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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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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Barbara's Useful SWAP part one

For those of you who aren't following these things I am joining in this year's Stitcher's Guild Sewing With a Plan venture - doing the 11 units - six tops, four bottoms and a jacket.

With it being dark and gloomy outside, and cold, with a storm coming in tonight I decided to start off with a bright pink linen shirt.

Nothing in my SWAP is exciting - this is entirely an exercise in wearable clothes for ordinary day wear.

I used a version of the Annie StyleArc blouse, eliminating the yokes as I was short on fabric and for the same reason making short sleeves. What I like most about this pattern is the nice collar/neckline. Also as a gesture to speed sewing, and the less fitted look of the new blouses this coming season (based on the new patterns and more significantly what I am noticing on the Spring collections on, this is pretty basic and boxy.

Because it was such an easy project I decided to do some wing needle stitching around the collar and sleeve hems.

This is a super easy treatment that works very well in linen. 

Basically all you need is the most simple of reverse action "stretch" stitches (one in which the needle goes in the hole more than once doing that annoying super slow stitching thing) or an "heirloom" decorative stitch that operates the same way on your machine. The stitch I used on my Pfaff looks like a line of small vertical crosses.

On the hem of the blouse I used a plain needle and a reverse action straight stitch and made my buttonholes with the cross-stitch stretch version.

All this minimally fancy stitching was done with a rayon thread, because, well, I found some when I was cleaning out my sewing room on the floor. 

I have decided to just do mostly dressmaker dummy shots of my SWAP garments until I am finished. As opposed to the regular live dummy shots.

Here is the finished blouse and the details:

Now onto the next blouse. Same pattern, my Liberty fabric. A few more days off and I am going to indulge myself as much as I can in staying cozy and sewing before the deluge hits me work.

Friday, December 28, 2012

I was the one who had a great Christmas

Hi folks. Hope you had a great holiday.

We had a lot of sickness around here. In the end all colds and aches proceeded to stomach viruses and everyone went down but me. 

The little girls and I were really the only ones who were on deck on the day so I made the dinner (with my spouse emerging from his sickbed to do the turkey which he would have to be more than dead before he would let me do it) and we ate it.

Their dad lay on my couch and cracked jokes and everyone else was pretty out of it.

I got a big meal made anyway including driving some of the dishes over to use my daughter's oven and picking them up just before and generally enjoying being useful.

One of the great pleasures of being a mature mother is that as long as everyone is together you are thrilled and think it is all just wonderful.

Now I am counting down the last of my 50s I finally understand my grandmother at these events.

You know when you give them some department store slippers and the grandmother talks all day about how they are the best slippers she has ever had? 

Well they really are.

Or the part where she watches everyone fill up their plates and says that the neck is her favourite part of the turkey?

Well it is.

So the really nice part of having a few Christmases under your belt is you know it's marvelous you are all there.

So what would a Christmas story be without illustrations?

Here is my son who flew in at great expense for the holiday (and has taken 3 days to get out - please join our family in a permanent ban of United Airlines who are getting the international "We couldn't care less award") and was hit with every bug we could throw at him.

Here he is on the floor after announcing his back was so sore from lying in bed he needed a back walker (apparently the Korean folks in his neighbourhood in East Village do a great job with this). 

His niece and sister were happy to oblige:

As you can see he had an excellent Christmas and I am sure has already booked his trip back for next year.

Miss Heidi took advantage of all the activity in the living room to get into the Stuff Under the Kitchen Sink so her day was pretty complete too:

So a great holiday all around.

If you are the person who now eats turkey necks.

And I have started Barbara's Useful SWAP.

More on that tomorrow.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

I am on my way to bed now and going to practice knitting the last inch of the last sock by iPad light.

We have been hit with colds and then a violent stomach virus. Miss Scarlett was in getting IV fluids last night, now recovered, so our day tomorrow is going to be streamlined. My DH is the latest down for the count, and I hope he has enough strength tomorrow to tell me how he does the turkey.

Christmas is an interesting time. It brings families together again and I am lucky that ours likes each other. I am not anticipating any arguments etc. over the pie about world issues -  I think they are all too weak. Viruses included we are grateful to be together and lucky to have little kids with us.

Of course it changes every year. It occurs to me that mothers, in particular those who feel kids at home was prime time, hope that when those people, now away, come home they will bring those times back with them but of course they don't. There are girlfriends who are missed, new lives, new dreams, new commitments. But it is still good, very good and if a mom can lie in her bed and hear just for one night the sounds of her kids in the house again that is a pleasure whose significance she can keep to herself.

They have no idea.

But it doesn't have to be the same every year and it won't, but having new people and new ideas added just makes it seem to grow to me.

And in my life that includes you.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Detour activities

How are your preparations going?

Sewing is suspended, since I don't have anything Christmas related left, and because I can no longer see my own stuff due to the mountain of unwrapped presents on my sewing table.

With so much on the to-do list it was logical that the next thing I did was go buy about a sewing machine carrying case full of ginger and set up my spouse to peel it in the kitchen. (Use a spoon it is easier).

I then took two days off to make ginger marmalade and pickled ginger and to drink ginger tea (boil for 10, steep for 10- with the requisite honey and lemon ) which successfully beat the cold I am fighting.

This make no sense at all, which will be the reaction I am sure of the family when they get this stuff for Christmas.

However about the only activity I can rely on to calm me down when I am overloaded is canning.

Go figure.

Here are my pictures:

Once I have faced the wrapping all I have to do, apart from the Christmas desserts and a potato thing I have been making for 25 years and am sort of sick of but will continue to make because it everybody is used to it, is a pile of alterations, hemming, and loose buttons that have come home from NYC.

I am going to try this method for hemming jeans for the first time, has anyone tried it?