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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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Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Home again an projects all over the house

A few days home now and lots to do.

Before I get into what is going on, I am reminded to share something that I learned in Tulsa.

One of the organizers at the conference works in publishing. During my book signing (she was sitting nearby signing her own book) she was careful to tell all the visitors to make sure to leave Amazon reviews for our books. 

I actually never ask for these myself so I was interested when she explained to one lady that the algorithms (no clue at all what those are) on Amazon pay attention to the reviews when recommending books that come up in searches. 

So if some person searches sewing, more review for a particular book, means it is more likely that Amazon will show them books that book.

This interested me because the part of writing a book that matters to me the most by far is that maybe something I wrote might be helpful to someone who was the person I was -  at home trying to figure something out.

It is the readers and their lives, not the I have written a book part, that I care about.

For this reason I am most thrilled to hear that my book is in a library somewhere where someone can borrow, it or that someone liked it and bought it for a friend. So I have decided to pass on this algorithm information. Maybe it will make sense to you.

Back on topic.

Since I have been back I have been flat out and of course started sewing before I unpacked. I missed my sewing room!

This time of year Jalie does their annual release of new patterns.  I was sent a preview of the new patterns and had a chance to choose a few to sew up for myself and my family and review them as part of the release process.

Getting those printed up and my fabric gathered was my first job as soon as I got home, more or less before I got my jacket off.

I am currently working on seven of these patterns now. When they are done these will be up on the blog and reviewed here. Hint these are all wearable and practical patterns and I am really, really interested to see what they all look like made up.

That said there will be a pause in the sewing for Easter dinner here on Sunday. I love doing blow out family dinners and it takes days to meander around the kitchen to get things ready. My husband does the heavy lifting on the main course and the kids and I do desserts and sides.

Leading this is my middle grand daughter Heidi.

Every once in a while you run across someone who finds their vocation at a young age.

For me it was sewing when I was eight and made Barbie's first dress. I actually completely understand the expression 
"and she never looked back". Sewing has been that for me.

With Heidi it is cooking. She said to me a year ago, when she was just six, that "when I am cooking I am just happy." She hauls around big cook books, writes down menus and yes, Uncle Nat, loves the Great British Cooking Show.

Doing a family meal with Heidi is quite an adventure.

So far I have talked her out of fondue as an appetizer (she saw it on TV and was sold when she saw the forks and the flame) and we have settled on only four desserts. 

Desserts are her speciality, pavlovas in particular and cakes. So we are having brownies, a strawberry and a chocolate pavlova, I think a lemon pie and she has this idea that she is going to come over on Friday and she and I are making home made chocolate eggs ("what are we doing to fill them Babs?") that in her mind are going to be decorated more beautifully than I am certainly capable of doing.

Did I mention the braided Greek Easter bread? Anyone know how to get those red eggs in there?

Cooking to the standards set in a seven year old's imagination keeps a person pretty busy I can tell you.

I promise you pictures, of the whole family, including my daughter Katrina, who really is my hero these days. Someone remind me.

Before I go I have to share a couple of sewing ideas.

When I was in Berkeley my daughter-in-law asked me to make her car seat cover out of a knit (I love hearing that word) that would also double as a nursing cover. 

We searched it and I was delighted to see what she was talking about was what the sewing world would describe as a knit pillow case sloped at bit at the top like a giant funnel neck with an opening at the top.

Here are some instructions.

Now from a point of view of a dining room table sewing operations this project was a piece of cake.

A hugely trendy an cool baby present that requires about a yard of fabric and about half an hour of sewing. Man you have to remember this one.

Now my second bit of sewing information is that I whipped this whole thing up with one twin needle, and a vintage machine, since I was about 2,500 miles away from my serger and cover hem.

Here's how:

  1. I eyeballed the pattern, you can do this too, just slope the top and leave a space for a mother to stick her head into, or for her to pull back and check on the baby in the car seat. We used a rayon knit.
  2. I zipped up the sides of the cover, the two side seams, using the twin needle to sew the seams. Listen I feel bad if I haven't shared this before, or if no one else has, but twin needles make fantastic stretchy seams. Two rows of stitching and that zig zagging bobbin thread makes an incredibly elastic, strong, and non wavy seam. I sometimes use a narrow set twin to seam up good knits like silk jersey because I can sew them on my conventional machine with the walking foot. Works like a charm, try it.
  3. I then just turned under a hem at the bottom and around opening at the top and twin needle hemmed them too.
Then I was all done and pretty impressed with myself.

Now off I go.

They want pickled carrots as one of the sides and I can't find my recipe.

When the dishes are done Sunday night it will be back to the sewing room.


Anonymous said...

Your ramblings always warm my heart! It is an honor to be part of your family.

And I LOVE your sewing info, demos, pics! I always look forward to your posts . . . It’s like sitting down with a friend and chatting about something we both love. Your book is fantastic, too. It’s just pure reading pleasure, as well as packed with practical advice.

You’re my kind of gal! Keep doing what you’re doing.

corkpop said...

I'm not certain if your granddaughter lives in or can come to the US but MasterChef Junior has a wonderful summer camp for kids to learn techniques and immerse themselves in cooking. The kids on the current season if the show are incredibly talented, the youngest is 8! My mom wouldn't trust me with a knife when I was 8! Anyway, you may want to look into it for this or next summer.

Sarah Wale said...

Another great blog, thank you!
Thank you too for the great hint about using twin needle sewing for stretchy stuff especially if parted from the overlocker ... definitely within the realms of "Why didn't I think of that?"

Have a wonderful Easter with your lovely family and enjoy everyone's contribution to the feast, especially Heidi's; she sounds like a keeper, for sure.
All the very best,


Anonymous said...

Re: the red egg in the Easter braid...dye an uncooked egg as you would normally dye a hard boiled one (I soak the egg in red dye, hot water and vinegar until it's the color I like.), then, once the bread dough has risen and is ready for braiding, braid it and nestle the eggs in where desired. The eggs will cook (become like hard-boiled) in the oven as the bread bakes. They can be removed and eaten as the bread is sliced, if desired.


LinB said...

"Copper pennies." The recipe for pickled carrots is called "copper pennies."

At least, that's what the only pickled carrot recipe my family will eat is called. It's a classic, widely available online if you can't find your copy.

Happy Easter!

Barkcloth said...

Love your blog, Barbara, but that looks really awful, to hide a baby like that when your breastfeading it. Why on earth would you do that!?

Barbara said...

Barkcloth, I am with you and doubt if my DIL will use it that way, but she really wanted something to keep the sun off the baby in California.

Jan said...

I loved your book and learned so many new time saving tips from reading it. There are many times when I am working on a project and wish I could remember what you had said about the procedure without stopping and perusing the whole book. Would you consider doing an index (in addition to the table of contents) in any future reprints?

Anonymous said...

Every summer I find it very upsetting to see babies burning in our hot summer sun (perhaps families from a more temperate climate?) - glad to see that there is interest in sun shades for car seats and strollers.


Kay said...

Hi! I hope you now understand why I was so keen to read and review your fantastic book last May. Sure hope that my review on helped out a sister-sewist!