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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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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

Saturday, May 15, 2021

David Page Coffin

I have had to let the news of David's passing sit for a bit before I could write about him.

David was a good friend of mine. We knew a lot about each other and I could tell many stories. But it seems to me that so much of that is personal now.

I got to know David when I first wrote for Threads and he was my editor. He was a wonderful editor, the best that magazine ever had.

One day, about 20 years ago, he called me. "I've just read the Shipping News and I am going to come and visit you."

Now of course that book was written about Newfoundland and a long way from my little house in Halifax but he came anyway.  I moved one kid out of a bedroom and sent him into the bunk bed with his brother, and David stayed very happily in a boy's room and slept in a narrow single bed.

He was the kind of person who spoke to children as if they were adults. My three kids really enjoyed having him here. He just fit right into family life. We talked about everything.

Over the years David and I kept in touch and saw each other in person when we could at various sewing shows.

We used to write each other about our schemes and plans and sometimes our worries. He was the kind of friend who if he read that something was bothering you in an email would just phone you up to discuss right away rather than write back.

He had of course the most wonderful voice.

What I want to tell you about David Page Coffin is this.

He was the most genuinely authentic person I have ever met. He was exactly who he was, author, sewer, musician and painter, and there was not one thing about him that was not original and authentic.

He was the real deal, absolutely the real deal.

I also think it is important to understand that everything he did was motivated by his generosity to other people. He always had time for you. He truly respected everyone he talked to. All his writing and teaching were motivated, I feel, not simply by a love of the craft but by a love for people. There is a big difference there.

DPC wanted to share useful things he figured out in case someone found it helpful. His work was entirely original and self-discovered, accurate and true, and he wanted to share it.

Over the last few days I have re-read some of our emails. The last one I sent, at the end of February, was never answered.

I am just so sad. I have lost someone I really understood and someone who really understood me.

You just can't replace a friend like that.

Don't fall over, I am back

Hi folks.

Yes I know this space has been quiet but I am getting back in the groove. 

The last month or so has been very busy. I am back teaching two online courses for the university this summer, and after having been away from it for a while now, that has meant re building the courses.

I have also been doing the proofs for my next book, Stressfree sewing solutions, due out in August. That book was my pandemic project. 

I have also just released a second video in my knits series, this one on more advanced techniques, including an easy way to do a foolproof polo knit type placket that I worked up lately. I am pretty pleased with how easy this technique is. I will be interested in some feedback on it.

And of course I have been sewing.

I made a couple of skirts for my sister who has major cabin fever in Ontario, three pairs of maternity pants and two dresses for my niece, sweatshirts for my son-in-law, and a few things for myself.

I did a guest post on the Fabricville blog on sewing with bamboo, and you can read that here.

Here, randomly, are some pictures of what I made for myself this last month:

A golf shirt made with my new method and a skort from Jalie 




The free apron pattern from Tessuti. I made three of these. Note follow the instructions for the top part of the bib where the straps attach. Like all of Tessuti's patterns although they look simple there are usually a few twists in construction that are a bit original but work out well. This one was my first and, being a know it all, I didn't follow the instructions and as a result the strap attachment is subpar. The next two versions were much better.


 
And finally here is a blouse I made from an Ottobre magazine and the Jalie Renee pants. I did a FBA on this blouse but think I want to go in and cut it again in a larger size anyway for more back room, although this is certainly wearable. I also think I need to do a straight shoulder adjustment, because that's exactly what I have, so the collar lies a little better. To be continued. It was time I revised a TNT shirt pattern or two.


So that's my update.

I have a bunch of more family sewing I want to do, plus some more things for myself for spring/summer. 

Hopefully I will be able to travel to San Franscico in August for three weeks to see my kids there. It has been well over a year since I have seen them and it's killing me.

Talk soon.


Friday, April 2, 2021

Sewing when that's all you can do



This last week my oldest son, the one who lives with his family in Berkeley, had a birthday. 

I really wanted to make him something special. In my mind it became really important to send something in the mail that came from the house he grew up in, a house that remembers him.

He had mentioned once he liked summer pyjamas. So I made him some from a vintage men's pattern, out of seersucker with piping. It seemed to me to be very California dad of a certain era, and being a dad is my son's very best thing. I also wanted to make these using only vintage techniques. My serger was not used in this project. All seams are either French seams or bound. I also bound the back of the neck and around the fly pieces on the inside. I was real careful with this project.






I haven't seen Nat or his family in over a year. Last March I was just about to go and spend a few days with my granddaughter while her parents went away. That trip got cancelled at the last minute, theirs and mine. That's bothered me all year.

I don't have the words to describe how much I miss this guy. That's my own baby I can't get to.

But I can still sew something for him. And because he is my son, and grew up with all this sewing going on around, he knew exactly what pictures to take. When he emailed me a thank you he sent detail shots of the parts that were the most work.

He'd knows.

That's my kid.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Flypaper thoughts illustrated version

 



  • Since last we spoke I was on March Break duty
  • Running my crack highly structured childcare operation
  • As illustrated
  • My main qualification for this facility is that their mother and uncles turned out great
  • The assumption being that the same child raising principles are still in effect
  • Not so sure about that
  • When I raised the originals
  • I was under the impression
  • That there was a right and a wrong way to do things
  • And I should try real hard to do the right thing
  • There was no pop (soda) in my house
  • TV was limited to PBS at 30 minutes a day
  • As you might have figured out by now
  • That supervisor has retired
  • Which is just fine with the current crew
  • In addition to being a day camp
  • I have been making maternity clothes for my niece
  • Best to get those done before the baby arrives
  • I have made a series of pants with the excellent free maternity waistband from P4P whacked onto them
  • And a made up dress from a T shirt pattern and some pleating


  • Other news
  • My husband has taken up stained glass
  • Pretty nice stuff he is making
  • Interesting to see that collecting glass is not unlike collecting fabric
  • I think the downsizing, move into a condo trend will not find much traction here
  • It's good to have a hobby
  • Or in my spouse's case 43
  • Guy I used to work with
  • Somewhat intimidating at the office
  • Is spending a lot of time posting on FB 
  • About the culture of crows
  • I had no idea
  • About him 
  • Or about crows
  • The cat continues to be entertaining
  • Bit like living with a flying squirrel
  • One who has figured out that if you flip over glasses of water
  • With your paw you can drink whatever hits the floor
  • But what can I say to Daisy's best friend?
  • They have wrestling sessions every night after dinner
  • And then lie down and groom each other
  • The cat works on Daisy's legs
  • And Daisy grooms the top of the cat's head
  • What is going on in those small minds?
  • My husband and the cat are in love with each other
  • She taps her paw on his beard
  • "Like being touched by the hand of God" my husband said
  • Basically not something I would have anticipated he would ever say
  • After all these years
  • But then again this is our first cat
  • I also finished a dress for my niece
  • Not illustrated as it is a birthday surprise
  • Then I am wide open to sew for myself
  • I am considering 
  • Concentrating on things I don't need
  • It seems these days are occupied enough with seriousness
  • Not my area to be adding to that
  • Read instructions this week
  • That told you to sew a hook and eye to close the back of a T-shirt with a knit band
  • What is going on McCalls?
  • You all sitting in there with T-shirts with hooks and eyes on them?
  • Good things about the pandemic
  • I got my sewing room reorganized and fixed up
  • Putting my money where my heart is
  • I have read a lot
  • Even self help books people recommended
  • Most of them are short
  • Which when you are improving yourself is helpful
  • Transitions by Bridges makes sense
  • So does Marcus Aurelius
  • Who sure put up with a lot
  • Running that Roman Empire was no piece of cake
  • I am appreciating every one I know who has common sense
  • Turns out that's all that matters
  • Knew that before
  • But now I know that it's the only thing that matters
  • Trouble is it is something you have to be born with
  • Seems real hard to add later
  • No matter how other people try
  • Or how many books with big letters on the cover
  • You read
  • My grandmother had a sister Hilda
  • Very pretty
  • Used to go over there and talk to her budgie while she 
  • Over wound my hair on perm rods
  • Nicest lady
  • Never heard her described as anyone other than as
  • "That Hilda has no sense when it comes to men"
  • The husband I knew walked around all day with a coffee cup in his hand
  • Awful cheerful man
  • There actually are people who have to be told to come in out of the rain
  • It is quite possible 
  • That this is time to know when to come in out of the rain
  • Time to sit out an inning
  • Not time to read the end of the book before you get there
  • We'll get there and it will be fine
  • In the meantime enjoy the sewing room
  • The crows
  • And the feel of a tiny paw on your face
  • Don't want to miss that one
  • Just in case

Sunday, February 28, 2021

A quick video on the blind hem foot

Yup still at it. The husband and I are sort of housebound this winter and doing these little videos is keeping us out of trouble.



 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

A quick little video on the narrow hem foot

Thanks to those who sensibly asked me to use contrasting thread in these short videos.

Made a big difference. This is another one of my favourite feet.