The Flyaway Anna Dress

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

It’s time for the fall frenzy! Thick linen skirts, cozy knitwear, LONG SLEEVES! Well…not quite yet. Snuggly, warm-hued clothes-to-be are being cut as we speak but there are still summer makes left to share. It feels awful rushing these end-of-season projects along. I mean, had they been made just a few short weeks earlier they would have had more than a few seconds in the spotlight. I guess it happens to all end-of-season makes, but it’s extra tragic when our victims are pretty summer dresses. I hope they will forgive me when I wear them all the time when spring rolls around.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

After our little week in Banff, Rory and I took our real vacation south to Waterton and Nelson, BC. It was our first time venturing to that part of the mountains and we were so glad we opted to visit. The mountain views and hikes in Waterton were so stunning and unique, plus there’s nothing like sitting lakeside eating a hot dog after a day exploring waterfalls and trails. Nelson was a charming little town filled with heritage buildings, beautifully designed and unique parks and not a chain store in sight. We ate delicious local food, took a vintage streetcar to the beach and danced at a night market that appeared to have the entire town present. It really reminded me that some of the best travelling doesn’t need to be that far from home.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

Anyhow, back to the dress. This is my second Anna dress and it has been sitting in my to-sew pile for a good long while, and only after planning the trip did it shoot to the top of the pile to actually get finished.

The fabric is from my Paris visit to Anna Ka Bazaar (it only took a year to get to that stash, but I am working my way through it now and it’s very exciting). It’s a buttery soft rayon fabric and has a gentle stretch that makes it super comfy to wear. I love the subtle abstract print that many people think looks like a flock of birds. When we were taking the photos we were secretly hoping a bunch of birds would fly up from behind me to match, but it was far too windy for any feathered friends to fly.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

As you can see the wind made this shoot kind of tricky, but I was determined to utilize that beautiful view. I guess I am stubborn that way, but it also made for a creative challenge which is something I enjoy. I always want to think of different ways to present my makes on the blog that is visually interesting but still useful for people looking for inspiration and information about the garment.

With my first Anna dress, I find that the waist is very close fitted, and actually a smidge too tight after a wash. I decided to cut this one a little generously around the pattern pieces, which naturally meant I was totally swimming in it. After taking it all back in, I found a fit I was happy with, but the fabric was shifty and hard to press, so my seamlines no longer match up. C’est la vie.

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

Since I made this dress on relatively short notice, I didn’t have time to head to the fabric store. Luckily I had a cream zipper from my stash. It’s a vintage metal one from a random bag of zippers my grandma gave me. It’s a little worn down and if I simply pull the two back pieces apart it will just slide open. After wearing it twice I haven’t noticed it open much with movement which I am happy for, but it’s still not an ideal situation.

I find that stocking up on notions to be a challenge for me. When I am at the fabric store I only grab the zippers I need for projects I have immediately in mind. I don’t know how to properly anticipate which ones I might need later on. I don’t drive and there are no shops nearby, so trips to the fabric store only happen once every few months. Sometimes I want to make something spontaneously but get stuck by the fact that I don’t have a zipper in the right length or colour or style. Any tips for stocking up on notions in advance? Do you just buy one of every type and colour and stash them like a squirrel preparing for winter?

By Hand London Anna Dress // Boots and Cats

About making this dress, there’s not too much else to say. Anna is a beautiful pattern and I love that I don’t have anything else quite like it. It’s perfect for making in soft, floaty fabrics and has a dressier vibe while still being totally wearable any day. I hope I can transition this dress a little further down the calendar with some layers, but it can sometimes be hard to blend in light, wispy (unlined) garments. Many times the skirt fabric just sticks to my tights! Nothing like walking to work and having to tug at your skirt every few steps.

A Bright and Bold Gabriola Skirt

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

Last month I was lucky enough to steal away for a week in the mountains while Rory attended a conference. This happened because of this exact exchange;

“I told my mom I was going on this trip next week and she asked why you weren’t coming.”… “Wait… why aren’t I coming?”

I knew there would be some beautiful views available to me (as, hello, it’s the mountains) and in good sewing blogger fashion I spent the precious few days I had before leaving to sew up at least one new thing to shoot while I was there. When you have the opportunity for something new in the background you do not squander that chance!

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

The garment in question was this beautifully swishy and fun Gabriola skirt. It was a delightfully fast make. Though it did feel like time stood still finishing all those long seams, they were all straight lines so it wasn’t a huge risk to take if I happened to zone out and think of other things partway through.

I bought this fabric last summer in Paris from Anna Ka Bazaar knowing I wanted to make this exact pattern with it from the very beginning (quite rare for me these days). I knew the shape of the triangle print would play nicely with the unique hip panels on the skirt, and that the cotton would be so soft and breezy for the last few weeks of summer sun.

This is my second Gabriola, but last time I was working with limited yardage. THIS time I had enough and was able to go full-out volume. Growing up, I loved pretending that I was wearing long dresses everywhere, holding an invisible skirt as I walked up stairs and everything, and let me tell you, this skirt gives me full out princess vibes and it is very fun. You’ve never had a gust of wind blowing your skirt in beautiful wisps and waves feel so satisfying until you’ve made and worn a voluminous maxi skirt.

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

I had a touch of trouble with the waistband once again. Last time I had to take in about 1 cm from each side seam (I just pinched in the sewn in band because I was lazy) and was mindful of making sure it fit right. Measurement wise it totally should fit snug, but when I wear it I find it sits slightly loose. It doesn’t look like it’s too big but I can feel it and it’s very annoying. Sometimes I noticed the skirt even twisted around me a little. I like my high waisted garments to feel quite snug.  I don’t want to take it in, however because I worry when I sit (or eat a large meal) it will be too tight. I think the solution for me is to only make high-waisted garments in stretch fabrics instead of wovens, or consider adding in a bit of elastic or something to the waistband.

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

Speaking of waistbands, how picky are you when laying out fusible interfacing? I know since it is supposed to provide support, you should use one solid piece, but I couldn’t bear letting these odd bits go to waste. Seeing as it is fused to the fabric I figure that puzzle-piecing the scraps into things like waistbands should be fine. Since it is enclosed, if one of the scraps peel away it won’t go anywhere. I have done this before and haven’t experienced any problems, but are there any horror stories I should know about before I keep doing this? What else are you supposed to do with the off cut bits?

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

I also opted to add some inseam pockets, as that was one thing I really noticed was missing every time I wore my other skirt (#pockets4ever!). The hip detailing made an opportune placement to slide them in. I am pretty happy to have them, but I do notice it changes the silhouette of the skirt, as it doesn’t glide over the hips as smoothly as if they weren’t there, and they do gape open when I sit down. It doesn’t bother me much right now, but if it ever does, it’s the easiest fix ever to take them out.

Other notes; I cut a size 2 at the waistband and graded to a 4 at the hips and added about 5 cm of length to the hem to make sure it could actually hit the ground. Fabric is a lightweight cotton that pressed really well to play up the crisp lines of the print.

Geometric Gabriola Skirt // Boots and Cats

I am noticing a pattern of me making these skirts just as summer ends (I think they just sink to the bottom of the summer to-sew list) but I think a really lightweight rayon or something in a solid colour would be beautiful for the beginning of summer. Ah well, next year. Onwards to fall sewing plans!

A Taste of the 60s // Papercut Patterns Saiph Tunic

Papercut patterns Saiph Tunic // Boots and Cats

I’m not the best at sticking to sewing project timelines. This dress was one of my intended fall sewing projects that just so happened to avoid getting done til January. Luckily, we are having a very mild winter so finishing it now does nothing to diminish it’s wearability.

The Saiph Tunic from Papercut patterns has a very unique silhouette that can seem a bit daunting to people, myself included. I don’t have anything like this in my wardrobe, as I tend to find comfort in more fitted and shaped garments. However, I felt like it was time to take a risk and step out of my comfort zone and try something a little more unique with this unfitted bodice and drop waist ruffle. I also kinda dug that the shape gave off a swinging 60s vibe. Very youthful and flippantly fun.

Papercut patterns Saiph Tunic // Boots and Cats

As I was wrapping up this dress, I had another very mod style dress in the works and took the opportunity to have a lot of fun with my work. I rallied some very talented friends and put together a stylized photoshoot for the dresses. Though Saiph is totally wearable on the daily, what better way to capture it’s spirit than by going all out and playing up the fantasy of it. Plus who doesn’t love playing dress-up and tapping into a hidden alter ego?

Sewing this dress was a breeze regarding the technical aspects, which was great as it allowed me to just work slowly and focus on executing it well. This was my first time sewing a Papercut Pattern and the diagrams and resources were very clear and easy to follow. I also have the Sway Dress which I CAN’T WAIT to get into this spring.

As many people noted online, this dress is SHORT, so I added a whopping 15 cm to both the waist and sleeve lengths to spare me some decency. When I first tried it on sans ruffle, it had great shape and fit well. The sleeves were the perfect length for me (the longer the better!) However,  once I basted the ruffle on, it looked WAAY to much like a vintage night shirt (and not in a good way). I really liked the look of added flounce at the skirt, so I removed it, took up the bodice length about 4 cm and reattached it. It was at this point I conceded I can’t do a totally shapeless design and  took in the side seams about 2cm each. These changes helped the pajama factor, as well as reduced the excess fabric bulk at the waist if I decide to wear it with a belt.

Because of it’s unique shape, this dress was definitely one of those garments I couldn’t decide if I liked or not. I would put it on and be in love with it, while simultaneously zoning in on all the bits that look weird or ‘off’. At the end of the day I had to give in to the love, and hope that I just need to get used to the parts that strike me as odd. Either that or after a few wears I will decide it’s just too much. In any case, I just need to wear it a few more times to come to a proper conclusion. I would encourage those of you on the fence for this shape to just go for it and see how you feel in it!

Papercut patterns Saiph Tunic // Boots and Cats

The fabric is the first Atelier Brunette fabric from Anna Ka Bazaar that I have worked with since acquiring my haul in Paris last August. It was such a beautiful dream to work with. It was as stable as a quilting cotton, but with incredible softness and gentle stretch that makes this garment FEEL like pajamas (secret pajamas FTW!). I definitely had ‘the fear’ cutting into this special fabric for a project with so many unknowns (new brand, unique silhouette) but it was probably my preciousness of the fabric that really made me slow down and focus on my execution, instead of rushing to the end as per usual, and it definitely paid off.

Because if the lightness of the fabric, I should be able to get a number of wears out of this dress even as we go into spring, even with the full-length sleeves. I look forward to playing with layers of cardigans, scarves and belts for a more everyday feel. I do like this pattern and find it very interesting. I would like to make a version as a top but I think I’ll need a drapier fabric to avoid looking like a tent.

Papercut patterns Saiph Tunic // Boots and Cats

It was so much fun to dress up and play with the mod side of the dress for this post, and a huge thanks to Breanne Marie Photography, Dani White (hair) and Brittany Batt (makeup) for making the whole ensemble come to life. I can’t wait to share what other vintage goodness we have in store.

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!