Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

Sewing with less stress back cover

Sewing with less stress back cover
What my new book is about

Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
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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, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

Wherever you are tonight and tomorrow, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

I hope that something happens to you over this holiday that makes you smile, that reminds you that yes there is joy in the world, and makes you feel loved and useful.

I do realize that not every year, at the same time, is great for everyone. There are those Christmases where not everyone you would like to be with you is there, for example, or for some reason just happens to be one of those holidays you figure you are just going to have to get through.

But the amazing thing about Christmas is that despite those times there can and in fact will be a Christmas, if not now then soon, that just gives you some gift you just weren't even expecting. And maybe that's all Christmas is - a time when we are more aware of those moments and more able to see in them what life is trying to give us.

So may the spirit of Christmas find you wherever you are tonight.

May it give you a glimpse of the goodness and rightness of the world, help you see the generosity of other people, and connect you again to that realization that yes all that really matters are your family and your friendships.

And may you enjoy yourself. We were meant to do that, it is a gift we give ourselves.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thank you

I have officially put my feet up and, except for the wrapping, have announced to the family that they can take it from here. 

DH flies in tomorrow night, DS in from DC tonight. Momma is off work until the new year and going to enjoy herself.

I also am going to start to put together my year ender. This will come in stages.

First of all, thank you 2010 for good things that happened in your year:

I started blogging regularly and really found I enjoyed it. Thank you to my commenters who are like other stars in the universe, letting me know I am not the only one who feels this way about sewing.

Thank you to the other  bloggers I read, daily most of them, for letting me connect with them. I watch and learn ladies. I read and listen. And most of all I have verified that distances of any kind don't mean damned a thing.

Thank you to my students. Sometimes the adult administrative world of education is a pain, but you guys make me laugh, make me think, make me learn. Sometimes I walk into that classroom and feel like a standup comic and wonder, am I going to bomb today? Thank you for always being so generous and gracious to me and reminding me that you can be young at any age and old at any age too. Thanks for letting me be young.

Thanks to the dogs (I write this with three under the table, Rascal and two of the kids dogs) for reminding me that differences between species are not that important either. Thanks too for letting me still mother. OK I said it, I am not done fussing yet and these guys take all I can give out.

Thanks to opportunities that have allowed my son and husband to both work in the US this year and given me a chance to get to know that country better. I miss them both but we have all as a family benefitted so much from the reminder that national boundaries don't really matter either. At all.

Thanks for the projects that turned out. I have tried enough new things this year that I have faced some failures and some monsters (red jacket I am talking to you) so I really, really appreciate the garments that let themselves become successes and supported me as a sewer.

Thanks to my mother who just yesterday said to me "the secret of a good visit with your cardiologist is to wear your colours."

But here is the first part of a list of hopes for the New Year:

Right now one of my big hopes is that Sarah Palin completely winds herself down. She is the Paris Hilton of politics and my hope is that, without any real content, she just runs out of steam. Because I used to work for a politician, I follow this stuff, but that woman is one nasty piece of work.  Enough already.

More later.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

That SWAP thing

I am a SWAP dropout.

I think I have participated about three times and only finished once. That one time involved clothes that all matched and met the criteria but I never wore. The next two times ended prematurely because I became completely overwhelmed with trying to make it all coordinate and kept wanting to veer off because some new style caught my eye. 

It felt more like production than creation, but that is just me.

The trouble is the whole SWAP thing makes so much sense but it just isn't how I sew. No apologies.

It has taken me a long time to understand that you can't lead someone else's life, no matter how smart it is.

Just like I have learned you can't teach someone else's course at work. If I try to teach a new course working from someone else's syllabus it just doesn't feel right. You can't tell someone else's stories, say someone else's jokes, project what someone else thinks is the most important thing, when in your own heart you have other priorities.

You can't live someone else's lifestyle either. 

I received an e-Christmas letter today from someone I knew years ago who seems to have spent her life having lunches in Tuscany and visiting galleries. She looks elegant in the pictures. I am sitting here in a purple housecoat this morning tired from watching Chris Rock's Good Hair till midnight (which I loved - he is often as wise as he is funny - his old line that minimum wage is what an employer pays you when he wishes he could pay you less has always seemed to me to be profound) and knitting socks while trying to disguise a few stitches I had to add in to make up for not having cast on enough, with a copy of 101 homemade dog food recipes on the table beside me.

I am not sure that this particular traveling circus is ever going to make it to lunch in Tuscany.

Which brings me to SWAP at Stitchers Guild , a site I drop into every now and then.

This year I can do it because it fits me. My six tops are going to be six of my white shirts, and the four skirts I want to make to wear with them. I need a mid season "car coat" length coat and that will be my eleventh item. 

I may actually finish this one, in fact I know I will.

Now off to buy the turkey. DH is flying in from Tennessee on the 23rd and he only cooks fresh turkeys. He and I have agreed that I go off duty when he comes home and picks up the next shift.

Off I go.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Felt food

The felt food is done. I apologize for the crazy yellow pictures but something is up with my camera, that's got to be fixed soon.

I had a lot of fun doing this.

Of course not a lot of it really looks like the real thing but close enough for a 15 month old I think.

I think Santa's workshop is going to go slow for the duration now. The socks are going to be one and a ball of wool and my good intentions. We are moving onto the cooking and talking and visiting part of the holidays over the next few days.

I have many other things to consider, like I may be doing SWAP this year, and what I need to do to make life as easy on me as I can make it in 2011.

Some of you may be wondering why I have been so involved in Christmas production this year. 

I try not to make sewing a deadline thing if I can help it, but as you can see my holiday sewing has been pretty much playing around.

I took some time off before Christmas this year and I have really enjoyed being in my house and doing things that I have not had time to do for many years. 

In fact the last 10 years at least my Christmases have had work intensive lead ups. You know the kind. Online ordering from an office computer where the best thing was a bill to and a ship to address that were different. In my case sometimes getting my boss's holiday organized, his Christmas speeches and columns written, spending money because I didn't have time.

I was overdue to make felt food. My New Year's resolutions will involve deciding what to let go in my life, because letting go this last week has felt great.

More later.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Santa's workshop: update from junior dress department

My daughter told me a day ago that the baby didn't have a comfortable Christmas dress. 

That was all I needed to hear.

As soon as I realized I had a granddaughter named Scarlett I started stocking up on red fabric. So pulled some stretch velour out last night and made this little very easy dress from Ottobre magazine 1-2010. 

Super simple as you can see with faced sleeves where you sort of twist it a bit like if you were making a bubble skirt. Also interestingly the gathering is all done by measuring a piece of clear elastic to the bottom of the piece to be gathered too, stretching it to fit, and straight-stitching it to the piece to be gathered and then attaching.

This method makes lovely even gathers and keeps that seam elastic which is an excellent idea for a knit garment.

I also make a sort of a purse to match, in honour of her mother who used to fill up my house with numerous little purses that always contained just a crayon and barrette.

Just so you know as I do all of this my mind is on my shirts and my wardrobe and the Selfish Sewer will return in the New Year.

In the meantime it's more felt food and socks.

Santa's workshop: update from the sock department

OK here are the latest.

The first is a pair for my wonderful son-in-law who wears heavy socks around the house in his Birks.
I used this really great yarn I have found only at the Yarn Haven in Knoxville although I am sure it exists elsewhere, although the people can't be any nicer. 75% wool 25% nylon perfect for heavy socks.

These are really quick socks and the colours are great. Note you purists that I make no attempt to make the patterns on each sock match, not the week before Christmas.

I also finished this pair in finer yarn for my middle son's girlfriend. I am hoping socks hit the right enough but not too much note.

I followed all the advice of the sock experts and kept my needle size small (2.5 mm) and the gauge tight  but to be honest I think these are fairly rigid and if her feet are bigger than mine we are sunk. I have sent a high priority email off to my son for confidential information on his girlfriend's foot size but I haven't heard back - can't imagine why at 8:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning in NYC where he is celebrating Christmas with her before they go separate family ways for the holidays, he isn't getting right back to the Workshop with such essential information.

If I have to make another pair before he takes this present back to DC for New Year's I can do it, besides I have a sister with small feet who likes purple.

And I am going up a needle size.

Santa's workshop: update from the home dec department

It's been flat out at the workshop. Apart from grocery shopping and taking the elves to the park for runs in the snow, it has been pretty production focused.

Oh and I got the tree up and the house decorated, a process that was sidetracked by rearranging everything and coming up with my decorating theme for this house, and this life.

Wait for it.

My style is called cozy and comfortable. All I want is a house where people come in and feel they can sit down and talk. 

What got me thinking about a style is a Christmas card from a now retired former boss of mine who always had a side business as a decorator. Her style is dramatic-African-Asian-black-white, think of white carpet and zebra skins and lots of big statues. Anyway her card expressed some disappointment in a niece who she described as "becoming minimalist."

Somehow I don't think all these crazy projects and dogs and family work with minimalist which made me figure out what to call my style, or lack of it. I have rearranged things so every place you sit has a place for a cup of tea and enough light to knit or hand sew. To make this happen I had to get rid of a large buffet (off to the daughter's much bigger house) and a trip to the truly wonderful sheltered workshop here that has solid wood furniture for really reasonable prices. These are their pictures, not mine. Gives you an idea.

Now what is your home dec style, and why?