Monday, 19 June 2017

The Bali pants

Way back when we were living in Singapore, we went for a week holiday in Bali. I went there with the kids, I can’t remember what kept Philippe away, it might have been a meeting, a missed flight… Still, we had a great time exploring the island on our own.

Off course, we did a bit of shopping and Alice brought back the Bali pants. There were some kind of wrap pants, black with large white fishes. She loved, love them still. But they have been over worn and are falling apart. I honestly think she shouldn’t be wearing them anymore, but she has so many memories attached to them that she can't. Juliette loves them too. So I have been on a mission to sew new pairs.

Here they are: Simplicity 8134. I made two versions.


The first ones are straight out of the envelop, they are not exactly wrap trousers, more like flow-y trousers with flaps knotted in the front. I did not had to alter the size whatsoever, they fit Juliette perfectly. Construction-wise, I used French seams (you know how I like the inside to be looking as good as the outside, plus the fabric frayed a bit).



The second version, Alice’s one, have been substantial modified. The wrap version was the important component for Alice. I extended the sides of both pieces, omitted the waist band, extended and added ties on the front of the trousers, and left the sides unsown. Now they are truly Bali pants, they wrap around the waist, are tided in the back and the front. I need to add a label at the back as it is not easy to distinguish back and front. I think I got a thumb up for these too. And now both girls want short versions, of I go to my sewing table…

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Squam Love

I wish I had a synthetic mind and were able to tell you all the benefits, all the lessons I am taking from those few days at Squam. So in no particular order here what I love.

The beautiful settings, Squam Artwork Camp is by Squam Lake, in Holdernes, New Hampshire. The cabines were somewhat rustic, but not too much. I love our ice box, it reminded me of my Grand-Mother grocery shop. We had ice from the lake delivered every morning as well as wood for the fire. Yep, no heating in the cabine so a good fire was very appreciated in the evening. PJs time by 8pm, socks on (hand knitted obviously!). I shared the cabine with 4 other happy campers, and I think we had a good fit. I hope they enjoy the cohabitation, because I enjoyed it.

I took 2 classes. The first one with Karen Templer on cables for beginner. I’ve knitted my share of cables, but it is always interesting to take on somebody else approach, there’s always something new to learn. Again, the company of knitters, 16 of us, was great: a couple ladies from Australia, a couple of sheep farmers, beginners and experienced knitters of all ages. My second class was ‘In my opinion’ and how to write a personal statement with Camille DeAngelis. This was a more solitary activity and I have nothing to show for it now, however I want to come back to it.

There was a class on Yarn Bombing. I did not take it, I am not sure I’m ready to spend energy knitting for a temporary exhibition. Nevertheless I loved the display.

I got to visit the most wonderful sewing room ever. It belongs to one of the teachers, it’s chaotic and so well organized at the same time. Her house was perfect too, so welcoming. It did not take an lesson with Terri, but I will if I have the opportunity, everybody was telling how wonderful a teacher she is.

I don’t know whether I will have another chance at Squam, if I have I would really love to bring my family too and stay longer. There’s so much to enjoy on the lake.


On the way back, I stopped at Gather Here. And it was all I expected, fantastic fabrics, yarns, selection of patterns… I love the industrial-ish look…


Going back to real life is now proving difficult, especially after all the delays I had yesterday and making it home this morning at 3am. Never mind, I have plenty of kitting to do and keep those memories alive.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Sweet sweet weekend

This Sunday was our 23rd wedding anniversary! So we celebrated… from different location on the Globe (Philippe being on a business trip in Bali). He sent me a beautiful, but oh so sweet cake.

Next day we went to a graduation celebration, so I made some Lemon infused whipped cream stuffed puffs or puffs stuffed with whipped cream flavored with lemon juice (have you notice how food blogs tend to use various pompous names?). Anyway those are super simple to make. Any simple puff recipe will do, make sure that you keep beating as you incorporate the eggs in the dough. Also it is important to start baking the puffs in a very hot oven, then turn the temperature down.

The puffs are stuffed with whipped cream. Whipping cream in a mason jar is my new preferred way to do it. I put some heavy cream in a mason jar, filling less than a third of the jar, add a bit of confectionary sugar, close the jar and shake it. At first shaking the liquid cream makes a ‘gloop gloop’ sound, keep shaking, then when it sounds more like ‘whoof whoof’, it’s ready. Add a bit of lemon juice and it’s ready. I like to let the whipped cream rest in the fridge before using it.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Easy easy projects

Since finishing the Prom Dress, I have trouble picking up a new project. So I decided to go easy on myself and take on projects that will bring satisfaction fast (see last post: Ironboard cover).

I made pillow cases using the burrito method. There are so many tutorials on line that I’m not going to explain the process (just try this on Pinterest).

For the first set, I’ve used Annamaria Horner fabric: Enchanted and Cutting Line bought from Quilted Forest which since has closed down after 116 years in business.

The second set is done with some Cotton&Steel From Porto with Love, because… you know... cats!

Of course, these pillow cases have been tried and approved by my trusted helper.

Sweet dreams!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Iron-board Cover - A class at the Sewing Studio

It is not the first time that I sew a cover for my iron board, and each time I wonder why I did not do it earlier. It is such a easy project and it is so rewarding when the iron board look nice and neat.

This time I have chosen Rifle Paper Co, City Maps canvas. I really like this print with all the different cities. It is a canvas and I like the stifness of it.


I like my board to be bouncy so I put two layers of batting, secured them to the top with a zigzag stitch.


The edge is finished with a double fold bias tape and an elastic tighten to fit the shape of the board. And voilà, ready for laundry day!


Don’t you think a pretty cover makes ironing a bit more bearable?
You can join me on May 5th, at 10:00 at The Sewing Studio in Maitland to learn how to make this cover. To register, just follow this link.

I will give the same class at my home on June 15, 10am to 3pm. Leave me a comment shall you want more details.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

THE Prom Dress

There was something I wanted to sew for a long, long time: a party gown, something fancy, something lacy, something shiny. But how often do I get the occasion to be invited to events which call for a party dress. Not very often, and in all honesty, I don’t thing I will wear such a dress anyway. So when Juliette asked me to make her prom dress, I kept a straight face as much as I could, but I was all jumping and somersaulting inside.

We picked the fabric in the Fashion district when we were in LA. Juliette had a very precise idea of what she wanted: lace corset and flirty skirt all in very light dusty pink, thanks Pinterest for all the ideas. Our fabric was a bit darker, and heavier, and the lace has large clusters of flowers.

Pattern-wise, I used the Esplanade pattern from Orange Studio for the top, fulfilling my dream to tip my toes in lingerie making. For the skirt I finally got to use my book Sew many Dresses, choosing the bias long skirt.

I made a couple of muslins of the bra part. The first seemed a bit small, but I should have put the wires in. Instead I went a size up, and the cups ended up a bit big (hello bra padding!). Once I decided on the cups size, I removed 1/2 from the bridge width, lengthen the body parts by 2 1/2 inches and finally added 2 1/2 inches on the with of the band to account for the fact I was not going to use a hook band. Also, I made some straps to comply with the School rules and regulation on girls attire (don’t start me on this, we don’t have enough time…). The straps have elastic inside to make sure that they don’t drop of the shoulders. Once all the pieces were cut into the main fabric, I placed them on the lace choosing where the pattern will fall. The lace goes slightly over the upper cut to add a bit of detail.


The pattern instructions are very well details and lots of drawings which make for a very smooth construction. Because all the pieces are cut in the bias, I pinned a L O T, took my time and everything got into places like a perfect jigsaw. I found attaching the underwire casing difficult, at some point there were probably 10 layers of fabric/lace/foam. My seam, where the cups meet the bodice parts, could be better, but I don’t expect anybody to look there too closely, right! I covered the inside seams with bias, so no scratching my princess’ skin.

As you imagine, bra making requires special trimmings. I got my special foam, elastics, wires, casing from Taylor Made. I can only recommend Taylor Made, Ying sent everything very fast and was very encouraging.


Now the skirt: a while ago I got this book Sew Many Dresses. I like the dresses, I like the concept of having different bodices, skirts, sleeves… but I never got to sew anything out of it. I might have been a bit overwhelmed by all the possibilities. The pattern need to be traced, assembled and that was not my preferred step, but the fit is great (on Juliette anyway). I did reduce the train thought as it was probably not very practical for a young person about to dance at a prom. Apart from that, there’s not much to be said about it, only three seams.


Finally, I attached the bodice to the skirt, I have been very lucky as they went perfectly together. I had to remove almost 2 inches from the bodice so the waist of the skirt would stay spot on for Juliette.

I think she liked it. And gosh, she looked good in the dress (OK, I’ve said that before, but she would look good in anything anyway).

Conclusions: 

  • I LOVED making this dress.
  • Bra making is not as scary as it seems.
  • I still can get over the fact that I made it. It is probably my best sewing project so far.
  • I am having prom-dress-making withdrawals symptoms, any other project I think about sound dull.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Paddleboard - Season 2

Last year, after a few SUP lessons with the Paddleboard Orlando, we decided to buy our own paddle boards. We felt confident enough to manoeuvre the board (honestly it’s not very challenging), we were reassured by our instructor that we had nothing to fear from the aligators (as long as we stay active). Since then we have a new Sunday morning ritual: after a late breakfast and after the New York Times has been read though and through, we put the board on the car and go for a long stroll on the lakes.


We like looking at (and commenting) all the front-lake properties. But the best things are the encounters with the wildlife on the lakes: there’s a couple of pelicans flying very low above the water, there are several hawks nests with chicks, a few white herons. It is very pleasant and calming… until late morning when the boats and jet skis start appearing, making big waves, and then it’s more challenging to stand up paddle board, and it’s time to go home!


Enough of my travel posts? I promise my next post will be about something crafty :)

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Destination Denver

Since we moved to the States, we made a point of tackling all the hipster destinations. So far, we went to Portland, Seatle, Austin, Nashville… With Juliette on Spring breack and Alice in revisions’ mode, we decided to escape for a long week-end to a part of the country we haven’t visited yet: Denver.

Honestly, we could move there easily. We had such a great time. OK, we were there for the beginning of Spring and we might have a different opinion in the mist of gloomy winter. Oh well!

Our first day was spent in Boulder, hiking around the Flatiron. There was still some snow, actually I think it snowed earlier in the week. We were a bit surprise to get out of breath fast, and then realised that we were way up sea level.


Next day, I had one goal, visiting Fancy Tiger Crafts store. What a beautiful shop! It has everything I could dream off: a beautiful range of yarn, large collection of C&S and Nina Iro fabric, a big table for knitting meetings, two class rooms… I’m moving there!


A bit more hiking in the afternoon: the Garden of Gods.


Monday, we went for another walk (when you’re at a location where the weather is nice, you just want to be outside) around Bufalo Bill’s grave. And a quick visit to the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum which has an temporary exhibition of Art Quilt, and a few antiques too.


One last stop in Denver at the Tattered Cover Book Store: you don’t want me to start on what a proper book store is, you just want to visit this store and then be very sad that you only have B&N close by.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Hello baby!

Do you remember MP Bb’s, or my favourite little persons for whom I loooove to knit? They are expecting a little sister.  OK technically, their mum is expecting… This little one will make me a God-grand-mother or a Grand-god-mother for the third time (happy dance!).  Mum, dad and the kids are living on the other side of the globe, so while we are bracing ourselves for Summer, they are moving toward Fall… and what do you need when you are a tiny baby coming into fall, KNITTED stuff.

This first one is Billy Cardigan by designer Linda Whaley, from the Little Rowan Cherish book, knitted with Rowan Super fine Merino 4 ply.  This yarn is a dream, so soft and have you seen the definition of the stitches.  The cable work is worthwhile with such a yarn.  I’ve done cables before, but these ones were a first for me: they are worked on 6 stitches, over 6 rows, 2 stitches crossing over the next 2 stitches on the first knit row and the over the last 2 stitches on the following knit row (too technical?). 

I heavily modified this little cardigan.  First, I decided to knit in one piece: adding the number of stitches for both fronts, plus the back, removing 4 stitches to take into account that there were no more side seams.  I knitted the sleeves flat.  I had to play a bit with the number of stitches when working on the yoke as I did not like the way the raglan was forming (again not seam), instead I made sure that there was a 2-stitch cable in place of the seam and I love how it looks cleaner.  Honestly, I did a lot of negative knitting trying to figure this out and it took me far longer than necessary to finish.  But the result is worthwhile.

MP's BB

This second one was a super fast finish.  I followed Tikki Knits’ instruction for Gidday Baby (which is a particularly appropriate name considering the family connections with Australia), I’ve used leftovers of Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK.  I’ve made so many projects with this yarn, it’s perfect for baby, it is soft, from natural fibers and the colours are lovely.  Technically, the project worked from the top down with garter and stockinet stitches.  I think what makes this cardi so pretty is the contrasting yarns in the yoke.  See for yourself!

MP's BB1

I can’t wait to see the little model those cardigans.

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Thursday, 9 March 2017

Quiltcon 2017

It’s been more than a week since I got back from Quiltcon 2017, and I should probably share a bit before it get too old.

I had been told that the show was huge.  But my first impression is that it was not so big, I’ve been to Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival in Japan or the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham and those shows were huge.  Quiltcon Savannah was actually a  pretty nice size, not too overwhelming, big enough to feast your eyes, but contained enough so one had enough time to see all the quilts.  I planned my visit so I would look at no more than two rows of quilt at a time.  This way, I hoped I would remember each of them.

Best of show was won by Katherine Jones and you’ve probably seen it everywhere (just in case, here a link to it and to the other winners).  It was stunning, technically breath-taking.  You should also listen to Kat’s interview by Abby Glassenberg for While she naps, she sounds like a very grounded person.

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Two quilts touched me most: Kintsugi, I love the simplicity of the design and the meaning of the snippets of contrasting fabric.  It is interesting that it makes a link with a Japanese technic for repairing ceramic bowls, making what was ‘broken’ a feature in the quilt.

Quilts exhibition

Sunday best is about taking ‘me’ time every Sunday and letting the mood of the day influence to construction of the quilt.  I think the colours attracted me first, then the improv work.  I am fighting with myself over improv: a part of me would like to embrace the challenge of letting go, and still I am so in love with perfect matching points.  I guess the first quilt, Kintsugi, is how I would like to approach improv.

Quilts exhibition1

Should you want to see more, I have create a video of quilts that grabbed my attention.  You can find it here.

Otherwise, I took some classes.  All of them were fantastic in their own way.  Just a few days before Quiltcon, I realised that my focus was mainly on free motion quilting: I had a 6-hour class with Natalia Bonner then another 3-hour with Christina Cameli.  Both of them were great.

At the last minute, I had the chance to go to Elizabeth Harmann’s class: You do the Math, a whole day on calculation and drafting block and planning quilt.  I will come back to this one on a different post as I got far more out of it than expected.

My preferred class of all was with Jacqueline the wonder woman behind Soak on creating a business in the craft industry.  This lady delivered a very powerful, inspirational class.  I just wish I could be her friend and learn more from her.

I also attend to almost all of the Friday lectures -  I loved the panel discussion on Creativity and the almost philosophical talk from Thomas Knauer (check his blog, in addition to interesting quilts and take on life in general).

Finally, I learnt that Quiltcon is all about socialising.  From my Frenchie point of view, my American friends can sometimes be a bit over the top when showing their emotions.  But now I understand better: I had a couple of fan girl moment with people I love and still feel giddy about it.

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I could carry on an speak about the Quilt for Pulse booth, the shopping experience, the great meals with friends, the road trip to Savannah chatting and chatting, the ‘square’ feet after days of walking around… but then this post will never be finished… So I’m just saying “Quiltcon, I’ll be back”.

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Thursday, 23 February 2017

Enjoying simple treasures

A few weeks ago, a few friends and I went to a Sue Spargo’s workshop organised by Red Thread Studio.  And what a treat it was!  Not only the workshop, but the whole trip.  We travelled to Stuart, Florida the night before and got to enjoy a great meal by the water.

I am not very familiar with Sue’s work but I had chances to admire work by one of her student.  Mary always praised Sue’s warmth, eagerness to share and I was not disappointed.

We worked on a very manageable project, a needle case.  The cover and the body are from Sue’s wool.  The kit can be found on her website (and btw, you can order it in this new aqua colour). 

Sue Spargo3

Starting with the dots on the back of the cover, we tried our needles on 8 different stitches, Sue taking time for demonstration at each table (4 of us per table).  I’m pretty sure her needle case was almost finished by the end of the day.

Sue Spargo

The front dots were worked on at home.  Changing the size of the stitches, mixing them up, trying different thread colour… It is very addictive, I just wanted to add more and more.

Sue Spargo2Sue Spargo1

If you want to know more about our day, go and visit Rene’s post.  Check her case:  it looks quite different and so cute, I love the hot pink binding she used and the extra row of flowers on the spine of her book.

Other treasures I wanted to share are my last two reads. I am having a good start of the year.  My first book is the latest John Irving, Avenue of Mysteries .  I’ve been in love with John Irving for more than 20 years (my husband knows, he introduced my to him :-).  I’ve said it in the past, but reading a book from John Irving is like meeting with good friends and family, the territory is familiar but different each time.  Same themes and similar characters and still a different story.  It is quite a slow book, not much is happening, it goes from memories of the past to dreams unless it’s the present. 

Reading wise, I also finished reading The Guest Cat by Takashi Hiraide.  It is a very poetic little book about a couple and the cat visiting them.  Not much is happening, just the husband and wife observing the cat, their garden.  It’s a little windows into Japanese way of life.  I really enjoyed it, and it made me want to go back to Japan.

That’s it for today, now I’m off to bed because I’m at Quiltcon tomorrow.  Getting pretty excited!

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Sunday, 12 February 2017

Trying new things and realising I’m a picky eater

It’s official, I am a picky, snob-ish eater.  Let me explain, I have been receiving offers after offers to try services like Hello Fresh or Blue Apron (no link to their website, I am not here to promote their services).  So I decided to give it a try, and selected Hello Fresh (I think the offer was better than the other service)

The registration process is super easy.  There are 3 meal plans options.  I choose the Classic Plan for 2 (there’s a Veggie plan and a Family plan too).  Once registered, again it is very easy to choose when the plan starts, to put a week on ‘pause’ and to select 3 dishes out of the 5 options.

My first box was delivered last Monday, I was not home so I was a bit anxious about how it will keep fresh (Florida’s winter is not cold).  The packaging is incredible: from the outside it looks like a normal cardboard box, but the inside is padded with thick thermo-lining and there are additional large ice-packs on the top and at the bottom.  Honestly, I think the box can stand a couple of hours outside even in Florida.

Each meal is individually packed in its own compartment and comes with its own recipe card.  The cards are double sided.  One side shows what the meal looks like once cooked, the back side is a pictorial description in 6 steps of the process in pictures.

I started with the Sesame chicken noodle.  The prep was minimal: poaching then slicing the chicken, chopping the onion, crushing the garlic, mixing the ingredients for the sauce and finally cooking the pasta. No cooking skills necessary.

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What we like: the Asian flair.
What could have been better: replacing the linguini by real Asian noddle.  The linguini absorbed lots of moisture and got mushy.  More veggie and some coriander, and we only used half of the chicken,

Day 2, the Chili.  Again, it was very very simple to prepare for a meal ready in less than half an hour.

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What we like: simple, fast and filling, perfect for a busy evening.
What could have been better: not enough vegetables to our taste, and the portions were a bit large for 2 girls eating at night.

Day 3: Parmesan crusted cod, probably our preferred meal of the week.  After the 2 previous experiences, I knew it was going to be lacking on the veggies front so I added 4 carrots to the recipe.

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What we like: fish is always a winner for us.  I fed 3 people on this, the portions with the added carrots worked perfectly.
What could have been better: more veggies, but we fixed that.

Overall, I don’t think pre-packed, pre-thought meals are for me.  I have a large repertoire of meals and I don’t really need  recipes for everyday cooking.  I found that there was far to much packaging: in term of preserving the ingredients it makes sense, but in term of protecting the environment it is pretty annoying.  I have checked with Hello Fresh whether they would pick up and recycle the insulated box: the cardboard is to be put in the recycle bin, the box liners can be sent back to them and they also gave me advise on how to recycle to rest.  Also, I don’t know whether the ingredient are organically grown, I should probably send Hello Fresh an e-mail as they have reply to my previous question very fast.

Hello Fresh claim that ‘Cooking with fresh ingredients helps you stay healthy and beats any type of convenience, frozen, or fast food. Plus, we’ve got a dedicated team of chefs and dietitians creating recipes on a weekly basis to ensure that your dinners are balanced and wholesome.’  I feel that to be truly healthy their meals should have much more vegetables.  Also, frozen ingredients have the same quality as fresh ingredients as long as they were kept frozen until cooking.

Although I don’t think this programme is for me, I am actually getting another box for when I am going away.  I think it will work well for my husband and kids, they won’t have to think about dinner or shop for the ingredients.  If your life is super busy and you don’t have much time or energy for shopping, I think it is a good option.  It is also a good way to build some cooking skills and demystify the ‘cooking from scratch’ concept

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Wednesday, 25 January 2017

A copycat Zinnia

Hello Friends,

May I come back to some projects I’ve finish last year?  I really want to show you some of the projects I really love making and wearing.

To be honest, I did not pay much attention to the Zinnia skirt when it was first launched, I found it a bit ‘déjà vu’, a bit too casual… I don’t know really, it was never under my radar.  Until I saw this version made with Cotton + Steel canvas.  I just wanted this outfit, plain and simple.

Zinnia skirt1
(Sorry for the creepy Santa Claus)

Now what can I say about the skirt?

First, the pattern: it’s from Colette Patterns and it has their vintage feel signature.  The construction is straight forward, even making the pleats was quite easy.  I think this was partly because the canvas holds very well and partly because I did not rush the process.  Another nice detail, it has pockets.  My only challenge was to match the pattern at the back, I think it doesn’t look bad at all.  I really like working with Colette Patterns as their sizing works well with my body, and therefore no alteration’s needed.

Zinnia skirt

Now the fabric.  If I hadn’t seen Colette’s sample, I don’t think I would have ever pick this print for a garment and even less for a skirt.  It’s mid-weight, it’s quite crisp for a linen, and even better it does not crease much even after having been sitting on it for a couple of hours.  Another bonus, the fabric does not fray, I did a simple zigzag to finish the seams and it is still very clean after a couple of washes.  All of this makes for a very enjoyable sewing experience.

The weight of the fabric combines to the shape of the skirt make it looks like a skirt from the 50s.  If I was a little girl I could almost turn and turn to make it swirls (I did try it, it was fun).

My conclusion: keep a creative opened mind when it comes to choosing patterns and fabric!

Edit: I've forgotten to link to Colette's excellent article on sewing with canvas linen.  Here it is! https://blog.colettehq.com/tutorials/cs-x-colette-cottonlinen-canvas

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Not so ordinary week-end

Don’t you love a long week-end?  Ours was great, we went for New York and we made it extra long by fitting some College visits (one needs to make to most of her last kid going to college pretty soon).

It was cold, it was sunny, it was snowy too, it was energizing (and I caught a lots of new Pokémons too :o).  Here we are, overload of pictures.

2017 01 New York
Brooklyn bridge



2017 01 New York2
Night views from and around our hotel

2017 01 New York3
Scrolling around with my teen