Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

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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, November 2, 2012

Life in the sort of medium lane

I swim at our local pool when I have a chance. It is beautiful and not all that crowded and swimming, not requiring much coordination, is something I can do.

A lot of people around here, on the ocean, aren't very enthusiastic swimmers. The ocean is not the best place to actually swim. The ocean interferes. 

However I grew up in Manitoba, the province of 10,000 lakes, many of them about 2 1/2 feet deep and muddy which is perfect for learning to swim. Most of the time a person can just put her foot down and touch bottom and probably a few leeches, but apart from that lake swimming is a reassuring way to learn how to do it.

At the local pool there aren't any leeches. 

In the morning it is often ladies vigorously doing water aerobics and retired men standing in the middle of the lanes talking but not swimming. There were two characters at the end of my lane today discussing cauliflower recipes, I can't make this stuff up, and how they felt better since their heart attacks now they are "in the water" most days. In the water just about described it - if these guys could have smoked cigars in the pool they would have. 

Eventually they climbed up the ladder and were off to the sauna, to discuss broccoli I suppose, but no longer au gratin, and I kept swimming.

OK this is the thing.

I used to count my laps.

Then I would go home and google a converter to see how many miles I had swum. However it mostly turns out that after a hard, non recipe talking, aquatic workout I more or less put in about the same distance I would if I went over and visited Mrs. Smith across the way - and I can see her reading her paper in the living room window from my own living room window. 

No one is going to be recruiting me for the master's team any time soon.

So I have stopped counting laps.

It seems to me this is pretty smart and a parable for birthdays. 

Since I just had one, a birthday, I am aware that as you go on you start to count the birthdays like laps and that can kind of take the fun out of the swim. Better just to feel how it feels.

Starting next birthday I think I am just going to celebrate being born and leave it at that. After all I really think getting in the water is what matters.

Maybe my two cooks know that.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Auditioning patterns

I have a thought for you - a thought based on a few things I have done right and a whole lot I haven't.

Let me explain.

I have made another version of the London jacket and I just love it. So much so I wonder where this pattern has been all my life, mixed with regret for all the time and trouble I took to find something like this.

I would show you a picture now but resident photographer is putting some corner bead around the kitchen window and it is against policy to interrupt a husband when they are doing something you have been wanting them to do for nearly a year.

And might have mentioned once or twice.

And he could be down in my sewing room creating utility items couldn't he?

Well I have a weakness for patterns. 

I buy too many of them, usually late at night when that mouse is so damn easy to click. The thing of course is that with random fabric purchases you can always use it for something else (and usually each piece of fabric I have has been mentally sewn into about 45 different ideas before I actually get to it - and invariably what I end up making is not what I had thought I would use it for when I bought it).

But with a pattern you are sort of stuck.

Stuck with that dumb idea you had one night after seeing a sharper-thinner-younger person dressed up in it on some blog. Stuck with it because it was this season's shiny object and it turned your head so you forgot you lived in a ranch house in the suburbs and drove a van and read library books in the bath while you drank Ovaltine, but for a brief moment thought you lived in Manhattan or London or Paris and wanted to wear really high heels and ate in boutique restaurants and had Martinis with friends who not only owned but actually wore long over the elbow leather gloves and coats without closures or collars to keep their necks warm.

Patterns that you bought when it was too late at night and you sort of thought maybe you should be dressing like that and if you did you would become that person with that life, forgetting that you really like library books in the bath and that the love of your life doesn't wear cashmere coats, and in fact wears Tennessee Vols T shirts and plaid pajama pants after 10 at night, although he will get up and let the dog out if you pretend you are asleep.

If you forget all of that you can collect quite a lot of patterns that you never sew and they just stalk you and make you feel guilty.

It is as if they are auditing you and you have failed the test.


If you look at your pattern collection from a TNT point of view and you are the decider and decide say that you need a jacket or a blouse that you can make up a hundred ways because you trust it and it trusts you, well then you can look at all the patterns that swirl by and just decide which one are worth auditioning for you.

Recognizing that once you have the role figured out you might have to deal with a few walk ins from the street to find the stars but that at last you are in charge. And it's your show.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Update from the you can't turn you back for a minute department

I was out of the house for an hour this morning and while I was gone my husband, who is also working from home today, decided to make some of his excellent heating pad Greek yoghurt.

The only issue he has had is a good straining system, but guess what?

Problem solved.

He went down to my sewing machine and made up his own yoghurt straining bags - they work perfectly.

They should - they are constructed out of good silk organza.

I think he should have matched the thread colour.

Storms and new Vogues

I was up a bit last night. 

Got a 2:30 a.m. call from my son in East Village to say he was on his room mate's cell and they were fine, despite being pretty close to the power station that blew up. 

He was eating grapes which I take as an indication that he did not follow my storm preparedness advice. He will be fine. My children are all survivors.

They survived me.

Now I want to talk about the new Vogues. I know everyone has reviewed them but me, so I better get on it.

This collection really struck me. I believe it was Sullivan who said form follows function and Chanel who said that if it isn't comfortable it's not style. 

I am wondering if they know all that at Vogue.

To my mind a new style should make you feel sharp in a new way without being something that you make because it is "on trend" and without being something you would look at next year (on in the family pictures) without you saying to yourself "what was I thinking?"

There is only one I ordered actually and it's not because it is particularly new but looks comfortable and reminded me of the potential impact of border prints:

This simple style is all about the fabric and that is where I am going these days, but I have to tell you I am totally mystified by the fabric requirements in my size - about 6 1/2 yards 45"-60".

That is a lot of fabric, even allowing for the border layout, particularly when it looks to me as if the yoke and sleeves are laid out on one repeat. 

I am going to have to get this pattern for myself and do my own trial layout, my sense is this is nuts.

Now onto other patterns, the ones I am not getting, with my editorial comments:

Who would possibly look good in this? A few gathers over the belly to disguise that concave stomach? A baggy top to disguise the shape you might have? All of the style of a canning apron with none of the charm.

In general I like this, but it probably the fabric that is attracting me. The wings are something I will have to get used to, but I suspect the way I crash around they would just get caught on doorknobs and rip perfectly good fabric. If they were on the front they would be good though if you had to go to an event and had a broken arm or carpel tunnel and needed to support your arm, not a lot of patterns provide for that, so you might want to hold that thought and wear it backwards if you were ever in that situation

Gulag fashion and even the model's face knows that. Note they put a turtle neck underneath to make up for the fact this jacket combines a stiff body and a drafty neck.

Wow. A turtle costume. Might look cool for two weeks but think how it would be trying to strap this little number into the seat belts. And you would spend most of your time trying to move the shell out of the way so you could drive

Just in case no one noticed you have boobs. Imagine doing a FBA on this one. Makes me want to draw eyes in those specs. Waste of good silk.

For those of you who have always wanted to unzip a seam and leave them flapping like a couple of ziplock bags. Although the pouches are sandwich size so might be handy if you made them into actual pockets. Not sure how this look enhances feminine beauty.

And there is trying too hard, way too hard. I can achieve the prominent rear end look without any assistance but this takes function follow form to the outer limits. Must be 6 1/2 yards in that plumage. 

There you have it, a sleep deprived pattern review, not that it shows.

Take care all of you impacted by Sandy and hope your sewing machines all have power soon.