This past summer, I had the incredible pleasure of visiting our exchange student, Reinhilde, in France and Belgium! Reinhilde spent the 2012-2013 school year with us and truly became part of our family. This fun, adventurous young woman has returned several times to visit us over the years, and it was high time one of us went to visit her! She and her family were so hospitable and made sure I had an unforgettable time! I spent eight days there and loved every single minute of it, even the ones I spent regretting climbing the Arc de Triomphe in high-heeled espadrilles!
Choosing a wardrobe for the trip was oh-so-fun and a little stressful, because I didn’t have a huge clothing budget and, judging from the photos I’d seen, Europeans seemed to be much better dressed than Americans. Finally, I decided not to worry about it and just wear things I felt most attractive in. I did buy a couple outfits for the trip, but mostly went with what I had. I must not have looked too out of place there, because a German couple asked me for directions and several people spoke to me in French, before my horrible pronunciation informed them I was an American.
I’d love to write and write and write about all the fun things we saw and did, but I just don’t have time (or space for all the photos), so I’m going to just focus on the clothes I made.
The insanely photogenic Reinhilde even agreed to model a dress I made for her. So, without further ado, the pictures!
I made this top from the Sis Boom “Devon” pattern, in Sis Boom’s “Rachel” print from the Color Brigade line. (Here I must pause to brag–Jennifer Paganelli often names fabric after her fans, and this gorgeous floral is named after me!). The top is so cute and comfy, I wore it all over Paris–to The Louvre, Eiffel Tower (much higher than I realized), Napolean’s tomb, and more–and on my last evening in Brussels. Here’s a picture of Reinhilde in front of the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t make her outfit, but I just love this picture of her and had to share it:
I also wore this blue tunic during my travels. It’s made from soft voile using Sis Boom’s Patricia Tunic pattern. I ended up wearing a scarf over it the whole time, because I got a grease stain on it while (perhaps too enthusiastically) enjoying French cuisine. Here I am my last evening in Paris, in front of the Eiffel Tower (again) and the Notre Dame. I was crushed that the cathedral had closed before I got there and I couldn’t go inside! I had really wanted to see those famous gargoyles.
Here I am in front of Castle Gravensteen in Ghent and with Reinhilde in Bruges. I picked up that pretty blue and white scarf while shopping on the Champs-Élysées.
And here’s a picture of Reinhilde with her sweet and lovely mom, Simonne. The Laans were so hospitable! Reinhilde majored in tourism in college and was the perfect travel buddy. Simonne joined us for the last three days and was a lot of fun to see the Flanders region of Belgium with her!
It’s hard to pick a favorite day, because every day was absolutely magical, but the place I most enjoyed visiting was Versailles. I’m interested in French history, particularly the Revolution. It was enthralling to see first-hand the excessive opulence of the kings and queens, especially the tragic and beautiful Marie Antoinette.
I wore a sundress I had made earlier that summer from Violette Fields Threads Ginger pattern. I had to do a bit of finagling to get that pattern to fit me, but I really like the end results. I used the same “Rachel” fabric as I did in the peasant top.
Okay, so the above picture was taken in my yard, not at Versailles, but I like the way it turned out better than the ones taken in France, so pardon my vanity! Here I am waiting in front of the Arc du Triomphe for the bus to take us to Versailles, and here I am in front of Versailles. Holy monkey, but the palace and its grounds were breathtaking!
I made Reinhilde a dress from Sis Boom’s Jenny pattern. I love the way it turned out, even though Reinhilde had dropped a couple dress sizes since I last measured her and she had to wear a belt. The fabric is from Sis Boom’s latest line, Hotel Frederiksted. I just love the blue! Someone commented “Tres jolie”on Reinhilde’s dress (which means “very pretty/sweet”) as she passed, and another person told me the fabric of my dress fit in perfectly with the surroundings. I would call that a sewing win!
I swear this beautiful Belgian should take up modeling!
It was the trip of a lifetime, and I feel so blessed that I got to see some of Belgium and France with one of my favorite people!