Sunday, September 29, 2013

Make a Garment A Month Challenge Starts October

Hi Everyone,

Before I write the post on this challenge, I would like to welcome a new follower to SarahLizSewStyle - Sufy,  who is following via bloglovin.

Now about the Make a Garment a Month Challenge, which starts in October.  I was musing to myself on a blog post, that I was going to make a garment a month no matter what else is going on in my life. Now it is probably obvious that I have been making more than that, but I am going to have a few more obligations again in the next little while.  My promise to myself is to make sure I find time to make one garment a month, instead of not sewing at all when I get busy.

Then some of you expressed interest in this challenge, so this has become a global challenge :) I'm planning this to be ongoing - just to encourage everyone to sew and to connect up via sewing and meet other bloggers too:)

So far these lovely bloggers have joined the challenge:

Nothy Lane

Gaye -


BeaJay -

Judith -

L -







Charmel - no blog that I am aware of - let me know if you have one Charmel. 

Those of you that know me know that I am not a "rules" person - this is your personal challenge to make a garment a month.  I think being in a group is motivating, and is a great way to "show and tell" to other people who also share a love of sewing.

However, I am going to have a couple of rules which are pretty basic:

1.   The garment must be for you and not for someone else - this challenge is also about personal sewing space and your sewing needs.  This is special sewing- for- you time.

2.  Choose a garment at the beginning of the month that you want to make up as your garment of the month.  It can be from a pattern, an idea, a picture from a magazine, snoop shopping - whatever you like.  Post this choice for the month on your blog and tell everyone what pattern you are using or what choice you are making. 

3. Blog about the garment when you have finished it (and in between if you want to).  Please take a photo of yourself wearing the garment - and if you feel that you would like to, style the garment as well.

(I know Rhonda is planning her own twist on this challenge - to work on UFO's - that's okay too - my rules are quite flexible - so long as you make one garment a month - even if it is really quick and simple).
I've decided that BeaJay's suggestion of a monthly round-up of garments is a good one.  If this challenge becomes big, then I will think about what to do:)  It would be great it if did, but I am really more interested in encouraging everyone to connect and sew.

If you are taking part in this challenge, I will be wanting to post pictures on posts about what you are making - I don't normally "take" pictures from other blogs, but I am assuming that you will not mind - of course I will be posting the link to your blog so that people can find you as well.  If you do not want me to do this, please let me know.  I think it is a great way of introducing everyone, but you may have different views, and I will respect those.

If you want to link back to my blog, you are welcome to do so.

I've made a button so that you can put it on your blog - you will find it on the sidebar.

I am also putting a copy of the blog roll in the top bar of my blog, along with the "rules".

If you want to join, let me know by leaving a comment at the end of this post.

That's it for today, ladies, so let's go and sew - and I am really looking forward to seeing your garment choice for the month of October 2013.

Sarah Liz :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Subtle Alterations to a Not Quite Right Skirt....

I made a skirt at the beginning of the year - what I call my first blog skirt.  I was determined to make a good first impression, and did a good job of an adaptation of a New Look skirt - complete with the suggested style length.

And even I was not happy - taking photo's for blogs was a new thing for me!

I wore it a few times in winter, but really was not happy.  The skirt was just a touch too long.  And proportions with a jumper or top were half/half and very dowdy looking.

I also wasn't happy with the width of the waist band - I like them just a little wider.  And normally I insert zips well, but I think I was a little anxious about showing all of you my work - so I have a few wobbles on the left hand side which I had ignored, except obviously I hadn't, as I was a little irked every time I saw the offending wobblies.

I also did not like the kick pleat - I think the fabric was a little soft for it  (a softer stretch cotton sateen).
So I undid it and cut of some of the length to the new hem length (yes, I made a mistake and forgot to add the allowance - easy to fix, I'll show you later...)

I re-inserted the zip on the left hand side and attached a new waistband - looks good inside now, doesn't it?

Now, when we get to redoing the kick pleat area - notice there is a little mark where  thread pulled - I hate that.  I tried to cover it - pens can work, but was not happy.  I'll show you one of my other tricks for little issues like this later...  I have turned the kick pleat into a split at the bottom of the skirt - I have sewn across the top, but hemmed the turnback by hand - slip stitch.

At top of the split, I actually make a little bar tack reinforcement - I do this with a few hand stitches.  There is a "proper" way of doing this, but for run of the mill clothes, I find this works well enough and is not that noticeable.  You can also anchor a hook and eye behind it - it just helps take any tension so that you don't split the seam:

In any case, it will be covered, along with the offending pulled thread with a daisy - I keep bits of guipure lace on hand for such emergencies. 

Voila- A nice little quirky feature instead of a pulled thread that annoyed me:

Now I must show you what to do if you accidentally cut of the hem allowance, or maybe there is not enough fabric for a hem allowance.  Make a blind hem.

I used a 1 inch (2 cm) bias binding strip and attached that.  I then finished the hem by hand- very neatly.  I quite enjoy hand stitching:

Much much happier:

If you look closely, you can see the little daisy (and you can see I've been wearing socks today!)

Now I love this skirt and will wear it a lot - I liked the fabric so much I actually have another skirt length put away for when this one is no longer wearable :)

Have a great weekend everyone, and tomorrow I will post an update on the Make a Garment a Month Challenge.

Sarah Liz :)

Friday, September 27, 2013

Quick Sew Scarf and a Quick Garment Update

Hi everyone,

Sometimes fabric is staring at you, and you start to feel quite uncomfortable.   Those little bits bought for a specific purpose that are still sitting there, waiting to play their role in life.

This bit of cheap lurex /gauze fabric was one of those pieces.  I only had a small piece that I purchased to make a cowl/infinity scarf.  I would wear it in the evening if we were travelling - small and light enough to pack, and can transform the plain black jumper and skirt/pants into an evening outfit.  I would do the same if we weren't travelling as well - I don't have much need for evening wear and would rather transform an everyday garment with an accessory.

I also was rummaging around and found a large frog closure.  I thought this would be ideal to sew onto my polar fleece vest (Simplicity 4032)  that I made earlier this year from leftovers from other projects. It is designed to be worn open, but I prefer to hold it closed - it's warmer that way.

 This was the vest  closed with hook and eye:

And the hook and eye is now covered by the closure.  I would still use the hook and eye to keep the frog from pulling open too far:

(n real life this closure is sewn on straight - but they swivel when worn a bit)

All finished:

Until tomorrow,

Sarah Liz :)     

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Make a Garment a Month Challenge, starts October

 A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was going to challenge myself to making a garment a month and I few of you indicated that you would also like to join this challenge.

My personal challenge is to extend my sewing repertoire and skills while resuming a busier life (I had a quiet patch for the start of this year).  Usually when I get busy, the activity that "gives" is the one that also gives me great pleasure - sewing.  So I am going to make sure I keep going by sewing, even if only in small blocks of time, every day.  That way I will make a garment a month. 

Some of you have also indicated that you find sewing difficult - so ladies (I don't think I have any male readers), lets put time aside for ourselves and sew our style.

If you want to sew more than one garment a month, that is great - I am sure I will too, but the primary goal is choosing one really nice garment a month to make to completion.

I've made a list of those of you who want to join.  If I have missed anyone, or got your details wrong, let me know.

Nothy Lane

Gaye -


BeaJay -

Judith -

L -


Charmel - no blog that I am aware of - let me know if you have one Charmel.

I've made a button for the challenge - this is the image only - but there is a grab button on the side bar, just under "About Me". 

Officially starts October 2013

I'm not going to set up a separate blog for this as this is also your own personal challenge and sewing journey.  It would be great to document what you make though - shall I put the finished garments on my blog, or do you think a photo service like Picasa would be a good idea?

I'll write another post on Monday 31st September with more information.

If you want to challenge your self and join, please leave a comment for me or email me,

Sarah Liz :)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Wrong post published

It happens - I also facilitate the blog ""  - and accidentally published  a post for that blog on my blog!  I deleted it very quickly, but not before it had hit the air.  Sorry about that - if you click on it, you will find it has been removed.

Must be time for coffee...mid afternoon concentration lapse has set in! (Today is my day off so I enjoy my blogs - I have also done my allocated sewing for today as per my new time management sewing schedule!)

Sarah Liz

Monday, September 23, 2013

Scary September Butterick 5821 - a fail and a win....

Every once in a while you realise that you are still style - stuck making dungarees, which most people leave behind as toddlers.  Butterick 5821 was my wake up style moment.

Butterick 5821

While I hate the jacket - I never liked these jackets when they were first in fashion, I did think the skirt and trousers might make a nice relaxed garment for around the house.  The front is faced while the back has elastic.  The waist is supposed to sit one inch below the natural waist.

Now I have always suspected that faced trousers and skirts will not work on me because of my high tummy and high hips - you need larger hips to hold a faced garment up - basic structural principle.

I should also have looked at the photo more closely and the design sketch - see how the trousers curve out - I suspect quite full legs and hips are supposed to fill these out.

And I was right:

Well, this cut is certainly relaxed.  But rather baggy and not quite what I had in mind.  Downright frumpy, in fact.  And these were size 8 with a little more for my mid section - which I have calculated correctly.

It gets worse:

While I have certainly mastered the crotch shape- (I redrew the crotch shape on these pants to suit meboth front and back are okay in these trousers) the look overall is downright baggy, saggy and dowdy.  Even for house pants.

I am seeing quite a few baggy pants more this shape on young girls, but really, I don't like it on me.

And the side view was less than flattering as well.  I do have elastic  waist  trousers for comfy wear, and they do not look as ugly as this.

But dutifully, like all good blogging sewists, I went off and remade the pattern when I should have said quite firmly and loudly - this style is not for me.

That's what you would do in a shop with RTW that does not suit you,  but no, we sewists are determined to fight it out to the bitter end.

So, off I went to spend quite some time redrawing the pattern - raising the rise (yes, I have at lest worked out I have a high rise) and took in the sides of the pants and took out some of the leg curve - and that meant redrawing the pocket bags and side front as well.

Then I went and re-toiled the pants:

(I used up parts of my husband's old shirts for this muslin, that is why they stop at mid calf).

Okay, slightly better, not quite so voluminous around the hip.  But not the look I want at all.

(I ran out of old shirt backs here and used a small remant of calico for the one half of this toile).

Seriously clam digger pants.  I do not like them.  This style is not for me....

When I want some paddling pants, I'll know what to make, but for now, I think I will pass on Butterick 5821.

So, not a winner, but I haven't made a wadder either.  Nor will I clutter up my cupboard with another me made that will come in useful one day and will never be worn.  Mind you, that can happen with RTW as well.

But I have learnt lots of things with this exercise:

 1/  Sewing time management - working consistently during the week in small blocks really moves a project along - so I will now keep steadily doing a little bit every day .

2/.  I have mastered both the crotch shape I need and the relationship of the rise to my body shape and crotch depth.


I have worked out my style - neat, elegant,nicely cut, chic styles.


That will be part of the Garment a Month challenge, starting on October 1st - details to come later this week.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Scary September - Skirt Success

I am so pleased with this skirt, I decide to showcase it in a frame :)

I made this skirt as part of the Scary September challenge, being held by Beverley (BeaJay) at:

The challenges I set for myself was to  use the Surefit system to draft a skirt.  I had previously used a surefit template to draft a pair of pants, but they did not work out well for me.  So I sort of gave up with the concept at that time.  Now seemed a good opportunity to try again.  I thought I couldn't go wrong with a skirt.

Surefit can be found here:

 This is the muslin:

The muslin worked beautifully.  This block is called a straight skirt, but it is very slightly A line.  I decided that would work well for me and the fabric I had chosen.  Just enough of an A-Line to make walking easy, but not too much to swamp me.

I also wondered what sort of zip to put in.  I usually do a lapped zipper insertion, and very infrequently use invisible zips.  The first time I put an invisible zip in it went in perfectly, so I don't have an scary thoughts about putting in invisible zips.  Or do I? Do I avoid them?  So I used a scrap of fabric and trialled an invisible zip:

Again, went in easily - I do need to nudge closer to the edge at the top of the zip, but this was a two minute trial, not the real thing.  Anyway, I decided that the fabric was busy enough that an invisible zip was really not needed. So I cut the skirt out with enough seam allowance at the back to allow a lapped zipper insertion:

This works nicely on such a busy fabric and looks quite neat inside as well:

The skirt was simple to make up and the only problem I had was that the hemline dipped at the front and was raised at the back.  I am not sure if this was the way I drew the pattern, but I did have to spend some time levelling the hem, which was a pest.  I'll have to put a note on the pattern so I remember next time that there is a problem.

Okay, now for the pretty pictures - I'm having an unruly hair day today.  This is the front:

And this is the back view:

I'm very happy with this little skirt.  As it is for normal everyday wear, it is not lined.  It gets hot and humid where I live, and there is nothing worse than wearing a lining.  I'll slip a petticoat on if I wear stockings, or in winter when I wear thick tights.

I am also very happy in that I think I have also discovered my style.  Which means I have been on a little reassessment of my style self, and who I am now in life.  Which means I have been reassessing the trouser project (but that is a story for another day)... but I think that my little patterned trouser idea:

Fabric that was going to become pants:

Has now become my little patterned dress idea.  Yes, I think Sarah Liz is going to start exploring the world of dresses next.

Keep happy and healthy, wherever you are...

Sarah Liz :)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Scary September- Flounce Alteration Idea

Some of us are participating in the Scary September challenge hosted by :

One participant I think is making a knit top with a flounce at the bottom.  (Well, I know who you are, but I don't want to speak out of turn, or embarrass you).  An adjustment has to be made for a full tummy, which means that a flounce at the bottom of the bodice will also need altering.

Now I am only a home sewer and not a pattern maker, but I just wondered if this could be the solution.  Below please see a very quick sketch of a flounce.  The upper edge attaches to the bodice bottom:

You will notice I have marked dotted lines within the flounce - one at the centre front, and then two either side.  I would slash and spread the intervening sections of flounce, much like you would for an A-Line skirt.  Because the outer edge of the flounce is a wider circle (remember geometry here), the top of the spread area will be narrower than the bottom:

Not very clear here, but I was sketching these over my early morning cuppa before going to the office to do some bills!  But if you look you will see I have tried to keep the trajectory of the curve.

I would trace my pattern piece first, so that I have something to cut and play with - and the "real" pattern is there to be traced again if you make a mistake.

I would measure the width of my altered bodice front pieces.  I would then know how wide my inner flounce curve (the seam that meets the bodice bottom) needs to be.  I would divide this amount by 4 (the number of cuts I am going to make ) and then spread the cuts by that amount.  Keep the trajectory of the curve, and you will note that the bottom area will spread too, but by a slightly greater amount.

I don't think it would matter if the curve flattens a bit - I haven't actually seen the pattern pieces, only the picture of the top.   I think you could sew out any excess at the sides.  Have a play with a scrap first.

Other people may have better suggestions, but I thought, for what it is worth, this idea may work.

Does anyone else have another way of solving this problem?

Sarah Liz :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Scary September - Timemanagement Thursday

This week has been one of those weeks - but having Scary September goals has helped to keep me focused on getting some sewing  and sewing preparation done.  Unfortunately in bits and pieces. Funnily enough, some of you have been talking about busy lives and not being able to sew, and how this is upsetting for you.  I too am about to resume a  busy life - I had a bit of a disappointment this year, in that I did not get a place in Psychology Honours, but the applications start again soon, and I am hopeful...I know more about the process now.  Applications are very time consuming - takes me a full week to do just one.  I've also got to get the roof replaced on the house, and fix the kitchen and run my husband's practice - he says it has never run so smoothly as when I helped out in a crisis and sort of still am.  Past experience has taught me that when I get busy, I ignore sewing, and then wear ill fitting ready to wear clothes that I hate, then I am miserable etc - I'm sure you all know the process.  So I am trying to work out how to carve out sewing time so that I can get bits done, and then have a focused session once a week.   With a plan to make one garment a month.   Some of you are joining me on that challenge.

(For those of you that don't know about Scary September, Beverley, aka BeaJay is holding a challenge this month about facing scary parts of sewing you usually avoid - for more info visit:

So, as part of Scary September, I am revisiting pants. I want to work out what sort of changes I need to make to patterns so that in the future I just automatically know what I need to do for my shape.  Tedious learning, but I am sure it will be worth it.   I traced the pattern on Tuesday, which took about half an hour:

On Tuesday evening I quickly sewed the muslin together  and took photographs - that took me about half an hour:

Now, usually I give you lots of detail about which pattern I am using and so on - I will give you all that when I finally complete these trousers for Scary September.   But for the moment I am concentrating on time management and sewing.  So I haven't taken my glasses off, or worried about cutting my feet off in the photo.  That's not my current project.

So, I can see these pants, far from being a relaxed, slouchy sort of pant, just look baggy, big on the hips and ill fitting.  And far from sitting once inch below my waist, are much lower than that.  So after a quick think, some tacking, fiddling and more try ons decided that I have a high rise - which figures, because I have a short waist.  So I decided to increase the rise.

This meant more tracing on Wednesday - not fun, because I had to think about pocket bags and side fronts - none of which were marked with lengthen/shorten lines.  Also, I had to remove width from legs, inner and outer, and make the legs longer, not a sort of bowed shape, which these are.  Altogether, it was tedious.  I had to do all sorts of things yesterday, work, dentist, cooking, pay the lawn man, washing.  So it took me all day - I had the bits laid out, and when I had a cuppa, did some more tracing.  It was not enjoyable work at all, mostly cos I wasn't focused and had lots of interruptions while I also needed to think.

Lengthening the back rise

I kept the original crotch depth, and marked a lower crotch if I need it.  It could be that altering the rise gives me the crotch depth I need. Anyway, you can always cut fabric away if need be, but you can't add it back if you have already cut it away.

I redrew the pocket bag and side front pieces - as I was also cutting bits away, I added more towards the centre front aspect of the pocket bag/side front pieces otherwise the pocket will not actually be big enough to be a pocket.   I also had to alter the pocket curve - I didn't like the original curve much anyway, so that was okay with me!

I also had to redraw the front facing - I needed a little more at the centre front of the trouser, which meant of course, the facing was wrong.

So, I had to totally rework the whole pattern.  Total time must have been about one hour, but this was fragmented throughout the day.

Today, I quickly cut out the second muslin, and stitched it - total time 30 mins.  I tried it on and it works - but I  haven't had time to take a photo yet.

I did retrace the pocket bags and side front pieces as well - they just needed a bit more on one side and a bit less on the other.  That took 10 minutes.

I am now ready to cut - but that will have to wait until Saturday or Sunday.  I need to finish my Scary September skirt first!

Sarah Liz

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Scary September - Timemanagement Tuesday...

Most of us have busy lives, and fitting sewing into hectic schedules is not always easy.  I try and fit bits and pieces of preparation into some day,s and fit bits and pieces of sewing into other days - and sometimes I manage to do a bit of both.

In the middle of a project, I tend to focus, but at either ends, or with simple jobs, I'll often be working on one project while thinking about how to tackle the next.

After I complete my skirt, I will be wanting to make the next project - a really scary one - pants again.  So today I started tracing the pattern I might use.  I say might, because sometimes the muslin process tells me that this is not the right pant for now, or for the fabric.

The first job is tracing the pattern - I usually do size 8 legs, 10 hips, 12 waist (I'm a rectangle).  I am not sure about the crotch, so I usually start with 8 and put the size 12 curve in as well:

Multiple crotch lines on back of pants.
The pattern I am thinking about using has a pocket in it - for muslin purposes I usually just place the side front piece over the front piece and cut as one piece - saves time as I am only checking the fit and don't need to fiddle with pockets:

Side front pattern piece placed over front pattern for muslin.
You can see the pocket shape underneath - I have drawn the shape on the muslin fabric as I am not sure if I like this very scooped rounded shape.  I will have a look at the lines on the muslin when it is made up - I can always change the shape if I want a straighter sort of curve (!).

Pocket shape
This is the pocket shape - looks remarkably like a crotch curve, but it isn't.   What I also think about at this stage is how I am going to make the garment up - most of it is straightforward, but this curve is not going to easily accomodate seam binding, so if I use this shape I will have to interface the pocket bag with something non-stretch.

When I trace patterns, I lie them on top of thick white card - it makes the tracing easy to see.

Well, my pattern is traced and my muslin is cut - I'll sew that up after I finish my skirt - that will probably be tomorrow - hope to post Thursday - it's looking good.

Have a lovely day/evening everyone,

Sarah Liz :)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Sunday Hello, Welcome to New Followers, and a NEW CHALLENGE!

One Garment a Month- New Challenge starts October

Hello everyone,

Sunday again, and as you know, I always say hi to everybody, and also welcome any new followers to my blog - and this week I would like to welcome Jessie and Sarah, both following via Bloglovin.

As you know, my DH volunteered to upgrade my computer, which was slowly coming to a full stop.  He is also doing the medical cover this weekend - and it is a busy weekend - so I couldn't see when he would  get this done.  The job is started, but  a long way from being finished.  So I have resurrected my old laptop, with DH's help.  And now  I am back blogging!!  :)

DH gave me a Tablet a couple of weeks ago, and I decided to look at that and try and work out how to blog on that.  It's a very different platform (Android).  I could get into Blogger and I worked out how I use it on that format.  Playing around with it,   I accidentally published one of my "not to be published" drafts - only the title- about a garment a month, a challenge. It was a note to myself to start making one really nice garment a month, and not the quick and simple sewing which I have been doing to quickly create a useful wardrobe.  And I couldn't reverse it on the Tablet.  And the mobile phone often freezes when I try to blog - it's okay for comments.

Anyway, some real good has come of this, because it seemed to be a "garment a month challenge - some of you want to do this, so I thought "Why Not". 

We all need motivation, and I certainly find that having people to network with on blogs helps to keep my SewJo up.  So I think my mistake has turned out to be a really good idea  and :

Starting October 1st, the garment a month challenge.   

Please let if you would like to join by leaving a comment for me.

Have a great week everyone,

Sarah Liz :)

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Scary September Part Two Plans...

Just a quick post today - my DH is busy upgrading my computer, and most of my "things" are not yet loaded.  So if I go off the air for a while, that is why.   I'll still be sewing though, and keeping track of your blogs on my mobile phone.  He assures me I'll be back blogging on the weekend, but sometimes it takes longer than he anticipates or he has more demands with his hospital work than anticipated.

Okay, part two of Scary September ( a challenge held by Beverly, AKA "BeaJay" - find her and details of this challenge at

 Sometimes I buy fabric that is currently fashionable, and don't get around to making it up.  I think I am also a little scared of wearing "on trend" clothes - I'm not a loud sort of person, and don't really like being the centre of attention.   So I am going to face that fear and make up this skirt length of stretch cotton sateen into a little slightly A-line skirt:

And this length of quiliting cotton  into a pair of tapered trousers.  I've got to revisit a pattern that is not quite right for this and get it right:

As DH is doing the medical cover this weekend, I should get some time to make headway on at least the skirt, and maybe even the pants.

And I may even post, if my computer is back, and my camera software is back in !

See you when I can,

Sarah Liz :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Colour Trends - Color Solutions International

I know lots of you are aware of Pantone's influence on colour trends for each season, but Pantone is not the only colour group that operates.  Another is color solutions international.  Following is the predictions for what we will be wearing in Spring/Summer 2014.

So no matter what your personal colouring, you should be able to find something to suit you for Summer 2014.

I've actually placed these colour trends in a page at the top of my blog so that you can refer to them when you like, or better still, visit color solutions international, where you can find colour trends for Autumn and Winter 2013 and also 2014 as well:

For some reason, I actually prefer this group to Pantone - I think it gives more scope for personal choice, which is what I prefer.  And everyone should be able to find something to suit their personal skin colouring or preferences.

Sarah Liz :)