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!





Nell’s Done!

Actually Nell was finished almost two weeks ago but I have been in Northumberland again visiting the mothers. Sadly during the time I was there I was unwell, and the weather was cold. No, COLD – so I’m afraid I wanted to be more wrapped up than Nell offered and didn’t get a photograph. More on that later, but just for fun here are some nice cows (and yes, that is snow on the tops).

College Valley cows

College Valley cows


Can you see the face and ‘girls’?

We did do some nice things during my visit – one of which was a visit to the College Valley. It is truly beautiful there, and as there had been snow the previous night we had truly lovely views of Kielder with snow on top. Sadly there had been lots of rain prior to our visit so walking wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. We did also visit Northumberlandia later that week (also very cold) and got close for the fist time despite passing her on many, many occasions.


Anyway, Style Arc Nell. I had intended this to be a project I could be proud of, but one that wouldn’t take too long. Why do I always seem to complicate things that really don’t need it? You may remember that the quantity of the fabric I chose was really insufficient to make up this pattern, it was also a textured wool that I thought would benefit from being lined. I thought I was unbelievably lucky when I found a matching lining in stash, and when I came up empty on a binding trim I knew that I had some felted wool jersey that would do the job without fraying. Sorted.


Mounting the lining onto the pattern pieces (this is the sleeve/cape bit)

I went with a mix between mounting and lining (mining?) as I knew I didn’t have sufficient fabric to even cut a small allowance on the edges that were to be bound which would have enabled me to turn them neatly. This did cause a few problems later, and the seam where the ‘sleeve’ is sewn in and the main coat bound isn’t quite as tidy as I would have liked (no, I’m not showing it – if I pretend it’s not there I’m fine with it). Making up a full lining and turning the whole shebang through on itself would have solved my problems entirely and if I make this again that is exactly what I will be doing.

The instructions don’t include the lining so if anyone really wants me to I can do a description of how I achieved this – but more likely, how to do it with a ‘full turned lining’. I really like this cape – I wasn’t sure I would – but it has already got a bit too cold to wear it comfortably here in the UK. The gorgeous wide wings sleeves do flap in any sort of a breeze, and since they open up into an armhole it can be a bit nippy. It would be absolutely perfect for a night out (where you weren’t going to be outside much) but not so much for a day out tramping round town.

There is a lovely deep back pleat which makes movement very easy in this, and I loved having pockets (although if I make it again I would probably use a ‘warm’ fabric rather than the lining fabric for them). I did wear this out a couple of times but mostly I was just grateful to wear it round my shoulders in the car where I could easily take it on and off as the need arose.

I’m not absolutely sure when I will make this again as it is pretty distinctive, but the pattern is great and fitted straight off the press (though in truth it only really needed to fit on the shoulders!) but I would be pretty happy to recommend it. The instructions could have been in Greek as I really didn’t use them, though there is a very nice picture instruction sheet which was probably more instructive than the words for me.

I have been catching up on client work again since we got home (diminishing nicely, thank you!) so I am really keen to start that fabulous green/yellow coat next week. Updates eventually.

The Eternal Socks and more.

No. not how long I expect them to last – the time it has taken me to knit these blessed socks.

I used my basic pattern, which is the Lacery sock pattern which was free fom Ravelry, but used the cabled pattern all over the sock from the Little Minx socks, also free from Ravelry. The last time I used the Little Minx pattern I realised it didn’t have increases on the instep but didn’t think it would matter. After using the socks for a while I decided that whilst I liked the cabling they were a bit tight over the foot to put on. Fine once they are on there but a bit of a struggle initially!

Damn that dropped stitch!

Damn that dropped stitch!

I was finished one sock for a good while before I got on with the second as this has been my ‘portable project’ for a while. Socks are great for a project that can move with you and doesn’t take up too much space. A night of insomnia got me back on track and once cast on they were on their way. It wasn’t until I had finished the second sock it still took a while) and was darning in the two loose threads (I love toe-up socks for this detail – only two threads to darn in on one colour socks) I spotted this! Damn! A dropped stitch from while I was working the heel. Fortunately it hadn’t run away when I turned the sock through so I was able to effect a repair whilst muttering and cursing.

Instep detail

Instep detail

I am now happy to report that I have another pair of hand knitted socks for myself, and very comfy they are too. They were knitted in Yarn Gardens sock yarn which had a bit of something called ‘stelina sparkle’ included which makes them a bit twinkly. I know from the last Yarn Garden yarn I knitted that these will have to be washed on their own for a good few times as the dye seems to weep for a number of washes but doesn’t seem to fade – no, I don’t know how either.



Something I hadn’t quite appreciated until I went to put the end of the yarn into the ‘leftovers bag’ was quite how much leftover sock yarn I have generated. I think I may have to knit a ‘two at once’ project and just make mad stripes to use some of this up.

Leftover sock yarn

Leftover sock yarn


So, any sewing Kim? Not as such. Lots of planning (I seem to spend more time planning my sewing than ever I do making things for me 😦 ), client work being kept steady – or even diminishing which is nice, and piles of PDF patterns printed out ready to get on with.

I stuck the Style Arc Toni pattern together a little while ago and decided that rather than spending the time tracing it from that I would just cut the pieces. Why didn’t I do that before? It is now sitting with the fabric I plan to make it in waiting for its turn. It was head of the list until I saw – Style Arc Nell.

Fashionable cape with bound edges and inseam pockets

This was love at first sight. I had flirted with the idea of a cape for quite some time but never taken the plunge. This just seemed to be exactly what I needed – and I knew exactly which fabric to make it in. A lovely raspberry fabric that had been lurking for some time. Oh, but would I end up looking a bit ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ (even though there is no hood other than me). Re think. A lovely textured grey wool sprung to mind – even longer in the stash than the raspberry. Perfect. Except there is only 1.5m and the pattern says 2. Pants. I really liked the idea of this in the grey so I spent this afternoon sticking the pattern together before cutting it out and placing (breath held the whole time) on the ‘too small’ piece of grey fabric. It fits. Just. Two pieces are a fraction off grain which I  would usually not tolerate but this time needs must.

The piece turned out to be only 145cm long and I think that had it been the full 1.5m I could possibly have managed to cut this on grain – sadly I will have to find something else to make the pockets from (or go without , but I can’t see that happening!) as the pocket pieces wont fit. Hopefully I will get this cut out and overlocked over the weekend. The fabric is so loosely woven that if I don’t protect the edges I am going to have fraying beyond the not very generous seam allowances.

Back with progress soon.I hope.

Stacie is a keeper!

Ok, again I never intended to take this long before I posted again. Time seems to be running faster as I get older – something I never believed when other people said that – as there are just so many wonderful things to do around things that have to be done.

I have had a great month of May and can hardly believe it is June already. I have finally got the client work under firm control, and I think that now we are into June there should be less until the weather changes again. Phew! Of course, that doesn’t include the panics from people who have just received their ‘bargain’ prom dresses from China or wherever and discovered they don’t fit (already had one of those – and not even Mrs Mole could have waved her wand over that one!). Still, I’m not going to schedule time for ‘what might’, rather plan what I can do for me around what is already there – not forgetting a bit of time to drag the garden back under control.

BUT I finished my orange Style Arc Stacie jacket a couple of weeks ago and have been trying to get photographs in some interesting place rather than up against my house wall. A nice plain background I admit – but a bit bl**dy boring. Sadly The Management could never be described as likely to worry Bailey and I have struggled with the tripod indoors so there is no way I’m taking it out!

With no further ado, I introduce the orange Stacie…..


Stacie – front view (Sorry about the collar)


Stacie – back view

I know that when I first saw this pattern I considered making some changes but this version was made up exactly as designed. And I love it. I did ask The Management for his opinion of both orange jackets, and although he couldn’t say why he preferred this one. Just for comparison…

Both are made in identical fabric and made exactly as intended by the pattern maker. The Stacie was topstitched using the same thread as the construction, but using the triple stitch (supposed to be for stretch) from my machine that builds into a nice visible feature, whilst the Islander was topstitched with buttonhole thread. Other than that the materials are pretty much identical.

Stacie is more ‘pointy’, collar and corners, and has a more defined waistline. The Islander feels oddly heavier(?) and I just feel that it looks more ‘home made’ despite having some great features – check out the pockets and sleeve details.

I still think that I will change bits of the Stacie pattern in the future but now feel unlikely to make the Islander pattern again. I did use skills learned from the Janet Pray course whilst making up the Stacie so I feel the experience of making that was worthwhile. I have worn the orange jacket so much since I finished it that when I found a lonely chunk of black cotton twill I went straight ahead and made this.


Another Stacie 

I was so happy with the fit and styling of this jacket I have already printed Ziggi ready to gather what’s needed to make that.

Would anyone like the Islander pattern?




Making Stacie a bit of a saga – Part 1

I have been trying to get on with my jacket but have been occupied fully in other directions. Anyway, I had printed out the Style Arc Stacie pattern and trimmed the pages ready to stick together so while I had my dear old mother-in-law to stay I thought I would get the sellotape busy. I made a lovely job of sticking all those sheets together. Brilliant I was. Then I realised it was in a size 16 and I should have printed the 14. Doh!

So back to the printer. Print, trim, and stick before tracing off the pattern. I thought I wanted to change the length and make one or two other little tweaks before hitting the fabric but I decided to make the first version up exactly as intended by Style Arc.

All going well again so I got the fabric out. It was the remains of the orange denim I made the Islander Patterns Jacket Express so I knew it had been pre washed and only needed to be ironed. I think it must have shrunk in the stash – there was a maximum length of 150cm – but it had chunks cut out at both ends so it wasn’t anywhere near as much as I remembered and I had severe doubts I would ever fit the whole pattern on.

Readers I think my luck may have changed. I got the pattern on with just shreds to spare. It was just as well that I didn’t decide to change the pattern at all as I’m not convinced that I could have fitted the adapted pattern into what I had. Check this out….

Not much here for the scrap bag

Not much here for the scrap bag

At last the jacket is cut out and the markings clipped – all done very carefully as I can’t afford any slip ups here. I’m told that Style Arc instructions can be a bit scant but since I draw my own patterns I’m used to working without instructions. Even so I will be going steady as we can’t be at home to Mr Mistake. No sir.

Stacie finally cut out

Stacie finally cut out

The client work is back under control so I might even be able to get back to the 30 minutes for me at the end of each day regime. Seems like the only way I actually get anything done for me when I’m busy.

I hope all your lives are under better control than mine!

My style – or style rut?

Every so often something happens that makes us question our choices. The prompt this time was a blog post I read by Sew Tessuti who was showing a selection of patterns bought over a number of years – and so many very similar patterns.

This weekend I bought a couple of Style Arc patterns using the discount. Great time to try out a new to me pattern company who seem to have a very good following. Then I looked at what I had bought in the light of what I had read.

The first was a pattern bundle which included the Stacie jean jacket, Sally jean skirt, and Diana top. I really only wanted the jacket but it was such a good buy… well, you know the feeling. The other option was the Ziggi biker jacket.Stacie Jean Jacket + Diana Top + Sally Jean Skirt








These were both styles I really thought I would use – but wait a minute – do these look familiar?

Start with Stacie. I love jeans jackets. I have made a few in the past, check out this post, this one, and finally this one. Also, in a recent Patrones post I showed a jacket that isn’t a million miles from this. See a theme developing? All OK, but none exactly what I wanted.

The first (McCalls 5860) was a great basic shape but I followed the instructions pretty much as is and hated the way the lining was installed from the word go. The second was self drafted and just OK. I still wear it on occasion but it has never really thrilled me. The third was from a Craftsy course. I learned a bunch of stuff from the course, have worn this jacket quite a lot, but it seems a bit of a compromise jeans jacket. A ‘home sew’ option. I have read a number of blog posts about ‘Stacie’ and most are positive – but the pockets are just decorative rather than functional, and the cuffs seem to come in for some criticism. It would seem that the pattern companies are on a hiding to nothing as we have very specific ideas of what we want, but we don’t all want the same thing. Clearly I am going to have to do a bit of adaption to make Stacie exactly what I had in mind.


Fabulous fully lined biker jacket with zip features


Now then Ziggi. I have seen some blisteringly good versions of Ziggi online. Check out Ruths version at Core Couture, or Shams at Communing with Fabric, or ….  any one of loads. Brilliant jacket. Perfectly biker – just what I want. But I have already got the Janet Pray MotorCity Express pattern as part of another Craftsy course (not yet started). I have put off starting the course because I had slight reservations about the pattern. I knew the lack of a collar was something I was going to have to change, and no matter how much I know I have gained from the other Janet Pray courses I have watched this one languished. Is Ziggi closer to what I want? I think so, but I really must watch the course because I’m sure it will help construction when I decide what I am to do.

Both of these jacket styles can be dressed up or down according to need but are arguably both fairly casual, every day jackets. That’s OK. Sadly my lifestyle doesn’t really have great need for spectacularly ‘dressed up’ clothing. However, my concern is have I just fallen into a style rut where I simply choose what is comfortable and familiar, or have I actually found that rare beast – My Style?



Style Arc Discount Alert!

Just a quick post as I received this e-mail from Style Arc this morning and thought I should share the love. I haven’t used a Style Arc pattern yet but have been eyeing up a couple of nice ones – I think a 25% discount could be the prod I need.

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Style Arc Sewing Patterns on Etsy

Hi everyone,

For many of us Easter is rare opportunity to have four days off! It’s a great time to sit down and work on some of those projects that you’ve been putting off for some time. Many of our sewing friends use the time to raid their fabric stashes (or maybe even add to them:) and spend some dedicated time working on a fabulous sewing project.

In case you’re struggling for ideas, as a special gift this Easter we’re giving you 25% off all PDF downloadable patterns from the Style Arc Etsy store but ONLY until Easter Monday. So get in quick! Just enter the coupon code HAPPYEASTER25 at the checkout when you place your order to get your discount.

Why not browse the store to find yourself a sewing project, download the pattern, assemble it and get to work right away! By Monday you could have some fabulous new additions to the wardrobe. Sale ends Easter Monday.

Until next time, happy sewing and have a happy and safe Easter.

Chloe and the Style Arc girls

I love (well made) PDF patterns so this is really well timed.

Have a good Easter break everyone!

P.S. Just to keep my exercise/running off this blog I have a new blog. Feel free to comment on there too.