I promised Madamoiselle Tialys the Younger that I would take her to her favourite bookshop when college finished for the summer and, more importantly, providing she got some of the toot off her floor so I could walk across it and open a window to air out the health risk we call her bedroom. Her favourite bookshop is one that stocks a copious amount of Japanese animé – or Manga. Don’t ask. Especially don’t ask her otherwise you will be trapped in a one sided conversation for several hours- a position I have been in many a time but have now become fairly well skilled in avoidance tactics.
Roaming about the bookshop while she made her (extensive and expensive) choices, I must have had things Japanese on my mind because I spotted this book in the sale and, despite the beautiful young woman wearing what appears to be a box with sleeves on the cover, I had a closer look and discovered, not only was it in the sale but it held 26 patterns inside – 26!!. I must like some of them surely! So I bought it.
And there are some that I like. This one for instance.
and this one
If only I were so cute and young and doll like.
But most of all I like these
especially the one on the right.
Although I think I could shorten the one on the left and make it work for me too. I was so pleased with myself that I left a huge sheet of 3mm cardboard that I had paid for on the floor propped up against the checkout counter and didn’t realise until I was nearly home – an hour’s drive away.
Just one question. Why, oh why, did I have to buy this book the day after I saw these two cotton lawns and, not knowing what I was going to make with them, took only one metre of each and that shop is one and a half hours away.
Either would have been just right for that blouse. Grrr.
Actually, I have more than one question for you today.
Why did I take the trouble to make an ironing board cover when I only iron an item of clothing if not doing so would put the wearer at risk of arrest for vagrancy?*
Why does every smoothie I ever make turn out green, grey or brown?
Why does my cat hate me?
* Of course, an ironing board (and iron) is an essential part of any sewing workroom which is where mine now lives so it must look pretty. No more clothes will get ironed though!
I keep meaning to tell you about the blockfest I’m a part of which has been organised by Kate over at Tall Tales From Chiconia and Sue From The Magpies Nest and involves twelve people from all over the World. It’s called Foot²Freestyle because each block will have a finished size of 12 inches or a foot, get it?. Every month, one of the twelve participants is ‘the one’ and the other eleven participants make three blocks and send them to ‘the one’ so there will be eleven parcels to open, each holding three patchwork blocks in colours asked for at the beginning of the swap. I do love a parcel – it’s my turn in October. Then, the recipient will make three blocks of her own, making 36 big blocks with which to make a 72 inch square quilt or whatever else you would like to do with twelve patchwork blocks (no rude suggestions please).
The first month, June, belonged to Esther from the Netherlands and her colour choices were backgrounds of white/light grey/cream and main colours of mustard, jadeite/minty blueish greens, coral.
Many of the participants are habitual block swappers if their blogs are anything to go by. I am not – this is my first and I was only tempted because it is being organised by Kate who has just won first prize and a best in show rosette for her beautiful hexagon quilt called ‘Worldwide Friends’ made, in part, using fabric sent to her from her readers and adorned on the back with some Haiku poetry some of which was also contributed by some of her readers. I’m afraid, in the company of such talent, I have kept my blocks simple and concentrated on the colours and getting the finished size correct. I don’t want to disappoint too much with wonky edges and non-matching points – although I’m sure everybody will be very polite about things, it is forcing me to be much more careful and accurate than I would be if I was just making for myself. Which is a good thing, right?
Esther has now received her blocks so I can show you what I sent her.
A Daisy with a touch of French in the centre.
A Bug Jar
and, my favourite, an Anvil
They are not perfect by any means but I’ve kept well to her colour choices and hope she’ll be able to use them in the quilt or even for a coordinating cushion.
Next month is Annett’s turn from Germany and her colour scheme is a white background with orange, turquoise and green.
Easy with the postage so far but there are participants from farther afield – Australia and the U.S. for instance but the three blocks fit in a nice small package and will go letter post so not too bad.
Any suggestions for 12 inch blocks that are interesting but not too difficult (i.e. not too many points!!) would be welcome.
Sometimes Often I go into my workroom for one reason and end up doing something completely different. Something I hadn’t even planned to do. Yesterday was one of those times. I have a pair of trousers – half done – which I keep seeing out of the corner of my eye and I know they need finishing but, because they need altering and faffing with, I just can’t get my head round messing with them at the moment. So an unplanned project got done instead.
Some might call it procrastination.
I made a Sewaholic Renfrew top. Are you thinking that fabric is a bit ‘urgent’? It is quite busy for me but I bought the fabric on Etsy a few months ago and thought I would move it on from my stash – I need the space.
This is me in my customary ‘bring on the firing squad’ pose with the fabric appearing a bit pinker than in reality as I had to mess with the lighting a bit. It is actually more of a salmon pink as in the other two pics. I couldn’t go any further up or down as I was still in my early morning dog walking leggings and my dog walking hair and face, none of which is a pretty sight. There’s no need for you to suffer and anyway it’s the top you are interested in if you are interested in anything at all here.
Because of my abysmal attempt at matching one of my side seams on my Reglisse dress (see post), I wanted to show you that I can actually do it if the stars are aligned correctly and I concentrate. Sorry it’s on a mannequin – her neck is even scraggier than mine but she is probably more than 100 years older than me so I’m not judging – but I couldn’t really model the side seams and operate the remote gizmo of the camera at the same time.
I was in two minds whether to put the cuffs on the sleeves and round the bottom – more matching hell – but, in the end, I decided to go for it because I think the cuffs make it look more like a ‘top’ and less like a t-shirt which is what this fabric called for. I won’t go on about the Sewaholic pattern because everybody has made it and, suffice it to say, it is fast, easy and gives good results and you can’t ask for more than that ;)
Somebody in our house has started borrowing my rotary cutters, curved rulers, tracing wheels, hide mallet (from my ‘ upholstering period’) and has even earmarked a mannequin for a future project.
However, it is not one of the Madamoiselles but Mr. Tialys himself. Thwarted in his plans to turn our downstairs storage room into a micro brewery due to an unforeseen and sudden attack of gout(!), beer is now to be consumed in moderation – if at all. Cheerful in the face of adversity and having discovered, after
feverish and desperate extensive research, that wine is not included in the list of ‘undesirables’, he cheered up and went with his second choice of indoor creative activity – leatherwork.
I have to say that this is preferable as far as I’m concerned – I’m not a fan of beer to the extent that I need it brewing (and smelling) in a room beneath my feet – but I am a fan of leather goods, mostly in the form of bags and belts.
Anyway, this is my jeans belt he made for me.
He hasn’t been to any classes but is slavishly reading blogs, watching tutorials, buying equipment, designing patterns, looking at other peoples’ patterns and honing his craft – sound familiar?
And, when I finally got my Kindle Paperwhite for my birthday yesterday (I’d asked for it for Christmas but nobody remembered!), it came with it’s own, handmade by husband, leather case.
It beats beer in my opinion.
Talking of the Kindle, I am busy being mean and miserly and trying to find good books to download which are either free or cheap. I will also download books I would have bought anyway but, for now, I thought I’d get some stuff on there in case – heaven forfend! – I should run out of reading matter and be stuck in a waiting room somewhere reduced to scanning the teeny screen of my phone as everybody else seems to do these days be it taxi drivers (dangerous!) or diners in restaurants (unsociable). I have resisted the lure of the K for some time now – preferring the look and feel of a real book – but what finally decided me to go down this route is the space that all my current books take up. I am at bursting point. Local charities are awash with books to sell at flea markets and don’t really want any more. I have donated some to the local library for their English speaking clientele but I am now down to my ‘classics’ and my ‘will read again somedays’ and I will be keeping all of those.
This is half of the wall – the other half is almost as bad but with some bits of fabric I’ve managed to squeeze in as well.
So, my question is, does anybody have any recommendations for good books – free, cheap or otherwise – that I can put in my virtual library? I have the space!
To give you an idea of my taste in books, here are the last few I’ve read and enjoyed:
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (I’ve read and loved every single one of her books so no need to recommend any of her others)
The Dud Avocado by Elaine Dundy
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon
Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
Her Lover (Belle du Seigneur) by Albert Cohen (in English!)
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Share your favourites!
A nice touch on the back, bless him.
Last time I made one of my hexagonal sewing boxes I took photographs at each stage so that, as requested, I could produce a tutorial. I even asked for testers. Then I sort of forgot about it for a bit but, when I started making another box I got out my notebook and began writing the instructions that will, quite soon hopefully, be married up with the photos to form a tutorial which will eventually be available in my Etsy shop.
Because I have been making these for such a long time, it’s difficult to think like a cartonnage ‘virgin’ so that’s why I needed people who don’t usually make them to give it a try before I release my instructions to a (hopefully) wider audience.
So, Kate and Lucie, if you are still up for it, get your glue sticks and cardboard ready and choose your fabrics as the day draws closer when I will ask you to ‘get sticky with it’ and try out my instructions. I am sure you will be able to give me lots of constructive criticism and I just hope I can remember which file I put all the photographs in and how to put a PDF together.
What do you think of the latest combination of fabrics by the way? I like the Parisian theme going on – you can’t have too many Eiffel Towers, French typography and handbags can you?
This morning, I woke up really early – 5.30 – and couldn’t get back to sleep so I cut the fabric out for another box with a slightly different feel to it using this Michael Miller fabric as I thought it would make a change from the more ‘traditional’ fabrics and be fun maybe for a young sewing enthusiast.
I’ll let you know how it turns out.
Do you remember Blacky who did a ‘guest post‘ on my blog a few weeks back?
He is a dog at our Rescue Centre who was left behind by his owners when they moved house and has spent three years in a concrete run as, being an ‘ordinary’ looking dog he keeps getting overlooked by potential adopters.
Well look at him today
He’s off home with his new owner.
Sorry, not sorry, for the grainy photo but I expect whoever took it at the Shelter today was shaking with excitement as everybody loved him and couldn’t understand why he was still there.
I thought I’d just let you know as some of you expressed an interest in hearing the end of his story which looks like it will be a happy one.
My Wednesday sewing buddy was having a clear out of her fabric cupboard and unearthed some fairly thin stripy jersey fabric which I commandeered to make pull on pyjama pants (or slob around pants as they are known in our house) for me and one of my Madamoiselles. There was still loads left so I thought it might make a light and easy to wear (not to mention free) summer dress and remembered the pattern by Deer and Doe – ‘Reglisse’ – which I have made before and is a versatile and comfy dress although it uses a lot of fabric as it is cut on the bias and the neckline and hem are finished with more than 4 metres of bias tape.
My tips for how not to make a dress are these:
1. Use totally different fabric from that recommended so that the instructions don’t match what you are having to do in real life.
2. Use stripy fabric in order to make life more difficult
3. When cutting out and trying to match stripes completely forget that the dress has darts and that these must be taken into consideration
4. Use thin jersey fabric with edges that roll so that the overlocker does all sorts of weird things with the seams
5. Don’t bother to match the stripes that will be visible across the front and back bodices. After all the tie will hide the front mismatch and nobody looks at your back anyway and, if they do, you won’t see them sniggering.
6. If you notice a tiny hole in the fabric, ignore it. Perhaps a tiny fairy seamstress will appear during the night and fix it for you.
7. Get the right and wrong sides of the fabric confused and have to redo one sleeve.
However, even having followed all these tips and more, by some miracle, I did actually produce a wearable dress.
Some good things I did: –
By using a jersey fabric I avoided having to cut the dress on the bias and so didn’t need so much fabric. I cut the back and front bodice pieces on the fold instead of in two pieces each which avoided the seam down the centre and the matching difficulties. As this is a stretch fabric I remembered to stabilise the shoulder seams with clear elastic tape. I fixed the tiny pinhole in the fabric by ironing a small piece of lightweight fusible interfacing on the wrong side to prevent it getting any bigger. I decided, on several occasions, against throwing the whole thing in the bin.
Concentrating on my jaunty rear view pose, surely only the mean spirited among you would notice the fact that the waistband is plain at the front and has a stripe through it at the back. Not to mention the stripes on the sleeves don’t match.
and, Oh look! One side of the bodice doesn’t match (although the other does – honest!) and the armscye is too deep (though that is a bit of a ‘thing’ with this particular pattern).
Having just bought a 25m roll of Liberty Lookalike bias tape, the fact that it has red in it was a good enough reason to use it to finish the neckline rather than going out and buying some plain white or red – by this stage I was past caring. However, I drew the line at using it for the hem and finished that with a double needle stitch instead.
As it happens, my younger Madamoiselle has her eye on this dress and I did actually make it in her size but she won’t model for me unless I engage in strong arm tactics and/or bribery – and even then only from the shoulders down – so you got me again.
This blue and white version was the first Reglisse I made when I didn’t ‘go maverick’ and I probably get more compliments on this than anything else I’ve made. The fabric was one euro a metre in the local market and I daresay it has never seen a shred of natural fibre nor an ethical workplace in its life. I’m sorry about that – I stumbled and fell but am only human.
Next time I will make it in my size and pay for some decent fabric – although 3 metres is a lot. It’s probably worth it though to save having to faff with buttons and zips and such. I am getting very lazy in that regard.
Have you ever felt like ditching a project halfway through? Or even after you’ve finished it? It can’t just be me can it?
I think I chose the hottest day of the year so far to go and walk some dogs at the dog shelter at Carcassonne yesterday. At first, they thought it might be too hot for the dogs to go out but, a tiny breeze sprung up and it was decided that it would be O.K. as long as we didn’t go too far.
We tested out a dog’s tolerance of cats by taking in him in the cat house to see how he got on. Filou, as the little dog in question is called, didn’t seem bothered at all and the cats seem to sense this as several were rubbing themselves against him and purring and generally being chilled as only cats can be, even in 30 degrees or more.
I took my camera and, because I am in ‘dog botherer’ mode at the moment, as always after a visit to the kennels, you can read more about the dogs I’ve featured by clicking on the photos.
Handsome isn’t he?
I just love those ears.
Gorgeous Gordon who is at a disadvantage here in France because they tend not to like black dogs.
Hopefully these 5 month old beautiful black pups will fare better.
Some were just too shy to come out of their kennels
and some weren’t shy at all!
Normal (sewing, crafting, knitting and general musings) service will be resumed shortly but thanks for reading and for looking at my photos.
I nipped over to the U.K. last weekend to accompany Mlle. Tialys the younger through the labyrinthine ways of Toulouse and Gatwick airports so that she could attend the Comic-Con event at London’s ExCel Centre with her sister.
Although I’m not really into it all myself, never having been a fan of comic books, video games, Nintendo DSs or any of that stuff, I did enjoy seeing some of the costumes. I didn’t actually go in to the event myself but I saw Jokers, Star Wars characters, variously masked men and women, Supermen and scantily clad young ladies on the underground stations as I beat a hasty retreat to the other side of London which, frankly, sufficed.
Now that it’s over there is a bit of a ‘lull’ in my life at the moment, so much of the last few months having been spent in preparation. Mostly because of the Princess Zelda costume Mlle. T. the elder was making. She also made the one for her friend. We had to buy 18 metres of white polyester satin for those skirts and capes and that was our main purchase from our trip to the Goldhawk Road when I went over in April. Her friend made the shoulder pads, tiaras and other gold accessories. (I must ask her for that staff if she’s finished with it, it would make such a cool broom.)
Not that I was directly involved until the day before when we were frantically sewing on ribbon around the scarily wide hems and hemming and gathering the capes but I was party to all the dressmaking dramas leading up to it.
I escaped to my Mum’s house before the rest of the Princess Zelda cast arrived, knowing that an evening spent surrounded by students, pizza boxes, spray on hair dye, body paint and beer would be a trauma too far.
Poor Mr. T’s flat was looking a bit worse for wear the last time I saw it as there was spray hair colour all over the towels, blue body paint (courtesy of the fairy holding the ‘hey listen’ sign), glitter, emptied tubes of superglue and discarded pieces of fabric. Another reason I beat a hasty retreat.
As a point of dressmaking interest, the tabards on the Princess Zelda costumes were made using scuba fabric. I suggested it because the edges wouldn’t need finishing (anything to save time!) and it would cling quite nicely to the body.
For those of you not au fait with the Legend of Zelda it is a high-fantasy, action-adventure video game series created by two Japanese game designers and that is definitely true because I Googled it. I had to do that despite forking out for numerous variations of the Zelda games for Christmasses and birthdays over the years.
It wasn’t just comic book and gaming characters though. There were costumes from fantasy t.v. series, books and films too. The scariest ones I saw were these two Weeping Angels from Dr. Who.
More body paint excesses.
Some people may think it strange that grown men and women want to dress up as fantasy characters and, I must admit, there are some that do seem a little ‘obsessed’ but, as a fun way to escape the realities of ‘real’ life for a couple of days and trash your Dad’s flat in the process, it can’t be topped.
Now I just need to erase the unnerving sight of my brunette, brown-eyed daughter as a blue-eyed blonde with elf ears from my freaked out memory and I’ll be fine.
The next one’s in October – I expect costume ideas may have already started formulating.