Sewing and Style

A blog for anyone interested in sewing their own clothes and creating a sense of personal style...

Friday, April 18, 2014

A T Shirt from Leftover Fabric...

A New T-Shirt
 The above t-shirt might look very familiar but it is a newly made t shirt.  I made it out of the leftover pieces from the dolman sleeve t shirt I have recently finished.

Dolman sleeve T-shirt.
(For those of you who want to read about the dolman sleeve t-shirt and find out what I did, please visit this page. )

Okay, now about today's t-shirt - I used Kwik Sew 3766, which is fast becoming my standby t-shirt pattern.  It's a lovely basic shape and works nicely.

I used size S as I do not like skin tight t-shirts.  I turned up the hem  a little more than suggested on the pattern (1.5 inches instead of 1 inch). The sleeves are a little shorter than the pattern pieces, as I had no more fabric to use - but they are quite long enough.


The fabric is an unknown knit from Spotlight.  I'm pretty sure it has a high viscose content - both from the residue of a burn test, the feel, the softness and the fact that it wrinkles quite a lot.  

There's not much to say about this t-shirt - I serged the seams, and just double stitched the hems - this fabric handled nicely on my basic machine and so I felt confident doing the hem on it.   For the double stitched hemI used a very slight zig zag stitch (this will stretch with the garment) and did two rows of stitching. I can't use twin needles on this machine, so I have to rely on eye sight and good old operator skill to achieve a reasonably even space between the two rows.

Here are a selection of pictures - I'm getting used to the self timer - I set it on 3 shots in 10 secs and quickly pose, move and run around and hope for the best - this is what I came up with (and a few more that were blurred, but I'm not bothering with them).

Front view:


 Sort of side view:

 Back view:

 And another side sort of view:

The twist  scarf I made to go with the dolman sleeve T-shirt can of course also be worn with this one:

I think my recent knit making adventures have now stopped.  I don't think I am going to be a lover of making knit garments, but I do think it is an essential skill to have.  And certainly I will want to make my own knit basics instead of buying them - especially as I can make garments in colours and shapes that suit me.

I do wish you all the best in your sewing journeys as well...

Sarah Liz

Monday, April 14, 2014

Does Sewing Save Money?

Have you heard the wonderful myth that sewing your own clothes saves money?  Well, after spending more money again today on one of those little outings that are not meant to cost much - a bit of fabric to fix something, and a few buttons for the cardigan I am knitting, and a bit of fabric for next years summer dress I am planning (while it is on sale) etc etc...

It all started innocently enough.  I have had this nice boiled wool jacket in my wardrobe for about ten years - and I rarely wear it:

Why don't I wear it?  Because I don't like the old gold buttons.  They don't suit my colouring, so I don't wear the jacket - I look cheap in it.

This got me visiting good old Spotlight after work for buttons - and of course, while I was there, one or two other things.

I bought these buttons for the jacket.  They were not what I wanted, but there is limited selection at Spotlight.

So I spent $10.00 approx on buttons (plus another $5.00 on buttons for the jacket I am knitting -and they may or may not be the right size, but if I don't get what Spotlight has now, chances are there will not be anything remotely suitable when I want them).  Then I went to have a look at one or two other things.  Then I had a thought.

I had seen some faux snakeskin - pvc on polyester - soft and pliable.  I immediately passed it up as something I would never wear - then I had a brilliant thought.  This stuff was ideal for making self cover buttons for the cardigan jacket I don't wear.  It will give it a slightly urban modern edge. 

And then I needed some self cover buttons - so it soon became the best part of $40.00 for some cotton, buttons, strip of faux, and self cover buttons.  I could have returned the original buttons I choose, but I do like them, and they do go with some fabric I have in my stash.

On my way home, I pondered - does sewing save money???  How much has that stash cost, the patterns, the notions, the bits and pieces, the scissors, the cutting board, the machines, the thread, the power.

Does sewing save money?  I sometimes tally the cost of my extravagance, and conclude not.

But one day, I think it will!!!

I am going to work on that - start working out the cost of each garment, start counting up the cost of bits and pieces I buy.  Of course, I buy very little, because it does not often fit - and when I do, I am always surprised by how much nicer things cost.  So maybe, sewing might save money. But I've never really counted the cost.  Until now.

What about you - does sewing save you money?  Do you have a sewing budget?  Do you know what your garments cost to make?

I would love to know :)

Sarah Liz

P.S - my purchase today is worthwhile though - the jacket was half price in the first place, and will soon look lovely - so that sort of pays for all the other buttons and bits and pieces bought today.  That's a cheering thought :)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Very Busy Sewing Week...

Well, I have had quite a sewing week.  DH and I planned to  go away this week  - to my residential school that isn't anymore, since I made the big decision recently that I couldn't do it all - not at the moment, anyway, until things are more under control at DH's practice. ).  So we had a week booked out from the practice.  And we also finally finished at the old premises - hoorah.   DH had lots of odd jobs to do this week, and I wanted to get some transitional basics quickly sewn while I had the time.

Excuse my slightly underdressed look in these photos - I wanted to show you the top of these trousers, and wearing a longer top over them - which is what I do - was not going to show you how these are made and how they fit.  Tucking in a thicker t-shirt doesn't work very well and adds bulk around the hip area, so I thought I would use this flimsy camisole - it is short so it works quite well to show this area without too much added bulk. It's cold today (about 20 degrees C, which some of you might say is still mild, especially those of you who are emerging out of a long northern hemisphere winter) and I am not enjoying being this bare!

These pants are really very quickly sewn pants for wearing everyday.  I made them out of stretch cotton sateen, from Spotlight.  It will wrinkle like mad, but then if I bought sateen trousers the same thing will happen.

My sewing was fast and furious - I have an urgent need for transitional pants.  I have cotton ones now for summer, but not much for casual for this time of year.

I used Kwik Sew2960:
Kwik Sew 2960.
 This pattern is designed for stretch fabrics.  I cut XS for the leg/hip and s for the tummy/waist (plus a smidgen more for the tum).  I added a little more length as the pant was quite short.  I eliminated the zip and added casing for the waist and used elastic. I just added a little on the sides so that the trousers would fit over my hips.

I have made this elastic waist variation  before (last year) in a patterned fabric (then discovered I don't wear patterned pants that much - but I plan to this winter with a rather boring and very long cardigan I have just unearthed in the woollies drawer- that should tone the pants down a bit).

 These were made in a fairly thick stretch cotton twill.  The legs are a little short, so I added extra when I cut the black pants out.

Although I did an under bottom adjustment, there is still quite a fold underneath.  I altered my adjustment with the black pants.  And the crotch did not feel right, so I altered it a bit.  And raised the waist a little bit as I prefer high waisted pants for comfy wear. 

Now the photos of the latest pair:

 And the back:
(and I forgot to tuck the back label of the camisole in!  I debated whether I should redo the photos, but not only are they tedious to do, but it's cold today, and I don't want to undress again).
The fabric handles quite differently - it is softer and lighter in weight.  The tail is fitting better, and the under bottom wrinkles are a little less.  These are wrinkles down the legs in both front and back pictures - but I was running backwards and forwards to the camera to reset the timer - so no stylist to adjust the wrinkles, and no airbrushing afterwards either.  But this is how they will actually look when being worn.  I'm happy with this for home wear.  And the fit is not too bad considering my fit issues.

If you look at these RTW pair - you can see how baggy they are for me in the leg at inner and outer thigh:


They are baggy in the back as well, and they are one of my better fitting RTW pants:


Even my more poorly fitting me mades are no worse, and often better, than this. And I learn more each time I make something, both about sewing and fitting.

As these are home pants for everyday use, I needed a pair to wash and a pair to wear.  So, I made two pairs:

Not only did I sew these, but I also made my April garment of the month.  The same pair of trousers in a blue stretch cotton sateen, also from Spotlight(in my stash).

Well, you can see my little tum in these!  Which is why I like making my own clothes - you can accommodate the curves and contours.  I have such slim hips and a large waist to hip ratio - in other words an up and down type shape, it is impossible to buy things to fit.

And now the back:

For the rear, I am slightly arching my back , and that has caused some of that wrinkling - but my RTW trousers are no better, and don't fit my hips and things nearly as neatly.  Also, I do like some fullness in my pants legs, and there will always be some wrinkling - as you can see, I am very thin, and my legs and arms are slender- there is never going to be a perfect fit with pants for me - nor would I want it - I need a bit of bulk, not skin tight somethings that emphasize my pin legs and slightly rounded tummy. 

Now, these only took about a day to make, so I had a bit of time leftover.  I also had a bit of black sateen left over.  So I quickly made a little skirt.  Again, with an elastic waist.  I used Kwik Sew 3765:

 Again, I cut XS hips and legs, and S for the tummy and waist area.  I used the short version and added 2.5 inches.  I have made the skirt in January of this year, in a stretch cotton sateen (again, from Spotlight):

It only took me about an hour from go to woe in making up this skirt (I do have a big machine that sews quickly).

So my new skirt for winter, over tights:

And the back:

I think I will be taking photo's of these garments again one day - with proper tops.  Showing of sewing is one thing - but to show the clothes to their best advantage takes a bit more effort.  However, I do believe this sort of basic photography is good for showing the garment as it is, as it is sewn.

Well, I am so sewn out , that I am having a break today :). I don't always enjoy what my mother calls hack sewing, but it sometimes gets the job done.  So I am not feeling much like sewing today!    - But - I am pleased I have some basics to wear for this in-between sort of weather.

Next I want to make some slightly more fashionable basics to add to my classic basics.  Back to work next week, with the BAS (business activity statement, a quarterly imposition from our Tax Office that everyone hates doing), then the accounts to get in order, so something a little more interesting will be needed!

Happy sewing everyone,

Sarah Liz

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

A Liebster Blog Award - Thank you Nakisha

I would like to thank Nakisha of  for nomimating me for a Liebster award this year. 

I'm not sure if I'm allowed to collect two, as I was awarded one last year as well, but as far as I am aware there is no "rule"to say you can't.

The purpose of the Liebster Blog Award is to recognise and promote newer and smaller blogs with less than 200 followers.

There are a few conditions that are attached:

Thank the person who gave you the award, linking back to that person’s blog

Copy and paste the Liebster award to your own profile

Answer the 5 question your nominator asked

Pick 5 blogs who you feel deserve to be noticed (they have to have under 200 followers)

Ask them 5 questions

Let your nominees know they have been chosen by leaving a comment on their blog

I talk more about the Liebster award when I was nominated the first time - you can find that here (and all sorts of things about me, for those of you, who, like me, love finding out about the person behind the blog). 

While I now do not normally accept blog awards, I was quite thrilled when Nakisha nominated me, as she could have chosen anyone else from the 127 blogs that she follows.  And, reflecting on my blogging attempts over the past twelve months, I can see that I blogging has helped to motivate me to improve my sewing skills and try new things.  And I hope blogging does the same for you as well.


Nakisha's questions are:

      How did you start sewing?
      What do you enjoy most about blogging?
      Stash Containment: Do you (fabric) stash and if so, how is it contained?
      Are you a planner or do you sew whatever strikes your fancy?
      Are you a "selfish seamstress" or do you sew for others?

Well, this is going to be unashamedly about me! And, unlike most of my posts, not very visual.

 1.  How did you start sewing?

I started sewing when I was five years old. I was alone at home while my mother was visiting the farmer who lived behind our fields. It was safe to leave children at home for a while in those days, especially in country Shropshire (which is where we then lived). And I was a very grown up sort of child. I was sitting close the the Aga stove, warming my back. I decided I wanted to make my doll a dress. So I went upstairs and found my best red wool dress, and happily cut that out into a two pieces, and cut armhole shapes and a neck shape on both front and back pieces. Then I handstitched, with big stitches the pieces together. I put the dress on my doll. When my mother arrived home, I happily showed her my creation.

I am not sure that she was entirely pleased at the demise of my best wool dress, but she did praise my new creation none the less!

2. What do you enjoy most about blogging?

Communicating. I love to communicate with other sewers. Communication is a two way process, so I make sure I always read and reply to your comments, and perhaps even address them in a new blog post. I make sure that I keep in touch with bloggers who regularly comment on my blog, as this is a sewing community. In the real world, if someone spoke to me, I would answer back, so I do the same here. A blog is a conversation with you, it's part of a vibrant world of interconnected blogging you's, all sewing and sharing your sewing - what a wonderful world :)

3.  Stash Containment:  Do you (fabric) stash, and if so, how is it contained?

Yes, I fabric stash. I am an incorrigible fabric stasher. I did intend to stash bust this year, but after seeing a book recently about Yves St Laurent - who had a huge stash all around him, that was that. I think I should start a proud card carrying stashers badge for my blog! And invite some of you unrepentant ones to join me!

Seriously, I started stashing as a way to deal with frustration when I couldn't sew. Harmless enough, and the dreams of sewing can keep you going. Now I sew, but I still stash - fabrics that I can't easily get, basics that I will need one day, and fabrics that suit me. In that respect I am fairly disciplined. But I do have a lot of stash that I want to use, with no guilt. That will take a twenty year plan I think. Luckily I like planning too.

It is contained mostly in plastic containers:

I also hang some of my stash, and have a nice cupboard to store stash - long ago outgrown.  I catalogue my stash so I know what I have.  For those of you who want to know more about my stash, read this post.

4.  Are you a planner or do you sew whatever strikes  your fancy?

I'm a planner but also like to sew things that strike my fancy, or that I can design.  During my blog life I have remained fairly disciplined in that I planned to master pants (still working on that one) and wanted to learn to sew knits.  Strange, I can sew wedding dresses (more on that later) but had not learnt to sew pants or knits!

I also wanted to build up a wardrobe of very useful basics first - cotton pants and skirts for hot, humid weather, transitional skirts and pants, and cold weather skirts and pants, along with little tops or shirts.  I've nearly finished this project, then I can add some colour and more fashionable items.  I trained as an image consultant during a past life so I stay fairly focused on the basic concepts of building a good basic wardrobe.

For dreams and ideas, I hoard patterns. Whether I will ever make them up, remains to be seen!

5. Are you a "selfish seamstress"or do you sew for others?

I have to say I am a "selfish seamstress" at the moment, but not through choice.  Unfortunately I married John too late in my life to be able to have children.  This is an area of sadness in my life, but at least we have each other.  I can care for him at least.  And as he does much good in his work, that means I am also caring for the wider community, in a sense.

I have sewn for others - it happened by accident.  My original career was nursing -during our training we lived in.  I spent many hours helping my nursing friends choose dresses, nail polish etc for their nights out with the boys.  I didn't seem to be one of those girls that did boys and parties, but I enjoyed dressing others for them!

As life progresses, I always worked as a Registered Nurse, but also developed a creative life - this filled my emotional needs (my father was a creative - an engineer who solved problems such as how to make the machinery to manufacture rocket combustion chambers - answer, the artists 'lost wax technique).  I acted, did public radio, and eventually got a job in PR.  I did an Arts degree, majoring in drama and screen studies.  (later I did a Psychology degree).  When you do drama, and people find out you can sew, well, guess who it is that helps out with designing and making costumes.  Then you get asked to make dresses for special occasions, and eventually I made wedding dresses for people:

This was a simple lace dress, underlined with silk crepe.  The young lady was getting married in the country, it was going to be hot, her dress style was Natural, and she needed an off white as she had red hair and warm skin colouring.  For reasons of privacy I have not shown this ladies face.

Of course, my first attempts at this sort of work were very stressful, and there were plenty of sleepless nights.  And occasionally remaking something at my cost if I made a mistake. But over time I learnt the fabrics and learnt exactly what to do.  And became excellent at fitting dress muslins. As you can see in the dress above, it fits perfectly, no lumps, bumps, skims and flatters.  I used to muslin more than once if need be - I didn't care how many muslins I made, so long as I got the fit right for the ladies (over the undergarments they were going to wear, of course).

But can I sew trousers and knits well yet?  Trousers yes (fit is another matter), knits still need practice.And fitting yourself is just so not easy.  Fitting other people is.

Well, I think that is quite enough about me for one day - by now you have all probably snoozed off.  So, we will move onto the more interesting part of the blog - the bit about you.

It's now my turn to nominated 5 blogs for the Liebster award.  These are not in any sort of order at all, you all have wonderful blogs, all different, and all quite beautiful.  I think I have chosen you all because of your very pretty blogs - but yours are such a visual delight :)

Lisa at

Jessica at

Lovenicky at

Dawn (The Winter Queen) :

Annie :

I was going to write a little about each of these blogs and bloggers, but then I thought, the best thing to do is to encourage you to visit these blogs and see for yourself how beautiful they are - and the garments showcased in them. As not all of you have follow bars on your blog, I am assuming you are all under 200 followers. 


And your five questions, ladies are:

1.  Why did you start sewing?

2. Have you been sewing for long?

3.  Why did you start sewing?

4. Why did you start blogging?

5. What are your sewing goals both short and long term?

Thank you everyone, wherever you are, for being part of the blog world.  You all deserve an award - blogging takes time and effort, but our lives are all enriched by your sewing blogs - all part of a wonderful, global sewing world.

Sarah Liz 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sunday Sewing Chat- The Week in Review and the Week to Come

I'm back to my old routine of Sunday Blog Chats - I really enjoy them, and I hope you do too.  It really is lovely being part of the wonderful world of the online sewing community.  I'm slowly getting back into sewing this week and...


 ... managed to make two knit tops.  I was a novice at sewing knits - I had avoided them most of my life. Wovens, yes, wedding dresses, yes, jackets, yet (I haven't made a jacket for years, but I find them really fun to sew - it's a pity we have a casual lifestyle now - formal jackets are not needed so much.  I'll have to work out how to make casual jackets instead). So this year I decide it was time to learn.  They do have a very different feel and handle to them, and I still need to learn a little more.

 But for those of you ,who, like me, haven't sewn knits, do have a go.  Get a cheap knit, and the worse that can happen is that it doesn't work.  And at the same time you learn.


Next week I plan to make some transitional basics - I need quick pull on trousers for everyday wear.  I have plenty of casual cotton ones, but I want some stretch cotton sateen pull ons.  Stretch cotton sateen is a little warm to wear in our humid summers, but just right for April/May. I will make black pull on pants and a blue pair.  I have chosen the blue pair as the April Garment of the Month garment.

I will be making view C, the straight leg pants.  I have modified these before and have added an elastic waistband, instead of a more fitted waistband and zip. 


Accordion 3 recently asked me how the pattern game was progressing. (For those of you who don't know what the game is, it's a lucky dip of patterns - what you pull out, you make.  I've only had my first draw so far).

This was the pattern I drew:

So far, not far!!  I made the muslin, which fits perfectly:

 and then cut the dress and started making it:


  I thought I would like it.  I don't.  I've held up the bits so far, and it does not suit me.  What to do???  Don't continue.  I have learnt that if you force yourself to make something that you know deep down does not suit you, you will not wear it.  What I have learnt is that I don't like the colour blocked look. At all.  I also found the curved seams a little too curvy, and the dramatic lines a little too hard for me.

I added the skirt and the whole look got worse.  It looks nice above, but held up it really doesn't do me justice.  It looks like me trying to be like the picture on the pattern envelope, instead of me trying to be me, by wearing my sorts of styles.

I did enjoy the seaming process and have rethought this whole project.  It is ''on hold" for either texture blocking, or pattern blocking in little ditzy prints that do suit me.  And what did I find in my stash:

Yes, little black and white cotton prints.  I see a cute pattern blocked summer dress happening.  I can check out craft fabrics too.  Now I'm excited about this dress - it will be fun, and fun to wear.  But still sophisticated and grown up.  I think the prints will take away some of the dramatic   of the bodice of the  dress, and also suit the skirt, which, if you look at the picture of the dress, is rather bouffant and not as fitted as you would expect for dramatic style of dress.  I think the small prints, and the floral mix will work with the curved lines of the skirt in a playful way. I will also have to think tonal values.  I think it may well work, and, as you all know, I keep working at something until it does work.


Sewing Rooms.

Recently I posted a picture showing you my sewing space.  I asked you about your sewing spaces and loved all your comments - which I do read, and usually reply to.  It seems that most of us do have a dedicated area in which to sew. I'm pleased about that, because it means we say both to ourselves and others around us that sewing is an important need that we have.  And it is important to respect our sewing needs.  And it's interesting how sewers manage to find a space somewhere, even in laundry's, cupboards, bedrooms, where the machine is set up.

That's it for now, do all have a great week, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Another New T-Shirt - New Look 6216 modified # 2

Here we are again, with the longer dolman sleeve version of New Look 6216.  For those of you who are not familiar with the story so far:

The pattern:

 The first muslin, cut as size 8 from the pattern:

Huge baggy body, and arms that are very slim - and due to the stretch factor going down the arm, no give in the sleeves, as you can see at the elbow above.

I modified the top by taking out 2 inches:

I have used this smaller version to make another little t-shi rt, which most of you have seen - but if not, this is where you can find it.

I still wanted to make the dolman sleeve version, and had bought some of Spotlight's cheap purple knit - which I think is a viscose, because it is soft and wrinkles like mad.  And the burn test also indicated a natural content - which cellulose is.  I was playing with the fabric while I was waiting in Spotlights interminable queue and realised it was a two way stretch.

Ahhhaa!  That means the stretch would go around and down the arm - so I thought this would solve the problem.

So I cut out my modified pattern, and added back the arm length and added another inch, to give a nice three quarter sleeve.  I couldn't have got a longer sleeve as I was having to work with the width of the fabric.  Mind you, I could add a band, I've got quite fond of bands as a way to add some length:)

 I did stitch clear elastic down the first section of the sleeve - about eight inches/25 cms.  I thought that would be enough, and I ran out of clear elastic.  So that was that.  It seemed to be about the right amount though.

Picture time (and again, what a difference a different fabric makes to the very same pattern):


 Back (still roomy, but I quite like that - when you are thin, it is not always a good idea to have garments that cling to you).  (And if you are not, then it is still sometimes not a good idea!!):

 And I can easily bend that arm:

 I had a scrap of fabric left over, so I made one of my semi knotted scarfs - I like to play around with placing the knot for visual interest.  It adds another dimension to the top.

 I think I have finally finished playing with New Look 6216.  It's been quite a journey!

I also wanted to show you inside.  I still don't run the overlocker off as neatly as I would like around circles (like this neckband)  so I have a way to hide the problem - until I work out the overlocking solution. I think I have, but I need to see if it really is a solution first.  The topstitch below the neckband is a zigzag stitch, set on 1.  My big machine doesn't have a stretch stitch, but a slight zig zag will stretch.  If you don't have  a special stretch stitch, use a zig zag.  Play around to get the width right - so it is not too zig zaggy, but still stretches.

That's it for now, have a lovely weekend everyone,

Sarah Liz