Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Handknit Gallery

 My winter basics of black polar fleece leggings and corduroy skirts were also planned to go with a selection of me made handknits.

I made this red cowl neck jumper about two years ago, out of a yarn I purchased at Spotlight - it's a mix of wool, mohair and soya fibre.  It was strange to knit with and doesn't handle the same as mohair - it's got a bit of bounce to it.

I just love the cowl neck - it's flattering, but not so deep and saggy that it gets in the way (or catches too many toast crumbs from winter lunches !)

This is my black version - and although a similar yarn, it knitted up quite differently.  I love both of these jumpers though, and the odd idiosyncratic happening just adds to the me made charm.

The cowl on the black version is more like an oversized roll neck collar - but it is still smart to wear.

As you know, I have made three skirts recently out of corduroy - a straight skirt and two A-Line skirts.

Straight skirt
A Line Skirt
A Line skirt

These skirts go well with both of my me made jumpers, although I have only paired the red jumper with the grey skirt for these photographs. 

And they also work with my polar fleece leggings:

 These garments may not be the height of fashion but they are warm and lovely to wear as casual garments. And style, as far as I am concerned, is having the right sort of garments for the right sort of occasion.  What better than a casual handknit, cosy skirt and tights, or leggings,  to keep warm on a cold, wet, winter's day at home.

So, that is my winter wardrobe gallery for this year.  I hope to add to it next year.

Sarah Liz

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mix and Match Winter Basics

I'm very much a planner when it comes to sewing.  I do try and make all of my garments work with each other.  This winter I have made a polar fleece jacket, a polar fleece vest, and three corduroy skirts.

Polar fleece vest
The polar fleece vest can be worn with any of my three new skirts.  As can my polar fleece jacket.

Polar fleece jacket
Two skirts are A line corduroy skirts and the third is a straight skirt with godet pleat at the back.

Black A-Line Corduroy skirt

Grey Corduroy A Line Skirt
I've paired the vest with the black corduroy straight skirt:

Vest with skirt
And I've paired the jacket with the black corduroy straight skirt:

Jacket with skirt

I've also made two pairs of polar fleece leggings - always planned to go with casual cardigans.  I could also put them with casual jumpers.

That is all the winter sewing I plan to do this year.  I'm going to get a head start on spring/summer sewing - or maybe, just catch up on the sewing I didn't get around to doing last year :)

Happy sewing everyone,

Sarah Liz

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Sewing and Welcome to New Followers

Hello everyone - it's my Sunday again - some of you will still be in Saturday.  It's 3.30 pm here and I am having a cup of coffee while enjoying both writing my blog and commenting on yours.

I also use this time each week to welcome new followers to my blog - so hi and welcome to Lyn J, Lyn P and Claudia - all of you following with Bloglovin.

This week saw the end of a block of work I did not enjoy so now I shall have a little more energy for my blog - which I want to rework and get into some sort of order (organisation being something I love!).

I am also looking forward to catching up on some sewing - and with winter half way through here it's time to think about spring/summer sewing.

I'll start with making practical, classic, casual basics that I can wear around the house or out and about in more relaxed situations.  I like plain cotton as I live in a humid climate - and cotton breathes and lets perspiration evaporate, which allows the body to cool.  I also travel to Adelaide occasionally, and sometimes land in the middle of a heatwave (well over the 100 degree mark).  So loose cotton clothes essential.

The first garment I will make will be a New Look Shirt/Blouse (6963).

New Look 6963.
I plan to make it in pink cotton broadcloth - I have laid the pattern on the fabric in the picture above.

I have made this blouse before in cotton broadcloth:

It makes up quite nicely and I really like it's crisp, clean lines.

That will be my first project of the season.  There are lots more ideas in the pipeline, and many of the muslins have been made - you can find them on the page at the top of this blog named "Muslin Gallery".

Do you plan your sewing ahead of the season or do you sew just as it comes?

Sarah Liz :)

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Another A Line skirt finished.

I've been working for half an hour a day on making this simple A-Line skirt.  I finished it today - and I finished my end of year bookwork yesterday, so I'll soon get back to normal with sewing (I hope - a bit low in the mojo today - that can happen after a demanding stint of tedious work you don't really like).

My original inspiration came from seeing this skirt by Margaret Howell. This is from her Autumn/Winter 2010 range.  I love her practical, classic, casual designs.  I'm sorry the picture is such a small one, but if I enlarge it, the picture becomes far too blurry to see much detail.  At least the line of the skirt is clear in this picture.

I have made this skirt (and two corduroy skirts) in the new below knee length that has been creeping in.  
I also ease the area between the darts under the waistband to accomodate a rounded tummy.

Grey A Line Skirt it Baby Corduroy.
 I wanted a slightly sporty finish, so I used two rows of stitching at the hem.  The back closes with a zip.

 I completed a black version recently - I should have flipped the sleeves out of the photo here, but it is a bit late now :).  Something to learn from, and to pay attention to in the future.  I didn't straighten the waistband either.

Black A Line Skirt in Baby Corduroy.
 I have also made a straight skirt - I never peg my straight skirts in, and I like them not too tight - I'm very thin in the thighs and hips, and I look better with a little more fabric to make me look bigger.  I also like to be able to move easily, and pegged skirts just feel too restrictive.  Again, the area below the waistband is eased.

Straight Skirt.
 I put a godet insert into the back of the skirt - allows movement, and looks lovely at the same time.

Godet insert
That's my winter sewing for this year completed.  I will do a montage next week with my me made winter basics.

I used stash for all of these projects as part of the 2013 Style the Stash Sew A Long.  Find us at:
Have a lovely sewing weekend wherever you are,

Sarah Liz :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Useful pants information for you

 Hello everyone - a very short post today, as I am getting ready for the dreaded day finalising the accounts tomorrow.  But I did want to talk to you about my last two posts - choosing pattern sizes.

I am not a trained professional by any means and refer to books frequently to learn - and I thought I should pass on bits that might be of interest to you as I think we are all in much the same boat of teaching ourselves.

Whatever size pattern you choose, do make a muslin - or at the very least check the fit of the pattern against something you know works for you and fits you.  It does save heartbreak and tears.  I'm reading a book at the moment that is used in design schools and the emphasis is on making muslins to test every concept.

For those of you making pants, my post yesterday was about Nancy Zieman's suggestion about using a smaller pant size as commercial patterns are often baggy in the leg.  This means you alter the top part of the pant to fit - she claims it is easier to fit the waist.  I am not sure about this, especially with contoured waistbands.  Another reason to make a muslin, to see how everything works together.

I have found a resource on the internet that may help -  It's all about making trousers, and I can't wait to have more time to read this myself next week:

Sarah Liz

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What size pattern should you use, part 2.

Yesterday I told you about Sandra Betzina's recommendations about choosing a pattern size using either bust measurement or high bust measurement. For those of you who missed this post:

Quite a few of you confirmed these findings - thank you Regina, Giggles,BeaJay, Godsgirl IT, Nanna (Helen) and Sew Blessed Maw (Judy) for your comments.

Giggles mentioned that many patterns have quite a bit of ease built into them, and that she goes down some sizes.

Regina, Godsgirl IT and Sew Blessed Maw (Judy)  find the patterns too largein the shoulders and neck - I'm assuming you are talking about the Big 4 here.  I also find them too large in the shoulders and neck, so will be using the high bust measurement in the future.

BeaJay thought that she always had to take this measurement, and BeaJay, I think that this is a good idea - a full set of measurements is always a good thing to do. I would not want to suggest otherwise.  Often large busted ladies are not so large in the shoulders and neck, so the high bust measurement is more useful to choose the correct size and then do the Full Bust Alteration.  And do a muslin to check everything.

Nanna (Helen) found that her recent foray into making capri pants showed up some sizing issues - they were far too long and very wide.  If you are short, you will always have to shorten the pattern along the lengthen/shorten lines.  But choosing the right width is difficult - I still struggle here.

Nancy Zieman in her book "Pattern Fitting with confidence"  writes that pants patterns are always too wide in the leg .  She says to choose a pattern size one size down from your hip size to compensate for this.

She writes that hip measurement 34"  should use size 6,   hip measurement 36"  size 8,  hip measurement 38" size, 10 and so on and then alter the upper part of the trouser.

My hip size is size 4- 6 according to this pattern of calculations, and I have been using 8 - because most books tell you to buy the hip size as this is closest to your crotch size.

Thought I would share this with you, because I think from what I read on all your wonderful blogs, baggy legs on trousers seem to be a pretty common theme.

Sarah Liz:)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

What size pattern should you use?

Choosing a pattern size seems to be easy - the pattern companies tell you to measure your bust, waist and hips and choose a pattern size that is nearest these.  For jackets, coats, tops, and blouses it is recommended to use bust measurement.  For trousers/pants it is recommended to use the hip measurement.

I often find garments far too large in the neck and shoulder, while still being firm around my bust.  I figure the bust bit is easy to work out - I have a small back, so I need to make the front a little bigger than the back.  But it isn't so easy to make the neck, armscye and shoulders smaller.

Sandra Betzina, in her book "Fast Fit - Easy Pattern Alterations for Every Figure"  writes that for the Big $ (Simplicity, Butterick, McCall's and Vogue - you should use the high bust measurements as the upper chest area in these patterns is large.  The exception to this is with the Today's Fit range from Vogue patterns.

 For the other companies - Kwik Sew, Neue Mode, New Look, Burda, and independent companies - use the full bust measurement.

To take a full bust measurement measure around the fullest part of the bust and across the line of your bra band in the back.

To take a high bust measurement, place the tape measure under the arm and higher than the bra band in the back - your chest measurement.

I wish I had known this years ago - the Big 4 certainly don't make all this very clear.

I thought a few of you may also not know and would appreciate this knowledge.

Sarah Liz

Monday, July 22, 2013

Inspirational message to everyone....

Yesterday I found a comment waiting on my blog from a post that was a few weeks old.  I want to thank Angel for her comment and would like to share it all with you...

You actually made that yourself? Impressive! It's beautiful. I love fleece jackets, i have a few but i bought them. I'm not really good in sewing. i'm really impressed with what you've made. It's really beautiful. I really thought you got them in department stores or online stores.

(the jacket Angel is referring to is my polar fleece jacket.  The jacket and comment can be found here: )

Blog friends and sewers, are you like me, do you sometimes take your skills for granted?  I know I do, and also often chastise myself for not "being good enough" at sewing - of course, really, I'm still learning, and will do so for the rest of my life.

I think we should all think about what Angel says - we really are an amazing group, we sewers - trying to hone our skills as well as lead our busy lives.  And yes, isn't it lovely to be able to say,  "I made it myself".

I'd also like to thank everyone for their lovely thoughts and comments yesterday.  We all have tedious patches in our lives that interfere with sewing. 

I'm going to go and have my half hour fix now - hope you manage to fit in some sewing as well :)

Sarah Liz

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sunday Coffee and a Welcome to New Followers

 Sunday already - and I have been sitting down with a cup of coffee and reading a few blogs - something I always enjoy on Sunday afternoons.

I also enjoy welcoming new followers to my blog - and this week it's time to welcome Andrea, Me (Anna) and EbtehhR (I am sorry I do not have your language on my keyboard, I think you may be from somewhere around the USSR).

As you all know, I'm in the middle of a tedious patch at work, but next week should see this thorn in the side over.  So I'm a bit edgy and irritable - that's what happens when you can't get your sewing fix.  I'm sure quite a few of you suffer sewing withdrawals when life demands other things from you :).

I did decide it was a good opportunity to clean my overlocker though.  I have used some fluffy fabrics recently - corduroy and polar fleece - both black.   Fluff was all through the machine.  I use a soft brush to remove it:

The brush is a cheap cosmetic brush - it has very soft hairs and picks up the tiniest pieces of fluff.  Not sure how I got the idea - I never used it for the purpose it was designed for, so I guess I just saw this use one day.

This week I will be quietly working for half an hour each evening on my next skirt, and half an hour each evening on my blog - that should keep me slightly sane.

I do hope you all have a good week, wherever you are and whatever you will be doing...

Sarah Liz

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Quick and Easy A-Line Skirt

Today I needed some stress relief so I quickly made up this skirt - it only takes a couple of hours to make up, as it is very basic and also unlined.  I can't tell you what pattern it is, because it is one of my tracings labelled "A-Line Skirt".  In any case, all A-Lines are much the same :).  This one is made from baby wale cord.

I really like simple clothes and have wanted this style of skirt for some time, after seeing this one by English designer Margaret Howell.  Her focus is on simple styles in basic fabrics, all traditional and classic cuts.

Margaret Howell Fall/Winter 2010-2011
I tend to keep pictures of things I like - and I still like this skirt in 2013, so it must be fairly timeless.

I can wear it with my recently made polar fleece jacket:

And my recently made polar fleece vest:

I really should model the skirt, but time has run away with me today so I will do that another day - after I've finished the tedious project I'm stuck with at work.  One more week to go....

I am going to try and make a grey A-Line skirt next week/weekend.  

Oh, I used up 1.75 yards of fabric for our stashbuster - if you don't know about our stashbusting sew-a-long, please do pop over and have a look at what we are up to - and join us if you would like to - here is our link: .

Sarah Liz

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Muslin Documentation Project.

I've been making a lot of trouser muslins recently.  I usually have a muslin making binge when I have other life activities that preclude the sort of sewing where you have to concentrate.  At the moment it is end of financial year bookkeeping/accounting issues, and I'm thoroughly fed up - hope to have most of it done by end of next week.

A year or so ago I also had one of these life patches (probably essays and exams) - and I made up a lot of jacket muslins. I stored them away in a container, and had almost forgotten about them.

I then thought that it would be a good idea to actually document all my muslins on this blog in my muslin gallery. That way I will have a good reference place and can see what I have. 

I had four jacket muslins in my container.  The first was M5063.

 I've had this pattern for years, and like it as much now as I did when I purchased it.  I like all the garments shown, but have only made a jacket muslin:

Front, M5063

The next muslin is made from New Look pattern 6516 (I'm sorry about the flashlight bouncing off the shiny paper of the envelope).

NL 6516
Front, NL 6516

Back NL 6516
 The third muslin is the jacket length coat from Butterick B4665:

Butterick B4665

Front, Butterick B4665

Back, Butterick B4665
 The fourth muslin is made from a McCalls pattern (number carefully covered by my note telling me that I have made the muslin(toile) up).  Underneath the paper - M6172.

 I have made the inbetween length jacket up:

Classic McCalls Blazer, M6172,  Front

Classic McCalls Blazer, M 6172Back
I think the McCalls blazer is my favourite out of this cluster of jacket muslins.

I also have a few trouser muslins still lying around, so I'll document these as well.

The first is a very basic Butterick pants pattern:

 And the second is a Burda pattern.  Many people swear that Burda pants fit well with little of the issues associated with the Big 4 patterns.  Given that I put the muslin away, I suspect it did not fit very well.

 Possibly the same  happened with the Butterick pattern - certainly a more recent muslin based on a Butterick pattern did not work well, but, another Butterick pattern did.

I also have a muslin put to one side which was from a McCalls pattern:


While the back of these look reasonable, the front is hugely baggy.  Pity, because the contoured band fits nicely.  Some people say go back and tweak - all well and good, but first you've got to know how and why to alter baggy pants fronts.  So for now, the problem sits in my old muslin container.

And the rest of my trouser muslins sit in a basket, because I plan to make these up over the next few months.  Of course I will try them on again to make changes and to see whether I have changed.

I make sure, of course, that I label all of my muslins, so that I know what they are when I finally get around to them!

That's my muslin documentation project completed.  A tick of the list.  Can't wait to say the same about the work stuff:)

Have a good weekend everyone. 

Sarah Liz