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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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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The last of the Christmas sewing (unless I think of something else)

I decided I wanted to make my son's girlfriend an apron.

She is sort of one of my heros.

When I first met this girl she had one of those fast track big jobs in Manhattan which she quit and went to intern at a restaurant. You see she really loves food, in the way that you and I love fabric, and she decided to live consistently. 

Since that initial decision she has become an operations manager for several very high profile restaurants and is now also doing her master's in food science.

It took a lot of nerve to do what she did, and I just totally get how she feels about what she loves.


I have tried a couple of hip looking apron patterns and was not happy at all. They were skimpy and contrived and the techniques were silly.

So last night in desperation I called my daughter, who always has the answers, and she said "Mom if you are running out of time and need something hip get yourself right on Pinterest."

Which I did and found this simple pattern. My daughter is also one of my heros. The dimensions were excellent, although I did simplify the instructions - sewed the ties and the ruffle onto one apron body and then bagged the whole thing through a small hole in the bottom after I had sewn the two apron bodies together.

Here it is, totally reversible in the shambles of what is left of my sewing room:

I would have wished for slightly hipper fabric but this is all the store at the bottom of the street could cough up last night at 8:00. New Year's resolution - stock pile more cool cotton prints - they are good for gifts.

Well for weeks now I have been saying I will get right onto the cooking and cleaning and wrapping once my sewing is done, and I am finally there.

Unfortunately I had forgotten when I made such grandiose statements that I would much rather be sewing than doing all that other domestic stuff.

However a deal is a deal.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Just before Christmas sewing

About this time in the pre-Christmas run-up I face my reality.

  • The iced butter cookies made in a variety of interesting Christmas shapes (for which I have bought a heavy duty icing unit, plus cookie cutters):
    •  Are now Rice Krispie squares made of red and green Rice Krispies.
  • The diabetic special jams for my nice sister-in-law:
    •  Are now a purse organizer and a retro plastic bowl made of recycled plastic (yes I know).
  • The quilted wallhanging, still not started:
    • Has been packed away where I hopefully will not be able to find it next year.
  • My nice Vogue Christmas dress pattern and fabric:
    • Is still on the shelf and I am working on a festive apron instead.
What I always do manage to do though is any special Christmas sewing for the little girls. So when my daughter called and said she would like something for them to wear for pictures Christmas Eve, I was right on it.

Here are the results of today's efforts, jammies for the little one who is still toddling, and a nightgown for the one who only wears dresses.

Not very complex but a fun break:

I would like to put a red bow at the necklines and might try to do that tomorrow.

A comment on children's patterns. 

I was very frustrated with my pattern choices for these simple garments. I needed something basic and even though I did major trimming, both of these garments were way too wide for little people, and our girls are long and thin.

I decided I am not going to get caught like this again trying to find a simple kids pattern at the last minute, so I ordered Sure-Fit's children's kit which I used for my own children a long time ago with great success.

Let's see what I get done tomorrow and what drops off the list. 

Hope your own preparations are progressing and stress-free. A couple more little things and I think I may actually get some pre-SWAP cutting done before the 26th.

I am a better garment cutter than cookie icer anyway.

I knew that. 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Fabric sources

In response to a question from badmomgoodmom my city prints are from and one at least is on sale now here and the other one is here.

All I can do to resist ordering more. Do it so I can't.

Sewing skyscrapers or some of my SWAP top ideas

A few trips ago to see my son in the States I came home from New York and decided I needed to do something to feel close to his day-to-day life.

Logically I ordered in these two pieces of fabric for shirts which have, naturally, city scenes on them. 

This is the kind of nutty stuff you don't let your children know you do.

Maybe somewhere in New York City there is a woman whose kid has moved to the coast walking around in a blouse with sea gulls on it (and people wondering why is that woman wearing that weird shirt - except if she was in New York no one would think anything was at all weird).

I am reminding myself of a woman I know who stalks the webcam aimed at her sons' workplace every morning (they have both moved away to work) to see if she can catch a glimpse of them arriving at work. 

I am glad to say I am not in that place anymore but certainly respect anyone who is. It is a stage, even mothers go through them, but I think so many helicopter parents at school (yes some come along to university) have done a lot to keep me this side of the edge. 

Assuming you broadly define the edge.

Back to fabric.

Here they are, each destined to be one of my tops for the navy half of my SWAP and the black/grey other part of my SWAP:

I completely love both of these prints, which also have a fifties feel that is dear to me since that was the decade in which I was myself launched.

Obviously these are going to require tailored type patterns and I have these picked out, not sure which one for which print:

I have made the bottom one already and am due to try the top pattern too. StyleArc fits me.

I also have this fabric bought in London when the same son was living there. I got it at Liberty in a moment of brain freeze when I actually converted the currency exchange the wrong way, and thought it was half as expensive as it was, where in fact it was twice as expensive, in Canadian dollars, as the price tag, but the way I was working things out I actually spent four times per meter than I realized (thank you Visa statement) if you follow me, although I can't:

I really need to do something with this fabric. It is a cotton lawn and therefore more blouse-like so I will be using my StyleArc Annie pattern which is my TNT blouse:

All of these shirts will be Really Useful (might name my SWAP that) with my basic pants and I think I will enjoy making them simply because I love the fabric.

More tops to follow.