Thursday, November 17, 2016

5, 10 20 minutes to sew

Do you all remember Nancy Zeiman's book by this name? The idea was that you could get a lot of sewing done in increments.

Well I have my own interpretation of that. 

I like to do everything else in increments so I have more time to sew.

Take cooking.

 My husband, who does an overwhelming share of the cooking, will spend hours and hours getting something just right (sometimes we eat real late).

I, on the other hand, have a 10 minute rule for most dishes. If I can do it in 10 minutes or less I will make it, if not I don't. There is something about slapping down three meals a day for three kids for a couple of decades that go me to this place.

I have a friend who even sends me recipe ideas, some she labels, as "see Barbara it only takes 10 minutes" other ones she labels as "get Leo to make this for us in Florida."

I have been thinking about this because just this weekend I made a pan of granola bar things so we can have something sweet but trick ourselves into thinking it is OK and they were excellent.I clocked the counter to oven time at about 7.5 minutes. (In a hotel in Maine now will share the recipe when I am home. Oh and by the way this place is an amazing yarn shop, best I have seen in a long time. Worth a detour to Freeport.)

Housework, something I feel was invented only to frustrate sewers who have better things to do, is another place where I try to proceed with time limits and minimalism. In that department here are two of my current time limiters:

  • A battery operated vacuum. Mine goes hard for about 10 minutes which is great because then I can stop, no choice, in the middle of a job and say, well I might as well go serge something now.
  • Disinfectant wipes. Bulk at Costco. I keep these in the bathroom and kitchen and swipe stuff down and then throw them out (I know but I recycle and compost everything else in this house). Behind the taps, in the corners of the floor, the front of the cupboards. Not everyone is like my sweet MIL who keeps a plastic shower cap over her toaster so dust doesn't go down the toast slots. I can head off a lot of real cleaning with those wipes.
Now over to you.

I am super interested in your 10 minute sewing time liberation ideas. 

I am sure we all are.

How to you cheat some sewing time into your own life?

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Flypaper thoughts Sunday morning edition

  • Doing Chrismas sewing this weekend
  • Missed my inspiration when I didn't go to the Guild's "Christmas quickies" talk
  • Watch the US election instead from the seat of my exercise bike
  • No Christmas craft ideas there
  • Just blew out my knee from peddling so hard
  • I used to work for politicians
  • Learned one thing
  • Never underestimate either the ego or the ambition
  • Sewing on the other hand is hugely humbling
  • Particularly at that moment when you realize you are actually not going to make all the men shirts and all the women sweaters
  • And you start wondering about serged cosmetic bags
  • OK Babsie do a triple back flip with a twist on the trampoline
  • Sure
  • Close your eyes
  • Ta dah!
  • You missed it
  • Miss Heidi says what she wants for Christmas is for me to move into the other bunk in her room
  • Not a bad idea
  • There's good toys in that bunk
  • Her sister wants replacements for everything I have given her before that she has broken or lost
  • Off to New York with the husband this week
  • He wants to see shows and keep me out of the garment district
  • My 89 year old mother went to a Halloween party dressed as an Olympic swimmer
  • Best thing you can do for adult children is to show them how to age
  • Dumbest thing anyone said to me was that dogs stop developing when they are young
  • Broken hearts by four months, broken forever
  • Best thing dogs do for you is showing you spunky comes back
  • Took Daisy two years to be brave enough to bark
  • Now she bunts the computer off my lap if I am not paying attention to her
  • Ego and ambition aren't everything

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Underwear review

Ages ago I made myself some underwear, but never continued, mainly because the pattern I used didn't fit and it seemed too much trouble to fiddle around fitting with something that was so easy to buy.

Lately however I have been eyeing my bamboo, rayon, and nice cotton knit remnants and thinking they were too good to throw out, and thinking I should revisit sewing my own undies.

First the patterns. 

These are the ones I used in my trials. I know the fabrics are pretty wild, but this was muslin work.

First: Jan Bones' The Smoothie:

The key features of this pattern are great bum coverage, high cut front legs made possible by the side seams shifted to the front, which gives that back wrap.

Before showing you my sample I have to say I learned something in my practice sewing. This was that on my body, with my personal requirement that nothing was too tight, particularly the front leg (don't you just hate it when that digs in?) the elastic really worked best when it was applied one to one, except a little stretched under the back, sort of a finish to the raw edge not a gather.

What this means is that the off the machine version looks really wavy, although on me it lay flat, and after a day's wear the waviness had disappeared. Interesting.

The wear test was important, I have learned the hard way that the way something looks and how it feels are too different things. I never want to review anything without that all day test.

Grade: A 

Comfortable and since this pattern has been drafted for sewn in elastic, it will be a good choice when I can't find any stretch lace or foldover elastic to match my fabric:

Next pattern Kwik Sew 3881:

This pattern was a surprise. I have a 40" hip and cut out the medium. When I looked at the pattern pieces they seemed huge but I sewed it up anyway, basted the side seams once the crotch was sewn in, and tried it on.

Old lady droopy drawers.You don't need pictures to convey that - use your imagination. Here are the pattern pieces. Big at the back and low cut legs at the front:

Grade: F, at least on me.

Next pattern two versions of the same pattern:

Jalie 2568:

I made both the "hipster" (more a boycut) and bikini versions of this pattern. Here is the bikini version. It was nice but didn't have enough rear coverage for me at all, you can see how high the back leg is cut. The bisected butt is not a good look. However for someone less heavily endowed in that department it might work great:

Grade: D for me but may be someone else's A

Finally I made the hipster version, sort of an afterthought, the boycut never appealed to me, not being a boy myself. But then again as my kids say I am one of the original hipsters (not totally sure what that means or if it is a compliment or not, something about sewing when sewing wasn't cool I think) so I tried this out.

Interestingly this pattern had the option of a turned and stitched leg opening and since the fabric for this pair was a bamboo knit with fair body I tried that too, using a nice three step zig zag. I used a fold over elastic for the waist because I thought that would work with the grey and the boycut thing.

Here we go:

Now this was just a muslin trial but I did wear these and was most impressed. The back coverage is good, unlike the other pattern companies there is only one crotch seam in the Jalies, and I found that comfortable. The front legs weren't as low as I expected. Most of all I was impressed with how well the turned under leg looked and this was definitely the most comfortable of all my pairs from that perspective.

This was the fastest panty to construct and will probably be one of my favourite patterns. My sense though is that if you are turning and stitching you really need a good two-way fabric with some recovery, with thinner and less bounce back fabrics I will probably use the Jan Bones pattern.

Grade A+

I don't think I will be buying underwear again. My two As are much nicer to wear than anything currently in the drawer.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Esme top and me

Well a bit of catch up to do here.

First a bit of news.

One reason I have been AWOL is I have been getting a new project set-up, specifically a book I will be writing for C&T Publications, on you guessed it, sewing. This will take some time, but as this is my favourite subject I am enjoying this process.  Stay tuned.

And of course I have been actually sewing too.

I had a brief flash of remembering I need to make more basics, so I went back to my Stylearc Esme top that I had made sleeveless, and made one with sleeves, because it is pretty clear to me that summer is more or less over.

I like this top but think it is worth another go with the neckline pulled in. I have one of those scrawny necks and the '50s rolled collar is a little wide. I think it is worth moving this neckline in and may make another one soon to do this.

It is interesting to me that Stylearc seems to understand my lower body, pants fit in particular, perfectly but the tops require fitting adjustments always. I make the pants in a 12 and the tops in 10 but these tops still strike me as a bit wide.  I will have to work out a formula for this for this pattern line:

In the meantime here is the long sleeved Esme with my Stylerc Margaret pants:

The back neck, one of the nice features of this top

See you can see my bra strap slightly, got to bring in that neckline

Full view, interesting that the sleeves are narrow relative to the body - I know this is a style issue but also also common in the draft

The high low here on the top is quite flattering, I am also figuring out that a firmer fabric like this ponte is better for stomach disguise purposes than a clingy knit. Only took me about 40 years to figure that out.

Now off I go. Some Serious Christmas sewing underway, but now I have some of my other business straight in my head there will more more regular blogging, so brace yourselves.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

On minimalist wardrobes


The best thing about this blog is your comments. Really what fascinating reading.

You make me think.

Thank you so much for that, for taking the time to share.

A few thoughts of my own now, seems less profound than what you have written here but here goes.

My house was built in 1958.

The bedrooms have closets that are a little more than one standard door wide, probably less than 3 feet across in each one. This surely reflects the number of clothes folks wore then.

Who had a walk-in closet in those days? How many families had three, four, five kids and one bathroom?

Imagine trying to talk minimalism then?

So this is about the times as much as about clothing collections.

After all you need a fair amount of stuff before you "edit".

I have just got back from New York where I did have to pack a minimalist wardrobe to get by with a case I could carry on,  in black and grey (which I hardly ever wear at all at home these days) so I looked a little less like I had an out of towner sign on my forehead - although I am sure I blew that one every time I opened my mouth and got all chatty with everyone I met.

It also occurred to me that all these minimalist wardrobe articles and adherents seem to be from New York. Thin racks of white shirts and black pants etc.

Well have you ever been in a Manhattan apartment? My son once shared one for a rent that would have paid for a mortgage with a pool and a four car garage around here that was so small he had to put his shoes on the dresser. Worth it of course because there was so much going on outside that apartment, but you can see where the minimalist thing might be pretty handy in apartments like that.

OK what do I think?

Well I get a uniform in that you don't have to think about getting dressed but what defines a uniform? 

We all have one I guess, our go to - for everyone it is different (that's a great next topic - what is your uniform?) For me it would be an apron on at home and poop bags in my pocket when I go out, knitting in my purse in case I have to wait anywhere, knit tops I don't have to iron.

Back to minimalism.

It seems to me that this works for folks who have minds on other things. Of course Obama is a wardrobe minimalist.

But what if you are a person whose mind, at least a good part of it, is on the business of your wardrobe? Mine is and what's in that closet (three now of the '50s kind) is more than a work in progress, more a record of my changing ambitions and ideas. I am always starting from scratch it seems, always trying to figure out a better way to get dressed every day (and for someone who has just confessed to poop bags being her most consistent accessory this is a remarkable indication of optimism and lack of self-perception). 

I can't imagine of multiples of any of the same thing. 

To make laundry easier? Maybe if you did it in the laundromat, but I don't mind going downstairs to the washing machine when I have to - it's next to my sewing room and there is always something interesting to do in there.

And colour.

I couldn't live in black, grey and white no matter how easy it would be to dress.

Who could do without coral in a summer dress?

A red jacket in the rain?

A green sweater on a grey day?

Or how about combos?

How nice wine goes with sky blue.

Or lime green next to navy.

What about great buttons?

You know the really amazing ones.

Why cull those out?

Why eat just toast when there is pie?

Why is it is so important to focus on only the best things and cherish them?

They are just things.

What you cherish are four-year-olds.

Quality things are easy enough to find.

Finding the quality people takes more work.

This week I took my friend for a walk.

They are calling it frontal lobe dementia.

Early onset.

I did the zipper up on his jacket. The jacket didn't matter, that he had candies in his pocket he put there for me did.

His dog walked at a pace with us. Slowly and stopping every few yards to make sure we were still OK.

I am thinking minimalism comes anyway sometimes,

In the meantime I think I will go with living brightly.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What do you think of the minimalist/capsule wardrobe?

On my way out the door and so am going to be thinking about this but would love to hear your thoughts on this approach, seems to be a movement these days.

More from me later of course.

Monday, October 24, 2016