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

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About me

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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, July 22, 2011

Sewing when you have no time to sew

I am working during the week and the weekends are my sewing time. However sometime you just have to produce something. Even a little something.

Remember all those scraps Miss Scarlett and I threw out? Well, there were a few I kept and am going to turn into my no-brainer-nightgowns. I am not in general a nightgown person but summer nights are an exception.

I have a Liberty print piece (that I actually got in London when my son lived there, when I made a mistake in my head and reversed how the exchange rate worked - in a fabric frenzy I convinced myself the pound was worth half a dollar rather than two dollars), and a piece of silk I dyed only semi-successfully, and this piece of seersucker left over from a recent dress.

Same drill, band at the top, gathered body, and elastic bra straps left over from a Fabricmart sale. Oh, also a piece of nice cotton lace that I have had forever and once tea dyed to go on Christmas decor I never made which I then had to bleach again for this. Somewhat out of control but you know this is one breezy nightgown. BTW those elastic straps are great. Stay put and are comfortable and you don't wake up with a nightgown all twisted which is why I usually don't wear them.

A summer dress to sew this weekend and a start to some shirts I have been promising my son for a year.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dressing for movement

One of the courses I teach in the summer is media relations. One of the things we do in that course is visit a TV studio at news hour. We met tonight with a woman I have known for years at the station, a former host, reporter, and producer. She is now working in management and not in front of the camera.

I hardly recognized her today. In her past incarnation she was the person I usually saw a trend on first, she had a major do, killer shoes, and beautiful makeup.

Today she came out to meet the class, still with the great makeup, but in a swinging sort of knit knee length skirt, hair that she had let go natural, a fashionable knit top, and flats:

She looked incredibly hip, far more attractive than I have ever seen her before, and for the first time I realized what a good looking woman she was, how animated, how warm, how connecting with people. 

I also realized that she was a mover. She moved her arms a lot, was expressive, moved closer to students when they asked a question - and it hit me. Her clothes were allowing her to move freely and for the first time since I have known her I realized just how alive she was. I finally saw her style not her fashion.

This got me to thinking that we often consider clothes as something we pose in, but unlike other design products, like jewelry or buildings, they move with us because people move as they live.

Clothes that don't move well contain rather than express who we are.

I think this is an element of clothing worth thinking about, way past comfort, way past the take-it-off-the-minute-you-get-in-the-door clothing, but about moving with style. This is what people really see, this is what people really watch.

I have to think this through, but I am going to start to pay attention to how clothes move on me and with me, and to what moves well on other people.

On a related note I randomly came across this tonight, on the subject of shoes. What is interesting to me is the observation that heels go up when the economy is down, can't quite make out why. Well if folks are going to read my feet, I think I might dress for prosperity. It's easier to go places.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Picking up where we left off

Debbie Cook over at Stitches and Seams said a few posts ago that she is doing exercise dvds. 

The exercise thing is tough because let's face it who wouldn't rather be sewing?

But I must confess I have myself got into the dvd thing. In fact it would be safe to say that if it's in the  $5.00 bin at the grocery store I have it. I am in fact a connoisseur of moves I can't make. The privacy of my sewing room is where I do my exercises - a place I like to be in anyway with no prying eyes to see what I can do to the New York City ballet warm up.

Be clear though I am only doing this to be stronger and less creaky, my knees are losing it. I have no interest in back problems or being slowed down etc. I have a lot going on. Also I have no interest in losing one pound or one inch. I have the fitting issues for this body figured out and that's that.

Anyway I had a bright idea the other day and that was what-ever-happened to Margaret Richards? You know from PBS Body Electric? When I had little kids I used to tape those VHSs - Nancy Zeiman and Body Electric, although I used to tape Nancy over Margaret a lot. She was good, those exercises were hard, I was so sore the next day.

So I went online and there she still is and I ordered in this DVD, which cost more than $5.00 but I was feeling nostalgic.

Now I have to tell you Margaret no longer looks exactly as illustrated. I find it strangely comforting, once I had adjusted to the fact that she hadn't stayed in the box looking exactly the same for 20 years waiting for me, to see her body has gone middle-aged too, although I would say she now has to be in her 60s. I am seeing those inner thigh things, bigger upper arms and mostly the famous expanding waist you get. I figure if she bought a 12 she would be grading it up to a 18 at the midriff. 

Her music is different, one of her songs is actually about a child growing up, not the same disco stuff. She even has a quirky blog on her site where among other things she shares her knitting. She says do these exercises, go for a walk, and make sure you rest and relax. This I can do.


The thing is her exercises are still terrific. You use weights (got these at the grocery store too) and she is about being stronger and my god to do this all the time she has to be. I can hardly move this week everything is so sore, and that would be everywhere.

And I have found it so much nicer to be working out with someone who looks like me, which I can't really say about those folks at the New York City Ballet.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

One loud dress

Self-portraits in the sewing room ...

Yes, it is pretty loud but I actually like it. Not sure if my consultants will deem it event worthy, we will see. At any rate this one is going to get wear, such a great, great pattern.

A lesson though - I don't have enough fabric in my collection (the family won't believe that)  I have depth but not enough breadth. And I won't be making it down to the garment district until later in the fall - seems fair to let the kid actually move there and settle into his job until I descend. One of the things about teaching is that you just can't take time off when you feel like it either. But I am never again going to be caught without The Right Thing in on the shelves.

Now off to get ready for a work week.

An odd and ends day

I just got a call from my husband, off in Deception Bay in the land where the sun doesn't really ever set this time of year. The place they are at of course doesn't have hotels so the company brought in a cruise ship for them to stay on - he said he had smoked salmon and Brie for breakfast. He claims he will be back in three weeks.

Mr. Rascal and I are a bit of a random force left to our own devices. Thisis what we did yesterday with a few of the usual revelations.

I started knitting a baby blanket for the new baby that is due in October, changing Miss Scarlett's only child status. It will take me that long and they better start having some good stuff on TV. Last night I watched TV like a man, with one hand on the remote.

I also thought a lot about Carolyn's Vogue 1179 and Rachelle's many gorgeous versions so, although I had cut out Vogue 1250, not wanting to be the last person to make this dress in the world - although I wish now I had waited until this morning and read Debbie Cook's detailed flat pattern alteration advice, I decided to make another 1179 for myself. My first version really is my favourite dress of the season.

Here it is in a rayon knit familiar to those who stalk Fabricmart, on my dress form since the photographer is at the North Pole:

While I made this, and was once again just so pleased with what an absolutely flattering dress this is on, it got me thinking about my step-daughter's wedding next month. BTW I hate the "step" term. Cinderella has ruined that phrase for me. My step children are really great people and have been totally wonderful to me since the day I met them. There is nothing "step" about us.

Anyway, as I have said before, this is going to be a very small group. Just five of us, at a very nice inn with a fantastic and small dining room. I was thinking of wearing a dress I already own but I decided that was a disservice to my step-daughter, the only one who is not having the big white wedding, as if it was not important enough for a new outfit. As a result I have been wearing my head out trying to figure what to wear. Dress up clothes are often not my favourites, it is the time I start trying to dress like someone else or for some occasion that isn't me and it doesn't work.

Then I thought why not make this dress in something fancier? 

It is in fact a dress that my husband has told me I look sexy in which is pretty good for something that is like a night gown to wear. But then again this is the same person who loves the polar fleece pajamas with the embroidered snow flakes that my mother gave me for Christmas - he thinks those are cool.

So I created a vision in my head of this dress and drove around to our 1.5 fabric stores to try to match it.

Don't you just wish you had a real fabric store that matched the one in your head? I was thinking sort of silk knit and all I could see was polyester crepe de chine and kiddie prints.

The only knit that caught my eye was this one:

Yes I know, the ladies in the fabric store thought the same thing - they were kind of lobbying for lilac once they knew it was a wedding.

However this is essentially a dinner at a restaurant. I am going to make it up and if it gets the thumbs down I will wear it anyway elsewhere.

Which brings me to prints and identity.

Women over the age of 40 around here dress sort of preppy plain and as they get older it gets more tasteful and quiet. I believe the word is classic. Problem is I really, really love prints, and colour. 

And I am a person who has worn out one side of her jaw from talking too much. What are you going to do?

O.K. off to the sewing room.