Happy New Year - SarahLizSewStyle 2017.

Happy New Year Everyone...

We all seem to make new sewing resolutions on January 1 -  you know the sort of thing, I shall make all my own clothes, enter lots of sewing competitions, do SWAP in two weeks, etc, etc.  I was starting to fall into that way of thinking too, but stopped myself and asked myself what it is that I want to get from sewing this year.  Which amounted then to a period of introspection...and then I decided I didn't want a goals/plans 2017, but a themes/process/evolution of sewing and blogging during  2017.

Retrospectively I have concentrated during  the last few years on making a lot of casual garments, because most of my life is in the ordinary to banally ordinary  category.  You know,  cooking, cleaning, shopping, garden jobs, putting out the bin and so on.  This was good in that I actually got a lot of sewing practice on garments that did not really matter, so to speak.  Occasionally I have made dressier garments, but still with an eye to ordinary life practicality.

The only things I really need to make this year are cold weather things for my ordinary life - fleece garments for warmth in winter.  And I want a few interesting items, but nothing in particular except a pair of wide leg winter pants.

This being the case, I think this year I want to sew more  for fun, relaxation and learning.   I also want to explore patterns more and improve my sewing techniques.

This also will balance other things in life during a pre-retirement transition. which I am not really enjoying.  I have had to cease study, partly due to the cyclone of 2015, and partly due to the fact that I don't have the time and energy after doing all the domestic and practice support.  So I don't really feel I got far in my own life. Which is silly really, because I have been a Registered Nurse, completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons !), completed a Graduate Diploma in Psychology, have done all sorts of other things inbetween, (acting, radio voiceovers, running my own business, landlord).  I "chose" to  help my husband in his medical practice and don't really enjoy this at all, paperwork never having really been my thing, and I took over a back log of undone accounts and had no idea what to do !I don't like the invisible factor, you know, the good little wife, when I am quite capable in my own areas. But in Newcastle, there is no opportunity to do many of these things, in any case.  It's a regional area, pretty basic.    Of course, the pragmatic me who know about business and insurance and carrying risk etc made the decision to help, that and seeing DH need some very real help - choice is a rather strange word for the ability to accept reality and deal with it! And I can put some into the retirement pot -although with recent changes in Australia that is a long way off.  Plus we don't see ourselves as the retiring sort. I knew DH would not want to retire as he has built his entire identity around what he does (and he does it well and has a lot of experience).  And not having children or grandchildren (DH and I married well into my 40's)  also takes away what many people find as a source of meaning in life.  However, I know that I am not the only one in sewing land that faces these sorts of existential life  things, so I am not going to moan about this.  And I also know that many people suffer untold heartache with children as well.

Enough of the sentimental and lachrymose (isn't that a great word) and on with the Sewing!!

Sewing (and blogging about it)  is an expressive outlet for me, something I am good at, and something I enjoy to bring satisfaction to life and creates meaning.  I think it makes sense to develop this area, and it is also an achievable goal that "fits in" with the other parameters of life's realities. It's sort of a Way of Being Me within the contigencies of life. And because I have flexibility with my working arrangements, I also have the opportunity to pursue sewing related interests. And I have so enjoyed meeting all my fellow sewers out there in the internet sewing community.  Sometimes I let on that I am a Sewing Blogger, or a Blogging Sewer, and this tends to stymie conversation - but we all know, don't we, what a great community of sewers congregate on the internet.  There, that's better, I would rather be an optimist than a pessimist :).

The above book was a  Christmas gift from my husband - I issue him with a list of ideas to choose from!  And DH tends to think I am wonderful, sort of he couldn't do it without me, but I think he is a little biased. Suffice to say, he attends to the lists with great care!

It is a book written for students entering college courses.  It is not written for home dressmakers, but is geared for those who will be entering the industry.  It is a very technically written book, with lots of practical exercises. A real dry as a bone sort of read, matter of fact and to the point.

 I know much of  what is inside already, having once employed a lady who had been an industry  sample machinist (they are the most experienced in the industry).  She taught me a lot.  I also attended a technical college for a while before being told that I was already better suited to just getting out there and getting on with it.  Perhaps it was to do with my attitude - I really did not like having to ask to go to the toilet - I mean, I had worked as a professional for years as a Registered Nurse.

 So I did, but that is another and long story...which you may hear about one day (teasing you all :)).

However, there is much I felt I did not know, and I would like to start working on these areas.  This book is part of that plan, but I think it will take me all year to work through.

What else do I plan?

Perhaps I shall surprise you all and make things that are a little more fashion forward.  I found this lovely bright polka print and also found a picture by Armani featuring these colours in his garment.

Okay, it's only a Spotlight cotton poplin, but maybe my ordinary life garments could have a hint of designer inspiration behind them.  Or maybe I shall just use my imagination...

Or, I may plan a more coordinated approach and up my style - sort of a SWAP approach but on a more sustained basis:

I had a quick look last night, and Wendy uses the Stylist's approach - all neutrals.  And she makes the point that she is not doing sort of at home wear for chores etc.  Now, as a mere and ordinary person I find that I do quite a lot on the chore front, and as I work from home too, and tend to sort of do chores inbetween as a break,  I need to solve the problem of how to dress and how to look good. And she does explore colour, personality, body shape etc - but I will be, during the next year when I have time. Because I did train in these areas once upon a time and have tested one or two people who work in these areas, and have found that they do not always know the answers to the very specific questions I have asked.  For example, I am a soft, cool, light colouring (summer in the 80's terminology) and you are not supposed to wear black.  I state that I cannot find clothes and shoes to fit the parameters and have just been told that is what I have to do!!!  Umm, I think rules have to fit the person, not the other way around, and believe that if a person cannot find what is needed, then help them to work with what they can do and get.  Hopefully before the end of 2017 I will be able to talk about some of these things!  Back to Wendy's book - I think it does contain lots of wisdom on how to create a minimalist capsule wardrobe, and I think knowing her guidelines is very grounding for those of us that like to take off on flights of sewing fancy.

And of course, I plan to use and reduce my stash - but I say that every year.  But it really does need to be worked on.  It increased enormously last year, because my local Spotlight was rather overstocked, and lots of fabric went out for $2-00 to $4-00 a metre - including ponte knit.  So I did buy rather a lot. That means I need to reign in my budget this year to compensate.  Luckily I have a gift voucher for sewing things...And, problematically, Spotlight is within walking distance, so the temptation is always there to just take my daily walk past Spotlight...

It does mean, though, that my stash is now larger than I would want, so I shall enjoy shopping in it and whittling it down to size.  In between walks...and of course, I will think it a very good strategy to buy anything I have been looking for, have a pattern for, or is a very good price - after all, I am wanting a retirement stash.

Well, okay, I am a chronic stasher who is not going to stop...But I shall keep a record of stash in and stash out.  I shall not count the garment I am working on today, or the lovely 2 metre piece of cotton/linen fabric, total cost $7.20, that I found in the local Spotlight today.  Having my daily exercise, you understand...cheaper than the gym, buying stash...

I did make a garment a few weeks ago that was stash inspired and was also on my to do list:

I'll tell you about this pink skirt another time.  I also need to tell you about this top, made late last year:

In the meantime, I am working on muslins.  I have made four in the last week, plus a neck, arm, shoulders muslin.  I'm getting a little tired of muslins and sewing preparation:

The above is a simple top for myself that I plan to make, if things go according to plan that is, and sometimes they don't, out of a piece of cotton that has been haunting my stash for ages.  I'm using this Burda pattern, View A to the left, only with short sleeves:

I also plan to make a shirt and pants for my husband - this is where the four muslins came into play:

The first muslin of the shirt turned out to be a little small. The pants were okay, but a little baggy in the leg. That's an easy fix, but he needed more in the seat.  I haven't done this sort of pants alteration before, so I needed to redo the muslin to make sure. It took me ages working all this out, but well worth it.  If you are going to make something that someone else has to wear, it becomes more important to get it right.  I'll tell you more in a later blog post.

As for patterns, I have purchased so many on the sales we never used to have in Australia, that I really cannot buy any more.  By that, I mean that I have every pattern that I like, so really I only need to keep an eye on new pattern releases.  However, with the internet, I think I may buy Butterick/McCalls/Vogue patterns directly from the U.S. when they are on sale.  A little more expensive, but not much, and it means getting what you want when you want it.  It can be a little hit and miss buying patterns on sale here.  And I have finally stopped buying Burda magazines every month as I found I really don't find anything I would make in some issues, then in others, plenty. So I bu the magazines that have things I want to make inside - which makes sense.

And, as for knitting, I must start knitting now for the cooler months ahead.  I have always liked this top, but plan to make it in a plain colour:

Although I like the stripes too - I may have to check the stash and see what is in it and then decide.  Sometimes I do find it hard to make up my mind, although it probably does not seem that way to those of you who have followed me for  a while.  I actually have to impose my own structure and order on my mental meanderings, or absolutely nothing would be achieved in life, except for rich pictures in the interior of my mind!

That's it, that's enough reflection on themes  for 2017.  Lets just wait and see what  happens here at Sarah Liz Sew Style during 2017....

Back in a few days with my next blog post, and I shall resume replies to your comments then.

In the meantime, HAPPY NEW YEAR. I look forward to your company during 2017.

Sarah Liz


  1. Happy New Year, Sarah! This was a great post. Looking forward to reading about your sewing adventures for 2017.

  2. Happy new Year Sarah Liz. Looking forward to sewing with you in 2017. Great post :)

  3. Happy New Years to you and Hubby.. Hope you have a wonderful year sewing the things you need and enjoy.. I too, [since I retired] just need more basic home clothes.. I made a skirt this week..It was just an aline skirt, but one I will wear a lot.. I plan on doing more me sewing this year..
    Your husband was very sweet to buy the books on your list.. look forward to hearing what you learn and share with us.
    Happy Sewing..
    bty... I too, would definitely be walking and stop in to Spotlight to look a fabric.. Just too fun.

  4. Happy New Year. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Looking forward to reading more during the year

  5. Wow! What a great read. It's really nice to get to know each other better as we go on our sewing journeys!

    I agree with you that you have done much with your life and you should be proud of it...but then there's nothing wrong with being practical and knowing your help with the practice is needed.

    I am with you on the stash. I have a need to contain it a bit but I will always have a stash and that's okay with me.

    Can't wait to see what you decide to sew up and work through this year.

  6. Wonderful reading and so much information. Muslins are the bane of my life right now and also why I give up making pants for myself each year.

    I look forward to seeing what you create and share this year it sounds like a very interesting year.

  7. This morning I read your post over breakfast and I've been thinking about it ever since. The sentence: 'I actually got a lot of sewing practice on garments that did not really matter' kept echoing in my head. I feel the clothes we wear for our everyday life are the most important of all and should reflect our personality. I work from home and do lots of chores, gardening and dog walking and I find there are no limits to what I can wear, as long as it's washable. Boring jobs are more fun in exciting clothes! I think sewing pretty garments with lovely details to wear around the house is so rewarding. You've achieved so much, both professionally as in sewing. Managing a medical practice is an important job and you've encouraged lots of sewists by starting Make a Garment a Month (I still miss the blog). I know you don't like the Newcastle dress style, but why go with the flow if you don't like the flow? You deserve a style that will make you stand out and shine. Happy New Year to you and your husband!

  8. What an interesting post. I am admiring your colourful spotty cotton and rather envious that you live within walking distance to a fabric shop. How awesome is that! Good luck with everything for 2017 Sarah Liz and a happy year of sewing to you!

  9. Happy New Year, Sarah Liz.
    I have a similar college-type book to yours but wasn't able to work through it. I use it largely for reference.
    I am a summer in 1980s terminology and don't suit black but yes, it's ubiquitous. I had thought that sewing for myself would improve my choice, but it doesn't, actually.
    Good luck with your plans for 2017.

  10. Happy New Year to you too!!! What a great post!! I had no idea you had mental meanderings as you have come across very decisive. Oh, this sort of makes me feel better. :) Never heard of Wendy Mak and her book looks promising as does your technical Pearson book. I very much look forward to see where you are going in your sewing journey this year and appreciate the friendship that we share.


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