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I am a mother, a new 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 first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon

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Friday, September 14, 2018

Little personal update

I have been offline for a bit now and unsure about how to talk about it.

Things have been busy around here.

About ten days ago my dear daughter, the mother of my three grandchildren, was diagnosed with a very rare neurological disease with an indeterminate recovery and the potential of some progression. This has affected her mobility and energy levels drastically. Her medical care has been outstanding, no issues there, but this has been a big event in our lives.

This is tough, but then again so are we. I have confidence in that, in her care team, in her resilience, in this family's ability to deal, and in life.

The fact too is that one of the benefits of being my age is that by this point you sort of know things happen and that you can all get through it.

My role has been the grandmother stuff, taking care of the kids, making food, whatever I can see needs to be done and I can do. And I am far from the only one.

My niece said it best. My daughter has an army behind her.

In those times when I was home alone in the house with the kids waiting to hear news from some test I found myself going down to my sewing room and refolding my fabric. It was very soothing. It sort of reminded me of who I was, who we are. It reminded me of where I have come from to this day, of the clothes I made for her when she was a little girl, of an ordinary life that doesn't seem that close to us right now.

Sewing has also given me something to do when there was nothing I could do.

I made her a lucky shirt with bright flowers on it to wear to an important MRI. 

When she said that new clothes are always cheer anyone up I started sewing.

I made a soft Adeline dress yesterday and have another one cut out to go. I may loosen the hem on this one so it is a little less restrictive. I have a couple of pairs of Jalie pull-on pants cut out. And another lucky shirt. When she can my daughter says she will have pictures taken for the blog. But right now I am sewing away on a little island in front of my machines at something I have always done my whole life.

I feel we are battening down the hatches around here right now seeing where this thing goes, but that we will adapt and be fine. Once we have an idea what the new normal looks like we will live it. Of those who have this particular condition many, of not most, have it much worse at onset. We are hopeful for the rest of our news to be good news and for Katrina to be one of the ones who experience considerable recovery.

So that's my status report, down folks, but most definitely not out.

Now off to get some kids off to school.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Flypaper thoughts, crabapple but not crabby edition


  • Due to global warming or the return of the bees to my yard I have an alarming number of crabapples 
  • On the tree next to the driveway. 
  • The boughs have been bending right over
  • I have actually had to learn how to back into the driveway to avoid them
  • Backing up being something, like parallel parking, I have worked hard to keep out of my skill set
  • At least up until this crop related emergency
  • I have spent two whole days of good sewing time standing in the kitchen cutting up little apples
  • Will trade jelly for fabric
  • However the repetition of cutting off blossom ends and stem ends
  • Has freed up my mind to contemplate life
  • And the next 47 things I want to sew
  • Theory number one
  • I think people should put in a little work on having somethings they don't do well
  • All this well roundedness stuff and having it all is very diluting
  • What is wrong with writing off a few areas of competence to makes some space?
  • A woman I knew had a life of great duty and perfectionism
  • Can't think now of anything she did that she didn't do well
  • It was a lot of hard work that life
  • Now it is over
  • I was thinking over the apples today of the things I didn't ever see her do
  • Did she ride a bike ever?
  • Eat chocolate bars in the car real fast before she got home?
  • Did she ever pull the shower curtain over the bath before the company arrived
  • Because she didn't have time to clean the bathtub?
  • Or didn't want to?
  • Did she ever walk around her yard in her barefoot?
  • I certainly hope she did
  • But I am not totally sure about that
  • I am thinking this week we should all give some time to the things that we have decided we do badly
  • Even work at it
  • I have taken this approach to golf this year
  • Going to save me a fortune on golf lessons
  • Lets me out of Ladies Day
  • I have picked a really high score and decided that's how I golf
  • That's as high as I reach
  • And as good as I want to get
  • This is also the year I have noticed all the baby squirrels climbing up the trees along the fairways
  • And even saw a weasel
  • Man are those little things cute when they pop their heads up and look you
  • Not at all like coyotes who look right into your eyes and through you to the other side
  • No young weasels are just darling
  • Only word I can think of
  • Find it hard to believe what my grandfather told me
  • That there is no animal meaner than a weasel in a woodpile
  • That man knew nature
  • He once saw a black bear flatten a car with it's paw
  • OK it was in the thirties and maybe the cars were flimsier then
  • Or bears were tougher
  • Before global warming and crabapples taking over the world
  • I choose to believe that golf course weasels or nicer than woodpile weasels
  • The point is that people who are keeping their eye on the ball might miss seeing one and having to consider this point
  • You only really have to do the stuff you like well
  • Hopefully the other stuff can be covered by the other folks who have that as their best thing
  • And you can pick up the slack on the things they are not good at
  • I think I have just figured out a pretty good plan for world order
  • And made jelly too
  • Bit of a two for one deal
  • But this whole system is only going to work if we all start dropping the ball every now and them
  • And become experts at not being experts at everything
  • What if we started to say we actually, come to think of it, didn't want it all?
  • Because having it all would eat into time to think about weasels
  • And cut into someone else's chance to feel they were doing their part
  • You think about this and let me know
  • Right now I am going to go outside and walk around the yard in the dark
  • In my bare feet

This one's for Clare - rear shot of the Duet pants

As requested here is a shot of the back view of my Duet pants. I hesitate to show this as the cotton poplin, here after I had worn these pants most of a day, is super wrinkly and I am afraid this will look more like a design issue with the pattern rather than a fabric issue. Bit like asking what's wrong with a dress pattern when it is made in linen after a day in the car.

I would put in my two cents worth too on the very common problem of a horizontal fold under the seat - I have found that famous "Clown Butt" alteration tactic works really well to fix that.

I have written about this in my book but also on this blog somewhere - if you search with that term in the search box it should turn up.

Back on topic, here is my back view of the Duet pants:


Saturday, September 1, 2018

Pattern testing and the Duet pants from Love Notions






Some of you may remember that one of my new year's resolutions was to sew more Indie patterns.

There are many reasons for this.

The first off is that as someone who works with and thinks a lot about new and returning sewers, I have become increasingly disenchanted with the Big Four- particularly the instructions in most patterns. 

The fact is that when those patterns are produced so many of the guide sheets are an amalgamation of cut and paste texts from a bank of instructions. Even those seem to be based on outdated textbook home-ec from the 50s methods that just don't acknowledge the innovations in techniques, tools, and equipment. Folks have sergers and lightening stitches on their sewing machines these days - double rows of straight stitches is not the standard approach for sewing knits.

You would have to go a long way in those instructions from the regular pattern companies to devise an more discouraging approach to sewing, and a route to disappointing results for an enthusiastic keener beginning or intermediate sewer. Why the under illustrated instructions that explain too much about what you don't need to do? Why suggest folks sew gathering stitches to ease in a knit sleeve and set-it in for a T shirt pattern? Baste press and trim, straight stitch and stitch again on the hem of a jersey dress, turning under the raw edge? Twin needles folks twin needles.

I could go on and on. You know I could.

I think you get the drift.

The fit in so many of the Big Four also is bizarre. How else do we explain urban myths like McCalls fits big, or necklines large enough for two heads, and pants with legs wide enough for torsos? No wonder no one knows what size to buy.

Now I have a few Big Fours I use, love, and have saved over the years. But really would I pass most of these patterns on to my daughter and her friends and say go for it, the instructions will tell you everything you need to know, and it will fit the way you expect clothes to fit?

Nope.

Also, apart from some fairly elaborate, and in my opinion unreliable, tissue fitting advice in the Palmer and Pletsch patterns, standard pattern companies pay very little attention to fit issues. And this is the main reason so many sewers give up sewing.

So enter my interest in Indie, generally small home-based, pattern companies.

The availability of pattern drafting software, the ability to produce and sell .pdf patterns, to have all those transactions possible from nothing more complicated than a smartphone,  as well as online communities to both build markets and share creative inspiration, has revolutionized the home sewing industry.

I can imagine the discussions that must be happening around the Big Four boardroom tables.

This opening up of the sewing community is fascinating to watch and to participate in.

So that's why I signed up to be a tester for the newly released Duet trousers from Love Notions.

Now a while ago a commenter here on this blog left a comment about the objectivity of the testing process. She noted that all tester reviews seemed to be glowing. She wondered, probably accurately, if some "testers" were really just sample makers. 

I get that point.

In some situations this may be the case.

So I wanted to see for myself what went on in a real testing process and so I volunteered. If you are interested there is a testers group on FB that posts testing calls. Most of the Indie pattern companies also have FB groups where these are posted.

That's how I applied to test this pattern for Love Notions. I am glad I did.

It was a pretty gruelling couple of weeks working as a tester.

Here is how this process worked.

First off the designer, Tami Bunch Meyer, sent out over the testing period eight different pattern iterations, each one fine tuned and responsive to testing experiences over the 10 days of testing.

We testers made up as many of these as we could (I made 5) using our own fabric and posting pictures as we went to a FB group for discussion. This let Tami see the pattern on different body types (sizes 2-22 - these were real people!)  I think I posted only 3 of my versions because in two cases a new and improved version was out before I could get my pictures taken and posted.

This was a pretty solid pattern to start with and I have to say that the pattern refinement process was painstakingly careful. and the quality of the final version shows this effort. Sometimes it was only take in an 3/8" here or there. The testers worked hard but I have to say that Tami worked even harder.

To be honest I was amazed at how hard she worked. 

Personally the thought of taking on fitting (essentially muslins for every size and type of body shape possible) is something I wouldn't do. So much work and we are all so demanding about pant fit. Friends of mine have been working on the same pant muslin for decades.

Think about it. Think about the challenge of figuring out which fit issues are personal shape issues and which ones are pattern design issues. This is huge.

I have to say that how this was handled was impressive. 

The final version of the pants pattern has been carefully developed that's for sure. But any pattern is not going to fit every conceivable body curve exactly out of the envelope. So in recognition of that this pattern comes with an excellent pattern adjustment/alteration booklet that really would be a fitting handbook for any pants maker.

A note on the style of these pants. 

They are trousers, meaning more thigh ease than many of us after years of skinny pants are used to. They hang down at the back as opposed to cup under the seat. It is important to distinguish between fit and design issues in your expectations.

The pattern can be made with or without pockets and in either a stretch woven with some drape, or a knit like ponte (although I note that some testers used straight up wovens and they seemed to work well too). 

There is a classic trouser width and a tapered leg option. There are two waistband options, a knit yoga band and a standard waistband to go with an invisible side zipper. I think a knit yoga band combined with a stretch woven would work too depending on your hip to waist ratio.

For my own version of the final I used the wrong fabric, a poplin with only a tiny bit of stretch, and I knew it wouldn't hang as well as the suggested fabrics. 

However I have been desperate for comfortable golf pants that I could move in easily in a lighter fabric for the evenings when the bugs come out. I took a chance. Next time I make these for non golf wear I will take these down a size particularly if I do the knit version or use a real stretch woven. 

Interesting that one of Tami's fit recommendations is to go down a size always if you fall between the exact measurements in the charts. Given the ease of this pattern that makes a lot of sense.

So here are my own pants, done from the last version of the pattern but without any personal alterations. I will do those next time, like adding length to the legs and reducing the front crotch depth a bit. Again done in not the best fabric choice for the pattern, I think there are more illustrative versions posted by other testers you can see in the pattern link. That said I have worn these already a few times and found them perfect for comfortable pants on the golf course. I will be making more.




So here's what I learned from testing this pattern:

1. Allow yourself some real dedicated time to do this. The pattern designer needs this from you. I had company arrive in the middle and this made it hard to do all versions.

2. Understand this is not a get a free pattern exercise but real work. This is test and feedback sewing not sample sewing. You will burn through a lot of stash fabric to do a good job. In my case I was happy to do this and get some weird coloured stuff that I am not sure why I bought it out of the inventory. All the testers were given a store credit to put towards future pattern purchases at the end of the process, but really in relation to time and fabric spent this should not be a main motivator to involve yourself in this process.

And finally some thoughts on Indie patterns and my experience.

I often hear from long time sewers that they don't like or trust Indie designers. 

I so get this. But I also don't think it is accurate all the time. Whose Indie pattern really matters.

Sure I have had my own experiences with quickly produced patterns that have been rushed into .pdfs and Paypal set ups by the kind of newish sewers who might be considered to be in the category of those who don't know what they don't know. Some of the independently patterns I have bought have been pretty crude and technically illiterate to be honest, but I could, and have, sometimes said exactly that about patterns from the Big Four.

So really it seems to me that the best thing to do is to remember the word Indie means independent and that each of these operations is a reflection of itself and not a category of pattern-making.

So having gone through this process in depth with Love Notions I now know that this company really puts a huge amount of effort and attention to detail into pattern development. I have had good results with their patterns in the past, mainly tops, but now I understand the design process from the inside I would trust them as a reliable source for quality patterns in the future. 

It would be interesting to test more of these patterns and I might even do the odd one for another designer again if I have the time. 

Your thoughts?


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Enormously long post about swimsuits and life

Hi folks.

A friend of mine from my sewing world has put me in touch with a book called Designing your life. To boil it down to its essence the idea is that rather than working towards the one right thing for you, and being dismayed when something doesn't work out, you should work with the idea of prototypes, build a trial model and if it works move forward, and if it doesn't learn what you can and then toss that one aside, no hard feelings.

To translate this - think of your life as a series of muslins. Test garments that may help you refine the fit or might alert you to a dud pattern before you ruin the good fabric.

Think about this.

Who beats themselves up because the muslin wasn't wearable? Don't most of us accept that it is part of the process?

Imagine if you thought of your life in terms of muslins. That degree you never used when you should have studied something else. That dumb relationship that used up years of your life. The dead end job you stayed in too long.

What if you just shrugged and figured, well that's was just a muslin. I could never have figured it out if I hadn't made that one first? That's how I got it right.

Fairly liberating and helps remove the fear of trying new things, because you accept that not everything will work out, and you don't get a good fit without a few trials.

The idea of sew-alongs has been like that for me.

I had this idea that because I was doing a lot of one thing that it would be logical to organize my thoughts around a garment type. Other people call these sew-alongs so I did too.

The thing is that this sort of thing doesn't suit my random style or my hard to schedule life.

I write flypaper thoughts I realize because I have a flypaper mind with highly random sewing ideas fitting themselves into the rest of living.

So with that said I have decided to write a big honest post with all my thoughts on swimwear and if any of you have any questions please leave them in the comments. I will see what I can do to fill in any blanks.

Does this make sense?

The thing is that swimwear and water have been in my mind all week.

Do you have time for a dream I had that has been haunting me?

Sort of connects a lot of things.

Well this is was my dream three nights ago.

I was standing on the bank of a river watching a herd ? of golden retrievers swim down it with the current. (I know golden retrievers, I never said my dreams were heavy).

Any way they were all doing well and everyone was happy until I noticed one dog under the water. My heart stopped and I looked closer.

What had happened was this one dog had put its four feet down and touched bottom. If you have ever swum in unfamiliar waters you would know the feeling of how good it feels to touch bottom and I guess this dog felt like that.

The problem was that by touching bottom this dog had its head about a foot below the surface of the water, which of course survival-wise would be a problem.

There I was on the bank shouting at this dog saying - it's OK just let go and kick up and you will be able to breathe and move ahead and be safe. But of course I knew that the surface of the water was only a little way up and the dog couldn't know that.

What the dog knew was that the bottom was familiar and felt safe.

Well you don't need a Phd in psychology to figure this out but when I woke up, in a panic, I started to wonder about how many of us keep reaching to feel bottom.

I told my husband about this dream right away and he said "Why are all your dreams about dogs? Mine are about cars."

That is an actual quote. This is what I deal with.

So on the subject of moving water let's talk about swimsuits.

The last we left it we were talking about lining.

To my mind there is only one way to attach a lining and that is to zig zag most pieces, back lining excepted, to the main body fabric with a medium zig zag. To make everything look very pretty try to let the swing of the needle go just off the edge of the fabric. This will make a sort of vague scallop edge finish. Here is how I pinned the lining to the inside of the Fabric Crush maternity suit before I stitched it in place:




Here is what that stitching looks like:



I always do this basting with a zig zag instead of a long straight stitch. The reason for this is that the zig zag is stretchy and you will be leaving these stitches in. If you use straight stitches they are inevitably and harmlessly going to pop when you move and that will cause you to panic. Always a good policy to avoid that if you can.

For the same reason I now use a stretch thread like Euroflex in the bobbin (wind the bobbin slowly so it doesn't stretch out in the winding) and a poly thread in the upper threading. Euroflex is great in bobbins but can be a bit too stiff for the upper threading in some machines. Of course you don't have to do this, any poly thread is fine for basting.

At this point you can do a baste fitting if you want of all your pieces but for that I would use a long straight stitch and take it out.

Now a word on why I think the underlining option above is the best way to go.

1. It makes construction so much easier. The First Crush swimsuit by Rad Patterns has highly complex instructions for sort of bagging the lining so all the seams are enclosed, that I spent an entire lunch hour trying to understand before throwing in the towel and saying a small prayer for any new sewers trying to make their first swimsuit with these directions. I just wouldn't do it that way. First it would make your head hurt and take 500% longer to sew that swimsuit up, and secondly although the seams would be covered the lining wouldn't be attached to the internal seams and therefore would be likely to spin around when wearing.

2. All my old Lands End suits are made this way and they wore well and felt right.

Now I suggest that you leave this attaching the lining stage off from the back piece.

Why?

The reason is that the crotch seam is one you would like to have enclosed so for that one seam sandwich the front with lining attached between the back fabric piece and the lining piece, stitch that crotch seam then flip the lining up and then baste the lining to the back piece.

Here are pictures of that done with some clear how-to shots grabbed from a Jalie tutorial:




 Once all the lining pieces have been attached you can proceed to the construction treating all pieces as one:





A word here about cups.

For the blue and white pattern (fabric and lining from Halo Fabric Addicts) maternity swimsuit above my DIL wanted a soft cup, which makes sense when shapes are changing. Fortunately the cross over front of this pattern had a piece on the inside that make this easy:





 I simply put a slightly stretched piece of fold over elastic along the bottom of this piece which of course was eventually attached to the side seams. Here is a shot of the inside of the soft bra piece form the lining side:



And here is a shot of the interior of the suit with the lining hidden under a swimsuit fabric layer for this piece, useful so there is no show through of lining along the neckline from the right side:



For my own yellow parrot suit I laid some salvaged from an old bra cups on the lining, stitched around the cups and then cut away the excess lining from underneath them:



More professionally for my daughter's beautiful retro suit made from this pattern  I followed the instructions and had two layers of lining in the cups, one with the top nicked off and left free to insert the proper swimsuit cups. I have white mesh lining next to the outer fabric and the second lining with the opening is made of the beige fabric I used elsewhere, simply because I had run out of beige lining to use it everywhere. Note my cups where from Halo and area available in a wide variety of cup sizes:






Here is what the swimsuit looks like with the cups in:





For interest here is a shot of the back of this suit, showing the closure and also what the exposed seams of the bodice look like when the lining and outer fabric are constructed as one. Note that wooly nylon in the serger loopers helps with serge finishing seams like this if you like:



Now a note on construction seams, thread, and elastic.

I have pretty much tried everything, wooly nylon and stretch thread in the needles of my serger even.

Here is what I have settled on.

Good polyester thread in the needles. If your serger thread is older pull on it to make sure it won't break. When they dry out over time they do. Replace it if this happens or use a good spool of sewing thread in your two serger needles.

Wooly nylon in both loopers. For stretch and comfort.

A triple stitch at my machine for seams that have to be industrial, like the suits I made for the little girls, placed next to the serger seam.





For the top stitching down the elastic I use sometimes a triple zig zag if there are many layers (I had to do this for the neckline of the cherries suit although I cover hemmed all other edges) with wooly nylon hand wound in the bobbin:



But most of the time I use my cover hem with wooly nylon in the looper which gives a nice finish and also great stretch. I think you can also see here how nice the first line of zig zag which initially attaches the elastic looks if you let the needle swing off the fabric:



Finally two really important things to think about when attaching the elastic:

1. Stretch the elastic but not the fabric when you sew. If you pull on both you will get waves. Sure there is a good chance that once stretched on the body these will disappear, but this is something to consider.

2. Think about how tight the elastic should be, particularly around the legs and armholes. Really the job of the elastic here is the firm the edges of the suit up and give them recovery not gather them in. When you stitch the elastic into a circle before you apply it try it on your body first for feel. Nothing is worse that a ring of elastic cutting off your circulation under your armpit or around the top of the leg! If you have to stretch the leg elastic at all it should only be at the back half of the opening, to cup the bum a bit maybe, but never along the front. IMO a pattern that gathers in the leg or armhole opening significantly is not a very good pattern.

The exception to this rule of course is the neckline where there needs to be some gathering in of the fabric so the neck doesn't gape. Here again I would use a bit of judgement - nothing should look gathered in on. The Jalie pattern above pulls in the neckline slightly and was not hard to put in. The neckline in the First Crush swimsuit didn't allow enough elastic length and I had to sort of have my feet up against the wall to stretch it enough to get it in. I am not totally happy with the results and am worried I am going to strangle my dear DIL with that suit. I will await the wearer's report.

So that's it folks for me on swimwear sewing, my muslin of a sew-along and a dog vision thrown in.

I will look forward to your comments and questions.

Then it's back to regularly unscheduled programming!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Sewing swimwear - the question of lining part one for today

Let's talk linings.

One of the differences between a high quality and a not high quality swimsuit is the lining.

Not all are lined completely. Some are lined at the crotch only, some at the front piece only, some have a partial lining in sort of a soft bra, and some are fully lined.

For kids swimsuits I usually line only the front and leave the back, which will still have the front crotch lined, unlined. This is because show through, if there is any, in lighter fabrics is not such an issue. And with kids you have to be careful of not making anything more constricting than possible - with those guys it's all about how it feels first and how it looks second. (Come to think about it if we are honest are the rest of us that different?)

For grown-ups I like to line the whole swimsuit.

The tricky part is getting the right lining.

Being a person who spends a lot of time in the water I am sensitive to this. Hands up if any of you have had a lining that sagged more than the outer fabric when wet. This happens a lot and really is not a great feeling.

Which leads me to these two ideas:

  • test your lining wet
  • make sure it maintains the same stretch as the outer fabric
For my current and recent projects I have used four different linings:

  • For my maternity First Crush suit I used a superb black lining from Halo Fabric Addicts - definitely the best quality lining I have ever used, smooth and soft with virtually the same characteristics as the outer fabric:
  •  For my everyday Diane Jalie suits I made for the kids and I this summer I used a swimwear mesh lining I got from Fabric Mart. I liked that it was a bit less restrictive for heavy swimming, important for the kids especially, and in all our fabrics preventing show through was not a problem because the outer fabrics were substantial. Note this is lining is heavier than ordinary fashion mesh and not as stiff as Powermesh. It has the same stretch as the outer fabric when wet too:
  • For my yellow parrot suit I decided I definitely needed a real lining to prevent show through in the yellow fabric so I used self-fabric, essentially a second layer of the yellow swimwear, throughout. This is actually my least favourite option as two layers of swimwear can feel a bit heavy, and makes for a slightly more restrictive feeling suit, but always a decent option if you want to make sure that your lining matches the characteristics of the outer fabric obviously:
  • Finally for the white and cherries suit for my daughter I am using a traditional beige swimwear lining. This is always the best choice for white fabrics if you are careful to make sure the stretch when wet factor is the same as the outer fabric. I got mine from Halo but fabrics like these are available in most fabric stores:

Now there are lots of folks out there who use Powermesh, which is and behaves exactly as it sounds, as a lining to smooth things over. 

I find Powermesh pretty powerful, too much for my comfort, and I personally have never done this. If I want to smooth anything out I use a swimwear fabric with some texture to it, ribbed ones or those with little bubble texture on the surface like cloque are wonderful for disguising purposes, and feel the same on as the shiny fabrics that catch the light and can be revealing. A style with some shirring accomplishes the same thing.

That said I do have some ambivalence about getting real wound up about worrying how you look in swimsuits.

The pattern choices are so much better than they used to be. Tankinis, skirted options, boys shorts - you no longer feel you have to be trapped in something that will require constant tugging.

Also your body tells your own story and that is just fine the way it is. 

If you have spent decades going to work and then getting dinner on the table, if you have had babies, C-sections, hysterectomies or stood at the counter and ate crackers out of the box with your coat still on when life had thrown you a stressor, and your belly has some jiggles well then world -deal with it. You have done enough of other kinds of dealing.

You are still here and game and that's what matters.

On Thursday my 90 year-old mother is coming down for a visit. 

That woman has game I can tell you. 

I actually got a call from her to ask about the pools we go to. She is bringing her bathing suit because she wants to go swimming with the great grandchildren and wanted to know if there was a pool that a lady who walks down to the grocery store every day with her walker could get into. Fortunately there is, a pool with a slope in and a hand rail, barrier free and wheelchair inclusive, that she says she might use although she doesn't want to go in an "old person's pool" but she wanted us to know that she isn't that good about climbing down into a swimming pool on a ladder anymore. As if we were expecting that.

So don't let anything keep you out of the pool. Particularly the fact you don't have anything snappy to wear.

More on that later.

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Swimsuit sew-along reboot

Well my apologies for my off line - ness

For those of you who have been waiting for more words on swimwear I am back at it this week.

Life detoured me a bit this last little while. I hope those of you who have been patiently sitting beside their machines with their bathing suit fabric waiting for the next edition of the sew-along have access to a good pool - because the beaches won't be open too much longer. At least not here in the globally warmed near tropical now far north that probably still has life guards operating on the old calendar.

I should put a word in here about my attitude too.

I love summer. Flip flops are my favourite shoe. I have never complained about the heat in my life. I drive around most of the year with the car seat warmers on, which drives my husband crazy. What I am doing in a country that is the birthplace of hockey has always been a mystery to me.

So my ambivalence about the change to fall probably has affected my slow on ramp with this sew-along.

In my family everyone else loves fall. My daughter says weird things like she is getting sick of summer. I have sisters who like the orange leaves and those pumpkins on doorsteps. I want to tell them don't get to excited, don't you remember what comes next? Seasonal affective disorder and chipping the ice off the windshield.

Off topic.

So in addition to denying that summer is coming to a close I have had other things going on that have been interesting sewing wise.

My son from Austin Texas has been home for two weeks.  

I decided that he wasn't going back without a shirt I made for him. 

It was an idea I got in my head. 

I like it when he tells me he wears his shirts out and people ask him "where did you get that cool shirt?" and he says my mom made it.

To me that one line never has gotten old.

I mean what mother doesn't stay up a few night in front of the Rocketeer for an opening like that?

So here's that shirt:



I love working with these retro prints, they remind me of my dad and of the curtains we had up in the living room when I was a kid.

Useless fact: my mother reports that she once lost me in the house when I was two. She finally found me sitting behind the curtains quietly unpicking the hem. I wonder if I knew then how much of my life I would be spending taking out stitches.

This shirt also gave me a chance to do some pocket print matching. One of the things I love doing because I have a system for it. I have it in the book and somewhere on this blog too:


Since last we spoke I have also got involved in testing a new pattern for Love Notions.

Every once in a while I do some pattern testing, in situations when a real pattern is being refined by multiple version sews, tweaks, refinements, and perfecting the hard way. 

These are very different from the tester calls that are more requests for sample garments.

Anyway I am one of a small group of sewers test sewing multiple iterations of a pattern for Love Notions. To sum up this intense process let me just say that version 7 has just been emailed to me. I have to say that I am impressed by the rigour of the testing and the attention to detail, not to mention the whole heap of sewing being done by the volunteer testers.

I am not sure if I would be up for doing this regularly but man has this been an interesting week.

Now back to swimsuits.

Tomorrow I am going to post a few thoughts on the very important issue of lining and give a review of Rad Patterns First Crush swimsuit, about which I have many opinions.

See you then.