Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
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I am a mother, a grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Monday, August 2, 2021

The Jensen shirt on one of my favourite models

 The son who has recently moved to Texas was back this weekend for a wedding. That gave me a chance to hand over the linen Jensen shirt to him and to snap a picture when we went out for breakfast.

He's tall and lean like we all are so the only alteration I made to the XL version was to add two inches in body length. I also made sure to pre-wash and pre-shrink the linen because I know that chances of this shirt being ironed, unless I am there to visit, are not incredibly high. Just see how wrinkled it got from sitting for an hour in a restaurant. Got to roll with it.

The linen was from Blackbird Fabrics which once again delivered top quality. As I think I did too when I gave birth to this guy.

I'll be making him more of these for sure.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Flypaper thoughts first of August version

  • You are kidding
  • August 1st?
  • After a year of everything going too slow
  • This came on too fast
  • However in two weeks I will be seeing my kids in the US
  • About time, about time
  • We all need more hellos and fewer goodbyes
  • I have spent the last month
  • Sewing for everyone
  • Treading water at the bottom of water slides
  • Saying you can do it you can do it
  • Having dinners with the table full after a long, long pause
  • Remembering my recipes for crowds
  • Hearing about heat waves everywhere else
  • While I think I feel fall in the air here
  • And writing
  • Few projects there
  • This year has taught more than all the meditation apps 
  • In the world could
  • About the present moment
  • And it's gifts being all you've got
  • The rest is not in our hands
  • Which is a good thing
  • Our hands are busy enough
  • I am a meditation drop out
  • Tried and tried but failed
  • And it's supposed to be the answer to everything
  • Let those thoughts float by like clouds
  • And let them go
  • But what if those thoughts are these
  • When did I last take the dog out to pee
  • What if I dried those herbs in the Intsapot
  • When was the last time I watered the herbs
  • How many buttons do I need for that shirt
  • Seven or eight
  • I wish I was in NYC
  • I get the best buttons there
  • I need some shell buttons
  • The ones that look plain on the front but like pearly shells 
  • On the side you can't see
  • That's quality
  • How many buttons would I have to buy 
  • To justify a trip to NYC
  • What am I saying
  • Who needs to justify button buying
  • However at the moment it is just one shirt
  • My neighbour's son has been transferred to Moscow
  • She thought he was coming home
  • When my boys where little
  • Her husband cut off the pickets to the fence
  • That separate our yards
  • He was worried either his boys or mine
  • Would impale themselves 
  • When they went over that fence
  • As they did 8,000 times a day
  • Playing games
  • That involved the older boys inventing
  • Elaborate challenges for the younger ones
  • For admission into some club
  • Where only older boys got to do the fun stuff
  • But the younger guys never figured out
  • Since they were too busy running around the block five times
  • As instructed
  • Well now they are in Calgary, Edmonton, Berkeley, Austin and Moscow
  • And we have a different fence
  • The grapes are out in the vine around my window
  • I can hear the raccoons running across the roof at night
  • Not light on their feet
  • My neighbour across the street told me that he saw 4-5 of them up there one night
  • My big laugh of the week
  • Was some poor soul trying to sell door-to-door security systems
  • Ha I already have one
  • She's called Mrs. Smith
  • Also across the street
  • One foot in the front door and the phone rings
  • You left the trunk open on the car
  • You dropped a mitt on the driveway
  • She does the day shift
  • Barry does the night shift
  • That's why he's on top of the raccoon situation
  • No I don't need an app for that
  • Not sure I need an app for much
  • Sorry about that
  • Sewing is my meditation
  • And after I sew sometimes I am rewarded with a look like this
  • On a face like this
  • Beats clouds

Monday, July 26, 2021

Wardrobe by me patterns

I love patterns and buy a fair number of them but am fairly cautious about new Indie lines. I like to make one pattern in a new to me company to test the fit and construction before I buy any more from them.

In the last month I have made two Wardrobe by me patterns, both men's shirts.

The first one was the going away shirt I made for my son a couple of posts ago from this pattern:

The second shirt was from this pattern, it's a linen shirt he will pick up when he is home from Texas this coming weekend for a wedding. He wanted it collarless so I just used the band and left off the collar:

I am very, very pleased with both these patterns. I sew a lot of shirts for my adult sons and I always struggle with finding a pattern that gives close to RTW fit. Too many of the shirt patterns I have tried are too boxy and sort of look dated to me.

These two patterns for a more casual shirt, totally nailed it. The draft was wider at the shoulders than the hips, which helped with the boxy problem, and the pieces just glided together exactly. Zero struggle to put in the sleeves, attach the collar or band to the neckline etc. - all the pieces just fit so well. The results definitely don't have that made by mom look, although of course they were.

This good experience makes me wonder about exploring this line further. I have my eye on this pattern at the moment:

 Has anyone else made any of these patterns? What are your experiences?


Saturday, July 24, 2021

An interview with Create Whimsy


 Last week I did another interview for the Create Whimsy website. They asked me to talk about my new book, coming out next month, and so I did that.

For those of you who might be interested in the backstory on that book here's the link.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Stylearc and family sewing

 When Stylearc patterns first hit the scene I just about lost my mind. Up till then I had relied, with increasingly sporadic results, on the Big 4, most often Vogue. 

At that time it was becoming obvious to me that the fashion universe Vogue was inhabiting was its own space, with things that they had decided were fashionable, but outside their world weren't. 

Equally, and for concern to me as a sewist who really loves construction cleverness, was that the drafting at Vogue no longer seemed particularly good, and the instructions were pretty archaic.

In that environment, and from that perspective, Stylearc was just what I was looking for -RTW sizing, current styles and in some cases interesting construction techniques, although only cryptically explained.

And the pants fit. 

Fit right out of the envelope and without any alterations necessary. Who could believe that such a thing was possible?

So I bought Stylearc patterns a lot. 

Many of the early ones I collected in that period were even hand-drawn on nice tracing paper with hand-lettering. Probably going to be some sort of collector's items one day, but at the time patterns like this made me feel very strongly a personal connection to the folks who drafted them.

However over time styles changed. I found more and more of Stylearc's offerings were sort of shapeless. Loose fit, particularly around my scrawny shoulders, has never looked that good on me. For the same reason I never felt I could wear anything from the Sewing Workshop - those patterns always made me feel like a flag pole draped in a flag.

But then the next change was probably in me. 

Maybe Covid sealed the deal but just being comfortable became a very large priority. Some of the new Stylearcs started to look pretty good to me.

So I jumped back in and it has been going very well.

The first thing I made were some Kew pants for one of my sisters. She has a hard time getting pants for her small waist, wider hips so I decided to make her some. We used a blue linen.

First here is the pattern:

And here they are on my sister, in a video she texted me, with a note to ignore her hair. She has been a long lockdown in Ontario and couldn't get a hair appointment until next month.

She's pretty happy with these, and so am I so the next pair will be for me!

Finally I also made my grandson a housecoat as one of his birthday presents this week. One of my other sisters is staying with me while we wait for her daughter to give birth to her first child (the niece who lived with me for three years while she was in nursing school) and when we were out doing some thrift store shopping I picked up this nice polar fleece piece for $6.00

It just spoke "cozy housecoat for a little boy" to me so that's what I made with it. 

Honestly it's great when they are at this unfussy age and anything you do is just what they wanted:

This is sort of my life. I am spending more than half the week this summer taking care of my three grandchildren here, and August 15 I am headed to Berkeley to see my youngest grandchild there.

Right now my sister and brother-in-law are staying in the semi apartment in our basement, so they are close to my niece who lives two streets over. You know the niece who is engaged (Covid delayed weddings) to my son-in-law's nephew. 

Welcome to Nova Scotia.

There are more than enough folks to sew for around here. These include me and I will be sharing more of those makes soon.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Flypaper thoughts: random version

  • The weirdness in the air is continuing
  • Has anyone else noticed that strange things are coming out of the blue these days
  • The man across the street, self-described as a young 75
  • Has taken to courtly escorting another neighbour
  • Someone who works shifts
  • Down the long hill towards her workplace
  • He gets up at 6:00 am to do this
  • Like he was going to be walking down that hill this time anyway
  • And he is always weeding on his lawn the time she walks by at night
  • Who needs TV I ask you?
  • When the pandemic has made the stories of the neighbourhood
  • More interesting than anything anyone could make up
  • A few months ago my youngest son moved home to here, after working in the US for a few years
  • The actual morning after he arrived and he talked about his plans to be home
  • He got a great job offer back in Texas
  • You would understand 
  • That the morning of the day I would drive him to the airport in the evening
  • I got up at 5:00 am and made him a shirt and linen pants
  • To wear in Austin and a heat we don't have here

  • For a while now I have felt a compulsion to sew
  • To get something out that was in
  • Does sewing do that for you?
  • I just knew I had to get sewing
  • Of course most of the things I have made
  • Have been for other people
  • I never remember to ask for pictures
  • Tomorrow it will be a seersucker nightgown for one girl
  • Pants for my sister
  • Tops for my husband 
  • A housecoat for my daughter
  • And a couple of dresses for me
  • I have decided that with the way my life is going
  • It has to be packable
  • So that's interesting
  • The linens are being washed and dried
  • Is an instapot better than a slow cooker?
  • From the point of view of sewing not cooking
  • I am threatening to make myself a two piece this year
  • Again the kids will pretend to not recognize me if I do
  • And clothes for someone to wear to junior high
  • That's a hard age to dress
  • Girls seem to be offered only the too revealing or nothing
  • Going to be interesting to figure this one out
  • Nova Scotia is unbelievably beautiful in summer
  • Just spectacular
  • Always hard to believe the recovery that comes after the icebox winter
  • I think I sew my own springs
  • To be illustrated as we go

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Flypaper thoughts: unusual times edition

  •  I think we can establish that things have been weird these days
  • Like the moon is stuck in some weird phase
  • You know the kind that makes the inmates jumpy
  • In a full moon
  • But stuck there
  • How about you?
  • This last few months
  • My youngest son moved back here after years away
  • And the day after he was finished quarantine
  • He got an excellent job offer back in Texas
  • So off he goes again
  • Probably for the long term
  • The switch that was on, has been switched back
  • So I have a question
  • Where is the closest good fabric store for a person in Austin Texas?
  • Last few times I was there I could only find Joanns
  • Although Hill County Weavers is excellent for knitting
  • I need to develop more contacts there
  • Daisy also developed some worrying red rashes on her belly
  • Near where her cancer was removed earlier this year
  • Well false alarm
  • Seems the cat, who adores her
  • Has been trying to nurse
  • The vet thought this was very funny
  • Knowing about the stuck moon I was not surprised
  • Since it appears all bets are off these days
  • Speaking of which
  • I decided to apply to university 
  • To do another undergrad
  • Seems students over 65 don't pay tuition
  • When I heard that I was off
  • So many interests I didn't pursue
  • First time out
  • Getting my transcripts forwarded was hilarious
  • "Can you give me the post code of your address when you lived here?"
  • Canada didn't yet use postcodes when I was that age
  • "OK then what was your student email address?"
  • Listen kiddo I graduated before they invented the internet
  • Big pause
  • I am thinking
  • Spanish, because of being really positive about that Texas thing
  • Animal behaviour
  • Clearly there is a lot to learn about there
  • Creative writing
  • Well there is this blog
  • Comparative religions
  • Substantial knowledge gaps there
  • Women and Aging
  • Surely I have the pre-reqs for that?
  • And I am sewing and sewing
  • With family all over the place now
  • I am setting up Pinterest boards
  • They post ideas and I post fabrics
  • When you have taste like mine
  • It makes more sense to sew by demand
  • Than by surprise
  • I have seen a few surprised looks in my time
  • My niece nailed it
  • "Just make it in a colour you would never wear"
  • Good taste is not always CHEERFUL
  • Hence the Pinterest boards
  • Currently working on mother and daughter outfits for my DIL and granddaughter in California
  • That was by request
  • If the vaccination schedule goes as planned
  • I will be free to go to Berkeley to see those guys
  • For three weeks 
  • Mid August to early September
  • So so excited about that
  • Revising my wardrobe to be more packable
  • We are also planning a month in Florida in November
  • And Texas state parks in February
  • I need to link up with sewing people
  • One of my decisions in the year and a half I have spent 
  • In the striped chair, the comfortable one, with Daisy
  • Is to be as social as I can
  • Got to appreciate your people
  • My neighbourhood has kept me going
  • Everyone is doing the same thing
  • Out in the yards
  • Or walking the dogs
  • Talking and talking
  • I had no idea so many interesting
  • Good hearted people
  • Lived five blocks from me
  • Confucius  was right
  • In the midst of every crisis
  • There is an opportunity
  • Making sure I don't miss it