Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018

The group had a great 2017; 11 meetings, 11 show and tell sessions, lots of technique demonstrations, 3 challenges, 2 sew alongs and a fabric shop tour bus trip. Planning for 2018 is underway, we expect to have all the above plus a weekend sewing retreat and other new activities.

Our meetings are:

12 noon to 4pm

Second Saturday of the month

February to December

Bayview Community Centre in Glenfield, North Shore Auckland.


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The best Fitting Advice I have ever found

After the last blog post, I spent many hours on Peggy Sager’s Youtube channel. The extent of the content is amazing. She has been posting video’s for years. Her depth of knowledge of pattern making and fitting is an enormous resource for sewist like myself who have no formal training.

The links below are videos that impressed me for their usefulness and Peggy’s clarity in covering the subject.

Basic Principles

12 Universal Fitting Facts –

Understanding pattern fit

Peggy’s top 10 sewing tips

French Curve

How and why to use for fitting and styling, many ways to use it demonstrated.


Basic bodice fitting –

The french dart

Advanced french dart

Sleeve/armscye (armholes)

The four basic types, how to fit, how to make a 2 piece sleeve from a one piece, how to sew without pins,

Armhole templates, how to make, how to use, note narrow shoulder application at approximately 9:00

How to create a kimono sleeve from a set in sleeve – starts at 7:10


Pants fitting

Jeans fitting- she assumes you have watched the pants fitting first

There are many more topics on Peggy’s youtube channel. Look around to see what is useful to you.

Vivienne Files and Silhouette Patterns

There has been a lot of sickness at work this season, long lingering bouts of “flu”. I have been fighting it for weeks now and it has finally got me. I am home, in bed and grumpy!! Thank goodness for my laptop and WIFI. I have been thoroughly exploring a couple of very interesting websites.

One is The Vivienne Files This website, written by a very prolific blog host who is NOT named Vivienne (you have to read the story), is all about putting together a classic timeless minimal wardrobe. She has a number of different approaches for how to do this which I am exploring. Right now I am reading about how to start one from scratch You can either read her 20 blog posts on this subject!! or a more condensed version of 5 stages. From there, she branches out into all sorts of more detail on different topics. All of this is accessed from the link above, her actual website has unending interesting information and concepts. She is nothing if not thorough. One of her concepts I find funny but very practical is “Whatever is Clean”. This is a funny name for a minimal wardrobe in which everything goes with everything else so that you can wear whatever is clean and it will go together. She discusses this in step 18 at the above link. All her posts on this subject are here I find her writing style easy to read and appealing although her clothing style is not necessarily mine. Her approach to colour is new (to me) and quite liberating. She is not advocating the current “in” colours, she pulls her colours from many sources, including artwork. This website is enormous, it will keep you busy for many hours if you find this subject interesting.

The second is both a website and a Youtube channel for Peggy Sagers of Silhouette Patterns. She has been around a long time, has written many articles for Threads magazine, promotes industrial sewing techniques, has a line of patterns and a lot of very good information about fit and many adaptations for her patterns.  I have watched many hours of her youtube videos, there are short small topic ones and long big topic ones. Here are some of my favourites:

I was having quite a bit of difficulty navigating her Youtube site. I was using the “video” tab to explore it and the videos seemed to be listed in a random order. I finally looked at the “playlist” tab and here they are listed under headings in a more organised manner. Note the “View full playlist” link at the bottom of each category, in some categories there are many more videos than the ones listed.

Sewing Podcasts

I like to have a regular “sewing time” in my life to ensure I make the time to sew. I find that sewing is a little calm oasis in a busy life. It is very different from anything else I do, so it gives me a real break. It helps to build a feeling of well-being and resilience and is an activity that requires focus and mindfulness both of which are good for our mental health and sharpness.

My sewing time is Sunday afternoon after the weekend chores are done and I know I am ready for the new week.  Sometimes I get the whole day, but more usually the four hours from noon to 4 pm. My sewing room is an unused bedroom, upstairs with the rest of the bedrooms. Most of the time I like the separation, but sometimes I don’t.  That is when I turn to podcasts to fill the quiet.

Don’t know what a podcast is? Wikipedia has a long definition  but this short one is more manageable.


noun: podcast; plural noun: podcasts

1. a digital audio file made available on the Internet for downloading to a computer or mobile device, typically available as a series, new installments of which can be received by subscribers automatically.

verb: podcast; 3rd person present: podcasts; gerund or present participle: podcasting; past tense: podcast; past participle: podcast

1. make (a digital audio file) available as a podcast

A podcast can be listened to on your computer or on your phone. If you are new to podcasting, these links will help you get started here , here and here.  I like to listen to sewing podcasts and luckily there is a wide variety to choose from, below are just a few. After you have explored them, you can find many more by googling “Sewing Podcasts”.

Thread Cult covers a wide range of topics.  There are interviews with master craft people and creators in the home sewing, textile, and fashion communities. From independent pattern and textile designers to couture experts and curators, these conversations are interesting to listen to while you sew.

Sewing Out Loud Learn the technical information you need to sew successfully from Zede and Mallory are a mother/daughter team who run Zede’s Sewing Studio in Columbia, MO. They sell sewing machines, teach sewing classes and provide excellent sewing entertainment online.

Apple Tree Sewing  Apple Tree Sewing is a blog run by a pattern maker who shares sewing tutorials and pattern drafting tips.

Sit & Sew Radio A Quilt Addicts Anonymous podcast features interviews with influential and interesting people in the quilting world, learn about new quilting books and notions and hear some fun quilting stories. Produced by Quilt Addicts Anonymous blogger, teacher and pattern designer Stephanie Soebbing.

Enchanted by Sewing Laurel sews clothes that make her wardrobe work. Her monthly “Enchanted By Sewing” shows are garment themed and include chat about techniques and patterns, as well as short interviews

Maker Style  was created to be an inspiring destination for young people looking to embrace a fearlessly creative lifestyle. The goal is to educate, inspire, and empower people to learn how to make awesome things.


Sewing TV…on the Internet

There have been sewing shows on TV for many decades, but they are few and far between and have never been enough to keep sewists happy.  Did you know you can watch sewing TV on the internet?

Nancy Zieman is the Grand Dame of sewing TV she has been on PBS for almost 40 years. I remember watching her show Sewing with Nancy in the 80’s. She had wide interests and often an innovative approach to old problems.  She was one of the first to use the internet as a “broadcast” platform. She started her own website Nancy’s Notions years ago selling a wide range of sewing related items, it is jam-packed with helpful tips & techniques, free patterns and useful videos.

She also has a youtube channel! (No, I didn’t know that was a “thing” either) As expected,  here you will find many videos. On the right sidebar is a short list of other related channels.

The network that supports her also has an active internet presence and has 175 (!!) episodes of her show. You will need to sign in with a Google or Facebook account or create a new one, but then you have the ability to manage the episodes you want to watch.

Sew It All TV has a website with interesting content, the videos have moved to their youtube channel.

It’s Sew Easy TV, currently in its 13th series, features many different designers and experts. The website has episode descriptions, you will find a wide range of topics from very accomplished designers and experts. To watch the videos, on youtube scroll down until you see the “It’s so Easy” title, then use the left and right scroll bars to see all 13 series. You may want to explore this youtube channel a bit, it is full of other craft videos as well.

Youtube is an incredible resource! Using the search box for “Sewing” returns millions of results!! Refining that by clicking on the “filter” button on the left below the search bar and selecting channel under “Type” returns a more manageable number.

I hope you spend many happy hours exploring the sewing information wealth on the internet but remember, nothing actually gets made unless you are at your sewing machine!!

To Croquis or not Croquis


First use: 1805

Origin: French, from croquer to sketch, rough out, literally, to crunch

As sewists we face an ongoing challenge of perfecting the fitting of the garments we sew.  When I was young, a 20 something, I used to fit a perfect Butterick size 14, including the pant length. Mind you, a younger me did not make challenging clothes; simple pants, tops, dresses. I even made a corduroy coat and a quilted mandarin jacket. Over the years, things have changed and I am no longer a perfect anything!!

I am thankful that ingenious people have created many different fitting aids.

At a previous Sewing Connection Auckland meeting we made custom dress forms using paper packing tape, which have worked well for many of us.

In the book The Colette Sewing Handbook, there is a discussion of how to create a personal croquis.  Her technique is to take a photo of yourself in close fitting clothes against a light coloured plain background and then trace your outline. The low-tech way of doing this is to print the photo on a plain piece of paper, trace around the outline and use that to understand your proportions and to trial garments. The high-tech way is to use a program such as photoshop or the free Gimp to do the tracing. Link  Here is an example of how to use the croquis Link

Palmer Pletsch discuss body maps in their book Fit for Real People.  This is a different approach and result used for a similar purpose.  The body map is a full size, low tech version. You just need paper, pencil, meter stick and a buddy to help. Wearing close fitting clothes such as leggings or yoga pants and a t-shirt, trace the body onto paper fixed to a wall, marking relevant land marks eg shoulder points, waist, top of head. The resulting body map is used to understand your proportions and trial pattern pieces before cutting your fabric.

In our June meeting we will be making body maps for each other and learning to use them to help us on our journey to making well fitting clothes.

Newbie Resources

A question that is frequently asked is if Sewing Connection Auckland provides sewing lessons. We are a group of sewing enthusiasts who meet to share our interest with like minded people. We help each other during the meetings, there is always someone who knows how to do whatever is being discussed. Currently there is no one in the group who gives lessons.

Sewing is such a great hobby, you shouldn’t let that stop you!  Between the internet and the Auckland Library system there is really nothing to prevent someone from learning to sew.

On the internet, google is a good place to start.  You can google “how to sew”, “sewing lessons”,” how to start sewing” or anything similar to get a list of websites to take a look at.

DIY Dreamer has put together a useful set of Sewing 101 tutorials.  Youtube has lots of how to sew videos like this one. Nancy Zieman has been teaching sewing on TV for decades, her website is a treasure trove of helpful information and videos.  Also, there are free courses if that appeals to you.

When you feel ready for a project, Sew4home has hundreds if not thousands of free project tutorials many of them suitable for beginners. The tutorials are thorough, clear and have lots of pictures to help you. Pattern Review is a large and very active online sewing community with lots of help for beginners. It is a huge site, so stay awhile and look around.

The Auckland Library has a comprehensive list of sewing related books. On their website you can put a hold on ones that interest you and have them delivered to the library of your choice.  This way you have the entire library selection available to you.

We welcome visitors to our meetings and love to encourage newbies. Hope to see you at our next one.