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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, January 7, 2012

A clarification

I didn't mean my last post to sound like I was considering not blogging, far from it, just don't want to feel bad if I don't post as often as I would like, or at least publish all I have written in my head. I feel I am getting to know my commenters and I don't want to lose touch with you if that makes sense.

Now back to stream pressing my boucle.


It is what it is

The subject line from this post is one of my husband's favourite lines. The car explodes the week before Christmas and has to be replaced (it didn't this is just an example), the business partner absconds with all the funds (it didn't this is just an example), or the world is about to come to an end (it didn't this is just an example) and my husband asks what he can do and then says "It is what it is" and moves on.

This approach of course denies him the hours and hours, OK days and days, he could be spending on the phone with extended family describing What Went Wrong, and the sub-category Whose Fault Is It? 

Think of all he is missing.

There are times however when this is the most appropriate subject line.

Like now in reviewing the new Jalie soft sports bra.

It is what it is.

No, there is not a lot of support. How can it with no underwires, power net, and in cotton/lycra? This is a comfort bra, meaning it is comfortable. 

There is no lift and separate, there is no boost, there is no front and centre shape. This is not a going out bra, not a good shape under a sweater bra, not a my-god-it-looks-just-like-you-bought-it bra.

It is however the bra I am wearing now.

Excellent for wearing when you have to wash the dog's feet because the dummy finds the tiniest bit of muddy water under the ice in a puddle on the walk and then goes and stands on it and falls through and just looks at you until you lift him up and carry him 22 miles back to the car where he just snarls at you because you are taking him home when he still wants to go for a walk.

It's a good bra to wear then.

It is also excellent bra to wear knitting while watching Republican primary news (ask, me just ask me, anything I am totally up to date, too bad I don't vote there - once a politico always a politico), or reading a book called 1,500 family favourite slow cooker meals, because you are so busy knitting purses, sewing underwear, saying "holy shit, that's a lot of work" while you watch the videos for the Classic French Jacket PatternReview class you signed up for on that afternoon when you decided you needed to get your game back, to cook properly.

Good to wear when you do that.

Now here is the review with the disclaimer and a few introductory comments.

First in the interest of decency this is on the person who is not my clone and not on me. 

You are welcome.

She is sort of flatter than me but you get the idea. I have also cleverly pinned my Smoothie panties to her front. Use your imagine to figure out that on a person these pull flat and are in fact smooth.

One comment about the Lingerie Secrets Smoothie pants before we move on to the bra.

The instructions have you sew all the elastic in flat and then sew the seams. This of course makes for easier elastic stitching, not anyone's favourite part, but you do get this lumpy raw elastic thing going on at the top of the seams. The instructions say at that point to zig-zag a bartack to hold that down, but as you can imagine, in these hands, through four layers of elastic, that stitching is sort of messy, OK really messy.

So for most of the ten or more pairs I have made this week I have reverted to stitching the elastic into a ring and then inserting it. Much neater and I need all the neat I can get. Here is the beginning of what is now a large pile of underwear. This does not look much like French Classic Jacket :

Now the bra. Speaking of messy you might observe the topstitching around the cups is a little that way. That is because I creatively sewed the cups inside out and the basting shows. I could take it out but I am not. For sure I would rush and poke a hole with the seam ripper. Not what you want to do to your dog-feet-washing bra.

In actual fact there is more space between my bra bottom and the top of my panties. Thank goodness.

Note the excellent Koolaid dye job

The bra require fold over elastic which is helpful if you once went nuts and bought a ton of it and can't figure out where to use it. Particularly if you got a good deal on 500 yards.

Nice high sides - this is one of your secure units, aimed to hold back the jiggle more than represent 
Make up your own mind about this bra. 

My only advice would be if you are making it out of random cotton/lycra like I did consider going down a size. This fabric is really stretchy and I found the band in particular needed to be reduced at the centre back. Also in my next version I may even put Power net in as a layer between the two band layers to add some structure.

I think I am going to do the next version is Grape.

I will of course be making more Real Grownup bras but I admit to you to liking this one. It is sort of the garment equivalent to the lunch you make yourself when no one is at home - whatever your comfort food is. Tell me.

Before I take the dogs out again to a different park a few things:

1. Yes I am going to get into this French Jacket thing. Pattern going to get adjusted tonight. I realize I am a contradiction in terms on this. I am attracted to Channel jackets because they are supposed to be as comfortable as sweaters and this life needs comfortable. Also I like hand sewing and think I even remember how to do it. However as the videos revealed this garment requires some definitely non sweater like discipline. Might be character building.

2. I love comments but wonder if responding in the comment section is where to do it. Would you read that, go back to it? I had an interesting one last post from a reader who said this blog doesn't sound at all like other writing I do. This is true. My blog is my personal voice, obviously unedited and irresponsible. I am even taken aback when I run into someone who I don't know very well who responds to something personal I have written - I sort of think "gee those were private thoughts" but then again I did put them out on the internet didn't I? It's an interesting experience.

3. Some of my favourite bloggers have suspended their blogs or written recently about a bit of road weariness. Truth is I never post as often as I want or share all I compose to you in my head. Always a lot going on around here. So I am just going to do what I can do and make sure my blogging is not an obligation to me.

It is what it is.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

January 1st, 2012

Happy New Year.

My husband went off this morning to three months in Tennessee, with two visits planned for me during that time.

For the first time in my life I will be alone in the house, that is if you don't count dogs. No kid in the basement, nothing.

It occurred to me that for the last few decades with work and family I have had this line running through my mind "If I only had 5 minutes to myself."

Well, you know now I have. Three months to work only on online courses, to be done at the dining room table, babysit as required, sew and blog.

You have been warned.

The first thing I did as soon as I got home from the airport was to cut out 12 pairs of panties. 

I have just made a pair from Jan Bones' Smoothie pattern and I love them. This pattern has been well-reviewed on Patternreview, all raves, so I won't add to it but to say this is a great pattern. Here are the features:

1. Your basic stop just about an inch below your navel pantie, but with the side seams moved to the front so there is no clear discernible seamline.
2. Good solid bum coverage. Right around and tucked in. This is useful if like me this is your biggest and best feature. Nothing hanging out, nothing bisected by an elastic line that shows when you wear pants.

These panties do the job and are nearly identical to a fancy expensive "invisible" pair I bought at Soma last year.

Now store bought panties are cheap. Who would make them and why?

1. See above on style.
2. Possibility of much nicer fabric. I used all my good 2-way cotton, rayon and bamboo knit scraps. So these are sort of cost neutral projects. This particular pattern encases ordinary 1/4" braided elastic so no fancy notions are required, although you could add those if you had a previous reckless purchase of some fancy elastic to write off.
3. They are super quick projects that you can make when you need to see that needle go up and down in some fabric but are not able to fully engage brain.

There are no illustrations as test pair one is in the wash. I intend on making a bunch up tomorrow, with a Jalie bra.

That will give you something to look forward to.

I also have to sound off.

One of those annoying Huffingtonpost over 50 articles recently did one of those truly annoying "things to never wear or do over 50" articles and listed "granny pants" meaning panties that go up near your waist, as one of the no-nos.

Women over 50, it said, should wear thongs, like elderly French women apparently. You know the ones they tell us never gain weight despite a diet of wine and goose liver and would rather shoot themselves in the head then ever run down to the drugstore at 11:00 at night in tennis shoes to get milk/bread/toilet paper without full make-up on over their exfoliated pores.

Listen. I don't buy this thong business so you might as well give it up. That includes my sister Nancy who claims they are comfortable. Look, a string up your privates is a string up your privates. Don't tell me you don't notice.

And if you have a nicely padded seat to sit on let me tell you nothing beats "The Smoothie" for just that.

Great pattern, even if the envelope drawing is a little dull.

Samples to follow.