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

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Clothesmaking mavens
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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, June 2, 2012

Flypaper thoughts back at the homestead

  • First off good time at the pre-op. 
  • Everyone was so nice to me, really outstanding. 
  • Next time you drive by a hospital look up.
  • All that goes on in there is people trying to help other people out, strangers mostly. 
  • Those are big buildings.
  • Not really a bad species after all you know.
  • Husband arrives with fabric covered motorcycle in a trailer tomorrow.
  • Have had numerous conversations about whether or not Mr. Rascal has had enough fluids and how often the convey is stopping to let him pee.
  • I can fax you a full report.
  • Nurse today wanted to make sure I understood I couldn't be "intimate" until 6 weeks post-op.
  • Not sure she understands what intimacy looks like around here.
  • The tree trunk was disappeared from the living room before I came home.
  • There is a waist high pile of slipcovers in front of the washing machine.
  • Not sure it was like that when I left town.
  • More twigs than I remember under the couch, too.
  • My son has a new girlfriend, a hot yoga instructor.
  • As opposed to a yoga instructor who is hot.
  • I think I have that right.
  • New girl friend is vegetarian. 
  • Lots of spouted beans left on the counter by now vegetarian son.
  • How is it possible I want every new StyleArc pattern?
  • Got a promise that the back yard grass will be cut before, not during, or after, today's next door wedding.
  • Starlings are lying low or maybe just resting for later.
  • Nice to sleep in my own bed after all.
  • Son drops that he has heard you can grind up the bark of trees to make flour to make nutritious bread.
  • Nah.
  • Nah.
  • Birdie is avoiding eye contact.
  • Wish dogs could talk.
  • Don't we all.
  • Forgot that tons of rain also means that this city is lush and dark green in the spring.
  • Yes I have gone from summer to spring.
  • Am going to try to execute patternless maxi this weekend.
  • Hope to make it look like I used a pattern.
  • Drawing a blank on how to do that.
  • Will try.
  • To do that.
  • And laundry.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Settling back

Late now and some business to take care of tomorrow so may be offline for a few days.

Happy to report the house is still standing and I have already found fabric in my stash I didn't know I had.

Take care, talk soon.

In the air

By the time you read this I will be airborne, on a flight from Orlando to Halifax.

Wondering at exactly what point airline travel went from something vaguely glamorous, to something considerably below traveling by Greyhound bus on the midnight run.

I have flown a lot lately and flown a lot in my career.

Do you remember meals? 

Silverware and linen napkins and a choice of beef (always with some kind of mushroom), chicken (always some kind of croquette) or kosher (best quality choice in my experience).

Remember when the attendants were polite? (OK I may be talking about Air Canada here, efficient but in my family a.k.a. Air Crabby - WestJet is excellent - cheerful as hell but still no food).

Remember when you just boarded, not stood around on one foot trying to look cool while you held up the line putting on your shoes?

Remember leg room?

Oh well. 

I personally think flying messes with your head. 

You should feel the distance between places. 

One of my great pleasures of life is the drive down from Nova Scotia to Florida - from cold and maybe a few snow banks, from little trees to big trees, to damn it, spring flowers, to leaves out and then to palm trees. 

Man is that exciting.

I love road trips.

I love the time to knit and the snacks.

I love driving by houses and wondering about the lives lived there.

I love trapping my husband in the car so I can have meaningful conversations of the sort that leave women feeling greatly relieved and satisfied -released - and leave men saying things like "OK just what is it I am supposed to be doing from now on?" after their minds have been wandering thinking about truly interesting things like how many miles to the gallon they might be getting.

I love being told the best thing I can do is just sit and knit.

But this time I have to fly to get home for my pre-op. The convoy, which includes the above husband enjoying the peace, Mr. R., and a motorcycle entirely wrapped in garbage bags of fabric will arrive three days later.

I also have to follow-up on few things.

Like the news that my next door neighbour, the grass dusting one, is having a back yard wedding on Saturday and has requested my son get the starlings out of our garage so none of them fly out and poop on the heads of her guests. 

Just in case.

I figure she hasn't taken a very good look at my son if she thinks this is a project he will be executing with any efficiency between now and Saturday.

While I have been away the house has been occupied by my youngest (see above) the surfer dude, part-time consultant (engineers etc. yes they really pay him) real estate magnate ( he has a couple of rentals that he can afford to have because he lives in my basement) and by my daughter's brother-in-law who is in town for a season for work. 

This is a big cultural thing where no one would ever dream of living with anyone who is not a relative. That's a subject of another post, a doctoral dissertation, or perhaps and episode of Dr. Phil.

At any rate.

The news drifting through the system my way has included lines like "Does your mom know there is a tree trunk in her living room?"

In short it's time I went home.

Even on an airplane without silverware.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The thing about Florida

One more day here today and then off we go. 

I am leaving a nice little one or two storey corner of North Florida. Not the high rise newly wed and nearly dead spring break image many people who haven't been here have of this part of the world. 

It's slow and small and easy.

Before I leave for another year I want to summarize some of what I love :

  • The weather. All this sunshine day after day after day. I don't need the Mayo clinic to tell me that sunshine is good for the morale, just put yourself in a lawn chair for breakfast and the day starts better. 
  • The mangos are $1.00 each. That allows me to take this chutney back to Nova Scotia where the sun doesn't always shine and opening a jar of this stuff is a good thing. In November, or February say:
  • The pelicans. Love those pelicans. Just goes to show that you can be a bit unconventional looking, pre-historic even, but really all that matters is how you fly. Worth remembering that.
  • Finding out that one of the pros at the course is in her 70s and is named Bernadette.
  • Those sand turtles. Between the house where we stay and the beach there is a sand turtle nature preserve. We have to walk over it on wooden raised walkways to get to the beach. All those tortoise and the hare stories give turtles a bum deal. These jokers can really get a move on when they want to, make a real racket too. They are all over the place here on turtle missions, following turtle agendas. I respect them for that.
  • Free shipping on large fabric orders. I know the UPS boys by name. Of course when it comes time to pack, and your daughter has had you order for her too, you end up with a suitcase that looks like this. Trying explaining to customs (I am flying home for an appointment - my husband and Mr. R are driving) that your actual clothes and underwear are following in a trailer, but that this stuff is more important, might get tricky.

  • The chattiness of the locals. Need company go stand in the check out line at Winn Dixie (yes folks that's the local grocery store) for 20 minutes. Everyone talks to you, in depth, immediately. Schedule this in.
  • Seeing a 17 year old girl play 18 holes of golf in shorts and bare feet and do it perfectly, with immense elegance.
  • Always feeling like hot stuff. If you want to feel attractive come to Florida. No matter what your age or your stage or your state of disrepair some guy will give you the eye. Of course he may also have plastic tubes coming out of his nose, but a wink is a wink right?
  • Seeing your husband, who works too hard, not cut his hair for two months and talk about absolutely nothing but his golf swing. For two months.
Why wouldn't I come back next year?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

You need a strategy

Karin wrote something last post that really made me think.

In a real life how do you take care of yourself in a reasonable way?

I guess that was behind my question about the nails. 

And of course it's not just about the nails. Although I have to say it's cultural too. Three months in the South I can tell you there are more nails painted here than up north in Nova Scotia, where really so many women of my age don't wear much make-up a lot of the time. Unlike say Montreal, where I spent formative years, where grandmothers were seen with false eyelashes at 7:30 skating practices on Saturday mornings.

Back on topic. 

What you don't do is as important as what you do do, I have decided. Otherwise you just wear yourself out and that's not the point.

So here's my shocking not doing list, which of course will be totally different than yours:

  • I don't colour my hair anymore and I threw out most of the products my old hairdresser insisted I use. You know the one who straightened my hair and was a proponent of the "you have to suffer to be beautiful" school. Listen I don't have great hair but letting it go natural to me is part of self-acceptance.
  • I have decided to let it get simple at home. The house has been heavily used by all the people who have lived in it. Assorted family, kids who have come and gone, even friends of kids who have lived with me at various stages. We put in a new kitchen because the old one was falling apart but that's it. I think we just need to repair, repaint and maintain but that's it for me. I am not into investing any energy in decorating or renovating or major landscaping. From here on in I'm into easy. The no maintenance yards here in Florida appeal to me - although I think my next door neighbour would stroke out (you know the one who dusts each blade of grass and looks over to see if I am doing the same - nice woman but not a sewer). I have lived very happily here in a someone's else's space and there is a message there. I am going for stress free house not necessarily dream house. To me personally it's what you do in a house that matters.
  • I have given up on collecting "classics." I actually have more fun with costume jewelry and I lost one of my diamond earrings years ago. To me nail polish is sort of like jewelry. Investment dressing? For what? To me that implies tomorrow will be the pay-off day, not today. That's for bank accounts not wardrobes IMO.
  • I am determined to sew only what is:
    •  Comfortable 
    •  Fun to sew 
    • Makes me feel cool. 

Think about that, it really eliminates a lot of projects.

So that's where I am today.

I also want to keep trying new things and on that note is are some shots of my husband and I last night when we went out for dinner for his birthday. I never would have made a maxi dress and never would have made anything with green in it. Goes to show.

The usual bossy shot

Monday, May 28, 2012

Wow and thanks

This is the reason I do this.

A person thinks about things in her own head in her own house and just wonders. Turns out she's not the only one. 

This is what makes blogging, Pinterest (which I love) and the rest of it so interesting.

All the great ideas on the nail issue fascinated me and gave me nail hope. Thanks so much. And of course any of the folks who do the gel/shellac/lacquer thing and want to give more detail please feel free to do that.

This discussion is all part of a larger issue to me and that's the whole letting go syndrome.

You know what I mean. 

Even when I was little I remember my mother and her friends occasionally talk about someone who let herself go. This meant the staying at home thing, the not working or being older syndrome where the issue was no was was around to see.

So why bother. 

Of wearing it still because it hadn't worn out. Of not caring really what was new or not this season.

And I think that at some stage in most women's lives there comes a point where they can say it doesn't really matter any more.

I was talking last night to my mother and she had run into the granddaughter of a friend and nemesis of my paternal grandmother. A certain Katie White, who my grandmother used to dis for still having her nails done and wearing good shoes even in her late 80's when she lived alone in an apartment with her sister.

I seem to recall my grandmother saying something like "who does she think she is?"

Well exactly.

It seems to me that women get into the most trouble in their lives when they stop thinking they are something. That they are worth a future, respect, presence. When they think it matters only if someone is watching.

The world is certainly not going to give you more respect and care than you are giving yourself.

That's part of why nails are not a frivolous question.

But busy women need strategies to do this. 

I work, I take care of grandchildren, I walk dogs and I run around a lot. I need style that has comfort and doesn't take more time than I have.

This is a topic I will be coming back to a lot.

In the meantime I am going to start a proper Pinterest board of style with comfort for the speedy life, and here's a start:

Smoking shoes: a big fall trend and one that works for me:

Bouchra Jarra's easy to copy family holiday look:

Philp Lim's coat for women who want some of the biker jacket look but want it to be wearable and warmer:

More later.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Frivolous question

I am taking the day today to sew for my daughter. But I have a totally frivolous question.

How many of you paint your nails regularly and how do you keep your polish lasting more than a day or so?

I have trouble keeping my hands still for all that nail drying and really can't deal with that more than once a week.

If I lived here I would be tempted to get them done but on Canada it would cost me about $150 a month and well you know I translate that into yardage.

What do real women do?

Good to know my brain is occupied on major world issues as I sew isn't it?