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Sewing with less stress Front
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Sewing with less stress back cover
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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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Friday, July 13, 2012

The denim alarm went off

My spouse and I were out and about a few days ago and I suddenly made him turn around and drive to Fabricville.

My denim alarm had just gone off.

Don't ask me why.

These things happen to sewers. Suddenly you are hit with craving for something, a colour, fabric or pattern out of the blue and you don't know where this has come from.

In this instance I don't know either.

Maybe it is the season and a renewed and annual appreciation of sewing cotton. Maybe it's the desire to sew something that doesn't need to be lined and can stand up to everyday life.

I don't know.

Thing is I never sew denim. Maybe I wore too much of it when I was younger and it has taken this long to get over it. Maybe it was too long in jobs where I had not to dress in denim.

Anyway the alarm went off and I am going to cut out Vogue 8810 today. I have had a look at the pattern, I can already tell you that I am going to be wearing a belt not a denim bow over my belly, and think I have the alterations straight in my head.

If all goes well I may even more on to a denim skirt, bought enough fabric.

Any of you ever been hit with a fabric specific fever?

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My apologies to Nova Scotia

I feel bad sometimes when I post from northern Florida in raptures about the climate, the beach, and the wildlife.

I usually throw in an I hate winter comment and am probably not doing an ad for Tourism Nova Scotia when I do that.

There is another truth and that is that when it is not winter this is a beautiful province. 

Unlike a lot of Maritime provinces, and states, Nova Scotia is as beautiful, some would say more so, inland as it is on the lighthouse picturesque coast.

I decided I owed it to home to show you some of that.

These pictures were taken last weekend by a family friend, Doug Townsend, at Milford House a fishing camp type place our family has been going to for years. In fact my daughter had her wedding there.

Basically it is a collection of little fishing cabins built over a hundred years ago around a lake. Unchanged really since then and I am not kidding about that. OK, they have plumbing and running water and simple cooking areas and the sheets have been changed but that's it. Each cabin has a dock and there are canoes.

As a mother I liked it because there is also a main building where local women cook a country breakfast and dinner largely based on whatever there is in the garden. 

It's not the kind of place where you ask if there is wireless.

It is however a place for kids to spend afternoons poking sticks into the water, for canoe trips, and for reading paperbacks in chairs that were put on the porch an hundred years ago.

So here is my Nova Scotia, at least one part of it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On aprons and destructions

I am sorry I went AWOL on you, but this week has flown by.

I needed to take some recuperation time.

I needed to get two new classes of totally disorganized online students up and running for the second summer term. I love them dearly but these guys are all over the place in all senses of the word. 

Help!!!! I am not in your course!!!! I really need this to graduate!!! I think I forgot to register!!! What do I do????!!!!!



In between all this I knitted. 

If anyone in the family is fed up with my socks they better tell me now.

Actually it's too late.

And I sewed.

Another apron, and one that makes me first want to detour to an interesting conversation that has been going on at Bunny's blog

I won't try to rephrase what has been said so well there, but do suggest you hop over and read it.

The gist of the discussion was the proliferation of instant sewing experts and sewing celebrities who maybe are presenting themselves sources of direction to new sewers when in fact they might have been passing on less than the best advice.

Surely I am not the only one that has noted one class for a tailored garment that made me want to wonder if the instructor really knew how to work with hair canvas, or in fact owned an iron, but was still charging for information.

 So I think I understand some of what prompted this lively conversation.

That said I am generally amazed at the quality and quantity of work being done by new bloggers and new sewists - and am quite sure I wasn't that good or as skilled at their age. 

And I do believe that sometimes breaking the rules is an effective route to real creativity.

Look at Kenneth King or March Tilton as examples of this in action.

And I believe in nurturing new talent, new enthusiasts, and younger sewers. As a teacher in my other life I can tell you that the best part of teaching is you learn more from your students, the ones that register, always than really you have ever taught them.

This is leading somewhere.

To an apron in fact.

Some time ago I bought a hip looking apron pattern from an Etsy designer. I wanted something different, wanted to support a new designer, and I wanted something I could make for my middle son's wonderful and very hip girlfriend.

This was one weird pattern.

I am not going to identify it because that seems sort of mean spirited, and the shapes weren't that bad at all but the construction advice, what a friend of mine calls the destructions, made me sad.

Not sad so much for the designer but for the poor hip young sewer who would be trying her best and leave the experience disappointed in the results, frustrated and upset, and worst of all disappointed in herself.

What if this pattern made her give up on sewing?

When a pattern instruction gives the sewer the hardest possible method (the long edges of a tie were to be sewn together with the "ladder stitch" by hand, a stitch that is used to butt pieces together invisibly most often in needlework), pieces that don't fit (the gathered bodice was lined with a piece tucked in by what were referred to as darts and absolutely didn't fit the outer piece) - well I could go on and on. 

I figure if you followed this route you could make the apron in about five hours with breaks off to cry.

It was has if Harry Houdini had written this instructions, no disrespect to anyone who can tie themselves into knots.

Needless to say I threw out the instructions, and regrettably the pattern too, and put it together with intuition.

Here's the shot, taken  in front of the spouse's motorcycle which for some reason he considers the world's most interesting back drop:

Now I may try to make my own pattern, for my own use, because the idea is a good one.


In the meantime if you are a new designer and want someone to proof read pattern instructions, someone who has about 50,000 hours of getting it wrong herself and knows every way a sewer can be confused well,

You know where to find me.

I mean that.