A Bronte Top, A Finished Quilt and Another Coco

I’m off across the border to Spain for a few days  so I’ve been trying to get a few projects finished.  We’re going to a theme park – I feel the nausea rising already and that’s only thinking about the winding roads we will take to get there – then we are going to see a performance by the Cirque du Soleil featuring lots of very bendy people and then, on the way back, we will visit Salvador Dali’s house now a museum.  Plus, we will go food shopping before we re-cross the border which sounds bizarre but Spain is much cheaper than France for lots of things and quite a few French people regularly drive down there to stock up on olive oil, washing powder and other groceries.  I have heard a rumour (thanks Jan F.) that cottage cheese is available and, even though I was never a particular fan, the fact that I can no longer get it makes me want some.  I am hoping (in vain I suppose) for real, fresh cream.

Anyway, here is the finished quilt that I made for the nicest and best yoga teacher in the world – you may quibble but I don’t know yours – and, although she looks vaguely bemused in this photo, I think she likes it.

French General Hexagon QuiltShe seemed even more chuffed, however, with the quilt label I put on.  I found an image with some yoga-type words and added her name and mine plus the date.  I printed it out on transfer paper and put it on some plain fabric then attached it to the corner of the quilt.  (note: My surname isn’t really blurred but I did it in editing in case anybody felt like stalking me and sending me hate mail, especially after my anti-cyclist rant the other week!)

Quilt Label

After I forgot to add a couple of inches to the length of my colour block Coco dress, I decided to spare the world too much of my knees and Mlle. Tialys the elder wore it back to the U.K. after her visit here a few weeks ago.  I do not expect to see it again.  However, I had already bought some more knit fabric to make another version and, this time, I did remember to lengthen it but, being disorganised as I can sometimes be, I hadn’t made a note of the measurements I used from my last pattern hack so, this time, the colour block at the top comes down lower.  I think I prefer the first version but at least this one is a keeper for me.

Coco Colour Block DressWhen I saw the Bronte top pattern from indie designer Jennifer Lauren, I quite fancied having a go because anything that makes t-shirts a bit more exciting has got to be worth a try.  This pattern is supposed to have a slightly vintage look in that the back actually overlaps the front forming an attractive and original neckline and having no shoulder seams.  It can be done all in one colour  but I think the detail is worth emphasizing so used some coordinating knit fabric I happened to have.

Jennifer Lauren T-ShirtI really like it and, if you don’t look too closely, it turned out well although I have a little more of the trim showing on one side of the neck than the other. Tant pis!  Must try harder next time.  Anyway, it’s another thing I might have to give away, because it is a little tighter than I would normally wear my t-shirts.  I wasn’t sure which size to do and, the designer does warn it is a tight fitting style, but the waist and hips corresponding to my bust size were too big for me so I figured, it’s jersey, it’ll stretch and normally, I think it would, but this grey knit is quite a heavy one and the stretch is limited.  Next time, I’ll make it in a lighter, softer knit because I’ve now cut the pattern out for the smaller size and I don’t fancy printing it out all over again!

Bronte Top Jennifer Lauren

Definitely one I’ll make again – paying more attention to the trim next time.  The pattern has a long sleeved option too and I’m wondering about the possibility of doing a pattern hack and making it into a dress with fitted bodice and slightly swirly skirt.  Get me and my fancy ideas!

Huge Hydrangea Heads

 Just to prove I do venture outside sometimes, this gorgeous hydrangea with dinner plate sized heads flowers away in a neglected corner of our garden.

Hydrangea Head

What I especially like about it is you only have to cut one head to fill a vase which is all apropos of nothing in particular but does remind me that tomorrow is the  anniversary of the day when the French cut their King’s head off and duffed up all the posh people.   So, yet another public holiday with some fireworks in the evening to celebrate the fact they now have a president instead despite the fact they all seem to hate the present holder of the title so, if I were him, I’d keep one eye open at night.

Hasta la vista!

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A Rant, Another Knitting Dilemma and More Mannequin Madness

Warning:  Sensitive cyclists do not read on.

Disclaimer:  Some of my best friends are cyclists.  True.  One such madwoman friend is cycling from Paris to where I live in the South of France which is almost 800 km – a distance I consider fit only for an aircraft.

Vintage French Cycling Postcard

They love cycling in France and it appears to take priority over other traffic be it pedestrian, car or ambulance.   I don’t love cycling.  I’m not talking about cycling down to the bakery to get your croissants or zipping round to see your friend on the other side of town or gently trundling along taking in some beautiful scenery.  I’m talking about vast armies of cyclists, five or six abreast, steaming down country roads, grimly determined and in my way.  I don’t like the hideous lycra they wear or the way they hog more than one lane.  I can’t understand the attraction of standing by the side of the road watching streams of bikes going by in a blur or parking your vehicle on a bend to watch so that cars can’t get past you for 10 minutes in case they knock over one of the oncoming cyclists.   If  it had been suggested,  some years ago, that  men (as they mostly seem to be) put on skin tight body stockings and wore them in public the idea would have been laughed out of town.     It is particularly unappealing when they stop by the side of the road and, without bothering to conceal themselves in the trees, face the oncoming  traffic that is already being forced to go at a snail’s pace and take a pee –  although that is something observed regularly here in France even when there is not a bike race going on or lycra to contend with.  I can barely wait for the Tour de France next month.

They made me late for my yoga class this morning but I’m not bitter.

no cycling

Anyway, rant over (until the next time) and here is a sneak peak of my dress for the Outfit Along which, to be honest, I haven’t really been ‘alonging’ with but I’ve made it and it will be photographed and entered.  I have recently learnt – too recently for this dress – that you should make the size of dress or top  for your upper bust measurement, not your full bust because that will make the shoulders and neckline too big for you, and then you do a full bust adjustment.  Oops!  So that’s where I’ve been going wrong.  My last couple of dresses that have had fitted bodices have indeed been too big on the shoulders.  Next time……..

Simplicity 1803The cardigan part of the outfit has also had its problems.  I didn’t like the way I had picked up the stitches for the sleeves so I have frogged both of them and then I realised that I had cast off the stitches of the body too tightly and there was no way that ribbing was going to stretch round my waist.  So I, very carefully and with much trepidation, undid the cast off and redid it using Jenys Stretchy Bind Off.   Now it will!  Just got to do those sleeves again now.

Myrna CardiganDespite sharing my life with quite a few vintage French mannequins,   one of which I sent off to Canada a couple of weeks ago in a box big enough for a coffin, I decided I needed an adjustable mannequin to help me in my dressmaking endeavours.  My friend had a Lady Valet and I thought it looked good as well as being useful so I treated myself.

lady valet dress form

 Handsome aren’t they?

However, I had to buy the small size (the one on the right) for all my measurements including the chest but, though  I don’t like to brag,  that girl has got nothing on me in the bust department.  So, what to do?  I googled it, as I do most things I don’t know about, and found that you must not only adjust a dress form to your measurements but pad it a bit to make it feel more like flesh and, if need be, put one of your bras on it and pad to the desired fullness.  Then you must cover the whole thing in a body stocking of sorts – should have nabbed one of those cyclists this morning – or use, as I did, a sort of body shaping slip that I sometimes wear if I have a very fitted dress and don’t want lines of underwear showing.  So now, instead of my beautiful, clean looking mannequin on her lovely wooden stand, I have this.
DSC_0011 Note the chest cracked open as if for heart surgery as I struggled to make a doppelganger of myself.  I must neither gain nor lose weight as I don’t want to go through that process again and my plans for noting down the measurements of the Tialys madamoiselles and altering the dress form to suit when I’m making something for them will also not be implemented any time soon.

On the subject of mannequins, you may recall that I bought a baby sized one recently in order to get better photographs of the baby clothes I’m making.  Just to remind you here it is

Baby Mannequin

Well, guess what, it’s too big.  So now, having got the idea in my head, I’ve had to find another, smaller one.  No matter, this one can go in my shop – it’s from Paris dontchaknow.  Unfortunately, despite these tiny ones giving me the creeps and being grateful it had no face the one winging its way to me as we speak actually does have a head.  Plus, and I don’t know whether this makes matters better or worse, you can remove  it.  I feel a nightmare coming on.

I am no longer ‘waiting for the wadding’ as mentioned in my last post.   It is sandwiched between the front and back layers of my quilt and basted with curvy safety pins.  Off to start quilting it as it’s taking up my workroom floor and I won’t be able to get anything else done until it is at least de-masking taped from the floorboards.

 

* Post not sponsored by Lycra

 

 

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Swapsies

I have a friend, in France, who loves all things Japanese and goes there quite often and has ‘contacts’ and returns with beautiful vintage kimono and fabulous fabrics.

She took a fancy to an old livestock bell I had in my vintage shop because it was made in the village where she lives.

She wanted to know if I would do a swap.  The animal bell for some Japanese fabric.  So I went round to her house and had a rummage and this is what I ended up with.

Japanese silk Orange

Some gorgeous orange textured silk

japanese kimono silk

 Apparently the  wavy lines are picking out the movement of water flowing in a river. Traditionally, this motif symbolizes the passage of time, and the course of a lifetime.  Well, there you go – I just liked the colour and the ‘bobbly’ bits.

Japanese cotton

some circa 1970s kimono cotton

15.06 (7)

with a lovely handle and soft, slubby texture

Japanese Indigo Cotton

and these two indigo cottons which I am going to fuse together somehow for an infant’s outfit.  The dark blue one is sort of ‘corrugated’ – if you know what I mean – so I think it might look like shirring  and would make a cute top to a summer dress with the other fabric as the skirt.

Antique French Animal Bell

Here is the animal bell which is pretty gorgeous in its primitive state and becomes especially special if it was made in the village in which you now live

French Cow Bell

Now my dilemma is, what can I do with beautiful fabric that is only about 14 inches wide?

I’ve got around 2.5 meters of the orange and 2m of the pink and I’m thinking of  some sort of tops but I think  they would have to be in panels.  Any suggestions?  Is it possible to make anything other than a scarf?

The indigo prints are easier – I think I will be able to make a really cute baby dress from those.  I haven’t been promoting my baby dresses because I haven’t been pleased with the photographs.  I don’t have a baby to model the clothes and my dogs wriggle too much and struggle with the bloomers ;)  So, not having enough vintage mannequins in my house already(!), I found a child-sized mannequin on Ebay which used to grace a shop in Paris and plan to take a whole new set of photographs using this display model.

Baby Mannequin

 Is it me or is this just a tiny bit creepy?

Thank goodness it hasn’t got a face.

In other breathtaking news – I have finished my Simplicity 1803 dress for the Outfit Along – just need to hem it – and will reveal it soon.  The other part of the Outfit Along - the Myrna Cardigan – is one-armed at the moment but I hope to have it completed by the middle (or end) of next week.  I am pleased with the dress but the cardigan will probably end up as another ’round the house’ knit.  We’ll see.  I might try the method of using petersham ribbon behind the button and buttonhole bands for a neater and stronger finish as there is quite a bit of negative ease in this cardigan (hark at me getting all technical!) and it might look as if it is pulling a bit across the girls otherwise.   A tutorial for such a method is outlined here and I will report back if I decide to go along with it.

I am girding my loins to attend a vide grenier (boot sale, yard sale, flea market) as a seller rather than a buyer this Sunday.  Mlle. Tialys the elder and myself will be attempting to sell some of  the results of an over enthusiastic clothes buying habit formed over the last 5 years in her case and many more years in mine – and making room in our wardrobes for our new passion for lovingly hand made clothing.   I’ll let you know how we get on but be prepared for some grumbling about that group of people known as ‘the public’ which we will be miraculously disassociated from on Sunday as we attempt to sell to them.  Example scenario ” a euro for a vintage leather handbag – are you mad? – I’ll give you 50 cents” .   Maybe it will rain…….

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Waiting for the Wadding

After asking you for help making a decision with the border fabric, I decided to go with my first instinct and use the mushroomy grey colour.  So, if you thought ‘cream’,  you didn’t say so and, unlike my daughter who is miffed that I ignored her, you can’t complain ;)

quiltprogress2 (2)

I think it was the best choice.  Please excuse the teddies – they are from a more hormonal time in my life and now share my workroom with me (banned, as they are, from any other room of the house).

I do like to compromise however and, when I realised I didn’t have quite enough of the backing fabric, ended up using the cream to bring it up to size  – so everybody’s happy.

French General Quilt Progress

I must try harder to get that fold out of the middle of the backing fabric.  It doesn’t look that obvious in real life.  Perhaps it will disappear into the quilting.

It is fiendishly difficult (and hideously expensive) to get good quilt batting in France and I’ve had to order it from an obliging seller in the U.K.

So now I’m just waiting for the wadding.

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Decisions Decisions

I have finished piecing the hexagons for the quilt I’m making for a friend.

Hexagons Quilt Top

If you are from the Quilt Police, please do not contact me.  I know there are one or two intersections that are not perfectly matched but, overall, I think my care with cutting and my 1/4 inch machine foot served me well.

Now I have to decide whether to use this cream cotton as a border

quilt border cream

or this mushroomy grey cotton – both have a slight sheen

quilt border grey

or something different altogether.  What do you think?

This will be the back

La Petite Ecole - French General - Moda

At the moment I am veering towards the cream as I think it lifts it and brings out the lighter colours – plus I have more of it – but I do like the mushroom also – help!!

In other riveting news, I continued my tradition – well, I’ve done it once before – of finding a gorgeous vintage mannequin on the day of my birthday.  Like Winnie the Pooh, she’s losing a little stuffing but she is of impeccable pedigree, being a Stockman with original stand and key and just look at that waist.  I think it is very old as the size says ’42’ which would be a U.K. size 14 nowadays (U.S. size 10 I think).  Perhaps a corset was expected – the bust looks a bit pushed together Nell Gwyn style.   I am chuffed but, for some reason, Mr. Tialys is not amused.

Antique Stockman Mannequin

Off for a birthday meal in a couple of hours.  We are going to have dinner in a beautiful and ancient old abbey where the view are gorgeous and so is the food.  Salut!

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Early Birds

Today it is (yet another) public holiday here in France.  We got up early because, we both need to drive to the airport this afternoon, one of us to leave for a few days and the other to pick up Mlle Tialys the elder who is visiting  home for the rest of the month to get her breath back after the endless parties and general student goings on studying of the past university year.  But first we wanted to go to a plant and brocante market and the village which holds this annual event also has its usual market day on Monday mornings so it gets absolutely packed and it is difficult to park, walk or breathe if you leave it too late.  Ask me how I know.  Also it is really  hot at the moment and it is better to get these things done in the relative cool of the morning.

Garden Gargoyle

Not a photo of me this morning – though quite close.  Do you think he looks prettier for having a rose growing behind his ear?  This had happened by accident, not design, which is why I took the photo.

We went to the market with the intention of buying a plant or tree to go over the final resting place of our old German Shepherd, Phoebe, who died last year and was buried (with much exertion and dedication – she weighed 45kg) on one of the higher terraces in our garden.  At the moment she is covered in Iris flowers but we wanted something more permanent.  However, it was mostly herbaceous plants for sale so we ended up with a plumbago for the terrace

plumbago

and a bignone for somewhere else in the garden but we don’t know where yet.

bignone

Of course the brocante part was not neglected and I found this lovely brass cherub holding aloft a diamond cut glass coupe surrounded by flying birds.  Over the top?  Mais, non!  Well, a bit I suppose but it is very Paris Appartment as I like to call this style (or Hollywood Glamour if you prefer)

DSC_0009

I have an obsession with old French cutting boards at the moment. I love that they were probably made by the man of the house and used to death for years and years.  I love the primitive way they have been fashioned, the visible marks of years of use and the grain and texture of the wood.   Most of them I find are in an unloved state but I give them a light sanding and a coat or two of food safe oil and this usually brings the grain up to its former glory.  These old cutting boards are made in very primitive fashion, practically hewn out of the trunk – I’ve had some still with the bark on before.  They are generally really thick and chunky and lopsided, covered in knife cuts and with deep depressions where food has been chopped or bread sliced for many years.  They are gorgeous.

Here are some I’ve had in the past all with their own characters and now in new homes for an even more extended useful (or decorative) life.

Old French Chopping Board

It doesn’t matter if they are split, scratched and holey.

Large French Chopping Board

This handle has worn smooth with use and has a deep depression in the centre where most of the chopping and cutting went on.

Primitive French Chopping BoardI’m not sure how much wine had been consumed when this one was made – look at the handle and the remains of bark.

Old French Bread Board with Knot

A lovely big knot in this one.

Usually, I am persuaded(!) that we cannot keep more than one cutting board – although I have kept a gorgeous small version which is easily concealed – but today I found one that I won’t be parting with.

It weighs nearly 3kg (around 6.6lbs)

antique french chopping boardit is 46cm (18 inches) long and 8cm (3 inches) thick in places

Antique French Bread Boardand whoever made it carved his initials into the handle

French Chopping Board with Initials

what’s not to love?

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It’s All Coming Back To Me

I’ve been a bit wrapped up in making clothes lately but now that I’ve started making a quilt I’ve remembered how much I love it – or at least the construction stage.  The swearing and the gnashing of teeth don’t usually start until the quilting stage.

Remember I’d decided to use a Moda jelly roll in French General’s ‘La Petite Ecole’ design ?  I just couldn’t wait to get those triangles cut but I didn’t have a 60 degree triangle ruler – the shop was shut (well, this is rural France) so I made a template.  I made it wrong :(  So, I had to throw away the first set of triangles I’d cut with it as they were on the wonk  which meant three strips gone from the jelly roll.  So, I made another triangle template and, this time, I concentrated.  Plus, I had made it in strong template plastic so my rotary cutter went right up against it.

LaPetiteEcoleQuilt (3)

I couldn’t resist arranging them into the hexagons they will become.  Unfortunately, I’m not the greatest matcher upper of seams and points so this may be as accurate as it gets.

LaPetiteEcoleQuilt (1)

Aah, patchwork, how I’ve missed you.

LaPetiteEcoleQuilt (2)

I know, I know, I’m supposed to be concentrating on the Outfit Along and making a dress and knitting a cardigan.  Well, I’ve got up to here with the dress -

OAL Progress0206 (2)

and, as the view of Simplicity 1803 that I’m making has four buttons on the bodice, I decided to make some covered ones

OAL Progress0206 (1)

I’ve decided I might not be cut out for these sew alongs/knit alongs/outfit alongs.  I’m far too impatient.  The sewing blog is talking about choosing fabric today and I just want to get on with it – I think the actual sewing bit isn’t even going to start for another couple of weeks.  I like to find sew-alongs long after they’ve finished, when  I’ve done a search for a pattern I’m having problems with and can find the help retrospectively, if you know what I mean.  This ‘real time’ business might not work for me.  Still, I won’t say too much as I’ll probably still be knitting the cardigan long after everyone else has finished.  We will see.  At least it has made me make the dress I’ve been meaning to make for over a year now.

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Why Do I Knit?

Sometimes I wonder why I bother knitting anything.

Crofter DK Sailor Collar Jacket

 I enjoy the actual process but I very rarely end up wearing anything I knit outside of the house.

Sailor Collar Jacket (1)

 For example, I’ve just finished this jacket.  I love the effect of the yarn and the colours.  I quite like the front view.  But I know for a fact I won’t be walking outside of my front door sporting that sailor collar.  Not that I don’t think it’s quite a good design feature.  Not that I haven’t seen photos of other people’s sailor collars and quite liked them.  It’s just not me.

Crofter DK Sailor Collar JacketSo, as with most of my hand knitted garments – I’ll probably just wear it around the house.  The dogs won’t judge my choice of pattern.  This, I say, just as I’m about to cast on for my knitted cardigan as part of the Outfit Along which starts today.  Oh well – it stops me from falling asleep in front of a film in the evenings.

petitecolequilt (2)

 Not part of the Outfit Along, obviously, but I will have some time to fit in another project or two and I’ve decided it’s been far too long since I’ve made a quilt.  I owe a friend a gift.  I had this jelly roll from Moda and it’s called La Petite Ecole from the French General range.

French General Quilt (2)

I know the colours aren’t bright and breezy but I rather like that sometimes and this blue matches some of the paintwork in her house.

Moda La petite ecole quilt (1)

This is the pattern I’ll be following which is from a book called More Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott

 

French General Quilt (4)

I think my friend will like it – if I can part with it that is!  I’m already envisaging it artfully draped over my own garden bench.

 

Now I’m  off to cast on the stitches for another ‘wearing for the dogs’ benefit’  jumper.  Do you knit (or crochet or sew) and not wear?  Is it the process rather than the finished article that does it for you?  Do tell!

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Another Coco Before Clearing the Decks

I just finished another Coco dress.  I bought this coral coloured jersey which was the perfect weight for this dress but I felt was a little bright to make the whole dress in.  So I decided to pair it with this grey jersey and have a go at making a colour block version.  I love it but, unfortunately, forgot to lengthen it this time so I will get a consensus of opinion from family and blunt  honest friends and, if they think it’s too short for me, I’ll have to hand it over to one of the Madamoiselles.  I think you can usually get away with things a little shorter in the summer with bare legs and flats but we’ll see.

Colour Block Coco Dress

(The ombré effect here is due to bad lighting rather than the fabric and my paintwork morphing into different shades)

Only a couple of days to go until the Lladybird and Tangled Threads’ Outfit Along starts so I wanted to finish up some projects I had on the go and start with a clean (ish) slate.

As I explained here this Outfit Along comprises a dress (or skirt) and a cardigan to go with it.  The suggested pattern for the dress is Simplicity 1803 which I already have and had bought the fabric for some time ago and the cardigan is the new one from Andi Satterlund called Myrna.

Simplicity 1803

I’m going to make the one in the bottom right hand corner with the short sleeves and button embellishments.

myrna cardigan2

Here’s the cardi I’m going to make.

There are lots of gorgeous fabric and yarn choices going on and I’ve been watching the Ravelry thread to see what people are choosing.  However, much as I like the bright, patterned fabrics, I’m taking into consideration my lifestyle, location, age, wearing opportunities and going with something a bit more ‘sensible’ or let’s use the word ‘classic’ as it sounds slightly less boring.

OAL fabric and yarn 001

So, these are my fabric and yarn choices.  What do you think?  Be quick and tell me if you don’t think they’d work as I start the day after tomorrow!

I’m sure I will have time to do plenty of other things at the the same time – we have until the end of July after all – and the dress shouldn’t take me long but I only knit in the evenings so the cardigan is likely to be the thing in danger of not being finished so no more knitting projects until afterward.

I just had time to finish off this cute baby jacket which will, eventually, be in my shop as I have lots of plans for more hand knit baby wear but I’ve got to complete a few more yet before I put them in the shop.

Knitted Baby Jacket

I’m frantically sewing up a knitted jacket for myself – don’t you just hate the sewing up part of knitting? – then that will be out of the way and I can cut out and cast on.

Outfit Along

 

 

 

 

 

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Floaty Stuff (or a Zinnia chiffon skirt)

Wrath of the Tartans (1)

I bought the Colette Zinnia skirt pattern when it very first came out – so early, in fact, that I was able to point out an error which they quickly remedied.  Like a fool, I decided to make the skirt in plaid and proceeded to make a complete pig’s breakfast of it with my pleats going all over the place (you can visit the final resting place above).

 At the same time, I had bought some fabric to make the chiffon version but, after my failure with the first one, left it lying pale and limp in a corner waiting for me to get my confidence back.

I read several tutorials about working with silk, chiffon and all things floaty and slippy and decided to go for it.

Colette Zinnia Chiffon Version

(This mannequin had obviously had a glass of wine or two.  Or was that me?)

The pleats were easier to do than I expected as I had the lining in place and that made the chiffon easier to handle.

Zinnia Chiffon SkirtI used tailors chalk to mark the pleats and you can still see it! I am hoping it will come out with the first wash.

I did a rolled hem on my overlocker – which was a first for me.

So, overall, I was quite chuffed

Colette Zinnia Chiffon Skirt

 I’m still not sure how I managed to ‘make it work’ in chiffon and not in plaid but there you go.  Sometimes you have those sorts of days where nothing goes right.

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