Friday, May 31, 2013

Also Making a Muslin

Simplicity 4032
The 2013 Style the Stash Sew A Long starts tomorrow on the 1st June.  For those of you new to this blog, this is a small sew-a-long for stashists and stashaholics who want some encouragement to use their stashes.  To see what we are up to, visit:

I really need to make a basic casual wardrobe capsule and thought I would start with a casual jacket.

This pattern is sized for knits and  I am going to use a lightweight polar fleece.  I'm not that familiar with sewing knits so I am going to make up a muslin first out of the scraps left over from the warm cosy pants.

I also don't know how Simplicity's sizes work with my shape, so that is another good reason to test the pattern.

Although it's not fun, I traced the pattern pieces in the size I wanted - that way, if I am way off track, I still have the pattern to retrace in another size.
Facing traced off and cut
I have marked the waistline on back and side front pieces with a tacked line so that I can assess where this sits on my body.
Waistline marked in a wobbly tacking!
Now I'm ready to sew the muslin.  I find muslin's quite boring to make, so I think that is why I also want to make up my instant gratification pants (see yesterday's post).

Ready to Sew...

I hope to have this made by early next week, ready to make up the "Real Thing".

Happy Sewing everyone, where ever you are :)

Sarah Liz

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Patterned Trouser Temptation

A walk on the wild side
Hello everybody,

It's well known that I am a very classic and conservative dresser.  I do not do trends.  I can't even bring myself to make a red skirt, even though I have  the  fabric in my stash.

So why have I succumbed to the patterned pants trend?

I somehow like this tribal look meets kaleidoscope print.  It's really a bit bright for me, but I am going to throw caution to the wind and live dangerously for once in my life.

I don't think I would make this fabric up in a tailored trouser, but I think I am rather tempted by the Cut and Sew and Go in One Hour approach, after months of making tedious trouser muslins.  A little bit of instant gratification is called for.

And any fitting imperfections are going to be lost in the busyness of this print...

I'm going to use a McCall's  legging pattern again, cut larger so that these become slim fitting pants.  The front and back are in one piece - which will work well with this very busy pattern.

McCalls 6173.
I think it is a case of never say never in the sewing world :).  I'm off to pre-shrink the fabric now .

Happy sewing all:)

Sarah Liz

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

New Lounge Pants being worn.

Yesterday I quickly made some lounge pants - very warm, cosy, snuggly, polar fleece rug up pants for cooler winter nights - my joints do feel the cold :).

I used a pattern for leggings as the basis of these pants.  My logic for this choice was - my legs are thin, all pants patterns are too large in the legs, why not use skinny leggings to get a slim fit pant.

McCalls M6173
Leggings are not what I wear, for a variety of reasons, but I am glad I used them for these trousers as the version I made did not have any side seams!  One less piece of cutting and sewing...

Front and Back in one piece.
As you can see, this means that the side is completely straight - which is good for me, because I am also completely straight from the hips down.  I began to feel quite optimistic that these would be okay.

As I did not want a tight legging look, I cut out a size bigger than my measurements would suggest.  I also knew that polar fleece is quite thick and would take up a little bit of seam space.  I also added 21/2 inches at the waist as these are designed to be low waisted.  That does not work for me - things have a tendency to slide down my slender hips at the best of times without starting there in the first place.

As I have not sewn much with polar fleece - and my first attempt was a little hit and miss - I was not overly enthusiastic about being perfect with these pants.  I also did not know how they would fit - and I did not want to make a muslin -- in fact couldn't as I didn't have the right material to do it with -- other than what I was using --which is cheap in any case.  So I just quickly made them up.

As these were trial pants, I did not overlock or neaten the seams - polar fleece does not fray in any case, but I like things to look "finished" normally.  

Then I tried them on:

(Hard to look relaxed in these self timed photos - I always feel a little silly and self conscious).

Lovely fit around the tummy, bit baggy and slouchy around the legs, but I rather like that relaxed look - it sort of enforces the feeling that these are from relaxing and feeling comfortable in.  I also wanted them quite long - slim pants tend to creep up when sitting down - and I don't want any chilly breezes around my ankles :)

Back view
Once again, the hip area fits well.  If I wanted something more fitted I would take in the inner side seam.  I may even attempt to make this pattern up  in a stretch woven- I think, given my build, that would work for me.

Talking build, those of you who have been following the body shape guidelines - if you look at my back you can see I am an inverted triangle, very angular shoulders, and not much shape through waist and hip.  I'm also borderline petite.

We have not discussed shoulder lines yet - but some people have straight shoulders and some sloped, and some rounded.

Okay, back to the garment - I inserted a piece of lace into the back of the pants, so I would know how to put them on - especially important when you are in a hurry at the end of the day.

These pants have elastic inserted into a fold over waistband.  For those of you who are new to sewing, if you need to insert elastic into a fold over waistband, use a bodkin.

Bodkin with Elastic threaded through

Don't forget to hold onto the other end of the elastic while threading the first end through - I usually pin it down onto the seam allowance.  Also, make sure the elastic doesn't twist while threading through.

I made a second pair of pants, and timed them - from cut to end sewing 60 minutes. 

Next time I make these pants I will pay attention to finishing, because I do like a nice finish.  So these will then take two hours to make.

But for now, these two pairs  are fine, and I was thrilled to have something warm and snuggly to wear last night.  I can't see the finish when I am wearing them. 

Have a good day wherever you are,

Sarah Liz :)

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Busy day sewing...and setting up the other blog...

Every evening for the last fortnight I have come home and wished I had comfy, warm, pants to wear for relaxing.  Come to think of that, I think I said that last year as well.

So I decided to get on with it and  managed to make two pairs of comfy house/lounging pants today.   They are really wearable muslins because I wanted to test a new pattern.  I made them both out of polar fleece. 

I used a leggings pattern as I thought a larger size would just turn out to be slim fitting trousers on me.  I was right.  This was the pattern I used:

McCalls 6173
The pants look better on than the photo above suggests, but as it is getting late here and I haven't had dinner, I'll take a photo with me in them tomorrow.

For those of you in the 2013 Style The Stash Sew A Long the blog is up and running.  This is the link:

I'll post more tomorrow,

Do have a good day or evening wherever you are<

Sarah Liz :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

My First Blog Button Coded!

As some of you know I am facilitating a Stash Busting Sew-A-Long - the 2013 Style the Stash Sew-A-Long - which needed a button so you can add it to your sidebar and connect through to see what we are up to - or join us, if you want to.  I'll give you details at the end of the post.

You wouldn't think that such a simple little text button like this could have caused me hours and hours and hours of headaches.  Yes, I spent about two working days (about 16 hours) on working out how to make and code and image button for the 2013 Style The Stash Sew-A-Long which I am facilitating:


This was my first attempt at making a button.  I had never used photoshop before and had no idea how to make an image button or how to code it.

So I had several attempts and several woeful failures.

I decided to keep the first button simple, text and that's it .  How simple that should be.  I knew I needed an image file and I knew that photoshop could save text as image files.  But, I had beginners luck and I couldn't get photoshop to write text.

 Undaunted, and after spending a few hours on the internet, I discovered that there was a way of saving Word documents into image documents.  You create the document, upload it as a web page, and then download it as an image.  Simple, I thought.  And I know how to write text in word. So here was my first attempt:

Not sure why the line was in, but it was.  Next I uploaded and downloaded as an image.  It came back with pink writing on a light brown background.  Not what I wanted, but who was I to argue.  I decided to try again.

This time I managed to keep the image pink text on white background.  Success, I thought.  So, I uploaded to picmonkey for resizing.  Well, I don't know why uploading, downloading and uploading should change an image, but this is what I got next:

Colourful, but a little closely cropped, and I'm not sure that I wanted such a dramatic looking button.

So, I tried again.  With Photoshop.  This is what I managed to make - with lots of attempts - and by now a very serious headache - to get the text within the framework of my little box.

Actually I had no idea why I couldn't use photoshop the first time, because the second time it was quite easy.  Some little gremlin somewhere I would think.

The headache needed attention, and I was quite fed up by now, so it was time for:

The next day I decided to attempt to code my text image.  I found lots of helpful how to do its on various Blogger sites.  Papers in hand, I decided an hour or so of concentration would see the job done.

Coding an image requires that the image be uploaded to a photo service such as Flickr.  I don't have a Flickr account as our web shield service doesn't allow it unless I ask for permission.  As I really don't need Flickr, I read through the notes and found you could use Blogger/Picasa as your image source.

So I uploaded the image to a draft file.  Got my URL code in HTML.  Felt proud of myself.  Comes before the inevitable fall.

I followed the template and coded the button.  I placed the code in the widget section of Blogger layout.  The image appeared on my sidebar.  No code for you to grab the button, but the code text box was there.

Well, headache returned.  More Chocolate needed...

The helpful notes all told me that if something was amiss, go back and try again, as something was probably not quite in the right order.  Dutifully I did so.

Same result.  Bigger Headache.  Decided that really a button wasn't that necessary.

Some days later, with headache starting to be a dim memory, I  googled  "why doesn't my button work" .  Well, it seems that the HTML code has altered and it is now HTML 5.  I looked at some buttons that I know from blogs I visit, , and sure enough, their  grab text boxes had become empty as well.

I was on to something.  Would have preferred to have had this knowledge from the word go.  But I didn't.  Deciding to not waste emotional energy on this thought, I decided instead:  "Right, I thought, lets have another headache".  And I did...

First I had to find a web based photo hosting service that Webshield would allow.  Photobucket seems to be okay - I think because they are a photoediting service as well.  Crafty work around there to outwit Webshield.  I register and upload my image.

I code my image.  I put it up.  Something is not right.  It does not put the image up.  This is serious chocolate territory.  I'm fed up again.

I try again.  I use another set of instructions.  They are very similar but slightly different.  This should work, I tell myself.  It didn't.

Cook dinner.  Eat dinner with husband. Load dishwasher.  Take headache back to the computer and study the two code templates.  Find the error - the first code had an example website written in and the helpful tutorial had forgotten to say take that out.  Or I didn't read it or comprehend it at the time.  I took it out.  

The button didn't work.

I tried again, working out maybe I had taken a bit too much out.

The button worked.   I put it on the website and the image and text  box appeared.  I then cut and paste the grab code and put in in my personal blog.  The the stylethestashsewalong blog site.

I didn't believe it.  I still don't.  I'm going to try again.

The button works.

So if you go to you can grab yours as well.
(And if you want to take part there is still room - email me

I hope it works for you.  If not:

More chocolate I think...

Sarah Liz :)

P.S:  if you want to make your own button, these are the blogs I visited for instructions about the updated code:

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Chat, Welcome to New Followers, Weekly Blog Plans...

Hello everyone;

This is the time of week I stop and sit down with a cup of coffee and review last week's blogs and write up next weeks schedule. It's also the time of week where I welcome new followers.  This week I would like to welcome Stephen.


Last week I wrote about body shapes and the styles that would work best for those shapes so that the positive aspects of your shape is enhanced, and the negative aspects diminished.  This is an introductory guide only  and from your spirited comments it seems more discussions are needed in the future.  I won't be able to do that next week because I have to work on the 2013 Style The Stash Sew A Long Blog.  But I will return to this subject in future posts.  I am thrilled you enjoyed them :)


 Next week I will have to spend some time working on the site for the stash busting sew-a-long that I am hosting. A separate blog has been established:

This means I will not have as much time to spend on this blog so I am not sure yet what I will post.

For those of you that have said you would like to take part in this sew-a-long, please email me at so I can add you to as a contributor to the blog. 

If you have only just found out about this sew-a-long (which runs 1st June to Dec) and would like to join, there is still room for you.  Just send me an email or comment below.

Have a great week everyone,

Sarah Liz :)


Saturday, May 25, 2013

StyleTheStashSewALong and Winter Knitting

Another week has gone by and I don't seem to have got much sewing done - but then I have been busy organising the 2013 Style The Stash Sew-A-Long which starts on June 1st and runs until December 31st.  The blog is up although it is still under construction you are welcome to post - if you have indicated that you would like to participate please email me with your email address so that I can add you to the blog contributors.  My email is  This is the link for the 2013 Style The Stash Sew A Long:

I've also been working on my knitting - I started a big, warm, woolly cardigan in January because I knew it would take me a while to finish it - by which time winter would be here ( I live in Australia).  I was right, it has taken time, and I've got lots of bits.  I'm working on the collar now, then it will be finished except for all the darning in of ends and sewing up.  Not my favourite job :)

The back
The cardigan is made out of two yarns - I found 5 balls of lovely mohair - not enough to make the garment, so I added another yarn.  In real life the stripes are not quite so obvious.

The fronts - with lots of darning in, and my first ever knitted pockets!
And the sleeves...
I'll catch up with you all tomorrow and let you know what's going to be on the blog next week,

Until then, have a great day or evening wherever you are

Sarah Liz :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Style the Stash Update


Hi Everyone,

We have some new participants in the 2013 Style The Stash Sew-A-Long:

Natalea :http://

Lisa Garcia is also joining us - I don't think Lisa has a blog - let me know if you do Lisa.

Another Mary would also like to join us privately, and she does not have a blog.

I'll be posting the full list of participants on the 1st June.

Faye wondered how to post pictures of finished stash projects and wondered if I would have a separate blog or whether pictures should be emailed to me.  I thought setting up a separate blog (hosted by me on behalf of us all) was a wonderful idea - thank you, Faye.

I have set up a blog with a very basic introduction and instructions on how to post directly to the blog.
To directly post to the blog you will need to send me an email - so I can add you as a contributor.

The sew-a-long blog address is  See you all over there...

Sarah Liz :)

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Body Shapes Discussion and your comments...

Hello Everyone

I've had quite a few comments about body shapes - some of you can see your own shape, and some are not so easily seeing their own shapes, so I thought a little discussion might help.

The last series has introduced the concept of body shape.  I haven't totally finished yet but every so often will be introducing new posts to further clarify shape analysis - along with other aspects of style.  I plan to do this throughout the rest of the year when time permits.


Every one has their own unique combination of curves and angles - and not one shape template can accommodate all the different shapes and size combinations in the world.

They are meant as a guide only - really you can break the shapes down into 3 main categories:

Bottom Heavy                Top Heavy                        Straighter Shape


Short (Petite, has a slightly different shape)




Scale  - Frame size and weight/build.

Today's quick sketch is intended to show just what happens when a couple of these shape variables are present.  Pretend these rectangles represent people. The top row is all a short height, the bottom row is a taller height. There is a vast difference between the petite slim rectangle shown above (1, top left hand corner) and the larger, taller, rectangle (6, bottom left hand corner). And there is a vast difference even in the same height groups between slim (1, 4) and heavier build (3, 6). I used  a rectangle shape because it is quick and easy to draw, and illustrates the principle.  If you are an hourglass, pear/triangle, inverted triangle, round/apple/diamond/oblong shape then the same principles apply.


You can be taller or shorter - Petites also have a slightly different shape - being shorter, there is not so much space between shoulders, ribs, hips so everything tends to be more compact.  This means that clothes actually need a different cut than those for taller people. 

Frame size and weight is important as well.   Some of us have small frames and builds, and some of us larger frames and builds.  Multiply that by the number of basic body shapes and that is a lot of subtle differences!


Then you can also have a combination of shapes.  You may be bottom heavy (a pear or triangle) with a large bust - so you might wonder if you are an hourglass.  What you need to do is combine ideas from both sorts of shapes so that you look good.

Or you might be a straight shape (rectangle, column) and have more curve than the more angular rectangle.  That means you might have a bigger bust, slightly more defined waist and curvier bottom than the standard rectangle.  Use the guidelines for the rectangle, but also make sure you define your waist or you will look larger than you are - perhaps also check the  hourglass guidelines.


I also want to share a comment with you that Mary from posted last night, because what she has raised is very relevant - and she has put it very well:

"Petites are also either proportionate or not. Some petites have long legs in proportion to their torso, while others have "regular" leg length. Same applies to arms, torso length etc. If you have a proportionate body type, while being petite, your work in alterations is a bit easier"

(I think this goes for all shapes - we all know that patterns are made for the "regular shape"  - which is a statistical average of shapes - so how many of us really have that? Every body type can have different proportions)

While today's discussion is just a broad one about shape I would also like to post the rest of Mary's comment - and this illustrates especially the problems that petites can have using regular patterns, but also more broadly the problems all of us have at one time or another with patterns - because very few of us have the statistical shape.

I remove length above my bust, sometimes below my bust, and above and below the knee. I also do a narrow shoulder adjustment, and change the length of sleeves. Fitting the back is something I am now working on...I get lots of extra fabric in the small of my back. 

I think Petite shapes - and while there is a petite shape, there are also variations in frame size, weight, and maybe overlaps with other body shapes, these are the sort of challenges petites face - everything is compacted!

Thanks everyone for your comments about body shapes - some of the issues raised I will attempt to discuss in later blogs - comments and discussions welcome...

Sarah Liz :-)  


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Body Shape Style Guide - The Petite Figure

Today I am going to talk about the Petite figure.  Petite means that your height is 5'4"(162.5 cm)  or under.  If you are a petite you figure is subtly different from that of a taller lady - you have broadish shoulders and have a compact shape.  You may also have characteristics of the 5 body shapes already mentioned - in which case use the appropriate body shape style suggestions  in addition to the guidelines I am about to give you here.

The main goal for the Petite is to create the illusion of height while at the same time not overwhelming the figure with too much fullness or fabric.

Petites often have problems being taken seriously, so these guidelines are also useful in situations where you want to create more authority in your persona.


  • One colour from head to feet will create length and proportion and give you a better silhouette.
  • Dark neutrals head to toe will make you look taller and thinner.
  • You will need slightly shorter tops and jackets. Make sure that jackets do not go below the hips.  Items with detail under the bust will create a better proportion.  
  • Transparent fabric (chiffon, mesh and so on) is good for layering without adding bulk - thus keeping the lines of the body.
  • Patterns with vertical lines, or garments with vertical seams will add the illusion of height.
  • Legs are not very long, so hemlines must take this into consideration.  Shorter lengths look good.  If floor length, add a slit  to allow the eye to move up - this gives the legs some length.
  • Wear slim leg pants (trousers) as this adds length to the legs.  
  • Pants and jeans look better sitting slightly higher on the waist as this lengthens legs.
  • No hipster pants and no cuffs at the hem - legs look shorter.
  • Make sure your trousers are not too long - hems that taper into and cut of at the ankle add length.  If wearing longer pants, make sure that the pants are at least half an inch of the floor.
  • To look taller, wear neutral coloured shoes with heels, or peep-toe heeled shoes in the same colour as your outfit.
  • Allow the neck to show as this elongates the figure.  Don't wear bulky scarves around the neck.
  • Look taller and slimmer by maintaining a good posture.
Some of you have had trouble working out what shape you are - it could be because you are a Petite, and often many image books do not cover this shape - although some sewing books do!

Until tomorrow,

Sarah Liz :)


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Body Shape Style Guide - The Rectangle Figure

This is the last figure shape I will be discussing in this series - although I will be posting some ideas for petite (under 5'4") figures tomorrow.

The rectangle is the straight up and down figure, with minimal waist.  She can be quite slender and boyish or a stockier build.  Hips and shoulders are in line and bust, waist and hip measurements are quite similar - although some rectangles can have a larger bust.  In short, she doesn't have much of a defined waistline.  The body is angular and legs can be quite long. Her bottom and hips are usually flat.

This figure looks great in trousers (pants), although they are usually too small at the waist if they fit her hips.  Her biggest challenge is to add curves to her shape.

I'll do this figure type  in two sections, because I think the slim athletic boyish rectangle is vastly different from the mature rectangle figure who tends to carry weight around her mid section.  That's the midlife figure, ladies!


TROUSERS/PANTS: Can wear lots of styles of pants.
  • Classic slim straight legged pants.
  • Pockets into the side seam or pockets at the hips to visually create a curved illusion.
  • Boot cut pants also add the illusion of curves.
  • If not shortwaisted, a high waisted pant with wide legs and a belt will create an illusion of a waist.
  • Flared pants 
  • Skinny jeans (only if you are slim).     
  • Avoid straight up and down sheaths - they'll just make you look like a box shape.
  • Princess seams to add contours to your shape.
  • To add curves use an A-Line shape, or add a ruffles and flounces if you are really angular.
  • End skirts and dresses at the knee - make sure there is some volume.
  •  Fit your top and flare your skirt to make it look as though you have a waist.
  • You can wear halter necks well.
  • Don't wear vertical lines as this emphasises your straight shape.     
  • Once again, use princess seams to visually add curves and contours.
  • Empire waist tops and jackets which skim the waist work
  • Or add a waist by wearing a top or jacket with a peplum
  • Wrap jacket or blouse with a shawl collar
  • Sharp, tailored jackets also work.
  • Don't wear anything that makes you look boxy or shapeless - boxy jackets or oversized slouchy or long boy friend blazers.      


  • Flat fronted trousers do not add to the mid section
  • Low waisted trouser may also work - but watch the tummy - you don't want a tummy bulge over the top of the waistband.
  • Bootleg cuts work well.
  • Jeans or jean style trousers look good on your slim hips
  • Princess seaming
  • Semi fitted shirts
  • Shaped twinsets 
  • Vests
  • Necklines - Square or V look best  
  • Tailored jacket with revers
  • Classic tailored edge to edge jacket. 
  • Princess seams add curves
  • Empire waists work as they bypass the mid section
  • Shifts and coat style dresses  
  • Straight or pencil skirts
  • Princess seams with some flare
  • Panelled skirts with flare or with godet inserts
  • Box pleats   
I'm a rectangle shape (with slightly inverted triangle tendencies), in case you have been wondering what figure type I am.
Tomorrow I will write briefly on the what the petite lady should do to add much needed height.  
Take care everyone,
Sarah Liz :-)