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
Listen to me on the clothes making mavens podcasts

About me

My photo
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



Follow me on Instagram

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Summer McCalls

Summer sewing, the kind you actually do in the summer as opposed to the things you make in anticipation of summer, is very specific.

This has to be really make it this afternoon, finish it after supper, and wear it tomorrow stuff. If you live in a part of the world that is grey, cold, and rainy for about 6-7 months a year, grey and rainy for another two, well, when it is nice you get out there. (Thank you Tourism Nova Scotia, I wasn't expecting contract work anyway).

So I was very interested to see a notice for new summer McCalls in my inbox. 

Here is my first cut, subject to change because what is going to happen is I am going to see other patterns picked by other bloggers and be amazed I didn't notice them myself and change my mind entirely. There are a couple I am on the fence about too that I will probably wait to see made up. Isn't the internet wonderful? Being able to see something realized on a real person makes all the difference. Can you remember the days when you made something yourself and had no way to communicate with anyone else? How did we manage?

OK here we go:
I was really hoping for a new, fashionable pants pattern to play with but am very disappointed in these. I mean if this trim little model still has that baggy thing going on at the front crotch what are my chances of making it work? I am not going to buy a pattern that has an issue built in.
I like these racer back tops, they look cool and could be developed into dresses and even summer nightgowns. All you need is a comfortable strapless bra and you would be set. I am
sure someone somewhere has made one of those. I am quite taken with the stretch lace idea for one top.
This one has easy written all over it, plus you would get a lot of air moving up under those dresses on a really hot day. You have to think ahead about global warming and hot flashes, a border print would be perfect of course in the dress with the border print (I am so original) and if you got a good lining in that bodice maybe I could wear this without a bra. Or maybe not, expect my daughter will make that call.

I could probably extend the top above to make this dress, but it looks comfortable - absolutely all I wear in the summer are dresses - and the back interest makes up for the fact that this is just a basic shift. I have a ton of knits and I just like this.

This one really caught my eye. That opening thing is something I have seen around and like and if I can get some nice ponte knit with a breathable composition, it would work. However if you think about what I have already said about ease this is something I should not dismiss, as I might have, with "but my stomach will stick out" . But all that has changed since I read Erica Bunker last night on "underpinnings" . Maybe I should add some ease across the stomach and get some Spanx on. Of course I did have a pair once that I took off in the middle of a wedding in the washroom because I felt like a sausage in a casing (BTW there was another woman doing the same thing) but I have since heard that I must have had a size too small.
Miss Erica looks pretty damn smooth in her clothes so I think I need to revisit this.

So there you have it. Something to think about as I get ready to do some Easter pre-cooking today.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ease isn't easy

Lots going around the home front today. Son from DC is in for Easter and has brought home a girl friend from NYC. 

This place is not a lot like NYC.

Driving home from the airport last night she said she wasn't used to so much darkness. Halifax is a port city and the airport used to be near the ocean. Except it was foggy so they moved the airport 45 minutes inland, cleared the trees and created a sort of depression in the landscape where the fog settles. Now even when there is no fog anywhere there is at the airport. So it's a long drive in through the country to get here and to some city lights.

I really, really like this girl. She is a nice, responsible, sensible girl and anyone who has sons knows those don't get brought home too often. Everybody around here, dogs included, are under Mom's Best Behaviour Orders. They know they will be getting The Look if they get out of line. I have done the floors twice and made lemon loaf (2) and my best squares, the chocolate and peanut butter ones that you stand at the counter and eat way past the point where you feel sick doing it.

DH is going out to get lobsters later for lunch.

OK, back to sewing because this is really important.

One of the great/interesting/amazing/surprising things about blogging is that you take pictures of yourself and then look at them before you post.

Pictures allow you to see things you don't through the filter of your own eyes in front of the house's only full length mirror.

Sometimes things don't look as good as you think they did.

One of the things I have noticed is that despite all my flat pattern measurements etc. my clothes have a little more ease than I think I really need. My vintage patterns were 3 sizes smaller than I usually wear and I did lots of additions at the bust/waist/hip but that smaller neckline and shoulders worked just fine.

This has me thinking about the whole thing about how women only concentrate on their "flaws," which in my case is a sort of waistless figure, I have always been straight up and down, and the old prominent rear end, much discussed as a curse of the family I had inherited. My whole life I have kind of dressed to cover that up.

But the thing is when I look at other people I would rather see someone showing a little shape than shapeless, and a generously sized woman IMO with style and a little fit looks about 100% better than someone who is disguising themselves in a tent. I used to work with a tiny woman who felt at "her age" clothes should not be fitted and as a consequence bought everything about two sizes too big. There was an attractive woman drifting around in there I always thought.

I think I should rethink this. I know I should.

I am not sure if I am expressing this well, but what about you?

Do you think you have nailed your own ease requirements down? What are your thoughts on ease in general? What's too tight and what's not too tight?  I would like to know what you think.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Pants and arrest photos

I have some hurried shots here of my Wild Ginger pants. Unfortunately as the photographer was cooking and in a hurry these are kind of weird and not too explicit. Also my back views look like someone has said "Up against the wall lady, move it."

My attempt at one seam really wide linen pants with a clear view of my major fitting issue

Rear view, shows an approaching crotch fit despite The Fitting Issue

A slimmer version oh my god elastic waist version and a reason why now I have a crotch that sorta works that I need to find a good pants pattern with a bit of style to work with
And of course as I am moving out of my basic black stage these "muslins" are in black and the front view shows next to nothing.

Oh well, at least it is pant fitting evidence and I am ready and eager to move onto to real pants making asap.

Have you noticed though that there are really very few fashionable, as in the looser shapes I am seeing all over the spring collections, pants patterns in the books. Simplicity is the best but right now the store at the bottom of the street, the only fabric store in town, is selling Simplicity at $14.95 or something. I also went down there in a rush to try to find some more pant weight or even some pant weight with a little bit of stretch and there was nada, nothing, no anything. It was ridiculous. If I had wanted to make a polyester dress with tiny flowers I would have been set.

Now I know there are a lot of issues with Joann's (see Erica B's DIY for a good discussion at the moment) and I totally agree, but to those of you who can still shop at Joann's I have to say they do a good job with basics. If it was a Joann's I had at the bottom of the street I would have some new pants.

On the subject of other bloggers I want to say a big thank you to Carolyn and Sharon for posting about their Fabric Mart foray. Their postings prompted me to look up Fabric Mart on the map and I have pointed out to DH it is exactly on our way to Florida next week if we take a detour and go in a different direction totally for a while. The motorcycle purchase has put me in a honeymoon negotiating position so of course that is exactly what we are now going to do.

I laugh as I write this. You know for a long time I was a political media relations operative and that really is the swimming with the sharks business that you might think it is, probably worse actually. It's kind of nice to be off that particular hook, even if I am now writing more about DH. In a former life the rules were no other life.

That's changed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Now about those white shirts

No, I haven't given up. In fact I have been busy investing in white fabric (and to my mind half of sewing at least is fabric selection/collection) :

However my white shirt making got detoured by the change of seasons (which I believe is happening elsewhere - I wore mitts here out to walk the dogs two nights ago) and my impending vacation.

All I wanted to do is make dresses.

I was also getting bored with the look of all the white shirt patterns I have collected. Pretty similar. In fact I also went out in a white shirt and black pants to eat the other week and thought "Oh my god, they're going to think I am a server."

So I definitely am going to be making white shirts, but I am going to be stepping up the design ideas. 

To give you an idea of what I mean here is the vintage pattern I am taking on vacation in my tiny sewing cache:

Warm weather sewing, easy, and interesting to sew. And I am going to be back at the real shirts later in the summer as I gear up for another term of teaching. 

That seems very far away though today.

The first day of the rest of my life

In case you are wondering what a person looks like at 6:30 a.m. on the morning she gets up and realizes there are no more six hour meetings in her future this is what this is. 

Now it's only teaching, exactly what she wants, hanging out with her granddaughter, who arrived because mommy was off to work, and sewing, lots of sewing.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Thank you for the packing advice

You guys are brilliant. The answer to what projects to take on my vacation was right in front of me. 

Of course. Buy fabric when I am there, and take only a few easy patterns or things to just do for fun.

The thought of having to buy more fabric thrills me. And of course I now have to leave room for what I bring home ....

So here are the supplies I think I am taking, in addition to one sewing machine, my old sturdy Pfaff:

What am I missing ? (my pins are in a giant pin cushion off camera, more about my pin history later).

I am thinking over patterns, but I have decided to take the two Moda jellyrolls I bought at Fabricmart a few years ago in a moment during which I forgot I don't quilt. I figure it's pre-cut and something I can run a few seams on in transit in the hotel rooms just to keep my stitches going. I will never do that around here with all my fabrics and new patterns eyeing me with potential.

Speaking of patterns I ordered some interesting Vogues/McCalls a few sales ago and despite the emails that they have been shipped nothing has showed up. Must be sending them across the border tied to the foot of some carrier pigeon or something.

If those patterns arrive in the next few days I will be pretty pleased.

O.K. off I go to my last official full time person staff meeting. It actually has been booked to go for six hours. Part-time staff are not required to attend these meetings.

Man, I am going to miss this stuff.

Monday, April 18, 2011

African prints

Every once in a while I find I am following a fashion trend and didn't know it. This makes me feel very with it, even though  that's not true. It is still a good feeling because I love clothes.

Do you remember my African print dress? 

Well this morning I read Joanna in Sweden's post on how fashionable African prints are right now. I am very happy about this on several levels, one because I love those prints, and also because I have a son who has been exploring business with an African manufacturer, and I know it is good for the African textile industry. It's a connected world, these things matter.

Check out the L.A.M.B. collection on Even an accent of these prints is beautiful and, to my eye, fresh for spring and summer.

Here is L.A.M.B.'s take:

And here is mine:

Sorry about the headless shot. I am calling this my Barbie shot as all Scarlett's Barbies seem to be headless (doesn't bother her a bit). DH and I are working through the fact that you are supposed to tell someone if a piece of her hair is standing straight up before you snap the shot.