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.

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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.

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

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

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I realised they were never coming back.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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and the birds and sheet music

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with the teeny scissors

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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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Witchipoo Sock Syndrome

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

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

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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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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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Dogtooth

In somewhat of a coincidence, seeing as my last post was about dogs and teeth, my most recent finished garment that I have got around to photographing, is in a dogtooth check.  You couldn’t make it up.

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This is another short sleeved Coco dress which I made from a metre of 3.99 jersey I found on Ebay and so the fact that it’s not my favourite of all time, bothers me not at all because it took me a couple of hours from start to finish and, at that price, I can wear it to flit about the house in and be comfy.

There are several reasons it’s not my favourite and one clue is in the above photo where I have hacked the style of the neckline – which should be flat – because, once again, I overestimated my size and made it too big.  Then I had to do all sorts of taking ins and faffing abouts to get it to fit me and I ended up changing the shape somewhat.  I call them ‘design features’ though others might call them ‘mistakes’.

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Also, I think the dogtooth check is one of those fabrics that, from a distance, will just look dull and boring and ‘beige’.  Maybe it calls for a belt?

I have cut myself off at the knees as they are not yet tanned and, in fact, looked bluish in this photo so I have spared you the sight.

So, leaving dogs, teeth and doggy dodgy checks behind, I decided make a bag in a bright and cheerful linen mix fabric.

This is a pattern I bought from UHandbags and it does indeed look quite professional as she promised it would.

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The resin handles have something to do with that as well as the super duper foam fusible interfacing she suggests (and sells) which makes the bag firm but still satisfyingly squidgy at the same time.

The tiny seam allowance – 0.5cm – worries me a little but I guess that is to minimise bulky seams as there are two layers of fabric a layer of medium weight interlining and a layer of the foam too.  So you just have go be careful there.  Also, the thicker the ‘sandwich’ when you poke it into the frame, the better, as it gives those tiny screws something to bite into.

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I actually used a linen blend for the exterior and a quilting cotton for the interior and I did have to beef up the edges a bit to get them to stay in the frame.  Next time I will use thicker fabric for the exterior and use something like the linen blend for the interior (as was actually suggested in the pattern) and I think this will make it all more manageable and easier to achieve the best possible finish.

Resin Handle Handbag

 

It’s a good size bag although, I must admit, the frame doesn’t open quite as wide as I had hoped  but then I do like to have a good old rummage around in my handbag which means I like to get practically my whole arm in.  This is not necessarily a good thing as all sorts of stuff ends up in the furthest corners of my handbags never to be found again so this might force me to be a little neater.

I am going to send this over to the U.K. for Mlle. Tialys the elder to take to work for a week and let’s see how it holds up on the London Underground, the tram, holding her lunch and generally being ‘used’ for a week or two.  If it passes the endurance test, I’ll be making more because I really love the way it looks.

What do you think? Do you like?

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18 Comments

Not Going Out

 

I’ve had a bit of cabin fever recently.  First, there was some snow.  To be honest, not a great deal but we live up a hill which is not pleasant to drive down (or up!) once it is icy so I prefer to stay put unless absolutely necessary.  Second, I had a dental implant and was not fit to be seen by the outside world.  The inside world wasn’t too keen either but they live with me and had to put up with it.  Don’t get me wrong, the procedure to have the implant done was no problem – just in case you’re thinking of having it done and don’t want me to scare you – it’s just that my face was swollen up a bit for a few days, I had an impressive bruise, some stitches which showed between my teeth and almost drove me crazy and a gap while I waited for the temporary crown to be made.  No pain though. Plus the swelling plumped my face out somewhat and several wrinkles disappeared although, alas, that was only temporary.

So, using the time spent indoors profitably, I opened a new Etsy shop for my dog collars as they were starting to overtake my current shop and making it look a bit too ‘doggy’.  Of course, this will not be a profitable shop because I am doing it mainly to help out the Dog Rescue but I can’t tell you what fun I’m having picking out the designs and trying to persuade my sewing machine that it really doesn’t mind stitching through multi layers of webbing and grosgrain.

Campervan Dog Collar1 (1)I know there are lots of people making dog collars out there but I can’t take any more dogs on – I already have three plus four cats – and I’m a bit far from the Rescue Centre to help with walking the dogs on a regular basis so I wanted to do something else to help.

bluechelseacollar (3)A special request for some Chelsea Football club supporters I know! (I’ve made some West Ham ones too but I’m not allowed to mention that!)

So I’ve set up ‘Ouaf Ouaf’ (or Ouaf for short) which is what French dogs say instead of ‘Woof’ and will gradually put them on there, along with the bandanas I was making before, as and when I can make them, as well as touting them around friends with dogs (and some without!) and local fund raising events.

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I’m having fun taking the photos too as you can see although this dog looks rather more like a hippo which I’m sure don’t cock their legs up to wee but you get the idea.

Muttley Dog Collar

My favourite cartoon dog of all time.  I was chuffed when I found Muttley from Wacky Races on a ribbon.

These collars have caused a bit of a commotion in the house as, every time I finish one and brandish it, chrome D ring clinking, as I like to do, the resident dogs think it’s a sign they are about to be taken out on another walk.  I’ve found it easier, in most cases, to take photographs of the collars off the dogs’ necks rather than on but a few modelling assignments have been handed out.

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SuperStan!

Sometimes, there is just curiosity and my photo shoots attract unwanted attention.

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I tried making a sort of double fold bias tape from some Liberty fabric I had in my stash for this one which worked well and might end up being more cost effective than ribbon (especially if I don’t use Liberty tana lawn!!).

dog rescue carcassonne puppies

No blog post about dog rescue or dog collars is complete without a basket full of puppies of course.  Just look at those little faces.  Of course, being puppies these little girlies will probably soon find homes but the underlying problem is too many people – and it is a big problem in France – just can’t or won’t sterilize their dogs.  Then they let them out to wander around unsupervised and this is the result.  You can read their story here but, basically, the mother was rehomed by the Société Protéctrice des Animaux before they introduced a policy to sterilize all female dogs before rehoming and the new owner didn’t bother and this is the second litter of puppies that have had to be rescued from her as a result – the first litter and another three from this one she gave (or sold) to who knows who?

Anyway, I am off to do some vacuuming before Mr. T. gets home from the U.K. and thinks I’ve been doing nothing all week except mess with ribbon and webbing, set up amateur photo shoots and read up about what is good for bruising – arnica cream??  Then I’m going to make a bag – just for a change.

*must keep busy and not look a puppy faces *  house is full * puppies are a lot of work*  the cats won’t like it * too many dogs already* mustn’t show Mr. T  the photo as he is worse than me*no, no, I mustn’t*

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16 Comments

Too Much?

As I have said recently, much as I love making patchwork quilts, tragically my quilting skills are not up to much.

So, in an attempt to disguise any imperfections, I’ve decided to avoid using plain backings as they are too unforgiving.

Of course, trying to find extra wide fabric for quilt backs when you want to avoid a join is not easy.  Patterns are limited and the majority are to be found in the U.S. which usually mean the shipping costs more than the fabric.

This, in miniature (as I’ve only completed one braid so far), will be my next quilt

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I searched for some suitable backing and have actually ordered a chevron design from the U.S. at a bargain price and, even with the shipping, it is still cheaper than I would get it here or the U.K.

riley blake chevronsThis is from Riley Blake and, as well as going quite well with the front, I thought the chevrons, which are two inches apart point to point, might give me some guidelines for quilting.  This should be winging it’s way to me across the pond as we speak.

However, on Friday, I went charity shop rummaging and came out with ten vintage sheets.  As you do.  I think they will be good for a number of things.  Cutting up and making a quilt top from fabric that is already nice and soft and worn giving the resulting quilt a nice vintage look.  Making a dress or blouse.  Using as sheets (there’s an idea!)  Or – using as backing for quilts.

Vintage Sheets (1)

So, spot the green and white check one on the bottom.  What do you think about using that for the Friendship Braid quilt backing?  Too much?

VIntage Sheet Quilt Backing

All comments invited and welcome but not necessarily taken any notice of :)

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26 Comments

Just One More Shade of Grey

I know I said that, after my two ‘shades of grey’ quilts, I would be moving on to something more colourful but I’ll just get this out of the way first.

Also, I know I said I had sworn off making dresses for a while but I went upstairs to my workroom yesterday, couldn’t remember why and, before I knew it, decided to make a dress.  As I’m sure happens to all of you from time to time.   A Lady Skater dress to be precise, several of which I have made before because it is such a good, easy pattern and because I like the style and fit on me and because I had put the radiator on in my workroom for the reason I couldn’t remember and didn’t want to waste the electricity.

Lady Skater Grey & White (3)

I apologise for the headless shot but there are three reasons for this

1) I meant to use a mannequin but, at the last minute (see next reason), I couldn’t and hadn’t done anything with my face or hair since getting out of bed

                                       2)  I couldn’t get the dress on the mannequin

                                       3) I don’t like having my photograph taken anyway.

Lady Skater Grey & White (1)Before I tell you why I couldn’t get the dress on the mannequin, I wanted to point out the good things like the neck laying nice and flat and the really nice fabric so that you don’t think I’m quite such a numpty when I ‘fess up.

As I said, I’ve made this dress several times before for me and for both my Madamoiselles.  I meant to make notes but didn’t.  This time I have.  I must have a shorter waist than this pattern is designed for because the seam at the waist is one or even two inches lower than mine.  No matter, I call it a ‘dropped waist’ dress and feel it makes my torso look slightly longer than it is – however, I will remember to adapt the pattern next time so I don’t have to make those excuses!  It is quite a short dress and, in order to avoid having to take up a fiddly miniscule hem next time I need to remember to add some length before cutting so as to avoid flashing too much knee on a breezy day.

However, the really stupid thing I did – and it really was stupid – was to put twill tape around the bottom of the bodice pieces instead of clear elastic.  Oops!  I hate clear elastic and so does my overlocker which is what I used to put this dress together apart from doing the top stitching which I do on my ordinary machine with a double needle.  So I used twill tape to stabilise the shoulders which is fine but they don’t need to stretch.  Whereas, having no zips, the rest of the dress does.  I have to perform wriggles and squiggles and all sorts of contortions my yoga teacher would be proud of in order to get the static waist over ‘the girls’ and down to where it should be.  None of my mannequins were able to oblige.  So, you got me.

Lady Skater Grey and White

 

…or most of me anyway.

You can find the Pattern here

The fabric was from this seller who has loads of lovely stretch and knit fabrics.

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21 Comments

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