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
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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, December 24, 2016

2016 pick for best sewer's gift

Browsing an accessory catalogue this morning because I have wrapping to do, major cooking, and the house looks like someone has done nothing but sew and take care of small children in it for two weeks, and I spotted this:

I mean really how cool.

Now off to larger tasks. We are loading up the RV and all going out to my youngest son's tomorrow for dinner and a sleep over, assuming those kids actually will sleep. Bonfire on the beach planned.

Have a very Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Daisy's boyfriend

As promised here is a shot of Moose, sitting in his front yard in the sleet waiting for Daisy to come as far as his house. Almost, but not quite, captures his fixation.

Love is strange.

The day before the day before Christmas

Don't fall over. This is actually a sewing post. I know where all my recipients are, one is out the door from the basement apartment after a double shift to start her Christmas shopping, one DG (dear girlfriend?) gone home to Tatamagouche for a few days to be with her family before dinner with us, and my daughter has just adopted a Golden Retriever that needed to be rehomed and everyone over there is either recovering from stomach flu or getting a cold - so I think it is safe to say she is occupied. (Send good dog support thoughts to Reggie, he is really trying so hard to fit in).

All of this means I am going to share with you a project that I have been making multiples of for Christmas.

It is the free Heidi pattern from Swoon.

First of all this is a really nice pattern but, I am going to be honest here, like too many Indie patterns that instructions seem to have chosen the hardest to accomplish way to do things rather than the one that will make it easiest for the sewer, the new one in particular. 

(An aside on the use of sewer versus sewist. I admit to not being an early adopter of some more appropriate names - gender neutral sure but some adaptions I don't pick up comfortably. Fishers for example versus fishermen or fisherwomen. To me the only fisher is the fisher of men. As for sewist I get it but I am fine with sewer. As an aside my daughter-in-law went to an infrastructure conference in New York a few years ago and they were giving out little buttons (OK shaped like manhole covers) that had NY Sewer on them. She brought one home for me and I wear it on my jacket because both she and I read it differently.)

Now back to the pattern.

I will show pictures and tell you the construction instructions issues I think there are:

There is a zipper in the top of course and the instructions tell you to fold back the end of the zipper tape out of the way, which might make sense but the zipper specified is a bit short for the opening (helpful because you don't stitch over the tape) the trouble with this is that you are left with some raw edges to deal with in those small gaps at the end of the project. Much better to stitch the tapes right to the end which will take care of turning under those edges under.

And, get this, the instructions also tell you to turn the bag inside out and top stitch around the zipper working from inside the bag - so difficult to do and totally unnecessary. Either don't top stitch at all or do so, stopping a 3/4" at either end to make it easy to turn, just after you insert the zipper.

There is a useful zipper on the back of the bag. The instructions said to baste the opening closed, layer the fabric and lining and top stitch the whole lot in one go and just hope it all catches. Instead stitch the zipper to the garment fabric, then the lining fabric and then top stitch. Three steps instead of one but you save your nerves, always a good thing.

I learned to install magnetic snaps, bags are interesting, I like doing something I haven't done before in all my years of garment sewing. Snaps BTW are a snap.

The recycled leather means some piecing but I think that's just fine. Hardware makes the bags I am discovering

BTW in recognition of life as I am living it I have started to cut up my gabardine straight skirt stash from my previous more formal work life and am using some of the cottons that caught my eye but, let's face it I will probably not use for shirts. Oh and the leather in the details and straps are leftovers from the jackets I cut up for my man bags, sewn faultessly on this Bernina 740.

Now off to wrap and in case you need a laugh, and who doesn't, here is a piece on mindful wrapping, which I can tell you is not likely to be practiced in this house today.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

What does sewing add to your life?

I got overwhelmed this week. It is the week before Christmas and anyone who says take it easy no one expects you to do all this, is probably male.

My mother had surgery. The kids had snow days. A last minute online order got cancelled. I really want this to be a good book.

It was the kind of week where my husband casually mentioned he had invited the neighbours in for an open house later in the day I am also hosting his entire family. You don't have to do anything he said.

I think you get my drift.

Faced with my cancelled order and in a kind of a trance, induced by the decision I was not going to go into any stores or drive these crazy roads, I downloaded a little bag pattern and started sewing.

I have never done anything like this before. I don't understand the pieces and have no idea how these things are going to look like when they are done. I am trying really hard. I am engaged, as we say in the education business. I am absorbed, as we say in the distracted mind business. I am letting other thoughts float by, as they say on the mediation app.

Most of my garment sewing is almost like production work some days. I have done this before, I know the outcome and want to get there.

These bags are bringing all my sewer into focus.

And you know what?

Suddenly in the middle of it I realized I was myself again. I felt happy. I was relaxed. I am pleased with myself.

Then I remembered that I really like the neighbours. I remembered how last walk how Daisy's Bernese Mountain dog boyfriend, who by the way is called Moose, was so busy swooning on his back for her he slid down a snowbank onto the road and didn't take his eyes off her. I talked to my mother who was happy we sent her a box of baking like she used to send us, with a pair of beaters in it I got from Value Village, because one year she was so harassed she mailed her own beaters in the box too. And my husband said he is going to make gumbo for the open house and that this is one of his best dishes. And Miss Heidi told me that she is sure the Elf on the Shelf doesn't mind the bad things I do, except the part where I said he is a tattle tale.

The point is that somehow sewing puts my world back on axis. Not sure how that happens but quite sure I need to make sure I don't forget that.

Now my question for you this morning is,  what does sewing add to your life?