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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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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.

Starting with the coat

I have been offline for so long with work and life events, and also, to be honest, replacing some of my online time with sewing time. I have a lot to say though, all my blog posts were being composed in my head while I ran around.

To begin with my red gab CJDesigns Easy Coat came back from the cleaners with the mystery stains gone. This was a big event as I had already decided to take it apart and make another half a front and had got myself in a mental space to do this, and then, what do you know, the stains were gone! It was like being given a whole weekend of sewing for free, like finding a $100 gift certificate for Fabric mart under the bed, like finding out that your machine has a hidden feature for making perfect automatic buttonholes you didn't know about.

"You are miracle workers" I screamed at the cleaners.

"No actually we are drycleaners" they said while they waited for me to leave. The trick they said was that I hadn't tried to get the stain out myself. They said once a customer has started to mess with something there are other chemicals involved and it becomes hopeless. Whatever it is they said just bring it in, wine, ink or lipstick.

I will remember that.

As you can see this is just a plain old coat, but I really like it. It is simple but not too loose, and there is none of that crude easy pattern feel to it. The only design change I made this time, after the silver raincoat version, was to cut the collar back by about 3/4". You can see that it is still a pretty large and pointy collar and the only thing I might do next time is morph another collar onto it- one with a stand to lift it a bit. I have the coat in the line drawing from my 5/2009 Ottobre magazine in mind.

I also didn't add shoulder pads because there is a nice fit in the upper chest for me in a large, and I felt I didn't need them.

A TNT coat pattern for me for sure.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Major update

My big news and reason for not posting in a while is here. Here is my beautiful granddaughter just born and looking very Canadian in a hospital hat. She came a bit early but she and her mom are doing very very well. 

This is wonderful.

Up to her arrival I was very busy with lots of work and lots of sewing. I made a wool gab red coat in the CJ Easy Coat pattern with some very nice silk charmeuse lining but am unable to show you a picture of it here. After one wearing I reached into the closet for it today and right in the middle were two big anonymous stains. Like there were gremlins in the closet. I have no idea what happened and all they could say to me when I took it off to the dry cleaner today is we will see.

I have already decided that since I love this coat and have some fabric left over that if the stains don't come out I am recutting a new left front and taking it all apart and sewing it back together. I mean it. I absolutely am not going to put this much into a coat and wear it once. This is a crazy idea but that is my plan B. Only a sewer would even think like this but I am mad.

Off to bed now. Tomorrow my son-in-law goes back to work and I am driving the baby and mother to the doctor for first check up. I think I will also be hanging around trying to give my DD some time to sleep. Our baby is doing a terrific job of nursing like a crazy person and my daughter asked me today if she would always be this tired and if she would ever have time again for a peaceful shower.

I told her give it about 20 years.

More later.