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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, September 23, 2017

Stylerc's Besharl jacket

I am guilty of many things.

Eating all the chocolate chips in the cupboard before I make the cookies and then surprising myself because the bag is empty.

That's one.

Going in a business trip with a computer case that actually contained a small sewing machine, rather than my laptop which I had left at the office. A prop for escaping after dinner events - because I had "work" to do.

Another one I did a lot when I worked for politicians.

Leaving clothes to be mended untouched for years even when I really, really loved the person who was waiting for that zipper to be replaced.

I am doing that one right now but would rather not think about it.

But most of all I am guilty of delusions of sewing grandeur.

Case in point is some raw silk I got some time ago to make a jacket. 

My intention was to underline it for stability and line it for practicality and do bound buttonholes because that was what would work best.

The problem is that increasingly, structured clothes, although a worthy use of a good sewer's time. make little sense for my increasingly unstructured life.

So I decided to do something unusual for me and be realistic about what this fabric should become. I decided to go with the silk's characteristics - drapey and mobile - rather than tactically trying to counteract it.

I decided to save time.

I decided to sew easy.

Which led me to consider this pattern, part of my current quest for a multi-purpose over everything type jacket pattern (if you have any leads for this campaign please let me know):

This is Stylearc's Besharl jacket and apparently can be made in wovens and knits. 

Of course my fabric was woven so I widened the arm bands about an inch, in case I needed the ease in a non stretchy fabric. I also straightened out the shoulder slope a bit because my own shoulders are very square but apart from that made it as is.

During construction I also sewed tape along the front edges where the bands attach, just along the seam lines. I wanted to balance the baggy look I know this jacket will acquire pretty soon because that's what this fabric wants to do. I thought taping would help the front hold the line.

I also interfaced the sleeve bands and the hem with fusible knit interfacing but did not interface the band, which is doubled, because I could tell it would have to gather around the neck a bit and I wanted to let that happen.

Here are the shots.

Of course I have to say I am aware that my photography is never optimum.

We try but our photographic department fits these pictures in around other jobs. Today that included bashing a hole in the tile in the bathroom wall as part of a get the hot water tap to stop dripping job.

I have to tell you when you pull a man out of the bathroom when he has a hammer to a wall, your first pictures look like this:

Moving on here are better shots taken after a marital consult, with various attempts at lighting:

Of course this fabric is going to droop pretty quickly, and I am going to snag it even sooner, but I have to say I am really pleased with this pattern and with the jacket overall.

One post first wearing change I made though was to go back in and sew a chain to the top of the hem allowance to help keep the whole thing from riding up and to help it hang. This technique really works and is something I often do in unlined and knit jackets if they are longer.

You can thank Coco Chanel for this little trick:

So that's one interesting project done this week, several more on the production line as we speak, or at least I write.

In the near future however I am definitely going to come back to this pattern, next time as specified in a knit.

There is real potential here.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Birthday girl Jalies

My oldest granddaughter Scarlett turned 8 over the weekend. She loves clothes and her mom, my daughter, said she wanted cardigans.

So I made her two from some Jalie patterns I have used to make adult garments. I used her body measurements picked a size and added about an inch in length because she is a member of this family and therefore tall.

The one thing I have learned about sewing for children is just how important feel is. The fabric has to be soft or at least cozy or they won't wear it. It is interesting to me that adults try to numb the tactile sense but in the end pick favourite clothes the same way - for how they feel on us.

Raise your hand if your go-to clothes are soft, or breathable, or somehow just comfy?

Interesting how despite this we shop for fabric by colour or if it matches what the pattern calls for not body feel. Worth turning this thought over in our heads I think.

Back on topic.

The first cardigan I made was the Cocoon cardigan 

This is a wrap yourself up in it cardigan without any closures.  I made it in some nice fleece that was very soft, like Minky, on both sides.

Here it is on the birthday girl:

I triple needle cover hemmed around the band/hem with the looper side out after I had serged the band on with my new Juki cover stitch machine (BTW I highly, highly recommend Sew/Sewing & Embroidery Warehouse in Winnipeg if you are looking for a serious real deal on a Juki machine- no affiliate link BTW just another one of my own bossy opinions of which I have many, all of them my own).

I felt very proud of myself for how RTW the cover hemming looked.

This was a house type cardigan and for going out to school etc. I made a second cardigan that was quite different. I used a stretch cotton knit velvet  to make this one from Helene cardigan pattern in a knit Scarlett had been eyeing the last time we went fabric shopping together. The Helene has notoriously narrow sleeves from the elbow to the wrist but because Scarlett is skinny and the fabric so stretchy I didn't change the pattern for her. However note that when I make one of these for myself I always add to the sleeve width from the midpoint down- about an extra inch by the time the sleeve makes it to the wrist.

Again I also added an inch to the length:

Oh to be eight and so excited at a family dinner birthday party!

And how nice to have an eight-year-old in my life.

Scarlett's sister Heidi has her birthday in two weeks and I will be making at least one similar cardigan for her and another top, customized to her lifestyle. When these pictures were taken Heidi was out the back with her uncle shooting beer cans off a fence with nerf gun, she's less the flower crown type, so I am going to have to come up with some patterns that reflect her feisty little personality.

And I am going to be making some replacement pyjama bottoms for their little brother Billy since he apparently cut diamond shapes into the last ones I made up with some scissors.

Always something interesting going on around here. Just another one of your picture perfect blog families of course, but they are mine and I love real sewing for their real lives.