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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, July 21, 2012

Jodie dress to date

Here is a bit of work I got to do today on the Jodie dress. I love the print on this Fabricmart soft cotton twill so much. I can feel myself veering off at top speed these days to weird retro prints. 

You should see what I have planned for my fall shirts.

In the end I had to settle for a straight up dress zipper because the sleeping bag zipper, all I can get locally in long large teeth metal zippers, looked like well, a sleeping bag zipper. Thank you. thank you Margy for those links! Really glad to have them because I am definitely making this up again.

Now I realize it doesn't look like much on the hanger but it does look promising on.

A really interesting pattern that goes together very easily if you don't count for the part where big sections of the instructions need elaboration that isn't there. In fact there are a couple of places where you are instructed to see the diagram but there is no diagram to see, unless that was in a sheet that fell out of my pattern envelope.

I intend to give you detailed supplemental instructions once I am done, but I have to first finish this and make sure that what I think will work does in fact work.

I only added an extra 1 1/2" to the length. I didn't want to do more because of all the parts that need to fit together and I wanted to make up a trail version first to see how far I could push the length adding thing.

As it is this is about thigh length on me which for a woman of my experience in life is probably pushing it.

Not that I won't be wearing it.

To Winn Dixie in Florida sure.

To go out and move the sprinkler on the lawn, yes.

Over a bathing suit, to walk the dog early and late in the day, to tear around the house in sandals, definitely.

To a Nova Scotia supermarket or a faculty meeting.

Maybe not.

It is a great pattern though if I add about 3-4 inches next time and since the bottoms are faced with some large sections at the bottoms for the hem, I can see using a lining to do that and then actually having a dress that doesn't stick to tights without a slip.

The mind never stops.

But first I have to finish this one.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Next up: the Jodie dress from Stylearc

I have decided that one thing about my line is that I am more comfortable in tailored, structured shapes than drapey things.

This doesn't mean buttoned up, blazer tailored, just not fussy.

So on that note I have cut out and hope to sew StyleArc's Jodie dress this weekend:

It's a bit quirky (might be characteristic of the line) and I am making it up in some retro patterned cotton twill, but I can see it in a fall jumper in who knows, denim with a good zipper.

BTW if any of you have a good source for exposed zippers I would like to know it. The store at the bottom of the street seems to carry only ones that you would use to fix a sleeping bag. OK for a prototype but not for a more fashionable version if this works.

The fit is pretty slim but I am counting on those side panels. If per pattern is too tight I have enough fabric to replace them with roomier versions - see a working wearable muslin.

On the StyleArc theme have you seen this version of the Victoria blouse on the website? I have white fabric left over from a certain delusion stage and this would do it.

Might hold off and see what's new for August but this one is going on the line up.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

What's your line?

I had an interesting conversation with my youngest son , surfer, gardener, landlord, entrepreneur.

One of the things he does is be the Atlantic rep for Sitka a Canadian surf board clothing company.

I was looking at their latest catalogue and remarked to him that it all looked like him, right down to the building in the woods thing he has going - the new catalogue has a tool belt and a carpenter's apron. 

What he said about this interested me.

"Well the line has to be consistent and express exactly a certain lifestyle."

This immediately made me think about my wardrobe and all these clothes I sew.

If this was a "line" what does it reflect? 

If I was offering my closet as a line (OK this is pretty out there, and you have to be out there yourself to know what I mean) what would I leave in and what I leave out?

Is there a direction? A theme? When I think of the fall do I have a theme for the season for instance?

The other thing about a line or a collection is that it has to be consistent with you, not because everyone is making something, you feel you should, or it's good for you to produce this (still in Chanel recovery) or because it's in this year.

So if you were presenting your own closet as a line what does and doesn't fit in it?

You see where I am going with this.

Make any sense at all to you?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

This wasn't me I swear

I am not sure if the rest of you refuse to get out of bed in the morning until you have hit all the good news sites.

That kind of person is the one writing this blog. 

I am totally addicted to the news, part genetics as my mother reads the paper before she does anything else in the morning, and partially a habit I picked up when I was for some reason (OK I needed a job) was a political operative.

In those days I always read the paper about 5:00 a.m. to see if I had done anything the day before that warranted someone firing me for incompetence. 

My plan if this happened was to not go into the office and get yelled at and just stay home and sew. I never did get fired, incredibly, so eventually I had to quit so I could go home and sew or at least find a job that allowed me to do more of that.

At any rate I consider myself to have a fine eye for a story and for the kind of news that could get someone fired.

This story, pictured above, about some needles found in some sandwiches on a Delta flight caught my attention. Even more so was the description of these needles "like a sewing needle but without the eye" by one of the affected passengers.

Sounds like his mother sewed. 

Now I think I have told you before I have had surgery for the removal of a fragment of a size 70 Schmetz denim sharp needle from my own foot.

And youngest son also had a sewing needle removed from his ankle on the inside where it had worked it's way up over what was the course of a year the surgeon figured. (That kid has inherited my pain thresh hold, he said his foot felt funny).

No one was handing out Mother of the Year badges in the recovery room that year.

Of course to complete that story he gleefully brought that needle home, Exhibit A, in a glass bottle from the hospital which he promptly lost in the carpet downstairs while fighting his brother for the chance to hold it.

We went over that carpet real carefully but never actually found it again, and for a couple of days I was able to enforce an "Everybody wear shoes rule." 

Anyone else raise sons?

That same child was also supposed to be resting off his foot (it was an hour and a half of surgery) for the rest of the week except he was so pathetic when the rest of them went down to the Spring Frolic at the school that I drove him down there with instructions to sit on the stage and Not Move.

Of course in about four seconds he was gone and I lost him until I heard his name announced over the loud speaker as the "Winner of the school skipping contest."

OK that's my needle story.

But I never made up a sandwich with a needle in it, although I wouldn't rule that out as future possibility based on the evidence, so this story interested me.

Personally I am not impressed with the lack of an eye.

Maybe some sewer was sewing through denim with a too fine needle because she was too lazy to get up and get a proper needle and she pulled too hard and the head and eye broke off. 

And it fell into her sweater at her chest level and she couldn't find it because she had on her bifocals and looking down got fuzzy. 

And she didn't have time because she was late for work and that husband should have taken his own jeans to get hemmed himself like a normal person - he doesn't get that pants hemming is completely boring and she works so hard that the least she can do in her few spare minutes is sew something on trend for that thing on the weekend.

Pants hemming is not on trend.

So late for work she ran out the door and just punched in in time to get those dry old sandwiches made up on the line so they could be shipped out the door in time for that Delta flight.

I am sure this is what actually happened, based on my own experience, and everyone should just stand down and not get all worked up about HIV shots.

Of course there is the issue of it being six needles, which means six sewers, but I think this still works.

Do you think I am the only person who has broken the eye off a needle because she was too lazy to get up and get the right needle?

And jeans that need hemming should go to the cleaner.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Vogue 8810

My apologies.

You know I like to blog a lot.

Truth is I am not firing on all cylinders at the moment and my half days feel like full days right now.

Yesterday was a great day by the way. The whole day.

Some sewing friends and I met up at one friend's house (where she has the most beautiful and well equipped sewing room of all time) for an afternoon of sewing and then a BBQ.  This was my first social day out and man did I ever enjoy it.

I knit and gave my two cents worth on Sheila's tissue fit of two jackets, she makes beautiful jackets, and checked out Cindy's version of this skirt, which I have been mulling over since last summer:

It's a pattern, like many others, you really need to see in person before you can make up your mind. I sort of thought initially that the pockets looked like I should be selling hotdogs at the game, you know to keep change, or with one of those coin dispenser things on a belt, but it's far classier than that.

This, I realize, would be a perfect golf skirt, you could keep your tees and a couple of spare golf balls in there. Maybe some snacks, and it is an excellent housework skirt.

I could tear around here, when I am back to tearing around, picking up pins and putting them in those pockets before someone found them in their foot, spare buttons, single socks, dried dog food that someone named Rascal has transported to another room.

The possibilities are endless. Classy stuff. And I could make it in denim, which I still have left overs off.

And what do you know Vogue patterns are on sale on BVM this morning so obviously the sewing gods are right there with me on this one. Into the cart and checked out.

But that's all later.

Always one mental project ahead.

Which brings me to Vogue 8810.

Here it is, you tell me what you think and I will tell you what I think:

Old Navy belt instead of the tie in a bow over my stomach. I am not crazy.

Requisite bossy subject shot. BTW about that rope. There is no 50 shades of grey going at at this house, you better believe that, (and it's not going to get read here either), but I was putting away the dog rope as part of my elaborate staging for the photo shoot.

OK what can I say about this dress:

  • It was easy to make. That's where I am at the moment so that's a good thing.
  • I added about a inch to the top and two to the skirt. It really is a straight skirt pattern with a top attached. It might be possible to jam them together and cut it out as one but there is a little shaping to the waistline on the skirt that I think is useful so I made it up as I was supposed to. Unusually.
  • The tie if you have a concave stomach is made by top stitching on a casing above the waist seam. Just so you know. I threw the casing piece out.
  • I used sort of heavish denim because it was $12 a meter cheaper than lighter denim, but maybe this was a shade heavy for the band treatment around the armholes. Sort of semi-flange armhole that is also fairly cut away - you can see that in the bossy, non-bondage shot.
OK now the thing is this is a straight skirt, 3 1/2" of ease across the hips which is fine in a straight skirt with seams and a strong zipper, but not quite the same when it is held together at the front with buttons.

This is always a problem with shirt dresses if they are narrow and I knew that going in but choose to ignore that prior knowledge.

It's a find standing up dress but you might want to think about carrying a sweater, or a large purse, or a small dog with you to put on your lap when you sit down.

I definitely wish I had made this in stretch denim, which would have been $12 more a meter.

As it is I spent considerable time this afternoon practicing sitting down positions in front of a mirror so no one would confuse me with Sharon Stone in that Basic Instincts, uncrossing her legs in the movie shot - not that I am confused with Sharon Stone a lot, not that I ever don't wear underwear.

You might want to think ahead about this and wear something that really could be mistaken as only underwear in this dress in case the dog jumps off your lap and you cross your legs.

It's that kind of dress, and I do a lot of standing up.

So I like it, but wish it stretched.