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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, December 31, 2020

2021

 2020 has been a great year for understanding what really matters.

It has also been an important year for truly understanding the things in life you can do without.

When you think about it those are two pretty important realities. Can't think of many of us who would not be better off having faced these things.

The list of things that, as they say, don't really serve who I am now, is long. 

The list of things that matter to me is very specific:

  • my family
  • my animals
  • my sewing
  • my part of the world
  • my friends
  • folks I run into and chat with - I am a social person, casual contact is important to me
  • learning new things

That's it.

We have all been waiting for a new year, or more specifically to declare this one over. 

For the first time I am seriously thinking of what I can do to make sure I keep 2021 focused on the list above - there have been enough detours and distractions in life.

There will be more on my ordinary life in later posts I am sure but this morning I am thinking of my sewing.

2020 was a sewing intensive year for me. 

I really got into sewing wardrobes for other people, my daughter and mom for example. I will continue to do that and am adding in a few folks, my niece is pregnant now and I want to make her some maternity clothes.

Some of my 2020 sewing was of the sample variety. In this last year I also wrote another book. 

I see it is on Amazon already for pre-order (I don't completely understand why) although it won't be released and available until August 2021. Publishing is a complicated and slow process.




Writing this book, essentially a collection of my handy hints, during a pandemic was an entirely weird experience. 

I made most of the samples in lockdown, in a period when the fabric stores were closed and mail order very, very slow. I had originally planned to hit Stonemountain in Berkeley and the garment district in NYC during our last winter's trip to get great fabric. Instead last winter we high tailed it out of Texas and came straight home when Trudeau called us all back to the mothership. I had to drive by the garment district and cancel a trip to Berkeley to see the kids. That was hard.

Once home I started to work on the sewing side of the book. The publisher had  come up with the interesting, and good idea, of colour coding the samples for each chapter. So in addition to scrambling to find suitable fabrics in my house, I also had to make do with what I could in terms of the right colour. 

I am very happy with the ideas in this book but regret that, due to the circumstances, in a few places I had to make do with less than ideal fabric. Poly cotton just doesn't press as well as all cotton for example, but what was a girl to do? In my case carry on.

I was very lucky however that despite the pandemic I had huge support from my people.

The studios at the publisher's in California were closed and the departments who had worked on my first book sent home. As a result to meet our deadline my husband stepped in and did the process shots. A friend on my daughter's street did the model shots and family and friends were my models. Another friend lent me her store for the cover shot (thank you Chris at Patch) and my 6 year-old grandson suggested I put a semi-permanent in my hair (something I regret seeing the cover now) so I did have a stylist.

In the end I hope that something in this book will be useful to someone. That is really is all I care about.

So after a 2020 that was all about sewing focused on other people, family members and the sewing community, I am going to give myself more time to sew just for myself in the new year.

Specifically I am going to do more challenging projects and get into the process more. It has been a while since I have been able to do that. My wardrobe has also reached a place where I don't exactly need a lot so I can afford to experiment.

There is no plan right now other than giving myself the luxury to sew in a more adventurous way, and that's pretty much my only resolution.  I am going to think of 2021 as our collective recovery and applying lessons learned year.

Now over to you.

What are your own thoughts for 2021?


Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Follow up on the Big 4 and printing issues

Thank you to all who responded to my last post. There is a lot to think about here.

For a start let's talk about the failure of the printing capabilities at the plant in Kansas.

I have to say I don't really buy this story. Here's why:

1. The malware/computer issue occurred in October. Any winter/holiday pattern collections would be well on their way then - and surely printed for shipment to the stores or ready for online direct customer orders. An October printing problem would impact the spring collections maybe, not winter or holiday.

Note too that Vogue and Kwik Sew was still able to produce slim collections - but were there ever any intention to offer winter/holiday collections for Butterick or McCalls? 

2. Assuming that there were some patterns for this season in the works in all pattern lines, what would be stopping the companies from making .pdf versions available so as not to lose market share? 

Since any patterns would be designed in CAD formats it should have in fact been easier to switch, even for the duration of the printing issue, to .pdfs than hold out for paper.

3. Where are the updates? Where is the customer relations? Do any of us really believe that a viable business could not get a software issue fixed within this time frame, particularly if not doing so would cost money?

What's with this crazy story that the computers wouldn't even turn on? Are these the only computers available on the planet? Are we to believe that these large pattern collections were not backed up and accessible from other machines (even I have my own stuff backed up on the Cloud). 

I have never worked in any office that did not back up the servers. If the printers still worked, and the problem as described was a software not a mechanical issue, then why couldn't the files be downloaded to new computers and sent to the printers? What century are we in?

This is how this whole story is feeling to me:

  • the funds are not available or made available to fix the issues and get production going again. Obviously the cost benefit analysis of fixing the problem wasn't there. No one was losing much money if these idle printers just sat there.
  • Butterick and McCalls are being fazed out anyway. This is a well timed exit strategy.
Further thoughts.

I am not a conspiracy theorist. In fact those folks make my head explode.

However I have common sense, most of the time, and hopefully can still add 2+2 and get 4. That's what I think I am doing here.

I have some sympathy for the company. After all this is exactly what happened to newspapers - an area I have worked in. Print newspapers, like print patterns I guess, stopped making financial sense years ago. In fact there is a town in Nova Scotia, Liverpool, that used to produce the newsprint for the Washington Post. That order was cancelled long ago and that plant, and much of the town, closed down too.

These things happen, times change. I get that.

But I am seeing something else at play here.

Not caring.

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I know people who have retired once they knew they just didn't care as much any more (one was my old doctor who I give full credit for his honesty). I even know people who find it hard to care about anything much at all (my most horrifying moment of my teaching career was a student who when asked to write about something she cared about, said well I am not sure I am interested in or care about anything).

Let's be honest we have all reached the point at some time in our lives when we stopped caring about something that used to matter. Often this is a good thing, if what we cared about a lot, if for example, what was what other people think. But it is a terrible thing to have a business or an occupation where you really don't care about the product. How does it feel to acquire a line you don't have much interest in, or have customers for that line that don't really matter to you? Tires, or shovels or sewing patterns, it's all the same to you.

That's what the Big 4 feel like to me these days, like they don't care anymore.

Which is too bad, because when it comes to sewing, I still do.

A lot.

BTW thanks to Vintage Sewing Patterns for posting the link. It was nice to see good pattern design again.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The future of the big paper pattern companies

If you have a collection of Big 4 paper patterns it might be a good thing to hold on to them.

Some of these patterns were very good. However right now it seems to me that the future of the brands we have all used for so long is wobbly at best. 

Now I am a big believer, not much choice, in change being the only constant. But it does make me sad to know that the future of the patterns I have sewed from my whole life appears to be insecure.

Now the Big 4 -Vogue, McCalls, Butterick and Simplicity- (the first three now owned by one outfi)t are no longer stand alone sewing pattern companies. Instead they seem to be the holdings of other entities whose business seems often to be what they used to be called "sundries." We, the sewists, are no longer who they really are about.

Maybe the idea of a big centralized pattern company has had its time. Maybe it's the turn of smaller, more nimble companies (some not so good, some excellent) to take over. Maybe this is all OK and part of the industry's reconfiguring itself naturally.

But I wonder where these companies will be the end of this coming year.

Simplicity/New Look/printed Burda

Now I can only speak to these patterns based on what I can see online. A number of years ago Simplicity and New Look decided not to sell in Canada anymore. For this I won't ever quite forgive them. We are next door and we sew a lot up here.

That said, despite a completely annoying and hard to sort through website, Simplicity and New Look seem to be doing a decent job of keeping up with current tastes in clothes. They don't offer a huge selection but they seem to be fairly competitive design wise to the Indies and I do love their persistent offering of vintage patterns. I can see they are making an effort to be relevant and I appreciate that.

I wonder though how long that will last given the gift store orientation of the other products their parent company owns.

Vogue/Butterick/McCalls/Kwik Sew

Wow just wow. 

It seems to me that corporate has more or less given up on Butterick and McCalls. Both those lines had slim Fall season offerings (10 and 9 new patterns respectively) but neither offered anything at all for Winter or Holiday!

Are you kidding me? 

There have always been winter, holiday, early spring by this time in the calendar. Have the staff all been laid off? Things on hold until they figure it out?

And this doesn't even discuss the fact that those fall patterns were about as recycled and ordinary as they could get. 

At this rate I wouldn't be surprised if these lines have faded away by summer. 

Kwik Sew, once a wonderful flagship brand for those who like to sew knits, seems to be rebranded as a sort of craft pattern company. Fine if you sew clothes for dogs and dolls, not so much if you want to sew for yourself - aprons excepted. There is not one garment pattern in the Spring or Winter/Holiday Kwik Sew catalogue.

Which leaves us with Vogue. 

Vogue used to be the home for those marvellous designer patterns we all used. Like it's sister companies Vogue offered little this season - only 12 new patterns in the winter/holiday combo and of course the designer patterns are totally gone.

To give them credit among this slim collection there were some real meaty patterns for real sewists - nice to see after the innumerable easy, similar tee shirts, and pullover dresses in so many Indie lines.

I really hope we can continue to see challenging patterns like these, something for a sewist to think about as well as make, available to us:





So from where I sit we might get to the new year with only Vogue and the Simplicity group producing patterns, with Kwik Sew continuing to go deeper into crafts.

It shouldn't be a surprise. Three pattern companies in one portfolio is a lot unless they are branded to be very different. That didn't happen.

There were some things however that the pattern companies could have done to help themselves. 

At the top of my list would have been:

1. Overhauling fit. What's with the completely dissimilar to RTW fit? Personally I have no patience left for making Big 4 patterns that turned out to be humungous and completely unlike the line art on the envelopes.

2. Better instructions. Instructions needed to be updated to contemporary techniques and machines. Why are for knits patterns still being issued without reference to sergers? What's with the double straight stitched seams instead? Enough with the cut and paste guide sheets apparently composed of instructions written originally years, if not decades, ago.

What do you think? 

Where do you think the big paper pattern companies are going and what, if anything could they do to turn it around? 

And should they?

I'm listening.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Watertower textiles

 Like most of you I have been sewing a lot from my stash this last year. It is amazing how much I have squirrelled away and how long I can keep sewing from it.

That said I don't always have exactly what I need and most particularly don't often have what I need for the wide variety of family members I sew for. I have gaps to fill.

Also this year I have needed some treats. We have done really well here in Nova Scotia staying clear of this virus, but we have done it with a far degree of prudence and isolation. Many days are just like the day before or the day after - at home, in the routine.

So this year I went on the search for some new online fabric sources and a bit of excitement.

By far my favourite new discovery has been Watertower Textiles in Leamington Ontario. They are very strong on knits, which I sew a lot, and have incredible quality for the price.

Their bamboo fleece is the nicest I have ever sewn. I have made many sweat shirt tops and jogger pants from it. In fact in the middle of Christmas dinner my SIL asked if I could get some to make him a sweatshirt from it, just like the one I made my daughter. This was the fabric I used in many of the joggers I posted pictures of a while back.

I also got this really wonderful cable knit from them I used to make this version of the Boyfriend cardigan from Love Notions.








So as a treat to myself this fall I indulged myself and signed up for a monthly subscription box. 

The clincher for me was that if you have signed up for the subscription box any fabric you order from them during the month has the option to just be added to the monthly box shipment, at no addition charge, saving me a fortune on the random shipping charges I would otherwise pay.

Basically this is a surprise box, generally of two coordinating fabrics which seem to be from the new arrivals, and some extra treats. It doesn't matter to me if the colours aren't always what I would wear, because the fabric is often just perfect for someone I sew for. To date of the three months I have been receiving these boxes two months I will be keeping the fabric for myself, one month I saved and made something for my daughter.

Here are some pictures of the boxes I have had come in the mail to date.

November:



I made the cardigan (Cozy cardigan from Patterns for Pirates) and joggers (previously reviewed pattern) from the monthly box. I didn't have quite enough fabric for the waist band so I used some DBL that I had from a mystery bundle I also got from Watertower that month

I made the cardigan (Cozy cardigan from Patterns for Pirates) and joggers (previously reviewed pattern) from the monthly box. I didn't have quite enough fabric for the waist band so I used some DBL that I had from a mystery bundle I also got from Watertower that month.

Here are the subscription boxes for December and October respectively, both of which I will keep for myself:





Now I am fully aware that I don't need surprise fabric. However in these weird times I have really enjoyed something not to script (although by subscription). I love the monthly surprise (looking forward to January already) and to stretching my creativity by having fabric on hand that I might not have deliberately ordered otherwise.

It's also just fun to get something unexpected and interesting in the mail once a month.

Fun matters. And the way I see it getting some fun back into our lives has to be a priority for 2021.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Flypaper thoughts: the persistence of Christmas edition

  • 2020 has sometimes felt 
  • Like topstitching
  • And finding out that the bobbin thread ran out half way through
  • And this happening over and over again
  • Times like this
  • It's easy to say
  • Now what?
  • And to brace yourself for more bad news
  • That's if you are a pessimist
  • Optimists
  • Are like those poor Japanese soldiers
  • They used to find on Pacific Islands
  • 40 years later
  • Still waiting for word from the Emperor
  • That it was all over
  • Their one thought to hold on tight
  • Until they heard the all clear
  • This is tricky stuff
  • We have been at it long enough to admit that
  • Out loud
  • But this is precisely the moment
  • It seems to me
  • To remember
  • Who makes the rules wins
  • And Christmas gives us the tools
  • It gives us little boys
  • Still running across the field in Santa hats
  • Watching your son and granddaughter bite into
  • The shortbread you have been making for your kid
  • For 35 years
  • So what it's on FaceTime
  • You still saw it
  • And hell would freeze over before that shorbread was not baked
  • Didn't break at all on the long mail trip from this coast to that one
  • It's in the lights in my neighbourhood
  • Up early this year and twice as many
  • It's the man across the street
  • 75 and living alone
  • Who adds more lights every day


  • It's my husband making a snowman to surprise me
  • And ever practical with two noses so it has a face from the house and street view

  • It's these two jogging near my house


  • It's my 93 year-old-mother in Manitoba
  • Who has to be alone in her house this Christmas
  • Cooking a turkey breast and a dinner for herself
  • So the house will still smell like Christmas
  • It's the memories of other Christmases
  • When we had the privilege of all being together
  • Making me happy not sad
  • Because I am lucky enough to have those times to revisit in my head
  • When I want to
  • It's the Temptations Christmas album
  • And mincemeat like my dad used to love
  • Who else puts cheddar cheese on a tart?
  • It's seeing an old lame border collie roll around in the snow
  • With joy
  • It's knowing I am one of a million grandmas who sewed Christmas pyjamas this year
  • That little kids still won't be able to sleep
  • And will get up way too early
  • It's knowing that
  • Christmas comes every year
  • And nothing can stop it
  • Don't even try

Monday, December 14, 2020

Disorganized, illustrated catch up post

 I think it can be established right now that these days are not the days of things going according to plan or on schedule.

Myself I have sort of dropped under the radar in my house with the two dogs and the cat doing some Christmas sewing. If you are a member of my immediate family or the parents of those units, you might not to want to read any further.

Surprises are surprises after all.

So in no particular order this is what I have been up to.


1. Love Notions Breckenridge Henley:



I used this pattern to make my mom three new tops. I had made her some pants which I sent her a while ago and wanted to her to have something to wear with them.

My mom is short and had a very specific criteria for what she likes in tops. A V-neck but one with a placket and 3/4 sleeves.
I had been searching for the right pattern so was so happy when Love Notions released this last month.

I made her three. They have all gone in the mail early last week but before they were wrapped and went out I took a quick back of the door picture of one of them. I was particularly delighted that my sewing room was able to spit up buttons that were red with navy centres - probably why I took a picture of this one.


A few technical notes. First I should say that the buttons are faux - they sewn right through the two bands below the point where the V opens and along one side of the band above that. There are no buttonholes to make in this top.

The fabric was a neat cotton/poly type ponte left over from a dress I recently made. (Which reminds me that I need to do a post on that).

The pattern instructions were good and I followed them with one change.

I am sure you are all able to spot the potentially tricky part of this top. The bottom of the placket right?

The instructions are to slash down the centre front of the front top piece to the marks for the bottom of the placket, and then out to the sides of that box:


Next the band is then stitched to the sides of the slash but not across the bottom. 


To finish the bands are folded over each other and the bottom of the box is stitched closed through all layers- both bands and the triangle at the bottom.

From having done this method before I knew that stitching the sides would be tricky with small seam allowances, particularly in a knit.

I also have a life/sewing principle to whenever possible Clip to the Stitch not Stitch to the Clip! 

The end result is exactly the same but clipping to your last stitch is about 2000% easier than trying to precisely stitch to a pre-existing clip.

So when I made my tops I did not slash the front open as directed but instead pinned the bands, raw edges to the centre front, stitched them down and then slashed open the front and down to the last stitches at the bottom of the box. From then on I just continued to place and stitch down the bands as per pattern. 

Of course since I had my Christmas sewing skates on I didn't stop long enough to photograph my method, so I hope the words make sense.

Also up this week were the four pairs of Nova Scotia tartan polar fleece footed pyjamas from Jalie:

I have already made and sent a pair in size 3 to California and made four more pairs here, three for my daughter's children and one for my step daughter's son. I like it that wherever the smaller members of the family are they can all be united in something at this time, even if it is my eccentric idea of the year.

I also chose Nova Scotia tartan deliberately because I am so proud of the caring, supportive, and responsible way this province has dealt with the virus. Our chief medical officer, who has called all the shots on our response, has super hero status around here - no one in hospital and only five new cases, all related to travel reported today. 

I made these pyjamas in three different sizes but this is one for the oldest child held up by my long suffering husband who was in the middle of a home handyman project when I made him stop and do this:


And finally I have to share pictures of my sewing partner, you know the one who stands behind the machine and puts a paw through to touch the presser foot in the middle of a seam - not something that makes for straight topstitching I can tell you:




And finally some Christmas shots. One of the animal we were worried was going to be intimidated by the dogs:


And finally another shot to illustrate why I seem to be losing the ornaments, one by one from my tree (they are being stashed all over the house) despite the excellent chair tree guard I erected:


More later.




Saturday, December 5, 2020

Masks for Christmas

 If you had told me one long year ago that I would be making Christmas masks for my family to keep us safe I wouldn't know what you were talking about.

Times change.

Wearing masks has become second nature to us, and the kids put them on and never mention it. It has become part of their lives. 

I decided however that something a little festive would be appropriate. So, after having made a gazillion masks when all of this started, I decided to find some Christmas fabric and make a few more.

I also decided I wanted to use a different pattern. Like other mask makers will understand mask making is not a one size fits all situation. The ones I made for my husband and I were fine, but too small for my brother-in-law's broad face. And I did notice that my standard pattern tended to slide down a bit on my husband's long Acadian nose. And of course there really isn't a one pattern for children because children, like everyone else, come in different sizes. I needed some style options and a good, more detailed size range.

This is where Jalie's new Flare mask pattern caught my eye. Here's the pattern cover:


I decided to do version D with a piece to go under the chin and shaped around the nose, which has a pipe cleaner wire in it. I made the small, a sort of medium small, the medium and large versions.

Here they are on us all, myself, my husband and some of our grandchildren:








I figure if you are going to wear a mask this Christmas might as well make it cheery!



Wednesday, December 2, 2020

I am not as smart as I think I am

Let's be honest. 

    I have been sewing if not daily, at least a couple of times a week, for fifty years. I started very young making my own clothes (what was my mother thinking?) I wore some strange outfits to school when I was getting going though I can tell you.

    However the end result of all this sewing is that I have done so many things over and over again I have sort of got used to disregarding the instructions. 

I am so smart after all.

    In fact I had a standard practice of throwing out the Big 4 instructions as soon as I opened the envelope - a practice that annoyed the hell out of the sister who used to borrow patterns from me "Just forget it. I would rather buy the pattern myself, there are never any instructions in them."

    In the interests of full disclosure and transparency I have to tell you that this assumption of competence is not always a great practice. I am horrified to realize that I am, in my sewing, on the verge of becoming, in some areas at least, that most dreaded of mature people - the one who thinks they know everything because they have been around and around the block many times.

    I am reminding myself of those women I used to sometimes run across in sewing classes who would announce they had been sewing "for 30 years and this is how I do it" even if how they did it, like never changing the needle even when it sounded when it sewed like a Sherman tank driving on a metal road, or edge stitching not on the edge but always, always a presser foot away in every situation, wasn't really best practice.

    And too the young and enthusiastic new sewists in my classes, the new who were wide open every scrap of information they could collect, and were always so willing to try and try again until they got it right, taught me a real life truth - just because you have been doing something for a long time doesn't mean you have been doing it right. 

    In fact it is entirely possible to do the same mistake over and over for 30 years, if not longer.

    Once again life if it doesn't always imitate art, certainly does seem to imitate sewing.

    Now this profound statement leads me very naturally to a discussion of shoe bags.

    Last night I reviewed and posted pictures of Jalie's Nordik slippers and shoe bag. I was pretty interested in how cleverly the slippers went together and when I got to making the shoe bag, well after dinner, I thought I could just look at the pieces and figure it out.

It was getting late. 

    The dogs were agitating to get to walk down the hall to the bedroom and the cat was agitating the dogs who had no interest in joining her for a top speed circuit around the house.

    That's my defence but there really isn't any. Not from someone who knows the route around the block this well.

    However my sewing conscience is pretty active, it has to be, so when I woke up this morning I decided to actually check out the instructions just in case. Of course I had missed a critical step.

    Rather than simple sewing around the rectangle shape which this smarty pants assumed she should do, I should have folded the side seams in 1 1/2" at each end and stitched over them like this, like I did this morning:

 

    This is such a simple manoeuvre, I have done the boxed corner thing many times but never this, but it gives a nice pleat and shape to the sides of the bag- more three dimensional:


    This completely changes and improves the look of this bag. I advise you follow the instructions on this one.


    This whole episode has reminded me one of the main reasons I enjoy sewing with Jalie (apart from the huge size selection which is important for someone like me who sews for an extended family) - I love the little technical tricks.

    So I learned something new today. 

    This little episode has also made me consider the role of long standing assumptions in life. As I go about my business today I am going to reflect on other areas where I might have rushed to judgment, thought I already knew something but didn't, where maybe I haven't been as smart as I thought I was. It seems to me that long term output might inhibit the occasional interesting input.

    So I have a question. Have any of you had an experience like this? In any area. What sort of assumptions have you revised lately?



Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Jalie 4025 Nordik slippers and shoe bag

 Every once in a while I feel Jalie comes up with a pattern that seems to me to be particularly Canadian. The new Nordik slipper pattern is one of those:

This pattern is all about cold feet and about taking your shoes or boots off as soon as you go into a house.

If you grow up in this country you are well used to the feeling of cold toes. How many of us walked home from school in the winter with frozen feet? How many of us skated when we could no longer feel our toes? The idea of getting inside and thawing out/warming up are real and very familiar.

That's what this pattern is about, both the jazzy boots and the more modest slippers that I made. Think of this footwear as sort of a sleeping bag for your feet. You will need some lofty batting to interline them.

This pattern also contains a shoe bag, a really nice simple make it in 15 minute type pattern. That's the other thing. In Canadian houses it is considered good manners to take off your outer footwear, shoes or boots, as soon as you enter a house and to leave them at the door. If someone walks into your house and keeps their shoes on (being Canadian you are too polite to say anything) you sort of wonder where they are from.

It is common, in fact it is usual, to have say a fancy house party and to have everyone all dressed up and still have them take off their shoes and for everyone to be sitting in the living room in their sock feet. It's like there are no fashion requirements below the ankles. Every entryway is piled up with all the shoes and boots and you get used to climbing over those when you come in the door.

This is why this pattern also contains a shoe bag. If you want to have something to wear when you arrive at a house you might want to bring some indoor shoes or, in the case, some slippers.

Puffy slippers.

I had a lot of fun making these up. Here is my version, to fit my feet. The pattern has you measure the length of your foot and there are multiple size options, from a child to a large adult. This is yet again another of Jalie's big family size range patterns.

I will probably be making the boot version for myself for wearing in the RV when we go off not this winter but next. We usually head south in January, and although the RV has a great heater the floor is totally uninsulated. Doesn't matter how many rugs we put down I always feel as if I am walking or standing on an ice rink until we hit the Mason Dixon line. These slippers will be perfect.

For the time being for my winter in the house this year I decided to make the simple slipper version.




This is a really interesting pattern in that it is made from woven fabrics with a back insert from ribbing with a strip of elastic inside that. I used some cotton velveteen I had and some fleece for the lining. Although I like the way these look in retrospect I would have been better off to use something lighter to keep the seams smaller. I have seem some of these made up in quilting cotton and that, or flannel, would be ideal.

I am not entirely happy with the batting I had on hand. That pattern calls for 1" thick batting and what I had was loose, almost like fiber fill in sheets. I think that a proper bonded batting of that thickness, or even two layers of something thinner might have been nicer although this did have the nice fluffy look that pattern aimed for. Here is what my own batting looked like zig zagged to one piece:




In construction I found it easier to use clips than pins too.



With my photographer out of town and neither the dogs or the kitten all that handy with the camera I am unable to show you anything sensible of the slipper on me. That said I want you to see how neat the ribbing at the back is so here, sort of, is that:


All pretty clever and extremely cozy and comfortable.

And I have to say that the shoe bag is really simple but very nice, I am definitely going to be churning a few of those out before the holidays too.




Friday, November 20, 2020

A great free pattern

 Before I live up to the promise of the title I have to say two things that are really important.

One is thank you thank you to all of those who left comments, or emailed me with gluten free cooking advice. I have been trying to figure out what has been going on with my body for a while now, a diagnosis is great, but figuring out this day to day has been an adjustment. I felt so helped and supported by your kind interest. It really made me feel better.

The second thing I want to say is that I have decided to just post pictures of the real me in clothes for the purpose of letting you see the details rather than fussing too much about the having folks see what my actual 67 year-old-body looks like. This is me, and that's all there is to say about that.

Now onto the free pattern. As you know I have been doing a lot of sewing for my family. This particular pattern for "Yoggers" sort of jogging pants with some fit, sort of, was something I made 11 times this last month. Three pair for my 92 year-old-mother (for her I left off the cuff at the bottom) four for my daughter and four for me.

The funny thing is that I made the same size for all of us, just with my little mom's inseam 4 inches shorter.

It's a free pattern from Petite Stitchery. Here is the picture and here is the line drawing:


I actually never thought I would make myself some "sweats" to wear around the house, since I am such a well-known fashion icon as you have probably already picked up.

But honestly.

If there ever was a winter to retreat into the homestead and wear comfy clothes it seems to me that being in the middle of a global pandemic would be it.

I found this pattern when I was doing the usual time wasting pattern site cruising. There are a million of this type of pattern around but I liked this one the best because:

1. It was free

2. The leg wasn't too tight. Honestly some of them look like leggings with cuffs.

3. The waist goes all the way up to the waist.

Now this pattern has optional pockets which I should have put in but I was sewing up 11 pairs in periods of time when I was supposed to be cooking dinner so they were out.

The pattern also has a drawstring waistline, rather than elastic, which I wasn't sure I would like but I do. No trying to figure out how long to cut the elastic and they stay up nicely. However for my mom's did put in elastic because I figured she was not at a drawstring stage of her life. For my daughter's I put the buttonholes for the drawstring on the outside of the waistband and for mine on the inside so I could tuck the drawstring in and out of the way.

On a couple of my pairs I made both the cuffs at the bottom and the waistband piece out of ribbing which I thought was extra comfortable. I just made all my buttonholes by drawing the size on a piece of interfacing and making them from the wrong side right through it, which was really fast.

There is a nice leg to these pants. I should tell you that the cuff at the bottom isn't particularly tight, this makes them very comfortable, so you might want to check that if you want something tighter around the ankle.

So here are a couple of my pairs. I will be wearing these in my house until the spring I expect, or a vaccine, whatever comes first!