A sharing community

After blogging for 11 years, there are people I’ve kept in contact with and over the years though sharing our sewing experiences and this has given me a sharing group of friends I truly treasure.

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#sewover50 @sewover50

The #sewover50 @sewover50 team asked me to write this post to encourage you to blog if you’re not sure about blogging about your sewing life. If you haven’t seen the #sewover50 @sewover50 team, have a look at their hashtag on instagram. There are now over 24,000 posts for this international team of 3 ladies who started this hashtag and the group now has over 12,000 followers.

About blogging

Going back to the reason for this post about blogging.

Blogging for me is about documenting my sewing experience so I can go back to the post and make sure I do a better job on the next version of the same project. Readers have the benefit of looking at my blog posts and possibly gaining my insights to make their future project better that I’ve created. My most embarrassing posts were the first ones. ‘You gotta start somewhere.’

All the opinions for each of my blog posts are my own and I’ll always show you what I did to make the project work for me. A pattern or project idea are a starting point.

Sponsored posts

Yes I am sponsored by Minerva Crafts every month. Prym consumer have generously provide me with their sewing tools to use and test. From time to time other online fabric companies and indie designers will contact me to collaborate with them. I’ll do this when their projects fit in with what I’ll realistically use and when I have the time to fit them in. I love pretty things but I have to be able to wear them more than once.

Pattern testing

I’ve pattern tested for Fehr Trade, Pauline Alice patterns and sometimes for Tuesday Stitches and I check the English translations for Sacotin patterns. Overtime, Melissa, Pauline, Vero and Erin have become friends that I enjoy supporting.

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I approach every pattern as a new experience and read all the instructions as a sew. When I pattern test I don’t assume any prior knowledge because I’m being asked to pattern test as a newbie. To be honest, through testing patterns I can give my feedback so that the pattern is the best it can be for others who actually pay for the pattern. You don’t want to pay for a pattern that is poorly drafted or poorly written, so I use this opportunity to be constructive.

On Pattern Review I’ve reviewed over 480 patterns and have been a contest manager four times. I try to use the review template so that if you’re looking for a specific piece of information, you can quickly scan the review and find what you’re looking for. Sometimes I’ve added different subheadings because the pattern had something more that I want to tell readers about. Other times, I’ve removed the template subheadings because I’ve already covered that point.

This year I’ve started to co-host That Sewing Blab, and it’s been a good learning curve for me. I’ve never seen myself being a live interviewer but sewing is my hobby/focus so I’ve enjoyed working with Dawn on the show.

Why blog

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Blogging can be a bit overwhelming when you first start out. I was sewing with local sewing friends when I started blogging so I had people to soundboard with as I developed my blog. There are a bunch of questions you might struggle with when you start blogging:

Do I have anything to contribute?
Is my post worth reading?
Does this post read well?
Are my photos helpful?
Is this blog post just a piece of fluff and not worth reading?
Have I missed anything out?

If technology isn’t your friend and you want to start blogging, ask people you follow about starting a blog. I’ve gone from a decent blog on Blogger and then had to move my blog to WordPress because of the Google glitch I just couldn’t figure out.

To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out how to make the most of WordPress without dipping into my pocket.

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There’s the issue of disclosing any affiliate links you include on any recommendations you suggest to people who follow you. The Fair Trade Commission have lots of good information that you need to be aware of and practice. These rules apply across any social media platform including Instagram, Pinterest, facebook, twitter…etc.

There are also rules about protecting people’s privacy.

Within Australia there are a few issues that are on the horizon, so keep an eye on how the ATO will start to treat ‘income’ earned through social media.

Influencers, sportspeople and celebrities to be slugged by ‘Instagram tax’

Taxation of income for an individual’s fame or image paper:

Remember that sharing on anything on a social media platform is a record so be mindful of what you’re saying/writing.

Blogging was huge up until twitter/Instagram started to grow a few years and I know the sewing community has become a bigger group with all aspects of sewing covered through these platforms.

What I love about blogging

Now for the fun stuff about the benefits of blogging, if you still want to create a blog.

Through blogging, I know that I have patterns that I can go back to again and again and they get adjusted as I put on weight or take off the weight. My blog is my library of sewing notes that you have access to.
Through blogging, I have friends globally and I can meet up with them when I’m away from home. When I’m home, I can still talk to a good handful of people globally and have a laugh.

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Through blogging, I send out reference material to people from time to time to people who ask about ‘xyz’ adjustment for their sewing projects. I’m happy to share the resources I’ve bought and continue to use.

My general rule of thumb about blogging technology is, if I’m stuck with a technology issue, there will be someone out there who has already resolved the issue I’m struggling with. You are not alone when it comes to technology issues. There are also online communities that have already documented the technology challenges you’re dealing with.

Being over 50

Since sewover50 started, I never thought much about being this age and the challenges many people face and are facing. As I’ve already mentioned, I watch my weight fluctuate and sewing allows me to ensure I have clothes that fit, no matter what weight I’m at. The sewover50 team have written a lot about the lack of visibility ‘after 50’ but being a short person, I’ve always been ‘invisible’ so I’m used to making myself seen and heard, when I want to.

The hot flashes are a daily challenge but I make it a fun 60 seconds of sweating. Yes I do make it fun because I never know when it will happen or how long it will last.

For instance, I have a pink cd cover on my desk that I used as a fan when my body temp skyrockets. When I’m on a plane, I fan myself with the airline magazine. If I’m at a restaurant, I fan myself with the menu.

While I’m going through this crazy period of life, I really love running in the cold even though I use a puffer to breath properly when the air is less than 8C. When I’m running in hot, humid conditions, I look like I’m workout harder than anyone else.

The other symptom I’m enjoying is waking up during the night. This becomes my time to plan new projects, cut out fabrics, hand sew or simply chat to you all who are awake when I really should be asleep.

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Want to try it?

If you simply want to document your sewing projects and allow others to share what you’ve learnt, have a look at blogging as a starting point. Some people love Vlogging more once they try it.

I recommend you try blogging or vlogging and see if you enjoy it.

Once it becomes a chore, rethink what makes you happiest and follow that.

Romero by Pauline Alice

There are so many amazing clothes I see many sewists create using African wax prints. I bought a few pieces when I visited the LA fabric district a few years ago. Since then I’ve dabbled on a few projects to see how I can incorporate these prints into clothes for my size and shape. I did buy one piece in NY during the same visit.

So far I’ve used these fabrics for a top, a dress or two and more recently a skirt.

This time I’ve used this fabric for the latest pants pattern by Pauline Alice patterns.

When I’ve bought African wax prints they come in 6 yard lengths. 6 yards is just under 5.5 metres. That’s a lot of fabric for me to use as I tend to make fitted clothes.
With this print, I made a top using New Look 6000.

I’ve worn this top quite a bit because it’s so striking.

Without getting too caught up in the print, this fabric works really well using the Romero pants pattern.

The pattern requires lots of big buttons and again I’ve used buttons from my stash.

The pant leg width is fairly wide for my size but they’re not overly wide.


That’s the beauty of Pauline’s designs. She understands what works for her size and that’s fairly similar to what works for me too. Everyone’s pattern base is different and that’s something I’ve very thankful for.

While I thought this outfit would be very loud, I love how it’s cohesive and doesn’t quite swallow me.

The fun part about this pattern is that when my waist increases or decreases, I’ll simply resew the buttons to fit.

Technically, I’ve done a sway back adjustment and lowered the centre back seam so that it follows my curves. I’ve also lowered the centre front seam because that works for me.

I’ve left the pockets as they were designed. They work just fine.

PS: I only need to undo 3 buttons on these trouser when I dress myself.

I have pattern tested for Pauline Alice patterns from time to time and I’ve enjoyed her designs and the effort she puts into her instructions.

You have to see what Pauline has just launched on her Instagram and website.

Cheers for now.
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Saler jacket test

Here’s my test Saler jacket from Pauline Alice

Test Saler jacket and Simplicty 2154 1960s pencil skirt.

Fabric

I chose this pink poly fabric because I love the colour although the fabric quality is average. However this fabric was easy to mark up, interface and sew. This fabric was especially easy to set in the sleeves – bonus!
I love this colour fabric because it’s not my ‘usual’ colour choice.

The back of this pattern is a bit wide as you can see so I’ll tweak that in a future jacket.

Pattern adjustments

Here are the usual adjustments I check and adjust on my projects:

  • sleeve length and upper arm width (shortened the sleeve length)
  • front and back bodice length (ok)
  • sway back adjustment (adjusted)
  • bust, waist and hip width (size 10 (38) bust and the rest is size 12 (40) )
  • forward shoulder adjustment (adjusted on shoulder seams and sleeve cap)
  • neckline (ok)

As this jacket has welt pockets, I checked to pocket position and pocket depth. Why would anyone check pocket depth? I’m short so if I lower a pocket, it will end up in the jacket hem. I’ve done this before so I’m conscious of it happening again and again, as I’m not getting any taller.

This is the jacket prior to it being professionally pressed.

I lowered the welt pockets by 5cm. I then lowered them again on the pattern. They were a bit high for me. 


The instructions were easy to follow and the pocket bag pieces matched perfectly.
I interfaced the outer pocket flap without seam allowance.

This is the back view so you can clearly see the buttons on the sleeve.

These buttons are from Addicted to Fabric – $4 for the lot in two sizes.

Published pattern

When I pattern test I follow the instructions as written to identify any issues that need to be fixed. Pauline does a clean sweep of all her pattern test feedback and then adjusts her patterns. 

The pockets were lowered on this jacket because of our feedback. The published pockets are an additional 3cm lower than the pattern I’ve adjusted so I think this is a more comfortable spot.

Skirt

There was just enough fabric left to whip up a pencil skirt using Simplicity 1407 but there wasn’t quite enough for the back pieces. 

From the remnant fabric resulted in the back pleating.

Hence the pleats at the hem line. Now called a ‘design feature’.

I feel quite confident to make up another jacket in the future,

Xerea and Pitt Trading

Paulinealice’s Xerea dress with Pitt Trading’s brocade fabric makes a great dinner dress.

You know how you get the Friday txt to say, ‘are you guys free for a birthday dinner tomorrow night?’ Well it’s rude to say no. 

The suggested venue was a French restaurant in the city so it was easy to choose the perfect dress to wear – this brocade Xerea (or 2.0).

Ok. So it wasn’t a formal occasion but it was a night out with friends so why not make a special effort?

It would have been very easy to simply use the ‘dark side’ of this brocade for the whole dress, but I decided to show off both sides of this lovely fabric.

I know I don’t need pockets on a such a gorgeous dress but they’re still there if I need them.

This dress has all the changes I made from the original dress and is lined. PS. I’ve worn the test dress – Xerea 1.0 – a few times now. I think it’s because it’s a great Spring style too.

Thanks Pitt Trading for indulging my current interest in brocade fabrics.

Xerea 1.0

This is a story about a simple dress, that’s simple to make and simple to wear – Xerea by Paulinealice patterns.

The pockets really make it.
Talk about busy days – so making Xerea with no zippers, buttons or closures was a lovely way to chill.

Pauline sent this pattern to me as a gift.

This isn’t a fitted style and this version is my test version using size 38. 
A-line dresses are a classic style and this has a 60s feel to it.
I did a roll shoulder adjustment and left the back as it. The dress length is as per the pattern.

The shoulder line is a bit short as these sleeves seem to ride to high on this version. It’s ok Pauline, I’ve adjusted this on my next dress.

I was very tempted to start overworking this dress to get a more definted waist but in the end I took in the the front seams in by 1cm for a better front fit.
This is my ‘not to be messed around’ look.

I’ve worn this version to work a couple of times now it’s really functional, comfortable and let’s me get on with the day while not feeling constrained. Love those pockets.

I bought this fabric recently from Pitt Trading to make a 60s costume and I still have plenty work with.

There’s a lined Xerea that I’ll show you next time.

Bronze biker jacket

Pauline’s quart coat can be made into a biker jacket as she’s shown here. So Sylvia at Pitt Trading was happy to provide what I needed to make a ‘glossy’ biker jacket and skirt.

Pauline’s biker jacket version is cut 4″/10cm below the waistline. I initially through 8″/20cm would work and then I rejigged the jacket body pieces to 6″/15cm. It’s Winter and I wanted a bit of hip coverage but I decided to go with the shorter version instead.

Susan of measuretwicecutonce chose the lining colour.

The pocket pieces were adjusted so there’s a 2.5cm band of the fashion fabric used at the jacket seam and then the lining for the rest of the pocket bag.

No shoulder epaulets or back waist epaulet this time. 

Sleeve seam prep front
Close up, this fabric has a repeat that this took a bit of time to make sure I cut each piece out so the fabric repeat remained fluid across the jacket.
Sleeve seam reinforcement for the zipper

After working on my brother’s RTW formal jacket sleeve, I have no guilt using iron-on interfacings or hemming tape. That’s what’s used within the industry.

Close up of the metal zipper in the sleeve seam line.
Pitt Trading got bags of these great metal zippers in recently so I was able to pick up these matching metal zippers with black teeth and lovely zipper pulls. They’re still sorting these zippers out and they have them in a few colours.

During the construction process I got really annoyed with the time this jacket was taking me to make. Not a real ‘dummy spit’ but close. 

You see, by the time I sewed in the collar, sleeves and zipper, I just wanted to wear the jacket ‘pronto’. Ok, that sounds like a dummy spit but I’m glad I put the effort into getting the dimensions right.

So after a night’s rest, in the morning I did a bunch of steam pressing, waxed threads for hand sewing, relaxed and got back into it. Did I say that I sew during the week before and after work? I’m a morning person:)

I’ve used bias binding on the coat hook and on the hems so the metallic threads didn’t unravel during wear.

A close up of the exposed zipper on the front of the skirt.

The fabric is a modern brocade and it’s easy to match up. I’ve used McCalls 9356 for the skirt.

Thanks Pauline again for the Quart coat pattern. Your biker jacket tute was easy to follow.

Thanks again to Pitt Trading for the fabric, lining, zippers and Rasant thread. Rasant thread is new to me so I was really pleased with how this thread held during machine and hand sewing.

Eliana: Beach and Autumn

While planning a few Autumn items, I made a last minute beach Eliana. Pauline Alice sent me her new pattern to try. I used a January sale rayon print from Pitt Trading to make this beach friendly version.

Test dress for fit.

I prefer dresses that allow me to wear support and since this summer version has exposed shoulder (gasp) I made a modest adjustment this version is henceforth known as the beach Eliana. When I’m on holidays at the beach I’ll wear my swimmers underneath and not fuss with the straps showing – C’est la vie.

It was this beach Eliana that forced me to make my convertible bra, so ‘it’s all good’…


Fluoro prints aren’t my first choice but this print is certainly a great play on LBD. 

The rayon fabric is soft and not see-through (yay). I should have bought more…

Pauline has added pockets that are sewn into the waistband so the pockets don’t drag the skirt down. The only change I made to the pockets was to shorten them by 5cm and I’ve used this pocket pattern for a future make.

Finished neckline view. This fabric and notions are courtesy of Pitt Trading.

I’ve also shortened the bodice by 2.5cm. The both versions are 38 bust, 40 waist, 38 hips. 

The Autumn version has shortened sleeves (8cm) and adjusted the sleeve dart for forward shoulders for the Autumn version.

Sleeve hem finish

After making the test version, this Autumn version was a much quicker make.

I spent a fair bit of time making the gathers on the neckline even. You can see the stitching and a bit of hand stitching to keep the gathers in place during sewing.

It’s nice having a warmer dress from the same pattern.