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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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Thursday, July 18, 2019

Summer sewing list: bite sized goals

This happens every summer. 

One minute I am digging out the summer clothes and the next minute I  realize it is the middle of July and all those things I was going to get done over the summer better get done before the summer clothes get packed away again.

I decided today that in addition to my usual round of family sewing, I needed to think about good summer projects for myself.

Unusually I decided to get sensible. So instead of time spent on ambitious sewing projects I decide to be nice to myself instead. I decided to make some things that have been percolating for a while now and would actually be useful.

Most of these are fast projects I can fit in around my other activities. All of them are outstanding:

  • A good bag for taking my cosmetic/shampoo etc. gear around with me in my travels. I have made nearly everyone in the vicinity a version of this free pattern, in the large size that holds everything, but why not me?
  • At least one hat. Obviously these are important in the sun but I have a terrible time finding one that is big enough for my large head. All the ones I own really have to be jammed down. I have a couple of patterns but might try this one, again a free pattern, or this one, because they have several sizes. I can make the brim bigger in the bucket hat too if I want. I am even thinking of trying some foam, like they use for bags, for the brim. I read in expensive sites like Tilley's about hats that float and I can figure that one out.
  • Some pyjamas and night gowns. I really need something cool for the summer and something decent to wear so I don't scare the children when I visit. I have Jalie's reliable old pyjama pattern for a start, again something I have made for everyone but me, and am thinking too of this Burda pattern. I need some cooler wovens, knits can get hot. 
  • Some kind of housecoat (this is a Canadian thing, in other parts of the world these are called robes etc.) that is covering enough for travel and staying with people but doesn't take up a lot of room in the suitcase. I had high hopes for this Vogue pattern, such a pretty drawing, but even when I sized down it was big enough for three of me and had sleeves that looked like A line skirts. I would actually just like a pattern that looked like the picture. I could probably figure something out if I have to.
  • And finally I really want to sew at least one decent handbag. I have danced around this one for a while. I always something more urgent to work on, but these patterns and bag creations really are what catch my eye most when I scroll through my Facebook posts on my phone when I am drinking my morning coffee. I think that after a person has liked say the Boronia bag 700 times she should probably bite the bullet and make one. 
So that's it for me. I am trying out a new and novel idea which is making sewing to-do lists of things I might actually make. I will let you know how this goes.

Now over to you.

What are your personal sewing projects for the summer? 

The comments are always the best parts of this blog!


Julie Culshaw said...

I really need to make some cool summer tops. Every year, I delay this one because I don't really believe it is going to get hot or I forgot what hot feels like. Now that it is actually 30degrees Celsius, I realise I have only 3 sleeveless tops that necessitate constant laundering. T-shirts are too sticky.

Sarah Wale said...

Easy to wear, cool, comfortable night wear can be hard to find but my go-to patter, Simplicity 9505 always works for me and I have even adapted it by means of different fabrics into casual day wear. Housecoats/robes/dressing gowns can be hard and I found kaftans easiest to adapt, just by inserting a zip in the front seam. The notch-neck nightshirt on this pattern lends itself to that treatment very well. I avoid wrap styles because they don't work well with my somewhat cushion-y bosom but I have even been known to ignore the wrap and insert a long zipper, edge to edge, when I have been given one.
I tried to insert a photo here but it didn't work. I will email it to Barbara and she can decide if it is worth including.

Anonymous said...

Great list and great inspiration! I should be making summer tops but now I could use a retreat bag! The pattern calls for internal wire frames, do you use these? It can be a long wait for supplies from Canada to the US, and I don't make a lot of bags so unsure where else to find them.

Josie said...

Hello Barbara

I like your list. I make tshirt dresses. That's a house dress( coat?) to me. Easy peasy. I don't understand a house coat, is it coat? Then used as a dress?

Here's few sewing items on my list to make this summer
1. A new colorful quilted backpack. Done, just marinating in my sewing room. Can't figure out how to add 2 buckles.
2. Light cotton sleeveless dresses(2), 3. tshirts(4), 4. shorts(3). 5.My wish list, a real hat& bathing suit.
The reason, I'm leaving (alone) to South America. "It's just like America only South". To paraphrase "Up" the movie.

Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to see your makes.

Boa noite from So Cal

Alison G said...

What I want to sew: dresses, jumpsuits, pretty flowery printed things for all the lovely summer weather I anticipate. What I need to sew: light trousers that won't flap wetly in the rain but thin enough not to leave me steaming. Every year I get this one wrong!

Janet said...

I have given myself about a week to work on dress for the Toronto Sewcialist party. I now realize I don't have a zipper or appropriate shoes. I need tops, and pants. I have been agonizing over top patterns but have now realized I will make tops from my favourite dresses. Maybe you can make a good housecoat pattern for us?

Jodie said...

Okay - I have a robe/housecoat suggestion. Made one for myself last year as I was tired of the "one sized fits no one" white terry cloth number that I'd dragged my sleeve through one too many times in a morning. I made Kwik Sew 3644 and lined it with flannelette and used quilting cotton for the outer fabric. I bought a beautiful leaf print that is bright on a dreary February day. Super happy with it, should have interfaced the tie. Sleeves are a good width and the shawl collar doesn't overwhelm me. I'm really happy to have put time and money into something nice that I wear EVERY DAY. LOVE IT!
As for my summer sewing, heading into my mid- 40s means I've increased a bit, so am doing some school sewing. I just finished a shirt (thanks for all your tips) and have 2 dresses cut out (I'm using Christine Johnsons "Take-A-Long dress"). I've made them before - love the pockets and am making mine sleeveless - I run "hot" these days! And then....Pants. Lord help me but I need a pair or two of dress/work pants. I'm trying out Liesl and Co's Hollywood Trousers and am prepared for a muslin (which may or may not be wearable) BEFORE I try sewing them. I'm not excited as I anticipate frustration, so we'll see how I do. I've also picked up some underwear sewing for my hubby....Feels like I've got lots on the go. Good luck!

Anonymous said...

hi Barbara

Made that house coat Vogue pattern. I love it the only change was to reduce the high to the collar.


jsews said...

I have been sewing for a new grandchild expected very soon....but for me? I need new nightgown and like the Bursa one you suggested as I run hot at night these days, also need shorts and a bathing suit. A good travel bag would be nice as well but I am looking for one that is a little less structured so it doesn't take up as much space.
Love your blog and hearing you on the podcast! Very practical advice! Thanks from North Carolina!

Louisa said...

Just FYI Tilley hats have the floatation foam in the crown not the brim. It’s in a “pocket” with overlapping flaps so you can remove it which I do when I wash the hat. It would be pretty easy to add foam to most any bucket type hat pattern.

Anonymous said...

My summer wardrobe is well-worn and in dire need of updating for both style and fit. Lots of sewing to catch up on!

My first garment is a simple t-shirt cover up as protection from the sun. My order for Simplicity pattern s8954 just arrived here in Canada from the US. Hopefully it will work in lightweight knits for summer and sweater knits for the Fall. The pattern is pricey for here in Canada, but if it works well for a number of garments, it will be worth it.

For summer nightgowns I use a narrow striped cotton searsucker when I can find it. It is light, cool and opaque and wears for a long time (some of mine are going on 20 years old!). No needs for ironing...mine come out of the dryer, wearable.

The Boronia bag looks very nifty! Will probably go on my list to do as well.

Thank-you, from BC, for another interesting post!

bbarna said...

We do a lot of camping/fishing in some remote areas of northern BC. It was finally time for me to make some rain gear for myself, a new fleece pullover for those chilly nights around the fire, and a few new tshirts. First two are done, but I have to get busy on the last before summer is over.
Barb from Prince George

Angel Queen said...

Summer sewing started in January for me. We are flying to Florida next week then on a cruise ship to Bahamas. For the trip, I made a knit maxi dress, a maxi skirt, a pair of culottes, 5 tops, 1 summer coverup, altered 1 thrifted maxi dress, 2 pairs of swimsuits (a top and swim skirt). Of course, there were lots of mishaps through the process. I’m glad I started that early. I’ve been sewing garments for only a year and I’m learning and enjoying so much. I can’t wait to learn more.

Anyway, thanks for this article. I could use a retreat bag. I am going to download the pattern for my next trip. I do have a winter robe, I just realize I might need to make a summer robe as well. I use it only when I don’t want to change out of my sleep wear but had to let our dog out. I’m from BC where morning could still be a bit cold.

Next on my plan is to tackle pants. I started with culottes, then I’d like to try the SewHouse Seven Free Range slacks and then the Jalie Eleanore pants. My ultimate plan is to make jeans. For now, I’ll muster the skill to do so.

Love reading your newsletters too btw. Thank you.

LinB said...

I am (finally) using the last of a bolt of 60"-wide cotton interlock fabric that I snagged at a thrift store. It's made three dresses, one Katherine Tilton floaty shirt, one Sewing Workshop Origami top, one pair of XL pull-on elastic-waisted pants with pockets -- and I think there's at least two yards left. Everything that I and my daughter will wear this summer will match, with ourselves and with each other. Feels very like that chapter in "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm" in which her foster mother made all her dresses from the same pattern and the same fabric ... but I don't care.

TracyKM said...

I just did a trial of three different hat patterns: I'm quite happy with the Sorrento bucket hat. I think the foam in Tilley hats to make them float is in the top of the crown, not the brim. My husband's hat doesn't seem to have foam in the brim but I can see it inside the secret pocket.
I need to sew/buy my mother a bathing suit cover up. Can't decide on a pattern or a fabric. She needs sun coverage but it will be hot where we are.