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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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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

We all need a laugh tonight

See subject line.

Suffice it to say that work this week has been one thing after another, after another, after another.

But somehow the gods of humour, who usually stand by me pretty good, swooped in and gave me what I need.

How in earth did I miss the new Butterick patterns?

My email is mostly out of control. It seems that a lot of stuff is going into my Spam folder, including the notices from Vogue and co. which I miss, even when I periodically clean out my five hundred spam messages asking me where they should send the million dollars I won, or warning me of the dangers of surgery I never had, and telling me that there are lonely married seniors in my area, not that I believe that for a moment since they all have dogs.

I sometimes wonder what random searches I ever did that has attracted some of this lint.

For example I am on some Google alert about Spam. 

The kind in the can with the aluminum key that breaks off and has that block of jellied pink jelly drop out like a lump onto the plate. 

Personally I haven't eaten the stuff since my grandmother died but Google thinks I do. You know every time you open your gmail you probably have ads across the top about online M.B.A.s

Me I see recipes for Spam. Spam El Fresco (sandwiches presumably for picnics) and even more frighteningly Spam bourguignon, Spam fettucini,  and Spam mousse.

A different recipe everyday. 

I am trying not to take it personally that somewhere the world's largest search engine has decided I am running a low brow operation around here.

You don't think I have been outed by Google Maps do you?

Some random shot of me eating cereal on the front steps (done a lot on my street), blogging in a polar fleece housecoat at 11:00 on a Saturday morning in front of a sink full of dirty dishes.

Anything is possible. There is no privacy anymore.

OK, back on topic.

Well, something came over me tonight,  it was like a little voice in my head was saying:

"Stop with the marking, stop with the marking, go have a look at the Butterick site."

I mean it was eerie how this urge came over me.

Well anyway I opened a new window, one without any student papers on it, and surfed on over.

I was not disappointed.

Some real beauties there:

Can't you just tell from her face what this model  is saying here between clenched teeth. "If you laugh one more time you are dead."  The world's first below the boob flying bow. Words for once, almost fail me. Where was that bow before it dropped? I have seen crocheted dog coats with more class, no insult to dogs or crocheters.
Another nervous model. This little number would make my mother look like a hooker. OK obviously designed for folks whose legs are their only good feature but no way anybody's husband wouldn't say "yeah but where are the pants to that outfit?" This is sort of a pre-wadder, you would know before it got that far.
It takes real skill to made a size zero look like she has a big butt and a big belly but this one manages that. The skirt is in pleatherette BTW in case you missed the point the first time. Even I wouldn't have worn anything like this to a junior high dance which is about the most extreme statement I can make about lack of style since I believe I set new standards for poor taste throughout those years.

A sleeping bag dress. It has to be.
This unit has to convert to something useful. I am willing to lay money that if you undo that zipper and unfold the middle you have a nice little tent that sleeps five.
This dress has to be a disguise of some kind
There you have it. I am all cheered up.

No idea why I am no longer getting notices from the pattern companies when the new patterns come out.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ivy Style

One of the many really cool things I did in New York was go to this exhibition at F.I.T. :

Of course it was an exhibition about mostly menswear - the preppy Ivy League style that has influenced so many North American designers. Think of the L.L. Bean ladies or anyone who ever declares there can never be too many white shirts.

It was pretty interesting as a retrospective of American classic design influences but...

Hold the phone

Guess what I found out?

Now before I go on my rant let me give you a pre-rant.

I have long thought that home sewers are asked by pattern instructions, books, and their own female sense that it has to be me not them that finds this hard, to do the impossible.

The built-in unachievable makes good sewers feel like bad people.

To my mind this has to stop.

I have been developing this opinion ever since an industrial sewing machine guy told me that the only reason tailoring details like welt pockets and keyhole buttonholes looked good in ready-to-wear was because they were executed with giant machines that worked vertically, and didn't try to move the fabric along with a presser foot.

Back on topic.


A lot of us have struggled with stand collars and more specifically with that last little buttonhole right in the curved part of the stand. You know that one that drives your blood pressure up and you know you are going to unpick a couple of times and then decide that no one will ever notice anyway.

Well the question is - how achievable is this? 


Well down at F.I.T. I was at source and saw how the original Oxford cloth type shirts were made in the days before they were sent off to Taiwan and computerized factories.

Well guess what?

The shirts I saw had:

  • Wider button bands about 2"
  • Squared not curved collar stand ends. No tricky curves to sew.
  • Collars that were set a full 1 1/2" in from the end of the stand. Makes sense actually for wearing with a tie.
  • Buttonholes that were made a full 3/4" in from the end of the collar stand and therefore were nowhere near all those layers that gum up your buttonhole stitching!
The thing is that these collars and stands looked completely terrific and from a sewing point of view would be a piece of cake.

Here is my drawn-on-my-purse illustration, note that both are supposed to be drawings of a collar on a stand, even though the bottom one looks like a convertible collar. I was too excited to remember to draw in the neckline seam.

 Well folks what do you think of this?