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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Friday, April 1, 2011

Another addition in the what was she thinking series

I was straightening up my sewing room yesterday and putting away the vintage pattern I used for the solidarity-with-the-Libyan-people-caftan (earlier post).  I had the pattern in one hand and in the other was some Depression style cotton that I bought a long time ago in a period when I was under the impression I would one day make a Depression style quilt.

That's a thing to do you know, spend a huge bunch of money on fabric that looks old style so you can copy the work done by women who had next to zero disposable income and resorted to making quilts from cut up old dresses and skirts.

My own grandmother was a quilter of that type and that generation. Her quilts are now with one of my sisters who moves particularly fast and is a wonderful quilter herself. In fact this particular sister and I were once going to make a joint quilt together. I did my half of the blocks and sent them to her, she sent them back. This gives you some idea of my quilting aptitude.

Back to my grandmother. 

Those ladies used everything. I remember one winter quilt  was made of the leg parts of socks she had knit for my grandfather once the feet were past darning. She crazy quilted and embroidered them over with left over sock yarn (I remember once as a teenage sewer having her nearly stroke out on me when she saw me unwind some thread off a bobbin so I could wind a new colour on - I was Wasting Thread). I also remember a series of quilts she made by going to a tailor and asking for the squares of fabric he used as suit samples. She stitched those together, interlined it with an old wool blanket, and backed it with flannel.

We used to take one of those suit wool quilts with us when we were camping as kids. We hated it. It was like sleeping under a sidewalk. And if that thing got damp it took the rest of the school year to dry out.

Back to me and quilting.

Well, yesterday I looked at this piece of Depression print and accepted that there was no way I was ever going to make myself any Dresden plate quilt. Or a Sun Bonnet Sue. 

If it doesn't have sleeves and a hem it just isn't my kind of sewing.

But I still had this fabric and when I looked at it I thought "what will I ever make from it? It just looks like some old housedress."

So that's exactly what I decided to do with it - using my Bedouin pattern without the sleeves creating a sort of Solidarity-with-women-who-used-to-be-given-housekeeping-money-in-change dress.

I will be stylizing this with red flip flops, if I can find them, and maybe few rollers for my hair and wearing it until someone in the family says to me "what the hell is that you have on?" And at that point I might cut it up and make a quilt.

But I had a lot of fun making it.

It's not all that serious. It can't be.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Shift work

Right now I am working on quick and easy projects, the kind of things I can fit into the rest of my life right now. Once I have this out of my system I will be going on to some more detailed projects, and yes, white shirts.

Recently I got it into my mind that I needed a shift dress for everyday wear. These things are appearing in the collections and on the fashion pages and they are wearable. I am not a T shirt and shorts summer person because I simply find dresses, even around the house, more comfortable.

I decided that a basic dress with front darts coming up from the waist at the side seam (what do they call those? it's not French darts) and a darts in the back would give me enough shape without having front, real French, darts at the waist. I also wanted a scoop neckline.

I wasn't able to find a pattern like this so decided it was time to try out something further in my Wild Ginger PMB software. The first pattern I drafted used the flared a.k.a. A line option but when this printed out I could see that the software added to the hem and then drew a line back to the waist and it really created a crazy extreme angle, like a kid would draw an A line dress on a mom. I can't show you this because I cut if off. I also found that the sleeveless dress version gave me essentially a dress with the sleeves just off, which meant a full shoulder and armhole that was a bit too snug IMO for a sleeveless summer dress. I found this out when the dress was sewn.

I have trimmed both the armhole and neckline in about 5/8" and will transfer this back to the software and will make this up in another version, already cut out, from an African print I like.

So essentially what I have here, in some patterned cotton sateen that I had lying around along with 8,000 other pieces is a wearable muslin that I will actually wear and actually is a muslin for future shifts.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Brunch coat

A bit on my mind this morning. I have a slight pause in the marking until the final deluge hits this week. DH, who lurks this blog sometimes, said to me the other day, "Why don't you get your marking done, instead of complaining about it on a sewing blog?"

Now there's an idea.

The answer to that is that I am increasingly stressed by all the things that stand between me and my sewing room. It makes me feel who I am, OK? Keep me too detached from that and I have to walk around feeling like I am stuck in someone else's skin and life. How can that be good for anyone? It isn't for me.

Now I love to teach, but need to get it down to something a little more balanced. That's on its way.

I also admit to being a bit anxious about a couple of contacts this week from former employers. Since a lot of my former life was involved with getting folks through crises, this is never a good thing. I have a couple of meetings upcoming and am rehearsing what I will say. Sorry but I'm going to be babysitting Miss Scarlett. Sorry  but my students are funnier than you are. Sorry but I am back going to sewing guild meetings. Sorry but I need to sew.

I actually like these people, but I have things to do. I might even write a sewing booklet. I am not sure many politicians would understand that.

Maybe they just want to say hi.


Onto what I am doing.

Thirty years ago I had my first baby. 

I needed maternity clothes and at that time when you got pregnant you had to start dressing like a baby. Stuff with duckies on it. I am not kidding.

In desperation I looked for simple patterns with A shapes and made those up. 

In my vintage pattern collection my wonderful neighbour gave me I found my favourite of these patterns. To me this is all part of some karma thing I am going through where I am returning to myself. Here it is:

Last night I decided to make a short of housecoat thing from it, for wearing when my husband comes home and hopefully makes me coffees and nice breakfasts. That's my plan. When the marking is done.

I used some very weird cotton that I got from Fabricmart, which has provided me with some real character pieces over the years, added a freehand mandarin collar, and a zipper down the front.

Just call me Doris.

Here we go: