Archive for the ‘sundry messages’ category

Index innovation

December 29, 2012

Over 160 posts – whew, I’ve been doing this for 3-1/2 years !

And the total number of visits to this blog passed 375,000 on December 26 – another lovely gift of appreciation 😀
(It looks as if rather a lot of people happily spent the day blog following :D)

Sometimes I think I’m running out of things I want to comment on, then I rough out 3 posts on one day, or one piece spreads into 4. . . Blogs tend to have a natural life span. I sometimes notice myself in danger of repetition, but this blog isn’t obviously soon to end !

There’s so many posts now, it does need a guide to put some structure on it all.
Considering that I just write what comes to mind without any master plan, it’s interesting that most of the posts are on a few topics.
So I’m working on a more helpful index, which is at the top of the right hand menu.
It’s a surprising amount of (not very interesting !) work so it’s progressing slowly and not complete yet. I plan to add more over the next few weeks.

Hope that makes it easier to find things.

All this wordiness and analysis is definitely a ‘niche’, not for everyone. So I’m delighted you show so much interest.

Best Wishes for the coming year.

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀 Enjoy 😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

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December 2012

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An Award as a gift !

December 22, 2012

Wow, Sew Fashionably Modest has nominated me for a blog award.
I’ve never has a blogging award before, and I’m delighted.
What a lovely seasonal gift !

This award doesn’t come with a black-tie dinner and a trophy. It comes with some attractive icons, links to a large circle of lovely sewing people, and a few responsibilities.

Here are the rules :

1. Thank the person who nominated you.
Yes, indeed.

2. Add the award icon to your post

Here are the choices. I choose the inspiring one (early 20c is a favourite period for style), and have added it to my right hand menu.



3. Share 7 things about yourself

I live in a tiny house bursting with books, sewing machines, musical instruments, in a garden where I’ve planted many trees (including a Victoria plum :D).

I have learned to play piano, oboe, viola (none of them well, but I loved it – a true amateur).

I have absolutely no talent for team or ball sports, but I did represent my university at sailing.

I spent the summer of 1960 teaching sailing at a summer camp in Maine, then travelling across to California by Greyhound bus ! (though I’m definitely European)

I used to be an academic, and love doing research.

I have many more books on pattern making and wardrobe styling than on modern sewing technique. Though I collect 19c and early 20c sewing books, so altogether I have got rather a lot of technique books 😀

I was so young when I learned to sew and knit that I can’t remember it. In the days before television, my mother and I sat by the fire hand sewing in the evenings.

4. Pass the award on to 10 bloggers who inspire you

There’s many useful links in my right hand menu, but here are a few special ones. (Click on the red header if the links aren’t showing.)

Communing with fabric – by Shams.
Details about process, and interesting re-design ideas.

Diary of a sewing fanatic – by Carolyn.
Carolyn is a particular hero – I aspire to do what she does, working from her basic blocks to make her own patterns. Though I wouldn’t do it with dresses !

(And look at the Mood Sewing Network – what commitment !)

Did you make that – an entertaining blogger from London.

I’m honoured to be in the ‘Wardrobe Inspiration’ section of Robin’s A little sewing.
Many visitors come here from there 😀
I’d nominate her, but Robin has already received this award.

Follow the recommendations from other nominees for good reading. There are so many inspiring blogs by such interesting and so different people – read them all and there’d be no time for anything else ! (How about the blog list at The Elegant Bohemian for a lazy holiday spent wandering among style blogs rather than sewing blogs 😀 )

5. Include the rules – if you’ve read this far, you know them !

6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs – yes done that with pleasure.

Best Wishes and Seasons Greetings to you.
I hope you have lots of lovely gifts too.


Links available December 2012

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Greetings after a hospital stay – and what the doctors wear

September 8, 2012

Sorry about the lapse in posting, but completely unexpectedly I went into hospital at the beginning of July.

Early in my stay there was a group of young doctors all dressed in ‘Vivienne Files’ style. And very smart and professional they looked too. (Obviously a small part of my fashion brain was still working, even if most of the rest of me wasn’t !)

It took about 6 weeks to get me sorted out and send me home, and I still have very little spare energy. I’m not expecting to go back to posting weekly – priorities have changed. I think I was getting a bit repetitive, and it’s amazing how much energy all those links and images take ! But I have a few finished but unpublished posts still in store, and no doubt will feel strongly about topics in future. . .

For example – I thought a jumper dress looked much more professional than a sheath dress on most body types. Well, a sheath dress that is anything but just right does not look professional at all ! It could be fun to look out modern jumper dress patterns. If you adapt another pattern, remember you need at least 1-2 inches/ 2.5-5 cm extra ease to layer over a top. And the armhole needs to be big enough not to crush the sleeve underneath. A close fitting sleeve looks slim, but a shirt sleeve is also current. In fact there’s a new Fashion Star shirt dress pattern, McCall’s 6600, if you want to look efficient and professional without a close fit.

And there are all the other new BMV patterns to comment on. . .

I’m delighted to see that the number of visitors to my blog hasn’t dropped dramatically despite the lack of new posts, so it looks as if you find the material helpful for reference. Which I’m very pleased about. Will have to get round to devising a better index. . .
Best Wishes and thanks to you all for your interest.

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Some Grumps

January 28, 2012

Aargh. . . my list of advice that annoys me.

In this new year I’m telling other people their resolution should be to give better advice 😀

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“Start your colour choice by picking out a favourite print from your existing closet”

But I haven’t got any prints in my closet.

I’m a patchworker and I have a huge stash of print fabrics. But they are nearly all one-colour prints. Patchwork advice also often tells you to start your colour planning from a multi-colour print. But it’s not something I like to do.

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“Choose your size by measuring a favourite fitted RTW jacket”

But if I could buy a fitted RTW jacket that didn’t make me look like a freak I wouldn’t need to be doing this.

And with my high round back and short waist, using RTW neckline and waistline as reference points for length measurements is a very bad idea.

Well, I suppose at least that’s a good clue that someone who says this is unlikely to give the sort of fitting advice that I need.

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“Every woman looks good in . . .”
“Every woman should have a . . .”

It’s difficult to understand how people who say this become style advisors, as they obviously don’t really look at people, and aren’t interested in people as individuals.

Well at least it’s a good cue not to take their advice.

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Why are so many people who make sewing videos so badly dressed. . .

Partly it’s the universal black, which is truly flattering on only a minority of people, and even worse in harsh lighting. Very few TV presenters wear it.

I know of 3 fitting videos now where the person giving fitting advice is wearing badly fitting clothes herself.

And the wrong styles for their body shape. I won’t say more or you might recognise who I was being unkind about ! But there are several people who give marvellous sewing advice but I wouldn’t turn to them for colour or styling guidance.

Of course it isn’t true about all videos, but a surprisingly large proportion.

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Why do some independent pattern companies show their patterns so badly

I’m happy to promote independent pattern designers. But some of them give such poor information about their products, they don’t deserve to succeed.

As an example : I recently looked for a pattern with a shirt-style sleeve placket. Some of the companies have photos so small you can’t even tell if the style has a cuff (and I’m looking on a desk-top, not a small screen). Or the garment is in a strongly patterned print and there’s no line diagram, so again you can’t clearly see the style. Or there’s no back view, so you can’t tell if a cuff is open or closed. Or there is a line diagram with a back view but it’s so tiny or of such poor quality that you can’t see the type of placket opening. I’m not going to choose a pattern if I can’t tell what its style elements are.

Also the information about size can be very limited. Small to Large – what does that mean ? (Extra Large for the Japanese has 38 inch hip. . .) Sizes 4 – 24 : well, are those Big4 pattern sizes or US RTW sizes. Not very helpful.

It’s sad, but if pattern designers don’t take the trouble to tell us about their products, they can’t expect us to buy them.

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Lists of must-have tools for beginners

Why oh why those daunting lists in beginners’ books, of 100s of tools you must have before you ever begin. It’s a wonder anyone ever gets past that stage. I’ve been sewing for over 60 years and I still haven’t got all of them.

You can improvise many tools. Though beware cheap thread and pins. Use new sewing machine needles. And a quality fine tipped seam ripper really does help with near disasters !

LDT2011 at Pattern Review has devised an entertaining sewer’s version of the ‘Keep Calm’ poster.


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Difficult books for beginners

It’s surprising how many books for beginners are much too difficult. And few books for beginners are aware that people have different learning styles. Some like to watch, some like to see, some like to read, some like to share in a class, some need to do it themselves. Some like to be fully guided, some want to find out for themselves. Some like to take tiny fool-proof steps. Some like to jump in the middle and merrily make mistakes. Brief written instructions with no pictures really don’t meet many learner needs.

And how many beginners books have not been properly checked or tested. They contain small errors or gaps so the inexperienced don’t know what to do for the best. Thorough testing of what you think is the final product, on real beginners not sewing friends, is essential. I think it’s irresponsible to claim a book is for beginners without doing this. Learning to sew is quite difficult enough – many new skills needed to make even the simplest item. Understanding patterns and fabrics, fit, cutting, marking, sewing, pressing – it’s amazing we ever get confident about it all. In fact the only two sewing books that have got me in a real rage have been books for beginners. It’s sad to give beginners a confusing or even a bad experience.

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Grand claims for fit

I’m a trusting soul. When people say their pattern making instructions tell you how to draft a successful personal pattern for your body, I used to believe them. But I’ve learned a lot in the past few years. Including that no pattern drafting system (or the software based on them) can allow for all possible body shape combinations. And if they try they can get horribly complicated.

Of course people are enthusiastic about the fitting schemes they’ve devised. But please do admit there are some people it doesn’t work for, instead of claiming it works for everyone. I hate to think of all the grief I’ve spent on picking myself up off the floor when yet another fitting method doesn’t work for me and I’ve taken it for granted it’s me that’s done something wrong. . .

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Sorry about the bad temper !

Moral – don’t take it for granted that people giving advice do know what’s best for everyone. And that includes me 😀

Have a lovely 2012 finding the best people for you to take advice from 😀

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Links available January 2012

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