Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

Sewing with less stress back cover

Sewing with less stress back cover
What my new book is about

Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
Listen to me on the clothes making mavens podcasts

About me

My photo
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



Follow me on Instagram

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year

Tonight we are having Chinese food with the little girls and babysitting them so their parents can go out for New Year's with Mr. Billy as an attachment.

When I last saw those girls this afternoon they were playing summer with their bathing suits and sunglasses on in the kitchen, all laid out on towels hoping for a tan.

This has been a good year in my family.

Mr. Billy the world's most smiley baby was born in the summer. My middle son got engaged to the kind of girl I hoped he would marry in the fall. They have asked me to make the four flower girl dresses so more on that project later, much more.

As in every year and in every family there were some sad things, for me one of those was losing the one and only Mr. Rascal last spring. But then we adopted Miss Daisy who spent last Christmas locked in a cage in the dark waiting for the police to shut down that particular operation. One of the many things I learned from her is that even when you are just so sad someone, somewhere needs you anyway.

That and that when things seem hopeless and doomed, you never know, you just might get rescued, even when that doesn't make any sense at all. It is hard to put into words but there is something in that dog that just believes in something better, she has faith in things unseen as they say. 

You just can feel it.

And the thing is it turned out she was right, and every one else was wrong.

So I want to dedicate this one to her and leave you with some pictures taken today on a long walk on the golf course near me. It is hard to get her to stay still but maybe here you can get a sense of her first family Christmas:

One of her specialities is divot retrieval

Divot capture
On the way home in what is known as Mom's dog car
And finally after a wild Christmas with family, dogs and small children tearing up the place, here she is beside the wreckage of the much jumped on couch:

I had a cover on that couch for dog protection so much for that idea

A new year tomorrow.

New and improved placket pattern

My dear husband got up this morning and looked at my last night posted pattern and said - are you nuts?

So he redid it more professionally for me this morning, being someone who works with engineering drawings.

Thanks kiddo.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Sewing a shirt placket

For a start let's talk about the continuos placket or lap method of finishing a sleeve vent. Before we go any further let's talk about what this little unit's job is:

To finish the raw edges of the little opening above the cuff that is necessary so your hand can get into the bottom of a sleeve where it is closed when the cuff is buttoned up.

That's it. 

Raw edge finishing of a little slash that is about 3 inches long. 

This is not worth having a nervous breakdown about. 

And that might be where making a traditional, inevitably bulky, continuos placket can take you. Too many layers in such a small space with the monumental challenge of trying to sew through 12 layers of fabric (including seam allowances) diagonally across the top of the vent, over a wide throat plate hole, as is necessary in a zig zag machine, is a challenge that in my books hardly ever turns out well.

By contrast a tailored shirt style placket is dead easy and produces immaculate results with very little mental engagement, around here always a plus.

The way I do shirt placket requires photo copies or hand drawn copies of my simple pattern piece. When I put these little numbers in I do not:
  • mark
  • measure anything
  • use more than a few pins
  • stitch down anything until I have pressed and arranged it by eye so I know it will look right, if it doesn't I re-press till it does.
I do the entire placket by eye and feel and it works great. 

This is how I do it:

Step one:

  • Cut out the placket piece.
  • Make a little clip at the bottom of the sleeve where the cutting line of the vent should be.
Step two:
  • Press under the two long edges of each vent by what looks to you like about 1/4". Just make sure that the pressing is about the same depth on each side.
  • Press under the little pointy peak at the top of the placket, clipping in about 1/4" where marked in the attached diagram so you can actually fold the second side of the peak in. Turn it around to the right side and if none of this looks even and neat try it all again at the ironing board.
Step three:

  • Pin the placket to the wrong side of the bottom of the sleeve so you are looking at two wrong side fabrics, this means the right side of the placket is facing the wrong side of the sleeve fabric.
  • Pin a paper copy of the pattern on top of the placket lining up the marked cutting line in the centre of the stitching box with the little clip at the bottom of the sleeve.
Step four:

  • Shorten your stitch length so you have smallish stitches and stitch around the stitching box.
  • When this is done tear away the paper and cut up the centre of the box and right to the corners.
Step five:
  • Turn the whole unit to the right side and press so the top of the box looks faced and square. If it is a little lumpy go back in a cut closer into the corners but don't stress about it - remember the placket part you see from the outside functions as a giant patch that covers all sins.
Step six:

  • You now have a pointy big side to the placket and a thinner side, wrap the thin side around the stitching on one side of the box, just as far as you need to so as to cover that stitching and top stitch it down. Again don't fuss too much about the top it will also be covered up by the placket patch.
Step seven and the last one:

  • Laying the whole thing in front of you fuss around with it with your hands until the placket part with the point covers what it has to and covers the part you just stitched up.
  • When you have it the way you think a placket should look put in a few pins and stitch the folded under edge down, around the pointy part and back across horizontally. Go look at a shirt you have for a better idea of what you are trying to make this look like.
  • You are done and it looks great.

Here below is my hand drawn pattern for a female sized sleeve placket. I have written in the directions for what to do with each marking so I won't get confused, which I often do when there are too many lines to figure out.

Note I don't actually make any of these markings, I just use the shape of the pattern to cut out the vents and the words and lines to remind me of how this goes together and what I am supposed to do.

Instead of marking I use photocopies of this drawing, or I trace off the outline shape and only the stitching box (cleverly marked with little stitches in this very home made drawing) and pin it to the placket and stitch through the paper in lieu of any more complicated markings.

The paper can then get torn off (easy if you use small stitches for stitching around the box), slashed, turned and the placket completed from the right side.

Pattern and instruction drawings for a sleeve placket below. Note this placket is fairly wide, it's one of several I have made up, but I thought it made the techniques easier to see. You might want to reduce this in width to suit your own taste, or use these methods with your own pattern piece:

Placket pattern and instruction sheet:

Placket pattern and instructions:

Kicking off with plackets

Jodie has emailed me to ask about sewing shirt plackets, as in the men's shirt kind, rather than the continuos plackets that are usually suggested in shirts for women. Pam Howard uses continuos plackets in her Craftsy course on sewing shirts and they are also a feature of the Alder shirt for women by Grainline.

I know this is a classic womenswear technique but I don't like it at all.

How I look at sewing explains why.

But before I go there, and I will be posting my own placket instructions tonight, I want to explain why I have introduce the new sidebar for any sewing issues you would like discussed.

Like most people I have used the time over the holidays to think about life changes/improvements. This time focused on things I actually want to do rather than half to do, or should do, which narrows it down a lot.

This is my transition year, my last of full time teaching and a move into doing only the courses that I really love according to my own schedule. I intend in filling the freed up time with more sewing and sewing communication. That's why I have started to teach a few sewing classes again and why I have been thinking about this blog.

I love this blog but I really want to keep up my communication with you all without feeling pressured. Ask any blog writer and there comes a point where they might think "I don't feel like sewing something but I have to - for the blog." I often wonder if this kind of pressure is why some of my favourite bloggers have suddenly dropped off the map.

So I wanted to blog more and talk about sewing more, in addition to my unsolicited and frequent flypaper thoughts, but without feeling like I had to be a regular production factory. There are so many other folks doing such a good job with that.

So I came up with this sewing issue idea, something that would allow me time to time to talk about sewing but only do a few hand-sized samples in between the larger garment construction projects. I also figured out, as someone who always tries to find the easy way, that doing a bit of this would help me build up my store of teaching samples and save me from having to complete a whole new garment every time I teach a class.

So that's it and tonight I will be posting on plackets done as painlessly as possible.

Make sense?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Just when you thought you have heard everything and a shout out to Stylearc

So much to talk about.

Christmas was one of those really good ones. I spent a lot of it walking around with things I wanted to post but time with my head out of the dishwasher was at a premium.

Enough flypaper thoughts to wallpaper a house. Enough sewing ideas to fill every room.

For some reason the holiday season always leaves me, after a long period of doing for family, with a burning desire to do some serious sewing for myself.

I started that today by downloading and sticking together a Stylearc pattern. They now have a bunch of their patterns on Etsy - such a good, good idea. Thank you Stylearc. Three sizes in one download, which is handy for those of who are weighing in at some lifetime upper end achievement numbers on the scale, and high instant gratification, with no postage fees for those of us who want to sew now.

I personally do not usually like sticking letter size pieces of paper to the dining room table with scotch tape for three hours before I can actually start making something. However I have to say that Stylearc's downloadables are in a totally different class to anything I have pieced together before. Clear with nice margins so you can cut around each .pdf so you aren't just hoping that the cut edges of the paper are lining up right. Feels very accurate and clean.

Me and Mr.Paypal will be visiting Etsy often over the winter I can see that.

Now back to the title of this post.

For various reasons, partially kicked off by my return to teaching sewing, I have been asked to look at a lot of sewing problems lately and asked for my two cents.

When you have made as many mistakes as I have in my sewing career a person gets pretty well qualified to identify what went wrong. She also comes up with a few ideas of how to make it go right next time.

Over the holidays it seemed to me that it might be interesting to share some of that here.

Which explains the new sidebar you see on the right.

Of course this advice will be coming from me, so you might want to consider that before you ask my opinion.

There is a possibility that I may tell you to just throw it out of a second storey window and drive over it with the car and go back to the fabric store - which is something I actually did once, but still don't want to talk about.

So keep things in perspective on this little project.

Now off I go with nothing to do but eat, sew and write things on my blog for the next few days.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christmas countdown

Hi folks,

First of all I want to thank you for the supportive comments.

I mean it about a book. I want to write a sort of self-help book for sewers and I am going to do it. I have eight months of full-time work left and that will be my percolating time.

Stay tuned.

I also want to say I need some time to grab to answer the interesting comments that have been left for me, but it is nuts, with Christmas stuff and work things going on.

So what I have to share tonight are flypaper thoughts:

  • One week to go
  • The secret is to lower expectations
  • For yourself first and other people second
  • All the good things in a family and a life can't be expected to come together on one day of the year
  • I have multiple decades of personal experience backing this one up
  • They must sell a ton of super bulky yarn the week before Christmas
  • My son-in-law had not serious but highly uncomfortable surgery yesterday
  • The kids have colds
  • The son arrives late the night before Christmas with the fiancee
  • Things shaping up as normal
  • Just fuse a small piece of knit interfacing where they tell you to stay stitch at the clip
  • Who need to pick those stay stitches out at midnight?
  • Do you think a Sirarcha and honey cookie will be too weird?
  • Who would even ask that?
  • Will report tomorrow
  • Fluffy slippers are excellent
  • One year I had four minutes between the time the last one went to sleep and the first one got up
  • Am most disturbed that the early spring patterns are all for waisted full skirted dresses
  • Waists move around in fashion but where yours should be is the worst place
  • Miss Heidi has taken this lump of coal thing to heart
  • Walking around in stubby legs muttering "that time I screamed at my family I was a baby. I am going to be good now I am a big girl"
  • Makes me feel bad that I told her about Melvin Clark
  • The kid I actually know who once got a lump of coal
  • Parents pulled those stunts in the old days
  • It appears grandparents pull them now
  • She is already stressed enough for three
  • And not just because of the sneaky looking Elf on the Shelf
  • Like about racoons
  • I told her about the time I found a racoon hand under the cushion on the couch
  • Must have fallen off someone in the backyard
  • Birdie brought it in for a present
  • I live in Nova Scotia after all
  • One more story and I am going to be put on grandmother probation
  • She would rather stand than sit on the couch
  • Much like her father
  • These things happen
  • Why would my husband think I wanted a car that can talk to me?
  • I get into the car for peace and quiet
  • We have traded back
  • If kids can't spill juice in it then it's not for me
  • My neighbourhood is famous for Christmas lights
  • We have tour buses drive slowly all night
  • Makes you run downstairs to throw the switch on while wearing your fuzzy slippers
  • The last thing we were famous for was the Bird House gang
  • Bunch of gangsters were going into yards at night and switching around the bird houses
  • Giving the senior men fits
  • Only their wives laughed
  • It's a tough neighbourhood
  • Do they still sell red and green Rice Krispies?
  • In case the Sirarcha cookies bomb
  • As if that's going to happen

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Archer shirt

Yes I know I was a sort of sign upper for the Archer shirt sew-along and finished that shirt about a month ago, but haven't got around to posting anything on it yet.

Here is a simple hanger shot:

The fabric was a voile cotton with almost a suede finish which will explain some of the odd colour shading.

This is a very good pattern.

Well-drafted, which means it slots together well, and a great fit for a comfortable shirt. Good smart directions too.

My only comment is that it uses the traditional blouse continuous lap placket which is something I hate doing. Far too many fabric layers in a short space and as a result they never, IMO, lie flat (I have turned the sleeve around for the photo so you can see what I mean.)

Far better to use a nice neat, and if you want a more feminine version a smaller, proper shirt placket like the one I put in a Negroni shirt for my nephew last night:

I know there are versions of this being put on the Archers over at the sew-along. However again I think that doing it in two pieces is unnecessary - a one pattern piece version, as you find in the Negroni, is just so much easier and always turns out perfectly. The trick is of course to trace the stitching box on typing paper and pin it directly over the placket piece on the shirt sleeve and just stitch through the line on the paper with a small stitch (you can tear the paper away easily afterwards) to get around what looks like complicated marking on the pattern piece.

I know I should be doing some tutorials, but it really is getting a little nuts around here pre-Christmas time. Hopefully I will get a chance to catch up.

I have been reading a lot of indie pattern instruction sheets lately and I am also thinking I really need to write a sewing book.

Soooo many of these patterns (some of them designed by folks who are now publishing their own basic sewing books) are just telling sewers to do things the hardest way possible and with that the largest margin for error.

Over and over again I want to say "there is an easier way to do this, there really is, with better results". 

It seems to me that some of these talented young designers are looking up techniques in standard sewing texts. Fair enough but they are missing out on the knowledge of a whole generation of sewers, brilliant women who were under-employed as housewives and went on to write amazing books (often self-published and I have them) full of smart and nifty ways around sewing problems, and to teach and broadcast in some places really interesting classes where they taught their methods.

The problem was that this work was often not well captured and the new generation of sewers can't access it.

But I can. 

I read those books, I took those classes, I taught those classes. 

I knew those women. I was the part of the last generation they passed on a way of thinking about sewing to.

Someone has to get this information out there.

I really am seeing too many gapping knit necklines ( 3/4 ratio for self fabric, 2/3 for ribbing, pin-and-mark-in quarters) too many V necklines done in the way that has a 99% chance of ending in a little bump rather than a way that has a 99% chance of success first off.

So I need to write a book and have to figure out how to get that done.

Now off to packing that shirt off for Winnipeg.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Sewers are born not made

I have many, many things to write about right now but tonight I want to share what my middle granddaughter did today at nursery school.

It was her day to make a wish for what she wanted her circle group to do as an activity. Usually it is a story or a game etc.

Today Miss Heidi said her wish was to sew ballet clothes. So they got her some fabric and helped her cut and this is her outfit. Note she even made her shoes:

Lately, since the baby, Miss Heidi has had a few time outs for things like cutting the points off the bunting flags her mom made to decorate her room, and cutting up her own clothes and gluing them to the floor (I am a terrible grandmother I just laugh no matter what goes down over there) but I am putting this together now.

This kid is just a born sewer trying to get out.

And I am ready for her.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas baking : not too sweet ideas

Yes I know.

I am still marking.

However that doesn't mean I don't go AWOL every once and a while and surf the web during break time.

I am often amused by the cookie recipes published this time of year, based on the assumption that your average busy person, with a job, family and 8,000 responsibilities has spare time to make ganache, dip delicate cookies in chocolate and role in toasted pecans, or ice up little numbers like these:

I can tell you for sure that anyone who is spending her time on projects like this is way behind in making up her Lazy-boy tops.

Way behind.

There is also a limit to the amount of icing sugar, cream cheese and butter a person can buy these days when the rest of world has gone diet responsible. Not everyone tucks away the sweets like they used to, or I still want to.

So with all of that in mind I was quite interested in, and wanted to share, these Washington Post recipes for off-beat Christmas cookies.

I might actually make some of these.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sharing a breath

I will get to those instructions, or find them in a book, soon. I really have to keep soldiering on with the marking though, students and administrators are waiting, before I can take time out to do that.

There is however one fast story I want to share.

Back in the early summer when we adopted Miss Daisy, many pounds and vet treatments ago, she was a small terrified wreck. The first day she came home with us she lay on the floor shaking like a seizure.

I didn't have a clue what to do.

So I decided to think of the safest she had ever felt and wondered if that was with her mother when she was a puppy. So, no other ideas in my head, I lay down on the floor with her, pressed my body all along hers and did strong slow breathing. The kind they tell you to do to help with the pain in labour - it didn't really work then, but I figured I was dealing with some kind of pain I didn't understand and it was all I had to reach for.

After a while she calmed down.

Last night we had a thunderstorm. 

Unlike the first time she was in a storm with us, when we lost her for hours since she was in the back of a closet where her little black self was invisible, she wanted up on the bed and she crawled up to the pillow between us. 

She lay there, pressed to the wall and I could not believe how she was shaking, how a little body could have those many tremors in it. 

So I just did what I did before. 

I put my hand on her back and my face next to hers and I just breathed,  slow and deep, like a person who isn't afraid of anything would breathe just before they went to sleep. Just like a mother who knows something about the thunder you don't and just knows it will be OK.

After a while I could feel her breathing matching mine and she feel asleep. Even while the wind continued to blow.

This has me thinking of Mr. Billy the baby.

Billy sticks to my daughter's body like a mussel to a rock - we joke he is four months old and has agoraphobia, all he wants is to be plastered to her at home in his own house.

I wondered this morning if maybe all he is doing, quietly in a way we are not noticing, is matching his breath to hers before he lets go.

I wonder.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Lazi-boy top #2

It should be pointed out at this stage I am not a lazi-girl (84 more papers to mark but who's counting) but I really want to be.

In the meantime I am sewing aspirational tops during break times.

The latest was this one from Burdastyle, one of those digital patterns you tape all those pages together. Here is the picture of how it looks on someone who is not me and actually never was me:

They made their's in a sort of fake fur but I decided against that in case the folks around here thought it was a Halloween costume.

Besides I had some of that purple loopy knit like I used in the first Lazi-boy top and a purple scarf with wiener dogs on it which I don't get a call to wear as often as you might think.

Here are the pictures. 

They show this is a really big top, even on me and suitable for wearing with leggings or any time you might want to disguise your actual true body shape, as I often do, or if you are unexpectedly carrying triplets. One of these is a better shot of the top, the other one is included because for once I don't have a dopey look on my face or am inspecting fleas on the ceiling:

This is an excellent top for schlepping around, marking papers, or cutting out Lazi-boy top #3.

Now some technical notes.

Probably because they actually thought someone would make this top, and not as a Halloween costume, in fake fur the neckline is finished with bias tape turned under and stitched.

Even before I started following these instructions (or as my friend Sue likes to call them the destructions) I knew this woven binding, even in a bias, on a knit is a bad idea.

I figured it would distort the knit and bow out the V neckline and for once I was right.

I still tried it out though. 

You never know. Sometimes in the rare instances in which I actually follow the instructions (like when I can find them and haven't thrown them out with the back neck facings) I learn something new, which since I am in education is probably an experience I should support.

Back to the neckline.

Once I had established in the bathroom mirror that this did stick out and look horrible I just cut the binding right away from that neckline. A lot faster than unpicking a knit. Borrow this idea if you want.

I then installed my super easy cross over V for idiots that always works out and requires no thought.

Here is how you do it:

1. Cut a long piece of knit twice as wide as you want it finished ( you will be folding the band in half lengthwise) and much longer than the measurement around the neckline ( you can cut off the extra later- apply the band with a good few inches extra hanging around at the bottom of the V)

2. Starting at the point of the V stitch up one side of the V, without stretching the band, stretch slightly around the back of the neck so it will cup a bit, and back down in the direction  the point of the V on the other side - Stopping a few inches before the point of the V on the second side.

3. Lay the whole unit out on a table right sides out and tuck the end of the side of the band that was stitched from the point of the V into the gap left unstitched on the other side. Arrange it around so it looks alright from the right side. Pin it in position.

4. Go back to the wrong side and finish stitching that bit of seam on the second side you left unsewn through all layers of band that are there. 

5. Cut off any extra band length.

Now I want you to know that I tried to take pictures of this but it came out as one dark purple blog and despite the fact I am fully aware that instructions without pictures are useless - I can and should do instructions later.

It is a great method.

Perfectly fool proof and about 1000% easier than all other methods I see described anywhere else I look on the www.

If I get enough requests I will do a proper tutorial like a decent blogger.

But right now I have too much brain numbness after the many assignments I have already marked today.

You know when all you can think of to write at the bottom of a paper is "You mean this is it? You're kidding right? " it is time to call it a day.

For educational purposes.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Lazi-boy top #1

A few years ago my husband went out and got himself a Lazi-boy chair. At the time I thought we didn't need another chair in this house and particularly one that was  such a cliche. 

You know how cool I am. It's well-known.

Of course the minute that man was out of the house away for work I was right in that old Lazi-boy, feet flipped up and enjoying myself a lot.

Eventually I bought one for myself, once it became apparent he wanted his back.

Yes that's right. 

We have his and hers Lazi-boys down in the family room in the basement. So much for cliches.

Listen I admit it, being comfortable is a real default and for good reason. If you were coming home after a day standing up teaching and generally being pulled in four hundred directions and just wanted to cruise the pattern sites and pretend you were going to actually sew all those things, where would you plant yourself?

As illustrated above or, in this:

I hope I am not insulting anyone's design sense or living room, but I kind of rest my case.

It has occurred to me that I do this with some of my clothes.

Go for the chic picture and forget how I will feel in it.

I need more Lazi-boy tops.

I know I would wear them a lot.

With that in mind I pulled out this pattern I have been meaning to sew for a long time:

I am a big fan of shawl collars, as I am of details that are from the culture of women's clothes, so I always liked this pattern.

I decided to add about 4" total to the width, and inch each side at the underarm, to make it more a tunic but still maintain the fit in the shoulders, and I added the same to the length.

I used a sort of loopy knit that is kind of a cross between a fleece and a terry and here it is:

There is no head in this picture because the photographer focused on the dog and not me and my face is a little blurry, not to mention the hair is vertical.

Here is the close-up of the collar:

Now if this doesn't say ready to recline, I don't know what does.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

My very smart kid

My middle child and his colleague room mate have just launched a sports newsletter for people who don't follow sports. 

People like his mother, who sometimes want to be able to make some kind of conversation when they are surrounded by people who really follow this stuff.

Tomorrow morning they are sending out their Thanksgiving football recap.

The site is called the Casual Spectator and in their words this is what it is about:

Casual Spectator is a super-simple newsletter about major sporting events for people who don't really follow sports. Twice a week, we preview the biggest events in sports with the context you need to have fun watching and a better time discussing. 

If you are interested here is where you go to subscribe.

Holiday sewing

Don't get excited by the title. 

Things are pretty slack in Santa's workshop these days.

I decided a while ago to aim for any big project gifts, if I felt like it, for birthdays since those are spaced out and to be sort of random at Christmas. Many of us have passed through those phases of making a lot of gifts to spread around the resources but have eventually realized that the supplies add up and the time runs out.

This year I am dispatching the spouse to Florida for a few days in early December. 

It is against policy for him to do fun stuff without me, my policy, but he has been working very hard lately. Plus I went to New York and to be fair a few days of golf and sun would do that boy good since I suspect they are sending him to the North Pole again after Christmas, which if you remember is in the middle of winter, and the North Pole is place he can go to without me thanks.

So Florida for a few days seems like a good idea.

We have a post office address in St. Augustine and once the spouse announced he would do all my shopping for me at the outlets (this being the man who once gave his entire side of the family microwavable slippers from Canadian Tire bought at 15 minutes to closing on December 24th one year) I decided to do a lot of proactive online ordering to head that off.

He can golf and then bring home a full suitcase which will suit me fine.

Freed up from the responsibility of doing any serious gift making or buying, I am making some fool around small things that are sort of fun to do but are not consuming much time so that if folks say "what was mom thinking?' and throw it out when I am not looking I won't be hurt.

To give you an idea of how likely this might be, here are a couple of owl sleep masks that I crocheted, despite the fact I cannot yet, after a continuing gigantic investment of time, crochet.

At all.

In fact I wasted a whole Saturday afternoon trying to crochet some snowflakes, envisioning a garland for the mantle out of them. Unfortunately they did not look at all, not one bit, like snowflakes but they did look an awful lot like rolled up white athletic socks and a string of those over the fireplace would be too much even by my low standards.

Back to my owls. 

To give you an idea of the depth of my crochet expertise these were made from the exact same pattern but are totally different sizes. Thank goodness I can sew or I would begin to wonder about my head:

My friend Trudy, on the other hand, knows what she is doing. 

The Saturday before last she came over for a sew-a-thon and got well into the 36 cosmetic bags she is speed serging up. She is the serger ace and did all the center gathered panels with the gathering foot on her serger which impressed me a lot.

Here is a shot of her in action and one of her bags complete. Me I managed to put a collar in upside down but I did make lunch:

Off I go for dinner. 

Next post, when ever I can get free of work this week to do it, will be of my latest top in what I am calling my Lazi-Boy collection.

When you see the top you will know why.


My massage therapist said something really interesting today that I feel is sewing relevant.

"Some people are buried with their gifts."

These would not be cosmetic bags or owl masks I don't think, but gifts of the spirit, or talents. Use them as much as you can so they can all be given away in your lifetime she meant.

I ordered some more fabric after that.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Picture heavy

In keeping with my policy to have the blog with the worst pictures on the web here are a bunch of one of my latest efforts.

I know, I know. 

I should get a tripod and a remote. I should sign up for Instagram how-to courses. I should get lights. I should allow more than 40 seconds for photo shoot. I should be like one of those mommy bloggers who have the photographic skills of Yosef Karsh  (famous Canadian photographer), but that would affect my sewing time.

So in this blog, unfortunately, what you see is what you get.

So here we are.

I got this fabric in New York recently, sort of a heavy knit lace at Parons, who usually are a better source for quality wools and boucles.

I was wary of something with too many seams to interfere with the lace.

I have also decided for the next little while to pursue a new approach to my sewing - I am going to try to sew only things that I will actually wear - as in reach for in the morning when I am in a rush.

This is a new tactic for me, and so original I am thinking of patenting it.

So with that in mind I decided to use this basic dolman top I have used before - knowing from experience that tops with sleeves like this actually work better in fabrics with some body as they go all droopy and is-that-an-old-rag-you-have-hanging-from-your-shoulders if you use something light like a jersey.

Counter intuitive I know but what I have experienced based on bathroom mirror research.

So this is the pattern I used, out of print but there are tons similar:

I also got the bright idea to do the scoop neck version but to make a ring to put on over it to look sort of like a cowl so this top could be more trans-seasonal.

I first tried a long infinity type ring but it was way too many layers and I know would be hot flash inducing, so I cut it down to something that went around my neck once.

I have to tell you that quite honestly I have had my struggles being really crazy about the infinity scarf with everything look. I know I am the only person in the universe who feels this way but my neck feels sort of stuffed into too much fabric when I wear them. 

Maybe I was scarred by a forceps delivery or by having my mother tie too many scratchy wool scarves around and around my neck in Manitoba in the winter (you might get strangled but at least you would be warm was the rule) to really be enthusiastic about the scarved up look.

Enough talking.

Here are the hanger shots:

And here are the shots on me, taken by the only available photographer, the charming Miss Scarlett who was home for lunch (we have lunch together twice a week at my house because it fits both our school schedules) on "pyjama" day:

Here is the result of our photo shoot:

Note lurking Daisy, I didn't want to press the hems, which I did by hand, in case I flattened the lace but seeing these shots I think I will.

The thing with this top of course is you have to wear something under it. I tried a camisole but what is the point of a nice comfortable top if you have to wear body armour under it?

Since I have decided to actually try some of the patterns in my long standing collection I went searching for something to make out of some coincidentally totally matching rayon single knit. It really is too easily wrinkled (rayon is a wood based product and of course single knits can act like paper) for a real top.

I pulled out one of my meaning-to-trys, the tank from Pamela's patterns twin set.

I followed the instructions to choose the size based on high bust measurement. This gave me a medium, and although this was absolutely perfect for what I wanted, nice and loose, it would have been way too big for an actually summer tank as you can see. I could even see the bottom of my bra underneath in the arm holes for example. 

Good to find that out and very nice when your wearable muslin is actually useful. I may in fact extend this to make a sleeveless night gown for summer and now I know that about this pattern:

More tomorrow but right now I have dogs agitating for trips to the park.