Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Flypaper thoughts emergency sewing division


  • Miss Daisy had a small benign thing removed yesterday from her belly
  • Despite my best efforts and a $35 cone she has ripped her stitches out
  • My vet is in Iceland with my middle son at a friend's bachelor party
  • Don't ask
  • The wedding is in September in Monte Negro
  • You know that one of their friends took his girlfriend to Europe to propose
  • He changed his mind and mailed the engagement ring back for his mom to deal with
  • Mailed it in a sock
  • Back to Daisy
  • Went to the covering vet today who is about 95
  • He told me that dogs in the wild have wounds and no stitches and not to worry
  • My niece who has done a term of nursing and is a genius says it is too open
  • We tried to close it ourselves with steri strips
  • Booked in to see someone else tomorrow
  • In the meantime I am in bed with a dog with an open wound who is trying to get at it
  • Stupid collar cone thing might as well be in Iceland for all the good it is doing me
  • So jumped out of bed and cut up some of the husband's underwear
  • He is out of town
  • Needs new ones anyway
  • Serged it down to Daisy width and sewed the inseam by hand while it was on her to get a good fit
  • Fruit of the loom dog shorts
  • Kneeling on my bed with a needle and thread
  • Student of mine from Newfoundland said she had a friend who sewed so well 
  • She could sew the ass on a cat
  • Well not the only one
  • Publisher said I should do sewing videos
  • You tube here we come
  • Have made a dress and a cardigan this week I love
  • When we get Daisy's seam done I will post pictures
  • Thank goodness rhubarb is in season now
  • You can't beat a nice rhubarb crisp in times of crisis
  • Off I go to the fridge

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Jalie Stretch City Coat pattern review

























On my recent trip to San Francisco I knew exactly the jacket/coat I needed, both there in the misty mornings and at home in the windy and wet days here in Halifax.

Unfortunately I didn’t have exactly that coat with me on my trip. However the first thing I did when I got home was start sewing one.



Jalie’s Stretch City Coat pattern has been around for a while. Many folks have made it, and many of them have made it in a woven, just using a larger sized pattern. I really wanted to stick to the original intent and so having been keeping my eyes open the right stretch fabric for a couple of years now.
I finally found it along the back wall of my local Fabricville.

I decided to use a grey outerwear fabric with a micro fleece bonded to the inside. It is a pretty interesting fabric. The outer side is a tightly woven poplin, much like commander if you have sewn that, and the inside has a very fine micro finer fleece bonded to it. Perfect if you want weather resistant with a little warmth but without the hassle of putting in a lining.
I found this fabric very easy to sew. I used a standard sharp needle and polyester thread but I did lengthen my stitch length to 3.0 for construction and 4.0 for top stitching. There is a fair amount of volume to this fabric, sort of bouncy like Ponte and I felt that the longer stitch length was just more compatible with it.

I made a few changes to the pattern.

First I couldn’t decide on whether or not to do the collar or hood view – one is dressier one more useful – so in the end I made the collar view but sewed the hood up as a separate unit and added three snaps to the back of the collar stand so I could snap on the hood as needed. I placed one snap just a half an inch or so from the end of the collar stand on each side and one at centre back on the back of the stand on the jacket. I then just sewed three snaps on the inside of the hood to match.

This is a bit of a pattern hack and I do realize that one result of that is that the collar has to stand up when the hood is attached. You might think this looks weird but living in Nova Scotia I have no problem with as many rain barriers as I can get. I have also convinced myself that this detail looks edgy and works with the techno nature of the fabric. If you disagree, don’t tell me.

The other variation I made was to change up the suggested buttons and buttonholes for big sew-on snaps. I test sewed a few buttonholes and they just looked small and wimpy to me in this fabric so I went back down to Fabricville and got these wonderful snaps – large ones for the coat and smaller ones for the hood/collar attachment.




A word on the snaps. I have observed in RTW that the stitches for big fashion snaps like these go right through to the right side of the fabric. Once you get your head around this, and the fact that your hand stitches might not be 100% perfect and that is OK, this are easy to stitch on. Each snap has two holes at each corner which I used in the coat but for the smaller collar snaps just sewed them on through one hole as we are used to doing with snaps.

Use a biggish needle and I really recommend a buttonhole twist or heavier thread for the snap sewing on. The metal of the snaps tends to break an ordinary construction weight thread. I should note though that sewing on all these snaps carefully took a bit of time. I probably spent two sewing days to make the coat and about three sewing nights to do the snaps.

Finally pockets in this coat are interesting – sort of free floating square bags that the pattern instructions tell you to tack to the facings, giving you a reference to an illustration that seems to be on longer available on Jalie’s site.

As a result I sort of improvised here and folded the pocket bags slightly vertically and did a short row of machine stitches to secure the pocket top and bottoms to the facings. This actually seems to work quite well, holding the pockets in place so they don’t flop around but not pulling on the facing.



I really am very pleased with this coat – it has a combination of style and function that really appeals to me. I know I am going to wear it a lot – both at home and when I am on tour visiting.

  




Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Swiss Army Knife of Jackets?

For reasons that are a mystery to even myself I have decided I need a completely new wardrobe and style.

Did a big purge yesterday and thought to myself that it was time for a change.

Not sure what that looks like but since my children keep moving around, it will involve some travel clothes.

Having being back from San Fransisco about two weeks I am naturally now starting my sewing for that trip.

Currently I am making the exact all weather jacket I will I had when I was there. Next will be the dress I wished I had and the five tops I really needed.

Back to the jacket.

When you travel even if that means just out your front door (something I should be doing right now because I have three dogs to take care of - see traveling children above) comfort and practicality are important.

When brings me to this little beauty:


If you are in the mood for a smile today, I really suggest this video:




Now if I can get all these dogs walked I might actually get some sewing done today.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Designer details and new lessons

One afternoon when I was in San Francisco it started to rain. I ducked into Neiman Marcus and headed up to the floor with designer clothes to have a look.

Being very Nova Scotian I went up to the sales folks and said listen I am not buying, but I am a sewer.  I would like to look at the clothes and take a few pictures if you don't mind.

They didn't mind at all and in fact took me to clothes with particularly interesting design details that we talked about. 

What a nice afternoon. 

Sometimes you know when folks think you are from the middle of nowhere they cut you a lot of slack to be honest. In the middle of nowhere you figure out that pleasant goes a long way and most people are really nice.

I had a huge take away from this day that I want to share.

Sometimes when we think of designer details or sewing designer style as in Chanel jacket projects or LBD we tend to work from classic interpretations of technique and forget to look at what designers are doing now.

In my little foray I learned this.

Designers are keeping up and changing. Like every other area they are embracing technology. Sergers are being used actively for new techniques. 

For the home sewer learning from designers can mean as much about learning how to do new things as learning how to do it the old way.

So here are some of the details I found most interesting. All with ideas we can all use. Note too that there still is much handwork but it is strategic not pervasive. I found this interesting.

First a hanging pocket. 

This was in unlined Armani double knit wool jacket with serger together seams bound with Wooly Nylon. Because the outside of the jacket was simple and clean the pocket bag was suspended by four long sturdy serged thread chains from the seam allowance, inside the jacket. From the outside there was no indication of a pocket- on the inside there was a place to put your phone:

Sorry about the fuzzy picture I only had two hands to work with, hopefully you can get the idea

I was also quite take with another unlined Armani coat - in wool where the seams were made by lapping one layer over the other and the raw edges of each layer turned under and hand stitched to make seams without stitching lines. At the edges the layers were turned to the right side on the buttonhole side to make a binding look and under on the button side:


The same jacket also had a knit collar I thought was both beautiful and would be very comfortable:



I saw a lot of serged seams. In this knit dress the serger seams are made with close set stitches with wooly nylon in the loopers so it looks almost like binding:


I was also interested to see some novel bindings. This dress by Dior has the neck and armhole edges covered with grosgrain ribbon, laid on and stitched versus folded. I thought this looked nice and crisp with the seersucker stripe:


The use of ribbing as opposed to classic binding was interesting in this jacket by Chanel - I thought it looked nice and modern and will be borrowing this idea myself. I thought it was beautiful, and without the old lady, Rose Kennedy look, I feel in some of these jackets;


Finally my favourite. 

A simple navy silk duping shirt dress lengthened to floor length. What I particularly liked about this dress was that the concealed button placket actually gets wider as it goes down the dress, keeping the proportions of the flared skirt perfect. 

We could make a dress like this, couldn't we?



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pattern review: two new Jalies

I am in the process of experimenting with new shapes and styles.

I mean why not?

What I wear day-to-day matters to me. I want to be comfortable and I want to be interested in what I have on. I enjoy wearing new clothes and new to me styles. Some times this works out and sometimes it doesn't in as in a  "You have to be kidding" evaluation from my eagle-eyed daughter.

Right now I am trying out new pants shapes. 

It's a bit of a campaign.  I am getting sort of sick of the slim pants and then the long top to hide the gut routine. Maybe I want to dress without feeling there is a part of me I want to hide. Having to think like that gets sort of tiring.

Any of you identify with this?

So when the latest raft of Jalie patterns came out I realized they presented me with some opportunities to try out something I never thought I would wear. 

Never want to get to be a rusty dresser. 

Also the Fabricville at the bottom of the street now carries Jalies and they also have some nice tencel pant weight and some very silky bamboo.

This was all I needed.

So fooling around I decided to make the Vanessa fluid pants and the Marie-Claude knit top.

Here are the pattern pictures:




The Marie-Claude is a raglan T-shirt with a shaped hem and a fairly high crew neckline, with an option as well for a turtleneck or a close hood. 

Given it is now spring, even in Nova Scotia, I decided to make the crew neckline. The result is what I would call a base layer type top, fine on its own, particularly as it has a body skimming as opposed to very fitted silhouette, but ideal as a top to wear under a jacket too. 

It seems these days that many necklines are either scoop or boat neck and I really enjoy wearing a comfortable round neck for a change. I can see this pattern could easily be made in a lycra for a sunshirt to wear around the pool with the kids and I think I might trace a smaller size and do just that.


I made a few changes to this top in my version. First I lengthened it by 2”, something that was super easy to do as the top pattern pieces are one lower section and two different top sections (one for the front and one for the back) that you lay above the bottom pattern pieces to cut each out. It was easy to just spread the pattern pieces apart at 2” at this point. I am tall and this extra 2” is an almost automatic adjustment for me.



I twin-needled the hem of the top but the sleeves have a band at the bottom - there is a slight little boy p.j top vibe going on here that I like. Little boys are generally very comfortable.

The Vanessa tracker pants are excellent. For some reason all us home sewers for years struggled with pants fitting and now we finally have access to great pants drafts with real ready-to-wear fit. This seems to me to have eliminated so many of our fitting issues. And about time too.

Not the most flattering picture but this view really gives you an idea of the shape of the leg


These pants really require a fabric with drape, indicated quite clearly in the flowing pants description, so the tencel is perfect. 

They can be made with either the elastic at the bottom, which I did, or hemmed, which I might do in the next pair. The pattern has interesting nice deep pockets and a flat section at centre front the break up the gathers of the otherwise full elastic waist casing. This flat piece is supposed to be a place for eyelets and a drawstring but I left that detail out in mine – I don’t like or need any extra bulk around my waist.

I also made one change to the pants after I had worn them for a day and surprisingly this was to shorten them 1 ½”.

I decided after having observed other folks wearing tracker pants (OK so these were bearded mean barrelling past me on bikes on the streets of San Francisco) and it seemed to me that theirs were sleeker at the bottom than the sort of bloused look I got when I tried out the length specified in the pattern. As a result I shortened these pants before I signed off on them.

It's pretty cool to have two new patterns turn out so well. 
Nothing like instant TNTs!


Monday, June 5, 2017

So what's your uniform?

This is a question that has long interested me.

Do we all, in some way, have a clothing uniform - an outfit we default to and wear most often?

If we do, do we give it enough thought? 

Is it our most comfortable, easiest to reach, no thinking outfit, or is it something we plan and develop?

This article suggests those of us who do dress my uniform think about what image we are projecting with it.

I am interested in your thoughts.

Do you have a uniform?

If so why?

If not why not?

Is your uniform planned or unplanned?

An interesting question as we all get dressed for the day.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Flypaper thoughts last night in San Francisco version


  • Spent a week here with the kids
  • Who needless to say are good sports
  • Really, really good sports
  • Just ask them
  • Interesting trip
  • First leg with my mom being the kid
  • Next leg with my kid being the mom
  • Things change but that also brings in such nice surprises
  • Got to know my daughter-in-law a little better
  • Let me tell you this family sure scored with that one
  • So kind, thoughtful, and interesting
  • They are a unit, a good unit
  • It doesn't get any better than that
  • For your kid or for his mother
  • What did I do here?
  • Went to Britex which was nice but very overpriced
  • Strong sense that my NYC garment district negotiating skills would not get me far
  • Feel shrugging and walking away would just lead to 
  • Well them watching me walk away
  • As opposed to saying
  • I can give it to you for ... probably more than the marked price actually
  • Had lovely folks in a another store show me the inside of designer clothes
  • Pics to come
  • Walked and walked and walked
  • Up hills more than down hills
  • Not sure how they do that
  • This city is so beautiful you can't compare it to anything else
  • Reminded me more of Europe than anywhere else
  • Need to get the travel wardrobe down much better
  • Continuing my policy of packing mostly shoes and clothes for some other climate
  • Middle son is moving to Austin Texas
  • This family, honestly
  • They know there is no point
  • I will just come and visit
  • Got the spouse seeing what the state parks are like in Texas
  • What I am learning about packing
  • You don't need to pack three hats
  • You do need to a pack one sweater
  • Just because the label says California this town isn't
  • People smile here
  • I am sure I recognize that smell in the air
  • The bus driver is driving a bus until he can sell his software idea
  • I am considering calling my fabric collection
  • A non profit based start up investment concept
  • Going to sell my husband on the concept of being a VC
  • Have to explain that means venture capitalist not very confused
  • Which he often is when I explain I am spending money to save money
  • Or I might if I could get the start up part of this operation launched
  • Before the first quarter
  • Or new pattern releases whatever comes first
  • Borrowed a dog to walk from son's co-worker
  • Walked across the Golden Gate bridge which is orange
  • That part without the dog
  • Went to the first winery started by a migrant worker
  • Gave dating advice to son's co-worker
  • A topic I really know a lot about
  • He's doing tons of first dates from some app
  • I have three sisters so I know what women want I said
  • Did not mention that all sisters, plus myself, have seen menopause come and go
  • Good advice is still good advice
  • I thought he was pretty impressed
  • Son cleared the table
  • Well at least I scored some dog walking didn't I?
  • Tomorrow back for another short stop with my mom
  • The kids can recover 
  • Then home
  • Did I mention I got a new Juki serger and cover hem?
  • More on that later
  • Got a real deal
  • Just ask my VC

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Brooklyn pants not in a church basement

I am having another shot at shots of the Brooklyn pants.

I realize that the down in the church basement shots of my last post were not particularly edifying, so I had some more pictures taken. One in the front yard at home in Halifax and the other one in my mom's porch in Winnipeg.

These knit pants are obviously ideal for traveling.

I love them, something you probably were not able to do when you saw the original dark shots. They are super comfortable. I like the stylish new leg shape. Excellent pockets, trim waist, and to tell you the truth that slightly lower crotch is really comfortable. The only construction change I made was to flatten the elastic for about 8 " at centre front in the waistband casing and sew a vertical seam up either end to make sure there were not discernible gathers over my belly.

Suffice it to say that my 18 year old niece has asked me to make a pair for her - I went out and just got fabric to do that today in fact. 18 year olds generally do not want to dress exactly like me, which might surprise you.

So here are some updated shots. I am wearing them with a bamboo knit Marie-Claude top from Jalie, more on that pattern later.

In the meantime lets give these pants another chance:



Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Review of the Brooklyn knit pant

I made these a week ago and just got around to writing my review.

I wore them to a sewing group meeting tonight and Tori LeBlanc was kind enough to take the pictures. Of course the pants are in a lovely dark navy cotton/rayon/lycra ponte and so you can't really see a thing but that won't stop me from giving my review.

Which is a thumbs up.

Here is the pattern info from Stylearc and the picture:

Opt for a luxe track pant style for a relaxed weekend. Knit pants have become a fashion favourite guaranteeing a warm casual day time look that’s both versatile and chic. The forward side seam creates a slimming silhouette along with the angles pockets.

It is really important to note the words relaxed and track pant in this description.

These pants have a full back leg (this is why the side seam is to the front I think) and a lower than normal crotch. They also have a full on high waistband which actually makes them even more comfortable. I have a vague sense of having worn this style years ago - the high wasitband, full thigh, tapered leg. 

Something new to get used to again and the lower-than-we- are-used-to crotch was noted by my sewing group.

As the person inside these pants I think I liked them best in the room and will be on a search now for more fabric to make them in. 

I did not add the back pockets but did sew the side pockets of course that are neat, topstitched, and quite deep and therefore useful.

Enough rambling, here are some shots. 

Listen I know I did not style these at all well. Of course they are short because they are supposed to be worn with bare legs but May in Nova Scotia today was like November and so I put on socks. So shoot me, it was too cold and I was too far out the door to go back and put on boots.

You can pretty much not see anything here except I hope the general leg shape, a little loose in the thigh and tapered into the calves. I made size 12 without any alteration and given that I am tall I really was surprised how high the waist went, about where my hands are in this picture.

Another shot verifying the inappropriateness of my socks. I do trust your imagination on this one.

OK this side shot probably makes clear how the back leg is full, these are upscale track pants cut for comfort and give you a better idea of the length

More of the same, note I have what in some circles are described as athletic calves so they show. The wrinkles don't worry me given the fullness of the leg design, the knit fabric, and that basically these are sweats.

These are great kicking around pants with good pockets, not much bulk at the waist, which is comfortably positioned, and a fairly modern leg and length.

I really love how they feel on and am so grateful to Stylearc for continuing to draft interesting and different pants patterns. I wear a lot of pants with this life and its nice to mix it up a bit. A long way from the time when we all thought all we needed was one pants pattern to make over and over again. Since Stylearc crotch shapes seem to fit me and for some reason so many other women so well I can experiment with different ideas in pants and I do like that.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Life's busy

I will be posting a proper pattern review soon of Stylearc's Brooklyn pants, but in the meantime, here's a quick podcast on creativity.

When I have a moment I promise to get these on iTunes,

Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, May 1, 2017

A podcast test experiment

Hi folks let's test out a new and easier way for me to podcast. Let me know if this works for you and if you think some of these informal while I sew podcasts might be of any interest.


Here we go

Sewing on the edge's May 1 podcast 

Thanks.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Rethinking clothes

Hi folks. 

Thanks so much for your responses to the Violet knit jacket. And my apologies to a few people who left wonderful comments that got spam filed and deleted after I read them because I clicked the wrong button by mistake.

You all gave me so much to think about. I am pretty sure I just write this blog just so I can have the pleasure of communicating with you and for the chance to read your interesting comments.

I am going to make another version of that jacket, starting with using a lighter fabric, a ponte, and raising the pockets 1 1/2". Either I have short arms or they have really long ones at Stylearc.

As you all know I have been deep in sewing garments for my book, quirky little units, that you will see when the book is released May 2018. Yes it take time.

But enough of that.

Doing the sewing I am supposed to do as opposed to randomly as I usually operate created a back log in me. So yesterday I went into obsessive mode, something my family specializes in, and cut all day.

I am going to put all these pieces in a laundry basket, set up my machines, and do drive by sewing during the week to see what comes out of this pile:



Some of this stuff is continuing experiments, some stuff I need:


  • one Violet jacket 2.0
  • Two cardigans, both different Jalies
  • Two pairs of Margaret narrow pants from Stylearc
  • Two pairs of Brooklyn knit pants Stylearc and a new pattern/experiment
  • Six Jalie T shirts
  • Two dresses, both Adeles from Stylearc, one knit one woven ( a cocoon shape and again an out there experiment)
This is of course entirely delusional as an intention but what else is new? I am going to Winnipeg on May 21, start teaching an online creative non-fiction course on May 9th, probably have some book edits coming my way. I also have a ton of appointments, meetings, some political commentary on the radio to do because we should be starting a provincial election today, and much babysitting - including three days with the three kids while my SIL and daughter stage a well-deserved break.

Oh and yesterday my youngest son asked me to make him a dress shirt with windmill patterned fabric on it (found some at Spoonflower) before he goes to a wind conference in a few weeks.

I am pretty sure that the fact I have so much coming up is exactly why I took the time to cut yesterday.

In one sentence : I sew to feel like myself.

And the busier life gets the more I need that.

On another random note I have long held a theory no one has asked to hear, that fashion has often diverted us to "classics" that are in reality men type clothes. You know button up shirts, blazers, tailored pants.

This forgets, I think, dresses. These women devised to suit us, clothes of our culture. I am picking up, and have written before, about a less tight and revealing backlash in clothing coming from younger women (my daughter like the Violet jacket) and this is redefining the dress.

On that note I was interested to read this morning about sport dresses from this company

I am struck that this look would have been completely absent in the sportswear scene a few years ago.   

I would be interested in what you think of this trend, which seems to me to be very wide range of body type approach.