Posts by Nicole :

My Winter Capsule Wardrobe | Plaid Circle Skirt

plaid winter circle skirt paired with brown accessories and sweater

It is a truth universally acknowledged that outfit photos are hard to get in the Winter…or maybe I’ve just gotten weak? Years ago I used to brave wind and sub zero temperatures to get photos for the blog, but the past few years I’ve opted to take indoor photos, or none at all! But, finally this past week I braved the cold (and of course the wind started blowing as soon as we went outside) to get some photos of my new Fall/Winter skirt.

brown and black plaid circle skirt paired with a chocolate brown sweater and fur collar

Over the past couple of seasons I have decluttered a lot of clothing and accessories, significantly reducing my wardrobe. I sold a lot of pieces that didn’t feel like “me” anymore, as well as items that didn’t fit, keeping only the items I absolutely, without-a-doubt loved to wear. While this was great, it did leave me with a slightly too minimal wardrobe for winter, consisting of only a few tops and a single black wool skirt! So, I decided that I needed a few more pieces to get through the season.

I’ve had this plaid fabric in my stash for over 10 years, but I’ve never had enough yardage for any of the projects I planned (a jacket, a cape etc. It must have been a remnant, because there was only just over a metre or so.) When looking to sew a few new pieces for my winter wardrobe, I realized that it would make a great skirt. I did have a few hiccups in the process, and if I was sewing it again today, I would definitely make some changes to the process.

Did I plan to have the zipper on the side, but then discovered that the fabric didn’t fall properly that way, so I had to switch to a back zipper after I’d already cut and sewn the waistband on?

Did that cause the waistband plaid pattern to be misaligned with the skirt? But then it couldn’t be picked out because the fabric was too loose of a weave and had started to fray?

And then, once I sewed the zipper in, did I realize that the skirt was about 2″ too big, so I had to unpick the perfectly sewn zipper, and then redo the back, and then the zipper didn’t go in as nicely as the first time?

Sigh, the joys of sewing.

plaid retro circle skirt paired with a brown structured purse and oxford shoes

However, despite the fact that the waistband really does bother me, the most important thing is that I finished the skirt and have been wearing it quite a lot this season. I also like how the plaid pattern falls on a curve (this is one of my favourite tricks for dressing my body type.) I love the movement the circle skirt gives to the plaid pattern!

As for my winter wardrobe colour palette, I went with a main colour of brown, with accents of taupe and black; basically all of the colours in this skirt. I chose to add in tops and accessories that can mix and match; such as this chocolate brown pullover sweater. My capsule consists of three skirts, one dress, five stand-alone tops, three shells/layering tops, two cardigans and a myriad of accessories. I have really enjoyed going to my closet to get dressed and instantly being able to put together several possible outfits, because almost everything goes with everything else!

cinnamon brown fur collar tied with a ribbon and paired with a brown pullover sweater

And then of course I keep it from getting repetitious by changing up the accessories. At least now most of my accessories coordinate with the majority of pieces. For example, I was finally able to pair this fur collar I got two years ago. In the pictures they don’t quite look like they coordinate, but in real life the colours go well together. I’ve also paired this same brown sweater and skirt with my green cape and felt hat, or even switched to a black sweater, shoes and beret for a completely different look.

brown coloured plaid skirt and accessories and sparkly ear hugger earrings

As for these accessories, they are all items I’ve worn a lot, and continue to love wearing. The earrings are Pika and Bear and were a gift, the purse is from Top Vintage, the shoes are from Earthies and the fur collar was a vintage one that I sewed a ribbon tie onto.

Well, I can’t say that I’m going to be any quicker to get outfit photos for the remainder of the winter weather, but I will try to at least get some of the other skirt I sewed.

I hope you’re all having a great week, and staying warm!

wearing a plaid circle skirt paired with a brown pullover sweater and fur collar.

Look How Far You’ve Come

vintage pentax film camera sitting on top of a carved wooden box

We’ve probably all heard the phrase “practice makes perfect”, but I recently heard it altered slightly to say “practice makes progress”, which is much better, I think, since nothing in this world is ever perfect. I’ve been reflecting on this lately, and thinking about how I am often disappointed in my creative endeavours because I haven’t reached the goals, or mastered the skills I had hoped I would by now….

I’m currently going through my external hard drive and organizing it. Years ago I had a computer crash, and while I was, thankfully, able to recover all of my files, they got dumped onto a hard drive, and I never did anything further with them. I’m fairly good at organizing and decluttering physical belongings, but the digital realm is one that never fails to devolve into absolute chaos for me. It’s a huge mess that gets worse each year, and continues to hang over my head like an invisible avalanche. This was finally my year to tackle that project, so I’ve been sorting, organizing and deleting; not just so that I can find photos or files easily, but so that I can finally get a bunch of the photos printed into albums!

Anyway, as I’ve been sorting, I’ve learned a few things (other than the painful lesson that sitting at my desk for too long is punishing to my shoulders).

Firstly, I’ve come to realize that just because a photo was taken, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily worth saving. For some reason, I think many of us have this idea that because we took this photo, it’s special. But, especially since the advent of digital cameras, I have ended up with a lot of duplicates, and unnecessary or blurry photos. In the past couple of years I’ve gotten better at immediately deleting those sorts of photos, but in the past I used to keep folders and folders of mediocre photos. I have been keeping in mind as I sort, that if I lived in the 1940’s I would have a lot less photos, and that would be totally fine. So, as I sort, I delete anything that doesn’t bring back a happy or important memory, duplicates that are so similar I don’t need both, and any photos I just don’t like. I am still keeping plenty of silly outtakes and anything that is truly sparking joy, but many of them are not.

Secondly, I am asking myself whether I have a purpose for these photos- am I going to print it? Am I going to blog it? Is it for reference? If the photograph doesn’t answer yes to any of these questions, then what is the purpose for me keeping it? I am coming to the understanding that sometimes the value in a photograph was simply in the action of taking of it. Like I don’t keep every sewing project or sketch I’ve ever made, I also don’t need to keep every photograph. Many of the photos were valuable in the practice they gave me, but I don’t need to keep the end result.

Which leads into my third discovery: practice makes progress. As I am sorting through the past 10+ years of photos (I received my DSLR in 2010!) I am noticing how much my photography has improved.

I look at the photos I take today and I often wish they could be better; they fall so short of what I want them to be, and what I see other artists creating. It can be easy to compare your skills to others, but it’s much more impactful to compare your current self to your previous self! I am looking through these photography “sketches” and realizing that they did have value, in teaching me. 10 years of practice has resulted in much better photographs. I’m no Ansel Adams, and yet, compared to 20 year old Nicole, I have vastly improved!

It’s so encouraging to realize that all of those hundreds of thousands of photographs that I took… and then deleted… over the years have resulted in not a few photographs that I am happy with and proud of. Like any artistic endeavour, it takes a lot of time and practice to grow and perfect, or rather progress. I would say that photography is one of the few creative practices I have consistently worked on, ever since my first film camera over 20 years ago and these days I have a lot more hits than misses.

Anyway, it was simply enlightening for me to see how much I’ve improved over the years, so I wanted to encourage all of you to keep practicing as well! Whatever skill or craft you are working on, don’t compare yourself to others, but rather compare yourself to yourself from years ago and I bet you’ll see a lot of growth.

If we take a moment to look back, we will realize just how far we’ve come.

(And of course, I did delete a lot of those out-of-focus and oddly composed photos, but I had to show a couple!)

two blurry old photos as an example

How To Make Fabric Envelopes

finished fabric envelopes sitting on a lace tablecloth with several valentine cards tucked inside

If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I love writing letters and using pretty stationery. One way to elevate your stationery is with custom envelopes, whether that’s lining existing envelopes with patterned paper, or making your own! My recent favourite is fabric envelopes. I am definitely not the first person to think up this idea, but I thought I’d share a mini-tutorial with you today because it’s so simple to do, it looks amazing and also because Valentines is coming up soon. This would be a lovely way to dress up a simple DIY or store bought card for your loved one! So without further ado, here is how to make fabric envelopes.

fabric pieces to choose from

First, choose some fabric; I picked several cotton scraps, and some lace cut off of a curtain. Make sure to iron your fabric, to eliminate any wrinkles.

fabric starch and brushes

I first tried using a cornstarch laundry starch, but it wasn’t stiff enough, so I switched to using this fabric stiffener I bought years ago. It’s basically glue, at least that’s what it smells like. You could easily DIY your own stiff corn starch for this project; I just used what I had on hand.

placing the fabric onto tin foil and pouring starch onto the fabric

Lay down a piece of tin foil, or plastic wrap. I’ve used both, but I found the tin foil a little bit easier to smooth out. Place your fabric on top of the foil and pour some starch onto the fabric. I tried to pour mine across the fabric, but it whooshed out quickly into a big puddle, oops!

using a stiff bristle paintbrush saturate the fabric with the starch

I used this old, stiff bristle paintbrush to spread the starch around, thoroughly soaking the fabric since the foam brush didn’t work as well. If that’s all you have, it will work, though. I also used my hands, flipping the fabric to make sure it was evenly coated. If you have a lot of starch, you could also submerge the fabric.

placing foil on top of the fabric to dry so it doesn't pucker and curl

Once your fabric is fully saturated, smooth all the wrinkles out, place another piece of foil on top and then place a book or box on the top to weight it for a couple of hours or so. I did this so the fabric wouldn’t pucker and the edges wouldn’t curl up as it dried. You can see in the white envelope what happens when you take it out too soon!

After the fabric is mostly dried, peel the top layer of foil off, and let the fabric dry further. When it’s almost completely dry, and the danger of bubbles and curling edges is past, you can remove the other piece of foil and hang the fabric to fully dry from both sides.

holding stiffened fabric and preparing the cardstock envelope template

Take an envelope of your desired size, and trace it onto card stock (I used a manila folder). You could use the envelope itself as a template, but I find it much easier to trace with thicker paper.

tracing and cutting out the envelope using the template

Using this template, trace with a pencil onto the back of your fabric. Cut out the envelope along the lines.

folding the envelope into shape using the template

Place the template inside the envelope and then fold along the lines. Use your thumbnail or a bone folder to crease the edges well.

assembling the envelope and taping together

Assemble the envelope with narrow piece of double sided tape or glue. Be careful not to use too much glue, or it will soak through the fabric and glue your envelope shut! For the lace envelope, I actually used a thread to stitch it in place, because the tape and glue would have shown.

finished fabric envelopes stacked on a wooden table

And then you’re done- now you can make a Valentine, or any other card, and then give it to someone special!

holding the envelope with a valentine card

To send your envelope in the mail, write the address on a label and tape it to the front of the envelope. Place the fabric envelope inside a clear cellophane sleeve, and affix your postage stamp to the outside of the plastic, and you should be good to go! Of course, you could always place the envelope inside a regular paper one, if you don’t mind if the envelope is hidden.

addressing and wrapping a fabric envelope to send in the mail

Well, there is a quick and easy way to make fabric envelopes. Now that I know how easy it is to do, I’m going to start making one every time I have a large enough scrap of fabric!

Have you ever tried to make fabric envelopes before? Do you like to send letters and cards?  

fabric envelope with a card inside and pens ready to write a message

Blush Pink & Cream Roses

bouquet of cream and pink roses sitting in front of a gallery wall

In the middle of Winter, when the world outside is frosty and covered in mountains of snow (which holds it’s own beauty), but is starting to feel a little bleak and won’t see growing things for months….it’s nice to get a bouquet of flowers. They don’t last very long, and yet they manage to bring so much cheer in the short time they’re here.

These cream roses with a tint of blush pink on the tips were so beautiful and elegant, and they coordinated very nicely with my room too!

Do you like to get a bouquet of flowers in the winter? What are your favourite flowers to get?

cream and pink tea rose bouquet on a shelf in front of a vintage mirror on the wall

details of cream and pink rose bouquet

bouquet of pink and cream ombre roses

bouquet of pink and cream ombre roses sitting on a shelf

bouquet of cream and blush pink tinted roses sitting on a shelf with pictures in the background

Social Saturday | January 14

sun shining through frost covered trees

Happy Saturday, Dear Reader.

Here we are, well into the New Year by now…have you gotten used to writing “twenty twenty-three” yet? It always takes me a while! Here are some of the things I’ve been up to lately.

a sketchbook page with illustrations and new years goals on it

Do you make goals or resolutions for the New Year? While of course we can create resolutions at any time, there is something nice about turning the page and starting fresh, isn’t there? I drew some illustrations of my goals this year and hung them above my desk so I am more likely to look at them…. and hopefully remember them!

One of the biggest goals I have for this year is to create routines. I finally, after many years, created a good morning routine in 2022, so I’d like to extend that to other areas in my life. Things such as intentionally stopping in the afternoon and having “teatime” rather than always having a cup at my desk as I work, or unplugging an hour before bed and using that time to read and journal. I want to create simple, but flexible, routines that have a big impact when done consistently.

Another plan for this year, is reading all of the books on my list!  I always have a never ending TBR list, but then never actually get around to reading those books… so I have pulled all of the unread ones off my bookshelf and sat them on my nightstand, compiled a list of 16 books that have been on my list for a while, purchased the ones that are not available at the library, and finally put in a few requests through the library. I hope to read more than 16 books this year, so once I get through that list I will add more, but at least this way, I won’t have any 1/2 finished ones taunting me, and as soon as I finish one book, I can dive straight into another.

Another project I’ve been working on lately, is my hard drive. I have mentioned this “to-do” in past years, but this truly is the year! I’ve made some good progress already organizing my photos and folders. My goal is to finally get some photo books printed, so I’ve been busy organizing and sorting. I love to organize physical spaces, but the digital realm is another story altogether….

floral and polka dot fabric covered sketchbook tied with velvet ribbon

Here are a few projects (in the physical realm) that I’ve made. I recovered this sketchbook using a tutorial by Miss Mustard Seed. (I used Mod Podge) I haven’t ever really liked this sketchbook, so I hope that recovering it will inspire me to use it more often. We’ll see…if not, then I will pass it on and use the recovering techniques I learned from this one for another journal or sketchbook.

bouquet of flowers embroidered necklace

I also made a tiny embroidered necklace over Christmas…I made my sister one last Christmas and it took me an entire year to get around to making one for myself. I’ve got a couple more frames left; hopefully it doesn’t take me an entire year to make another!

floral wax seal with a wooden handle and a pair of forged scissors

Though tools are supposed to be utile, isn’t it so much nicer when you have pretty ones? I received these lovely iron scissors and a wax seal kit for Christmas. I haven’t used the wax seals yet, so I think it’s time I wrote some letters. And the scissors are so cute; I’ve always loved this style and shape. They are from Wicker and White Co. on Etsy.

Well, that’s pretty much all for this week. Oh, and I took this photo below one morning as the sun was coming up and tinting the frosty trees pink. Paired with the blue shadows, it was a stunning pastel ombre effect. I’m so glad to live in a world where there are beautiful scenes like this.

Hope your week was excellent and that your weekend is even better ❤︎

pink tinted frosty trees as the sun comes up