Saturday, March 31, 2012

Perfecting pants

During my recent sewing slump, an early cold snap made me realise that I desperately needed more pants in my work wardrobe. With no inclination to sew on the horizon, or so I thought, I headed to the shops. I would never guess that buying simple work pants would be such a challenge! To begin with, I am in-between sizes - they story of my life! Pants these days also don't seem to flatter my shape - they are high waisted, pleated, pegged or cropped - all of which = ugly on me! I also didn't realise how much a nice pair of trousers would cost. I reluctantly coughed up $130 to purchase these very basic black pants from Witchery.

I still can't believe I spent $130 on one item of clothing, that wasn't footwear! I know this isn't overly excessive, but ugg! I ain't made of money!
With this horribly expensive memory still fresh in my mind, I set aside some time to experiment with and construct a perfect pants pattern - fitted just for me.
This is where I'm at right now and I think I'm almost there. The front of these pants is based on OOP Simplicity 3850 which is a Built By Wendy pattern. I have used this pattern three times before, here, here and here. While I like the flat front and slash pockets, I have always struggled to fit the rear of the pants with quite a bit of excess fabric pooling there.

So in addition to addressing the rear fitting issues, I also wanted to:
  • Slightly increase the rise of the pants (by about an inch) as my new comfort level is a little higher since having kids.... and maybe getting older.
  • Reduce the width of the waistband, as belts aren't a thick as they used to be.
  • Slim the leg even further as the original pattern isn't terribly slim by today's standard.
To address the rear issue, the first thing I did was compare the Simplicity pattern (right) to my Burda slim pants (left), which fit well in this problem area.
As you can see, there is a major difference in the crotch curve and size.  Rather then simply reshape the curve of the Simplicity pants, and deal with the inevitable flow on effects to the back rise and overall the size of the pants, I completely re-drafted the back of the pattern based on the Burda pants curve, adding a dart to shape the pants and aligning the rise with the modified front pattern which I also re-drafted.
There is a definite improvement to the area, but still it isn't perfect.
I'd love to achieve the fall of these lovely pants from Zara.
But I think part of the problem with my pants is the fabric choice - a heavier, stretch cotton sateen. The fabric was cheap enough to experiment with and good quality, but not drapey at all. It is a dark navy colour, which I thought would go nicely with all the orange and autumn colour blouses I have planned in my head, but really, they just remind me of nurse pants.

Anyway, the $130 Witchery pants are fitted like this in the back, so at least mine look commercial in that regard.
I think a crease ironed into the pant leg might also help them fall straight. I might experiment with that...

These trousers are definitely wearable and well made, but there is scope to improve. My next pair will be made with a more drapey fabric. I also think I can slim the leg width just a little further and I also really need to learn how to sew a welt pocket. The faux button flaps are easy, but not schmick!

Do you have any other fitting or trouser making suggestions for me?

Self drafted pants based on OOP Simplicity 3850 and Burda slim pants 02/2010 No. 111.
Pattern: free - both used before.
Fabric: Stretch cotton sateen 2 meters = $14.80
Zipper = $2.80
Buttons = $2.40
Interfacing $2
Thread from stash
Total: $20.

Friday, March 30, 2012


Kylie pinned this dress earlier this week. Love Pinterest!

I purchased the pattern that day.

Stuck and cut yesterday.

This morning, before I took Ollie to school, I stole half an hour at the machine to make this sweet dress for Adele.
Totally adorable! I imagine there will be a few of these made for winter.

I used some cheap, mystery knit that has been maturing in my stash for a few years. It's like a knit that you would make a polo shirt with. Is that called sweater knit?? Anyway, it only cost a couple of dollars a meter at time, so I stocked up. It's an unusual dark green and navy mix. Don't you think the dark colour kinda makes it look a little like that robe that Fryer Tuck would wear in Robin Hood?? I might have to use a more girly colour next time!
A few of the school mums asked if I took special orders. But, I certainly do not. I'm far too selfish with my sewing time these days.

Hope you have an exciting weekend planned. I'm out tonight for a ladies night with all the kindy mums. So sad, but I can't wait!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Liberty Violet

My first attempt at the Colette Violet pattern and I really like it.

I used Liberty called Mike, which I purchased from Shaukat. It has the a lovely mix of stripes in pink, violet, navy and white with a hint of olive.
I quite like how the stripes worked. I cut the back yoke with the stripes moving horizontally as I was running a little short on fabric. The front facing is also cut horizontally.
In total, I used 1 meter of Liberty to make this and there wasn't much else to spare.
I purchased the buttons specifically for this shirt and they cost an appalling $1.20 each! Unfortunately they were the only suitable ones at the shop I was at and I didn't much fancy travelling with the kids to another shop just for buttons.
I didn't make many changes to the pattern. I slightly tapered the side seams to shape the boxy style a little more, but other than that, this is a straight size 2. I actually wore this outfit today to school and it was super comfy and easy to wear.

Pattern: Colette Violet = $20
Fabric = Liberty "Mike" $24 from Shaukat
Thread = $3
Buttons = $8.40
Interfacing = from stash
Total = $55.40 - Yikes! But I think it's worth it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Cracking 300 and some winners!

So, I appear to have surpassed 300 public followers (just) on Google friend connect. I know that I have other RSS feed subscribers, but I really love seeing the profiles of people that follow my blog, which is why this is so nice.

To celebrate this momentous achievement, I thought I'd share 7 things about myself that you probably don't know. I don't do this sort of personal stuff often. Are you interested? Well, I'm going to write it anyway.

  • My birthday is approaching and I will be turning an age which is closer to 35, than 30. I'm not too worried about getting older. I think my 30s, so far, have been far better than my 20s, but I am finding myself more worried about wrinkles. I have a new one under my left eye that I just can't figure out. When I smile or frown it doesn't crease, but it is there and I don't like it. So tell me, what magical anti-wrinkle potion do you use?
  • I am one of 4 kids. I have an older sister, a younger sister and a younger brother. I also have an older half brother. I am a middle child and I AM OK!
  • To date, I have not explained my blog name. Little Betty isn't my alter ego. It isn't my nickname or any other pseudonym that I go by. It is *yawn* the name of my dog. Sad? Yes. Boring? Yes. When I needed a name for my first sewing business, I thought it was cute and suited the kiddy clothes market. It continued to suit the bonnet biz, but now I'm a little bored of it and thinking I should get a more mature, sewing related blog name. I just need some inspiration. Do you have a suggestion for me??
 Black Betty.
She's a little older than this now.
She has a funny under bite, so you can always see her bottom teeth.
  • I always knew I was going to have three kids - two boys and a girl. I was very disappointed when I found out my second boy, James, was a boy. Not because he was a boy, but because he came in the wrong order. In my plans, I was supposed to have boy - girl - boy! Regardless though, I'm stoked I got the order that I did. The boys play so well together, and Adele, well she wishes she could be a boy too.
  • I've been with my husband for over 15 years. We got together after high school. He's pretty cool. He fixes stuff. He builds stuff. He does stuff around the house. He's a keeper.
  • I was a cheeky and loud kid growing up, and not too pleasant on the eye - freckles, sunburn, stringy blonde hair, bad fringe, etc. In fact, earlier this evening, my father described me as ornery child (I had to look up the definition). Apparently James is my revenge. I changed though, and grew up into a horrible teenager. In high school I was clever and performed very well academically, but I ran with the wrong crowd in a major way. I'm actually quite surprised that I turned out as normal as I did. I think my parents are too!
    That fringe! There are far worse photos - trust me!
  • I'm mostly, a self taught sewer. My textiles teacher at school sewed one of my projects for me and she still marked it, but didn't give herself full marks. I have completed one community college sewing class, but I really don't think it taught me anything more than I already knew. I have always been exposed to sewing and creating though. My mum used to make our clothes when we were kids. I was somewhat interested in what she did, but I don't think anyone would have thought I'd become the obsessive sewer that I have.
 Matching outfits that my mother made for us kids.
I'm always the one pulling the goofy faces! Oh regret!

Phew! I feel so refreshed getting all that out - he he!  I'd like to take this opportunity to shout out to some of my followers who have given me blog awards recently. I'm not the best at keeping them going, but this is my attempt to share the bloggy love and show that I'm not the polished, super mum that I appear to be on this blog (please don't ever think that!).

So, to the winners in my Seam Allowance Guide Giveaway. Drum roll please..... Congratulations to:

i have a bunch of burda magazine patterns that would make the guide really handy. thanks for the giveaway!

I would love one of these! One of the reasons that I don't use traced patterns as often as I should (as well as having to trace them) is the adding of the seam allowances. For me I might use some of my plentiful copies of Ottobre much more with one of these gadgets!

I'd use the guide for Japanese patterns. I've been putting off buying them because of the lack of seam allowances on the patterns! I'd definitely start buying Burda patterns too.

I'll send all of you an email shortly to confirm your details.

Hope you have a wonderful Monday!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

In Threes

This little, short sleeved, kiddo cardigan has been finished in record time. Just in time for winter :) There isn't too much to it, but even though I'm not a very fast knitter, I still managed to complete it in just over three weeks.
The kiddo didn't want to be photographed though.
I tried to get her to stand still...

Here's the bad still image. I really need a new camera. Me thinks it will be my upcoming birthday gift.

Details ravelled here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Woodland Sorbetto

I feel like I'm the last sewist in blogland to make a Sorbetto, but I now know why I've seen so much of this pattern since its release.
This is made with a cotton poplin from Spoonflower called Woodland. I purchased it late last year when Spoonflower offered free shipping. It took over one and a half months to arrive, due in most part to the Christmas shipping rush, or not-so-rush.
The Sorbetto is sweet, and fits well. I actually thought there would be a little more ease, but I'm still happy with the fit. I have found the tank to be a little short though. Was I supposed to add hem allowance? I sewed a scant hem and it's still maybe half an inch or so too short.

There will definitely be more of these simple tanks in the future.

Pattern: Colette Sorbetto = free
Fabric: 1 yard poplin = $20 Spoonflower.
Thread: from stash
Total: $20

My other Spoonflower purchases from last year include:
A fat quarter of mask fabric called "Who do you want to be today?" The boys were gagging for me to make these when it arrived. So much that I hid this fabric not long after, in the hope that they would forget about it and stop bugging me. Now that I've re-found this, and I've fessed up to having it, I have no excuse but to make these quick smart.

This globe panel was a 'why not' purchase. I really should make it....

This mobile panel was supposed to be a gift, for my new niece, Ruby (who is now 2 months old! whoops). But time got the better of me and Ruby already owned a mobile, so now I need to wait for a new baby girl to arrive.

Don't we all just need a little more time to get everything done?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oink! Oink!

I know two wrongs don't make a right, but take this Burda hog!!

I headed to my local library today and found almost every copy of Burda magazine since 2008, including two 2012 issues! Woot woo!

I'm not sure if I can claim responsibility for this surprise. Does my local Burda hog read my blog or have they just gone on holidays? I'm not sure. Despite my dislike for their pattern hogging, I couldn't help borrowing six issues myself. I think I'm going to have a busy week tracing!

Many readers asked which library I go to for Burda, but look, I'm not going to tell you that information am I? *sorry* It's hard enough getting the good issues without y'all starting to hog too! What I will tell you though, is that most local libraries, in Sydney anyway, have online catalogues, so you can check if a library stocks the magazine before you leave home. I'm pretty sure you don't have to live in area to borrow from a library, so you might find that it's only a short drive and to get your hands on a few free patterns.

To Carolyn - yes, I can reserve issues of Burda if they are currently out on loan, however, this incurs a $1 fee. I know it's only $1, but if I'm not 110% certain that I'm going to sew a particular item, it seems like a waste of money just to look at a magazine. How much of a tightwad do I sound like right now??

On a different note, have you seem that I am the featured seamstress on the Colette blog?? So excited! Can you believe my brother in law call my meringue skirt, a Wilma skirt, as in Wilma Flintstone! Seriously, he has no idea!

Don't forget to enter my giveaway for a chance to win one of three Seam Allowance Guide sets.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Seam Allowance Guide GIVEAWAY!!

I'm sure I am not the only sewist who gets excited by a clever gadget that makes sewing a little easier and faster. The nifty Seam Allowance Guide, which I mentioned back here, is definitely one of those gadgets.

Even more exciting, the makers of the Seam Allowance Guide have given me not one, but three seam allowance guide sets to give to my wonderful readers! Woot woo!

Each set contains two guides, one for flat edge scissors and one for scissors with a slanted blade. You also get an extra couple of black bands, which I guess are handy to have if you ever lose one. These little black bands are the marker that you use to cut your fabric. They can be moved along the guide to change the seam allowance that you want to cut. This is especially helpful if you want to add a greater seam allowance on a highly fitted garment, like a pair of pants, so you have more seam width to play with to get the fit right. Clever, right?

Now, to get your hands on one of these little gems, just leave a comment below telling me which pattern you would use a Seam Allowance Guide for - Ottobre? Japanese? It would also be nice to see you become a follower of my blog - over there in the Google Friend Connect . I love being able to see my readers and look at their blogs.

I'll leave the competition open until 7pm Sydney time on Sunday 25 March.

Good luck!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Project Success! Style 2130

I promise I won't start every blog post with 'Project Success' or 'Project Fail', but I felt I needed to balance yesterday's fail.
Taking inspiration from a few skirts that I've pinned, like this, this and this, (I'm so pleased to be actually using some of these images!!), I made this skirt in just over an hour and I know will become a highly worn garment.
After purchasing this ponte knit skirt from the Op Shop (with an elastic waist no less!) I knew I need more of that stretchy, comfy, ponte goodness in my wardrobe.
With Style 2130 (c.1978) in hand, I headed to Spotlight to pick some navy ponte knit fabric. This flared skirt is actually an eight gored skirt, which uses less fabric than a circle or half circle skirt.
As I used a knit, I omitted the zipper and instead ran some elastic in the waistband just in case the fabric doesn't recover well during wear. I stays up just fine and is super comfortable. I added a few belt loops because I know I'll need them.

Can you tell me sew-jo is back! I'm so excited. I have projects planned, cut and ready to go. I also have a few projects waiting to blog. I've got a little more energy and I'm loving sewing again - rather than forcing myself to do it!

Project cost:
Pattern: Style 2130 C.1978 = 50c Op Shop
Fabric:  1.4m navy ponte = $19.60 Spotlight
Thread: from stash
Total: $20.10

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Project Fail. Vogue 1247

Sometimes fabric on the discount table at Spotlight should stay there. Sometimes fabric that costs $1.50 per meter, isn't even worth that.  Sometimes, when a project is going so, so wrong, you shouldn't even bother finishing it.

I blame this project failure 80% on the fabric and 20% on my sewing.

I cut this pattern about two days before I sewed it. The fabric is a mystery polyester crepe fabric. It's drapey and opaque and kinda weighty. As soon as I moved the pieces, most of them warped out of shape. I'm not sure if I cut them off grain, I don't think I did, but the fabric moved in all sorts of weird ways.
When sewing the fabric continued to behave in an odd manner and as it was  polyester, it didn't respond to a good pressing. The construction of the top was relatively easy though, and the french seams meant I didn't need to change the thread on my overlocker - always a good thing! I didn't succeed in matching the centre seams very well, but I already knew the project was a failure at this point, so didn't bother trying very hard. I also haven't clipped the threads, that's how bad a fail this baby is!

This pattern won't get the better of me though. I will try again and I'm confident it will work.

Hope you manage to steal some moments in front of your machine this weekend.

Happy sewing!

Friday, March 16, 2012

One less scrap

Before the remnant returns to the stash, I quickly whipped up another peasant style dress for the kid.
Again, I used the Heidi and Finn Sweet Dress pattern.
Excuse the breakfast dishes still on the table.

I don't think the kid can have enough of these dresses and I love how quickly the come together.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Clever Gadget and Burda 09/2011 #128

Now that this teaching gig is eating  into my free time, I'm all for a clever gadget that makes sewing a little easier and faster. Ever since I found out that my local library stocked Burda magazines, I've been stalking their collection, mulling over each issue and trying to fit more of these patterns into my sewing schedule. The only problem with the ol' Burda mag, as we know, is that you have to trace and add your seam allowance, which I really don't enjoy (total understatement!).

(While I'm talking about my local library, I need to insert a bit of a whinge. There seems to be a few lovers of Burda magazine in my area, which is fine, except for the one borrower (a Burda Hog, no less) that picks up 8 or so issues and borrows them all, then renews them! This is within the library rules, but I don't think it's very fair to the rest of the sewers in the area. If this borrower is reading this post, it's time to share my friend! I know you cannot use all of those issues for that period of time. Be fair and only borrow what you need, not every summer issue available for a two or three week period! Now that's off my chest, back to the real sewing).

This is my new blouse - Burda 09/2011 #128.
Cute right?
I love the colour and I love how simple it was to make. A perfect project for a time poor sewist.
The fabric is a cotton sateen from Spotlight that has been maturing in my stash for well over a year. I used self covered buttons that I picked up from the Op Shop for 20c or so. The pleat at the neckline is a little over-pressed in this image, but I think it will relax after a wash.

So, what's this clever gadget you ask?

A new Seam Allowance Guide!

So simple to use. Just trace the pattern as per the pattern sheet, with no seam allowance, then add this clever magnetic contraption to your scissors and cut your fabric.
 Whoooosh! So fast!! I love it!

Now, I'm going to head back to the library to check if the Burda Hog has returned any winter issues yet.

Happy sewing all!

Blouse cost:
Pattern: Burda 09/2011 #128. Free - from the Library
Fabric: Cotton Sateen from Spotlight (ages ago) approx $20
Buttons: 20c
Thread: $2.80
Total: $23

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Coats and Jackets

Like many sewers, I find it helps to jot down some ideas to sew for the coming season. After being a stay-at-home mum and university student for many years, I've not had much of a need for jackets or coats. With this new profession of mine, I will find myself traipsing around the playground, supervising students, during all kinds of cold, windy and wintery days. I don't currently own a coat, or many jackets, so really I need to fix that.

Some loose plans of mine, for the coming season, include:

Winter coat.
I picked up this pattern from the 1960s, Simplicity 8096, on Etsy and I think it's just adorable. I really want to make a wrap coat. Something to hug me on a windy day. While I would love to make a coat in a wild colour, I think for my first coat I will stick to a more muted colour.

Jackets and cardigans
Simplicity 2250

The light-weight jacket in this pattern is simple and I think quite versatile. I should have some fabric in my stash and already have the pattern. Hopefully this will be a quick and easy sew

I find this pattern interesting, but I'm not sure it will work. I like the waterfall front of view B. I might make it, but I might not. The pattern has been given to me though, so if I don't make it I'm OK with that.

McCalls 6519

I've had this lovely jacket below, made with ponte, pinned for some time (see here). I just adore the colour and the scalloped collar. I'm determined to try to replicate this. I have picked up McCalls 6519 to use. I really want to use a wild ponte colour, but my recent trip to Spotty turned up nothing. I might have to pay for shipping to get something nice, I'd love a burnt orange or mustard yellow.

This pattern was voted one of the best patterns over at Pattern Review in 2009. This pattern has been given to me, so really I'd be nuts not to give it some attention and I think it has potential.


I'd really love to knit a shawl for this winter. I really like the Catherine's Shawl pattern on Ravelry, but particularly in grey, like this one. Unfortunately, I am a slow knitter. I am almost finished Adele's In Three's cardigan, which I am yet to log on Ravelry, but still, I don't see this one happening this year, which is a shame because I really want one. Gosh I wish I could knit fast!

So there are some of my jacket, coat and shawl ideas for the coming season.  Hopefully some of these plans will happen, but my sewing time is becomming more and more rare. I'll post shortly with my other autumn and winter sewing plans.

Have you begun sewing new items for your coming season? After the cool, wet weather today, I'm already feeling behind!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Today, the middle child turned 4.
I'm certain he's the loudest, most emotional child on the planet. You always hear him, before you see him.
But we love him all the same and most days, despite the volume and drama, we'd keep him.

Happy Birthday James!