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Clothesmaking mavens
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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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Saturday, January 9, 2021

Flypaper thoughts home for the winter version

  • Other years we are well on our way down south in January
  • This one I am sitting in my chair next to an animal sandwich
  • Trying to warm up
  • Daisy and I went for a walk just now
  • She got cold
  • Despite her winter coat
  • So home, I sat her next to me
  • And wrapped her in a blanket
  • The cat decided to lie on the blanket, on Daisy's back
  • She's been waiting for weeks
  • To find a way to attach herself to a dog
  • With whom she has a one sided relationship
  • They both went to sleep
  • Now I can't move because they might wake up
  • And Daisy might realize there is a cat on her back
  • So I am being quiet
  • Quiet and cold are the words for this month
  • Not that we aren't busy
  • I have made four new pairs of warm pants
  • And made forty sewing new year's resolutions
  • #1 sew from the patterns I already have
  • Same as my intention from last year 
  • And the year before
  • But this time I mean it
  • Like I will next year
  • Fortunately I can be pretty busy in my own house
  • Firing off projects all over the place
  • Making corn tortillas
  • Sewing elastic into rings
  • Talking to my neighbours when I walk dogs
  • Who's that my husband asks, waving at you?
  • Dexter's dad I say
  • Molly's dad
  • Garth's mom
  • You know the pug who must be 400 in dog years
  • Blind and pulled by his mom in a sled
  • Mr. Crow who is trying to walk the equivalent of some trail in Britain
  • He was booked to hike last spring
  • Now translated into miles around and around our streets
  • I count him four times a day past my window
  • Good to have an interest
  • Speaking of my husband
  • He bought me Masterclass for Christmas
  • He's really having a great time with it
  • Just finished a course in how to be a hostage negotiator
  • I can't make stuff like this up
  • He says it's more interesting than Malcolm Gladwell
  • Which I find hard to believe
  • Says he has been using his new techniques on me the last  two days
  • Wants to know if I have noticed
  • Noticed what I asked?
  • How I am using my 80% voice 20% of the time now
  • I mean what do you say to that?
  • Keeping to myself that after three kids I am pretty sure
  • My own hostage negotiator skills are pretty excellent as they are
  • Fair enough he wants to catch up
  • I have identified some wardrobe gaps
  • Biggest one is golf clothes
  • I haven't made much to golf in the last few years
  • Pieced together Costoc skorts and any top with a collar
  • Had to be sure I wouldn't be a golf drop-out first
  • Then I found friends who didn't keep score
  • So now I need to turn my mind away from my putting
  • To what I will wear
  • This is going to be a challenge
  • The rules of golf seem to involve wearing polyester
  • And paying way too much for it
  • Upside is that I can see potential for legitimately dressing in loud colours
  • Contemplating figuring out a golf dress
  • Could churn those units out if I could figure this out
  • I wake up at night and wonder about piping
  • And decide to just make shorts to wear underneath 
  • Rather than attaching
  • These are serious issues
  • It's cold
  • My son has bought a wood fired sauna
  • He lives by the water and no doubt plans to jump in the North Atlantic afterwards
  • Me I am wondering if it is possible to knit in a sauna
  • What do you think?
  • Resolution #3 knit an aran cardigan
  • Been meaning to do this for 20 years
  • I knit socks and watch strange CBC TV
  • Just finished a great series about the Northern Alberta decoy duck carving competition
  • To that you can knit socks
  • Many of them
  • But might do me good to read a chart and pay attention
  • When you are hostage to the winter
  • Your mind can wander
  • Not sure I have the skills to do this cardigan
  • How hard can it be?
  • The motto of my life


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Revisiting patterns

I really like the dress I am wearing on the cover of my latest book. It is so comfortable and the cotton blend ponte is so wearable. I also made my mom a top from this fabric because I like it so much. I got both the fabric for the dress and for the cardigan from my local Fabricville.

There is a story behind this dress.

I used Jalie's Nicole I had made this dress when it first came out and reviewed it here.

Despite really loving the fabric and the style of the pattern I haven't really worn that dress much at all. It sticks to my rear end and stomach too much.

However like I said I really like the style so I decided to take a different tack and try it again. This time I selected not the size my measurements would give me, but the size that the actual garment measurements would give me to what I know to be comfortable around the middle of my body.

This meant going up two full sizes from the armholes down - essentially changing this pattern from close to the body ease to an additional 1.5" of ease.

Here is the result:


So so much better and now one of my favourite patterns. (You can see I did this in the fall - in major catch up blog post mode here).

I think this is a strategy I am going to work on with other patterns. Because Jalie comes in so many sizes and those sizes go up in fine increments it is possible to tweek the ease a bit without a lot of distortion of the pattern lines.

I think I am going to try the same approach with the Lisette skirt pattern, which has beautiful lines but on me made me look like an egg cup. You will notice that when I did that review I focused on the construction techniques and not my body fit.

Once I had this success I decided to go back and look at other patterns.

One of these was the Charlotte cardigan. I had some nice red sweater knit but wanted something really practical and warm. As a result I just lengthened this pattern to something more jacket like to wear with the dress.


The sweater knit was fairly soft though so I didn't make buttons and buttonholes. Instead I used those big snaps that I consider one of the best inventions of this century:



I think there is a theme here. 

One of my take aways from this strange time of the pandemic is about doing more with whatever you have on hand. My house, I have rediscovered, has deep sewing supply resources that I have had no choice but to mine this year.

I used to think, with irony, that I collected patterns, notions and fabric like squirrel. Like I was waiting for the big storm and I couldn't get out.  

Well what do you know. 

That storm came and I was ready.