Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
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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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Saturday, September 25, 2010

Thank you Vogue for some new basics

 It was very nice to get up this morning and see that Vogue had some new patterns, all of which will fill some wardrobe gaps for me. The shirt above is multi-cup size - great, no time consuming FBA and the longer version will satisfy some of my longer-shirt-to-wear over narrow pant needs. Plus I am in a white shirt mood again.
 Since the last Vogue skirt I made with a raised waist turned out to be flattering, surprisingly, on my long waisted body I am ready to try more. Consider this also as part of my celebration that those dumb lowered waists have exited. I also like the fact that the detail is in the waistline so if this goes out of style I can still wear a top over it and no one would know, plus this would be interesting to sew.

Finally the long version of this tunic would work for me and guess what? Another multi-cup sized pattern.

No all I have to do is wait for a pattern sale. Wish the husband was still working close to a JoAnn's in TN, but BMV should come through shortly.

Now off to the dreaded housework and some mental sewing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wrapping up the boring stuff

I have stuck to my resolution to make one dress for every two skirts. I have only two skirts to go, to be started this weekend, and then I think I am done for the time being and can move onto more interesting projects.

You will notice I have done two fast knit dresses between the skirts this month because I wanted to keep it moving. I really want to do some tailored, fitted dresses and to be able to take my time with them.

I also need/want some tunic style tops to wear with narrow jeans and pants. Nothing too droopy and something more interesting than a "big shirt". I am not seeing a lot of patterns that are jumping out at me on this one and I will be stalking other blogs for inspiration. Am I the only one who loves to see how a pattern looks on a real person? How many times like me have you passed over a pattern completely until you see someone else has sewn it up, and then you loved it? A lot of my life is involved with family -cooking, eating, babysitting- part of my work is from home, the prep, marking part, and then of course there are the dogs. And occasionally yes I do clean my house and do the laundry and I don't see why I shouldn't try to look decent to do that.

I had a work mentor once, now retired, but still a force to be reckoned with, and always elegant. She wore heeled boots, wide belts and animal prints and tons of classic jewelry right up until she retired at 67. I visited her once at her apartment and she showed me her clothes and pulled out "what I wear to clean the bathroom." It was a purple jumpsuit with a gold and black belt and matching earrings. This lady lives alone, although she has a social life, mainly involved with doing things for other people, that would exhaust me. The thing is that she takes care of herself even when no one is watching.

So why not think about bathroom cleaning outfits too? I clean more bathrooms and walk more dogs than I go to black tie events.

A thought to consider.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Butterick 5173

This is an end of an era dress in my sewing. Knit dresses, specifically raised waist dresses, empire etc. have come the full circle for me. I had this knit and decided to give Butterick 5173 a try. As a result  I have a dress I will wear for those comfortable-tired day-shopping-casual occasions, just because it is so comfortable, but I won't be making more of these. I feel the fashion cycle has just about made a full rotation with this profile.

More structured is more me, and what I will be sewing the rest of the season, but sometimes structured isn't what you need. So despite some ambivalence this is still a wearable dress.

I made one design change. I added a band of solid black to match the inset/facing to the sleeves. This design change was motivated by a shortage of the patterned knit. I added the extra to make the sleeves longer.

I have to make my usual rant about the lack of serger or knit technique friendly instructions. Yes there was reference to a serger, as in you can use one, but none of the illustrations or techniques were serger specific, which is annoying.

I also found that some details were again written as if you were working with a woven, and obviously you are not as this is a knits only pattern.

I also was a little wary of the instructions to pivot at the large dot in negotiating the outside corners of the Vs, centre front and centre back, of the insert. To my mind this was a maneuver that had "rip it out and try again" written all over it so I reverted to a trick I learned a long time ago. The method I used is based on the principle that every time you pivot at a crucial corner you run the risk of pushing, or twisting, the grain right on the tip (ever had a little bump at the point of a V even though you stitching looks fine and accurate? This is why that happens). As a result, and this is supposed to be some industrial technique, you should aim to cross same direction stitching lines, each of those lines stitched toward the point, rather than pivoting. This meant at centre front and back I stitched down one side of the neckline from shoulder to point and then stitched the other side from shoulder to point, crossing the seams and allowing that intersection to create the point. The not terribly flattering picture of the back neckline shows I hope what a sharp and neat point you get this way. Of course it means the entire neckline is made of a seam made in four stages but the sewer stress reduction in my opinion is well worth it.

On the subject of the back neckline one thing I really liked about this pattern was that the back neck band was seamed at centre back - I was able to use this seam to take in the top a bit and this greatly improved the fit. I suggest you try on the neckband before you attach it to the dress in case you too might want to make a similar adjustment.

So that's it. A nice comfortable dress and my farewell to the empire waist until it comes back in style again.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Close-up of vest

A few days ago I posted my knitted vest. 

I would like to give thanks to the Yarn Haven in Knoxville Tennessee where I purchased the yarn and pattern and met just about the nicest knitters in the world. If you ever get a chance to spend some time in Knoxville make sure you stop by there, they are the best.

The very wonderful executive assistant in our office took this shot of me to show more detail last casual Friday. One of the things that bothers me most about just about every place I have ever worked is that the place is usually run by some underpaid woman who is the only person who really knows what is going on.

At all.

When they put me in charge, of say the world, I am going to make sure that people get paid in proportion to their real value, based on what would happen if that person didn't show up. In our case we would grind to a complete halt without Kathryn and we know it. Her salary should reflect this. I hate things that aren't fair.

Of course this is the clearest picture anyone has ever taken with my camera.

No surprise.

They sure were hot

Thanks to everyone who responded to my Hot Pattern give-away. Those patterns will be sent off to the first two sewers who sent me their addresses. My apologies go to all those who contacted me little later. I will be posting some more of my independent patterns later in the week.

A few of you wrote to me and said "why are you giving away such great patterns?"

The answer to that is, so they don't clutter my mind.

I think sewing is really one long process of getting to know yourself, and once you know that, to express it. 

As part of that process I have come to terms with the fact that most independent patterns just aren't me. The exception being probably Jalie who are often a little more fashion forward than some of the others, and I am not sure if Jalie is not large enough to not really be quite an indy company anymore. Jalie is good too for family patterns because of the 20 sizes, so I will make an exception for them to my no-time-to-trace rule every now and then.

Now, none of this is to say that indy patterns have any problems, or that the sewers who swear by them are wrong, absolutely not, it is just that the idea of making "classic" styles do not locate me where I most enjoy sewing.

I really find that for myself there is a real thrill in the new designs every season, and close second to that is examining the pattern instructions and seeing if there is, to my own mind at least, a better way to make it. 

I like fashion and I like construction technique. I find it exciting sometimes even to not know how something is going to turn out, or look on me (like the last shirred skirt) and I like, every now and then, finding out that I look OK in something I have not considered before.

This is me. It may not be you.

A couple of years ago I discovered sewing discussion groups, and for a while got caught up in ordering much talked about, sworn by, indy patterns. By definition most of these patterns have to have a longer shelf life than the Big 4 and the styles tend to be those that don't have a real date stamp on them. All good things for most people who want clothes and styles that last.

However, I did find that many of the shapes were looser than I liked, less fitted, and frankly didn't suit my tall frame. I remember trying on a bunch of Sewing Workshop patterns at a show and even the salesperson said to me " no, take it off, this just doesn't work for you."

I honestly think that for me if I had just a handful of patterns in the basics that I wouldn't enjoy my sewing as much. Not unless I were to change them drastically each time, like Carolyn does for example. I am more of an adventure sewer than a production sewer and, well, that's just me. I can hardly force myself to make one more straight skirt, although I need them for work, I have a reliable pattern, and they suit me.

But this kind of sewer may not be who you are. I regret now having turfed so many of these indy patterns. Far more satisfying to send them off to good homes.

After all to each her own.

What kind of patterns best express you as a sewer?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Two Hot Pattern give aways

As usual since I am not going to make these, you might as well. Please email me your address and which one you would like. First sewers I hear from will be sent the pattern of choice. Please send me your address with your request.

The first knit project I might actually wear

The past two weeks have been super busy with school starting again and new students and I getting used to each other and the new term. I think we have both settled in.

What I do when I am too tired at night to sew is knit. Mostly my knitting is what I do for other people, like socks, and my sewing is for myself. But I did finish this vest ( other shots are trapped in the camera to be released when I can pick up some AAs).

I am not a knitted vest person at all usually but decided last winter I needed something for extra warmth for dog walking. Sometimes it is just your body that gets cold. A whole sweater just stuffs the sleeves of say a raincoat. So here it is Plymouth Yarns 001886, a nice no seam vest with a three needle bind off at the shoulders, so it is virtually seamless. I lengthened it a bit so there would not be any draft gaps. I am quite pleased with it for the purpose for which it was intended. Not fashion forward I am afraid but likely to get worn a lot.

More later of course. Have a good week.