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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Saturday, October 9, 2010

If you are in Canada this weekend is Thanksgiving

I hope I am not offending all those vegans and vegetarians out there, but this is what is in my fridge for Thanksgiving dinner here day after tomorrow. A major turkey taking up an entire shelf of its own - all 32 pounds of it.

My husband - the meat cook - told me to buy a big one so I did, now he is all stressed out with the logisitics, but I know he will do fine, always does.

My reasoning is that we have family and kid's friends coming and that all those satellite households, including one son going back to college the next day, will appreciate left-overs.  I think we will have plenty.

It is also time for me to give my thanks for all the great things in my life, and I am going to do that in general and specifically as a sewer.

First of all, and always, at the top of my list of blessings is my family, bookended by my 82 year old mother and my one year old granddaughter who both never stop, are always positive, and see humour in everything. They set the pace, how can the rest of us not be smiling?

And now as a sewer I am grateful for so much:

  • The internet. None of my neighbours, co-workers, or friends sew much at all, but the www has allowed me to be part of a community that thinks all of this is as interesting as I do. Think what your own sewing life would be without it. It has been a truly wonderful thing in my life to find out that I have so much in common with women leading lives in completely different parts of the world.
  • Multi-sized patterns, and those new multi-cup patterns.
  • Bloggers - blogs are my preferred reading these days - I love seeing the clothes, I love the advice. Thank you for sharing your world with me.
  • Sergers. Can you imagine zig-zagging all your seam allowances? Can you imagine how home-made that would look? I used to do it so long ago, I can't believe it.
  • Stretch wovens, particularly for pencil skirts and pants.
  • Online fabric shopping. No explanation necessary.
  • Digital cameras - how else would I see what sewers are making otherwise? How else would I post?
  • Loop turners and point pressers and seam rolls and those who taught me how to use them.
  • A sewing machine with needle-down.
  • A husband who built me a sewing room and put a cutting table up on blocks so this tall girl could cut without a sore back.
  • Invisible zippers. You can stitch and re-stitch them until you get them right and none of that stitching shows. Hell's going to freeze over before I do a lapped zipper on a dress or skirt again.
I know I am going to think of many more things when I wake up in the middle of the night.

But what are your sewing blessings?

Cleaning the bathroom top

I have written a fair bit lately about something I have been considering, which is that what you wear everyday is as important, if not more so, than what you wear "out." 

I admit to a vanity about my work clothes. I teach the each of my classes 24 times each term. I try to keep my wardrobe at a point where I wear a different outfit each of those 24 times (actually a fairly modest goal to have. I needed these many work clothes when I was in an office 5-6 days a week). This is my sewing goal.

I do this for several reason. 1. Because it gives me a reason to sew more 2. Because so many young girls these days come to classes very slobby (is that a word?) and as we have co-op, intern terms, as part of our degree, I want to make the point that you need to dress professionally. I want them to know you need to put effort into what you are wearing even when you are an older woman like me, when you are well past the boyfriend catching stage and essentially entered into the period where you are dressing for yourself.

So this is my work wardrobe, but the fact remains I spend far more time in my home wear than I do in my teaching clothes- and will be doing even more of that when I officially go two days a week as of April. 

As a result I have a current focus on domestic wear. This T shirt, Simplicity 3790 is part of that campaign. 

I made it out of some navy cotton single knit I had hanging around and used as a wearable muslin.

I am super happy with this top. I cut a 14 and added a bit at the sides, but as the top picture shows I needed a FBA. I had hoped that the gathering would take care of that but it didn't. The gathers are only in the centre so I should have seen that coming. Taking pictures is fantastic for drawing your attention to how your clothes really fit and work. My issue is a Chicken Little neck and shoulders and a shape that gets bigger as it goes down.

This is a great tunic type T shirt and has enough shape to elevate it from the standard gathered maternity looking top. A draperyer knit (doing a lot of word invention this morning) would, well, drape better but I am quite happy with this one. A definite addition to the small collection of tops I will wear over the new narrower pants and a pattern I will make again, with a FBA. Thank you Debbie Cook for being my reference on that.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Seventy-nine knitting nights until Christmas

I personally love the family aspect of Christmas. We are big cooks and big eaters and sit at the table a long time and talk. I have every one home and I love it.

But every year the whole shopping centre thing depresses me more and more. 

Those December 24th trips to Walmart and all the crazy stuff folks are putting on the charge card - I can't take it. One year I drove a hour to a small town where there were no malls and old stores on a main street and I shopped there, before it all shut down at 5:00 (welcome to rural Nova Scotia). Now of course I love giving gifts, so it's hard to keep me away from the stores, but I really want to give as much as I can that I have made myself this year.

My sewn gifts are OK, my daughter can be counted on to wear any pajamas I make until spring, but to tell you the truth I am getting pretty selfish about my precious sewing time.

It's for me that time in the sewing room is personal and I don't want to give up. That island of time when I finally get to focus on myself, and I know how easy it is for that time alone and for yourself to be completely given away in little pieces. I mean, like any woman, I already say a hundred times a week "no problem, I'll do it" to someone else just when I was going to sit down and take a break.

If you have a family, a significant other, or a job or even a dog you know exactly what I am talking about.

So as much as my life is already all about my family, and my students, I want to keep my sewing time for myself.

I am, on the other hand, a relaxation knitter of moderate skills. Not a performance knitter at all. When my day is done and I have gone through my dishes - bath  routine I like to go to bed and watch TV and knit.

The things I have knit lately have gone over well, the baby sweater and socks for example. Small projects suitable for knitting in bed. I know that whatever I knit will be appreciated and worn and will soften the effect of all those other things I am going to be picking up at Walmart on December 24th.

The thing is, I am a slow knitter.

I am going to have to get serious about late evening TV and pick up the pace, only 79 nights to go. I am already wearing a band-aide on my left index finger from working with those tiny sock needles, but those socks are a hit, I have no choice.

Later, I am going to rush through those dishes.

UFOs done

I am the last sewer in the globe who has not make a "cozy" cardigan and here it is, vastly shorter than the original I cut out, by about 8" at the side. I didn't want those pointy things dragging on the ground. This is fine for casual wear and finally uses up some heavy rayon knit that has been harassing me.  The pattern is an out-of-print Vogue, and the best part is the shell which fits perfectly.

I have learned to look at the tops in designer patterns, those little extra garments that are thrown in. You don't get a designer T shirt or plain blouse offered on its own, but the extra care that goes into designing these garments really makes a difference - but you have to search the Designer Sportswear sections to find them.

The completely boring LBD is made from my TNT Wild Ginger sheath pattern. I have had no luck with WG pants but this dress does fit, particularly in the bodice. WG has a thing called a "dart over ride" that essentially adds in a FBA by shifting those little peaks of fabric at the armhole to the bust. I have an old version of the software and should revisit it but first I have to redo some of those measurements and that will require some time.

I hate sewing this dress, it is so boring, but I will probably get a far bit of wear from it - to funerals, under jackets, and with a blouse underneath as a jumper. I would probably try to wear something more stylish or at least red to those events where everyone else is wearing black dresses with pearls, instead of this dress. Don't want to start getting too age appropriate.

Feels good to have these in the out basket.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The clean-up continues: another vintage pattern give-away

As always just email me your name and address and these four patterns will be sent off to the first person I hear from.

More garments photos of some finally completed UFOs later today I hope.