Just dropping by to reassure anybody who gave it any thought that I have not suffocated under the clouds of dust generated by knocking out our old fireplace which I did a post about here
Instead of being employed for two days, as originally planned ( and quoted for ) the builder was here for thirteen days. This wasn’t his fault as, not long into the job, we realised it was going to be more work than anybody first thought and we had a sort of change of plan. However, thinking he was only going to be here for two days I told him he could bring his dog in from his truck and offered him lunch which, considering I usually grab a bowl of cereal at lunchtimes, was a bit of a strain on my meal planning skills nearly three weeks later.
Being a beagle, I couldn’t trust Harriet out in the garden unsupervised as we have chickens and I’m not sure our dog-proof(ish) garden would be beagle-proof, so I had to keep them confined on the terrace and keep checking on them every now and again with the odd ball playing game in between. Apart from an incident where she decided to jump in our pond and flatten a fish or two, it wasn’t too bad but time consuming for me and I found I couldn’t get on with anything up in my workroom which I was keeping firmly closed up anyway due to the dust. Hence my lack of new makes to show.
At least we have now progressed from this
You may spot the fact that the place for the woodburning stove remains vacant and that’s because, despite living in France where they have stoves galore, we decided to import one from Devon – long story. Anyway, it’s due to arrive the last week November/first week December and I’m hoping the temperature doesn’t take too much of a dive before then. You can see I have been at work with my paintbrush and, also imported Farrow and Ball paint from the U.K. as the french paint is truly abominable yet strangely expensive. The colours are ’London Stone’ and ‘Joa’s White’ – just in case you were wondering. The plastic bag over the end of the flue is not a freakish design feature but to stop any gunk falling down as, the other day, we had strong winds which were forcing dirty water down the flue and on to the nice new tiles. I’ve not gone all ‘minimalist’ on you – as if! – but we’re still trying to decide how to arrange the furniture.
I have said before that it has been an abysmal year for vide greniers which have either been rained off, not well attended by sellers, or just plain pants but I did go to a good one recently and picked up a few vintage bits. As usual, there are things I bought and won’t be able to part with – ‘too heavy to post anyway’ is what I tell Mr. T.
So those won’t be going into my shop anytime soon but I have found a few other bits.
Have you seen all those on trend lamps which have animals – often dogs – as bases and, sometimes, like the Abigail Ahern ones, little teeny lampshades on top? Well, when I saw a fetching dog carafe in the flea market, with a hole already in its head, I thought we could knock up our own one. I say ‘we’ when I actually mean ‘him’ but he is strangely reluctant and I can’t understand why.
I will leave you with that question of taste and style and go up to my workroom and see if I can come to terms with the new overlocker that I bought in Lidl the other day – 139 euros for a Pfaff overlocker with a 3 year guarantee! – I was beside myself with excitement as that is the sort of thing that does it for me these days and it was only slightly more expensive than 250g of cheese and a loaf of bread here (thank God the wine’s cheap).
I am off to the U.K. on Monday to visit my parents, my eldest and last, but not least, (well it probably is least but you know what I mean), the Knit and Stitch Exhibition at Alexandra Palace.
I have finished my Colette Zinnia skirt but I am not altogether happy with the pleats and, because I’ve made it in plaid, some might say it looks like I have wrapped a picnic blanket round myself so you can understand my reluctance to model it. However, when I come back, I’ll style it up properly and inflict some photos on you.
In the meantime, and before I go and hunt down my passport, bag small enough to go in the cabin but big enough to hold a week’s worth of knickers and other necessities, Rescue Remedy Drops (I don’t like flying) and the 1kg stollen cake that I’m taking over for my Dad who is poorly, I thought I’d do a bit of shameless self promotion in the form of photos of some of the vintage goodies currently in my shop because a) I like them, b) I need the free publicity and c) I’m the boss of my blog
I love making plain objects look more exciting with the camera. I think I take my best photographs when I’m doing product photography – maybe its something to do with the possible financial reward!
Another fanciful one.
All these French treasures, and more, can be found in my vintage shop, La Manche, which is the main (non breathing) competition for my attention apart from my workroom where I occupy myself with things of the creative kind.
Speaking of which, do you remember the lovely French magazines I showed you recently? Well, bearing in mind Mlle. Tialys the elder’s new found interest in dressmaking, I found the perfect one to frame and hang in my workroom to remind me of the defining moment when my passion for sewing and craft in general finally seemed to have rubbed off on to one of my daughters.
I will see you when I get back from my spending frenzy at the Knit & Stitch Expo with, hopefully, some tales to tell.
Just to let you know why my Colette Zinnia skirt is still a work in progress and why I haven’t started another Skater Dress even though I’ve got the fabric. We’ve got the builders in. Well, I say ‘the builders’ it’s actually just one builder and I was very pleased with him until today when he disappeared a bit early and isn’t coming tomorrow at all, leaving me in a miasma of dust and uncertainty. Our old insert fire was showing its age and the faux chimney breast above was cracking badly so we decided to have that knocked out and get a free standing wood burner as we have in another room.
Yes, that’s the sort of thing, now just take out the old insert and make the wall good. What’s that you say? The wall to the right hand side has a void behind it so you could take it right back and take out the cupboard in the corner – it would make a bigger room. Oh, go on then.
Back to the original, original wall now, well mostly. I suppose these things happen when you have an ancient house and we know this and usually don’t tackle anything needing more than a screwdriver or, occasionally, a bit of light drilling. I’ve always fancied an exposed stone wall so that’s one redecorating decision made. There was an old doorway behind the cupboard and we plan on keeping the frame and infilling with stone – of which we have plenty – see small sample on left. At least the flue is now hanging straight down instead of draped across a crumbly wall. Stan is looking for rodent skeletons.
Ready to start backfilling and pointing up now but the builder has gone and won’t be coming back until the day after tomorrow. Something about not having the right sand.
Might as well go and finish putting the pleats in my skirt then.
Well, I think I’ve found my favourite dress pattern, for now anyway, so here’s another version of the Lady Skater Dress. This time, I made it for ME, and I used some lovely Liberty of London jersey – yes, jersey, who knew? Well, they knew at Sewbox ‘cos that’s where I bought it but I only ever really thought of tana lawn when thinking of Liberty fabric before. Anyway, the first pic is a silly, take it yourself in your daughter’s bedroom because everybody else is out and you can’t wait, type of photograph but, also, the autumn colours came out really well here and in the next photos, in the garden, they don’t look quite as bright. As a bonus, my physog is hidden by the camera so even more reason to like this one best!
Oh, here I am. having changed grungy boots for cream patent court shoes – don’t ask me why because even I don’t know – and gazing at the hem as if I have done something magic with a twin needle which, indeed, I have. Interestingly, I had to revert to my trusty old(ish) Singer for that as my Janome doesn’t seem to have the capability or, if it does, I haven’t found out about it.Who knows what is happening here. I look as if I am calling all the creatures of the woodland to come and gaze at my creation but, really, I just wanted to show you the back of the dress which isn’t crinkly when I’m not performing.
That’s better, a good shot of the frock and not so much of me. I have to say that, at the time I was buying this Liberty fabric, I didn’t realise they do both cotton and viscose jersey and this is the latter. It is four way stretch and very drapey so time will tell if the dress will pull out of shape. I will have to wear it for a whole day to see what happens. However, the clear elastic which the pattern tells you to put around the bottom of the bodice pieces should ensure nothing too hideous occurs. By the way, it’s quite hard to find that elastic – I had to spend even longer trawling the internet than usual – but it really does seem to do the job
I have learnt that the sizing seems to be dependent on the fabric you use. The last one, made in not such stretchy jersey, was a little tight but, as I had made it primarily as a muslin but in some sale price fabric I knew my daughter would like I could still put it to use. This time, even though I made the same size, it fits perfectly. Also, I notice that the waistline on this version appears to have dropped a little which might be to do with the stretchier fabric or I might have added a little on when I cut it out . I don’t actually mind the slightly dropped waist and, anyway, I couldn’t adjust it because it would have made the skirt too short – as it was I only took up 0.5 inches for a hem. I know you can leave knit fabrics unhemmed as they don’t fray but it doesn’t seem quite right somehow.
My last make of the summer was the Jasmine blouse from Colette patterns. I bought the pattern when I was in the U.K. in July so I at least saved the cost of the postage. I made the version with the notched cuffs rather than the gathered sleeves which I thought might be a bit ‘puffy’ for me. Although I think these ties were meant to be the ones you tie them in a bow, I haven’t because it would make a very underwhelming one and, next time, I would make these quite a bit longer.
Also, next time, I might make it in something a little less extravagant – this one is Liberty (again!) – and because it is cut on the bias, it eats up the fabric. I would also go down a size because there seemed to be quite a bit of ease and I ended up adjusting the neckline and seams after I’d sewn them. Also – another also – I wouldn’t use interfacing on the cuffs and maybe not on the collar unless it was a very fine one. With tana lawn, the effect was to make the cuffs a little too stiff for the rest of the blouse and to make the fabric design more prominent where the interfacing is. Having said all that, I like it and especially like not having to faff with zips or buttons so I will make it again for next year.
Tempted by an introductory discount off the new Colette pattern, the Zinnia skirt, I went for the PDF version so I didn’t have to pay international postage and also so I could get it quickly and, yet again, as with the skater dress, had a fun time cutting and taping the pattern together.
I decided I would definitely make a muslin and had a roll of fabric I was given as a freebie which I hadn’t known what to do with. I was considering making it a wearable muslin until I realised that I had used the wrong side of the fabric but no matter. I slavishly followed the instructions and was very pleased with myself until I realised that they had missed the zip insertion step out of the instructions for Version 2 so I had a fully completed skirt, waistband and all, without any sort of back closure going on! Perfect for a hospital visit! I should have realised before I got to that stage really but my mind was full of side pockets and topstitched pleats. Never mind, I pinned myself into it to check the fit and all was well. I contacted Colette Patterns to let them know there was an omission and they have now put it right. Now I’ve got the waistband size right, this will be a versatile pattern for all year round as there are three versions and you can mix and match and it is suitable for lots of different fabrics. Now I’ve completed the muslin, I think I will make version 3 which hasn’t got side pockets or belt loops and is a little longer.
By the way, what looks like a giant metal hand holding on to the skirt, is actually a light fitting on our conservatory wall. It is one of many pieces of ‘fashion victim’ lighting that Mr. Tialys and I have bought which seem like a good idea at the time but subsequently appear incapable of throwing out any decent light at all.
I love making patchwork quilts for babies. There are plenty of adorable fabrics to choose from, they make brilliant gifts (if you can bear to part with them) and, most of all, they are small. Hooray! I can actually fit one under my machine without feeling as if I’m trying to wrestle a huge, flat, soft opponent to the floor whilst coming over all hot and flushy.
It is organic cotton and, as is often the case with me, the design turned out to be organic too as I basically made it up as I went along.
I wanted to do the Tumblers Quilt pattern from Pam and Nicky Lintott’s book , More Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts but I downsized it to fit a crib and then ran into scaling problems due to my crap maths and it was difficult to match up those fabrics as they are in quite unusual shades. The orange, for instance, is not as bright as it appears in the photos but a more muted, amber colour. Evenutally I found the gingham fabric in the Tilda range and intended to use it for the whole border but then decided on a narrow one with a lighter, wider one on the outside to make the colours pop a bit more.
I love the cheater quilt fabric from the range which I used as backing and vaguely entertained the idea of quilting around each hexagon but then I got a grip of myself, sense prevailed and I did nothing of the sort. Instead, I quilted round the blocks at the front and just did diagonal lines on the wide border.
Now I’ve heard my grand god-baby (made up relationship) is a girl in waiting so now I’m worried it’s a little too boyish. Girls don’t just have pink anymore do they? And, anyway, you can’t have enough foxes, mice, bunnies, racoons and other little creatures that hang upside down from their tails which I can’t quite identify, can you?
Now, back to my next Lady Skater Dress.
I call it No. 1 because I just know I’m going to be making more of these.
This great grown up skater dress pattern from Kitschy Coo is perfect for those of you, like me, who have a fear of fabric with one or more of the following words in the title – ‘knit’, ‘stretch’, ‘jersey’, ‘lycra’. This is a downloadable pattern which you tape together and there is a full, illustrated tutorial or, for the more
cocky advanced amongst you, a crib sheet with more ‘to the point’ instructions. Also, loads of help on Kitschy Coo’s blog for sewing with knit fabric.
This actually started out as my muslin because I had bagged the fabric at a bargain price and thought it wouldn’t matter if I screwed up but, Mlle T. the younger has a thing for roses at the moment and it swiftly became a ‘wearable muslin’. She’s still a reluctant model though and made me cut her head off , photographically speaking, so don’t think it’s just bad camera work on my part.
It’s a shame that the pattern doesn’t match up at the waistband although I have somehow managed to match it up at the sleeves which was, I have to admit, completely by happenstance (don’t you just love that word!). I think it would look really cool with a wide belt round it so you won’t even notice and, anyway, it was meant to be a muslin.
I’m quite happy with the back too – not too many untoward wrinkles going on. I just need to hem it - she’s too young for knee length – but I was so chuffed with it and posing opportunities with my younger model are so rare that I couldn’t wait and snapped it straight off the machine. I am a convert to jersey fabric now – even more so than when I made the Renfrew – and I’m already planning my second and perhaps third version. I’ve just got to get a baby quilt out of the way – must get on, it’s due in a couple of weeks – and then I’m free to play with stretchy, knitty, 5% lycra-y things again – see, those words don’t scare me anymore and I haven’t even got an overlocker.
Madamoiselle Tialys the elder has now left to go back to University in the U.K.
I am pleased to get my workroom back to myself but I don’t think I’m going to enjoy myself quite so much. Having persuaded me to fork out a small fortune on postage to get this fabric from the U.S., she was determined to get the most out of a metre.
(Just pointing out, for those of you who don’t know about Dr. Who and his time machine that looks like an old fashioned British police telephone box – or ‘the tardis’ as it is known to us Whovians – that is the design on the fabric.)
Tardis Project 1
Not bad for a metre of fabric and, because she has proved her
addiction dedication to the delights of sewing, a Janome sewing machine is winging its way to her appartment as we speak.
Now, does anybody know the plural of Tardis? Tardises? or, my preference, Tardi? Or, being only one of them in the entire universe – as far as we know – can it be said that no plural exists?
Meanwhile, I’m inching reluctantly back towards the rather more grown up and down to earth by making a skater dress for Mlle. Tialys the younger. She has a thing for roses at the moment, preferably partnered with skulls but she’ll have to make do with polka dots this time. I downloaded this pattern from Kitschy Coo and, after having a playschool hour or so cutting it out and taping it together, I have semi-assembled the bodice for fit but we can’t decide on cap, 3/4 or long sleeves.
If it turns out well, I’m going to make one for myself in a Liberty print jersey and I’ve already decided on 3/4 length sleeves for mine. Hmm…..back to normality.
( very photo heavy post – just saying)
I thought I’d wandered into a kind of French South Park episode at the weekend when we decided to go to a nearby village and see ‘Le Jardin Enchanté’ (the enchanted garden) which is only rarely open to the public and saw this sign.
Yes, there was a river with quite a few rocks around and the French aren’t ones to install safety barriers around things but I’m not sure the illustration needed to be quite so graphic.
The idea of the day – if I understood the blurb correctly and it’s possible I didn’t – was to combine art with agriculture and there were some interesting examples. Being the beginning of September, gourds and sunflowers were mostly the objets d’art of choice.
Love the sunflower shower head.
and the dressed to kill tree
Not sure about the unfortunate swelling on the front there!
Marks and Spencer trying to save money on lingerie models?
Moving away from the primitive art, there were some gorgeous end of summer colours. The sunflowers in our garden only grew due to the cast off seeds which dropped off the birdfeeder in the winter so we can’t take credit for those and we are a bit high up to grow some of the other plants so I was a bit envious.
Somebody’s been busy with flowerheads – these are floating in the river
Lots of time and effort (and stones) must have gone into some of these little structures
Some quite subtle installations and (back to the primitive art)
It was a lovely place with a very ‘hippy’ feel to it with brightly coloured baggy trousers, piercings and dreadlocks in abundance - some spots along the river had incense sticks burning amongst the stones and flowers – definitely different from the more traditional garden open day in the U.K. Some of the ‘spectacles’ were a bit weird and very French. One appeared to consist of a grown woman playing with a doll made out of straw in exactly the sort of way my daughters used to play with Barbies, apparently for the entertainment of the crowd. On this evidence we decided not to stay for the spectacles due to take place later in the day even though it was all free. A good excuse for a family afternoon out before college and University start again though and an opportunity to take some silly photos like Mlle. T the elder (in her recently finished handmade dress, please note!) pretending to use a gourd as a punch bag – as you do.
Back to the sewing table next time and some tips on what to do with fabric covered in Dr. Who’s tardis – how I tempt you.
You will be pleased to know I have not found any stray dogs in the last couple of weeks – although my neighbour found a lost (and very thin!) hunting dog this morning which, of course, everybody denies all knowledge of. I hate the hunting season – and yes, it has already started again – because, as well as not being particularly enamoured of hunting with dogs for sport, I can’t bear to see the dogs who are often treated abysmally and sometimes get left roaming about for days in danger of being in an accident (or causing one) or loitering around with the bell round their collars ringing through the night and keeping us all awake whilst driving our own dogs mad. Rant over – no more shaggy dog stories – this was supposed to be a ‘girly’ post.
My latest vintage passion is these gorgeous old French fashion magazines, Le Petit Echo de la Mode, which were produced from 1879 until 1983. I have started amassing some as and when I come across them but my favourites are the ones from the 1920s and 30s. Having said that, I love the 1940s ones too which came in a smaller format because of the paper shortage during the war years.
Look at those gorgeous coats – and those waists! – and I love the Eiffel Tower in the background. I do put these in my shop from time to time but I am going to frame up a couple of the smaller ones and some of the Art Deco period ones for my own home. They fit so conveniently into the Ikea Ribba frames and the black version complements the header really well. I might go with some sort of theme when choosing which issues to frame such as those featuring dogs – why aren’t you surprised?
I have now finished the little fabric tote bag from the French craft magazine I showed you a few weeks ago and I am quite pleased with it. I made the matching coin purse too which is a fat and squidgy shape and looks as if it is full of money but isn’t, unfortunately. I will be making some more of these – I have had requests – but I think I will add an interior pocket next time otherwise there could be lots of fruitless rummaging going on when looking for mobile phones or car keys.My sewing buddy has put me to shame and finished her ‘handbag quilt’ before me. I love all those cottage chic florals and muted colours and I have put it in my shop. I am still quilting mine, which has a completely different feel as it is mostly in black, grey and cream, and will hopefully get it finished once Mlle T. the elder has gone back to Uni and stopped hogging my workroom and no longer needs my (surreptitious) overseeing on her sewing projects.
Speaking of which – how proud am I that, as only her 3rd ever project, she made this lovely dress from the Simplicity 1803 pattern. I even forgive her for the fact that I bought the pattern for myself (although was going to do View C with short sleeves and this is View B) and had even bought this same fabric. I will still make it but I have some dusty pink linen mix fabric with cream polka dots and will use the white patterned fabric for something else. She did all the shaping, facings, gathering and zip insertion by herself so I am definitely going to get a sewing machine delivered to the U.K. as soon as she goes back as her belated birthday present because I really think she will continue sewing now she has a few successful projects under her belt. This is a lovely pattern – it has a beautiful scooped back – but I do recommend you make a muslin first as the bodice is very fitted and, to be honest, the sizes on the pattern envelope don’t make too much sense. We just made a muslin for the bodice, without facings or anything and it was time well spent as it came up much smaller than we wanted it. I have seen versions where other people have pleated the skirt a little rather than gathering it, especially if the fabric is a little thick but this one was gathered, as per the pattern, and I think it works well even with this slightly heavy cotton.
Another two weeks of the summer holidays left so I am making the most of her being here and not moaning about my projects going very slowly or my vintage shop being neglected because, once she returns to Uni, I’ll probably have my workroom to myself until December and I’ll be able to do what I want but it won’t be as much fun!
p.s. I do have another Mlle Tialys – and I’m not deliberately leaving her out in my blog posts – but she has as much interest in sewing as I have in Manga or Screamo bands so, until her tastes change or, in a more unlikely scenario, mine do, she will not be found in my workroom unless it is to bring me a cup of tea.
Apparently, according to an internet source, the dog days of summer are not a good time ”the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.” Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813. Whilst dogs were involved and I did have a few hysterical and frenzied moments, I didn’t go near the sea and never leave my wine long enough for it to become sour, but it seemed like an appropriate title for the past few hot summer days.
Firstly, on Friday evening this little chap appeared at my front door. I had guests over at the time and, each time one of them left, I discovered him still there, occasionally engaged in trying to mate with next door’s (male) Briard, a tricky exercise but one he seemed determined to master.
In the end, he found a way through into our garden through a side gate, made himself known (in many and various ways) to my two dogs and showed no signs of leaving. I put him in the conservatory overnight which only served to freak out my cats, who usually sleep in there, and to make him howl and bark until Mlle Tialys the younger got up at 4.30 a.m. to keep him company. I was fairly certain he was lost rather than abandoned – just look at his recently trimmed fringe – so, on Saturday morning we put up posters around the village and thought we’d phone round the local vets on Monday with his tattoo number. On Saturday night, to avoid the howling, he slept in with Mlle T and was obviously used to such home comforts – although, personally, I hesitate before going in her room it has to be said. Anyway, on Sunday, somebody had posted – almost directly opposite our Found Dog posters - Lost Dog posters. We took the number, phoned her and he was reunited with a tearful owner who has promised to think about getting him ‘done’ as the reason he escaped was to search out a certain local lady dog – hence his inappropriate behaviour with any dog he could find. It was lucky for Kaya – as he is apparently called although he ignored us so totally we thought he was deaf - that he took the route up to our house and not down to the busy main road. A happy ending for him but perhaps not so for the little bundle of matted, dusty dreadlocks who is lost dog number 2.
Mlle Tialys the elder had a friend over from University to stay with us for a week. I was set to take her back to the airport yesterday but, before leaving, I wanted to give her a good lunch – no mean feat considering that she has recently discovered she might be a coeliac and therefore could eat none of the usual basics like bread, pastry, pasta, biscuits, cakes, etc. and every label had to be scrutinised to within an inch of its life to ensure no gluten lurked within but, I digress. I thought I’d zip to the nearest SuperU and buy the ingredients for a stir fry but my plans were thwarted when I saw this little dog wandering aimlessly round, across and over the big, busy roundabout. There was another woman trying to stop her from getting run over and I parked the car and managed to get her to safety on the pavement. Then, of course, there was no end of people politely interested (though even more that weren’t) but not wanting to get involved so guess who ended up back at home with a dog instead of stir fry ingredients.
Anyway, to cut a long story a bit shorter, we kept her overnight as I got a glimpse of the police kennels and couldn’t bear for her to stay there. We clipped some of the felted mass that used to be hair away from her feet, ears and eyes and, this morning, I gave her a bath. I was tempted to keep her but she is totally blind and our house and garden are large with steps everywhere and I don’t think she would ever get used to the space. It’s sad as I would guess she’s around 11 or 12 years old and has probably been a loved pet and I don’t like to think of her spending her last days in a rescue centre but, in the end, I took her back to the police who would be taking her straight to the centre in their van. Her last act at our house was to pee on my Persian rug so I felt a little vindicated although I don’t believe she knew whether she was inside or outside, not being used to the space.
The policeman told me that, if you take a dog to the rescue centre yourself, you are considered to be the one who abandons the dog and will have to pay a fee. The vet who checked her for a microchip said the same thing. Can it be true? It’s not surprising that lost and abandoned dogs are a common sight here when they make it so difficult to hand them in that people would rather leave them running about in the road rather than get involved and potentially get stuck with the dog or even incur fees.
Full marks to my boys, Stan and Taz, both once rescued themselves from the mean streets of France, who behaved impeccably whilst being hit on by a randy little ball of white fur and being kind to a matted old lady who kept bumping into them.