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, November 11, 2015

Remembrance day

I have mixed feelings about this day of memories of war. In Canada we call it Remembrance day which is about those who fell rather than veterans in general like in the U.S.

I have so much trouble with all the young men who have died for causes now forgotten, but they need remembering.

They were someone's child, that's what I keep thinking.

Here is a picture of my maternal grandfather and three of his brothers who went off to WWI. Another brother, the one who didn't want to join up, was killed and not in this picture, my grandfather is second from the left looking at the picture.

My strongest memory of war occurred in a fabric store.

It was a long time ago and I was standing at the table waiting for something to be cut. They had a radio running in the background and interrupted the music to say that Bagdad had been bombed.

I remember an older woman, a quilter by the looks of her fabrics, picking up her bolts and slamming them onto the cutting table:

"Stupid men," she said. "It's going to be the women and children who suffer most."

Last week at my granddaughter's school they showed this music video by the Ennis sisters from St. John's Newfoundland.

This says it all.

Monday, November 9, 2015

High performance womanhood

Starting to think about Christmas reminded me of a conversation I had with my daughter this week.

Now I need to set this in context. 

My daughter has three kids six and under. She has a big house which is spotless, and she has a Golden Retriever. Once or twice when I have gone over the help her clean, like when she had a new baby, I would go into her bathroom and stand around in there for a bit, maybe read a magazine, and then come out and say "Done!" She would go in and inspect and tell me things looked great.

Of course they did.

My daughter also works part-time in children's oncology, crafts, entertains tons, and has great friendships. 

But still she often wonders if she is doing enough.

Her whole crowd wonders the same thing. 

A week ago one of her friends organized a make-up party with a make up artist to show them how to do up their faces so they didn't look tired. The girl who organized this is my dentist, with her own practice and four kids under five - including two twins. Boys so busy that at one stage they had to have their diapers duct taped on them.

With this life she is supposed to be tired as far as I can make out.

IMO the bar is too high and the next generation of women is bending under it.

I think we all need a little less Pinterest, a few more honest bloggers, and fewer high performance Instagram play-by-plays.

It's time we brought back slackness to modern life.

I for one didn't expect the house to look great until the kids were grown up, not knowing then that by the time they did I liked the house the way it was, dents and all.

My mother based her entire entertaining career on Twinkle cake mixes and a dip made of dried onion soup mix and sour cream if she was going all out.

Sometimes I bathed my kids in the afternoon and put them in their pyjamas for something to do. And then did it again later in the day if it was still 5:00.

I once kept my daughter home for the wrong week for spring break because I read the note wrong and she was my first.

I thought that was funny.

When my first mother-in-law went to work full time she announced they were going to take away dinner from the local Hungarian restaurant every night and they did, she had no intention of doing it all and didn't intend to try.

Life can get too serious sometimes to take the times when it isn't, seriously.

You will be remembered by how you made the other guy feel far more than what you did.

You can pin that one.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Christmas on ramp

How sewers approach Christmas goes through evolutions. 

There are the early days when on tight incomes you try to make everything for everyone, which works until you figure out that it costs more to make gifts half the time, or you have had the delightful experience of having the recipient ask "What's this?" Christmas morning.

Then there is the stage when you decide what the hell I am sewing for me and do your best in the stores.

Later, and this is where I am now, the kids are big enough to buy their own good taste stuff, and you are best taking orders. 

At least it is something no mall or online merchant can give them and it does spare them your own random taste, which in my case is quite an issue. My daughter's classic line when shopping with me is "well that looks like something you would wear" - a comment that suggests she will never be one day writing a book called "What my mother taught me about style" or that she and the daughter-in-laws and granddaughters will ever be killing each other for a crack at my curated wardrobe after I have drifted off to that great fabric store in the beyond.

I am doing pretty good with the order up system, up to the point where my youngest son asked me if I can knit him a sweater for Christmas.

I have a distinct feeling that he means Christmas 2015 not 2016.

Here is what I am supposed to be trying to knit. Five hours of Netflix and I have the ribbing on the bottom done. My goal for this afternoon is to see if I can knit while I walk on the treadmill. Stay tuned on that one, or watch the local papers for the accident reports:


I really wish I could say that I knit at even a fraction of the speed at which I crochet. I have been happily crocheting cardigans for the kids.

I have to say though that part of the reason for the swiftness of my crochet production is that I have no idea what I am doing, even when executing the most simple of patterns.

For example I suggest new crocheters learn how to actually count rows before they start a pattern. If you count ridges say thinking they are actually rows, rather than counting both the ridges and the dips underneath as two rows, which they in fact are, you will crochet arms that are, just saying, about twice as long as they should be. This is what that will look like:

Unblocked but that isn't going to fix anything
Probably the worst part of this is that it took me two sweaters to figure out I was doing anything wrong. In fact it took me going back to the picture to realize that the original did not have cuffs on the sleeves rolled up to the armpits. I just figured it was part of the style to keep kids really warm.

Onward as they say.

Now I have a question for you.

Are you attempting any self-made gifts this year, if so what are they?

If you are giving fourteen people stranded Norwegian colour worked mitts, or tailoring your husband a sports coat, or or crocheting everyone an heirloom quality bedspread feel free not to leave a comment.

For the rest of you, I really want to know what you have on the on ramp for this year, and what you actually think you will get done, or what your generally philosophical position on gift giving this time of year is.

We are, after all, in this together.