Retro Friday – my grandmother-in-law’s dress patterns

Today I’m not going to show you something I made. My mother-in-law was doing some cleaning out of old drawers, and she found some very interesting and sentimental documents from her mother. One of these was a folder labelled “Coupe et couture” which translates as “Dressmaking”.


There are 22 pages of hand-drawn patterns, with instructions (in French) as to how to make the garments. I thought I had done some super detective work in figuring out when Mamie Paulette (as my OH’s grandmother was affectionately called) made the folder – one of the pages has instructions for “manche gigot” which are leg-of-mutton sleeves – I figured this meant the folder came from the late 30’s or early forties when those sleeves were in fashion. My hunch was confirmed later in the tidying up process, when we found some of Mamie Paulette’s certificated – one was for a dressmaking course she completed in 1940!

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There are some patterns that I’d love to try myself, such as her instructions for a simple dress, and a simple blouse. I don’t really know how to follow these sort of patterns as I’ve never done any dressmaking. Do any of you have any experience with these sort of patterns?

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Lavender sachets

Here in the south of France, lavender grows really well. In early June, we went on holidays to the Verdon, and here is a picture of me in front of one of the many fields of lavender on the Plateau de Valensole:


We have several plants in the garden here at home too, and this year I harvested the flowers once they started to fade. I dried them, and decided to make some lavender sachets to use up the flowers.


I hand embroider the lavender motif onto squares of cotton fabric and stuff them with some dried lavender flowers and polystuffing. They smell wonderful!

I went a bit crazy, and made enough for my linen closets, as well as for gifts, and I still have some left over, so I decided to sell them in my brand spanking new Etsy shop! Feel free to head on over there if you’d also like some of the lavender goodness! 🙂

Alice’s Garden Embroidery

First off, let me apologise for the radio silence on my blog! I’ve been busy with work and holidays, but I promise I’m back! 🙂

I’m still on an embroidery “kick”, and I decided to complete Little Dorrit’s “Alice’s Garden” embroidery pattern, which was shared on Sew mama sew last year.


I really enjoyed this pattern, I learned lots of new stitches (I LOVE stem stitch!) and it looks so pretty!

I’m going to incorporate the embroidery into a cushion, I’ll keep you all posted on my progress!

WIP: Summer Nights Stitch-Along, Week 2

Here is my second post about Little Dorrit & Co’s Summer Nights Stitch-Along. This week, I finished the embroidery. I decided to use a green-blue thread for the wings instead of black, I thought the black thread was too stark beside the other colours.

In this instalment, I learned how to do split stitches, satin stitch (I need to work on getting this neater!), lazy daisy stitch, and french knots. That’s a lot of learning! 🙂 It was a lot of fun to do.


In the next instalment, we’ll be shown how to display the embroidery in a hoop. However, I think I will instead make it into a mini-quilt, as this will suit my son’s bedroom wall better.



WIP: Summer Nights Stitch-Along, Week 1

I’ve never really done any embroidery, but it’s a craft I’ve always wanted to try. So when I saw this post on Sew Mama Sew about Little Dorrit & Co’s Summer Nights Stitch-Along, I decided to stitch-along!


I had to go shopping for a small embroidery hoop, and while I was in my sewing shop, I spied a fat quarter of starry fabric for sale that I thought would suit the project. To mark the template, I used a Prym Aqua Trickmarker which I already had in my sewing box. So these bright blue lines will all disappear once I’ve finished!

This week, I practised running stitches, back stitches and long straight stitches. I’m familiar with all those stitches already so it’s a nice way to ease myself into embroidery!

Are any of you taking part in this stitch-along?

My Holiday; or Why I haven’t posted in a while!

Some of you may have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while (or perhaps not…). There is no mystery to it, I was on two weeks holidays with my OH, my son, my parents and my brother! We had no internet access which to begin with was hard to get used to but once I got used to it, it was bliss.

We rented a gite in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie in the Verdon region of Provence. Moustiers is a beautiful picturesque village nestled beneath spectacular cliffs, and within a few kilometres of the Lac Saint-Croix (an artificial lake created in the early seventies by the French electricity authority) and the AMAZING Gorges du Verdon.

The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

The village itself is often described as one of the most beautiful in France, with winding streets, traditionally Provençal-style buildings and lots of porcelain workshops. We got a lot of exercise just walking around the village as it’s very hilly (especially when I had to push the pushchair!). Right at the top of the village is the Chapelle de Notre Dame, at the end of 365 steps (supposedly – the real number is slightly lower ).

Chapelle de Notre Dame, view from the Ravin de Notre Dame

Chapelle de Notre Dame, view from the Ravin de Notre Dame


Some of the 365 steps up to the Chapelle de Notre Dame

Some of the 365 steps up to the Chapelle de Notre Dame

Up above the Chapelle, suspended on a chain between the two towering cliffs is a gold plated star. A star has been in place here since medieval times, and there are many legends about the reason why, including that a knight (de Blacas) placed the star in honour of the Virgin Mary to thank her for bringing him safely back from the Crusades.

The gold star above Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

The gold star above Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Poem written by the poet Mistral about one of the star legends.

Poem written by the poet Mistral about one of the star legends.

The star is a real emblem of the village and we saw many replicas suspended over doorways. You can even climb up to the point where the chain is attached to the cliff, apparently if you touch the chain you’ll be married in the year to come. I didn’t have the nerve to climb up!

For me, the Gorges du Verdon were the star attraction of the surrounding area. A 700 metre deep canyon formed over millions of years by the Verdon river, they really are spectacular. You can drive around the Gorges, with great views and hair-raising bends, you can hike part of the bottom of the gorges, or you can take a kayak or a peddle boat up the river for a different view. If you are interested in wildlife, there are very interesting plants and animals to see, as well as every species of bird of prey in Western Europe!

The beginning of the Gorges du Verdon, the Lac du Saint-Croix can be seen on the left.

The beginning of the Gorges du Verdon, the Lac du Saint-Croix can be seen on the left.

Around the area, there are walks and hikes for every ability level. I did quite a few different hikes and walks (mostly to work of calories from all the food we ate, to be honest!). It’s a great way to see the sights and very peaceful too. I can imagine it’s a lot busier in the high season. I was very impressed with how the routes are maintained and way-marked.

Hiking signs

Hiking signs

Sign warning hikers that the descent into the village of Moustiers is difficult (don't worry, we went the other direction!)

Sign warning hikers that the descent into the village of Moustiers is difficult (don’t worry, we went the other direction!)

Another place worth seeing in the immediate environs is the Valensole Plateau. If you’ve ever seen a typical photo of Provence with rows and rows of purple lavender plants, it’s quite likely the photo was taken on the plateau. There are fields upon fields of lavender. Unfortunately we missed the amazing display of lavender by just a week!

I’d definitely recommended visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie if you visit the south of France. It can be quite expensive and very touristy but you’ll save money if you go off-season, and you’ll almost have the place to yourself! I’ll definitely be going back.




Giveaway Day winner!


Giveaway Day (week!) is over! Thanks so much for all your comments, it was interesting to read about your plans for the summer, they made me daydream about all the places to see and things to do there are in the world!

Anyway, we have a winner! The lucky winner of the 6 fabrics is Jude of . Congratulations! I’ll be contacting you for your address so I can get them in the post to you ASAP.