Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised & Updated

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Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised & Updated

Couture Sewing Techniques, Revised & Updated

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I made this a couple of weeks ago to wear to a wedding, managed to get no decent snaps of it, so took one today in my work mirror instead! I can see why – to get away from the stigma of home-made, and compare dressmaking at home to the super-expensive couture garments sent down the runway.

The next technique is more usually the choice of the pattern designer than the dressmaker, although if you know a little about pattern cutting you might be able to do it for yourself. I think efficiency is a relevant point – the more I think about it the more I think a couture technique doesn't take time/cost into account at all. I haven’t ever encountered it in pattern making instructions but I think it’s an excellent way of stabilising the cuffs of coats and jackets. Prior to a few popular fashion oriented tv programs, such as Project Runway and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, I am certain that few Americans even knew the word “couture. I hemmed the lining and sequins together at the hem and on the sleeves as the sequins were quite scratchy and the rayon was a lot more drapey and I feared tripping over the lining inside my dress, so I hemmed them together.

Once I’ve finished cutting out it’s vital to transfer all notches and mark darts and a couple of pivot points so I use old-fashioned tailor’s tacks (obviously you can use a textile marker pen if you prefer, I often do but it’s a pale fabric and I didn’t want to risk any marks being left) It’s a habit of mine to keep all the pattern pieces attached by just a couple of pins to the fabric until I need it, so that I don’t them get muddled. I’m beginning here with a faced hem… This was the hem of the first Refashioners project I attempted. When I worked for bridal designer David Fielden many years ago we would cut the selvedges off the silk habutai linings for the seamstresses to use on necklines. Honestly it's a word that I'm so tired of hearing – and people seem to have so many different interpretations of what it means!

Maria always has Sew Over 50 Thursdays too which feature guests from our community who share their sewing stories, techniques and inspiration so it is definitely worth having a listen while you’re sewing, or walking the dog! I find this a really useful technique if you need the maximum amount of hem because you can sew a very small seam allowance.Yes, if we work with bouclé – the method helps keep it light and flexible and durable, while fusible would stiffen it. She’s fortunate to live near a number of textile mills in Scotland and has been working closely with them to find inventive ways of using their ‘waste’ products. In general, I think that these books use “couture” to suggest that the techniques are more in depth/time consuming and yield better results that what the Big 4 would generally instruct you to do in their pattern instructions. This is almost everything laid up on the floor, I cut a linen version at the same time which is what you can see on the top.

We should be mindful that whatever is right and possible for one person though is not necessarily going to be achievable for another. You can see the red stitching I used to attached the beautiful sequinned fabric I bought from RayStitch (after realising there was no way I was going to have time to sew all the sequins on by hand) to the silk organza I bought from Stoff and Stil. To me, a couture technique is one that is generally NOT often seen in manufactured RTW but IS used in custom made clothing, (as well as Haute Couture – which is also custom made. Some styles got informal names which is what we identified them by in the workroom, for example there was the ‘Doris Day’ which was a pretty 50s-style gown with silk satin boned bodice and clouds of diamante-studded ankle length tulle skirts, it came in soft pastel colours, and the ‘Carmen Miranda’ which was a longer length figure-hugging silk bodice overlaid with sequin-embellished lace and extravagantly ruffled silk organza mermaid skirts.It has an almost invisible side zip and some poppers on the underarm seam of the corresponding sleeve to allow me to get in and out of it.

It is interesting this couture sewing – I am a good sewer, able to construct anything, but I can be slapdash and lazy, and I love your blog Sherry as you admit to some of my failings as well. Eventually I made 10 sets, I believe they were headed to a maternity department in a London hospital. To sew an invisible zip into the diagonal seam across the back I machined the seam closed but I used a long basting stitch just for the section where the zip will go.One of my favourite sewing reads is Dressmaker's Handbook of Couture Sewing Techniques, by Lynda Maynard.

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