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Sewing on the edge by Barbara - 22h ago
I had to laugh when I read my last post.

I realize that you probably looked at it and thought "Babs is sleeping under a bridge. Oh god that woman."

Really, no need to worry, this was a legitimate RV camping place, just happens that the spots at one end are under the entrance to a huge overpass. 

When you rv down this time of the winter so many places en route just aren't open so you take what you can get when you need it.

At any rate we have landed in the wonderful McKinney State Park just outside of Austin, Texas, where we have one son. For the next month or so this is what my sewing room looks like. We have a real long extension cord and I can set up the ironing board next to the rv and just plug in the iron to an outside plug.

Perfect arrangement.


I will be setting up there shortly with the Rocketeer, a couple of projects I pre-cut at home, and a can of wasp spray. 

The wasp spray is in case I have another coyote circle the table like I did last year. They really are pretty attractive, smooth moving animals, and I don't mind them looking at me, it's the looking through me to another world part I don't really like.

Apart from the coyote issue this is a lovely place to sew. I am looking forward to it after nearly six days on the road.

The campsite has also provided me with a nice backdrop to a project I finished up while we drove - sort of camping sweater coat thing made up in some really thick cotton sweatshirt type fleece.

Here I am with Daisy who is keep an eye out for things that move in the bush

You know how sometimes you make a project and you think it will be great, and it actually turns out kind of not great?

Well in my estimation for every 10 or those you occasionally pull off a low-expectations-going-in project that you really like a lot.

This sweater coat was one of those.

The pattern I used was Butterick 6251  I got so long ago I don't remember getting it. The main attraction of this pattern for me was the shawl collar. Coming from a cold climate and possessing a scrawny neck I have never met a shawl collar I didn't like.

The reason I like this coat so much is probably the fabric. It has sort of a confetti thing going on, a clear knit on one side and a really, really thick fluffy side on the other:



I am completely crazy about this fabric and would get more in other colours if I could. 

Which reminds me to contact Angry Ballerina Fabrics where I got it - one of a number of cool knit little fabric online stores (often with an interesting ranges of weight in solids) we have in Canada. You know my US readers with the dollar it is, it would make sense to look at some of these sources, mostly run by young momenterpreneurs.  Blackbird is probably the most familiar of these companies, but I have also been really happy with fabric from Fabric Snob, Mint Lily Fabrics, L'oiseau fabrics, and Fabric Crush. 

There are other sources too, but these are just the ones I have ordered from. And of course I am on all the Facebook groups for each vendor which means I am able to sit in my bed in the morning with my coffee and order fabric before I am even up or can change my mind.

Back to this project.

I ended up doing a fair bit of hand sewing on this one, which was fine with me as I had 2,300 miles to kill to get here.

First off I followed the pattern instructions and topstitched on the pockets. In the light of day through the window of the rv it became clear to me that topstitching was not a good idea in such thick and bouncy fabric. That hard line of machine stitches just sort of violated the hand of the fabric and cheapened it a bit, as much as you can cheapen a camping coat made out of sweatshirt fleece.

As a result, and since I had some time on my hands which never ever happens at home, I unpicked the pockets and slipstitched them back on with some reinforcing backstitching done into the seam allowances from the wrong side. This is how they looked after I did that:



I also had a dilemma over closures. 

One of the great mysteries of life as we know it know to me is this current idea that a cardigan for any season but the summer makes sense to be closureless.

I mean really. 

Think about it. 

An open, no button attached cardigan might make sense for wearing in the office in one of those places that always have the AC turned onto super, super high, but for any other time when you put on a cardigan you are doing so because you are cold. 

And to stay warm you would want to button it up.

So why not build the cardigan to be able to do it? Why make an article of clothing that you need to keep you warm with a built in draft down the middle of it?

Since I am on a rant let me continue.

I have recently being looking at Aran sweater cardigan patterns on Ravelry. An amazing number of them look like the one worn by this knitter in the home page today:


What do you notice here? 

First there is a lot of serious knitting gone on. This is no make-it-in-a-weekend project.

Second this person obviously has a sweater on because she is cold. She looks cold to me.

Third the only way she can keep warm in this item, that undoubtedly cost her $200 in yarn and four years to make, is to grab it with two hands and wrap it around her. 

I know this look. 

It is the national costume worn by Canadian woman who dash out with a sweater on over their flannelette nightgowns, and in their boots, to get the car started so it will be warm when they have to drive the kids to school.

The problem of course in using your hands as closures is how would you do anything else? Like what if you have to scrape the ice off the windshield? Or grab that dumb cat and bring it in? Or use your phone to call your husband and have a discussion because he said he would put gas in the car but forgot?

Why not put a few buttons on that cardigan?

Where did this no closure movement come from?

Is there a world shortage of buttons going on that you all forgot to tell me about?

So all this means this coat thing I made has snaps.

After having determined that machine stitched on pockets defiled the integrity of my sweatshirt fleece of course I couldn't make machine buttonholes.

So instead I sewed on some nice big snaps I got a while ago in Botani in NYC. 


 These look pretty sharp IMO but to make them work securely you have to stitch them right through the facing which makes a little right side dimple in the fabric, which you can see better here:


I am OK with that but maybe not everyone would be.

Out of interest my T-shirt is the Favourite Tee by Patterns for Pirated and the pants are Stylearc's Margaret pants. Despite going through considerable angst about making wide leg pants because they are fashionable I really wonder if they suit me. In fact I might be shortening the pairs I have made to 3-4" at least above the ankle. Otherwise I think they swamp me.

It will be interesting what else I decide to make while I am here in Texas. I have been so, so busy at home this fall and winter. I really intend on letting myself float a bit while I am here. 

Pretty sure it is time for some of that.




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  • Fourth day travelling and now in Tennessee
  •  One of my favourite states
  •  Not sure why but I pick up some quirky thinking in the air
  • Driven through snow, ice, sleet and rain
  • Driven through mill cities where the factories are now “executive lofts”
  •  Driven by so many houses and have wondered about the lives being lived out in them
  • What’s for dinner in there?
  •  Are you happy with the life decisions you have made?
  • Or have you just gone along and realized that doing that was in fact a decision?
  • That’s a lot of lawn to be cutting
  • Slept a few times in truck stops
  • The truckers always have room for someone in an RV who needs to get off the road
  •   I am surprised by the number of women driving these rigs
  • A lonely life maybe
  • But probably good money
  • And no supervisor on her way over tell you what you should have done
  • No trying to be more pleasant than you feel
  • Or not as smart as you know you are
  •   Lots of dogs in these trucks too
  • Dogs know it’s all a journey
  •   No need to know where you are going
  • The whole point of travel like this
  • Is finding out you can be comfortable anywhere
  • Thinking of my neighbour on the other side of the back fence
  •  A gardener she always says she could live and die in her backyard
  •  Which is probably how it will play out
  •  Nice though to realize how big the backyard is
  • You relax more when you feel this
  • We are in constant contact with home and the family
  • Baby pictures on the west coast
  •  Son in Texas booking me into see his bodyworks guy
  • My daughter keeping me updated
  • The next door neighbour doing our mail and the plants
  • The man across the street in constant contact with my husband
  • Shelley’s getting her pipes done
  • When will it be our turn
  • The city put in those lines a generation ago
  •  Find out what gauge the new pipes are says my husband
  • Will do says Barry
  • He also writes two days until the full moon
  • Temperature dropping by afternoon
  •  Will probably stop in Memphis tonight
  • RV parking spot under the bridge
  • You hear every car bump over every joint in that bridge
  • And I sleep in my eyeshade
  • Headlights
  • Local police meet up there
  • Nose staggered to cop car nose
  • Discussing Memphis crime
  •  And I can get a good night’s sleep through all that
  •  And get up fresh the next morning and see what the sewing world has posted to Instagram
  • The bodywork guy is going to assess my asymmetries
  • Give me some work to do on balance
  • Doing a little of that on my own now

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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.

Wave.
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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?
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It is deep winter here in Nova Scotia.

Icy and cold outside. Daisy walks with boots on and a down coat.

This season, which is one of great therapeutic value in many ways (Canadians tell themselves things like this a lot), has made me think of how wise nature is. 

The smart ones fly away like the Monarch butterflies who go 20,000 miles to Mexico and back, or like the V shaped flocks we see going away every fall and coming back every spring.

But lately I have been thinking of the hibernators, the bears, skunks, bees, and bats who eat up, hole up, and snuggle up till it is reasonable to come out.

For this human hibernation has been a whole lot of sewing.

This year we put off our annual trip south to be able to spend more time with my daughter. But next week we are going to be leaving to go down to Texas to visit one son in Austin, and from there a flight to Berkeley to visit the other son, my daughter-in-law, and new granddaughter. I admit to you I am feeling anxious about leaving my daughter who has a a few new challenges lately, but she has promised to be truthful about how she is feeling when I am away. And planes have been invented right? And I really need to spend some time with my other kids.

On the way home we will be stopping in Tulsa where I will be teaching at the Vintage Sewing Adventure. I have corresponded with the organizers a lot and really like them so decided this was something I wanted to do. Plus the conference will have an association with the Sewing Machine Museum and I really want to see that a lot.

Now those of you who know me know I am not exactly a vintage styled dresser. The style thing which I love, but not compatible with my current life.

BTW anyone else watching Mrs. Maisel on Prime? 

The clothes alone are worth it. Although I have to say that it is not entirely believable. Why would Joel at any time not want to work in his dad's garment district factory? This part makes no sense. I love the shots of the bolts of fabric and the machines. He has a chance to work in the garment district in its heyday. I wish when I talk to the screen that he could hear me.

Back on topic.

So even though I am not a vintage dresser I have become recently very interested in something I am calling Heritage Sewing. To me this is the technical side of garment construction that utilizes methods and thinking that previous sewing women used.

I have been doing a lot of research on this and this is my big discovery.

There are a lot of really cool techniques that have been lost! 

It has been my big discovery that in the mass production/simplification/commercialization of all aspects of the sewing industry that some intriguing ideas have been sort of been forgotten.

I have decided to do a little work on sharing as much of that as I can.

I think this is important for these reasons:

1. So many of these methods are so effective and easy. Some of these ideas would make modern sewing better and easier. Somethings are meant to be passed down generation to generation. What happens when a few generations stop doing that?

2. Cultural responsibility. This is women's history. I am talking about housewife and home dressing maker sewing here. History is made by who kept the records. That's why so much of boring history is all about politics and men. Those were just the folks who were writing it down.

I want to acknowledge the work and creativity of those who were unrecorded - specifically women who worked alone in their homes and made wonderful things with their hands for themselves and those they loved.

I want their afternoons remembered and honoured. I want their work and thinking to be passed on in some way in this relay of life.

Does that make sense?

So I decided to go to Tulsa and teach a session on vintage sewing machine attachments as a starting place in this.

Here's why.

So many of these crazy, bizarre looking attachments do an amazing job of completely aceing some of sewing's more tricky jobs. 

A few of these attachments of their modern pseudo versions I have used, some like modern binders and narrow hemmers, but I have to tell you the vintage attachments just work so, so much better. As in hands off, relax and watch it work better. 

No struggle.

Now one of my sons and I were talking about this. He works in the tech industry in San Francisco and understands the theme of our time - that all things technical are just advancing and advancing. That this year's model is better than last years.

I get this. 

I am not a nostalgia type, good old days person of the sake of needing to just slow it all down. I am not a collector or a period dresser, that is something I respect but just not me.

But I know a good brain when I see its fruits in action. 

And I have been seeing some really smart engineering and thinking in evidence as I have watched some of these old 50-60 year old attachments (which BTW with and adapter foot will fit on and work on modern machines) manipulate fabric and place it exquisitely, effectively under the needle.

This has been a light bulb moment.

What about the concept of lost technology?

What if a better way to do some things had been developed and then forgotten?

What about that?

So this is what I am going to do.

Right now I have been making my samples up for Tulsa and putting together class notes. 

I have decided to turn these notes into a little how-to booklet that I will share after I have done the workshop.

Do you think anyone would be interested in something like that?

Tomorrow I am going to do a long post on blogging and what I am wondering about that.

In the meantime here are some shots of my vintage attachment using samples:





















More later.
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  • Well I am glad I cleared up where fashion is headed 
  • You heard it from me
  • The new fashions are going to be new
  • I have been pondering this wide leg pants thing and looking at the picture of myself
  • It has occurred to me that wide leg pants more or less make all legs look shorter and heavier
  • After I had this thought I tried to think of women I knew who wanted to have legs that looked shorter and heavier
  • Still trying to think of anyone
  • Someone 
  • In addition to being on the leading edge of the fashion prediction business
  • I have been in 1932
  • Also 1948
  • And 1956
  • And 1961
  • These are the dates of some of the sewing machine manuals and accessory feet I have become very involved with
  • Doing a class in Tulsa and thinking of putting together a little booklet
  • Well do I have news for you
  • Progress has not be linear in our world
  • There are so many things some of these bizarre attachments do that new machines can't do anymore
  • Not even the ones that are the size of a large beer cooler
  • A vintage narrow hem foot is a piece of cake
  • Get a raw edge near it and it sucks it up
  • You can close your eyes and put your foot down
  • Next thing you know there's a perfect 1/8" rolled hem with the stitches a hair away from the edge
  • Absolutely no operator skill required
  • And you should see the adjustable hemmer
  • Or the tucker that actually creases the fabric for the next tuck for you while it stitches
  • You can't program that
  • So right now instead of my assignments being marked or my floors being washed
  • This place is draped with garlands of ruffles
  • Lots of time well wasted going on around here
  • Winter was invented for detours like this
  • In my spare time I am also taking a Mediterranean diet course
  • An about this kind of food as opposed to diet
  • I am opposed to diets so this works
  • The teacher cooks us eggplant and we discuss chia seeds
  • Which aren't at all Mediterranean
  • But neither is the teacher
  • She's from Dietetics
  • Love the class
  • The young man with the beard who wants to know where to use hemp powder
  • And the woman who keeps asking where are the sausage recipes?
  • And the runner who is worried about balancing his enzymes
  • While the teacher points out that the 35% of your recommended daily salt intake on the label
  • In the fine print says per 1/8 teaspoon
  • Probably as close as the Mediterranean is going to get to Nova Scotia this year
  • And pretty entertaining
  • Learning new things is good
  • Even when the new things are old
  • What am I going to do with all these ruffles?
  • And eggplant?
  • Will decide in the spring
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Sewing on the edge by Barbara - 3w ago
For a start I have to say I married my husband for his cooking and his kindness, not his photographic skills.

Now we have that out of the way let's talk pants.

I had some rayon/ poly/lycra so I experimented this week with some pants.

The first was my favourite Margaret stretch wovens from Stylearc. I like this pattern a lot but lately I have been fed up a bit with the elastic waist thing sliding down when I move.

Remembering that I liked the yoga waist I put on some leggings, I dragged out some heavy supple knit and cut out a band and stitched that on instead. Much improvement in fit and feel although I wish I hadn't grabbed this fabric late at night, it is navy actually I had hoped for black




Here are the pants on me front and back:



It's a pretty nice leg on these pants, but after pondering on the likelihood that pants are getting wider I dragged out my trusty old Jalie pull-on pants pattern. I then made some wide leg pants out of the same fabric, even though that pattern calls for a woven not a knit.

I faced the waist casing with a scrap of poplin, which is the part of the pants I liked best:


As you can see these are fairly gathered in the casing and there is as a consequence a bit of that showing at the top:



These pants are of course very comfortable but I am going to have to get used to the wider legs. Looking is sort of a despairing way at the pictures I am not showing you I am sort of coming to the conclusion that on my body I really need a fitted with a zipper waist and not an elastic casing in wider pants. It seems to me that on me if the legs are wider the top needs to be smoother.

Or maybe something like Stylearc Fifis would be another place to start. I kind of have got used to the comfort and sewing speed of pull-on pants.

Of course a traditional pants waist  means considerable more time spent on fitting and fiddling and I will have to thing of a pattern to start working on. Quite a few other things on the table right now, so you might have to hold on with that one for a while.

And of course wider pants are going to mean new proportions in tops. Of course that means more patterns and fabrics to consider, so I am not seeing that as a real challenge.





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I have been so busy this last week. Tomorrow I am going to be posting some pictures promise. 

A lot of new ideas and projects on my mind right now and a sewing table piled high with cut out garments.

More on all of this as the week unrolls.

Right now though I am thinking that one of those shifts in fashion is about to occur.

You know how it goes.

Just when you get your head adjusted to a certain look, to the point it seems normal, like say long tops with skinny jeans and leggings, just when you have everything oriented more or less to those proportions, and this would be including your head, they do a 180 in fashion.

Now of course it is perfectly reasonable to say you will avoid all of this and stick to classics.

This is fine if you never spill anything, like say coffee when you laugh. Or spaghetti sauce because you are standing at the counter in with your coat half off and someone says taste it and you are starving. If you never are that person then you can dress entirely in white shirts.

Or if you the size of a minute. And can walk by bush without getting snagged, and have never caught your watch in anything, then you can wear a lot of tweed Chanel jackets every day.

If you are that person then definitely you should stick to classics. 

Except of course button-up shirt dresses.

I defy anyone to wear these at all without getting the buttons caught in the handles of drawers, or if you are tall and your stomach sticks out (just saying) doorknobs, and rip them open every time.

Yes you can avoid the whole fashion thing with classics.

Or you can go creative which is a comfortable option except for the part where your daughter says "you're not wearing that!" or your husband asks "What is that supposed to be?" which isn't really a great start to your own career as an independent dresser, although better than shirt dresses.

And really even if you are creative, a position I endorse, you really want to show some sense that you know what year it is too.

This matters if you have decided you don't necessarily want to be like my brother-in-law, lovely man, great sense of humour, who has worn the same aviator glasses frames since they were invented sometime when we were all still in school, which would be quite some time before he became a grandfather.

Which leads me to what I see from my haute couture position in a Nova Scotia bungalow as fashion's early warning indicator.

I am talking about pants.

A blouse is a blouse.

A straight skirt is a straight skirt.

No carbon dating possible there, but pant styles are a dead give away.

It is my own personal theory that pants fashions are the first sign that things are really about to change, that the old weathervane of what we wear sort of starts spinning.

The news, folks, as I figure it, is there is a corner appearing on our little sewing street.

When we turn it:

Pants are going back up to and past the waist.

Tops are going to get more fitted and shorter. Ladies are we going to start tucking in again?

Pant and tops are related in this change thing because of the universal truth and great rule of life which is that if one half of your body is narrow the other half needs to be wider. 

And vice versa, or as they say around here, the other way around.

My prediction is everything we now wear is going to start to look dated, if we fight it or not.

I present my case.

J. Crew catalogue (not exactly the runway but a good place to find new styes interpreted conservatively):


And then there's these patterns.

The cult like Lander pants which everyone is making if they can figure out how to make them fit or not:




Tessuti's Chiara:


And Stylearc's Fifi, which has a flat front and an elastic back:


There really is a change happening here.

This week my daughter out of the blue said to me she would love some trendy new jeans - you know the ones that came to your waist, loose at the hips and narrowing at the ankle.

I nearly choked on my coffee, good thing I wasn't wearing a white shirt, but was gracious enough to point out these were the same mom jeans she told me when she was a teenager was never going to wear in her own life.

But it wonder now if I will ever be wearing, or making something like these Guise pants from Papercut:


So many important things to think about.

More tomorrow.

Right now I think I had better call my next younger sister to tell her the '80s are on the way back. We sort of ruled the 80s as I remember. We owned the curling iron bang flip.

Must check if her button earring collection is still intact.

Hope so.

Who would ever throw something like that out?


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Sewing on the edge by Barbara - 1M ago
I woke up this week on Monday and decided it was time I took some time to sew for myself.

Things have gotten a bit thin in the practical clothing department - a combination of a lot of quality time spent sewing for family and a combination of the influence of that stupid Kondo book (my apologies to anyone who thinks it is not stupid - just reflecting on my own situation) which has meant that every time I remember some odd garment that would be perfect for an odd occasion, I realize I have decluttered it out of life.

A person who saves things just in case is really swimming upstream these days. With both my daughter and one of my sisters all into minimalism and decluttering I have been talked into saying real dumb things to myself like "have a worn this in the last year?" before throwing them out.

Any realistic person, particularly one who sews, will tell you that not having worn something for a year is a completely meaningless criterion.

Reasons that a person might not have worn something for 12 months might include:
  • no one has died recently and that is a perfect funeral outfit
  • no one has gotten married recently and that is a perfect vaguely related to somebody on some side wedding guest outfit
  • forgetting you owned this item of clothing
    • because your closet is so full of other more recent sewing projects it was jammed in a closet corner
    • because your mind is elsewhere like on what you want to sew next so deeply that has pushed the what you have sewn already stuff out of your brain and through your ears into space or something like that
    • because you just forgot - which in itself means nothing and is a sign of nothing OK?
  • that this garment was so a) tedious b) slow c) tricky to sew that by the time it was finished you were so sick of the sight of it that you ignored it for a good long while
  • it needs some sort of alteration. No need to explain further, we all know how we all feel about alterations
  • you decided to change your look or style or whatever and went through a period where you decided you were anti-blouse and a knit person until the random moment when you remembered that knits cling and you really suit blouses
Well none of the above are good reasons to kiss any garment goodbye and send it on it's way thanking it for its service.

Although right now if I could get some things back from Value Village like that blue blouse that had a FBA and really fit or that Persian Lamb coat I might kiss them then.

All of this is to explain why I woke up this Monday morning and said "my turn."

So for most of this week when I wasn't working or being semi responsible or dog walking I cut out a bunch of projects, all things I need for the immediate future which next month is going to include state parking it to Texas and back.

Little explanation on the state parks and my husband.

Although the rv is pretty comfortable my spouse is an out in the woods versus a rv park with golf carts kind of guy. 

I like this myself, apart from the coyote sauntering past me sewing at the picnic table part, but it has very specific wardrobe requirements. Like warm clothes for when the propane runs out, or sort of publicly decent housecoats for going to the bath house for a shower because the hot water has run out because, well see above.

So I kind of let everything slide this week except cutting out. This is what I have on the table now:

4 pairs of knit jogger/sweatpants
2 pairs of linen wide legged pull-on pants
1 housecoat (that's what you call them in Canada. A lounger? bathrobe?) with a zipper to go in it
9 tee shirts
1 sort of sweater coat thing in really cool speckled jogging fleece
3 pullover Lovenotions Constellation tops
8 pairs of underwear because I had a lot of scraps and well that propane thing
I pair of knit pyjamas in a style that a six year old would wear in a snowflake print I was hoping to use up at Christmas

Of course I have a list too of things to make for other people, including an apron for a florist one of my other sisters works with, but my plan is to try to get as much of this done as I can over the next few weeks, and pack the rest up for finishing on the road, we leave on February 15th.

When all of this utility sewing is done I will turn my attention to a hopefully more interesting spring wardrobe. Right now though I am sort of looking forward to just getting some new things to wear for real life.

And I will post pictures.

In the meantime I will post a picture of what is in front of me now, my daughter's dog Reggie. I am sort of the designated dog sitter around here, Reggie and even my newly single long ago first husband's dog, because I like the dog.

Reggie is the biggest character though.

If you make eye contact he comes and sits on you, all 80 pounds and more or less you need a crane or another person to get him off, because he sure likes laps.

He also eats whatever isn't nailed down. This starts conversations around here like 

"Belt. Do you think I can leave my clothes for work laid out, even the belt. No you are right maybe not the belt. Better put it up somewhere high." 

Last time we had him he ate three pounds of butter and one pie, although he is a very neat eater. 

So far his personal best is an entire pineapple including the green leaves at the top. 

Not any dog can do that.

Well here is Reggie.


Probably resting up or at least digesting something.

He has to pace himself. I guess we all do.



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Before I get to what's on my mind tonight I should apologize for being a rotten sewing blogger. 

In the last four days I have made two garments for my daughter-in-law and another jacket for my husband. But before those could be photographed, which is what a good blogger would do, the jacket went off to work on my spouse and the things for my DIL got packed to be delivered by my daughter who is flying out tomorrow to meet the new baby.

Oh well.

For the next little while I am going to be making some crazy things for myself and you know I do stand still enough for pictures.

Now back to the subject at hand.

For various reasons this week I have been thinking of the things we say to children and how those things, if we intend to or not, get carried away with them as part of who they are, for life.

That's a pretty significant responsibility and it is something all of us need to be mindful of.

Right now I am considering all the times we affect young children not by what we tell them they can do or who they are, but of all the times we limit them by carving off some experiences as not for them.

I am thinking for example of toys, among other things.

I have three grandchildren here, the two girls and a boy. 

Over the holidays a woman my daughter works with sent over bags and bags of American Girl doll clothes her own kids didn't need any more.

It was quite a haul, a huge number of outfits and even an American Girl bicycle. Imagine how cool that is.

Well the girls have been happily playing with all this stuff for a while now and little Billy, their brother, has just been relegated to watch and plead for a chance to put on some tiny jacket, some pair of tiny shoes.

Last time I was over this week doing after school duty he told me that more than anything in the world he wanted and "American Girl Boy doll."

Of course he did.

So on the way home I swung by Walmart because it was on the way and checked out the toy department. Myself and another grandmother, who was there looking for a baby doll for her African Nova Scotian granddaughter, went through the shelves. I was pretty pleased to find that there was quite a variety, Asian dolls (now that's about time), dolls in wheelchairs and dolls with arm braces. Dolls that looked like the people who would play with them.

And me, I found an 18 inch boy doll for Billy.

Well this is what he thought of that:




Of course if I had been thinking ahead I would have realized what would come next - a request for clothes. Pyjamas, a bathing suit, and of course, because this is Canada - a hockey uniform.

This last one made me smile.

Billy's dad, my wonderful son-in-law, tells a story of when he was a kid and quit hockey. He just decided he would rather stay at home on Saturdays and watch the cartoons than go to practice, like his brothers.

Well the first Saturday morning he did this his dad threw a Sears catalogue down the stairs to the basement. "Here, if you are going to stay home, pick out a dress," his dad said.

The irony of course is that one of his brothers, down at the rink, would end up coming out as gay. 

They all love that story now.

The thing is of course not that boys can't play with dolls (or bake in Easy Bake ovens as this viral campaign proved) but that by not giving young males little people to play with we are, even unintentionally, cutting them off from opportunities to think about and practice taking care of other little humans. 

What a terrible thing it is to dam up something like that flowing in any child.

I was thinking of this after Billy, with great gentleness. held a newborn last evening, or of my son in California who takes care of his infant daughter as completely and as carefully as his wife.

Billy's sister already plays hockey. I am thinking that next time he is over he and I are going to cut out some doll clothes. I am sort of disappointed in myself that I didn't think of this before.

He would like that.

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