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I am a mother, a new 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 first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Saturday, January 9, 2016

Cozy sewing

Every once in a while I read something that seems to hit exactly where my head is at the moment.

Today it was this article on Hygge Chic which apparently refers to a Scandinavian idea of "feeling cozy and snug, and being kind to yourself." 

Of course it doesn't escape me that this idea came out of a cold weather climate like mine, and say not out of the Caribbean, where the need to wrap yourself up is undoubtedly not the same.

Hygge is an idea worth thinking about. 

It suggests treating yourself kindly as a style statement, as something you can plan for, as opposed to something you revert to by putting on the old worn standbys hoping that no one comes to the door.

This idea of dressing for your actual life, and sewing for it, finding fashion that fits these needs rather than trying to fit yourself and your style into fashion, has been on my mind all week.

To give you an example here is what happened, among so many other things, in my life this week, what I really need to dress for:

  • My daughter's family all had the stomach flu and so I did more than my usual picking up of Miss Scarlett after school at 2:30. High point was when she threw herself around in front of all the other parents - "I don't believe it. I have to go home where they are all boring and sleeping and all I want to do is go to your house and sew!" (Couldn't do it that day, had to teach, but have booked two sewing session next week after school).
  • Taught my first class of the term online and video, happy to be back part time and on my terms. However doing online stand up requires careful prep and the rearrangement of the backdrops at the home front. Moved books that had appropriate titles in and Dr. Suess and cookbooks out of the shot.
  • Took two dogs for three walks every day, crunching over the salt and balancing on the snowbanks.
  • Discussed the liver enzymes of two other dogs with relatives in detail, over the phone.
  • Discussed in even greater detail my nephew's new residence arrangement at university.
  • Wasted about five hours researching bra patterns until I remembered I buy very good ones in the US every spring at the outlets.
  • Calculated what this will cost with the Canadian dollar in the tank.
  • Realized that we are on par with the Aussie dollar so spent 10 hours researching (researching really means me lying in a cooling bath with my iPad) online fabric sources in Australia.
  • Spent a day mending for my youngest son who has gone to South America for three weeks to walk the Inca trail etc. The only garment repairs I don't avoid are those for my baby boys. This time it was my son telling me that for safety reasons it is really important when traveling in the third world (which probably is much like Nova Scotia but generally warmer) not to wear new clothes. Pretty much only the thought that zig zagging rips closed might save his life made me do it.
  • Started my fifth attempt at sleeves that fit in that sweater I cut up. That's all I am going to say about that one.
  • Tore over to my step daughter's son's sitter to retrieve him owing to the fact that the sitter's own child ate some money and had to go to the ER, with the other kids I was taking care of that day in the car.
  • Dropped the car key under the seat once I arrived and was blocking the sitter's driveway. The four-year-old and I crawled under all the seats (how long has that other stuff been down there?) and finally found it although not right away.
  • Spent a day worrying hard and a day being relieved over some family medical tests that in the end turned out fine.
  • Watched the news and wondered if there is anyone with any sense out there.
  • Thought of all the things I have to pack before we head off in the RV for points south in ten days.
  • Listened to my husband say "what's to pack? Shorts and golf balls."
  • Tried and failed to deal with my secret Tupperware and Nutella addictions.
  • Counted my steps and realized that if you can't remember why you went to basement until you go back up and start over again you can really get fit.
  • Which apparently is excellent for the memory.
  • Answered a million student emails.
  • Moved things into and out of my sewing to-do pile before we leave.
  • Went back upstairs and then went back down and did it again.
You just don't do this life in Spanx and three inch heels, although hats off to those who can.

No wonder Hygge Chic is speaking so loudly to me.

As a result I decided to tackle real garments I need, one issue at a time.

First up getting up in a national park and taking the dog out for a walk when I wish I didn't have to. 

Needing pockets for the poop purses (what we call the doggie bags for some reason) and my phone, because I might as well count steps, and my son might be emailing me an "I am alive in South America" message.

What I came up with was this pattern and some sort of cable type patterned Minky. Very cozy if not elegant, as close to adult swaddling as you can get. I hope to make a lace/mesh vest version too to go over shorts and T shirts when I need the pockets and not much else.

Back to the Hygge jacket. Made as per pattern but put in one giant snap in case I need to close it up:

Basically feels like a short housecoat but hopefully people won't immediately figure that out

Side view because some people like to see those, also my boots

How this will probably actually be worn.

I have been thinking I should make a wool tailored suit, just to have in the can in case anything official happens sometime, but suspect this jacket was probably better immediate use of my sewing time.

Let's see if the vest version is wearable or just weird.


Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

Well one it doesn't look like a shortened housecoat to me! It looks like a snuggly warm cardigan just like what you needed on one of those below zero degree days! And I totally understand what you're saying about changing the way you dress. I'm still evaluating and trying to mix my highbrow style with my actual reality. It's a challenge every day but you're doing fine!

Lyndle said...

Alwayslove your posts. It's summer here now but as New Zealanders are notorious fir not heating our houses properly in winter, I foresee that I can embrace Hugge Chic. I love your jacket. Let me check - you Drive from Nova Scotia how far for the sun?

SewRuthie said...

You know its Hygge not Hygge?

Barbara said...

Ruthie what would I do without you? Thanks, been corrected.

And and Lyndie 3,000 km. quite the drive.

SuzieB said...

I like your new cardigan/jacket & know it will be great for dog walking, etc. I tend to wear my dad's old bathrobes for dog-walking jackets. He has been gone since 2001 and none of the robes was new even then, so I'm sure I've acquired quite a reputation among the neighbors! For more conventional attire I may try McCalls 7331, a Nancy Z pattern. Looks comfortable and would certainly be an upgrade for me. Glad to hear you're heading south soon.

jennywren said...

When I retired a couple of years ago and took up dressmaking again I was constantly drawn to the 'pretty dresses' etc and made a wardrobe full of clothes that never, or rarely, get worn. Eventually the penny dropped and I am at last making myself the type of clothes I actually need.
One thing I did recently was to alter a jacket that I wore for walking the dog and also when working in the garden. All I did was to remove the sleeves to give me more freedom of movement (for throwing sticks etc) I later had a lightbulb moment and altered one of the sleeves into a small bag to carry the dog necessities in the summer. I used the second sleeve to make a long shoulder strap so I can wear it across the body and leave my hands free - for throwing the sticks!

Irene said...

What a wonderfully cozy sweater!

Anonymous said...

very nice and practical, but it must be a national park in quite a warm part of Canada? Or a summer trip? Or the fabric is warmer than I thought?


Marie said...

I love your posts!

badmomgoodmom said...

Looks like a cozy cardigan to me. In fact, I've put it on my to-sew list because yours looks so good and practical.

Hygge sounds like Kondo's admonition that your 'alone at home' wear should not be an afterthought or your raggedy old clothes. I took a critical look at my loungewear and tossed out anything that was scratchy or didn't fit.

Optimizing my sewing time to maximize the amount of my life I can wear custom-made stuff is a high priority now.

Anne said...

Definitely wearable and not at all weird! I'm thinking of one kind that for me.

Anonymous said...

The Danish have hygge, and the Norwegians have koselig, a similar idea but don't test the Norwegians on that one. To feel koselig, a feeling of warmth and coziness, without translating directly as cozy, you need cozy things: soft light, warm sweaters, handknit socks, a flask of strong stuff, friends and family.

Your hygge jacket will probably come close to koselig, in part because your granddaughters will be touching it because it's so soft!