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What a Waist! (waistband, that is)

There are places in sewing an article of clothing that I like to call “drop dead points”. These are places where if you make a mistake, you might as well pitch the entire deal as trying to fix the item becomes truly onerous. The first one is at the cutting out stage; if you don’t measure your important bits on the paper pattern, you could end up cutting out the wrong size. Even if it’s too large, it’s a pain in the neck to fix. One of my favs is putting on a waistband. There have been a number of times when I’ve made slacks or a skirt which ‘seemed’ to fit me perfectly and then after I put on the waistband, the item looked hideous. (more…)

Twill, Baby, Twill

Recently, I read on another blog that I frequent the author’s question about what sort of fabric he’d gone and bought to make himself a pair of pants. Male Pattern Boldness

He thought it might be ‘some sort of twill’. Several of us recognized immediately that what he had was not twill but I thought that perhaps a little bit of information on what twill is…and ain’t..might be useful.

The picture at the top is a twill (more…)

Personal Warmth Systems

bxtai0284aIt never ceases to amaze your dear Aunty that there are people in the world who believe that cotton is an appropriate fiber to put into a long sleeved sweater. And if you are in the business of doing so…and your entire market resides between Southern California and Florida (and points between), then I suppose this makes some sort of sense. But if it’s cold enough to require long sleeves, it’s cold enough to require something that will actually keep you warm, even in a place such as Southern California.

I recall once doing a trade show in January in Anaheim, California. It rained for several days and hovered in the high 30s. We were all extremely miserable (and I thanked myself numerous times for hauling around my wool-lined raincoat). A cotton sweater at that time and in that place would have been useless. (more…)

Stylin’ Out of the Closet

Far be it from Aunt Toby to tell anyone not to dress up. Dressing up is something that does not happen, in my opinion, nearly enough these days. And weddings are prime ‘dress up’ territory (and no, Aunt T is NOT going to get into a ‘what WERE they thinking’ tirade on how guests are dressing for weddings this days – if we can’t get people to even dress to go to the ‘house of religious worship of your choice'(tm), how can we expect people to understand what is acceptable dress for celebratory events such as weddings).

The photograph at the top is the outfit I made to wear as TMOB (The Mother of the Bride – for those uninitiated) when Daughter The Younger got married last summer. Aunt Toby is not an especially lacy person, but a formal version of a suit had a certain appeal – it had pieces that I could, with a little judicious matching later on, turn to other uses. The other thing is that Aunt Toby does not feel overwhelming amounts of enthusiasm for shopping in general – and shopping for ‘event’ clothing tends to bring on Code Seven Migraines, (more…)

Wardrobe and Spending Management Through SWAP

Once upon a time, like a lot of people, Aunt Toby ‘fell in love’ with certain items. That’s the way I used to shop. Really. Before Aunt Toby ‘saw the light’, that is exactly what would happen. I could rationalize any clothing or shoe purchase on the basis of: bargain pricing (as in, % off); merely hanging on a rack with the sign ‘Clearance’ on it; or the fact that it came in my size (with a foot that needs a 6-D, this is an argument that Aunt Toby STILL fights on a regular basis since that size in a comfortable but fashionable shoe is pretty close to performing ‘cold fusion’ on my kitchen table…but I digress).

This is one of those roads to Economic Hell — we invariably end up with a closet full of stuff that doesn’t go with anything else and spend too much time staring into it hoping for inspiration. And then, we get disgusted and send bags full of stuff to local charities, having wasted our money. A couple of years ago, this changed for me when I stumbled upon something called SWAP. (more…)

From the Ground Up: Shoes


There are many things about being female that are just plain unfair. Women’s clothing many times does not come with pockets or the pockets are small and useless (and yes I know many women refuse to un-sew the openings because ‘it ruins the line’). Women’s shoes many times are built along the philosophical lines of Chinese footbinding. But my major beef (or bone to pick depending) has to do with simple shoe quality. No matter how expensive women’s shoes are, unless you are getting something like orthopedic shoes from your podiatrist (and those can be absolutely costly and we won’t discuss the fashion factor), or perhaps something like the penny loafers still handsewn by Sebago, you are getting a shoe that is held together with glue.

Ah, but you say, “Aunt Toby, I don’t care about that – they just talked to me…and asked me to buy them and take them home and love them…”

And Aunt Toby’s answer to that one is: “Poppycock – if you want to truly save money on clothing and shoes, you have to buy things that you can wear for a long time , can maintain and can get repaired if need be.” (more…)

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