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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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Thursday, June 21, 2018

Two things to think about when making T shirts

I have decided, atypically, to make some practical clothes for the summer. I am still going on the bathing suit tear, expect more on that later, and on some maternity leggings for my DIL, but am doing a few T shirt side projects.

There are a few things this T shirt making has brought to mind.

1. Fabric really makes a difference

I think we tend to think that when a pattern is for knits that this means any knit with the right degree of stretch (and hopefully the pattern is specific about this, either with a 4" of fabric should stretch to here, or a % figure) can be used in any pattern.

When you think about this, assuming that a knit is a knit is a knit doesn't make sense. After all when we sew with woven fabrics we don't assume that all are suitable. Who would make the same pattern in say a melton, a corduroy, a poplin and a chiffon and expect them all to work equally well?

So why do we grab any knit for say a project that says for knits and expect it to work?

A T-shirt that looks great in a cotton lycra for instance, is this Jalie classic T ,I made for my daughter this week:



This is a close fitted top and needed the structure of the cotton lycra to hold the shape without being clingy. I thought this one really worked; a good example of cotton lycra appropriate to the pattern. By contrast I have tried to use cotton lycra is fuller shirts and been very disappointed - any degree of flare and it just sticks out.

The new Mimosa top from Jalie is really an expanded, literally, version of this shape, from fitted to boxy and it is interesting that the fabric requirements specify something that flows.

I followed this advice when I made my first one, you have also seen this shot before, and it is worth noting that the rayon I used had pretty much the same degree of stretch as the cotton lycra above, but because of fabric content, and this is important, it had a completely different hand and considerably more drape:


I was quite happy with this top too and was glad I had used such a flowy fabric considering the tie thing going on with the sleeves and the fact I wanted to wear it with a fitted skirt. This is such a light feeling top and so comfortable.

But this version brings me to thought #2.

2. Now the first time I make any pattern I always try to make it up as per specs because there seems to me to be no point in adjusting something without seeing first how the design works (some folks call this a muslin I call these garments clothes-to-wear-walking-the-dog.)

The first version of the Mimosa worked I thought but it reminded me that it's important to remember your bones.

I made the Mimosa 1.0 as per my bust measurement, which often works just fine with Jalies because they are not drafted for big shoulders. But in a light fabric with a scoop neckline I definitely felt it was too loose around my meatless shoulders. Even though the shoulder seams were sitting in the right place I wasn't filling out the upper chest well.

Which returned me to one of the first principles of fitting which is to use your upper bust for choosing a pattern size and add where you need it from there down.

The first Mimosa I made was a size W, my size for bust, waist and hips, but for my next version I traced off a smaller upper bust/neck, size U, and by mid armhole returned to the W.

Here is the result (pardon the wild fabric this was piece that came to me in a Fabricmart mystery box) and you can see what a difference this makes - only the neckline and upper chest is a different size than the version above but the whole shirt looks totally different. I have to say that one reason I like Jalies is that they have such a huge number of sizes in each pattern, with only an inch apart between each, so it is easy to make these minor tweaks in fit:


Really folks I am really happy with this shoulder fit now combined with the loose body shape to me this is a winner and a new TNT.

For those familiar with the pattern I have made one other construction change. The sleeve view here was for the sleeves to be rolled up. Since my fabric had both a right and a wrong side I made a deep hem instead and folded that up again to make the rolled up look. I then tacked it by machine a the underarm and with a few stitches at the fold on the upper arm.

I have some other patterns to try out for T shirts but this one is definitely going in the personal file.



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Flypaper thought: another boss of the world edition


  • Sometime ago I made a list of things I would make sure happen
  • If I were the boss of the world
  • It turns out that if you have an aptitude for world domination
  • The ideas keep on coming
  • So here we go
  • If I were the boss of the world any actual world leader
  • Would be forced to behave the way their mothers told them they should
  • Or we replace them with the mothers
  • If I were the boss of the world jars of face cream would be packaged
  • Only in boxes that were the same size as the actual face cream
  • Not in some Russian doll (to offence to actual Russian dolls) system
  • Of a large cardboard box
  • That contains a jar
  • Under a lid that fills out half the inside of the box
  • That screws onto a jar with the thickness sides you ever saw
  • That when you lift off the plastic thing under the lid
  • Reveals about half a teaspoon of something that does not contain enough to take the wrinkles off the face of a mouse
  • If I were the boss of the world half a teaspoon of something that 96% of people you don't actually know, and who you can't access their names or addresses to actually check on this have endorsed
  • Would never be disguised like that
  • By 96% who are pretty sure that they probably had noticeably fewer wrinkles they are fairly sure
  • Than they did two weeks ago if they had been checking at that time
  • Or as a statistician would tell you
  •  If two sisters looked at their faces and one asked the other one
  • "Do you think this cream is working at all?
  • And the other one said "Well maybe,"
  • "What do you think?"
  • That in the world of high level statistics and the science of probability that works out to exactly 96% a positive result
  • Which come to think of it are pretty good odds for half a teaspoon
  • If I were the boss of the world
  • Dump it and forget about it crock pot meals actually tasted better than careful cooking
  • And no food blogger or writer would be allowed to use the work riff
  • As in "a riff on the traditional potato salad" you know the one that uses miso instead of mayo
  • And no sewing blogger can use the word hack unless they mean
  • Cut into tiny pieces and stomp on that pattern that used up all the good fabric and told you to do what no one human, not and particularly not 96%, could ever do even if they were sewing geniuses
  • And hack involved scissors 
  • If I were the boss of the world
  • No one would be allowed to write in a cover letter that they were passionate about anything
  • That they know full well they would only do if someone were going to pay them and make it worth their while
  • Or say they are excited
  • About things that involve writing a report
  • While sitting in a cubicle
  • If I were the boss of the world 
  • I would install a feature on all cell phones that turned them off in parental hands any time a child was within 10 feet
  • Except when pictures were being taken to send to grandparents
  • If I were the boss of the world sewing would be listed as a profession
  • And there would be pension plans for people who collect fabric
  • And fabric stashes were tax deductible
  • And spouses said things like
  • We have that extra money to spend before year end
  • And "do you think you can do something about that?"
  • And time off to sew was included in corporate wellness plans
  • Where it belongs
  • If I were the boss of the world