Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What's in the Pot?

A few weeks ago I dyed a dress that was faded with RIT dye.  RIT claimed that the dye was permanent, and it might be, but it certainly wasn't colourfast.  I looked everywhere on the packet and on RIT's website but could not find any information to say that a fixative was needed.  Mary from Biblioblog kindly left me a comment to say I must use a fixative.

The next day I was on the internet finding out all about fixatives.  Many products cannot be imported into Australia, but this product was available for delivery to Australia via fishpond.

The product is called Retayne and it is for use with cotton fabrics only. It prevents colour bleed in dyed fabrics, whether from your own dying or from commercially purchased cottons.  It seems that it is used by quilters for treating patchwork cottons as well.

You use 1 teaspoon per yard of fabric, hot water, and soak for 20 minutes.   So I fixed my dress and another garment as well.  The second garment bled on being immersed but soon stopped.

You are advised to wash treated garments in cool/cold water after fixing, so one assumes there is still a tiny bit of colour run potential left.  I understand that after treating with this product, the treated fabric will be more light sensitive, so it is best to then dry them out of the sun and light.

I hope this helps anyone else that wants to dye fabrics, or has fabrics that bleed, or wants to do patchwork.

Thanks Mary for your helpful comment :)

Sarah Liz.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Starry Night Top.

I have recently made a top from a dress pattern in an off white linen and cheesecloth - you can see it here.

 It was quick and simple to make, so I decided to make number 2 this week, which you can see above.

The pattern I used was Vogue 1390, a Sandra Betzina pattern.  I've always thought of Sandra Betzina's styles as a little mature, but really they are quite nice.  Or am I getting a little mature?  Or is it a mixture of old and nice?

That pattern appealed because I had a half metre of 112 craft fabric.  What on earth was I thinking, given this would nowhere near make a top, even for a small person.


Well, actually, I was thinking Prada, when she was adding this sort of print to denim jackets,  but I never got around to making that, and then I went off the idea.   Next,  I saw a little shell top in an  Armani Spring/Summer 2013 collection (I am not sure which of his two collections it was in)  that was made in a fabric with a pattern similar to this -only probably silk, not a very wearable everyday cotton type of fabric.  But not even I was going to eek out this small amount of fabric into a shell top, so when I saw this pattern, I knew exactly how to use it.
I had some lovely navy poplin in my stash  and used a very small amount - it's such a gorgeous and well behaved poplin that it has been earmarked for something special, but I don't now what yet.  I lined the bodice, and made the armhole binding from a piece of lawn (also in the stash).

All fabrics were originally from Spotlight.

This is a quick and simple make - especially as the pattern is loose fitting, so no time consuming fitting.

I cut size B, which is about 12 or 34 inch bust.  There is a lot of ease, which I like in summer tops.

Isn't it a super little top - even if I do say so myself :)

The side view shows the straight panels - I did not think these would work, but they do :)

You can certainly see the side panels here, and the overall shape, which is loose. But that is fine for casual summer wear.

And the back view:

I eked out the poplin by adding a seam in the centre back of the yoke instead of cutting it on the fold: 

And although Betzina did not specify top-stitching, I like it, and I think for casual clothes it is a good finish - it looks a little sportier.  Betzina suggested hand stitching the bias armhole facing in place, but I machine stitched it carefully down-  it holds the binding down firmly onto the lining and bodice pieces, instead of being stitched only onto the lining.  Nothing will move or go astray now:

The only other alteration I made was to raise the neckline a tiny bit - I did this by decreasing the seam allowance.  Of course, I tested the size of the hole before finishing the bodice- it's most important with a pull over the head garment like this to make sure it actually does go over the head.  I find that if the hole is too large, garments move around too much and show bra straps. I think this neckline is probably okay if cut to the size of the pattern, but I have made sure :).

For those of you looking forward to seeing the dress I am going to make, that will happen by Christmas, but a few other garments are in the queue first :).

That's it for now, do have a lovely weekend everyone, stay happy and healthy.

Sarah Liz

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Do you hate alterations as well?

Do you hate alterations?  I do.  I would much rather make something from scratch than alter RTW garments.  Even if I have to do multiple muslins and have all sorts of sewing issues with making a garment.  Alterations do not appeal.

I've had three shirts that have sat in my wardrobe for at least three years.  Unworn.  Why?  Because I don't like the cuffs on them.

These are summer weight shirts, and I will never wear these with longer sleeves.

So they have sat and sat in the wardrobe.

Because I don't like doing alterations.

But yesterday I did them:


(I pegged the sleeve up to see if I was going to like the alteration or not).

Two more:

Not the nicest shirts in the world, as they currently are.

But with shorter sleeves, I think I will wear these quite a bit in summer:

They are quite good enough now for casual wear, and I feel so much better - sort of virtuous really, that I have finally done this tedious job.

Do you hate alterations as well?  Would you rather sew a garment from scratch as well ?

Well, Virtue and I will say goodbye for now - on Saturday I will be posting my starry night top (which means I now have to finish it :-)  ).

Sarah Liz

Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Summer Stash Top - Vogue 1390

This week I made a little top; it was quick and simple to make and used up some bits of stash that had long annoyed me.  I mean, why did I buy 80cms of about 100 wide fine hanky linen?  It's been in my stash for a couple of decades, so I can only assume it was when I was paying a mortgage, and that this was on a sale table.  Still, what did I think I would make out of that??  

I decided this pattern might just be useful to deal with this piece of stash:

Sandra Betzina Dress, Vogue 1390

 I want to make the dress one day, so I decided that I would trial this pattern in a top first - that way, I could kill two birds with one stone.  For View A, I had just enough linen to make the yoke and centre panels, but I would have to put a small seam in the back yoke.  Easy.  I needed to find something in my scrap stash for the side panels and found some cheesecloth.  And I needed lining, and had an old dress lining (voile) salvaged and stashed for years, and other bits of voile leftovers for the bodice and bias arm bindings.  Project materials, tick.

I made a muslin, which I forgot to photograph on me, but it worked:

I used size 12, as that is the closest to my bust measurement. There is a lot of ease, but I thought this would be perfect for a summer loose top, so kept the ease - summer here is so hot and humid, baggy is best.

And then the sewing began - it was only a few pieces with no fitting or fastenings to slow things down.  I did raise the neck a little bit as most necklines swim on me - I just altered the seam allowance to 3/8 inch.  I also did not trim back the hemline at the sleeves as I like as much cap sleeve coverage as possible.

Enough words, here's the pictures:

1.  I both interfaced and stay stitched the neckline - Sandra B says one or the other, but on a stretch neckline I like both.

 2.  Cheesecloth is crinkly and stretches, so I stayed the pieces on a piece of voile selvage cut to the width of the pattern piece:

3.  The side insert panel - it's quite strange - it's just a straight piece and the front and back panels provide the curving.  I used the cheesecloth for these panels - I also top stitched them, as I like that look and it holds the seam in place.

4.  See what I mean about the front and back panels providing the curve - this is how the armhole sits:

5.  The lining:

6. The top - I'm afraid my outside photos are too exposed, so I have taken a picture on a hanger inside so that you can see the contrast panels:

And the outside, over exposed ones - but you will get the general idea of the shape and fit at least:

And the side panels - you can't see them in the photo's above, the light just takes them out:

(That's almost a creative shot from me, must do more of them :)

The armholes are quite low, but again, in summer, they will be cool.  You can't see my bra, so that is okay.

It looks nice with trousers as well:

Finally a me made wardrobe is coming together - both the skirt and the trousers are me mades!  The skirt is my TNT, I think it was a McCalls skirt ( I just use the tracing, and I'm not sure which pattern it was), and the pants (my second pair, these are black, the others on this post are navy and  are Butterick 5687. )

I'm so pleased I have made up this annoying stash into something beautiful and wearable.

Only because I wanted to, not because I have a competitive desire to enter these things :)

Have a great weekend everyone, wherever you are.

Sarah Liz :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

On The Blog Hop :)

Last week I found out that the lovely Hana from Velvet Ribbon Sew had nominated me for the wonderful global blog hop.  Hana's sewing is exquisite - always very careful and she also shows you the inside of her garments, along with full details of how the garment is made.  Her posts are always so detailed, it is hard to believe her first language is not English.  She now writes her blog to practice writing in English, which I find amazing given that her language is so structurally different from English.  Not only is Hana amazing, she is also a very lovely, ethereal presence in our sewing community.  Thank you for thinking of me as kind - I do like to encourage other sewers, I think because I used to be a  nurse :)

So thank you very much for nominating me Hana. And thank you for your lovely compliments when you nominated me in your blog hop post.


I write because I wanted to explore and experience  the world of sewing more fully.  I had enjoyed reading sewing blogs for about twelve months before I finally decided to start a blog of my own.  I don't think I had a clue what I was doing, but sometimes the only way to find out what to do is to start doing it (the same goes for sewing as well).   My first post was mostly words and went on and on about sewing goals - if you really want to be bored, here it is...

My second post was more visual and introduced a subject I occasionally write about:

When I finally posted a garment, I was too shy to wear it and take a self timed photo of my self:

Sarah Liz 01/2013 - New Look 6103.
I think I have just wandered down memory lane - and have avoided the question of why I write.   Really, I enjoy writing my blog.  It's a little bit of peace and quiet time, getting sewing ideas in order, thinking about how to improve. Writing about what you have sewn makes you think about sewing more - if I make something that doesn't work out, in the past it might have gone in the bin, lesson unlearnt.  Now, even if something doesn't work, I post it.  If it isn't perfect, I post it - and sometimes I am happy with imperfect, as RTW often is imperfect (certainly the fit)  as well - and my imperfect is a lot better than RTW imperfect. And because I am going to write about what I have sewn and share it with you, it makes me think about the sewing process before I start, so in a way, writing helps me to improve my sewing.

Like many of you, I don't tend to self promote - on the odd occasion that I have mentioned that I write a blog,  I have been asked "What on?" When I say sewing, this seems to rather suddenly ends the conversation.    Even if I say I sew, it is assumed I do craft, not really make my own clothes! I mean, aren't clothes things you buy RTW??  Little do they understand the secret and wonderful world of sewing your own clothes...

So:  mostly I write nowadays to connect with all you wonderful sewing bloggers out there :) so we can discuss patterns and techniques and how we dart, why we trim, how to get the sagginess out of rear ends and all the other things we are obsessed with :)


Vogue 1390
 I have just made a simple off-white linen top, based on the Sandra Betzina dress pattern shown above.  I'll give you a little glimpse of it below - the post for this will probably be written this weekend.

I am now making my second version of this top - it is quick and easy to sew, with no zips or buttons, and it is over sized and semi-fitted, so there is not much to fit.  Quick, simple, satisfying, instant gratification sewing.  Sometimes you need that don't you think?


I am tempted to say, as most have, that is really doesn't differ much from other sewing blogs. And then I thought a little more about this.  I guess I am now thinking about what makes sewing blogs different - and I had not given much thought to this before.  Some blogs have a personality at the helm - and some examples I am  thinking of  include  scruffybadgertime  and  heather b.

Other blogs feature meticulous and detailed sewers, like lovely Sharon from Petite and Sewing.

And some focus on retro sewing - I'm not greatly into that, being a bit retro-aged myself. 

And some blogs (most really) are just wonderful ordinary sewers blogging about their sewing adventures.
I think I am more in the classification of ordinary sewing blogger.  Haphazard, poorly lit, self timed photos on a small automatic camera.  Eclectic approach to blogging.  An ordinary approach to sewing.  A bit like me in real life really, just an ordinary person.  Trying to fit sewing into everyday life.  So, I think I fall into this category of sewing blogger.

Of course, in my wildest dreams, I have great photos taken by someone who knows how to use a camera so that all I do is stand and twirl and get all those wonderful shots.  And  all the time and money in  the world to style my sewing.  Except I don't think this is really me!!

Maybe it's time to just relax and be myself a little more on the blog and maybe bring out my impish sense of humour.  There really is one lurking there, but being, like a lot of  sewing bloggers, a little on the introverted side, it tends to stay hidden.

I think really it takes care of itself.  I do try to post regularly although this year I have had to post less frequently as life had a few ups and downs earlier this year.  My writing style chops and changes according to how busy I am.  I basically use pictures as I think these are the quickest way of telling a story.  Usually I don't write much at all - for very sound reasons. I completed a midlife B.Arts. -  I majored in Drama and Screen Studies.   In Screen Studies,  I studied early interactive narratives and the emerging and diverging technologies (yes, it's not all watching nice films and plays!!)  While blogging was originally writing (using HTML, how time consuming) it is now much different, and easy to use and access, with ability to use visual material.  Many blogs are read on mobile devices and on the run. People move quickly through blogs, and then onto the next one - and stop and linger if there is something of interest or if they are connected to the blogger. 

 Some blogs of course are very content rich and detailed, and have great audiences.  I don't have the time or resources to do that, so I structure my blogs with pictures that are not too large (so they can be downloaded quickly) and with simple written phrases linking the pictures, so that it makes them easy for people to access the information quickly. I do read other people's blogs that are more wordy, but prefer to keep mine in this structure at the moment.  That may change one day, if I get enough time to be content rich and visually inspiring (there's that grandiose dream again!).   It also stops me going on and on and on, not such a bad thing, because believe you me, I could bore you endlessly if I was allowed to go on and on and on and on...

 And right now, I think I have gone on and on and on quite enough :)


As part of the blog hop acceptance, I need to pass the baton on.  I decided that I would look for a blog that was new to me, because I thought it would also be new to you as well.  That way, we all get to meet a new blogger, unless of course, you already know her.  I'm introducing a self taught sewist who has, like all of us, gone through the trial and error of fitting and she has learnt to use  more advanced techniques - she has most impressive skills and has made the most inspiring garments. Introducing Sewing dreams blog...  

I am a bit out of my comfort zone in nominating a stranger, so I hope she is not offended.  She is making some wonderful garments.
Once again Hana, thank you very much for nominating me.

Sarah Liz 

The lovely Hana from Velvet Ribbon passed the blog hop onto little ole' me.  I love Hana's blog because (a.) she make beautiful things, (b.) her attention to detail is amazing,  (c.) I love reading about her construction process and (d) she lives in a exotic locale (Macau).     Thank you Hana!!
- See more at:
e lovely Hana from Velvet Ribbon passed the blog hop onto little ole' me.  I love Hana's blog because (a.) she make beautiful things, (b.) her attention to detail is amazing,  (c.) I love reading about her construction process and (d) she lives in a exotic locale (Macau).     Thank you Hana!! - See more at:
e lovely Hana from Velvet Ribbon passed the blog hop onto little ole' me.  I love Hana's blog because (a.) she make beautiful things, (b.) her attention to detail is amazing,  (c.) I love reading about her construction process and (d) she lives in a exotic locale (Macau).     Thank you Hana!! - See more at:
e lovely Hana from Velvet Ribbon passed the blog hop onto little ole' me.  I love Hana's blog because (a.) she make beautiful things, (b.) her attention to detail is amazing,  (c.) I love reading about her construction process and (d) she lives in a exotic locale (Macau).     Thank you Hana!! - See more at:

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Chat - The Pleasure Returns :)

Relief Strikes!!  My final assignment has been uploaded today, so I can enjoy your blogs, blogging on my blog, and making sewing plans again.

My first set of plans are to use bits of stash that are annoying me - they are not really big enough to make a whole garment with, but too nice to throw away.  I'm going to use a Sandra Betzina dress pattern, but  shorten it to make a top.  

One view has pleats, the other view is plain - I'll be making that, as I only have 80 cm of 110 fabric - a beautiful fine linen - why I bought such a small amount in the first place is a total mystery to me now, but I can only imagine it was on a sale table for a very small price.  I've had it in the stash for a long time now - at least 20 years, so it is well and truly time for it to be used :).

I'll have to find something else for the side panels and lining - I'm going to raid the scrap basket to see what is hiding in there that can be used.

I have made the muslin -that was an easy job to do today:

The muslin doesn't really look very inspiring, but it looks quite nice on.  And I can squeeze the main pieces (not the sides) out of the lovely linen.

If I like the result, I'll make a second version using this lovely fabric as the centre panel:

This is a nice quality craft cotton - I only purchased half a metre (112 wide) as I was going to use it as a trim  and copy a Prada jacket two years ago - but I never did, and I don't like that idea anymore in any case.  It was expensive ($24.99 per metre), so it needs to be used while it can be - and with colour blocking still a trend, I think it's now or never.  I'll put it with some navy cotton.

I've also got some leftover stripe fabric, so I'll make a couple of skirts - this is sort of a fabric I like now, but not to stash.  This striped fabric was cheap and was bought to fill wardrobe gaps now, using quick and simple patterns, but was not something I would buy to stash because it is just too good to resist :)  I like it, but I like it for now, if you understand what I mean ....

Well, that's the start of the next batch of plans - in between catching up with all the officework I have ignored for the last few weeks - of course, I've done the have- to- do jobs, but not the others !

Do have a good week everyone, where- ever you are,

Sarah Liz

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Pants from the Past

I have not had much time to sew this week so I have decided to post a pair of pants I made last year.  I did not have time to take pictures of them on me then, so thought today was a good opportunity to do so..

Before I do, though, I just want to mention that Hana from  velvetribbonsew nominated me for the wonderful BLOG HOP that is being enjoyed by our sewing community.  Thank you Hana, I'll do a post soon and acknowledge you again.

Back to the pants!

The pattern is Butterick 5687.

 Butterick Misses' Cape, Jacket, Skirt and Pants 5687

I made the shorter pants on the far right, bottom. I cut size 8 hips and size 12ish waist.  I did not need any other alterations - these trousers actually just worked for me! (I did make a muslin, of course, to check).

The fabric used is a cotton drill.

And there are pockets in the side seams - I made these from poly cotton poplin, as I did not want to add bulk.

The pants come up to the waist, but that is what I like - I am a rectangle shape (not much difference between bust, waist and hips) and as you can see, if I had a lower rise pant, they would slide right down as I don't have the wider hips that stop that happening!  As I don't show my waist anyway, this doesn't bother me.  I like tops that sit over my waistband, and if they are shaped, even better to add the illusion of a figure!

So, just a nice pair of casual summer gaucho pants, culottes or whatever you want to call them.

And the back view of the pants looks good as well - as you can see, for once, a nice fit over the bottom!

Which can't be said for the RTW t-shirt - just look at the wrinkles - my back is straight and narrow, so fabric just pools in the middle - not an easy problem to fix with fitting, but I've mostly worked out what to do - I've only seen one book that has actually said what to do for this problem .

That's it for today - a short post, but I am really tired (and it shows in these pictures - never mind, a good sleep tonight should sort that out!) - I finished my last assignment yesterday, and just have to add some attachments tomorrow, last edit (DH did the proof reading and some great editing for me), and then, that's it..


Sarah Liz