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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 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


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Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year!

I have been neglecting this blog, but not neglecting the family. I know you will get that.

So here is a quick catch up before I go make a cake for tonight's dinner.

First off here is a picture of daughter, mother if my three grandchildren, in a dress I made for her.

It is the Ballet Dress by Indie design Dixie DYI. Like many indie patterns it had an illustration and text gush (did I actually write gush, sorry about that) that made it easy for a hip person like my kid to go for it.

As a pattern it had issues and was not particularly well drafted. In the end I lowered the neckline, changed the treatment for applying the binding (which was sweatshirt style not dressy dress style) and re-cut the armhole and sleeves so they didn't bind, and note that Katrina does not have heavy arms at all.

In the end we got a dress that we were both happy with and got a lot of wear over the holidays.

I am usually a fan of many of the Indie patterns, Stylearc, Sewaholic, Noodlehead and Grainline (mostly) produce excellent patterns with good current wearable style. Others demonstrate that the ability to upload a .pdf do not necessarily reflect pattern quality worthy of the price.

That said the great Indie patterns are truly great and I do not intend to miss out on any of them.

Which leads me to my own sewing New Year's resolutions, and I am interested to hear yours:

  • Explore more Indie patterns and report honestly on them. I want to nurture talent but also to protect new sewers who deserve, as we all do, to be facilitated, not frustrated by the patterns they purchase. Every time I run into a problematic pattern instruction or drafting issues I mentally see a picture of some young mother, the woman I once was, getting in a little hopeful sewing time while some child slept. I hate the thought that a pattern issue might cause her to think the problem is her when in fact it is simply in trying to execute the impossible. I don't want anyone to give up on sewing.
  • Blog more. I have a real busy life and often hold off on posting because I don't have super pictures or something profound. However I do think thoughts and see a lot of humour in life so I think that might be enough some times. I am in no competition here.
  • Save some time by coasting by some things on the www. If you blog has crossed the commercial line in my head or if you approach me to ask if I will pay $25 to be your pattern tester (true, this happened this morning) I am moving on. I got a lot more sewing done when there was less to read. I am going to post a blog roll soon of what I actually do read most days.
  • Sew more from my stash, in fact as much as I can. I have reached that critical mass stage where the fabric on my shelves has started to oppress me, feel like a to-do list. How did that happen?
  • Go through my patterns and ditch anything I am not going to sew this year. I have to make room for new ideas.
  • And finally the big one: Sew nothing in 2016 for any other reason than it a) gives me joy to think about it b) can teach me something new.
Now over to you.

What are your sewing resolutions?


SewRuthie said...

Great dress.
I give all those Indie patterns a miss!
Live to read your blog though.

Mary said...

Cute dress! I enjoy reading your resolutions; I'm with you on the pattern purge. I like the idea of making room for new ideas. Happy New Year!

Laceflower said...

I'm ahead of you; have ditched 4 large paper bags of patterns. I need to cull fabric, this is going to be very hard as I've found a use for fabric a decade later that I didn't think I would use shortly after purchase. Happy New Year

Carol in Denver said...

My off-repeated resolution:
Sew from the stash. Don't buy more.
Still, occasionally an innovative fabric sings its siren call, and I succumb.

Some lucky person will inherit some lovely fabrics when I shuffle off this mortal coil.

Carolyn (Diary of a Sewing Fanatic) said...

I'm going to continue to sew from the collection. I started doing that this year and have had so much fun using pieces that I've lovingly collected over the years. Those pieces bring back memories of times spent with other sewists, or times in my life when I purchased the piece not realizing that it would sit for decades before I actually used it. However, I'm not going to say that I'm not buying another piece of fabric - that just ain't gonna happen! *LOL* But exploring my collection that seems like a new sewing adventure.

BTW, I hope I make the blog cut! ;) And I love your final resolution! How much fun will that add to your sewing adventures in 2016!

Marianne said...

Lovely dress! I like your resolutions, especially the big one. Happy New Year!

Cathie said...

That is an absolutely adorable dress! And many people could wear it, even longer. So good you know how to clarify/simplify patterns and instructions. So sad when people get discouraged. I understand. I love your blog, and it's about making sewing fun! I have a medium stash, much vintage, and vintage and newer patterns, all from charity shops. I will keep most of it, but donate a little every so often. Happy New Year! Cathie in Quebec.

Anonymous said...

Your wisdom and insight have been greatly missed. Please do plan to post often in 2016 -- if only a few paragraphs every week or so. You are always so worth reading! And your daughter's dress is terrific. Happy New Year.

Kathie said...

Barbara, I enjoy your posts no matter the subject. Thanks for taking the time end effort required to produce them. Your daughter's dress is lovely...good save! Have you tried any of Peggy Sagers' Silhouette Patterns?

Here's to a grand 2016! A goal of mine is to make some muslins of new patterns..before testing with the "good" fabric!

Sox said...

Happy New Year, Barbara!
I have also removed 'commercial' blogs from my reading list. I want 'real people' blogs and those are the ones I read. That's why I read yours.
I'm looking forward to your review of Indie patterns. I've never heard of Noodlehead and I really like Sewaholic and the few others I've tried.
I'm also going to be sewing things that make me happy and making as much of that from stash as much as possible this year. (That's not really resolutions but just, for me, common sense.)
All the best!

Anonymous said...

I always enjoy reading what you write! I like your attitude toward sewing and life in general. Please keep writing, even if it's just your musings. The "flypaper thoughts" are great, too!
Your daughter looks so much like you-I'm surprised no one has mentioned that in the comments so far. The dress looks great on a pretty girl!

gMarie said...

Hmmm -in 2016 I plan to continue reading the blogs I enjoy, sewing from stash and making the things I enjoy. I'd like to try my hand at lingerie and if I do, well great. I'd like to organize my patterns a bit better. and honestly - take the time to comment on blogs I like and interact more. Really enjoy reading your blog - thank you and happy New Year! g

Bunny said...

Honorable goals and I can't wait to see who makes your blogroll. I really need to update mine. I can't say that I follow any of the big pink and blue monetized blogs. I do agree that the non monetized are so much more pleasant to read. There's something nice about not scraping the floor for content in a desperate quest to stay relevant to affiliates and "customers" .

badmomgoodmom said...

Happy New Year to you, too!

I second the motion to keep up with your hilarious and thought-provoking fly-paper posts. Those are infinitely more interesting to me than most monetized blogs. (I culled my blog subscriptions and only one monetized sewing/style one made the cut for how I want to spend my time in 2016.)

This year, I'm sewing to 'spark joy'.

I'm also planning to add to my 'Home Ec' blog series because Home Ec is going to be a major way to combat/reduce environmental degradation and climate change. Sometimes, it's about NOT using new and shiny stuff but rather about using our resources wisely. That sparks joy.

Jen in Oz said...

I don't often make resolutions that I actually try to keep. That said, this year I'm going to try to use up more of my stash before May when I'm planning a song trio to the New York garment district. With two suitcases!

Summer Flies said...

I love your posts full of wisdom, honesty and humour. They will be just as good without photos. I will be interested in your blog roll and also have declared to myself to read fewer computer things... I don't really read monetised blogs. I cannot comment on Grainline patterns (I think the patterns are too basic for ME to spend the money on regardless of the drafting) and I don't know Noodlehead but I personally don't class Sewaholic and Style Arc as Indie designers.. I think they are professional designers... they don't ask for testers and there is no internet gushing either.

Ginger said...

I'm going to sew from my stash too. Looking forward to reading your blog roll. I've recently deleted several from my reader. I would love to hear more about your dressy dress style binding. I think this may be a new to me term. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I'm curious too about the two styles of binding (sweatshirt vs dressy.....). And ALL your posts are great, some are fun, some are meaningful to me in a serious way. But I'm always cheered when a new one pops up.

Last year I tried to make one "real" garment project a month (I'm painfully slow.....) with some success (maybe 8 out of 12?); something new perhaps to shoot for this year but it hasn't come to me yet.

Warmest regards,


Mary said...

In a world full of 'pontificators' I appreciate your fly paper thoughts: funny, irreverent and spot on.

Anonymous said...

I am first of all a retired teacher and grandmother from Nova Scotia and then a "beginner sewer". The first, we have in common, the second we don't! I am taking lessons BUT thank Heavens I can laugh at my mistake. I look forward to reading your wonderful writings and agree with the many comments encouraging you to keep up with your hilarious and thought-provoking fly-paper posts. I have shared many of your "common sense" ideas about "life in general" with my three daughters. Thank you for the "many laughs" - and I must say the wedding picture with you dancing your heart out with Mr. Available Handsome - well, the smile on your face said it all. Happy times.

Happy New Year!!! And keep sharing. :)

Anne said...

Happy New Year! My list could read like yours! (Except I've never been approached for money to pattern test!!) I'm suspicious of a lot of Indie patterns, including some free with magazines because of poor photos - if they can't make the garment look good I'm not going to be able to without an awful lot of work, as you did, that I don't think I should have to do, even if I could which might not be the case. I'm suspicious of many reviews too! I'm not naturally a suspicious person, honest! I greatly appreciate your honest reviews. I've removed a lot of blogs from my list because of commercialism, among other things - yours stays!

Birdmommy said...

I just wanted to suggest that if anyone is looking for a dress similar to the one you just made, but without the drafting problems, Kitschy Coo's Lady Skater dress is just the ticket! (NAYY).

I look forward to reading whatever you post in 2016.

Marie Donnelly said...

You are the #1 site on my toolbar favourites (yes, Canadian spelling). I, too, am dedicated to making a significant dent in my stash; however, I agree with Carolyn. I'll not be giving anything away as many hold memories . There are a number of pieces purchased with my mom, who's been gone almost 10 years. I feel like I'm with her in my sewing room as it's a pastime that we shared, whether it was my first pair of pants (sewn in hot pink crimpoline -- yes, my generation is showing), Laura Ashley copycats while in university, my first business wardrobe or shorts made out of quilting cotton for my son, who's now almost 20. My sewing room is my happy place and my biggest resolution is to spend more time in it. Thank you for sharing your time in yours.

Lucille said...

As always, you get me thinking. I need to spend less time scanning the screen and more time sewing. I have moved the 'commercial' blogs to my Facebook feed. It gives me the news at a glance. FB for me is all about the commercial fabric news. Ruthless culling would do us all good.

SuzieB said...

Oh Barb - Dixie DYI should be using your daughter's dress to market her pattern. Your version is lovely & looks wonderful on your pretty daughter. Sorry to be snarky - but the dress as illustrated on Dixie's website would make even a size 0 look short-waisted & thick through the middle.

Your post has inspired me to: 1) Finally make the Grainline Studio Alder shirtdress that you made several seasons ago; 2) Donate some fabric that I'm never going to use (and which has been packed away forever); 3) Get rid of the worst of my 80's pattern stash since I hope to never wear Laura Ashley dropped waist floral print bishop-sleeved dresses again; 4) make a couple of easy cotton pull-on dresses that I can wear to the grocery store in summer; and 5) make some unfitted cotton knit pullover shirts for summer (by tracing off a couple of rtw shirts that I own & wear constantly).

Please keep blogging - even without photos!

mandy c said...

I love your resolutions they are quite similar to the ones I have. I need to sew from my collection because I am finding it quite overwhelming at the moment as well.

I can't commit to saying I won't buy more fabric because there are times in life where I just need a fabric hit.
Good luck with your resolutions and all the best for the New Year

/anne... said...

I've recently discovered Instagram (yes, I know I'm slow!), and realised that I can't commit to blogging, but a photo with a bit of commentary every so often might just be the thing I need to sew more. I started using it to record the fabric I was buying, but after a bit of a blow-out, and the fact that my daughter and son-in-law follow me, I've temporarily given up on that.