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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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Friday, May 10, 2019

Review of Tessuti's Tokyo Jacket



Good morning folks.

I have been sewing my brains off recently but haven't been able to share it. Mostly this is because I have been working on seven of the new Jalie patterns and I can't share those until the patterns are released.  That should happen very shortly so get ready for that.

I also sneaked in some sewing for myself of a pattern, and a pattern line, I have wanted to try for myself. Melbourne's Tessuti patterns, and the Tokyo jacket in particular.

I usually find that I need to make one pattern in a new line to see if it is my kind of sewing - it's almost like seeing if you speak the same language, or if their idea of how clothes relate to body shape fit yours.

I have hesitated a bit because on first glance Tessuti uses a lot of loose shapes and those, I regret to say because they are such easy sews, often just swamp my tall and narrow (belly excepted) body. For exact this reason I have bought fewer Stylearc's recently as their boxy silhouettes lately are just too big in the shoulders for me, even with careful sizing. Their pants are still great, but the upper body garments right now not so much.

So all of this is a lead into why I have been stalking and wondering about Tessutis so long.

That said I recently bought some double gauze fabric, a fabulous red at Stonemountain and daughter in Berkeley, and some white at my local Fabricville, and decided I wanted to make jackets out of it.

I wear a lot of jackets and cardigans. 

When I am home in Nova Scotia that's because I am home in Nova Scotia and the words North Atlantic pretty much explains why. When I am off visiting my boys in Texas and California I need jackets of a different type and weight, for some sun protection and for light cover up but not warmth.

I need both gale force wind and light hint of a breeze jackets.

It's this last type of jacket, for summer here and for my upcoming babysitting week of the marvellous Miss Anika in Nashville (the kids are doing a Memorial Day weekend with friends not too far away and Miss Anika and I are going to be staying in an Airbnb), is the one I decided to make out of the double gauze. (Gee I write long, is this OK with you?)

Enter the Tokyo jacket.

I have made a few kimono type jackets in the past, love Jalie's kimono pattern for that, but let's face it those are pretty wide sleeves and not entirely practical for all situations. The Tokyo jacket has cut-on sleeves and looked somewhat neater than the traditional kimono so I figured why not?

A note first on the fabric.

Double gauze for garments is a kind of fabric that if you had looked at it two years ago you would have said "Really?" but this year seems sensible. It is exactly the same fabric that is in the receiving blankets my daughter-in-law Maddie used to most expertly swaddle baby Anika, like a carefully wound pea in a pod. It also resembles the bird's eye cotton I used for diapers for the boys because anything that was not very breathable gave them terrible diaper rash.

So basically we are talking about wearing diaper fabric jackets.

I anticipated that this would mean somewhat wavy hems and no crisp edges but I figured that would be OK, but I also figured that the pre-crinkle would mean that these jackets would be very packable and crushable which suits my life.

I made my size according to my measurements and although this meant a wide body but the sleeves were quite narrow, about right, so I would use this size again.

I really, really enjoyed this pattern.

I always look for evidence of a designer's mind and experience in patterns and was quite pleased with what I saw here.

The method for the pockets, although complicated in the read through - I was quite convinced that the wrong sides were being sewn together until I saw it turn out - is brilliant. Patch pockets with semi-closed openings and zero top-stitching which was a definite plus given my fabric texture and mobility.

Smart thinking went into these pockets.

I was also interested in the instructions to use tear-away stabilizer around the neck and front openings as a stabilizer during construction. Stabilizing edges is a theme in my first couple of newsletters (they are free and you can sign up through the contact form above) and often not included in instructions these days. I did sew these two jackets at a sewing retreat however and didn't have the full force of my resources with me, so I used interfacing, that I carefully removed in the white jacket, and stay- stitching on the red jacket as substitutes. I think I would just stay stitch next time.

So here are the pictures. Because I am tall I lengthened the red jacket by 2" and the pockets by 1" to maintain proportions in the red jacket:




In the white jacket, because I figured I might throw it on over a bathing suit while I chase kids this summer (my one rule as a grandmother is to return the same number of children to their parents as have been delivered to me) I lengthened this one by 4" and the pockets by 2":






I had fun making this pattern and now want to see how it would look in a more structured fabric. I am definitely going to be exploring more Tessuti patterns.Definitely.

In the meantime I now have two jackets that I know I will be wearing all summer done - both sewn at a leisurely speed in one day.

Hard to beat that.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Flypaper thoughts post Seaside Sewing edition


  • I am home after six days of sewing away at a retreat
  • 10-12 hours at the navy yacht club
  • Home to sleep and get more thread then back
  • Will post the clothes as I get pictures done
  • I married my husband
  • Because when I tell him I ran out of the bright pink pills that I am supposed to take every other day
  • Two weeks before the boring ones yellow I take on alternate days
  • Because I always reach for the nicer colour first
  • He says well that makes sense
  • And means it
  • Even though he is a person who uses the scales
  • To make sure the quarter pound hamburgers are in fact a quarter pound
  • All that sewing makes me want to do more
  • Like an performer who hears applause
  • Feels like more
  • What can I do next?
  • Every once in a while a child will have a period when you are particularly important to them
  • Right now a middle grand daughter wants to dress like me
  • We are just alike, we are practically the same person she says
  • Cancelling the decades
  • These quick moments in time require
  • Cozy cardigans for two
  • An election here this fall
  • The secret to good politics
  • One politician told me
  • Is always just to ask people about themselves
  • We all remember with affection 
  • Anyone who lets us talk about ourselves
  • Good advice to those who are 15 
  • Or find cocktail parties make them feel that way
  • I am considering a tattoo 
  • Of grandchildren's names
  • First I have to find someone who does cursive
  • Might take a while
  • I am pretty sure I spent the first four years of my education
  • Learning cursive or having it corrected
  • Elbow on your desk
  • And I went to school in modern times
  • Define modern
  • Listen I was there when cartridge pens replaced fountain
  • Now that was ink
  • A tattoo nearly ended the marriage of a woman I know
  • For her anniversary she had her husband's name put on her ankle
  • Thing is it took him three months to notice
  • That would do it
  • You know in that four years I could have learned something else
  • But I was in a system that had me learn Latin instead of typing
  • Now that came in handy
  • Or it would have if I had ever gone to Britiannia
  • Conjugate that
  • At least we had Home Ec.
  • Which I believe I failed
  • Got dragged down by cooking
  • Maureen Campbell and I dropped our batter on the floor
  • And tried to tell the teacher those were raisins not ants
  • You get the drift
  • Fast track to an F I can tell you
  • Our self esteem was no one's priority
  • Although it seems we had lots
  • Maureen and I made all our own clothes starting in grade 7
  • We kind of freelanced and sewed everything with the same colour thread
  • An allowance went only so far
  • Fabric we got by the pound at a place called the Farmer's Supply store
  • I am not making this up
  • Been there lived that
  • Maybe this explains why I turned out not to dress like a French woman
  • Maybe it explains a lot