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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 14, 2020

Spring 2020 Jalie's: Maxime Jacket


For a while now I have been wanting to make a light jacket for golfing and general dog walking activities. I needed something in the way of a spring jacket.

As a result I was very happy to see the Maxime in the new spring line up.

This is an extremely practical pattern. I particularly like the big flap pockets at the front and the fact that they also have a side entry, what they sometimes call "hand warmer" pockets. There is a good zipper guard and elastic at the bottom and sleeves, also good for the weather.

I had some rainwear, sort of a tencel I bought a long time ago for another pattern, and some athletic mesh stuff that I thought would work well for a lining. 

Most importantly I had a really nice metal teeth zipper I bought to match in NYC for this fabric and I was happy to have the chance to use it.

One note though about the instructions for the zipper in this pattern. There are some careful instructions about how to shorten a longer zipper and fold over the zipper guard over the top. This was a little more challenging for me that if I had used a plastic teeth zipper. Next time, and I will be making this one again, I would probably just measure the pattern for my size and buy a zipper to fit rather than taking the top teeth off a longer zipper - something I don't think I am particularly good at.

That is just my choice and not a big deal but something to think about.

The jacket went together very well, with some of those interesting industrial type techniques I love to see in Jalie's patterns. In addition to the pockets I also liked the flange at the yoke in the front and the high collar.

I can tell you right now this is going to be one of my favourite new garments this spring. It is neat but has enough ease to be very wearable. I liked the back ease in particular- I want to be able to swing a golf club in this jacket.

A few more pictures of me wearing this one, including my signature talking to the camera man shot. And boy do I need a haircut!




Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Spring 2020 Jalie patterns: Bianca top and dress

My fabric shelves have been spitting up a whole bunch of fabrics that I have picked up over the years with no real idea of when or how I was going to use them.

The bright striped rayon challis I used to make this dress was one of those pieces. When I was considering Jalie's new Bianca top and dress pattern I realized that the centre front and back seams, plus the optional arm band/cap sleeves, presented some opportunities to play around with the stripes.




First the pattern:


This is a nice basic pattern that just pulls over the head without any closure. It also includes an interesting pattern for a fabric belt I might make some time and optional pockets. I left both of those details off since there was more than enough going on with the stripes.

I am actually pretty pleased with this dress. It has a simple shape but isn't too boxy as some of these sack type dresses are. I have decided that what makes this work for me is that the shoulder fit isn't too loose. I also think the drape of the challis works well with this pattern and I am going to be making several more out of similar fabric. I am always looking for fast sews for comfortable dresses for spring and summer.


I also think I will try this again in a knit and will probably go down one size for that. Real potential here.



Saturday, May 9, 2020

Spring 2020 Jalie patterns: Genevieve

One of the things I decided to do this year when I chose which Jalie patterns I would sew, was that I wanted to try a few things outside my usual sewing comfort zone.

Genevieve, a full elastic waist skirt, was that choice for me. This looked to me at first glance like a dirndl, something that suits almost nobody, but it isn't that at all. Think of this one as an A line skirt with a separate elastic waist casing just large enough to go over your hips. One version has a buttoned front, one doesn't, and obviously this skirt can be made in any length. There is also a belt/pocket option too.

I decided to do the simple version with pockets and a sort of mid calf length. I wore it with my favourite Jalie knit top 2682



I felt there was a bit of a 50s vibe with this skirt so I wore it with flats and a belt. Note my assistant, who is usually just about this far from me at all times, hiding under my skirt.

I don't need to tell you how comfortable this skirt is. I made it in a chambray so it has great wash and wear potential. This  is a good thing because I can see wearing this skirt a lot this summer. I think I will also make another one soon in an even more flowing fabric. I have some rayon that would be perfect. 

Also because of the huge size range in this pattern I am pretty sure the girls will want a couple of these too.


Thursday, May 7, 2020

Spring 2020 Jalie patterns: Jeanne

Jeanne, for knit pyjamas, is actually one of my favourite patterns in the new Jalie spring line. 

I nearly fell over when I saw this one.  I spent a good part of early December last year trying to find a pattern just like this to make Christmas pyjamas for all the various sized kids. It was actually a pretty frustrating experience because I wanted a more RTW fit and nothing too baggy. In the end I had to buy several different patterns to get something in all the sizes and some versions were better than the others.

This was exactly what I was looking for.

I was also hoping to make something for myself too that was similar. As followers of this blog know, we head off every winter for a couple of months in the RV to tour around the southern US. We like to stay in state parks, as opposed to RV type resorts, so essentially I spend a good part of my winters in camp grounds, which I love. Fussy clothes are not part of that lifestyle.

These pyjamas would be perfect.

Here is my version made up in a highly stretchy rayon knit. I realize that the pants here look sort of skin tight but they aren't, there is a lot of room to stretch in them. That said next time I make these I will go up a size for the pants if I work with a knit with less stretch.


I see a lot of potential in this pattern. Of course being Canadian I will probably make a base layer (aka long underwear) out of this for dog walking in the winter, and I am thinking too if I go up two sizes (remember Jalie's have very small differences between the sizes so this isn't as drastic as it sounds) I can make some joggers from this pattern as well.

Most of all I will be using the top from this pattern to make some more knit tops. The fit of this one is exactly what I want in staple type knit tops so that was a really nice bonus to find that in this pattern.

So happy with these pyjamas. Now I have about six months now to find a deal on multiple meters of knit fabric before next Christmas.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Spring 2020 Jalie patterns: Romy

Well it is that time of year again when I participate in Jalie's spring launch of new patterns with my own reviews.

This is how this works.




A few months before the Jalie spring collection is released myself and a group of other sewists have a look at the patterns. Mostly we check to make sure the patterns are typo and error free. We also have the opportunity to choose some to make for ourselves and review on our social media channels. I usually try to select patterns that are things I would actually wear myself for this first look. Often however when I see what other sewists make, I go back and try other patterns later on that I decide look interesting. I will certainly be doing that again this year.

If you have been reading this blog for a while you know that I am a long time fan of these Quebec based patterns. There are several reasons for this.

First of all I love the size range, which pretty much covers my entirely extended family- all in one pattern. I love that something I can make for myself can also be made in a version for my grandchildren and I don't have to go out and search for another pattern. It's like having a pattern store in my house. Whatever I need to make for anyone chances are there is a Jalie staple I can use or adapt.

Second I like the fit. Jalie is one of those lines that really is as close to good RTW in fit as you can get. Also, because the sizes are so incremental, about an inch between sizes, it is very easy to make slight alterations just by fading in and out of different size lines. I also change the ease for many garments by making up a different size--I have close fitted shirts in one size and ones with more ease just in the size up.

Third and this is best for last, I love the construction techniques. Learning a new construction technique is just about my favourite thing in life. I am actually serious about this. Always, always when I make a new Jalie I discover some new nifty way to put clothes together. Sewing with this patterns has made me a better sewist.

Over the next 10 days or so I am going to be posting my reviews of my favourites of the new patterns.

Today I would like to start with Romy.


This is a pattern for a tunic or shorter sweater. There is a nice funnel neck with a really cool construction method I can't even describe. There is also a band I had some concerns about. I was remembering the waistbands of all those old sweatshirt styles. However this band is not at all tight. Because I am tall I added 2" to the short version.

I used a really, really soft bamboo fleece and it was perfect for this pattern -cozy, cozy, cozy. These days I appreciate all the cozy I can get.

The sleeves are very wide, at the body but not loose at the arm. This adds to the cozy comfy factor considerably.


And finally an out take shot taken before we went outside, with my Covid hair and my best Covid companion. 




My just stop fooling around and take the picture face.



This really is a winner of a pattern for these times I think. Super comfortable but also stylish. I have already earmarked three more pieces of fabric from my reservoir for more versions of this. A fast, fun sew too.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Flypaper thoughts another homebody edition


  • My middle son texted me and noted that this has been a great time for people to rediscover hobbies
  • It is actually a time that has reminded me that my whole life is already about hobbies
  • What is fading for me was whatever I ever did that was not a hobby
  • You could say that we have gone pretty seamlessly into stay at home mode
  • I have learned a few things
  • And have wondered a few things while I have been homebound
  • I have been making stock
  • So much easier than figuring out grocery delivery
  • Actual saved vegetable peel stock like they say you should 
  • Never was desperate enough to do it before
  • You know it's pretty good
  • Discovered my husband is quite the sewist
  • He personally made over 100 masks
  • I have been stalking Ravelry looking for patterns
  • Just in case I am issued another lifetime or two
  • To do all that knitting
  • Learned to knit with my left hand to be faster
  • Since I am not sure about that second lifetime issue
  • Really is faster
  • Tell me
  • Why do all crochet patterns call for synthetic yarn?
  • Yarns no knitter would use
  • Same patterns would be so much nicer in natural fiber yarn
  • I have been sewing from my shelves
  • Of course
  • When I was away my niece's boyfriend who is also my son-in-law's nephew
  • Moved my sewing room to a different level of the house
  • On the request of my husband who wants to renovate the basement
  • They figured this out via text when I wasn't pay attention
  • Note to self
  • Have you ever had your entire sewing room, fabric, and supplies 
  • Reorganized by an electrician?
  • He put things in logical l order
  • Colour coded my threads
  • Neatly folded all my fabric by type
  • Really disorienting
  • Going to take time to get things back to where they should be 
  • I had everything organized by emotion
  • Things like mending 
  • Out of sight of course
  • The projects I would like make next in the middle of the current project
  • To maximize my distraction
  • Glamorous projects in full view in case I start to be a glamorous person
  • Stuff stuffed in drawers when I am on a roll
  • Too inspired for neatness
  • Vintage patterns bought because I once sewed the originals 30 years ago
  • I had things organized by hope
  • Does this make sense to you?
  • I have many things that I will never use 
  • But I am soothed by the illusion I might
  • Like that metal EAZI welt pocket gadget
  • Been meaning to try that out since I was sewing vintage 
  • When it was current style
  • I have gone out and looked at the buds in the branches
  • And appreciated the swagger of the neighbourhood cats
  • And pleased dogs wondering why they are getting extra walks these days
  • I am finding things in my own house and my own self
  • I didn't know I had
  • Or had forgotten
  • But remembered who I am and where I come from

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Flypaper thoughts: still homebody edition


  • Life is where we left it
  • Still physical distancing
  • So against the grain for a Canadian personality
  • Folks cross the street to avoid being too close
  • I am so sorry we say
  • Don't want to be rude
  • I am sorry they reply
  • We are sorry enough for the whole world
  • Just in case
  • Daisy is on the mend
  • Two more weeks in her upgraded cage rest to a blocked off living room
  • She is OK if she can see me
  • Can you cover me?
  • I ask my husband
  • Just a minute to go get something
  • I'll be quick
  • I notice that people are getting a bit touchy
  • We are all like Daisy not so good when our people aren't around
  • Little things not big things
  • I watch my husband sew the masks 
  • And I want to tell him
  • Clip your threads, clip your threads
  • Almost nothing upsets me as much as people who don't clip the threads
  • I once taught a woman who sewed jackets for her children who were all in the navy
  • She never cut one thread
  • In fact her garments were coated with random loose threads
  • They can but those off themselves she said
  • I used to have visions of sailors on the decks in the North Atlantic
  • Trying not to fall overboard while they trimmed threads from the ends of seams with nail scissors
  • My husband wants to know what kind of person 
  • Puts a pellet of soap in the dishwasher without taking the plastic wrap off it
  • And then wondering why the dishes aren't clean
  • I know exactly what kind of person
  • Someone who cuts her threads
  • I miss the kids the most
  • I am craving little people
  • The littlest one in California Facetimes
  • Dog she says and I show her the dog
  • The other guys a few streets away call me on the phone
  • They call to talk to me in funny voices
  • To ask me to bring over my board games and leave them at the end of the driveway
  • They know I have board games from when we play them here
  • They know I don't play cards
  • I am terrible at cards
  • Just an interruption in the conversation
  • What kind of grandmother can't remember how to do 
  • Go fish they want to know
  • This kind of grandmother I say
  • The one who lets you each bake something different in the kitchen at the same time
  • And cleans up
  • Maybe I should use this time to learn a card game
  • That would really surprise them
  • How's your hair?
  • I cut mine and with my sister's encouragement by text
  • Am trying the Curly Girl method
  • This involves using lots of conditioner and brushing your hair with your fingers
  • Why are you wearing one of my T shirts on your head
  • My husband wants to know
  • I am doing the Curly Girl method I tell him
  • Absolutely nothing surprises him
  • Maybe I should consider that fact
  • Not sure my technique is down though
  • I look in the mirror and remember something my dad used to say
  • Hair looks like a cat sucked it 
  • Maybe it's the wrong kind of T shirt
  • I am experimenting with low sugar baking
  • Made a bunch of oatcakes they could use in the NHL
  • An excellent Swedish apple pie with no crust
  • A carrot cake that was mostly carrots
  • The thing is we don't have much sugar
  • Next thing will be war cake
  • The one without sugar, butter, or eggs
  • I am sure there is a diet that belongs to somewhere
  • Vegan Keto?
  • I am going to be sewing for the young women in my family
  • I have a question for you
  • How come when we had babies we went up a size
  • Women used to say " well before I had kids..."
  • When describing their figures
  • It was assumed that your belly would settle in
  • Like it was supposed to, like your own mom's did
  • Why does your stomach feel like a pillow Babsie
  • My grandson once asked
  • Because I had babies I said
  • My mom had babies he said
  • She doesn't feel like that
  • So why do young women give birth these days and end up by summer with a flat abdomen?
  • What do they know that we didn't
  • Do you think it is the oat hockey pucks?
  • The pies and the cake on my counter?
  • Should we be eating war cake?
  • Life is full of so many mysteries
  • And now I have time to solve them