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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, August 5, 2017

On a TNT mission

Every once in a while there comes a time when you really need a few patterns that can be made up mindlessly in multiples.

I have decided golf outfits fall into that category.

The golf clothes you buy, at great expense considering what they are made of, are not grabbing me. I have some "breathable" polyester athletic fabric I picked up at the amazing Northwest Fabrics when I was last in Winnipeg, but I seriously doubt if it is as breathable as natural fibres. However once I have the pattern side nailed down I am going to try it out. We will see. I have been around the fibre content block a few times in my sewing career and I am a polyester skeptic when it comes to hot weather comfort.

However since golf fashions appear to be updated only about every 80 years (although I note that Augusta will allow some women only if they have skirts that cover their knees - not that this matters to me as I believe I remember I am boycotting them for political reasons anyway-they don't have a good attitude to my people- and they are boycotting me for the reason I can't really play golf) it seems like a good investment to figure out some basic golf patterns that I can trust and churn out - since I am married to Arnold Palmer.

So I decided to start somewhere.

To begin with I used Jalie's older pattern for a polo shirt. Jalie has a nice fit on me always and this is a traditional tab front without buttons, a stand collar (to get around the taped neckline you usually see in facingless tab fronts), and a fairly pointy collar. 

Since this was a purely wearable muslin for me, and since it has been atypically hot here this summer, I used a a thin rayon knit I had that obviously would have been better served in a less structured design. Even though I interfaced both the collar and tabs the neckline is too floppy for me and I think the stand and collar are a bit dated and not quite the golfy look I was going for. 

Also this neckline is too low on me. As you can see my genetics are showing through in my chicken neck and boney chest - this is the neckline of my Prairie farm ancestry - this is the neck of generations of women who cut the lawn at 90 and canned vegetables when they were using walkers. But all good sewers.

You know exactly what I mean:

The patch is a terrible fail but at this point I just wanted to finish the pattern and wear it to test the fit. 

I have to say however that this shirt was super comfortable in the heat yesterday, and as long as I kept moving and didn't run into anyone who sewed I figured I was OK wearing it on the course. But of course am on the hunt for a better pattern to use for my purposes. I have downloaded another version from Burdastyle and will try that next. I might even have to go vintage pattern hunting to find what I need.

For the golf skirt I used Jalie's new Loulouex skort. I made it up once with just adding 1 1/2 " but really it was way too short - you have to remember that there is a lot of bending over in golf - so this version is lengthened by a full 4 1/2". 

The thing is of course that there is a panel in the front that is straight and the sides and back are essentially a circle. In a short skirt this is cute, but I think when lengthened this is maybe a bit much. However since this is a knit garment and so fast and easy to sew it is worth some pattern adaption.

I am thinking of maybe slashing and overlapping that back piece to reduce the circle to something more A line. I am also not sure if it needs to be a little shorter too.

The pattern also has an attached set of boxer short things with a band around the legs and an interesting and very comfortable square crotch insert.

63 year old legs I know, purely shared for educational content
The pattern also suggests the whole unit be made out of a stretchy bathing suit knit but I figured right away if I did that I would expire in the heat. So as a compromise I made the shirt in a nylon knit, sort of a leggings, heavy swimwear with a matte finish, and the shorts in the same rayon knit as the top. Test wearing this was very cool and comfortable.

BTW since I was deep into just testing in this outfit I used the opportunity to play around with my new Juki cover hem machine. There are double and triple needle cover hems all over both pieces with both the needle side right side up and the looper side up in various places. Bit random but good practice.

So where this golf outfit quest stands is at the beginning.

I need to try new patterns and find some decent sources for the right fabrics.

I also am in desperate need for a good hat pattern. Sort of a visor but one what covers the crown of my head.

I have a large collection of hats but none of them are right. I have a big head, probably stuffed with too many project intentions, and I need a hat that doesn't hurt and shades my face well too.

Any suggestions of a hat, or golf outfit patterns, that I can make for myself would be most appreciated.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Flypaper thoughts, hacked sewing edition

  • If you were waiting to see my swimwear projects 
  • You might want to settle in and keep waiting
  • Detour
  • Arnold Palmer is off and home all next week and we live 4 minutes from the golf course
  • So I decided to work up a golf outfit
  • Outraged that the stuff you buy is all polyester and about three times the price of the same stuff if it wasn't called golf clothes
  • Some hits and misses and some progress
  • Test polo shirt tab bottom was just a tiny wee bit off in one corner
  • No one would notice 
  • So I decided to fix it with my seam ripper
  • Operative word ripper
  • Polo shirt now has a crooked decorative patch under the tab
  • Haven't pulled a fix that crude since my high school outfit days
  • You know when you are down to your last nerve?
  • Well stop right then
  • I don't have much of a temper
  • Blow every 15 years or so
  • But then you could sell tickets
  • Take the knitting machine
  • Got one because hand knitting is so slow
  • Husband could run it like a charm
  • I did my best
  • Those things require the same amount of time to set up as it does to knit a sweater
  • Well when you finally have it ready the first row jams
  • Threw it out of a second story window
  • Spouse stopped me when I had my car keys in my hand
  • Was on my way to drive over it to make sure
  • That was 15 years ago
  • Speaking of violence a giant excavator backed up over the car when husband was inspecting a job site this week
  • He was fine but the car looks like a giant excavator backed up over it
  • Hence a week off to golf I think
  • I am probably the worst golfer you could meet
  • A lot more interested in the outfits than my handicap
  • BTW way do you know Birdie (my son's frequent visitor dog) once left a present for me under a cushion on the couch
  • It was a single racoon hand
  • No racoon attached
  • Sort of took me by surprise when I was straightening up 
  • Eerie how human a racoon hand can look
  • This is the part where it becomes really apparent I do not live in New York
  • Anyway we put it in the compost
  • Birdie is generally a good dog
  • What reminded me of that?
  • The knitting machine?
  • The excavator?
  • More likely the crooked patch on that shirt
  • Something that serious brings all of life's surprises and regrets to the surface
  • I mean really
  • I sew better than that
  • Off I go
  • Fresh start to tomorrow
  • New fabric, new pattern
  • Sewers have good bounce back 
  • We have no choice

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Granville shirt: a semi review

A long time ago now I cut out and almost finished a Granville shirt from Sewaholic. The Sewaholic knit T shirt pattern, the Renfrew, is one of my all time favourite patterns. The shoulders on the Renfrew fit well and the pattern navigates that fine and elusive line between too fitted and sloppy. I love it.

I had similar hopes for the Granville.  I have to say it is another well-drafted Sewaholic pattern. The pieces for this shirt go together precisely and the fit is perfect for a body that fits Sewaholic's pear- shape profile.

A minute here to detour on one of my new themes.

This thought is that so many fitting issues can be dealt with by working with a pattern draft that matches the body you are working with.

In the old days we didn't have many options. 

The Big 4 with their more or less similar sizing and basic blocks were supposed to fit everyone and they didn't. As a result there were a million how to fit articles written and a millions cuts and pastes made to countless patterns, and an infinite number of 1/2" or more cut on as "extra" outside pattern pieces.

Sometimes this worked and sometimes it didn't.

At any rate it was a lot of effort to get a pattern to fit.

All of that has changed with the many new indie pattern companies. The determined fit challenged sewer has many more opportunities to find a pattern company that has her shape in mind. As a result major fitting work has sometimes been reduced to minor tweaks.

And isn't that great?

So all of that means that the Granville shirt is excellent for pears but not quite as perfect for us bananas.

I find the side seams very curved out at the hip for me, and the shoulders a bit too sloped. In addition I don't feel that man style collar shirts really work on my scrawny neck and shoulders, so this shirt, one that I cut off to make short sleeves, will likely not be one I will make for myself again, but would recommend to the other right people.

I had fun making it, in a nice loud summery cotton, and I particularly enjoyed matching the pocket.

Now a question for you. 

Stylearc pants are perfect for me out of the envelope, but I sometimes find their tops too wide shouldered. Jalie on the other hand fits my upper body.

What pattern companies work for your own figure and why?

This is information other sewers might find useful.