Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

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Sewing with less stress back cover
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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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Saturday, October 1, 2011

Those new Vogues

I have been waiting for new patterns to think about and almost missed out on the notice for the latest batch - they went into my Spam folder! Made me wonder if Someone has been fiddling with my computer.

I must confess that there was less here that I immediately want to sew - correction - less here than suits my life right now. 

Of course many of these are holiday dresses and I am not sure if I will need one that fancy this year. My school does just a lunch, but my husband's company used to have a big black tie affair and it was always worth dressing up for that. However they have recently been bought out, by a very good company, but one with clearly different priorities. The social committee has been disbanded and I am hearing very non-black tie words like "voucher". 

It's not looking good brocade-wise.

It seems like most of my holiday dressing is going to involve aprons not ball gowns, and I am going to be spending more time walking in the hall at my daughter's trying to get a burp up than on the dance floor.

So although there are several evening dresses I would like to make, I am not sure I will have anywhere to wear them. Strapless, I seem to remember, doesn't work so well with burp spit ups.

That said there are a few I am considering be putting into the old online cart, and a few I would have sewn, and here they are:

I usually don't do the oversize thing but this is a white shirt and would work with my narrow pants and maybe a skirt - I will probably negotiate a length between the short and the long version, but will not be doing the diaper thing at the back unless I try it and it surprises me.

This dress I like, and would use some of my double-knit collection unless I find some suede I like. I remember these blouson dresses from early in my career, but what I can't remember is if they suited me or not. I will ponder this for a really long time. What do you think?

Now these two I would sew if my life changes:

Evening suits are a good idea. Good for those times you have to do a work function at night, like a fundraising dinner and someone corporate has bought a table and you get asked at the last minute because who they really invited cancelled, and you need to look evenesque but not sleazy. I am also thinking through how this might look in a wool or something (subtle colour block - greys and black?). It has potential and if I were more creative I would see what that was.


I completely love this and am sure it is not me, except maybe in personality. To wear this I need someone to organize an evening wedding where there is a major cocktail thing going on and good music and I can dance until I am the last person left. This is a completely a dancing dress, and definitely the kind of thing you wear only once. But still worth it. It does not have "voucher-from-work" written all over it however.

So that's it. What did I miss?

Friday, September 30, 2011

Sewing presents

I think I mentioned last time that I make a lot of my Christmas gifts. Primarily because if I make it folks are too polite to say anything except it's wonderful, and secondly because I find that whole stores-at-Christmas thing so depressing. Carts piled high with weird stuff and and Visas being handed over with slight pauses.

It's not so much that kind of world these days.

In my early morning cruising with coffee this morning I came across this site which has collection of interesting small pattern companies, many of which I didn't know. 

It's another interesting reflection of the new sewing world of young mothers. The Etsy girls -  good basic sewing skills who are adding in a lot of personal creativity in that place where many of the rest of us invested our time in carefully reading instruction sheets. The projects are easy and, considering the demographic, highly focused on bags, aprons, and children's gear.

It seemed to me this morning that if you have a huge gift list like I do, some of these patterns might be good for knocking off some quick projects.

I was particularly taken for example by this applique whole cloth quilt, which since I am not a quilter, has huge appeal. Looked to me like something my kids would go for:

What do you think?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Finishing up

How about that. 

I finished my son's shirts and since he arrived home last night, gave them to him. They fit fine, looked great in fact and he said he would wear them to work. 

Of course I don't have pictures. He is staying over at Miss Scarlett's. I have to start taking my camera with me and will see if I can corner him for shots before he goes. 

He is a sharp dresser and like most men particular about what he wears. Have you noticed that? Even if all a guy wears is T shirts and white tube socks they still will have very specific ideas about what tube socks and what T shirts. It's incredible. You have to get it right. I find that takes more focus than I have sometimes and also because this son is my only one away I like to do an excellent job with anything from me he takes away with him. I want him to always know his mom is thinking about him.

So last night when he told me the shirts were great I immediately said "I will make you more" while my daughter dug me in the ribs and whispered "what are you talking about those shirts nearly killed you." Of course I will make more but fortunately am out of great shirt fabric right now.

I am about to enter my season of making-things-for-other-people with the holidays coming up. I have found that as kids get older they appreciate things that are made for them more. In my case this is going to involve tons of knitting and some more sewing.

So before that hits I am going to finish off a few odds and ends. 

Here is one of them, a dog walking jacket I still have cut out from last year. I have this in corduroy, as suggested, and will be highly surprised if it works at all with all those pleats in the back. But I knew I needed a camp coat type thing but wanted something more campy for my walks every night in the woods with those crazy dogs. The woods BTW that are full of deer this time of year. We see 6-8 white tailed deer every night and I really think I should dress for the occasion.

Here's my pattern, and I will construct this over the next few days when I should be doing other things. What do you think?

 My mojo is high this morning, too bad I have to go off to work.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Testing, testing

I have one of my son's shirts now done. Beautiful fabric from Michaels. I am going to try to get the other one's plackets unpicked today after work and that whole one done before he leaves for NYC on Sunday.

My husband is walking around saying "only two more days to that baby," Miss Scarlett toilet-trained herself yesterday, my dishes are still on the bed in the spare room, and I am washing my pots in the laundry room. I have deadlines at work and need to get in there shortly.

So of course the first thing on my mind is sewing.

It should be of no surprise to anyone that many of my best ideas go nowhere. 

For instance I had this brilliant idea that I would test and report on a variety of basic sewer's sewing machines (as opposed to the fly-me-to-the-moon kind). I even sent off a few emails to some of the companies and offered my astute services.

So far not even an "are you nuts?" back. Hope is dimming on this project. I may even be forced to sew some white shirts.

I love testing things and even have some experience.

Years ago, when my kids were little, Threads had me test scissors. 

A big box of a gazzillion scissors came to the house and we had three happy days cutting things up. 

It was a riot. My middle guy, then about eight, was particularly good and by day two was saying things like " Good weight in the hand, nice grip, good points." We stopped testing when someone tried to pink the living room rug and filed our report. 

I contend I gave those kids a wonderful childhood. Even though I was once toasted at a wedding as the "mother who made the best Hallowe'en costumes and the worst lunches."

Which reminds me I better make mine.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Flypaper a.m.

Here we go again, blogging when I should be cleaning.

  • My DC-then London-almost NYC son is coming home for a few days this week en route.
  • Time to finish those shirts I have been working on for 1.5 years
  • Why did I put those sleeve plackets on backwards in the spring?
  • I wasted an hour of sewing time researching cognitive degeneration on the internet.
  • Where is that really good seam ripper?
  • You know the one with the dog tooth marks on the handle.
  • Who decided to replace the chocolate bar dispenser at work with energy bars?
  • Shouldn't there have been a vote about that?
  • At 4:00 p.m. a girl needs Mr. Hershey.
  • I offended the medical profession this week.
  • Felt bad about that, particularly about those who also sew.
  • My husband says the new baby is coming this week.
  • He went into a trance while doing the dry-wall and predicted.
  • My sewing guild has just changed the Sewing with a Plan Group to a just-finish-something group.
  • We are all happy about that.
  • I want a new sewing machine.
  • I don't care about embroidery, 500 stitches, memory, mirroring or advanced anything. Just give me a nice stitch and a Reliable Buttonhole.
  • That costs less than it would take to convert this house to solar energy.
  • I would have done the shirts earlier if my buttonholes were trustworthy.
  • My current machine is a former top-of-the-line.
  • I am no longer going to my hairdresser of 20 years.
  • I have changed up from someone who says "Oh god what can we do?" to someone who pats my shoulder and says "you have a very nice personality."
  • Why did I wait this long?
  • Dogs can smile.