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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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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Completely random post with a bunch of pictures of my week

The day after tomorrow we head out in the rv down to Texas.

This whole winter and our delayed and complicated exit is pretty weird. 

However my daughter is settled right now and has promised a thousand times to let me know if she needs me. The neighbours are watching the house, and my niece will be staying here sometimes too.

I have packed up everything I need including three sewing machines, some pre-cut projects, a case of vintage sewing samples for Tulsa, and some knitting I need to be sitting down long enough to finish.

What we can organize we have. 

However this afternoon my 87 year old mother-in-law broke a bone above her wrist, but that is now in a cast and appears to be a clean break. Not the best time to leave her but she will go stay with my sister-in-law, so hopefully she will be OK too.

You should see it around here,

Currently the rv is parked in the driveway snowed in and attached by ice to the driveway. We put on our boots and winter coats and dash out to pack things away in it in spurts.

It is of course a mini house so there is a lot of just transferring things out of the relevant rooms into their mini editions in the driveway. Out go the comfortable pillow and the contents of my makeup drawer. Out go too many pairs of my shoes and books to read. Out go the spices and the coffee maker. Out it goes and we try not to slip on the ice as we do it.

My husband is project manager of this stage of our year. 

He does itinerary and tire pressure and filling the fridge. 

I do working myself up to my annual performance as Nova Scotian's most delicate ageing princess.

You see until we hit Virginia at least we will be surrounded by cold outside the rv. 

All the rv places to park and stay are closed off season. So we have to stop at night in places that let you do that like overnight truck stops - my husband has philosophical issues with paying for motels and dining out when we are so fully equipped on our wheels. And we do have lots of good heat, water nearly all the time (got to watch those freezing pipes), an electric blanket, a stove, and a fridge. 

I get it.

But really there are only so many nights that this princess likes to go to sleep next to the sound of a row of semi trailers running all night.

So I am putting a lot of effort into setting myself up to be comfortable on the trip down - until we get to Texas where it should be warmer and until we can get to our first laundromat.

With appropriately low standards set for photography I am going to share some marvellous back of the bathroom door shots of what I have made this week, with comments. I stuck to a few of the same patterns for efficiency sake. I am sure once we are on the road I will be glad I pushed myself to get all this done.

Here we go:

I made a series of Patterns for Pirates Favourite Tee. The first few I made were as per pattern with what was a fairly wide neckband. I used a lot of cotton lycra for these tees and the wider band sticks out just a shade as you can see here in a blue version I made previously and a couple that I did this week:

Isn't this confetti cotton knit just terrific? I am so into confetti fabric right now and I don't know why. Reminds me of those confetti angel food cake mixes my mother used to make us when we were kids for special occasions.

Eventually I realized the thing to do was to just make the band narrower - I did this by just stitching a presser foot distance away from the edge of the band, cutting off the excess.

This narrower band lies much better so I made another series in this amazing luxe cotton lycra with a nice smooth hand from Fabric Snob. Love this fabric, very nice to work with for utility type tops suitable for traveling down the road with the dog on my lap:

In addition to the Favourite Tee I also made some Classic Tees from Lovenotions. The neckline here is more of a crew neck and the shape straighter, but I really like the reassuring way this covered up and comfortable tee shirt makes me feel:

A weird and fuzzy picture of a classic tee in double brushed poly. I usually never wear synthetics but this fabric is so cozy and soft. 

Since I was going all out on comfort clothes I also made a couple of pairs of sweat pants from the Jalie pattern. These have an elastic casing at the bottom in the pattern but I wasn't feeling that retro so I just made them straight.

I have to tell you they have a beautiful leg but of course you can't really tell that to see them hanging on the back of the bathroom door- where they look like something your dad would wear until your mother yelled at him to change into something nicer:

When I have more energy and am not cozy in here in the big chair with Daisy I will have to put them on and show them to you properly. A roadside rv shot in the slush would be nice.

Once thing I really like about these pants is the nifty way the pockets are done, entirely transferrable to other patterns.

These are so much nicer than those dreaded inseam pocket bags. You know the ones that never quite line up right and tend towards a lumpy bump twisting away over each hip.

Instead these pockets are made by turning under a bit and topstitching along a sort of curve on the front pant leg at the side.

After you have done this you just lay a pocket behind it and top stitch it down.

This leaves you with a completed front pant leg with a pocket now in it. You then forget about and continue sewing up the pants as you would be doing anyway. Slick.

Finally, because I was on a comfort clothes roll I made myself some little boy at Christmas pyjamas in knit - the top made out of the Lovenotions classic tee and the bottoms made out of the Jalie sweatpants pattern:

Just so you know, sometimes when you are doing rv travelling the driver is pretty intent in getting out of the Arctic Circle to some place where they have rodeos and BBQ cook offs. This means he might want to get on the road again pretty early. 

The beauty of rv travel, as opposed to airline travel where you have to take off your shoes and put your watch in a tray so you can cross through security just in time to see your flight get cancelled, is that a person in pyjamas like these can move in a short straight line out of her bed to the bathroom, to picking up a coffee, to strapping herself and the dog into the front seat, without even taking off her slippers.

And if you are not quite awake it is also even possible to drag your blanket along with you to that front seat.

So if you see anyone looking like, that next week or so, through the window of a 32' rv with Nova Scotia plates.


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?