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Sewing with less stress Front
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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, March 19, 2016

Cutting explained

O. K. 

I totally get the why-would-I-play Twister references to my thoughts on cutting. So here is a little explanation that may be helpful, or not. 

Bear in mind that this is my perspective and there is never one way, or right way, to sew. If it feels weird in your own hands of course pay no attention. Just like I am no good at stretching clear elastic into a seam while I serge. Other people can do it well, I can't

If you cut right handed with the pattern piece to the right, or left handed to the left, the blade cut is going to be closer to the cutting line and less likely to lift. If you have ever taken your pattern off your fabric and been frustrated by the less than precise cutting you might want to try this.

If your fabric is slippery and have likewise nearly lost your mind as it slid around under the pattern piece then the keep-your-hand on the pattern piece and cut one hand length at a time advice is really helpful.

In order of priority I would always cut with the pattern to the right, however if it is a nice cooperative fabric like a denim that doesn't slide around much I would be less rigorous with cutting with my left hand on the pattern (however rough cutting the pattern pieces into chunks you can rotate around to get the best cut is IMO always worth it and something tailors often do).

If the fabric tends to slip, or move, a knit for instance, I would do both. I figure since we are down to the 1/8" differences when we sew some form of cutting accuracy is important.

For your edification, and amusement, here is a video of me simulating my advanced cutting technique on a picnic table with a napkin standing in for both fabric and pattern. 

Let me tell you if you can makes sense of this you can most certainly cut with your hands crossed over:

I will probably start talking about marking tonight after supper.

In the meantime I also want to share a picture.

My daughter's Golden Retriever has lymphoma and 1-3 months at best. Like all Goldens she is the ultimate family dog. Those three kids could stick their arms down her throat and she would just wag her tail. Such a sweet, sweet girl.

She really is my son-in-law's best friend. Now I have to tell you I adore my SIL, he is truly one of my best friends and I feel sad for them today.

Here is a picture taken of the two of them yesterday. Says it all at this stage of both their lives:

Friday, March 18, 2016

Handy sewing hint of the day #9

Layout and cutting.

You wouldn't think there would much to say about this subject. 

You would be wrong.

There is a reason that the cutters are the highest paid workers in a good sewing shop - in their hands the inventory can be used, or wasted.

First of all the most important thing you have to do is to pay meticulous attention to grainline. There are some areas in sewing where you can take shortcuts, but measuring both ends of the straight of grain line to the selvage edge is not negotiable. 

Grainline is everything.

The pay off will be garments that will hang properly without twisting (we have all had collars that seemed to lie right over one shoulder and stood out stupid on the other).

Fold your fabric in half carefully keeping the selvages even, if cutting double.

If matching patterns or stripes however cut single layer. Lay that pattern piece, that should be on the fold, on flat, not folded, fabric, cut it out, flip that piece, still pinned to the fabric, over, making the centre front a fold, match patterns or stripes and then complete the cutting out. (Tell me if this makes sense or not- I can see it my head can you see it in yours?).

Back to basics like pinning.

It has been my observation that many sewers either use too many pins (this can be a problem as each pin picks up a little bit of the fabric and consequently can produce a fabric piece larger than the pattern) or too few - which can make for wobbly cutting.

My advice is to put a pin at any pivot points, corners for example, and about a hand length apart. 

The hand length is important. 

When cutting lay your hand on the pattern piece to hold the edge still and cut from the bottom of  your hand length to the top, stop cutting, re-position your hand, and start cutting again. Flatten the pattern with your hand, cut that length, pause and cut again. Start, cut, stop. This method also works really well if you use weights to hold your pattern pieces down (like the infamous tuna fish cans or beach rocks) and a steady hand on the edge of the pattern keeps things still. 

For hard to cut and slippery fabrics I prefer to use weights actually, less chance of a "lift" with the cut and eliminates the issue of too many pins consuming fabric.

This might be slower than you are used to cutting but is far, far more accurate.

The other thing, and this makes a huge difference to an accurate cut,  is to keep the pattern piece to the right of your scissors if you are using right-handed scissors, and to the left if you cut with left-handed scissors. This might seem like a small detail but try it - you will see a difference.

Of course to cut this way, keeping the pattern piece on the same side as your cutting hand, can be awkward, so do what I do and "chunk cut" some pieces so you can rotate them as necessary to maintain this relationship of the pattern piece to your scissors.

Tomorrow you can be surprised to learn that I have strong opinions about marking.

Thanks for hanging in with me on this.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Handy sewing hint of the day #8

Closely aligned to pressing is the whole issue of fusible interfacing.

I am a seasoned enough sewer to remember when these first hit the market in a big way - all those terrible fibre/pelon stiff fusibles that bubbled and ruined many a good garment.

Fortunately things have come a long way since then.  I nearly always use fusibles now except for real delicate fabric like silk or silk chiffon (not a large part of my day-to-day wardrobe as you can probably figure out) in which cases I will use a sew-in like silk organza.

Back to fusible.

This is what I use and what I want new sewers to know about fusible interfacings. 

Bear in mind that this is sewing according to Babs and maybe not the last word, or even the first one, in some areas.

1. You want your fusible to move and act like your fabric. So woven fabric needs woven interfacing (as opposed to the pylon, fibre type). Knits need knit interfacing (the stuff that looks like slip material). I personally use Fuse a knit types for knits and source all other interfacing (and sometimes my knit fusibles too, from Pamela's Fashion Supply here. IMO opinion no better interfacing anywhere, very professional quality. Trust me on this I. I am actually an old sewer and have used everything that doesn't work out there.

2. The hot glue element of fusing means that the process will add some heft during fusing that you are not going to detect in your hand. Rule of thumb- always use a fusible that is lighter in weight than the fabric you are fusing it to. You don't want your interfacing to change the hand of the fabric, or to overwhelm it. Otherwise you might get this look- collars and details are too stiff and don't lie flat on the body or the garment:

3. Unless you are using an interfacing, like listed above, that do not need to be pre-shrunk, and your fabric is pre-shrunk as it should be, put your interfacing in hot water and hang it to dry. You don't want your interfacing shrinking and pulling in your fabric after the first wash.

4. O.K. now what you really want to know. How do you keep it from bubbling or rippling?

Thing to think about is what is actually working when you fuse. 

The glue, either dots or a film, on the fusible side is there to be melted by heat. Once it starts melting it attaches the two fabric layers, your garment fabric and the interfacing together, and when it cools that fuse becomes solid.

The take-away here is, no matter what else you do, once you have the heat (and maybe steam too - check the instructions for your particular product, some too require real pressure again with the products from Fashion Supply) into the fabric/interfacing- don't move anything until you let it all cool down and set. 

Moving around your iron, or moving the fabric while it is still warm and setting, you are just building in wrinkles and bubbles. Oh and by the way use a thin pressing cloth to protect your iron.  And if you get glue on the iron just let it warm up and scrape it off with a wooden spoon.

Make sense?

5. I do most of my interfacing pressing with the interfacing layer on the underside and the fabric on top. This actually places the glue layer so it is drawn into the fabric by the heat and not just melted over it.

Quick update

Hi folks.

I am still here. A medical issue took me out of action for a bit but I am now back on track.

Off to golf and then back to you later.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Talia in rayon

Hi folks, bit of an absence due to life intervention. Even living the rv life there are times when there are things to take care of.

As promised here is the rayon version of the Talia pants

I suspect this was the kind of fabric this pattern was designed for. The interesting thing to me is that we look at clothes always on the outside but they are, for the wearer, more importantly appreciated (or not) by how the feel from inside them.

We don't pay enough attention to that when we consider clothes much. Fashion is all about how it looks to other people as if that, the reflection, is more important than how they work around you.

Think of the clothes you reach for when the chips are down. 

You are down to your last nerve with your work, for example, and you finally get through your own door, take off the watch, put down the keys, and what do you change into? What makes you feel like yourself again?

Where's the hug coming from?

Do you reach for something because that colour looks good on you, are because it is "on trend" ?  Or do you reach for something that is just easier on you than life at the moment?


So when you look at the pictures of these pants consider how great they feel on. I am definitely going to be wearing these until they are a rag, I can tell you that. So comfortable.

Here we go:

Pardon the socks and sandals, I was just rushing off for a dog walk when my photographer became available