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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, September 10, 2011

Saturday and shirts

It has been a busy, busy week. 

First week of classes and 140 students to educate this term. Turns out one of the other programs made my first year class a required, found this out when I saw my wait list, and I had to scramble.

Very happy and excited to see my students though - I really love teaching. I won't be touching down until December and my job is to hold it together until then.

On the home front my husband is tearing apart the kitchen this weekend. I have to wander around with pots trying to figure out where to put things.

So I really needed a straightforward sewing project. I decided to go for a cotton shirt, and this one:

If my spouse goes off to the hardware store enough I should be able to get it mostly done today.

I am pretty excited about this project because I have finally developed a shirt collar application that suits my random style. I can sew carefully if I have to, but since sewing is my Zoloft, I don't like it to be too stressful.

I really am not dispositionally a precision person. This is why I am so content spending my work time with young people making them laugh and maybe enjoy thinking and am not say a property lawyer, or an accountant, or other adult occupations.

So I am developing what I am going to call the "Incompetent sewer's shirt collar" instructions. So far my collar is going  together quite well in those snippets of time between when I hear the car drive out of the driveway and when I hear it drive back in.

Which is what I detect now. 

More later, got to go and pick up a pile of pots.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Am I painting by number?

A couple of things have me thinking. 

First of all, and maybe folks were being polite, the comments other people made here and on Pattern Review about that red vest were more favorable than the ones I made. I am trying to expand my style edges and it feels weird. I am thinking that my after work and maybe some of my work wardrobe needs to be more arty. Like a lot of women I am trying to negotiate a maturing style that is not trying-to-hard-to-look-trendy and therefore aging, or is what I would call given-up T shirt and jeans basics. Arty style if done right seems to hit that sweet spot, which I am still trying to locate.

Then a few days ago my sister Nancy, who is tremendously creative, called and told me to go out and buy this magazine:

Now I am not a wearable art person. I am sure I am not the only one who made one of those serged, wearable art vests in the 90s that seemed like such a good idea in sewing class, but made her feel like a dingbat when she wore it (once) out in non-sewing company.  Some things we should just keep among ourselves. And I am not really a re-purposer. Yes, I also made a vest once out of men's ties too,

But I have to wonder if, like so many sewers of my generation, if I am stuck in pattern following execution and not doing enough with my creative brain. Accuracy and fit do not equate directly with self-expression. And really in this world do we get enough chances to do that?

There is some interesting work in this magazine. 

Yes, I would work on some technique - why would anyone use white thread to sew in a zipper in purple fabric? And please would someone give these girls an iron, but there is an idea here to consider and I am doing that.

Take a look at these projects and tell me what you think:

Sweater strips serged to bottom of a cardigan

The old felted sweater trick with some needle felting, interesting skirt I thought.

A lace top with tulle and decorations added as you can see, not a bad upgrade of the LBD for those occasions when everyone at the event is wearing a LBD

OK this is really clever, how smart is that strap/belt?

And me, signing off now, to go teach and try to open some young minds, and reminding myself to do the same with my own.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Butterick 5680 not exactly as illustrated

O.K. summer is overish. I have red leaves on my trees and I have had my last outdoor swim of the season.

I am dragging my mind to where I last left it.

At the end of last winter I decided I needed more warm vests.

And since I knew it would take me three years to knit a vest. at least, I have been looking for sewing patterns. Hopefully not dopey vests but something to keep my core warm in the dog walking, walking to work, side of my life. You know how sometimes you need a little something.

Like a little pie before bed, or a little chocolate to perk you up, or a vest to make that jacket or coat just a little warmer - but without sleeve bulk.

So in the last of many BMV orders (does Simplicity know how it is missing out?) I ordered this, Butterick 5680:

I am a sucker for a shawl collar and thought if the vest worked out I would try it in a longer version in the cardigan. 

I used a sort of fleece-like sweater knit as specified and made it in a medium (12-14) even though I am more a 16-18. 

Now to recap the bust for a 12 is 34" and the bust for a 14 is 36". The picture above of this vest has it sort of meet in the front.

Well folks this is what I ended up with:

Yup, a vest that measures 60" from front to front across the bust.

Now of course some of this is absorbed in the shawl collar, and of course you need ease, particularly if you are using a heavier fleece. But I figured I could have strapped two Wire-haired Fox terriers to my torso and this thing would still meet in the middle.

I know because I measured Mr. Rascal and doubled it.

This may be fine if you ever plan on doing that, but it's still something most of us won't do too often.

Don't take this as a criticism as much as a reality check and information you might want before you cut.

And it's not all bad. 

I mean if you wanted to put in buttons you would have lots of room to do it. Here is what this vest looks like, in all its generosity as is:

This is another of my what are you waiting for, take the picture shots

I made a small gaposis dart from the middle of the front arm aimed at my bust, and although I interfaced the collar as was suggested, I am not sure that would be necessary with a thicker fleece or even with this one. I was ad libbing the dart, should have made it shorter, and need to take a light iron to the hem. I see in this shot that there is a hem ripple on one side. Must be the light or the fact I threw it together just before I went off to visit my mother-in-law.

In the end I am not so much displeased with this vest as I was surprised by it. It is likely I will wear it, since I made it for warmth, wrapped around with a pin, like this, and it will do that job:

One more day before the first day of school and I hope to get at least something else started before I lose my sewing days, weekends excepted.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Jacket and now suit of Vogue 1264

First my quick projects.

Two more versions of Vogue 1261 in some sweater knit I had kicking around the place. I folded under and cover hemmed the collar, serged the rest of it up as you would normally (although you really need to set in the sleeves to make these work), and left the hem raw but with a row of cover-hemmed stitching:

I will get a lot of wear out of these and also the pants of 1264 which you have seen before and are still as comfortable.

Now on to the jacket. 

Here are assorted shots which give you an idea what this pattern looks like on someone who is about 40 pounds heavier than the model, and loving it.

Now I this is what I have to say about this jacket.

First off, the all the whole thing sort of depends on those front panels lining up. I did a FBA and I am glad I did. The only closure is a giant hook and eye at the neck and if I hadn't allowed for my waist etc. and bust it would have all spread in a really apparent way.

These are the hooks and eyes I used:

They were fine but you really have to bend in the hook a bit so it stays closed.

This went together without incident, probably because I left out the pockets, which I admit would have been nice, but I just didn't have a welt pocket in pleather kind of week. Things were busy enough.

The woven sewn-in interfacing suggested is necessary as the pleather, which stretches, really needs the stability and the grain.

All in all an interesting pattern and right past the boundaries of my usual look.

An outfit like this has it's uses though. 

I think it would be perfect for those meetings when I have to call in a kid and say "It seems you plagiarized." Yes, this is definitely an outfit for the plagiarism police. A badge would probably go nicely as an accessory. 

Finally, here is a shot of the characters who thought we were going out the front door for a drive to the park, I did take them later of course.