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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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Saturday, September 6, 2008

Morning thoughts on projects, coming out as a sewer and coats... and cookie recipes

Looking at my blouses from yesterday I am thinking to myself that they look a bit full. Very comfortable on but definitely will need to be tucked in or belted to work. Pictures are useful. I also know that I always go through a period for a week or two after I make something of not really liking it, and then when that wears off I can make an objective judgement. Whoever said you are your own best critic was definitely a sewer. These three tops were in various stages of assembly before yesterday but a day's good sewing brought it all together.

I struggle with sewing time. My to-do-list is huge and I am appalled by how much housework needs to be done around here every time I pause to look. I am having a wedding in three weeks and before we head off to the venue I have two nights of my sisters and families coming through here for meals. As my sisters are not distracted by sewing and other activities to the extent I am, they are well ahead of me in the painting and decor department I am going to have to rise to the occasion. Which it appears I am doing by sewing blouses and blogging.

And back to my main point. Thing is sewing is good for my mental health. After leaving a son in London, surfers, school, work projects, convention watching, and wedding prep I admit to being frazzled as in the detached-from-myself sense. All output and no resource replenishment.

That's where sewing comes in. After yesterday I got up this morning feeling totally like myself and full of energy. Bit concerned the blouses are now a little loose, but happy. And that is why I need to sew as much as for the garments. Time well wasted to paraphrase the comedy channel.

Now back to coming out as a sewer. It is important and legitimate to say that I sew, I have to, I want to, it's the best personal use of my personal time. We also need to recognize that to many out there sewing is sort of quaint and not really something people talk about. When I was in politics, where you do have critics if you want to or not, someone on an opposing side actually toasted me in a backhanded way by saying "who would have believed a sewer would be so good at this work?" Meaning I suppose Imagine a middle aged woman outsmarting me at this game. Also sewing was used in this man's vocabulary as another way of demeaning me by referring to what he saw as a gender specific activity. Which made me think it's time to come out as a sewer and make a point of self-identifying.

I see the knitters do this. There is a bunch in the English department that make a point of knitting at meetings (knitters call this KIP, knitting in public I believe) as a statement that "woman's work" needs to be valued. And I am glad they do, at the meetings we have in common their socks are often the only interesting things happening.

In my own classes I teach a lot of ambitious young women who talk a lot about career pressures and work life balance etc. and even about how they are going to look professional on entry level salaries. One thing I decided to tell them, in addition to all the work/life research, was that everyone needs an absorbing hobby they can escape to when the stress is tough at work. I tell them how sewing does this for me. None of my students sew but I could see the wheels turning and when my summer seminar class was over they gave me a big thank you card (doesn't happen often at universities) and a gift certificate to Fabricville. I thought that was pretty cool. I think we need to make sure that all these ambitious young people are told that creative time is good for their souls.

Now onto my next projects. I have satisfied myself by catching up with the desire to resew a blouse pattern I loved 15 years ago, as loose as they are. Done, that outstanding item is now, a decade later, off the agenda. I finished a black wool jersey top that had been gathering dust. Done too, and BTW use a small zig zag on wool jersey it is so much gentler and flatter on the seams.

Next up in the planning in my head stage is a red wool garb coat for fall long enough to cover my skirts. I know it is the fashion now if I believe the runways and catalogues, to have your coat shorter than your skirts, but to me that just looks messy like you can't afford a new coat. Mark me down as someone born in 1953. So as my skirts are a little longer these days, covering the knee and I need a coat to match. 

I have decided to use some well-matured-in-my-stash red gabardine and this vintage pattern. Lining has been a problem. I had some nice patterned red and white polyester but have decided (see previous post on hot flashes) that if it doesn't breath I can't either, so I have been searching for something interesting in silk. Nothing locally or on the net I can find this morning, so as a possibility I have ordered this charmeuse from FabricMart this morning. Probably too loud and unsuitable but other silk I was considering disappeared overnight and I have learned my lesson. Will see how it goes when it arrives. If it is too terrible I can make PJs or something.

Current this weekend sewing is going to be 26 lined basket liners for the welcome baskets we are putting in every cabin for guests at the wedding. One of my sisters has made little jams for the baskets, my husband is making about 500 tea biscuits (big Nova Scotia thing) and I am supposed to make some cookies for tins. 

Any one have a really great cookie recipe to share? Something that won't fall apart and is a little different?


Angela said...

Barbara, I know you wrote this a while ago, but I was just browsing around your site tonight and read it. It really resonates with me right now. I am currently the mom of five teenagers, and sewing is helping me remember who I am apart from all the angst and drama in my house. Thanks so much:)

Donna DeCourcy said...

sewing on the edge: Handy sewing hint of the day #10.2

I love reading your tips--many I remember from my Home Ec teacher, who was another fount of wisdom. I especially like the review of tailor tacks for the same reasons other commenters appreciate them. At some point, would you share your techniques on grading, clipping and reducing bulk. I have a particular problem turning the front of the curved collar band, where it meets the edge of the button band and have more than once, (ok, every time) clipped badly and have little pokey bits of threads and interfacing peeking through. Safe travels.