BrisVegas Baby

Another post already! At the request of SS and A here are more adventures and dresses.

New on the blog: Vogue 8998 and adventures #sewing #voguepatterns

A few weeks ago, my friend G and I decided to visit our friends H and K in Brisbane for a weekend and when I mentioned the plan to S she jumped right on board too. When we all lived in CBR we saw each other at least weekly, but the 5 of us haven’t been in the same place at the same time in over 2 years. The visit was just the excuse I needed to finish this little number. It’s another Vogue 8998, this time I used the bodice and waistband of the pattern with my drafted pleated skirt. I used the bodice of New Look 6723, which I have alter to within an inch of it’s life to adjust the fit to my liking. This meant shaving off the top of the shoulder to raise the waist and armhole, scooping out a bit of width just under the bust, narrowing the front and back necklines and shortening the bodice by 2cm. I do think that the waist is now a touch high so I might go back and lengthen my pattern pieces again. The skirt is also shorter than expected as the waistband is about 2 inches higher in this dress then it is as a skirt.

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This time I skipped the collar detail. I love the way the scoop at the back looks, I think it’s so chic and I also love the front neckline, which is scooped but still totally work appropriate… I’ve been dreaming of a work version in some pindot brown wool I picked up recently. I may bring in the edge of the neckline a little, just to be extra sure bra straps stay hidden where they belong.

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I got the fabric for this little number a while ago while visiting SS – it’s nothing special, just a stretch cotton sateen from Spotlight but I really like the print and colours; it combines all my signature colours – olives, pinks, purples and yellows. I wore it to brunch on Sunday and for the flight home. Originally I had planned on wearing it to dinner and drinks on Saturday but then this happened:

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Bernie Dexter Paris Dress in “Cherry Tree Lane” from That Shop. I have literally no idea who the people in the background are.

I have been searching for enough of the Michael Miller cherry tree landscape fabric to make a dress from for years so when I saw this dress I just decided to go with it. I really like it, but I must say that $200 for an unlined quilting cotton dress is not exactly a bargain! I also find it interesting, because I would say the dress itself reads as quite formal, but the fabric is casual. I have toyed with the idea of taking of the bodice and re-making it to be more like V8998, maybe in a matching blue fabric, which would be a lot more wearable for everyday. I do think the gathered bust detail is very pretty but I’m not sure how often I could wear it, and as is typical in RTW the waist sits about an inch too low. I bet I will never get around to it though – I HATE alterations.

The weekend was super fun – I caught up with my dad and aunt on Friday, then went back to the airport to meet G (it’s on my dad’s way home). G and I got the train into the city and met H at work before heading out to the river for drinks where we were joined by K and my old housemate B. Saturday G and I went to That Shop and the End of the Line Festival, before picking up H at the aiport and heading out to drinks, dinner and more drinks with the whole crew. Sunday we brunched before G and I had to fly home (S wasn’t leaving until late on Sunday). So that was my weekend!

Until next time!

The Frocktail that wasn’t: Adventures in Sydney

So this was supposed to be part of my outfit for Canberra frocktails, until a friend scheduled her engagement party for the same night. Being a bridesmaid (and good friend!) I skipped frocktails. The problem was I had a half-complete elaborate skirt ensemble and nowhere to wear it! In the end this skirt has been a super versatile addition to my wardrobe. I first wore it to a cousin’s wedding (with a RTW silky pink blouse), out on the town in Newcastle (with a tee that proclaims my deep love of croissants) and to the races (with a silk RTW top I got from eBay). It’s comfy, flattering and has pockets, all things I very much enjoy in a skirt!

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The fabric is glorious. It’s a silk brocade from Oscar de la Renta; medium weight with some loft and the perfect drape/body combo. After much debate I decided to use the black based side as my “right side” but I still have enough left for a little top using the other side which is more gold/platinum with black roses. Both are beautiful. I underlined with black silk organza to give it a tiny bit more body and to protect the brocade.

On the blog: this skirt made of glorious Oscar de la Renta silk brocade and adventures at #theraces plus many cocktails, lunch at #bennelong and many types of cheese  #sewcialists #memadeeveryday

The pattern is my “self drafted” one – aka a pleated a-line attached to the waistband of Vogue 8998. I have three of these skirts, one in floral sateen, this one and a to-be-blogged polka dot number.

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I also trimmed the hat I’m wearing! It’s an Alannah Hill number I’ve has for a few years – originally it had a brim which I got rid of almost straight away, but this time I also took off the original trim (a straw bow) and added my own with flowers I picked up at Spotlight. I’m supper happy with the finished product.

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I had an amazing time at the races drinking champagne and hanging with my friend S. She’s a member so we got to hang out in the nice not-too-crowded members area and enjoy an excellent view of the track as well as tons of shade. After the races we went into the city to try and eat at Cured &; Cultured at Bennelong because I was super keen to try a 5 cheese and truffle toastie. Sadly they didn’t have any spots free, so instead we went to Opera Bar and had some baked brie and wine, then on to Bulletin Place where we enjoyed more cheese and delicious drinks including this adorable tiny pallet cleanser:

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[tiny drink is tiny!]

Then on Sunday we went back into the city because I wanted to shop at the QVB and headed back out to Circular Quay to give Bennelong another shot, this time successfully! We shared the toastie and a roasted carrot salad (which is actually my top pick – it doesn’t sound exciting but it was both pretty and delicious) and I had the sausage roll and cherry jam lamington (at the recommendation of the chef, who was adorable!) and S the yabbies and chocolate cake. Plus we both had a cocktail and a wine spritzer. It was right up there in the food stakes. Everything was totally amazing and beautifully presented. It’s also the most beautiful spot, you sit right at the bar and watch the chefs make your food – at first I didn’t know where to look because I didn’t want to stare, but we started chatting to the one working in front of us and he was just lovely – he told me to get the lamington and was 100% correct as it was AMAZING. Like a party in my mouth (honestly I was on the verge of proposing but if he’d said no I would never be able to go back and that would make me cry!). The view is, of course, exceptional and I’m actually glad we went for lunch so I could take full advantage of it.

After that we went back to Opera Bar to have a coffee and catch up with an old friend from our grad year, M and then I drove back home to CBR (don’t worry it was hours after drinking).

The whole weekend was really the best and I can’t wait to do it again sometime!

Lady Liberty Carline

OMG YOU GUYS I AM SO INTO THIS FABRIC I CAN’T EVEN.

OK, I just had to get that out of my system 🙂 I had actually been trying to hunt down some Liberty Carline for an embarrassingly long time when Roisin recommended a few eBay sellers that might have the goods. Then, not a week later I stumbled across Fabrics Galore and found some purple. Lastly, Liz put her Liberty stash up for sale. So I ended up going from no Carline, to having 8 meters of the stuff in three colours. Today we’re going to chat about the first, which is a poplin. I haven’t always been a big poplin fan, but the Liberty poplin may be my dream fabric – it’s a tiny bit weightier than the lawn, which gives it a little more body and means it isn’t transparent at all. I found it completely lovely to work with.

Today on the blog: a New Look/ Vogue mash up in liberty carline aka the fabric of my dreams #sewing//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

I actually finished this little number oh, 7 months ago, which should tell you something about how long my to-blog list is.

To me it was completely obvious what this lovely wanted to be – a princess seamed dress with as full a skirt as I could manage. I used the old faithful New Look 6723 bodice (which I FBA’d ages ago) and the gored circle skirt from Vogue 8998. I had considered using all of Vogue 8998, but I wasn’t 100% happy with the fit in the bodice last time I made it and had no time to play with it so I went with my tried n true.

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(I don’t know why both the lighting and my fringe are bad in this pic 😦 Also! Winter-style)

Through some wonder of dressmaking, the skirt and bodice lined up well lengthwise. The seams along the sides and the princess seams in the bodice and gores of the skirt don’t match at all but I think the print disguises a lot of the issues, so #YOLO. The skirt is truly lovely, if not designed for someone with the amount of hip/bum curve that I have. I like that unlike a traditional circle skirt it’s more fitted through the abdomen and hips before flaring out dramatically which I think is quite flattering. It’s also a bit of a fabric saver which is always nice. I do miss having pockets, but one can’t have everything I suppose.

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On the bodice: I had originally drafted an all-on-one facing because I love the look of them in RTW and thought that an all-in-one would not constantly flip out, which my neck facings ALWAYS do despite understitching and pressing. Unfortunately it all went horribly wrong and was SUPER TIGHT around the top of my bust and front of my shoulders. I suspect I didn’t take into account my FBA properly. In the end I ripped it out and went with bias binding around the neck and armholes, which I always quite like. I used my machine overcast stitch to finish the seams. I do still want to try an all-in-one facing because I love the clean look they give so I’m going to give it another crack next time.

My favourite thing about this dress is how all-seasons it is! it looks cute on it’s own for summer, and for winter I love it with a cardi, tights and the ankle boots I inherited from my mum.

A wool workdress

What’s up readers? I have been stitching up a storm lately but neglecting to take photos. I seriously have about 5 unblogged projects rattling around. In other news, I turned 28 last week (am officially old) and started a new job just over a month ago (which is so far both enjoyable and crazy busy). To celebrate, I decided to treat myself to some birthday goodies:

All my birthday presents to myself came at once! #libertyoflondon #mac #lipstickaddict #fabricaholic #nofilter

So onto the dress, it’s another New Look 6723, my fourth I think. What can I say, there’s something so lovely about a pattern that just works. This time I used the pattern’s skirt, but made it a bit fuller though the extremely scientific process of moving the centre front and centre back a little way inwards to add an extra 5 inches or so. I then did a pleat at the princess seams and then another to the side a little. I moved the waistline up a bit as this wool is very drapey and I think it stretched a little and sat too low. I included pockets for the storing of things, as always.

Tonight on the blog: this sweet wool number using New Look 6723 #sewing #sewcialists

The fashion fabric is a gorgeous wool I got from Mood last March, it presses like a dream and although it creases a little more than I would like it holds up to wear very well. The dress bodice is lined with white cotton batiste which I picked up at Spotlight forever ago (sadly this was the last of it – I must pick up dome more) and the skirt with white rayon lining from Fabric.com. I prefer using cotton to line the bodice as I find it comfier. Plus it’s easier to work with on princess seams and doesn’t slip around while cutting.

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There’s not much else to say really, it’s just a simple, classic dress that wears really well. I’m planning on making another in some beige wool as I get so much wear out of this one I thought having another would be just the trick.

PS isn’t my bunny brooch adorable?

Until next time!

A dress for a wedding

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Those that follow me on instagram would have seen some of the pictures of this as a work in progress. It spent a lot of time in progress to be honest. I’m not sure how many hours it took me to make this dress, probably at least 30, maybe more. There is a TON of hand sewing which was time consuming, then add on french seams and some misadventures in measurment and you have one time consuming dress!

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The fabric is a pink silk satin that I got from Tessuti while in sydney a few months back. Origionally it was going to line a coat, but I found fabric I liked better for that one so repurposed it. the bodice is underlined (more hand stitching!) with a silk/cotton blend. The skirt is unlined, however as the fabric is slightly sheer I am wearing a (purchased) white slip under it.

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So lets talk about some of the disasters of this project: because I used the bodice from one size but the pleats from another I knew my skirt panels would not line up. To combat this, I measured the bodice against the skirt panels and cut them to match at the waist, grading out over my hips. Unfortunatly I made a big mistake in trying to cut the centre front skirt panel on the fold. It ended up being 3-4 cm too short to match. Cue FREAK OUT. I knew that unpicking the seams to let them out a little would probably not work as the fabric is so fine it was bound to leave holes and loook awful. Instead I decided to cut from the top of the skirt until it matched the bodice, diameter wise, if not along the seams. This point being 3 inches down. This left me with two new problems, firstly, the seams no where near aligned, and secondly the dress was now an awkward length, too long for a midi, not long enough for a gown.

I decided to add some ribbon to the waistband to (sort of) solve problem #1. For problem #2 I added a 3 inch strip of fabric to the bottom. I was prepared to hide that with ribbon as well, but in the end decided it looked more “design feature” than horrible. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself!

Disasters aside, I adore this dress. It’s probably near to being my best work and I did so many new things for the first time. I am particularly proud of my hand rolled hem and the invisible zipper. I have come to the conclusion that I (and I suspect other seamstresses) are much more inclined to notice flaws in our work than anyone else. Plus a very drunk girl told me I looked like a princess, so I’m calling it a winner!

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I wore it to the wedding of my dear friend A, who looked like a princess herself and positivly glowed with joy. It was a wonderful afternoon/evening and I just know her and her new husband will spend many joyful years together.

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Until next time!

Reverting to form

So after my last post, which was about trying a new thing (even if in the same old, same old floral cotton fabric) today I bring you a “new” make that is pretty much the same as most of my other ones. Why mess with a good thing right?

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This is Vogue 8615 a “very easy” number with cup sizes A-D. I myself like the cup size options because I’m lazy a rock star who likes to take the risk of skipping the old FBA. This pattern also seems to think it’s vintage: french darts, circle skirt, purchased petticoat. Still, vintage-ey floral dresses with giant skirts are kind of my jam. Plus this one has sleeves so I was pretty much always going to go for it. Having made it I am a massive fan. The french darts are very cool and interesting and I think the boat neckline with dipped back is demure but not boring or frumpy. I would 100% make it again and in fact am considering making one for work – perhaps with a less full skirt and minus the dipped back. next time I would also shorten the darts, I think they are too long (and also not exactly even, whoops).

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Modifications: I shortened the sleeves to just above elbow length and took about 2 inches out of the front and back neckline, tapering to just above my bust on the front and about 3.5 inches down on the back. Luckily the centre front seam meant I could avoid adding darts. Sewing has convinced me that I must have a small frame, but a healthy appetite which warps my figure into a mutant petite-yet full look. On the bright side, this being my first Vogue pattern I now know to take out a bunch from the neckline of all Big 4s. I sewed a 14 with the D cup, but it is a little loose – my fabric has a 2-way stretch to it (but not great recovery), so I think that’s probably why.

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Originally I skipped the lining – not having anything with stretch to hand and wore it to a party. My deep love of the dress convinced me it needed, nay deserved, a lining, so I unpicked the hand stitching on the bias binding I had used originally around the neckline and stitched in my lining, before re-hand stitching the bias binding to the lining – I didn’t want to undo my machine stitching as I knew it would leave holes and I also thought that given I was using a light china silk for the lining it could use the structure of some binding. I then stitched the binding to the armholes of the lining and hand stitched that to the seam allowance of the fashion fabric. I didn’t have enough lining to do a full circle skirt so I made a gathered one instead. I also re-did the hem after wearing it – I didn’t like the look of the machine stitching and an order I made at fabric.com including some horsehair braid had arrived so I decided to test that out and hand stitch the hem. The braid doesn’t make a huge difference, probably in part due to its width, I think the wider the braid the more dramatic the effect. That said, I think it does make the skirt stand out a bit more which I think provides a nice middle ground between a petticoat (giant skirt) and nothing (sad flat skirt). I am, however wearing a petticoat in all but this last pic for maximum huge skirt action.

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While this dress is very similar to my Betty-style floral frock I think I easily have room for both. Who says I don’t need dozens of floral dresses with big skirts? Certainly not me!

Me Made May 2014

I, Bec of Bows&Bunnies, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear handmade items every second day for the duration of May 2014. I futher endeavour to complete my “UFO” pile during this time.

Gosh I am the WORST. Not only am I doing my MMMay14 post on the 5th of May but I also failed completely to wear me-made on the first. I blame excitement over my new asos cardigan arriving (unlike many other lovely sewers I Do Not Knit).

One of my problems with wearing clothes I made all the time is my obsession with floral party dresses. Also, novelty prints. These are not really the kind of thing I wear to work, although I do like to do “Fun Dress Friday” where instead of dressing down like everyone else I dress up.

The other issue is that, while I have a fair number of clothes that I’ve made, to go all of May wearing them would lead to a LOT of repeating. I probably have most of my “work” dresses on a two week rotation but to go all of May it would need to be almost weekly. I have already finished my first May project and hopefully will finish something else this week which should help.

**To avoid a million MMMay’14 posts, I shall be updating this post with new pictures as I take them. Follow me on instagram or twitter (both LadyxBec) for up-to-the-minute outfits and rambling.

Until next time
(when I swear I will blog some of the many projects I have waiting)

I like giant skirts and I cannot lie

So once upon a time this skirt was a dress. I was pretty found of it, it was (yet another) Simplicity 2444 aka the most beloved of all dress patterns.

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There were problems however. The fabric around the zip on the bodice frayed – possibly because I made the seam allowance too small. The bodice was tight – I don’t know why, my other 2444’s fit perfectly. The waist seam wasn’t straight.

So on Monday I decided to cut the bodice off and turn it into a skirt. It was, I have to say an excellent decision on my part. As a skirt I love it. So do other people actually, it gathered 3 compliments at work.

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I think this was a bit of a lesson in paying attention to recommended fabrics for me. Part of the reason it didn’t work well as a dress what that the skirt fabric (a heavy flannel-type wool from Spotlight) was too weighty for the bodice fabric. It also made the pleats a little hard to manage.

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All in all, I like it much better as a skirt. It has all the things I love best: fitted waist, knee-length, giant skirt (even better with a petticoat!), I’m even considering lining it! I also have a bunch of the fabric left, which I had considered turning into a blazer/jacket/coat. Something to think about for winter…

Skirt: Me-made | Blouse: Alannah Hill | Belt: Portmans | Shoes: Ziera

Until next time!

“You look like a Cupcake”: Sewing for my lifestyle

Actual thing that happened to me (thanks S!). To be honest it was probably quite accurate.

As I was compiling my “to buy” list for America (less than 60 days to go!) I realised that my wardrobe needed a mini-overhaul I have quite a lot of stuff, both me-made and purchased that I don’t wear for various reasons. I also want to make 2014 the year of sewing! Although I’m not ready to try a RTW fast like Sarah. I do want to be more conscious of what I buy and make this year – too much of my wardrobe is unsuited to my life. This seems to be a bit of a theme among sewing bloggers this year actually, with Rochelle, Clare along with a bunch of others posting similar sentiments lately. Not to forget Tasia’s great post a while back on sewing “frosting” rather than “cake”.

So, all this in mind, I have come up with a bit of a plan which will hopefully help me sew lots of lovely things that I can wear a lot as well as some frosting to make it fun!

First up, I tried to define my style, aided by my pinterest boards:

I’m going to go ahead and label my style a mix of classic prep and mid-century whimsy with a splash of modern wearability.

So I love big skirts, pastels, matchy-matchyness and novelty prints but prefer to keep my style modern enough that it leans vintage inspired, not actually vintage. I also have a pretty clear silhouette – fitted to the waist and then flaring out, knee-length and necklines just below the collarbone. occasionally I toy with slimmer skirts and different necklines, but I tend to go back to the old tried and true. I also have a strong preference for sleeves, which can be hard to find in RTW (this was part of the reason I wanted to get back into sewing – sleeves and pockets for all on everything!).

My palette is a pit harder, I wear a lot of grey, navy, pink, red and green. For prints, I lean towards florals, polka dots and novelties.

So based on this, major holes in my wardrobe are:

  • Not enough skirts – in 2014 I want to really broaden my mix-and-match ability. I’m pretty partial to plaid and striped skirts, so that’s where I plan on starting and if I have printed skirts I should be able to mix-and-match them with multiple cardigans and blouses.
  • Not enough blouses – particularly ones with cute neckline details like bows and ties in solid colours. Hopefully I can mix-and-match these with the skirts.
  • Not enough work dresses – in grey and navy prints so I can wear with different blazers and belts
  • Not enough formal dresses that I actually wear – a lot of my cocktail and formal dresses are just too low-cut for me to feel comfortable in and none of them have sleeves.

This year, I tried to sew one item for work for every non-work item. Next year, I am doing away with this rule a little – for one, I didn’t actually stick to it at all! Instead of a hard & fast “rule” I want to just stick to my overall goals of making a more integrated wardrobe that fits my life. I don’t want sewing work clothes to be boring, I want them to be fun and interesting and cute.

Until next time!

But She Told Me Home Sewing Was Easy!

Home Sewing Is Easy! according to this fabric. Well, sometimes. Assuming you cut the right pattern size. And consider the impact of your fabric on the design. Still, easiness aside this fabric is too cute and I simply couldn’t resist it.
This is a total Frankendress. Originally I really wanted to use the By Hand London Anna pattern; in fact I brought it specifically with this fabric in mind, thinking that its bust pleats and kimono sleeves would prevent too much cutting into the print. However, when I looked at the skirt pieces, I realised how many there were (6) and how much that would either break up the print, or drive me mad trying to match. Then I realised I didn’t need to use both, and the Frankendress was born. I used the skirt of Simplicity 2444, an old favourite which is only 3 pieces and has a cute pleat detail.

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However, I didn’t think to match the bodice to skirt before I cut them out, and realised that the back of the skirt didn’t have enough fabric to match the bodice back. To fix this without having to re-cut anything, I made the pleats smaller – I compared the length of the bodice and skirt backs, then divided the difference between three to get the size of my new pleats.

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Sadly this was not the end of my issues. After hearing that the By Hand dresses are quite close fitting and checking the finished measurements on the packet I decided to sew a UK 18 (for reference I am generally a UK 12-14 in ready-to-wear). I did do a quick fitting after sewing the bodice minus facings together and decided it fit well, but somehow after constructing the whole dress it was WAY too big. We’re talking 4 inches here people. Also, the shoulders needed to be taken up (this is a pretty standard alteration for me). So I ripped out the zip, which I’d planned to re-do anyways because it looked crap, and put it back in with much larger seams. I did a side lapped zip using the machine. I think it looks pretty awesome and spend a lot of time pointing it out, despite the fact that due to my enormous seam allowances the print doesn’t match. This was not enough, so I ended up taking a few inched in along the side seams too. Because I’m lazy I didn’t bother to unpick skirt from bodice to do so and just stitched though the waist seam. It looks ok so I call it a win! After all of this, as well as taking up the shoulders I am pretty happy.

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After wearing it a few times I do want to make some more minor changes – taking out the facing and replacing it with bias binding and lowering the back neckline a little. No matter how much I steamed, or the topstitching I did in a fit of desperation the facing will not stay where it’s supposed to. The back neckline is a tiny but too high because I forgot to lower it after taking up the shoulders, which is normally fine but the high neckline of the Anna makes it sit at an annoying spot on the back of my neck.

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This aside, I am completely in love with this dress. Now that it fits properly, the Anna bodice is insane pretty and flattering and I adore my fabric choice. I can’t wait to make a formal maxi Anna and try out the skirt pattern. Which brings me to my next problem – because I am an idiot I rarely trace patterns. Including the Anna. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem, because the size smaller is, well, smaller. But the Anna bodice front has the smaller sizes printed kind of above the larger, meaning that the size 16 lines are gone forever. So I’m not really sure what to do about that… I might play with trying to grade it down a little myself, and if that doesn’t work I suspect I will just buy another as I love the pattern that much!

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Until next time and Happy Holidays! (whatever kind you celebrate :))

And no, I didn’t get a new pet, that last one is my friend Ns adorable new kitten. I had to include Oreo in some shots too so he didn’t feel left out 😉