Kitty-ful Shift Dress // Colette Laurel

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

Seems like it would be obvious, but it took me a while to grasp the importance of good fabric in making a garment look real. I know things you make are ‘real’, like it’s tangible, but I can’t think of any other way to describe a quality, wearable garment.  You know, that magic combination of looking polished, professional and elevated (and a lot less home ec project). It’s all in the fabric.

With all the good fabric stores in my city shutting down just as I discovered them, I’ve recently turned myself to online fabric shopping and the world opened up. In one of my online hauls this spring I purchased a large chunk of Lizzy House’s Cat Nap collection. I mean, how could I possibly resist?! Lizzy’s designs are whimsical and fun, but very well designed as to avoid being too twee. Kitty Dreams design is my favourite of the bunch and had to go towards something special. Because cats.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

There have been quite a few stunning swing dresses in this print floating around, but my standard 2m order couldn’t quite accommodate the pattern I had in mind. Also, I have yet to decide if swing dresses are ‘me’. I love how they look on other people, but always feel a little off in them. But I digress. I opted to keep it simple (and not break up the awesome print) and make a basic shift.

Perhaps surprisingly, this was my first shift dress! It’s one of those basics I kinda just skipped over to get to making more ‘exciting’ things. I looked through my vintage pattern stash and there wasn’t quite the shapes I wanted there, so I went on an online hunt and after much  indecision I landed on the Colette Laurel.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

The warm purple of the fabric meant it was going right to the top of my fall sewing list. I am all about warm and cozy colours this time of year. Once the pattern arrived (and I swooned over the brilliant branding) I swiftly cut out all my pieces. Then the autumn days vanished and it sat. It sat for weeks, and to be honest it made me super anxious. I mean, it’s highly uncommon for projects to sit in limbo that long.

Turns out I just needed a good deadline (isn’t that just the key for us procrastinator types?). I had the opportunity to spend my birthday weekend in the mountains and decided I NEEDED to take advantage of the locale to shoot some blog photos. Laurel was waiting: three days later she was up and running.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

I didn’t read many pattern reviews before diving in, so I cut size 4 based on an ‘average’ of my measurements. I later realized I should have graded down the bust since it is technically at a size 0 in Colette and read that the patterns run a little pear-shaped. (I also didn’t make a muslin, because who has time for that?!)

When I first tried it on there was quite an excess of fabric in the tummy area. Not so flattering. The physics of pattern-making sometimes boggles me, but I have a feeling it had to do with my lack of bust fitting. It was a bit too late (too lazy) to take out the sleeves and darts to reconstruct everything, so I just compensated by taking in 2cm from each of the side seams and it managed to do the trick. It still sometimes bubbles out when I sit, but you don’t notice too much.

I added 10 cm to the length as per usual, but then  decided I wanted a wider and heavier hem. This ate up most of my additional length. For future Laurels I may have to order a few extra cms of fabric, I barely have anything leftover. Suffice to say, it’s on the short side but I don’t mind much. If it does become a problem I can always let down the hem later anyway.


Invisible zippers and I aren’t totally bffs yet, so I just cut the center back edge 0.5 cm back and installed a regular zipper instead. Also, how stoked was I that I found one that matched the orange PERFECTLY?!

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

The biggest win for me on this project is that this was probably the first time I have 100% correctly installed bias tape. If you look at my early makes you’ll see that the bias technically fulfills it’s purpose but is inserted inside out or backwards. It’s such a simple technique, but it never occurred to me that I was doing it wrong. I guess I needed Sarai’s super detailed and patient instructions to get it to click. +100 XP to me!

I am so excited to wear this dress. Perfect for layering, I am going to have fun playing with different tights, scarves, sweaters and more this season. I love that it’s a statement piece but the colour and shape are going to make it quite versatile. And it’s full of cats! Yay. AND when I looked back at it, this dress checks all the boxes from my wardrobe architect exploration in terms of colour, fit and shape. So double yay.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

Now that the technical bit is over with; LOOK AT THE VIEW! Even though I live so close to the mountains, I haven’t been in years. It was so crisp, refreshing and festive and cozy and awesome. We spent two days with an awesome group of people (in a giant rental house) playing board games, hide and seek, hiking, and playing in the snow. We were lucky too, lots of sun and decently warm weather, perfect for snowballs and sliding on the ice. I’m already planning another trip back in a few months.

Kitty Cat Laurel // Boots & Cats

Of course, what kind of crafter would I be if, sitting in a chalet by a roaring fire in the midst of winter, I didn’t get any knitting done? I haven’t finished my sweater yet (why does it take so long?!) but I’ve been inspired and whipped up a quick knit while I was there. But more on that in a bit.

Keep Track of your Fabric Stash // Printable Pages

How to keep track of your fabric stash // Boots & Cats

You can’t deny it. Every seamstress has one: a toppling pile of oh-so-beautiful fabrics. As much as we try to use what we already own… there’s always that one more new fabic we HAVE to have (you know, just in case).

Personally, my stash will always exceed my project list. I am never one to pass up a fabric that inspires me, even if I have no project in mind at the moment. And sometimes, if I DO buy specifically for a project, I may lose interest in that plan by the time I get around to it or wish to allocate the textile elsewhere. This method fabric hoarding does make it difficult when I want to make something with stash fabric. It’s been so long since I got it, I no longer know what it is!

Is it 100% cotton or is it poly-blend? Wool or acrylic? Can I trust two fabrics will play nice if I use them together? Did I get this from a friend or family member? Have I pre-washed it?

On a few occasions, I’ve made some lucky guesses to my fabric’s origins and all was well, and other times…not so much. It really is a shame to lose a project to factors that are ultimately in your control. So after a particularity fruitful haul in Europe this summer I knew I wanted to use that fabric to its best ability (and remember what they all were). I would start keeping track of my fabrics.

How to keep track of your fabric stash // Boots & Cats

I devised a fairly simple system by looking at what other’s were doing and choosing to track the info I used most. To keep it from being overwhelming,  I am slowing adopting the system with each new fabric purchase from now on.

Taking a small swatch and some basic notes, I now have a permanent reference for my fabrics so I may treat them all properly. Plus this also give me an easy reference before I hit the stores. I can identify what I have before buying more, plus spot gaps that need to be filled.

I shared my methods on Instagram a few days ago for Bimble + Pimble’s Sewvember (organizing #likeaboss, hehe) and got lots of wonderful feedback so I decided to share my printable catalogue pages. Now all of you can join in on the organizational fun. Just click the download image below and print (or save for later). It’s easy peasy!

How to keep track of your fabric stash // Boots & Cats

How to keep track of your fabric stash

If you are buying fabric at a chain shop, take a photo of the bolt with the fabric info on your phone for reference. They sometimes won’t write it all on the receipt, and if you are buying a lot, it can be hard to remember what’s what.

As soon as you get home, cut a small swatch from the corner of each fabric, about 4×4 cm should do.

Staple, tape or glue (whichever method floats your boat) your swatch onto the page, then using your references from your order/receipt/photos, fill in the following alongside:

  • Fabric name. If it’s from a collection you like, or if you bought online and want to tag, credit or find it again.
  • Fibre type and percentages, for obvious reasons.
  • Where it was purchased from. If you want to note the store, place or date of purchase for memories or reference during clear-outs.
  • Quantity. So you know what you have on hand. Ideally you’ll adjust this amount as you make stuff with it.
  • Pre-washed?  I don’t always get around to pre-washing fabric when I sew (I know, BAD) so I am never sure which leftovers have been washed or not. Probably just best practice to wash it as soon as you get home and check it off.
  • Project ideas. I like to write in what I initially had in mind for it when I bought it, or to make a note of any inspirations you have but don’t have time to tend to immediately. These definitely aren’t finite plans, but are good to know in case you forget later on.

How to keep track of your fabric stash // Boots & Cats

Just print a new page anytime you need one (print on card-stock if you can, it’s sturdier). I also print and swatch double-sided to save paper. I currently keep all my pages in a folder, but you could easily hole punch them and store them in a binder. If you wanted to be REALLY organized, you can keep like with like ie. knits together on one page, cottons, bottom-weights ect. and keep everything divided. Or sort by colour, or season. The options are quite endless.

Personally, it took me enough effort to get this far, so I will just add each new fabric sequentially as I acquire them. I tend to shop in batches so it’s fun to see the patterns emerging  about my tastes and interest at the time. Snapshots of my fabric story.

I hope this page and tips will help you control your stash and be a better seamstress. I can’t wait to follow along with you for the rest of #BPsewvember. Happy weekend!


A Halloweaving // Boots & Cats

I love Halloween. This can be evidenced by the fact that I am wearing glow-in-the-dark pumpkin socks and eating a ghost cookie as I write. As soon as the calendar flips to October my apartment is fully decorated and I plan in as many spooky (but not scary, mind you) activities to make the most of this holiday.

I can’t really pin-point exactly what I love about it so much. I love the visual aesthetic of orange and black, not to mention the graphic style of vintage decorations. It could also be the child-like sense of fun in creating costumes and getting together with friends. Or it could just be the copious amounts of sugar. Who knows.

What I do know is that I can’t get enough and love to fill my days with Halloweeney things. Best way I find to do this is to infuse the spirit into my crafting. (Pun? I think so.)

A Halloweaving // Boots & Cats

This year, I happened to buy a loom and take up weaving in September. Loom weaving, especially wall hangings, has been on my radar for the last few years but I never jumped into it- I guess I had too many other crafts on my plate. Then this summer some really stunning work repeatedly popped up on my feed that I felt really inspired and connected to. I went to Etsy and got myself a loom, and an arm load of yarn to play with.

As hard as I tried to take a workshop with Lucy Poskitt while I was in Vancouver (I visited twice recently and BOTH TIMES she taught the day after I left) I didn’t take any classes to get started. I read a few tutorials, mainly from A Beautiful Mess, but I found it pretty easy to get the hang of it. Sure there are some basic techniques you need to know, but once you get those down, honestly the main skill required is patience.

A Halloweaving // Boots & Cats

This isn’t a quick craft, especially as your pieces get larger, but the creative possibilities are actually endless. You can play with geometry and colour blocking, gradient tones and abstract textures, or bold motifs. The bulk of what I’ve seen is abstract work, with lots of chunky elements and fringe, which is stunning, but I find that my default is lots of structure, uniformity and simplicity. My first few pieces were primarily geometric shapes, but the lightbulb went off for me when, in an ABM tutorial, Rachel said “think of shapes in pixels”. My mind rushed with words and  shapes I could incorporate into more graphic style work.

A Halloweaving // Boots & Cats

And with Halloween coming up, there’s no better time to put that idea to work! I knew right away I wanted to play with some cute little ghosts flying around and sketched out some shapes. I found it quite helpful to design on grid paper to keep in the ‘pixels’ mindset. To ensure I kept true to my design, especially on the rounded shapes, I actually drew it onto my warp yarn with a sharpie, to act as a guideline. It might be cheating but it works!

I constructed most of the hanging using a basic basket weave (over one-under one) using contrast yarns for the ghosts and sky. I could have left it like that, but I picked up an amazing orange yarn from Rain City Knits in Vancouver and needed to incorporate it. I used it to add some extra texture and highlight elements. I was a little on the fence about it at first but I think it heightens the overall look. Makes it ‘pop’ if you will.

A Halloweaving // Boots & Cats

Like I said, weaving takes a lot longer to complete than you think. I would estimate there is about 6 hours of work in this little guy. But hey, what better way to binge watch Netflix shows. (I am all about Once Upon A Time right now… that’s kinda Halloweeney right?)

These little ghosties are now hanging in my ‘Halloween corner’ of my living room along with some spooky flowers, pumpkin lanterns and glitter bats and seems to fit right in.

A Halloweaving // Boots & Cats

Now that I’ve completed my fourth weaving, I can stay that I am quite enjoying it. I always loved the fluffy texture and the endless array of colour in yarn, but knitting and I still haven’t completely hit it off. I am already brainstorming many more things I could weave. The loom is relatively non-intimidating to experiment with in terms of design and techniques which is really nice.

Now I just need to get ALL the yarn! Muahahaha

The BlogPodium Dress // A V8766 & B5982 Mashup

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of travelling to Vancouver to attend the 5th annual BlogPodium conference. To be honest I hadn’t heard of the conference before, since it had been previously held over in Toronto. Then I received an email from Jennifer letting me know it was to be held on our side of the country this year. I got so excited and HAD to go. I even booked my tickets from Berlin to be sure I didn’t miss out.

Meeting up with like-minded peers, geeking out over blogging and travelling to the coast? Yes please. Blogpodium is targeted at design and lifestyle bloggers and provides them with a platform to connect & collaborate in a beautiful venue featuring brilliant speakers.

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

Beautiful lettering of Justine Ma Design

To say it was amazing would be an understatement and the energy from connecting with friends new and old was electrifying. I could go on but some of my fellow local bloggers have already recapped the event better than I could, so visit their blogs to read all about it!

What I’ll tell you about was the fact that I was attending a conference for bloggers. ie. the most stylishly dressed people of all time. If I was to attend this conference…what the heck would I wear?!

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

I knew it couldn’t be just any old outfit and I wanted to be sure it was handmade (after all, that’s what a huge portion of this blog is about. I need to live my brand! ha). It would also need to be pretty powerful. In crowded rooms I tend to shrink away, especially if I feel intimidated by the ambition, style and brilliance of those around me. I wanted wear something that made me approachable, yet seem cool and successful. I placed it upon the dress I made to make me feel bold, confident and be a true representation of myself. That’s kinda a lot of ask of a dress now that I think about it.

I dug out this dreamy structured linen  stripe that has been maturing in my stash for about 3 years. It came home in my Sig Plach closing sale haul (among many unnecessary pretty things I needed to have before the store closed forever) and I knew it was something special. It had the potential to be something show-stopping, but I never previously had the project to make it shine.

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

I decided this is what my dress would be. The bold stripe deserved a cupcake-y Kate Spade-y shape and just the thought of it got me giddy. I  grabbed the pattern B5982 because I loved the ruched and pleated skirt and felt it was perfect shape for what I was going for. However, I worried about breaking up the stripes on the bodice with the princess seams. Also I kinda wanted to have sleeves, since it’s just easier than carrying a sweater with you everywhere (I’m ALWAYS too cold, okay?). Enter V8766.

I had never franken-patterned before, but have seen it done many times to brilliant effect. I took the Vogue bodice and matched it to the Butterick skirt and I could not be more pleased with the result. A big plus about mashing up two ‘Big 4’ patterns, as I discovered, was that all the notches matched up! That means I didn’t have to adjust the darts or skirt pleats, they fell into perfect alignment. Hurrah!

I wanted to say that the sewing itself was a breeze, which it was technically, but it definitely didn’t feel that way at the time. This make kinda got emotional.

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

I first made a muslin and added my usual 6 cm length to the bodice and it seemed great. When I cut into my fabric, I made sure to end the bodice on a full stripe so the pattern could continue seamlessly into the skirt. But then for some reason when I tried on the dress…the waistline was WAY too long, like almost at my hips! I brought the skirt back up another 3cm and all was well…except my perfect stripe matching! Blast.

I also went with a full lining since the fabric was a little sheer (and itchy if I am completely honest) and when I put it in and tried on the dress, I felt like it was so lumpy and bumpy and awful. All of a sudden this amazing fabric and design felt heavy, and icky and it made me feel so insecure of myself and skills. It was clear I had tied too much of my perceived success at the conference into the success of this dress that it sabotaged the process. I wanted to quit so bad and just forget the whole thing.

But, I sat and thought about it for a bit. I had already put out a peek of the project on social media, so I basically blackmailed myself. “It would be quite embarrassing show up not wearing what you told everyone you would, no?”. I grumbled and pushed on.

I made a few fit adjustments and completed my hand-finishing (which I ended up quite proud of) and without trying it on again, hung it up for about a week.

I don't usually post shots of the guts but c'mon look at how beautiful that lining is at the zipper!

I don’t usually post shots of the guts but c’mon look at how beautiful that lining is at the zipper!

Luckily, it does seem that time heals all sewing wounds, because when I made my peace with it and put it on a few days before I left (to see if I needed to pack a contingency outfit) it fit like a dream. It was exactly what it was supposed to be.  The shape, the pattern, the FUN. The joy and enthusiasm I had for the project had returned. And I couldn’t wait to pack it.

Just some other alterations and sewing notes; I cut a size 12 from both patterns, added in-seam pockets, raised the neckline about 2cm and drafted a neckline facing to attach the lining. I found it easier to make the dress and lining completely separate and attaching them to the facing at the very end, just before hemming.

A V8766 & B5982 mashup // Boots & Cats

When you get heavily emotionally invested in any project you are making, I think it is so important to give yourself time to take a break. Once you distance yourself from the object of frustration, you gain a little perspective. Ask yourself why it’s so important to you to create this and what is the worst that would happen if it didn’t work out. You’ll probably find that you have deeper reasons for your emotional reaction than the project itself and once you separate the two, you allow yourself the simple joy of creating something, no pressure attached.

I relieved the dress of my expectations to have it make me connect with people at the conference, because really, it never had the power to do that for me anyway. I am so grateful I powered through and finished it. I felt so at ease with myself as I wore it and felt no need to compare with others in the room. Some people asked if I deliberately dressed to match the decor (nope, coincidence), and many were interested to hear about my process. The dress was a wonderful conversation starter (especially after Jenna called me out for it in her talk!) but it was me who got to do the talking.

I’ve learned that I find my joy in making without expectations. Tying yourself (and ego) into the results can be a frustrating and heartbreaking experience I’m hopefully aware enough of to avoid repeating. I am thankful that this dress rings true to who I am in the end, but the process felt way too heavy – creating is supposed to be fun! Just gotta let it go, and trust that it’ll work out.

My friend Jenna rocks at photobooths. Also, check out that pattern matching at the side seams! Photo credit: Vancouver Photobooth

Jenna totally rocks at photobooths. Also, check out that pattern matching at the side seams! Boo yah! Photo credit: Vancouver Photobooth

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…