sewing a summer skirt

Finding the right skirt is tricky – too short, too long, too sheer, too stiff, the list goes on and on. Discovering a perfect ready-to-wear skirt is like winning the jackpot for me. I like my skirts flowy but not frumpy (see my Pinterest board for what I mean)

handmade clothing: jersey skirt | little home by hand blog

Not suprisingly I decided that this summer I was going to make a few jersey skirts for myself. Jersey is such a great material to work with once you’ve gotten to know your serger.
This skirt is based off the Colette Moneta Dress pattern with a self-drafted rectangular waistband. The fabric is a medium weight jersey, the same one I used for my green Moneta dress.

You can always just use a rectangular piece of jersey too – just sew both pieces together, gather at the waist (I used elastic) and attach a waistband the way you would attach a neckband or cuffs on a regular jersey top (the Grainline Linden pattern has good instructions for this).
handmade clothing: jersey skirt | little home by hand blog
Voilà, a drapey skirt with just the right length. The waistband is a tiny bit too big but it doesn’t bother me enough to take it apart again.

Also sporting my new handbag in this picture – every time I am in Italy I end up buying a leather handbag at Avorio, whose factory is just down the road from my friends’. I only own three handbags total (keeping it simple – one for summer, one for winter and a big one), all of them from this same italian brand. In that way I am probably the least girly girl ever – using more than one handbag at a time just seems like a lot of hassle to me. Who wants to keep moving all their stuff from one bag to the next every day? Anyone else following a strict one bag policy?

travelling europe: le marche in italy, four days in june

“I feel at home right from the moment I step out of the plane into baking heat and sunshine. This region of Italy holds so many childhood memories, fuzzy with age. The smell of pine trees and sunscreen. It’s like visiting a place you used to live in, familiar and strange at the same time, a tugging at the spider web of memories. The places have moved on but your memory of them hasn’t.

I am travelling with my dad, to stay at my friend’s home and it feels like a last vestige of childhood – tagging along, everything taken care of and organized, no obligation attached except that to enjoy myself.

I am enjoying the heck out of myself. I’m soaking up every minute, storing it carefully in my mind for future reference and just swim along with the rhythm of the days. Perfectionist me is on a break.

This is partly due to the fact that my Italian is decidedly rusty and I can’t carry lengthy conversations anyway (oh, who am I kidding, make that any conversation at all). In a region not much frequented by foreign tourists my timid “Parla l’inglese?” is without fail met with a friendly but firm shake of the head, no. As a result my vocabulary in sign language expands vastly in just a few days while I stumble through my sparse Italian.”

travelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blog

“As always the food is simply amazing. Every time I come here I’m shocked by how good it is. I think it comes down to the fact that Italians just adore good food. During dinner on our first evening, enjoying a gentle breeze on the terrazza, revelling in the goodness laid out before us, the main topic of conversation is where we’ll eat in the next few days (at home or at a restaurant). Once that is settled we move on to what exactly we’ll eat and (if made at home) how we’ll go about preparing the ingredients. The discussion takes hours.

The food is always simple – meat salted and roasted, tomatoes sliced and drizzled with olive oil, a chunk of parmesan cheese, zucchini and eggplant thinly sliced and roasted with a crust of breadcrumbs. It’s a revelation.”

travelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blog
travelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blog

“We stroll through ancient hilltop villages, eat well, drink a lot of white wine and just enjoy the heat, the sea air and the rhythm of Italian life (Coffee and brioche for breaktfast, pasta for lunch and a long, lazy family dinner stretching well into the evening hours).

Four days pass quickly but instead of trying to hang on to them with regret as long as possible I decide that it’s ok. I feel at peace and deeply grateful for these moments in time and cherish their memory.”

Italy makes me sentimental.

travelling italy | little home by hand blog19travelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blogtravelling italy | little home by hand blog

Instead of my usual narrative I decided to copy a few ramblings from my diary for you. I don’t often write diary entries but had some alone time while in Italy and felt compelled to take these notes.

For a soundtrack to these images have a listen to:
A Piedi Nudi – Collage
E Tu – Claudio Baglioni
Due Raggazi Nel Sole – Collage

Simple summer Pasta recipe

  • Cook pasta al dente
  • Mix cherry tomatoes, tuna from the can, fresh parsley and olives (optional) with olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste
  • Mix hot pasta with cold ingredients and enjoy

more linden sweatshirts

My new favourite pattern might just be anything Jen from Grainline designs! My love affair with jersey is in full swing and after the success of my first Linden sweatshirt I just had to make a couple more!

This white jersey (viscose mix?) had been in my stash for years. Silky soft, drapey and just a joy to wear, this makes me feel like a hundred bucks instead of like I’m wearing a sweatshirt!

Grainline Linden Sweatshirt | little home by hand blog

Unfortunately white fabric photographs really badly. There is an issue with bubbly seams at both neck and hemline (anyone know how to avoid this?) but nevertheless I find myself reaching for this sweater constantly. Quite possibly the most wearable item I have ever made!

Grainline Linden Sweatshirt | little home by hand blog

My third Linden is made with a dense cotton jersey in a nondescript oatmeal color. Because it doesn’t drape as nicely I had categorized this as a near failure. Actually photographing it made me realize I really like it on me! It’s definitely less dressy and less ‘wear to work’ than the white version but I’ll quite possibly grow to love it for casual wear.

Grainline Linden Sweatshirt | little home by hand blog
Grainline Linden Sweatshirt | little home by hand blog
Grainline Linden Sweatshirt | little home by hand blog

Ironing – who invented it and why do we need to do it all the time?

Oh, a question – do you all hang or fold your tops and sweaters? I used to fold everything except dresses, cardigans and dressy shirts but I’ve recently tried to hang my sweaters to prevent wrinkles. Marie Kondo says you should listen to your clothes and they’ll tell you how they want to be treated and stored but I seem to have a bit of a communication problem going on with my Lindens.

Interestingly in combination of trying to live minimalistically and developing a capsule wardrobe I am edging closer to a signature look with lots of navy blue, white or cream colored tops and a generally loose and drapey fit. It’s a fascinating journey (well, if you are interested in clothes at all) and a work in progress.

What’s next? A Hemlock tee and a summer skirt – already sewn and photographed, to be blogged soon! Also, a jersey dress, another skirt and a Morris blazer in the to be made queue.

What are you sewing at the moment?

may flowers and a little inspiration

May is one of my favourite seasons for hiking – nature is showing its lushest and greenest side, the moderate temperatures are perfect for spending many hours outdoors and my pollen allergy has yet to realize it’s time to start acting up again.

Hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.

We enjoyed a beautiful and rather tough hike in the Eifel National park again last weekend (this one to be precise). Being out in nature always restores my peace of mind but there is something exhilarating about completing a challenging hike.

Hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.Hiking in Germany. little home by hand blog.

Germany can be so beautiful. Discovering new areas and little gems like this medieval town (which was the start and end point of our hike) is a joy.

I have not been particularly active online lately but I quietly read a lot so here are a few things I  want to share with you:

Making

  • Have you seen Melody‘s new knitting pattern, the Blóm Shawl? So beautiful!
  • Swooning over the gorgeous naturally dyed yarns Liesl added to her shop recently

Minimalism and living

I have been thinking of the clothes I wear quite a lot recently, partly triggered by getting back into sewing, partly because I am constantly purging and trying to reduce the amount of stuff I own.

I recently read Marie Kondo’s famous decluttering book and loved it. For someone who is intent on owning as little as possible she has a very deep emotional relationship with the stuff she does decide to keep. Her approach of ‘keep only what sparks joy’ has impacted the way I look at my things much more than the regular, rational ‘rules’ of decluttering. I dream of owning only what I need and truly love. How wonderful is the idea to come home to a space where every item in it brings you joy?

Some inspiring articles on the interwebs about clothing and minimalism:

  • Growing a minimalist wardrobe. This post on one of my favorite blogs ‘Reading my Tea Leaves’ really resonated with me. Why not wear clothes you love to pieces every day instead of having a closet full of things you are only mildly interested in?
  • 10 Step Wardrobe Revamp. I have yet to work through this but it looks very interesting!

Reading

  • ‘Wild’ by Cheryl Strayed – touching and inspiring read!
  • The Moral Bucket list or How to become a better person – digesting this article will take me a while and a few re-reads
  • 5 Reasons Why People Need To Go Camping. Yes, yes and yes. This mostly applies to travelling in general as well. “We need to breathe new air, walk on new ground, and feel the awe of seeing something we’d only seen in books, or not at all.”

How has May been treating you? Getting a regular dose of fresh air?

travelling europe: england

Why do we love to travel?

For me, travelling is a way to reconnect with myself, to soak up new experiences, sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and to escape the buysiness and frenzy of everyday life.

Even though travelling can be very tiring physically it always leaves me feeling refreshed mentally. A couple of days in different surroundings and I feel my creativity stirring, ideas popping into my head, senses sharpening.

That’s why I like to take a few days off now and then, visiting friends who live elsewhere or just escaping for an extended weekend by the sea. I had long been meaning to visit my friend K again who lives in Chesham, London, with her british husband and their small son. Two weeks ago  J and I set out bright and early on Monday morning to catch the ferry to Dover. I love 5am starts – no, really! At  5am I am wide awake and excited to be going on an adventure (I then proceed to drop dead by 9pm every evening).

Once arrived we spent the days wandering Chesham, discovering nearby parks and estates and enjoying an english spring (bluebell season!).

Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.One of many advantages of staying with locals is that they know the best places to eat or order take-out. We had thai and indian cuisine for the first time and it was sooo good. Anyone know a great recipe for Naan bread?

Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.We lucked out with the weather and strolled through Ashridge and Cliveden in bright, ‘warming-the-soul-after-winter’ sunshine.

For our last night in England we headed down to Eastbourne, wanting to see the cliffs and lighthouse at Beachy Head and just to enjoy a whiff of sea air on the pier. We walked around the cliff top for hours, had a great dinner at Old Dave’s and dropped into bed exhausted at the fantastic Bay Tree Guesthouse (highly recommended, the place and owners are lovely).

Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.
Travelling England | little home by hand blog.
On the way back to Dover we took our sweet time and visited Scotney Castle which is actually a manor house plus a medieval castle plus a gorgeous garden – fantastic stop for a cloudy day!
Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.The real Downton Abbey?

Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.Travelling England | little home by hand blog.A magical garden landscape and a real feast for the eyes. No wonder I felt refreshed and bursting with creativity after strolling through this! I have a strange relationship with travel – afterwards I always need a couple of quiet days to rest and let my mind work through the experiences and at the same time it leaves me feeling energised.

Does it feel the same for you? Does travel energise or exhaust you, make you feel excited or uncomfortable?

late to the game – my linden sweatshirt

Last! When it comes to sewing patterns I always seem to be late to the game – which is why I only now made my first Linden Sweatshirt.

Maybe I just needed to see everyone else’s first (see Ingrid’s gorgeous Lindens) and read them raving about this fantastic pattern before working up the courage to cut into this lovely striped jersey.

Linden sweatshirt. little home by hand blogLinden sweatshirt. little home by hand blogLinden sweatshirt. little home by hand blog

Sewing with jersey used to be one of those things I was always in awe of and it took me a long time to try it. Now it’s pretty much my favourite thing ever!! So easy and quick and when I’m not in the process of threading it I adore my serger!

Linden sweatshirt. little home by hand blogLinden sweatshirt. little home by hand blogLinden sweatshirt. little home by hand blog

Now for the pattern: Wow! I love how easy and slouchy and yet elegant this is! I was worried it would look too much like loungewear but it turned out totally wearable and easy to style up with a long necklace and a cardigan (by the way, I have basically been living in that H&M cashmere cardi and scarf all winter – best buys ever).

This pattern works great with stripes or solid colors and is one of those items that gets much wear in my wardrobe. Definitely a keeper! I’ve already worn it a lot and have two more simple Lindens in mind – you know that stage in making where you daydream about a project all day? Sweet :)

Have you made a Linden sweatshirt yet? Leave me a link in the comments, I’d love to see them!

the last of winter and some socks

knitting socks. little home by hand

Finally finished and what gratifying little project a pair of socks is! Easy to take up whenever there is time and need for some mindless stockinette (there is always need for mindless stockinette) and you get a highly wearable everday item out of it.

The yarn is Madeline Tosh in the colour ‘dusk’. My love affair with Madeline Tosh started years ago and it is still my all-time favourite sock yarn.

knitting socks. little home by hand

I see all those lovely sock patterns about but I confess I have never knit socks from a pattern. Having learned to knit socks at age 12 or 13 my socks are always plain stockinette, made to fit by trying them on in between and gauging the right time to start the heel or the toe. No counting, no need to remember anything. Mindless knitting at its best.

Knitting is meditative, I’ve written about it often enough but if you trust numbers more have a look at this survey on how knitting helps fight depression. Right now I’m working on a Henny hat, one of Liesl’s gorgeous patterns. Check out her lovely new shop!

I cannot imagine a more perfect winter evening than sitting by a stove and knitting accompanied to the sounds of crackling wood. Sigh. Still working on the wood stove part, getting my fix digitally until then right here (fire with a touch of thunder is perfect!).

beautiful winter scenes. little home by handbeautiful winter scenes. little home by handbeautiful winter scenes. little home by hand

Speaking of winter evenings – we have had terrible weather for the last few days and I haven’t been able to go hiking once in the past few weeks! Cold, stormy and rainy, winter is really reluctant to give up this year. I kind of adore the colors in this weather though and did manage some outdoor time with the pony on Sunday. What’s a little drizzle in a good rain coat, right?

I’ve been quite busy recently with photoshoots and trying to catch up on blogging them. Check out this maternity session with an adorable couple (seriously, they were so much fun) and some more photoshoots on my photo blog.

There’s been some sewing and some spring gardening going which I’m looking forward to sharing soon. What have you been doing? Still deep in the cozy winter quietness or already up and busy preparing for the warmer season?

beautiful winter scenes. little home by hand

changing the way you eat – step by step

Many of you mentioned your interest in a post on my recipe book and how J and I try to change our eating habits. Here it is!
How to change your eating habits. Make your own recipe book. little home by hand blog
How do you approach a change in your eating habits? It comes down to education, motivation and planning.

I educated myself by taking a day off work to do research on what certain foods do to the body to understand why they are harmful.
Motivation comes in lots of forms. For me it’s often an inspiring blog post, a ted talk or a movie. I recently watched the documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and highly recommend it (it’s on Netflix but you can find it on Youtube too).

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

What I struggled with when I already knew what I should be doing and very much wanted to be doing it was how to actually approach it and incorporate a healthy eating routine into daily life. I needed a plan.

Here’s where the recipe book comes in. I had a Pinterest board chock full of recipes and several cook books I never opened – I needed something else.
So I sat down (once again) to a day of serious work and compiled a list of recipes that met the following criteria:

  • Easy to prepare: no hours of slaving in the kitchen, ideally a recipe with very few steps in preparation
  • Few ingredients: I wanted to make shopping easier and have recipes that didn’t call for exotic ingredients that needed to be specially bought only to get shoved to the back of a cupboard and forgotten afterwards
  • Healthy: based on my research this means a meal from scratch including lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grain spelt flour instead of white flour, healthy grains like quinoa or millet and of course sugar free
  • Seasonal: whenever possible I want to cook in keeping with the seasons using regional produce

I chose both recipes we already knew and liked and new recipes that fit the criteria and which I  wanted to try out.

How to change your eating habits. Make your own recipe book. little home by hand blog

Divided into categories (Veggies, salads, meat, fish, pasta, soup and so on) each section only has about five recipes in it to prevent us getting overwhelmed by choices. Each recipe got its own page (I did it in PowerPoint but you can make a word document as well, whatever you like working with) with the same format and  a picture (because I’m a perfectionist at heart). Our very own recipe book got printed onto cardboard paper and filed away neatly in a folder. We have a mix of german and english language recipes in there (not that much of a perfectionist after all).

Every week before grocery shopping we pull out the book, pick a recipe for each day we need to cook dinner (we usually eat at work during the week so we cook a maximum of three meals – Friday, Saturday, Sunday – each week) and make a shopping list. Having a plan and having all ingredients at hand motivates us to actually cook the recipes and that simple routine forces us to “go through with it”.

So far we’ve added several easy recipes to our repertoire and feel much more empowered and able to cook and eat well. Something we make almost weekly now is a simple dish of oven roasted veggies (usually zucchini, fennel and peppers). I also love this Mexican quinoa pan and this kale quinoa bowl – soo good.

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

Now, why are there pictures of green smoothies all over this post? For one, pictures of just the recipe book would bore you out of your mind (and since most of the photos in there aren’t mine I can’t show them on here anyway).

The much more important reason is that in the last three weeks I have drastically changed my eating habits yet again. It’s all the fault of Joe Cross and his documentary “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead”. I’ve wanted to try green smoothies for a long time and the documentary was the last, determined shove in the right direction.

I am now making a green smoothie every day before work and drink it for breakfast. It tastes suprisingly awesome! Contrary to what I expected I have actually come to crave it each morning – obviously my body’s way of saying ‘give it here, I need it’. I do harbor a small hope that it will help with my back pain too – we’ll see.

Note that I am not doing a reboot or trying to lose weight, I do it solely for health purposes and eat a normal lunch (usually a small plate of warm food and a large salad at work).

How to change your eating habits. Green smoothies for breakfast. little home by hand blog

Recipe? Sure!

Makes about 1 litre (4 cups):

  • 2 cups greens (kale, spinach, salad greens, lamb’s lettuce…)
  • 2 cups water or milk (I use oat milk which is really yummy)
  • 3 cups fruits and berries (I’ve tried apples, bananas, pears, oranges and blueberries so far)
  • Optional: a small teaspoon of pure almond butter and a tablespoon of linseed oil (I add both)

Blend well and drink fresh within a day or two. I use the blender on my ancient food processor and it works just fine. You really don’t need fancy new equipment!

Fruits and greens I buy at an organic farm once a week and freeze portions of greens for the week. That way it only takes me a few minutes every morning to prepare the smoothie and it’s always fresh and slightly chilled. You could also prepare and freeze all ingredients beforehand! With spring upon us and gardening on my mind I am already looking forward to growing my own greens instead of buying them this summer!

It takes me quite a while to drink the smoothie so I usually take it to work in my beloved Equa bottle (nope, not getting paid to mention it, but hey Equa if you want to send free bottles my way feel free ;) ). We also got a water filter recently so we’ll not ever buy bottled water again. Saving the world one bottle at a time and all that.

Have you tried green smoothies yourself? What are your experiences and recommendations? Have your own recipe books and want to recommend an easy, healthy recipe? Let me know!

the gift of giving – a giveaway and a sneak peek

There is great joy in giving and I find this strange blog world full of kind and generous people. Vibeke from the blog ‘A butterfly in my hair‘ is someone who constantly impresses me with her positivity and determination to find beauty in everyday life. She has a special birthday coming up this month and is hosting a whole month of giving to others in celebration! Head over to her blog to ‘meet’ all of the lovely and talented ladies participating in her month of giving.

The joy of giving. fotografiekoehler.etsy.com

I was honored to take part and get the chance to reflect on what the greatest gifts in my life have been through a little interview. I encourage you to do the same. Start your day by thinking of gifts you have been given in life and you will find yourself smiling all day.

Read my interview here on Vibeke’s blog and comment on that post for a chance to win a print from my shop. (Please head over to Vibeke’s blog for commenting, comments on this post here don’t count for the giveaway ;) )

Beautiful Scotland - sneak peek. fotografiekoehler.etsy.comBeautiful Scotland - sneak peek. fotografiekoehler.etsy.comBeautiful Scotland - sneak peek. fotografiekoehler.etsy.com

I couldn’t close this post without adding some more images right?

Hope you like the little sneak peek at new Scotland prints I am working on – to be added to the shop very soon!

 

 

exploring germany: luebeck

In February I travelled to the north of Germany to spend two days in the city of Lübeck.
Travelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blogTravelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blog
The main reason for going was to see a specialist for my back problem and I was sufficiently desperate to undertake a 6-hour-trip across the country to see him. I had never been to Lübeck before and had no idea what to expect of the city.
Cue big surprise when I found it to be one of the most charming cities I have ever visited!
Travelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blogTravelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blog
Lübeck is one of those rare cities largely untouched by World War II bombings so most of the buildings and streets are historical, century old reminders of the glorious and prosperous times of the Hanseatic League.
Travelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blogTravelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blogTravelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blog
In between treatments my mom (who had accompanied me) and I strolled the city center and surrounding streets, treated ourselved to delicious marzipan cake at the historical Café Niederegger and marvelled at the majestic and often seriously crooked old housefronts.
Travelling Europe: Luebeck. little home by hand blog
Lübeck charmed us when we didn’t expect it and it reminded me that there is so much of my own country I haven’t yet seen!

What city surprised or captivated you the most? Let me know!