Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
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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, March 17, 2012

This a.m.'s NY Times on American style and shoes

Love it, of course:

Friday, March 16, 2012


Picking up on a theme I started last night, women are doing well.

Women are far out-numbering men in post secondary education.

30% of North American women make more than their partners. 

Many women are the head of their households and raising families on their own. And doing a fine job. I know because I teach your kids, I know because for a while that was me.

So how's that sitting?

Spanx, and shoes you can hardly walk across the room in, much less work a day, get yourself to the store, make dinner, get the kids to practice. Or get yourself around the community helping out, keeping things going.

Women front up and get it done. I don't have to tell you this because you know.

So don't try to dress us to slow us down. To me it's an issue of self-respect.

So to me being comfortable is not about not caring. Let you tell me if I was having a heart attack I would  check my lipstick before I called 911. I would do that first.

On the continuum of effort invested I am closer to the "all done up" side than not.

It matters to me, a lot. Style can work, it has to. It should.

However I have things to do and I have to keep moving. I don't sit down a lot, I can't.

Which brings me to the Golan Heights.

I used to have a boss who used to over-estimate me.

So he sent me to the Middle East.

You will note that things in the Middle East are even worse than they used to be.


It was a educational trip where a small group of us met with all sides and spent a lot of time with serious folks on buses. Well one day we were taken to the Golan Heights, which are very beautiful, over-looking Lebanon, hosted by a member of the the Israeli Defense Forces. A rightly serious guy, as was our guide for the day, an ex-intelligence/commando guy with absolutely no sense of humour. You can take that from me.

Anyway on the way down to the main road this is what myself and another woman (from the town I was born in and with the same view of the world) saw this:

I don't read Hebrew but I am pretty sure it says "Naot Shoe Outlet : best prices in the Middle East". Or maybe not.

Anyway this was the original kibbutz where they make Naots and the prices were great. $40 a pair, tops. So we shopped big, while our guides looked on with considerable distain. 

What I learned most from this trip was that Naot makes some weird looking shoes but boy are they are comfortable. A kibbutz is probably not a place where you make or wear shoes that are hard on your feet.

So remembering all of this I indulged myself in a couple of pairs this week as I am enjoying the fabulous Tennessee weather sooo much and I walk a lot. This is what arrived in the hotel room today:

Now as my wonderful former assistant used to say "I would rather cut my feet off at the ankles than wear shoes like that" but I do my walking during my day, and am not a marathon runner on the weekend like she is.

These are perfect for me and for my day, and don't negate lipstick, jewelry, or a sharp outfit. Seems to me the clothes we sew are not for standing in, but for living in.

Back to sewing topics tomorrow.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Baby's bums part two

When my daughter was young I used to think I would teach her to sew. 

Touching mother and daughter time. 

In the end it was her youngest brother who got an A in Home Ec, for his beautiful top-stitching on his summer shorts, displaying a Lego fanatic's love of detail.

My daughter was not that interested. Of course she picked up the basics because it was always going on but beyond that her line was "Why should I learn how to do something you can do for me?"

Always the pragmatist, always the pragmatist.

Instead she developed her own interests and became really good at really hard stuff, like pediatric oncology and fancy baking - things her mother couldn't do.

However when she became a mother, and is now on her second maternity leave, she started to sew, much to my amazement and again by doing things I was never good at, like quilting.

Her quilts, receiving blankets, and 100% cotton baby wipes (all but the wipes are also organic) are hip, cool, and very nice.  She has quickly developed a nice business among those  looking for green baby stuff and not the traditional. Here is one of her quilts:

It makes me smile when she says this whole business is based on her love of fabrics - now I wonder where she got that?

Things have gone so well for her that she is now involved in a Momentrepreneur show next month:

To help her out I answered an SOS and made her a skirt to wear (she sent me a picture and I made up that pattern here in the hotel room, we will see how that turned out):

Tell me this looks like a hip gathered skirt with a wide waistband and ties

And I also made some baby wipes- all in the mail off to Nova Scotia from Tennessee today:

Yes I know the birds are upside down - but I am wiped so they are going to stay that way.

Who would have thought I would one day be sewing baby wipes in Knoxville Tennessee? 

Never under estimate life.

Now tomorrow I am going to tell you about outlet shopping on the Golan Heights. 

Yes, I am serious.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Armani, baby's bums and house bras

In this morning's New York Times there was an interesting article on Armani, who the author noted, really keeps making clothes with the same shapes (patterns to us). So why does it work?

For Armani, the risks aren’t in silhouettes, but in fabrics.

This was a moment of real insight for me because I saw this for what it was: TNT patterns - where the interest is in the fabric. For someone like me who has been doing a lot of deep introspection lately, and as a result has decided I would rather buy fabric than fit new patterns, at least this month, I felt enormously validated by the fact that me and Armani are more or less the same person, and all of this before my iPad and I were out of bed and before I had even the second cup of coffee of the day.

The days are busy. 

First of all yesterday I made another version of the Jalie Comfy House bra

I found some good cotton lycra at the local Joann's when I was on a notions mission and couldn't resist. Yes, I know it doesn't lift and separate as much as it could, it is sort of a more hold it still bra, but very comfortable.

Since I see casual life on the immediate horizon I am going to be making a few more of these before I am let out of this hotel room.

May I also take a moment to give comfort its due?

I read one of those regular what not to wear articles and near the top of the list was exactly what I was wearing as I was reading it - below the knee wide cropped pants (7/8 Peta pants). The authors suggested that if you had to wear short type pants to wear Audrey Hepburn pants only which as I recall were tight and constricting.

In my current dog caring, sewing, knitting life (which I am now doing on an exercise ball to improve my core - sort of a customized fitness program I am developing all by myself) I feel more like a person who needs to be comfortable than Audrey Hepburn.

Which reminds me.

All over New York I saw pair after pair after pair of shoes with sky high heels and all over New York I didn't see anyone wearing them.

My theory is as soon as women start getting comfortable in their own skins and having their own lives/power something tries to slow them down. Shoes with 6 inch heels will do that to you.

This is getting long.

I will have to do the baby bum part tomorrow a.m.

Until then

Monday, March 12, 2012

Style Arc Tops installment two: Sacha top

Here we go, Style Arc's Sacha top. It is advertised as a sort of big shirt but to be truthful I think it is more of a long version of a fairly fitted shirt with a bust dart with perhaps some casual drop to the shoulder.

I made the size 12 right out of the envelope, no alterations at all and you can see on my 5'9" self that it is still really long - I actually added my usual 2" to length and then cut it off again.

On, this feels like a good fit but not so loose that you would say hang over the bathtub in comfort and scrub it out without feeling the pull across the back. I will definitely make this again, shorter, as a shirt I would wear to work.

The fabric was some great embroidered white cotton I got last year from when I was delusionally thinking I was going to make 10 white shirts, which of course I am now starting to do now the pressure of feeling I have to is off.

Which should just about tell you all you need to know about me.

The construction was straightforward and easy. I did note that the collar band was pretty slim, narrower than I am used to seeing, but probably more RTW. And I was also interested to see the dart was very angled and actually just in the right place for me. How often does that happen?

Now I want to talk to you about my current run on Style Arc patterns.

This season for some reason the pattern book offerings have left me cold.

I mean I really, really want to like them. I had a great time last spring and summer sewing up new styles (remember those great Vogue knit dresses we all made?) but this year everything I saw had deja vue all over them. There wasn't a pattern that I could not have pointed you to something similar in an earlier book.

I also did a wardrobe cull before I came away and what I threw out tended to be some of my more trendy styles that didn't get as much wear as the effort deserved. A new style as to be compatible with what suits you - not just a new trend. I learned this again for about the 49th time this lifetime.

My trips to the Garment District have also reignited my deep love of good fabric (which is always looking for a way to find itself up to the surface) and you really need reliable patterns for that.

Which brings me to an appreciation of TNT (tried and trues for those who still wonder about that term) and to me Style Arc so far is providing me with those.

Now, they are expensive I know. Hand-drawn on heavy paper, as the orders come in. Shipping to Canada is about $20 so three patterns plus shipping is over $50. Not worth it for one offs but if these are basics, like the pants I made 12 pairs of, well this is a good investment.

On the subject of pants, for those of you who are thinking about them, I want to note a difference between the Peta and Cargo. The Cargo has a wider leg (has to as it can be rolled up) but also a more shaped waistline which actually is somewhat more comfortable if you have a big butt like I do ( I have decided to forgo the delicacy in the interests of efficiency), although the Peta is very nice too. 

And when they say works best in drapey fabrics they say that for a reason. I like my poplin Peta's less than the softer chambray ones, although I wear both happily.

Now off to another day in the hotel room and walking the trails of Knoxville with Mr. R.

You would think that 4 weeks in a hotel room with a dog, a sewing machine, and Christmas knitting projects from Christmas 1993 (plus some online work from work) would get to a person.


I am absolutely flat out all day.

Tonight we are going out to a work party with my husband's team. I really like the people he works with and am looking forward to it.

BTW aren't men weird about what they don't know? If I were to ask my husband what everyone drove he could tell me, however he is unable to answer interesting questions like:

  • how long have they been going out and are they serious
  • how long have they lived here
  • how many children do they have
  • how old are the children
  • where does his wife work
  • where does her husband work
You get my drift. What does he do all day?