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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Saturday, March 16, 2013

What I made since Christmas (this used to be a SWAP)

I am nearing end of term and in three weeks we go off to Florida again for two months, where we will both be working remote, golfing, and in my case sewing and knitting.

As I have said in my last post I have shifted gears and have, consistently, become a SWAP drop out because I have neither the time or focus right now to give a proper raincoat the attention it deserves. There is always later as most delusional sewers know.

I decided this morning to snag my husband and do a photo shoot since that is as good as my SWAP ambitions are going to get. 

Here are the shots he took in between making bread and building a new hall closet - our renovations continue as the background for these shots show.

So these pictures display the careful styling you have come to expect from me - tops over yoga pants and even a dress over yoga pants, which is probably not how I will wear it in real life. I have class.

Here we go:

Slippers I knit because I was trying to conserve suitcase space for my fabric buying travels. One foot turned out larger than the other but that's OK because I seem to remember I have one foot larger than the other, but usually can't remember which one.

All I got done on my raincoat so far. Covering these buckles in New York cost about the same as buying a raincoat in Halifax.

The face you give your husband when he says, "you are standing there stiff looking like a nun, do something with your arms."

The Indigo junction  Mod top, I should have done the view with the doubled collar but still love this top.

My sister called in the middle of the shoot to discuss her new wall colour, grey. I think I should use that too if we ever get as far as the wall painting part. One of many versions of the Style Arc Jane top.

StyleArc Ada T-shirt with pockets

Liberty lawn Jane top.

My sister did her wood trim in Winter White with some painting tricks she learned on Pinterest. Oh and the Jane blouse again.

The last shots are all of Vogue 8847 . 

This dress cost me $3.00 as it was polyester I bought from my friend Norma and the sewing guild fabric sale. 

I wanted to do a muslin sort of, of this pattern since I haven't worn this style since 1982. Turns out I really like the print but being polyester and this being Canada where it is still winter and the house are crackling with static, I can't figure out, or remember, how to keep it from sticking to me. I used to have some spray stuff from the non- green 1980s, not sure if you can get it now.

So that's it.

It's summer stuff from here on in.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Daylight saving and the end of my SWAP

Well it is no longer dark at 5:00 p.m. and in four and a half weeks we are headed to Florida.

Daylight saving has arrived before my raincoat, the last of my SWAP garments, is done. And it's not going to get done until fall now since my sewing clock has moved forward and I am on a summer dress rant.

In fact I am now obsessed with finding some dress TNTs because I have them for every other garment. 

This buying fabric in NYC thing has made me fussy about patterns.

I didn't go all the way down to the big city and walk for four hours in the wrong direction and then turn around and walk the way back (those numbered streets are useful if you have the common sense to look at them) and wear only two black outfits for four days to conserve suitcase space for my fabric and leave even my slippers at home and actually take knitted slippers like my Grandmother used to knit for the "mentally handicapped" because they took up less packing room, just to come home and cut it all up with some pattern I hoped would work but hadn't tested.

Because if you are this behind in your marking and your dishes and dog-walking, you don't make muslins, and probably won't even when you are retired.

So brace yourselves for some dress experiments.

I have two other heavy thoughts to leave you with today.


If you eat big meals and are supposed to not lie down right away for your middle-aged reflux, and if you want to sit up in bed for a very long time for medical reasons then I suggest, if you haven't already done this, that you go to LiveStream TV and addict yourself to Downton Abbey which should take care of any impulses to get a good and early night's sleep.

Of course if you get the current season on TV already then all I can say is don't tell me what happens.

Because if you do, and I find the perfect TNT dress pattern, well I won't be telling you the pattern number.


If you are trying, still, to learn to crochet and are making dishcloths with wobbly sides I encourage you to keep at it, I mean it took my grandmother 9000 pairs to perfect her slippers, but I would not suggest you multi-task while doing so.

As in try to crochet on the exercise bike owing to the fact that it might seem like a good idea to let the yarn bob quietly on the floor as you go.

I would point out that the pedals of an exercise bike go round and round.

Quite a few times in 45 minutes.

That's it from me.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

My guide to the garment district

My blogging has been about as slow as my sewing lately. A crazy work schedule, a bit of a flu, and the usual stuff.

However in case anyone has a trip to the garment district planned here is my person itinerary:

I have organized this so you work your way across by street so there is no turning back. I have also included a lunch place more or less in the middle.

Things you need to know about shopping in the garment district:

1. This is a place for special not bargains. If you want bargains go to NorthWest Fabrics on Berry Street in Winnipeg which is sort of out of the way for this itinerary.

2. The many ground floor stores tend not to be the good ones, for fabric that is. A lot of show fabrics and sequins but not garment fabrics unless you work in Vegas.

3. In many cases you have to go up a few floors in an elevator of what looks like an office building to find the fabric store, which may be crammed full of bolts.

4. The staff in these places work. This is not Joann's or Fabricville where you browse and then take your fabric over to be cut. These folks work it - think personal shopper. When you go in they ask what you are interested in and they start pulling bolts and making suggestions. They find things for you and tell you honestly if it suits you. This is very helpful because there is so much and it can be overwhelming - the expectation is that the sales staff shop with you.

OK here is where I would go and why:

1. Elliott Berman -  225 West 35th, 7th floor. Start here because they are the best. You don't want to blow your budget and then go to Elliot Berman. The fabric is leading edge and unique - new fabric just released from the European mills for the season for example. A little pricey but totally worth it. I got an incredible knit and a rayon challis for $15 and $20 a yard each which was not outrageous since they are beyond cool. (Fabric pictures will be posted when I have more time.) Service is superb.

2. Botani: Buttons and fashion hardware. 263 West 36th. Just go there. I can't describe it. A whole room full of purse making accessories and 40 million buttons. High end but special. They covered my buckles and will dye buttons to match with a few days notice.

3. Mood - 225 West 37th. Third floor. You have to go to Mood too. It is the Garment District's department store. Three floors of everything and wonderful hardworking staff. A full range of fabrics so if you can't find it anywhere else Mood will have it. I got some cottons for summer, silk jersey, ponte and a beautiful coating I am afraid to cut into here.

4. SIL Thread - 257 West 38th Street level. YKK zippers, threads and notions in such quantity that it makes your head spin. Every, every colour. Many of the zippers are 36" as the standard and they cut and finish to size for you while you wait.

5. Pacific Trimming: 220 West 38th Street level. You name it they got it. Buttons, trims and all points in between. I actually prefer them to the more expensive if better known M&J Trim on Sixth.

6. Paron's Fabrics: 257 West 39th.  Street level.  Great quality of conventional fabrics - wool suitings and boucles for example. I picked up a great Linton tweed here for a Channel jacket. Good value for the quality. 

7. Chic Fabrics: 225 West 39th Street level. Really the best prices in the district, particularly for dress cottons and silk - not as fashion forward but solid quality. I got two dress cotton prints here.


I would go to Ben's Kosher Deli 209 West 38th. It is big there so there is lots of room for all your bags of fabric and the food is nourishing. I like the Matzo Ball chicken soup and a tea when I need to regroup.