Hemlocks and Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Anybody who follows me on Instagram will know that my two favourite patterns are the Deer & Doe Plantain tee and the Grainline Hemlock tee. Not because both patterns are free and I'm cheap (though they are and I am), but because I looooove being comfy. And I have yet to meet a pattern comfier than the Hemlock.

So all that to say that I have just made another.

This one is in the softest viscose slub jersey from Minerva Craft. It's so soft and fine that it's almost transparent, and on a hot summer day almost has a bit of sexiness about it. Despite its boxy and slouchy shape. But that's good drape for you.

I cut it one morning before work, which took all of 20 min. I sewed it up the same day after work. In 1 h. And that's kind of it. It's so quick and easy and I've already made so many that I have nothing really to say about it. Except that I lovelovelovelove it!

So I might as well move on to some photos from its first outing.

My day trip partner in crime and I hopped on the train to Bristol this last week to see a bunch of hot air balloons float over the city in the annual Bristol Balloon Fiesta.

What a delightful day it was! We got an upgrade on the train and whizzed our way through the country in first class, sipping on coffees, me knitting a sock, her admiring the landscape.

Arrived, admired the train station (seriously, everything in this city is pretty!) and made our way into town with no particular target in mind. We came upon a gothic church, St Mary Redcliffe, which was really rather grand. I'm not religious, despite experimenting with religion at university the way some people experiment with drugs (I think they probably had more fun), but I like churches. I love how welcoming they are and the tranquility in a church, but most of all I love the architecture.

And luckily for me, my friend quite likes churches too. But then again, she was doing a degree in Theology when we met.

Why I am spending so much time talking about churches? Oh, because we also visited the Bristol Cathedral. It is nowhere near as grand as St Mary Redcliffe, but is has some pretty magical stained glass windows.

Churches visited, we went for lunch by the harbourside and then walked along the water for a good hour or so, overdosing on fresh air. It was like being on holiday.

Ahh, both of us in handmade tops. Lika barn leka bäst, as we say in Sweden.

Can you see where I dropped food on my white trousers and then tried to wash it off in the restaurant bathroom?

As it was approaching 6 pm and the time for the ascent we decided to find our way to the Clifton Suspension Bridge and go look for a good spot for a good view of the balloons. This was stupid easy, as all of Bristol was doing the same and we just had to follow the crowds.

Viewing spot found, the waiting began. The whole of last week had been windy and five balloon ascents had already been cancelled because it was too windy. By 6 pm the next scheduled ascent had not been cancelled, but neither were there any balloons. So we took about 14 000 photos of the bridge. And waited.

And then, close to 8 pm, the first one showed its chubby top! Followed by many more.

Lacy Mabel part 2 and a water mill

Apologies for yet more photos of the Mabel skirt. On the same day that we went to the lavender farm we also went to a water mill a few miles up the road. And because I've recently fallen in love with my Fujifilm camera all over again, I just have to share a few snaps.
Stotfold Mill is a working watermill dating back about 1000 years. The website describes a mention of four mills in Stotfold in the Domesbook of 1086.

Me and my friend are suckers for historic places, so of course we were curious. And since we were in the neighbourhood we had to drop by. We actually started the day here, with a walk in the nature reserve, admiring the clean waters and wildflowers.

Among all this beauty it feels almost rude to say that we got bored after about an hour, but we did. It's a beutiful meadow, but the landscape does not really change, so it's quite quick to see it all. Not to mention, we were desperate for coffee! Which we had with scones made with flour milled on site. I know, it's practically a cardinal sin to have scones with coffee rather than tea, but what can I say, you can take the girls out of Scandinavia but you can't cure a caffeine addiction.

The tea room is part of the original mill (if my memory does not make things up) and incredibly charming. It offers a cool escape from the hot sun, the ladies serving the cakes are lovely, the walls are covered with art by local artists and the scones are good.

Rested and refreshed we headed to see the action in the mill.
George and Samuel are the two mill stones.

The waterwheel was kind of cool, but the rest of the mill didn't really blow my mind, to be honest. But if we are being honest, the set up of the mill was probably aimed more at children than...me.

Still though, a nice start to the day. And a nice outing for my Mabel skirt.

Lace and lavender

In April of this year I went to Australia. And went a bit crazy fabric shopping. I've shown off some of the fabrics and makes on Instagram, but two of my favourite purchases came from a store I had never heard of until I arrived, Spotlight. It's not the least fancy, but it's an absolute treasure trove! A bit like the Goldhawk Road shops all rolled into one but with a much better layout. I found my lemon fabric from the previous post and a coral lacy fabric.

The coral lace is backed by a cream coloured fabric of some synthetic variety. The whole thing is in fact probably synthetic, but it's soft and has a lot of stretch, so it makes it very comfortable to wear.

I knew when I bought it that it was destined to be a Colette Mabel, and that is exactly what it became. Within weeks of coming home I sewed this skirt up. Yet I've only worn it once. I love the look of the Mabel skirt on others, and it's a beautifully designed pattern, but I love my skirts to sit at the waist and the Mabel sits a bit below the waist. It's one of those things you realise doesn't suit you only after you've worn it out and about.

Ah well. It is very comfortable, so last Sunday I decided it would be part of my secret pyjamas for the day, along with one of my many Deer and Doe Plantain T-shirts. I dressed, met up with a friend, got in the car and drove the 1.5 hours to Hitchin. 

Why Hitchin you might wonder. Well, I saw on a friend's Instagram feed that there is a lavender farm in Hitchin! Her photos were stunning, so I just had to go check it out.

I was not disappointed. Row upon row of this beautiful purple blossom.

And upon closer look, cute little animals.

There were also lots of bees, but they were fast and I didn't get a clear photo of any. I did get stung by one though. 

It was superwindy that day. Promise I didn't make my friend stand there with a windmachine to make my hair look nice.

My friend the photographer, who deserves credit for the photos of me.

It was a wonderful day. One of those where I felt so lucky for having the life I have.

When life gives you lemons...

(Or when you have to search around the world for the buggers! See below.)

...make a fabulous dress!

I've been having an obsession with lemon print dresses for a while. It began when I saw Handmade Jane's wonderful, wonderful dress. I searched all over the Internets for a similar fabric, but I guess it wasn't meant to be because I didn't find it.

Then Dolce & Gabbana launched their Sicilian inspired SS16 collection with all the amazing lemon prints. And my search on the Internets started again. Again, it wasn't meant to be.

Photo credit: The Internet

And then in April of this year I went to Australia to visit a friend and while there Kath of Bernie and I posted a photo of a lovely lemon print fabric on Instagram. I was quick to ask where it was from and imagine my delight when Kath replied that it was from Spotlight! My delight, because at that very moment I was a 10 min walk from a Spotlight store, on the other side of the world! If that wasn't meant to be, I don't know what is!

(Can we also take a second to acknowledge how amazing fabric shopping is in Sydney? I came back to the UK and was obsessed with the idea of moving. Even made inquiries at work about whether our company has an office in Sydney.)

I got my 2 meters (which by the way was so stupid, I should have bought the whole roll!) and came home. Washed it, ironed it, admired it. And didn't know what to make! I wanted to make all the things! A 1950s style circle skirt. To wear with little cropped tops. A pair of high waisted shorts. A playsuit.

I spent so much time deciding what to do with this fabric you would have been forgiven for thinking I was naming my first born.

In the end I decided on the By Hand London Kim dress and I have no regrets.  I toiled the bodice to check the fit and only had to take out a few cm at the back. I made no other alterations to the bodice. But when I got to the skirt I didn't know what to do. You see, the fabric I bought was cotton drill. A bit too heavy for either of the skirts in the pattern.

After umm-ing and ahh-ing and asking the sewing goddesses of Instagram I finally decided on a circle skirt. Only to realise...I didn't have enough fabric! See above parenthesis about how I should have bought the whole roll.

So I compromised and cut a half circle skirt. I wanted it to be just below the knees, 1950s style, but had to compromise there too, and cut it just above the knee. I finished the hem with my favourite technique for curved hems, bias binding. I've got so much love for bias binding, I might just dedicate a future blog post to it.

So in the end...I love it! This dress is every bit as perfect as I wanted it, if I may say so myself. Even the invisible zipper went in invisibly!

On a warm and sunny July evening it was the perfect outfit for a chilled glass of wine at the pub with my man.

Off the shoulders shirt

Last year was a good year for learning for me. I learned 3 things I can't live without today. 1. How to make shirts. 2. How to knit. 3. How to drive a car.

The topic of this post is the first one. I made the Grainline Archer shirt for me in January 2015 and it was one of the most fun and satisfying things I've sewn. It was followed by another 2 Archers, 1 Alder, 1 Archer/Alder mashup and 1 Negroni for Josh.

The Negroni was an anniversary present to him and I asked him to choose a fabric he liked. He chose this lovely cotton from Stone Fabrics with pink and green stripes that reminds me of a pear and strawberry flavoured ice cream my family used to buy when I was a kid in Sweden. It came in a 2 L tub and the strawberry tasted a bit synthetic but the pear was delicious.

I digress. So what happened was that I took his measurements, found his size in the pattern, sewed it up without fitting as I went along (big mistake) and...it ended up way too big. He wore it out for our anniversary dinner and then it stayed in the wardrobe.

A year and a bit later we agreed that it was unlikely he would get much wear out of it so I decided to give it a new lease on life by turning it into an off the shoulders top for me.


Compared to the care and attention to details I had sewn the initial shirt with this was really sloppy work. I cut off the top (with pinking shears, since I knew I wasn't going to finish the edge), folded the raw edge over, sewed in place and added elastic. I also shortened the hem a bit. The arms are way too long on me, but instead of messing around with re-sizing I just rolled them up.

I'm very happy with how it turned out. The fact that it is quite oversized means it's really nice and cool on a hot day. Only problem - I have so many clothes for hot days and there are so few hot days. But when they do come, I'm prepared!

All photos by Josh.