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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 I write a monthly humour/sewing column for 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 Amazonhttps://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=barbara+emodi&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Abarbara+emodi

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Designer details and new lessons

One afternoon when I was in San Francisco it started to rain. I ducked into Neiman Marcus and headed up to the floor with designer clothes to have a look.

Being very Nova Scotian I went up to the sales folks and said listen I am not buying, but I am a sewer.  I would like to look at the clothes and take a few pictures if you don't mind.

They didn't mind at all and in fact took me to clothes with particularly interesting design details that we talked about. 

What a nice afternoon. 

Sometimes you know when folks think you are from the middle of nowhere they cut you a lot of slack to be honest. In the middle of nowhere you figure out that pleasant goes a long way and most people are really nice.

I had a huge take away from this day that I want to share.

Sometimes when we think of designer details or sewing designer style as in Chanel jacket projects or LBD we tend to work from classic interpretations of technique and forget to look at what designers are doing now.

In my little foray I learned this.

Designers are keeping up and changing. Like every other area they are embracing technology. Sergers are being used actively for new techniques. 

For the home sewer learning from designers can mean as much about learning how to do new things as learning how to do it the old way.

So here are some of the details I found most interesting. All with ideas we can all use. Note too that there still is much handwork but it is strategic not pervasive. I found this interesting.

First a hanging pocket. 

This was in unlined Armani double knit wool jacket with serger together seams bound with Wooly Nylon. Because the outside of the jacket was simple and clean the pocket bag was suspended by four long sturdy serged thread chains from the seam allowance, inside the jacket. From the outside there was no indication of a pocket- on the inside there was a place to put your phone:

Sorry about the fuzzy picture I only had two hands to work with, hopefully you can get the idea

I was also quite take with another unlined Armani coat - in wool where the seams were made by lapping one layer over the other and the raw edges of each layer turned under and hand stitched to make seams without stitching lines. At the edges the layers were turned to the right side on the buttonhole side to make a binding look and under on the button side:


The same jacket also had a knit collar I thought was both beautiful and would be very comfortable:



I saw a lot of serged seams. In this knit dress the serger seams are made with close set stitches with wooly nylon in the loopers so it looks almost like binding:


I was also interested to see some novel bindings. This dress by Dior has the neck and armhole edges covered with grosgrain ribbon, laid on and stitched versus folded. I thought this looked nice and crisp with the seersucker stripe:


The use of ribbing as opposed to classic binding was interesting in this jacket by Chanel - I thought it looked nice and modern and will be borrowing this idea myself. I thought it was beautiful, and without the old lady, Rose Kennedy look, I feel in some of these jackets;


Finally my favourite. 

A simple navy silk duping shirt dress lengthened to floor length. What I particularly liked about this dress was that the concealed button placket actually gets wider as it goes down the dress, keeping the proportions of the flared skirt perfect. 

We could make a dress like this, couldn't we?



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Pattern review: two new Jalies

I am in the process of experimenting with new shapes and styles.

I mean why not?

What I wear day-to-day matters to me. I want to be comfortable and I want to be interested in what I have on. I enjoy wearing new clothes and new to me styles. Some times this works out and sometimes it doesn't in as in a  "You have to be kidding" evaluation from my eagle-eyed daughter.

Right now I am trying out new pants shapes. 

It's a bit of a campaign.  I am getting sort of sick of the slim pants and then the long top to hide the gut routine. Maybe I want to dress without feeling there is a part of me I want to hide. Having to think like that gets sort of tiring.

Any of you identify with this?

So when the latest raft of Jalie patterns came out I realized they presented me with some opportunities to try out something I never thought I would wear. 

Never want to get to be a rusty dresser. 

Also the Fabricville at the bottom of the street now carries Jalies and they also have some nice tencel pant weight and some very silky bamboo.

This was all I needed.

So fooling around I decided to make the Vanessa fluid pants and the Marie-Claude knit top.

Here are the pattern pictures:




The Marie-Claude is a raglan T-shirt with a shaped hem and a fairly high crew neckline, with an option as well for a turtleneck or a close hood. 

Given it is now spring, even in Nova Scotia, I decided to make the crew neckline. The result is what I would call a base layer type top, fine on its own, particularly as it has a body skimming as opposed to very fitted silhouette, but ideal as a top to wear under a jacket too. 

It seems these days that many necklines are either scoop or boat neck and I really enjoy wearing a comfortable round neck for a change. I can see this pattern could easily be made in a lycra for a sunshirt to wear around the pool with the kids and I think I might trace a smaller size and do just that.


I made a few changes to this top in my version. First I lengthened it by 2”, something that was super easy to do as the top pattern pieces are one lower section and two different top sections (one for the front and one for the back) that you lay above the bottom pattern pieces to cut each out. It was easy to just spread the pattern pieces apart at 2” at this point. I am tall and this extra 2” is an almost automatic adjustment for me.



I twin-needled the hem of the top but the sleeves have a band at the bottom - there is a slight little boy p.j top vibe going on here that I like. Little boys are generally very comfortable.

The Vanessa tracker pants are excellent. For some reason all us home sewers for years struggled with pants fitting and now we finally have access to great pants drafts with real ready-to-wear fit. This seems to me to have eliminated so many of our fitting issues. And about time too.

Not the most flattering picture but this view really gives you an idea of the shape of the leg


These pants really require a fabric with drape, indicated quite clearly in the flowing pants description, so the tencel is perfect. 

They can be made with either the elastic at the bottom, which I did, or hemmed, which I might do in the next pair. The pattern has interesting nice deep pockets and a flat section at centre front the break up the gathers of the otherwise full elastic waist casing. This flat piece is supposed to be a place for eyelets and a drawstring but I left that detail out in mine – I don’t like or need any extra bulk around my waist.

I also made one change to the pants after I had worn them for a day and surprisingly this was to shorten them 1 ½”.

I decided after having observed other folks wearing tracker pants (OK so these were bearded mean barrelling past me on bikes on the streets of San Francisco) and it seemed to me that theirs were sleeker at the bottom than the sort of bloused look I got when I tried out the length specified in the pattern. As a result I shortened these pants before I signed off on them.

It's pretty cool to have two new patterns turn out so well. 
Nothing like instant TNTs!


Monday, June 5, 2017

So what's your uniform?

This is a question that has long interested me.

Do we all, in some way, have a clothing uniform - an outfit we default to and wear most often?

If we do, do we give it enough thought? 

Is it our most comfortable, easiest to reach, no thinking outfit, or is it something we plan and develop?

This article suggests those of us who do dress my uniform think about what image we are projecting with it.

I am interested in your thoughts.

Do you have a uniform?

If so why?

If not why not?

Is your uniform planned or unplanned?

An interesting question as we all get dressed for the day.