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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, January 11, 2014

Three Stylearc pants patterns differientated

O.K. here we go. 

As promised a highly scientific examination of the differences between three Stylearc patterns, the Becky Yoga, the Elle and the Barb. The thing about the Stylearc pants is they fit an amazing variety of shapes - due I think to some great drafting and an excellent crotch curve.

With of course the requisite quick and dirty shots in my basement done by my quick and relatively clean spouse who always seems to be on his way to other projects here we are.

The theme of this review is : the degree of stretch is the factor determining success. 

Each of these pants has been made by me in a stretch fabric that was not the right degree of stretch for that pattern and I produced either a wadder or something too uncomfortable to wear.

Each of these patterns was also made by me in fabric with the right degree of stretch and I had great success.

My assessment of what fabric worked with what pattern seemed to me to be worth passing on.

Here goes:

The Becky Yoga pant:

The first pair I made was in what I thought was a highly stretchy light ponte knit in which 4" of fabric stretched to about 6".

I could barely fit one leg into the first leg I sewed up and the centre front came no where near the actual centre front.

On an impulse I grabbed the most stretchy knit I had on hand, in purple no less, a rayon interlock that stretched 100% , meaning that 4" stretched easily to 8".

The result was a highly comfortable pair of purple yoga pants that I will be wearing in the basement to do my so- called exercises and no where else.

Here is the general shape of these pants on a hanger:

Here are these pants on my general shape:

Yes I know but no one is going to see these except you and www. I will do anything for education. Note these pants have a nice high waistline.

The Elle pant:
I made these a year ago in a stretch woven, about 25% ( 4" to 5") stretch and they made my body look like a teacup - legs with a ball on top. Plus I couldn't move in them.

This time I used a cotton/lycra terry with 50% stretch  and am super happy with them as skinny pants. I have them on now and they are perfect for blogging.

Here they are on a hanger, you can see the leg shape:

And on me:

Husband decided the black pants didn't show up so he threw an old cotton sheet over the family photos. Who am I to argue with a man with a camera in his hand and better things to do?
Finally, here are the Barb's in stretch corduroy (25% stretch this would be a minimum IMO).

On the hanger:

  And on me:

Any questions?

Now back to the lab.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

In process sewing

In a sort of semi acknowledgment of my sewing resolutions I have spent part of this weekend playing around with pants patterns.

I had the bright idea that I would make three Stylearc patterns - the Barb, Elle and Yoga - and take shots of them all on my own realistic body so you can see the difference the different draft makes on the same person.

I figured it would be educational, for like me.

Well semi progress.

I have made the Barb in a stretch cord (an acknowledgment of the current climate) because I was dubious about how they would look in a heavier, more utility fabric.

I made the Elles, which had been previously expressed as a wadder, in some real stretchy french terry cotton lycra stuff.

I made the Yoga pants in something I figured was stretchy enough and was not. I could have provided you with an illuminating illustration of how they turned out in fabric like that but that would have involved a one legged shot and a good clear view of the other half of me in some nice sensible striped cotton sewing underwear - but since I am having a hard enough time myself coming to terms with that image-  I would rather not put you through it.

So my trio is so far incomplete but I have gone as far as cutting out another Yoga in some fine but highly stretchy knit and we will see how that goes.

This is putting me behind schedule since my photographer will be out of town until Wednesday but I should get it all done that night and up.

In other news Pam at Off the Cuff has posted a wonderful tutorial for adding cool collars to knit tops.

These are perfect, perfect additions to the two Kristen dresses I have on the runway and I am so pleased that I saw this before I had started sewing them. 

Aren't these just great?

To follow up on the weather I have been knitting a lot in the evenings. I did a sweater for the hubby in the summer but really, despite all the nice things my sister-in-law said, it really was too wide at the hips and sort of too short and riding up at the back. You know these things when the wearer keeps pulling it down in the fitting.

It is a beautiful alpaca and I know he would wear it now so I unravelled it to the armpits and have reknit it adding some short rows at the back and decreases from the underarm to the bottom.

Since I have absolutely no idea what I am doing I am not sure if this is an improvement or not but it has been educational.

Pictures when the ribbing is done.

I like to knit but find it fairly boring unless I am watching something on TV.
I should say the screen really because I find most TV terrible. 

We just watch one or two news shows and the spouse watches golf sometimes when there is a home reno project promised but that's it. 

Why do cable companies make it impossible to just order that - we have tons of other channels we never, ever watch yet we are stuck with them as part of our "package."

For some reason this makes me crazy because it seems like such a waste. Give this stuff to someone who wants to watch "Storage Wars" or other reality TV shows about nasty people, or who wants to watch cars rebuilt or people cry at cooking competitions and just let me keep my news.

OK Downton Abbey starts again tonight I forgot that. OK PBS and news.

Netflix is good however. I like the series because you can adjust how much you watch to how tired you are.

Here is what I have been watching, while I wait for House of Cards to come around again. (BTW I loved that series having worked with politicians. My husband bailed on me though, he got tired of hearing "That is soooo true. That is exactly what happens." He says no one in the engineering/construction industry ever acts like that and they all were nuts).

In the meantime I have watched Lillyhammer which is majorly quirky with Steve Van Zandt doing some tremendous over acting but some great Norwegian actors (a lot of the movie is in Norwegian) but I liked it for shots of the Norwegian interiors and the clothes. You know when you see an Ottobre woman pattern and you think, well that's a bit odd. They wore those clothes in this series with winter boots and it all fit. Interesting.

I also enjoyed the Bletchley Circle which was about smart women forced back to dull lives on the home front after the war, lots of knitted jumpers.

There are other series I have enjoyed but these are the most recent.

What do you watch when you sew or knit?

What would you recommend?