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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 10, 2010

Pattern morphing

I have worked out a TNT blouse pattern for myself for an easy shaped summer blouse, one with some ease. I have now started to lay details on it and one of those attempts was the collar from Simplicity 2601 that I added on to it. Really easy to do if you line up the neck/shoulder points on both patterns and remember to cut the new facings too.

I love shawl collars but transferring that onto this pattern was too much and 2601 has a similar looking collar piece, just a large oval shaped collar that got sewn directly to the neckline, that worked for me.

This one here, messy hair I know, photographer was in a hurry was a muslin in some finky flower cotton. I am not a tiny flower person so I added some red piping. BTW I found some real high quality mini piping meant for heirloom sewing that I used, so much nicer than any other bought piping and faster than making my own.

I will be taking this basic pattern in at the waist I think, but other than that it's a start, the shoulder fit and darts are good and how much easier will it be to wack on details I like onto a body shape that I can rely on to fit?


They are telling us that we should be eating 10 servings of fruit and vegetables a day. That might work if you sat at a table all day, but I do try. Fruit on no fat cottage cheese for breakfast, smoothies, and vegs with the meals, and then I forget about it.

I do like fruit desserts though and have decided those count.

I love plums, I think they are a highly underestimated fruit but pretty boring in the bottom of a lunch box. So I eat my plums in desserts. This is my favourite way here, I made it last night and DS has already been into it. Trick is to get the plums really ripe, almost too soft for just eating, that means they will be juicy enough for this dessert.

I have ribs underway here today too for tomorrow. I am using the Neeleys' great recipe for a dry rub and BBQ sauce, interesting that there is no salt in it for those who care, and real easy. It has been hot here this week. We don't have AC here, who would for a 2 month summer, so last night Mr. Rascal and I went to bed with the fan on aimed directly at the bed. Best night's sleep we have had in days.

I am missing Tennessee and my husband who is back there now, continuing his month here and month there routine. He has been torturing me with his peach talk and all the things he is cooking for himself. We are talking here of a man who has a microwave, toaster oven, George Foreman, rice cooker and slow cooker in his hotel room. Last time he went down he didn't take any clothes hardly at all with him because he took 15 live lobsters with him. Live lobsters packed in ice in his luggage. They were fine and he cooked them up for the guys he works with when he got there.

Now can you tell me why customs can take away my nail file but let a crazy person with a suitcase full of live lobsters get on a plane no problem?

Production sewing

This weekend I will be trying to clear the decks of things I need to finish for the summer. I want to free up my mind for some new projects for fall or maybe just because I feel like making them, and a whole line-up of straight skirts for work in fall and winter. I am really into dresses at the moment but some new skirts would allow me to send some blouses and tops off to work refreshed and working requires a wardrobe that rotates.

So that's it, if it is cut out it is getting sewn this weekend. Family coming over for dinner tomorrow night and have decided DD is my photographer. She takes her time and is better at thin pictures. Miss Scarlett and I are spending a weekend together next weekend so this is going to be my me weekend.

Talk to you later.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Butterick 5488

Once when my next youngest sister and I were 6 and 8 our grandmother went to Hawaii and brought us back each a cotton muu-muu. I remember us sitting on our front step on a hot Prairie night feeling incredibly cosmopolitan and sophisticated, and cool, as in not so hot. In our day summer dresses still had waists and this was our first experience on something so loose that was not a nightie and you could wear out in public, like say to sit on the steps.

Maybe this is why I always always would rather wear a dress in the summer than anything else because they just don't stick to your body.

So I was pretty interested when I saw Butterick 5488 I had some rayon batik hanging around wondering what it was supposed to be and I figured that this pattern and that fabric were a match.

I was both pleased and surprised when I opened the pattern envelope. For a start the whole pattern was on only one sheet, which is nice when you want to sew fast and easy. The second thing I noticed was that this was not just a shift with some neckline gathers but what it really was a wedge dress, a definite wedge, with three large box pleats, front and back and quite a narrow hem. About 44" or so for size medium which really was not much stride room. This had me wondering about the pattern because there was a centre back seam, with no shape to it so I didn't see why this piece was not set on the fold, and I really wonder if they meant to include a walking slit at the back.

So when I made my version I didn't sew this seam right to the bottom, left the last 7" open put it on and decided, yup, I needed to leave this open so I could walk. I mean what is the point of a super comfortable dress that you have to take baby steps in?

The only other adjustment I made was to take in the centre of the back yoke in at centre back, making a sort of French dart with the widest part of that dart at the seam where the outer and inner yoke met. When I tried it on I felt that the neck line gaped too much.

All that said I LOVE this dress. Every once in a while you get a real comfortable dress and you just wear it to a rag. I would do that with this dress if I didn't know I would be making more.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Best thing ever - a few fall patterns and the return of the waistband

After having complained that the pattern companies withheld the fall patterns until it was too late I see Simplicity has a few fall patterns out. I am thrilled to see that here, and in fashion generally, waistbands are back. The new pants and skirt patterns have them.

Excellent. The low below the waist look was uncomfortable to wear and a nuisance to alter away.

I have picked two patterns shown here that I will be working on this summer - a dress with the draped midsection very similar to my red Queen dress and another blouse with multiple bust sizes and which hopefully will save me from having to do a full bust alteration. A few more summer projects to finish and then these two will be up next.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

What I am wearing to work tomorrow

A while back I got to work on Butterick 5284 .On the face of it this is a fairly standard shirt pattern with some variations in collars, a ruffle front and sort of winged sleeves. I checked out some of the work beautiful sewers had done on Pattern Review (which I have decided to start contributing to, since I so often go there myself for advice) and decided on me to go with only one detail in this shirt so I just made a plain shirt with the cuffs only. I  have left the ruffled front for a later version on its own with ordinary sleeves.

Two comments about the pattern. For a start there is no way that the line drawing does justice to the dramatic shape of these sleeves, which was just fine with me. Tomorrow I am wearing this to work with a navy straight skirt and if I didn't have these crazy sleeves I am sure in a white blouse and navy skirt I would look like some kind of convent school escapee or a missionary at least.

No chance of that now.

I am sorry though that I don't have a shot of this on me, all you get is it hanging on the bathroom door ready for tomorrow, but my photographers are out and about right now. Maybe later, and I can update this post. The colour is weird too but this really is a white shirt you have to trust me on this.

One word about construction. The button bands are separate pieces that are stitched on, which annoyed me because I had just done a very nice men's shirt where of course they are just folded cleverly over and look very neat. In this the pattern however they also asked you to interface both bands. Think about that, this means 6 layers, two of them interfacing, plus another 4 layers of seam allowances, all happening in a 1 inch band (that would be 10 thicknesses on the edges). Of course when I did this I realized my nice little broadcloth blouse had something like a ruler running down the middle of it, both unattractive and homemade looking I thought. So I unpicked the band on one edge ( I had topstitched at this point and was worried about destroying the blouse totally with too many needle holes) and trimmed away the interfacing best I could. It least then it didn't have the rigid front look.

If I had to do it over again, and I really suggest you think about this if you make this blouse/shirt, leave the interfacing out all together.

Other than this though a pretty sharp shirt.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

How long is your summer?

Summer is my favourite season, by far. I am a cruiser by nature, more a flip flop than boot girl and I wait all year for the good weather.

The thing is that I live in a part of the world, Nova Scotia, Canada, where there really are only two real summer months. That leaves 10, yes 10 non-summer months. Of course when people realize that they have made the mistake of committing their whole lives to a place where summer is only two months of the year and the rest of it overcast (or at least that's how it looks to me) they lie to themselves. So we say things like "yes but our Septembers are lovely" and they can be, but that chill in the air after 5:00 reminds you that September is not a real summer month, and June can have many warm days too just ask a kid stuck in school before it lets out the end of that month, but I am not sure if these border line months really count.

Which brings me to travel and the pattern companies. Seamlessly.

This is why I loved being in the southern US this spring, finally my summer months were extended to something reasonable and I am going to make sure that happens as many years as I can swing it.

I need these thoughts as I also go back to work tomorrow and when this summer term is over I am back into fall.

Which brings me next to something I don't get about the pattern companies. Why do they wait so long to reveal the next season's patterns? I need to start some fall sewing now and really need to start my spring and summer in January. My production isn't instant and the sharpest new patterns always seem to arrive when the season is in full swing.

Does anyone else feel like this?

On a bright note and that's how I want to end this, my family is here and the folks in this part of the world tend to be pretty laid back and cheerful. That counts for a lot, that counts for everything actually.

I spent a great afternoon with Miss Scarlett and my DD quilt fabric shopping this afternoon, and the experience of three generations in a fabric store is pretty priceless. I am not a quilter. Sewing so many identical pieces together is totally beyond my attention span. In fact I once tried to joint sew a quilt for my parents with a sister and she sent all my blocks back with the comment "Have you heard of a 1/4"? My DD is a quilter though, an arty one, young and creative and she has a good eye.

And now we can go fabric shopping together. Year round.