Our Trip to Europe // Paris

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

As you might expect, I simply could not take a trip to Europe without taking a stop in the city of lights. It was our last stop of the journey and it was as beautiful as they said it would be…and as crowded full of tourists as they said it would be.

I knew it would be crowded and touristy, but I did my best to try and scope out little authentic experiences for us. Buuuuuut nobody told us that the entire city of Paris takes a vacation in August. This means all the local bakeries, independent artists and shops, all the things I had intended to see were closed (many of them reopened the Monday we left, just because it would just sting a little more that way). The only places that were open were the touristy stops and chain stores. Serious boo-urns.

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

Admittedly, what I had been looking forward to the most in Paris was a stop at Anna Ka Bazaar/ Atelier Brunette. I’d been following (and ogling) the shop for about a year after discovering them by chance on Instagram. The moment I saw the quirky style, affinity for pastels and modern printed fabrics I was hooked. I was so stoked to be able to step foot in their charming shop and had been preparing my (very long) shopping list for weeks.

Once we arrived, I made the discovery that, like the rest of the city, they were closed. Not only that, but they were in the process of moving locations. It seemed I had missed my chance.

Hating to see how whimpery and heartbroken I’d become, Rory suggested I simply reach out to them. Maybe I could just order from their online store and pick it up. At the very least I’d save a bunch on shipping. So I did.

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

Then, something amazing happened that reaffirmed everything I love about people in the sewing community. They told me that, since they were in the process of setting up their new (and now open, and completely stunning) location and would be there all day, that I would be welcome to just stop by and pick out my fabrics.  I was floored.

When I arrived the next day Anna and the team were incredibly sweet and didn’t hesitate to pull out boxes of fabrics for me to fawn over and sort through. I definitely satisfied my fabric fix and was so warmed by their generosity. A small part of me is still sad I hadn’t the chance to see the shop fully stocked and merchandised in all its glory, but I count myself so lucky for the one-of-a-kind, behind-the-scenes experience I was given. It will forever be a highlight.

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

Along the walk through the 3rd arrondissement after stopping at Anna Ka Bazaar, we happened ourselves upon another cat cafe! Rory obliged a second kitty visit and we enjoyed a mid-afternoon dessert at Cafe des Chats. Though not as cool and modern as Kopjes, I  pleasantly enjoyed the Parisian atmosphere and, of course, the fluffy company.

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

Our Airbnb was located in Montmartre and could not have been closer to the Abbesses metro station. It was a charming little flat, and though the smallest accommodation on our trip, was lovely and had everything we needed. We were 2 minutes away from Sacre Coeur and subsequently the large fabric markets of les Coupons de Saint-Pierre and la Marche Saint-Pierre. It was a textile-lovers dream. I only left with two new fabrics from here, showing restraint after my haul at Anna.

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

The only other thing we had planned for ourselves was a day-long bicycle tour through the grounds of Versailles. It was a dream. I forgot how much joy there is in coasting along on your bike, wind in your hair and beautiful sights to see.

The tour started at the market in the city of Versailles to stock up on some cheese, croissants and charcuterie for our picnic lunch later in the day. I may or may not have devoured a vanilla eclair before we even left the bakery. Then we went into the grounds, cycling among the spawling trees, stopping for visits at Marie Antionette’s hamlet, the petit and grand Trianons, and stopping for a picnic alongside the expansive Grand Canal. The day was beautifully mild and leisurely.

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

After the cycling we did get to go inside the palace, but it was SO packed and we felt like herded animals. We couldn’t escape fast enough! The more enjoyable part was the gardens. It started to rain a bit and a fair bit of the crowd dissapated. You can’t help but feel wonder and awe at the expanse, detail and elegance.

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

Our last two days were pretty open and frankly quite lazy on our part. By this point we had spent weeks of walking and exploring and were tired of mapping, planning and trying not to get lost. We wandered a bit through Montmartre, had a small picnic by the Eiffel tower and had a pleasant stroll along the Seine.

One of my favourite things about the city: croissants for breakfast. Rory marveled at their fluffiness, at one point dubbing them ‘a cloud-like butter delivery system’. We also made an obligatory macaron stop at Laduree. I would have loved to try a few more patisseries, but again: closed (sad face)

Our Trip to Paris // Boots & Cats

After 25 days of exploring, eating, discovering and walking, as magical as it was, we were ready to be home. This of course meant that our flight was delayed and we missed our connection and had to wait even longer. Eventually we arrived home and I have never felt so comfortable in my own bed.

Weirdest thing about being home? Our apartment felt huge! I will never again take for granted the amount of space I have here.

Phew, that about covers our European adventure. I’ve been home for over a month now and been sewing, knitting and weaving (!) up a storm. I can’t wait to share with you what I’ve been up to! Have a great weekend lovelies!

Our Trip to Europe // Amsterdam

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

When deciding on what cities to visit on our trip we knew Berlin and Paris would be our must-sees, but we had room in the itinerary for one more place. We tossed around a few ideas and landed on Amsterdam not knowing too much about it (besides the canals) or what to expect. This was also the shortest stop on our trip. To say we were enchanted would be a bit of an understatement.

After another lovely train ride through the countryside (and Rory’s game of ‘count the windmills’) we arrived in Amsterdam and once again managed to easily navigate to our Airbnb using public transit (Can I seriously tell you the love affair I had with the transit systems over there?! I was constantly in awe of the simplicity and intuitiveness of getting around. It makes me feel just a little more dissatisfied with the system at home…). When looking for places to stay, we found that Amsterdam had the least available options without going way over our price range, so my tip for those looking to travel here would definitely be to find your accommodations early!

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

Our apartment was located just north of the Jordaan, in Westerpark. It was a charming ground-floor suite that was beautifully decorated. The big draw was access to the garden space. It was total bliss to eat breakfast on the deck in the sun.

Westerpark itself was a 2 minute walk away and was a refreshing and open green space. It was nice to walk around and explore and so many people were out enjoying the summer, with picnics and lawn games abound. It was perfect to have this little oasis so close to our place.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

As we told everyone before our trip, Rory and I didn’t want to plan in too many things. We wanted to take it one day at a time and not live to a structured schedule. However there was one big exception that I made sure to reserve months in advance: A coffee date at a cat cafe!

Kattencabinet Kopjes was adorable, trendy and full of happy kitties. On our way over, we got slightly off track and I was so worried we would miss our reservation, but I had nothing to worry about. The ladies there were so friendly and didn’t mind that we arrived a few minutes late.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

The cats themselves were so chill and seemed to take advantage of the sprawling network of bridges, stairs and beds expertly designed and placed in the space. Most of them were sleeping but every once in a while a cat would saunter through the space and soak up the attention of everyone’s eyes on him. All the cafe guests were trying to be aloof about the cats, pretending to focus on their company and beverages. But soon enough someone broke the ice and we were all wandering about taking photos and dangling toys for the cats who were game.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

Luckily, allergic Rory wasn’t bothered by them and could stay with me to enjoy some refreshing iced tea and delicious homemade desserts. There was however, one incident that took place. At one point I went to the washroom and Rory was left alone, a sneaky kitty decided he wanted some pie. That being a definite no-no, he now had to protect both our plates and tea from the feline’s grasp. He guarded them valiantly as the onlookers giggled at the scene. He let out a cry for help and I came running back to remove the little thief and we enjoyed the rest of our desserts in peace.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

It was an Instagram paradise and just a cool place to hang out. They even had a shelf full of cat books, comics and colouring pages. Seriously, if you like cats even a little bit I HIGHLY recommend this place if you are ever in the city.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

We flirted with a few stops in the museum district but settled on two places to explore. First, the FOAM photography museum. The exhibits they had in place were really cool. But the feature exhibit, Swinging Sixties London, definitely piqued my interest and was so fascinating to me. I absolutely LOVE vintage photography, especially in the 50s and 60s, so it was just perfect. The museum had multiple stairways and we accidentally entered the exhibit from the back entrance and saw the decade in reverse, which was fine. I also didn’t see the ‘no photos’ sign at the door. Whoopsie.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

Just a block away, we HAD to stop at the Kattenkabinet, a very strange but also awesome museum featuring all-cats-all-the-time type art. It was housed in what appeared to be someone’s home (we couldn’t go up the stairs), but it was ornately decorated and even had two feline residents. It was short but very fun to see.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

As for the shopping, I found that Harlemmerstraat had just the right vibe I was looking for. There were many vintage inspired dress shops, fabulously decorated independent stores and shops featuring local artists like Restored and Sukha.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

I attemped to get some fabric shopping in at the famed textile Noodermarkt on Monday, but it was wayyyy to crazy for me to look closely at anything and the quality didn’t seem very high. I probably could have found some hidden gems but seriously could not handle constantly being shoulder to shoulder with people.

We also took a canal tour that was interesting but more than anything was really relaxing. We also stopped by Museumplien for a picnic (and to take a nap), though the I AMsterdam letters were swarming with people to get a decent photo.

Our Trip to Amsterdam // Boots & Cats

Of all the cities we visted I found Amsterdam was the coolest place to just walk around. It was the most dynamic and interesting to explore without purpose. Everything felt so close and accessible. There were clearly a lot of tourists but it never felt ‘touristy’ to me which was nice. The cafes and restaurants felt authentic and accessible and it was perfect summer weather.

I’d love to come back and spend a few more days (and have another afternoon at Kopjes) and think it would be beautiful in the spring to wander the tulip fields.

Our Trip to Europe // Berlin

Our Guide to Berlin // Boots & Cats

After an astounding 10 days in Copenhagen it was time to depart for the next leg of our trip! An early Monday morning brought us off to the train station to begin our journey to Berlin.

Using the train system was actually so simple and was relatively stress free for us. Though Rory had the unexpected experience of having to pay a few kroner at the station to use the washroom. Once we boarded it was so relaxing to just sit back and watch the countryside roll by for a few hours until our destination. On this route, we had the added pleasure of taking a ferry across from Denmark to Germany. Standing on the deck taking in the sea air was so refreshing.

The moment we got off the train at Berlin Central we noticed a definite change in the weather. While Copenhagen was blissfully temperate and overcast, it was clear that here, we were in for a very hot mid-summer week.

Our Guide to Berlin // Boots & Cats

We navigated our way to our beautiful Airbnb apartment in Prenzlauer Berg. It was so crisp and well designed it immediately felt comfortable (and cool!), but the pièce-de-résistance of this place was the secret rooftop patio entrance.

When the sun went down and it would start to cool off, we could climb up a squeaky ladder to a small landing and could sit there, watch the sunset, and relax with a good book. This little place was probably our biggest highlight of Berlin. We could see across the rooftops and watch the clouds dance in the sky. It was the perfect place to slow down, reflect and feel inspired.

Our Guide to Berlin // Boots & Cats

The neighbourhood itself was cute and quiet, we spent quite a bit of time taking in the shops and restaurants within walking distance. Jubel patisserie was a definite highlight, introducing me to a nectarine and hazelnut tart I will never forget.

On one of the cooler days we ventured a little further walking for hours through Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte discovering all the little shops that dotted along the way and enjoying the architecture. We started by taking in an adorable brunch at Anna Blume cafe (and flower shop), which was a delicious assortment of everything on a tiered platter. It was kinda like a breakfast charcuterie board and creating our own unique flavour combinations was gratifying.

Our Guide to Berlin // Boots & Cats

From there we did pretty much all the window shopping imaginable. I especially loved the bright eclectic feel of VEB Orange and the local goods at Konk. I was delighted to find fabric at Frau Tulpe Stoffe and managed to restrain myself, acquiring only one new textile and a few accessories.

It was seemingly endless, with more to see the further we went. Even as we intended to head to our next destination, we would get a little off track, spotting a bunch more shops to  pop into, like Type Hype, R.S.V.P and Claudia Skoda. It became addicting to try to see it all.

Our Guide to Berlin // Boots & Cats

Through footbag, Rory had a few friends in the city that we were able to meet up with and hang out at Görlitzer Park and then later at his friend’s studio, which was located under the trains along the Spree. He refurbishes industrial furniture from old east Berlin warehouses and sells them to retailers, restaurants and collectors. It was really interesting to see the studio space and admire the assortment unique lights, chairs and playground equipment.

We did play tourist and took a hop-on-hop-off bus tour one afternoon. The 30 degree heat made it a little unbearable at the stops, but it was the perfect way to see everything in one succinct go. Afterwards, as much as we wanted to enjoy the atmosphere and food outdoors at Alexanderplatz, we ended up having dinner at a department store cafe because OMG  they had air conditioning.

Our Guide to Berlin // Boots & Cats

Having the weather be so hot kind of made Berlin difficult to enjoy, everywhere was stuffy and walking places wasn’t always fun. On our last day it was 37 outside and we decided to visit the German Museum of Science and Technology because we thought it would be a cool in more ways than one. However when we arrived we learned the museum was housed in a refurbished train station. It was really neat vibe (we walked up a ‘horse stairwell’ between floors) but it basically meant that was not outfitted with modern a/c. Now don’t get me wrong, I love summer and being warm, but it was really too much.

Beyond the heat, Berlin was a charming city and I know we barely made a dent in what it had to offer. It was the perfect place for us to relax and recharge for the second half of our trip. After five short days we were already onwards to Amsterdam.

Our Trip to Europe // Copenhagen

Copenhagen City Guide // Boots & Cats

This summer Rory and I had the chance to explore a little piece of the world. For 25 days we got to travel to four cities in Europe…the first time over there for both of us!

We had a truly amazing time. Though now it seems like a distant dream, when we were there the days felt long, deliberate and never-ending (in the best way possible). I’ll break up each city into it’s own post over the next weeks here on the blog and share my personal guide to the places we discovered, though I know we barely scratched the surface.

Copenhagen City Guide // Boots & Cats

Our journey began in the beautiful Copenhagen. Why Denmark? Well, besides my love of Scandinavian design, the city was host to the World Footbag Championships (I bet that makes everything much clearer…)

Footbag is a unique sport that Rory plays. In essence, it’s the amped-up version of hacky sack, complete with tricks, routines and more. Really, this topic could be a whole post in itself. Rory was competing this year, which lead us to Copenhagen for 10 days as our first location on the trip.

Copenhagen City Guide // Boots & Cats

We stayed in an Airbnb in the neighbourhood of Nørrebro. If you’ve never tried Airbnb I can’t recommend it enough. It gives you the chance to live more like a local in the trendier areas that don’t often have hotels or hostels nearby. Plus you can save money by cooking your own food in the kitchen, and you often have access to laundry. Just do your research, read reviews, keep in touch with your host and it should all go smoothly. In all the accommodations we stayed at this trip, we didn’t have a single issue.

Our apartment was adorable, with lots of personality from cute knick-knacks and interesting art. There was so much natural light and the furniture was all mid-century influenced. It was the perfect place to call ‘home’ for the week.

The neighbourhood itself was also beautiful. It was quite quiet, but we were 2 blocks from a main street that had everything we needed. Fun fact, the Danes love their shawarma. I kid you not, every third business on the street was a little kebab restaurant. We stopped at a new place for many of our meals (when we weren’t cooking at our apartment) and it was delicious. The only downside to this was that we missed out on the chance to try some traditional Danish fare.

Copenhagen City Guide // Boots & Cats

On our last day we managed to have a lovely brunch at Møller, which was a trendy little place that had amazing food. When you arrive they hand you a tiny paper menu and you check off what you’d like and hand it in a the counter. The dishes were small, so you could try a variety of things. Your own mini buffet! It was only a few blocks from our place and I kind of wish we’d tried it sooner so we could have gone more than once and tried everything.

I, of course, had a blast hitting up all the shops. I did a bit of research on where exactly to go because I am pretty picky about shopping when I travel. With the rise of online shopping and globalization it is getting harder and harder to find things that are truly unique to a place you are visiting. I make an effort to find local artists and designers, independent shops and locally made goods wherever possible. This way I know my souvenirs are truly unique.

Copenhagen City Guide // Boots & Cats

Luckily, an amazing shopping street Jægersborggade was a 5 minute walk away. Along this street I found the ceramic studio of Inge Vincents, which was breathtaking work, and some quirky home goods shops like HØJ Copenhagen. The street was also dotted with outdoor cafes and candy shops. It was a dreamy few blocks to get away to, but only took an hour to cruise the whole thing.

On one of our free days, we also ventured to the other side of town to the Vesterbro neighbourhood. I found another shopping street Værnedamsvej which was filled with trendy little boutiques like Dora and Playtype. The street was narrow and a little winding, which made it a unique expereince to just wander through.

Copenhagen City Guide // Boots & Cats

I had one store that was recommended online that I really wanted to visit, Girlie Hurly, which was about a 10 minute walk out of the way from where we were. The street we had to take to get there appeared to be mostly residential, filled with tall buildings lined with bikes and greenery, but was we glanced down at the basement windows we noticed there were many little artist studios hidden away. Some were even open as little shops too.  We visited a few print shops and walked by sculpture and furniture spaces, but we were especially enchanted by Virk Varftet, and had a wonderful time chatting with the owners.

(It was also on this street we saw someone using a blowtorch to rid the cobblestones of weeds, which was a very strange sight).

Copenhagen City Guide // Boots & Cats

When we travel, Rory and I like to explore at our own pace, allow ourselves breaks to just hang out and be lazy, and enjoy the smaller, quieter areas. That doesn’t mean we avoid the tourist-y things altogether, though! We made time to climb the winding ramp up the Rundetaarn (round tower), strolled along the waterfront, had dinner in the meatpacking district and took a canal tour.

The tour was a lovely way to see everything all at once, and it was perfect as we went on one of the only sunny days we had there. The famous Nyhavn harbour was stunning and picturesque, and it was fun to squeeze underneath the tiny bridges. We briefly passed the little mermaid statue but we were pretty underwhelmed by her.

Copenhagen City Guide // Boots & Cats

Overall, one of the things that stood out the most to me about Copenhagen was the bikes! It was amazing to see how many people would travel that way and we were repeatedly gobsmacked at how many bikes were just parked and waiting for their patrons. At home, we never ride our bikes because the rules on the road are so unclear to everyone, but here we felt so comfortable using it as a means to get around. On a few occasions we rented bikes using the Bycyklen system, which had bikes docked around the city that you can just check out and pay by the hour to use them. They also had handy little GPS tablets on them which took all the stress out of navigating.

I can’t tell you how liberating it was to just take off and get exactly where we needed to by bike. It was especially fun in the evening when traffic slowed down and we could just go nice and slow and take it all in.

Because of the length of time we spent here, plus the friends we had to hang out with from the competition, Rory and I both enjoyed Copenhagen immensely. We loved the atmosphere, parks and bikes and could see ourselves coming back and exploring more of Denmark and maybe Sweden and Norway too. But this trip we had other plans. Our next stop was south to Berlin.

Learning Calligraphy

Learning Calligraphy // Boots & Cats

There’s something amazing about creating. There are infinite ways to make things, and infinite things to make. The sad thing about this phenomenon is that there is no possible way for you to make ALL the things.

That doesn’t mean I won’t stop trying to make all the things. Learning a new craft can be a fun and obsessive experience, but it can also be a challenge to motivate yourself to move forward when you aren’t quite sure how to get started. That’s why I love a good workshop. In-person, hands-on, let’s-make-a-mess activities make my life complete.

Learning Calligraphy // Boots & Cats

I’ve attended workshops for silk dyeing, letterpress and earlier this summer I had the chance to dive into the world of calligraphy. I briefly attempted calligraphy at the start of this year, but I was totally winging it. At one point thought I broke my nib when in actuality it was doing exactly what it was supposed to. I decided a more formal approach was perhaps in order if I wanted to learn the art of lettering.

The class was taught at the new 104 st gem, Habitat Ect. and was lead by Justine Ma. I had been following Justine on social media after first spotting her beautiful hand-lettering work at the Royal Bison last winter. One day she posted on Instagram that she would be offering her first-ever workshop. I jumped on that as fast as possible but I was already too late, it was full. Luckily a second date was added a few days later and I was in!

Learning Calligraphy // Boots & Cats

When I arrived at the space (20 minutes early like a keener) I was so delighted! Justine had tables set and beautifully decorated, with assigned seats at which she had thoughtfully provided personalized blocks and water bottles for everyone attending. Also included was all the paper, ink and nibs we needed to get ourselves started on our lettering journeys.

Learning Calligraphy // Boots & Cats

There were 12 ladies at this two hour workshop, and although we were excited and giddy to learn, once the ink pots opened the room was full of concentrated silence. Justine walked us through some basic techniques to put the pen to paper and then just let us experiment and create.

It was brilliant to watch the various learning styles in the room. Some people simply wrote the alphabet over and over, perfecting each letter as they went, others picked some key phrases to repeat. I admittedly get bored easily so once I understood my ink flow, I wrote whatever random words popped into my head as we went along. I got a few odd looks for writing ‘peanut butter’…’pickles’…’confetti’…’party hats’…’popcorn’… but I’m gonna say that the best way to learn how to style words is trying different words to see how they look. Ha.

Learning Calligraphy // Boots & Cats

I’ve always had a bit of an interest in hand-lettering and this workshop sent me into full obsession mode. I’ve filled multiple notebook pages with more random words and am constantly looking for excuses to write on things. Luckily this hobby doesn’t require a huge time or space commitment so I can pick it up here and there when I am able. Which is the best kind of side hobby to have, don’t you think?

Be sure to follow Justine’s social media pages as she will announce future dates for this amazing workshop so you can get in on this!

A Tipsy Anna Dress

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

Anna anna bo’banna banana fana fo fanna. What can I say about your loveliness that the sewing community hasn’t said already fifty times over? I am a little late on the Anna train, but am so happy to finally be aboard. I can’t honestly see myself making another dress pattern for a while.

The bodice shape is so flattering, it has my favourite kind of neckline, the skirt has just the right amount of flare, (though I could customize that in many ways if I so desired), it has a vintage feel but plays well with modern fabrics…I could go on for days.

The first Anna I saw that made me seriously contemplate owning this pattern was this stunning maxi version by Zoe. I ordered the pattern on a whim (nabbing a hard copy before they were all gone, whew), without a purpose or fabric yet in mind. So it sat on my pattern rack for months.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

The rest of the story kind of plays out like a mediocre romance novel. The fabric destined for this dress was actually waiting quietly in the background all along. I acquired this rayon voile from my time at Télio 3 years ago and had it earmarked for a Deer and Doe Reglisse. I kept procrastinating and kept them in an extended engagement because something in that match never felt quite right to follow through. Then one day the proverbial eyes met and I knew that this fabric was destined to be with Anna.

Then Elle, Pips and Ute announced the #InternationalAnnaParty, which was a swift kick in the bum to move this project forward full speed.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

I wanted to be very careful with this special fabric to make sure I didn’t ruin it somehow, so I made a bodice muslin to test the fit of my standard 3 cm waist lengthening as well as making sure the shoulders had good fit. And it was perfect, first try! Woo hoo.

So eager to get a dress happening, I jumped right into real fabric cutting. At midnight.

A note to readers (though you are probably logical enough to know this) do not cut into your nice I-can’t-get-any-more-of-this fabric when you are exhausted, yet anxious and rushed.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

First, after cutting out a few pieces I noticed I had cut out the BACK bodice on the fold and had the front piece in two (luckily I had enough to re-cut, but I was hoping to make something else out of that…boo) THEN after the kerfuffle I wasn’t paying attention to the shifting grain on the bottom layer of the fabric, leaving me with a totally skewed bodice. UGH.

Add to that, I pretty much forgot about pattern matching altogether. Though it is one of the most important thing when working with a print, I almost always forget about the concept of pattern matching until I am sewing side seams together. I think I mentally wrote this one off as a ‘busy’ pattern that you wouldn’t notice, even though it is most definitely a stripe. Ah, I will figure it out one day. I promise.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

I was secretly hoping that all this wouldn’t be too noticeable so I marched on. I had sewn her up about 3/4 of the way and the errors were glaring. I got quite mad at this dress (and myself) for a few days. To the point where, I couldn’t even look at her.

After cooling down a bit, I started to wonder if I had a ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ effect going for me with the print placement. I posted on Instagram to test the waters and the response was quite positive! I gained some confidence in that and finished up.

AND THEN I PUT IT ON. OMG. The fabric is so so soft, light and floaty, yet totally opaque. The fit is perfect. The crazy pattern is actually quite intriguing. It  also feels so good in the summer’s heat. This is now the coolest dress I own. In more ways than one.

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

Shifty fabric aside, I feel like this is one of the best constructed dresses I have done to date. The darts and pleats actually match the skirt panels, the facing lays flat, the waist seams line up (thank goodness for this tutorial!) and the invisible zipper is, well, invisible for once. I am looking forward to applying all this to future Annas.

I also added some basic inseam pockets, because, who doesn’t love pockets?

A tipsy Anna dress // Boots & Cats

It was such a pleasure to participate in the Anna Party this last weekend and it was such a blast. So many amazing seamstresses and an endless array of Anna ideas and inspirations. It was so exciting to check in every few hours to see what was new! I love this online community so much.

Plus, many people thought my crazy mis-aligned stripes were an intentional design choice. So from now on if anyone asks…

Dreamy DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

It should be no secret by now that I love backdrops. I’ve had a love affair with them since the moment I joined Pinterest. I made my first one from metallic fringe for New Years Eve in 2013 and haven’t looked back since. Give me any occasion and I’ll try to whip one up. Luckily I have a large swath of empty wall space in my living room that just begs for a backdrop wall installation year round! I’ve shared some of these with you before, including this geometric autumn garland and last year’s spring floral set up, as well I’m sure you’ve seen peeks of the golden medallions, and strings of stars making an appearance in the background of other projects. It’s gotten to the point where the wall looks sad and naked without anything there.

Ideally I’d like to change up the artwork with the seasons, but sometimes it’ll only get changed twice a year. Last spring, I was so eager to leave winter behind, I built up the florals in early April as my foray into spring. My warm-weather dreams were kinda destroyed though when it continued to snow for a few more weeks. To avoid the soul-crushing, I decided to wait a little while longer before getting the spring backdrop ready this year.

Then life somehow took over and what was supposed to be ‘holding-out-for-a-few-more-weeks-until-the-snow-is-gone’ became ‘holy-crap-how-is-it-already-July?!’. But here it is, in it’s bold, ombre and super pink glory.

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

I’d been inspired by this post on Style Me Pretty for a long time, having ‘pinned’ it years ago and just waiting for the moment I could deploy it. I love its dreamy softness, yet geometric, 3D, sculptural-ness. I also knew that I wanted to inject a pop of colour to the mix, and a little bit of ombré is never a bad idea.

I followed Erin’s instructions pretty closely, except that I used coffee filters instead of wax-paper so it would take the dye. This also had the handy bonus that they were already circles, so I got to skip a step! Yay for efficiency.

It was a little meticulous and time consuming to put it all together, but there aren’t too many materials needed and the process was so much fun. I’ve never had as much Instagram fodder as when I was making this. It was just so visually bold I wanted to take photos with the materials non-stop along the way (which is also probably why it took so long…)

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

Let’s get to it. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Coffee filters (I used a full pack of 100)
  • Food colouring or fabric dye (I used Wilton gel icing colours)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • String or twine
  • Large sewing needle (a knitting one works great)

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

1. The first step is dyeing your coffee filters to the colour of your choice. It’s actually a very easy process, you just need a little bit of space to make a mess and let them dry. I used this tutorial, but it’s pretty self-explanatory. To get the ombré effect, I mixed my darkest tone (mixing Christmas Red and Pink icing colours) and began dyeing about a fifth of my filters. I then diluted my dye bath with water and dyed the next fifth and so on. For the lightest tone of pink I just added a few drops of the pink to a new bath of clean water just to get it ever-so-slightly pinked. I also dunked the plain white ones in clean water and dried them out so they would have the same texture as the rest.

2. Lay them out to dry and Instagram as much as possible.

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

To make them into the cone shapes, you need to cut the circles in half. As I was doing this, surrounded by piles of paper, I made a discovery. It’s pretty ground-breaking and I am so excited to share with you. Ready? Two words. GIANT. CONFETTI. They flutter around in the air when tossed and it is pretty much the most fun EVER. Like playing in an autumn pile of leaves without fear or spiders hiding underneath. I’m definitely keeping this idea in my back pocket for my next party. It would be so fun to dye a few different colours and toss them about with friends. Plus, since they are large, they are WAY easier to tidy up.

You’re welcome world.

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

3. Once you feel you’ve frolicked enough, take your half circles and turn them into cones. I found white glue worked the best as the filters just soaked it up and held strongly. Apply glue in a strip along half the edge, starting in the center.

4. Bring both ends together, overlap them a little bit, and hold for about 5 seconds. Set to dry, and repeat.

5. Take many photos of your tiny mountain range. (If I could figure out how to adhere them to the wall like this I SO would have. Pink spikes? Yes please.)

6. Once dry, decide on the layout of your design. Do you want the colour gradient from left to right? Top down? Bottom up? Should the strands all be the same length or should they be staggered? You’ll also need to measure the size of your display space so the strands aren’t too long, too short or too wide. I arranged all my rows on the floor to get an idea of the size and colour design before I started assembling.

7. Next, you’ll need your string, sewing needle and knot tying skills. Cut a string about 20 cm longer than your intended length of the strand. Starting from the bottom up, you’ll tie a knot in your string, then sew it through the tiny hole at the top of your cone. I found I usually needed a double knot so it would be thick enough stay in place, but a dot of glue also helps keep it there if the cone wants to slide past the knot. Once it’s secure, tie the next knot above it and work your way up adding the cones. For spacing between the knots I just sort of eyeballed it, but you could definitely measure each one to be more precise and even.

8. Once you have all your strands complete, cut another piece of string about 30 cm longer than your intended width. Tie the strands to this string using basic knots. They’ll be secure in place, but still have the ability to slide along so you can adjust your spacing once it’s on the wall.

Now you just need to put it up! I used a few pieces of trusty washi tape to adhere to my walls since the filters are quite lightweight. I also love the look of Erin’s where it is tied to the rafters. If you have that option, I’d say go for it!

DIY Ombré Paper Backdrop // Boots & Cats

I am super happy to have finally finished this project (better late than never, amirite?). The living room is so bright and cheery, which is just how I want to feel in the summer. Though there is now a definite hot pink theme happening in the space, which I find keeps happening, even though I still tell myself it’s not my favourite colour.

This project was just the creative change of pace I needed to take a small break from sewing. Like a crisp breath of fresh air I am ready to jump in and try more new things and get new projects done. If only these sweltering temperatures didn’t make me feel so lazy…

Ice Cream Airelle Blouse

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

Have you ever had one of those projects that you had such high hopes but just never seemed to get quite right?  When making it sort of feels like wading through molasses? It completely weighs you down and kills your creative energy?  You find it was impossible to make decisions on how to move forward with it? And you couldn’t allow yourself to move on to another project until you just got it done and out of the way??

Meet Airelle

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

Two summers ago I picked up this adorable ice cream cone printed polyester fabric from Fabricland on a whim, attracted to the print while waiting for more essential fabric to be cut.  It was the perfect summer fabric that sat at the top of my stash staring at me until I decided what it was going to be. I loved the print so much, but felt intimidated by its slippery nature and couldn’t fully visualize what I wanted it to be.

I eventually settled on the idea of a cool summer blouse and the Airelle pattern seems to be a good match for what I was going for. Fear of that fabric though kept me procrastinating a whole year before I forced myself to just dive in. Me Made May was also a huge player in the motivation – I wanted something new to wear and the sun had started to shine. It was time to accept the challenge.

To say the fabric is slippery is an understatement. It slides, warps, and pulls at the slightest tug and it was an ordeal to cut it evenly (spoiler: I didn’t).  I think I need fabric weights and maybe a larger surface to use my rotary cutter for any future attempts?

I added my usual 3 cm to the waist length, and rounded off the hem, adding a little additional length to the back piece. I also eliminated the darts. If you ask me I will claim that I wanted a flowy silhouette but in reality it’s because it seemed like a nightmare to attempt them in such a fussy fabric. I’m glad I left them off.

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

My first iteration was very different than it is today. I had added in (then removed) piping at the yoke, and decided it looked good sleeveless. Then I wore it (for MMMay Day 22), and I found that the shoulders didn’t sit properly without the sleeves, so I unpicked my bias finishing and added them.  I had opted out of the collar (I was unsure how well it would hold up in this fabric) but the pattern without it left the neckline a strange shape. So I lowered and refaced that too.

As the project went on I questioned myself more and more at every step. Self-doubt really wore me down. I still didn’t know what would be best outcome for the top. I made these adjustments along the way but as I went I just felt more and more defeated by the project. I didn’t want to work on it anymore. I didn’t want to work on ANYTHING anymore.

I powered through and made all changes that were necessary to get this blouse to at least an 8/10. And I am proud of myself for that. Though, once it was done I neatly folded it up and left it on my sewing desk until the photo shoot, instead of my closet, where most makes immediately land.

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

Wearing the top this week to get the photos helped change my perspective a little bit. I have lots to be thankful for. It fits well, looks fun and still embodies the spirit of the summer. To me, it STILL feels like something is off and I don’t know if that will ever go away, but I made something cute and wearable. More importantly, I conquered my first polyester satin project and I can wear it outdoors! In public!

My favourite aspect is the back of the top; the shape of the extended back hem and the contrast yoke just feels really cool and breezy.  I hope to capture that in future projects. I want to include some multi-fabric and colour blocked garments in my wardrobe.

Ice Cream Airelle // Boots & Cats

At the end of the day I really am just glad the project is done and I can start new and hopefully more fulfilling things. I have a pretty crazy Anna dress near completion and some other fun dresses on the to do list. The sew must go on!

How do you deal with your sew-jo killers? What motivates you to get yourself back in the game after a disappointing performance? Also, tips for working with fussy fabrics also appreciated.

The Great Sewing Day

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

This whole past month was about sharing and connecting with a community of like-minded creatives from around the world. I LOVED it, but it was another reminder that locally, I have a very limited supply of sewing friends. There are only a few of people in town whom I can rant about the scarcity of good knit fabrics, or titter excitedly about new indie pattern releases with. With that, the chances of attending a sewing meet-up are practically zilch.

So I decided to change all that.

When I talk to people about sewing, I will most frequently hear “I wish I could do that”, “I haven’t sewn since high school”, and  “I can barely fix a button!”. It seemed like there was interest, but a lack of confidence and skills to pursue the hobby.

Enter the Great Canadian Sewing Day!

(I’d decided to call it that after a month-long binge watch of all 3 seasons of the Great British Sewing Bee). I gathered up a handful of interested friends and family members, booked a party room, and planned out 8 hours of Sewing 101 fun!

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

In reality the day was nothing at all like the Bee. Pretty much the exact opposite, in fact. I wanted a low-pressure, fun, sew-along type afternoon that focused on fundamental skills and basic fit and customization.  I narrowed down two patterns that my seamstresses could choose to make, both from Sewaholic – the Belcarra blouse or the Hollyburn skirt. Two people chose the blouse and three chose the skirt, so it was an even mix.

How it worked was that I would demonstrate and explain a step for one pattern, and had the gals execute that step on their own. Then I demo-ed a step for the other pattern, let them work on that and repeat. I also circled the room and helped guide and get people out of jams (literally – some sewing machines weren’t too happy with us). It was all about patience and baby steps.

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

This was the first time I had ever attempted something like this. Being the center of attention is not my strong suit, but I was glad to dip my toes into the world of teaching sewing. I think I communicated well and it was really fun. The best was to see people excited when they finished a step well and could see the project coming together.

I did not, however,  anticipate how exhausting it would be to constantly jump around between two patterns, helping people and finishing the demo steps. By the end of it, I had abandoned both my teaching garments and finished them at later days.

I also completely underestimated the time commitment. (I can barely tell how long I’ll take on a project just myself, I don’t know why I thought I could predict how long it would take teaching 5 people two patterns…but I digress). The anticipated 6-8 hour workshop devolved into a manic 13 hour marathon. Complete with exhaustion and relentless determination to just FINISH the dang things. By 1 am we were all just ready to go to bed and never look at a sewing machine again. Woops.

Next time I will make it a 2 day affair.

I had a really fun day spending time with my friends and giving them a little taste of my hobby. I hope I imparted some tips and tricks and I really look forward to seeing what my new seamstress friends make in the future.

Sewing Day! // Boots & Cats

Tips for hosting your own Sewing Day:

  • Sugar, caffeine and pizza are a must.
  • Bring lots of extension cords and power bars for everyone’s sewing machines and irons.
  • Have lots of space for sewing tables, cutting tables, and ironing boards.
  • Have an extra machine on hand if possible in case someone’s machine acts up or breaks.
  • Focus on teaching ONE pattern.
  • Break down the sewing time into smaller chunks to avoid exhaustion.
  • Have finished garments from the pattern on hand to help people see the ‘bigger picture’ when doing funny-looking steps like pockets or closures.
  • Pump up the jams! (But not so loud they can’t hear you explaining something).
  • Encourage creativity with the pattern but also focus on keeping things simple enough to complete.
  • Have everyone take measurements in advance so you can be prepared for any sizing/grading help they may need.
  • Keep it fun and lighthearted. Be sure everyone knows not to expect perfection on their first garment.

Have you ever taught a sewing workshop before? Have you ever had a friend teach you? I’d love to hear your stories.


Me-Made-May // Week 4 (and a bit)

Me Made May Week 4 // Boots & Cats

And that’s a wrap! 31 days of me-made garments. Thank you for all of you on Instagram putting up with the barrage of selfies for the last month. Though it was annoying at times, I think I might miss this challenge. It was a nice excuse to get a little more dressed up each day. Plus, the community and support throughout this month has been astounding. I’ve ‘met’ many new seamstresses, been inspired to try new things and I have a better understanding of what I need to do in order to support a me-made wardrobe.

This year I pledged to wear at least one me-made item a day for the entirety of the month, and in that, I succeeded. Some days were a bit of a stretch but I made sure to make it happen. After people knew I was participating, it was fun to have them ask me “Okay, what are you wearing that you made today?”, which opened up the conversation to talking about my hobby and passion to people. It can be hard topic to introduce to the conversation sometimes, but this was a great excuse to talk about it as much as I could.

I didn’t have it in my pledge to make anything new, but the challenge did inspire me to complete FOUR new garments this month, which I am pretty sure is a new sew-speed record! Most of these were one or two session makes which are SO satisfying. It’ll be a bit challenge to slow down and tackle a bigger garment now. When I sew with the intention that I want to wear the clothes the next day, I tend to rush and make sloppy decisions. I think a high quality summer dress is just what I need next.

I am so thankful I dove in and participated in this year’s challenge. I had so much fun and I am definitely going to keep my focus on incorporating my me-mades into the everyday rotation. (Which I think was kind of the point of this whole thing!)

Without further ado, here is the last week (and a bit) of Me Made May 2015

Day 22: Ice Cream Airelle Blouse


The photo may need a little explaining. Today’s Friday challenge was ‘animals’. I could have just worn my cat dress again, but I decided to interpret a different way. Meet Hobbes, my stuffed tiger. I was really into the comic in Jr. High so I started hand-sewing him in 7th grade Intro to Sewing. It took about 5 years to slowly complete because I kept forgetting about him. I tried so hard to make him as comic-accurate as possible. The Airelle blouse has nothing to do with this, but I had just finished it the day before and wanted to toss it in the mix. I love the contrast yoke and the silhouette in the back is great, but the front is lacking something. I think I may make a few changes and add the sleeves in. We’ll see.

Day 23: Pink Plaid Sixties Shift


This is another older make and my first real vintage pattern. It was a mail-order pattern from my Grandmother’s stash and I loved the shape and the little button belt. I didn’t look at the pattern too closely when I first cut out my fabric and it wasn’t until my first fitting I noticed the length was crazy long, past my knees! So I had to chop a good amount off of there to get the look I wanted. I am happy with how it turned out, but I hate wasting fabric like that. It’s also a great reminder about how far my skills have come. I had to re-jig the neckline last summer, but remnants of mistakes (like totally backwards bias binding on the hem) are good little mementos.

Day 24: Soft and Summery MC6359


We were in a bit of a heatwave this past week and I was quickly running out of options. I had this pattern and fabric in my stash for a few months now and it was time to jump on it. I used the same lace that details my Gabriola skirt to add contrast to the back and it is seriously one of my favourite me mades at the moment. Fun fact: the fabric was actually purchased as a ‘jersey infinity scarf’ for $15. I loved the colour, the feel and the drape and there were no seams or hems so I had to have it. Good knit fabrics just that tough to find around here.

Day 25: Cotton Sack Dress


Another repeat. +25 degrees calls for a loose summer dress. Had fun playing with different accessories this time around.

Day 26: Geometric Hollyburn Skirt


You may remember this fabric from way back when. I have tonnes left and used some to make this swishy Hollyburn skirt. I taught this pattern to my friends during the ‘great sewing day’ back at the beginning of the month. Just needed a few finishing touches and it was ready to hit the town. It’s a silhouette and print I don’t usually go for in skirts so I will see how much I like and wear it this summer. It was a great excuse to step outside my comfort zone.

Day 27: Julia Cardigan


I am so proud I only repeat this baby ONCE! Boo yah. Long day of meetings, running around and a hearty Bday dinner for Rory meant I just wanted to be optimally comfortable (for tree climbing, obviously)

Day 28: Senna Dress Remixed
In order to keep myself from feeling like I was in a repeat rut, I took this outside the box and mixed in this non-me-made skirt I’d been dying to wear and layered it with my Senna dress to make a whole new outfit! I loved how it turned out and may have to try with different skirt/dress combos!

Day 29: Cat’s Cradle Sorbetto


On Thursday I got a very happy mail parcel full of Lizzy House’s Cat Nap fabrics and I couldn’t wait to pounce! I downloaded Sorbetto and promptly made this cute little tank. Even after adding my traditional 5cm to the waist length and rounding out the hem, it was still pretty short on me! Bust darts are a bit too high as well. Shoulda made a muslin- but it is still super adorable and will look great tucked into skirts, so I don’t mind that much. Also cats.

Day 30: YEG Cat Fest


A friend and I managed to venture out to the Edmonton Cat Fest this weekend and there was no me-made more fitting than the Belladone. Rocket Mama loved it too!

Day 31: Vintage Green S2927


We did it! I’d reached the end and realized I hadn’t worn this dress yet! This lazy Sunday was perfect for this soft vintage fabric dress. I always second guess myself in this dress, never 100% sure if the style works for me, or how I should do my hair or accessorize it. But I really do like it and I just need to experiment a little more to find out the ideal formula for this piece.

Thanks for following along with me and I already can’t wait for MMMay16!!