Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Here's to a Happy New Year ...and a Retrospective glance at 2014.

Jacket, Marcy Tilton - Vogue 8982, Pants, Burda 6895
The first two years of my blog have been fairly ordinary as far as sewing and style are concerned.  I've very much concentrated on building a wardrobe of  very casual clothes and also some basics.  The jacket above was a break from that routine, and I love it.

I also love my casual clothes, especially my summer dresses.  This one of course was an unexpected surprise winner, made out of blue linen (only I didn't realise that at the time, I thought it was just a cheap Op Shop cotton):

New Look 6080.

The other two winners that come out on a regular basis (like yesterday for instance - basically a home day with a visit to the optician as well - so something that would work for both parameters was needed):

Burda 7066

Burda 7066.
I even wore these dresses when I went to Adelaide - and Adelaide can get quite cool during November evenings, so I even wore them with leggings - and I vowed never to wear leggings!  Mind you, they are useful in these situations - they don't take up much room in the luggage (or add too much weight) and you can put them on and off whenever you need to.

All three dresses have pockets - well worth the extra time and effort.

And I'm really glad I made some basic pants - five pairs of them - two black, one marine, one black and white check, and one in black crepe:

Kwik Sew 2960.
Hmmm, I'm glad I don't do the singlet look in real life - it's not quite my thing - but perfect for showing off the pants.

In fact, I think all my completed garments were winners (and if you want to see them all, look at the Gallery).



Simplicity 2317.

He loves them - he was absolutely thrilled. So it looks as though I'll have to make more one day :)

I didn't really have losers this year but I have had two misadventures:

Kwik Sew 3765.

Yes, my little elastic waist bar code skirt.  After I had both made and posted this skirt I notice that I had made a mistake.  The sort of mistake an experienced sewer should not make.  But I did.  This fabric actually had a one way pattern, with a more writing the right side up going one way up the fabric but not the other.  Luckily, the wrong way also had numbers the right way up.  But still!!!

My excuse was I had just resumed  studying after an 18 month break and had so much other stuff going on in my head that  concentration just wasn't in the sewing headspace at all.

DH and I discusssed at length and we both thought that with bar codes there isn't really a right way up because they scan in all directions. And besides, in a post modern world, perhaps there is no such thing as rules, and grand sewing narratives, and a right way up in fabric in any case.  So I am wearing it quite happily.

So far, no-one else has noticed, so there you are :).

And the second misadventure:

Top: Kwik Sew 3036.
Yes, my new roll neck knit top - I wore it out for the first time when DH and I went out for dinner.  After I washed it, I noticed a small grease stain was on the front.  I tackled it with some sard, but it didn't come out.

So I tackled it with my heavy duty stain remover.  Now, stain removers always tell you to test first, but I never do - after years of no mishaps, I have decided that nothing happens with this stuff to the detriment of the fabric.


Yes, the stain remover not only removed the stain, it removed a two inch circle of dye.  I now had a bright pink two inch blotch in the middle of the top.

I would rather have had the small stain.

Ahhh well, lesson learnt.   And this gives me a wonderful excuse to make this top up again:).

Always the sewing optimist!

Talking of sewing optimism, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you all for your wonderful company this year, and I look forward to another sewing year with you all.

And I want to wish you a year of sewing lots of winners.

And of course, good health, blessings and happiness for all of you and your loved ones.

See you the other side,

Sarah Liz

Monday, December 29, 2014

Make A Garment a Month now on Facebook.

Most of you probably already know that I was facilitating the Make a Garment a Month Challenge Blog  from late 2013 and all of 2014.

Some of you that follow my blog may not know about the Make a Garment a Month Challenge and may want to be part of it next year.  

Next year we are moving to Facebook.  We will be a closed group.  If you want to be part of this group, either friend me on my facebook page :  or email me -

To those of you who already know this news and are members, my apologies for boring you, and for those that are not members and want to join - you are more than welcome.

Sarah Liz

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Navy Cotton Dress became a Linen Xmas Dress...

Last week I posted the start of my sewing plans for 2015.   I was going to make New Look 6080 up in a navy blue cotton:

I had planned to make a new dress for Christmas,  but was busy right up to Christmas Eve, so decided that the new dress wouldn't happen.

Due to sewing withdrawal (it's my creative outlet, and also my anxiety reducer) I was getting quite irritable on Christmas Eve.  I told DH that I as I had done most things, I would spend some time quietly sewing.

So I rummaged in the stash and found a piece of what I thought was blue chambray in my stash.  It came from an Op Shop year ago. Fortuitously, I had already pre-shrunk it.  It was a bit wrinkly, and a bit hard, but I was only making a  may- be or may-be not wearable muslin at this stage.   I decided to just use it and get it out of the stash.

This was a simple dress as the line drawings show:

Line Drawing

I zoomed through the dress with gay abandon, thinking to myself this is just a cheap op shop cotton, and will do for a summer dress.

And later, when giving it a final pressing it dawned on me that the fabric really was wrinkly - and then it dawned on me that I had made myself a lovely new linen dress for Christmas.  And a linen dress has been on my wish list for a long time.

Luckily,  the fit was good, I had put pockets in, and the finish was fine.    And if I had realised I was sewing up a very good fabric, the dress would not have been finished in time for Xmas.  Because you always take a lot of time and care sewing fine, expensive fabrics.

( WARNING - holiday hair is present in all these shots - some days are just run the brush through the hair days, and forego the dryer :))

I cut a straight size 10 and added a little bit at the sides at bust level (front and back) as I often need this - not a FBA as this will give me too much fullness in the waist and hips. I'm also only a A/B cup, so don't need that.  Being an inverted triangle, I have broader shoulders and chest than my hips, but not a large bust.

I added a bit extra at the sleeve seams to match, and added a 1/4 inch to the sleeve hem.  New Look are always just a teeny bit short for my liking, but I didn't want to change the look of the garment too much.

I seamed the neck/facing at 3/8 inch (1 cm) instead of the normal 5/8 inch allowance as necklines are always too low and wide for me.  I do test the fit first, to make sure the garment will go over my head.

I added about 3 cms to the length and added a deeper hem allowance to weight the dress a bit.

I also added pockets - they are quite low because I had to place them below the seams of the french dart.  I could raise them a small amount next time I make this pattern, because I cleared the dart seam with a bit to spare:

 Luckily I have quite long arms so can reach those pockets!

The front pocket pieces were a lightweight poly cotton, and the back pieces were the main garment fabric:

(Can you see how the fabric has a slight sheen in the photo - that is also indicative of linen).

The front bodice had little pin tucks:

I used a cotton thread instead of polyester sew all thread for the pin tucks - I prefer to use cotton for top stitching on fabrics that have to be ironed at high temperature - sometimes polyester thread top stitching sort of gets a slightly melted look.

The pattern did not specify top stitching for the neckline, but I added this - because I like it :)

The sleeves were quite small and roomy on me - I always find New Looks sleeves roomy on my very slender arms.  Roomy sleeves are perfect though for the hot and humid climate we have here during summer.

Now for the front, side and back views:

So that was my new Christmas Dress - lovely linen, just what I always wanted :)

And amazingly, the first dress I have made that fits perfectly (for an unfitted dress)  without fiddling :).

And I've crossed the first dress of 2015 off the list - the blue cotton was too thick anyway, and this is much nicer:).

I do hope you all had a wonderful Xmas day.

Sarah Liz

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas...

Another year has flown by and it's time for me to wish all of you a Happy and Healthy Christmas.

Christmas can be a time of cheer, but also a time of stress for some of us.  Do make sure you don't overdo things, take your time, and enjoy yourself too.  Keep up with some relaxation and exercise, and if sewing is a stress buster, make sure you do a little bit when you can.  You are important too :).

The little decoration in the photo is one I made some years ago.  It is a foam cone covered with buttons, beads and beads - sparkly things I was never going to use.  It's now sat on our mantelpiece every Xmas for nearly ten years. It's getting a bit careworn (like me) but with a few repairs now and again, will probably last another ten years.  The base is a wooden bangle, found in an Op Shop (thrift shop).

A close up shows what I did - it took hours to glue these bits and pieces on:

That's it from me for the next few days - take care everyone,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Getting Ready for 2015

This week has not been a good week for sewing, and next week doesn't look much better. Still, some weeks are like that.

I don't like it when weeks go like that but I try and make the most of it.  So in between the distractions of life I have been pulling out ideas for my 2015 sewing sessions.

I need a cotton dress, and think I will use this pattern:

New Look 6080
I want to make it in a navy cotton that lives in my stash.  It's been pre-shrunk this week.  Next week the muslin will be done.

And in no particular order, but on the list of essentials are a pair of cool pants for summer, and thicker pants for winter.  This pattern has wider leg pants which are great for summer, and more tapered pants which will work for winter:

I don't feel inclined to rush this project - and I am not sure when I will start. Sometime in January I think.  The fabrics are stashed and already shrunk.

While I was going through patterns and stash, I found some bits of poplin that were rescued from a dress that became a wadder, sometime in my pre-blog past.  I looked at the shapes, and they looked as though they would work for a gored skirt.  I rummaged through the pattern stash and found this:

Vogue 7937.
I love the look of this pattern, but when I looked at the pattern pieces I could see that the cut really is for an hour glass/pear with small waist and larger hips, 9 inches below waist.  I'm chunky around the middle, with a large high hip/tummy and tiny hips.  So a further rummage made this the pattern of choice:
Burda 6895.
I downloaded the pattern pictures from Pattern Review ; unfortunately the photo process there seems to chop of the bottom of the Burda Pattern pictures. Anyway, as you can see from the line drawing, the hip line is quite high in this skirt, and the waist is not too indented.  I think this shape might work for me, so I am going to trial the short version.  Except I will make it a bit longer.

It will be wonderful to use the wadded fabric - I hate wasting good material.

I also want to trial a couple of top patterns.  I like this little Simplicity top:

Simplicity 1316.
I've already made the muslin and it looks good.  I'm not sure what fabric I will use yet, so it will be off to the stash to choose one soon.

I also love this little dress (View B, sleeves)

Burda 6914.

I'm going to trial it as a top first, to see how the neck feels.  It looks high to me, and might not be comfortable.  I've made the muslin up but haven't tried it on yet.  It may be one of those garments that needs the right fabric and the right occasion.  Sometimes I have made things up just because I wanted to trial them and get them off the list, only to not wear them because they don't work in my life or wardrobe.  I want to eliminate these sorts of mistakes this year.

I may also make another knit top using this pattern:

Kwik Sew  3036
Kwik Sew 3036
I have been looking for months and months and months for a summer weight cotton knit that isn't see through.  I finally found it at Remnant Warehouse.  It was an online purchase and I had no idea what weight it would be, but hooray, when it arrived, it was perfect.  Happy Smile!


Of course, with the Remnant Warehouse  recent 25% off sale, I've  been busy stashing instead of sewing.  Strategic stashing of course :).  I shop with them online - it's a bit hit and miss as you can't tell the texture of the fabric, nor can you assess it's feel until you get it.  But I just keep an open mind - it's quite fun, sort of like a lucky dip, and sooner or later it will be just right for something :). I've shopped with them enough to know that their fabrics are all lovely, and a good price.

I now have a good selection of stash, which really helps me to start wardrobe planning and sewing with more of a purpose.  Living in Newcastle, I have been restricted to Spotlight basics, and really, there is a limit to what you can do with cheap craft cotton.   Now that my casual wardrobe is about finished, I want to start making quality garments.  I started with casual clothes because that got my sewing skills sharpened after a ten year sewing hiatus.  

Some of it even is even patterned.  I find it difficult to find fabrics in colours and patterns that suit me.  

This one works as it is an abstract, linear pattern in cooler colours.  Some of you have commented I don't wear pattern much, but I do find most patterns just do not like me:)

Speaking of stash, next year I must go on a Stash Diet.  I need to clear out the excess and fabrics I don't like, and only buy bits that work back and that I like, .    Some nourishment is after all needed, and if I purge, I can treat myself.  Rewards are a very good incentive :)

I am also going to keep track of what I use and what I spend.  I keep meaning to, but this year other priorities in my personal life intervened.  I know I have stashed too much, so I want to see how much I recoup in garments over the next year or so.   Quite a bit I suspect, as I find it hard to buy clothes that fit, especially in Newcastle, where obesity is quite prevalent.   So the market caters to larger people here.  It is also not a quality market, so I don't like the clothes in any case.  

And when I go away, I don't have time to shop for clothes.  It's just not on my priority list.  

So it's time to up the ante and Sew my Stash into my Style during 2015.

Those are my plans.  What are yours?

Sarah Liz

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Is it a New Duster Coat?

 Is this a New Duster Coat?

No, it's a Christmas gift for DH - a Nightshirt made my me :).  I noticed that DH's nightshirts were looking a little old and tired.  I was also trying to find a present for him.  Now, he is at the age and stage (as am I) where he does not need anything more - we really need to start getting rid of stuff. So I thought that making him a new nightshirt would solve two problems - no more unneeded junk coming into the house, and a useful present to boot.

Luckily DH is doing the medical cover this weekend - he doesnt think he is so lucky, but I am, because I could get busy sewing all weekend to finish the Nightshirt Job:).

The fabric used was one of the Spots and Stripes range of cotton poplin that Spotlight sells. I used Simplicity pattern 2317:

 I found one of DH's old nightshirts and measured that and decided to use XL as my size.  It's always better to have larger rather than smaller, tighter nightshirts - more comfortable.  I added an inch in length..  The pattern was different from the old nightshirt in that it had a lapel.

The pocket on the pattern was smaller than that on the old nightshirt, so I made the seams smaller and that rectified that problem :).

Otherwise, I made the pattern up as instructed, except I omitted interfacing the collars, cuffs and facings.  This is because the old RTW nightshirt did not have any.   I did not think the added layer was needed - in a nightshirt, softness is needed.  The only problem DH has had with the RTW nightshirt is buttons pulling through the un-interfaced fabric, or a buttonhole tearing through.  I patch these with some ingenuity.

So, for this nightshirt I did place interfacing into the button and buttonhole areas.  That should solve the problem of tearing and pulling through.

I wasn't sure where to start the buttons or if the pocket placement would be okay:

Old nightshirt:

 New nightshirt:

I think that the placement of top button and pocket should meet with approval - I also think the lapel should meet with approval as well :).

The sleeves on the old nightshirt are narrower at the cuff than the new nightshirt; however, some of DH's nightshirts have this width of sleeve.

The only part that was tricky was the collar.  I was blithely sewing along when I realised I had not made a collar that did not have a back facing before. I was not entirely happy with the method that the pattern used, but made the most of it - lots of poking and prodding of bits that did not want to go in, and a hefty sewing down solved the situation:

Next time (although while making this I swore there would not be a next time) I will put the shoulder seam to the back and then do the collar, or even finish the facing below the shoulder seam like the RTW one:

I also seamed the front/front facing seam in a 3/8 inch seam so I did not have to trim it back.  The extra width on the lapel does not seem to obvious, and it was a lot less work.

Now, for the views:

Okay, not a flattering fit on me!!

Sleeves a bit long on me :)

A bit large for me, but I think this will be just right for DH .

The lapel and collar:

Which look fine without interfacing - and poplin is a very tight, close, firm fabric as well.

The pocket:

And yes, the stripes do match up!

And a cuff - and the stripes are even at the seam and at the turn.  Not sure how I managed that for all cuffs, but I did.

Before I did the buttonholes and sewed on the buttons I applied interfacing to those areas:

(I also used bigger buttons than the pattern and respaced the buttonholes to match the RTW nightshirt).

Then did the buttonholes and the buttons:


I made TWO!!  That was quite a sewing effort for this weekend.

(I forgot to crop the top of this picture - now you can see why I use a screen - bookcases are not the best backdrop for photos - and the picture is downright distracting as well - its a place we went to in New Zealand - DH is very sentimental and likes holiday souvenirs.  He's the romantic in our household, and I am the more practical romantic, if you know what I mean...).

 I think DH should like these nightshirts - if not, I suppose I could always revert to using them as big duster coats:)

I hope you all have a happy, healthy week, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A few days away...

I go to Adelaide once a year for business and personal reasons.  DH sometimes comes, but sometimes doesn't, depending on his responsibilities, obligations and demands.  This year he could.  I suggested we call into Melbourne for a day or so, on the way, so I could buy some stash and look at the Gaultier exhibition.

This trip was spontaneously planned, so apologies to anyone in Melbourne - I did not have time to let anyone know, and not much time there in any case to meet you.  Next time - Melbourne is only a short flight away from Newcastle :).  It takes longer to get into Melbourne from the Tullamarine Airport than it does to fly there :).

Stash was purchased from three discount shops on Sydney Road, Brunswick.  These were Anne's Discount Fabrics @ 363 Sydney Road, Brunswick Fabrics @ 383 Sydney Road, and  Unique Fabrics @ 396 Sydney Road.

I purchased viscose  knits in colours that suited me :

Thick plain cotton  knits (some with lycra)  for winter:

And some three patterned  knits, also in cotton (some with lycra):

Some lovely linen:

And a length of lightweight dress/blouse fabric in colours that suit me:

Plus a small amount of wool, I bought 1.2 thinking it would be good for the popular Rachel Comey skirt (V1247).

We also visited the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibition that is currently showing at the National Gallery of Victoria.
This was an immersive exhibition with the dummies appearing to come to life and talk.  DH worked out how - there is a projector projecting the images onto the mannequins, presumably with sound track.

Phone photos seemed to be allowed.  Gaultier "Himself" welcomed you to the show - you can't see it here on a moment in time photo, but the eyes and mouths of these mannequins appeared to open and close.  Quite a few of the exhibits were staged this way.
 Gaultier loved his grandmere very much, and was quite intrigued by her clothes and underwear, and that started a long fascination with corsetry.   This is one of them - finished with bits of raffia and wheat:

 Gaultier has plundered so many ideas and made them his - in this picture you can see the "Can Can dress" - the ruffled petticoat is on the outside, with the inside showing multiple images of kicking legs.  Behind this you can see one of his men's suits - just look at the cut and hang - perfect.  His workshop certainly knows what it is doing.
Well, after this immersive experience, it was time to fly off to quiet, quaint Adelaide... 
The piece de resistance awaited  in little old Adelaide, the small  city in the provinces, frequently scorned but much loved by all of us who have lived there.  It's such a nice place to live in - small, easy to get around, friendly.
The Art Gallery of South Australia is currently collaborating with the Musee les Arts decoratifs and is hosting an exhibition called "Fashion Icons".  Ninety outfits are currently on exhibition - according to a friendly gallery guide, two had their own passports, but he had no idea how or why!  Adelaide's exhibition was a lot more conventional than the interactive Gaultier exhibition, but then this was a story of high couture and it's evolution into forms we currently know - how couture has merged and morphed with RTW.  Gaultier of course was a lot more streetwise and entered the scene during this trajectory, and plunders from the street and the mass,  from old techniques and historical clothing including corsets, and utilising new materials.  The Fashion Icons exhibition traces the main ideas that would also have influenced Gaultier, through the 50's to today. 
For those of you interested in the details of this exhibition, here is a pdf  catalogue I found on the internet:  .

There is also a dedicated site hosted by the AGSA about the exhibition that can be found here:
Unfortunately, I could not take any photos as this was not allowed.  There are some on the internet, so just to give you a flavour:
 And a Christian Lacroix dress I have always wanted to see:

 And now I have!

Before I go, I just want to share with you this thought.  Most of us who sew at home tend to be overly critical of ourselves, and even think of ourselves as lesser beings in the fashion hierarchy.  Not so - the fashion world in Paris lists the four levels as Haute Couture, Couture, Paper patterns and Dressmaking (US!!!!) and Pret a Porter (Ready to wear).

Do have a lovely weekend everyone, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz.