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

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Clothesmaking mavens
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About me

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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, November 15, 2014

Geez, the original hipster

This article was published in our local paper today.  For those of us who were sewing when it wasn't cool it's so good to see new sewers sign up.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Small victories

I went to the vet today for a follow-up on Daisy's teeth.

For those of you who are not hanging on the edge of your seats thinking about my dog's teeth here is the recap.

In August she went in to have about half of her bad puppy mill history teeth extracted. They were black and horrible. In the end the vet could only keep her under long enough to get them all cleaned. So he sent me home to see what I could do with brushing and to come back in a few months to reassess and to book more surgery.

In the intervening months I have been doing Daisy's teeth twice a day with dog toothpaste and these drugstore gloves and a tiny tooth brush. The glove were the most useful, I pretty much could only poke around with the toothbrush.

Well the follow-up was today and the vet told me her teeth were perfect. Amazing in fact he told me, like nothing he had ever seen, her teeth so good that the gums had even grown back and she needs no more dental work at all (this saves me about $2,500).

In fact he came out and told his staff about her teeth and wrote down exfoliating gloves.

Listen there's a lot I don't get on top of or get right.

I have upside down collars and a pile of messages to answer and classes to prepare. 

I haven't touched that mending pile since 1994 and I still don't know why folks are still adding to it.

When my kids started school I bought a cookie jar and thought I would fill it with cookies so we could sit down every day after school and discuss our days. 

I think I managed that once.

Three kids and twelve years of school each.

I was thinking this week I would start a new board called Disinterest where folks could pin all their unfinished projects, record their over ambitions, and all the creative projects they messed up.

I could fill boards and boards all by myself. They would be called:

"Stains Dawn dish detergent did not get out"

"Doors with no wreaths on them"

"Squares that stick to the bottom of the pan"

"Slow cooker meals that require $37.00 of ingredients and still taste like water"

"Messy kitchen drawers"

"Weird things that have been found in messy kitchen drawers"

"Rolls of undeveloped film of the childhoods of kids now in their 30s"

"Dogs with dust bunnies on them because they were coated with coconut oil by well meaning son's girlfriends and who then tried to hide under the couch (the dogs not the girlfriends)"

I think I am on to something.

But I have to say tonight.

What ever else I don't get together in my life.

I am pretty awesome when it comes to dog's teeth.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

How sewing builds, or at least creates, character

I am still supposed to be reducing my running around while the bones in my foot heal from getting beat up by the cutting board. This has shrunk my sewing time to increments.

I have been working in small bursts on the Archer shirt, which really is a wonderful pattern. All the pieces just slot together so nice.

However I have been picking it up and putting it down and this has had its consequences.

Somewhere along this start and stop process I did a very nice job of applying the collar and stand (credit to the pattern) but when I held it up to admire my spectacular sewing skill I noticed I had put the collar in upside down, meaning the center back seam of the undercollar is now on top.

Compared with problems like what to do about North Korea and melting of the polar ice cap this is not the end of the world. But that doesn't mean I just can't believe I was this dumb.

Of course the 500 collars I have applied before in my recent sewing career all went in with this not happening, but what I am going to do? Wear a sign on this shirt that says "I never make this mistake?"

What I am really going to do is just concentrate on the part that was not a mistake, and move on to the sleeves.

I'm tough.

All this sewing has made me this way.

Which has got me thinking about all that sewing has done for my character. Of how many transferable skills there are to it.

Here are a few I can think of tonight, your own thoughts would be much appreciated.

Let's start with the obvious:

Sewing makes you resilient. 

Essentially you have no choice. To have invested so much time and energy in something and have it not turn out, usually because of operator error, but to keep on sewing develops your bounce back. I figure years of moving past the ones that were duds, onto the next one that won't be, develops the moving-forward-despite-current-evidence skill and an outlook that's very useful say when you lose a job, have a crappy interview, or serve your worst ever meal to the people you most wanted to impress.

You learn to say oh honestly, then oh well, and then move on.

Sewing makes you persistent.

I don't actually like to tell those folks who make a pillow one week and want to design their own line the next that, in addition to the ability to move past failures, sewing also requires you keep at learning how to do it better. Buttonholes and zippers that don't give you a heart attack take a lot more practice and patience than anyone is really willing to tell you - sort of like those nurses who refer to labour as uncomfortable. You have to use a seam ripper a lot to be a good sewer. You have to be willing to revise your technique and try new ways of doing things all the time.

What sewing teaches you most of all is that if you stick with it you can get pretty damn slick.

Sewing makes you open to the unexpected.

Right this very minute as I sit here with my dog on my bed with my foot wrapped in ice and elevated on an exercise ball I am wearing a top made out of some fabric that I was going to ditch and in a dolman sleeve pattern that I thought wouldn't suit me. Because I didn't think the fabric was my colour I figured why not waste it on a pattern that will also look terrible.

The thing is that both the fabric and pattern were a surprise and this is my favourite top.

Surprises like this teach a person a lot. They also keep her from missing good opportunities, like that diamond in the rough man or that quiet person who turns out to be real funny. Being open to surprises reminds you are probably aren't as smart as you thought you were and judging too fast keeps you from missing out on some of the real good stuff.

I am sure that over the next few days I will think of more things sewing has done for me, but tonight that's enough to make me at peace about that upside down collar.

What do you think about this?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

My mother and the Black Death: not for squeemish

The back story on this one is that despite Daisy's own ongoing flea medication, a visiting dog has brought fleas into the house. Since Daisy is on something that kills fleas once they are on her they still have to jump on to get that to point,and I have found a few on her belly. I saw the vet today about something to add to that process.

I think you get the drift. You don't see any fleas around here but I know they are there.

October and November are the worst months for fleas. Those little nuisances are occupied with catching the last train into a warm house and a warm body before the big freeze hits - but I am ready for them.

So ready.

You see my mother was a nurse in the fifties when infectious diseases were the thing. She nursed through the polio epidemic and through TB. Later she was a volunteer taking care of one of the first folks to die from AIDS when that was getting going. She's 87 but I know she is on standby waiting to take the call to take on Ebola.

My dad used to say my mother could stop the bubonic plague in its tracks if she had too. She used to make nurse sisters who came from the hospital change in the porch before they came in the house.

When we were growing up she sterilized everything, good technique she called it. If someone gave us hand me down books she baked them in the oven before we were allowed to read them. I had to go to school before I found out not all books had wavy pages.

When I had children she sterilized all the toys before she even had her coat off when she came to visit.

I don't want you to get the impression that she was a neat freak, far, far from it, but I grew up in a very untidy house that was nevertheless bacteria free.

So when I assessed the flea situation I channeled my past. I have washed everything that can be washed in hot water and for the things that can't be I have come up with my own invention.

I found out that freezing kills fleas at all life stages so, you guessed it, anything that can't fit into the washer is now in the chest deep freeze. Go looking for ice cubes around here and you might be staring at a rug.

My mother would be proud.