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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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Friday, September 25, 2009

On knowing yourself, sewing contests, Loes Hinse, and fabric boards

I know this is a fairly random post title but it all relates.

First there are a lot of sewing competitions going on, SWAP, sew alongs of various types and my personal favourite (actually the only one I can finish) Wardrobe in a week. WiaW suits my sewing personality, I have decided, the other ones don't.

There I said it. 

I'm not SWAP material.

You see I have to be pretty organized in the rest of my life. I feel responsible for a lot of people. 120+ students, many of them first years and just about as sensible as you would expect. My multi-generational extended family, blended family, and now baby-in-the-family. The dogs.  My friends. I put a fair amount of effort in trying not to let anyone down. All this is good but in the one day a week if I am lucky that I get at my sewing I really don't want any more rules or any sense of obligation. If I am distracted by a bright shiny object (new pattern, fabric, often a project that inspires me on someone else's blog or at on the boards at Stitchers' guild) I really want to follow it and not feel I should do something else first.

I like to sew when I feel inspired. I like to look forward to my sewing day all week, to hardly wait, to run down and sew when I should be doing something more useful like washing the kitchen floor. Sewing is my creative place, where I actually sort of design my life entirely my own way, and not something I want to convert to another item on the to-do list.

When I get that organized I will let you know.

Wardrobe in a week on the other hand makes no logical sense and is all about sewing what you want in a craze before you lose interest in it. WaiW involves making up your mind really fast, announcing to other people that they are going to have to feed you, ignore the mess, answer the phone, and expect nothing from you. Oh I suddenly see why I enjoy this ...might not be entirely about the sewing. It is sort of dramatic and exciting which is part of what sewing is to my life - a passion way past logic.

I think there is another one coming on for November and I'm in. I am so in.

On an unrelated note. Part of understanding your sewing style is to realize that some fabrics and some patterns suit your style. And some don't. It doesn't matter that other people can make these things work and you admire what they produce - it all has to mesh with your own sewing identity.

I remember Carolyn once wrote that she wasn't a tailor. That's sort of what I am getting at.

Now I believe in Loes Hinse patterns. Some sewers I really admire make beautiful garments, that frankly I wish I had made, or at least own. I believe in the whole casual elegance, easy to sew an easy to wear thing, but I have trouble making it work for me.

Right now I am in the throws of a Biarritz jacket.  I should love it; I certainly love versions other sewers like Terri have made.

I think I have trouble trusting Loes Hinse patterns. These are supposed to be no interfacing patterns, very minimal in construction. When I look at her pictures I often think the hems looks droopy and even homemade a little so I add interfacing to all the hem edges. And I can believe that an uninterfaced collar won't disappointment me so I interface that too. And the facings. And the curve of the V worried me on the bias so I ironed on stay tape, and onto the shoulders too. And of course when it was time to wrap the facing around the collar and serge it down, it was all too bulky at the tiny, crucial corner. I was not happy either with the serged back neck edge which was through so many layers and really bulky, so I covered that with a strip of silk bias.


I will finish it tomorrow and post some pictures. I think I am beginning to understand the problem here as I blog and watch DH cook. Now he is a much, much better cook than I am. I am not a bad family cook, but I would no more spend 2 hours on a sauce for pork chops than fly to the moon, even though that sauce will be amazing and I will love it, and have the waistline to show how much I love good cooking. As a cook he has technique and I don't. Loes Hinse is like that I think. It isn't about simple ingredients as much as special ways of handling those ingredients, literally at the machine.

The jacket I am working on is the right fabric by her standards, a beefy rayon and maybe I should have just trusted it and not used all the interfacing. I am just not sure if I can do it until I can believe it.

We will see what I think tomorrow. We will see if I decide I like it enough to do it her way in another garment.

Now you shouldn't read on unless you are a hardcore sewer. Sewers like me have their minds go in strange directions that might shock the ordinary person.

This is what I mean.

Last week DHs company asked him if he would go down to the southern US to work for a few months over the winter. Now he wants to go. He loves that part of the continent, likes the people and of course loves, loves the food. It is an adventure, and of course there is that thing about missing out on the Canadian winter.

Now I will miss him when he is gone, and he leaves in about a month. Possibly on and off for most of the winter. I will miss someone who acts interested in everything I say (OK Rascal does that too), I will miss the cooking of course and have been online trying to find recipes that I will make for myself - it has been a lifetime since I cooked for myself, back probably to my mother's kitchen, I am of that generation. I will miss having someone make me laugh. I will miss someone who takes good care of me, I mean how many men are there is the world who get up early every Saturday morning to make coffee and bring it to you in bed so you can sit up at 7:30 and start watching Sewing with Nancy?

I mean this is a good man, and my life was half over when I found him, and I know how lucky I am.

But you know what my first, my very first thought was when he told me he would be leaving me for months to go work in the States was?

I can now order more fabric online and have it sent to his hotel and save a fortune in shipping-to-Canada charges which means I can buy more cool fabric. And he could bring it back to me when he comes home on the airplane for visits because he misses me.

How cold is that?

I also realized that I could eat a lot of tuna casserole (low fat kind, I found the recipe on the internet) and spend a lot of time catching up on the decades of sewing I have had on hold while I took care of everyone else.

So I went down to my local fabric store and mooched some fabric boards to roll my fabric on because I am going to set up my sewing room like a store, like creativity central, to get me through my lonely nights when I am baching it, when I am not working, when I am not grandmothering, when I am not dog walking or being a good adult.

I will make something of this.


Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

ROTFLOL! I knew it had something to do with fabric...I knew it! And I totally thought after the fabric would have been that I could sew any time I want! Oh I sooooo understand!

goodworks1 said...


I guess that puts me in the serious sewer camp...

I totally get it! I've had DH pick up sewing machines I've purchased from the cities he's driving through. And there's nothing like being able to eat some nice veggie soup 6 times in a row (that's 3 days...) so you don't have to even THINK of cooking for yourself.

LisaB said...

You are not alone! I can very much relate to almost everything you've written in this post. How wonderful of you to verbalize it.

a little sewing said...

I am ROTFL, too! I find that a bowl of oatmeal is effective to get hunger out of the way and let me get to my sewing!

Girl, you said it. I am also letting my fickle mojo lead the way.

Anonymous said...

I'm leaving Friday. A week in a B & B reading, sewing and knitting whatever I want, whenever I want - all while being feed nutritious breakfasts made by someone else and scrounging whatever for dinner. Relaxing, being creative, and being irresponsible in a good way are the focus. And just for fun - I'm taking a two day bra making class too.

I totally get what you're talking about. Hmm... my husband is going to Detroit in January. Wonder what I should have shipped to his hotel. I'm in British Columbia.

LOVE your attitude toward the Wardrobe in a Week. It feels familiar. Right now, I have enough responsibility and I want to follow shiny objects. I read this just as I was wondering if I should participate in a SWAP. I think I'll wait and try WiaW next time. How do I sign up?

- Myrna

Dana said...

I can totally relate...even to the husband doing the cooking!

Melodye said...

I love the way your mind thinks! Talk about making lemonade. Lower shipping costs, more fabric and a fabric store in your living room. Brilliant!

Jenaveve said...

This cracked me up!
I live with a shiftworking husband - when nightshifts come around most ladies would be worried about being home alone...I worry that I have to cook for myself when I could be using that valuable time sewing!

Spot on about the styles - why is this such a hard lesson to learn? I think it's for the same reasons we continually buy things that don't suit us either... the look great on the people in the catalogues, but we forget that everyone is rather unique.

This was great reading!! (as always)

SewRuthie said...

Your comment that 'it all has to mesh with your own sewing identity.' is spot on and probably explains why I love those blogs with vintage dresses and then sew pants and knit tops!

P.S. Glad you liked WiaW. It is insane but glorious.


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