Saturday, August 31, 2013

New T Shirt Muslin

I was hoping to have a new knit top to post today but have got rather slowed down by work demands.  But I have done the muslin for my stripey knit top.  I decided it would be prudent, as the knit itself is quite pricey. 

It's soft and drapey, a cotton polyester knit - Japanese.  I only bought a small amount as it was not cheap (One of Spotlight's nicer fabrics).

As I am not experience in making up knits, I decided to use a very simple pattern.  I was also worried about the drapey- ness and the  stripey-ness - not a good combination for a beginner.  So sleeves were vetoed.

 I chose this New Look pattern:

Prudently, I decided to make a muslin out of some horrible, thick, nylon, knit that seemed a good idea at the time ( I think I thought it might work to line stretch fabrics, as stretch lining is next to impossible to find where I live).  But it is so hideous, I decided to sacrifice a piece to trial this top:

And I am glad I did - the neck doesn't sit at all like the picture on the pattern - it is quite boat shaped - I know this sort of wide neck will just fall off my shoulders.  So I am going to raise the neckline a little and make it closer to a crew neck.

I'm quite nervous about this little top - I want it to go well, and the next job is cutting out those slippery stripes...

I better go and get on with it then...

Sarah Liz :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Moving on - what shall I make for Spring?

I don't waste too much time being upset because something does not go as planned.  I just learn from the experience and then make new plans.

So, after the jacket did not work out, I started clearing out simple things that do not suit me.  Lipsticks and nail polish in colours that look louche on me and remain unworn.  Actually, I tend not to wear much makeup of any sort, so maybe a further toss is needed. 

 Then I contented myself with cutting up envelopes for scrap paper.  My father always used to do this, but I grew up in an era of plenty, so I used to buy it.  Then one day I asked myself why??  Why throw good paper away only to buy more.

My favourite is this brown paper envelope a utilities bill comes in every quarter:

 Then it was time to think about what to sew next.  I thought to use up some of my black and white patterns while they are still fashionable.  I like black and white though, so fashionable or not I will wear it.

Knit stripe fabric and woven fabric
 I haven't made up a knit garment so I will probably have another interesting learning experience. The woven fabric will be made into trousers - I've already done the muslin.

And the last piece of black and white fabric is just a skirt length (it's 125 cm wide so I get by with just my length).  So I will make a skirt :)

Everything has been washed...

So they are ready to be sewn up...

Well, off to do some work now...

 Have a good day/evening everyone,

Sarah Liz :)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

No little jacket just yet...

Well, I had great hopes of making a little cotton wearable muslin jacket, but I had another learning experience instead...
As you can see, the jacket is far too big across the shoulders.  I had already made the shoulder half an inch narrower, and also taken in the armscye to match.  I had taken in the back and remover some of the wrinkling, but as you can see, a lot of fullness still remains in the upper back.

I get this look with all my RTW clothes as well - one reason I want to make my own, because I am rather tired of looking look a saggy clothing sack. 

I had no idea that I had such a petite frame, but it seems I do. That is blogging - I never used to take photo's of my back, so I didn't really know what I looked like. A blissfully ignorant state of affairs, but no more :).

I checked two of my fitting books and it seems I have to make a narrow back adjustment.  I'm also narrow across the upper chest, so I would need to adjust there as well.

Sandra Betzina's book shows the problem well.
Yes, well, that sort of looks like me, doesn't it?  Sandra shows the alteration, which consists of slicing the pattern vertically to the waist (2 lines parallel) and then moving them across to overlap half an inch or so, then adding back as the side back seams to allow for the hip. 

The Perfect Fit - same adjustment
 The "Perfect Fit" suggests the same adjustment.  Which is a lot to do, and will need  two muslins.  Which I am not prepared to do now.  So, Burda jacket 7559 will have to wait for a while now.

When you look at the photo, you can see it is a little large on the model as well - but then models are as bony and narrow as me. 

I like the jacket, but if I am going to make this, it needs to be made well. Not now.

My earlier attempt was so loose and cardigan like and sloppy it worked! (Pre-blog, I threw it together very quickly, wore it to death, and threw it out).  Who would have thought a crinkly cotton would make a good jacket.  Must look for some more, for a summer throw on, sloppy cardigan jacket.

Not sure what I am going to make next.  Choices...

Sarah Liz :)

Monday, August 26, 2013

3 Finished, 1 to Go...

Garments, that is.  I've been busy making those boring basics you need to run errands, go to the supermarket, clean the house and so on.  Everyday clothes.  Casual clothes.  Clothes that are dull to sew and don't make for inspirational blogging.  But necessary in the wardrobe.

Two of the three are 7/8th length pants - one pair navy, the other black.  I made them in cotton drill, using Butterick 5687.

Butterick 5687

Black Pants

Navy Pants
I am also making a wearable muslin out of the black cotton drill - I want to test the pattern and I will be able to wear the jacket after as a summer throw on - once again, for running errands.  I'm using Burda 7559.

I've used the pattern once before and it's quite good. But it has been some time since I did, and bodies change.  I also didn't take self timed photo's of the back, so it may have been awful.  I actually used a cheap cheesecloth, double layered, so it was a sort of cardigan throw on. Hard really to gauge the fit, as it had a crinkle stretchy way of behaving. So I thought I should test it in a firm fabric as a prelude to perhaps making it in a good fabric (one day...)...(maybe...).

 Out of the leftovers of black drill, I managed to make a little skirt. Just a straightish thing, fairly loose, so I can bend, turn, twist, lift bags, vacuum.  Those normal things of life that keep us away from an interesting life or our sewing :)

I am not sure how much stash I have used, close to 5 metres.  I hope to have the jacket finished this week, and then I'll post everything on our stash styling sew-a-long.  We've sewn up quite a few hundred yards since starting in June - if you haven't visited us, do pop over and see what all our talented contributors have made - you will find a gallery for each month (look at the top of the blog under the header.  The

Sarah Liz:)

Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Little Sewing Space ...

I have been really busy the last few weeks  sewing a few basics - I haven't had time to blog about them yet - or more honestly, I haven't felt like taking self timed photo's of them yet. When  all is complete I'll blog them.

Finished clothes
I'm not sure it is a good idea to show you my little creative space, because it tends to collect interesting things like fabric, patterns and so on.  Anyway, I am sure you will understand, so, here is a picture of some finished pants - two pairs, one navy, one black- made out of cotton drill.  They are 7/8ths length, with side pockets, and really comfortable - just what I want for house basics.  You can see the recent set of blouses peeping out from behind them. 

I'm also making a little straight skirt, a bit loose, for, once again, throwing on around the house in hot weather.  It's eeked out of the leftovers of the black cotton drill.

Work in Progress -Skirt
I work in a passage at the moment - it used to be a store area until I realised it's potential.  I have everything I need - including a little posture chair under the table!  Looks untidy, but I can get it when needed.

I used a lovely Indian screen to partition my little space off from the rest of the hallway.  Scarlett fits into one of the screen's little alcoves (she is usually covered - for dust protection and modesty!)  This is the cluttered end of my space.

And the other end is where I sew - not nearly so cluttered.  I can't work in a mess at all.  I have everything to hand - I use trays to store much used items on.

I would love a beautiful purpose built, light and airy studio.  It's on my future list, but for now, this will do nicely.  We don't plan to be here in a few years time, so it makes sense to enjoy what I have.

I hope you enjoy your little spaces too :)

Sarah Liz

Thursday, August 22, 2013

For my Australian friends - Fabrics from Rathdowne's.

I don't live in Melbourne or Sydney and don't have access to interesting fabric stores.  I live in Newcastle at the moment, and our fabric store is the very basic Spotlight.   Very basic fabrics at not so basic prices. 

I had to find something better than homespun for some of my summer tops.  And voile at $14.99 a metre is far too much to pay - it's not even a great quality.

I have found a great place in Melbourne who will do mail order.  They don't have a web store, you must ring and ask for the type of fabric you want, or at least tell them what you are trying to make. They will post a sample card to you and label the swatches 1,2, 3 etc.  You choose the fabric you like and place the order with the description and what number it is on your card.  They also have a card with the same information on so your 1 is also 1 on Rathdowne's card.

 They do all the basics and lots of quality fabrics as well.  Fabrics come and go quickly so there is no guarantee that when you place your order the fabric will still be there.  (Officially, they are what are known in the trade as "jobbers" - they buy job lots cheaply and then resell them).

Fabrics - White and Blue lightweight cotton - including a self stripe one! Yum
I've just ordered some lightweight summer cottons for tops and blouses.  I've stopped stashing ad hoc on any fabric now, but this is a staple for me, and I do want some light cotton blouses. I always wear them, so even if stashed for a year or so, it will be a fabric I will use.

You do have to pay postage and handling which is not cheap (minimum $12.95 so plan your purchases well) - but my nice cotton was $6-50 per metre -so the postage, with a few metres bought, was well and truly paid when compared to Spotlight's voile prices.  Plus I get a fabric I prefer.

I've put a note on my sidebar so that you can find this resource again.

Happy stashing!

Sarah Liz :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Playing with PicMonkey

Look at that - my three shirts (*New Look 6963)  all in a row.  A collage made at

 Most of you probably already know about these sorts of editing suites.  But I didn't.  I thought I would share this with you in case a few of you are as ignorant as me about internet photo editing services.

Blogging is so amazing - take a novice like me who used a computer to complete an online degree, but had no idea how to blog, code a blog button, or how to edit or compose images.

I barely knew how to take a photo - yes, snapshots on holidays, but lots of photo's for blogs was not on my horizon this time last year and  I had no idea how to upload pictures!

So, I have learnt a lot, just be being a amateur blogger.

I have a lot more to learn as well, but step by step, I think, or it would all be overwhelming :).

For those of you that don't know picmonkey, it is a free photo editing site. You can edit your photos, or create a collage.    You can do all sorts of interesting things there - and it is easy to use. You can upgrade if you want to use more features.  The link:

Sarah Liz

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What about Scarlett?

Hello everyone - I loved your comments yesterday where you shared your thoughts about my retiring Wonky Jane - and for those of you with tears in your eyes about her - I feel the same way - she is going to a good home.  I will give her to my local charity op shop - she is not so wonky adjusted out for a larger size, I just can't push her all back together again for my size.  I am sure someone who is just starting out will love her.

I also loved all the different names you have given to your dummy.  I also loved the suggestion by Elise that I call this one Ruby, because she is red.  I thought about this for a while, and nearly called her Ruby Red.  That name reminded me of Ruby Wax, the comedian.  That thought triggered another one - what about Scarlett, after Scarlett O'Hara, the female protagonist from "Gone with the Wind"?

So, meet Scarlett.  She is my size around the shoulders, hips and bust, and I have moved her out at the waist.  However, she indents under the waist, so I'll have to make a little padded high hip roll to fill this spot out.

Scarlett's angular shoulders, flat back and flat chest above the bust are quite like mine, so I think she is going to help me with hours of sewing pleasure.

Monday, August 19, 2013

A New Dress Dummy.

Yes, the time has come. Wonky Jane is finally going.  She's seen a lot of years of work - she had been very busy before I purchased her second hand.  She is adjustable, but just doesn't really want to adjust back so much anymore.  I understand.  Sometimes I am a little like that as well.

So, sadly, the time has come to part.

As you can see from the photo above, she is a little crooked - as I mentioned in posts sometimes, if my garments looked crooked, it was because of Wonky Jane.

My birthday is in August, and finally my present arrived - a little late as I was waiting for the order to come in.  Thank you DH.

It's waiting to be unpacked, and I have just got in from work. So you know what I am going to do this evening...put my new adjustable dummy together. She is nice and small around the hips - Wonky Jane was always too large in the hips for me.

I wonder what I should call her. If you have a dummy, do you name yours? 

Bye for now

Sarah Liz

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Three cotton shirts in a one

I haven't been blogging much on this blog this week. Rest assured though, if Sarah Liz is quiet, she is probably busy and will be back...

So, what have I been busy with?  This week I have made another shirt from New Look6963.

New Look 6963.

 I have made this shirt three times now.  I have used a cotton broadcloth that is not very expensive but makes a great serviceable cotton shirt for smart casual wear.  I have only one fabric store within close proximity and they only stock the basics - for those of you in Australia, I am referring to good old Spotlight, the store I love to hate.  Still, it is within walking distance, which is handy for threads, interfacings etc. If I want better fabric I use mail order.

Right, so, variation 3:  This weeks blue variation of New Look 6963.


I think this will look and feel cool on a hot summers day.

My other variations:
Pink version
Original white version
The white blouse is half an inch shorter than the pink and blue blouses.  I always fold out an inch in the bodice because I am very short waisted.  I decided that the shirt would look better with a little bit of this length added back at the hem.  Other than that, it is exactly the same blouse, except that white always looks wider than colours.  In real life it is the same width as the blue and pink version.

If you want to read my review of this blouse go to:

You will also find a tutorial for this blouse - look in the sidebar of this blog for Tutorial New Look 6963.

I have also made a wrap blouse this year in white pin stripe cotton voile.  The pattern I used was Vogue 8833.  If you want to read my review of this blouse go to:

Vogue 8833 Wrap Blouse
This brings the sum total of me made shirts to 3 New Look 6963 and one Vogue wrap blouse:
Four shirts this year in total.  I am thrilled with all of them.

Now to finish some me made pants that are half made...

Have a good weekend everyone, wherever you are...

Sarah Liz

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What's on the Cutting Table?

Butterick 5687
 Tuesday is my day off, and today I put it to good use by cutting out a selection of summer basics that have been on the list for a long, long, long time.  Such a long time that I think really I am not that motivated to do basics at the moment.  Because I have done lots of them.  But every year I want a casual outfit that is smartish too, so the only way to get the mojo is to get on with it.

I have already started making a pair of trousers from Butterick 5687:

These are in navy drill and although not yet completed, I know they fit nicely.

So, I cut out a second pair in black cotton drill.  Then I cut out a little blazer jacket, again in the same black cotton drill.

Burda 7559
I've used this pattern before  for a loose blazer, so I only needed to cut it out.  I don't want to fully line this jacket as it will just get too hot in our humid summer, so I will probably put a partial lining in.  That is still being thought about...

I had just enough left to eek out a little straight skirt - so I'll have a basic casual wardrobe capsule.  Then I'll need to make some little tops.

So, that should keep my busy...currently I'm working on my blue cotton blouse, blue pants, and then this little job is next on the list.

Sarah Liz

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Weekly Hello and Welcome to New Followers

Hello everyone - another week has gone by.  The seasons are starting to move along - I notice quite a few of you are now getting ready for Fall/autumn sewing.  Downunder, I am getting on with summer sewing so that I actually have a wardrobe of me mades to wear this summer.  Usually I am starting summer sewing far too late, but this year I decided to change that pattern.

At this time of the week I always welcome new followers to my blog - so hello Patrya, Lado and Kelly.  

The Sewing Week That Was:

I finished a blouse.  Most of you are familiar with it from the tutorial I ran this week while I was making the blouse.

The Tutorial: - Thank you everyone for your lovely comments.  I actually enjoy putting tutorials together and plan to make more in the future.  The first will be on buttonholes, because quite a few of us do have anxiety about making the.  I will think about starting this in a week or so - I need to get over this tutorial first and get on with making some of my summer wardrobe. 

Some of you have requested a tutorial on a collar and stand shirt.  I actually have one of these that I want to make up soon.  I've made them before, so I'll document the process as a tutorial.  I probably won't get around to this for a few weeks yet - I've need to apply for  postgraduate courses over the next two months, and each one is very time consuming and tedious.   I think the study is easier than the application process:) ) (In psychology, for those of you who are wondering what I am planning to study -  if I can get in).

On the Sewing Table:

 I am going to make a blue shirt next - just the same as my pink shirt.  As some of you already know, I love basics for everyday casual wear. My  first job when I started this blog was to tackle this task.  In some respects, quite boring.  But I know that in a few weeks time I will have an everyday wardrobe that works for me. Then I can make some more interesting or fashionable garments, or things that take my fancy.   

Yes, I know, I am disciplined :).  Or so it seems.  The truth is I just got fed up with not having anything reasonable to wear as everyday casual, and couldn't stand the thought of another season like that ! :)

I wonder what your sewing plans are - are you in the middle of something interesting at the moment?

Have a great week everyone, wherever you are,

Sarah Liz

Friday, August 9, 2013

Tutorial part 7 - parting words. New Look 6963.

This is the last of this series on New Look 6963.  Sandra suggested labelling it as a tutorial, which I have done, so that you can easily find it again.

New Look 6963 is a lovely simple beginner's shirt - you will note that it is marked easy, which is why I chose it for this tutorial.  I think it is still available but there are plenty of other shirts like this at the moment.

The pattern has variations in collar shape, and also has a three fold front band (really nice look), and sleeve variations.

Do make a quick muslin first to check the fit and to practice the steps your particular pattern advises.   You will also find out if all the pattern pieces fit together well, and what sort of ease the sleeve cap has (many commercial patterns have excess ease in the sleeves which has to be removed).

Sometimes I see if the shirt I want to make has been reviewed on pattern review.  This one has quite a few reviews and they are all good, except for a quibble about the yoke not being faced.  That is easy to do if you want to, but then you would have to finish the collar over the yoke, and not with a facing.
The little shirt above was my sample - I tend to use cheap fabrics and trial the whole pattern - if it works, then I have a garment, if not, if it is not going to work, I move on.  If it does not work due to my own limitations, I learn what to do, and make another. This one did and being a cotton, even though a cheap one, it is wonderfully wearable on a hot summer day.

I did find that the bust point was low for me so I needed to raise it.  Your muslin should tell you whether the dart is right for you.  Also, for very full busted girls, this shirt may not have enough room over the bust - you may need to add extra, or alternatively, work with a princess line that will accommodate your curves after adding for a larger cup size.

I did not tell you to press as you sew - I am assuming that you already know this. 
Press as you sew - then iron at the end.

Sleeves- Sandra commented that sewing them in is a bit pin -prickly - yes, it is - but it is quite okay to hand baste seams before you sew.  Somewhere we seem to get the idea that everything needs to be quick, but there is nothing wrong with tacking first. Especially for a tricky job, or if you are new to something.  

If you have never made a button down shirt or blouse before, your first may not be perfect.  Don't be hard on yourself if you make mistakes - I still make plenty, especially if I am trying something new or trying to solve a problem.   Mistakes are just a way of saying you are trying and learning. 

Reading yesterdays comments, it seems quite a few of you are worried about buttonholes.  I agree, that is quite a stressful job - it is easy to ruin things at the last moment.  I worked with a brilliant sample machinist once and she still got anxious with buttonholes. 

And some of you don't have automatic buttonhole functions on your machines, which makes the job trickier.  

I thought I would run some buttonhole tutes next week.  I grew up having to make buttonholes by hand, so I might teach you how to do those as well (sometimes I even repair a botched buttonhole by reworking by hand around it).

I'm going to make another one now - this shirt is a great basic for summer wardrobes, handy for those occasions when you want to be casual but a little bit smart as well.  I'll also press this one and re-arrange it on the dummy so that it sits better for my formal gallery photo!

I'd also like to thank you all for your wonderful comments and support.  I am new to writing tutorials for blogs (I have done plenty at University in a different area of expertise) so this one has taught me a little bit about how to go about the  process.

Do have a good weekend wherever you are, wishing you good health, good cheer and good sewing.

Sarah Liz

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tutorial part 6. New Look 6963.

New Look 6963

 Hello Everyone

This tutorial series has covered the making of New Look 6963, shirt/blouse version C.

I've made it before, so I know that it acutally works well.  It has a collar, back facing and front facing.

Today we are up to the last stage - the buttonholes.

I always have a bit of a thing with buttonholes - I don't have an automatic buttonhole on my machine, and have to rely on what is called "operator skill".

If you have an automatic buttonholer, you will find my lines and measurements unnecessary - you will just need to mark where your buttonhole starts.

Some of you may do hand buttonholes, in which case work them the way you normally do.

In your pattern you will find a piece called "buttonhole guide".  It does both the long and short versions of this shirt.

Version C only uses 4 buttonholes, so mark these. I mark the top, then I assess what size I need to make the buttonhole.

Next, I make a sample of my buttonhole size - I make a small strip that is interfaced - much like a facing:


I tend to do this by eye now - quite a few guides say allow an 1/8 inch, but this is too much for small buttons.  The amount you need also depends on the depth of the button. I just have a feel now for how much I need:

 So: measuring what I think is my buttonhole depth and width.

(Please make sure you put a dot for the buttonhole that is on the centre front line.  You can see I have actually drawn mine.  You may not need to if you  have an automatic buttonholer - you will just need your placement point.  I need vertical and diagonal lines because I have to do my buttonholes using zig zag either side of the line and a bar tack either end).

Here are my lines:

And now for a test run:

The buttonhole is okay so I shall proceed.  

Before I do my "real" buttonholes, I always check the bobbin - there is nothing worse than running out half way through a buttonhole.  It all has to be undone:

 Now we need to get rid of all those ends.  Don't snip the ends, but thread them through to the back and fasten off there.  Otherwise the ends can start unravelling:

Having made our buttonholes (and I do hope you have an automatic buttonholer - it makes life so much easier), now we have to open them.  Do this very carefully down the centre of the buttonhole.  Use your stitch unpicker.  Place a pin just before the bar tacks at the end of the buttonhole so that you don't accidentally cut through the end.  Go very carefully and slowly down to the end, then turn the buttonhole around and open up to the other end:

Next step is to sew on the buttonholes.  I tend to mark them by lining up my facings and then placing a pin through the buttonhole:

And then marking the corresponding dot on the CF line of the button side of the garment:

Sew on your buttons and voila:

We are done.  The blouse is finished except for tacking down the facing at the front yoke seam:

If you use a disappearing marker like mine, it is water soluble (some are air soluble).  I know I can use this marker on this fabric.  Always test your markers, because not all of them come out, and not all fabrics are suitable.  I use a squirt bottle:

Magic, marks gone.  Then iron your blouse once more (I am assuming you press as you sew) :  Lightly iron your r revers in place. 

 And there we are. Finished.  And if you think the blouse does not look straight at the hem (it is, I measured both sides to check this) it is actually my arthritic old dummy - she is adjustable, but she is so old now she does not adjust back and her shoulders are uneven - so giving the uneven hem (like a scoliosis). But she is much  better than nothing and has served me well since poor student days, then mortgage days.  Funnily enough, I'm starting to get just as rickety, so maybe she will serve me well in the future!

Tomorrow I will finish this series with a few hints for you before you rush off and start this blouse :)

Sarah Liz :)