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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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Saturday, April 30, 2011

I don't quilt, but

The holiday is preceeding nicely.
My husband is reading an ad for a three day golf school to me as I write this, and I am too busy to hear him. I am blogging aren't I?

Nice man, and I did say I would learn to golf didn't I? So we would do something together. Apparently he would like to expand our vacation togetherness beyond being patient in various fabric stores.

Which reminds me.

Fabricmart Fabrics.

Do you believe that a person drove 2,200 miles and managed to zone in on Fabricmart by 5:03 p.m.?

It closes a 5:00.

However there is mercy in this world. I just received an email that there is a sale on and of course I am in. Plus if I order enough they throw in a Mystery Box. I have had those before and mostly there is stuff in it that is not in my colours, but every once in a while... I will spend some happy time this afternoon filling up my virtual shopping cart, before I go off to the driving range.

And I have been doing some sewing.

Yesterday while my husband went off on his motorcycle to buy me a cake (definition of a middle aged man- they buy a fancy motorcyle and use it to go to the store - I don't mean to be unkind, and I do like my cake) and while he was gone I set up my machine and sewed together a bunch of strips from a jelly roll I bought because it was on sale, not because I quilt.

Two things.  First of all it is amazing how much nicer pictures are when you have actual outdoor sunlight to take them. Second my plan is to cut this up into strips and make a sort of Chinese Coin quilt like this:

I am not sure if I will use black or white or another neutral colour (any advice please from someone with actual taste and a good eye would be appreciated). Also the machine I brought here is my old Pfaff and I don't have the part for covering the feed dogs, (although I think I can make something) to free motion it. And I don't feel like doing a big heavy duty basting thing with a whole quilt top. I am on vacation, so I think I will just channel quilt, stitch and flip the strips instead.

It was extremely soothing to just stitch this up, just to run the machine after all that car time. Soothing is the right word.

It is interesting to me that sewing gives you what you need in different ways at different times. Sometimes it gives you a challenge, stimulation, or makes you feel like a creative and exciting person when your life seems just about everybody else's routine. Sometimes it gives you a future or brings back the best of your past. And sometimes it just settles you down so you can just chill.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Thank you

I am so impressed by all those who commented even so late at night. Marching bands, texting in better climates for fingerless gloves. This is me slapping my forehead with my hand. Of course that's why younger knitters are making them. How can I forget texting? I date myself. All I can think of is cold hands, which is why I came to Florida.

And mason jars at Walmart. Of course.

As to the 1/4" seam that makes sense too from a real quilter's standpoint. It's a big load off my mind to know there is a good reason. I might stitch up some of those Moda strips I brought with me today for fun and I will shorten my stitch length and do that. The first round of family arrives on Monday, my step-daughter and her partner (live and business - actually I hate the term "partner" in general, to me a partner is someone called Morty who does the books in the back room. A friend of mine refers to the woman he lives with a his sweetheart and I think that is so much nicer). My stepdaughter, Kristen says she is up for all discussions except the royal wedding.

By the way THE Dress is exactly the same as my mother's own 1952 wedding dress, minus the train. Exactly, I wish I had a picture with me to post (I usually don't take my parents' wedding pictures with me when I travel - what was I thinking?). I am going to call her today - she will be thrilled, although I am not sure what her position on the monarchy is. My mother is a sort of Christian progressive and I am not sure where she stands on the Queen etc. Plus her Scottish old relatives always referred to this queen as Elizabeth the first, not second, because they didn't recognize the take over of Scotland by the English quite a while ago now. But she will be pleased to see her dress again.

Two other things that I want to say before I go out and start enjoying weather that does not require gloves of any kind.

The first of which I am so happy to get to know you. (Shams thanks for your comments and the fluff is there and comfortable.) I really enjoy your comments so much and am not sure if the comment section is the place to respond to them or here, but thank you. It means a lot that you take the time to talk to me.

Secondly I understand something I wrote for Threads is out. I will have to pick up a copy. I want you to know that I just did the words, the workshop at Threads did the garments which they do often now. I have written on and off for them for years starting from a time when the wonderful Chris Timmons and David Coffin read a letter from a reader, just a home sewer, who had a couple of ideas and no qualifications at all. I let my writing go a bit when I was more occupied with full-time jobs. Now I am shifting back into part-time work I would like to get back into more writing. I also write monthly column on the last page of Australian Dressmaking and Stitches which reflects more the enormous generosity and tolerance of the editor Lynn Cook than anything else, and is very fun to do.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Touch down in Florida and heavy topics

My husband and I have just arrived in the house we rent in St. Augustine Florida and this is the first time I have had a chance to post.

The drive down did us good. We processed my father-in-law's passing which affected us both so much. In my husband's words his dad did exactly what he wanted, built his own house last year, was tearing trees down a few months ago, terrorizing everyone with his many projects, and then he stopped. He had 200 flies he had made ready for the fishing season this spring and was likely, because of health issues, going to be spending it in a nursing home instead. One of the last things he said to my mother-in-law was "who in the hell did the paint job in here?" meaning in his hospital room. Sometimes it all makes more sense than you think.

The drive also gave me time to think of many serious issues and things that have been bothering me for quite a while now, and I think it is time to share them.

Here they are:

1. What's with the 1/4" seam allowances that are used on quilts? As a garment sewer I know, as do you all reading this, a few things about fabric fraying, not to mention how seams look better when they are pressed open. Now I know too what my cotton clothes would look like, even the lined ones, if I made them up with 1/4" seams and didn't finish those seams. In a little while the seams would start to open up and fall apart.

I have been thinking about this because I have some old quilts that are pretty nice but some of the squares are giving out on them. I mean what does a real family do with a quilt on a bed? Lie on it, wrestle the dog on it, spill coffee on it, have little kids throw up on it - in short these things get washed and experience wear and tear.

So what's up with the 1/4" seam allowance? How come no one makes the seam allowances big enough so if you aren't going to finish those seams, at least they are not going to fray away from normal life.

2. OK this one really makes me completely crazy. Where did fingerless gloves come from? Here is a picture of what I mean from Knitty :

As a Canadian I am an absolute expert in being cold. I mean I was 8 years old when I sat in the snow and watched white patches appear on my sister's cheeks as her face slowly froze solid  (it's called frost bite and we were too busy playing to come in). So here are some well-researched facts about coldness and hands:

1. You put on gloves and mitts when your hands are cold so they will be warmer.
2. The medical laws of what happens in the cold is that the blood moves from less essential parts, like fingers and toes, to heat more important stuff in your centre like your heart and lungs and even your brain. This means that what is most coldest and first coldest are your fingers. In fact the moment that made you decide to put on your gloves is the moment when you realized your fingers were getting cold. So why intentially make something that is missing what you are looking for? And put cables and lace on it?

The only people I have actually in my life seen wear fingerless gloves were:

1. Fishermen who were untangling nets. Fishermen BTW are notorious for losing fingers in the nets because they have lost all feeling in them and their fingers get caught and pulled off or something sort of like that. Young people aren't going into fishing anymore.

2. People milking cows on cold winter mornings. Try grabbing a wet teat with a mitt. Milking machines have been invented.

3. A student of mine who came to class with her herbal tea in a mason jar, tired because she was out late at night doing "guerilla gardening" which means she was planting garlic in the grass median strips between the road to make a statement about the waste of arable land in our urban culture. I could not make this up.

I have never in my life seen anyone put on fingerless gloves to go acron gathering as in this picture. I have never seen anyone wear these things at all.

So can you explain to me why most knitting magazines have about eight patterns for fingerless gloves in every issue? This is even more annoying than the news that some of the boys think going back to the Moon is a worthwhile thing to do. You know how I hate outer space.

I think it's time Babs took a walk on the beach and chilled out.

P.S. does anyone know where a girl can buy mason jars in north Florida? The man at Winn Dixie thought I was crazy. I took one look at the beautiful gorgeous produce and knew I had to do some pickle making while I was here - however it seems that most of the people who come to Florida do not come here to can. Such a waste. Maybe I can order some in on and have them delivered.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter Monday

My father-in-law passed quietly yesterday morning. We will be staying here for a bit and then heading off to Florida.

Easter dinner went ahead as planned and it was very nice. We toasted a man who loved family dinners.

We all got together at my daughter's with extra tables brought over etc. However I got a frantic call around lunch because she didn't have enough matching tables cloths.

Well remember the white shirt project?

I quickly serged around a vast amount of pique and some seersucker and ran it over. Perfect. Of course I had my eagle eye on that table the whole meal and whipped everything back into the washing machine the minute I got home.

This is my life. No matter what is going on, every family emergency somehow ends up with me behind a sewing machine.

On a side note I invited my ex husband and his partner to join us. Figured family is family. It worked out very well, turned out they have a lot in common with my other step daughter. I also discovered that ex's girlfriend is a great photographer and I had her take pictures of my dress for the blog - I will post those soon. I believe reconciliation is part of the theme, and you know it's a relief.

Off to take my son's girlfriend to the airport this morning so she can go back to work in NYC. Last night she gave me some beautiful yarn to thank me for having her. This one's a keeper.

Have a good week, talk soon.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter

A short post obviously today. 

Big dinner with extended family; new girlfriend who I love. Hope she feels the same, from a family of DC lawyers etc., and let's say this family is pretty much an exercise in diversity of many kinds but she seems to be holding up very well. Main thing is that son appears to be totally himself with her and that's what a mother looks for.

They seem to have the one thing that I consider the test of a good relationship. Here it is: you are in the right relationship when you both want to do the same things on a Sunday afternoon. They do.

I also want to talk about Easter.

In my life for some reason all the really tough things have happened around Easter and I have sort of come to wonder if there isn't some meaning in this.

Endings hold new beginnings. You have to wait for better things to start, the endings can be excruciating, but some thing new is part of the whole thing. You just have to believe it.

Last night we heard that my wonderful, extraordinary father-in-law who had been hospitalized for an infection pre some routine surgery, is dying. He is 85 and has always been the most active and absolutely most cheerful person I have known. My husband's family is handling this news with what I can only describe as great dignity and acceptance. They are practical, strong people and goodbyes were said last night. As I write this my husband is making food, getting things ready for tonight for us before he heads out again. This morning Scarlett called on the phone and at 
19 months yelled "Happy Easter. Chocolate egg."

My father-in-law's life has been full and is now complete. He loved a good meal and I am off now to start my own cooking. We have people coming.