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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, November 5, 2010

Catch up

I have my first white shirt cut and sewn in my head. This weekend I hope to do some real sewing. Lost a few days of sewing time because of the having a job issue and getting my husband out the door to another several, maybe even winter long, stint in TN. He has the kind of job that sometimes takes him away, and it does give me some quality sewing time, but you know I am going to miss him around this house a lot. 

One hour into his absence I had already called him to ask where he had put the new fridge manual. Apparently it beeps when the temperature goes too low (most annoying) and that happens if you ignore the beep that goes on when the door gets left open (not me, sure he did that before he left).  The granddaughter and I were playing lets sort the patterns downstairs and we missed all that.

I am also, in a life that sometimes seems to involve me taking care of so many other people (nothing like teaching first years), miss the one person who makes it his job to take care of me.

Will be back to you when I get some sewing done here.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

First shirt pre-game notes : McCalls 6035

1. Why did you choose this pattern? 

The sleeves of course and because there is a banded collar and I want to start trying different methods of doing this - eventually to see which one works for me best.

2. Where will you wear this? 

I am realizing that white shirts really can be worn everywhere. Why did it take me so long to figure this out? 

I can wear this to family dinners with pants and cooking-comfortable shoes when I want to remind the family that, yes Mom still has style. I can wear this out shopping and not feel raggedy when I take off my coat and sit down to have a cappuccino because I don't really like shopping, rather be home sewing. I can wear this to work with a straight skirt and heels when I want them to think I am hip. I can wear this out to low key holiday events like my knitting group at the coffee shop, or when someone former colleague says "meet me downtown for a drink before Christmas" and I want to look sort of dressed up but also like I didn't give one thought to what I put on but I still want them to say "Nice blouse," and more particularly "did you make that?"

3. Why did you choose this fabric for this pattern?

I have some white 100% cotton broadcloth that should be fine enough to gather but heavy enough for a collar. I am also using a nice firmish sewn-in interfacing for the collar and band because fusibles are still a mystery to me sometimes. I can make a 100 things and my fusible is great and then all of a sudden I use the same stuff and it bubbles.

I am building these babies to last and at the moment I trust a sew in interfacing more. Also I find they do crisp better by stopping short of stiff. Does that make sense?

4. What aspects of construction are you looking forward to as you sew this?   

I am looking forward to those sleeves. I haven't made a big gathered sleeve since Grade 11 and that wasn't yesterday. I also am paying more attention to my gathering lately and using three lines of gathering and I want to show that off a bit. I am pretty pleased with myself.

5. What aspects of construction worry you? What do you think you might mess up?

Well I am pretty stressed out about my seams. This is a multi-cup pattern, the first one I have ever used, and that's nice because I am doing a D cup and it has a good curve. However I have committed myself, because this is broadcloth, to do a seam finish that will look nice and neat with no show through. That, over the bust, has to be a flat-felled seam. How exactly am I going to accomplish that over a curve? Can anyone tell me that? I can see the seam ripper in my hand already. Is it even possible to do a decent flat-felled seam over a curve? Will I track down the felling foot that I used to use and see if that helps?

6. Are there any instructions in this pattern that you have already decided to disregard? Are you substituting another method and if so what will it be?

Both the collar and the cuffs involve slipstitching and I won't do that. It is really hard to slip stitch down the inside of a collar band and have it look professional. This I know from experience. I think I am going to use Gigi's method , the one I have seen on her blog, for this time out.

I am also thinking about the spot where the front bands (which are not interfaced thanks for that pattern designer) meet the narrow hem. I am thinking of using my narrow hem foot and am considering a detail I saw in a son's shirt. In that shirt a narrow hem was sewn up to the point of the bottom of the band but instead of folding it under again at the bottom of the band - which think often makes a bump, particularly when the two bands are laid over each other, a small piece of twill tape was, raw edges folded under, (as the end of the band was folded up once, not twice - the raw edge was exposed),  top stitched down on the wrong side to cover the raw edge of the band. Does this make any sense at all? If I decide to do this I will show you - it made a nice flat hem on the bands of my son's shirt.

7. How long do you think it will take you to complete this shirt or blouse? 

That depends. The way this work week is shaping up I won't get to this until the weekend. So let's say 10 days and hopefully both you and I can be impressed if I get this done sooner.

Monday, November 1, 2010

You see it everywhere

A quick post before I start to get ready for work.

First of all I want to thank Robin for fixing up my project button for me and giving me something sharper that will also fit in the page. Nice to have smart friends.

I also want to say that once you get into this shirt thing you see it every where. Last night I read my book doing my little stint on the treadmill, in an attempt to counter all my Hallowe'en candy snacks, and read about a character who looked "typically chic, in a tailored white shirt with black slacks and a skinny, ribbed black sweater."

This weekend, I opened my husband's copy of Bon Appetit and there was this picture of a chef, and I thought what a sharp shirt with those turn-back cuffs, and  wondered how it would look in that cotton twill stuff they have a

Good to have an interest in life.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Hallowe'en

This week's BMV pattern of the week

I have this pattern and it will be one of shirts.

Ready to go

The mouse suit is done and I will post a picture once we get it on the mouse.

I also decided on my first shirt pattern, which is going to be this view with the big sleeves from McCalls 6035. 

I have had my eye on this for a while now and want to make this version because of the sleeves. Being tall etc. I don't see myself as a ruffly person but this has a shirt collar and is otherwise fairly tailored. I also have an idea that this blouse/shirt would be fine in many venues and might look a little more dressier than nothing for those low key coffee shop type holiday events.

Also I have some standard white woven broadcloth in my stash that I am going to start with as I wait for swatches from the outside world. It is fine enough to do the sleeves well I think, but too fine for some other projects I have in mind.

One of the concerns I have with white fabric is show through. I mean having your bra etc. show through is one thing, but having seam allowances show through is another - and a look I want to avoid. So I intend to get heavily into flat-felled seams and French seams in this project to deal with that. This will be a challenge in patterns like this one with princess seams.

Last night I cut out the pattern pieces and wrote my flat pattern alterations on each piece. I also went through the instruction sheet and circled instructions that worried me, that I liked, and some that I am just not going to do because I can recognize trouble when I see it.

I will be posting pictures of those notes.

I am also working on a pre-project template that goes something like this:

1. Why did you choose this pattern?

2. Where will you wear this?

3. Why did you choose this fabric for this pattern?

4. What aspects of construction are you looking forward to as you sew this?

5. What aspects of construction worry you? What do you think you might mess up?

6. Are there any instructions in this pattern that you have already decided to disregard? Are you substituting another method and if so what will it be?

7. How long do you think it will take you to complete this shirt or blouse?

Tomorrow I launch. As I will be back to my work week it will be tiny steps for a few days but I will try to do some sewing every day.

Jodie's plan

Jodie has sent me a progress report and an image of her first blouse. I love the pattern and wanted to share her comments:

Anyway on to my first white shirt plan. I've bought a really lovely white shirting - with a woven twill pin-stripe (about an eigth of an inch wide).  It's very soft and feels beautiful   I'll be making it into Simplicity 2614 (a Threads magazine collection pattern).  I've made this before in a sleeveless version.  It's a pullover style, mostly cut on the bias.
I'm making view c with sleeves and ties( - may change my mind on the ties or they may just be shorter).  The entire back is cut on the bias - which I find doesn't fit me well (sway back).  I'm going to cut a yoke line and have only the lower portion of the back be on the bias - which is similar to the front.  I'm not a fan of gathered/puffed sleeves, so I'll be reducing the gathering at the top of the sleeve/shoulder and reducing/converting the bottom of the sleeve to a few pleats. That's the plan, anyway!  I hope to get it cut out and any interfacing applied this weekend. -