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

Clothesmaking mavens

Clothesmaking mavens
Listen to me on the clothes making mavens podcasts

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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Sunday, October 3, 2021

Where flypaper thoughts will be landing in the future

 First of all thank you thank you.

I have been really touched by the comments posted here on the retirement of this blog and by the private messages I have also received.

I think both you and I will miss Flypaper thoughts the most.

For that reason I have decided that my new reader newsletter, you can sign up here at  will also, and always, include a Flypaper thoughts section.

This will make me happy. Flypaper thoughts is my real voice.

The reader newsletter will also contain info on my writing projects that right now include one non-fiction book How to be an Older Woman (obviously mostly humorous) which I hope to have ready by early winter, and a few shorter novellas to be released as part of anthologies while I work on larger projects.

I also plan on making free "prequels" available through the website.

On the fiction side here are three series I have in the works:

  • Valerie Rankin and the Seaside Sewists. Set in Gasper's Cove Nova Scotia based around a small sewing school.
  • A yet untitled series on a traveling bridal dressmaker who tours the southern US in an RV (now where do I come up with an idea like that?)
  • Also untitled series on an irresponsible grandmother who solves crimes with the help of her responsible grandchildren (the research team is heavily involved in the developmental stages of this one)
As these get closer to release dates I will be looking for a few folks to join me as either Beta readers (those who see the manuscript at the first draft stage and can offer corrections, suggestions and feedback) and ARC readers (those who are sent a copy about two weeks before publication date on the understanding that they post honest reviews).

And in the middle of this of course the sewing continues!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

A retirement and redirection

 Hello my good sewing friends and friends of this blog.

After some deep thought I have decided to retire from this blog after a very interesting 13 years writing it. I thought it made sense to do this officially rather than just let it all fade away.

There are several reasons I have decided to do this.

The first of which is that when I wrote my last book I realized it was pretty much all I have to say about garment construction. I don't think there is another sewing book in me to write. Most of the techniques I use all the time I have described in my two books, over the years in the blog, or in the 40 plus newsletters I have written and sent out.

To be honest too I also no longer feel I can keep up with the pressure sometimes to stop and take pictures of the garments I sew. Some days this felt like an obligation in a very busy life I have with all my family, and I didn't want the blog to feel like that.

The second reason is that I have come to realize that the part of the blog I enjoyed the most was the writing part, Flypaper thoughts. That part seemed to be where I want to spend more time and where I want to grow.

Covid had an influence too of course. During this very strange year Daisy and I have sat in our chair at nights after my husband has gone to bed and I have started to write stories. You don't need to be a psychologist to figure out that at a time when I felt particularly cut off from family and places, I sort of invented a world I could go to instead. Local folks will recognize the idea behind Gasper's Cove and the Seaside Sewists.

One of my stories will be published in a limited availability cozy mystery anthology November 1. 

I really enjoyed writing my story for this anthology. As a result  I have decided to take a detour and do more fiction writing, specifically sewing cozy mysteries.

For those who aren't familiar with the term, cozy mysteries are just that, mysteries without sex or violence (I am not qualified to write about either of those topics) and often have a craft type theme.

I think at this stage in my life I am probably more interested in the sewing community, and that would be you, than I am in strictly sewing techniques.

I also have been working on a sort of Flypaper thoughts like book called "How to be an older woman" not of course because I have that figured out, but because I haven't.

I am not sure how this is all going to work out. Fiction is of course a funny thing and stories that I might enjoy writing may not be worth reading. That is a real possibility. It's going to take me some time to warm up for sure. We will see how this goes.

This is change in direction for me, a lighter one maybe (as opposed to the serious heavy content of this blog). It was suggested by an author I respect that it might be a good idea for me to come up with a pen name to distinguish the cozy type stuff from my other writing.

So I did that. The name I came up with is Babs Emodi. That should fool everyone who might think we are the same person. I have also set up a website for this venture called, you guessed it, There's a spot there to sign up for a reader newsletter in case you want to be updated on things I write.

My sewing activities will be documented from here on in on Instagram.

So I guess that's it for now, for here. One thing that is true about this stage of life is that it often involves letting go of some things to try something new.

I hope you understand.

It has been wonderful.

Thank you, thank you.


Friday, September 10, 2021

Flypaper thoughts back home version

  • Arrived home a day ago
  • Wonderful, wonderful trip to see my family in California
  • A year and a half way too long
  • Berkeley
  • Do you have vanilla ice cream?
  • No
  • Do you have chocolate ice cream?
  • No
  • Well then
  • What do you recommend?
  • Our cardamon is very popular
  • Good reason
  • Stonemountain and Daughter was closed to the public
  • I did walk down though and stare through the open door
  • While they filled orders 
  • Including mine
  • Saved so much money
  • Because I couldn't get close enough to hear 
  • The bolts calling my name
  • Practised my Spanish on the men on the corners waiting for work
  • So polite they were
  • Except I don't speak Spanish
  • Although that is what I am doing
  • In my first undergraduate university course in 40 years
  • Yup back to school
  • Try getting a exemption/credit
  • Just because it is a course you also once taught
  • In that very same institution
  • Admin offices haven't changed in these decades
  • Nope
  • But I could appeal
  • Like a person who has waited 40 years to go back to school
  • Has time for that?
  • But guess who's getting an A
  • If it kills us all
  • As it probably will
  • Started this week
  • Sharpened my pencils
  • Pro tip
  • Not necessary for online learning
  • Almost three-year-olds are amazing
  • Best afternoons in a long time
  • Sitting in semi-dark rooms telling stories
  • To someone in a very small bed
  • What's the rest Babsie what's the rest
  • It's nice to be back in the nap time story business
  • By popular demand
  • For someone who says
  • But it was a very nice racoon wasn't it?
  • This grandmother gig 
  • Has a lot to commend it
  • Kind of nice to be the person sitting in the backseat
  • After all those years trying to get it right
  • Up front
  • Then you realize maybe you did
  • At least parts that really mattered
  • And now you can sit back there and say
  • Whatever you want is fine with me
  • And discuss silly stuff with the compatriot in the car seat
  • Nu nu head is an underused concept
  • I am pretty sure I have met some
  • They now work in Admissions
  • Airline travel
  • Not that good at it
  • Too shy to ask the poor person
  • Pushing a cart full of old cups up and down the aisle
  • How to fix the movie thing
  • I accidentally turned it to Hebrew
  • And the help menu is in Hebrew too
  • When you are a person just trying to expand your Spanish beyond
  • Loud Holas yelled by someone in a crooked hat and a mask pushing a stroller
  • With a person in it asking if you really know where you are going
  • So I am not quite up to learning Hebrew
  • At the moment
  • At least not before we land
  • It seems to me that being an airline attendant
  • Now is like being a monitor on a school bus
  • Of junior high kids who don't care if you tell their mother 
  • And about that glamorous
  • For Canadians
  • It is worth going to California
  • Just to taste the way the food tastes before
  • It is picked unripe and put on a truck for six weeks
  • Next time I am taking my canning equipment
  • So you have anything to declare?
  • How about forty lids and rings
  • And a pair of forceps
  • Suitable for lifting jars from boiling water
  • Or difficult deliveries
  • As required
  • What I wouldn't do for a few Meyer lemons
  • Here in Nova Scotia
  • Do you know folks there let fruit fall from trees and just let it sit there?
  • Which reminds me
  • Here at home the crabapples are ready
  • Meyer lemons they are not
  • But very popular among folks
  • Who are the kind
  • Who appreciate this
  • And rhubarb jam
  • Which you cannot buy anywhere
  • But every grandmother of a different generation made
  • On toast in the morning while you watch the birds in the backyard
  • And are glad you have a grandmother like that
  • To be so old now that I remember what the Depression did
  • To women like that
  • Half a pancake wrapped up and saved in the fridge
  • Buttons cut off and saved in a jar and passed on like an inheritance
  • Salads with home made mayonnaise
  • And radishes, always the radishes
  • Quilts made with the cut off and saved tops of hand knit men's socks
  • Like sleeping under a sidewalk those were
  • To have come from that
  • To cardamon ice cream
  • Is quite a journey
  • Quite a tale

Quick request


I have many pattern reviews to do and some flypaper thoughts to share. But before I start those I have one request to put out there. For those of you who have bought my new book online, can you leave an honest review on the site where you made that purchase?

My community team, all those who came through and helped this project launch during a pandemic, and I would appreciate it.

Also browsers should have an accurate idea about how this book may or may not be useful to them.

That's it.

Now back to the real business.

Sunday, August 29, 2021

Oasis dress from Sinclair patterns

 Continuing with my catch up reviews of various patterns (I am working up to my reviews of the new Jalies next) here is one of the Oasis knit dress from Sinclair patterns.

I am always on the lookout for easy to wear knit dresses and I thought the asymmetrical waist on this one looked interesting. To be truthful I was sorry to see empire waistlines fade out of fashion. I am long waisted and they suit me by redressing that balance.

Apart from pinning all the pleats in place, this is an extremely fast and easy pattern. Both the neckline and cap sleeves are finished with bands.

I made my own version in bamboo knit from Watertower textiles, an excellent source for quality bamboo knits, one of my favourite fabrics.

Here are two shots that give slightly different views of the dress. 

It's very comfortable to wear and was particularly popular with my husband and oldest granddaughter for some reason. It probably would have looked more elegant if I hadn't been wearing clogs, but it is another of the house dress editions I guess.

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

Stylearc Iris dress

 As my Instagram followers would know, I am currently in Berkeley California visiting my family there. I was cut off from travel to see them for over a year and a half. Being here is like water to a plant. I hadn't realized just how much not seeing my kids was taking out of me until I got here.

I am doing a lot of childcare right now, which thrills me, to bridge a period between a nanny and the start of nursery school.

Because my daughter-in-law does a truly amazing job of running her household, despite two high pressure careers in this family, I have some time to myself during naps. No one needs me to cook and clean around here, although I do the nightly after dinner clean up which I quite enjoy.

My daughter-in-law is one of my best friends. She is just about the nicest, most thoughtful, person I know. Since my celiac diagnosis I was a bit worried about travelling - I really get sick if exposed to gluten but I also don't want to be that person who is fussy. When I arrived here the kitchen was all geared up. Maddie, who has a master's in food from NYU plus a food safety certification, was way ahead of me in knowing what to eat and how to handle cooking, without any fuss, which is important to me. So being here has been so easy for me. I am lucky. 

Now back to the naps.

It has been very busy back at home lately so these few hours of time in the afternoon here are giving me a chance to catch up on some blog posts.

Today I want to talk about Stylearc's Iris dress.

Measurements are always interesting. The usual bust-waist-hip are measurements of the soft parts of a body and don't account much for frame. What that frame looks like varies a lot in the blocks different designers use.

Over time I have come to realize that although Stylearc fits me perfectly when it comes to pants, which are located on my largest parts of my body, I have more trouble with the upper body fit. I find that tops and dresses in Stylearc are just too big for my small boned shoulders, arms and neck. As a result I am wary. I usually pay a lot of attention to the finished pattern measurements, as much actually as the attention I pay to the body measurements in the Stylearc size chart when I choose a size.

I also am starting to make a beta version of each pattern that I think has the potential to be a style I might make over and over again when I sew Stylearc.

Which brings us to the Iris dress.

I decided this summer that given my home based and children heavy lifestyle (I have been taking care of my three grandchildren in Halifax three days a week this summer) I could do with what my mother and her friends used to call "house dresses."

Basically a house dress is one unit dressing for people who are short of time and need something sturdy and washable. My house dresses just go on over my head when I am running late, and the world is just lucky I am not going to go through the day in my housecoat.

With this criterion I thought the Iris dress would be perfect. Deep pockets and no closures; neck and armholes bound and a machine hem. I also thought the slight cocoon shape would give me some room to move in case in the middle of my day I decided to say clean the bathtub or chase somebody around the back yard.

Here it is:

For my first version I used some mid weight dark denim I picked up somewhere. For binding I used some striped poplin left over from a shirt project.

I made this first version sized according to my measurements, a size 10, which actually is a shade smaller than my actual bust.

Here it is:

As you can see the neckline slides around my chicken shoulders and the armhole is a bit looser than I like.

That said, despite these issues I still have been wearing this dress around the house - it is sort of a functional apron like garment for me. Practical if not glamorous.

But I knew that if I made it again I would have to go a size down at top.

So that's what I did next. 

I cut out a size 8 (which was over 2" smaller in the bust measurement than I actually am) and graded it back out to the 10 at the hips. This time I used a better fabric, a lovely rayon print from Blackbird:

This version has given me the fit I think the pattern makers intended. I think the simple shape really suits the large scale of the print.

Now I am not suggesting here that all Stylearc patterns "run big" as we say in sewing urban myth land. If you had more meat on your bones around the neck and shoulders than I do then this pattern, as sized, would probably work just fine for you. 

What I am saying though is that it always pays to consider your bones when you think sizing. And sometimes a small change in sizing choice can make a huge difference.

Monday, August 23, 2021

Kitt knit dress from Stylearc

 A while ago I posted that I am revisiting some of Stylearc's simple shapes and I am overdue in my posts about them.

So here we go. 

Right now I am in Berkeley visiting my son, daughter-in-law and youngest grandchild after a very, very long time. I will be here for another two weeks.

This visit is overdue thanks to Covid and I am refilling my well.

We are busy of course with an almost three-year-old but I am able in the evenings to catch up a bit.

So let's start with Stylearc's Kitt dress. This pattern was a freebie a while ago and so I acquired it. Getting ready for my trip I decided I needed some knit dresses. Of course as usual my sewing ambitions were bigger than my sewing time so the simplicity of this pattern made it a sensible sew.

Here is the pattern illustration:

 Ironically I made this dress out of fabric I ordered in from the marvellous Stonemountain and Daughter here is Berkeley. For some reason their shipping to Canada is super, super fast - whenever I make an order from them it arrives with in the week if not in a few days.

Not much to say about the construction of this little number obviously. The V neck is essentially one of those ones that is a knit band same as a T shirt with a little dart at centre front to make the miter.

Due to fabric shortage, I squeezed this out of what I had I actually also used knit bands to finish the sleeves. Honestly this whole project could not have been easier.

So here it is - an extremely simple dress and one I feel is perfect for a strong print.

I will be making more of these - why wouldn't I?

Monday, August 2, 2021

The Jensen shirt on one of my favourite models

 The son who has recently moved to Texas was back this weekend for a wedding. That gave me a chance to hand over the linen Jensen shirt to him and to snap a picture when we went out for breakfast.

He's tall and lean like we all are so the only alteration I made to the XL version was to add two inches in body length. I also made sure to pre-wash and pre-shrink the linen because I know that chances of this shirt being ironed, unless I am there to visit, are not incredibly high. Just see how wrinkled it got from sitting for an hour in a restaurant. Got to roll with it.

The linen was from Blackbird Fabrics which once again delivered top quality. As I think I did too when I gave birth to this guy.

I'll be making him more of these for sure.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

Flypaper thoughts first of August version

  • You are kidding
  • August 1st?
  • After a year of everything going too slow
  • This came on too fast
  • However in two weeks I will be seeing my kids in the US
  • About time, about time
  • We all need more hellos and fewer goodbyes
  • I have spent the last month
  • Sewing for everyone
  • Treading water at the bottom of water slides
  • Saying you can do it you can do it
  • Having dinners with the table full after a long, long pause
  • Remembering my recipes for crowds
  • Hearing about heat waves everywhere else
  • While I think I feel fall in the air here
  • And writing
  • Few projects there
  • This year has taught more than all the meditation apps 
  • In the world could
  • About the present moment
  • And it's gifts being all you've got
  • The rest is not in our hands
  • Which is a good thing
  • Our hands are busy enough
  • I am a meditation drop out
  • Tried and tried but failed
  • And it's supposed to be the answer to everything
  • Let those thoughts float by like clouds
  • And let them go
  • But what if those thoughts are these
  • When did I last take the dog out to pee
  • What if I dried those herbs in the Intsapot
  • When was the last time I watered the herbs
  • How many buttons do I need for that shirt
  • Seven or eight
  • I wish I was in NYC
  • I get the best buttons there
  • I need some shell buttons
  • The ones that look plain on the front but like pearly shells 
  • On the side you can't see
  • That's quality
  • How many buttons would I have to buy 
  • To justify a trip to NYC
  • What am I saying
  • Who needs to justify button buying
  • However at the moment it is just one shirt
  • My neighbour's son has been transferred to Moscow
  • She thought he was coming home
  • When my boys where little
  • Her husband cut off the pickets to the fence
  • That separate our yards
  • He was worried either his boys or mine
  • Would impale themselves 
  • When they went over that fence
  • As they did 8,000 times a day
  • Playing games
  • That involved the older boys inventing
  • Elaborate challenges for the younger ones
  • For admission into some club
  • Where only older boys got to do the fun stuff
  • But the younger guys never figured out
  • Since they were too busy running around the block five times
  • As instructed
  • Well now they are in Calgary, Edmonton, Berkeley, Austin and Moscow
  • And we have a different fence
  • The grapes are out in the vine around my window
  • I can hear the raccoons running across the roof at night
  • Not light on their feet
  • My neighbour across the street told me that he saw 4-5 of them up there one night
  • My big laugh of the week
  • Was some poor soul trying to sell door-to-door security systems
  • Ha I already have one
  • She's called Mrs. Smith
  • Also across the street
  • One foot in the front door and the phone rings
  • You left the trunk open on the car
  • You dropped a mitt on the driveway
  • She does the day shift
  • Barry does the night shift
  • That's why he's on top of the raccoon situation
  • No I don't need an app for that
  • Not sure I need an app for much
  • Sorry about that
  • Sewing is my meditation
  • And after I sew sometimes I am rewarded with a look like this
  • On a face like this
  • Beats clouds

Monday, July 26, 2021

Wardrobe by me patterns

I love patterns and buy a fair number of them but am fairly cautious about new Indie lines. I like to make one pattern in a new to me company to test the fit and construction before I buy any more from them.

In the last month I have made two Wardrobe by me patterns, both men's shirts.

The first one was the going away shirt I made for my son a couple of posts ago from this pattern:

The second shirt was from this pattern, it's a linen shirt he will pick up when he is home from Texas this coming weekend for a wedding. He wanted it collarless so I just used the band and left off the collar:

I am very, very pleased with both these patterns. I sew a lot of shirts for my adult sons and I always struggle with finding a pattern that gives close to RTW fit. Too many of the shirt patterns I have tried are too boxy and sort of look dated to me.

These two patterns for a more casual shirt, totally nailed it. The draft was wider at the shoulders than the hips, which helped with the boxy problem, and the pieces just glided together exactly. Zero struggle to put in the sleeves, attach the collar or band to the neckline etc. - all the pieces just fit so well. The results definitely don't have that made by mom look, although of course they were.

This good experience makes me wonder about exploring this line further. I have my eye on this pattern at the moment:

 Has anyone else made any of these patterns? What are your experiences?


Saturday, July 24, 2021

An interview with Create Whimsy


 Last week I did another interview for the Create Whimsy website. They asked me to talk about my new book, coming out next month, and so I did that.

For those of you who might be interested in the backstory on that book here's the link.

Friday, July 23, 2021

Stylearc and family sewing

 When Stylearc patterns first hit the scene I just about lost my mind. Up till then I had relied, with increasingly sporadic results, on the Big 4, most often Vogue. 

At that time it was becoming obvious to me that the fashion universe Vogue was inhabiting was its own space, with things that they had decided were fashionable, but outside their world weren't. 

Equally, and for concern to me as a sewist who really loves construction cleverness, was that the drafting at Vogue no longer seemed particularly good, and the instructions were pretty archaic.

In that environment, and from that perspective, Stylearc was just what I was looking for -RTW sizing, current styles and in some cases interesting construction techniques, although only cryptically explained.

And the pants fit. 

Fit right out of the envelope and without any alterations necessary. Who could believe that such a thing was possible?

So I bought Stylearc patterns a lot. 

Many of the early ones I collected in that period were even hand-drawn on nice tracing paper with hand-lettering. Probably going to be some sort of collector's items one day, but at the time patterns like this made me feel very strongly a personal connection to the folks who drafted them.

However over time styles changed. I found more and more of Stylearc's offerings were sort of shapeless. Loose fit, particularly around my scrawny shoulders, has never looked that good on me. For the same reason I never felt I could wear anything from the Sewing Workshop - those patterns always made me feel like a flag pole draped in a flag.

But then the next change was probably in me. 

Maybe Covid sealed the deal but just being comfortable became a very large priority. Some of the new Stylearcs started to look pretty good to me.

So I jumped back in and it has been going very well.

The first thing I made were some Kew pants for one of my sisters. She has a hard time getting pants for her small waist, wider hips so I decided to make her some. We used a blue linen.

First here is the pattern:

And here they are on my sister, in a video she texted me, with a note to ignore her hair. She has been a long lockdown in Ontario and couldn't get a hair appointment until next month.

She's pretty happy with these, and so am I so the next pair will be for me!

Finally I also made my grandson a housecoat as one of his birthday presents this week. One of my other sisters is staying with me while we wait for her daughter to give birth to her first child (the niece who lived with me for three years while she was in nursing school) and when we were out doing some thrift store shopping I picked up this nice polar fleece piece for $6.00

It just spoke "cozy housecoat for a little boy" to me so that's what I made with it. 

Honestly it's great when they are at this unfussy age and anything you do is just what they wanted:

This is sort of my life. I am spending more than half the week this summer taking care of my three grandchildren here, and August 15 I am headed to Berkeley to see my youngest grandchild there.

Right now my sister and brother-in-law are staying in the semi apartment in our basement, so they are close to my niece who lives two streets over. You know the niece who is engaged (Covid delayed weddings) to my son-in-law's nephew. 

Welcome to Nova Scotia.

There are more than enough folks to sew for around here. These include me and I will be sharing more of those makes soon.

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Flypaper thoughts: random version

  • The weirdness in the air is continuing
  • Has anyone else noticed that strange things are coming out of the blue these days
  • The man across the street, self-described as a young 75
  • Has taken to courtly escorting another neighbour
  • Someone who works shifts
  • Down the long hill towards her workplace
  • He gets up at 6:00 am to do this
  • Like he was going to be walking down that hill this time anyway
  • And he is always weeding on his lawn the time she walks by at night
  • Who needs TV I ask you?
  • When the pandemic has made the stories of the neighbourhood
  • More interesting than anything anyone could make up
  • A few months ago my youngest son moved home to here, after working in the US for a few years
  • The actual morning after he arrived and he talked about his plans to be home
  • He got a great job offer back in Texas
  • You would understand 
  • That the morning of the day I would drive him to the airport in the evening
  • I got up at 5:00 am and made him a shirt and linen pants
  • To wear in Austin and a heat we don't have here

  • For a while now I have felt a compulsion to sew
  • To get something out that was in
  • Does sewing do that for you?
  • I just knew I had to get sewing
  • Of course most of the things I have made
  • Have been for other people
  • I never remember to ask for pictures
  • Tomorrow it will be a seersucker nightgown for one girl
  • Pants for my sister
  • Tops for my husband 
  • A housecoat for my daughter
  • And a couple of dresses for me
  • I have decided that with the way my life is going
  • It has to be packable
  • So that's interesting
  • The linens are being washed and dried
  • Is an instapot better than a slow cooker?
  • From the point of view of sewing not cooking
  • I am threatening to make myself a two piece this year
  • Again the kids will pretend to not recognize me if I do
  • And clothes for someone to wear to junior high
  • That's a hard age to dress
  • Girls seem to be offered only the too revealing or nothing
  • Going to be interesting to figure this one out
  • Nova Scotia is unbelievably beautiful in summer
  • Just spectacular
  • Always hard to believe the recovery that comes after the icebox winter
  • I think I sew my own springs
  • To be illustrated as we go

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Flypaper thoughts: unusual times edition

  •  I think we can establish that things have been weird these days
  • Like the moon is stuck in some weird phase
  • You know the kind that makes the inmates jumpy
  • In a full moon
  • But stuck there
  • How about you?
  • This last few months
  • My youngest son moved back here after years away
  • And the day after he was finished quarantine
  • He got an excellent job offer back in Texas
  • So off he goes again
  • Probably for the long term
  • The switch that was on, has been switched back
  • So I have a question
  • Where is the closest good fabric store for a person in Austin Texas?
  • Last few times I was there I could only find Joanns
  • Although Hill County Weavers is excellent for knitting
  • I need to develop more contacts there
  • Daisy also developed some worrying red rashes on her belly
  • Near where her cancer was removed earlier this year
  • Well false alarm
  • Seems the cat, who adores her
  • Has been trying to nurse
  • The vet thought this was very funny
  • Knowing about the stuck moon I was not surprised
  • Since it appears all bets are off these days
  • Speaking of which
  • I decided to apply to university 
  • To do another undergrad
  • Seems students over 65 don't pay tuition
  • When I heard that I was off
  • So many interests I didn't pursue
  • First time out
  • Getting my transcripts forwarded was hilarious
  • "Can you give me the post code of your address when you lived here?"
  • Canada didn't yet use postcodes when I was that age
  • "OK then what was your student email address?"
  • Listen kiddo I graduated before they invented the internet
  • Big pause
  • I am thinking
  • Spanish, because of being really positive about that Texas thing
  • Animal behaviour
  • Clearly there is a lot to learn about there
  • Creative writing
  • Well there is this blog
  • Comparative religions
  • Substantial knowledge gaps there
  • Women and Aging
  • Surely I have the pre-reqs for that?
  • And I am sewing and sewing
  • With family all over the place now
  • I am setting up Pinterest boards
  • They post ideas and I post fabrics
  • When you have taste like mine
  • It makes more sense to sew by demand
  • Than by surprise
  • I have seen a few surprised looks in my time
  • My niece nailed it
  • "Just make it in a colour you would never wear"
  • Good taste is not always CHEERFUL
  • Hence the Pinterest boards
  • Currently working on mother and daughter outfits for my DIL and granddaughter in California
  • That was by request
  • If the vaccination schedule goes as planned
  • I will be free to go to Berkeley to see those guys
  • For three weeks 
  • Mid August to early September
  • So so excited about that
  • Revising my wardrobe to be more packable
  • We are also planning a month in Florida in November
  • And Texas state parks in February
  • I need to link up with sewing people
  • One of my decisions in the year and a half I have spent 
  • In the striped chair, the comfortable one, with Daisy
  • Is to be as social as I can
  • Got to appreciate your people
  • My neighbourhood has kept me going
  • Everyone is doing the same thing
  • Out in the yards
  • Or walking the dogs
  • Talking and talking
  • I had no idea so many interesting
  • Good hearted people
  • Lived five blocks from me
  • Confucius  was right
  • In the midst of every crisis
  • There is an opportunity
  • Making sure I don't miss it

Saturday, May 15, 2021

David Page Coffin

I have had to let the news of David's passing sit for a bit before I could write about him.

David was a good friend of mine. We knew a lot about each other and I could tell many stories. But it seems to me that so much of that is personal now.

I got to know David when I first wrote for Threads and he was my editor. He was a wonderful editor, the best that magazine ever had.

One day, about 20 years ago, he called me. "I've just read the Shipping News and I am going to come and visit you."

Now of course that book was written about Newfoundland and a long way from my little house in Halifax but he came anyway.  I moved one kid out of a bedroom and sent him into the bunk bed with his brother, and David stayed very happily in a boy's room and slept in a narrow single bed.

He was the kind of person who spoke to children as if they were adults. My three kids really enjoyed having him here. He just fit right into family life. We talked about everything.

Over the years David and I kept in touch and saw each other in person when we could at various sewing shows.

We used to write each other about our schemes and plans and sometimes our worries. He was the kind of friend who if he read that something was bothering you in an email would just phone you up to discuss right away rather than write back.

He had of course the most wonderful voice.

What I want to tell you about David Page Coffin is this.

He was the most genuinely authentic person I have ever met. He was exactly who he was, author, sewer, musician and painter, and there was not one thing about him that was not original and authentic.

He was the real deal, absolutely the real deal.

I also think it is important to understand that everything he did was motivated by his generosity to other people. He always had time for you. He truly respected everyone he talked to. All his writing and teaching were motivated, I feel, not simply by a love of the craft but by a love for people. There is a big difference there.

DPC wanted to share useful things he figured out in case someone found it helpful. His work was entirely original and self-discovered, accurate and true, and he wanted to share it.

Over the last few days I have re-read some of our emails. The last one I sent, at the end of February, was never answered.

I am just so sad. I have lost someone I really understood and someone who really understood me.

You just can't replace a friend like that.

Don't fall over, I am back

Hi folks.

Yes I know this space has been quiet but I am getting back in the groove. 

The last month or so has been very busy. I am back teaching two online courses for the university this summer, and after having been away from it for a while now, that has meant re building the courses.

I have also been doing the proofs for my next book, Stressfree sewing solutions, due out in August. That book was my pandemic project. 

I have also just released a second video in my knits series, this one on more advanced techniques, including an easy way to do a foolproof polo knit type placket that I worked up lately. I am pretty pleased with how easy this technique is. I will be interested in some feedback on it.

And of course I have been sewing.

I made a couple of skirts for my sister who has major cabin fever in Ontario, three pairs of maternity pants and two dresses for my niece, sweatshirts for my son-in-law, and a few things for myself.

I did a guest post on the Fabricville blog on sewing with bamboo, and you can read that here.

Here, randomly, are some pictures of what I made for myself this last month:

A golf shirt made with my new method and a skort from Jalie 

The free apron pattern from Tessuti. I made three of these. Note follow the instructions for the top part of the bib where the straps attach. Like all of Tessuti's patterns although they look simple there are usually a few twists in construction that are a bit original but work out well. This one was my first and, being a know it all, I didn't follow the instructions and as a result the strap attachment is subpar. The next two versions were much better.

And finally here is a blouse I made from an Ottobre magazine and the Jalie Renee pants. I did a FBA on this blouse but think I want to go in and cut it again in a larger size anyway for more back room, although this is certainly wearable. I also think I need to do a straight shoulder adjustment, because that's exactly what I have, so the collar lies a little better. To be continued. It was time I revised a TNT shirt pattern or two.

So that's my update.

I have a bunch of more family sewing I want to do, plus some more things for myself for spring/summer. 

Hopefully I will be able to travel to San Franscico in August for three weeks to see my kids there. It has been well over a year since I have seen them and it's killing me.

Talk soon.

Friday, April 2, 2021

Sewing when that's all you can do

This last week my oldest son, the one who lives with his family in Berkeley, had a birthday. 

I really wanted to make him something special. In my mind it became really important to send something in the mail that came from the house he grew up in, a house that remembers him.

He had mentioned once he liked summer pyjamas. So I made him some from a vintage men's pattern, out of seersucker with piping. It seemed to me to be very California dad of a certain era, and being a dad is my son's very best thing. I also wanted to make these using only vintage techniques. My serger was not used in this project. All seams are either French seams or bound. I also bound the back of the neck and around the fly pieces on the inside. I was real careful with this project.

I haven't seen Nat or his family in over a year. Last March I was just about to go and spend a few days with my granddaughter while her parents went away. That trip got cancelled at the last minute, theirs and mine. That's bothered me all year.

I don't have the words to describe how much I miss this guy. That's my own baby I can't get to.

But I can still sew something for him. And because he is my son, and grew up with all this sewing going on around, he knew exactly what pictures to take. When he emailed me a thank you he sent detail shots of the parts that were the most work.

He'd knows.

That's my kid.

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Flypaper thoughts illustrated version


  • Since last we spoke I was on March Break duty
  • Running my crack highly structured childcare operation
  • As illustrated
  • My main qualification for this facility is that their mother and uncles turned out great
  • The assumption being that the same child raising principles are still in effect
  • Not so sure about that
  • When I raised the originals
  • I was under the impression
  • That there was a right and a wrong way to do things
  • And I should try real hard to do the right thing
  • There was no pop (soda) in my house
  • TV was limited to PBS at 30 minutes a day
  • As you might have figured out by now
  • That supervisor has retired
  • Which is just fine with the current crew
  • In addition to being a day camp
  • I have been making maternity clothes for my niece
  • Best to get those done before the baby arrives
  • I have made a series of pants with the excellent free maternity waistband from P4P whacked onto them
  • And a made up dress from a T shirt pattern and some pleating

  • Other news
  • My husband has taken up stained glass
  • Pretty nice stuff he is making
  • Interesting to see that collecting glass is not unlike collecting fabric
  • I think the downsizing, move into a condo trend will not find much traction here
  • It's good to have a hobby
  • Or in my spouse's case 43
  • Guy I used to work with
  • Somewhat intimidating at the office
  • Is spending a lot of time posting on FB 
  • About the culture of crows
  • I had no idea
  • About him 
  • Or about crows
  • The cat continues to be entertaining
  • Bit like living with a flying squirrel
  • One who has figured out that if you flip over glasses of water
  • With your paw you can drink whatever hits the floor
  • But what can I say to Daisy's best friend?
  • They have wrestling sessions every night after dinner
  • And then lie down and groom each other
  • The cat works on Daisy's legs
  • And Daisy grooms the top of the cat's head
  • What is going on in those small minds?
  • My husband and the cat are in love with each other
  • She taps her paw on his beard
  • "Like being touched by the hand of God" my husband said
  • Basically not something I would have anticipated he would ever say
  • After all these years
  • But then again this is our first cat
  • I also finished a dress for my niece
  • Not illustrated as it is a birthday surprise
  • Then I am wide open to sew for myself
  • I am considering 
  • Concentrating on things I don't need
  • It seems these days are occupied enough with seriousness
  • Not my area to be adding to that
  • Read instructions this week
  • That told you to sew a hook and eye to close the back of a T-shirt with a knit band
  • What is going on McCalls?
  • You all sitting in there with T-shirts with hooks and eyes on them?
  • Good things about the pandemic
  • I got my sewing room reorganized and fixed up
  • Putting my money where my heart is
  • I have read a lot
  • Even self help books people recommended
  • Most of them are short
  • Which when you are improving yourself is helpful
  • Transitions by Bridges makes sense
  • So does Marcus Aurelius
  • Who sure put up with a lot
  • Running that Roman Empire was no piece of cake
  • I am appreciating every one I know who has common sense
  • Turns out that's all that matters
  • Knew that before
  • But now I know that it's the only thing that matters
  • Trouble is it is something you have to be born with
  • Seems real hard to add later
  • No matter how other people try
  • Or how many books with big letters on the cover
  • You read
  • My grandmother had a sister Hilda
  • Very pretty
  • Used to go over there and talk to her budgie while she 
  • Over wound my hair on perm rods
  • Nicest lady
  • Never heard her described as anyone other than as
  • "That Hilda has no sense when it comes to men"
  • The husband I knew walked around all day with a coffee cup in his hand
  • Awful cheerful man
  • There actually are people who have to be told to come in out of the rain
  • It is quite possible 
  • That this is time to know when to come in out of the rain
  • Time to sit out an inning
  • Not time to read the end of the book before you get there
  • We'll get there and it will be fine
  • In the meantime enjoy the sewing room
  • The crows
  • And the feel of a tiny paw on your face
  • Don't want to miss that one
  • Just in case