Unselfish Knitting

It’s a bit weird, I absolutely hate sewing for other people, but I rather like unselfish knitting. Maybe it’s because I know that there are only so many hand knitted things I need for myself, but I really like the process of knitting, so knitting gifts gets around that problem. I also find that people really appreciate hand knitted gifts (or maybe I only knit for people I know will appreciate it), which is always nice. I decided I was going to knit a scarf for Hamish for his birthday…last year. I got it done on time too, but it’s taken me just over a year to get photographs of it! Such a bad blogger.

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This is another Brooklyn Tweed pattern, the Guilder Scarf by Jared Flood. It was the first thing I made in Zealana Heron, and it definitely made me want to knit my Bronwyn Sweater in it! I picked the Bottle Green colourway, I thought it would be more interesting than grey or black (which is mostly what he wears in the winter), and I like the way it looks on him.

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This was an ambitious pattern for me to pick a year ago, the cable pattern is pretty dense and it took me a lot longer to knit than I expected! To be honest, I was wildly optimistic and decided I was going to knit this a month out from his birthday, so any pattern was going to be a stretch. I must have worked on it every spare minute of that month, trying to keep it hidden from him was a nightmare! This pattern taught me a bunch of new techniques, it was the first time I had done a tubular cast on and tubular cast off, and the first time I tried knitting an I-cord. The I-cord edging is a really nice feature of this pattern, it looks so tidy and I love how it matches the rounded edge created by the tubular cast on/off.

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I did manage to get it finished in time, though I was sewing the Kitchener stitch for the bind off on my way home from work on his birthday! I think it was only wrapped up for about 20 minutes between me finishing it and me giving it to him over his birthday dinner. Consequently, it’s unblocked. I meant to block it after giving it to him, but unsurprisingly I’ve never got around to it. It’s actually pretty even, and doesn’t look like it desperately needs it! He wore it lots last winter, and when I realised that he’d taken it away with us at Easter, I took my chance to get some photos at last.

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I also took my chance to get some photos of one of the merino tee shirts I made him for Christmas. The pattern is the Men’s Classic Tee Shirt pattern from the Great British Sewing Bee Fashion with Fabric book. It’s a slightly drop shouldered tee pattern with sleeve cuffs, which I have just hemmed like usual because they kept unfolding and were driving him nuts. I’ve made him three tee shirts from this pattern now, they fit him pretty well and he wears them all the time. This one looks too tight and wrinkly in these pictures, but I think it’s just a bit twisted because he took his jumper off just before I took these photos! It is a slim fitting tee-shirt, which he likes. This one and the first one I made are sewn up in merino jersey from The Fabric Store, and the third is made in a really lightweight merino loop-backed sweatshirting. I sewed them all up on the overlocker, and used a twin needle for hemming and top stitching the neckbands.

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I’m really glad he likes both the scarf and the tee shirts, it’s nice to see him wearing things I’ve made. He wanted to know how I wanted him to wear the scarf for his “photo shoot”, and I told him to just wear it like he usually did. Then I looked up from fiddling with the camera to find him like this, so naturally I took a photo and told him I was putting it on the internet. At least his ears/nose won’t be getting cold this winter! I also told him he didn’t need to put his jumper on for these photos (it was pretty warm), and he told me that he’d look ridiculous, as he’d never wear a scarf with bare arms. So that was me told! I’ll need to get him to style my photo shoots sometimes…

My Bronwyn Pullover (or, how I knit all the cables ever.)

Happy Easter/ long weekend everyone! We made our annual trip out to the boonies to spend the long weekend dancing Balboa and eating excelent food in a rural lodge overlooking the sea, which is always a nice relaxing time. It’s also a gorgeous environment to take photos (away from the teal wall), so I took advantage of the scenery and of my friend Lauren’s willingness to be photographer to get some pictures of my recently finished Bronwyn Pullover.


I loved this pattern as soon as I saw it on the Brooklyn Tweed Instagram page! It’s by Melissa Wehrle, and was released in May last year as part of the BT Wool People 10 collection. I had been planning to knit another cabled Brooklyn Tweed pattern as part of my #makenine2016 plans, but I switched patterns once I saw this one. Ravelry says I started knitting this in July last year, so I was apparently a bit ambitious thinking I would have it done by the end of the year… To be honest I could have knitted it faster, but I got distracted by a couple of other projects and then the idea of knitting it over summer wasn’t so appealing, so it’s taken me about 7 months to complete! 


The wool is Zealana Heron, a 10 ply merino/possum blend. This is actually the second thing I’ve knitted in Heron (the first has been finished for over a year, but only got photos last weekend, whoops), and it is so lovely. The yarn is almost felted together, so it just looks like a single fuzzy, lofty strand rather than two or three strands twisted together. I’m sure there’s a technical term for that, but hopefully you know what I mean! The 20% brushtail possum fur gives the jumper a lovely soft halo, and makes it super warm. As well as feeling amazing, I also just like the idea of wearing something knitted out of NZ wool and which directly aides in the conservation of New Zealand native bush by using possum. I know possums are considered cute fluffy little critters in a lot of the world (Australia, looking at you), but they’re a conservation disaster in New Zealand. They eat the eggs of our native birds (which need all the help they can get, given that a lot of them can’t fly and so nest on the ground), and are massively destructive to our native flora as well. So there are plenty of reasons for me to keep knitting with Zealana Yarns!


I’m looking a bit awkward in these pictures, there were about 12 people watching! I’m not a natural in front of the camera, let alone in front of an audience. The jumper looks good though, so just focus on that…

This pattern has you knit the jumper in several stages. The front and back hem ribbing sections are knit separately, then are joined in the round and the body is knitted up to the armpits, where the front stitches are put on hold while the back is shaped for raglan sleeves, then the front is picked up and finished in the same way.

Both sleeves are knitted the same from the cuff up in the round, until the raglan sleeve cap, which is different on each sleeve of course. Then the whole lot is seamed together, and the neckband is picked up and knitted. I like knitting in the round, but I also like that the sleeves were knitted separately, as there is a lot of jumper to cart around by that point! This method kept things manageable, but also minimised the seaming (which I’m a fan of!).


This was a really fun project to work on, once I got going. The cables were easy enough to keep track of after a few repititions, and there was enough variety to keep it interesting to knit! I used to hate doing a tubular cast on, even though I love the result, because it’s so fiddly and always seems like it’s going to collapse when I take out the waste yarn (I’m still not too sure why it doesn’t, must be witchcraft), but after doing a tubular cast on for the front and back and both sleeves, I might have got over my dislike. I do really love the split high/low hem, it’s such a nice touch. In fact, I enjoyed all of this jumper, except for the Kitchener stitch bind off for the neckband! I don’t think I’ll ever get over my dislike of Kitchener stitch, I just can’t get my head around the pattern of knit/purl/slip movements to make with the tapestry needle, I’m constantly referring to the tutorial on The Purl Bee. It’s bearable when it’s 12 stitches for the toe of a sock, but the 114 stitches around this neckband were a mission. I couldn’t bear to have the neckband not to match the cast on edges though, so I just sucked it up and did it!


I think this will be my last jumper for a little while, for this winter at least! I’ve got five hand knit jumpers in rotation now, so I’m going to try to focus more on accessories for the rest of the year. I’ve already finished a hat, and I have a scarf cast on, as well as a few pairs of socks planned. That should keep me busy for a wee bit…

Rocky Bottoms

I often buy patterns that take my fancy as soon as I see them, but I don’t often bump them up to the top of my sewing queue. The Named Minttu Swing Top was one example of a pattern I bought and made immediately, and apparently the Megan Nielsen Flint Pants are another!

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I have to admit, these trousers are pretty far outside my usual comfort zone! I tend to go for close fitting garments on my bottom half, skinny jeans and pegged trousers are my standard fare. Cropped wide leg trousers are definitely an anomaly in my wardrobe, I still think they’re probably too fashionable and “cool girl” for me! I loved the samples and the line drawings though, and then I found this slate grey crepe for $3 p/m at The Fabric Warehouse sale and thought I should push myself and give them a go (also, slate+flint=rocky bottoms! Terrible pun, but I’m not deleting it…).

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The pattern sewed up really quickly and easily, the lack of zipper or complicated closure definitely helped to speed things up! Instead, the waistband opens at the left pocket, with the pocket itself acting as a kind of gusset to let you in and out of the trousers, and is held closed by two buttons (or by really cute ties, which I am definitely going to try when I make the shorts version next summer!). I made up a straight size small, and I think the fit is really good. I did have to take an inch off the bottom, and I used a 2 inch hem allowance, but I’m only 158cm tall (5’2″ ish), so that’s to be expected. I considered taking a bit more off the hem, but I couldn’t decide if they looked funny shorter or not. What do you think of the length?

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This crepe fabric was a pretty good pick for these trousers I think! Its lovely and heavy and swishy, which I think helps them not look too overwhelming or clownish. It’s pretty thick, so I did have to grade the seams at the waistband pretty enthusiastically, especially around the pleats and pockets. It’s also polyester (I know, I know, but it’s so drapey and nice, and it was so cheap!), so it doesn’t crease or press very well, so the front pleats aren’t exactly crisp, but that’s ok. it also means they won’t wrinkle with wear, which is a win!

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As usual, I didn’t exactly make things easy for myself. I somehow managed to snip a hole right in the middle of the right front piece as I was cutting it out. I don’t know how I managed it, I must have been waving my scissors around like a maniac, but it was instant panic stations because I definitely didn’t have enough fabric to cut out another leg! In the end, I fused a scrap of interfacing to the hole, and then hand mended it. Thank god it’s mostly hidden in the pleat, because it’s far from an invisible mend! Hopefully most people shouldn’t be looking too closely at my pleats…

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Realistically this is probably how I’ll be wearing my Flint Trousers most of the time, with a tee shirt and flats (the tee shirt is a long sleeved Lark Tee, in a lovely cotton/lycra from Tessuti. I’ve made a few Larks which haven’t made it to the blog yet, I’ll try to sneak them into other posts!), but I think they look nice dressed up with heels and a cami or other fancy top too. Once I have a job which requires grown up clothing rather than pyjamas scrubs, I think they’d be a good addition to a work wardrobe! I think I’ll make another Nettie Bodysuit to wear with these, anything to stop my top wrinkling up underneath them.

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Apologies for these pictures being a bit dark, it’s so gloomy today! The clocks went back for winter in New Zealand overnight, so while I was pleased to get a bonus hour, I’m also bummed that now its going to be getting dark by 5.30-6pm! I need to get a brighter lightbulb for the lamp in my sewing room so that I can do stuff in the evenings…

Minttu Swing Top

Just a quick wee post today to show off my latest finished garment, the Minttu Swing Top from the new Named collection. 


I love Named patterns, I always look forward to their pattern releases, and their SS17 collection Playground didn’t disappoint! Even though I’m in the wrong hemisphere for them to be seasonally appropriate, I still immediately bought both the Minttu and the Ansa butterfly sleeve dress patterns. We’re having a late burst of summer weather in Wellington at the moment, so I thought I might as well squeeze in another sleeveless top!


I have to admit, I didn’t really read the fine print on this one before hitting buy, I didn’t realise it was meant for knits until I was reading the instructions! I swapped out the woven rayon I was planning to use for this rayon/wool knit, I thought it might be better to try the pattern as intended before branching out (though now that I’ve made it, I’m sure it would work in a lightweight woven. I’ll need to size up and adjust the neckline so I can get my head though it though…) This knit is super soft and very drapey, so I think it works pretty well. I made a Scout tee shirt out of it last winter and have worn it heaps, but it is quite thick and weirdly heavy, so it tends to stretch out all over the place.


The combination of weighty knit and lots of stretch and drape means that the hem of this top often looks uneven, but it’s just because I’ve tugged it down unevenly or it’s got caught up on my jeans pocket or something, it goes back to sitting evenly once I settle everything back to where it should be! I do like how this swingy silhouette looks with the drape of this fabric, so I’m not too fussed with having to readjust it occasionally.


The pattern calls for interfaced facings, which has definitely helped to stabilise the neckline and armholes. The main fabric is quite thick, so I used a much thinner, less stretchy knit and a knit interfacing for the facings and I think it has worked well. It’s definitely helped to retain the slightly angular shape of the armscye. I’m not going to lie though, the instructions for attaching the facings at the armscye did my head in! I managed it in the end, but it took me ages to get the pinch and turn-through method that they described right. It looks lovely and clean inside now though! 


It’s really hard to see the seam details in this knit, but there are no side seams, just two side panels which form the shape of the armscye when they intersect with the front and back pieces. I love the cut away armscye, though it isn’t terribly bra-friendly. I need to get one of those clips to turn my bras into racer backs!

I think this is a great pattern, and I’m going to use some of my precious striped rayon knit to make another one. I think the panels offer a good opportunity to play with stripe direction or pattern placement! I think it could be lengthened into a really cute dress as well, but that might have to wait until next summer…

Willow Grove

 

I have to admit, I was a little disappointed when I first saw the Willow Tank/dress pattern from  Grainline Studios. I thought it was a bit boring, but once it started to warm up a bit I realised that woven tanks would be a really good addition to my wardrobe. I was loving my Ogden Camisoles, but I also really like to be able to wear normal (not strapless) bras, so Willow started to look more appealing!

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I’ve made three so far this summer, its a nice quick little project to sew, and doesn’t use too much fabric so is good for some of the precious lengths I have stashed! All three are cotton (perfect for warm weather), but I’d like to have a go at making one out of a fabric with more drape, maybe rayon or silk. It could also be fun in velvet or sequins…

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The first version I made is a cotton from The Fabric Store, I love the water colour gingham print. I’m always really attracted to gingham, but I always worry that it can look a bit childlike. I think the washed out paint-like quality of this one makes it look more adult! I made a straight size 6 (my standard Grainline size), but I drafted an all in one facing for the neckline and armholes. This marks a fairly abrupt change in my feelings about facings, in the past I would always opt for bias tape to finish my edges over facings! I’ve come to really appreciate the clean look facings can give though, even if they can be a bit more of a fiddle.

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I sewed these facings using the instructions that come with the Deer and Doe Datura blouse for sewing an all in one facing with no CB opening. It’s a bit fiddly, and I remember it totally doing my head in when I sewed up my first Datura blouse, but it works really well. I’ve just tried to describe what I did, but it was utterly incomprehensible, so here is a sew-along post for the Datura which describes it instead! For my next two Willow tanks I made my life a bit easier and added a CB seam…

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Not that you can tell there is a centre back seam in this Liberty tana lawn! This is probably my favourite ever Liberty print (I find a lot of Liberty really pretty, but its not something I often want to wear). This is my favourite version of the pattern so far, the lawn is so soft and light to wear, and I think the deep hem helps it hang nicely. Its definitely had a lot of wear so far! I do wish it wasn’t so wrinkly across my back, I didn’t realise how bad it was until I saw these pictures. I’m not sure if I need a sway back fix, or if I need to widen the hem slightly.

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The final version is a cropped version with a faux button placket up the back, because I can’t help myself sometimes. It’s made out of a lovely Japanese cotton seersucker which I bought at Tessuti when I was over in Australia, and have been hoarding. I only had a metre, and being Japanese it was only about 112cm wide, so it was perfect for a cropped version. I took 4 inches off the bottom of the pattern, following the tutorial on the Grainline blog. I was very careful and cut it out in a single layer so that I could match all the stripes, but of course this meant that I cut out two left backs, instead of a pair. I should never try to do anything that requires thinking after 9pm! I didn’t have enough fabric to cut another back half out, so I had to do some careful patching. Luckily, stripes make invisible piecing reasonably simple, and I think I’ve managed ok.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you might be thinking this combination of buttons and stripes looks familiar, and that’s because they’re the same buttons I used up the back of my striped Scout tee a while ago. I’m a bit predictable!

I made this version specifically to go with my Safran Jeans, I’ve been loving the cropped boxy top trend recently, but I’m not keen to be flashing any tummy! This length with my super high waisted jeans is perfect. There is only one problem with it…

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It swings way out in the front! I think this means that I need an FBA, but I’m not sure why it’s doing it here but not on the longer ones. Unless its just because the seersucker is just stiffer than the lightweight cotton of the other two, and that combined with the shorter length is making it look like a cow catcher on the front of a train (thanks to Hamish for that bit of imagery). At least it’ll ensure that there’s plenty of fresh air circulating around my torso when it’s hot! I’ll need to do a bit of experimentation if I want to make another cropped version.

I’m talking about warm weather like it isn’t currently 12 degrees and pissing with rain, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get some more summer before autumn closes in! If not, I’ll need to pack them for our September trip to the UK, in the hope that we’ll get some good weather then…

 

Jeans!!

I was going to try to come up with a witty title for this post, but to be honest JEANS!! sums it up! I’ve been putting off making jeans for two years, ever since i bought the Ginger Jeans pattern, and now I’m really not sure why. I’ve jumped head first into sewing with silk velvet, into making lined coats, and into using unmarked, single size vintage patterns, but jeans always just seemed a bridge too far. Given that jeans are probably the biggest staple in my wardrobe (I wear them every day, as I get changed into scrubs at work and don’t have to look professional), so I finally decided to get over myself and cut into one of the many lengths of denim which I have been stashing for my eventual jean-making adventure.

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Now, you may have noticed that there are not, in fact, the famed Ginger Jeans. When Deer and Doe released their Safran Pants pattern I grabbed it, thinking that maybe a pattern which uses denim with at least 30% stretch would be more forgiving for a first foray into sewing skinny jeans. I think it was a good decision, I’m really happy with these jeans, and I’ve learned a few things that I’ll apply to the Ginger pattern when I make them up.

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The Safran pattern has a true high waist, the button sits pretty much exactly over my belly button. I really like a high waist, I like being able to tuck my muffin-top in! I find it more comfortable than a lower rise, especially when it’s a close fitting waistband. I also like the slanted welt pockets, they’re a bit different to traditional jeans pockets, but I think they’re really neat and tidy, and they were easy enough to construct. I do wish that I had followed the instructions and cut half of the pocket bag out of denim instead of my contrasting cotton. I thought I was being clever and keeping things streamlined by using the thinner cotton for both pieced, and it wasn’t until the pockets were fully constructed that I realised a line of cream cotton was visible down each side of the welt. its a bit annoying, but I’ll know for next time!

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I think the fit in the front is pretty good, there are minimal drag lines around the fly/pockets. the fly went in really easily, though I have constructed a few fly fronts now and they don’t bother me like they used to! I do however have quite a few wrinkles on the legs, particularly at the knees. Initially I thought that I had cut the front legs off grain, but they aren’t wanting to twist, I just have those weird diagonal wrinkles. I think I need a full calf adjustment (dancing in 3 inch heels at over 200 beats per minute makes for good calf muscles), as I also have a fair amount of spare fabric behind my knees and they’re a bit snug around my calves. I did a bit of a cheap and nasty fix, pinching out fabric at the knee and letting out the seams at the calf, but next time I’ll do a proper full calf adjustment.

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I have under-bum wrinkles and some across the back of my thighs too, but I’m less worried about those to be honest. I can’t see them, and they don’t make things uncomfortable! I’ll look into ways to reduce it for the next pair.

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I am pretty happy with the pocket placement! I decided to leave the pockets plain, as I was just using navy top stitching thread, and because my darling Bernina was really not happy about sewing with top stitching thread, and kept packing a sad on me. I had to take the jeans into my local craft shop and use one of their modern Janome machines to top stitch the waistband and belt loops, and to sew the buttonhole. Surprisingly, the one thing my Bernina was happy to do with the heavier thread was sew bar tacks. I used bar tacks on the fly, of course, and also at the top corners of each of the back pockets, and at the inner corners of the welt pockets. Pretty much wherever you’d put rivets, I guess!

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I’m so stoked with these jeans! I’ve worn them all week, and they haven’t bagged out at all. The waistband is still sitting flush with my waist all the way around (not even gaping at my sway back!), which I think is down to a combination of a well drafted waistband, good recovery in the denim I picked (it’s from The Fabric Store, of course), and a good knit interfacing from Made Marion Craft. I really love the shape of these, and the cropped length is really cute (though I now have slightly sunburned ankles after a weekend spent outside). I took these photos yesterday morning before I headed out to the Homegrown music festival which was held on the waterfront. I can now confirm that they’ve stood up to some seriously sweaty, energetic, probably terrible dancing to some bands which I loved when I was at high school and university, and they also coped with another hot and crowded day at the Newtown Festival today. And they still haven’t bagged out! I definitely feel like I’m onto a winner. I definitely feel ridiculous for waiting this long to make jeans, I love that now I can actually wear a fully handmade outfit every day without thinking too hard about what I’m putting on. Clearly I need to make another pair…

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(so stretchy, so comfortable!)

All Yellow

In early January I was invited to the wedding of two of our friends. It was in north Canterbury, so I assumed it would be incredibly hot, and I really wanted to make a strappy sun dress to wear. When Sew Over It released the Rosie Dress pattern I knew that I had my dress!


It had the full skirt and spagetti straps that I was looking for, and I liked the sweetheart neckline. The fabric is a Liberty Saville Poplin that I got on sale from The Fabric Store (pretty much the only way I’ll ever buy Liberty is when it’s on sale!). The Poplin was a good choice, even though I was looking for Tana lawn, as I didn’t have to line the skirt.


It’s a big skirt! I like how it has the flat portion at the centre front, it’s a bit more flattering than if it was gathered all the way around. 


Here is the obligatory (super awkward) twirling shot! 


I wish I could say that everything went really smoothly and that I loved this dress, but it just gave me so many issues. I had problems with the fit, and I probably should have either done an FBA or just gone up a size entirely. I’m not happy with the widening and flattening effect it has on my boobs (though my strapless bra doesn’t help with that, to be fair).


I had a bit of a nightmare with the bodice lining too. Everything was sitting nicely until I put in the boned lining, and then the boning stretched out the small amount of ease in the upper bodice, meaning that the neckline stood out from my body from the front princess seams around under my arms. I could have used it as a collecting bucket for small fruit or something, I was so annoyed! I had a whinge on Instagram, and tossed it aside in a huff. Thankfully Nikki had the excellent suggestion of easing it into some stay tape, which I dutifully did. It’s now a little bit wrinkled where it’s been eased in, but it sits much better. 

I did get it done in time to take down south, but I didn’t wear it to the wedding in the end. It’s funny, I thought my Anna dress wasn’t very me, but this dress is much much less me (I wore Anna to the wedding, and felt really good). I just feel uncomfortable in Rosie, and it’s not just that the fit is off. In fact, I’m so sure that I’m not going to wear it that I’m considering taking the bodice off and putting the waistband from the skirt variation on. I think that the skirt paired with a white silk Cami or a cropped Willow tank would be more wearable, and would make me feel less like I’m in a costume. 


So I am a bit disappointed in this one, I don’t like feeling like I’ve wasted both time and fabric on a dud! I’m glad that I have a plan to rescue some of this fabric though, because I love the colour. I guess you can’t win them all…