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

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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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Friday, January 26, 2018

Insta project

When we are on the road my husband does 100% of anything related to food. Buying, cooking and cleaning up. 

The kitchen in an rv is tiny and he loves to organize it. This is a man of a million systems. Also when he was growing up his father, a man of multiple enterprises had a restaurant he sometimes worked in.

My husband also says cooking is to him what sewing is to me, something creative that relaxes him.

So our agreement when we are on wheels is that I stay out of the kitchen and do all the dog walking, the laundry, and my many projects. I also do the phoning people up and talking part. I am better at that than he is.

Every once in a while though I feel guilty. Women of my generation have somewhere a little voice that says if you aren't working all the time around the place then you are pulling some kind of scam.

OK I am pulling a scam here, but the scamee seems happy with it.

Occasionally I wonder out loud about things we could do so he would have less cooking to do. My daughter-in-law has just bought an Instant Pot and I thought maybe those are a good idea. Of course I am the princess eater here not on the production end of this operation, but it's a nice thought right? Like those 50s husbands who used to give the wife a new vacuum for Valentine's day.

Any one out there have one and think they are really really good?

I mean Valentine's Day is coming up right?

In the meantime while I wait to hear from my consultants (that would be you folks) and am engaging in some Insta projects.

When you are living in an rv Insta projects make a lot of sense, particularly the ones you cut out at home (and remembered to pack all the pieces of) if you have promised to stay out of the kitchen, since that more or less leaves just the bed and the driver's seat.

I started with my all time favourite Insta project- this neglected and quite amazing Jalie shirt, described, accurately as V neck and high back:

Now this is the cover shot of the version with a zipper.

I made mine without the zipper and also without the bike helmet and the bike shorts. Seemed like a good idea.

What is amazing about this top (you can add sleeves if you want they are included) is that it essentially can function as a great tank or under cardigan type top and can be made in about 30 minutes.

The upper part of the top, the V neck, is made by laying two front pieces on top of each other (they are sort of rectangles no neckline shape at all) sewing a short 5" line of straight stitches up the middle at centre front, and the folding the pieces, wrong sides together, to each side.

That's it. 

A beautiful V neckline with zero sewing around it, no points of the V, no binding, just a nice folded edge that lies beautifully.

At this point I should stop and say I am fully aware that the above description makes no sense at all and only marginally describes the picture I have in my head, so your main take away here is - no sewing - super easy.

As far as V necks go this one's a scam.

After you have done what I have described, properly because the directions make sense in the pattern, all there is left to do is the back, lower front, side seams and turn and stitched hems around the armholes and along the bottom.

Here is my version - a black knit with a sort of a built-in texture wave I like, modelled in a non kitchen part of the rv, meaning next to the bed and in front of the bathroom door. I am posting two more or less identical pictures because I couldn't decide which one was worse:

Full RV view in my glasses for this interested.

After my busy day yesterday the serger seemed to be too heavy to lift off the floor and put on the table so I sewed this whole unit up with a straight stitch on the Rocketeer using that stretch Eloflex thread.

I know some folks have had issues with that thread but I learned a few tricks that kept it working just fine in my old 60 year old travelling machine:

1. Wind the bobbin slowly. If you whirl that bobbin around too fast the thread will stretch on the bobbin and retract in the stitches, puckering them.

2. Sew slowly and steadily. When I sped up the thread obviously got stretched thin and tight in the tension disks and then broke. When I kept up a conservative and constant pace this did not happen.

3. I bypassed the little thread guide just above the needle and this eliminated any possible fraying. Eloflex looks to me to be a 2 ply twist and is quite stiff. The stiffness means that it dropped down to the needle without having to be further held close, so dispensing with that last thread guide was fine. It also meant that this thread guide which is quite tight didn't get a chance to saw away at the thread.

I also have an idea, untested as this machine has few fancy stitches, that the simpler the stitch the better this thread will perform. A complicated stretch or multi action stitch would probably stretch and strain it a lot and that might contribute to the issues some sewists have reported. 

I wonder. 

Now off to dinner. I have some Indie pattern reviews coming your way and then I think I am going to do a series on hand sewing, like I did on hemming knits.

Does that sound like a good idea?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

A day of much weirdness

I am back in the rv after a trip to Winnipeg for my fabulous mother's 90th birthday. I have posted pictures of that trip on my Instagram.

After a busy time I was looking forward to walking the dogs, talking to my husband, and a little sewing.

Things didn't turn out that way today.

Instead a man I know well and like a lot, a former head of a political party at home, had to resign because of allegations of sexual impropriety with a staff.

Yes I know. Him too.

This meant instead of a nice quiet day I had to do some radio commentary and a TV interview via Skype from the rv, with my husband frantically running around to get me set up and to keep the dogs out of the shot.

If you are interested, and you are probably not, here is a link to the TV interview.

The day left me rattled, as far as I had known, this was a decent man, nice wife, lovely daughters.

I needed to sew to get myself settled again.

So I pulled out a cardigan I really wanted to make and had cut out at home before we left. 

Turns out that I also left the front pieces back in Halifax, probably in the garbage, probably long gone to the landfill.


Well some days its best not to expect too much.

Appreciating that this was not a point in time to raise my expectations I settled on making myself a head band unit I had made for my daughter, DIL, and niece for Christmas.

My hair is nothing to write home about at the best of times and camping hair is the sort of thing you want to cover up. 

It seemed a good day to make a head wrap so I did.

Here is the terrific free pattern I used from Patterns for Pirates. Super easy. PFP has some other cool free patterns too - all worth a look.

This headband can be worn as a head wrap, a slouch hat, a neck cowl, and well as, well a headband.

Here is me in some of those versions, artfully shot in the inside of the rv with my frazzled self inside. The fabric is a lovely bamboo knit from Fabric Crush:

I am pretty sure all I want to happen tomorrow is,


Might make more of these though.