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I am a mother, a new 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 first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, September 7, 2013


Busy week, simple sewing.

I started the fall term this week and that is always exciting for me. 

I am a social person and kids are so funny so I am always glad to get back into the classroom. I always tell them, just around the time I note that glazed-over look, that I always know that there is one person in each of my classes who thinks the material is terrific.

And that is me.

I love seeing the new students, particularly the first years, who come in all dressed up with whatever dressed up is at home- clubwear for some, studied blue hair and don't care for others, and I watch them relax and find themselves and their style through the year.

And of course the same is true of me.

With a time challenged year ahead, and with samples and things I am making in my after hours time the Burdastyle webinars, my own sewing has become very streamlined.

I am doing a lot of skirt alterations (now that's a fun job, just love to waste creative time putting in a zipper again) to account for the fact that I lost about 20 pounds over the spring and summer watching what and how I eat to deal with a sore throat the doctor told me was reflux, and turned out to be just dairy. Along that way I must have also stopped eating like a stevedore and stopped eating before bed so that weight has stayed off. (Opps another explanation just popped into my head - in the same period of time my husband has been away during the week and he is the much more elaborate cook).

For whatever reason the weight has been off long enough  to require me to take in some clothes I like.

A person can't just do must-do sewing of course without losing it, something I try not to do often, so I have been sneaking in some for me sewing.

In my case that has meant dresses.

So I was delighted to see in this morning's NYTimes that I am on track with the sophisticates in the big city - something that doesn't happen as often as you might think.

Here is Bill Cunningham on Simple is best, dress dressing:


On that theme, despite the fact is it back to school not fashion week around here, I made this dress, the Kristen from Stylearc:

Now obviously there are a lot of similar basic knit dresses around (this one has an invisible zipper in the back - went it quite well because I stablized the seam allowance with fusible knit interfacing) but Stylearc always has a nice fit in the neck and shoulders, and since that's where a dress hangs that's important.

I made this as a sort of trial garment for this pattern and to have a backdrop for some silk scarves that were new to me during some vintage store shopping with various younger relatives over the summer. 

So this is a basic (my husband even looked at it and said "that's a basic" which just shows you it is that obvious).

So it needs something but sometimes you have something that needs a dress that needs something, if you follow.

So here are the shots:

One of the scarves and with the pink glasses I got because I was tired of hearing my daughter complain about my new googly glasses.

Outside in the wind with a necklace that doesn't go with anything else.

My favourite scarf because it has lions and the jungle on it, and it's pretty hard to beat that.

So all in all a good teaching dress, suitable for tired first thing Monday morning classes when there will be a lot of walking around the classroom going on. I am going to start thinking now of course of how I can make variations of this one.

After the next alteration session.


Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Love the last scarf you paired with this lovely dress. I think you should make this dress in five or six colors and don't forget to add some pleather pockets so that you're really on trend!

Debbie Cook said...

That's a GREAT basic ... it looks completely different with each accessory. Yes, you need more!!

Shirley Ann said...

Wow I love this pattern! It looks fabulous on you!!

Anonymous said...

A simple dress that you can dress up or down. And while alterations can be time consuming and boring losing 20 lbs makes it worth it. I certainly could afford that much of a weight loss. Congrats!

Angela said...

A great dress....comfortable and can be accessorized in so many ways! I am terrible with accessorizing -- you are making me think I need to work on that.

ACorgiHouse said...

You need more, and I need about six of these in various colors too. I think I'll get the pattern and then take my scarf drawer to the fabric store...

Bunny said...

This is the perfect dress and it looks wonderful on you. Great color!

Anonymous said...

The pink glasses are fabulous too, very becoming.


BeaJay said...

The dress looks great on you. A wonderful style to be able to dress up with your lovely scarves and jewelry.

Vicki said...

Perfect dress to show off those great scarves.

velosewer said...

Great choice.

SEWN said...

Love it! Great simple dress.

Mary said...

That dress is wonderful on you! Your scarves and jewelry sparkle with it.

Patty said...

My favorite kind of dress, and you look great. Love the different ways you styled it. Good luck with a new school year!

Jodie said...

I think (along with the other commenters) that that is a great dress for school. I've not got many dresses for my "school" wardrobe, more skirts and pants, but maybe I need to consider. Great colour and looks awesome with the different accessories. Would work in winter with tights as well.
Know how you feel - I've made it through the first week (WOW BUSY) and wonder how I do it every year. Am of course dogsitting, so life is just that much MORE busy. One more week (with the dog) and then things should smooth out a little.
I would ABSOLUTELY make some variations in as many bright colours as you can.

Question - what kind/where did you get the fabric?
thanks - have a good semester!

a little sewing said...

Wow, nothing like a spot-on perfect Style Arc pattern. You look wonderful in the pink and the googly glasses and each style variation is equally appealing!
I need that pattern! Loved the link to BillCunnngham, too.

SewRuthie said...

Hmmm, I recenlty bought a plain balck RTW dress and was surprised how versatile it was. I have a couple more work dresses planned too, and think its going to be a great way to wear those orphan jackets or interesting scarves.

Karen in VA said...

Congrats on the weight loss - you look great.... Also, a very nice dress and love the way you've accessorized it...Great classic...

Diana said...

Ooh!I love it. Nothing beats a classic. You look great!