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, October 14, 2017

Sewing for family

Most of us who sew have had periods in and out of family sewing.

 Note I do not say sewing for other people. I decided a long time ago, around the time a girl heard I sewed and phoned me up to ask if I would "run up" a wedding dress for, her that I would only sew for those related to me by blood or marriage.

When my kids were small I sewed for them a lot. They still laugh at the clothes, my various experiments in decorative sewing, big in the '90s, in particular. They were good sports though and wore everything.

Of course at some point they grew up and into their own taste and ability to buy their own clothes. At this point it is fair to say that they also grew into having better taste than their mother. I have always had an eye for the bright shiny object and restraint is not one of my defining characteristics. The term a "classic Mom outfit" is not to be confused around here with a classic outfit.

As adults I have continued to do some sewing for them at specific request, shirts for the boys, and dressy dresses for my daughter. I have done very little sewing up to now for the little girls however - they have 4 female cousins in Boston a couple of years older and regularly receive massive amounts of hardly worn hand me downs from them.

Lately though that's changed. 

My grandson Billy is obviously not getting anything passed down to him and he and the girls have their own ideas of clothing that is not unlike my own. I have a window of opportunity here until those guys develop good taste and stop having their heads turned by everything that sparkles.

I have also decided to make most of what I give everyone whenever I can for life events. Even though there is probably as many misses as hits with this system, my reasons for making gifts are this:

  • Amazon doesn't love you like your mother
  • I enjoy the dialogue in planning projects
  • It feels I am still doing something useful for my big grown up kids, and they indulge me in this
  • When I meet their friends they tell me they love what I have made the kids and I enjoy the head swelling effects on my own head
  • If there are some mistakes or something bombs, it's family and they don't mind
  • Often because this is someone else's idea I have to learn something new or stretch my creativity
I sort of space a project for me with something for someone else and that is a good balance for me.

Right now I am making a Batman costume, and owl costume, and trying to persuade someone else to wear a red, not pink, rabbit suit because I have a pile of cheap polar fleece I would like to move out of here.

I am also pondering my answer to the question "Well Babsie what are you going to be?" 

I guess something.

Now I have a question for you.

What do you sew, or not sew, for other people in your life? What have been your biggest successes and failures. I am of course interested in the failures because I have a fairly impressive section there in my own portfolio.

I always love the listening I get to do in the blog.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Flypaper thoughts almost home edition

  • The best thing about being at home will be seeing Daisy and the kids
  •  The second best thing is I will no longer have to use those useless hand air dryer things
  •  I am totally convinced that nobody in human history has ever actually got their hands even remotely drier using those things
  • Walked around Target while my husband picked up the only brand of Levis that he says fit him
  • Tried on a long bomber jacket
  • Fingertip length and not very gathered at the bottom
  • Light went on
  • This is my next sewing project
  • Have been wrestling with casual jacket ideas
  • But I want one that covers longer tops
  • Bingo we have a winner
  • Was going to clean the house when I got back
  • Might not do that so quickly once I start unpacking fabric
  • So glad we made this road trip
  • Every winter we drive south through grey and ice and I do not enjoy New Brunswick and Maine
  • Tree, house, tree, tree house
  • This time the leaves were out and the sky was blue
  • What a difference a season makes
  • Showed you the pillows my DIL’s grandmother made
  • At nearly 97 she still irons her son’s shirts
  • Told me she does just one a day but she gets them done
  • Worth it because this way she knows he will be dropping by twice a week even when he is busy
  •  Crafty in many ways that one
  • A model for us all
  • First husband’s partner has a cool idea for wedding wear
  • She has one pattern and had five suits made up in Dupioni in different colours
  • She just rotates them through the events
  • Actually an interesting idea if you think about it, always looks nice
  • Just remembered I have Hallowe’en costumes to start too
  • They are changing their minds twice a day so I need an update
  • Once my youngest son wanted to be Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • I spent a week making a costume what was split down the middle, hat included, different clothes
  • My best work
  • He came home from school
  • All the kids are being robbers
  • Do you have an old T shirt and a pillow case?
  • Motherhood 001
  • You know why I sew?
  • It makes me happy
  • That’s all
  •  On my way home to get back at it

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Stylearc Marilyn dress and another sewer

We are on our way home from a very nice family wedding in Washington DC. 

My son's brother-in-law got married and since we have become not just the outlaws, but friends, with my daughter-in-law's parents, we were invited.

The wedding was in the backyard of the house and really lovely. As an event it also gave us a chance to connect again with people and family we don't see often enough and that alone was worth any trip.

Here is my Marilyn dress by Stylearc in silk charmeuse in a sort of teal, and because I ran out of fabric, the sleeves are lined in navy. 

I wasn't crazy about sewing with this fabric, something that pressed better might have made nicer ties, and although I lined the body of the dress in Bemberg lining and the dress had enough structure, the hem should have been bound or something to add more weight. I did a far bit of fussing over this fabric until I finally realized that what was really bothering me was that I felt this was immoral yardage.

I had originally bought this fabric for my youngest son's former girlfriend to wear to a wedding, but when he broke up with her, I was left with the fabric. She's a very nice girl, clearly they didn't have enough in common, I get that, but she was a nice girl, and this fabric has been looking at me for a while now. So here, a couple of years later I decided to make use of it but it didn't feel entirely right to me. 

Maybe that made it hard to press. What do you think?

Anyway this ended up a two-toned project and I handled this with a navy necklace bag and shoes. Yes I know it is entirely inappropriate to go so matchy but since I had to pinch hit in the navy, this made me feel better about that:

Not the best picture again, taken in the hotel room, and it did crease when I sat down. I also cropped out my bare legs. I don't care what anyone says about never wearing stockings but I think my well travelled legs are not looking as smooth as they used to. From now on we are dressing up with stockings.

Back to the pattern. 

Really this is as easy a dress as you can whip up in a hurry for an event and easy to make. I am not sure I will ever wear it again, suspect the sleeves will date pretty quickly, but it was super comfortable for an in-house wedding.

Now onto the people.

My son from San Francisco was there of course with my nice daughter-in-law, and  also my DIL's grandmother who is nearly 97.

This lady lives on her own, always brings wonderful cooking with her when she visits, and pretty much is the life of the party.

She also sewed a lot in her life, ran a dress shop and did custom work in Philly for many years, and we always talk sewing. 

These days she doesn't use her machine much but she still does hand embroidery, particularly pillows of members of the family and their pets.

Here is an arrangement of some she made of the family on a bench at the front door:

Pretty cool eh?

Now the party is over I am anxious to get home to see Miss Daisy and the rest of the family and to start planning some Christmas sewing. There is some rumour going around I am making the grandchildren matching flannelette nightgowns and PJs for Christmas eve.

Some planning to do.