Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday's Chat and Welcome to New Followers

Another week has passed by very quickly - and every week at this time, I welcome new followers to my blog.  Most new followers have come via Bloglovin - so hello to Chris H , Thay Thay, Bluegingerdoll, Tracey Bell, EmilyC.  I think two more people have also followed via Bloglovin - but I have no names for you - but welcome anyway.

My blog is a fairly eclectic approach to my sewing problems as well as my sewing success stories.  It also helps to quantify what I actually do make - and at the end of the month, although I feel like I have not achieved much except making trouser muslins, I have made a fleecy jacket, vest and a corduroy skirt.

My learning this week has been about trousers - I have always found the Big 4's patterns to be a bit big for me - but I am learning how to alter vital areas of the pant - the crotch.  What I don't like is the time and energy invested in making muslins and then altering the pattern again, then doing another muslin.  This can take hours, and I really don't have that sort of time.  Nor do I enjoy it.  So next week I am going to road test a Burda Petite pattern.  I am a borderline petite, and I am wondering if the shape is nearer to my shape and if the fitting issues will be less.

Burda 7058, Miss Petite
I chose this pattern because it is so basic - just plain tapered pants with dart and side zip. This pattern could be used as a sloper which could be used as the basis for different styles of pant.

And hopefully there will be something in my trouser experiences that can help you too:)

I have cut out another skirt for the 2013 Style the Stash Sew A Long - so I will be making that up as well.

Our Stash Buster is now nearing the end of it's first month - and I can't believe how much stash has been turned into gorgeous garments, crafts and furnishings.  Do take a look at our Gallery:

I'll also be showing you how I sometimes use snoop shopping for inspiration about how to restyle my wardrobe.

Do have a good week everyone, wherever you are:)

Saturday, June 29, 2013

June Skirt Finished

Some of you who are following this blog may also be aware that I am facilitating the 2013 Style the Stash Sew A Long:

This is a laid back sew-a-long with no rules or pledges, just a desire to sew up fabrics in the stash with other sewists.  There is a general aim to make one item a month, but if it isn't completed, the next month is okay.

We are holding this sew-a-long for another six months - so if you would like to join us please send me an email:

As well as making trouser muslins over the last few weeks, I have also made a skirt.   It is from a Butterick pattern I have hoarded for years, McCall's M5335.

McCalls M5335
I've used a piece of baby wale corduroy.  It is not good quality so it was perfect to use for a test/wearable muslin.  As it is black, it is a little hard to see the detail - but it's just a plain, straight, skirt with two front darts, nothing much to really see:

Skirt Front
The back has a godet insertion, which I really like - it sort of gives a flirty flare to the back while not revealing any of your leg - and it also allows for quite a bit of movement, unlike a kick pleat.  I do tend to like skirts I can stride in without worrying about the little rip sound you can get with some kick pleats and splits...

Skirt Back
I've angled the skirt slightly and pulled the godet forward so that you can see it - otherwise it would just merge into the black.

Sarah Liz :)

Friday, June 28, 2013

My Vintage Raincoat

The last few days have been very wet and the next few days are also going to be very wet.  Not at all to my liking.  The only bit I like is wearing my vintage raincoat - I tend to wear it all the time if the weather is rain iffy, as I happen to also like it :)

Vintage raincoat

I purchased it from a thrift shop - St Vincents de Paul, for $6.00.  I am not sure what era it is from.  the label inside say Junior Look, so I would say very early 70's.  The sizing indicates that as well.

I love the smocked look across the front and back - in reality it is not smocked but has multiple rows of stitching on elastic to give a shirred look.  The cuffs are treated the same way.  It buttons down the front:

Front detail
And here is me wearing it - I have a very practical approach to rain - dress for it, let your hair go curly (it's not going to behave well in any case when it gets wet) and wear practical shoes that keep the water out - I wear my androgynous lace ups :)

But I don't think I look androgynous at all - just well kitted out for yet another really tedious wet day :)

Now to find the umbrella...

Sarah Liz :)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Trouser Muslins and Sewing Plans

Making trousers seems to cause quite a few of us some grief as they are not easy to fit.  Mind you, buying RTW causes even more grief sometimes - and I am happier sitting quietly at home solving fitting problems than being in a noisy shopping environment.

I have plenty of trousers to get me by which means I can take my time with making trousers that I want to make. 

The first pair I want to make are Kwik Sew 3853.  I have made a pair of Kwik Sew pants before, but being a novice, the fit was not that good.  Strangely though, I wear them quite a bit around the house for doing the chores as they are comfortable and I like them more than my old RTW house pants.

Kwik Sew 3853
I like the front of these pants - they are quite roomy, but then they are in the photo as well.  I cut size Small for most of the trousers and just cut a little large on the waist.  (I'm looking fed up in these photos because I was fed up with never ending muslins with not a solution in site - but you all know now that my pants story has a happy ending.

The back is disappointing on me.  The legs are far too big and baggy.  I suspect I should go down to the extra small and just add a little extra at the waist. 

Nancy Zieman says that pants/trouser patterns are always too baggy in the leg and to go down a size smaller than your measurements suggest - and I think this picture proves she is right.  (Book: Pattern Fitting with Confidence).

I am going to go back to this pattern and quickly redo with making alterations in leg and crotch area - I won't invest too much time, as my first pair of trousers will only be made from cheap cotton drill.  If the alterations work, and the pant looks good, I'll make a pair in soft corduroy going into next winter.

The next muslin I made up was form Kwik Sew patterrn 3363.

Kwik Sew 3363

My face again says it all :).  Muslin fatigue ! I like these pants but there is some pulling across the tummy area.  I need to work out why - I don't usually have this problem.  Horizontal wrinkles usually indicate tightness somewhere - but again, I have never had this problem with any other trouser pattern, or RTW pants.

Kwik Sew Front

The back of this Kwik Sew pattern is not too bad - especially compared with other Kwik Sew pattern I am trialling.

Kwik Sew Back
However, as you all saw yesterday, I can do better:

A retweaked pattern
I achieved this by using my original SureFit crotch shape. For those of you that have not heard of the SureFit Pattern System, it is a simple to use system to draw basic slopers to your own measurements.  I attempted to draw a few blocks in January, but when I get something new to play with, I usually just work out it the system works before investing a lot of energy into pursuing it (I'm not an ABC linear learner, but an immersive visual-spatial  learner).   I still struggled with getting the crotch depth right, but I have discovered that the crotch shape works better:

What I didn't like about the Surefit system was how huge the legs were - just look at the fabric hanging in the inner leg - these look like little culottes, not trousers.

However, now I have more trouser knowledge (these muslins teach you something), I will be able to rectify that - so in due course, I will have another attempt at using the SureFit system using better measurements and more diligence :).

And some of you have asked about my experimental crotch curve - yes, I did use that in my retweaked crotch.  I used a combination of Surefit Crotch Shape, and using the size 6 crotch depth.

SureFit Crotch Curve overlaid on retweaked pants crotch

  And - then checked with my experimental crotch curve - and guess what?  Almost perfect match .

My Experimental Crotch Curve.

 I'll be retweaking the crotch a little more by taking out a little more front - Janine  suggested with a comment yesterday that dropping the crotch a bit may solve the last of the problems.

So, that is my pants fitting story so far.  Next week I hope to be making progress on Kwik Sew 3853, the pleated front pants. There are pleated front pants with narrow legs on the catwalk for Autumn Winter 2014 - so I have time to practice this pattern via a muslin, summer wearable muslin, and then pin wale corduroy for the "real thing".

I also will make up the wide leg Kwik Sew Pant in a linen or chambray for summer - Armani had really nice wide leg pants - some with pleats. I'll do the flat front for now as it will still give the same effect.

Sarah Liz :)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Trouser's - The Key to My Fitting Problem.

I am trialing a few pant/trouser patterns - muslins or cheap fabric trial runs only.  I know many patterns don't work on my slim legs - I get all sorts of interesting wrinkles under my bottom and down my legs.

Warning - this post contains lots of views of my not very pre-possessing rear end :)

This was my first muslin of a very plain pair of semi fitted tapered trousers, from Vogue pattern 8865:

Vogue 8865


Due to all the wrinkling I tend to have under my bottom, I assumed, from all the books I have read, that I have a flat bottom and need to do the appropriate alterations.  As I have a round tummy as well, and the two problems often go together, I diligently altered for a flat/dropped bottom.  I tend to obsess over muslins, so I decided not to retrial, but to go straight to making the garment.

Big mistake. They look worse than the muslin...


Something is seriously wrong around the tail/crotch area, and the wrinkling has worsened.  I am not worried about the ankles,  the hem would fix that area, along with appropriate shoes (along with actually straightening them! - this was a working photo and not really meant for blogging )- I'm looking at my bottom.  Not a good look.

I had a think about this overnight.  What could the problem be?  I have a small rear, I thought - well, it doesn't spread sideways at least.

The light bulb went on in my head.  I have done sculpture in the past, and decided that the way to tackle this was to see and feel the problem.  The pants felt tight in the seat.  I had plenty of room at the sides - so the pants are not too tight - on the contrary.

Do I in fact have a curvier tail than I thought?  Or is it a problem of crotch size?

Both, as it turned out.  I choose my hip size, which I take to be 8 - I am just a tad over the 8.  I often am not sure what to do about the crotch, because I gradually go up to 12 at the waist.  So I sort of do 8-10 crotch, not being sure where my changes occur.

But, looking at the pattern pieces, size 6 gives me more room in the tail - I used this size and then added another few mm's (1/4 inch).  I also rasied the CB in case I needed that - I checked my waist position and it is slightly higher in the back than the front.

This was the result:


Looking much better but still room for improvement.  Then I added a bit more and dropped the crotch slightly moving into the inner leg area.  I wasn't planning on posting the photo, so was about the put the screen away - this was really my working photo. 


So I need a size 6 and then further tweaked crotch - I'll tell you about the crotch shape I use in a different blog.

I have never been so self obsessed with my rear end in all my life - I am not sure that I have enjoyed it very much :).  But maybe, just maybe, the results of my determined and analytical mind are starting to bear fruit.

Time will tell...

Sarah Liz :)

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Style Transition- My Style Self - The Casual/Elegant Me

I'm sewing a couple of winter skirts at the moment, but my thoughts are now considering my spring/summer wardrobe.  It is only a few weeks away, after all.  I find that unless I have made some clothes for the season ahead, it tends not get done.  This year I am determined to make a few elegant clothes.  I found these pictures and most of the clothes could be made in chambrays and cottons - my lifestyle is too casual and the weather too hot for these beautifully tailored garments, but tailored cotton jacket shirt and full chambray pants may well work for a casual and elegant summer garments.  I have fabric in my stash that could be used for these garments - and baggy trousers eliminate some of the fitting problems :)

Armani - Spring/Summer 2013

Armani - Spring/Summer 2013
 I also have lots of navy drill, denim and chambray weight denims in my stash - and Mui Mui certainly has a lot of this on the catwalk.  I'll pass on the underwear look though.

Mui Mui- Spring/Summer 2013

Mui Mui- Spring/Summer 2013
 And lastly - baggy black pants - I've got black drill in my stash, and lots of black t-shirts.  I've even started a muslin for baggy, pleat front pants :)

Sometimes you think you haven't got anything in your wardrobe to wear - and now that I have to occasionally be seen in office type clothes, I find I have very little.  But inspired by the Mui Mui photos - this is what I found in my wardrobe and what I have put together - for those little talks with accountants and the like.

I've actually put everything in this photo - shoes, wallet, belt and so on.  I'd probably wear court shoes, but they are in a box under something in the wardrobe.  Must get them out. 

If you are looking for ideas, do go to the shops, look at magazines, and then look in your own wardrobe and go shopping there - you might be amazed at what you might find.

Back to sewing now - I'm still playing with trouser muslins - and in between making an A-line corduroy skirt.

Sarah Liz :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Pattern Hoard

Today has been one of those days.  Most of it was spent doing bookkeeping, not one of my favourite activities.  The end of the financial year looms, and so I will have quite a bit of paperwork to do. 

Then I came home and the light bulb in the sewing room exploded - bits went everywhere.  Not sure if the remaining bit will come out of the fitting or whether the fitting will have to be replaced (again).  This kicked all the fuses out, and everything had to be reset.  

I consoled myself by completing a job I have been working on - putting my patterns in order.  Then I counted them. Always something satisfying about a tidy up ritual.

I have 230 patterns - plus,  4 Sense and Sensibility Patterns. One book of pjyama patterns and one book of Lingerie patterns (not sure why, haven't  yet made any). One book of scarves and shawls.  One book of handbags and carry alls.  5 Burda magazines (growing).

I feel better now - nothing like restoring a bit of order somewhere to restore one's equilibrium :)
Sarah Liz :) 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

My Weekly Chat and Welcome to New Followers

Another week has passed quickly here and it's time again to welcome new followers to my blog.  I'd like to welcome who has followed via Bloglovin. There are also two more followers on Bloglovin, but I don't know your names - hello to both of you :)

This week has been one where sewing was interrupted (something to sort out at work, and two doctor's appointment and other matters that needed attention).

So, I busied myself with working out my current style self - like many of you, I am in transition from one me to another me - we go through this transitions every few years.  It seems from your comments that I am not the only one.  I have found clothes I like and will attempt to translate these into me- mades later this year (or some of them, at least).  I have one more post to go.

Over the last two days I have been trying to work out what trousers to make - the idea was that they would be for work, but I can probably get away with wearing another pair for the time being. This relieves me of immediate pressure, so I can enjoy the process of playing with trouser shapes to find the one best suited to this project.  These are my muslins so far:

pleat front pants, higher waist

straight leg pants, no waist darts, lower waist

tapered pants, two waist darts, higher waist
I look rather fed up in these pictures - in fact I was cold and fed up!  Although I am wearing a t-shirt, it is still winter here, and cotton muslins are not fun to wear for self photo's.

I never make my muslins full length because I am only interested in fit around my torso.  This way I do not use as much calico (or whatever fabric I am using ).  I think it is such a waste of fabric - and it goes into the rubbish bin later.  If I want a full length muslin I tend to use a cheap fabric that I can at least wear.

This week I will tell you all about these muslins, what works and what doesn't and what garments I will use them for.  All three of them have potential, although maybe not for the original intent.  That, though, is the point of a muslin - to work out  both the fit and the suitability of cut for the garment you had in mind.

I'll also be showing you my Sure Fit muslin as well - a reader asked me about this system yesterday - and, even though it gets some bits right, some bits still are not right - for me, at least.  Or that could have been my technique :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Trouser Time Again

 I really need a new pair of trousers for work and didn't want to use McCalls M5239 yet again.  I never did like it, except as a pattern to learn with, and after making quite a few pairs in various fabrics, am bored to tears with it. 

McCalls M5239

My McCalls M5239 learners pants/trousers

 I actually went to the shops to see if I could purchase  a pair - sometimes I get tired of having to make everything if I want it to fit me to any degree.  Where I live it is not easy to get small clothes, as  the average build here is very large indeed.  But I had a quick look. I think I am an embarrassment to any shop assistant because I burst out laughing at the huge thighs that balloon out in RTW.  And low rise as well, so they just start slipping down.  I usually frustrate the shop assistants, who are quite sure that they will find me something, only to find that when I say I am not easy to fit, I mean that I am not easy to fit :).  It frustrates me as well - I would love to be able to buy things from time to time, especially when I am busy and I need a garment.

Anyway, as some of you know, RTW pants and myself do not get along well at all.  My worst fitting pants tend to be a better look than this:

Seriously sad saggy look
(For those of you who have followed body shapes, you can see from this photo the V shape line of my body - the inverted triangle -).

Anything I make, however badly fitted, has to look  better than this.  So, to the pattern collection to find something that I might want to make.

I quite like the following pattern and traced my sizes off - Small at waist and high hip, Extra Small for hip and legs.  Then I wondered if maybe it was a little too dramatic for work trousers.

Kwik Sew 3853.

This thought then made me consider assessing what I have in my wardrobe that could get me by for the next few weeks while I sort out what sort of trouser might best suit my needs.  I came up with a few combinations of clothes - so then I went back to wondering what pants to make.

I then looked at McCalls 6403.  I thought this was a nice classic pant that would do for work.  I looked at the pattern pieces and worked out straight away that the back was going to be far too big and baggy for me.  I really don't want to have to start seriously remaking the pattern at this point in time.  I just want some basic trousers.  And to make them with limited frustrations this time around and not with weeks of muslins.  Seriously, I need clothes, not lots of muslins in the rubbish bin.

McCalls M6403
So next I pulled out Kwik Sew 3363.  I thought this was a good classic trouser as well - so I traced it off.  When I really assessed the pattern pieces, and considered the fabric I was going to use, I decided that the pants would not look too good at all - just too wide, and in a poly/viscose gabardine this will look like two planks of wood.  This pant will look good for summer, made up in a nice linen with some sort of drape. On the list - especially as the pattern is now traced.

KwikSew 3363
Then I pulled out another slim leg pants  pattern (Burday 7134) as I had decided the wide legs would not work.  I looked at the pattern pieces and decided it was too slim and severe.  I would just look too boyish - which I don't mind, but the fabric is not right - I would want a jacquard or something,  to add a feminine touch to such an androgynous look.

Burda 7134
So at the moment I am back to my first choice, Kwik Sew 3853.

As I had traced it off this morning, and having turned down other choices, I decided to cut this out in calico, down to the knees - I don't like to waste calico - as a muslin.  If it looks okay, I may make this trouser up for a formal long legged pant.  I do like this trouser, and love the cuffed version, which I will make in a cotton fabric for summer.  I guess it is just not what anyone else is wearing, which is part of the appeal - I also like the looseness around the tummy area, and the inbuilt bagginess (no need to fit !) which also hides the fact my legs are thin and my waist not so defined. 

While I am working on solving the pants choice, I am also making an A-Line skirt.   I tend to like a simple project to work on while thinking about the next project and getting the pattern and muslin organised.

Do you have just as much trouble choosing what to make? I'd love to know - I'm sure I'm not the only one :)

Sarah Liz

Friday, June 21, 2013

For my older readers only...

Over the last few days I have been blogging about my transitional style self - a chord which seems to have resonated with quite a few of you.

I want to post my ideas on my elegant style self and fashionable style self over the next few days, but I don't have time today - it has been a long day of things that had to be done.  But I did find this funny little picture that made me chuckle a bit.

Perception is the better part of style - as you think, so you are :)

Do have a good weekend, wherever you are - and I hope your sewjo is with you.

Sarah Liz :)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Style Transition -My Style Self - The Smart/Casual Me

It seems quite a few of us are going through life transitions  some of us are adjusting to life in a new culture where the climate and lifestyle dictates different ways of dress from those we are familiar with.  some of us are going through psychological life transitions where our roles or life has changed - some have become SAHM's and some of us have changed careers, or are between careers, or have retired.

I too have dilemma's working out what is appropriate for the Me I Am Now - or perhaps some of us feel more like Who is the Me I am Now? - I certainly do, because part of dressing is sometimes about the role we play in life and when our roles change we can sometimes feel a little lost. We try and wear clothes that suit our lifestyle, but it helps if you also feel like yourself, not just your role or your lifestyle.

As you have all told me a little about your style concerns and life transitions I thought I should return the favour and tell you about mine.  I don't often talk about myself much on blogs, because I don't really want my blog to be about me, but also about you :).  However, I realise that is two way, and you might also want to know about me.  If not, just skip this bit and look at the pictures instead :)

I'm a middling or muddling through sort of person.  I've done quite a few different things in life and always dressed for the job.  I am not even sure I even developed a sense of style - quite a few of us don't.  When I was younger, I wore a school uniform.  When I went to work, I wore a uniform ( student nurse first, then Registered Nurse).  Then I went to University and completed an Arts degree (Hons 1st class) in the creative area (Drama and Screen Studies).  Black t-shirts and jeans where the uniform there.

I've renovated houses in the past and reno-wear was appropriate there. And mortgage payments at this point in time came well before the clothing budget. I'm sure many of you have the same lifestyle problems now, especially my younger followers.

 I've completed an online postgraduate degree in Psychology , and sloppy comfortable clothes that you don't want anyone to see was the daily uniform then.  When you are struggling with Statistics units and exams, believe me, you really don't care what you look like.

I was born in England and lived in London and then Shropshire.  I cam to Australia at the age of 10 and lived in Sydney with my parents, then Adelaide.  As an independent adult I have lived in Adelaide, Perth and Alice Springs.  I loved all three latter locations - Perth and Alice especially so, as quite a few people come from "elsewhere" and it is easy to build new friendships with other people  brave enough to take on the challenge of uprooting oneself and living "somewhere else" with all that entails.

When I married and relocated to NSW again, I could not find suitable work here, apart from a short stint as a casual lecturer in the field of Television Studies, before the department was downsized.  .  Luckily I have no need to work, but it does throw you back into developing your own inner resources.  Hence my further study.  I now also help my husband with some aspects of managing his medical practice.

At the moment I am in "limbo" waiting to see if I can get into the next stage of the Psychology requirements. If not, then I will do a degree in something else that interests me (choosing from the long list of interests is also going to be a challenge for me - eeny, meeny, miny, mo...)

What this transitional "gap" year does allow is the opportunity to develop my own sense of style instead of choosing clothes that are role or activity chosen that I don't really like.  And a great opportunity to meet lots of other bloggers with the same interests.

So over the next few months I will be combining ideas from a few designers that I like and trying to make them out of my stash, or from the materials I can actually purchase.  I will be using ideas from Margaret Howells Autumn/Winter 2013 collection to base my summer wardrobe on (see yesterday's post - this is the link:

I like Basler as a label.  I have chosen a few garments that I can easily consider making from my stash. These garments are from Basler's current Spring/Summer range.

I have some aqua fabric to make pants and skirt with.

An easy outfit but maybe not leggings but slim cotton trousers and tops

Maybe adapted to linens?

I have some Aqua sateen to make a nice jacket

Stash chambray could make an easy shirtdress

Aqua fabric from stash along with linens and demims

Too zippy/rock chick for me.

I love this jacket - maybe in cottons as a blouse

Maybe a nice cotton to make a cool evening jacket

Basics in neutrals - fabrics in stash

Basics in neutral and neons - I wouldn't wear neon, but the outfit is a basic smart casual look.

Again, a smart casual look that could be adapted.

And Ditto this.
 I have lots of style inspiration here to work from - along with yesterday's ideas.

Like quite a few of you, I like to feel comfortable, but I want to look nice as well.  And age appropriate without looking "old". We all want to feel good in our clothes.

For those of you going through a style transition, start keeping a scrapbook of ideas that you like.  Blogs are a great place to store your ideas and share them with other people.

I know a lot of you are also trying to work out what is right for you now, so it will be lovely to share thoughts and ideas.  Please always feel free to voice them so we can help each other.

I hope I haven't been too wordy and bored you to tears today:)

Happy style sewing;

Sarah Liz :)