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Sewing with less stress Front
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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 16, 2012

Feeling at home (the pictures)

Here are some iPad shots of the room where I am staying which in no way resembles Halifax. My Nova Scotia readers will back me up on this.

Feeling at home

Quick thoughts from East Village until I am home and better set up to blog and not just tapping this out on an iPad. I have a lot I want to write about like my major collar stand discovery at the Ivy League exhibition at FIT but that will have to wait.

Some of it like my fabulous evening with the quite extraordinary Carolyn will have to be fully digested over the next few days but there is one amazing thing I want to share with you.

Carolyn from diaryofasewingfanatic and now Mood blogger fame is an extraordinary sewist. But she has something, something you really have to meet her in person to appreciate, that I have never quite seen.

Let me explain. Some sewists are great at execution and their work is a technical marvel. Some have an eye for fashion and are great at picking trends. And then there are the fit experts who work their way through muslins and end up with the perfect fit. 

None of these people are me, but I sure do like fabric.

When I see an amazing amount of fabric, like Carolyn and I saw at Mood tonight, I am attracted to the colours or patterns I have bought before ( am I the only one who has a large collection of nearly the same fabric at home?) and I feel sort of overwhelmed.

It was different tonight because I had Carolyn with me and she has a real designer's eye. She can look at the fabric and see the potential garment in it, she can see the creative potential. Shopping with her is about hearing things like "you can run the pattern down like this and cut the sleeves from the border on the edges" she knows right away that she is going to cut the button and from that white strip on the side, that one side of another fabric can be part of a dress front and the other side can be another part. She has a real sure eye.

All this means when I got back to my venue tonight and laid out all my purchases on the bed I had this revelation that I have never in my long and active fabric shopping career ever been so pleased with my purchases. She was right, she had the taste to say when I showed her one coating "you're not sewing for the little girls, this one is a grown-up fabric."

This has really got me thinking now about my own eye and opening them up. About making the most of a piece of fabric not just making it up.

I am going to be doing some major percolating of these thoughts.

On another note my AirBnB experience is turning out just great. First you could say that what I have saved staying in this very nice apartment has financed Mood. 

So once again my fabric purchasing is revenue neutral.

Secondly there are few decent hotels in East Village where my son lives, in an apartment with a roommate that he describes as so small he has to put his shoes on the dresser. So this arrangement puts me close and let's me feel more what his day to day life is like.

Third my host is a polite nice boy, and I do mean that he is about 25 and you might remember I am not. But I have sons and students and that is comfortable for me. The place is neat ( he is a recent grad from design school) and he is out a lot. Would you believe the only food is garlic in a bowl on the counter and bottled water in the fridge? I asked him last night where his tea towels (dish towels) were after I did a few dishes because I still eat even when I come in late. He doesn't own one.

This is an interesting lifestyle.

Anyway last night when I tucked myself into my very nice bed I heard a voice in the dark from down the hall "goodnight Babs."

I thought to myself, sometimes I think I could write a book.

Then I remembered I write a blog.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book of Mormon jacket

Last night my son called to say he had tickets for us to go to The Book of Mormon, the musical, the first night I am in NYC.

As a result I decided when I came home from work today that I needed a packable jacket to go with a knit skirt to wear to that.

You see I have bought myself a tiny little suitcase on wheels, one of those overhead things, because I am not supposed to be lifting 100 pounds and because it is a good discipline for me to join the 21st century and not pack five pairs of shoes, snacks to eat in case you wake up in the middle of the night, library books, and a coat for every kind of possible weather plus two pairs of rainboots - one for wet city streets and knee length in case you have to climb out of a car and into a puddle - a fleece housecoat, plus slippers, and a giant hair dryer in case the room doesn't have one or the one they have is broken, every time I go somewhere overnight.

Also I am not going to be traveling with my loyal retainer this trip and all carrying and luggage pulling is going to be done by me.

Which of course meant I had to sew something else tonight.

It was of course another version of the jacket in a knit that I have already a Magic Skirt made up in and rolled up in a tiny black sausage to go with the other tiny black sausages of clothing in my tiny black bag.

I added some knit ruffle binding that I got in the big city last year and here is a close up. 

There of course should be a picture of me too, the full thing but there is something wrong with the camera right now and it is taking pictures that make my head look both large and old. But you know what I look like already and the main point is another jacket and the ruffle trim. I figure this was about a 3 hour job:

This might be the last of my blogging for a while at least, one more day at work then I leave early the next morning.

Don't worry I will bring back stories as well as fabric and notions in my purse.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A wormy jacket

Another high fashion shot showing exactly how my hair looks when I come home from the pool as well as my much amended version of this pattern.

Before I go to NYC on Thursday I thought it would be a good gesture to actually sew up next to last piece I bought on my last trip.

I got a beautiful wool knit there last winter and meant to do a cardigan jacket thing for day-to-day wear. It occurred to me as I rolled up only black knit clothes (works for the big city - don't think I pack on monochromatic and definitely not black thing when I go to Florida) that this would be a good time to own a packable cardigan so I make one up.

I used a pattern that has been around a long time - Loes Hinse's Sweater Coat based on the fact that pattern has acquired cult-like status at my local sewing guild. One of the sewers, who teaches hugely popular classes in embellishing this pattern, has made over 30 versions all of them beautiful.

I can't say I have had a lot of luck with this pattern line in the past. I miss the shaping, I miss the facings, I miss the interfacing and all those things.

But I always loved the neckline of this coat and the collar and the rest of the sewing guild has made one and let's face it I am easily influenced.

If everyone jumped off a cliff would you do it too?

Well probably. If there was sewing involved.

Here is my sweater coat on the dress form - it looks like it pulls a bit at the back, that is partially angle but I solved that totally by doing this:

Yes that is a chain sewn into the hem - works well to counter-act the old sweater bunched up above the shelf of your bum look- I am quite sure that neither Coco Chanel or Loes Hinse had this in mind for sweaters.

Giant snaps for closures - I couldn't see messing with buttons and buttonholes in this stuff.

I really can't say that this is in anyway a review or accurate rendition of the pattern. This really drooped on me during fitting and I thought the shoulder/sleeves were dated, much like myself but that's beside the point. So this is what I did in addition to adding the chain in the hem:

  • I added a centre back seam to shape in at my neck and at my waist.
  • I took a slight curve in at the waist in the side seams
  • I lifted the shoulder seam and cut it into the front chest about 3/4" to get a slimmer fit across my chest.
  • I interfaced the sleeve and bottom hems as well as the pocket hems with a fusible knit
  • I interfaced the collar
I transferred all of this to the pattern pieces, in case I ever use this pattern again, and if I do sew it again I will add some kind of a neckline facing or binding. I am not nuts about the way the collar is just serged on right to the band - in another fabric in particular you might see some of that serging at the neckline.

In short of sort of de-Loesed the whole jacket.

I do like it though. 

It weighs about 2 ounces and I think is going to jazz up my otherwise very black wardrobe, I am afraid I am going to look more like a yia-yia than a hipster otherwise, and it does allow me to get a bit of Florida randomness into the mix.

I showed it to Miss Scarlett, I was so pleased with it. 

She is usually a big fan of anything that comes out of the sewing room and I have taught her to say "Babs you're a genius" (actually I called her a genius because she, well she is, and she now says "We are two genius girls" when we are alone which I pretty much like).

However she took one look at this and said "Babs I don't like that sweater. It's got worms all over it."

She even turned down remnants, which she never does, because she "didn't want to touch it, it's got yucky worms on it."

I am writing this opinion off to her being three and not quite as sophisticated as I am, and certainly unaware of how much I paid for this stuff a yard.

Only two more sleeps and I am in the garment district and I am not taking my marking with me.