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Sewing with less stress Front
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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, July 18, 2009

Baby stuff

At the end of September I am going to become a grandmother. Of course I am looking forward to this and as I frequently have bouts of they-don't-need-me-anymore, this has given me a way to be helpful, which I love.

DD has decided on cloth diapers and as I blog I am neglecting the 34 newborn pre-folds that I cut out last night and am sewing today. For those of you who remember diapers and rectangles that you folded and pinned, something I did for my two boys who became covered in rashes if I used disposables, a pre-fold is a diaper that is made of two rectangles with the centre third padded up with 5-6 layers that are stitched in. I am showing a photo here of a purchased pre-fold we have as a sample. As the top and bottom are serged it is pretty easy and I think I have worked out a fast way to put these together that I will photograph and post.

What goes over the pre-folds is something called a diaper cover, which you can buy at great expense ( I swear some of these eco-babies are going around with $45 of gear on their little bums) but I will make, or, as requested knit.

The turquoise pair posted here are knit from a 1942 pattern of my mother's and the red pair are a newborn pattern I am trying to design myself as a variation. The 1942 pair required seams to be sewn up and as a knitter (and a lousy one) I hate sewing up my knitting. I find the stitches always look messy compared to what I can do with a needle and thread so the red pair were knitted on a small circular needle to the crotch and then divided and one set of stitches put on a stitch holder, and the long crotch piece ribbed. I then cast off the crotch piece with the stitches on a holder together. So seamless and no sewing. Pretty fast too.

I am going to make some refinements and post the instructions if anyone is interested.

Now I had better stop blogging and start sewing and knitting.

Pattern crazy

So much for deciding that I was going to work on a few TNT and stay there. That is still the base plan but I am very impressionable to new ideas. It only takes one meeting with highly-corporate-ladies-in-suits to have me spend about $60 on patterns.

For the first time in a long time I was actually cheered and inspired by the new season's Vogue patterns. Good thing because lately there hasn't been much with style or at least any applicability to my little life. More and more I am facing the fact that if it isn't comfortable I am not wearing it, and if it takes two months of hard tailoring to finish I won't be doing it until I retire and then I won't be needing clothes like that anyway. My life in fact is one long search for easy patterns that still look sharp. I refuse to believe that this is not possible.

So here were my Vogue picks including a coat that I love - I have been holding off on a coat sewing until I found a pattern that didn't make me tired just looking at the instructions and also looked comfy enough to want to throw on but also looked stylish enough that the first thing you would think about when you saw it was't "Well that was a quick and easy pattern". I think this one does, or will do, the trick. 

I have also ordered a couple of handbag patterns including one that was on the clearance part of the website to make use of all the fake leather stuff I bought in Winnipeg.

I also have been staring this week at 3 yards of wool jersey I bought from Fabricmart a while ago in shocking pink. I had some idea I was going to make a jersey dress out of it but that would have been a lot of bright pink Barbara so I threw it into the washing machine a couple of times and felted it. Looks pretty good. Of course that got me online again for a boiled wool jacket pattern that didn't look too dated and that let me to Trudy Jansen  and I ordered her European jacket pattern yesterday too. I have never tried her patterns so thought I would do one with sort of expendable fabric and see how it went. Of course being boiled wool and unlined it should be easy and comfortable. Now will it have style is the question.


I probably can't reliably say I will post on this blog more than every Saturday morning except on less busy weeks. Work, family and so many projects so here I am again.

In the last week or so what have I been doing?

Non-sewing related:

 I read The Secret Life of Bees, which I should have read before, although I listened to the book on tape a few years ago. Wonderful book. I have also started The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, which I also think I am going to like a lot too. Another book I picked up at random this month at the library and surprisingly really enjoyed was Paula Dean's autobiography. Usually I stay clear of biographies of any kind, lots of detail about people you don't know that leave you thinking "who really cares?" so many are like reading someone else's daytimer. But Paula Dean's book is funny, honest and quite interesting, the story really of a woman who just did a ton of work to get herself out of a pretty desperate situation. It is all about working so hard so you didn't go down and sometimes she was close.

I have also started a sort of exercise program. DH has told me he wants baking in the house on a more regular basis and since he does all the cooking, which is very complicated and wonderful, that seems far enough. Of course not sharing his Acadian background, and coming from a more prosaic Prairie culture (my people are big on jellied salads, anything that involves a can of mushroom soup - his hunt wild mushrooms to make special dishes) I have been making some of the few things I can make without effort like Jelly Rolls. Well I can tell you that since this campaign has started I have been doing a far amount of standing-at-the-counter eating and there are twice as many calories at the counter than at the dinner table. I seem to be acquiring a jelly roll of my own.

So with walking less to work this summer because of my schedule I am making use of the treadmill my spouse brought home because his workplace (one of the most "family friendly" companies in the country) gives him a fitness allowance and the people in the office told him he had to spend it or lose it. 

Despite ruining the decor that has moved into a corner of the bedroom and DH has mounted a TV up in the corner.

Well now I am on a Number One Ladies Detective Agency fitness plan. I love this show and look for excuses to get on the treadmill so I can see it. One of the things I enjoy most is the fabric in Jill Scott's dresses, these lovely African cotton dresses. In fact I have to tell you that for the first time in the very long time that I have been divorced from husband #1 I have actually found a reason to miss him - he used to go to Africa every once in a while and always brought me back fabric - I should have put that in the agreement, that I would still get the fabric. Anyway. Only one regret isn't bad and I will have to find a good online supplier.

And speaking of husbands my DH has bought me a present that shows what a romantic guy he is - a 1953 Chevy wagon, because that is the year I was born. It has something called a double-shift and I don't know what that is, although I do know that I don't know how to do that, and he says that it also has the health benefit of helping him cope with the profound seasonal affective disorder that he has apparently suffered from for years and I have never noticed. He says now when he gets down with the Canadian weather in January and February he can go in the garage and work on my present which will really help him a lot.

Sewing related:

I went to a meeting this week about some consulting work for folks in the financial industry. I couldn't believe it. Everyone had on dark suits, including the CEO who had on a navy suit like the one I threw out when I decided to teach, although she was wearing some sharp yellow heels.
I came home thinking that if I am going to be doing a little work with them that I am going to have to expand or revitalize a corporate corner of my wardrobe (Carolyn I feel for you) so that involved going on the Vogue website and ordering some patterns. Of course patterns do not equal clothes (too bad about that) so I am going to have to get sewing, and of course nothing I ordered even remotely resembled a navy suit. More on that later.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

What I make in a week in May

I loved the wardrobe in a week contest last May. I focused on just two patterns and made two of each. The contest gave me the reason to do this and I am so happy with the results. 

In August I understand there is another contest planned and for that one I am going to do a new pattern for pants for winter and a long sleeved blouse. That an a jacket and I will have something to work with all next season.

Back on track

I have had quite a busy six weeks but the smoke has cleared now. Mr. Rascal is better and DH and I have all that time freed up that we spent hovering. I am back from my family visit, a suitcase and a half of fabric flew back with me, and another carton picked up from Canada Post yesterday. Northwest Fabrics in Winnipeg is wonderful for weird stuff - mostly I bought diaper and baby related fabric and some fake leather to make purses.

Have you seen the price of purses lately? I tore around to buy a navy purse to go with a suit for an event a few weeks ago and could not believe the price of handbags. As far as cost goes fake is the new leather it seems. I appreciate vegan, and commonsense sensitivities taken into account, that leather does not appeal to a lot of younger shoppers (I have been thinking about a young vegan who told me she doesn't eat anything with a face - that got to me since animal faces are important - we are compromising with free range and hormone free meat that our local ordinary old grocery store now carries) but really a plastic bad shouldn't cost this much. Also I see the patterns are better than they were, more fashionable finally, so my next dumb idea is that I am going to start making handbags, probably mulitples, I will keep you posted on that.

I so sporadic about my sewing interests, when I was at Northwest Fabrics I actually loaded everything to make a ton of bras into my cart twice and then unloaded it all twice. They had the elastic really cheap, and I have made bras years ago although I didn't really like the seam in the cup under my knits.

Where do I think all this time is going to come from? After all I brought home 25 meters of diaper flannel and I am booked to make all-in-one diapers before this baby arrives, not to mention the diaper covers that if I knit take me about a week to make each and if I make them out of rainwear/fleece on my serger will be a lot faster, assuming of course that I actually get started on this.

And I am gearing up for the Wardrobe-in-a-week contest at SG for August.

Not that I haven't done some sewing the last six weeks. I perfected my straight skirt and sleeveless blouse patterns at the end of May (will post those pictures later) and I made my daughter two pairs of maternity knit crops, two wraps and three work tops in June. And I knitted two pairs of baby soakers. I need to get over to her house for a photo shoot.

I also dealt with a lot of job pressure (think our major project is amazingly going to be ready for submission this week) and the distraction of an election to work on and a couple of very well-paying extremely high-pressure and boring job offers to walk away from with considerable angst.

I am just not an administrator, and yes if I took these jobs I could retire early but in the end I decided I would rather start living now doing things I like than defer it all. If it means I keep teaching part-time as an older sewer that's OK.

I also realized that it is useless to spend any time thinking you should be living someone else's life just because they have gone so far and done it. 

At my mom's I had some time to reconnect to where I came from and to think about who I actually am. 

Bottom line is I am a maker of things. I have had projects on the go my whole life, a lot of them are still in the cupboards in my mother's basement 40 years later, I like to muck around at home, I like to make things with and for kids and the work that makes me happiest is when I am preparing a new course for students. I like creating a course, teaching it and having the students get something out of something I have made for them. There is a beginning and an end and I find that very satisfying. I just don't have that same satisfaction in jobs that involve going to meetings which the farther up you go is what you end up doing.

And I just need time to walk Rascal in the woods to cheer him up when he needs that and to go to the beach with my daughter when she is off this summer and to sew diapers.