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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, November 10, 2018

Little projects

Lately I have been doing a ton of family sewing, none of which I have documented, as it was sort of the on-demand out the door stuff.

For the family about to launch with the first baby on the West Coast, I made a nightgown, cap, nursing cover, breast pads, flannelette wipes and burp cloths. Those were mailed and arrived. 

This weekend I am making more baby gear and promise to take some pictures. The last batch got mailed as fast as I could. Due dates are pretty immovable deadlines.

Additionally Miss Scarlett, who is 9, has gone deep into synchronized swimming. 

Her coach more or less behaves with the seriousness of an Olympic coach, a gazillion hours of practice, multiple drills etc. I am pretty sure when she looks at her little team she is not noticing that they are random, giggling, little girls. Despite this Scarlett, who has inherited my vague streak and has been known to walk out the door to school with only one shoe on her foot, loves her coach and the swimming.

The dressing protocols of synchronized swimming are pretty specific however. This week I made two black practice suits for her and a black T shirt for wearing on the pool deck.

All I can say is that thank goodness for Jalie patterns and their multi-sizedness - I can see the Diane swimsuit and I are going to have quite a future.

After the next round of baby stuff I am going to start on some Christmas sewing.

To be nice to myself I have decided to intersperse this sewing for other people with a few hand sized projects for myself.

One I am going to try is socks.

Yes socks.

I have seen multiple socks on social media and some of them look pretty cool. Jalie has a well-regarded pattern but they look to me like they are meant to be sports socks in fleece. Also some folks have commented on the seam at the toe that may or not be comfortable.

Since I have a huge collection of knit scraps I thought I would try out some crew length socks for starters in a pattern drafted for lighter weight knits, and without the seam.

One pattern I have on my table at the moment, yet to be tried, is this one from Peek-a-boo patterns:

I realize that making socks is pretty weird, might be taking the made-by-me thing a little far, but why not try. 

I don't know about you but finding a good sock that doesn't leave dents in your legs and is comfy on the foot is really hard. My favourites are my own hand knit socks but I am a slow knitter and those don't exactly flow off my needles and into my drawer.

If they work these might be something I inflict on the family this Christmas too. We will see how they go. I should note that MadeforMermaids has also just realized a multi-sized family sock pattern that might be interesting, although I will start with the pattern I have first for now.

The other hand sized projects I have been working on between sewing assignments have been underwear and a sports bra.

I actually have my own exercise program. 

Most days I go on the exercise bike, motivated by Netflix. 

Not exactly an Olympic sport and no coach.

Every other day I do a little weights etc. routine that I have on my phone. I use a wonderful, free Australian app that was designed for pelvic friendly exercise but appropriate for anyone. 

You can download it here through the links.

I know a lot of folks on Instagram in particular post pictures of their work out routines and outfits.

They inspire me but realistically I have major doubts that I will ever run any marathons. Maybe if they parked the NY garment district at the other end of the finish line and the sign didn't say finish but said 70% off. 

Other than that, probably not going to do it.

Rolling around on a exercise ball in the spare room or doing bridges on the floor while Daisy licks my face is more just what I am actually going to do on a regular basis.

That doesn't mean I don't have an exercise outfit.

Wait for it.

My favourite shorts, made from a shortened Style Arc pull on pant and a T shirt I got at Union Square in New York from a group who was fundraising for sewing programs in developing countries. Completely comfortable and ideal for the character of my own workout routine:

Back to the hand sized projects. It should be pretty clear by now why Miss Scarlett and I forget one shoe.

To go under this fabulous activewear outfit I have made a cotton lycra sports bra, well because I am a sport I guess. 

I have made several attempts at these but after having spent significant dollars on ranges of fold-over elastic and high performance fabrics (insider hint: you only really need high performance fabrics if you are in fact a high performer) I have ended up with strangling type things that rode up and over my breasts, which is neither flattering or performance-wise, useful.

As a result I have been engaged in a sort of last ditch attempt to find something in a soft, utility bra that would require no extra materials than those already in my knit fabric scrap pile.

That criterion led me to George and Ginger's Lovesick bra. The pattern is a free file on their FB page - to access it all you have to do is join the FB group and look under files.

Like most bras of this type it holds things still more than lifts and separate, but is super comfortable and requires nothing more than a good strong knit like cotton lycra, for the outer cup and maybe something else in a knit for the lining.

If you want support you can thread through some elastic into the straps (instructions included) and I know some folks have used power net in the wide band and even the cups.

The design basically relies on three small darts in the cups that are seamed together at centre front. It is a pull-on style, so you have to be comfortable with that too.

Here is my wearable muslin version:

I am pretty impressed by the minimalism of this design and the fit. Since I haven't quite retired from teaching (my drop dead date on that will be April 2019) I am probably not going to post any pictures of myself in a bra - but after that of course, look out.

The only change I would made in the next of these bras would be to possibly go down a size in the band and to lower the underarm a bit, maybe 1/2".

Pretty pleased with myself.

In the same spirit of little projects I have also been making more Bunzie underwear.  Despite my misgivings about knit bands to replace the usual elastics, as a wearer I have to say I have converted to this approach in a big way. For a start these are just so easy and fast to make and do not require leaving your sewing room to go and find some special elastic. 

They are also really comfortable and stay put, which for underwear is a real virtue.

I made of course the full coverage, high waist, old lady underwear version because, and this is one of the best kept secrets of old ladies, I am pretty sure these are most comfortable option that everyone else wishes they could wear. Here is one of my recent pairs, made out of random left over fabric, but that much should be apparent:

So off I go, but now I have to ask.

What are your own hand-sized, reliable, palat cleanser projects that you sandwich in between serious sewing, or even to restart your mojo if that is ever something you lose?

I'm interested.