Style Arc Fifi – Kibbe sewing one

I am slowly trying out new trouser patterns. Several of these have been from Style Arc, with rather mixed results. Style Arc patterns are known for their sparse instructions, contemporary designs and superb drafting. All true. Style Arc is a trio of three terrific women from Melbourne. I’ve been to their offices twice via the Frocktails shopping tours and would like to support them.

I bought the Fifi trousers hoping it would be a blend of easy to make and wear trousers, with pockets. As it turns out, they fit the more relaxed edge of the Kibbe Classic, it has a yoke, slanted front pockets, clean lines. Yay! As an added bonus, these are trousers I can wear for work in my slightly increasing small business.

Image from Style Arc website

I checked the finished measurements against me, everything matched up OK (ish). I decided to just make the three quarter length. As always, the drafting was spot on. The waist elastic instruction was to cut the waist measurement, but neglected to suggest subtracting the front panel length. Fortunately I realised in time.

The pocket gapes a bit and shows the lining fabric.

The elastic waist gives a rather square shape. As it will be covered by a shirt, that is OK. I think it is time to accept that I will always need a zip. This is the waist at the back.

There is just enough stretch in the waistband to squeeze past my hips and bottom. I liked the nice deep hem I got when I chose the right length for me. This was accidental, but something to remember.

The details:

Pattern – Fifi trousers – Style Arc                            $5.00 (on sale)

Fabric – 1.6m of navy blue lightweight denim with minimal stretch, from stash, uncertain origin. Pocket lining was cut from the scraps of my husband’s waistcoat lining. No idea how much either fabric was.

Elastic – also from stash, but recent. I think it was $1.50 per metre and I used around 70cm.   $1.00

Interfacing – I used sew in woven interfacing which is quite firm. It was leftover from a certain dress made for my daughter. I originally bought 2 metres x 120cm and used almost 30cm. There is a lot of this stuff left!

Total in money – $6.50

Do it again? Very likely. With alterations to the pocket bag, I’ll connect it to the centre front seam and maybe consider a centre front zip.  A zip opening would give extra space and mean that I could reduce the elastic to the back waist only.



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Kibbe sewing

I’ve been enjoying the wonderful series by Doctor T Designs on the Kibbe method for determining what styles of clothing suit women. The method is incredibly detailed with several main types, each with sub-type variants. Doctor T goes into a lot of detail about each type and then each sub-type. She then provides three levels of formality and detail (from casual to evening wear) for each type.  To really underscore her amazing attention to detail all these posts are accompanied by multitudes of patterns and suggestions. Most of this happened in the latter part of 2018. Then on January 1st she created the Kibbe Challenge.

Normally I avoid the sewing world challenges. But this one really suits me. Step one is to determine my Kibbe type. Initially I thought I maybe the soft classic sub-type, but a review made me realise I am very much a Classic. Their clothes are typically:

  • Clean lines that follow the body shape.
  • No fussy details like ruffles, lace, sequins and dramatic sihouettes.
  • More likely to use natural fibres like wool and linen.
  • Emphasis on solid colours, prints are are understated and small.

The next few steps are about clearing out your existing wardrobe, working out what clothes you need that fit your lifestyle, finding the colours that best suit me and choosing patterns. Then Dr T suggests combining this with other sewing challenges like #sewnine or one of the SWAP variants.

OK! I can do this! I’m going to work Kibbe into my hopes for 2019 starting with number one – trousers. A Kibbe classic trousers are meant to have clean lines with a tapered/straight or boot cut leg. Some waist pleats but no gathers. Pockets are more likely to be inset rather than a patch feature. I rather get the feeling that the trousers are there to support whatever else you are wearing. So, simple and stylish, and possibly a little boring.



Black – using McCalls 6901 and the Palmer/Pletsch fitting course from Craftsy. I need black trousers for two work sites. These are most certainly Kibbe plain. If this pattern works as I hope, they will be the template for all future work trousers. All in wool blends.



Navy – Style Arc Teddy – I could wear these to work and probably will. They are perhaps a bit too interesting for Kibbe Classic trousers. Given I will be doing them in a navy wool blend I think they’ll be just fine.

Image from the Style Arc website





Navy – Style Arc Fifi – I’ve made the three quarter length. The pattern image makes them seem to have wide legs. Actually they have a straight cut from the thighs to hem. These will be in the next post.



I’ll probably alternate trousers with tops for work, then whatever else on my list that takes my fancy. My colours, how I found them and my proposed shirts and jacket, will all be in future posts.

Anyone else doing this?

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Chambray trousers

New trousers were needed. Thankfully not in black bengaline (for a change), but in chambray bengaline. It came courtesy of the awesomeness that is Kat and Seamstress Fabrics.

From the SA website

I chose Style Arc Barbs (again) and considered yet another modification to include pockets. I like slanted front pockets. I forgot about these trousers for awhile and did other things. When I came back to these trousers I had succumbed to a Style Arc sale and bought the Airlie trouser pattern. A bit later I had printed it out (on A4 – groan), taped it up and was ready to go.

I did a careful flat pattern measure, and put my much modified Barbs over the Airlie to compare the crotch curves. Ordinarily I’d cut the pattern but decided to trace it instead. I guess #teamtrace is getting to me!

At a sewing day I laid out the pattern pieces, cut them and stitched it up. I used the overlocker for most of it. One of the attendees at the sewing day was a retired seamstress. She and I puzzled over the SA instructions for the pockets. We agreed on a method that was possibly different to the SA method, but I’m really not sure.

I am very proud of these pockets, I took my time and I think they look lovely. So proud I took one more shot with the pretty shadows from my curtains.

Despite measuring carefully these trousers are both too small and too large for my liking. If I lost several kilos they may fit me around my thighs and bum. But they will still be too tight around my calf muscles and way too large around my waist. I’ve checked the pattern description and it says “slimline”, so I guess that gives away that it was never going to work on me!

Bengaline is an easy fabric to work with. It will press flat but also does not need to be ironed. But I don’t think I will ever like it. I don’t like wearing it as I find synthetics make me uncomfortably hot. I will use up the remainder of my stash and not buy anymore.


Fabric – 1.5m chambray bengaline  – $27.00

Elastic – from stash, I should keep better records.

Pattern – PDF download on sale, I think it was $12.00

Totals = approximately $40.00, allows money for elastic and thread.

Do it again? I don’t think so.

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2018 reflections, hopes for 2019

In February 2018 I wrote about what I wanted to do in 2018 and then immediately forgot it. I discovered the post just recently and was a little startled at what did and didn’t get done.

In 2018 I wrote that I had the following sewing goals:

I would like to make some things for my husband. He needs a tangible thanks for choosing the perfect overlocker and coverstitch machines. Thinking that a waistcoat is a good start.

Yes, this happened. He got both a Belvedere waistcoat and Finlayson Jumper from Thread Theory. The jumper is blogged here. The waistcoat is as yet unblogged. My husband is happy with both, although he has yet to have an occasion for the waistcoat.

I need active wear. Everything I have is old, stretched and almost see through. Working on sewing bathers at the moment.

Sorta didn’t happen. I made two rashies to protect my lily-white celtic skin in our ridiculous sun. I also made a very ordinary bikini. No other active wear.

I need a semi formal jacket or blazer of some sort. 

No, this didn’t happen.

I need more tops.   

Several long sleeved t shirts using the Grainline Lark pattern and I had a French Terry raglan shirt crush happening for a bit.

I hope to find a non-synthetic alternative to Bengaline.

Didn’t happen, don’t think it exists. Except maybe stretch twill, which is very tricky to source and less stretchy.

I also planned to make more trousers and work shirts for me. I made one long sleeved shirt (here) and one work appropriate raglan short sleeved shirt which has not been blogged. My work has morphed again and I need work shirts. I really do need more work trousers!


I’m calling these “2019 hopes” as anything else is too specific.

  1. Trousers – full length in black and navy,  3/4 length in blue and maroon.
  2. Tops! I need tops that are suitable for work, at least two more. A few more short sleeve t shirts would be good too.
  3. Swimwear – using the beautiful fabric and the patterns I already have.
  4. Casual bottoms, leggings for under my tunics and pinafore.
  5. A proper tailored wool jacket.
  6. Undies, it’s time to make undies.


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Sewing for the lasses

The elder lass is at uni and loving it. Learning is important to her. She likes the idea of learning to sew, just not actually sewing for more than 30 minutes at a time #ZGen. She chose some fabric for herself and her sister, for tshirts. The elder wanted long sleeve shirts.

The younger lass needed fresh tshirts for school. Enter Mum, the overlocker and the coverstitch machine. One morning at social sewing to cut out and make up three tshirts in grey, grey blue and blue with clouds.

I think she wears the clouds the most.


Fabric – various cotton knits on sale from Spotlight. $45.oo

Pattern – Grainline Lark – used so often it is practically free by now.

Total = $45.00

Do it again? – yes. Very soon most likely.

The long sleeved tees for the elder lass? When she cuts them out, I’ll stitch them up!

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Smart casual

Yeah – we all know what that means – right?

An invite to a special occasion that was important and significant, but not formal. Casual clothes but not shoddy clothes. The occasion was spread over two days and therefore required two outfits. Yippee!

Image from Vogue Patterns’ website

The first day was sorted, a merino knit top and plain black trousers. The next day I decided to wear the silk blouse I made for graduation, but new trousers were needed.

Not in black bengaline (for a change), but in brown stretch cotton. A medium weight fabric with a brushed surface, similar to moleskin. It came courtesy of the Remnant Warehouse in Sydney.

I chose Vogue 8499. I had made this up previously and liked the oversized pockets. I needed to make many alterations – again!

I used view C shown here, size 14. I added some length to the legs and increased the rear crotch depth & height.  I removed 5cm of width from the waist by trimming the center seams of the front and rear pieces. Finally I added a side zip and a large press stud.

They are OK – certainly wearable and a good addition to my wardrobe. I love the placement and depth of the pockets. I also like the shaping added by the knee darts. The elastic back suits my continuously expanding and contracting waist due to singing (it is a large part of my job). By the by – apologies for the awful quality of my photos..




The stretch fabric does loosen over the day. The waistband was always a bit too big, by the end of the day it is drooping somewhat. The fabric has faded more quickly than I expected and is showing some patches of wear.

They are not the ideal trouser pattern for me just yet. Still looking!


Fabric – brown moleskin with some stretch – $18.00

Zip and elastic – from stash, I should keep better records.

Pattern – second use and old, effectively free.

Totals = approximately $20.00, allows money for elastic and thread.

Do it again? I don’t think so.


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Thread Theory Finlayson

My husband hasn’t had a me-made article for a LONG time. I bought some bamboo fleece for him last year. This year he clicked through my collection of Thread Theory patterns on my computer. He chose the Finlayson jumper. He liked the roll collar. I had the AO file printed. I don’t do the PDF taping dance anymore.

I measured one of his favourite jumpers across the chest and from the neck to wrist. I used the XXL pattern and took a bit of length from the sleeves. The drafting is excellent and the instructions are good.

But I had dramas with the collar. It took me two goes to get it in the right way. Then I had to unpick the cover stitching and re-do it.



I’m still not happy with how it looks, but for a first attempt it is OK.






Most importantly, my husband likes it and wore it all day on Father’s day.

The details:

Pattern – Finlayson from Thread Theory         $AUD15.00

Printing costs  – three AO sheets                                  $6.00

Fabric – Two metres of charcoal grey bamboo fleece from the Bamboo Fabric Store @$27 per metre                                                             $54.00

Total in money – $75.00

Do it again? – Yes, probably with a different fabric. This fleece was not a delight to work with.

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Chewbacca nightie

I went to Frocktails 2017 and won a lucky door prize. $50 to spend at the online shop – For the love of Fabrics – yay!!!!

There are many funky prints in this shop. I lurked for several weeks before finally deciding on two Star Wars inspired prints. Chewbacca looking cute, like a labrador puppy that has just eaten all your slippers. I got a panel, which is 75cm wide and one metre tall.

I need night clothes. For years I have made do with old T shirts. My kids are starting to object to how short they are. Enter the Grainline Lark tee. I lengthened the pattern so that I could get the whole panel in. It sits just above my knees.

I added extra width to the hem, flaring from just above the waist. I also added some length to the sleeves along with my usual bicep adjustment.





I used a mid blue cotton/spandex blend for the sleeves, collar and back pieces. It came from deep stash, I’m not sure how long I’ve had it. It has similar properties to the print, but is a bit thinner.

I made this nightie eight months ago and I really like it. The fabric is thick, stretchy with terrific recovery, and has held it’s colour and print superbly through many washes. I got another print, which will become pyjamas.

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Maternity Jacket

This is from the archived section of my wardrobe.

My eldest is now 18, in her first year at university and loving it. When I became pregnant with her I knew I would be making virtually all my maternity clothes. Back then the Pregnancy Survival Kit was coming into vogue. At the time is was all black clothing, very stretchy leggings/tunic/dress made from synthetic fabrics.









I was going to be big (well huge actually) over a hot Melbourne summer. I didn’t want leggings at all. I wanted trousers, shorts, tops for work and a jacket. All to be made from cottons, linens and wool. I found a pattern in Vogue which is now totally out of print and not on their website. I can’t remember the number and later gave it to a friend who was making clothes for her daughter. It had trousers/shorts, an A-line top/dress and the most beautiful jacket. I made the jacket first.

I bought the wool crepe from a stall at the Queen Vic Markets, here in Melbourne. I knew I needed a bright colour and this pink worked with my skin colour and all my clothes. The lining is a much lighter pink silk, from Lincraft.


A mistake, as it later tore at the armholes, during my last pregnancy (third child). The jacket had been borrowed by some friends, so it was the sixth baby for the jacket.

I did a quick repair with a few layers of fusible interfacing.

I knew this would be the last time I could spend a long time on tailoring a wool jacket. A lot of time went into this jacket. I didn’t bag the lining, using thread ties instead. The shoulders were gently padded, which has thinned a bit since then.


This jacket was worn a lot. It worked with jeans and my work trousers.  I made a dress from a lovely floral fabric, to wear to special functions and events. They were the only pregnancy clothing I kept. Now after several years, the jacket and dress have gone to another soon to be mum who also loves bright colours. I’m not sure I want them back!


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Podcasts, about sewing and other stuff.

I do a lot of driving for work. I used to listen to the radio and sometimes CD’s. We had a Federal Election a couple of years ago, which coincided with a new car. The radio was all about the election and that bored me to tears after the first week. The new car made listening to podcasts really easy. I am now hooked on podcasts in the car.

I’ve subscribed to numerous podcasts, often to the ones I “should” be listening and others I’ve found through links. I’ve later weeded through and let go of the ones that I just turned off. And then there are the podcasts I listen to routinely, almost as soon as they are released:

  1. The Health Report – I LOVE everything about this podcast. Host Norman Swann really does his homework and reads what the shows’ researchers produce. He asks good questions and allows his interviewees time to respond. The icing on the cake is his most beautiful Scottish accent.
  2. Conversations – Richard Fidler interviews people with an interesting story. Each episode is roughly 50 minutes long and allows for plenty of discussion. Fidler ensures each interviewee really shines and talks.
  3. Ladies we need to talk – Showing my ABC love here with a third podcast! Yumi Styles discusses topics that can be squirmy and embarrassing. She does so with clarity and humour and comes from a starting place of curiosity.
  4. Sewing out loud – Mallory and Zede start with a topic each week and then take flight. Following their advice, I switched from woolly nylon to Maxilock Stretch, and used the three thread narrow overlocker stitch on stretch clothing. Much better results!
  5. One fat lady & one thin lady – Two Australian media personalities get together and have a natter. Not even remotely intellectual.
  6. The Sporkful – Dan Pashman hosts an eating based podcasts, that occasionally strays into foodie territory. My favourite episode is the one about marijuana. Hilarious listening.
  7. Trust me, I’m an expert – Coming from “The Conversation” online magazine. Challenging to understand concepts, explained in away that respects the listener’s intelligence and addresses their knowledge gap.
  8. Sewing with Threads Magazine – Monthly podcast, from sewing writers whose knowledge is encyclopaedic and who clearly love talking about sewing with other sewing experts. Wish it was more frequent!
  9. Politics with Michelle Grattan – Also from “The Conversation” – long form interview from the respected and veteran political journalist. The length of each podcast varies a lot, and the content is usually interesting.
  10. The Guilty Feminist -Deborah Frances-White and her guests, use a dry wit and wry humour to discuss topics that their feminist core should feel more strongly about. Occasionally this strays away from humour, and can be overly long.
  11. Clothes Making Mavens – Mostly I listen for Barbara Emodi at the end of each podcast.

I listen to a few others, work and sewing related. The above are just some. I mention humour and wit a few times. I like to smile while driving and it is easier to drive with light hearted audio than more serious audio.

Any suggestions?

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