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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, December 15, 2012


Listen. I love watching other sewists develop their own Sewing with a Plan Wardrobe. 

It is inspirational.

I have even attempted a few in the distant past and was either a) a drop out b) ended up with a wardrobe that suited the contest rules but not me.

This year's rules are much more liberal. So I am jumping in with the intention of only getting together some Useful Clothes.

This will be a real challenge for me as I am a sort of go-where-the-mood-takes-me sewer and what I don't really need in my busy life right now is a pile of things that has to-do written all over it. 

However I have decided that if this is not my only sewing but just my directed sewing, and if these are all garments I need and will definitely wear, this is an exercise worth doing.

Of course there is a major appointment coming up December 25th and I have some Christmas sewing/knitting/cooking to get done first but I can start this project in my head can't I?

That is after all where I do my best sewing.

O.K. here is the current plan.

I figure I will do the most boring combination, four bottoms, six tops and one other that works with all separates.

This I really could use. 

Today I will talk about my bottoms patterns, do the tops tomorrow, and my struggle with an coat/jacket thing Monday.

Feel free to give me advices.

My bottom garments are going to be pants. 

Since the refinement of a basic pencil skirt and the revelation of the Magic Skirt I am skirted out for a bit, and of course when you move ahead in one area you fall behind in another.

I have looked at my current favourite pants patterns and they are of course the StyleArc Lindas:

and the pants from this Vogue pattern, which I have in black gabardine and wear whenever I can:

These last pants are sooo comfortable and the fit is great but of course I made them first time as per pattern and they are really short. 

In the warmer weather with flats this is fine but when I want to wear them with short boots or in anything a bit cooler there is the bare leg thing to deal with. I have compromised with some fishnet knee highs which are good but not tremendously cozy, and since these aren't lined, anything longer in a sock or tights has those sticking to the leg things going on and I struggle enough with lack of cool to be dealing with that.

So clearly I need these exact same pants but with about 2-3 " more in length.

I have some black and some navy gab I am going to be making these up again. 

I am doing a black based subset and a navy based subset (2 bottoms and 3 tops in each) and a neutral coat to tie them together. So happy the SWAP rules this year allow that and don't require 11 garments in one colour family which is a condition that more or less makes my head explode.

I want to give a shout out to gabardine pants. 

If you do a good clapper type pressing job a pair of gab pants  you can get through any day looking pressed, and if you let them hang out on a good hanger, they can be reworn without repressing. I really appreciate anything I can haul out of the closet and can put on without having to go down to the ironing board again.

This pattern is also more stylish looking that it should be given that it is roomy in the hips, thighs, and stomach and but still has the slim legs. This is an elusive combination but makes me feel as comfortable in these as jammies, always a goal.

OK so that's two TNT pants patterns. 

I would also like to nail down a stretch woven pant that had a similar comfort level and a slim leg. The Linda pants are good but they are widish at the bottom which means you can't wear a widish top without looking like a fridge.

I tried the StyleArc Elle pant but that was skin tight as in leggings and in them I looked like an eggcup.

A tall eggcup.

Enough said about that.

The Elles were not TNT material obviously unless I was going to give up all self-respect, something I don't have on the agenda.

I am having another kick at the ideal though with this new pattern (I do love the SyleArc crotch fit) the Claudia:

I will be making an actual muslin for this (something I generally don't take the time to do) because I really want a pattern like this. 

It has some good features like a higher waist ( I am so over the belly overhang thing) and I am wondering about the dart at the back leg.  I mean there has to be a reason, I just haven't figured it out yet.

And SyleArc I am noticing the ankle length which I will be fine-tuning to work with my reality.

So that's what I am hoping to have done before the sewing opens on the SWAP competition December 26th. My bottoms cut out and the Claudia pant either on the cutting table or the garbage can.

Sounds like a plan, or at least the thin edge of one.

Now off the do the tree.

Oh and BTW for spam reasons I am asking for comment moderation, hope that is alright with you. I watch for comments like a hawk so if you are an actual sewer and not someone trying to sell me Ugg boots or worse your comments will appear shortly.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Word verification for comments turned off

Sorry  about that. I was having spam issues and thought it would help. Guess more of a nuisance than a help.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Petite Plus Wrap dress review

I am home now after a week in Winnipeg to visit my mother and other family there. I went to Christmas concerts, swim meets, and did a little sewing/alterations for my mom.

She is an 85 year old petite plus and updating some clothes for her involved the same series of alterations - shorten, bring in the sleeves to account for narrow shoulders etc. As always larger sizes seem to be designed as if a person was large everywhere, and neckline and shoulder fit is a challenge.

It is interesting to me that exactly what I had to do to make her purchased clothes fit are already built into the Petite Plus patterns.

I made this wrap dress for her, which she likes, in the unwrapped version. We like the fit in the neck and shoulders and the fact that the V neck does stay close to the body. In addition to being drafted for a short, fuller figure this pattern has some fitting features I liked:

  • Three piece sleeve. Next version I am going to take advantage of this and narrow her sleeve from the bicep down, the three seams make custom sleeve fit easy.
  • Back neck darts.
  • Optional front and back French darts. I left these in the back to give the dress more shape but left them out to accommodate her waistline.
Here are the pictures. 

I think my mom is a pretty sharp 85 year old (she has never coloured her hair) but then again as the person actively involved in raising my 14 year old niece (including 6:00 a.m. runs to the pool most mornings) she leads the life of someone about 30 years younger and it shows.

(She would want to add that after seeing these pictures she is off for a new bra-fitting - welcome to the world of revealing blog photos Mom).

I am pretty impressed with this pattern and am even thinking of playing around with a down-sized version for myself. This is a great basic.

On other news I am finishing up my term and thinking about all I have to do in the new year. My resolution is to find more time for myself and I am not sure how I am going to accomplish that yet.

I have also decided to do SWAP this year and that will be the focus of my sewing for a while. Might make for some dull blogging but I think this might be a good year for a Useful SWAP.

In the meantime, I am back and wish you all the best as we count down to the busy season.