Search Results for: me made may

The Last Plaid Skirt

tan, black and cream 1/2 circle skirt paired with a black sweater, beret and boots

Did I say, when I finished sewing this skirt, that this would be the last plaid skirt I ever sewed? Yes.

Is this the last plaid skirt I will ever sew? Probably not.

tan, black and cream plaid skirt with diagonal pattern matching

I can’t help it- I just love plaid! Despite being the worst pattern, aside from stripes, to work with, I always love the finished result, so I’m sure when the memory of sewing this project fades, I’ll pull out another lovely piece and naively start a new project. Tears or rage shall ensue while sewing, but in the end they, hopefully turn to tears of joy when the project is finished and hanging in my closet.

plaid skirt side view, paired with a black top, beret and fur edged boots

So, yes, this is my latest sewing project. I mentioned it a while ago in this post. Several years ago I purchased a reversible plaid pleated skirt from the thrift store. It wasn’t in the best of condition, with a few stains scattered throughout, and a hole in the waistband, but I knew I could take it apart and use the wool for a new project. (I got this idea from American Duchess years ago!) I’ve discovered over the past few years that I really like 1/2 or 3/4 circle skirts, and there was just enough fabric to squeeze a 1/2 circle skirt out of it with four panels. I was able to line up the side seams on the diagonal, but not along the dominant, black line, so I put the straight line on the front and the diagonal seams on the sides. Another thing I’ve learned about sewing plaid is that while I am sewing it, I notice every seam, but once it’s finished, I don’t notice any “wonkiness” as much. While I, of course, try my best (even including hand stitching the front and back seam and zipper in place to ensure the lines were straight), once I’ve finished, I have to come to a point of saying, “That’s not just good, it’s good enough.”

grandmother's buttons mother of pearl monogram necklace

tan, black and cream plaid half circle skirt paired with ankle boots, a beret and a leather tote bag

In other news, I mentioned in this post that I was on the lookout for a leather tote bag- and I found one! I got it on Poshmark (about 10 minutes after the person listed it, strangely enough) for a great price, and it’s just about perfect. The size is excellent for holding everything I need when I go to church, and I really like the pebbled leather finish since it’s not too rustic. The only thing I’d change is if it was a bit more brown/cognac and less orange, to pair with my shoes and boots, but that’s not a big deal.

leather tote bag made in italy

I’m glad I finished this skirt in time to have a chance to wear it this season, before the weather turns completely into Springtime. Even though the calendar may say we are officially in Spring, we might get a bit more Winter yet. It’s wonderfully warm right now, though, and the snow is melting fast. I won’t pack away all of my woollens quite yet, but have started transitioning my closet in anticipation.

Happy Spring everyone!

large faux pearl headed hatpin

leather tote bag paired with a plaid skirt and black beret and boots

holding leather tote bag paired with a vintage style plaid skirt

back of plaid 1/2 circle skirt

A Year of Reading | My Favourite Books of 2023

a cup of tea in a blue floral patterned teacup sits on a wooden background and a vintage book is open beside it

Happy New Year, Dear Reader! Can you believe we are already in 2024? For this first post of the new year I thought I would share my favourite books I read in 2023. Last December, I decided that I wanted to finally read some of the books on my To Be Read list that had been there for a while, as well get through all of the unread books on my bookshelf. (I think that’s my goal every year, and I always fail, but I still keep trying…) I compiled a shortlist of 14 books, some of which were available in the library and some I needed to buy or borrow from others. Then, to accomplish the other goal, I pulled all of the unread books off of my bookshelf (they get lost amongst the other books) and dedicated a shelf specifically for them. As I purchased and borrowed new books throughout the year, they joined the others on that shelf and then as I read them, they went back onto my main bookshelf. (Or into the donation bin for a few I didn’t enjoy!)

This method helped keep me focused and I was able to get through quite a lot of them, while still giving me the freedom to read what I was in the mood for. I know some people like to schedule books to read each week/month, but I would rather have an array of choices and pick what appeals to me the most in the moment. I like to read a variety of genres, but I’m not necessarily always in the mood for all of them.

While I did read almost all 14 of the books I had planned on, I didn’t make it through The Slave Trade by Hugh Thomas. It was a lot thicker of a book than I anticipated, so if I finish it in 2024, then I will consider than an accomplishment! I did read more than those 14 books this year, but this list is a bit on the smaller side, since not very many ended up being ones I “loved” and wanted to share. But now, onto the books that I did like in 2023, in no particular order…

The book Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxes sitting on a wooden background

Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas

I said they weren’t in particular order, but we’re starting off with what was, by far, my favourite book of the year. Last year I read Hitler’s Cross by Erwin Lutzer… which then led me to read Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas… which then piqued my interest in more of Metaxas’ books… which then led me to this volume about William Wilberforce. This book was published in conjunction with the 2006 film of the same name. While I am familiar with Wilberforce, I loved learning more about him as well as the other Reformers and Abolitionists. This is one of those books where a good subject is made even better by a great author. Here is a small example of Metaxas’ writing style, in his “Acknowledgements”, so you can get a feel for what I mean.

“Life is a collaborative effort. That books are is a cliche, but not a fiction. I wish first and foremost to thank my typist, yours truly, for quite literally transcribing my thoughts as I thought them, a feat hardly to be explained, and yet quite literally true.”

While the book chronicles a serious topic, it is not depressing. Metaxas explores both Wilberforce’s personal and political life, his Christian faith and how that propelled him in his work, and the ups and downs of the Abolitionist movement. I found this to be an extremely encouraging and uplifting book, akin to the the way I feel about The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom; it is definitely one I will pull out and read again. If you have never watched the accompanying film Amazing Grace, then I also recommend it!

Little House on the Prairie and Laura Ingalls Wilder biography book sitting on a wooden background

Laura by Donald Zochert and the Little House Series

Alright, so this wasn’t one book but 10, but I’m including them all in one review. I hadn’t read the Little House series for probably 15 or more years, so when I picked up this biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s life, I was inspired to read them again. I liked the biography because it filled in some of the areas of her life, clarifying details (such as which States “the West” were, or specific years events happened) and shared Laura’s story from an adult perspective. Then, after I finished the biography, I read the Little House books, spacing them out throughout the year, with other books in between, so I wouldn’t get tired of them as sometimes happens when you read a series too fast. Because they are children’s books, they are quick to read, but they are so enjoyable. As I read them, I just keep thinking about how glad I am that I am not a homesteader, because I would definitely be dead before the first snow came!

paperback version of Les Miserables book sitting on a wooden background

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

I’ve had this book on my list for years, but was always intimidated to start it because I thought it was probably a difficult read which would take me too long to get through in time, if I got it from the library. I found a copy at a second hand book store last year and discovered that I could have borrowed it from the library years ago because I read the story in under a week! However, I am glad to have my own copy now, because I love the story so much I will definitely re-read it in the future.

I was familiar with the general storyline since I have seen the musical both performed live and as a movie, but I was pleasantly surprised with how much more I liked the book. Hugo has an excellent writing style and, obviously, delves deeper into the characters and events than a musical could ever sum up. I thoroughly enjoyed this one: if you liked the musical, then you will love the book too.

adorned book sitting on a wooden background

Adorned by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

I was simultaneously encouraged and convicted when I read this book, which is a study on Titus 2 about Biblical womanhood and the importance of “older” and “younger” women learning from and teaching one another. She talks about how that learning and mentoring can only happen when we are involved in each others lives, and dives deep into this passage of Scripture (it’s a 14 week study). I liked the book so much that I am actually now reading it for a Bible study with several women from my church. However, even if you don’t have a group to go through it with, I still recommend it to read by yourself as there is plenty of food for thought and opportunity for personal reflection. (I also love the cover design of this book!)

artwork of david copperfield

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

This is the only audio book I listened to this year. I really meant to listen to some more, but just got busy listening to other things, like podcasts, in the evenings and forgot all about audio books (even when it would have been nice to listen to while I was sewing and crafting). This was Dickens’ personal favourite of the books he wrote and while I wouldn’t say it is my favourite, I do love to read his stories- or rather listen to them because I love his style of writing and storytelling, and the characters are always so loveable. I listened to this version. I already briefly mentioned this in a post earlier this year, but it is worth repeating again this wonderful quote, which is so typical of Dickens’ wordy descriptions,

The pigeon-pie was not bad, but it was a delusive pie: the crust being like a disappointing head, phrenologically speaking: full of lumps and bumps, with nothing particular underneath.”

I got very frustrated with this story about halfway through, because I didn’t like where he was taking the story, but then he brought it around and resolved it with a strong and satisfying conclusion.

what kitty did next book sitting on a wooden background

What Kitty Did Next by Carrie Kablean

This was another book that had been on my “To Read” list for a few years, recommended to me by my book and Jane Austen loving friend, but it wasn’t available at the library, so I had to get it secondhand. It was on my Thrift Books wish list, but was always out of stock, until one day in October when I checked and it was in, so I quickly grabbed it! This story follows the Pride and Prejudice character Kitty Bennet after Elizabeth and Jane’s marriages. It was written in the style of Jane Austen’s writing and I enjoyed the characterization of Kitty; I thought she was quite believable when compared to the original work. It was a meandering story, which I liked, however, I thought that Kablean’s climax/crisis was a bit weak and could have been resolved a bit more believably. Despite that flaw, I am sharing this one in my list because I like reading about the Bennet family from different perspectives (I’m not sure there is a more famous historical, fictional family than the Bennets) and if you like Jane Austen fan fiction, then I think you will too. I also really liked the cover design of this one! (Ps- if you like reading about the Bennet sisters, then you will probably also like The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, which has a completely different storyline to this one!)

Well, there are my favourite books of 2023. As for this year, I don’t have any particular reading goals other than to finish the few that I didn’t get to this year. I’ve also got quite a few Classics on my list, so maybe I will listen to more audio books of those. I’ve started listening to Wuthering Heights (it’s been so long since I last read it that I can’t remember any of the story) so I’m already off to a good start on that.

What books are on your list for this year? What were your favourite books of last year? Have you read any of these and if so, what did you think of them?

Social Saturday | December 16 (Christmas Crafting)

mini handmade book ornament with a plaid cover and red ribbon hanging in the christmas tree

Is everyone in the Christmas spirit yet? I wasn’t really feeling like it this year, because we’ve had unusually warm weather and no snow, but when the calendar turned over to December, I decided to start making some Christmas crafts to put me in the mood and it worked! I’m hoping to share my Christmas decorating next week, but today I wanted to share some of the crafts I’ve been making over the past few weeks.

First up, I decided to make my own Christmas crackers for a party my mom and I hosted. All of the crackers at the store had stupid prizes that no one would want (and would honestly just end up getting tossed in the trash) so I decided to craft my own with things that people would actually want! I settled on making ornaments. Originally I was going to do several kinds of ornaments: mini trees, and toques and stockings and some of these books, above. However, after I made a couple of these book ornaments, (each with different fabrics for the covers) I decided I had to make one for each cracker, because they were just so cute. That may have been an error of judgement, because they took soooo long to make (11 books in total!) but I loved how they turned out and they were a big hit at the party.

homemade christmas crackers with stamped kraft paper and red ribbons, and a mini stocking made of green toile with lace at the top

Here are what the aforementioned crackers looked like! I bought the “snaps” from this shop on Etsy. I also was inspired to sew a tiny stocking after seeing the stocking advent calendar Lisa from Farmhouse on Boone put up. I just made one for now, but I might make more later on.

folded paper stars and an embroidered felt gingerbread ornament

We also made some more paper stars! I made a few different kinds this year, and I really like how these turned out. We followed this tutorial, but added another piece to make it a six pointed star. I also made this sweet little felt gingerbread ornament for a friend. I would definitely like to make some more in the future as well.

cardboard quilled paper stars/snowflakes painted gold and hanging in a window at night

Finally, my favourite crafts of the year, are some quilled style cardboard snowflakes or stars. To make them, you simply fold a cardboard tube lengthwise and cut it into strips about 3/8″ wide, like this. With these small pieces you can fold them and arrange them into many different star shapes. I made some of these a few years ago with toilet paper tubes, but painted them each individually white, which took forever to do. I didn’t love the look of the plain cardboard colour, because the colour of the tubes I had wasn’t kraft coloured. However, this year I had the idea to spray paint them gold and I love how they turned out. The look like brass, not cardboard, and using spray paint was so much easier than painting them each with a brush.

So those are the things I have been enjoying over the past few weeks. Next week our plan is to do some Christmas baking, which will really bring on the holiday cheer!

Have you made any Christmas crafts yourself this year? Have you tried any of these ones? 

Updating My Personal Colour Palette | Colour Draping

colour palette in front of clothes in my closet

In 2021, I wrote a series of posts about Personal Style, sharing the things I had been learning about defining your style, curating your closet to the size that is right for you, choosing pieces that work well for your body type and creating a personal colour palette. While I had discovered a lot of good things in the post about colour, I also wrote:

“After looking into it and taking a self quiz, I discovered that I am either a Soft Summer or a Soft Autumn. I can’t decide which, so I chose to put myself right in between both! …. I think that I fall a bit more towards the Soft Autumn palette, because as I looked back through my favourite outfits on my blog, I realized that some of my colour choices need to be a little bit warmed up.”

Well, we all make mistakes, and that was one of mine! I spent that entire post creating a warm toned personal colour palette for myself, completely missing the fact that I actually lean more cool toned. While I can wear some warmer colours well, my best colours have a cool undertone.

So, how did I figure out that I had this completely backwards? Back in the spring my mom and sister and I spent an afternoon colour draping in order to find which colours are our personal best. In this method, you drape different tones and shades and study in the mirror to see how they effect your complexion etc. We followed this excellent guideline. 

colour draping with orange and pink fabric

The first step is to determine whether you are cool or warm, and immediately after draping the orange and fuchsia fabrics, we could see that all three of us have a cool undertone. You should be able to tell when you drape these two colours. The orange fabric made me look sallow and brought out all of the dark spots in my skin, while the pink, though not a good shade for me, looked much better. It’s hard to see the difference in the photos I took, unfortunately, but you can sort of see that my skin looks brighter in the pink, and a bit more dull in the orange. Some people may have a very dramatic difference, while for others it may be not as clear. Through draping different shades of each colour ranging from dark to light, and muted to clear, we were able to pinpoint which shades worked the best for each of us.

I see colour analysis as a gradient, with your best colours on one side. These colours enhance your beauty and make you look vibrant and alive without any extra work. The colours that are “OK” are in the middle. They don’t make you shine quite as much as your best colours, and you might need to compensate with styling, but they don’t make you look sickly either. And then on the other side are your worst colours which will make you look like you’re ready to roll into a coffin.

And so, this is how I figured out that my best colours, with a few exceptions, are ones that look like they have been desaturated, or smokey, but not earthy. A lot of my best colours align with the Soft Summer colour seasons palette: muted shades that have grey added to them. In comparison, Autumn features warm shades that are muted with the addition of brown. There were some surprising results, and going through the draping process revealed my bias towards colours I like, but that aren’t actually my best colours. Thus, my personal colour palette has changed a bit from my previous post…

switching the colours in my old personal palette to choose better ones

In the palette I created back in 2021, I chose these colours:

  • Brown
  • Cream
  • Tan / Camel
  • Navy / Blue
  • Cinnamon
  • Black
  • Olive
  • Peach
  • Ochre

I got this wrong! The colours I should have chosen are:

  • Brown
  • Pearl / Mushroom
  • Taupe
  • Navy / Blue
  • Black
  • Sage
  • Dusty rose

Some of those original colours still work great, but the warmer shades are better converted to cool ones.

swatches of neutral tones in my personal colour palette

  • For neutrals, my best choices are pink beige, mushroom or taupe shades, and I should stay away from yellow beiges and tans. Interestingly, I should have been able to figure this out years ago, because my winter coat isn’t a true camel colour, but actually has a pink brown undertone. How did I not see that?
  • A surprise was that brown is actually not a bad colour for me! (Which is good because I really like brown!) While warm browns aren’t my best choices, they fall into that middle “OK” category.
  • As for my “white”, I look best in off whites, with a bit of a pink or grey undertone, rather than bright white, cream or ivory which make me look ill.

swatches of blue and green in my personal colour palette

  • Navy is a good colour even though it is dark. Blue is, unsurprisingly, one of my best colours.
  • Dusty rose, mauve, blush and lavender are also good colours for me. I’m excited to add pink to my wardrobe, but don’t really have plans to add lavender, since it doesn’t go with much else and I am not drawn to shades of purple.

swatches of shades of pink in my personal colour palette

And then here is where I chose to “break the rules”.

  • Black is not a bad colour, although it’s a bit too intense for head to toe, but I can wear it without looking completely washed out. I have lots of pieces that I really like in black (including my glasses!), however, like I spoke of in that original post two years ago, I treat black as an accent colour, not as a neutral. I don’t pair very many other colours with black because the contrast is too great for me.

wearing black with neutrals compared with other colour

The black paired with tan is softer than black paired with colour. 

  • Grey is one of the best colours for a cool undertone, and it is a good colour on me… but I don’t like grey! I have had some pieces over the years, but I’ve slowly gotten rid of almost all of the grey pieces I have in my closet. This is an example of using the colour analysis as a jumping off point, but then personalizing it to your own taste. If you don’t like a colour, just because it “looks good on you” doesn’t mean you have to wear it.
  • As for my beloved mustard yellow and ochre, I’ve decided to steer clear of it for tops and pieces that are near my face. I still love mustard yellow, but I just don’t love it on me, so I’ll keep it for accessories, such as bags or tights.

patchwork bag with wooden handles

  • Regarding those warm browns, cinnamons and beiges…I am not eliminating them from my closet, because I love them too much! However, I have moved many of them to pieces that aren’t close to my face. That is the biggest part of colour analysis: you can wear any colour as a skirt or shoes, but not every colour looks the best as a blouse or scarf.
  • And, as for my post in 2021 about “warming things up” I do still think this works well for me with accessories, such as my cognac purse and shoes. They keep my cool coloured outfits from becoming too dark and contrasted, like they would if I was to pair them with black accessories. I think what I was unknowingly getting at from that observation, was to create outfits that are more muted, not necessarily warm. One of my favourite colour combinations is blue paired with brown, and when I think about it, that is a more muted and soft colour choice than black and blue is.

brown vs black paired with blue

Pairing blue with brown vs. pairing it with black. The brown is a softer effect.

So, should you try colour draping yourself? Absolutely yes!

When you know which colours are your personal best, it is so much easier to put together your wardrobe and your outfits. An example my sister gave, in regards to wearing black, is that black washes her out so she always feels that she has to compensate with makeup. How much easier it is to wear a colour that makes you look amazing, even if you don’t wear any makeup or go to great lengths with your accessories!

Finding my best colours has been so helpful for me to realize why I gravitate to wearing certain things in my wardrobe, and why other outfits feel a little “off”. I love warm colours such as mustard, cinnamon, olive and camel, however, when I wore those colours they didn’t look as good as I had hoped they would. I know a couple of ladies who look amazing in mustard yellow, however, when I wear it I look a little peaky and you notice the clothing, but not me. It just never worked as well on me, and didn’t make as much of an impact as it does on those ladies.

Even if you are hesitant to drape your colours like I used to be, because you don’t want to “limit yourself”, knowing which colours are your best is an incredibly helpful tool as you shop and choose outfits. (And, remember, if you know the rules, you can creatively break them!) Finding your colours doesn’t limit you to only a part of the swatch book, but helps guide you to finding pieces that make you look great without even trying. I’ve personally started wearing a lot more blue in the past few months and have been more intentional about shopping for pieces that are good for my colouring while skipping the sections that aren’t. I’ve also changed my sewing plans for certain fabrics, because I realized that I wouldn’t like them as dresses and they would work much better as skirts. Thus, I’ve saved myself a lot of frustration of going to the effort of sewing something new, only to not like how it turned out.

two fabrics with warm orange undertones

I made both of these fabrics into skirts instead of dresses, once I realized they were too warm toned.

Finding your best colours also doesn’t mean you have to clear everything out and start over. From this point on, as you shop or sew, focus on your new personal colour palette and those older pieces will either slowly wear out or rotate out as you find new pieces. Of course, if you really love a colour and it makes you feel great when you wear it, then wear it with confidence!

But, in conclusion, yes I highly recommend trying out colour draping and creating a personal colour palette for your closet! And if you don’t get it right the first time, don’t worry…in a few years you’ll probably figure it out! Just kidding (I hope)!

Have you ever “gotten your colours done” before, or draped your own? Do you have a personal colour palette for your wardrobe? How do you include colours you love which aren’t your personal best?

Social Saturday | September 9

bowl of tomatoes from the garden

Happy Saturday everyone! It’s been a while since I posted, except for the duckling photos last week, so here’s some of the things I have been up to this summer…

photo art cards and baby felt mary jane shoes

  • Years ago I printed a bunch of my flowers and scenery photos, but didn’t really want to have an album full of them. So, I stamped and punched and stitched them, turning them into cards and postcards. It was the perfect way to use them!
  • I also made yet another pair of baby shoes, for another newborn in our church. Baby shoes are so hard to make because they are so tiny, but so easy to make because they don’t take very long from start to finish!

new and old water bottles and harvest apples

  • After about 12 years of using my old water bottle, it was finally time to get a new one. It looked like it had gone through a war, and the paint was flaking off around the top, which didn’t seem particularly healthy, so I got a new one with a stainless steel top edge. It’s also insulated, and has been so nice for keeping my water cool during the hot months! Anyways, I just wanted to share because I thought that my old one was a good example of “Use it up… Wear it out… Make it do… Or do without!” #zerowaste
  • I’m not sure what variety of apples these are, but we picked quite a few and froze them to use for baking this winter.

bible covered in black and pink floral and tan gingham fabric with a yellow ribbon and patterned endpapers

  • My Bible had seen better days, and the cover was falling off, so I decoupaged it with fabric and put in new endpapers. Not professionally done, by any means, but it was fun to do, and now my Bible is hopefully ready for the next 10 years.

a cream coloured tote bag hanging on a closet doorknob and a green and cream floral quilt on an antique bed with lace pillow shams

  • I sewed a new little tote bag. It’s just a simple bag without any gussets, and is perfect for rolling up to tuck into my purse for a day out shopping.
  • I got a new quilt for my bed. I loved the one that I made out of vintage sheets, but because it wasn’t 100% cotton, I found that I often overheated during the night. I was originally looking for a white quilt, but couldn’t find anything in a soft white. When my mom found this green and cream floral one by Laura Ashley, I knew it was the one!

Well, that’s what I’ve been up to the past few months. I didn’t plan to take a break over the summer; it just kind of happened, but I’m planning to blog more this season. I hope you are all doing well, and have a great weekend!

❤︎ Nicole