Sewing with less stress Front

Sewing with less stress Front
My newest sewing book

Sewing with less stress back cover

Sewing with less stress back cover
What my new book is about

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Clothesmaking mavens
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About me

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I am a mother, a 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 the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge was published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon



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Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Last night I was on a conference call for some consulting with some business folks. It was one of those things where everyone sounded so smart and they all used the lingo that business people use these days (although no one said they were going to drill down on the issue it was close). At the end of the call one of the women who I have never met in another city said, "excuse me are you the Barbara who has written for Threads?" Yes a wrote I some things, but it made me laugh, it was so odd to have my real life, my sewing person, come out in that context.

Sewing is about who you really are and most people who see you only as you go about your business don't realize that there is this real person with another life who is really herself when she sews.

So I woke up this morning thinking about that, about blogging and about all the women I have met in this virtual world who really are this sewing person and I want you to know that I know who you really are. I think of you this morning, it's 6:30 a.m. getting on buses and maybe trains or in cars going to work in something you made, or getting up to take care of family or taking care of your own business and thinking of how you are going to fit sewing into your day today.

We all wear hats, but we are all sewers.

And speaking of which some time ago in a moment of low self-perception I bought a bunch of shocking pink wool jersey to make a dress from. After a while I decided that would be a lot of shocking pink on this body and I decided I wouldn't feel all that comfortable wearing it, and that after a couple of years of lack of nerve that I would end up throwing it out.

So I went into a trance and washed and dried the whole lot of it and shrank it into something felted that was really cool. And then I made this hat and this scarf out of it from this season's Ottobre and you know I have worn this very warm hat and scarf nearly every day, after all I live in Canada, and this was the right decision for this particular fabric as all my winter coats are black.

The pictures this morning are not that great, the colour seems to vibrate, but hopefully you get the idea. Two great patterns.

Oh BTW if anyone hasn't seen the latest Ottobre for spring, it is simply kick ass. Great plus sized patterns and some wonderful real life older women as models. I love those guys at Ottobre.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Living without a plan

It is nice to write here again. I have had a very busy time and have gone through a lot of transitions. First of all I had some health issues and they have turned out well. I had a partial thyroidectomy about six years ago and this winter developed symptoms in what was left that had me worried. It all checked out fine and I will be followed to make sure it stays that way. Enough said.

My DH has also been away except for a few days at Christmas so at the age of 56 I decided it was my turn to learn to be alone, of course it didn't turn out that way as I have had the usual family visitors, dogs, a son who moved back home temporarily, helping my DD and being with my granddaughter and of course an real overload at work. There were also some changes at my institution that meant people with my kind of contract had to either apply for tenure track or go part-time and I have been trying to figure out what to do. This was too early for my retirement plan to kick in. This has been hard for me as I have always pushed myself really hard with work and having raised the kids for half of their lives on my own, I worry about financial security a lot, my head got sort of stuck in that groove.

OK this is sounding too serious.

Well anyway this is where it has landed.

The end of next week I am off to visit my DH in Tennessee, never been there so really excited, and then going to DC to see my son and meet the girlfriend. I am really looking forward to this, I want to see them both, and DH may be home fairly soon (consulting on a big project) and I don't want to miss the opportunity, and I love the States, the south in particular. People are really chatty and so am I so I feel very comfortable there.

Then April 1st I am taking three months off which I will spend traveling a bit to see family and regrouping, much of that in my sewing room. After that I am going to be taking care of my granddaughter two days a week, working two days a week, and sewing and writing the rest of the time. I have also had an offer to help out at a consulting firm and I may do that, but if it gets too much I will be out of there too.

I just got to the point where I realized that the things that couldn't wait can't anymore, and that there a lot of new things I want to learn to do and that there was no point in working so hard to try to get somewhere when I was there already. And besides no one else really cares, not at work;its only your family, the dogs, your friends and sometimes the students, who remember you and things you tell them. Just because other people want or expect you to do things just isn't a good enough reason to do them anymore.

So I am working my last really tough term, doing too much and extra jobs too, but the light at the end of the tunnel is there. 

Now that's that.

So what have I been doing in my semi-single mode?

1. Taking books out of the library. I used to do this a lot then got too busy. I have discovered that one of the universities I teach at had a costume design course and they have a wonderful collection of old sewing books and some interesting stuff like the history of the fabric business in Europe during the war and the migration of the garment trade Jews to the US, and of course I get these great extended loans on them. 
2. Working on my cooking. OK I put meals on the table for kids for decades, and because my own mother was a public health nurse, they were healthy. But if it couldn't get made fast, it wasn't made. And when I married DH, the gourmet, he took over, I gained 20 pounds, and stopped cooking. Well I am back at the library happily reading cooking technique books, and still if it isn't fast I don't do it. Thing of the week is a lemon zester, put that lemon zest on salads or over pasta and it makes the biggest difference. Also making salad dressing with rice vinegar and olive oil, 1-2, and garlic. I am on a big quest for fast, easy but interesting. Don't want my cooking to have plateaued in 1982 and when you have to eat your own cooking every day you get sick of it if it isn't interesting. DH has ruined my palate for my old standbys.
3. Knitting. On my high stress evenings I got into late night public TV and knitting. I have always found knitting a bit too slow for me compared to sewing but now appreciate the value of a craft you can do with minimal equipment in bed in your jammies with a dog asleep beside you. It's just not so demanding and enormously soothing. I have moved past my dishcloths to adding onto some afghans that were too narrow, to felted mitts and am eyeing socks. If anyone has a good easy sock formula I would be highly interested. I like small projects right now because as I get into this I like to practice new techniques on something I can finish in a reasonable length of time so I can go on and try something else new.
4. Purging the wardrobe. Since I was doing a life transition I decided to start pitching old life clothes. I actually threw out anything that I hadn't worn this winter that was winter clothing. My motto was "if not now when?" if I couldn't answer that out it went. When I looked at my bags I realized that 99% of the rejects were things I had bought.

I like what I make for myself best and I keep wearing it. So now I am going to start sewing-without-a-plan.

My non plan is to sew what I will actually wear when I think I am going to start wearing it, with my eye not on my wardrobe but on my life. Does that make any sense at all?

Next up, nice soft rayon knit pajamas to wear specifically for knitting and watching PBS. Might not get past the pattern tracing (Jalie) and cutting out before I go away, but that's my next project.

Oh, and thanks for still being there.