Saturday, September 16, 2017

In celebration of National Sewing Month

To mark September, national sewing month, I have contributed a small sewing project/gift to the C & T site.

Here is a picture of the final project:


And here is a link to the complete how-to's.

Such a fun project.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Baby gift sewing

Last week one of my nieces had her first baby. Alma is a most beautiful baby and after a slow entry into the world has pretty much delighted everyone.

Being long distance on this one I decided to make a baby gift. And being a practical sort of person I decided they most needed a diaper bag with many pockets and a changing pad thingy.

I found just the patterns I was looking for at Peekaboo, a nice company that does a good job with cool family patterns and accessories. 

Here are the patterns I used:



Both patterns were very easy to sew- the diaper changing clutch is one you can file away in the Insta Gift folder.

I used a denim for the exterior fabric and some laminated cotton for the inside. I interfaced all external pieces with a fusible woven and then added a fusible fleece on top of that for support, and in the case of the clutch, so the baby wouldn't be laying right on a hard surface.

I definitely have to make up a few of these clutches to have around for emergency showers or surprise babies. 

It was fun to sew something different!

Inside view of the bag, various open pockets, a key fob, a zippered pocket, and a magnetic closure

The set and although they are made of the exact same fabric they seem to look like they are not here. Interesting.

The clutch opened up with a pocket for diapers and wipes. I would probably turn this around if I was changing someone and lay their head on the pocket.

The clutch closed - even if you don't get involved in the whole diaper bag thing this clutch alone is pretty handy.

Side view of the bag showing one outside pocket and how the interfacing combo holds the whole thing up.

The other side with a different pocket, note all pocket tops are piped for support.





Sunday, September 10, 2017

Flypaper thoughts early change of season edition


  • It happened two weeks ago
  • That morning when it had that taste of fall in the morning
  • That definite marker of the change of season
  • As usual I am not ready for this
  • Looks like another year that the to-do sewing list for 2002 will be getting pushed forward
  • Fall sewing doesn't mean what it once did
  • Where are the piles of corduroy or wool flannel
  • When was the last time you sewed wool flannel
  • I have some ready to go actually
  • Ready to be cut out since the fall to-do list of 2002
  • Last night Miss Daisy got under a bush and shot out like a bullet
  • Her little back was covered in wasps
  • Poor thing she must have found a nest
  • I pulled as many as I could off and then she ran into the house
  • My husband has one of those bee sting allergy things
  • So I yelled grab your Epipen and go into the bathroom and close the door
  • Got them all with the fly swatter and Windex
  • Do you know that Windex is excellent for stopping wasps in their mid air tracks 
  • So they fall to the ground and then you can swat them?
  • Well now you know
  • Daisy ran up and down the hall all night apparently stuck in a flight groove of fight or flight
  • Glad that passed
  • What I want to know now is where did this idea of selling fabric by the half yard come from?
  • Just when you think you have finally scored a bargain you multiply by two
  • How does this all make buying fabric a good thing
  • What's next?
  • A house for $200,000 for the half house?
  • Bananas for 15 cents per half banana with 8 halves in a bunch?
  • I have a joke with my middle grandchild, the literal one
  • When I want her to do something and she isn't going along with me and asks why
  •  I say because I say so and I am the boss of the world
  • This makes her crazy and she always shouts at me you are not the boss of the world
  • God is
  • Every time
  • Hard to argue with that one
  • However
  • Well there are a couple of things I am going to institute in the off chance I ever become temporal boss of the world
  • In addition to fabric sold only in full yards and meters
  • Here we go
  • All industrial designers are strapped to chairs and forced to watch videos of real people trying to make their stuff work
  • Grandmothers trying to install car seats in cars for instance
  • Or trying to open one of those strollers with one hand that require the strength of Charles Atlas and a Phd in Engineering to figure out
  • I would also fund research into the development of an eyeliner pencil that would sharpen without the sharpened point falling right off first time you used it until you have sharpened it down to about the last an inch and a half
  • I would bring back sewing in the school curriculum so we stop producing people who think it makes sense to pay $20 to have a hem restitched in plastic thread
  • BTW I once knew I person who ran a tailor shop who had a customer bring in a dress to have the label cut out of the inside back neck
  • No word of a lie
  • And I would ban the manufacture and sale of non woven fusible interfacing, particularly the kind that bubbles
  • I would legislate that someone would start manufacturing Viyella again
  • I would add three inches to the waist measurement of all Big Four sewing patterns
  • I would make university tuition free based on marks and merit
  • I need more students who think for themselves and fewer who let other people think for them
  • I would prescribe Bollywood dance movies for those who worry too much
  • And rhubarb pie to anyone feeling down
  • I would put a dog on every couch 
  • And a sewing machine back in every hall closet
  • And bring back saddle shoes
  • If I were the boss of the world

Friday, September 8, 2017

Nancy Zeiman

I have just finished three days pre back-to-school with the kids and was all set to sit down and do a catch-up post on my own sewing.

Then I got a McCalls email with a link to Nancy Zeiman's farewell message. I have tried to post the link but every time I do my computer gets hung up - probably nancysnotions.com is crashing with so many hits.

Nancy Zeiman's cancer has returned and there is nothing more they can do. After I read this I had no heart to write about myself and went to bed. I didn't sleep very well.

Nancy Zeiman is amazing. Her show Sewing with Nancy was a highpoint of my sewing life when my kids were small.

In those days there were few opportunities to connect with other sewers or to learn new techniques. Her show, once a week, and books borrowed from the library were about it.

My children learned early on that when Sewing with Nancy was on PBS if it didn't require the police or an ambulance it could wait. Mom was busy.

Nancy rationalized sewing with calm steady instructions and new ways of doing things that you simply couldn't read in the pattern guide sheets. 

Wrapped corners, pinning and marking in quarters for knit necklines, speed tailoring - her tips have been so deeply integrated into my sewing that in some ways I no longer know where she begins and I leave off.

If you are a new sewer let me tell you past episodes of Sewing with Nancy are worth searching out. You will learn so much.

One of the highpoint of my stay-at-home life then was when I sent in a sewing idea of my own and she read it on her show. They sent me a copy of one of her books too. I remember picking it up at the post office with three small children standing beside me while I unwrapped it. "Does this mean you are famous?" they asked me. 

To those guys Nancy on TV was a giant, and to me too.

I once met Nancy Zeiman.

I was at a sewing show having lunch between classes. A beautiful woman approached our table with a tray. "Hello. Can I join you?" she said. When she sat down she introduced herself "Hi, I'm Nancy."

As if we didn't know.

I wonder about how many women in how many living rooms or family rooms in the basement once a week felt they had a friend who shared their love of sewing like they did, and I did, when we watched her sew on TV.

I wonder how many other women, so busy with other things all day long, all week long, looked for this one half hour to focus on their own real interest. How many of you waited for Sewing with Nancy like I did?

Nancy and I are now old enough to know that life isn't fair. Some stuff happens you just can't do anything about.

We are also old enough to know that the connections you make with other people, and those who shared themselves with you, are all that really matter.

And Nancy Zeiman connected. 

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Off on a tangent

I don't know if anyone else ever goes through this with their sewing, but out of the blue I have got myself on this underwear sewing thing.

It's like as a sewer you find yourself caught up on sort of a private craze, thinking about it, sewing it, spending way too much time internet shopping, or just internet window shopping about it, and then after a while you feel you have enough and move back to sensible sewing or onto something else.

The thing is you are never sure where these sewing obsession things come from or why they started. 

Maybe someone else's blog post, maybe a morning you decide you have a wardrobe gap, maybe just some more of sewer's optimism - you know that lovely delusional feeling that you have far more time to sew than you actually have.

In my case it might have been golfing in hot weather or not wanting to wear one of my good purchased bras to sweat it out on the stationary bike (something I do use on rainy days providing there is a good series on Netflix - have you seen Offspring from Australia - great show).

I am sure the need to have cotton underwear free of any kind of synthetic might have set me off.

At any rate this mania started with the cotton underpants and moved onto sports bras for some reason.

I have been working on three different sports bra patterns and over the next few days will do some show and tell.

In the meantime tell me, does the idea of an out of the blue sewing craze make sense to you?

What have your own detours and tangents been and what do you think sets this kind of sewing binge off?

I am pretty interested to hear if it is just me who gets these sewing fevers or not.


Thursday, August 31, 2017

Flypaper thoughts and tie dye underwear edition



Subtitle: just when you thought you had seen it all.

I have taken care of the kids most of the week, plus two drop-ins from next door. It has been a fun and funny week and one that reminded me of the realities of being a mother of young children. More on that later. My daughter says these guys are ready to go back to school and I thought this was hard hearted, childhood being short etc., by I am here to report she might be right.

By the time I sent them all off every evening I was in sore need of some therapeutic sewing to gather my forces for the next day but not up to say starting a winter tailoring project or drafting a bodice.

I needed to just fool around at my machine with small pieces of fabric and limited ambition.

So I decided to do some practical sewing and to revisit a few patterns.

One of those patterns was this one from Jalie 2568 for underwear:



The underpants have two leg openings higher cut and what Jalie calls hipster, (although in French these are called culottesde garçonne, literally a female version of boy's underwear - what you might be familiar with as boy cut).

After making all versions I have settled on the front of the higher cut, because I don't like anything tight at the top of my leg and the back from the hipster/boy cut for coverage - and the higher waist too.

With all this experimenting I grabbed a very stretchy rayon knit I had picked up at some point in a tie dye, thinking the kids might like a T shirt at some point, and the next thing you know I have four pairs of comfortable tie dye underpants. To finish both the top and the legs I just stitched on some stretch lace because it was light. Past experience with the turned and stitched elastic edges on underpants is that it can be a bit stiff and too tight around the leg.

Now that's about all anyone can say about this project, except that I had fun making these and will be making more, although maybe not tie dye.

Now onto a few flypaper thoughts that sum up the week:

  • Took the bunch of them fabric shopping.
  • I guess every zipper needed touching
  • High point was Miss Scarlett
  • Who as we were leaving she turned and announced to the store in general
  • "I will be back when I am older and have my own money!"
  • Other high points
  • Discovering without any doubt whatsoever
  • That a jar of quinoa will expand when dumped down a bathroom sink drain
  • My husband says not to worry
  • Probably if we take off the vanity, break the wall, and the open up the ceramic ceiling of the bathroom below
  • There will be no need to get into the pipes that come into the house in the front yard
  • That's good news
  • Not really an enormous fan of quinoa anyway
  • Not her fault
  • Heidi was just in there trying to dye it blue
  • Of course
  • Nothing surprises a grandmother who is herself wearing tie dye underwear
  • There will be no more fighting over who gets to carry the caterpillar home
  • There will also be no more fighting over who lost the caterpillar
  • Also made a workout bra
  • Out of the cotton ponte scraps left over from my daughter's lab coat
  • Good support but more along the lines of lift than separate
  • Will report on that in the next day or two
  • Not sure if trying to shop vac quinoa out of a bathroom drain counts as a workout
  • It certainly should
  • This is what comes of a no technology childhood
  • Children on iPhones hardly ever try to dye the side dishes blue
  • All dogs are therapy dogs
  • Babsie's day off tomorrow





Saturday, August 26, 2017

Small big project




Bag and me on location at the Superstore parking lot

I am trying something new these days. 


My sewing time is constricted right now because I am trying to spend as much time as I can with the kids before school starts. 


Lots of days at my house, sleepovers (when are they going to invent a kid who waits until 8:00 a.m. to leap out of bed? not that I don't want to start projects before breakfast) and tea parties where we discuss moral issues and big ideas. 


My best of those tea parties this week involved explaining the concept of communicable diseases, specifically TB that had wiped out sections of both families only two generations ago, the role of sanitariums and cold air, the invention of antibiotics, as well as why some kids are mean at recess, the role of karma in the lives of kids who are mean at recess, not to mention extra ingredients that improve the taste of egg sandwiches (this is from the 5 year old who is an excellent cook), and why books for small children are funny but books for early readers are boring and always trying to teach moral or socially responsible lessons (like karma I guess) rather than being funny and interesting instead which is why more kids don't read more at the library's summer reading club.


This means I have had a lot less time to sew, not to mention that my entire mason jar collection has now been turned over to labeled jars of potion made of grass, water, dog food pellets, dried chipotle peppers, grapes from the vine around the window, quinoa and food colouring. 


That inventory and cleaning up after the witches went home seriously cut into the sewing time.


It also meant that I have had to reassert my focus, meaning I am trying something new these days and that is doing some sewing that will fill some gaps and what at the moment is my very real life.


I started with a little bag for myself, the Butterfly Sling, from Emmaline patterns - a wonderful, interesting pattern.


Garment sewing skills are not immediately transferable to bag sewing I can tell you. 


I found this bag pretty hard to figure out, spent a full afternoon folding a rectangle of fabric trying to make credit card slots for example, because I have no prior experience points of reference.


That said here is what I have learned about bag making as a new person doing this:


1. A lot depends on lots of interfacing. Different stuff like fusible thin batting and interfaced linings and yes, interfaced credit card slot pieces.


2. The pattern may tell you to trim away half of the interfacing from the seam allowances but you really need to trim the whole thing away from the seam IMO. Also cut out the corners and cut out the slot where the zipper will be sewn in. Trimming away a fusible fleece is not really possible to do after stitching well, I think - that interfacing needs not to be there in seam allowances if you want neat turns to the right side.


3. Hardware is the real secret, even if it is nerve wracking to install and involves things like glue and tiny screw drivers. A so so product like my first bag looks an awful lot better with real looking latches and bag type fasteners. Also learning how to use these new notions sort of makes a person feel as if she has expanded her world.





4. Find some good zippers. Right now I would kill to be living in the garment district and getting my hands on some Riri zippers. This pattern called for dress zippers and really since they are visible they are IMO design features and need to look sharper than this. Got to find myself a good online source.


5. The first one can be really rough while a person works it out. I learned enough here to know I want to do this pattern again and do it right.


OK enough talk here is the bag. Made in some scrap yellow denim and very much a rough and trial run version - now I have this figured out there will be more of these. My daughter who has good taste and as a result rarely asks me to make her one just like mom's has already ordered one.


This is a brilliant design and I have to say the pattern is beautifully written.


It has two zippered pockets with card slots inside (6 in each pocket) and a change zipper pocket a bill pocket, and a little ID window.






This whole unit folds in half (did I mention it is fleece interlined so is firm and soft) and is held in that way by two magnetic snaps and closed again with a strap with a turn latch.

the interior part of the bag opened


Oh and this is a cross body bag with a long, adjustable strap.



back view of the bag

I have to say this is fantastic, useful bag. It holds my phone safely ( have dropped this bag and due to the fleece nothing broke which is new for me, I can't remember the last time I owned an iPhone without a cracked screen), it has two great compartments for cards and stuff ( I am even thinking on my travels of having a US and Canadian side for my money) and is comfortable to wear.


I am feeling something just beginning here.