Sunday, March 31, 2013

Notes and Comments to my followers, also Welcome to New Followers

It's that time of the week again where I welcome all my new followers.  I  love having you on board, and I love looking at your blogs as well.  I tend to follow my followers, because I believe a blog is an interactive dialogue.

Its really quite simple - if I met you in "real life"  I would have a chat with you.  You wouldn't like it if I ignored you, and I wouldn't like it if you ignored me.  So I keep to these very  simple guidelines in my blog - you are all welcome, and I want to visit your blogs too and have a look at what you do, and have a chat with you as well.  We all have so much to learn and share with each other.

So, welcome Evanabella, KC, Beverley, Lizzie Blatt, Andrea, Janine, Sally and Gods Girl IT.  If I haven't already said hi on your blogs (if you have one) - I will do so later today.

And to those of you that have just joined on BlogLovin - welcome as well.

And to all my regular followers - thank you for your very gorgeous and lovely comments.

Some of the comments and discussions this week deserve some mention :

My topstitching was much admired, but Far thought so muchtopstitching  was too much for her machine.

Far manages to make absolutely superb garments and bags and all sorts of great things out of recyled materials.  Her recent top (do visit her) is an inspiration - and not a topstitch in sight!  I doubt I could do as well.

The lesson in this is to know your machine, know its limitations and do the best you can.  Once upon a time, people made everything by hand.  I even learnt to sew on an old treadle machine which could only do straight stitches and only go forward - no reverse lever in those days.  I either zigzagged seams, or did a turn over and stitch down finish, or, frequently, because I liked everything to be neat - overcast all the seams by hand.  All my buttonholes were done by hand. 

I still don't have a fancy machine or sewing space.  I have an old second hand semi-industrial Bernina 217N which just sews and sews.  And can whizz through topstitching like nobodies business.

My Bernina 217N

As you can see, very little bells and whistles on this old machine.  It sews a straight stitch and a zig zag.  I have to draw out buttonholes by hand and then gauge how to do them with the machine - it does not have an automatic function.

Before this, I had an old singer machine - plastic, that I managed to do a lot with. I used it all the time, until eventually I burnt the engine out.  It coughed and spluttered and had a burning smell coming from the engine.

I never spent much on machines because I couldn't afford them when I was younger.


Even if you do it all by hand - which is what the couturiers do!  Even the top stitching!   

It is also a good idea to know you machine's limitations.  Some of the lightweight machines do not sew heavier fabrics like the heavy weight denims.  If you are planning on buying a new machine ever, do take bits of material and go to a store where you can actually play with the machine and see if it will do what you want.

Helen also asked me if the New Look blouse I just made for Faye's 2013 top sew-a-long was true to size.

All pattern companies have their own particular shape for their sizes.  A 32 inch (82 cm) bust (okay, I picked this measurement because most of us are not that small,  :) , but just to illustrate this discussion!) in the Big 4,  Butterick, Vogue, McCall's, Simplicity, and also NewLook and Burda, all have different shapes, even for the same measurements.

I have read a thesis about these differences, and Butterick and New Look are more generous around the bottom and chest area, while Vogue and Burda are slimmer in these areas.  I'll be reading the thesis again in due course and telling you about it's findings, but not tonight!

Sandra Betzina writes in Power Sewing (the original red book, I doubt if it is still available) that there are two categories of pattern - European and American.  The American patterns - McCalls, Simplicity, Butterick and Vogue - are a bit large in the area from armhole to upper chest than the European ones - Burda, New Look, and Kwik Sew.

So, it may help to know what sort of shape you are.  And perhaps do a muslin in a basic shape to get an idea of how you fit into the pattern's fit, if you will pardon the pun.

The other thing to bear in mind is that you may have a frame size that is different from your bust measurement.  For instance, according to my bust measurement I should use size 12.  However, I am slowly working out that my frame is not very big, and I need to go by my  high bust measurement.  I even find this measurement is a little large for me, and may need to tweak down.  I'm still learning about my shape, so I will blog any findings that may be useful to all of you.

Helen, I am sure I will be writing more posts about this area over the next few months.

 I am off now to see all the lovely tops arriving on Fayes sew-a-long.  The link to visit is:

I'll also be popping over to your blogs to see what you have all been up to.

As this is Easter Sunday I will close with Easter Blessings to all of you.

Sarah Liz :0

Saturday, March 30, 2013

A classic white summer shirt.

Faye has been holding a sew-a-long where all participants make a top of their choice.  The sew-a-long runs for 2 weeks and finishes on the 7th April 2013.

I decided to make a plain white cotton summer short sleeved shirt.  Our summer is nearly over, but I only have one really cool summer blouse to wear when the thermometer climbs to about 95 degrees.  I sometimes visit Adelaide and occasionally it gets to over 105 degrees, so I like simple loose cotton shirts with loose cotton trousers (on my to make list).

I used New Look pattern6963.  The version I used is the blue shirt shown at the bottom right corner.

This shirt is designed to be a semi-fitted and very loose shirt.  As I was worried about the time factor, I decided against making a test muslin.  The fabric I used is a cheap homespun, so I decided that as it was a loose blouse, that I could probably forgo making one.

I did take the precaution of  laying the pattern pieces on top of a blouse that fitted reasonably well on the shoulders before cutting.  I decided to make size 8 with a little more at the side seams for the front.

I started the shirt during the week.  I am afraid had to dedicate yesterday entirely to paperwork (at home, a year or more of sorting - should have done it at the time, but I was finishing a degree, my husband became unwell, his two staff resigned and I had to hold the fort until we could get a new person - and am still sorting out the billing and bookkeeping  side of his practice, so I can be excused for being a little behind with my paperwork! 

However, I digress:

I made most of the shirt up last week as it is pretty straightforward - some sewing everyday got it nearly to the finish point.  The shirt was finished this morning, as my reward for yesterday's diligence, with the button and buttonholes attended.

That's the front view of course, and here is the back view:

And now on me:

Front view of course. Now the back:

As I did not fit this shirt - this is a wearable muslin, I  have to admit it is no worse in fit than anything I buy - I am not very broad across the back, but need my front accommodated.  I am never going to be able to change my underlying angular shape.  I think when I move it will be fine - and I still need to be able to bend over.  And on very hot days the extra roominess is always welcome - who wants hot fabric that clings?

As the shirt is cotton homespun, I thought it might look like a bit of old sheet without a bit of care, so I did quite a lot of top stitching to make the shirt look a little more sporty.

Topstitching across collar, and a flat fell seam on yoke.

Topstitching on collar and collar facing, front band and yoke.

Back dart topstitched.

Front dart topstitched.
Sleeve finish and also sleeve head topstitched.
Buttonhole - not automatic but operator skill (me!) on an old Bernina 217n.
So that is New Look 6963.  Here are a few more pictures - more to reassure myself that when worn casually it will be alright.

Quite enough of me I think.  I do think this will be an okay wearable muslin though.

I'll move on to the pattern review now.

Pattern used:  New Look 6963 Version C.

Pattern Description - A shirt with collar variations -either a collar of collar band. Blouse has a yoke and a semi-fitted front with dart only.   The back has two versions - one is darted and the other has a pleat.  The shirt comes with sleeve variations - sleeves, short with cuff, elbow length gathered, and roll up with tab. 

Did it look like the drawing/photograph on the pattern envelope - Yes

Were the instructions easy to follow - Yes, except I tweaked the top stitching at collar and facing.

Fabric used - Cotton homespun.

Pattern alterations or changes you made - I cut out size 8 and that was still a little large across my back.  I shortened the bodice by an inch as I am a short waisted petite.

Would you sew it again?  Would you recommend it to others? - Yes

Conclusion - a lovely little shirt to add as a wardrobe basic.  I will make it again, with a few modifications to improve the fit.

My additional remarks:  A good shirt for casual weekends.

Does it go with 2 or 3 other garments I already own? - Yes, a plain white blouse goes with most things I wear.

That's it for this post :)

Sarah Liz

Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter wishes for you...

It is 9 am on Good Friday here in NSW Australia and I would like to wish all of you, wherever you are, a safe and blessed Easter season.  And if you do not celebrate Easter,  I hope that you still find this a time that replenishes you in whatever way you choose.

The photo is a picture out of my garden - the bromeliads in my garden are very happy this year and blossoming well.  Little red heads are celebrating wherever I look.  They go with the Easter Spirit I think - although I know that a lot of you are wondering when the warm weather will come - which really does normally coincide with Easter.

My Easter is going to be occupied with sorting out my paperwork - but I am going to build in a couple of reward breaks along the way to do some sewing. Which doesn't seem to have happened much this week if you only look for finished results.  But  number of things are started - amongst them the little white blouse (yes, another!) that I am making for Faye's little top sew-a-long which finishes on 7th April - for more about this-

I have other things  happening  in my sewing life - all that tedious pre-shrinking and planning that has to be done- ready for the sew your own wardrobe for a year challenge that start on Monday 1st April - and you can find out more about this challenge at

I better get on with the serious paperwork next, so I can get on with the serious sewing  that starts next week.

Sarah Liz :)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

My lovely Liebster surprise...

I had a lovely surprise this week when Far from Memoryseed - blog link   -  nominated my blog for the Liebster Blog award.  For those of you who don't know Far, she makes all sort of things from recycled fabrics or clothes which is a really eco- sustainable approach to garment or craft design.  Pop over and have a look at her  beautiful work. 

As you can imagine I am thrilled to receive this award so a very big thank you to Far.

The reason for the Liebster award is to acknowledge to efforts of new bloggers and to introduce them to new readers.  The award is a form of chain blog acknowledgement.  No-one quite knows how it started, and it seems that there are two main variations going around about what the nominee and nominator must do.

 These are:

 1. - that the nominated awardee must post 11 random facts about themselves.
     - that the nominated awardee must post 5 random facts about themselves.

2. -that the nominated awardee must answer 11 questions that the nominator asks them and post them.
    - that the nominated awardee must answer 5 questions that the nominator asks them and post them.

3.- that the nominated awardee nominate in turn 11  blogs with less than 200 followers to pass on the  Liebster award  to.
    -that the nominated awardee nominate in turn 5 new blogs to pass on the Liebster award to.
4.  Link back to the blog that nominated you for the award.

So, I am not sure which is the correct version, and I don't really mind.  What I like is the sentiment behind the award.  

I think Far is using the shorter version (5) of the Liebster award. 

Okay,  now to my part of the process:

1. The awardee (that's me) is asked to share information about themselves that is not otherwise posted on the blog.  I will post 11 random facts today and that ticks that criteria off the list.

(I have never done much "About Me" on my blog, because I have concentrated on blogging about sewing - or related areas, not really wanting to make the blog "About Me".   It looks as though I have to come blinking out of the woodwork and into the bright light of day now!).

2.  Far must ask me some questions.  I will have to wait for these questions.

3. I also have to nominate other new bloggers (who must have less than 200 followers) as part of the award conditions.  This is a seriously daunting part of the task for me.  I certainly believe in the idea of spreading the word and good feeling around about new bloggers.  The problem I have is that I like everyone's blog - they are always reflective of the person writing them, and, as you will discover later when I write "About Me"  I accept all people for who and what they are unjudgementally.

So, if a blog is only written once a month, by someone who is perhaps struggling with lots of life issues and only has one or two followers, I find that as good a blog as one written by someone with more time, life skills and personal resources and perhaps a huge social circle, who can create an excellent daily blog.  Because a blog is reflective of the person writing it, and I do not like to judge or criticise another fellow blogger - I prefer acceptance and positive acknowledgement of another person.

A lot to do, but  as Far pointed out, I don't have to do this straight away, so I shall be watching blogs over the next few months and nominating some of you.  If you are interested in me finding you, please do let me know, cos it is not always easy to find the new bloggers.  Do this by comment or by following me ( and no, I am not "touting for new followers", but when I have a follower, I always reciprocate by following your blog - to me it is civil and polite, and we all have much to learn and share with each other).

What I will do today is post the Eleven random facts about me.  For me, this is probably the most difficult part of the challenge as I am not really an out there sort of "About Me" type of person.  AND - I AM A VERY ORDINARY PERSON, JUST LIKE YOU!

 So, I shall put the kettle on, settle down, and get it over and done with :)   Back soon.


1. The first thing I do before writing a blog post is make myself a cup of tea.

2.   I was born in the United Kingdom

British coat of arms
3.  I emigrated to Australa at age 10.

Australian coat of arms

4.  I have lived in many places in Australia including Alice Springs.

Road through central Alice Springs, N.T. Australia.

(Image sourced from Territory/Alice Springs/photo 1226813.htm.)

5.  I am married to a lovely man who works too hard.  

My husband.
(this sculpture was done by one of clients who was an art student.  After she made it she gave it to him.  We dont't think she knew what to do with it.  Neither do we.  So it sits in a little corner.)

(P.S. we don't have children unfortunately as we married later in life).

6. My first career was in nursing.

My original registration badge.

7. I have also completed a Bachelor of Arts (Honours 1st Class) in Screen (media) Studies and Drama.

Tragedy/comedy masks.

(image sourced from ).

8. While studying I also made wedding dresses. 

simple wedding dress I made

9. I live in an old character house with lots of nooks and crannies and leadlight making it awkward to find the right light and space for photographs for the blog.

The front door and porch
10.  I also hold  a graduate diploma in Psychology.

(Understanding CBT byt Szymanska, K and Palmer S.  Full of useful techniques for stressed out sewists!)

When all else fails: 

11.  I keep a stash of chocolate hidden in my sewing nook (where the lovely h won't find it) under some knitting catalogues for those trying times.

Nothing in here of interest
Except underneath.
That's quite enough about me for one day!

Now back to the Liebster award.  Once again, I want to thank Fay for nominating me.  Its so lovely knowing that people actually like and enjoy my blog - which is one of the main reasons I write it.

I will be nominating blogs that have less than 200 followers who  might want to be nominated for this award.  If you do, please, please, please help me by letting me know of your existence!

Until I have fulfilled all the criteria of this award (which may take me some time), I feel uncomfortable posting the award on the sidebar of my blog.

So, I am going to put the Honourary Liebster Blog Award on my blog. That way my conscience is satisfied.

And you might feel more comfortable with this version too - so let me know!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Guidelines for Form, Style and Colour in 1928 (8)...

Hello everyone,

I found an old book a few years ago "THE CUTTER'S GUIDE" A MANUAL OF DRESSCUTTING AND LADIES' TAILORING, by M.E. Roberts, published in Sydney in 1928.  At the back of the book, I found guidelines for form (what we now call style) and colour, and I'm sharing these with you over the next few weeks.

This guide was written specifically for women's styling. The language used is so different from our very direct way of speaking ninety years later, but the principles outlined  are as sound now as they were then (with the exception of some, which just amuse us now.  So, whatever you think of the ideas,  please enjoy them :)

image sourced from

This week I'll be sharing some of the ideas about colour that were current in 1928.

The first part of the section talks about the art and science of colour from  theoretical, philosophical and practical perspectives and is probably not so useful or fun to read as the sections I have chosen.  It goes into how to colour mix yarns in weaving, as colour is light rays and nothing substantial as such.  The author writes that  a knowledge of the theoretical basis of colour and how to create harmony is necessary to create attractive garments.

So, starting  the excerpt from Chapter XX1 at 6.

6.  When any colours that are out of harmony are used in dress material the eye naturally makes up the defect of itself, and the task of doing that is so painful to the sight of a sensitive person as the placing of some nauseous stuff on the tongue is to the taste of another; and just as one can hardly explain why she likes the taste of one thing on her palate more than another, so it is difficult to explain taste in colours.  Many people make beautiful harmonies in colours simply because they trust nature's own prisms and please their own eyes.

7.  As red, yellow, and blue cannot be used together in a garment - unless woven in tiny threads into one piece of material - with anything but a crude effect, the laws governing the harmony and contrast of coloured rays are not the only aspect of the subject to be considered by those who wish to dress suitably.

8.  Each colour has an expression and character of its own, and the colour of a garment should be chosen with a view to the character which the wearer wishes to present.  For instance, pink stands for tenderness, innocence, softness, gentleness - especially when the material is soft and woolly.  Therefor a woman does not wear a gown of bright pink cashmere or other woollen material in the street any more than she would wear her heart on her sleeve.

9.  The only people so clothed are those who quite apparently have no gentleness, or softness in their squalid home surroundings, and the attraction of such a garment is  the contrast to their sordid lives.  Some pinks, made less soft by the cotton foundation and a toning down of white mixture, are permissible, but are not worn by women whose lives have made them strong and vigorous.

image sourced from  ....the colour of the year was emerald perhaps???   

Well, strong words indeed!  I must admit to a little smile from time to time, but also glad that perhaps we are not so judgemental nowadays as to think that a bright pink means that the person is a harsh sort of slothful harridan.
And I don't know what Ms Roberts would think of colour blocking. Not much I suspect.

( I remember the phrase blue and green must not be seen together when I was very young, but it can look quite stunning).

More next week on the characteristics of colour according to one of the 1928 worldviews.

Sarah Liz

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Blouse too tight - a quick fix solution.

 It's that time of the afternoon here in OZ - the time that I enjoy sitting down with a nice cup of tea and writing my blog and visiting yours.

As its close to Easter, I may even indulge:

 Today I want to thank everyone who has commented that they enjoy my blog - thank you so much  :)

I also want to show you how to save a blouse that might be a bit too tight over that trouble area, the tummy - the bit that goes in and out, changes at whim and never quite seems to do what we want it to do.  Or perhaps you are in the early stages of pregnancy and just want a little more room.

Sometimes the garment we have made is tight - we didn't fit it well enough, or perhaps fitted it too well - and we don't always remember to cut extra on the side seam, 'cos its never going to happen, is it?

Or, perhaps you have expanded out of a previously loved shirt.

Here is my solution - a godet - I love them because they can be so useful.

So, here goes:

Open up your shirt seam to above the area of tightness (perhaps to just above it).

Open up blouse seam where it is tight.
Prepare a godet piece - I have one I frequently use at the back of a skirt.  I am going to use that, but fold out some of the fullness, which is too much for the effect I want.

My useful godet insert.
Godets are often cut on the bias, as my pattern piece indicates.  That gives them a nice drape, but I have frequently used them on the straight grain if I don't have enough material for a bias piece.  The hang is different - the straight grain gives a more pleat like effect (and also doesn't drop over time).

I don't want such a full godet in the blouse, so I have folded it in half.  I am going to use a straight grain as I don't have many scraps for this demonstration.  The length is about right.

Godet folded in half - fabric also cut.

The smaller godet.
Now I have cut my godet pieces (you will need two, one for each side seam of your tight blouse) it is time to insert them.

I am assuming the blouse has already been overlocked, so the first thing I do is overlock the godet pieces.

Overlocked godet.

Then insert them:

Inserted godet from the inside.

Press seams, I also anchor the top of the godet with a little bar tack, or some hand stitches so it doesn't flop everywhere:

Bar tacks to top of godet at left and right, just below the pins.
 Turn over, and there you have it, a godet insert:

Godet insert right side.

 Hem the blouse and godet in the normal way - of course, if it is already hemmed, just hem the godet - you may have to get inventive about how in that situation.  And don't forget the godet is slightly flared, so all the hem rules for slightly curved hems apply.

The finished godet.
I have pinned my blouse insert onto a white t-shirt on my dummy to show you what it would look like.  Tight tummy problem solved.

I have done this demonstration in two colours so that you can see the insert.  If the insert was white like the blouse, it would blend in well.

Contrast colour godets can also have their decorative uses.  You may like the effect, and perhaps add some top stitching elsewhere in the garment to co-ordinate with the godet.

Godets are also useful in jackets - they can make a small bottom look curvy. Or, if your jacket is too tight over a larger bottom - a godet could work.

Sarah Liz :)