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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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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rethinking clothes

Hi folks. 

Thanks so much for your responses to the Violet knit jacket. And my apologies to a few people who left wonderful comments that got spam filed and deleted after I read them because I clicked the wrong button by mistake.

You all gave me so much to think about. I am pretty sure I just write this blog just so I can have the pleasure of communicating with you and for the chance to read your interesting comments.

I am going to make another version of that jacket, starting with using a lighter fabric, a ponte, and raising the pockets 1 1/2". Either I have short arms or they have really long ones at Stylearc.

As you all know I have been deep in sewing garments for my book, quirky little units, that you will see when the book is released May 2018. Yes it take time.

But enough of that.

Doing the sewing I am supposed to do as opposed to randomly as I usually operate created a back log in me. So yesterday I went into obsessive mode, something my family specializes in, and cut all day.

I am going to put all these pieces in a laundry basket, set up my machines, and do drive by sewing during the week to see what comes out of this pile:

Some of this stuff is continuing experiments, some stuff I need:

  • one Violet jacket 2.0
  • Two cardigans, both different Jalies
  • Two pairs of Margaret narrow pants from Stylearc
  • Two pairs of Brooklyn knit pants Stylearc and a new pattern/experiment
  • Six Jalie T shirts
  • Two dresses, both Adeles from Stylearc, one knit one woven ( a cocoon shape and again an out there experiment)
This is of course entirely delusional as an intention but what else is new? I am going to Winnipeg on May 21, start teaching an online creative non-fiction course on May 9th, probably have some book edits coming my way. I also have a ton of appointments, meetings, some political commentary on the radio to do because we should be starting a provincial election today, and much babysitting - including three days with the three kids while my SIL and daughter stage a well-deserved break.

Oh and yesterday my youngest son asked me to make him a dress shirt with windmill patterned fabric on it (found some at Spoonflower) before he goes to a wind conference in a few weeks.

I am pretty sure that the fact I have so much coming up is exactly why I took the time to cut yesterday.

In one sentence : I sew to feel like myself.

And the busier life gets the more I need that.

On another random note I have long held a theory no one has asked to hear, that fashion has often diverted us to "classics" that are in reality men type clothes. You know button up shirts, blazers, tailored pants.

This forgets, I think, dresses. These women devised to suit us, clothes of our culture. I am picking up, and have written before, about a less tight and revealing backlash in clothing coming from younger women (my daughter like the Violet jacket) and this is redefining the dress.

On that note I was interested to read this morning about sport dresses from this company

I am struck that this look would have been completely absent in the sportswear scene a few years ago.   

I would be interested in what you think of this trend, which seems to me to be very wide range of body type approach. 


Summer Flies said...

I think that dress that does everything is a crock and just clever marketing... but people buy into that stuff. People are such sheeple nowadays in shopping. How friggin boring to wear the same thing for everything.. where's the fun in that. No, no, no. You sound crazy busy!

Karen said...

I love the Nuu-Muu concept. Three months ago I purchased a simple A-line dress with sleeves in a cotton-rayon french terry knit, in three colors. They were cheap and looked comfortable and I had voids in my wearable wardrobe from recent surgery. I've worn those dresses to death. They've been styled with tights and boots, leggings, capris, or just sandals. I wore them on a driving trip to Florida, pulling off layers from under and over as needed. Last weekend I put one under a jacket and went to a funeral. Compliments everywhere I go, and so comfortable! I had no idea how versatile this style of dressing could be. I have plans to make some simple sleeveless dresses like this for summer. And I need to make some for my 23 year old daughter, she has also fallen in love with the concept, the ease and the comfort.

Leslie said...

I like it. Although I love tailored clothes made out of fine fabrics, they don't seem to be accessible for many people. I love the option of colourful, attractive, secret pyjamas, available for everybody.

Italianlady said...

I like the NUU-MUU dresses. I sew and wear dresses a lot and often people comment on how I am the only woman they know who still wears dresses. I think these would be comfortable and really easy to sew something similar.

Anonymous said...

Holy Moly, Barbara! Cutting out is the hardest part and you cut out 16 garments. I get tired just thinking about it. Were your eyes crossed by the end? Your back broken? You deserve an award. Possibly more than one.
As to the Nuu-Muu dresses – I had a dress just like the one with the keyhole and the cut-in armholes way back in the 60s. Except not in knit. Knits for the home-seamstress weren't so popular then. I found a pattern somewhere and made lots of them. They were really fast to make. One feature mine had that I loved was a big curved French dart. What a great dress. I can see why Karen is getting such good mileage out of hers. Must make one. Or more.
Love your Drive-By Sewing. I'm trying to do that too. Even 10 minutes at the sewing machine makes me feel more human, more centered, more accomplished.
Well, I'm sure all your fans are looking forward to seeing your production. Sew on....You are a STAR!
Vancouver Barbara

Wendy Rader said...

Oh my I love those dresses! The a-line shape is just perfect for my body type, and I tend towards the sporty look anyway. I would certainly want other styles in my closet, but those dresses are cute!

Good luck with all the sewing, if anyone can do it, it would be you!

knitsync said...

Your comment about classics being 'male' clothes - fascinating! But then when women went into the workplace I suppose it was the only reference available for 'smart workwear' but it's interesting to see that it still applies today.

Erika said...

Great question.

A dress does everything ... if you don't have to fear exposure. Similarly - I don't feel like a dress is made in my culture if I have to think about exposing myself. So a short dress ... is really for dress-up for me. Not for totally being comfortable and myself. Now they are wearing their dresses with leggings, which truly is about as comfortable as pajamas and definitely both feminine and functional ... but I get way too hot while exercising to ever wear a dress with leggings. So, not sure.

... I mean, I guess a short dress is different from a t shirt in that it covers your crotch/butt? So maybe that's a value? I don't worry too much about that kind of coverage but I know it's appreciated.

Sox said...

As sports clothes I think they are great -I like the ease of movement a skirt/dress brings - but I think they are too short and you would would always need leggings underneath if you were going to be truly active and sporty.
Interestingly enough, the little girls dresses are longer than the adult version.

kim nath said...

Looks more like a long top to me, not really a dress. And we have been seeing that a lot lately so it doesn't seem very revolutionary to me.

garnet128 said...

You wore me out just talking about what you have coming up. Geesh. I am all about comfort dressing. I am retired and a homebody so when I find something that is comfortable for everyday around the house, I make several. I don't have to impress anyone (hubby doesn't care). Problem is, I get so comfortable that dressing up a little to go to social engagements bugs me. But yet I find all these patterns that I want to make in order to do just that. But when I make that stuff, it doesn't get worn. I am confusing myself if that makes sense. Oh sorry, I think I just discovered that I need a diary for this rambling. Better yet, a shrink?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "good for everything" dress, hmmmm. with stumpy plumpy legs the dress length wouldn't work for me, and It gets hot here, really hot, so leggings seem like a terrible idea for the next 5 months. Maybe as a cool weather layering piece? But it doesn't really seem to fit into my days. I am looking forward to seeing what comes out of your production basket - I have been laboring for what seems like forever on a pair of linen pants that have one fiddle-y thing after the other so I'm due to cut something out soon, but I think it will be one thing not 16!


LGjeltema said...

The sports dresses are wonderful! So nice to hide the uglies if you are wearing leggings to exercise. And unlike shorts, leggings don't ride up. This I can recreate.
Cutting out is the part I like least! I love the idea of getting it over and then being ready to see when you have a few moments!

Martha said...

I'm trying to decide what I think about those dresses-for-everything. I'm hung up on that concept of Creative Non-Fiction. I do like those cute little dresses, though, on those cute little women.

Brenda said...

Like several other commenters, I wear a lot of dresses - for walking the dog, going to work, vacation, etc. I have knit and woven shoulder princess dress patterns that fit really well until recent surgery (so I'm working on the replacement). I made them out of all kinds of fabrics, including wicking knits. That's one answer to the "too hot" complaint. Also, I wear wicking bike shorts under them in warm weather.

In summary, I've gotten lots of inspiration for casual dresses from athletic-type catalogs such as Title 9, Athleta and Eddie Bauer.

Anonymous said...

Love the "drive-by sewing" idea! Your blog is always so interesting and inspiring, and I can't wait for your book to come out.

Alison G said...

I've been making dresses like those to cycle in for years, not being one for lycra especially when commuting. Always with leggings on a bike, but it rarely gets hot enough in the UK to worry about that. A decent alternative to the MAMIL/WAMIL* look is long overdue!

* acronym for middle aged men/women in lycra

Jane M said...

Hmmm, a dress for everything you do, clever marketing especially for the athleisure clothing trend and for millennials who don't want so much "stuff." My '70s back packing trip in Europe held separate skirts and tops that did something similar...although leggings were not yet an add-on option. It makes layering easy and its simple for day to nightwear especially with so many people working in casual dress offices or from home. As for me, much too boring. I love my clothes, I love accessories, I love my fabric collection. However, I do have a dozen TNT patterns which I think of as always "on call." For hot humid days, for instance, I have a bias linen sleeveless dress pattern that I have sewn six times....and plan a few more as those get stained or worn out.
I did a big cutting session back in the winter so I know how much concentration it takes. You are inspiring me to get working on my May projects which right now are only in my head and not yet in my sewing space.

paloverdeblooms said...

It's a *tunic* for f's sake. Mini-dress if I'm feeling kind. I wore a similar knit shift when I was 10 years old in the 60s. Now I'm 62 and you want me to wander around in public in that, even with leggings? I don't think so. I'll stick to my skirts. I love how this company thinks re-labeling something makes it new and different. Sigh. It probably will work and they'll earn tons of money.

jane said...

I love those dresses, I'm retired but would love longer pullover dresses for everyday. Must investigate patterns and knits.
Good luck with all that sewing.

TracyKM said...

Those dresses, with leggings, remind me of conservative Christian families who always wear dresses. To me, if you're wearing leggings, then that's not a dress, it's a long shirt. And therefore...big whup.
I wear dresses a LOT during the summer. I've gone hiking in a dress with no leggings needed. Camped in dresses. Etc. Dresses that have wider skirts are much more versatile than those slim fitting dresses that rise up if you lift up a leg.
"Sport dresses". Pfsst. Only if you're wearing leggings. No thanks.
They do look comfy and well made though!