About me

My photo
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 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 Amazon


Follow by Email

Follow me on Instagram


Sunday, October 27, 2013

Babs, Barb and Barbie

It was a full week. 

Two days ago I put my almost 86 year old mother on the plane to go home back to Winnipeg. Protesting all the way that she doesn't need a cane but that it is the "open Sesame" of service and excellent if you want to queue jump.

My mother really is something. You would have to go a long way to find anyone, of any age, who is as cheerful or who operates as much on shear positive willpower. 

It did hit me at the airport, when I said goodbye, that I have lived my adult life away from her, although we have talked most days on the phone, and that by now there is a lot of time and distance that separates us, so much activity.

But as I watched her turn the corner through security I thought, "you are still my mommy." 

In the day-to-day of so many days now the intensity of that gets buried but it's still there, just as it always was, just like it was when I opened the back door and came home, then everyday.

I got in my car that late afternoon and turned on the radio and there was a song by one of those atonal contemporary singers where there is no tune at all and the chorus was "Hang on. Your children love you more than you know."

I had said goodbye to a son and his dear girlfriend a few days before, so I could look at it both ways.

Like I always do when I feel emotional I decided to focus on a project. You have to make yourself feel better with doing family when you miss family.

My daughter has asked me to make the little girls a bookcase dollhouse for Christmas. Barbie scale because they have lots of Barbies (some even with all body parts) and that makes it easier to play, not to display.

Let me tell you the world of Pinterest and Barbie collectors is quite the world - these folks are in deep. I looked for ideas and was quickly overwhelmed.

Now I am not a perfecto crafter,  don't be looking for a Pinterest board from me on this, so I have quickly decided to work within my limitations.

One of the things I have done is collect a surprisingly large collection of miniature wooden furniture from the knick-knack shelves of the thrift stores (now that's one weird  culture too knick-knacking), scale chest of drawers and wardrobes that are jewel boxes in disguise, rocking chairs and little tables. I have searched non-toxic paint and am going to be doing those up to match yet to be determined decor.

I have also made myself a regular on ebay, and unimpressed with the cheapo plastic furniture sold right now, have a vintage Barbie fridge coming in from Quebec, a sink from Calgary, and a stove from California being shipped to my son in Brooklyn.

The bathroom however has been a challenge.

At one point I was lurking around the house at 1:00 a.m. and came that close, that close, to cannibalizing part of the Cuisine-art for Barbie toilet parts until I pulled myself back from the ledge and came up with this, still to be glued in place and the hole in the seat cut out (once I can figure out how to do that).

This picture will give you an idea where my head is at these days:

Now that's Barbie.

Equally dramatic I finally sewed myself a pair of the Barb pants from StyleArc.

I have sort of been wimping out on this one. The pattern was named after me and I have had it for five months but didn't make it, quite honestly, because where would I go if a pants pattern named after me didn't fit or look good?

I mean what would be the plan B?

The thing is though I am, eventually, a brave person (see illustration above) so I did make a pair in some black stretch woven from Emmaonesock, black being my new muslin, without any alterations at all.

Here is a blurry picture, taken by my harassed photographer who was refinishing the dining room floor and making home made ice cream at the time, the same time.

They are IMO a perfect fit and exactly what I was looking for. A bit snug across the hips but as those who wear stretch wovens know, that loosens up in the first 30 minutes. Not sure too if I shouldn't go back and shorten them a bit too - will have to think about the shoes.

The next versions will be in different colours and easier to see:

So more on these pants later. I love them and will be making many other versions.

So that's Barb.

Next was the Hallowe'en costumes. The little girls were hopeless at standing still for measurements so in the end I lay them down on the fabric and traced around them.

Then they had to go and get pillows because the floor was too hard.

Here is Scarlett being skeptical about being a witch:

And here are the pair of them ready to be traced. The little one, Heidi, is going to be a bumble bee because she makes good buzzing noises, here she is wearing her beanie with the pipe cleaner antennae you can't see:

I made her black leggings ( we have a black turtleneck) and this bumble bee top (the witch costume took off on the broom):

And finally since this seems to be family picture day I have to share my husband's Thanksgiving "double-breasted turkey".

Leaves more for hot turkey sandwiches the next day.

Now off to lie down on the floor and draft my own witch's dress.


Barbara said...

Being another Barbara, I might have to make those pants too. I've been waffling between them and the Linda but that namesake thing might be the deciding factor. Yours look great.

Scenic Route said...

Hey, I made the Barb pants in black right before I returned to Mongolia and LOVED them. I left them behind--getting my life into 2 rolling boxes is a challenge and I didn't think I'd wear them much here in the extreme cold. Have missed them every day--and darned, I left the pattern in US! Drat--after I found a shop here with Italian ponte. Also, my daughter Nikki over at Fancy That made a Barbie dollhouse last Dec! Here's the link (and if that doesn't work, just go to 2012 blogs list and it's the 1st one up.

Jilly Be said...

You had me at the Mom story (mine was also an uber-positive and determined Mom, you kept me going with the Barbie toilet, I nodded along with the Barb pants (I had to sew the Jilly Jeans for the same reason) and the bee stripes were the clincher - great post! :D

jennywren said...

Many years ago here in the UK there was a childrens programme on TV that often had projects for children to make their own toy furniture etc using household items. I remember one was a Barbie sized toilet. I cant find a link to anything as it was all SO long ago I will try to (badly) explain what we did. It used an empty oval cleaning liquid bottle - the type with a handle - what we did was turn it upside down and cut it off at the top of the handle and then a bit lower down cut across the bottle which gave the toilet bowl and a 'pipe' to go up to the cistern (the cap is the part that goes into the floor but we cut that off so it sat flat on the floor instead). I have racked by poor old brain but can't remember what we made the cistern and seat & lid out of. Not a lot of help I'm afraid but maybe if you stare into your kitchen cupboards and think laterally something will come to you.

LinB said...

I have a raft of plastic-canvas needlepoint patterns for Barbie furniture. I'm pretty sure there's a toilet in the bathroom set ... I know there's a pedestal sink and a bathtub.( Santa gave DD a bookcase and homemade Barbie furniture some 15-16 years ago. She used the floor instead, but at least the bookcase is still useful!) If you'd like to have the patterns, shoot me your address and I'll mail them to you.

Barbara said...

LinB I will take you up on that offer, can you send me your email address by responding to my email link here :babsann.emodi@gmail.com

Nancy said...

What a great post, running the whole gamut of emotion. The Mom story touched my heart and I hope my kids feel the same way. The pants looks great. I will probably make the Linda version but there are a lot of great pants patterns on that site. Your Halloween costumes took me back several years to memories of a Raggedy Ann, the mouse from The Rescuers, a Crayola Crayon complete with pointed hat as crayon tip, and one son who had me wrap him completely in gauze so he could be a mummy - and how disappointed he was when a neighbor recognized him anyway because of his ice blue eyes. Can't help on the Barbie toilet other than to say two things: You could always make on from either air-drying paperclay or from Sculpey or you could look for one of those ash trays shaped like toilets, although I am not sure of their scale. I finally found a bathtub at the thrift shop, one that is perfect for the dolls I dress, a 10-5/8" French doll from 1905-1960. Same basic scale as Barbi but Barbi is a woman and mine is a child so things can be a little bigger. If all else fails, there is always Barbie furniture, right? I can keep my eyes open at the local thrift shops if you wish. Are you in the US?

Judi Pinkham said...

The Barb pants fit you perfectly! We only have one Mom...I miss mine.