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


  1. Some lovely thoughts here. And some interesting sentiments about using what you have. Great post.

  2. I agree with BeaJay. I love your welcome to new followers and the sentiments you expressed about blogging. Very lovely.

    1. Oh, thank you very much - I am very touched by your thoughts.

  3. Happy Easter - loved reading your post this morning, always a great read...J

    1. Happy Easter Judith - I am glad you enjoy reading the post - it's why I do them - nice to hear that people do enjoy them.

  4. What a nice touch to welcome your new followers. Thank you! Hey...looks like you've got this blog thing down pat :). Take care!

    1. Thank you as well. Not quite sure if I have quite mastered blogging yet, but I'll keep trying!

  5. Hello, Thankyou for your lovely welcome ! I have over the years found through trial and error how the pattern companies fit so differently for the same size - so this is great info which I wish I had known 20 years ago ! I find vogue run quite large but Burda , New Look and Kwik Sew are better. Now I know it is because they are European patterns. Interestingly though I sewed a butterick shirt which was quite close fitting which was surprise but the three jacket patterns I sewed were really large. I now look at the finished measurements printed on the pattern sheet which has been a huge help.

  6. Hi Janine, thanks for your comment - yes, do read the envelope because it tells you things that sometimes help (mind you, I sometimes forget and charge enthusiastically into a new project - then it doesn't work out!). Not only do pattern companies vary in their shapes (within size categories) but you also need to look at what the desing is, and how much design ease has been built into the garment. The measurements would help out there, as would looking at what sort of style it is. Glad you have worked out what to do.

  7. Hello SarahLiz, thankyou for your lovely welcome! A few comments I would like to add to this discussion; I am a plus petite and have been playing around with drafting my own patterns from scratch. Bonfit, Surefit and Haslam as well as from various books. All efforts were disappointing but recently I purchased a book about fitting for plus sizes, and it explains how commensurately more ease is required. I re-measured myself and added on the extra ease before I began drafting. Much better (though much work to be done). Seemingly the pattern industry does not fully appreciate that more flesh requires more jiggle room, so any larger sewers among you may appreciate this thought. Secondly, be careful of independent designers. I recently made a muslin for a Serendipity Studios dress, choosing size 18 as per measurements on the envelope. I could not get the muslin on! Puzzled I got out the tape measure - yes, the pattern pieces measured exactly my measurement. No ease was included AT ALL. The pattern envelope did NOT indicate this was the finished measurement. I have since found out the designer is tiny herself and whilst the designs are beautiful, she does not understand how to grade patterns for larger sewers. So please be on guard when trying indie patterns (I would have to go up 2 sizes and the pattern does not go that big). Sorry for such a long comment!

    1. Hi Evanabella, you have raised some very interesting points about many things. I would like to point these out on a post for other blog readers, if that is okay with you.

    2. Absolutely, SarahLiz! You are a wonderful communicator, please use the above, and any future points I may be able to contribute, in your blogs. Have a nice day.

    3. Thank you, and you have a nice day as well.

  8. Always there are food for thought with your posts Sarah Liz :) Thank you. Hope you have a great week ahead :)

    1. Hello Far, thank you for both of your thoughts Far. You have a lovely week as well.


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