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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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Friday, December 29, 2017

New Year's resolutions and Movie Night pattern review

Well the tree is still up but the dining room table is covered now in things the spouse is considering packing into the RV. 

We will be leaving Nova Scotia in about two weeks. We are heading to Panama Beach Florida and more or less along the Gulf Coast to Texas, where we will cruise around for about a month getting to know the place the youngest son now lives in, and then west to San Francisco to do the same for the son and DIL in California.

It's pretty cold out there so we are packing warmer than usual clothes and of course a couple of months of sewing projects. When we hit the Bay area I am going to be shooting a few videos for the publisher, very homey, on some of the hints I think new sewers need to know. Hope they are braced for that. I have kind of decided to just be myself for that sort of thing and hope that makes sense to someone somewhere.

I am wondering how well I am going to go without sewing friends to talk to for nearly three months. I have even considered getting an American Sewing Guild at large membership so I can drop into a few meetings as we travel to just sit with other sewists.

For those of you who belong to the ASG does this make sense?

Back on topic.

Living in an RV brings out the inner minimalist. I know the concept of traveling this way might seem weird, certainly not something I thought I would ever do, but I really like it. 

I remember saying on a student trip to Europe years ago that I could travel forever if I could go home every night and sleep in my own bed.

It's like that with the addition of your sewing room traveling with you too. Imagine if every hotel room you ever stayed in had your pattern collection and machine in it.

There actually is a point to this.

I have made one major New Year's resolution, which I actually think I will keep because it is something I want to do anyway.

I am going to try make as many Indie patterns as I can in 2018 and review them.

Here are my reasons for doing this:

1. It will be fun
2. I will learn something new - really important to me as a sewist that I don't get limited or stuck in my familiar techniques. With sewing there is always a new idea and a different way the same thing can be done, we all know that. An example is the pattern I am going to review here.
3. A few of the patterns I have tried could do with some alternative instructions or maybe a construction technique alternative- if I see an opportunity to add information that might be helpful to the next person sewing this pattern I will do that.
4. I enjoy the stimulation of the sewing community that follows some of these pattern designers, nearly all have FB groups, and seeing their makes. This is good for my own creativity and when you are inspired, in my experience, you just should sew something.

And finally, this is too big an idea to be in a list, I want to explore new pattern designers. The ability to produce and sell .pdf patterns has revolutionized the access of design talent to the sewing community. 

I truly believe that there is a lot of talent out there and I want to meet it. I don't believe at all that the potential to create a great pattern or design can only happen on 5th Avenue. Many good ideas start on a kitchen table, late at night, or while someone naps. If anyone understands that I do.

And to quote Joseph Howe, a father of Confederation and fellow Nova Scotian,  you don't need a big field to grow a big turnip.

As an aside, just so you know,  I will pattern test if asked but I buying all patterns I am reviewing. You need to know I am being as objective as I can.

Now onto the Movie Night Pajamas.

This pattern is a free one from Sew a little seam if you join their FB page which will give you the freebie code. Note there is also an adult woman's version of this pattern available too. I am going to get that cut out soon to take with me to sew in the rv because I am anticipating some chilly nights on wheels this next month at least.




I threw together this pattern on December 24th for Mr. Billy who was yakking away about Batman jammies. I got the fabric from Fabric Crush, a Canadian online seller I highly recommend, just in time.

Of course I had already made Billy traditional flannel Christmas jammies but like all children, and most adults if they would admit it, how they felt was as important to him as the print was to me and to his mother.

He told us he didn't like the way the wide legs flapped around his feet. He is an action guy after all.

So I went searching and found the Movie Nights.



They were a particularly fast sew, which is handy when you are whipping something up the day before Christmas, with bands at both the cuff and ankles as well as the neck.

The only hem is on the top and I serged the edge and top stitched it down with a three step zig zag which, because the steps eliminate the long floating threads of the plain zig zag, and I have found to be the most durable for children's clothes - more so than my cover hem for instance.

The intriguing thing about this pattern (not illustrated because my model wouldn't stay still) is the option to replace the traditional elastic waist with a "yoga band" essentially a big wide band of Cotton lycra knit. This is a brilliant idea and one I am going to use more often.

The yoga band is of course super easy to apply, faster than the elastic, and more accommodating when you are trying to figure out what length to cut the elastic for someone you can't test on.

Billy finds it about 1000% more comfortable than an elastic waist too and it also does the job of holding up the jammies just as well.  

Where else can I use this idea?

Finally my model, Christmas morning:



Now off to cut out projects for the trip.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Flypaper thoughts Boxing day edition


  • Well it's the morning after
  • Now I can start posting some of my project photos for things I made this year
  • Never a production sewist, however this year I made
  • 11 retreat bags (toiletry bag free pattern from Emmaline bags)
  • Four dress shirts (All day shirt from Liesl patterns)
  • One pair of Batman pyjamas (Movie night PJs free for both children and adults if you do a FB sign up)
  • Two Sugarplum night gowns from Peek-a-Boo
  • Two pairs of pyjamas, one for a 3-year-old one for a 36-year-old from Jalie
  • Five slouchy head wraps a free pattern from Patterns for Pirates
  • Three sleep masks for my flyers from a pattern in the top drawer in my sewing room
  • One polar fleece jacket also from Peek-a-Boo
  • There is probably more but this is all I can think of now
  • My biggest urge this morning
  • A bunch of tops for myself
  • Please I don't want you to think I am that kind of productive sexist
  • Doing all of this was an emotional release for me with so many family members all over the place
  • Sometimes I communicate best with sewing
  • And this year I needed to do that
  • The day went well
  • High point was the power going out about an hour before the entire city was ready to sit down for dinner
  • Our meal was fortunately already cooked as we make it here at home and transport it about five minutes away to my daughter's because she has the huge table
  • The meal is one of our gifts
  • Imagine the poor folks who had semi raw turkeys
  • To heat up our food we relied on my husband
  • Who is kind of a sleeper cell waiting to come alive in emergencies
  • With gear no one knew he has stashed in the garage
  • Rigged up a small microwave attached to a car battery
  • Apparently there are two spare microwaves I didn't know about in the garage
  •  No one goes into the garage unescorted
  •  Just in case
  • You need an inverter to run a microwave when the power goes out
  • No one knew what an inverter was or that we had one
  • Ran a series of super long extension cords up two flights of stairs to the kitchen from the van in daughter's garage where it was plugged into the lighter thing
  • We got the broccoli warm
  • I put the potato casserole in front of the wood stove, where it actually cooked
  • And the cabbage on top of the stove where it actually almost burned
  • We lit a collection of candles and tried to keep small children from carrying them around
  • It was very exciting
  • So disappointing when the lights went on after a few hours
  • So we turned them off in the dining room and ate by candlelight
  • We had children roller blading in the kitchen
  • Dogs eating the ornaments
  • A poor and brave daughter-in-law who had a cold
  • And then got reflux because I insisted she drink two tablespoons of Buckleys ("it tastes terrible but it works")
  • Widely popular in Canada because it is made of pine needles and looks like mucus
  • Which are characteristics that matter here
  • "This looks like the stuff I am trying to get out of my body" Maddie said
  • That was before the reflux kicked in as the pine needles went down
  • Her living in California oesophagus undoubtedly gone into shock
  • At this point the mother-in-law of the year decided to lie low on the medical front
  • And not to suggest a mustard plaster
  • Anyone else have mustard plasters applied to their chests as children?
  • Highly sophisticated
  • English mustard and flour mixed with water and the paste smeared on brown paper
  • Then put in a tea towel and applied to small bony chests
  • Works like a charm to cure chest colds 
  • Providing you don't fall asleep with it on
  • In which case you have to investigate home remedies for 3rd degree burns
  • I realize that "my children survived" is not an argument that qualifies me as a medical expert
  • Life in the Canadian winter
  • In two weeks now we will be driving down and out of it
  • Of to points south, Texas and then California
  • To check on the kids who have recently escaped us
  • They might need something
  • A shirt
  • Some advice
  • Or maybe its us who need to see where this family is now
  • At Christmas you remember
  • And one of the things you remember
  • Is the present moment is the one that counts