Trouser Talk

Having canvassed your advice on which pattern to use for my first pair of trousers I went for this one which around half of you went for with the others coming down quite firmly on the side of Sewaholic’s Thurlow trousers which I will do next time and already have the fabric.  Why did I go for the Burda one in the end?  The clue is on the top left hand corner of the pattern envelope.  Never mind that the ‘sehr leicht‘ and ‘très facile‘ versions are the only ones in the packet – the ‘very easy‘ and ‘muy facil‘ versions probably having been jettisoned long ago –  I don’t speak German but I do mangle the French language quite efficiently.

Vintage Burda PatternOf course, I didn’t dare proceed without a muslin so used a sort of thin, polyester, vaguely stretchy sort of fabric that somebody once gave me a whole roll of.  The town I live near in France used to have a thriving textile industry and most people around here either worked within it or have family that did so there are often various remnants of fabric bolts being offered around.  Although the largest factory made (might still make, actually) the fabric for car seats which might not lend itself to many garments.

Bryonys TrousersMuslin Front ViewThis is the unironed, clipped up, clipped in front view modeled by reluctant daughter and, apart from the slight excess fabric on the front, which I think will pull up once the waistband is attached and the length taken up, I don’t think the fit is too bad. I did look at ways of adjusting the fit to get rid of the excess but it was all such a faff and I am hoping that, in the thicker, better quality fabric and with the zip put in and the waistband on, they will be fine.

BryonysTrousersMuslinBackView

The back actually looks O.K. to me.

BryonysTrousersMuslin Side Viewand, if you ignore the unironed fabric, I don’t think the side view is too bad either.  I haven’t actually made any alterations to the pattern so now I’m wondering why I thought she was not a standard size!

Maybe I shouldn’t get too confident until I get to the same stage with the actual fabric.

In the meantime, I ran up a pair of pull ons or pyjama pants out of yet more free fabric for casual use around the house for said daughter who, as you can see from the purple, starry top, is happiest on a Sunday when she can stay in her pyjamas all day if she wants (and she usually does want).  I did use Tilly and the Buttons pattern from her book which I bought for my other daughter a while back but, instead of putting a tape or ribbon through the waist, I used elastic and then sewed the white cord on for decoration and to carry on the marine theme that seems to be going on in the fabric.

BryonysPullOnsI was very proud of my stripe matching on these and can assure you that my model is standing on the wonk and it’s not the pants. Honest!

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Taking It Outside

Now the weather has cheered up immeasurably, I followed my blogging friend Kate’s advice and took my grey looking duck egg blue blanket outside for another attempt at a photo where, voila, it is now showing its true colour.  (have a look at my last post  if you want to see the difference)

Huge Cable Blanket

I’ve finished another hexagonal sewing box but not just any old sewing box because this one has been my model for the tutorial I’m thinking of producing.

HexagonBoxToadstools (3)

I thought these lovely bright colours would show up well in the gazillions of photos I’ve taken of each cutty, sticky, teeny stitchy step.

HexagonBoxToadstools (1)

  I love those toadstools and, even though the interior check made my eyes go funny when I was working with it, the good matching cannot be denied.

Hexagonal Box Toadstools

I couldn’t resist a ‘nature’ shot.

So, Kate and Lucie, start girding your loins, saving good bits of card and stocking up on glue because I might be taking you both up on your offers of being tutorial testers for me before too long.

I have stopped procrastinating – well, a bit anyway – and removed the two lengths of  fabric I bought to make trousers for Mlle Tialys the younger from the carrier bags they have languished in since I returned from the U.K. and, whatsmore, I have actually washed them.  I just need to decide now whether to use Sewaholic’s Thurlow pattern

sewaholic thurlow

or this vintage(ish) Burda pattern.

Vintage Burda Pattern

Which one do you think would be better for a ‘generous’ hip and thigh area?

I could have shown you a pup photo again today because I found two Husky dogs in my garden this morning but a friend recently mentioned my blog was getting a bit ‘doggy’.  I know I talk about sewing and knitting and crafting and dogs (nearly said dogging! :o) and other more general things on my blog but, I don’t want to become too much of  a ‘dog botherer’ so I’ll keep that story for another day and show you a picture of my old cockerel instead.  I think he’s about 8 years old.

Cockerel 8 years

He is still staggering around, despite the fact that, when I thought he was on his last legs a couple of months ago I Googled ways of humanely euthanizing him.  I was quite traumatized by the experience. I found various ways of dispatching him including the usual neck wringing, chopping off of head and snipping the throat stuff.  In some methods guns were involved  :o   An ingenious one seemed to be standing him in a sealed container on a tray with bicarbonate of soda beneath whilst trickling vinegar in and lastly, and possibly the most interesting for any curious passers-by,  putting him in another sort of container and taping it up to the exhaust pipe of the car.

Needless to say, he is still with us and I just hope that, when his time comes he will go peacefully in his sleep which is all anybody can really wish for.  Now, I bet you wish I’d shown you the Huskies instead ;)

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Putting off Pants

I know I’m English and we call pants ‘trousers’ but I do like a touch of alliteration and I have some readers from the States so, if you thought this was going to be about  men’s knickers, sorry to disappoint.  The reality is much less exciting I’m afraid, being more concerned with knitted stuff so there you have your heads up and can leave without anybody ever knowing you were here.

Here’s a very French village photo for you.  It is my lonely stall set up outside the Mairie (town hall) a couple of weeks ago.  It does look like I’m Billy No Mates but, inside there were lots of other stalls raising money for Dog Rescue Carcassonne.  I chose to set up outside partly because it was a lovely sunny morning and partly because I had to leave early to take my Mum back to the airport so I sold a few dog collars and bandanas and said my goodbyes without creating havoc inside amongst the other stalls.

French Mairie

So, when my Mum visits, I knit to be more sociable and generally only use the computer or sew when she is catching some ‘Zs’ which is fairly often these days it has to be said.

This is my second completed humungus cable blanket.  It is a subtle, flecked duck egg blue but I couldn’t, for the life of me, get that colour to come out properly in the photograph so it looks much more like a light grey, which it isn’t.  I did try – I even turned off the ‘auto’ setting and dipped into the realms of manually setting the aperture and all that scary stuff .  Any photography tips on how to tackle this sort of problem would be gratefully received.

2ndHugeBlanketDuckEggBlue

 It’s actually like this.

james c. brett rustic aran

 (manufacturer’s photo!)

I love this blanket so much.  I’ve already ordered enough yarn to make another two which is a bit mad because, now the summer is starting to kick in, I shall probably die of heat and suffocation under more than 2kg of wool.

This light and airy baby blanket, on the other hand, is made using the same size needles – 20mm – but with only one strand of yarn rather than six strands, as used in the humungus one, so it is more ‘summer friendly’.  Having no babies any more, I had to use this bear as a model.  I could have used one of my baby mannequins but they are far too creepy – the bear looks cuter, trust me.

BabyBlanket (2)To supplement my dog collars and bandanas range, I thought I’d have a go at knitting some dog coats.  I know it is the wrong time of year but you know how quickly the year passes and soon it will be time for those who like or need to put a little jumper on their dog to do so again.

KnittedDogCoatsThis is James C. Brett Marble Chunky and it is great to knit with and comes up with some lovely colour variations.  The grey one at the top has been a little overshadowed by the lovely, rust and teal tones of the one beneath but it is still smart and for the less ‘showy’ dog about town.  My problem is, I made these two versions in a ‘medium’ size and my own dogs are larger than that and nobody I know has ‘medium’ dogs – only large or small.  I feel like taking one out and about with me and, when I see somebody with an appropriately sized dog, ask if I can put a little knitted coat on their pet and take a photo.

That way madness lies.

Anyway, Flo, having graciously tried on the grey coat but finding it a little snug, continued with her collar modelling and, although this photo was no good to show off the collar, as it wasn’t properly in focus, it’s such a gorgeous one of her I had to include it anyway.

Black and White Dog

You’re probably past caring by now but, just in case you were wondering about the title, I no longer have any excuse not to get started on a pair of trousers (pants!) for my daughter.  I have the pattern, I have the fabric, I have the zip.  It’s just that I’ve never made trousers before and my daughter is not a ‘standard’ size and I suspect I might be better at procrastination than pants making.

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Denim Nostalgia

Back in the murky mists of time when I was about 13 or 14, my principle aim in life was to own a pair of Levis.  There was a shop that sold Levi jeans, Sta-Prest, Ben Sherman shirts, two tone trevira suits and all that sort of stuff just up the road from where I did my Saturday job.  I worked in a sort of early Superdrug type shop which was somehow able to employ schoolkids and pay them £1 a day.  I did graduate to their ‘posher’ perfume and cosmetic shop in the Kings Road, Chelsea a couple of years later where I toiled under the management of an Austrian beauty and a Jackie Collins lookalike who tried to teach me about clothes and good cosmetics and, despite the fact that I still only earned a pittance for the day, staff discount meant I could dabble in the upmarket perfumes and skincare products other 15 year olds could only dream of.  Anyway, I digress and wallow in a pit of nostalgia and lost youth and the whole point of this story is to tell you that I found, whilst searching for vintage French décor in a flea market, a pair of Levi 501s for the princely sum of 2 euros (around £1.50 or $2.25).

Bargain Levi 501s

I have fond memories of sitting in a hot bath wearing my new Levis in order to shrink them to my size.  I don’t really know why this was necessary because, by the time I bought my first pair, Levi Strauss had already introduced pre-shrunk jeans quite a few years before.  Maybe they just hadn’t arrived in Streatham High Street.   The ones I found in the flea market aren’t vintage or anything but practically unworn and a really good bargain so they came home with me and did good service on the way by being protectively wrapped around this statue I found.

French Terracotta Statue

I was so in love with my original pair of Levis that I kept the big printed label that came attached to them as a souvenir for ages.  I should have kept the jeans too, they might be worth something now but, like many pairs at the time, I think they eventually ended up being cut down to shorts.

Have you got any fond memories of  treasured items of clothing from when you were younger?  Have you hung on to things – other than your wedding dress or your children’s baby clothes – which have sentimental value for you?

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Must Love Dogs

Tialys said I could be the guest blogger today because she says I am adorable, affectionate, calm, playful and gorgeous and can’t understand why, even though everybody who knows me loves me, I keep being overlooked when people come to the kennels to adopt a dog.

This is me. My name is Blacky.

blackyblog12

When I was 5, there was great excitement at my house.  A big van came and lots of things were put inside and there were lots of suitcases and so I thought the family must be going on their holidays.  They didn’t normally take the sofa, the table and the beds though.

Soon, I was put in the car and driven somewhere a little far away.  It didn’t look like the usual kennels I stay in for my holidays.

blackyblog2

I put on my best smile as I find, when you are nice to them, you often get a few extra treats.

blackyblog8

 The family went on holiday for a much longer time than usual and one day

blackyblog7

I realised they were never coming back.

blackyblog5

Now I have been here for three years but, even though there are lots of kind people who come to take me out for walks now and again, it still doesn’t feel like home.

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I don’t much like sharing my kennel with male dogs but I do love the ladies.  The female dogs are usually adopted pretty quickly so I am often left alone again.

blackyblog14

Last time this happened I had a bit of a cry and had to have a good cuddle to cheer me up.

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Tialys’ friend Karen is my sponsor and she likes to dress me up in bright bandanas to help me attract attention to myself.  She sometimes has a little cry too.

blackyblog9

I have my own method of attracting attention which involves seeing how far I can put my tongue out.

Apart from the fact that I am a bit naughty around cats and prefer the ladies to the boys, I am a good dog – people here are always calling me that.  I can offer affection, some nice cuddles and playtimes and a calm temperament and really, that’s all I ask for in return.  Well, that and a comfy bed and a few treats now and then.

blackyblog13

For now, thank you for reading my story.

The Dog Rescue Carcassonne is a group consisting mainly of expats and some French nationals that raises funds for the S.P.A. Carcassonne (la Société Protectrice des Animaux) and this sometimes makes it possible for volunteers to transport dogs to their new homes within France and occasionally elsewhere in Europe.

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Back With Some Boxes

In case you were wondering, I haven’t suffocated under a pile of dogs and cats but have been over to the U.K. for a workshop, some long overdue visits, some successful and not so successful fabric shopping and some fish and chips by the sea.  My Mum came back with me for a week so I have been spending some ‘quality’ time with her and have not back into my usual routine – such as it is.

Just to check in, I thought I’d show you those finished sewing boxes I was making even though you will see that I ignored all your advice about which fabric to match with which and stuck with my original plan but at least I asked!

Cuppa Sewing BoxSo, I matched the little teacups with the buttons

CuppaHexagonalBox (3)

and the birds and sheet music

Birds&MusicHexagonalBox (3)

with the teeny scissors

Birds&;MusicHexagonalBox (5)

Did I do wrong??

This lovely toadstool fabric will be the exterior of the my next sewing box as you can see by the progress pic below.

Toadstool Box WIP

I am photographing all the stages as I complete them because I am thinking of turning it into a photo tutorial along the lines of the tute I have already produced for the small boxes I make.

Small box tutorial

If I ever get it done, I will be looking for a couple of testers to make sure my instructions make sense.  Just let me know in the comments if you like messing with cardboard, glue,  fabric and can manage teensy stitches and would like to be considered.

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A Lesson in Customer Service

Selling online, as I do occasionally, I always try to be polite and charming when dealing with customers even when they do not return the favour.

Since moving to France, I have found that the customer is not always right but assumed to be at fault or in error until evidence to the contrary is obtained  and,  even then, must be offered not an apology but a roll of the eyes and a gallic shrug.  However,  I stubbornly cling to this basic rule of commerce in my own dealings.

It seems as if not everybody is of the same mind though.  I was doing a little online shopping yesterday and, as usual, I checked out the feedback of the seller before committing myself to a purchase.  They had quite a few positive comments, a few neutrals and some negatives in a proportion that wouldn’t normally put me off buying but, it was their responses to the negative comments that I found to be an interesting way of dealing with customers.  I list a few of the exchanges below but have altered certain details in order to protect both the innocent and the guilty.

1.  Buyer Feedback:   It came 5 days late, was stained and was the wrong colour.

Seller Response:  John Smith is scum.  No communication.

2.  Buyer Feedback:  Shocking ebayer, terrible communications, can’t recommend.

Seller Response:  Anne is a scum.  She is a liar.

3.  Buyer Feedback:  Great item, shame about the customer service

Seller Response:  He was sent a replacement but still moaning – be careful of this one.

4.  Buyer Feedback:  Upsetting experience.  Four items sent were not those ordered and only received a partial refund.  The seller calls buyers ‘scum’.

Seller Response:  D. Cooper is a true scummer.

5.  Buyer Feedback:  Never received the item.  Seller very unhelpful. Can’t recommend.

Seller Response:  Jane Doe is scum.  Made a false claim and conned us for the postage.

and my favourite

6.  Buyer Feedback:  Disappointed with item, nothing like the photograph.

Seller’s Response:  Hayley has an eyesight as well as a mental problem.  

(well, at least she wasn’t ‘scum’ I suppose).

I didn’t buy anything.

 

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14 Comments

Witchipoo Sock Syndrome

Anybody remember H.R.PufnStuff?  A sort of weird, psychadelic, Saturday morning cartoon from 1969/1970 with a young Jack Wild.

WItchipoo

This is the wonderful Witchipoo and she’s wearing what appear to be my last pair of socks.

TwoatatimeToeupSocks (2)

I’ll spare you a YouTube link because you will have the theme tune in your head for ever more – as I do, along with the one from the Banana Splits.

This is my latest finished pair of socks – they are on sock blockers in case you were wondering whether I’d been run over by a steamroller.

Striped Socks Toe Up

I’ve written before about ‘second sock syndrome’ – where you finish one sock and can’t be arsed to make the next one – which is why I always make two at the same time but now I appear to be suffering from ‘Witchipoo sock syndrome’.  Will the pointy hat be next?

raspberry sock blockers

These are my bright and lovely sock blockers from this Etsy shop.  Now that I have them I must make more socks but perhaps my next ones will be plain – I’m going to be singing that song for at least a week now.

Have you got any songs from the T.V. programmes of your youth that you can still remember all the words to?

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Weaning Myself Off Coco

I know I’m a bit addicted to making this dress but I have loads of stretch fabrics in my stash and it only takes a mo.  Also, this one is for my youngest, not me, and as she refuses to model and it doesn’t fit me I had a good excuse to use the mannequin.  I have decided that I’m not totally happy with the way the neck is just turned over on this pattern because it does seem to stretch out a bit as you work on it so, if I make any more in future, I think I’m going to make a neckband as in the Lady Skater dress.  This one does actually lay flatter on the neck when it is on a real life person but the mannequin is a little under-endowed in the bosom department so she’s not filling it out adequately.  Honest!

Tartan Coco Dress

I hope you are suitably impressed that I have tackled the tartan again.  I made absolutely no attempt to match it this time because I am a stingy, penny pincher who only wanted to buy one metre and was determined to get the dress out of it come what may and I had to do all sorts of tricksy layouts and cutting to achieve it.  So, all things considered, I don’t think it looks too out of whack.

Anyway, I must get back to more challenging things with zips and buttons – I feel a bit lazy and my overlocker and I have become inseparable (until it becomes unthreaded and then we have to have words – and they’re not polite ones).

By way of a change I thought I’d make another couple of sewing boxes as my last one was recently packaged up and sent  off to the States. Hexagon Sewing Box - French MercerieI’ve started to make two at once because some of the steps involved need a few hours drying time before I can continue and it seems to make sense.  Also, I only make them occasionally and when the mood takes me so at least I end up with two to tide me over until the next time I get sewing box withdrawal symptoms – an actual psychological condition I believe.

I have been cutting out the card shapes today.  When I bought the kit for this a squillion years ago, it came with pre-cut card shapes which was a luxury.  Now I have to cut my own and it is a bit of a pain.  At the moment I have some 3mm card for the exterior which makes for a very good, strong box but I feel I need some sort of power tool to get through it.  I used a Stanley knife in the end as my rotary cutter gave up the ghost and had to be passed over each line about ten times before even making an impression.

Hexagon Sewing Box Construction

These are the pieces for two boxes.  The same will have to be cut in fabrics and wadding but I shouldn’t need the Stanley knife for that.

I’ve chosen the fabric – unless I change my mind again before the cutting stage – and this one will be good for those who like a cup of tea with their sewing.  Hopefully I have enough left of the little buttons fabric for the interior as I used it for my last box so I might have to swap that one for something different.

Teacups Fabric

This one is a linen blend fabric which I actually bought to make a lampshade and then changed my mind.  The little scissor fabric will make a nice interior I think.

Hexagon Sewing Box Tialys

Actually, now that I’m looking at the photos, I think I might swap the interiors round and have the scissors with the teacups and the buttons with the birds and music.

What do you think?

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18 Comments

A Bit of Baking and a Couple of Poppies

Sometimes I fancy doing a bit of baking even though I’m more of a ‘savoury’ person than a ‘sweet’ person and it’s usually when I spot a tempting photograph on somebody else’s blog.  So, a couple of days ago I came across a recipe from somebody who obviously takes cookies seriously and has even done a taste test amongst her friends and family in her quest to find the best one.  Sounds like a brilliant excuse to bake – and eat – loads of them so I thought I’d smash a chocolate bar into bits – I’m too mean to buy chocolate chips – and give it a go.

Soft and Squidgy Cookes

I like these because they are the soft and chewy variety.  They are enormous.  They are easy to make.  They have peanut butter in them.  Did I say they are soft and chewy?

Anyway, I had already halved the ingredients in the recipe because I didn’t want twenty odd cookies as I’m not expecting hordes of visitors until the week after next at least.  Then, I put the dough in the fridge overnight and cut that in half so I would end up with just six for now.  The rest of the dough, which apparently is good for 72 hours in the fridge, I will either freeze or make some more cookies with it tomorrow.

You can find the recipe here if you find yourself in the mood for baking.

If I had been in the U.K. I might have made these to sell for Red Nose Day  (aka Comic Relief) which, if you haven’t heard of it, raises lots of money every other year for charities both at home and abroad whilst entertaining with special T.V. programmes,  fund raising events,  special t-shirts etc. etc.  Fun fund raising. **  Anyway, there was a bit of an upset in blogland recently when a magazine was produced by ‘craft people’ and other ‘craft people’ were invited to contribute to it in the form of free patterns to raise money for Red Nose Day.    Some of the patterns were donated by people in the U.K. and some by people from other countries.  It then went up for sale in one of the big supermarkets.   One of my Australian blogging friends donated a pattern and received a few nasty emails saying she shouldn’t be helping an overseas charity when there were plenty of Australian charities she could support.  This, despite the fact that Red Nose Day helps people – mostly children – all over the world.  The person who edited the magazine apparently received complaints and some abuse because people couldn’t get to the supermarket to buy the magazine or it had sold out, or whatever.  There are some funny people about.

Anyway, to redress the balance – if it needed doing – I have answered the call of another Australian blogging friend who passed on a request for help from Aussie Hero Quilts for quilters to make blocks in a sort of poppy design, which will be used to make Fallen Warrior Quilts for the families of servicemen and women in the Australian Forces who have lost their lives in the line of duty.  Quick and easy, I had some suitable fabric, I can send it off for the cost of an international stamp plus I like the fact that it’s not me that will have to join them all together and quilt them.  You can read about it here if you want to join in.

Poppy Quilt Block

Having said all that, I wonder if there is a similar scheme in the U.K.  Does anybody know?

** Thanks to reader Frivolous Monsters who reminded me that Comic Relief (or Red Nose Day) alternates with Children in Need another U.K. based fund raising effort which helps children both at home and abroad.  They have the same sort of format and methods of fund raising so I got the two confused.  Now I live in France I don’t get the same sort of exposure to it as I used to just the odd T.V. programme.

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