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, February 27, 2016

Flypaper Saturday thoughts from the RV

First some pictures from the week.

My traveling companions, early to bed etc. Note this is the little dog who used to run out of the room when a man entered it. They sleep like that all night.

Yes you can cook in a tiny kitchen. Or at least my cook can. Here is made from scratch pizza, all I did was the eating.

Now onto what is sticking to my mind at the moment:

  • Three more papers to mark and I am back into sewing.
  • Have had my eye on Talia pants ever since I saw them.
  • Cut out and ready to go.
Oh and here is my mobile sewing studio. Cup holders great for notions:

And here is where I go to plot projects:

Back to flypaper, see the brain gets a bit scattered:

  • You know you are getting older when you send home a picture of the beach
  • And three kids, two sons and your daughter-in-law, send back messages about remembering to wear sunscreen
  • Also going to finish my Granville shirt
  • No buttonhole on this machine
  • Should I freehand the buttonholes or wait till I get home?
  • It takes 10 times as long to mark a paper with issues than one that doesn't
  • Excellent is easier to write than this is what you could have done
  • Or should have
  • Nothing you learn from is a mistake
  • They should pad the corners on RV cupboards
  • I figured out why older couples all have dogs
  • They want to still refer to themselves as Mommy and Daddy
  • If you have a quiet man and want him to talk
  • Put him on a putting green and ask him for advice
  • Even just once
  • No silence for the next 17 holes
  • Except your own
  • It is amazing how in a small space without much gear  you miss nothing
  • Owner before me was an excellent housekeeper
  • Four feet of carpet and we have a central vac
  • Note Vado flare jeans have knee and hem settings so they don't have to be flares
  • Interesting
  • I can't bring myself to make flares
  • I know a bell bottom when I see one
  • Makes me think of the King of Rock and Roll
  • Not someone I ever had a lot in common with
  • Almost certain that man never canned anything
  • Ever
  • Or anyone asked him to babysit
  • Blue Christmas is pretty awesome however
  • Excellent to sing when you are home alone
  • Not that my own Christmas are blue
  • Generally too oblivious for that
  • When you are making a slim pant and your waist is larger than it should be
  • Or your hips are smaller
  • I like the sound of that better
  • Which one do you go with if you are lazy?
  • Or sewing in an RV which is the same thing
  • Generally I make for the hip and add to the waist
  • However 1" of hip ease in a pattern not enough 
  • If you pick up dog poop during the day
  • Or can
  • We're going with pattern for the waist folks
  • See how that goes
  • BTW never worry about leaving negative comments about my projects here
  • After all I sewed it, not gave birth to it
  • Wonder if Winn Dixie has mangos at 10 for $10 yet?
  • Better check
  • Some of my students are smarter than I am
  • Pretty sure that's the way it is supposed to be
  • Which reminds me
  • Got to finish that marking before I sew pants on my tiny table
  • Off I go

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I can't not share this:

Monday, February 22, 2016

Thank you

I have recently learned that this was one of the blogs listed in Madalynne's Best blogs of 2016 in the funniest category.

I had no idea I had been nominated, so thanks to my friend Carolyn who justifiably won in both most inspirational and best basics categories, for bringing this to my attention.

Just for the record though. 

I don't think I am particularly funny, but I sure do think life is, particularly the view from the home sewing table.

Thanks for reading.

Easy, ageless and Cool

A while ago at a sewing group meeting one of the other women, whose cool style I admire, said she would most definitely make some wide Louise Cutting pants.

I have to admit something.

I have never made any Louise Cutting patterns. To be honest I thought they would swamp me, and they are just not my usual style.

That said, and thinking things over after the meeting, I decided it was time to see how I would look in something I never wear.

Also who can exclude themselves from categorization as Easy, Ageless and Cool?


Here we are, in what my dad would have called Whoopee pants. In size small/medium in the RV setting where whoopee pants are more appropriate than they might be in other environments.

First the pattern:

 Then the me:
The back view because, well you are strong enough to take it, as I am about to fall off the RV. I also  thought you would find it interesting to see what happens when a girl decides to let her hair go grey and it turns out she has one white patch in the back. Now how's that for surprises?
More highway than runway and I think the Birks and socks set the look right off perfectly. Also I am pretty sure my eyes are closed here too. At one hand we have the food bloggers who take pictures that look like artwork and on the other hand we have me...

And now to the pattern itself.

I really regret not sewing any of Louise Cutting's designs before. Her instructions are the bomb. I mean they were more interesting than any book I have read this year, and I read a lot of books. I would sew any of her patterns again just for a chance to read her instructions, they are that good and that interesting.

It made me almost cry when I worked through her pattern to think of all the knowledge she has, the wealth of that handy hint stuff that any sewer knows makes or breaks the final product, and think what some of the Indie patterns would be if they had this kind of talent working for them at the teaching and word end.

Why have we let this gulf between a sewing generation who knows so much, and one that is trying to learn develop?

Back to the pattern.

Here are some detail shots.

The wide waistband with stitching lines, you would not believe how much that woman has to say about elastic waists:

And here is a shot of the big pockets on each leg:

I have to say I love the pockets. 

They are huge, really you could put a couple of overweight cats in each one and go for a walk. Or carry a small child on one leg and two weeks of library books on the other and still have room for Kleenex. 

I mean how handy is that?

But back to the main question Babs.

Do you like these pants and would you make them again?

Would you wear them 20 feet past the RV?

Well I think I would.

There is something bratty about a garment that is so comfortable and practical and everyday. You have to have a certain amount of confidence to wear these I think, you would probably have to be easy, ageless and cool.

I am considering making them in something flowly and white for when in the summer you want white pants that don't touch your body, rayon would be good, although I would make them for myself again in a small, which in fact I am not.

I also was expecting something a little shorter, more crop-esque, even though I am 5'9," these still are nearly pant length on me.

Final verdict. 

There is a place in every wardrobe for something so easy to wear for days when things aren't easy, or when you just want to mail in your performance, and be nice to yourself.

Make sense?

Sunday, February 21, 2016

What is the part you like?

I admit it.

For the last few months I have been having problems with my sewing mojo.

There were moments, in fact, when it seemed almost like work, particularly when I was struggling to get a few things made before I went away.

I haven't felt like this in a very long time, and it worried me.

Then last weekend I had a conversation with my middle son, who is a lot like me, and the lightbulb went off.

The gist of our discussion was that we are both only really happy when we are learning something.

This, I realized, is exactly what I was feeling about my sewing and why, lately, I have been feeling there was less in the tank than there used to be.

I had got myself stuck in someone else's lane.

Let me explain.

Different lanes for different sewers.

I figure there are some sewers who are highly energized by fit.

Robin  seems to me to be a sewer like this. Her muslins and alterations produce beautiful results reflecting her wonderful mathematical/musical mind. 

I figure there are some sewers who are energized by fabric. 

Carolyn is a sewer like this in many ways. Her famous TNTs are a canvas for her wonderful fabric collection and her creative fabrications. Her inspiration seems to come from fabric and she does things with her fabric I wouldn't even see or think of.

I figure there are some sewers who are energized by technique.

Bunny seems to me to be in this category. Bunny to me is a classic sewer and exhibits a level of care and skill in her work the rest of us can only aspire to.

I figure there are some sewers who are energized by wardrobe planning.

Ruthie is a sewer like this and I would love any one of her many capsules wardrobes. Ruthie understands mix and match, do you know how hard that is?

I figure there are some sewers who are energized by fashion.

Erica Bunker is the queen here, her eye for fashion and her translation of the trends into clothes you can make yourself has given her a unique reputation in our world. Skip just read Erica.

And finally there are sewers like me.

I have a bit of all of the above, in varying degrees, but primarily what I like best are new patterns. What gets me up in the morning and rushing off to the sewing room is the element of surprise.

I love a new pattern.

I love learning how to do something I haven't done before.

I love pulling something new and probably half done over my head and not knowing until I open my eyes in the mirror if it is a disaster or a nice surprise.

I love good instructions and figuring out strange new pattern shapes.

I like every new project to be a new pattern.

Pretty nutty I know. Risky for someone who doesn't like to fool around with fit (which is why a well drafted pattern means so much to me) but perfect for someone who likes to be learning something, and is a total optimist. 

Now what about you?

What kind of a sewer are you?

Have I missed an approach?