Many years ago I proposed I think twice to David Page Coffin when he was working as an incomparable editor at Threads, that I write an article on sewing for comfort.
I thought and still think this is an interesting and important topic. After all the clothes we really wear are those that are comfortable - so why don't we consider this more as a deciding factor when we sew? However no one but me thought this was a good idea for an article, but I have held on to the idea since. I still think this is something we should think about.
I am often struck by my mother's beautiful 1950s suits and dresses with how every heavy they are. That 12 panel wool skirt completely underlined with horse hair ... well you might as well be wearing the horse blanket IMO.
So whenever I can I try to find fabrics that are as weightless as possible, but still durable to put on this body.
Ans due to my far flung children, I also travel a lot. I need light clothes.
This weight restriction and paying for your checked baggage thing has got totally out of hand. All it has left us with are these two things:
1. We now all have to travel in the baggage department, with folks trying to shove steamer trunk sized "carry-ons" in the glove compartment over our heads.
2. Nothing has suddenly become really heavy and really heavy costs about an extra $40 in excess baggage fees. And no one listens to you at all when you tell them they don't understand because you have nothing in that bag, not counting the shoes that match, a big housecoat in case there is a fire in the hotel and you have to spend the night in the lobby with strangers, a few patterns to look over, and some knitting to keep you entertained during long conversations with people you have come a long way to see. How heavy can just that be?
Which brings to my sister's quilt.
The fabric I used to make these two weightless tops was bought in Portland Oregon last spring while at Quilt Mart to promote my book on garment sewing at my publisher's request. When I was there I saw a lot of quilts that I knew my quilting sister would appreciate, and spent a lot of time walking around and talking to people who told me they didn't sew clothes, because that was too hard.
But they could quilt, which I cannot. It is pretty much all the focus I am capable of to sew two sleeves not one. I am sure glad two arms is all I got. Yet quilters can sew 580 pieces of fabric back together again and not get overwhelmed and do a good job of it.
The tiny stitches those folks can make are amazing. A wall hanging one of my sisters made for me recently is proof of hat.
Here is the story.
I have a scarf from Japan a couple of the kids brought back for me last winter after a trip.The pattern is stylized apricots. Since the Japanese word for apricot is the same as my youngest granddaughter's name, Anika, I decided I wanted to do more with this scarf than just wear it.
So my sister Dawn in Ottawa made a whole quilt wall hanging for me with it. I completely love it and her for doing this.
Here are her crazy small stitches:
And here is me standing beside the quilt in weightless and packable raglan sleeve (most comfortable sleeve in my opinion) top #1.
The pattern is this one from Jalie, the Marie-Claude, sort of a sport top, and you can see how loose the sleeves are, cut for movement at the armhole even though the sleeves themselves are fairly narrow, like a base layer. This is some sort of weird puckered cotton/rayon/lycra and weighs about the same as a teabag. It also will not show any suitcase wrinkles at all which will be handy.
Weightless top #2 is made from another novelty fabric, this one a sort of pre-wrinkled number that looks like the all those discarded pieces of tissue paper that are all over the living room floor Christmas morning. It has silver threads running through the grey.
Because this was so wrinkled and odd and floaty I tried out a new pattern for me, another comfort raglan, this one Love Notions's Rockford Raglan. I really loved this pattern. It has a nice fit through the shoulders and sleeves but does ease up a lot over the belly - perfect for fabric with real drape. I wish I had used this pattern over the summer when I was in the market for tops that didn't cling.
All the Love Notions tops also come with an optional full bust front pattern piece, which saves you from having to alter the pattern with your own FBA. I made a medium here but used the full bust front piece.
You good sewers with your eagle eyes will notice right away that the neckband pulls in a lot. I personally did a lot of stressing about this, took it off, re-sewed it, pressed, top stitched the seam allowance down (something I rarely do) until I had a good look at the fabric and realized that with all those built-in wrinkles (more apparent in the fabric on the front of this top) I was crazy not to respect that quality and accept the fact this fabric was not meant to lie smooth. I just had to let this fabric be who it was.
Plus I can wear a necklace, or a cardigan over this or, and this is my go-to, really bright pink lipstick to distract the eye.
At any rate even if you might think that this top looks like something I have pulled out of the bottom of the bin I am going to wear it a lot - just so breezy and comfortable.
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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