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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, August 9, 2018

Let's talk swimsuits: first instalment of my sort of sew-along

Well I promised a sew-along on swimsuits, one of the many topics on which I have too many opinions, and here we are ready to go.

Since I am not sure how really to do a sew-along let's not worry about that. BTW I am shutting down the FB page and we can just run this here in our familiar place in the blog and on Instagram where you can find me @bemodi

I had this idea that if I also ran a Facebook page people could post pictures of what they were making, which no one did which was fine with me because well it's summer and I am sure you are all very busy. Just reading about what we are focusing on is probably enough for most of us, and these thoughts can be filed away for when they are needed.

So swimsuits, bathing suits, all those garments that are meant to be worn in the water, are pretty interesting to make.

And these days there is no reason you can't make exactly what you want in exactly the same materials, or better, than you can get in the stores. 

Interestingly enough swimwear is one area of sewing to where there is a lot of money to be saved. This is based on my own observation that the more vulnerable a person feels in a garment the more she will pay for it even if it is made of very little materials. So with that great physiological insight and the little bit of math I have I figure you can make a really great swimsuit for less than half, more like a third of what a similar unit would cost to buy.

Then there is fit.

Fitting in swimwear isn't really that hard. There are not a lot of seams to work with but there is length. Length is such a powerful element in swimwear.

Short people suffer from baggy swimsuits when the bathing suits are too long, and that bagginess just gets worse when wet.

Tall people, like me, suffer from body strangulation in regular length swimsuits, and all the riding up and tugging that goes along with something not being long enough for coverage. I can't begin to describe to you how nice it feels to be able to add the 4" I need to body length to a bathing suit and as a result to actually feel my shoulders aren't being forced down or that my legs openings aren't creepy up creepily every time I move. 

As I have made swimsuits for my daughter and the girls this summer as well as myself I have been so interested to see that each of us needs that same 4" added whatever our size- like it's a family imprint or something.

For the purposes of this sew-along I am going to be working on, or have just completed, three different swimsuits.

The first one, a sort of retro version by request, for my daughter, is from Halo Fabric Addicts fine fabrics (yes I know I am using a lot of their stuff this summer,  and it has not been my cheapest option, but the quality is just so outstanding). Here is the Jalie pattern we are using and here is the fabric, lining and cups (they come in sizes which is nice) all from Halo:






For myself I am making another, my third version this season, of the Diane swimsuit pattern Jalie released this spring, in some random yellow fabric and yellow parrot print I got locally last year for the little girls who didn't like it because it was neither pink nor purple. 

Over the year I have been able to persuade myself it is age appropriate for me. If you don't think so I would appreciate it if you didn't say anything, since it did take me an entire year to warm up to it. I went ahead and cut out the cups from an old bra for this suit, and stitched them in (a friend told me this would be a good idea) before I found out about the better idea Halo swim cups that are actually designed for the water. My recycled bra cups really aren't although they do give my profile a familiar look. 

I already tried this old bra concept on another swimsuit and although they look fine dry they sort of hold the water when wet which requires a bit of discreet chest pressing every now and then. Sometimes going cheap is less than classy. However they are in the lining of this suit now so we are going to stick with, it and besides I have that chest pressing move more or less down on automatic now:





Finally I am going to show you what went on when I made my daughter-in-law a maternity swimsuit. I used Rad patterns First Crush pattern for a maternity suit which is really a maternity version of the standard First Crush pattern, which comes in an amazing range of variations:


Standard pattern as well as maternity options

We will have words about the instructions for this pattern later but the basic shapes are very interesting. I used this fabric and a particularly wonderful black lining from Halo. The pattern has a sort of built-in bra in it:



So that's me. Now those of you who are sewing along what are you making.









Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Japanese style apron

A few days ago I mentioned detouring to get some work aprons out the door for my sister. 

I made two and made them reversible with pockets on both sides. As per the dress code at her new workplace I used some grey linen and some grey shirt poplin, both spit out from my supply shelves in the basement.

Once we had Pinterested ourselves into apron education I went searching for a pattern. In the end I decided on this simple one from Porcupine patterns in Singapore. There are many others available, including a more complex, but free, one from Purl Soho and a simple but IMO over priced ones from Maven studio and others. I note too that there are loads of instructions for drafting the pattern for these basic cross body aprons around but I was not feeling like spending the time doing that.

Here are the pictures:





The pattern didn't have pockets so I drafted some by tracing out the shape of a likely looking cookbook (entertaining recipes from the '50s and '60s more or less untouched in my kitchen) and rounding off the bottom corners with a one cup measuring cup.

I entered these pockets on both the main fabric and lining over the side seams 7.5 inches down from the cut edge of the armhole.

There were actually instructions on how to do a reversible apron but I found these complicated so instead I did this:

1. Stitch side seams and sew the pockets and stitch them onto both shells.

2. Right sides together stitch the neck edge and inside of the straps, one long seam.

3. Stitch the remaining outside seam/straps around the perimeter of the apron. Note this leaves only the top of the apron unstitched.

4. Turn and press. Press under a seam allowance at the top edge of the apron.

5. Slide the raw ends of the straps down into the top of the apron, remembering to cross them.

6. Top stitch all around the apron catching in the straps (I sewed a little box over these ends to secure).

Really easy project and I am going to put this pattern away for some Christmas makes.

If you are on my Christmas list please forget you just read that.

Now swimsuits to follow soon. 

Monday, August 6, 2018

Blog tour round up

Hi folks.

For those of you who have been following the little blog tour of reviews of my book today is the last day and by me.

I have to tell you that this all feels a bit odd. 

I never set out to write a book and certainly didn't think that I would ever be asked by a publisher to organize a few other sewers to review it on a blog tour (and I am not forgetting here my wonderful friend Carolyn at Diary of a Sewing Fanatic who did the first review on her own on her blog.)

I didn't write this book to be a writer of books. In fact I will tell you something. Since my own copy arrived I haven't even looked through the pages, it is still sitting on my desk untouched. It feels like a garment that you have made and know so well, it's done.

I didn't do this project so I would have a book on my desk.

I wrote this book entirely because I wondered if there were a few tricks that I could pass on to new and returning sewers (sewist is on the book, sewer is still in my head) so they wouldn't be discouraged. Sewing has just been such an anchor and a beacon in my life, such a comfort and just the thing I needed, exactly what I needed, in the times in my life when I needed some picking up, getting up, and dusting off, well I just couldn't stand it if someone couldn't have that resource in her own life too.  I was bothered that maybe somewhere someone else was prevented from getting to that point because they thought maybe the fact the binding rippled was because they were just no good at this making/creative thing- when I had the potential to do a save and say listen just iron it into a curve before you sew it on and you will be fine. And then they would know they were fine.

I felt urgency writing this book because of thoughts, like that. I wanted to facilitate the giving of a gift.

So when I wrote down a bunch of my own handy hints it was because I was thinking of those other sewers who were who I used to be before I ruined a thousand garments working this all out, with my own experiments and with the help of so many sewing friends, both those who had sewed with me in person, and those who have supported me with their own written words.

So to me the blog tour was part of that connection to others like me.

And so a shout out to my wonderful reviewers, all sewing fellow travellers who have inspired me with their own mastery and more important enthusiasm for sewing. 


Thank you to Tany in Portugal:


Dawn in Alaska:



Lara in Australia:


 and Ruthie in England:



Thank you all, my people, for your support and for taking the time to participate in this little tour this week. Thank you.