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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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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Friday, August 17, 2012

More designer inspiration: Tory Burch

Obviously this is not the place to go for reviews of the collections (unless your idea of a collection includes aprons and 14 Magic Skirts) and definitely not the place to go to find out what's "on trend."

As far as trends go I hope to have established myself as someone who is so uncool they are actually cool.

I am sure that's possible.

However I do a far amount of fashion and other type surfing, particularly in the morning when I am working hard at avoiding doing Any Real Work.

I can't say I have found my designer until maybe this morning in Tory Burch. So many of her designs are sewing copyable.

Here are some favourites:  

This is a peplum top in a sweater. Perfect. You could just add this to a T shirt and if I got out some of my books I am sure I could draft a pattern for the peplum.

This is the Style Arc Cozy Cardi in three fabrics.

Here it is again in two fabrics

I would kill for this pattern. I love the collar. If I found another pattern like this could I add it to another coat? Draft it? I suspect you need a stand to get that collar lift.
Pretty stuff eh?

No really back to work.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Pant shapes

I came across this designer website and thought the details of the pants style were interesting. 

Specifically the wide waistbands (apparently lined with bias for stretch) and this version with an invisible zipper in the back but an elastic waistband insert exactly where you need it when you sit down:

All of the fitted pants are in stretch woven and all of the non stretch wovens are in pleated pants. I thought this comment was also interesting for this pair:

The key to our pant’s chic look is the reverse nature of the pleat; it folds outwards (instead of in), drawing a line down the front of the leg to elongate the body. 

Apart from the fact that these are 5'10" models in size 4, the ideas are interesting.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yes, Norman Rockwell

Over the winter when I was in Winnipeg visiting my mom I went with my niece to a traveling exhibition of Norman Rockwell's paintings.

Now like so many people I have written Rockwell off as a greeting card, calendar artist. I had no idea what a wonderful painter he was, or how amazing those covers looked like when you saw them close in large paintings.

I had no idea of was how well he understood the lives of women.

To follow-up on earlier discussions on girls and self-image, that I have been thinking about (Miss Scarlett's first dress was a success!), I was reminded of these two paintings I saw then, and what different routes of being a young girl they represent.

To me this first picture is who we all are at some stage when we first encounter the size shape and look that is expected.

To me this is the first time we take our measurements, this is a young girl or even part of that girl that stays with us - say even in sewing classes where I hear every woman apologize for her hip measurement as it is taken:

But then there is this girl, and a picture I have on my fridge. To me this is the girl we should let stay this way, before she is or isn't asked to the prom (although I am happy to say girls now go anyway), when she sews for fun. To me this is an older woman, who even if she puts this girl away for a while, comes back to inhabit her in middle age.

Of you are that age and getting that girl back, no explanation is necessary.

 Enjoy your day.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My standing desk

A while ago my son in New York emailed me and asked me what I thought of standing desks. 

If you have been following it there have been a fair number of articles around lately on how sitting down all day is not all that great for you.

For most of us who spend part of our days at least at a computer, as he does in his office, this is something to think about. 

That of course also includes me in my work, teaching, blogging, blog reading, and general online cruising.

So I decided to implement my own standing desk and see how it went. 

What you see above is my cutting table, up on shelves to bring it to my height (my husband cut holes part way in the top of the shelves so the legs wouldn't slip) with my laptop on an ancient portable ironing board I had kicking around. I have a rubber mat on the floor in front of it and wear comfy shoes for this operation.

And yes that is a rack of old surf boards on the wall. My cutting table isn't in my actual sewing room but in another room in the basement where there is general storage. And those are my pattern drawers underneath.

The little shelves are great for putting one foot up on to break up the standing part.

My verdict after a couple of weeks of use. 

I love it. 

OK full disclosure here I decided to try this after I read that some woman had lost 5 pounds just by standing to read her email over a couple of months- that clinched it for me.

Here is why I like it:

  • It wakes me up when I have to mark first thing in the morning and that's the last thing I want to do. Up and at 'em is more true than down and slumping.
  • I completely don't notice I am standing once I get going and I move around a lot while I do it. This is good if you are a fidgety person like I am.
  • It is on my cutting table so I have something relevant laid out when I need a break.
  • Like I open an email about some kind of work related crisis and I am just not into it, and I can look across my table and maybe cut out a facing or two to build up my strength.
However to date I have put on a few pounds. There is more room for snacks at this table.

And my son's office has still not produced a standing desk for him. Maybe they are too expensive. Perhaps I should send that Manhattan law office my ironing board version for inspiration.

What do you think?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Keeping things moving

First of all Thank You!

I needed a reminder about Ottobre patterns. And Jemilyea that link to Chez Ami is just what I was looking for in fabric.

We will see how we go with dressing Miss Scarlett. I don't know about you but I clearly remember my favourite clothes from my childhood and the outfits that made me feel special. 

Every girl, of any age, needs that.

I have been cleaning and thread changing my machines and this has reminded me about my daughter's industrial. 

This is my daughter on her industrial as an illustration of how they sew differently than a domestic machine.

The things I would like to share about an industrial are this:

  • Obviously they are fast, my daughter says she finds her old machine annoying to work on now, waiting for it to finish seams.
  • The straight stitch is just beautiful. Like all single function machines it does what it does and does it well. You really can't compare the straight stitch.
  • It is weird. The motor gets turned on and she lifts the knee lever and turns the fly wheel to engage it. The foot pedal is the size of a phone book (remember phone books?). It winds the next bobbin while you sew.
  • Compared to a regular sewing machine it is a deal. This is a reconditioned model from a very reliable industrial dealer who delivered and installed it to her house. He has sincecome back to add on a walking foot and adjust her foot pedal angle (because yes she is tall) and all this service is no charge. The total cost of the machine was $500, and yes it is single function, but still, I think a bargain.
There is also something amazing I have to show you:

You probably wonder what you are looking at but this is the machine tilted up to show you the oil pan - yes that thing that looks like a sort of metal cake pan is totally full of clear oil and the whole metal mechanical bottom of the machine sits right in it the whole time.

This reminded me of something my technician friend, who was trained in Europe on industrials, told me.

That machines, metal moving parts, love oil. With use and heat metal parts swell and start to wear away against each other, oil prevents this. 

He was particularly keen on oiling the metal hook that holds the bobbin. He showed me how to put a piece of paper towel in front of the door, remove the bobbin, squirt a whole bunch of clear proper sewing machine oil (if it is coloured or thick it is the wrong stuff) into the bobbin area and run the machine for about 5 minutes. 

All the hidden lint comes flying out - he called it washing the hook.

I think sewers are oil adverse - bad experiences with bad oils and lint that got caught in those oils and made black marks in the fabric. Much like so many of us don't change our needles enough.

The oil pan in my daughter's machine made me really think about this, and as I write this you can be assured that all my machines are currently newly oiled.

Oh and one other thing.

My mechanic friend told me that in a factory if the machines that were not in use were not covered ( to prevent dust and lint getting into them) they were not insured.

Digest that one.

Up sometime soon are going to be some spiffy sewing machine covers. 

I have decided my whole life in general could do with some major spiffing up and the sewing room seems the obvious place to start.