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Completed: Vogue 1395, Modified!

3 Jun

I reckon I have time for one last post before I leave! :P

Plaid Silk V1395

May this dress be forever known as one of the bitchiest I’ve ever sewn. Sewing silk crepe is a challenge enough of it’s own – but throwing plaid into the mix? I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought this fabric (probably something like, “Ooh! Plaid silk crepe! My favorites! lololol”), but the fact that I not only sewed it up but actually finished the dang project is something of a miracle for me. It certainly didn’t give me an easy time.

Plaid Silk V1395

The pattern I used is Vogue 1395, which is a Rebecca Taylor design from last summer. I’ve made the pattern before in cherry printed silk crepe, and it’s one of my favorite summer dresses. It’s SUPER comfy, but still pretty cute! I knew I wanted to make a second one, but I wanted to try to figure out a way to make it without the back overlay. I love the back overlay, but it can shift over the course of the day and kind of make the arm holes hang weird. Plus, I wanted to improve on my first version (namely, the low arm holes that had to be emergency-raised and thus the seams are pretty wonky).

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

First, my pattern modifications. Remembering those awful armholes, I shortened the depth by a good 1.5″ or so. I actually wanted to shorten them more, but I was afraid I’d really fuck up the pattern, so I erred on the side of less. This gives the arm holes a much better depth (much more suited to my petite proportions), although you can still see a tiny bit of bra if I move a certain way. Ah, c’est la vie.

I kept the front bodice the same (other than the arm holes). I re-traced the back bodice and copied the shoulder width from the overlay to the shoulder area of my new back bodice (the OG back bodice in the pattern has narrow shoulders, and the overlay matches the front piece. This probably doesn’t make sense if you haven’t seen the pattern pieces). I redrew the bottom armscye to have a little curve, similar to the front (the overlay also doesn’t have that – it just goes straight, since it’s supposed to pull across to the front). Aaaaand that’s about it! Pretty easy modifications.

Plaid Silk V1395

Sewing up the actual pattern – again, with modifications, since I was omitting the overlay, as well as the skirt lining – was simple. Sewed the front and back together at the shoulders and side seams, added the bias binding for the necklines and arm holes, and then sewed the front closed. I sewed the skirt side seams, attached the skirt to the bodice, and then folded up the seam allowance and topstitched it down to create a casing for the elastic waist. The skirt has a simple rolled hem, and all the interior seams are french seams. Because of the bias binding, there’s quite a bit of topstitching on this dress, which I really like.

Sewing – and cutting, for that matter – silk crepe actually isn’t that difficult. Of course, it’s marginally harder than sewing, say, quilting cotton, but it’s not this terrible beast that you have to wrangle and beg and plead with. The spongey texture of the crepe gives the silk something to grab onto, so it doesn’t really shift much while sewing. It can be a little floaty when you’re trying to cut it, but I just make sure my table has enough space to hold the whole yardage and that helps a lot. You’ll want to use a sharp, new needle for sewing, and silk pins for pinning.

Plaid Silk V1395

What gave me the most trouble with this damn dress was the fact that it’s a plaid fabric. Cutting was a NIGHTMARE – like I said, silk crepe is sorta shifty at best, but as long as you’re staying on grain and getting the pattern pieces straight, it’s not too bad. Throw in strong horizontal lines and some plaid that has to match, and then it becomes an epic journey. I gave up on trying to match the plaid perfectly, and instead just focused on getting the lines to match across the seamlines. This was something I also had to focus on while sewing – again, a little shifting and/or growing is ok when you’re sewing a solid color or a busy print, but for these strong lines, you have to pay attention to make sure everything matches up at the seams. I pinned the shit out of things and used a walking foot while sewing, but man, thank god there are only a handful of seams in this dress. Otherwise, I might have ended up flipping a table over out of sheer rage.

Overall, though, everything matches up pretty well! The center front seam is a bit unfortunate looking with how the plaids lined up – but whatever. The back bodice does not quite match the back skirt – the lines are unbroken, but they’re the wrong lines (whoops). The elastic waist really helps to hide that, though, and at least it’s not at the front! The shoulder seams don’t match at all, but that’s the nature of the beast this pattern. Ya gotta pick your battles.

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

When I finished the dress, I was a little underwhelmed with how it looked on me – I wasn’t a fan of how the bodice bloused over the elastic (the overlay ties over it and flattens things, but since I didn’t have the overlay, I had the blousiness). Belts are usually my solution for this, but those looked strange, too. So I made a little self-fabric tie, out of my remaining scraps. The dimensions are as much as I could get away with from the scraps. I just sewed a tube with bias ends and turned it right side out.

I also didn’t like the length, so I cut it REALLY short. Go ahead, judge me :P

Close-up shots:

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

Plaid Silk V1395

Final thoughts of this dress – love it, was totally worth the effort. The plaid matching, while not perfect, is good enough for me. I really love this silk print and I’m glad I pushed through to finish, although I don’t think I’ll be picking up any more plaid silk crepe anytime soon. Sewing this pattern made me want another of the unmodified version, though, so I made one last night – and it turned out beeeeyoutiful! You can see the Instagram peek here. Stay tuned in a couple weeks for that blog post, I guess!

I took these pictures in the woods because the sun was SUPER bright, and it’s awesome how much coverage the trees give! This is right outside my door, too. Amelia was sitting at the screen, complaining at me. The woods surrounding our house are on a bit of an incline, hence the slight bobble-head vibe I’m throwing here. Also, in case you were wondering and/or freaking out – I’m not allergic to poison ivy :) haha :) I don’t think any shows in these photos, but it’s aaaalll over the place back there!

Plaid Silk V1395

With all that being said, I’m taking a blog sabbatical for the next couple of weeks! My trip to Peru leaves tomorrow afternoon, and we will be gone through 6/18. I am not sure if I will have internet access while I’m away – definitely will be off for at least a week while I’m in Iquitos, because there’s no reception where I’m staying – but I’m not bringing my computer, so I can’t really answer emails. Fair warning in advance if you try to email me or holler with a question, because it’ll probably go unanswered the whole time I’m gone! I’m looking forward to spending some time unplugged and exploring another continent with my bestie, though!

See y’all in a couple of weeks!

Completed: The Brumby Skirt

29 May

Raise your hand if you love Megan Nielsen and are excited about her return to printed patterns and the release of her new sewing app. All I can say is – YAAAAY!!!

Brumby Skirt

To celebrate these big launches, Megan also dropped a new pattern into the mix – the Brumby skirt. She asked me a few weeks ago if I’d like to try out/review the new pattern – as well as the app – and considering I’d been stalking this pattern for well over a year (it’s not too hard, since she kept posting teasers of it on Instagram!), I was all YAAASSS. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to finish the skirt – let alone post about it – before I leave for my trip next week, but curiosity got the better of me and I found myself dedicating an afternoon to Brumby Heaven.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby is a simple little gathered skirt pattern, with a couple special details to make it stand a step above your basic DIY-drafted-dirndl. For one, there’s those pockets. How good are those pockets?! They are nice and deep, and what really pleases me about them is how they kind of stick out away from the skirt and give it this interesting shape. The instructions also include how to insert an exposed zipper – which, honestly, I didn’t realize there was actually a specific method on how to do this. These instructions give you a nice clean finish and a strong zipper.

The skirt has a curved waistband with side seams, as well as options for varying amounts of fullness in the gathers and different hem lengths.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

What I’ve always loved about Megan’s patterns is that there isn’t necessarily anything ground-breaking about the designs – it’s clean and simple design, the building blocks of your wardrobe, to be made in a myriad of different fabrics. There are special details to make the pattern stand out above all the other similar ones available on the market – such as the curved hi-lo hem of the Briar tshirt, or the floaty circle skirt of the Tania culottes, or even the awesome pockets in this skirt. The directions are clearly laid out so that even the earliest beginner can manage them, but they also lend themselves well to customization so even an advanced sewer can find joy in making them up.

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

To make my Brumby, I cut the size XS and sewed up Version 1. This version has less gathers and is intended for heavier fabrics, however, I used a pretty lightweight fabric in it’s place. I’m not a huge fan of gathers at my waist – I think they add bulk in weird spots and just don’t look very good on me – but I thought the wide waistband combined with less gathers in a lighter fabric would probably work. And I think it does! My fabric is a total stash-bust, leftover chambray that I used to make this shirt last year. I bought it locally here in Nashville at The Fabric Studio, and I’ve been hanging onto the remaining yardage because I wanted to make a floaty little summer skirt with it. It’s *very* lightweight chambray – like, voile lightweight. It’s borderline sheer – with my button up, I have to wear a nude bra or you can see everything underneath haha. Anyway, it has a lovely sheen and a nice drape and it’s soooo good to sew. Making it up into this skirt was a good idea. Sorry if it’s a little wrinkled – these photos were taken after a day of wearing it.

Oh! And I also made that top – it’s my very first Butterick 5526. I hated the length of the sleeves and never wore it, so I finally just cut them off and finished the raw edges with bias facing. Much more wearable now!

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

Back to Brumby! I knew I wanted topstitching, but chambray is notoriously hard to thread-match, and I didn’t want my topstitching to be the first thing you noticed when you saw the skirt. I actually ended up using denim thread to topstitch this – a lightweight denim thread, but denim thread nonetheless. It’s that weird blue/navy Gutterman thread that they sell with the denim thread. The variances in color were good enough that they went well with the blues in the fabric, and they contrast nicely but they don’t really stand out. The thread is light enough so it doesn’t make the topstitched areas hang weird, so that is nice. I used white all-purposed thread in the bobbin which also probably helped.

The topstitching goes all over the skirt – down the center front, down the side seams, around the pockets, across the hem, all around the waistband, and of course, holding the zipper into place. I wanted to offset the delicate, floaty fabric with a some casual construction, and this is it! All seams are topstitched at 1/4″. I just eyeballed it on my machine, but I think I’m pretty certain I want a 1/4″ foot next time I go to the Bernina store. Feeeeeeet♥

Brumby Skirt

Brumby Skirt

I am really happy with how nicely the zipper went in! Like I said, there are directions in the pattern for getting a good exposed zip – and I totally didn’t realize there’s a method to doing this. I put an exposed zip in one of my tops last year (and I totally thought about wearing that top with this skirt, peplum tucked in, but ughh it won’t work because there are 2 exposed zippers and they’re different metals and wah), but that was really a matter of pressing seam allowances back and topstitching the zipper in. Poor peplum top, didn’t even have a damn chance.

Brumby Skirt

I will be totally honest here and tell you that I tried the skirt on about 3/4 of the way through construction (after attaching the waistband, but before I put in the zipper) and I was COMPLETELY underwhelmed with how it looked on me. In fact, underwhelmed is too nice of a word – I hated it! It was extremely unflattering and the length made me look dumpy. Part of that was because the waistband was a little bit too big – big enough to slide around and not sit into place, and make me look wider than I am. I did some quick waistband surgery to remove about 1/4″ total from the side seams, and then I took another 1/4″ out of the zipper seams when I was inserting it. That was enough to make the waistband fitted, but not so fitted that it’s uncomfortable.

The length was another issue – I just don’t do midis, and while I did cut the pattern for the mini, there’s a huge-ass hem included so it was really long before that got turned up. I know midis are ~in~ right now, and you can tell me all you want that they might even be flattering on me – but I’m all legs when it comes to skirt length and I just.can’t.do.it. Honestly, I didn’t really love this skirt on me until the hem was turned up and topstitched into place – and then I was twirling around my sewing room in excitement like a big dork. It’s funny how much the hem can affect how something looks. Anyway, that’s a big part of the reason why my hem is serged and topstitched – I wasn’t if I’d love the finished skirt, so didn’t want to spend tooo much time on the last steps. At any rate, the serging matches the rest of the guts so whatev.

Birthday Brumby!

Sooo in the end, I loved the finished skirt so much that I wore it for my last hurrah of my 20s. Notes about this picture:
– That’s not what you think it is in my hand. It’s hot chicken.
– I love Giorgia Tsoukalos.
– And America.
– And also aliens.
– My coworkers at Elizabth Suzann are awesome and know how to throw (me)the best parties.

Megan Nielsen app

Before I jump off here, let’s talk about the Megan Nielsen Patterns app!

I will admit – other than my love for sewing blogs, I’m a bit of a paper girl when it comes to sewing media. I like paper patterns and I like having hard copies of the instructions that I can scribble notes (and mustaches) all over. While I think this app is a completely brilliant idea and may very well be the future of sewing patterns – I wasn’t sure if it would actually be useful to me (I’m old-fashioned in that sense, and I’m ok with it). However, I was willing to try it. For science. Also, it’s a free app soooo it’s not like I had anything to lose if I ended up hating it.

Megan Nielsen app

Megan Nielsen app

The main drive behind the app is basically digitizing the instructions you get with your pattern (paper or PDF). Everything from the required materials, to the cutting layouts, to each step of the instructions (cataloged in a way that’s easy to get straight to the section you need, instead of relying on the Endless Scroll) is included in the app. There are also options within the app (and each individual pattern) to view other people’s makes of this pattern, customization suggestions, and links to the tutorials that may be useful while constructing the garment.

Megan Nielsen app

While I probably won’t switch out my paper instructions for digital (again, mustaches), I actually do find bits of this app useful! It’s SUPER handy to have when you’re shopping and need to reference a material’s list – in the past, I’d scribble everything down on paper (all right, I still do that. No shame!), but then you lose your paper, or you find that perfect fabric that doesn’t go with anything on your “make” list, or you forget that you also needed a zipper. I love the tutorial links, as I do use a computer to look up things while I’m sewing – but more often than not, I end up spiraling down this long internet rabbit hole, where I click on links on links on links and then I forget that I was sewing! Lame! So it’s nice to have a direct link in the app, where I can go straight to the tutorial, get the info I need, and get back to the task at hand. Another thing I love about the app is that you can access any tutorial/instructions for any pattern that you own – which is awesome for when I’m using a Megan Nielsen step in a different pattern, such as stealing her Briar neckline binding for my traced tshirts. In the past, I’d just pull the paper instructions out – but I’m always afraid I’m going to lazy out and forget to put them away and eventually lose them (I mean, it must happen – I think about all those vintage patterns we buy that have the wrong instructions or extra pattern pieces in them. Yep!). With the app, everything is in one place and I can quickly find it. So I like that!

And there are notes sections in the app, for scribbling, but no places that I see where you can doodle on the croquis faces.

Anyway, you can read more about the app in this post and download it in the iTunes store FOR FREE. Those of y’all on Andriods – it’s coming! Don’t worry!

Brumby Skirt

In other news, thanks for all your tips on dealing with my caffeine withdrawals! I am happy to report that I was feeling MUCH better yesterday – no more weird body aches, no more tiredness. I found some great uncaffeinated teas and I only miss coffee the tiniest bit now :) To those of y’all who suggested that I drink decaf – I’m not opposed to decaf (and I drank about a cup a day while weaning off the hardcore stuff), but it does have trace amounts of caffeine in it, and my whole goal was to eliminate the stuff 100%. Mostly to see if I could :P

*Note: Megan Nielsen provided this pattern to me free of charge, in exchange for a review. All opinions in this post are my own!

Completed: Ikat Maritime Shorts

26 May

Good morning, everyone! I hope y’all had a nice weekend – we spent the holiday driving back from the beach, which was AWESOME – well, the beach I mean, not the drive, ha – but I’m soo happy to be home! Apparently, my cat spent the entire time sulking downstairs and trying to attack my roommate when she would try to feed her. Great job, cat. And you wonder why no one wants to be your friend :|

ANYWAY, now that the summer heat is in full swing round these parts, I’ve really started rolling with my warm-weather wardrobe. Beginning with shorts, obviously, because ain’t no way I’m trying to wear pants in this humidity.

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

The pattern I used is the Maritime Shorts from Grainline Studio. I have a long history with this pattern – having made shorts with crazy colors, home decor weight fabric, bicycles, and even some failed jorts. This is a good little workhorse of a pattern, and I love the modern, clean cut (which kind of reminds me of something you’d pull from a JCrew catalog, especially in a printed fabric like those bikes!). They’re also REALLY easy to whip up, Ikat fabric notwithstanding, and can be squeezed out of a fairly paltry yardage. All good things, in my book!

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Since I’ve made these so many times before, there’s not too much to comment on construction or fit. I made my usual size, although it needed a bit of pulling in due to my fabric choice (more on that in a sec). I used stretch interfacing for the waistband and fly pieces and shortened the hem as much as I could before the pockets threatened to poke out. Most seams are serged, although there are a few flat-felled seams in where I could manage it. Oh! I also used both of my machines to make this – one threaded with white, one with navy. This meant that I didn’t have to change out the thread over and over, as I did with the skirt. Made sewing these shorts go a LOT faster!

When it came time to sew the fly zipper, I skipped over Jen’s instructions and followed the ones for the Thurlow pants (you can see my sewalong post for those steps here). I don’t know what it is, but the included fly instructions don’t make a lick of sense to me. This seems to be the case for about 50% of sewers who make these shorts – some people think the instructions are awesome, and some of us are just sitting there scratching our butts, confused as shit. Obviously I fall into the latter. Anyway, it’s easy to swap out the directions with something that makes a little more sense to you, so in my case, it’s Thurlow. All good!

Ikat Maritime Shorts

If this fabric looks familiar, it’s because I’ve used it before – on another Grainline pattern, no less. This is a stretch cotton twill that I bought from Mood Fabrics aaaaages ago – and have been hanging onto ever since, mostly because I had to work up the courage before I attempted pattern matching again! As with the Moss Mini, pattern matching these shorts was a total and complete bitch. I cut everything on the single layer, but even then it was really really difficult. Matching plaids and stripes is pretty easy – I could do that shit in my sleep at this point – but I had it in my head that I needed to match the print like freaking wallpaper for this piece, so the Ikat pattern runs seamlessly all the way around. I actually did manage to do just that, but not without wasting a shit load of fabric – seriously, I think I started out without about 2 yards, and I just barely had enough to match the back pockets by the time I was done. I kept mis-cutting and it was extremely frustrating. Of course, I have more Ikat lurking in my stash and I’m just side-eyeing it with terror now. I don’t know if I can deal anymore. I just don’t know.

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Anyway, I’m happy with how everything turned out – it was totally worth the effort. You’ll notice that my print-matching is not 100% – especially at the center back. This is because I used a twill with a heavy stretch, which rendered the shorts waaaay too big when I sewed them with the normal 1/2″ seam allowance included in the pattern. I tried them on before attaching the waistband, so it was easy to nip in the sides until I got a closer fit, but that meant I had to sacrifice some of my perfect print-matching. The Ikat still runs in a straight line, which is good – it’s just a little interrupted at the sides. The center back looks like a vortex leading straight to hell, but there’s really not much I can do about that, so whatever. At least the back pockets are good, ha.

All in all, I think I pinched out about 1″ off each side before the shorts were finally the right size. Again, this is due to the stretch in the fabric. I’d normally size down for this sort of thing, but I sewed the smallest size so that wasn’t really an option.

I don’t have much else to say about this project, so here are some pictures.

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

(I totally sewed the hook & eye on with pink thread – I am pretending like it’s a design feature, but in all honesty it’s because I already had a needle threaded with pink thread and I didn’t feel like changing out to white. Ha!)

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Notice that the bottom of the fly shield is unfinished – I sewed it in upside-down on accident. This seems to be a running theme for fly shields+me, as it certainly isn’t the first time I’ve made this mistake. Oh well.

Ikat Maritime Shorts

Ok, I guess that’s it! So happy to finally bite the bullet and put that Ikat to good use. These shorts turned out really awesome, and they’re much more wearable than the mini skirt was (it’s hard for me to justify wearing something if I can’t comfortably sit on the floor with it on). And they look great with my new coral button-up, so bonus!

In other news, I recently decided to quit drinking coffee for the next couple of weeks – I felt like my caffeine dependency was getting out of hand, so I wanted to try to 0 out and start new. Omg you guys, it is REALLY hard! I am fortunate not to have any withdrawal headaches, but instead I’m just tired and listless and feel a little depressed, which is weird. I’ve also taken way too many naps over the weekend. I’m hoping things will balance out soon and I’ll feel back to my normal self but – ugh. So pardon me if I seem irritable – I’m just under-caffeinated! In the meantime, if you have any tips to help me ease out of this ~trying time~ in my life, I’m open to suggestions! I mostly just miss the taste of coffee. It was like getting a warm hug in the morning.

Completed: The Burdastyle Alison Swimsuit

21 May

Oh hells yes it’s time for another swimsuit. SWIMSUITS FOREVERRRRR.

Alison Swimsuit

I actually finished this a couple weeks ago, but I’m just now getting around to posting it. Whoops! This is swimsuit #2 of my summer swim gear (if you missed #1, you can see it here). Not that my old swimsuits needed to be replaced (I have three in addition to what I’ve made this year – one two three –  yep, all my swimsuits are handmade at this point. Livin’ the dream!), but they’re REALLY fun to make! Can’t stop, won’t stop.

In fact, I have a third one already cut. No idea when I’ll get to that one, but its my American Flag Bikini Fit for a Beer Commerical, soooo hopefully sooner than later, ha. That is the suit that will be necessary for lazy days floating down the river.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

So anyway, let’s talk about the swimsuit at hand. This particular goody is the Alison swimsuit from Burdastyle. This is I think maybe the second Burdastyle pattern I’ve ever sewn (the first was a Bombshell dress – which I don’t know if that *really* counts, because I followed an online course to make it so I wasn’t at the mercy of the instructions). I know they’re kind of a rite of passage for a lot of us sewers who thrive on the internet, but I’ve never been a huge fan of PDFs (hate taping them, hate storing them, bleeech) and I’ve heard horror stories about the ones that come out of Burdastyle. Most of the patterns don’t include seam allowances, and pretty much everybody complains about the instructions, or lack thereof. I’ve done pretty well with getting the looks I want from patterns that don’t have these issues, so skipping the BS (lol that abbreviation) hasn’t been a huge issue. Until I saw this swimsuit, anyway, and realized that I was gonna have to woman up and make shit happen.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison is a cute little retro-inspired one piece swimsuit, with a halter neck, gathered bust section, and a healthy bit of butt coverage. While this would be a REALLY cute style for pretty much all sizes and shapes, it unfortunately only comes in sizes S, M & L. I would guess it probably wouldn’t be too difficult to grade up another size or two – the few pieces in the pattern are all pretty simple – but I’d definitely make a mock-up first if you decide to go that route. I’m actually between sizes according to the size chart, so I just traced a line right between the Small and Medium and used that as my ~custom Lauren size~. Worked out pretty well, I think!

While I did not make any fit alterations to this pattern – there are a LOT of reviews that the body of the suit is really really short. I’m pretty petite and everything fits quite well, both length and width wise, which is good because I didn’t see those reviews until after I’d cut out the suit. Also, if you’re thinking about making this pattern – the seam allowances ARE included! Praise the Lord!

The instructions, on the other hand. Woof.

Alison Swimsuit

In all honesty, this almost ended up being The Swimsuit That Never Was, because the instructions are pretty confusing and hard to decipher! When I first downloaded the pattern, I noticed that there were a couple pages of instructions as well as some photos. I thought that was pretty awesome and I felt confident that this pattern would not live up to the Burdastyle tales of caution (especially since, like I said, it was fancy enough to have the seam allowances included). THIS WAS ALL A LIE. The instructions don’t make a lick of sense, at least not from what I could tell, and there aren’t any notches or markings to help you assemble the pieces together (which can sometimes save a shitty set of instructions). I spent a lot of time pin-basting pieces together, re-opening the PDF instructions and zooming in on pictures, reading the complaint comments on the Burdastyle site (had I read those first, I probably wouldn’t have even attempted this shit, tbh) and feeling sorry for myself for wasting a perfectly good piece of black swimsuit lycra.

Fortunately, a bit of googling around led me to this blog post with instruction clarification, as well as a list of the steps needed to actually put together the damn swimsuit. Of course, as of this writing (you know, a whole 2 weeks later), it appears that the post has been taken down so unfortunately that’s not really gonna help anyone. And being as how I made of this suit flying by the seat of my pants, I don’t really remember the specific steps needed to actually finish the damn thing. SORRY, I’M LIKE THE MOST UNHELPFUL BLOGGER EVER GAH. To be fair, the only really confusing part for me was the gathered bodice – because of the lack of pattern markings, I couldn’t figure out which way to fold it or where to sew my gathering stitches. Once I figured that out (it gets folded in half vertically, fyi – so it perfectly fits in the front suit scoop without being stretched), the rest of the suit was pretty easy to figure out. If you’ve sewn a swimsuit before and understand how to insert the elastic and all that, then you can probably figure this one out.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

The black swimsuit lycra I used is old from my stash. I also lined the entire suit, except for the gathered bodice (which is self-lined by folding back one big piece of lycra after gathering). I was able to squish some swimsuit-friendly cups in the bodice before closing it up – this was as easy as trying the suit on before sewing the lining closed, positioning the cups, and then zigzagging them into place. The original pattern back strap is supposed to tie closed, but I don’t like having big lumps on my back sooo I just cut it as one piece and connected to both sides of the back. I wish I’d had the foresight to position the strap so that it doesn’t cross over the back binding and instead goes under it, but, eh, hindsight is 20/20 and at least I know for next time. The halter closes with a swimsuit hook, rather than tying because, again, don’t like having big lumps on my back.

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Alison Swimsuit

Here are some flat/inside shots. I would have loved to have a hook that wasn’t bright white, but white was what I had in my stash so I made do with (not that you can even really see it when I’m wearing it, anyway). The lining I’m especially proud of – I was able to origami the whole thing so that the only exposed seams are the side seams up by the bust. Everything else is encased within the lining, yay! The leg holes are finished with swimsuit elastic and topstitched with a zigzag stitch.

ANYWAY, all construction issues aside – the pattern itself is pretty all right, and I’m happy with how it eventually turned out! I’ve always wanted a black retro-style bathing suit, so I can lay on the beach with my fancy adult beverage and floppy sun hat and feel like a Classy Lady, and I feel like this suit really fits that image to a T (me in the suit, now that’s another discussion for another day, ha!). I can’t wait to try my suits out at the beach this weekend. This suit feels pretty secure and like it won’t have any wardrobe malfunctions, but I always get a little nervous the first time I wear a handmade swimsuit out. You never know what’s going to decide to disintegrate once it hits the water and leave you nakey on the beach. Not that that’s EVER happened to me (or anyone I know, for that matter), but I have a healthy fear nonetheless haha.

Alison Swimsuit

In other news – it’s my birthday today! Yay!! I’m celebrating the dirty 30 this year, and I’m pretty happy to finally be able to say good-bye to my 20s. My early 20s were a total shitshow, my mid-20s were basically me rebelling against myself, and my late 20s have been spent cleaning up the mess I left in my own wake. I feel pretty good about this new decade and I’ll be celebrating it good and proper with my BFF when we’re in Peru next month! (have I been talking about Peru too much? Whatever, dudes, I’ve been planning this trip for a year! Sorry, not sorry! ahhahaahaha!).

Hope y’all have a lovely weekend! I’m beach-bound as of tomorrow morning, and I cannot WAIT.

Completed: Another B5526 + Ginger Jeans Get-up

18 May

So sorry to dump this on y’all yet again – another collared shirt + jeans outfit combination. Yawn.

Gingers & B5526

Well, to backtrack – yawn for you, but :D :D :D :D :D for me hahahaha. I will never get tired of this outfit combination. Or, at least, not anytime soon. Maybe never is too strong of a word to use here.

Gingers & B5526

What’s mildly frustrating about writing a long-term blog (at the time of this posting, I’ve accumulated nearly 500 entries since I started waaaay back in 2009, WTF) is that you eventually reach a point when you’re just making the same thing over and over again (well… those of us who don’t make our blog our full-time income fall in this category. I’m sure if I was sponsored out the wazzoo and had all the time I spend at work to spend making content for my blog, it would be a different story, ha.). After re-assessing my wardrobe at the end of 2014 and realizing that I *still* had shitloads of clothing that I made simply for the new and shiny, I have made it a big point to really be honest with myself about whether or not I’ll actually wear something that I make. Like most people, I have a pretty predictable style. And like many sewers, I don’t want to spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel with new patterns if I can get the look I’m going for with an old TNT. So this translates to repeats upon repeats upon repeats.

So, while you might be yawning about the majority of the stuff that’s been posted in 2015… I gotta say, I am elated with the way my closet is looking these days!

Gingers & B5526

Gingers & B5526

With all that being said, there’s not much to report on either of these pieces since I’ve made them soooo many damn times. Jeans + collared shirt is totally my go-to when I want to feel comfortable but still look like I made an effort in the AM. I’ve found my TNT patterns and I feel good about the way they fit and the construction methods that I use.

Gingers & B5526

Gingers & B5526

The top was made using my beloved Butterick 5526. Y’all, I don’t know if I’ll ever sew another button up pattern again! (we all know that’s a lie) I’ve gotten to the point with this one where I can bang one out in a couple of days, which is really nice when you’re coming up on a looming Mood Sewing Network deadline, ha. The fabric is this amazing tigerlily orange cotton voile from Theory, which is a bit more of a coral-y pink than it is orange in real life (I don’t know how the color translates on your screen, but on the Mood Fabrics website it’s definitely pretty muted. The real color is much closer to what you see in my photos. It’s BEAUTIFUL). It has a beautiful chambray weave, which gives the color lots of dimension. This fabric was so so nice to work with – ok, it was a shifty bitch to cut, but once I got past this point, it handled and pressed like a boss. It’s also super comfortable to wear on even the hottest day.

Since the fabric does have a tendency to fray, I used flat-felled seams every where in my shirt. I also left off the sleeves and finished the armhole with self bias binding – it makes the shirt really casual and, again, awesome for hot weather. The pockets are the same pockets that come with the pattern, but I made them slightly smaller because the original size was a little overwhelming on me. Buttons are from my stash; they’re just your standard white shirt buttons. Oh! And the matching thread also came from Mood Fabrics – I noticed that when I was ordering my fabric, there were thread suggestions at the bottom of the page. I figured I’d try out the service – you know, for science – and I’m super pleased with the color match. Even more pleased that I was saved a trip to the fabric store. Mostly because those tend to be very dangerous places for my wallet, ha.

Gingers & B5526

Gingers & B5526

The good thing about running a long-term blog and making a bunch of pattern repeats is that you will eventually bore of just making things that are passable to wear in public, and start focusing on really honing your skills to the next level. Or, at least, that’s how it worked out for me. Look at those clean finished insides! I should wear this shit wrong-side out.

Gingers & B5526

I did shorten the length of the shirt by about 2″ – I think the original length was just sliiiightly too long for my height. This way I can wear it untucked or tied at the waist. If I do a half tuck, it doesn’t pooch out all weird like some of my longer shirts tend to do. As always, I finish my shirt hems with self bias facing. I think it makes for a much cleaner finish, and it’s must easier to press and sew those curves with the bias tape instead of trying to wrangle the hem itself.

Gingers & B5526

Gingers & B5526

For my jeans, I used my now-favorite-ever-pants-pattern, the Ginger Jeans. I’ve made this a few times before (and I definitely don’t plan on stopping – I finally was able to invest in one of the denim kits because YAY) and I’m just really happy with the way this pattern fits my body. The fabric is a cool metallic gold stretch denim. I was actually looking for white denim to make this up, despite me being a stain magnet when it comes to white. At any rate, this denim’s wrong side actually is white flecked with very subtle bits of gold, and these very well almost became white jeans. I talked myself out of it because I was afraid the not-quite-pure-white would make the jeans look like they were dirty, plus again, stain magnet. So I stuck with the gold side. Also, this denim doesn’t have as much stretch as my other denims, so the jeans are a bit tight. I had to let the side seams out to 3/8″ or else I would have never gotten these things over my ass. They’re still a bit tight – mostly around the calves – but I’m hoping that they will loosen up a little with wear.

Gingers & B5526

Gingers & B5526

Gingers & B5526

Not much to report on construction. I used a combination of flat-felled and serged seams (as how most RTW jeans are made) and a triple stitch to really make the topstitching stand out. I would have loved to use topstitching thread, but I couldn’t find a good match with what is admittedly kind of a weird denim color. It’s gold, but it’s also kind of beige. Fortunately, Mood Fabrics REALLY came through with that thread match, as you can see in these close-ups.

What else? I did not interface the waistband (I like my jeans with an uninterfaced waistband; it’s much more comfortable. Not sure how that would work with a lower rise, but for the high rise version, it’s perfect). The jeans button is from Pacific Trimming, and the cotton pocket lining is left over from this crazy blue dress.

I will admit right now that this outfit inspiration came way of my boss’ closet. Since I do all her laundry for her (if you are new to this blog and that sounds REALLY WEIRD, I should probably point out that I’m a personal assistant :) ha!), I’m always lurking on her clothes and I’m always finding inspiration in some of the strangest ways. She has a similar coral chambray shirt – hers has sleeves and a lace inset at the yoke, though – and white jeans. And I wanted that outfit for me. So I made it :P

Gingers & B5526

So, hey, in other news that doesn’t involve me making my fifty billionth b5526 – I’ve got an article out in the current issue of Seamwork Magazine! If you haven’t heard of Seamwork, it’s a sewing magazine that is published online by the masterminds behind Colette Patterns. The magazine is free to read and there are optional pattern downloads with each issue (the patterns you pay for, however). ANYWAY, my article is all about visiting Nashville! I had so much fun writing a city guide about my favorite city in the entire world, and I hope you have fun reading it (and are inspired to come visit because, hey, Nashville is awesome! Really really awesome!). You can read The Seamworker’s Guide to Visiting Nashville at Seamwork. My first published article! Yay!

Completed: The Watson Bikini

11 May

I don’t know about where y’all are, but swimsuit season is BASICALLY upon us over here. Sure, they haven’t opened the pools – yet (that always happens on Memorial Day weekend, coincidentally right around my birthday as well. Pool parties every year for this kid!) – but it’s only a matter of time. Plus, I want to be ready when the water is warm – and not be scrambling to finish something the night before I hit the pool. Last-minute sewing is for people who work well under pressure. Which is not me.

Watson Bikini

So, anyway, I made a bikini! Yeah!!!

Watson Bikini

If this pattern looks familiar, it’s because I’ve made it before (not to mention it’s made some ROUNDS ’round the internet). It’s not a swimsuit pattern, per se – it’s actually a lingerie pattern. This here is the Watson Bra & Bikini pattern from Cloth Habit, modified into the swimsuit you see here. And yes, I realize that these pictures basically mean y’all are seeing me in lingerie. Whatever.

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

I have made this pattern before a couple of times (see one and two), so I knew I was good with the fit and I had strong feelings that this pattern would work equally well as swimwear with a few modifications. It was just a matter of finding a good swimwear lycra and figuring out how to stabilize that cradle in a way that wouldn’t deteriorate in chlorine and salt water.

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Since I’ve gone into detail about the making of this pattern before, I won’t talk too much about the sizing or construction outside of making it into swimwear. I sewed my regular size – the 30D – and the fit was good except a did have a bit of gaping right between the side of the cup and the underarm. I think it has more to do with my elastic application – it might not have been stretched enough – but it was on both sides so I dunno. It may have been due to the stretch of my fabric, but the rest of the top fits great and the 4 way stretch is similar to the millskin I used for my first Watson. Anyway, I fixed it by taking in a dart and topstitching it down (at this point, the swimsuit was complete so there was nooo way I was unpicking all that shit haha). Not the most elegant solution, but the print is super busy so you can’t really see it, plus it’s right at my armpit. If anyone is looking and notices that shit, we’ve got bigger problems on our hands.

Other than that, the fit was good! I add a little bit of extra to the bottoms – about 1/2″ extended out from the back for more butt coverage, and about 1/2″ extended at the top to make them slightly higher. They’re still a little cheeky, but I think it’s pretty cute :)

Watson Bikini

Like I said, there were a couple of things that needed to be addressed in order to convert this into proper swimwear. For one, I knew it needed lining (maybe you wear unlined swimsuits, but I don’t!). I cut an extra of every piece out of swimsuit lining, and was able to origami it so that there aren’t any raw edges, except where the cups meet the band. Couldn’t figure that one out, so I just serged the seam. I also needed to change out aaaall that elastic to be swimsuit elastic- the picot and lace edges elastics that you use in lingerie are beautiful, but they aren’t made to hold up to salt water and chlorine (not to mention, they totally make that shit look like a bra). This was easy – I used braided swimsuit elastic and attached it opposite of how you attach lingerie elastic. Meaning, you sew the first swipe on the inside of the garment (I used my serger, but you can zigzag this), and then fold it one more time and zigzag topstitch. I did this everywhere except at the top of the cups, where I sewed it as you normally would for a bra (hadn’t thought that far ahead, whoops).

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

The strapping at the back band also totally stumped me for about a month. In the pattern, the top of the back band is finished with strapping that extends to go over your shoulders. It’s beautiful, but it’s not really good for swimwear (again, can’t stand up to the elements/chemicals, and – again, looks like lingerie). Of course, you can just finish the top edge with elastic the same way you finish all the other edges – but I liked the look of the strapping, plus, I have a feeling it’s sewn that way to help with the fit. After a bit of thought, I decided to do elastic covered straps and apply them the same way that the strapping is done on a regular bra. I used Ada Spragg’s tutorial on making elastic swimsuit straps (GIRL THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS SHIT), and they turned out pretty nice! I left off the adjustable sliders since the elastic was so thick, but I did keep the little O-rings at the top.

The only downside is that I wasn’t quite precise with my seam allowances, so one strap has a tendency to twist (I’m pretty sure that’s from the elastic inside trying to roll up). It’s annoying, but not enough to make me unpick and start over. We’ll see how I feel after I get back from the beach :P

Watson Bikini

Watson Bikini

Another thing that needed to be addressed was changing out the hook and eye for something that looks, you know, not like a bra. I used a swimsuit hook and eye – I know it doesn’t match, but it’s all I had on hand and anyway, you can’t really see it when it’s on – and just adjusted the back to fit the hook. I did this after the swimsuit was assembled, but before I attached the straps. There’s a tutorial on how to do this over at Cloth Habit, it’s for a bra, but same concept. For the opposite side, I just folded over the edge and sewed it down to make a tunnel for the hook to go through. Easy!

Watson Bikini

Finally, I had to figure out a way to stabilize the cradle while still making this thing hold up in water. For most lingerie patterns, this might not be a problem – but with this particular pattern, the cradle (the part of the band that attaches to the cups) needs to be stabilized so it does not stretch. The pattern has you use lightweight tricot, but I wasn’t sure if that would deteriorate over time. Instead, I cut two pieces of heavy powermesh running in opposite directions, and stacked them on top of each other with the swimsuit lycra on top and the lining on the bottom. Powermesh is water-friendly (well, so I’ve been told!) and it does a pretty good job of keeping everything stable.

Watson Bikini

The rest of the bikini was as straightforward as making lingerie. All pieces are cut from swimsuit lyrcra and swimsuit lining (other than the powermesh to stablize the cradle), and I included lots of zigzag topstitching to give it a sporty look.

In case you were wondering, my swimsuit lycra is from Spandex House in NYC. I bought it while I was in the Garment District in March. My lining is also from Spandex House, and the elastics I used are from Joann’s. I think the bra rings came off an old bra, and I don’t remember where the swimsuit hook is from. Other than using the serger to attach the elastic, I sewed everything on my sewing machine. Even with me stopping and researching and scratching my head, this shit only took a couple of hours to make. And just like that – I’m ready for the beach! Yay!

Oh, and how ’bout that AWESOME necklace I’m wearing?? I can’t take credit for choosing that – its from Rocksbox, which is a new online service where you rent 3 pieces of jewelry every month, chosen for you by a stylist. You can swap out the jewelry as much as you like during the month, and any pieces you buy are discounted. I’ve been trying it for about a month and it’s really fun – and definitely got me wearing jewelry that I otherwise neverrrr would have picked up. I was given a couple of months free by the company to try it out, but I’m seriously thinking of maintaining the account afterwards because I like this shit waaaay more than I thought I would! It’s only $19 a month, the shipping is free both ways, and I’ve received (and bought :I) some really cool pieces! So there’s that. Anyway, bringing this up now because you can use the code lladybirdxoxo and try your first month of Rocksbox for freeeeee. Who doesn’t like free, amirite? Also, SHINY.

Watson Bikini

Can’t wait to try this bad boy out in the water when we go to the beach in a couple of weeks! Also bonus for having a suit that no one else will be wearing (I used to buy aaaall my suits at Target. Do you know how many Target swimsuits run up and down Santa Rosa Beach? Do you know how many of those said swimsuits look better on the other person than they do on me? The shame.). I have tons more of this lycra – the minimum cut was 1 yard and you really only need like 1/4 yard to make a bikini – so I’m already trying to justify having a fleet of geometric swimsuits. We’ll see!

Completed: Some Tshirts, + thoughts on Me-Made-May

5 May

Good morning & happy May, everyone! Today we are gonna talk about my tshirts! I briefly touched over this pattern in my last post (and also when I made this ~heart-on~ sweater), but I’ve done some more tweaking to my pattern so I thought I would share some updates.

My first renditions were pretty awesome as far as the fit of the body was concerned, but were quite lacking in the neckline department. I love a deep scoop neck, but something about that neckline was practically square and it just drove me way crazier than it should have. I ended up retracing my pattern and substituting the Briar neckline and binding, which I think makes for a much more flattering scoop neck. I also lengthened the body just a bit more and copied the hem off the Ensis Tee because I really loved that subtle curve.

Just to be clear – I did not do ANY drafting with this pattern. I’m not a pattern drafter; I’m a copier and a tracer and I loves me a good Frankenpattern. I copied the body and cap sleeves from the Lady Skater. Obviously this pattern is just for my personal use, but it’s pretty easy to hack out your own if you’ve got patterns on hand with elements that you like and want to mash up into one pattern :)

Soooo anyway, here are my finished tees as of these latest adjustments. I used a few different types of fabrics, so they’re all slightly different looking and feeling (probably not so much in the pictures, but definitely so much in real life).

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THE PINK LADY: This is the first one I made – I used some fabric in my stash that I only sort of cared about (cared enough to wear if it worked out, cared little enough to not cry if it didn’t) to make sure my adjustments all translated into something cohesive at the end. I bought this fabric at Textile Discount Outlet when I was in Chicago like… 2 years ago. Eep. It’s a soft poly knit that was pretty inexpensive but has held up surprisingly well and resisted pilling. I actually bought enough to make a maxi dress – I 100% blame this on the girl who was cutting it, because she told me she would make a maxi with it and then that’s all I could see for the rest of the day – and then I cut said maxi dress and SOMEHOW LOST THE BACK PIECE. I honestly have noooo idea where that piece went. I literally crawled around on the floor of my sewing room like a dog in search of it. It disappeared into the Bermuda Triangle or something, idk. I’ve even purged my sewing room and moved since them, and still can’t find that damn back piece. No idea, y’all. No idea.

Also – green hair & different background! How old is this picture?! Ha! Before you get all up in arms about how bad my hair looks – I know it looks bad. This was during the very end of my green, when I was intentionally fading it so it would be easier to color correct at the salon.

Some flat shots:

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To make these, I just whip them through my serger and use this method to apply the neck binding. The hem and sleeves are finished with a twin needle. Super easy!

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THE WALDO: To be honest, this particular tshirt is 100% the reason why I was hacking around with this pattern so much. The fabric is an amazing rayon/spandex that I bought/splurged on at Cloth House during my big shopping day with Tilly (don’t ask me which Cloth House; we went to both but I can’t remember which one ended up taking my money haha). It was pretty pricy – I think around £18 per meter – but I only needed a small amount to make a tshirt, so I justified it. Also, it came in an adorable little bag that made me feel like I was carrying around a present, so that was nice haha. It’s a thin knit, but it’s not sheer. The added spandex gives the fabric a bit of heft, so it kind of sucks in and holds up and doesn’t really drape. It also holds it’s shape REALLY well. I wish I had more of this fabric in every color of the rainbow, it’s incredible.

ANYWAY, I have a similarly-striped vintage Henley that has 3/4 sleeves (well, long sleeves… but it’s child-sized, so 3/4 sleeves on me, ha) that I love wearing, but it’s falling apart so I’ve been looking for a replacement ever since. This is not an exact replacement – lack of Henley buttons and short sleeves and all that – but it’s a bit more appropriate for the climate I live in, as I can wear short sleeves almost year round. Awesome.

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THE BLAQUE: I’ve been lacking a simple black tshirt (and white, for that matter) for a looong time, so obviously that was the next wardrobe filler to make. This fabric is from Metro Textile, and I bought it back in March. It’s another rayon/spandex, similar to the Cloth House fabric, but a little lesser quality (that’s not to say it’s bad quality – but nothing can compare to that striped dream above. Nothing.). It has the same sucking-in and holding-it’s-shape qualities as the striped rayon, but it has a little bit of a drape. The fact that it doesn’t bag out over the course of the day means that this one will get a lot of wear. Hate having clothing that grows 3 sizes by the end of the day.

Also, um, sorry bout the deo stain by the hem. Whoops. At least you know my pits smell fresh.

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THE WHITE W(H)INE: My least favorite of the bunch, if only because of fabric choice. It’s funny how you can make the same freaking pattern and still have each finished garment look different depending on the fabric you used. This fabric was also from Metro Textiles, and it’s also a rayon, but it’s lacking that sweet, sweet spandex. As a result, the fabric is very lightweight, borderline sheer, and drapes like a dream. It also meant that the shirt was a bit too big, especially around the bicep. I tried it on before hemming and sucked in the side seams about 1/2″ on each side and took about 1″ off the sleeve circumference. It’s still a little loose – and the lack of elasticness in the fabric means this will grow over the course of the day – but I think it looks all right. Next time, though, I’m sticking with knits that have some spandex.

Couple of other things – my shorts are linen Thurlows from a couple of years ago. They’re a little big in the legs, but the looseness is ok for now because that is a pretty fresh tattoo you’re seeing on my thigh. No close-ups because it’s in the gross peeling stage right now, but here’s a shot taken immediately after it was finished.

So anyway, going back to the title of this post – Me-Made-May has just started, and my Instagram feed is delightfully full of endless selfies featuring handmades. To those of y’all who are unfamiliar with MMM, it’s a month-long challenge to get you wearing your handmades and figuring out wardrobe gaps (check out the link; Zo does a much better job of explaining it than I do). I have participated for a few years now – 2012, 2013 and 2014 – and I always enjoy it, except for the whole daily photo part :P This year, though, I have decided to opt-out.

For one, I make everything I wear now. I own very little RTW, and none of it is new – it’s just stuff that managed to survive several closet purges. Wearing handmade is something that I do daily, from my pajamas to my jeans to my tshirts to even my freaking underwear. It seems a bit silly and redundant to spend a month documenting it at this point. There’s nothing novel about it for me, it’s just my daily life. Also, I HATE taking daily photos. Gets old after about 3 days.

The bigger reason why I’m choosing to opt out is because my participation has given me this weird complex about repeating outfits. I don’t know why! Outfit repeats used to be a big part of my style (I like it and I latch onto it, ain’t no shame in that) – but something about spending a month documenting your wardrobe and trying to intentionally wear different outfits every day really started to make me feel like I *needed* to always have something fresh and new. That’s not really a sustainable way of dressing – and having a giant closet of things I only sorta like is surprisingly stressful. I went down a weird rabbit hole of not ever wearing my favorite pieces, because I wanted to “save” them for… something. Which is REALLY stupid! I wear (and make!) clothes because I like them and I feel good in them. If I want to wear the same dress three times in one week, I should just do it. If anyone notices that I’m wearing the same dress 3x in one week, then that’s their problem, not mine. Unless I smell, which in that case someone should definitely say something.

While I love and appreciate what Me-Made-May stands for and how it helps people get out of clothing ruts and determine wardrobe holes, it’s just not working for me. So I won’t be participating this year, and y’all can all breathe a collective sigh of relief that you don’t get blasted with 31 extra photos of my mug this month :)

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On that note – how’s your Me-Made-May going? Are you participating? Have you opted out? Are you enjoying the daily updates of outfits as much as I am?

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