Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

Sewing with less stress back cover

Sewing with less stress back cover
What my new book is about

Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
Listen to me on the clothes making mavens podcasts

About me

My photo
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



Follow me on Instagram

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Editing continued

O.K. I think it is fair to tell you I am on a bit of a theme here. 

A couple of things happened. 

First of all I turned 55 last month and, yes, this month was asked twice at stores if I wanted the senior's discount. A reporter friend of mine was asked the same thing when he was 45 so I shouldn't take this personally, and of course I will take any discount going. 

But it made me think. 

I am not bothered about aging but I have a lot I want to get done, and suddenly I can see the time will be running out on the meter one day and that I should be making choices on where I am going to direct my time. This goal, not that one.

Secondly, I listened to an episode of This American Life about a woman whose job it is to go into people's houses if they die unexpectedly (no this is not as gloomy as it sounds bear with me, it was actually quite a funny episode in places) to find evidence of next-of-kin. The shocking thing about this was that in that process she uncovered so many attempts of things that were abandoned. This horrified me. I imagined my children trying to find anything around here and seeing all the evidence of my creative disillusions. Vintage patterns bought online to be used once I had taught myself how to grade, miles of horsehair interfacing for when I was going to tailor men's suits, bound button hole gadgets, Christmas ornament patterns ... I can hear them now "What was she thinking? When did Mom think she was actually going to get the time to do all of this?" Do I want people to remember me as a planner but not a finisher? One of those women who stands in jeans, sweats and runners and wrestles you for the Designer Pattern at the Vogue sale? Someone who really didn't know herself and her own life all that well?

Thirdly with all my marking I have had a reason to think a lot about how important editing is, something all writers know anyway. I am also reading Steven King's excellent book on writing which says the same thing.

What have I been writing on my papers? Apart from "No caps nec."?

1. Cut, these words are not necessary.
2. Break this one sentence down into two or three simple clear sentences.
3. Vague. Where are you going with this?
4. Needs focus.

Fourthly I have been thinking about the current SWAP competition on SG where the challenge is to make a capsule wardrobe of clothes that you would actually wear in an typical week in your life.

Imagine! How crazy is that? To sew clothes that you would actually really wear!

This has been a hard concept for me to get my head around but in combination with items 1-3 sort of boiled up in my pre-Christmas brain into a whole lot of thoughts and various activities, many of which I am going to document here.

The first thing was the Big Throw Out. (Caps. nec.)

A few nights ago in an anything-but-marking mood I stayed up and started throwing things out of the three closets I have taken over. Four garbage bags later for the Diabetes Society this is what went:

1. All skirts that were not in my basic colours of black, grey and navy. Anything lighter makes me look fat, anything else will require me to make tops that won't go with anything else but the said skirt.
2. All skirts that are patterned and loose. Some of these are in lovely fabrics, silks etc. but I have a straight up and down body and longer loose flared, draped skirts are counter my shape. Also since I have never adjusted to the idea of a coat that is shorter than a skirt, even if it seems to be fashionable, this meant that I needed to sew a slightly longer coat to wear over them in spring and summer. Let me see, a lined light wool coat (47 possible patterns collected) so I could wear skirts that didn't suit me. Out.
3. Suits and suit jackets. Lots of them from my recent corporate life. Good fabrics, good clothes. Problem is that I can't wear these things to teach in. I suppose it would do my students good to see me all super professional but these are not comfortable for my life which involves walking through the woods to work (often within feet of deer it is really lovely, beats the pavement) and running around a classroom talking to kids, sitting in groups, sitting on desks, drawing on boards etc. Also if for some crazy reason I ever go back to the business world by then these things will be just out-of-date enough to be aging. I have also realized that my large number of "investment" pieces really are the kind of classic that despite good fabric and decent construction, actually manage to navigate that place where they are not ever quite out of fashion, but not quite ever in it either.
4. Anything that doesn't quite fit or isn't comfortable. Some of these things hurt to throw out because I made them.
5. Synthetics. The hot flashes have put those in my permanent past.

It was tough and I admit to a moment in the middle of the night when I stood beside the clothing donations bin and wanted to climb in after my stuff and pull a few things out and I actually finally now have a real "Capsule Wardrobe" because there is not much left. And what is left is going to have to work a lot harder.

But I do feel clearer.

Catch up

Late yesterday I posted the last of my semester marks. Very happy to have that done and a little time to breath before the holidays.

What do I have to share after marking all those term papers and exams?

First when did they start teaching in school that capitalizing a word made it important? As in "The most Important thing to remember about this Issue is the Ethical consequinces (not my misspelling) of the practitioner's Actions." I wrote "Caps not nec." so many times my hand got cramped.

I am also struck by the cultural advantages some kids just have that puts them at an advantage over other students quite out of proportion to talent. Some students come from an educational background or region that just equips them to slip into university life, some have such a longer way to go to adjust from the style and communication of their communities before they can figure this out.

That goes two ways though. There are the privileged kids who have been gaming the system their whole lives (one conversation from a mother who works in the profession "he always has had a habit of doing his papers but forgetting to hand them in", yeah right) and the kids, who I admit, are dear to my heart, who don't do well at all their first assignments, often in this part of the world from small fishing villages, who nevertheless come to my office and say "OK tell me what I have to do to be better at this" and keep coming back at me, cheerful and determined, until they start to get it. That attitude is worth so much more than any GPA, that ability to take advice as an opportunity to learn not a criticism.

Versus the girl who came to my office and said to me "I don't think you understand, this paper is a C. I am an A."

Actually you might not be right about that kiddo, at least not today.

I am not one of those middle aged people who would ever talk about the problems of kids today however. Let me tell you they are marvelous. I wouldn't have given up the adult world to come here if they weren't. Underneath the style, they are just like we were, only now still open and vulnerable and funny and honest and real in a way that makes you want to just say "don't lose this" because so many of us do.

If you are making the adult, corporate Christmas party cocktail party rounds these days you know just what I mean. Did any one ever plan to grow up and become one of those women who makes sure every sentence lets you know how many accomplishments she has, "Funny you should say that I actually wrote a book about that"?

Of course some people retain what my students have. I had lunch yesterday with a chemistry teacher who got teary talking about how she feels when she imagines her students finally walking across the stage at graduation.

It's so important to make sure you spend your time doing the things that are worth getting teary about and not doing things just for external audiences. It's important to not get so task driven that you forget to play.

Which is what sewing is to me, and more on that later.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

I am back, kind of

I have felt terrible about my blogging lapse but I have been a prisoner in a place called end of term marking land. 113 term papers and 93 exams and 37 assignments. It just wouldn't stop and there is more to do this week. I swear those papers were reproducing at the bottom of the pile. I found out last week that other faculty with my course load have at least two markers and I am going to have to do that next term, I have always resisted because I don't trust anyone else with my first years and I want them to get lots of good feedback. But this has been crazy.

I have however written many posts to you all in my head, read sewing magazines every night in the bath and planned about a hundred new projects. Does that count?

My hope is that I will be released from marking land in two more days if I work really hard, and then it's back to blogging and my sewing life.

In the meantime I am posting a picture of my mom, of the Mom's skirts, because I think she looks pretty great for 81 (I have more grey hair than she does) and my wonderful daughter at her wedding in September, and me, wearing polka dot dress because my daughter insisted that I was not to look mother of the bride but to dress like I am, which to my kids is Babs. Once a 1953 baby always a 1953 baby.

Off to bed now for a rest. More marking tomorrow.