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

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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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Friday, July 8, 2016

Flypaper thoughts decluttering edition

  • My daughter is amazing
  • She loves her job
  • It involves giving little kids chemo and calling mothers later to say what the bloodwork looks like this week
  • My baby does this and feels called to do it
  • Her favourite line is "they are still kids"
  • She tells us more funny than sad stories
  • She is amazing
  • She has a sideline however
  • It's called getting me shaped up
  • Right now it's decluttering
  • Who needs 18 family pictures in the living room? she said
  • Doesn't it feel better to have just a candle and a clean surface?
  • Actually no
  • Listen I know it's very big right now
  • Apparently there are folks who have the time to hold every item in the house in their hand
  • And ask "do you give me joy?"
  • If it doesn't say the right thing 
  • It's off to Value Village's in-box
  • Where it will stay, until next week
  • When someone asks you to make a jelly salad in a jelly mold for a retro party
  • Or in organizing you decide to file papers in the paper trays you gave up at the same time
  • They actually tell you right now to keep only one memento from each child
  • Ha
  • You want the rock you painted the happy face on in 1991?
  • Got it
  • You want the pillow you sewed buttons on for mother's day 1992?
  • On it
  • More to the point this does not work for sewers
  • No matter what button came off I can find a match
  • Whatever I need I have just the thing right here
  • Purse stiffening for the purse I meant to make ten years ago
  • Invisible zippers from before they made a comeback
  • Enough shirt buttons to button up Wall Street
  • Purple sequinned chiffon for when the American Girl has an event
  • Stuff so the bottom of never knitted slippers won't slip
  • Your house looks like you have lived in it for 30 years she says
  • Well I should hope so
  • If I wanted clear surfaces I would book myself into the Holiday Inn
  • Right now my kitchen counter holds this:
  • The only dog food that doesn't make Daisy have diarehha
  • A kerchief my dad wore around his neck when camping
  • Spices a one year-old unloaded just for fun
  • A picture that says To Babs fr. SJM I love you
  • Stink weeds in a jar
  • A box of disinfectant wipes we split
  • One burnt oven mitt
  • A photo of Mr. Rascal standing in the dishwasher I want to frame
  • The frame
  • An iPhone with a shattered screen
  • Speaking of which
  • I have a req for an X ray to see if I have another sewing needle imbedded in my foot
  • Last one was a Schmetdz 70 jeans
  • It says drop-in these are the hours
  • I also have a 5:10 appointment at the Apple store with a genius
  • And an email of nine things to do before I get there
  • Another email saying to get there ten minutes early before the genius sees me
  • All to fix a screen that broke because no one thought ahead that this might happen if you give someone something thin and slippery
  • Listen
  • A genius is someone who invented penicillin
  • Or the zig zag stitch
  • And you kiddo have the face of someone who passed because you were in a good group
  • Maybe what we are cluttering our lives with isn't on the counters
  • However I do have one word of wisdom
  • If the B12 says it expired in 2008
  • You might want to throw that out

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Style when life changes

For a while now my friend Carloyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic has written about her transition from dressing for a Manhattan corporate office job to one that has a dress casual approach.

I have followed her on this topic with interest.

My own life is also under transition.

For a long time now I worked in political communications, where you were always on for the media, and then as a university prof. I admit to a far amount of vanity with my sewing for work.

I admit it.

For instance a term required 24 lectures and I made sure I had 24 different outfits for every lecture. My female students sometimes commented on this, many knew I sewed for myself, and I enjoyed having an audience of sorts to sew for.

It has been almost a year now since I have taught in the classroom. Instead I am teaching my courses online and can do that from home or anywhere I am at the moment. This really suits my life right now and I enjoy not being tied to a specific location every Monday and Wednesday or Tuesday and Thursday.

I also really like the online format. I have designed the courses I teach and work to keep them dynamic. I am on video cam on my laptop so the students still see me, and I can see most of them. The conversations are active, either when a student takes the mic, or by the constant flow of texting at the bottom of my screen.

However what to wear is no longer an issue. They see me from the neck up and like so many news anchors I have seen who wear a jacket on the top part of the body that shows, and jeans and runner below, the pressure to dress is not the same.

My life now is so much more home based. I prepare my classes from my dining room table and this summer will be spending two days a week taking care of kids while my daughter works, and hosting various friends and family.

Most of my former wardrobe is now irrelevant.

I thought about this when I wistfully looked at the new Vogue dresses - many are things I would have made before, but really they represent the kinds of things I have just taken and donated to Value Village.

I know there are some bloggers who are largely at home and say they still sew and wear this stuff but really I don't know how they do it. How do you walk the dog, scrub out the bath, sit and mark papers in a pencil skirt and heels?

I want to look stylish of course, like I always have, but not sure how to do that. What we have going on here is a work in progress and likely some new mistakes as I try to figure this out.

Interestingly one of my sisters told me to watch Frankie and Grace on Netflix and, although those ladies are older than I am, they are where I am going eventually, and I am intrigued by their styles, which seem to represent two different versions of non working women dress:

One one hand you have Jane Fonda in shirts and fitted pants (so think she looks frail IMO but that is off topic) and Lily Tomlin in loose layers.

I note a lot of sewers are going the Tomlin route and it certainly has its advantages - easy to fit and sew for one. The Tilton sisters look, the Louise Cutting look.

I am pretty sure I am somewhere in no man's or no woman's land between these two ladies and not sure where it is going to turn out.

In my experiments I have made a few new pants shapes lately to see how I like them. I am still wearing support hose on the leg that had the dvt and I am not sure how I feel about that in dresses. In the winter in tights it is not an issue. I am also letting my hair go grey, it is in so much better condition when I do, and those two things at one time seem a little much for me right now.

It is interesting but changing your style can actually make you feel quite vulnerable - that is both surprising and a challenge.

So on that note I am going to share some actual outfits I wore on actual days this week.

These are another pair of Stylearc Talia pants and a way too long crochet top I made (you have to remember I am the most rudimentary crocheter, just a beginner) because I was so pleased I could do the pattern that I just kept going. These are wonderfully comfortable pants and I made them shorter as per the pattern.

I know I looked a bit rumpled but this outfit was worn on a day of taking care of an almost 2 year-old, a 4 year-old, and a 6 year-old. We played school, pioneer family and topped it off with a request from Scarlett that we do a spa day in the backyard.

This is what that looked like:

That's yogurt on her face and she was thrilled. The other two ate their cucumbers and went on the trampoline.

Some time ago I made Louise Cuttings Easy, Ageless and Cool pants (took note of the comment that a reader would not let her husband see her in them ) which I shortened by three inches to see how that looked:

Better but still big. Note I have thoughtfully styled these with a $7 Vera Bradley handbag my daughter bought me at a consignment shop and a banana. Wore this driving my husband to pick up his motorcycle at the shop. I call these my house cleaning pants. The giant pockets on the sides of the legs are excellent for picking up the random stuff you unearth while cleaning like bobbins and toy wheels under the couch or clothes pins on the lawn.

Finally I also tried Stylearc's Tessa pants in black linen. Of the very many elastic waist wide pants Stylearc has right now these are actually the narrowest and despite the claim that they have just enough fullness to fit smoothly at the waist I found them fairly gathered. I also had to remove 4" in length which is unusual for me as I am 5'9" even still I am going to have to go back and chop off some more length I see here - I won't be wearing these with heels in my front yard.

I am giving myself credit for trying new things but not sure if the loose look really works on this rangy midwestern body (rangy except for the middle part). 

I feel I am starting from scratch here at this new stage and obviously have a long way to go to figure out my new style for a new stage.

My question for you all is, what is your at home/casual style? What works for you and what doesn't? I could use some help here. I really could.

Those Vogue dresses are looking pretty good.