Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
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Sewing with less stress back cover
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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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Saturday, March 7, 2009

On not insignificant small pleasures

My mother had a cousin she liked but who sometimes embarrassed her. Disabled as an infant by a birth injury he learned to walk only just before he started school and struggled to keep walking his whole life. This she admired.

What made her uncomfortable was that sometimes he was pretty colourful. Let's just say his nickname was Eight Ball and leave it at that. He worked as a store detective and even as a small child I figured out that it was pretty weird that he was supposed to be undercover when anyone could see him coming and never forget him.

The man had a way with words though. One of his favourites I will never forget was "You never know from where you sit when the man in the balcony is going to spit."

This needs no explanation.

Thing is things happen, and the older you get and the more extensive your family, stuff just happens and increasingly I can see that, as a woman of this age, my role is transforming into one of someone who needs to support but often just can't fix it. That's the role I am growing into this weekend. Hope for the best and do what you can do, and keep yourself going so you can do that.

A while ago I was moved by a post on A Corgihouse about a series of events, a death, and some hard times. Seems to me that sometimes things happen that just are not fair, and sometimes lots happens at a time. So what do you do?

I personally believe that big problems are often handled best by holding on to small pleasures. Restoring order when you clean -a shiny bathroom in a messy day, the way an old dog still lifts her nose to catch a new scent in the wind, someone walking carefully across a room so they don't spill the tea they made for you. Making tea for someone else.

I think it is so important we do not underestimate the power of these things, and I find so many of these small and restorative pleasures when I sew.

Here are some I enjoy:

Finishing the seam before the bobbin thread runs out.

Sewing and particularly pressing cotton after a long time of working with other, more difficult fabrics.

Putting in a zipper and doing it up and finding that it is perfectly even at the top.

Thinking, being sure, you have thrown out that facing piece and finding it right on your sewing table.

Looking for the first time in the mirror at something you were not sure you would like and realizing it is the nicest thing you have made in a long time.

These small things are not so small. They are little links to normal life when life isn't normal, reminders that life is lived in the details, and as long as well hold on to that, we hold onto ourselves.

What are your own small joys while sewing?

Therapy sewing

I have had an intense week.

Some health issues in the family turned up and my after work hours have involved a lot of thinking through the information, listening lots and trying to say and do the right thing. I'm beat. I think that things are going to work out fine but this is no weekend for me to attempt anything that requires major brain power. That's used up for the moment.

So guess what? I'm doing the dreaded bedroom curtains. Usually the long straight seams of home dec bore me to death but mindless sewing is particularly appropriate at the moment. A plus will be that once this is done it will be behind me.

Off to indulge myself by setting up the iron in the living room close to the TV and kitchen and to just sew.

Back later.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Considering Julia Child

I read the most interesting thing the other day.

It was about Julia Child. 

Apparently Julia loved Chinese food but never cooked it. She figured that mastering French cooking was enough for one lifetime.

This is very interesting.

It seems to me that sewers are faced with these kinds of dilemmas. What kind of sewer are you? Do you specialize? Have you drawn the line at some point in your sewing career and said I can buy pants that fit so I am not putting energy into sewing them? Do you sew for grandchildren but not yourself? Are you a Matterhorn sewer and like to master one challenge after the other? Are you a sewer like those folks who, when they eat out, always look at what the other people  have ordered and wish they had ordered that?

Do you focus when you sew? On one type of garment, or one concept like SWAP, or are you a restless sewer whose mind is always on the next, and different, project?

Could you sew like Julia cooked? 

Would you want to?

These are very serious issues.

I'm back, sort of

Why I mean sort of is that I have been sewing, sewing when I should have been blogging, I guess but have left my camera at work and have nothing to show you.

That will happen.

I have been busy sewing up the cotton summer dresses in the fabrics pictured in the last post. It makes such a difference to have things cut and the edges serged, and also when you know that the pattern will fit. The ease of this has me thinking again of choosing patterns that can have many incarnations. I have realized that for the time being at least I might be what you call an incremental sewer, slow progress made by a bit here and there -staycations are rare.

I was also overcome last weekend by the need to sew something instant. After fitting this dress to death and by the pants sewing experiment I just wanted to whip something up. I figured that a couple of skirts would make sense but for some reason sewing plain old skirts doesn't excite me much. I had three pieces of rayon and something with a little stretch in it, in tan, black and grey so in the end I decided to make the world's easiest skirt.

Thing is that my below the waist figure is pretty boxy. You could more or less run a ruler down from my waist to the floor along my hip so I opted for elastic waist straight skirts. One seam no less with an extension down at the bottom for kicking room and a vent. I sat down with a tape measure around my hips which I figured gave me my minimum width, and added about 1 1/2" for ease.

I am pretty pleased with the result and eventually will show you a picture. Now I am not going to revert totally to elastic waist skirts but they have their place and the fabric is nice. In most of my tops, which I wear out, you can't tell that's what I have on and they are comfortable. I will eventually make some proper fitted, lined skirts out of my wovens but for now, as a bit of wardrobe adding, these are just fine.

Sometimes I feel like making a new recipe from a cook book with new spices I have to go out and buy. And sometimes I'm thinking a decent tomato on a grilled cheese is just what I need.

Nothing wrong about that.