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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, August 27, 2010

Finished skirt

Here we go, this skirt finished, complete with crazy person sewing hair, and worn with my Jalie tie front top.

I love, love, love this skirt.

Mainly because I love, love, love the return of real waistbands right up there, waist high.

I like my skirts to stay put.

This is a super comfortable skirt (I interfaced both the facing and waistband piece for support) and I am pleased with the kinda of A line not quite straight skirt style.

It also shows some of the subtlety of designer patterns - the waist piece was very curved and shaped (versus those rectangles many skirt patterns have) and the gores, this is a gored skirt, were gentle and not too exaggerated. A super wearable skirt I would make again, although maybe not with the heavy zipper, not sure how many of those a wardrobe needs.

And finally a shot of the inside with the silk lining showing. This is why I sew.

I know there are going to be those mornings. 

Those mornings when you get up and remember you should have got milk, or that you were supposed to go in early to get ready for the meeting, and your mother calls to ask if you remembered someone's birthday and you didn't, you were supposed to get dog food when you got milk, if you had got milk, and it's late, and you feel you work too hard and no one notices.

And then you unzip this skirt and it's silk inside. And you are glad you took the time on a day not like that day to do something nice for yourself.

Because if you notice, that's just fine too. And quite enough.

I am so happy

It would take another sewer to understand just how totally happy you can be when you step into a new, unknown sewing project and it turns out fine.

I feel that way about this Tracy Reese skirt pattern.

For a start I usually only sew straight skirts, seems to make sense when your fridge could be your dress form; I have so little waist to hip definition, carrying all my definition behind me. But I am in a stepping out and trying new things frame of mind. So I cut into some stashed wool crepe yesterday and thought I would try the skirt.

I also have some wild silk charmeuse bought from Fabricmart a while back in a kind of fabric feeding frenzy I was involved in at the time. In the spirit of doing things interesting with my required skirt sewing, I decided to cut into that for the lining. You can see that pictured below with the facing sewn on to it, ready to install:

Now the thing about this pattern is that it calls for a heavy metal back zipper, teeth exposed of course. I figured, well why not, and went out and bought the right kind of zipper. BTW why do pattern companies always call for speciality zippers to be in odd sizes? This pattern calls for a 9" and YKK sells 8" and 10" as far as I can see.

Anyway the destructions for setting in this zipper were scary. I mean I took one look at this:

And I knew that I as looking at an accident waiting to happen. 

I am working with wool crepe. Am I going to be cutting right to the seam at the exact end-of-zipper spot where the pressure's going to hit when this rear end hits the chair at work?

I think not.

I also was highly suspicious of the advice to do all this clipping before you were anywhere near the sewing on facing/waistband part, and the zipper is supposed to go to the top of the waistband.

I know how that stuff turns out. You are too short or too long and a metal teeth zipper is not going to be any help at all when you have to fake/adjust it.

So this is what I did instead:

1. Sewed up the skirt and applied the waistband/facing.
2. Folded under the top tape edges of the zipper as suggested and placed this at centre back and figured out exactly how long an opening I needed.
3. Stitched up to the zipper opening as per usual for a traditional zipper.
4. Working from the inside placed the edges of the zipper tape even with the edges of the seam allowance and with a zipper foot stitched close to the teeth. Looked at it from the outside and cleaned up the stitching a little.

This gave me the result you see here with the end of the zipper tapering into the seam rather than being set off in a nice square. However my method was super easy to do.

However when I finish this up today the last step is to top stitch and I figure I can stitch a nice square box around the bottom of the zipper and it will look fine.

I try to anticipate and reduce the stress points in my garments and my sewing if I can.

BTW I like this lining a lot when I see it cut up and stitched. Since I can't source anything decent for the top for this pattern I might try to use it for that - providing my Debbie Cook research helps me figure out the FBA adjustment in a style like this.

Being a tall and not small person I have avoided loud floral prints and my social calendar doesn't run to many events where I say to myself "damn if only I had a loud floral charmeuse top" but I am thinking about this.

Final results for the skirt later.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Role models and skirts

In the middle of the night I thought of two things to add to my ageing list. 

One was prompted by the thoughtful responses to my post; the other just made sense at 3:00 a.m.

It is interesting how many of us refer to the great examples of our mothers.

Add that to the list. 

Do a good job of ageing so our kids will have some points of reference when this is their life stage. Think of the people you know who are really proud of their mom/dad/relative who is off doing things and very busy, they speak of them like legends. The real unspoken thing they are telling you is "old age, my old age, doesn't have to be scary, look at them."

I think we have an obligation to do what we can to have other people take heart and to show our children how not to be afraid when we can. This is a real gift to give them.

My second thought it that you have to devote, devote, yourself to being creative. Being alive is about creativity isn't it? There is nothing more age-defying than continuing to create. 

It's about the adding to, not the taking away of life. 

Craftspeople of any age are age-irrelevant. I have a friend whose 80 something mother was up Christmas Eve knitting dishcloths on order. Beats being the old dear sitting in the living room while they talk in the kitchen "someone go talk to Grandma."

See, I knew in some way this was all going to justify me buying more fabric.

On another subject I marked a paper last night from an interesting student who was supposed to do an organizational audit. Instead she did a project on behaviour in the military (she is in the reserves) and one of the things she looked at was the wearing of skirts by female personnel. 

You see they have the option of wearing skirts instead of pants in the military when they are in dress uniform or doing office, not in the field, work. 

I, of course, was fascinated. 

What she discovered from interviews was that the skirt is a "gendered garment". Men don't wear it, so some of the women wore it in a male environment because when they put on a skirt they felt they got some of their identity back. This is interesting because other women said they had initially worn only pants to fit in or to be taken seriously, but that once they were more secure they liked wearing a skirt.

I had never thought before really about skirts and dresses as being a gendered garment, and I then thought of the pants I was wearing (fly front) and wondered at how I wear things that are unnecessary and male.

I personally find skirts and dresses the most comfortable garments to wear (and yes thanks Carolyn the easiest to sew too) and I wonder about the transference to pants wearing in the work place and in home life. 

There are many occasions when pants are best - cold weather and some kinds of work but tights and leggings have extended dresses and skirts here too - and when I just will always wear them.

But the question is does wearing a skirt or dress change how you feel about yourself?