A Dress of Two Summers

Hi!

As I type this, it is a rather gloomy, windy and cold day outside with occasional rain. We had an abnormally hot June and July and then August has been somewhat of a disappointment. Therefore I look at these photos with a bittersweet feeling as it seems that another summer has come to its end. They also bring back memories of our fun little family vacation to Narva-Jõesuu and Narva in July.

This dress has somewhat of a funny history. First of all, I call it the Dress of Two Summers because it was as good as finished already last summer. But as you know, I was pregnant until the middle of July and then had the post-partum/breast-feeding body that I wasn´t even sure would ever allow me to wear the dress and I didn´t want to hem it until I knew if and how many alterations it needed. This summer, I finally hemmed it and only decided to add a snap to the front of the dress for extra security although I am actually happy how it fits even without the snap. Another great pattern from Style Arc, of course! It is the Annabelle dress sans the ruffles:

Secondly, the fabric of the dress. I just adore it. I am not sure I have used this word on this blog before. I love the print, the color combo, the slightly crinkled look of it, the feel of it, just everything. And it is also the fabric for the cover sample of McCalls 8104:

I first saw the fabric on this pattern cover when it was released and then shortly afterwards saw it at Abakhan store in Tallinn. Initially I was sure I would make the McCalls dress, but I didn´t buy enough and therefore had to change my plans. It would have been fun though to copy the look, wouldn´t it? And just recently I saw it on sale and grabbed myself another 2 m, again not enough for the McCalls, but I am thinking a flowy wrap skirt one day..?

Anyway, I was a bit meh at first (that means before hemming it) but once finished it has turned to one of the most popular dresses for this ending summer. Just makes me feel nice!

I also think that this must be my first real wrap dress and since it seems to have become quite a habit, I am once again planning to make more with this pattern. Some of the details below:

I think this dress is equally appropriate for holiday as well as workplace, at least for my job. Basically from the office to the beach dress 😀

Talking about beaches, I really recommend Narva-Jõesuu. It used to be the summer resort for many Russian aristocrats before WWII and even now there must be many Russians spending their summers there deciding by the look, style and size of the summer homes. But at the same time there is another layer of history, the Soviet era that lurks around some abandoned resort buildings from that time, mixed with new or restorated old ones that are quite fancy. All in all, an interesting combo of old and new, wealthy and poor, but nevertheless the whole place has a wonderful relaxed atmosphere and the beach is actually breathtaking. A really long (it must be a few kilometers) stretch of sand, the sun dropping to the sea in the evening, cooling water and most importantly not crowded and not too “developed” meaning there is only one beach bar on the actual sand.

I am not such a fan of Narva, though. It is the border town with Russia and it is definitely worth visiting and it has developed a lot over the recent years, but unfortunately as it was basically bombed to the ground during the WWII there is not much left of the historical city center and it feels kind of center-less if there is such a thing.

I have a couple of more projects from summer that I have been wanting to post about, I am hoping to get there before it is already weird! And I have also participated in some workshops that I really want to share about more, but that is also a story for another time!

Until soon!

Vogue 8829 revisited

Hi!

You may remember my recent black embroidered cotton dress and how happy I was with the pattern. In fact, I immediately decided that I will repeat the pattern so soon that I didn´t even put it away from my sewing table. I didn´t have a certain fabric in mind but it came to me by itself if I can say so.

We were on a day trip to Pärnu and since I had been looking for a specific color and size of buttons for a while, I jumped into the local fabric shop to try my luck. And lucky I got! In addition to the buttons I had been looking for, I just took a glimpse at some of the fabrics sold by weight and you know the feeling when your heart skips a beat…. I have always had a soft spot for stripes, but if they come combined with floral, I am pretty much sold! Also, thankfully there was enough fabric because although lengthwise the piece was 3 meters long, the width was only 1,1 m. The shop assistant told me that the fabric is for crafts, but being 100% cotton, it is ideal for a summer dress as well.

If I wasn´t so excited about the result, I probably even would not write a second post on the same pattern (Vogue 8829), but for the second time, it really is a great pattern to work with! This time it went together even faster because I didn´t need to add lining to the skirt piece, the cotton fabric is dense enough.

For the black details, I used the leftovers of the black “sister” dress and thus used up all of the black poplin I was gifted by Black Carrot Fabrics. Since I usually tend to have big scraps, it really feels nice when I can use up all of my material.

I had to wait a few days for the suitable belt to arrive and I ordered two slightly different ones just to make sure one would fit and thankfully one of them really is quite similar in width to the front placket. It really is one of the best feelings about sewing when your vision becomes reality!

On the inside I used a piece of white cotton batiste for the yoke because I was afraid that the contrasting stripes would show through on the outside. Also, as with the first version of the dress, I stitched in the ditch on the front placket as opposed to slipstitching on the inside by hand.

I think I also got lucky that the front placket is about the same width as the stripes on the fabric, looks so much better like this.

Whoever has taken photos in a more or less public place with a tripod and a remote, probably knows that it is not always a very comfortable feeling when people stare at you. Or maybe it is just me? But on the other hand taking all of the photos at home would also be very boring, so as long as there is good daylight, I prefer to take my pics outside, even if it means stepping out of my comfort zone. This time, as well as the last time (for the maxi dress post), I had a little helper and it is unbelievable how much courage a child who doesn ´t question your actions can provide! It has been great taking photos with my daughter (despite the occasional photobombing) and I have enjoyed the playground time after the shoot so much!

Until soon!

Black Carrot Black Dress

Hi!

I didn´t even realize that I didn´t post anything in June! Wow! I blame the extraordinarily warm summer and I have always enjoyed sewing itself more than writing about it so I guess I made my choices last month. If you follow me on Instagram, however, you know that there are a bunch of things I have made that have not ended up here, yet.

But today I have a few good reasons to post and number one is that another Estonia-based fabric shop approached me with an offer to cooperate and I gladly accepted. The shop is Black Carrot and they offer a decent choice of dressmaking and home decor fabrics. In fact I regularly shop there anyway so it wasn´t difficult to choose a fabric for the sponsored project. And if you like my dress, they still have both of the fabrics available so why not make a similar one!

I picked their wonderful embroidered cotton and plain poplin, both in a deep black shade to make a work-appropriate summer dress, using an old-timer of a pattern in my stash – Vogue 8829.

I combined views D and C, the armhole bands of the latter were actually the key reason for liking the pattern as well as the opportunity to use a contrast color/fabric for this and other details. And before I say anything else, this pattern will be repeated soon. It is just so good. And this is the second good reason for posting today – I have made myself a wardrobe staple that I just hope will not fade in sun and wash too soon.

It has been a while since using a Big4 pattern because of my love affair with Style Arc and I had to keep reminding myself that the seam allowances are 1,5 cm and not 1, but other than that, a really enjoyable pattern.

I made a few modifications too. The most noticeable is that I added a lining to the skirt because the embroidery is see through enough to make me (and possibly others around me) uncomfortable if left unlined. I used a nice drapey and cool against the skin (viscose mix?) fabric that I purchased a long time ago with plans for a dress, but I have only used bits of it for pocket linings and now for the dress lining as well. It is quite precisely the colour of my skin so very subtle under the embroidered cotton and I think it gives the skirt some movement as opposed to having used a poplin lining, which was my first idea. But thankfully I checked with my sewing buddies and within a minute we made a common decision that the lining has to be silky, beige (not black) and I should use different pleats than the main fabric. So the lining has knife pleats where the skirt has inverted pleats. As for the color, I have a feeling that if I would have found a similar dress in a store, it would have been lined with black, but that would of course not show the beauty of the main fabric.

For the other modifications, I used the famous burrito-method for the yoke treatment which for some reason has not made its way into the Big4 pattern instructions as far as I know. I also skipped slipstitching the front bands and stitched in the ditch instead. It is not my favorite thing to do at all, but this time it went well enough.

I was not sure about the buttons at first and considered using black ones, but I think eventually the six golden ones that I had bought some time ago just because they were so “me” and not for some specific project (AND they were the last 6 at that shop!), fit perfectly. Otherwise I think there would be a danger of looking too serious. I did have some hesitation about a black summer dress, but adding the belt and the golden buttons and light colored shoes change the overall impression, isn´t it?

I love the outcome because I feel really comfortable, not too casual but not overdressed either and I also like thet the armhole bands offer cover for the shoulders without being sleeves!

I have another idea for this pattern – to use a more contrasting main fabric with black details again for a more striking look. Let´s see when I will get there because as you know, our hands unfortunately do not move as fast as our inspiration and thoughts!

Anyway, I am super thankful to Black Carrot to give me the opportunity to sew with these beautiful fabrics!

Until soon!

The Feathery Blouse

Hi!

If you follow my IG account, you have probably seen a glimpse of this already:

It´s a simple blouse, the pattern is from Burdastyle 11/2013, model 103.

As you can see, it is pretty straightforward, no careful fitting or special techniques required. The cuffs could be a bit wider because as they are now, I have to unbutton them every time I want to put on or take off the blouse. But of course being so narrow they create a beautiful bell shaped sleeve.

The sleeves actually have a dart on top of the shoulder and it is not obvious from the technical drawing. The construction is also interesting and simple at the same time because initially you only have to sew a part of the sleeve attachment seam and then close it with one continuous seam on top of the shoulder together with the shoulder seam.

Recently I am very much into this wine or bordeaux shade as the feather print of this fabric. It is polyester and I wish it was rather a mix of some natural fibre because of static electricity but still, could not not buy it when I saw it. I have a beautiful plain fabric in the same colour and I will make a pencil skirt to go with this top.

Speaking of pencil skirts, my husband made a comment when I was halfway done with the blouse and wasn´t sure if this wider cut and bell sleeves are really me. He said that “not everything has to be almost skin tight” 😀 He is right but for some reason I do feel kind of clumsy in wide clothes, especially wide sleeves and maybe this is also the reason why I am not really a fan of floor length dresses either. But pencil skirts… I have thought many times that one day, one day!… I will get an office job just to be able to really dress the way I like. Because I really do like pencil skirts 😀

Anyway, some close ups here as well:

I wear glasses for reading, driving and of course, sewing but normally not through the whole day. But for these photos I wore them for two reasons – they are new and they are the same bordeaux colour! I admit – my phone cover is in this shade as well! And did you notice the shoes? 😀

I used to wear high heels quite often when I lived in Athens because the lifestyle of a Southern European city was very different from my lifestyle now. Plus, in Estonia we normally don´t wear shoes indoors, so to be honest I don´t think I will ever wear the top as you see it with the red heels here. Once I make the skirt, yes, to a concert or a date night but with pants I guess it is going to look more like that in real life:

But those red shoes have leather soles and I just remembered a funny story related to them. We once went to a winetasting date with my then boyfriend (I actually think it was Beaujolais Nouveau Day in November) and totally forgot to think how are we going to get back home after all this tasting and drinking since we drove there but the celebration was in the middle of the week and yes, in this small town in the middle of a winter week you actually can´t get a taxi! And I was wearing my 10 cm heels with leather soles and it was half raining/half snowing outside….. So what did he do? He carried me on his shoulders all the way home, taking several breaks on the way. We had crazy fun and I guess even just this would have been enough to marry him, right?

Baby Sewing

Hi!

I wasn´t sure when writing my last post, whether I will make anything at all during this time, but as a surprise even to myself, I have made something I never thought I would make – a patchwork quilt blanket for our baby…..girl, if the doctors know what they are saying!

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The reason why I say that I surprised myself is that although I love sewing garments, I am not really an artsy-craftsy person at all. You know, some people love making knitted teapot warmers and stuff like that, I never did. I have made one patchwork quilt blanket before and that was in high school crafts class, because I had to.

This time I felt that it would be nice to make something for our baby and when I was looking for blanket ideas, I came across the Triangle Quilt Pattern by See Kate Sew. I loved the fresh looking colors (no florals!) and the triangle shape.

I discovered that it can be really hard to find at least 6 different cotton fabrics that would still match in a way to give a nice overall look to the blanket. Too many star motives and of course, too many florals! But I wanted my blanket to look modern!

So I ended up ordering all of the fabrics (and even the bias tape, because I could not find wide enough cotton tape in a suitable colour locally) from the huge Chinese webshop Aliexpress. I wasn´t really sure about the idea, but the fabrics arrived and were exactly what I had wanted – plain yellow, pink and black, zig-zag prints in yellow and pink and then pears in yellow and pink with black leaves.

I also bought a cutting mat (size A1) and rotary cutter and some batting for the project.

I used See Kate Sew´s tutorial for the triangle placement, although I had to make some adjustments, since I was using 7 different fabrics and she used 6. In order to understand better how the finished blanket would look like, I even used markers to color the scheme, using at first only 6 fabrics/colors/patterns and then carefully picking the triangles I would actually make in black. It was really handy during the sewing process and helped to achieve the “randomeness” effect.

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The finished measurements of the blanket are 115×125 cm and I am so pleased with the outcome, although of course there are errors, too – not all the triangles match precisely and also the quilting was a tough process – tugging the whole blanket through the sewing machine opening while trying to keep the stitches straight.

The idea is to use the blanket on the floor for playing, so I used somewhat thicker batting than I would have otherwise. The other side of the blanket is plain pink cotton and you may see that I did not quilt the blanket as triangles, but as rhombuses.

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When rolled up, it looks and feels so cosy that I would like to roll myself into it 🙂

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Besides the blanket, I have also made 2 pairs of footed baby pants using another free pattern, this time from Sew Much Ado.

The original pattern requires creating a casing for the elastic to be inserted, but I wanted to use ribbing… and of course forgot to lower the waistline and therefore I guess these pants will look quite ridiculously high-waisted on the baby.
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I was smarter the second time and really hope these will fit her. The bodysuit is ready-made, but because of the bright colors it has been hard to find matching pants. So I just made them myself!

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So this is it so far. Making baby clothes is not as much fun as making stuff for myself, but soon in will be just a matter of the size of the dress, so we´ll see. I am quite excited to think that I might be able to use some leftover fabrics to make her dresses that match mine!

Until soon!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stripes N´ Roses Top in London

Hi all!

It looks to me that its a current big thing to have embroidered roses or whatever other embroidered patches on clothes and when I finally decided to realize my idea of sewing an off-the-shoulder black and white striped top, I thought it would be a fun detail to add.

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The idea of such a top is so old that the fabric for it has been in my stash since I left Athens in 2012! In the meanwhile I have luckily bought a serger so I guess it was meant to be merely an idea for such a long time, as it is definitely a serger project!

The pattern is Simplicity 1613:

This time I cut size 10 as I definitely did not want this style to be too loose on me. As a result, it is somewhat tight over the waist and perfectly prevents me from eating too much 🙂

The top has a tunnel and elastic around the shoulders to keep things neat, but I made a mistake there by trying to outsmart the pattern designers – the trick is that the elastic has to be cut long enough to go around the shoulders but tight enough to stay up. It looked to me that the elastic was too long so I shortened it, but this makes the top pop up over the shoulder every time I lift my arms too high. So if you are making this top, cut the elastic exactly as long as the pattern says, then it will be perfectly loose enough not to do that and tight enough to stay put.

I have enough fabric for at least one more such top and it is quite likely that I will make another one since I love the style and I could make the second one fit better in that shoulder area.

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The embroidered rose patch is the iron-on type and I got if off Aliexpress for 0,95 $ and free shipping. The choice is immense, but I got lucky since mine is of excellent quality.

Now you may have noticed that these photos don´t look anything like Estonia and you are right – I had the privilege to take part in a work-related conference in London during the past week and one of my sweet colleagues agreed to snap the photos on our last morning there.

As usually, the time-table during such events is very tight, but there were a few free hours on one day and I took the chance to check out Berwick Street in Soho for some fabrics. There are quite a few shops on that street, starting with Misan Brothers, that offers a beautiful choice of high-end fabrics, up to the Cloth House that has an interesting range of fabrics from Japan. Since their price level was more affordable, this is were I made my purchase.

Misan shop:

The Cloth House:

I got a beautiful kimono-style crepe that has an amazing drape:

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I hope you are enjoying your summer!

The Swing Set

The month of December has literally rushed by and although I managed to finish a set of a skirt and top plus a dress, there hasn´t been enough time and daylight to take any decent photos of the projects.

I will show the first items first and it may easily happen that the dress will be revealed in January as I made it for a wedding and I would love to be able to post “official” photos, too.

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There are actually three items here – the skirt is given extra fluffiness with a petticoat underneath. Initially I wanted to make a one-piece dress, but I figured that the skirt part would weigh down the bodice and make the dress hang on me, so I went with two separate pieces.

The patterns I used were  Burda 4/2007 model 104 for the skirt, instructions from Burda Easy Fashion S/S 2009 for the petticoat and part of Very Easy Vogue V8992 for the top:

The fabric for the skirt is from the holiday trip to Greece and Athens in September and although I was worried about how it would behave while sewing, it was actually very easy. The skirt is not hemmed which was one of my concerns in the beginning as I was not sure how to finish it, but since surprisingly the fabric frays acceptably little so I didn´t need to finish it at all.

Since the tulle is too sheer despite the application, I needed to add a layer of lining underneath. In addition, there is the petticoat, so all the layers of the skirt make up a nice contrast of textures:

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The skirt swings  and twirls perfectly while dancing, but it gets quite warm due to the layering.

I wanted to achieve a sharp contrast between the soft powder shade of the feminine tulle skirt and the black somewhat masculine double breasted top with  lapels. I think the fabric I used from my stash was not the best choice for the top as it is quite heavy and drapey, so instead of a suit-like stiff look, it is softly draping on me and the weight of the fabric draws the whole top downwards. Possibly if I had cut a size zmaller instead of 38, there wouldn´t be an issue, because both the main fabric and the lining have stretch, therefore probably the top would have a better fit and less chance for draping.dscn0053

It is a pity, because the Vogue pattern, albeit looking simple, required quite some work (it is fully lined) and I like the result in terms of how good it looks on the inside as well as outside. I even considered getting some stiffer suiting fabric and remaking the top but knowing myself as I find it very boring to repeat the same pattern, it will probably not happen.

I changed to original dress pattern by chopping off the skirt part and simply hand-stitched the overlapping fronts both on inside and outside while joining all the layers together at the bottom with bias tape. In order to get the garment on and off, I added an invisible zipper to the left side seam.

Here are some close-ups as well:

Here you can see the waistband of the skirt, made of the same fabric as the top, and the petticoat:

I made the fabric part of the petticoat longer than suggested in the instructions, because the heavier tulle is quite scratchy and also because I did not want the puffiness to start too high up. In order to minimize the scratchiness, I used bias tape to finish the allowance at the joining seam.

I wore this set for the university ball in the beginning of the month and also for the annual Christmas party at work.

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Just to clarify, the above photos with the matching rose furniture are not taken at our new house, which is currently getting worse and worse as we tear down wallpaper, break through walls and crush old floors.

However, I can show a glimpse of my current sewing space which is historical in the sense that I finally have a sewing table, which is not used for anything else! Right now it is just a corner in the current bedroom, but the plan is to add a higher cutting table and shelves once we move on with the works.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and loved ones!

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The Ludovico Dress

Hi!

Some of you might recall that I am quite a fan of Ludovico Einaudi and that I have been to his concert in Kopenhagen a few years back.

I was totally impressed so when my friends told me that he will perform on May 6th as close as in Helsinki, I got the tickets within a few minutes already back in December. I also knew that I would make a dress for the occasion, but due to work and school, I was so delayed in my planning that I actually stayed up until 4 AM the previous night to finish it and then just an hour before the concert I still had to hand stitch a few things! However, I finished it!

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The pattern is model 130 from Burdastyle 9/2014.

The pattern is actually very simple, if you have ever sewn a boned bodice then it goes together really fast, especially since the skirt part is just two rectangular pieces gathere at the waist. The sizing of this pattern is also very precise, I only needed to take in slightly at the waistline.

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The lace details were a little more cumbersome as I didn´t use any binding, I just cut the seam allowance really narrow, turned it over and used a double needle to sew the armholes. This did not work for the neckline so the neckline is hand stitched.

The pattern calls for a button on one shoulder, but I didn´t see it necessary, so I omitted it. Also, contrary to my initial plan, I did not line the skirt, just the bodice. The seam allowances of the skirt are bias binded.

The fabric is from a trip to Stockholm and I am really glad that I got the opportunity to finally use it, since it simply had to become a fancy dress! The difficult part was to find matching lace, I was sure that I would have to end up either with a golden or purple one, but to my great surprise, there was a rather good match in khaki at the local shop!

The concert itself was as amazing as expected, however Kulttuuritalo in Helsinki cannot compete with Musikhuset of Copenhagen, the latter just adds so much to the whole experience with its remarkable modern architecture. But my friends who saw Ludovico Einaudi perform live for the first time commented that they would definitely go and see him again, so it still was a great evening!

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Burda Colourblock Dress II

Ever since finishing the first Burda Colourblock Dress, I have had various colour combinations on my mind for a second or even a third version of this pattern – Burda 02/2012, model 117b.

I have been and still continue to wear the first version very often and it is very likely that the new dress will be one of my favourites as well:

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As the pattern had been tested before, it was even easier and quicker to sew it up this time. The only time-consuming detail is changing the threads – when connecting different colour blocks, I use different colours of upper an lower thread accordingly.

The size I cut is the same as always for Burda patterns – size 38. The material is ponte knit – exactly the same quality and weight of fabric in different colours. I think this is also the most difficult part in colour blocking – finding the same fabric in different shades (and more than 2!) is not always easy.

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Isn´t it amazing how the shoes can change the whole look? I love high heels, but due to my work and lifestyle I cannot wear them as often as I would like to.

In March I will spend a short holiday in Paris with my mother and obviously the sportier look will be my choice. The edgy sneakers are from my trip to Portugal in September.

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I think the pattern contains endless options – in addition to playing with different colours, one could also combine the same colour but different textures or materials – say, black ponte knit and faux leather? This would also be a solution if the same fabric cannot be found in several colours, as I pointed out earlier.

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Still Life Top in Amsterdam

I spent the last few days of 2014 in Amsterdam, which was a totally impulsive decision but I love to take advantage of great flight deals whenever possible.

This short trip was all about wandering around the canal side streets and fabric shops, admiring van Gogh and struggling through the crowds at Rijksmuseum, so all in all, pretty perfect!

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Right before leaving for Amsterdam, I had managed to finish a simple top, which is another version of the Wavy Top I made back in the beginning of 2013, using the pattern from Burda Style September 2012, model 123A.

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Since it is allowed to take photos in Rijksmuseum, I thought the flower pattern of the front side of the top would be cool to get photographed with a still life with flowers in the background, but probably due to the end of the year and increased number of tourists in Amsterdam, the museum was so crowded that we just saw the highlights and taking photos was out of the question.

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The flower fabric is from my holiday trip to Portugal in September and the faux leather pieces on the shoulders are about the last leftovers from a 2-meter piece of wonderful feel and quality faux leather I got from Athens just shortly before leaving Greece in 2012. The rest of the material has been used on a dress, but since I made a mistake while sewing, it seems too much of trouble to start fixing it, so every time I´d rather pick a new project and the dress is currently in a dormant phase.

I actually used the facings on that top, as the pattern calls for. Just skipped the back slit once again, but sewing the neck hole facing with a tight zig-zag stitch gives a lot of extra stretch and more comfort while wearing the top compared to the bias tape method I used on the previous version.

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While in Amsterdam, one of the main attractions for me were the fabric shops, of course. I try to bring some fabric with me from every trip and of course I wanted a piece from Amsterdam as well. Thankfully it seems that most of the fabric shops in this lovable city are gathered at the biggest street market of Holland (as it is advertised), named after the Dutch painter Albert Cuyp – Albert Cuyp Markt.

You can find pretty much everything on that market and the fabric shops have set out only samples of their goods, just to lure you into the shops where the rest can be seen and bought.

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I think I must have been to six or seven fabric shops on that market, some selling also expensive silks and wools and some nothing really noteworthy.

In the end I only shopped at one of the stores, since they offered stretch lining at a very good price, plus I found a gorgeous beige/golden linen with a Giorgio Armani tag on it, for which I think I paid a bargain price.

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The most impressive thing about Amsterdam were the canal-side houses. I´d love to live in any of them, they look so cosy, especially at night. And definitely Amsterdam and Holland in general deserve a longer stay to explore more and deciding by the few days I spent there, I most probably will return. Besides, I didn´t make it to the famous Kantje Boord, which Cidell from Miss Celie´s Pants has written passionately about!

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