30 September 2014

Sewing the Wiksten Tova

I'm going to state this now. I never thought I could sew clothes. 
I looked up lots of patterns, I saw others finished results and yet I was convinced that it was too complicated. I knew the theory of sewing pretty well. My mum sewed clothes for us and for herself for many years. I knew how dressmaking worked but I always talked myself out of it. 

When we were in the States I dragged my family around several beautiful fabric shops. The fabric was far far cheaper than in the UK and I realised that if I was to have a go at sewing my own clothes, it would be less of a disaster if the fabric was cheap in the first place. 

I started with a free pattern, the sorbetto top, and when that turned out wearable I progressed on to the Wiksten tova. 
I am about three years late to this sewing party. The tova top/tunic apparently graced the blogging scene three years ago and since then has been sewn up by near about everyone who makes clothes. Thankfully being late to finding the pattern was in my favour because when I came down to making the top, there was a wonderful sew-along that Fiona pointed me to here, as well as hundreds of photos of the finished top. 

The Tova is a simple smocked tunic style top. It can be sewn up as a shirt or as a dress. It looks good on everyone. No kidding, google 'wiksten tova' and I challenge you to find one person it doesn't look great on. 
I decided to make mine 'dress length' but as I am short anyway, I had to lop quite a lot off the bottom! 

To my surprise I found the process enjoyable! The instructions were so clear and came with photos, There were endless online guides to sewing the top up and I realised quickly that, like quilting, dress making just has to be taken a step at a time.  I am beyond thrilled with how it eventually turned out. I sewed my tova in a soft chambray so it was nice and drapey. Sewing the insert (that square piece across the bust) was the most fiddly section but certainly not difficult. 

After sewing two pieces of clothing I am learning that just because something looks tricky doesn't mean it necessarily is. Like anything it looks hard until it's done. Wearing homemade is perhaps equal now in my book to giving handmade! 
I feel that this is only the beginning. Dressmaking, here I come. Blog- watch this space. 

27 September 2014

Let's sit and have a cup of tea

Hello, come on in!
It feels only yesterday you were sitting here with me again.
I'm afraid we are dodging around children today as I am nannying for dear friends of ours. It's fun but tiring. Three pre-teen girls keep me in check that is for sure!

Can I get you a cup of tea? I think there may even be a shortbread in the tin too!

I would usher you to the table and like normal we would probably be chatting and laughing long before we reached the chairs.
You would ask me how my month has been and I would answer that it has been strange in many ways as September always is.
The family are back at work however the uni term hasn't begun yet so it a limbo time. Thankfully I have had some work and I have busied myself with some more sewing.
At the word sewing your eyes would light up and grinning I would tell you that I have really caught the dress making bug! I can't wait to share with you the tunic top I made however that is a post for another day!

Have a slice of cake, go on. It's freshly baked. What with this lovely autumnal weather coming in, it feels just right to sit in the warm kitchen with baked goods. Speaking of baking have you been watching the great british bake off? It's a favourite programme of mine. I know we are approaching those cosy evenings when The Bake Off and Downton are on TV.

Leaning back in my chair, hands cradling my mug I would tell you that although it has been a strange sort of month I have managed to catch up with a lot of good friends. One of my friends from Uni suffers from ME. She constantly amazes me in how much she manages to do and her upbeat attitude to the illness. To celebrate her 21st she asked that she didn't receive any presents but that we donated to ME research UK. She held the most gorgeous tea party and we all gorged ourselves on scrummy cakes! It was a lovely afternoon and over the last few weeks has managed to raise £1500 pounds which is a crazy total!

I would ask you if you have met up with friends recently? I am sure you have heard from a number of us of the blogging weekend we enjoyed. I also met up with my best friend from home this month and we had great fun with the new 'party party' app from a beautiful mess.
I love fun photo shoots and she is always willing to take them with me.
As I offered you the plate of cake again- you can never have too much- I would ask you if you use photo apps at all? Do you take photos with your phone in the first place? I take a lot however don't use too many edits. My favourite app to use is called pic tap go and has lovely soft filters.
I would admit to you though, if you didn't know already, that I am a big instagram fan! Do you use it much?

Listen to me chattering away. Tell me how you are? Are you excited for the cooler weather, what crafty projects are you working on? What has made you laugh this week?
My 'funny' this week was spending time with a two year old who when asked how old he was responded by saying "hi, I'm a big boy." Wonderful.

By now I would look at the clock and wonder out loud how the time has gone so fast. Slowly we would get up and move towards the door. I would hug you tightly and watch you walk back up the drive, my hand raised to wave goodbye.
Come again soon.

If you were having tea with me, what would you tell me?

f you would like to write a "tea" post please add it to the linky at the bottom so we can all sit and share with you! The linky will be open for a week so you have plenty of time! 

26 September 2014

The summertime scavenger hunt

This is my third year joining in with Rinda's photo hunt and it is always a joy.
I was less successful this year however for me the fun is in the hunt. I like keeping my eyes peeled for that illusive item (the juggler never made his appearance unfortunately!) and then remembering the stories that always come with each photo.

This year I managed to find:

A garden gnome. This cheeky chappy was sitting happily atop a pile of old garden furniture at the antique junk store.

Birds on a wire- in a different guise!

A group of tourists. These tourists were looking around Harvard and were following tradition of touching the shoe of the founder.

A rack of postcards

An urban street scene. 

A rural landscape. I had too many to choose from at the boys farm. A nice position to be in with the scavenger hunt!

A bakery

A photo bomb. My dad provided this one in Boston and then quite by chance I happened to be looking through photos from the summer and found him lurking again. He must practice...

A horn. Well technically a sousaphone.

A Mascot. I am really scraping the barrel here but we love bears in our house and so happen to have a bear costume which occasionally comes out!

A Sunrise. Seen flying back from the States.

A Parade.

A sign in a language other than english. Seen in the botanical gardens.

A lamp post. Again, an easy one to get but I loved these beautiful lampposts at Harvard.

A bus with a picture on it. My mum spotted this just before it turned the corner and I scrambled to get the shot.

Me and something representing the season. A photo of a photo of a tea party in the garden to celebrate my friends 21st. How British and summery is that!

Some things alluded me this year. I looked high and low for the juggler but clearly he was juggling somewhere else. I saw plenty of tattoos but never got up the courage to ask anyone for a photo and somehow I just seemed to miss a sign to my home town! You win some, you lose some!

Thank you for the time and effort you put into organising the scavenger hunt Rinda. A joy as always!
Rinda is hosting a link up today so grab a cup of tea and take a tour around the world to see what other people managed to find.

And speaking of tea, tomorrow I will be sitting down once more to chat over a brew! I would love you to join. More information can be found on the time for tea tab on the sidebar. 

24 September 2014

I'm feeling twenty two...

Today I am saying hello to 22! 
Isn't that a scary thought, considering I started writing here when I was 17. 

I feel like I say this every year but 22 is the big one. This year I will: 
Enter my final year at uni.
Write, finish and bind my dissertation. 
Apply for teacher training. 
Lead a small group at church
and hopefully graduate! 

Phew! 22 is going to be a busy one that's for sure. 
Alongside the big events I'm fairly certain there will be lots of sewing, photo taking, coffee shop visiting, face timing with the boy, blog writing and late night chatting with dear friends. I'm excited. 

22. bring. it. on. 

Naturally I have had this song in my head all day. I feel it only right to share it with you. You are welcome. 

20 September 2014

Project life- holiday version

Thank you for your sweet comments on my last post. It was a hard one to write but your words of encouragement and kindness put a smile on my face. 

Despite what it might appear like on the blog, I am still doing project life and am reasonably well caught up! Posting the layouts has been a different matter all together. 
I am going to kickstart posting them again by sharing some holiday spreads. 

I always struggle with holiday photos in the project life format. Project life is a gem for documenting the everyday but I find it a challenge to document a week of lots of photos and lots of stories. 

I started off by accepting this was not going to look like my other pages. My main focus was to use my favourite photos and tell the stories of each day. 
I therefore gave myself a bit of slack with the normal two page spread week. I used four pages instead and kept it super simple with a layout of just 4x6's. 

I love the look of white boarders so used a template to create this each time and then added more or less photos depending on the stories to be told. 
I also created a 'date tag' to keep track of what day of the holiday we were on! Useful to look back on next year when it has all blurred into one! 

Most weeks my pages have a fair number of photos however on holiday I typically come away with hundreds. It was such a mission to try and pare that down so I used lots of collage type spreads and tried to keep each 4 x 6 block simple. 
I stuck to a simple colour palette of red, blue and neutrals to tie in with the american theme. I wanted these colours to be subtle though so picked them out of the patterned paper. 

Overall i'm pleased with the spreads. To me they don't feel too overwhelming which was my main concern. I am excited to get back to my normal PL weekly spreads though. There is something calm and satisfying about documenting the everyday! 

How do you scrapbook your holidays? 

17 September 2014

Long distance

This is a hard post to write. I have ummed and ahhed about posting it here because it is personal but also so much a part of my everyday.
I always strive to be genuine here. To keep it real. To try not to paint everything rosy.
But on the other hand I choose to share the good over the bad.

All that to say... this is real life. The boy and me, as we are, at the moment.

The photos I post of the boy and me will show us together. The truth of it is that for the majority of the time we are not in the same place.
We have been working out a long distance relationship for three years now.
Partly out of choice- we were heading to different universities- and partly, because this is the way it is. We both feel very 'right' and called to the places we are at the moment.

People often ask me "what is it like?" "what is it like to do long distance?"
I struggle to answer them because it is like asking, 'what is it like to do a relationship?'
Well it can be the best of times and it can be the worst.
Sometimes not being with him is suffocating, draining, frankly rubbish. It makes my heart weary.
At other times it is magic and full of opportunity.
He doesn't have to see my worst. But he also misses my best.

Most days it is easy. Most days I don't really think too hard about it. It's a situation the boy and I can't change and we just carry on.
But every now and then I am reminded that it can be tough and I am oh so thankful that God willing, this is only a season.
It is the times I turn to tell him a story or share a joke or just need him to know and he isn't there.

But, we have a phone. We have FaceTime. We have video calls and emails.
He is there at the press of a button. Above all he is in the same country, in the same time zone.
And even when the day has been hard, we talk and we laugh and sometimes we cry but the things in my heart fall back into place.

Three years of long distance have taught me a lot.
I have learnt to accept (perhaps not so graciously) what we have. To accept a situation and to make the best of it.
I have learnt that speaking face to face is oh so good for my soul.
I have learnt that open communication is important. That sharing names of friends, place names, details are all important in making the other feel included.
I have learnt to cherish this time I am not with him, to use it for good, in creating a life for myself independent of him.

Above all, 'long distance' is a label. Its not what I, or the boy choose to define ourselves as however it is my day to day reality. Yes, it often isn't easy but I'm thankful that I have such a funny, kind, generous, Godly man who walks life with me.
This long distance lark, like everything else, shall pass.

15 September 2014

Blogger's weekend

I had the utter joy this Saturday to meet up with some dear blog friends.
Some of these ladies I had followed for a few months. Others have known me since I was 17.
I spent the day catching up with project life, completing a paper scrapbook challenge which was a challenge in itself seeing as I am not au fait with paper anymore! I also drank copious amounts of tea and chatted and chatted.

There is something magical about meeting up with people you feel you know so well online.
They were just as I imagined in real life. In the middle of photo shoot madness I managed to capture a few indiviudal shots with some of the other bloggers there.

The dear Alexa. We sat next to each other all day and had the most wonderful talks about digital scrapbooking, about creating a clean style and about the pros and cons of photo books. She is an inspiration.

Jo and I have been meaning to meet up for many years. We finally got the chance this weekend. What a fun and bubbly personality she is- even if she did have to duck for a photo owing to the height difference!

Lizzie felt like my second mum whilst I was there for the day! What a caring soul she is. Seeing her book binding in person was amazing. She is talented for sure!

Finally the sweet Jackie. I so enjoyed seeing her photos and layouts in person and again someone I feel I have known for years and who it was so wonderful to finally hug!

We got a few fun group shots and tried to emulate the style of Miss Smith and get a 'from the ground' shot. I may need a bit more practice!

The internet can sometimes be scary but in my experience it is more often than not magical.
As Deb often says, "blog friends are the best".

Thank you Jemma for all you did to organise the weekend. I so enjoyed my day with you all.

12 September 2014

On sorting out my wardrobe

I like clothes. I don't like trying to decide what to wear.
Maybe it's the crafter in me but I think I hoard clothes. Even clothes I haven't worn in months. The result is a confused mess in my drawers and the thought of, "I haven't got anything to wear", when that blatantly isn't the case!

I have seen a few posts floating around recently about closet clear outs and creating a capsule wardrobe. I love the idea of a paired down closet but know in my heart that isn't going to happen!
Nevertheless this week I set myself the task of ruthlessly clearing out my drawers to try and get my wardrobe down to just the clothes I love.
I used a simple process and thought it would be fun to share it with you.

First up I wrote a brief "style" sheet. I am not a fashion blogger in the slightest so this wasn't anything extraordinary.
I gave myself two minutes without looking at any of my clothes and wrote down what sort of things I tend to wear or gravitate towards in a shop.

The next step was to open the drawers. I started with my tops and split them into three piles.
a. Clothes I wear weekly
b. Clothes I wear monthly
c. Clothes I wear rarely.

The clothes I wear weekly went straight back in the drawer.
I then set out to write myself three questions. I guess your three questions could be anything but these were mine.

Each piece of clothing in the 'monthly' and 'rarely' piles was subjected to the three questions. If it didn't fit the categories it was 'out'. It was ruthless but I was fed up with clothes that weren't quite right filling my drawers.

This top is a good example. It was in good condition but I wore it rarely. It didn't really meet any of my 'style' points on my sheet- I don't really gravitate towards plaid- and it never fitted properly. I was keeping it for sentimental reasons beyond anything else.

Sorting out was quite the process but a few days in I am so pleased I did it. I know that everything in my drawers I wear at least once month, it all fits and it is all in good condition.
Sometimes less really does feel like more!

Have you ever done a big clothes clear out or even tried a capsule wardrobe?

9 September 2014

One photo & twenty words

A weekend visit to Norfolk. Spending time with a dear friend. She took me crabbing. Somehow we caught four!

My challenge for you today. Find one photo and choose up to twenty words to tell its story. Jot it down and link back here. The link will stay open for a week so you have plenty of time to join in! 

8 September 2014

Me on Monday and a reminder

Linking up with Sian for her sweet Me on monday meme. 

This was me on Monday. Or rather him on Monday.
Spending a day in Oxford with the boy who is now the 'sort of teacher'. So fun to see him on his day off and hear all about the start of his new job.

My weekend was a new dress making (I have certainly caught the bug), uni friend greeting, 21st celebrating, countryside walking and much cake eating sort of a weekend. It was also a weekend for warm weather rejoicing and new season rugby watching.
It was busy but oh so fun. September has started off with a bang and I am excited for a slightly calmer week ahead.

What has your weekend brought?

P.S Tomorrow I am setting the one photo, twenty word challenge again. I'd love it if you would join me for perhaps the simplest, quickest meme. 

4 September 2014

Sewing a top. Sorbetto pattern

I have done quite a bit of sewing in my life, from skirts to quilts to bags.
Never though have I attempted to sew from a pattern.
My mum is an incredible seamstress and kept telling me how easy it was. It was only when we were in the states that I stumbled across the pattern for a dress I really wanted to sew. Time to test the water, I thought!

Rather than dive straight in with a dress I looked online for some simple patterns and came across the Sorbetto top by Colette . It looked easy enough and it was free. win win.

The patterned is printed at home and then cut and stuck together again. Simple enough, if a bit fiddly.
Once I had measured myself to find my size, cutting out was super simple and with only two pattern pieces I couldn't really go wrong!

I love how this top has turned out. It was a quick make, it didn't use too much material and it was perfect for a beginner. It eased me gently into following a sewing pattern and I didn't have any major calamities.

If I was to make it again I would certainly add a few more inches to the hem. I am a short person and it was on the shorter side for me so if you are tall, I would always add a bit more.
I would also lower the bust darts a touch and maybe cut slighter lower armholes. It is a tad too snug!

I'm excited by a new type of craft, there is something lovely about wearing a handmade garment. I have my next make lined up, pattern and material sitting on my desk. It is a bit more of a challenge so I intend to take it slowly, with plenty of cups of tea.

Sewing clothes, what a fun new experience!

Have you ever sewn anything from a pattern? Have you attempted the Sorbetto top?