Taking coals to Newcastle….

… or rather Style Arcs to Australia.

Over some time I have been becoming aware of just how many Style Arc patterns I have admired through other sewists – in person or via blogs – and just how many I had bought. And left waiting for action.

Well, I did have a bit of a sewing flurry before I went to Australia and most were Style Arcs.

Self drafted T

One of the most frustrating things before I went was deciding to shop for that most basic of garments – a simple white t-shirt. I must have wasted hours looking at and rejecting, even getting as far as trying on before I rejected. Why so difficult? I don’t like a very close round/jewel neckline but nor do I want to have a neckline so low I have to be aware of how I am standing/sitting. I wanted room for ‘the girls’ without flapping fabric over my hips. I wanted sleeves but not anything unusual – and no decoration. I eventually gave up and ordered some fabric from Tia Knight that was sufficient to cut three t-shirts from for a massive £15. The pattern was my basic t cut from my Kristina Shin book. It took significantly less time than I had spent shopping and I had a result I was happy with. So much so that I have decided that I need to make more in black and probably in both black and white with long sleeves for whilst it’s still cold. The photograph was from our time in Melbourne where we were able to have lunch on the Colonial Tramcar Restaurant. Great fun. If you get the opportunity have a meal on this – great food and you get to travel the city whilst you eat.

Stacie at the Oval

Our first stop after that was in Adelaide where I wore the Stacie  jacket when we visited the Oval. This was made some time ago and is one of my favourite jackets. I see there is now also a ‘Stevie’ jacket which is described as oversized. Although it has more detail I think I prefer Stacie. Details from when I made this are here . I have this in orange too and though I considered taking that instead of the black I think I made the right choice, and as it was still Aussie spring it was cool enough often enough to make me glad I took this.

Breakfast in the outback


The first garment I made specifically with my trip in mind was Style Arc’s Blaire Shirt dress. I had the linen/cotton mix stripe in stash (there’s a surprise) and I knew it would be perfect. I chose the lilac for no other reason than I liked it. The pattern is perhaps a bit more ‘square’ in shape than I realised but I found it perfect for this occasion. It was probably in need of a cardi’ for the early breakfast in the outback (we were on the Ghan train and were woken early to watch the sun rise) but it was fine most other times – and it was worn lots. It survived getting soaked while I paddled at Bondi beach and still looked fairly respectable to the end of the holiday (unwashed I have to confess). Apart from maybe being able to cut a size smaller next time I don’t have any complaints about this pattern. Oh, apart from needing very long arms to get to the bottom of the pockets! I do intend to sew a seam across the pocket to stop everything going to the very bottom which should help in future.

Are they..?

Both wearing Barb!

I also made this up as the shirt, this time in a beige stripe. I wore this the day I went to meet Lesley (from SewNipTuck) and her husband Fergus in Manly who were both lovely, and it was great to be given a walking tour of Manly even though I had a sore foot/ankle which restricted it somewhat. The original pattern would have had this double layered beneath the seam midway down the body. I though this might be a bit much in this fabric so adapted the pattern so it’s just a single layer.I like it like that but would be prepared to try the original design in a finer fabric.

It was a funny moment when we realised we were both wearing Style Arc Barb trousers! I made mine in a brown linen stretch that had been in the stash for longer than was reasonable so I was very pleased that they were so well worn. Lesley had narrowed the legs on her pair, and turned up a cuff, which looked really good. I may steal that idea for another pair.

There’s another bloggers tale that goes with the Barb pattern. I got the pattern as a freebie (hurrah!) when I signed up for a newsletter from Style Arc. It languished in the computer until I decided I really needed to make some trousers – NOW!!!! Inevitably that is the moment you have problems. My file wouldn’t print properly so I sent an appeal to a couple of other people I thought had the pattern. Rhonda came through – but with a size 10. I was pretty confident I would need the 14 but she thought not. I cut a trial pair in some cheap stuff from the Rag Market with HUGE seam allowances so I could adjust. And adjust. They were massive. I made the linen up exactly as the pattern stated and they were great. If you haven’t tried Barb yet I strongly recommend you do!

I did meet Celia from Fig Jam and Lime Cordial (who was just gorgeous) and will detail more on another post because I have much to say about a book she recommended when we were together. There is even a photograph but I need to check that Celia is happy for me to post it before I do.

You might be forgiven for thinking that I haven’t done much since I got back – even taking Christmas into account – and you’d be right. I have been taking life very eaaasy. It’s lovely. There is stuff happening but at a much more relaxed pace than previously – and I am slowly starting to try to sort out my messy life and head. It’s going to take a while.

Bessie wearing Juliet

However, I have made a shirt. Another Style Arc – Juliet this time. I had admired this shirt when I saw the Demented Fairy’s version when we met to shop. I had exactly that fabric and it looked fabulous – but I wouldn’t be so mean as to do a direct copy. That’s just not nice. Anyway, Style Arc had another sale, I couldn’t resist buying more patterns (this has got to stop!) and this one was bought and printed. The fabric had been in the stash for so long it smelled a bit funny so I had to wash it before I was willing to work with it. Oh, the shame! It actually looks better on me than on Bessie at present – she is a little heavier than me at the moment (adjusting her dimensions is another of those jobs to be done) – but there has been no opportunity to take a picture of me wearing it so Bessie you get. I’m very happy with this (in a size 12 – what?how?why?) and I know it will be worn frequently despite needing to be ironed which isn’t my favourite pastime.

That’s more than enough for now, but I do have more posts in preparation so I might not be too long in coming back.

Keep warm out there!




30 Comments on “Taking coals to Newcastle….”

  1. I wouldn’t care if you made a direct copy [the chambray from Barry’s?] I would b flattered lol. I know we’re unlikely to be wearing it at the same time and place anyway! Isn’t it a nice shirt- fancy and casual, gotta love it.
    Your SA wardrobe is FAB

  2. sew2pro says:

    I have the same requirements when it comes to vests; so frustrating to have to shop around for something that costs less than the drinks I purchase to fuel my quests.

  3. Sarah says:

    Hi Kim
    A while ago you featured a Mizono dress that you had made which looked stunning. Whilst perusing the Vogue patterns at Jaycotts online, I found a long or non sleeved dress, which looks fantastic and the most amazing shirt pattern both by afore mentioned Mizono. Both take a lot of fabric but never mind! The length on the dress could need a bit of jiggery pokery as I am 5ft 2″, having read your blog, the name stuck ! And buying more fabric is always a pleasure.

    • Kim says:

      The Mizono dresses are gorgeous! I have both patterns but have only made one style so far. The other really needs to be bumped up the wish list.

  4. tialys says:

    I don’t have any Style Arc patterns but I just nipped over to their site and there is a lot more choice than I thought there was. I won’t go down that road yet though as I’m trying to use patterns and fabric I already have. When I was last in the U.K. I must confess I bought an armful of plain white tees from Primark – they fit so well and their scoop neckline is just right on me – does that make me a bad person?

    • Kim says:

      I have some vests from Primark from years ago – they probably qualify as vintage! I think some of their goods are excellent for the cost (which sadly shows that the actual makers aren’t well paid) and provided they aren’t just worn and thrown away I see no problem shopping there. I’m not entirely convinced that the high end shops are paying their manufacturers a whole lot more 😞.

  5. Jo says:

    I’m the same with T shirts, I like the neck to be just what I want and if I find one I like, the body ends up being too short, I hate tops that ride up my back. How lovely that you got to meet some bloggy friends on holiday, it sounds like you had a great time and visited lots of great places.

    • Kim says:

      It should be easy – but I suspect we all have different requirements. Thank goodness I sew!
      Meeting blogging friends is wonderful and we thoroughly enjoyed Australia 😀.

  6. I too have the same issues with t shirts! And I also have that free pattern for the style arc trousers languishing somewhere, I feel inspired to dig it out. So lovely to see so many fabulous photos of you (both) looking fantastic!

    • Kim says:

      It surprised me how easy and good it is. I resisted elastic waisted trousers for so long but the wide elastic on them is just wonderful to wear. Dig that pattern out!

  7. Glad you had a lovely trip with lovely clothes! I love the Barb top !

    • Kim says:

      The top was Blaire like the dress and is very comfortable in warm conditions. The trousers are Barb and are just fantastic. Thanks for the comment 😃

  8. Fadanista says:

    It looks as though you had an amazing trip and it’s nice that you had so many Stylearc patterns with you. Fabulous stuff!

  9. What a lovely trip! Meeting so many blogging friends must have made it even more so. And showing up in the same trousers (same, but different)! Love the pic out in the water, you seem so completely happy!

  10. sewruth says:

    Fab holiday! I too can sew a T-shirt (that I like) in less time than it takes to shop for one, so you did the right thing. Couldn’t agree with you more about Barb’s – must make more……

    • Kim says:

      I should know better than to try to buy now. Are we more fussy through being able to sew? I think that we may be.
      Barb is excellent – and a very easy pattern. Likewise – must make more 😃.

  11. AllisonC says:

    Looks like you had a brilliant time and it’s fun you took your Style Arc’s for a visit back home!! I always like making something new when I travel, it’s a complete bonus for you that you found a couple of TNTs in the process.

  12. Sewniptuck says:

    Oh you are so funny Kim, it really was a delight to meet you both in Manly. That’s such an olde worlde saying but I am familiar with it because after all I descended from coal miners and was born in Newcastle! I am much happier with Barb than I was, she’s a roomy girl!

    • Kim says:

      I thought you might like that since we both originate in that area (although I’m from shipbuilding stock) – though we have very different lives now! It was great to meet you both (and Celia) while in Australia.
      It was hilarious that we were both wearing very different trousers from the same pattern. I’m getting the impression that SA trouser patterns may all be ‘generous’ though I’m waiting for confirmation.

  13. sewchet says:

    I love reading Thornberry blog as she is a devotee of Style Arc patterns. I’ve just bought my first one, so we’ll see how that goes. And I totally get your frustration over a basic white tee….

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