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

Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
Listen to me on the clothes making mavens podcasts

About me

My photo
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



Follow me on Instagram

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Style Arc Tops installment one: Adele top

I have had a great week in Tennessee with much to report.

Let's start with my Style Arc tops.

I really have a huge backlog of Patternreviews to do but first of all I want to just show you how these patterns are working out on me.

I think it would be helpful to know more about the body shape I am sewing with so you can put the fit into perspective. I really have no shame:

  • I am 5'9". Some of the tops I have lengthened, but realizing how long this patterns already are I have cut off that amount in many cases and will tell you if I have made the out of the envelope version or not.
  • I am about 20 pounds heavier than I was 10 years ago, and I am 58 now. How do you spell menopause?  What I am saying is that I am carrying excess on the middle. Consider that. My photographer has been well-trained to say "you look slimmer in that" even before he really looks at what I have made.
  • I have a D cup and usually do a FBA. I didn't do that in most of my tops but will have to do it again in one, you will see that in the next couple of days as I work my way through these.
The Adele top: 


Nice rayon knit from Fabricmart. I am kicking myself for not bringing more of my stash with me. The print is a little loud but I think the diagonal lines are slimming.

Pattern alterations: None except for 2" added on that I wouldn't do again - these patterns are already pretty long. Note I did not do a FBA and am pleased with the fit, fitted through the chest (I made a size 12) but full enough through the bust. I suspect Style Arc grades more intelligently than some other pattern makers. Note the narrow sleeves, not an issue for me since I have a weak upper body but might be for you.

Construction notes: 

OK did as suggested but scrapped the overly complex, in my view, instructions for stabilizing the neckline. Why do this? I have a head.

Instead I measured the neck opening, cut a 3" wide piece with the stretch knit as long as 3/4 the opening and used my now favourite method of applying neck binding:
  1. Stitch the short ends of the neckband together making a ring.
  2. Fold the band, wrong sides together and lightly press. This will give you a double layer neck ring of fabric.
  3. Pin the neckband to the wrong side of the top, which will then be the folded neckband right sides up against the wrong side of the top.
  4. Stitch using a tiny zig zag for stretch (I left my serger at home).
  5. Flip the neckband to the right side and stitch close to the folded edge to secure.
With a light knit this gives a good clean neck binding that is nice on both sides. I also use the same treatment for woven bands and will take some pictures of that up close.

I will definitely make this top again. Five stars.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Hotels in NYC

I am now in Tennessee for a month after a quick over-night in NYC. My time here, and the sewing I will be doing, will be the subject of many other posts (I have already had some hilarious fitting sessions) but before I start that I want to answer a question that has been asked.

Where do you stay in NYC?

Well, since my son is living with two roommates in an apartment in East Village, not with him, although the roommates are lovely. Not quite a place where a middle-aged mom on the sofa, sewing at the only table, or scrubbing down the baseboards would work.

When I first looked at NYC hotels I sort of freaked. $450 a night in the areas I wanted to stay in would have a serious impact on my fabric buying budget.

I was worried.

However, after a few stops and a few good hotels and the realization that NYC is just one very, very, large small town (and I get those) unlike London or even Toronto, which seem to me to be more less human scale, I'm good.

So here are my recommendations, to be taken only as the recommendations of me, no sophisticate, but someone who likes to be comfortable when I am not at home.

In my mind there are two kinds of establishments, dog-friendly and woman-without-her-dog friendly. Also I would only stay somewhere within walking district of fabric.

1. Dog-friendly and dog-friendly in the Garment District:

Although this is advertised Times Square it isn't really. It's a short walk away on a smaller quiet street, one of those tall narrow (6 rooms a floor) hotels you get in NYC.

The attributes are:

  • Dog-friendly. Although you have to take them up and down in an elevator I note some very nice potted trees outside the entrance...
  • Quiet, few rooms a floor.
  • Fully equipped kitchen including dishwasher. This is handy if you are married to someone who walks you 7 miles to a Whole Foods for soft-shell crab and wants to go back and eat them with beet salad and feta.
  • A sort of corner store thing on the main floor. This is useful if you are putting your feet up and realize what you really need is a little ice-cream. You can send the person who cooked the crab down in the elevator to get it, and maybe take the dog out to those tree things while he's at it.
  • On the same street, only down a few blocks, from the notion store where I saw Kenneth King and other landmarks of interest.
  • Not all that expensive, can use up points of various kinds if you have them, suitable for those traveling with an entourage in particular.
2. Hotel for the girls, or girl, on the edge of the Garment District:

Hotel Metro  West 35th

The attributes are:

  • This is a "boutique" hotel which means it is old but they have fixed it up and have extras. Marble staircases and bathrooms, umbrellas in the closet, excellent service.
  • I loved it here, nice pretty, big rooms.
  • A restaurant and bar on-site for times when you lug back huge, heavy bags of fabric and don't want to face going out to eat.
  • I only could stay a bit and spend most of my one day there with my son and his girlfriend, but this is just around the corner from MJ Trimmings, which is my equivalent of a museum.
  • Quiet. The clientele had sewing ladies written all over them.
  • More expensive but I got a deal on Priceline which I remembered because of the William Shatner commercials.
Speaking of William Shatner traveling has made me think of national identity. Let's just say some countries have given the world Lincoln and MLK, and some countries, like mine, have given the world William Shatner and John Candy.

I think you get my drift. More later, got to resew some bust darts.