Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

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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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Friday, January 25, 2013

The folks at Vogue have their minds back

Yes, I know I have been giving the BMV crowd a hard time lately but this latest spring collection has some beauties. 

Some very wearable little numbers.

My first look, disregarding all the figure type advice, picks are these:

Not sure what has agitated this girl but she should relax, this is a good easy-to-sew dress. In the meantime she should just ask to see the manager.

A good simple summer dress, good back detail with pleats in the yoke so it would be comfy, not illustrated here of course. It's late I should be in bed anyway.

Many tunics in this collection. Her face looks like she has just heard her credit card was about to be cut up or her husband was sleeping with her sister, but the top looks good. There is always a bright side. I have a ton of bright linens I was going to make into lined fitted summer dresses and now I will make them into pullover tops. That would make me smile.

Soo Doris Day and so me. Of course they say the box figure shouldn't wear it but that must be a mistake. I even have this much bright pink knit. Dare me.

The photo shot is of a belted grey coat but this one's for me. I have recently purchased 17 almost right coat patterns waiting for this one to appear and it is completely right for my SWAP plans. Anyone want some un-used raincoat patterns, the expensive kind?

This is the sister. She is saying "You're kidding right? The guy is a tool." Nevertheless this is an A-one easy, sharp, cheater peplum top. Just enjoy a good pattern ladies.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Report from the invisible zipper trenches

First of all thank you for all the great advice re the bump at the end of my invisible zippers. This was not a huge problem but enough to irritate me. I have such high standards.

In fact I woke up at 4:30 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep since I had several serious issues to work through.

The meaning of life, although I seem to remember working that out last year.

Whether or not I have the character or stamina to re-open and re-cook my last batch of ginger marmalade that seems to not have set all that well. ("Don't worry, double the recipe, triple the recipe those are only guidelines," said my husband).

These invisible zippers. I nearly sat up in bed last night when I had a brainwave - the zippers are sewn down and the seam is sewn up so of course the chances of some grainline moving and getting trapped a.k.a. a bump are really increased.


Amalgamating all good advices and adding a few curves of my own here it what I was able to do today after I finished work.

Particular thanks to those of you who suggested interfacing the seam allowances, sewing down the seam, and clueing me into the fact that the two seams didn't have to meet exactly.

First, here it is in the inside where you can clearly see where the seam stitching ends out a bit from the zipper stitching owing to the fact my machine thoughtfully balled up a bit of bobbin thread:

 Here it is on the outside (disregard the overdue manicure) :

O.K. here are my steps:

1. Interface the seam allowances (thanks Ann)

2. Sew stopping 4-5" short of the zipper opening.

3. Sew in the zipper as per usual.

4. Stitch the open seam below the zipper stitching closed, working from the top of the garment down, in other words in the same direct used to sew the zipper in. Do not even try to make the two stitching lines collide.

5. Press. I only pressed at this stage and not before.

As a result I have one of my gab pants for my SWAP sort of 80% finished now. That leaves me with three more pairs to go.

This is pretty boring sewing IMO so I might have to break it up with a new dress pattern or something.

I have decided if I do another SWAP, and I think as long as I keep them practical I will, I will do both pants and skirts so I don't get bored. Trouble is I really need pants.

I added to my TNT Vogue at the sides this time but of course overdid it so these pants are consistent with my Cosmo Kramer theme and sort of drapey and 50s, and I am thinking I should make them ankle length so they don't look too much like gab mom jeans. 

I will ponder this heavy duty decision tomorrow.

I will probably take them too at the sides in next version.

In the meantime  I have to say loose gab pants are pretty damned comfortable and my object was to upgrade my day-to-day wardrobe so this matters. No need for Spanx or special posture or disguise tops with these babies.

I am wondering about my eventual SWAP photo shoot now since these are real clothes for my real life. 

Shots of me stooping and scooping after Mr. Rascal?
Me self-serving at the gas station?
Pushing a cart around the supermarket?
Marking papers in the Lazy Boy?
Standing in a snow bank?
Re-boiling marmalade?
Talking on the phone while I load the dishwasher?

Hard to know how to layout all this excitement.

In the meantime it's just good to know the invisible zippers are now smooth.

Thank you.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snow day

We had a little bit of snow today and I headed down to my sewing room after telling my also working-from-home spouse  I was going to get some work done too.

My sewing room in the basement but since that's only semi in the ground I have full windows, one to the backyard and one to the front street. This was the view there today. Cheery isn't it?

In case you are wondering those black specks were put there by an over-zealous snow blower who also blew up part of the lawn I think.
My "working" in my sewing room mostly involved me making a list of all the jobs at work I really like, and wondering how I can arrange my job description to include exclusively those parts.

I also spent a lot of time trying to track down my mother who turned 85 today and was on the Winnipeg roads at 50 degrees below all day tutoring at the elementary school and going to swim meets and other things. She still isn't home but I hope to get to her before bedtime to see what's the latest.

I also made some gab pants for my SWAP based on an evolving TNT but it appears my figure is also evolving so although they are excellent standing up pants I decided I really need standing up and sitting down pants so wrote "Add here" all over the pattern pieces and then cut out four more pair that I intend to sneak sew some time over the next week.

These pants have invisible zippers in the side, which I love as there is no apparent top-stitching, and I can put them in without any pinning in about one minute.


But I always have trouble with the seam you then stitch up to meet the zipper. I get a little bubble and it is most annoying. 

If I could defeat this issue I would be in business. Might trying sewing the seam first, or if you have any tricks, I need to hear them.

Back to classes tomorrow again, staring at 8:30 and going through to 8:00 at night, so my sewing will be limited, except in my head.

Just so you know I am doing some stash reduction but will not be observing a fallow year this year, personally I need to see some bright fabrics and some good spring Vogues asap.

I feel it has come time to ditch the black.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

New tops, winter and fallow years

First things first.

I have completed my sixth top for the six top-four bottoms-one jacket SWAP challenge. I am pretty pleased with myself as I have done these six tops this month more or less when I should have been doing other things.

Operating like this takes discipline.

This one is my only knit of the bunch and is the Ada knit top from StyleArc.

For a start it really is a boxy T-shirt, just like they said and just like the knits that are now appearing in the stores. Sort of the kind of look that reminds me of my dad and not a way I have dressed in a while, but I will get used to it.

When I have this whole wardrobe done and the pictures taken you can decide for yourselves if I am looking like I am wearing my dad's shirt or not.

It is a really useful top. 

Apart from being suitable for work around the house a la dad, it has these really nifty side pockets that would be useful for picking things up as you go - you know those pennies that are about to be discontinued and pins that you are glad you got before someone, who hopefully isn't pulling it out of a foot, holds it up and says "guess what I found on the floor" not understanding that pins on the floor are to be expected, part of the territory really, when you are living the sewing life.

I think I am going to start talking like that. Living the sewing life. As if that explains something to someone other than myself. Makes things clear to me.

Anyway it's a pretty good top and very wearable and not all the time do you want to be wearing something that is snappy but not that comfortable.

Some days are not snappy days and this would be part of a good outfit for days like that.

I have had a busy two weeks getting my students organized and getting to know the ones I haven't taught before. (FYI if your child's name is Tara would you mind not spelling that Terrah - took me 10 minutes to sound that out).

I think it should be a pretty good term. Good kids, interesting topics.

And I do appreciate your best wishes for my impending trip to Florida. I am embarrassed to say however that I will be leaving the week of April 8 even though I am counting now - you would probably have to be here in Nova Scotia in January to completely understand why.

It will be fair to say I will be ready come April to drive south and do that marvellous thing where every day you drive the trees get bigger and then there are little leaves and then big leaves and then cherry blossoms in DC and then Florida (we go to St. Augustine) and it's palm trees and time to go to Winn Dixie for mangos to start canning.

Now it is these thoughts, and the time I have spent looking at the shelves and shelves of disorganized fabric in my sewing room, that has me naturally thinking of Jerusalem.

A couple of years ago owing to some administrative mistake I ended up on a work trip to Israel and that in turn landed me in the market in Jerusalem.

Extremely cool.

Anyway when I was talking to our highly educated guide about how fantastic the produce was he told me that the farmers observe the biblical practice of leaving the fields fallow every seven years for one year (remember the seven good years and seven lean years part).

This means that for one year every seven they don't plant and in fact have to live off and sell what they already have.

Just think this through.

It made me wonder how many areas of my life could I live off of if I had to for one year.

What if I didn't buy one pattern or any fabric for a year and knew no matter what that I had 12 months until I could? What if I knew I was having a year like this every seven years?

You know I could do it. Of course I could do it. But I am not sure if I have enough nerve to even try.

How about you?