Sign up for my weekly sewing newsletter or send my a comment or question

Sign up for my free weekly sewing newsletter

Sign up for my weekly sewing newsletter or send me a comment on this blog


Email *

Message *

About me

My photo
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


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram




Monday, February 11, 2019

Little details and good ideas

In a few days we are heading out of the ice and snow, over the ice and snow, in the RV headed for a week's driving south.

I have been indulging in a lot of sewing of warm and practical rv type clothing. 

I will be sharing that highly useful but probably non inspirational type sewing over the next few days.

Now onto the inspirational part. 

The weakness of this blog is the lack of those beautiful pictures the other bloggers I admire can do.

My husband has many wonderful qualities but has not mastered iPhone shots that capture both my head and are not on an angle. 

I often think I should get this visual side together but am stalled by not wanting to take my limited sewing time away in a photographic detour. So for those of you who do manage to take pictures that actually look decent. any advice would be appreciated.

In the meantime, in the interest of speed and in getting something up that might have a handy hint in it. I am going to entertain you will some scandalist shots taken of the back of the bathroom door. 

Not very glamorous. but you have to remember I haven't read your photographic advice yet.

And there is a sewing point I want to make here.

Let's begin with Exhibit A: Love Notions Constellation pullover.

Now I have made several of these for other people but this one was for me. This top has driving-in-the-rv-down-the I-95 written all over it, with a second life in campground walking around.

 First the bathroom door shot:

And on me. 

You will notice no head. Of course this shot was taken after I had walked two dogs in the wind so that is probably a good thing,

I really really love this pattern. 

It is super easy to make and comfortable. The ladies' version (there is a kid's version and a man's available from Lovenotions) has a view with knit band along a sort of curved hem that I think is more flattering to most of us than a traditional ribbing band.

It also has a giant sort of kangaroo pocket that looks more like two normal pockets - and these are finished with some easy little knit bands. I used some rayon knit I had saved from a T shirt project:

The best part of the who project to me however was the way the  upper cover/neckline was finished - a  method I have used years ago and sort of forgot about.

You know in any kind of collar like this one getting the inside bottom edge of the upper collar to look nice when the collar is open (think golf shirts, any banded shirt collar etc.) is tricky.

The method here was to trim the seam allowance off the bottom of the upper collar and to wrap a piece of binding around the raw edge of the bottom of the collar piece, before it got attached to anything at all.

The construction process was then to just sew the under collar to the neckline, then to sew the upper collar (the one that would be next to your neck when worn) to the undercollar already attached to the garment, just along the top and short sides.

The next step was to just stitch the free bottom edge of the collar to down to cover the seam - either by hand or by machine.

I did this part by hand because I felt like sitting in the chair with Daisy and relaxing at this point. 

What makes this way of doing a collar is so cool is that the bottom edge of this collar piece is already been finished before it hits the garment - so there is no need to do any folding under or tricky stuff - so easy and so neat!

I love how stress free this was.

My next project was to make a sort of housecoat thing for running around the rv and campsite. 

And to wear too when I go  off to have a shower in the campground washroom when I am in the mood for a shower in an area larger than a phone booth and that does not also include someone standing outside the bathroom asking you to save water- not something I am usually in the mood to do when I am finally getting a hot shower after a long drive.

I used this Vogue pattern

This illustration was exactly what I wanted but unfortunately the actual garment did not look exactly like the picture when I made it up.

The shoulders for a start are really quite dropped and the sleeves super wide - think kimono draft.

But to be realistic about it the only people who are likely to see me in this unit are old camping type guys whistling along in their shaved heads and hiking boots on the trails in the woods on the way to the bath houses. On their way there of course because their wives have kicked them out of the rv for a while for some peace -because living in an rv with a man who whistles makes you feel like that is what you should do. Every now and then.

So if that is who will observe this outfit, I really am not too stressed that it doesn't look a lot like the envelope picture.

The instructions for the facing at the front when it transitions to the collar were interesting. 

The pattern does not have a back neck facing (those are a nuisance anyway) but instead the pattern advises you to slash up the stitching line where the facing ends on either side of the back neck seam and to turn the remaining raw edge of the collar under and stitch it down.

I never like to do this because the slashed up the stitching line part is always dicey and never neat.

However this was the next thing I made after the pullover above so I just used to Constellation technique again - complete with the same binding in the same fabric:

This was really a much better solution and I am pretty pleased with myself for making this adaptation.

Now the thing I want us all to think about are other ways in which we can use this same binding the raw edge, rather than fighting to turn it under neatly, technique to make our lives easier.

What do you think?


MaryEllen said...

Love these tips for finishing the edges . Happy Camping

Anonymous said...

The binding is a very nice finish. Tucked it away in my head until needed, thank you. My question for you is have you solved the campground shower issue of wet feet and the need to put on underwear? Looking forward to your response.

Irene said...

Love your polka dot binding! You'll look wonderful at the campground.
I've been using this method of hiding the uglies at the bottom of the collar on all sorts of items - pyjamas, blouses - I opt for edge stitching the bottom of the binding, and I don't have a problem with a neat row of stitching on the "right side" of the blouse right under the collar.

Alison said...

I actually find your discussions of warm and practical garments to be highly inspirational, more so than the somewhat frivolous "fashionable" garments that some sewing bloggers enjoy. Indeed, I am sorely tempted by your discussion of the Navigator pullover to consider purchasing the pattern, even though I know darn good and well that it will not fit my shape without all sorts of annoying pattern alterations. Your description of the collar construction, and the way the collar and front opening fit into the body are very appealing. Maybe at some point I will buy the pattern just to morph those parts onto my own TNT knit top pattern.

I definitely struggle with taking good photos of self wearing clothing I have made. The best things that have helped me are that I got a tripod for my digital camera, I found out how to set it for a delayed release of the shutter, and I read somewhere to have the camera at about the height of the midpoint between top of head and the floor. I set up the tripod on one end of my porch, and stand against the house wall about eight feet away. I have learned by trial and error about where to put the tripod and where to stand. This gives me a not too distorted photo of myself, with a fairly plain background. I imagine that this could also work indoors, though depending on the lighting, you might have to play with the light settings on your camera... by taking my photos outside, I can just set it on "cloudy" and the color is basically okay.

Sheila Munro said...

I have the Love Notions pattern and look forward to making one for myself, but in relation to your photographic issues, why not get a remote control and tripod? That way you can take your own photos and with some experimentation work out distance to stand etc, so that we do see your face :-)

corsadriver49 said...

Babs, thanks for your really good explanation of the collar edge binding technique on the Love Notions pattern. Will certainly be looking at that one for all my family.
I have a question, which may be me not understanding correctly (very likely) or me being just plain stupid (very possible!)
I have done a lot of sewing though....
If you trim the seam allowance off the bottom of the under collar, where is the seam allowance to attach the binding? Or do you not trim the whole allowance off?

ACraftyScrivener said...

All I can think of is the drafts that will find their way up your housecoat sleeves!!! Being a hardy Nova Scotian, however, I am sure you can survive those! Great binding tip, I had to do this after the fact in a jacket I made for my husband (while we were having coffee all I could see was the raw seam, not conducive to a romantic date!!!!)

MakeitAnyWear said...

I recommend a remote control. Even more helpful than the tripod. I got a very cheap one and it works. The cheap tripod did not.

I just made a skirt which had a bound instead of folded edge on the bottom of the waistband. I just used a piece of seam tape and it was so much less bulky than folding.

SilverMom said...

Brilliant method re: binding! I will definitely be adding this to my bag of sewing tricks. Thank you so much.

I am also looking forward to comments related to posting photos. This is the challenge that has been getting in the way of my blog postings for a long time.

I'll be following your RV exploits with great enjoyment. For health and mobility reasons, we had to give up RVing, and I miss it so much. Have fun on your trip!

kim nath said...

I use a tripod and timer with my cellphone. Not professional, but it works pretty well.

Brenda said...

I quit blogging because of picture issues. I couldn't down load them onto my blog. I don't mind your photos at all. I actually get annoyed with blogs that have an excess number of poses of the same top or pants. One of each side is plenty, thank you! I have made many Simplicity 2482 robes. It is very similar to the Vogue you made. I always put elastic around the wrist so I can pull up my sleeves for cooking. If you are concerned about drafts as ACraftyScrivener suggested. Have a great trip!

Barbara said...

Questions answered here, hopefully. Anon : I negotiate camp showers with good rubber flip flops. As far as the underwear - well I am not sure what you mean but the Bunzie pattern ones I make myself work great.

Corsasdriver - I probably didn't explain this well. You bind the bottom edge of the upper collar piece before you sew it to anything else - essentially you are just wrapping it with a binding to finish that edge. If you weren't doing this you would be turning under the seam allowance on the upper collar along the neck edge when you were attaching it as a last finishing stage - cutting off this s.a, and binding it really is just eliminating this bulk before you start. Does this make sense? Let me know if it doesn't.

Kansas Sky said...

Terrific garments! Stylish AND warm! Quick question. Where did you find that sweatshirt fleece? Looks so cottony. Thanks . . .Eager to get posts from the road. I love your travel series.

Alison Garnett said...

What makes your blog stand out from the others is the quality of the writing: I wouldn't worry too much about the pictures!

Unknown said...


I loved the finishing on both garments. Can you take pictures of the process next time? It's hard to accompany the written description for non English speaker ;)

All the best

No pressure with photos, just keep it simple!

Kansas Sky said...

Your photos are just fine as they are. Like a commentator said above, it’s what you say that is as important to me. Your pictures illustrate well and are never confusing. Many thanks to your resident cameraman! He needs his own shoutout!

BarbaraShowell said...

I never find myself irritated by photo quality or lack of photos while reading your blog. That said, the remote is fabulous. I bought one on amazon for maybe $2.50 USD. It works on my android phone and my I pad. I got a little adapter so both of those can use my tripod, again less than $19 and probably closer to 5. I can even take good selfies with that remote!