Sew Sarah

adventures in dress-making

Category: General sewing

Getting back my sewing mojo

The last few months have been bit of a roller coaster ride and the spinning of numerous plates! I am sure many of you know the feeling! As a result my sewing mojo has been a little off. Saying that, I have completed a few projects but some not to my satisfaction. I may blog about them in the next few days, if I can bring myself to bring the item from the back of my wardrobe.

Ultimately however, the disasters where a result of not making up a toile and thinking that I have made Vogue patterns before and this should be okay!!! Yeah. Not so much.

On the flip side, I am about to finish another dress which started off as a toile but moved onto a wearable item. I will probably get around to posting it tomorrow. As I think the dress pattern is a hidden gem (hidden under hideous front cover styling).

So, what is in my sewing table at the moment?

The terrible v1397. The fit was way too big but the sleeves way too tight. After making sleeves and arm scythe larger, I realised the bodice was way too long above the bust. I ended up removing the sleeves and hacking off about an inch and a half. Should have made a toile. Lesson learnt. Potentially salvageable. Would try the pattern again when feeling stronger.




Just about to finish v8997


I am using a random fabric from a bargain bin. It isn’t washed silk but really does look like it. It is a really comfortable fit and unlike the above Vogue pattern, I had no fit issues. Just with all the lining and the gored full skirt, a lot of seams to seam, fit to the bodice lines, adjust, overlock and press. I just need to buy a zipper to go into it. Anyone looking for a tailored looking work dress that is relatively simple and easy to wear, would recommend this.

I have also just finished two semi-self drafted circle skirts though they are in four panels as the fabric wasn’t wide enough. I love circle skirts but might try a more fluted version next time. The two above patterns have fluted full skirts and it just means less fabric around the hips but still keeping the fullness and swooshing-ness.



I also had made a vintage style dress for my anniversary but the pattern was horrendous. I won’t name and shame the boutique pattern maker but the PDF tiles were badly misaligned and the fit pretty poor. I did make a toile and made adjustments but have fallen out of love with the pattern. I have ripped out the lining and have biased bound the arm and neck holes but just need to finish it up. This is my third go at this and I think the pattern will need to be retired.


Finally, I made a toile of Burda 7178 about six months ago and have found the perfect fabric, the beautiful upholstery ikat fabric. I need to make a few tweaks to the toile including dropping the neckline down a few good inches, letting out the hips a good inch and paring in the waist a good few inches. However, I might make another toile as while I was gifted the ikat, I know it was very expensive.



That should keep me very busy for a while. But back the mojo issue. I think I just need to finish a few items rather than starting one and moving into the next so quickly.


Making something from leftovers

Just like that left over roast chicken or that slow cooked lamb, it is too good to just throw out or left just to languish at the back of the freezer. I was taught never to waste things so whether it is food, clothes or house hold items, I am a bit of a hoarder. Fabric off-cuts are no exception. Like many sewers, I am often left over with scraps that are too small to make a whole garment from and too big to chuck in the bin.

I was going through my stash yesterday making some grand plans with some of the beauties that are often left untouched because it is too hot in Queensland to wear. But with this cold snap, perfect. But I got a little distracted. Discovered a lot of my off cuts could actually work together- red, blue, white, polka dots, block, floral, chambray. I also have about 4 metres of this stiff red vintage
chambray- type fabric with red spots, a navy polka dot vintage Vogue dress with a busted zip (which has been in the back of my wardrobe for about 12 months) and a chambray Colette Hazel which no longer fits but the fabric is still fine.

How much sewing I get done today is the question. But the volume of fabric strewn around are townhouse does demonstrate a want!!! Watch this space.

How much random fabric scraps do you have? What do you do with them?


Sewing legacy

During the week my mother presented me with a thimble and tracing wheel which belonged to my grandmother who tragically passed away in her early forties in the 1950s.

I have many of her household items such as crockery, tea sets, handmade table clothes as well as her button collection but these two items are things that she would have used every day.

It is really nice to know that over sixty years later, they are now useful. This is one of the things in life you can’t buy or put a value on. This is completely precious and priceless!

What sewing legacies have you been given??


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Opera coat inspiration and aspiration

Margot Robbie - JacketI should start this post off by admitting that I shouted shared with anybody who would listen a select group of people that I would never attempt another jacket, particularly one with welt pockets and bound button holes. I blamed (in some very blue language) poor fabric choice and bad instructions. The truth be told, I think it was all me. It was just beyond my current skill set.

I have been thinking about giving a jacket another go. Maybe something without the words ‘bound’ and ‘welt’. A little time has passed and I am not as bitter and traumatised.

I have been keeping an eye out for something but nothing has caught my attention…..well that is until I saw Margot Robbie at her latest film premiere. I have had this Stitch Spring Fling pattern from 2012 in my stash for ages. They have made it pretty dowdy and frumpy but I think with a little imagination and some great fabric, I can transform it from house coat to opera coat! If you squint a little, can you see it? I know Margot’s jacket is much more of an opera coat (fuller), but I am short and think it would swamp me. This version is a little more slim fitting and tailored.

I think if I made the following adjustments, it could just work for me:Spring Fling Coast

  • Shorten the sleeve to three quarters
  • I could widen the sleeve a little
  • Use a statement lining which can peek out from a folded cuff
  • Create more of a boat neck neckline
  • Don’t think I would need buttons
  • Use glitzy fabric suitable for evenings

Mmm….this is something to mull over. It definitely means some online shopping tonight to try source the right fabric (don’t tell my husband). After seeing this opera coat being sold by Troppo Bella on Esty, I feel the need to find some gold and black brocade.

I always get excited at the prospect of a new project. Do you?

Simplicity Spring 2014

Simplicity Spring 2014….what do you hold for me?

I must start this by saying I am always puzzled by the styling. I know I am certainly not the first to raise this but how do they manage to make things looks so dated, frumpy and unattractive. You really have to use your imagination sometimes. I find the best way to work out whether the pattern will work for you is to look at the line drawing and do bit of a Google search and find out if anybody else has made it. Does anybody else have any tips?

Simplicity 1458Now starting with Simplicity 1458….it is an Amazing Fit pattern and have tried a few of those recently. I have a larger bust, smaller waist, wider hips and I am short (one of the reasons I turned to dress making in the first instance). If you find yourself having to do some sort of bust adjustment, I really would recommend this range. Identifying which pattern pieces you need to trace can be a little confusing. The other thing to keep in mind is that it once you have found your size (they provide a really easy formula to calcuate this), do bear in mind that you still need to consider the ease. I often then need to drop down a size or two. Finally, if you are cutting into fabric which is in any way precious, make a toile (which I never do and has resulted in tears and tanties).

Anyway, back to the pattern. Everyone is now talking about the Little White Dress (just Google Daily Mail and Little White Dress) and this is an option that is pretty classy rather than trashy (well I think anyway).


Now, I am a sucker for a vintage pattern (or reproduction) but the styling on Simplicity 1459 is just…well….I am lost for words. It is all very….pink. Saying that, I will be interested to see how Version C (the green one) turns out. I think this would be cute in navy or red or something with a little nautical twist. I bet Dolly Clackett would be up for this….

Simplicity 14561465…right…another pencil skirt. Great. Just what I need. My TNT pencil skirt is By Hand London’s Charlotte Skirt (for those in Australia you can get it Sew Squirrel with free postage). It really is my go to pattern and can squeeze it out of a metre of fabric (with some persistance). However, I do really like the coral lace styling on this teamed with the chambray. For that reason, this is getting a thumbs up.

Will I be making a purchase….I am not sure. I might keep my eye out in blogland to see what people are making. Ever the fence sitter Sarah!

Getting started

I have always wanted to learn to sew. I like the creativity, the challenge and the practicality of being able to make your own garment. I also like the freedom that it gives you. I know what suits me and I have my own style but find that this is not always reflected on the racks of high street stores.

So I started this journey over two years ago. After many successes and a few things that I am still too traumatised to talk about (and can be found at the back of the wardrobe) I now can confidently say I have caught the sewing bug. Caught it bad (if my stash is anything to go by).

Before I go on, I must make a big shout out to Jaye at Sew Gorgeous who helped me start this journey over two years ago! As special shout out needs to go to my other partners in crime including Adele, Pam and Margie who are sharing this journey with me. Wednesday night at Sew Gorgeous sewing lounge are my favourite nights of the week.

Hopefully by sharing my story I can inspire others to give it a go as well as join this wonderful online sewing community which has given me some much guidance, inspiration and friendship.