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, January 8, 2011

The dirty side of white shirts

I have just posted, finally, full shots of my first white shirt. I have another one half done down in the sewing room. It is quite different and I am looking forward to sharing that one with you soon.

I wore my first shirt to my first class of the semester this week and was very happy and comfortable in it.

However getting dressed for that class I encountered a major issue with 100% cotton white shirts.


Getting this shirt ready, it had been washed after one wearing over the holidays, took a lot of time. Ironing those puffy sleeves was no joke. Made me wonder if I need one of those little Martha Pullen round knob iron things.

Suddenly I was old school.

Should  I be using starch? I don't like the spray stuff, which I tried, too many inhaled chemicals I decided. My steam iron wasn't quite enough.

Made me think of the old Coke bottle with the shaker on top that my mother used to use to dampen ironing, and even of the semi-damp tablecloths she used to keep in the chest freezer in the basement until she could get around to ironing them.

How does a modern woman starch/iron a bunch of white shirts so they are really sharp, without spending 40 minutes each doing it?

Now I think I am pretty good at the ironing board as a sewer, but "the ironing" doesn't play the large role in my life that it played in my mother's or grandmother's.

My GQ style Guide advised men to do their own shirts, so they would last longer, to iron them wet from the washing machine and to use the ironing board backwards with the square end in the shoulders.

I am beginning to see why men send their shirts out, although that isn't something I am about to do with mine. 

If I press while I sew why wouldn't I iron after I have sewn?

Any great ironing thoughts and insights out there?

Review of the first white shirt, finally

Here is my first shirt, McCalls 6035 views of all sides.

Here are my general thoughts on this first shirt, and on some of the issues with white shirts in general.

First of all I am pleased with the upper body fit. The multi-sized pattern with the different bust sizes worked very well for me, I used a D. Such a great short cut to compared to the dreaded FBA..

However I added to the waist and hips exactly the difference between my larger waist and hips than the pattern and the result is far too flared at the hips for me, you can see this at the front, which I have pulled out a bit for this picture. Note to self - baste and fit. I don't have curve to my hips so having a shape in the garment that isn't in the body doesn't make sense.

I really liked the sleeves in this pattern, they added some style to an otherwise standard shirt and because the sleeves are 3/4 the round band at the bottom, rather than a true cuff, worked fine - it was loose enough to be comfortable, but small enough to take the gathering.

I also used a 100% cotton broadcloth which was lovely to work with and about heavy enough to cover. I don't like a shirt fabric in white that is so thin folks can count your bra hooks or see the exact design of the lace on your bra.

I was glad I finished the seams carefully, with my French seam faux flat felled - with a white fabric you really need to keep the seams neat or they will show messy from the right side.

I wish the collar points were a bit stiffer since I wear this open, but I was happy with the general and very comfortable stiffness of the collar in general. The issue of collar stays bears further investigation.

All in all I am very happy with this shirt and have realized that it goes with every bottom in my wardrobe. How cool is that?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

What caught my eye

Lots happening. This weekend will be posting on-me shots of the first White Shirt with review and the second one in-progress.

I like to start the new year with new patterns, and I have been waiting and waiting for them. I don't know about you, but spring and summer are my prime dress wearing seasons and I have been anxious for more dresses to think about.

McCall's site went up this morning, and here are a few patterns that caught my eye. I may not necessarily be making these, but they are under serious consideration.

Now this one has figure balancing, make-you-look-like-you- have-a-waist written all over it, but are they insane to say that those inserts make this an "Easy pattern"? I mean this one should come with a seam ripper in the envelope. I find the two colour contrast might get a bit old unless the colours were black and white or unexpected, but the idea of doing a colour block with a print is very interesting. Wish this came in multi-bust size though. This one might be tricky to do the FBA.

OK this is a little nutso but two prints (I have never done this and have been thinking about it) as in the black and red version, might be sort of cool. Really this is just an interesting housedress-go-to-the-grocery-store dress and I wear a lot of those. This pattern will probably see production.

Yes, I know when we all saw these come back we said "Yuck, been there done that" but like so many new styles once your eyes get re-used to it you see potential. Obviously comfortable and casual (a big seller around here). Not sure about the pockets on the legs. I actually had a brief moment where I thought "gee those would be handy for carrying around the bags when I take the boys for a walk, or for stowing little things I extract from my granddaughter's mouth" but really who wants to walk around with bags of poop or small sharp objects on their pants legs? However I think I will probably try this pants pattern in the privacy of my sewing room to see if I am completely delusional or not.

Off to the first classes of the new term. I am excited.


Monday, January 3, 2011

Clothes to love

Many of you may be familiar with this link, but if not I am posting it here. Harper's has a Fabulous at Any Age archive with beautiful clothes right up to what they call the 70+ demographic.

It's in the drop down menu under Fashion and Shopping.