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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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Thursday, December 31, 2020


 2020 has been a great year for understanding what really matters.

It has also been an important year for truly understanding the things in life you can do without.

When you think about it those are two pretty important realities. Can't think of many of us who would not be better off having faced these things.

The list of things that, as they say, don't really serve who I am now, is long. 

The list of things that matter to me is very specific:

  • my family
  • my animals
  • my sewing
  • my part of the world
  • my friends
  • folks I run into and chat with - I am a social person, casual contact is important to me
  • learning new things

That's it.

We have all been waiting for a new year, or more specifically to declare this one over. 

For the first time I am seriously thinking of what I can do to make sure I keep 2021 focused on the list above - there have been enough detours and distractions in life.

There will be more on my ordinary life in later posts I am sure but this morning I am thinking of my sewing.

2020 was a sewing intensive year for me. 

I really got into sewing wardrobes for other people, my daughter and mom for example. I will continue to do that and am adding in a few folks, my niece is pregnant now and I want to make her some maternity clothes.

Some of my 2020 sewing was of the sample variety. In this last year I also wrote another book. 

I see it is on Amazon already for pre-order (I don't completely understand why) although it won't be released and available until August 2021. Publishing is a complicated and slow process.

Writing this book, essentially a collection of my handy hints, during a pandemic was an entirely weird experience. 

I made most of the samples in lockdown, in a period when the fabric stores were closed and mail order very, very slow. I had originally planned to hit Stonemountain in Berkeley and the garment district in NYC during our last winter's trip to get great fabric. Instead last winter we high tailed it out of Texas and came straight home when Trudeau called us all back to the mothership. I had to drive by the garment district and cancel a trip to Berkeley to see the kids. That was hard.

Once home I started to work on the sewing side of the book. The publisher had  come up with the interesting, and good idea, of colour coding the samples for each chapter. So in addition to scrambling to find suitable fabrics in my house, I also had to make do with what I could in terms of the right colour. 

I am very happy with the ideas in this book but regret that, due to the circumstances, in a few places I had to make do with less than ideal fabric. Poly cotton just doesn't press as well as all cotton for example, but what was a girl to do? In my case carry on.

I was very lucky however that despite the pandemic I had huge support from my people.

The studios at the publisher's in California were closed and the departments who had worked on my first book sent home. As a result to meet our deadline my husband stepped in and did the process shots. A friend on my daughter's street did the model shots and family and friends were my models. Another friend lent me her store for the cover shot (thank you Chris at Patch) and my 6 year-old grandson suggested I put a semi-permanent in my hair (something I regret seeing the cover now) so I did have a stylist.

In the end I hope that something in this book will be useful to someone. That is really is all I care about.

So after a 2020 that was all about sewing focused on other people, family members and the sewing community, I am going to give myself more time to sew just for myself in the new year.

Specifically I am going to do more challenging projects and get into the process more. It has been a while since I have been able to do that. My wardrobe has also reached a place where I don't exactly need a lot so I can afford to experiment.

There is no plan right now other than giving myself the luxury to sew in a more adventurous way, and that's pretty much my only resolution.  I am going to think of 2021 as our collective recovery and applying lessons learned year.

Now over to you.

What are your own thoughts for 2021?


Jodie said...

Sounds like an adventure. As a high school teacher of 20 years, teaching right now is a bit grim. And I can't really articulate how much more difficult so much is. However, I'm in Canada and healthy and vaccines are coming. There's a dim light at the end.
Sewing has been my saving grace after a frustrating day of online learning. I too have a wardrobe that's quite full and need to move on to some other challenges. I have fabric (I was in Montreal and their fabric district last February) to sew another pair of Sascha trousers (Closet Core Patterns) and am working on shirts for my husband. I made him one for Christmas and it's a beautifully finished wearable muslin....need to make some pattern changes and try again.
My hope for 2021 is that we make it through January and start to see (at least in Canada) the results of vaccination. Cases are still rising where I live and as a teacher it's frustrating to put so much energy into doing the right thing (staying home, wearing a mask etc.) but not seeing a good result. The impact likely will be that we are locked down for longer.
Sewing wise, I'd like to work through my planned projects and perhaps try a pair of jeans. I live in them and buy cheap ones from Superstore since I spray bleach around at school ALL THE TIME right now. But they are something I haven't made...
Stay well and keep writing.

Sarah Wale said...

Amen to all you say about the things that really matter. Maybe this ghastly pandemic has done something for us all - if only to make us ponder the essentials in life.

I look forward to being able to buy your new book and I thank you for writing it. I think it will be all the more special for knowing that your family 'Bubble Team' produced so much of it and, for the record, your hair looks fine!

Have a good 2021 and I hope your dreams and plans come true.
Sarah xx

Miriam in Barry's Bay, ON said...

My list of what matters is EXACTLY the same as yours, Barbara.
I, too, look forward to your new book and wish you and your family all the very best for what surely will be a better year in 2021.
As always, thank you for your writing, your wisdom and your wit.. .it adds so much to my life.

Brewer Barbara said...

Hooray! A new Barbara Emodi sewing book!
Here's to a healthy,happy new year.

Nethwen said...

I like your hair and shirt. It's refreshing to see sewing books with covers that aren't either outdated or modern-retro. Not everyone lives in full makeup and big dresses. Some of us prefer trousers and smart-casual shirts and that's what your cover promises - not artistic "of course you made that" sewing, but normal clothes that you happened to make instead of a factory. I like it.

I believe pre-sales guide the publisher in estimating how well the book will sell on publication.

Margaret G said...

MY list too, apart from the animals of which I have none.I really found that I need to keep on gives me a focus /challenge to each day.....the handmade socks are complete!!!!!!!!(maybe a bit odd looking but who cares!)
I really enjoy your snippets of wisdom and look forward to your new book. Well done on its completion despite all the obstacles of which 2020 had tons! And I think your hair looks great!
Keep up the good work Barbara, it’s much appreciated.

/anne... said...

Your book is up on Booko:

Interestingly, it's not available from (I'm in Australia, and Amazon discourages us from purchasing from their US site), but it is available for preorder from Book Depository.

Congratulations on being able to concentrate on writing a book in 2020!

Kansas Sky said...

JOY!!!!!!!! A new book written by you! I've already been to Amazon and ordered that book. Now the long months of waiting for it to ship . . . . . . THANK YOU again for your wisdom. You are rockin' this whole thing. You've inspired me so much, always giving me an unexpected perspective. So grateful.

JustGail said...

Cool beans on the new book! What's the difference between your first book of garment sewing tips, which I have, and this one? I'm debating on if I *need* another, but then again... why not?

Jill O. said...


I didn't see anything wrong with your hair. I saw your beautiful smiling face. Don't sweat it. It's not worth any regrets. Enjoy your stylist and hold it over him when he's an adult. :-)