• Other stuff

    The Little WHITE Jacket

    Finally I have put my fledgling couture skills to good use!

    Chanel couture cardigan Vogue 7975 french jacket

    My Mum’s couture cardigan is complete and it had its first outing this weekend.

    Some of you will remember that earlier this year I took a class with the Yorkshire School of Sewing to learn how to make Vogue 7975 using couture techniques and benefit from the instructor Gillian’s wealth of fitting experience.

    I was sewing a little black jacket with black grosgrain trim. Well I’m ashamed to say that is still sat at home, 90% complete.

    I am not ashamed to say that everything I learnt was well worth it for use on this gorgeous jacket for my mum.

    Chanel couture cardigan Vogue 7975 french jacket

    We used white bouclé with multicoloured woven crosses from iconic fabric heaven Linton Tweed; Gold satin lining from Jack’s Fabrics; Gold trim and buttons from Birmingham Rag Market.

    Chanel couture cardigan Vogue 7975 french jacket

    These are the skills that were involved in producing this beauty:

    • pattern-matching/aligning the colourful woven crosses
    • underlining each piece
    • hand-basting then quilting the lining to the shell fabric
    • hand-sewing all the various lining seams down
    • inserting a neckline stay
    • mitred corners
    • adding weighting to the hem
    • catch-stitching chain in place by hand
    • hand-sewing the trim around the edges

    There is also a fake placket at the wrists and fake pockets, all decorated with trim and buttons. We also added tiny hooks and eyes to close the jacket but mostly this is going to be worn open.Chanel couture cardigan Vogue 7975 french jacket

    We divided the work so that I would come over during the day, help as much as I could and then on the evenings I’d leave my mum homework (usually hand-sewing lining). She took the jacket over the finish line by hand-sewing all the trim and buttons. What a super star.

    And I think she looks fabulous in it! It’s the perfect length and style for wearing with jeans like she is here, and to pair with dresses.

    Taking a class is an excellent way to learn the techniques for making a realistic couture cardigan and Gillian is wonderfully patient so if you’re based in or near Yorkshire she definitely gets my endorsement.

    I’ve also heard excellent things in passing about Claire Shaeffer’s new book with enclosed instructional DVD but have yet to see any complete reviews for it.

    If you’re wondering why I keep saying couture cardigan and not dropping the CC-bomb it’s because of this thought-provoking blog post.

    And in case you wish to revel in my failure but learn a few things at the same time here are the links for my previous LBJ posts:

    Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Hopefully one day I’ll write Part 4!

  • Other stuff

    Best laid plans

    I took a little sew-cation using my annual leave so I could work on my Anise and ended up doing barely anything on it!


    Instead I’ve mostly been working with my mum to make her a Chanel style tweed jacket. The jacket is coming along so well and really makes me glad I did the course to learn all the techniques.

    We have cut out, quilted, fitted and stitched it all together and I’ve left mum hand-sewing all the lining down before I return and help her mark the hem and sleeve lengths, do mitred corners and organise the finishing touches.

    2013-09-22 17.37.01-2

    I have one day off left so I need to make sure I get up early and get cracking. I’ll be redoing my Anise muslin with some hard-core adjustments and hopefully get cutting with my fabric. I picked up a bright blue wool coating from the Fancy Silk Store in Birmingham.

    • I need to re-draft the armhole and sleeves as something just isn’t working with these. I’m going to use a similar jacket with a two piece sleeve that I know fits fine.
    • The back princess seams are also too thin so I’m going to move them closer to my centre back.
    • I need a little more length I think, just so it will cover all my favourite longer-length cardigans. This is probably the easiest of all my alterations.
    • I think the collar needs shaving down a touch as it seems a little large on me. I’m not yet 100% certain I’ll do this as the finished versions I’ve seen on the Internet seem to be in proportion so perhaps I just need see it through as per the drafted instructions.

    Wish me luck!

  • Other stuff

    Sewing Essentials For a Professional Finish

    Yesterday I had the day off work to brush up on the fundamentals of sewing.

    When I started sewing I took a course of 10 evening classes that were a basic introduction to reading a commercial pattern and I failed to have a finished dress by the end of the course because everything was very slow paced. After that I’ve learnt everything else at home  powered by my own curiosity and wish to become a better sewist.

    Books, online tutorials and you tube video guides are all really helpful but sometimes you just want to talk to a person and say why am I finding this so hard, please help me.


    I went to a class from by The Yorkshire School of Sewing, run by the lovely Gillian Hargreaves and held at Fine Fabrics of Harrogate (temptation or what!?).

    Together we worked to perfect the basics, learn new tricks and think about different ways of performing tasks to see which suits you best.

    We worked on so so so many things, which is why the session lasted from 10am until 4:30pm.

    This is one of the many courses on offer. Some of you may remember I went on the Chanel Jacket Course a few months ago.

    Here’s a brief overview of our day:

    Different types of seams – top-stitched and flat-felled, hairline and french seams.

    Different hem finishes – various styles of blind hems, baby hems and using ribbon and lace on hems.


    Different types of zip – lapped and invisible.

    Piping, facings, darts and sewing around odd angles such as square necklines.


    Finally we talked about set in sleeve insertion and techniques for getting that perfect smooth finish.

    I came away with plenty of samples to remind myself of the techniques I’d been practicing.


    I also came away with a template for a tailor’s ham, or in my case, a tailor’s aubergine! (Vegetarian equivalent)

    I bought myself some sawdust (don’t you love that smell) and sewed it up so quick. Thought I might have made a teensy bit of a mess!

    When was the last time you took a sewing class? Are you regularly fine tuning your skills outside of projects?

  • Other stuff

    The Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate

    Well you can all guess where I’ve been today!


    Thanks to a facebook competition from Fabrications I won a free ticket to the Knitting and Stitching Show. It was recently in London and Dublin and now in lovely Harrogate for the weekend.

    For those who don’t know the show covers knitting and stitching but way way more; felt-making, toy-making, shibori dyeing, jewellery-making, card-making, and mixed media. The HIC who are hosting said they expected around 10,000 people each day!!

    I took the day off work as I thought it would be better to go on a weekday; foolishly thinking it should be less busy than a weekend day. Yeesh, if it was “quiet” then I dread to think how busy tomorrow or Sunday will be.

    But it was fantastic to see so many people there eager to check out the stalls and exhibits.

    Sadly I didn’t get to spot any sewing celebrities like Karen did but I got to see lots of beautiful embroidery, knitting and quilting displays. Most had *NO PHOTOGRAPHY* signs on which was a shame but I got a couple of photos from displays that didn’t.



    I also managed to curb my spending as I am technically on financial lockdown while we save for the new house.

    I let myself get 1m of this gorgeous slate grey rayon with birdcage print. It feels so soft and delicious.

    I also got this cute vintage blouse pattern with neckline variation and an air disappearing fabric marker.


    I should TOTALLY have bought this kid’s pattern and am now kicking myself over it. Who cares that I don’t have any children to make this for. Heck I could frame this bad boy to hang in my living room it’s that cool!



    I also chatted for a while with the lovely ladies promoting the Yorkshire School of Sewing. Gillian Hargreaves is a former City and Guilds teacher and she has opened up a sewing centre in Roundhay. I got a booklet about her courses and am interested in some of the pattern drafting courses available, the Chanel jacket class and the LBD session with couture techniques.

    Again because of financial lockdown, I’ve entered a prize draw for a course of my choice and have put gift vouchers on my xmas list. If neither of those work out I’ll look into treating myself. I don’t think there’s much of a website yet but you can contact Gillian for details.

    I saw plenty of cool exhibits. The Quilters Olympics Quilt (see the Synchronised Stitching block above), a man who embroidered whimsical maps of local areas, knitted armour, The Unfinishable project which was a tent made of incomplete garments (I could have contributed a lot to this one) and last but definitely not least a knitted town.

    The town was awesome and therefore popular. I got two quick shots of the fire house and a church wedding. There was a farm complete with knitted vegetable patches and farmyard animals, a school, houses, cars, etc.




    I definitely recommend going to the show. There are some additional displays on Sunday and I’m sure the stalls won’t have sold out of much before then. It takes much longer to go around the 6 halls than you think so leave yourself plenty of time.

    And let me know if you enjoyed it!