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
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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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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Outfit versus wardrobe sewing

Before I left for this trip I did the big seasonal wardrobe change over. Moved my winter clothes down to the basement and my summer clothes upstairs. In that process I threw out a lot of clothes, most of my winter stuff in fact.

And speaking of facts this process forced me to face one.

I don't like my clothes and the way I dress any more, not at all as much as I used to.

What happened?

 I have always sewn most of my clothes, nearly everything I wear and I used to enjoy my clothes a lot more than I do now. I had to think hard about what has changed and then it finally hit me. With all the sewing contests and SWAPing going on in the sewing world I started to think like everyone else about capsule wardrobes, the list of the 10 things you needed to have, and making everything coordinate. My wardrobe became another job and making clothes for it became an exercise in filling in gaps. This struck me when I looked at a couple of tops with some prints that I really didn't like and wondered why I owned them. The answer of course was that they coordinated perfectly with my wardrobe plan, and met some contest criteria. Suddenly I realized that there were three of us in this closet, me, my clothes and the Wardrobe and one of us has to go.

Up to now I have had a basic colour scheme and a sort of style which I would describe as simple, comfortable, a bit fifties, the word I always wanted to say to myself when I looked in the mirror was kind of North American sharp ( Doris Day versus Chanel) and I used to think in terms of outfits. This is a good fabric for a dress, what shoes do I need, what earrings, what bag, if it gets cold what jacket/cardigan/coat will I wear with it - move on. This also made for easy dressing because once you had the outfit organized you could get up and get dressed in the morning without thinking, which is important because I don't do a lot of thinking in the mornings.

Now I realize this isn't really SWAP thinking and kind of slow and inefficient but I felt pulled together when I go dressed. 

This is of course a totally different way of dressing than figuring out five different ways to wear the same basic white blouse or all the combinations that you can wear from a core wardrobe. That makes my head hurt and I am not all that creative about putting things together, that is real fashionista stuff.

I have realized I am not a component sewer, that the module wardrobe makes me feel like I am always wearing the same thing, and that I can't see a big picture full of connections.

I think I am just happier with fewer outfits and that it is more fun for me to think of one thing at a time, than to take on a whole scheme. Works well with just sewing what is in front of you and not feeling that you have another chore lined up in your life.

But that's just me.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On learning new things

I am writing this from northern Florida where we arrived yesterday. We will be here for two weeks and then off to Tennessee for a month while DH goes back to work.

Packing my projects up for six weeks to myself was quite an ordeal. Just deciding what to take with me was a huge crisis. I decided that after a whole winter of working too hard I had to be careful not to just fill the car with unfinished should-do projects (those wool work skirts stayed home). So in the end I decided to bring all my blouse fabric and patterns to perfect fit, three summer dresses that are cut, fused and serged, my DC son's shirt pattern and fabric, all my bra making supplies,  the bolt of fabric he had waiting for me in DC for curtains, and patterns to trace. I also packed all my sock yarn and my Getting started with socks book. Oh yes and a roll of tracing paper.

In the end my husband had to go out and buy a car top carrier to get it all here, and of course I might pick up the odd yard or two while I am down here.

And I am finally going to have time to blog.

So here is the progress to date.


We agree that my gauge was too loose in my first pair. 

The Dr. Seuss socks.

DH has kindly summed it up this way  "They are great socks, they feel like they are going to fall down all the time but they don't, amazing." So I went down a full mm. size in my needles next time and made one sock (cast on New Jersey turnpike, grafted the toe in Baltimore) that I had intended for one niece with size 9 feet but now
 are going
to go to her 10 year old cousin. These are some pretty firm little socks, pictured here in Kroy stripe sock wool, unblocked. I should be working my way through sock two except I sat on my nice little eco bamboo needles (the same time I put my knee in my sandwich checking on Mr. Rascal who we think hurt his shoulder chasing a ball at the side of the road in New Brunswick) and they now look like those mangled satay sticks you scrape off plates after a BBQ. Promise to pick up some more and at least finish this pair, and to buy steel needles.

I have also been experimenting (if you can call knitting three socks only in an entire lifetime experimenting) with the cuffs. Because I have a horror of knitting Dr. Seuss socks, even though that is exactly what I have done in 2 out of the three, I am reluctant to do a stockinette stitch leg part. I would like to build in rib to hold these things up. So the first pair had k2 p2 legs, but I think those look a bit lumberjackey, and the tighty tiny pair had regular k1 p1 rib, but that took forever so in the pair I have started now in this nice Opal sock yarn I am following Ann Budd's advice (it seems I am no better at reading instructions as a knitter than I am as a sewer - BTW that checking your gauge/tension thing is pretty good advice - I realize that this is the knitting equivalent of pre-treating your fabric ) and am doing a k 3 p1 
which looks stockingnette but has rib spring.

Also thanks to Claire for putting me on to good advice about not getting those gusset holes. I have followed this up and Youtubed my way through some more tips.

I have hope about this next pair. I have hope.