About me

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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and I write a monthly humour/sewing column for the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=barbara+emodi&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Abarbara+emodi

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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Laugh of the day

Hi folks.

My daughter just called me in hysterics.

If you google this blog it comes up as lessons from a serial sewing sexist.

My original tag line, and the one from my book, was a serial sewist.

Since this is not a common word, but one the publisher felt was more appropriate than the sewer I always use, it is being automatically changed to sexist.


I have removed the tag line from the blog but even this does not change what Google spits out.

I tend not to worry about details much unless they are under the needle of my sewing machine, but the kids think this needs to be changed.

If anyone out there knows how to do this please let me know, otherwise I will see if I hear back from Google.

I am finding the humour in this however, generally being of the opinion that people, and sewing bloggers, can take themselves too seriously.

So much for trying to upgrade this messy blog.

I stand reminded.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

I have disappeared down a Christmas rabbit hole

If you wonder where I have been lately the title of this post might help.

Have you ever gone into a sort of thing where you feel compelled to do something that makes no sense?

Well this year for some reason I have ended up on a mission to make fairly complicated gifts for everyone. Despite the time constraints, despite life, despite common sense, and despite the fact they might not all want this stuff.

No matter.

I have found myself the last few weeks in a place I often see my students this time of year when they become submerged in end of term papers and assignments. 

This time of year my tizzed up students are transformed. Pyjamas are worn to class, the extensions and eye make-up and contacts become the old glasses, the messy bun, and bad skin. They are tired, they cry, they stress eat donuts and don't do yoga. 

They do nothing but school work. Right now I am doing nothing but sew.

My husband calls me during the day and says what's for dinner and I say beats me. My three-year-old grandson comes over and suggests I wash the kitchen floor (OK he is a pretty neat three-year-old) I walk the dogs, get the mail, and pre-sew the next stage in my head.

I have no idea why I am doing this.

Maybe it has something to do with my last birthday and thinking what am I going to do with the rest of my life. I thought about what was most important to me. That list began with family followed by sewing so I guess I am expressing that moment of self awareness, something I don't experience a lot.

So I am aware that I am doing this as much for myself as anyone else. It is a long time since I did anything but sewed at the edges of my life - right now I am a snowplow in the middle of the highway.  What I am doing now is teenager stuff.

Of course what I make may not even fit (it's a surprise) or be appropriate.

I remember one woman I know who found the Nova Scotia tartan vests she made for two adult sons who were bankers in England stowed away in the back of a closet after they had boarded the flights back to London.

Sometimes my taste isn't their taste, in this case often because they are the ones with good taste.

All that said I have about another week of this ( I lie it's going to take me longer than that) before I return to multi-dimensional living. And I do have to do that hemming review of the stretchy thread, I haven't forgotten about that,  just been out of the country a little bit.

In the meantime here are some random shots and thoughts:

The kids got their Christmas jimmies early. Billy's pants have since been shortened. I like sewing for them because I can go a little excessive (the girls totally get ric-rac) and make things I would like to wear myself.

I am pulling all my tricks out of my trick bag.

Here is how I make details, in this case a shirt placket. I draw the unit/markings on tracing paper, pin it to the fabric stitch where I have to, in this case the placket opening box, and then tear away the paper:

It's safe to show this because my youngest son is too busy to read the blog. The print is from Spoonflower on poplin (if you don't know them they print custom designs on a fabric types you choose). It's electrical circuits because he works in wind energy and is now based in Austin Texas.

I have put my vintage buttonholer to good use:

I have sewn on and owned so many machines but nothing gives me perfect, predictable fast buttonholers like these units. Unlike current machines that move the fabric under the needle as they stitch the buttonholes these buttonholers move and the fabric stays still. They also work by following cams, like train track, so there is absolutely nothing to keep them for doing the exact same buttonhole on any fabric in any location in the garment (collar stands we are talking about you here).

It should be noted that there are two kinds of these buttonholers. One kind, that which fits onto most machines with a straight needle bar, moves more because the unit has to go back and forth the make the zig zag sides. The end result buttonholes are beautiful but the unit is noisy and rocks around a lot, plus you have to insert the came in the bottom of the unit, which means you have to take the whole thing off and turn it over whenever you change the cam to make a different size buttonhole.

The other kind, the one pictured here, works only on old Singer machines with a slant needle, like my gorgeous Rocketeer - thank you thank you to my friend Kathleen for gifting me a second Rocketeer last week to use exclusively for buttonhole making.

The slant buttonholers, unlike most which just use the straight stitch and covered feed dogs on sort of a free motion principle, use the machine's zig zag setting. This, plus the fact that there is a built-in feed dog cover you can operate with a little lever, means a quicker set-up and quieter, IMO more efficient, operation.

And best of all the cams are dropped in from the top of the unit (see the little lever above) which means that once attached there is no need to take off the buttonholer every time you want to change the cam to make a different size buttonhole.

Well folks off I go, back to my busy and happy place.

Talk more soon, hope you are all well and happy too.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Sewing for Christmas

For some reason that is not entirely clear to me I decided to make everything for Christmas.

I think it might be as sort of a celebration of having this fall off from teaching combined with a sort of if not now when sort of thing.

In general I do not believe in putting yourself under a lot of production pressure, particularly over the holidays.

Seared in my brain is an incident at a sewing class I taught years ago when one woman had such a melt down over the stress of trying to get a huge amount of sewing done that she started crying and couldn't stop. We ended up having to call her husband to come and get her. Really matching sweatshirts for 27 people was not worth it.

That said I decided to use November to immerse myself in my projects in a sort of university student doing the term papers sort of way. This way I won't have much to do before the day actually happens and I can just enjoy my family, everyone will be back in Nova Scotia this year, and eat.

I can't for security reasons show you everything, or even mostly what I have made, due to the fact that the recipients have access to internet. 

Here are a few things I can show you however with a few thoughts on how to sew for this season without losing your mind, although it is never clear around here that I have managed to achieve that.

First the requisite Christmas jammies. I have made two nightgowns for the little girls and two pairs of pyjamas for little boys. I used Jalie's wonderful multi-sized PJ pattern, now available only as a .pdf and Peek-a-boo patterns Sugarplum nightgown for the girls:

They were a pleasant sew (I simplified the bottoms on the pyjamas to a plain elastic waist, rather than the drawstring through buttonholes Jalie suggest).

I have to say too that I recommend Peek-a-Boo for gift sewing. I used their diaper bag and changing clutch for my niece's new baby present and both were far simpler to sew than many other patterns I looked at. This nightgown pattern is also very easy, and multi-sized. Nice to have a place to look for fast projects when you need them.

I have also downloaded their sock pattern, on the recommendation of my friend Pat, and may try those too. Apparently the toe seam is on the top, not the end of the foot, and that makes these comfortable.

Sewing socks is pretty nutty as an idea. This is probably why it is a sure thing I will make some.

I also turned around a fast tree skirt for my son and daughter-in-law in San Francisco. 

They called me Sunday night to say they had bought their first tree and asked me if I would make a tree skirt for them some time. Doesn't have to be this year my son said etc. As if I am not on permanent standby for any chance to do anything for my very competent and self-sufficient adult children.

We texted a few ideas (me secretly hoping they would not want one of those elaborate quilted numbers since I am not much of that kind of sewer) and they went for something tasteful and modern.  Since they are modern and have much better taste than I have this was no surprise. 

At any rate I went from design confirmation text to a trip down to Canada Post in less than a day. This pleased me as I am not a particularly efficient person.

Here is the finished product:

For fabric I used some soft-shell, rainwear on one side, low pile fleece on the other, fleece side up of course, because it had a nice weight and of course did not have to be lined.

I finished all the edges with a sort of satin stitch on my serger, stitch length set to close and Wooly Nylon in the upper looper, so it was basically a two seam project only. I made the pattern myself on the back of some old wrapping paper with a dinner plate used as a template for the hole in the middle.

The stars were stick-ons from Michaels that I glued more securely with some E6000.

Not sure how sturdy this whole unit is but when it wears out I will make something else for them.

So folks that's why I have been AWOL but rest assured there have been multiple blog posts written in my head.

Some might even make it to print fairly soon.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Hold the phone! Late breaking hemming knits news

In all the discussion about how to hem knits I neglected to mention another solution, and a new one, which is a stretchy sewing thread - a new one from Coats called Eloflex.

I didn't include mention in this in my hemming series because, until today, news of this new product slipped right past me.

Sometimes events happen in the world I miss, I don't know how it happens, but it does.

I had one of my lovely all day sewing days with my friends from the sewing guild today and my friend Pat brought this thread to me and let me feel it. It certainly was stretchy if you pulled on it, strong and didn't break.

If in fact it will allow us to sew a good simple seam or hem in knits on our standard machines with a standard straight stitch (which being a minimally active stitch by definition is the least likely to cause a hem to wave) this in fact will be a game changer.

Right now, as in this very minute, I am at my daughter's babysitting as opposed to at the fabric store. However it is my intention is to run down and pick some of this stuff up tomorrow and do full on research type lab test on it.

Expect that report to be released soon afterwards.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Flypaper thoughts should be in bed version

  • My ham fisted attempts to class up this blog continue
  • See I added my name to the blog title on this page
  • Won't affect searching or finding me
  • So actually why did I do it?
  • Good question
  • Probably because there are sewing schools, workshops, and other places
  • Called sewing on the edge
  • And I thought it was my idea
  • Figured if I added my name I would distinguish myself
  • Name like Emodi you can be pretty sure the field won't be crowded
  • Names that were once made up are good that way
  • Baby steps in the user friendly department
  • Bear with me
  • Being sewing instead
  • Made 11 somethings for Christmas gifts
  • Blog goes a little dark in terms of pictures this time of year
  • The relatives all read in case I talk about them
  • Not much of a production sewer
  • Over and over, how do quilters do it?
  • Got a big Tilley hat in the mail today
  • Had a chunk of skin cancer removed from the side of my nose a few weeks go
  • All good
  • Anyway figured from now on I would go big or stay home
  • Hat-wise
  • Comes with a lifetime guarantee told my spouse as a way of deflecting the how much did it cost question
  • Of course it does he said
  • They only sell hats like that to old people
  • You don't see them offering lifetime guarantees to two-year-olds
  • Time that man called it a day I think
  • Pretty sure my niece is now dating my son-in-law's nephew
  • Welcome to Nova Scotia
  • Which we will be leaving some time after Christmas
  • Going to Austin Texas and then California I think
  • Got to do some site visits to make sure the kids don't need buttons sewn on or dish cloths crocheted
  • Pretty sure they aren't taking care of this themselves
  • Any fabric stores I shouldn't miss west of say Tennessee?
  • Tons of flannelette to cut out in the next two days
  • Now there's a fabric
  • Dream to sew and gets stiffer with wear
  • However if it's for gifts that won't be my problem
  • Think about it
  • All other fabrics soften over time
  • Not flannelette
  • Good old prairie material, much like myself
  • Probably would go nicely with the hat
  • Little Billy is with me tomorrow 
  • He'll help me cut
  • Working together on new Batman jammies to replace the ones he trimmed up himself
  • By the way
  • Did you ever notice that all kids can tell you right away what their favourite colour is
  • And want to know yours
  • Why don't adults talk about things like that?
  • What would cocktail parties be like if we replaced what do you do?
  • With what is your favourite colour?
  • Or we introduced ourselves, I was 64 at my birthday party
  • Might be more interesting
  • Best wishes to those of you doing holiday sewing
  • May it not be in velvet
  • May you not scorch it at 11 p.m.
  • May you not have to sew multiples
  • May the easy-to-sew pattern actually be easy
  • And may you get it done early enough to still have time to sew for yourself too

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sewing and hemming knits Exhbit H

Well folks it appears this is my final hemming knits series posts.

I have to say I have really enjoyed doing these.

I sew all the time and sew more than I can sometimes get organized to post. Yes I know item by item pictures is how sewing bogs work, but I too often go onto making the next thing before I get proper shots taken.

Writing is not hard but having someone home to take pictures, without their thumb over the lens, can be hard. My husband has been working late this last few weeks and that's why I put these recent sews on my dress form who definitely is going to get signed up for Weight Watchers real soon.

I know pictures on me are what I should do but would you rather see a garment on a dress form than not at all?

Anyway back to knits.

Exhibit H.1

An another project I made last week was in this angora like knit and the fabulous Jalie Marie-Claude pullover pattern. I like this pattern because it skims not clings the body, and is not too loose to be sloppy. The drafting of the turtle neck is brilliant, soft at the front but with a centre piece at the back neck that means the back of the neck is smooth and close to the neck - so much more sophisticated a draft that the usual turtle neck tube:

Because this sweater knit had far more body than say the green I used in the last twin set,  I used the wider cover  hem for this project. I think you can see below here how nice that looks, again to scale, and how much nicer the wider rows of stitching look than if I had used say the narrower cover hem:

The next, and final project, I have to show is a knit version I did of Stylearc's famous Adeline dress. This project was totally inspired by the cool fabric, a sort of a double knit with the stripes in opposite colours on each side. I used my own technique for a knit V neck on this one, here's the post on how to do it,

Again because this was a beefy knit, I used a wide cover hem for the bottom of the dress, but on the patch pockets, and because I liked the wrong side of the fabric so much, I just folded the hem to the right side and working from the wrong side of the pocket and with some jeans top stitching thread in the looper (I have tons of that thread once having had a finger slip on an online order and ordering 14 not 4 spools of the stuff) finished the raw edge of the pocket hem on the right side that way.

The cool thing about the loopers, and this is true of serger loopers too, is that the eye of the looper is so much larger than the eye of a needle and so you can easily use thicker thread there:

And here is the hem cover hemmed from the right and the wrong side:

Well that's it, a pause maybe more than a conclusion, on the subject of hemming knits.

I don't know about you but this topic focused way of sharing garments has worked for me this week. There is a good chance that I will be doing more with this in the future.

In the meantime what do you have to share now?