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Sewing with less stress Front
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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, January 14, 2011

New Vogues and frank talk

Since I am on the DL this seems like a good time to add my own comments to the discourse on the new Vogues. 

I have been reading sewers I respect about the virtues of the new VP magazine. So I went out and bought it for myself since I sprained my ankle (if that makes sense) rather than waiting for the new patterns to go up on the Vogue website, which they did about three hours after I brought the magazine home. Not to worry, the articles are very good, thanks for putting me onto that ladies.

Anyway more elegant people than me have made their picks and have selected the most beautiful dresses - most of which I would like to make, but won't unless my life venues get an upgrade. 

There was a time not too long ago when snappy dresses were part of the work uniform but teaching at a university requires more comfort - all that walking around desks and standing in the halls talking to anyone who comes by for hours and hours - you want to look neat and sharp but it's not exactly life on the runway.

Back to the patterns.

Forced to humility by the Tom Jones shirt I have decided to select for my own personal list not what I most admire, but what I actually think I will wear. I think this is the first time I have ever looked at new patterns and purchases this way. And I am 57.

This approach has eliminated my actual favourite, which wouldn't look at all the same on this long waisted, actually non-waisted, body, although this might change if I start doing more with my online WW points tracking system than just click on the number of glasses of water I drink. We will see. I am still stuck on the "nothing tastes as good as thin feels part". I am just not so sure about that.

It is an incredible dress - on someone else.

What I am really considering are things that I know will be very comfortable and therefore most worn.

Hands up all of you who wore the same knit dress about 400 times more often than anything else they made last season.

So I have decided that this dress, which I love, love, love in this sort of shiny poplin with these cute as anything sleeves, would work for me. Although I would ditch the giant, flower bouquet belt, and go for something slimmer and probably purchased. I mean even if you had a tiny waist, do you really think you as a person could tie a perfect bow out of essentially a rectangle of cotton poplin every time you put this dress on?

I also am seriously considering this Vena Cava (get it) dress, because of course it would be comfortable, it has neat sleeves and I have some African cotton I really like that I have been waiting to use in the right pattern. This may be the one:

Also since my recent traumatization with a top that swamped my lower body, and the rescue effect of a raised waist, I am thinking of these pants in some of that black linen I bought for a rainy day about three rainy seasons ago. 

What do you think?

Tom Jones with facelift

 O.K. It's a white shirt right?

Actually in my research to find this riveting image I found out that Mr. Jones has insured his chest hair for $7 million. 

To which there are only two questions.

Why not $6 million, why not $8 million? 

Obviously my DH is a bargain.

Which brings me to how crazy sewing makes you, if that isn't already apparent.

Monday night I was walking the dogs on the local snow covered golf course and took a header on about the 14th green. Seems it is covered in plastic, which is not obvious from the top side of the snow.

I spent the evening in the ER, and have a badly sprained ankle, a sideways knee, and, as I blog, I am on a heating pad because today "my back gave out." Something I have heard about since I was a child as in "well there he was and his back just gave right out". I always wondered what exactly that meant and where did the back go when it went.

Anyway, none of this prevented me from staying up late last night trying to get the Tom Jones shirt into something I was comfortable with and in consideration of your comments.

The picture previously posted reminded me of a sheet with a nice neckline, and I know already from 40 years of sewing that shapeless tunics don't do a thing for me. Now why don't I remember what I know when I look at new patterns?


Well, I cut off 3" making it actually 1" shorter than the original which was designed for someone at least 3" shorter than me anyway, and I took in 4" at the hem and up the sides tapering to the armhole, despite the fact that my actual hips are 2" larger than the pattern I used.

Much, much better.

I then remembered I am sort of very long waisted (which is why the super long tunics don't do I thing for me, and I couldn't wear heels in the first pictures owing to the swollen ankle thing) and that I look better with a shorter top.

I also remembered that my all time favourite skirts of this decade were the ones that I made in the fall from this Vogue pattern because of the nice normal slightly raised real waist ( I sincerely hope that lower waist, belly hanging waistlines do not come back into style in my lifetime).

So I hopped/crawled to the closet and put the Tom Jones shirt on again tucked into one of those skirts and did the bathroom mirror shot-at-midnight.

I couldn't go back to bed until I had resolved this, but I went to sleep happy. This works for me.

I know this behaviour makes perfect sense to you.

A correction: for those of you who may have looked at this last night I, mistakenly, posted a picture of a Tom Jones impersonator at the top of this post. Merci to Nathalie for catching this and sending me this much nicer, and much more accurate TJ photo.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

NY Times and white shirts

Thanks to Lisa for putting me in touch with this article on White shirts.

The slide show is here too.

I am all revved up. I mean even more than usual. Since I decided to let my sewing take over my life officially again, that is pretty much what's been happening around here. I feel great.

Thanks for the help

I really have appreciated the helpful comments. I am definitely going to shorten and narrow this top. I am quite surprised at how long it is and how full. I didn't add to the sides like I should have for my waist and hip and only a moderate amount at the bottom. I was really not going for the night shirt look.

A smaller person could be really overwhelmed by this top, although a softer fabric would help. I guess I have crisp in my head right now and actually do think the straight up cotton looks fine with those things at the neck. 

All very interesting.

The neckline and sleeves are worth it, it does confirm too that I look better in something shorter and more shaped. Even though I am tall I have an average inseam and my height is in my back, so chopping me up isn't that great.

This also confirms that pictures are really useful at helping you determine what suits you.

I am also going to think through the whole undergarment issue. That makes a lot of sense to me.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Live shots of Tom Jones at the Sewing Guild

Last night I went to the local sewing guild meeting, I have rejoined in anticipation of my move to part-time work in the Spring, and had my friend Sheila take these pictures.

I am afraid they make me look like a maniac, and also feel that may be a representative look for me.

It is in interesting blouse but not sure if I know how to wear it. I feel it is really long too. I am 5'9" and added only 2" to the length, but am not sure if it could do with a cut-off. What do you think? How much?

I tried it with the vest which does help to pack it in a little - that's an awful lot of white fabric.

The girls at the Guild commented that some of them thought it looked better without the vest and also that a lighter fabric would have helped - something more drapey like a rayon. As is when I belt it I get sort of a Tutu look.

The issue with a lighter fabric of course is show through, which I didn't like because I knew I would be wearing this with jeans.

All you stylists out there, what do you think my options are? What is your feedback? 

That said I am generally pretty pleased with this a a ruffly shirt, and find the neckline quite pretty and certainly very easy to sew - just strips topstitched down at intervals.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Preview of the next white shirt

I finished Simplicity 2310 over the weekend and am going to wear it to a sewing guild meeting tonight and ask someone to take a picture, since my photographers are otherwise engaged.

It was my attempt to focus just on the collar band and to try something a bit frilly, not my usual style being a tall person.

It turned out a bit more Tom Jones than I expected. However once I adjusted to that and tried it on with about 87 other garments I decided it was too shapeless to wear on its own but perfect under a long cardigan or vest as a layering piece. Some garments are like that, they are meant to be part of a family not solitaire. Once you understand that you can start to use them.

What this really needs now is a black long vest to wear with narrow pants. I can't stand trooping around stores to look for something specific - do much better when I shop randomly - but not sure about a pattern. I will work on that one. I would rather sew for three hours than shop for half an hour.

I am really getting into this and have #3 cut out.

These are the great things about sewing one type of garment, with variations, in one colour:

1. You build on skills. I got my seams figured out to my satisfaction in many variations first blouse. Next I worked on the band collar with this one, next shirt I am doing one method of the collar on a band. I am going to try several methods and see which one works best for these hands. Everyone's hands are different and even techniques are personal. I understand that.

2. You save a certain amount of energy that you then have as extra to go into the project by repeating yourself. You already have the machine threaded, the interfacing ready and many of the techniques are familiar. That practice makes perfect thing is really true.

3. It is easy to buy fabric and you get to appreciate differences, focus on what each slightly different fabric has to offer.

4. So you don't get bored, in this case making ten versions of the same thing, you reach out of your usual zone, like I did with this shirt and try new details. It expands your repertoire instead of limiting it, which was unexpected.

About white shirts specifically:

1. Because the fabric lets the interior construction be known (I took this shot this morning in my sewing room backlit so you would see what I mean) you really have to make the inside look as good as the outside. A serger hasn't gone near these units and every seam is finished and neat, every edge turned under and stitched.  I really could wear these inside out (and knowing me one morning I probably will) and still look OK.

2. You have to take a bit of care. It is perfectly possible to acquire a nipple sized coffee stain over the bust, even though you don't remember drinking coffee while you sewed. And if you are not incredibly tidy about cleaning your machine it is completely possible to make a beautiful flat felled seam with a bit of black lint from the last project trapped in it.

This is actually getting pretty interesting.