Steely Seamstress

Sewing for life


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Brown corduroy flares: I actually finished a project

I’m surprised in the last week that I have finally finished a project. I have three projects on the go at the moment, all requiring some purchase (usually involving colour-matching, like buttons) in order to finish them. However, there are no shops open at the moment and I’ve has to put them aside.

Despite some thread-matching dramas (swiftly fixed by Like Sew Amazing) I finally have my new trousers. I purchased the fabric from Textile Express, who have lots of 8-wale corduroys in all manner of colours. I plumped for a chocolate brown, because I felt this would complement this shirt. Although I would like to have a green pair of trousers at some point, I didn’t feel confident choosing the right green over the internet.

I used a vintage seventies pattern (Butterick 3065) which I have used before to make this pair of jeans, which have been worn loads.

Butterick 3065

Butterick 3065

I was never that happy with the size of the back pockets though. They seemed a little on the small side on the jeans. Thinking I made some school-girl error, I checked the pattern again and found that there is just one patch pocket pattern piece intended for both the front and back pockets. Weird! Anyway, I sized the back pockets up, and made a design for them. I used three different top-stitching threads in brown, orange and white to make a “seventies rainbow”.

Brown corduroy trousers back pockets

Brown corduroy trousers back pockets – the perfect seventies rainbow!

I did have some problems sorting out the instructions for adding the waist facing last time. I think the problem stemmed from my exclusion of the (unnecessary because I have a stomach) darts in the front. I made a better job this time, although it did take me a couple of attempts. Like the previous pair, instead of folding under the raw edge of the facing I used bias binding to finish. Normally I would have perused my stash, decided I needed something new and then bought it. But given the buying limitations at the moment, I went with something from the stash and I actually think the purple floral design works quite well with the chocolate brown. Anyway, it’s only to please me since unless you happen to be doing my laundry for me (oh, I wish someone would do that!) it won’t get seen.

The guts of the operation....I chose some purple floral bias-binding to finish the waistband facing

The guts of the operation….I chose some purple floral bias-binding to finish the waistband facing

Luckily I had some jeans buttons in the stash as well, which was miraculous. I don’t really like punching holes in fabric, it seems so brutal and goes against my principles somehow. However, I think they are necessary for the jeans look.

Brown flares using a vintage 70s pattern

Brown flares using a vintage 70s pattern

Brown corduroy flares

Brown corduroy flares with violet again!

I’m in the middle of purple week at #wearhappycolor2021 so I’ve teamed the trousers with a purple checked shirt and then a violet t-shirt. They’re not great outfits, but I’ll some more photos with the seventies shirt soon.

And here are the pockets in all their glory!

And here are the pockets in all their glory!


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The Serpent Outfit: Planning

I’ve reviewed The Serpent TV series recently here. The costumes really brought the 70s setting to life and I found that I was inadvertently dreaming up a wardrobe based on the fashions. I don’t have time to make the entire wardrobe, but I wanted to make at least one outfit inspired by the series. Here were my top 5 outfits:

No 5: Marie-Andree’s striped flounce top and denim skirt with a white belt.

Fantastic denim skirt with a white belt

Fantastic denim skirt with a white belt

No 4: Stephane’s hippie coat and embroidered top

Stephane introduces her mother to her grandchild

Stephane introduces her mother to her grandchild. The brown coat just screams seventies to me!

No 3: Angela’s green emsemble

Angela in a late 70s / early 80s fashions beside the pool.

Angela in a late 70s / early 80s fashions beside the pool.

No 2: Marie-Andree’s yellow jumpsuit with wide belt

Marie-Andree's yellow jumpsuit - a striking outfit for the drama of the scenes by the swimming pool

Marie-Andree’s yellow jumpsuit – a striking outfit for the drama of the scenes by the swimming pool

No 1: Mint trousers and bell-sleeved top

Cheers! This is one of my favourite outfits from the series so far. Those big sleeves! That colour combination!

Cheers! This is one of my favourite outfits from the series so far. Those big sleeves! That colour combination!

Kate at the foldline came up with some excellent pattern recommendations for some of these outfits. They selected the Dove blouse by Megan Neilson and the Jessa trousers from Tilly and the Buttons for making this outfit. Jane at Sewliloquy pointed out that the Burda pattern in January’s issue was a good match and I couldn’t agree more. However, I thought I should look through my extensive pattern collection to see what I already had. I found this Burda pattern from 2017 would work well too. It has the big sleeves and the v-neck.

I have a several trouser patterns from the seventies, but I’m toying with the idea of going with a modern pattern instead. I’m fallen in love with the flared trousers from a recent La Mia Boutique issue. It isn’t a complete match for the trousers, but then I am going for an outfit inspired by the look, rather than an identical copy.

La mia boutique flared trousers

La mia boutique flared trousers

As far as fabric is concerned, I think I will probably choose some corduroy for the trousers, it is probably easiest for me to find the colour in that fabric.

For the top, I’m not sure I’ve found exactly what I want. I liked the colour combination in the original. I mean, orangey-red, and grass green are not obvious choices with the mint-coloured trousers, but they work so well. Now that I’ve spent the last week looking at Wear Happy Color 2021 I guess I can say with confidence that it’s a complementary combination and that’s why it works!

Fabric Inspiration: clockwise from top left – 1. from Minerva fabrics 2. from Minerva fabrics 3. from Storrs 4. from Storrs 5. from Storrs 6. from Like Sew Amazing

I’ve been looking on the internet for inspiration and there are so many fantastic choices. I particularly like the Storrs fabrics, as they seem to have a particularly 70s colour palette and vibe. I’m still totally undecided though. What do you think would work best?


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Wearing a Square (Pattern Magic)

I had an idea for an outfit a while ago that I was really looking forward to make. Unlike some sewists I’m not greatly drawn to prints (although I do wear them), but unusual style lines really float my boat. My outfit consists of a top and and trousers and I think together these two patterns will make une ensemble tres chic (I feel a bit of French coming on when I use the word chic, although as you’ll see this outfit isn’t at all French!)

The top is the “wearing a square” top from Pattern Magic 2 by Tomoko Nakamichi and the trousers are a Burda style pattern (see below). I’ve finished the top now, so this post will be about that part of the outfit.

Burda Style #120 08/2020

Burda Style #120 08/2020

I have perused Tomoko Nakamichi’s book many times since it was given to me as a birthday present. It is an intimidating book, with lots of line drawings and sparse instructions. I often study particular designs and don’t quite manage to manipulate the fabric in 3-d in my mind successfully. I know I will have to get some fabric and test out the ideas as a toile first. The book also makes the designs in reasonably stiff woven fabrics which makes the finished garments look very architectural, but not so easy to relate to as “wearable” garments. Other bloggers have made the designs in fabric with more drape. Here are a selection of different fabric choices other bloggers have used for wearing a square; a floppy double-layer knit, a herringbone wool and a stretchy mystery fabric.

Pattern Magic: Wearing a square

Pattern Magic: Wearing a square

“Wearing a square” is one of the simplest designs in the book, and therefore a good entry level for me into Pattern Magic series. In essence you use your own measurements (or an existing bodice pattern that fits) to draw a few simple lines straight onto the fabric (actually a rectangle) and cut out.

I used the bodice sloper I made last year as my starting point for the dimensions of my top. I also looked at other people’s experiences with this design to make sure I was on the right track. Many of them noticed that the recommendation for the arm circumference is tiny so I made sure mine was wider too. I also decided to increase the length of the zip a little to 40 cm rather than the recommended 35 cm. Here’s a photo of the design drafted onto an old sheet:

Drafting "Wearing A Square"

Drafting “Wearing A Square”. Looking at this again, I notice that I did add a seam allowance across the top which also makes the facing for the zip.

This pattern could also be a zero waste pattern, depending on the dimensions of your body / dimensions of the fabric. I did have some fabric left-over, but it is a nice useful rectangle rather than loads of odd little off-cuts that you never know what to do with. So, I suppose it is more low waste than zero waste.

I’m used to working with patterns rather than drawing straight onto fabric, so the whole process seemed anathema to me. However, despite my reservations, the construction was quite straight-forward. There are just 6 seams to sew to make the sleeves and sides of the garment, hems at the cuffs and body hem and a zip to add.

I used a grey sweatshirting with metallic accents from Like Sew Amazing (sadly not on sale now, but I know that it has been stocked on more than one occasion). I thought this would be a good choice for this quirky top to show off its shape. There is a slight stripy pattern on the fabric. This creates a interesting effect because as the fabric wraps around the body and so the stripes appear in different directions. On the arms the stripes are on the bias.

Wearing A Square Front View

Wearing A Square Front View

It’s such an interesting top, I’ve taken photos of it from different angles.

Wearing a Square side view

Wearing a Square side view

Wearing a Square Back view

Wearing a Square Back view

I prefer to post a review only once I have had some use out of a garment so I can report about how it feels to wear. However this top, although cute, doesn’t really cut it against the snow and ice of the last few weeks. I finally got to wear it in earnest now the weather has warmed up. I thought that it might feel a little awkward to wear as the sleeves approach bat-wing in proportion. Perhaps it wouldn’t fit under a coat or my arms would be immobile in it? That said, I was pleasantly surprised. If I want to wear it under the coat I simply pull the sleeves up a bit (making sure the sleeves of the top underneath are pulled done for warmth (see the photo below) and actually it works under the coat fine. I’ve got used to the bat wings too and they don’t bother me. The only thing is that with its weird shape I tried putting it on upside-down a few times in the last week!

Top with the sleeves rolled up a bit so I can get my coat on.

Top with the sleeves rolled up a bit so I can get my coat on!

This top will be a perfect pairing with my planned Burda trousers. I’ve already made good progress on these, but I’ve come to a stand-still as there aren’t any shops open at the moment and I don’t want to buy the twill tape and buttons over the internet (as I’d like to colour match). I’m not worried though, it can sit unfinished for a while as I see this particular ensemble as a spring/ autumn outfit.


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The Serpent – TV series review Episodes 7 & 8

The net is closing in on Charles and Marie-Andree as they arrive in Paris. They have a meeting set up with potential clients, but first Charles wants to introduce Marie-Andree to his mother. The reception they receive is rather frosty and Marie-Andree is left with many doubts about Charles.

Dressed up to see Charles's mother. Marie-Andree is dressed in striking ensemble - blue suit, teal cape and red polo neck.

Dressed up to see Charles’s mother. Marie-Andree is dressed in a striking ensemble – blue suit, teal cape and red polo neck. Marie-Andree looks bold and confident in red – how long will this confidence last?

Marie-Andree wears a striking red top for the business meeting

Marie-Andree wears red again for the business meeting.

At the same time, Herman, Nadine and Remi are desperately trying to get the French authorities interested in arrested Sobhraj in Paris. They feel that the odds of getting Sobhraj arrested are now very slim. However, with the sudden involvement of the Bangkok post and Interpol perhaps there will be a breakthrough in the case.

Denim all round here with Nadine in jeans and a matching sleeveless jacket and Mrs Knippenberg in a denim jumpsuit

Denim all round here with Nadine in jeans and a matching sleeveless jacket and Mrs Knippenberg in a denim jumpsuit. Herman has a huge kipper tie.

We also step back in time to meet Stephane, who is leaving for Thailand to look for her Turkish fiancee, Vitali. The only clue to his disappearance is a business card from a gem dealer.

Stephane introduces her mother to her grandchild

Stephane introduces her mother to her grandchild. The brown coat just screams seventies to me!

In Episode 8, Charles and Marie-Andree are running out of options. Charles and Marie-Andree’s life on the run isn’t glamorous. After fleeing Paris, they end up back in India bedding down in the same room as a  group of Western tourists. They are up to the usual scams; stealing travellers’ cheques and passports. However, new recruit to their schemes, John, is worried when the couple’s criminal activities are not limited to theft and contacts the police in Delhi.

Meanwhile there is international interest in all the evidence that Herman has collected on the case. Interpol want to take over the case, however he is frustrated by their lack of action. Herman doesn’t seem able to let go of the case, and it is beginning to affect his marriage to Angela.

Angela in a late 70s / early 80s fashions beside the pool.

Angela in a late 70s / early 80s fashions beside the pool.

Sobhraj has come up with a plan to fleece a group of German tourists, but will such an audacious plan work?

Angela trouser suit

Can’t figure out how many years have past here from Angela’s trouser suit which definitely looks like an eighties style, but looking up events on Wikipedia, we are apparently in 2003!

Apparently, the series has been one of the most streamed since the beginning of the year and I’m not surprised by its popularity. I have found the leads, Tahar Rahim as the cold killer and Jenna Coleman as the enigmatic accomplice, utterly convincing. In the end, I got used to the hopping time-line and actually began to enjoy seeing the old-fashioned flight information board captions coming up to announce each change of scene. I’ve enjoyed the seventies sets and costumes too, of course. Most of all, I have been impressedt hat although the drama depicted Sobhraj’s grisly crimes, it didn’t overly glamourise his life and forget the victims.


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The Serpent – TV series review Episodes 5 & 6

This is a follow-on from my previous episode recaps here and here. The whole series is still available in the UK on the BBC.

At the beginning of Episode 5, Herman has finally secured enough evidence for the police to arrest Sobhraj. Under the guise of a narcotics raid, the police plan to swoop on Sobhraj’s apartment. Herman phones Nadine, but Sobhraj is in her flat and they think he may have overheard the phone conversation.

More conservative dresses from diplomat's wife, Angela Knippenberg.

More conservative dresses from diplomat’s wife, Angela Knippenberg. I do like the interiors in this series too. They are all in the style of the era, but different to fit in with the characters style and occupations. Here is the Knippenberg house the decor is tasteful and unostentatious.

The police decide to move in straight away. Meanwhile Nadine is invited to have an alcoholic drink with Charles, Marie-Andree and Ajay by the pool.

Marie-Andree's yellow jumpsuit - a striking outfit for the drama of the scenes by the swimming pool

Marie-Andree’s yellow jumpsuit – a striking outfit for the drama of the scenes by the swimming pool. I like the way the belt and the shoes harmonise in this outfit.

Sobhraj then suggests that Marie-Andree goes shopping and Ajay takes her in the car, leaving Nadine and Sobhraj alone at the apartment. Sobhraj airs his suspicions that Nadine must have helped Dominique escape. Nadine’s life is in danger but the police are temporarily stood down, while they await Marie-Andree and Ajay to return so all three can be arrested.

Just before the police arrive Sobhraj, always seeming in control, makes a few last minute preparations. He ensures that he, Marie-Andree and Ajay are wearing as much jewellery as they can and he also hides the key to the safe.

In a step back in time we see another aspect of Sobhraj’s life. It seems that he is also having a relationship behind Marie-Andree’s back. In fact, Sobhraj gets engaged to Suda, but we left guessing which relationship is more important to Sobhraj. Suda is clearly useful for her connections to the gem trade and her father is in the police.

Suda wears quite understated dresses. Like the belt this is paired with.

Suda wears quite understated dresses. Like the belt this is paired with.

On arriving at the police station, Sobhraj ostentatiously takes off his jewellery and empties wadges of cash from his pockets. He obviously hopes that the police can be bribed.

Nadine and Remi celebrate Sobhraj’s arrest at the Knippenbergs, but Herman gets a call from the police which suggests the investigation is not going to plan. It seems Sobhraj has taken a new identity, which is confusing the investigation. On top of that will Sobhraj’s bribery work?

In Episode 6 we step back to late sixties and Sobhraj’s marriage to Juliette.

I struggled to get a good shot of Juliette's wedding dress. This shot shows the detail best - it is rather beautiful - full length, all lace, with a train.

I struggled to get a good shot of Juliette’s wedding dress. This shot shows the detail best – it is rather beautiful – full length, all lace, with a train.

Back with the Knippenbergs, Herman is increasingly agitated and completely loses it when the gardener mistakenly clears all the water-lilies from the pond. He’s in even more trouble at the embassy for pursuing the case and his boss “tells him” to take a holiday for three weeks.

Meanwhile Sobhraj and Marie-Andree are in Pakistan, where Sobhraj needs to make some phonecalls to find a buyer for his gems.

Can Madame be persuaded to buy the gems? Madame Boeder has a rather bohemian style, beautiful large print fabric in jewel tones (perhaps no coincidence there). Another interior - an elegant office in a Paris apartment, I think I would suggest this room is timeless and classic.

Can Madame be persuaded to buy the gems? Madame Boeder has a rather bohemian style, with a beautiful large print fabric in jewel tones (perhaps reflect her love of gems). Another beautiful interior – an elegant office in a Paris apartment, it’s timeless and classic.

Marie-Andree seems more relaxed since they have left Bangkok, but isn’t thrilled when Ajay, who had stayed behind, suddenly makes an appearance. Marie-Andree had requested Ajay bring a notebook from the apartment, but he didn’t have time to fetch it.

Marie-Andree's blouse is really interesting. It has voluminous sleeves and is asymmetric with a big flounce extending from the front on the right side. I like how the pastel shades look together too.

Marie-Andree’s blouse is really interesting. It has voluminous sleeves and is asymmetric with a big flounce extending from the front on the right side. I like how the pastel shades look together too.

We also see the early years of Sobhraj’s marriage to Juliette in India. They have a child, but Sobhraj isn’t the most reliable husband and the lifestyle he leads proves to be too much for his new bride.

Juliette visits Sobhraj in jail. She's wearing a denim blouse with a contrast yoke.

Juliette visits Sobhraj in jail. She’s wearing a denim blouse with a contrast yoke.

Herman tries to relax on hoilday, but is disturbed by a phone call from Nadine saying that the Sobhraj apartment is going to be let. The Knippenbergs rush back to Bangkok to search the apartment before any vital evidence is lost. They find a hidden “medicine” cupboard containing all the drugs that Sobhraj used in his poisonings, stolen passports and Marie-Andree’s notebook.

As the episode draws to its menacing conclusion we begin to see where Sobhraj’s loyalties lie or perhaps we see that he only values a relationship that furthers his own aims.


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Velvet and no zips: I’ll wear this again and again

Once in a while I am totally surprised by something I make, and that’s pleasantly surprised. I had a reasonable amount of navy blue velvet left-over, after making the Lulu cardigan by Scout patterns. The fabric was bought in person (like from a shop, do you remember those?) from Stoff and Stil in Copenhagen. I decided to use it up with a boring make. I was really convinced that this make, because I was using left-overs, was not going to be one of my best. Perhaps it wouldn’t fulfill my expectations when it came to filling in wardrobes gaps or it would need to be pieced together from insufficient fabric. Basically, I was expecting to be disappointed.

I decided to make a long-sleeved t-shirt with cuffs and picked out the Ensis Tee (sadly no longer on sale) from Papercut Patterns from my pattern pile. Once I started I was relieved that I had plenty of fabric. I didn’t need to piece together to create sleeves, make the top ridiculous short or employ any other measure I might consider if I didn’t have enough fabric, after all.

The Ensis pattern uses colour-blocking with a different colour for the yoke and upper sleeves, but I just joined my upper and lower pattern pieces together and cut out the bodice and sleeves as one piece.

Ensis Tee in navy velvet and grey ribbing

Ensis Tee in navy velvet and grey ribbing

I used some grey ribbing for the cuffs and to finish the hem and neckline. I’d originally bought this ribbing to use with the Fielder top I’d made, but didn’t think the grey fabric and the ribbing looked good together, so it had been sat around in my stash for a while. However, this navy blue velvet and the grey ribbing turned out to be a winning combination.

Velvet Ensis Tee

Velvet Ensis Tee

It was a really easy make too, including none of the swearing and endurance associated with inserting the zip in the velvet Lulu cardigan. It was just done on the overlocker. Also, the pattern piece cuts just the right length of ribbing for the neckline, which doesn’t always happen when I make tops for knit fabric, giving the top a really polished finish.

Standing by a huge anchor in my warm velvet top

Standing by a huge anchor in my warm velvet top

I’ve worn this top loads over the last few weeks because it has been so cold; it turns out to be a warm top. In summary, it might not be the most adventurous make, nor the most eye-catching, but I am so glad I made it. If anything, I think it may get more wear than the Lulu cardigan, which was the make I had in mind when I bought the fabric. I’m calling this top a very happy coincidence!


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The Serpent – TV series review Episodes 3 & 4

Here’s the next installment of the review of The Serpent currently showing on the BBC in the UK. It is set in the 1970s and based on the real-life case of the French serial killer, Charles Sobhraj.

Episode 3 revolves almost exclusively around Dominique. Stopping off in Thailand on his way back from a gap year in Australia, Dominique is seeking adventure and just wants to meet new people. We see him in a bar struggling to write a letter to his family explaining his reasons for his sudden change of plan. Enter Charles Sobhraj. Dominique soon falls under his spell and after a nasty bout of stomach pains, Sobhraj takes him under his wing and back to his home to recover.

One of the interiors - very reminiscent of the era, great cushions and butterfly chair.

Difficult to get a screenshot of this, but this the one of the interiors – very reminiscent of the era, great cushions, curtains, lamp-stands and a butterfly chair.

 

An interesting cardigan

Monique in an interesting cardigan

Next we skip forward a few months to the Knippenberg residence. Herman has tracked down the witness to Sobhraj’s crimes, a neighbour Nadine. She reveals the extent of the crimes she thinks Sobhraj and his girlfriend have committed, but she is worried for her own safety.

Jumping back in time, Dominique’s “illness” continues and Alain and Monique look after him and administer “medicine” to him. After the pet monkey drinks Dominique’s medicine and dies, Dominique begins to wonder if he is being deliberately poisoned and whether he is being kept against his will.

Nadine in one of her paisley shirts

Nadine in one of her paisley shirts

An increasingly paranoid Dominique confides in Nadine and her husband, Remi. There are some genuinely tense moments in the next half hour as Dominique tries to escape Sobhraj’s clutches. You will be left guessing right up to the last minute.

Much of the action in episode 4 happens in Nepal. Charles loses a high-stakes game of cards and intimates that he and Marie-Andree should “look for more money”. When Marie-Andree has serious doubts about their relationship, Charles forces her to show her loyalty in a bizarre and extreme manner. We also see a different side to Ajay, Sobhraj’s ruthless accomplice, when he meets a young back-packer.

Ajay's jacket

In Nepal: Ajay’s jacket

Back with the Knippenbergs, Nadine is missing and her husband Remi is distraught. He rushes round to the Sobhraj house and finds Nadine, thankfully unharmed. They make their excuses and leave.

Cheers! This is one of my favourite outfits from the series so far. Those big sleeves! That colour combination!

Cheers! This is one of my favourite outfits from the series so far. Those big sleeves! That colour combination!

Herman realises the international dimensions of Sobhraj’s crimes, and by looking through old English-speaking newspapers finds that the Dutch couple were not the only victims. However, his investigations are frowned upon by his boss at the Dutch embassy.

Herman persuades Nadine to gather evidence about the Sobhrajs, photographs of them and of any belongings that she thinks have belonged to their victims. The Knippenbergs spend a nail-biting day waiting for Nadine to return with the evidence.

The episode becomes progressively darker and more terrifying as Sobhraj continues his destructive trail across Asia cashing in on the suffering of his latest victims, but with the help of the Australian embassy Herman may finally have enough evidence for the police investigation.

Marie-Andree's Nepal wardrobe - a green striped halter neck top with jeans.

Marie-Andree’s Nepal wardrobe – a green striped halter neck top with jeans.

 

Marie-Andree's Nepal wardrobe - the pink top has an unusual brush-stroke print.

Marie-Andree’s Nepal wardrobe – the pink top has an unusual brush-stroke print.


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The Serpent – TV series review Episodes 1 & 2

The Serpent is a new 8-part TV series currently showing on the BBC in the UK. It is set in the 1970s and is based on the real-life case of the French serial killer, Charles Sobhraj. In 1975-76 Sobhraj posed as gem dealer in Thailand, Nepal and India and carried out a number murders, particularly targetting Western tourists. The drama also follows the story of Dutch diplomat, Herman Knippenberg. He stumbled upon the case when the parents of a young Dutch tourist write to the Ambassador asking for help in locating their daughter and her boyfriend, who had seemingly disappeared. He spends many months trying to uncover the truth behind their disappearance, despite the disapproval of his superiors.

Episode 1 opens with scenes from a party in Bangkok. Scenes of revelers are juxtaposed with scenes showing the host and hostess attending a sick party-goer and also rifling though his bags for his passport and money.

Going by the names, Alain and Montique, Sobhraj and his girlfriend, Marie-Andree appear as a supremely glamorous couple. They are chic, they have a beautiful house with a pool and their invitations are seemingly generous and warm.

Seventies sophistication?

Seventies sophistication?

There is a blend of vintage footage interspersed with the story, which helps immerse the viewer in the period setting and location. I particularly love the seventies airport scenes.

The next part of the episode introduces young back-packer, Willem shopping for an engagement ring. He falls hook, line and sinker for the suave “Alain” and sophisticated “Monique”, as they persuade Willem that they can make up a sapphire engagement ring at a fraction of the price of those in the  shop window.

Wowza- this orange shirt and the scarf!

Wowza- this orange shirt and the scarf!

Finally, we also get to see the other main protagonist in this series, Dutch diplomat Herman Knippenberg, running late for a social event. He has just been sent a letter from anxious parents, worried that their daughter and her boyfriend have not been in contact for over two months.

A cool seventies tennis outfit

A cool seventies tennis outfit

Unfortunately, in this first episode there is a lot of jumping between different time frames which can be a little confusing. We also get a little back-story involving two back-packers, Celia and soon-to-be Buddhist nun Teresa. They too get swept into the Bangkok party scene and find themselves at the Sobhraj house.

A very glamorous green party dress

A very glamorous green party dress

The episode ends with Herman’s investigation taking an unexpected turn when he gets some interesting information from the Australian embassy.

In Episode 2 we go right back to the start. We see Marie-Andree meeting Sobhraj for the first time. Even at this point Sobraj’s modus operandi appears to be well-developed. Taking a liking to Marie-Andree, and wanting her then boyfriend out of the picture, we see the boyfriend becoming “ill” and retching in the bathroom after the couple accept a drink with Sobhraj.

Then, it’s back to Herman’s investigation. The Thai police seem unable to devote any resource to the case so Herman Knippenberg doggedly continues with his investigations alone.

Oh Mrs Knippenberg you're not as glam as Marie-Andree, but when I finally sure the whole length of this dress I was much more impressed with your elegant style

Oh Mrs Knippenberg you’re not as glam as Marie-Andree, but when I finally saw the whole length of this dress I was much more impressed with your elegant style

He receives a bundle of letters previously written by the young Dutch couple and they mention a “French gem dealer”. Herman quickly follows up on this lead and gets to hear about a woman who has reported “wild accusations” about a French gem dealer to various embassies.

We also see the early days of the romance between Sobhraj and Marie-Andree. Clearly, Marie-Andree is infatuated, but he isn’t quite the attentive boyfriend she desires.

At the beach

At the beach

In this episode we are introduced to Dominique, who Sobhraj brings back to the house because he is “ill”. We’ll get to hear more from him in the next episode.

Fantastic denim skirt with a white belt

Fantastic denim skirt with a white belt

Obviously, being a real case we can all google what happened, so I wasn’t sure how the plot could be developed from here in an exciting way. If you’ve been watching this series so far, you’ll note that I am already a little behind and episode 3 has already aired….but just to let you know, it gets much more interesting….


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#MakeNine2021 – Bring on the new

This year, I’ve really been noticing a change in what I need in my wardrobe. I think it is a given that most people are having similar thoughts, with casual wear being worn much of the time. I have a little more of an unusual take on this, as I’m quite happy to wear fitted garments in woven fabrics, whether I’m in the house or the outside world. However, I have noticed that as I’m no longer going into an air-conditioned office much, my wardrobe needs more items to cover greater extremes in temperature and, in particular I do need items that are warm. So this year’s Make Nine does feature many items that can be worn in the winter months.

Make Nine 2021 Drawings

Make Nine 2021 Drawings

Another focus for this year, is to experiment with zero-waste patterns. My first two will include the Pattern Magic “Wearing a Square” and the Clair skirt, see below.

I have had to rein in my creativity a little with my choices and have decided to include four makes using stash fabrics. This is getting more difficult now as I have really slashed the stash, but I have to be realistic about shopping. There may be many months ahead where in-person shopping will not be possible and although I am reasonably confident with on-line purchases for fabrics I use regularly, that won’t cover all my choices. Even worse, I’ve added a knitting project to the nine and I have very little idea about buying wool. Whenever I’ve bought wool before, I have had long conversations with Laura  in Wool Bath. I’ve never been disappointed, so I’m fully intending to do the same for my next knitting project, but even the short journey to Bath is out at the moment.

1. A Winter Jumper

Now that I’ve managed to finish a sweater, albeit one without sleeves in the past year, I should feel confident in my knitting skills to make another sweater. The only problem is that I want to make a very basic knit and I’m struggling to find a pattern. I would like to use the same construction techniques, just to reinforce the knitting skills that I do have. This means a sweater worked flat with set-in sleeves and ribbing at the cuffs, neckline and hem. All in all, a garment which isn’t too complicated, although I could be tempted by some simple colourwork, or cables. Can I find anything, with the whole of Ravelry at my behest? No! It’s possible, I’m being too picky in my search, but if anyone can suggest a good basic pattern I would be super pleased.

2. A Long Wool Skirt

I’m going to use the Clair pattern which is one of Liz Haywood’s zero-waste designs. I’m really looking forward to giving this a go, even though this will be a little out of my comfort zone. I’m still not sure about the fabric yet, although I do feel it should be a wool skirt. I can envisage both long winter walks in this and curling up on the sofa with the fabric tucked over my toes like a blanket! I’m really not sure about the colour, the skirt in my drawing is red, but I’m equally drawn to blue and even using a tartan.

Zero-waste Clair Skirt

Zero-waste Clair Skirt

3. Grey Burda Trousers

On to a less tricky make as far selecting materials goes! I’ve already purchased some grey viscose twill for this make. It drapes well and I’m sure will give the same vibe as the photo in the Burda Style magazine. The “Lady in Red” collection from the August 2019 edition is one of my favourite Burda collections. The whole collection looks super cool. I’ve already made the top with the shirred sleeves.The only thing that holds me back is that the trousers are definitely not a winter make, so I’m not so drawn to starting this one, at least not yet.

Burda Style #120 08/2020

Burda Style #120 08/2020

Burda Style #120 08/2020 line drawing

Burda Style #120 08/2020 line drawing

4. Nikko Top

I bought a small remnant of ribbed cotton jersey at Guthrie and Ghani’s last year. I thought it would come in handy for a Nikko top. I’m not sure what length of sleeves I’ll be able to manage, perhaps the remnant will just make the sleeveless version. Either way, in navy blue it will fit perfectly into the wardrobe, and will pair well with the Grey Burda trousers, and just about anything else blue and grey in my wardrobe.

True Bias Nikko Top

True Bias Nikko Top

5. A Skirt with Scottish tartan

This one is a carry over from last year’s Make Nine. All the usual reasons for procrastination have haunted my relationship with this fabric. I’m scared about cutting into this precious tartan and I’m not sure how to squeeze a kilt out of the yardage I have. This year I’ve really struggled to find time to myself. All the lockdown months and endless hours spent cramped in the house with a noisy teenager haven’t been very conducive to projects that require lots of thought. I intend to start 2021 with quiet optimism for this make.

6. Wearing a square from Pattern Magic

This is another project where I already have the intended fabric and have even made a start on this. In fact, I had to draft the pattern in order to make sure I bought the right quantity of fabric! Pattern Magic is one of those Japanese sewing books that are a little intimidating, but I’ve spotted lots of versions of “Wearing a Square” on line and it is generally regarded as one of the easiest makes in the book.

Pattern Magic: Wearing a square

Pattern Magic: Wearing a square

7. Black Palisade trousers

I fully intended to make these trousers last year, and they were on the 2020 Make Nine list. I did make a pair of shorts using some cotton-linen blend left-overs using the Palisade pattern. Here’s a weird thing, I haven’t had a pair of shorts in my wardrobe, since I was a teenager. I really do not wear them at all, but call it one of those 2020 things, I actually wore this pair rather a lot. I wore them cycling loads and also around the house (where obviously I spent a lot of time) when the weather was hot. Anyway, although I’m not 100% happy with the fit, I need to reduce the rise and lengthen them a little, I’ve actually enjoyed wearing them. Furthermore, I’m absolutely convinced that I need to make the full length trousers out of the same cotton-linen blend. They are so comfortable. I’m also considering whether I should make another shorts version with the improved fit.

Papercut Palisade Trousers

Papercut Palisade Trousers

8. Corduroy trousers

I’ve been mourning the loss of my last corduroy trousers for a while. They were just too threadbare. Corduroy is just the best fabric for a pair of cosy winter trousers and I can’t wait to make these. I do need to make sure that I find a colour that works well with my recently-made brushed cotton shirt. I’m completely undecided about the pattern. I could go all out seventies and choose a vintage flares pattern or alternatively I could use the True Bias Lander pattern.

9. Dropje Vest

More cold weather clothing! I’m thinking that this vest could be worn inside (Yes, it is that cold in this house and I swear I’m half-reptile, because unless warmed by the sun, I’m really sluggish!). I think this make will stretch me as I’ve not made anything quilted before. Again, I’m going to have to buying some more wool fabric, so I may not dive into this immediately.

Dropje Vest

Dropje Vest

All in all, it is an ambitious set of makes, with a few garments that will take me out of my comfort zone and into new territory. I had difficulties reducing my list down to nine makes, and I don’t make much more than nine makes in a year anyway, so my plans have to be achievable and also useful. I did toy with the idea of including underwear in my make nine. I really do need at least nine pairs of knickers! That would have made the Make Nine really dull, but it would have been useful! I’m sure some underwear will, nevertheless feature at some point in the year.


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2020 Reflections

I’m writing this post has been almost an after-thought. But hey, I’ve got to the end of this momentous year, so for posterity a few thoughts…..

No big things have been achieved this year within these four walls. We continued to work from home throughout the year. Mr Steely and I both do work which supports key workers and we so really appreciate the work they have done and continue to do throughout the pandemic.

Master Steely spent much of the year being home-schooled. Not an easy task considering the hours we were both working. I think this quote from Lord of The Rings pretty much sums up how this year has felt for me:

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread”

But, even though this year has thrown challenges our way, I am so grateful that my family has weathered this storm and we are all safe and well at the end of it.

On a lighter note, 2020 was the year when:

  • The quest for toilet paper, pasta and rice became all consuming
  • My boss actually encouraged me to work from home at every opportunity
  • The punchline to every joke seemed to be “it will end in tiers /tears”
  • A familiar greeting was “Hello, you’re still on mute!”
  • Hobbies are the best! Sewing, cycling and Tai chi have really kept me going this year.

Every day brings the end of the pandemic closer and although we’ll all be starting 2021 under the latest lockdown restrictions, it seems like a more hopeful place to be.

My thoughts go out to you all and I wish you all the best for the coming year.