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 30, 2012

New clothes

Calypso Flowers left a comment on these pages that got me thinking. She reported that the sleepwear discussion of a while ago prompted her to make some new housecoats (robes to my American friends) and how much she was enjoying them.

That made me smile because one of the things I did before I went into the hospital was to go a little crazy buying nightgowns and housecoats. I became obsessed with wanting to look put together when I wasn't. 

Now I don't have a doctorate in psychology but you don't really need one to understand that I was channeling my awareness of things I couldn't control into something I could. I didn't spend a fortune, I Targeted, Amazoned and L.L. Beaned and continued with sewing projects I had on the go. I also bought new blush and lipsticks to coordinate.

It has really perked me up to have something new to wear every day.

Which makes me think about sewing.

The whole concept of investment dressing is interesting, I have written about it before. I understand that a cashmere and silk wardrobe might make sense for a certain kind of professional life I can no longer image, but can you think of what it would feel like to pull the same thing out of the closet every morning for five years?

I mean where is the kick in that?

Am I the only one who has ever sent something into the thrift shop donation bag just because she is so sick of it?

At various points in a woman's life she needs a bit of a lift to get over the hump or to feel less spiritually ragged.

When you come home with a new baby for instance and are not getting any sleep and everyone expects you to snap to it because this is all a natural process.

When your kids all leave home to start their futures and it seems like you are left behind when all the fun people have left the building.

When you have been in the medical system and it seems like your body has had strangers' hands all over it doing things that really are not how you would choose to spend the day.

When a career or partnership ends and you wonder what if those where the best years of your life?

Well let me tell you those are times when you really need new clothes.

My mom, an only child, lost both her parents when she was 16. She always told us that that summer the aunts got together and sewed her a new wardrobe, and put a red rinse in her hair.

And it helped.

I talked to my oldest friend this week who is planning on taking an earlyish retirement the day after her birthday this December. 

Her plan between now and then is to wear what she has, to buy not one new thing, and on her birthday to throw her entire wardrobe right out.

It's not that she has disliked her career, it is just that she wants to recognize that she is moving into a new phase.

So in all our earnest wardrobe planning we need to remember that maybe the objective is not an end point of a fully functioning closet - sometimes just to have something new is reason enough to sew.

On a side note I am going to have to sew something this weekend. My recovery is going really well and a lot of the credit goes to Big Nurse.

I am more of a run around than lie around kind of person and I am not really cut out for this but BN takes all orders seriously.

To give you an idea of what I am up against he has scales he uses to weigh what I want to lift.

The phone is to calculate the weight more exactly.
And he has been cooking treats for me. Coming home from work in the middle of the day to make cupcakes, with sprinkles, and even making home-made fish sticks as fish sticks are my secret comfort food ( we get pretty wild and crazy here in Nova Scotia).

There is a lot to be said for marrying an eccentric.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Fitted Knits vest

I decided yesterday my life could not move forward until I finished my best project so I sat myself done in front of the Obamacare ruling news and continued with my one step forward two step back process. 

BTW those were excellent suggestions to work on my own patterns a la Zimmerman, to use markers so I dob't lose my mind when counting, and to learn to knit continental. 

Really appreciate the help and with be working on all of these.

Now this is a wool vest so I will be wearing it in the inevitable winter with a blouse but this shot, and the picture for Fitted Knits which I borrowed from the library for the pattern, should give you an idea. 

I think my neckline is a bit higher, probably because I didn't pick up enough stitches, but it is comfortable so we aren't going to worry about that.

At all.

I also had my photographer take a shot of the necklace I made up to wear. It is Lia Sophia letter pendants on a chain I already have. The initials of my kids and two granddaughters. I think it is terrific. Good thing to have around your neck when you have to go to your happy place, like a three hour work meeting.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Burdamode and the new profile

Recently I posted about the new McCalls early fall patterns and how they looked very '70s and '80s to me. On an impulse I had a look at the latest Burda Mode magazine, online in the French edition, to see where the trends are going. BTW most of these styles are also available, and can be viewed and bought as downloads, at the Burdastyle site.

For quite a while now Burda magazine has lost me, somewhere along the way of plunging necklines and clothes that seemed too artificial for me.

But I would be the first to say that Burda often foreshadows what I see in the stores and on the streets over here by at least a couple of seasons. So it is a good indicator of how shapes, styles are trending for me.

Based on that it looks like we will all be resetting the clocks back to more than a few decades as first suspected. I mean look at this jacket:

Now before we all panic, here are the pluses. 

Easy to fit and easy to sew. Might be able to let that extra ten pounds glide by too. But it will take some getting used to and as with any profound shape change I will have to be careful not to cut into any good fabric with something that may start to look dated before I wear it. Some serious pattern culling might be required.

Who is going to be the first to try this new look out?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The difference between sewing and knitting

I am starting to feel myself again but not quite ready for extended time in front of the sewing machine, unfortunately.

I replaced a zipper in a jacket for my husband over the weekend and I felt a bit off afterwards but I am not totally sure that wasn't because even the thought of spending good sewing time doing alterations, particularly zippers, makes me nauseous.

So I have been doing a lot of knitting. Knitting is a source of great conflict for me. The conflict lies in the fact I love the look of so many sweater patterns but I am so damned slow that I can't actually make them.

So far I have made one sock for my son and part of a vest for me. The sock looks better on a foot and the vest is more promising even over a nightgown with the circular needle under my armpit than it appears here.

This whole process has made me consider the differences between knitting and sewing, at least my knitting and sewing. Here goes:

I know how to sew, I don't really know how to knit. I can read "line coat" in a Burda pattern and I know what that means. "LL1" means an hour on YouTube and a distracted two more hours on Ravelry looking at all the gorgeous sweaters I could knit if I had a life expectancy of about 350 years.

Which brings me to time. I could sew an entire SWAP wardrobe, OK in knits, in the time it will take me to make this vest. Don't think I am not thinking about that. There are rumors, started by one of my sisters I believe, that crochet is faster but that must be the case for people who know how to turn at the end without it all coming out like crooked steps. And those instructions, nothing but numbers.

Which brings me to numbers. I am not so good with the numbers. I attribute this in part to doing the last part of my high school in Quebec where it was quite easy to sneak through the system with next to no math if you did enough French and arts. In fact I believe I was able to substitute drawing for geometry and an extra French literature for algebra. Seemed a smooth move at the time. Not particularly useful when you are knitting however when even accurate counting is a challenge.

You know I once had a job, that I was nearly fired from on a daily basis, as a counter. As a summer job I worked in the Hudson Bay northern stores warehouse in Montreal. The job was to unpack the goods, generally stuff that came in from China, count it to see if we had been stiffed and then send it over to be repacked and put on the ships that had to leave for up north before the ice set in. Myself and an MA in English were the counters. We would each start at one end of a pile of say baby rubbers pants or thin little pajamas that would have been totally useless in Baffin Island in the winter and count to see if the were in fact 500 pairs. We always got completely different numbers and then we would have to try again generally limp with hysterical laughter until we would decide to give up and say yes there are 500 pairs.

My knitting is like that only it matters. I can spend most of an evening seeing if in fact there are 236 stitches, not 237 or 231, between the markers. And ripping back down to the point where I was supposed to decrease one stich at the end of every ninth row, twice, and every fifth row three times, keeping in a pattern that has you knit 3 and then knit into the back of the next two stitches, twice, on alternate rows. I would write down what I actually did, three times, on even not alternate rows, on the right side, not the wrong side facing me, if it didn't make me too tired to think about it.

Does anyone have a cool cloth they can put on my forehead?

On the plus side you can get into knitting for about $20, although you won't stay there, and no one harasses you that you really need a fancy set of knitting needles that cost $10,000 so you can reproduce embroidery that looks like it might have been done on pajamas from China.

And knitting can be undone, unravelled, rolled into balls and reworked into something better, after you have had a little cry. Don't I wish I could do that with some of the beautiful fabric I have wasted on not the right pattern? Stuck it back together and tried again.

And knitting can be done anywhere at any time and turn time that might go wasting into something you can cross off the Christmas list, or even wear.

Which is a plus until I can get back at that sewing machine and then let me tell you.

Look out.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My glamour analysis

Today I finished my marking and filed my marks for the course I taught online during lightning strikes, travel between countries, and being in the hospital etc. I can't really believe I pulled this off and the fact that I could without any student awareness says more about them than about me. Probably was dumb to try but this only demonstrates once again that I am just lucky.

Listen I really appreciated the comments left about glamour.

I started out thinking that the word meant smoking with a cigarette holder and lame turbans, and other things you don't see in my sitting-on-the-steps-drinking-coffee kind of neighborhood.

But this weekend I heard the mother of an old friend had passed away and I thought Mrs. Mowat, the original Babs, and actually the original everything, was glamorous. It was that touch of something just pushing a bit of style here and there.

When I first knew her she had black hair with a white stripe at one side (done ever month with her two daughters helping), she wore pearls with shorts, once held a wedding reception in her garage draped with sheets and always had silver napkin rings on the table. She was casual and classy at the same time. She looked you, and life, in the eye.

When her husband died suddenly and young she said "what the hell, those were 20 great years."

She knew quality but not snobbery. She answered the phone "Doris domestic speaking" and she was the first adult I ever heard use the F word, during ironing while watching the Watergate trial.

She was always elegant.

Nothing her kids ever did shocked her and when they realized this they generally straightened out.

She made creme brûlée and cocktails. She had a dressmaker make my plus sized friend winter coats because "you have to have fit and we're paying for it."

She knew a lot of trouble in her life but all I can remember are the wisecracks.

And that hair.