable and Unpredictable

Oh thank you all so very much for keeping me sane and all (most) admitting that you too remembered Rive Gauche - you really have no idea how reassuring all those comments were after that surreal episode in the fabric shop.

And to make me even happier Anon has stopped commenting too. So thanks for the advice on that front too.

So back to Rive....

A cotton/linen mix in soft black. I'm not a big fan of black but I'm trying to introduce it gradually into my wardrobe, especially when I see the creations that Shams and Margy produce in monochrome. I know that black on black does not work for me so I always aim to add a splash of colour somewhere to lift it.

The pattern is a long jacket - McCalls 5938, sadly OOP, but still available on their website.

Semi-fitted, lined jacket with welt pockets and flaps, back princess seams, notched collar, two-piece sleeves with button trim, shoulder pads, back vent opening and below hipline length.

I added three buttons to the front and made the ones on the sleeves work properly - my construction  was somewhere between home sewer and tailoring - damn you Ms Schaeffer! I must now tape my front edges and padstitch the collar: my linings must be fell stitched in place and my vented sleeve buttons must open. I used a fusible interfacing (first time ever) for the fronts and lapels and I did try a new technique for the sleeve heads too and was mightily impressed with the results. 

You all know that the hole the sleeve goes into and the sleeve are two different sizes and shapes? And you do all that stuff with gathering stitches and easing and pins and stuff on the sleeve? Well try either need a mannequin or a live person.

Hang the jacket on the mannequin (or model) with shoulder pad in place and pinch the excess fullness at the back. Using a hand worked chain stitch distribute this fullness over the sleeve head creating little puckers as you sew. Press these little gathers out with steam and the sleeve head will shrink to this shape.

 See the pic below. On the left - stitched and steamed and fitted to the mannequin. On the right - as nature intended - baggy and loose.

While the jacket is cooling and drying, gather the sleeve crown on the sleeves with a loose running stitch. Pull the threads to create the familiar gathers and secure them. Now press the crown, shrinking out the gathers to create a smooth and curved shape to the sleeve.

Hopefully by now, the two are a better fit for each other - the sleeve head and the sleeve crown - so carry on and insert the sleeve in your preferred manner. One word of caution and that is keep the sleeve hanging straight - don't twist it or pull it.

Sew in the shoulder pads for real and always, always, insert some wadding in the sleeve head for shape and structure. See a good tailoring book on how to do this properly. These books are worth their weight in gold for this instruction alone and even if you are only making a casual jacket, like this one, a perfect sleeve is worth it. 

And there is it - no puckers or gathers - went in first time and hangs beautifully. 

 And the Rive Gauche blue?

For the lining, my dears, and the working sleeve hems to roll up and reveal the flash of colour. And I'll look just like Claudia Winkleman from the Great British Sewing Bee.

 Vented pockets with flaps

Three buttons, not one

I have a similar coloured blouse made years ago which accidentally matches well. So I have my black and my colour.
Long to hide the behind with a centre back vent

 Do I look like a Rive Gauche bottle?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Rive Gauche

A funny thing happened the other day on the way to the fabric shop......well actually it happened in the fabric shop.

I'd a bit of time to kill (dead time, as I like to call it and those of you who are well versed in childrearing will understand completely this terminology) so instead of heading home to turn around and go back out again - I went to the fabric shop.

I went with an idea in my head that was relatively unformed as this stage - something was brewing but even I didn't know what it was until it manifested itself onto the unsuspecting individuals who were queuing behind me to pay for their purchases.

Suddenly, and without preamble or warning, I turned 180 degrees, regarded the woman immediately behind me, and did some quick mental calculations based on crow's feet and lip-puckers  that she was equal to or greater in age than me and blurted out,
"Do you remember Rive Gauche?"

Blank. Cat-in-headlights stare!

Rive Gauche - Paris Left Bank the home of the artistes and artists along the Seine?

I skipped the one behind her (too young) and aimed directly for the woman next in the line,
"Do YOU remember Rive Gauche? You know the perfume by YSL? About 1980?"

More blank stares and the slightly 'be kind to her' facial expressions.

I then addressed both queues (needless to say the shop just happened to be busy that day) and the sales assistants too - well, actually loud enough for the entire shop to join in if they'd wanted to; I believe I may have climbed onto a soapbox at this point and exclaimed:

"Does anyone remember the YSL perfume Rive Gauche from 1980? Anyone?"

Apparently, Northern Ireland missed the 1980s - I was in London at the time. Living under Maggie Thatcher and living the high life. However, I did actually begin to doubt my own sanity and memory being overwhelmed with such a wall of 'what-is-she-talking-about/negativity' in the shop.

What I was really looking for was a second opinion on the colour/shade of blue for a jacket lining - I didn't give a s**t if anyone truly remembered the perfume.

Regardless, (this is MY word and I predicate my life upon it) I bought what I believed to represent Rive Gauche and just had to Google it when I got home to make sure I hadn't imagined the whole decade of 1980.

Coco - I need you now - please tell me you remember Rive Gauche! You don't need to like it just, like me, you physically remember it.

If someone out there confirms that they bought/used/was gifted/remembers Rive Gauche, then I shall reveal the garment - otherwise I fear I am heading into Never-Never Land and if I go there I may be never heard of again....... Ahhhhhhhhhhh

Shoulder pads and hard stares - there's no turning back!
I''d also appreciate a translation into English of the  adverts' bylines.   Merci.

Monday, 8 April 2013


This is in honour of all those anonymous comments that are written by considerate and caring individuals who think we want to read their well penned gibberish and 'check out' their websites. I mean, they're not annoying at all - I just love spending my precious time moving them into spam and then deleting them - I have removed all the website links to save you, my true readers, from any distractions. In the meantime - to Anonymous - Thank you for commenting and taking the time to read my blog posts.

(Inbetween the lovely, thoughtful comments I've inserted photos of Vintage Vogue 8851)

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To annoymous - bugger off!

Friday, 5 April 2013

Tick Tock

This week on BBC we were all treated to the Great British Sewing Bee (Tuesday 8.00pm) - an elimination contest of sewing your own clothes - not designing like Project Runway - but picking a pattern, fabric, notions and making something within a time limit. Then the public scrutiny of your work either on a mannequin or a real live model. And every week one or two contestants are sent home.

BBC iplayer link here. I don't know if this works beyond the boundaries of the UK so I've added a Youtube link here.

There's also a great article in the Telegraph here, that tells you a bit more about the contestants and the judges.

In typical British style the show is not flashy, it's made on a budget but there is something homely and comforting about The Sewing Room and the poor contestants have to have their coffee in the Cafe across the road - like the BBC couldn't provide food and drink! The British contestants have all become friends and there's no bitchiness or slyness, no off-camera comments about each other. Each one is modest about their sewing abilities - refreshing after the narcissism of Project Runway.

You may recognise one or two of the contestants too:
Tilly, from Tilly and buttons,
Ann Rowley from Stitchers Guild

First challenge was to make an A-line skirt in 3 and half hours: everyone had the same pattern but they had to choose fabric from an astounding built-in haberdashery wall, cut and sew, included the insertion of the dreaded invisible zip. If there was any time left, they could then 'personalise' their skirt.

They then had one hour in which to re-fashion the neckline of a white cotton top.

Finally, the biggy of the week was to make a day dress, perfectly fitted to a real live size 12 person in 7 hours. Each contestant choose their own pattern and fabric and had time to practice at home first, but the model was only available on the day.

Sitting on my sofa watching the show, I began to think about how long things take to do.

I've never worked to a deadline in sewing - to me that's the kiss of death. Making something for an upcoming event or occasion puts undue pressure on the completion inevitably leading to mistakes and poor construction. Sewing is about taking your time and doing a bit now and again for the pleasure and fun of it. If the dress is finished in time to wear to the theatre, then that's a bonus, but not a pre-requisite in my sewing world. This may explain my growing disillusionment with SWAP, as the deadline of end of April is fast approaching.

But, if faced with the challenge of 'doing' something within a time frame, how many of you know how long things take?

There are some things I do know about my sewing.....

This takes me one hour, from cutting out to wearing.

This takes 100+ hours ( I only know this because I've documented it before)

Sometimes, it takes me days just to pick a fabric........and then I change my mind about the pattern......
Just selecting buttons is a Herculean task for me.

But we all know that one mistake can hold up the whole process by hours - ripping out, picking out all the little thread ends, re-cutting, re-sewing, pressing. Also sewing at home has all sorts of other distractions and rarely do we get 7 straight hours to only sew. One of the judges Patrick Grant is a Saville Row tailor (and lovely to look at BTW) who produces bespoke suits - but only 300 a year!  

Part of sewing for yourself is the pleasure of slip-stitching a hem - not machining it; to change your mind as you go along - add a lining, different buttons, shorten etc; and there is design involved too. Choosing fabric and notions to match a pattern and your body shape are all part of the process. Being forced to work within a time limit obviously restricts all this.

It's easy to sit at home, watch this show and shout at the TV -
"That zip is way worse than my efforts!",
"Look at the state of that hemline!",
"Awful fabric - it'll never work!"
"Cut the threads off that would you?"
"Why didn't anyone just make a jersey wrap dress?"
"Don't do that - it's too complicated!"

Watch the show and all these will make sense to you.

But if you had to....

How long does it take you to insert a zip?
Previously bad examples of my zip insertion , without time pressure!

How long would you need to sew an A-line skirt, hemmed and ready to wear? (and lined!)

What could you produce in a glorious seven dedicated hours from the sewing room?

Monday, 1 April 2013

Waist not.....

It almost wasn't made: the fabric is a fine checked wool and I thought, wool - I'll never get my wear out of that at this time of year! Ha! Mother Nature had other things in mind and has insisted on keeping winter around for a lot longer than usual. So I stuck to the original plan and made another pair of trousers for Kate and her SWAP '13. The fabric came from Maggie's Fab Fabrics and was an end of roll - about 2.2m. When it's gone, it's gone. It has a navy/cream/beige/white check - perfect for my Hepburn colours and navy always looks well in early spring-time.

The trousers are exactly the same as the first suit so with no alterations and a TNT pattern, I can sew these blindfolded now. But with the little bit of left over fabric I made a matching waistcoat.  It was one of those times when there's too much left to throw out but not really enough to keep. As there was no more fabric where this came from I endeavoured to make good use of the remnant.
McCalls M5887 and was purchased as part of their 99c OOP pattern sale around about Christmas 2012 - I certainly have had my money's worth from that little stash.
All the waistcoats in this pattern are lined and fitted apart from E. I made view A but didn't have enough fabric for the whole waistcoat - so the back is completed in the same lining as the trousers. I also added a self tie at the back partly to co-ordinate with the trousers and the front and partly to create a bit more shape. Sometimes waistcoats can go 'boxy' and I need a waist. View A is also quite short but the high waist on the trousers compensates well and the two meet in the middle. 
This waistcoat with anything lower might look like it's too small.

The buttons were salvaged from some old RTW - three for the trousers and three for the waistcoat and when they are neatly lined up there's a nice straight line of buttons.

The main benefits of SWAP is you don't have to change the thread in your machine and the other is the mixing and matching that can be done afterwards.

There's just something about a waistcoat.........