Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

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Sewing with less stress back cover
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About me

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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, August 6, 2010

The housework issue

Wow, thanks for all the interesting comments posted on the housework versus sewing issue. I have been considering this all day and wondering if we all told the truth like this where the real standards are for women with other things on their minds.

Carolyn you can get groceries delivered? Man I checked that out immediately but sadly the only establishment that does it here in the backwaters of Nova Scotia is one of those gourmet places where the blood red oranges are $3 each and the meat is cut for you by a guy with an English accident and wrapped in brown paper for about the same price as buying the cow and doing it yourself. And a person to clean sounds good and I have thought about it but both Rascal and my son's dog Birdie bark like they have lost their minds at the vacuum - how much would I have to pay to have someone put up with that?

And Betsy public areas on Tuesdays, I love it. Does that mean you don't worry about it the rest of the week? Sounds sensible.

I find this very enlightening and if anyone else wants to share what they really do in the way of domestic upkeep I would love to hear it.

Not that I am very good at this at all, more on the level of not wanting my slippers to snap when I walk across the kitchen floor in morning. 

My issue with housework and all that maintenance stuff is that I resent it because it is not creative and more specifically stands between me and that sewing machine.

And not too that I don't make a lot of time for sewing, if you were looking at it like a normal person. 

Tonight for instance my husband came home and  made dinner and as a result I have this dress, the black dress with the cool collar,  last season's Butterick 5277, made to the darts and invisible zipper are in stage.

I am dying to see how this collar turns out and am going to get it done, bathroom window installation or no bathroom window installation (thank you so much for the suggestions to seal the grout, I didn't think to do that and it is so obvious, also on the list for tomorrow). I need a new dress badly.

I have added a bust dart to this pattern too and if it turns out want to show what I hope is an easy way to do that. And if it doesn't turn out I will show you what not to do. 

Later, off to bed. Sewing with Nancy is on at 7:00 a.m. and that's my warm-up for a high level sewing day.

Fall Buttericks and housework, the elephant in the room

I did some extra work in the evenings this week and liberated myself a nice Thursday afternoon to sew yesterday. Thursday is a good day because you can set yourself up for a weekend of good sewing if you get this kind of a head start.

I decided to give myself a snack before I headed off to the sewing room and when I opened the fridge it seemed to have collapsed. Melting ice everywhere. A long distance call to the husband got me good advice "Take everything out, unplug it and plug it in again" (No dear this is not a computer) and to wait until he got home, which means we are going to just go out and buy a new fridge on Saturday.

So one good sewing afternoon shot moving food around to the freezer downstairs and the little back-up fridge we use over the holidays.

Housework is my biggest sewing enemy. 

No one ever says the truth about housework, which is really to do anything at all, really just to do maintenance, it could quite easily be all you do, after the people in your life, and work.

Am I the only one who looks at other sewers standing in immaculate rooms in their new clothes on their blogs and tries to look past them in the pictures for some evidence that their houses are not that perfect too?  Some newspapers on the couch, some dishes in the sink? I mean how do they do it? Where do they find the hours I don't? Two messy males and two dogs don't help I guess, but I'm not ready to give them up just yet.

I also don't find the help I am looking for in statements like "I just make sewing a priority." Sure well so do I but it's floors or darts, cleaning the oven or making that muslin. The truth is I like a clean house I just resent it for being this choice, for making me live in mess so I can do something I need to do.  

Maybe this is why I loved sewing in a hotel room so much - maid service.

How do you negotiate this? How do you get all the sewing time in you need and keep the place looking fine?

The other thing on my mind, apart from my lost afternoon and the fact that I have so many household chores staring me down this morning, is the new fall Buttericks. 

Butterick seems to be increasingly the spark-lite line and I am not sure I get what is going on. More and more of their patterns are all looking like See- and Sews and I don't think that seen-before is exactly the same a classic.

There is the only pattern that I think I might make at all and that is this dress which may be at the end of the empire waist trend but comfortable. The pleats, rather than gathers, the belt at the back, and the advice to make it out of doubleknit would make this more work style than a lighter, clingy, jersey.

As usual though I am counting on other sewers to show me the potential I can't see right now  in this particular round of new fall patterns

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Every other Wednesday pattern give- away August 4, 2010

Here we go again. This belongs to who ever first sends me an email with an address today. The email link can be found under my profile picture. Please do not just leave a comment because I feel terrible that I can't contact you directly that way.

This pattern came from a box I found on my street's annual yard sale. Every pattern in this collection was carefully taken out of the pattern envelope and the picture and details glued to the front of the envelope. Not one pattern appears to have ever been used. 

I can identify with both the ambition of this sewer and her ability to actually get around to sewing all she planned. I wish I had known her, we would have had a lot in common.

This one, another size 16, bust 36, is for a "slenderette" dress and lined jacket.

I think my mom had a hat like that to wear to church.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Some tiling advice

Great picture eh? Night shot of my grouting the tiles around the shower. OK this is my exhausted thoughts on how to regrout tile:

1. Get up close and stare at the grout between your old tiles. If you see little spaces, tiny little missing pieces or cracks you need to replace/regrout. Doing this yourself is easy and better than the alternative which is having some men walk all around your place with muddy boots and break open the dry wall to replace it because you have water damage. As far as I can tell you should do anything you can to avoid water damage because that involves rot and that is expensive.

2. Buy the ready- made grout in the plastic can rather than the stuff you mix yourself from powder for the same reason you buy ready-made icing for a birthday cake when you are tired rather than make your own.

3. Take a pointy knife from the kitchen and scrape it along all your old grout to see what falls out. What falls out needs to be replaced.

4. Have a device for applying the new grout in between the old tiles. You can get tools for this, I used a the side of a bamboo point turner and it was just perfect. (I also slept with a seam ripper under my pillow when there were rumours of an escaped crazy person in the neighbourhood - trust what you know).

5. Smear the grout messy and diagonally so it gets in all the places over the spaces between the tiles just like you would ice a cake. Don't worry about getting stuff on the tiles because it can be cleaned off. Even if there is only one small piece missing in one line of grout do the whole thing around the tile. It's like fixing topstitching if you just do it only in the little place where there is a mistake it will look bitsy - best to stitch/grout one continuous line.

6. Read the instructions on the side of the plastic box about drying times and when you should wait to start wiping away the excess. This actually should be step one. Don't read this after you stop to have a 40 minute conversation on the phone with your mom because, just so you know, the window of opportunity for wiping away the messy extra is 15 minutes.

7. They say to use a damp sponge (the grout until it dries is water soluble) to wipe off the gunk from the tiles. I think they say sponge because that is all those grout men know and they don't want you to go digging in with something sharp. However if you have 400 micro fiber cloths because you got a deal on micro fiber fabric and cut it up and serged the edges because that seemed to be more interesting than actually cleaning the house, well you can use those too.

That's it. Takes a while but not hard and requires less brains than fusing interfacing.

Cost about $15.00.

Monday, August 2, 2010

One more day of home reno then it's back to sewing

Thank you so much those who posted ideas for the dreaded window! Once we have the new one in next weekend I am going to try things out and post the result.

OK, this has been great but one more day of being hard at it in the bathroom and I am going back to sewing. I have dress fever and need to get some things moving to relieve the pressure.

Are you in the mood for a rave?

I have been looking around the design sites for ideas and am seeing a lot of neutral coordinates. I know in my heart that if I were smart I could be adequately and well-dressed going the classics, grey, black, white blouse route, understated, only highest quality fabric etc. look. Simple and Tim Gunn. Interchangeable, adult, perfect basics. Clothes you call "pieces."

Oh yes and thin, how could I forget thin. I read on another sewer's post a line "nothing tastes as good as thin feels." I read that and I thought, that's just nuts. Somethings taste so good they feel you were born just to taste them.

Well, I just can't do it.

Perfect and controlled just isn't me. I only want to wear things that were interesting to sew, exciting to sew. I want sharp outfits not a wardrobe that works. There I said it. My clothes aren't a job that gets done and now I am set. It's an emotional relationship that started back when I was in junior high and couldn't afford to dress the way I wanted except by sewing.

It's about going down to my sewing room when life is more nuts than even usual and sitting in my sewing chair and taking a deep breath and calming right down. My namesta is just looking around at my fabric and thinking I could make something with that.

I don't want to look like a successful woman of my generation (OK maybe I don't need to, and I couldn't anyway) because I am not really sure I belong with them.

I wore polka dots to my daughter's wedding, case in point. My generation, my people, are sewers and age and location don't matter at all, the internet proves that.

So I can't be making good appropriate interchangeable "pieces" right now because I am really into dresses with cool collars. I just know I am going to have keep making those dresses until I get it out of my system, and who knows how long that's going to take. The rest of my generation is going to have to go on without me.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

I need help

I painted the bathroom today and have decided to re-grout most of the tiles tomorrow. Next weekend my husband is going to help me put in a new window.

Now the window. This is a huge problem.

The bathrooms in this house are small like they were in houses that were built 60 years ago.

The bathroom I am working on, the one where I read my Threads magazines in the bath every night about 11:00 p.m. is right beside the front door. 

I can think of no dumber place to put a bathroom with a window. Folks standing on the step are right beside your bathroom and at eye level.

To complicate matters even more the bathtub is right under that window and the whole bathtub area is tiled, ceiling included. This means there really isn't much to hang any window covering on except just around the window frame.

In the past I have tried several ideas and none of them were great. A custom made louvered blind that needed to be cleaned continually because it would get moldy, even with a good fan in that bathroom. Various curtains made out of rainwear strung on a wire suspension thingy but they looked awkward and didn't suit the space, but at least I wasn't exposing myself to the whole street.

I have thought of etched glass (how do you do that and what if I ruin the glass of a new window) and about every thing I could think of including beaded curtains. Of course whatever is on that window will get soaked too because it is in the line of fire when you have a shower. What were the builders' thinking?

OK I really appreciated the comments left after my last post and would welcome any ideas or suggestions.  

This one beats me.

Oh and if anyone is wondering about that little white square on the bottom of my screen door it is keep the dogs from going right out through the screen. They have been sort of customizing the back and front screen doors into their own dog doors this summer.

Pictures of the burlap curtains

Nice surprise in the email today from my son in DC. A few months ago I posted some shots of some burlap curtains I had made for him on request. I was skeptical but pretty much have been waiting since he left home for him to need me to do anything for him (trouble when you raise your kids to be competent and they are) so of course I did my best. Burlap really smells so if you want to spend two days feeling like you are sewing out in the barn I recommend it.

Here are some shots of those curtains, hung over his closet which is where he wanted them. Too short of course but he and I eyeballed the measurements, so much for eyeballs.

A quote from the email that came with these shots:

"I think they look great - exactly what I was shooting for. The jute is cool and rustic, and I think will lose the wrinkles after a couple of days."

"Lose the wrinkles after a couple of days"?

OK maybe not that competent. I know I taught that boy to iron. I appear to be having a gender issue weekend.

Now back to the bathroom.