New Makes // 2 x SOI Ultimate Shift Top

Spring has definitely arrived to Provence which has given me a kick to get some sewing done for the new season! As you know, I purchased a while back the Sew Over It Ultimate Shift Dress pattern and made the dress version of it. I mentioned how I had quite a few fit issues with it as the UK size 12's top half was way too large and the bottom could hardly even accommodate my hips. Even after having made the necessary adjustments, I wasn't really convinced that the dress was the best fit for my shape. However, the pattern comes also with a few top options (both with or without sleeves) and I decided to give those a try. I made UK size 10 and turns out that's a perfect fit for me as long as I choose the shorter hem option.

You may recognise that dotted fabric from my last summer's post where I introduced you my three Orla dresses. Well, that top actually is (or was...) that dress! So, I did wear that dress several times during the summer but I noticed that the fabric just wouldn't stop stretching out and in the end it got so baggy I had to put it aside to take it in. I didn't touch it the whole rest of the summer and I spent the autumn and winter procrastinating about what I should do with it as I wasn't really even sure if I liked the shape and fabric anymore. After some pinteresting and roaming around instagram, I came to the conclusion I would just make it into a cropped SOI shift top and it turns out I like it very much! I feel like the print has a completely different vibe now and I even surprised myself about being fine with the short length.

I started this 3/4 sleeve version already back in November and bought the fabric in the same shop where they sold me that horribly low quality viscose which got ruined in the first wash. I was so nervous that this one would suffer the same fate, but luckily it survived the prewashing. Unfortunately it has got some defects of its own as you see in the close-up below. See those white vertical streaks on the arm? I didn't notice them until already at home, but obviously the fabric had folds at the time of printing. Oh well, in my opinion it doesn't look that bad and in a way it even looks like it's supposed to be like that.

I was a bit nervous about inserting the sleeves as I had so much trouble with doing it neatly with the Orlas back when I first started dressmaking. I don't know if it's my improved skills or higher quality of the pattern pieces, but it really wasn't hard this time around! The seams are all nice and smooth and I don't even have problems with tightness as many sewists reported feeling a bit restricted accross the chest and armpits.

The shift top has a keyhole opening at the back which is supposed to have a hook-and-eye closure. I had heard a few sewists stating they found it really unnecessary as it came undone all the time anyway and you could pull the dress or top easily over your head even without the keyhole. I'm not really a fan of hook-and-eye closures either so I was cotemplating all kinds of closures from ribbons to buttons but in the end just decided to close the top with a few stitches by hand. Simple et efficace and it really doesn't matter if it can be undone or not!

I must say I'm really satisfied with these makes and happy that I didn't purchase the shift dress pattern for nothing! It will be a great go-to for all kinds of tops as you can experiment with different hem and sleeve lengths, fabrics and prints.


Our Vacation in Dordogne: The Land of Painted Caves

Last week it was time for Q and I to leave for a much-awaited minivacation in Dordogne. What's there then? Well, this department located in the south-west France is famous for its numerous prehistoric painted caves. Having been deeply moved by our visit to the decorated cave of Pont d'Arc (one of the closest painted caves to us), the idea of passing a whole vacation visiting prehistoric painted caves and museums sounded just perfect. Even more so as I am also a big fan of Jean M. Untinen-Auel's Earth's Children series of novels which depict the characters' lives in Europe during the Upper Paleolithic era when Cro-magnons were still co-existing with Neanderthals. Although the books contain a fair share of fiction,  thanks to Auel's extensive research on the subject, you learn a lot about the climate, fauna, flora, clothes and tools the Cro-magnons used in their daily lives.

I'm talking about a minivacation as we only had two full days to explore around and in order to make the most out of it, we had already prepared an action plan well in advance. The drive from Provence to Dordogne is about 6 to 7 hours so it was clear the first day we weren't going to see any caves nor museums as we didn't want to ruin the experience by being too tired to appreciate anything. Mind you, for me the drive to the destination is also an enjoyable part of a vacation! This time also it was so interesting to see the landscape transform along the way and this is one of the amazing things about France: you can feel like you're abroad without having to cross any borders. Even houses look different from region to region and you can observe how the villages match the coloring of the local rocks and soil.

Anyway, we arrived to the city of PĂ©rigueux around 3 pm in the afternoon and decided that our evening's program would just consist of making a tour in the city and finding a nice restaurant. Dordogne is known for its foie gras and duck dishes and we were eager to discover the local cuisine, but to our disappointment we discovered that as we were traveling off-season, most restaurants were closed. However, after some 2 hours of stubbornly hunting down a decent restaurant serving traditional dishes on the streets of PĂ©rigueux, we gave up and headed to the commercial center to find just anything. Luckily the Universe had some pity on us and made us randomly discover an asian fast  food restaurant. They sure served us fast but everything was homemade and delicious! We returned to our hotel bellies full and thoroughly content with our first day of vacation.

The next morning we got up early for two reasons: to have enough time to fully enjoy the breakfast buffet (I love hotel breakfasts!) and to be sure to have a ticket to the cave of Font-de-Gaume. You see, our first full day was going to be dedicated to visiting decorated caves and Font-de-Gaume being one of the few ones of which you can actually visit the real cave and not a reconstitution, only a limited amount of people are allowed in per day. According to our research this particular cave is so popular that people arrive well before the opening of the ticket office as all tours of the day are sold in the morning. We weren't too worried though as February is not a high tourist season in Dordogne, but just to be sure we arrived 15 minutes before the opening. To our surprise there were already eight people waiting and we were numbers nine and ten which is the maximum for one group. Lucky!

Font-de-Gaume was discovered in 1901 and thanks to its high ceiling and sufficient air circulation, it has always been open to public although each visit is strictly only 30 minutes long and the number of visits per day is carefully regulated. The cave contains more than 200 paintings and engravings which date to the Magdalenian period (17 000 - 12 000 B.C). We were lucky to have a guide who was so excited to show us this  extraordinary piece of human history that you would have thought it was her very first time introducing it. I had already been moved by our visit to a reconstituted cave, but seeing the real deal was hard to even comprehend: these bisons, horses and mammoths were painted on these very walls by another human, just like me, over 10 000 years ago. The sun rose and set, they experienced the passing of the days just like we do now. By thinking thoughts like these, I tried to comprehend the full meaning of where I was and of the painted prehistoric animals in front of my very eyes. When we emerged back into sunlight, I felt as if in those short 30 minutes my mind had expanded and I had completely detached from my usual little worries.

After Font-de-Gaume, next up was the reconstitution of the Lascaux Cave which is amongst some of world's most famous prehistoric sites. The cave was discovered in 1940 by a local teenager when his dog fell in a hole which turned out to be an entrance into a long hidden masterpiece of ancient artists. The cave walls and ceiling have in total over 600 paintings which are believed to have been made during the early Magdalenian period (around 17 000 years ago). It used to be possible for tourists to visit the actual cave, but after some time the scientists noticed how the human presence had started to change the cave environment which manifested itself by the apparition of lichens and crystals on the walls (covering the precious paintings). As an attempt to prevent further damages, it was closed to public in 1963 and to this day scientists need to enter the cave every two weeks in order to maintain its walls clear from any unwanted growth.

These days you will hear people talk of Lascaux II and Lascaux IV which are the two existing replicas of the original cave. Lascaux II was constructed right above the original and opened its doors to the public in 1983. There you can see the paintings in the light of a real torch which is the way they were originally intended to be seen. The flickering flame is said to add dimension and movement to the paintings. In the other hand, while Lascaux II's accuracy as a replica is measured in millimeters, Lascaux IV (opened in 2016) takes precision even further with the help of modern technology and inside the replica the atmosphere is very close to that of a real cave.

The choice wasn't easy but in the end we decided to go with Lascaux IV even if the 20 euro entrance fee felt especially salty. We were even sceptical about the use of touchpads during the visit (we are such fossils), but having read tons of good things on the place, we decided to give it a chance. Well, the visit of the replica was wonderful but what really blew me away was how much I learned during the whole experience. You see, after the guided cave visit we entered "The Atelier" where we could rediscover each painting and craving with the help of our personal touchpad and headset which would give further explications on each piece. There was also a bunch of short videos to watch on topics such as the different techniques and colours used by the prehistoric men. All in all, the use of pad and headset allowed me to absorb much more information than I would have otherwise and I felt my brain tingle with happiness to learn so many new things. The modern, airy architecture of the 8 000 sq m building has a calming effect and once finished with the visit I felt as if I had just went to spa, an amusement park and a most interesting lecture all at once.

Our last full day was dedicated to exploring the medieval town of Sarlat and some of the numerous castles around. As we were traveling off-season, it wasn't possible to have guided visits for the castles that would have interested us the most so we decided it would be enough to just admire a few from the outside. We spent most of the morning crisscrossing the streets of Sarlat's medieval town which, although beautiful, proved to be smaller than we had thought so we decided to prolong the visit by finding a good pastry shop and tasting whatever specialties they have of the region. After this we set off on our quest to find a castle with a pretty simple game plan: pick whichever we come across on our way back to the hotel. And it worked! We followed the first indications we came across and found not only one but two castles which looked like a movie setting from The Lord of the Rings. Although the view was already majestic from the outside, we decided to come back and visit the interior sometime in the future.

There's so much to see in the Dordogne region, but on the fourth day, after enjoying for the last time that epic buffet breakfast, it was time to head home. Although I would gladly spend weeks exploring painted caves and medieval castles, I wasn't that sorry to have to return as the short time we had had already fulfilled all our expectations. Until the next time, Dordogne!

What is your favorite kind of vacation? Do you like history or is modern cities and shopping more your thing?

P.S. The urban photos are from the town of Sarlat.


50 Random Facts About Me

Hi there!

January has been quiet here on the blog but I'm back and thought it would be nice to start the year by sharing a bit more about myself. Here's 50 random facts about me!

1. I'm 27 years old.

2. My middle name is Tuulikki after my mother's mother. The name comes from the word tuuli which  means wind. In the Finnish national epic, Kalevala, Tuulikki is a forest goddess.

3. My favorite number is 5.

4. I have met only one of my grandparents.

5. Growing up, my family had an icelandic sheepdog called Pyry (blizzard).

6. I'm a middle child.

7.  After Finnish, Japanese is my favorite language.

8. I have always been drawn to arts, but I stopped practicing drawing at the age of 15 as I thought of it as an useless skill.

9. I made my first website at the age of 11. It was a personal blog where I shared my "deep and dark teenage thoughts".

10. Amadeus is my favorite movie since already 10 years. My husband and I never watch it without a good bottle of wine and snacks.

11. I have lived one year in Japan at the age of 17.

12. I own a full Japanese archery equipment.

13. I dislike team sports and have never felt comfortable in a sports club apart from my Japanese high school's Kyudo club.

14. I know in 2 seconds if I like a person or not.

15. I don't idolize anyone.

16. My favorite bands are Haloo Helsinki! and Nightwish.

17. I have a strict moral code but I have no idea where that comes from.

18. I'm definitely a cat person. Dogs make me uneasy with their excitement.

19. I can't whistle.

20. I have green eyes.

21. I can still remember some of the scary dreams I had as a kid.

22. I don't believe in ghosts but I have maybe seen one.

23. I believe in love at first meeting.

24. I'm a Taurus and behave accordingly once angered.

25. Small talk is one of the most boring things I know. I need real content.

26. I never believed in Santa but had fun playing along anyway.

27. I'm a fan of anime and manga. My favorite series is Hunter x Hunter.

28. When I was a kid, I used to steal brown sugar from the kitchen and eat it secretly under my bed.

29. I run on coffee.

30. Sometimes when people are on their phones in social settings, I feel like grapping their device and throwing it "there where the pepper grows" as we say in Finnish. Have never done that though as I'm not rich enough to pay anyone a new phone.

31. I'm currently reading Anna Karenina.

32. I used to be a safari guide in Lapland.

33. I would name my daughter Aino and son Viktor.

34. I usually eat porridge with some coconut oil mixed in for breakfast.

35. I met my husband at the age of 22.

36. I wish I was more skilled socially but I also kind of like being an awkward weirdo.

37. In people I value originality, kindness and loyalty.

38. I curse a lot.

39. My biggest shock growing up was realising that most people are easily corrupted.

40. Countries I want to travel to: Slovenia, Scotland, Iceland, Japan.

41. I haven't dyed my hair in three years.

42. I learnt to crochet, knit and sew in elementary school.

43. I dislike shallowness.

44. I got my love of travel from my parents.

45. As a teenager I would spend nights watching my favorite anime series.

46. I learned my English from anime subtitles. 

47. I love everything caramel.

48. I space out constantly. This makes it sometimes hard to focus on precise practical tasks.

49. I can't sing. At all.

50. One of my life missions is to have waist length hair, but I always end up cutting it.


I find this kind of posts really entertaining so I hope you enjoyed my version of this "challenge". Being the curious person I am, I would like you to share five random things about yourself in the comments below!