Fancy Pants

It’s party season! I seem to have more invitations this year than usual (that’s not to say I have hundreds, but as a card-carrying introvert I find having something on most weekends is quite a lot of socialising!), so I’ve been looking to make some separates which can do double duty as party wear and for every day. With excellent timing, Drapers Fabrics in Auckland contacted me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d like to collaborate with them on a project. I’m usually pretty reluctant to do sponsored content on my blog, but I’ve bought from Drapers in the past and I love the quality and variety of their fabrics, so I felt confident about teaming up with them! The usual disclaimer then: The fabrics used in this post were kindly supplied by Drapers Fabrics, but all opinions are honest and are my own.

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I decided I really wanted a pair of swishy Flint trousers, in a lighter weight fabric than my heavy grey crepe pair, and some cami tops to wear with them. I had been looking for some tencel twill, as I keep reading such glowing reviews of it online, but I’ve been unable to lay my hands on any in stores here. Luckily, Drapers Fabrics stocks a beautiful viscose twill (called Vivi), which sounded perfect. I asked for some advice from Lulu, who was very helpful when communicating with me for the collaboration, and she agreed that it would be the perfect drape and weight for a pair of swishy trousers. It’s so lovely and soft!

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This is actually my 4th time using the Flint Trouser pattern, but it’s only the second pair which has made it to the blog (bad blogger!). I made a pair of chambray shorts to take to the UK, and I’ve also made a pair in cotton sateen which I’ll post about later. This is the first pair I’ve made with the tie at the waistband though, I thought it would be a nice touch with this fluid fabric. I really like the way it looks, especially with a tucked-in top! Even with a cropped top like this, the tie isn’t lumpy or weird underneath it, which is nice. I was worried it would only work with something fitted up top.

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The top is a cropped version of the Grainline Willow Tank, the same as my striped version in this post. I was trying to pick between a few printed woven options on the Drapers Fabrics online store for another Ogden Cami, but when I saw Sheena, a linen/rayon blend, I decided it would make an excellent Willow Tank instead. It’s crisp and fairly stiff, so it holds the flared silhouette of the Willow perfectly, and I love the texture that the blend of fibers gives the fabric. It has a pattern of sheer and opaque lines making up a subtle plaid pattern, but the bubbly texture looks more like giant seersucker. I wondered if I would have to wear a top underneath it, but it isn’t so sheer that I’m worried about it! It makes the pattern more obvious when there is a different colour underneath it too, of course. I’ve made the Willow tank several times now, but this is the first time that I’ve made it with the bindings rather than my ‘self-drafted’ facing pieces. Because of the sheerness of the fabric I thought the bindings would look better! I used bias strips of the viscose twill that I had left over from my trousers, as I thought Sheena was probably a bit crisp to bend around the neckline and arm holes nicely. Vivi behaved beautifully on the bias, and ironed nicely, so it was a good choice!

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I’m so happy with both of these garments, I think they fill my brief of separates which can be worn to parties or casually with other pieces perfectly! I think they look dressy and elegant worn together, especially with heels and fancy jewellery as I’m wearing them here, but I can easily imagine the trousers with a striped tee shirt and some flats, or the top with my high waisted jeans or with shorts. It’s been a long time since I’ve worn an all-black outfit, but I think the mix of textures and the drape of the trousers softens the severity of so much black.  I’m looking forward to wearing this outfit out somewhere fancy.

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(pity me for my terrible sun burn tee shirt lines…)

So! I would definitely recommend either of these fabrics, as well as Drapers Fabrics online store. Drapers Fabrics have been generous enough to give me a discount code for my readers as well, use FIFTYTWOFANCIES at checkout for 15% off all full priced fabrics. They offer an online swatch service, which is awesome for buying fabric online when you’ve never seen it before, and I’ve found them really helpful and responsive to emails and direct messages over Instagram. They’ll also respond to queries through their Facebook page, if that’s your thing! Drapers Fabrics also offer a layby service, where you can spread the cost of your purchase over 6 payments. I’m going to shamelessly take advantage of my own discount code and order some more of the viscose twill, as my mum wants a pair of matching Flint Trousers, and I’d love a dress out of it too. I’m also eyeing up some of their striped Japanese knit fabric (probably Wonda, but they also have Nadia. Tough choice…), because you know I can never have too many striped tee shirts…

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Travel Basics

I had a ridiculous list of things to sew before our big trip (and I managed to get pretty much everything done!), but I had a few basic things which I knew I really had to take. A white tee shirt, some merino leggings and a new cardigan were all things that I knew would fill holes in both my travel wardrobe (sounds so fancy) and back home for our awkward spring weather. They aren’t really exciting garments, but they’ve been really useful and I’ve taken photos in a pretty spectacular location so hopefully that makes up for it!


First up is the tee shirt. I abandoned my much loved Grainline Lark pattern to try the Deer and Doe Plantain (free download!), and I really like the shape of it. It’s apparently been slimmed down from its original iteration, but it’s still loose enough to skim my hips and tummy rather than being tight. I like the shape of the scoop neck too, it’s nice and deep but not so deep that I’m worried about leaning forward!


I’ve managed to pull it weirdly against my body here, I’m not sure why I’ve trapped it under my arm like that! 

I used a cream merino from The Fabric Store. I don’t have a white tee shirt, but when I held up various white knits to my face in the shop they all made me look a bit grey and sick, so I went with a warmer cream. It’s a lovely fabric, as merino always is, but it is a wee bit see through. I’ll need to be careful to always wear a nude bra with it!


Right, second woollen basic is another Driftless Cardigan! This is my third time making this pattern, and I desperately needed another one because I’ve nearly worn through the elbows of my second (and the first isn’t really something I wear out of the house, it’s more like a dressing gown!)


I love this pattern, it’s so comfortable and I find it a really practical and easy shape to wear. The pockets are especially good! This time I used a beautiful grey Japanese wool (also from TFS). It has less stretch than merino, which makes for a sturdier feeling cardigan and stops the dreaded saggy pocket problem. I used the plain hem band pattern pieces rather than the high-low version, but I sewed them so that they have a split at the side seam rather than as a continuous band.


I don’t have any pictures of my merino leggings, but they’re plain black Papercut Patterns Ooh La leggings. I used a merino/Lycra blend to hopefully combat saggy knees! I’ll get some pictures in conjunction with something more exiting, because they are really dull photographically. I love them though!


These photos were taken at Dun Carloway, on the Island of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides. It was such a cool place, and there was no one there! We just wandered into the paddock and up to this Neolithic building, then went inside and crawled through that little door and up a 2000 year old staircase to where the first floor would have been. So much history blows my mind a bit, coming from somewhere where our history is pretty recent (Māori settled in New Zealand about 700 years ago and there aren’t any structures even close to that old left), and being allowed to get up so close was awesome. All of the scenery on Lewis and Harris was breathtaking, I’m so glad we got out there. I’ll put my pictures from the Harris Tweed shop in another post!

Waverly and Lark

Well, I’m still without my laptop! It’s such a pain, I’ve got three biggish projects photographed and ready to blog, but I can’t edit my photos until I get it back. First world blogging issues for sure! In the meantime, here is a quick little post to show off a recently finished knitting project and (another) Lark tee.


Apparently I was feeling very stern when I took these photos…

Knitting first! This is the Waverly Scarf pattern from Knitbot, which came as a free download with her latest book, Texture (though I see you can now buy it on Ravelry). I really love a lot of the patterns in Texture, I’m currently knitting the Eventide Cardi, but I was especially taken with the basket weave texture of this scarf so I knitted it first!


I used Quince and Co Osprey in the Canvas colourway, which is exactly the same as the sample. Such originality! I wanted another neutral scarf that wasn’t grey, and this cream/beige/nude colour is perfect. It goes with everything, but I think it looks especially nice with navy! Because it’s a 12 ply yarn it knitted up pretty quickly, though I have found that the resulting fabric is really dense and sometimes sits away from my neck if I don’t get it sitting just right when I put it on. I haven’t blocked it yet, because it’s been cold and I’ve been wearing it, but once the weather warms up I’ll wet block it and hopefully that’ll relax the stitches a bit.


Another thing that I think adds to it’s stiffness is the way the edges roll in, it just makes it a bit more bulky instead of draping around my neck. Again, hopefully blocking will sort that out! Regardless, it’s a lovely scarf and it’s kept me super warm this winter. I find that the loose ends of my Guernsey Wrap blow around (and off, sometimes), but obviously that isn’t a problem with Waverly!



I’ve finally photographed this merino Lark tee! Instagram tells me I made it last August, and I’ve worn it lots in the last year. It’s the long sleeved boat neck version, obviously. Because I had a bit of trouble with the neckline sagging on my previous version, I used a self fabric facing instead of turning and stitching. It’s worked really well, the neckline is still sitting perfectly.


The Fabric is a lovely fine merino from Drapers Fabrics in Auckland, I was so happy to see a nice striped merino! I’ve found that a lot of the striped merino around tends to be light colours or really narrow stripes, but this one is perfect. 


Hopefully I won’t be needing all of my winter woolies for too much longer, but I’m glad to have these ones in my wardrobe!

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…

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…

 

A Little Bit of Sunshine

I’ve been waiting to take photos of these two garment since just after new Year, in the desperate hope that I’d be able to get photos of them outside in the sun somewhere, but life kept conspiring against me. Picnics were rained off, or I was unable to attend, or it was too cold to wear shorts…eventually I decided to just photograph them in my sewing room as usual! Of course, once I did that the rest of the day was stunningly sunny, so I could have got my outdoor shots if I had been willing to bribe someone to take the photos, but never mind! You’ll just have to use your imaginations.

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These are some more of the things which I sewed during my stay at home sew-a-thon over New Year. I’ve made both patterns before, the camisole is the Ogden from True Bias (see versions one and two here), and the shorts are the Grainline Studio Maritime Shorts. I made my first pair of Maritime Shorts two years ago, and I think they may have been my first ever go at sewing trousers. I still wear them, but they definitely have some fitting issues! I knew they weren’t quite right when I first blogged them, but I wasn’t sure where the problem was originating, or how to fix it…

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When I went back and looked at the photos from that post, I thought that probably the problem was not enough length in the crotch curve in the bum of my original shorts. I laid the back piece of the maritime shorts over the back piece of the Ralph Pink Panthea Shorts (because although I think there are some serious issues with that pattern, those shorts fit my bum well). The crotch curve was definitely longer on the Panthea shorts, so I traced it off, blending into the original Maritime curve about half way up.

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That’s the original underneath, with my modified version sitting on top. It’s such a tiny difference, but it really has made a huge difference to the fit and comfort of the shorts. I also added an inch to the hem of my traced version, and them added another two inches to the hem when  I was cutting out, as I remembered how short my other pair is!

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The other major modification I made to the shorts was to remove the fly front, and put an invisible zip in the side seam.

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This is a modification which I shamelessly stole from Sarah over at Fabric Tragic, and it’s such a good idea! Not only does it remove the hassle of sewing a fly (I know, I know, it isn’t that hard, but it can be a fiddle), but it gives a nice smooth front which I think I prefer in shorts, especially when I’m wearing looser tops. It was easy enough to do, I just sewed straight up the front crotch, and cut the waistband on the fold (at the CF mark instead of the edge of the pattern piece, otherwise it’ll be too long!). Then it was as easy as sewing the invisible zip in the side seam, all the way up though the waistband.

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The fabric is another Cotton + Steel/Rifle Paper Co. collaboration, this time in a cotton/linen canvas, again from Miss Matatabi. I really love this one, I think it’s so pretty, and the colours in the print fit perfectly into my wardrobe. I used some more of the spotty lining remnant which just keeps on giving for the pockets (I’ve lined a blazer and a skirt with it, and used it for a few pockets, and there’s still some left!), I like the combination of floral and polka dots. I have a metre of the flora fabric left, I’m trying to decide what to make with it…

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I dont really have anything new to say about the Ogden Cami, I love all of my versions! this one is made up exactly the same as my other ones, but this time I used some linen from The Fabric Store rather than soft drapey rayon. I like the different silhouette that the crisper linen gives the camisole, and it’s nice in the heat to not have something that sits against my skin. I love the colour, I was really happy when I realised that it was the same colour as the seed pods on the C+S fabric. I also have some of the same linen in pale pink, I think I might make it into a shirt dress, if I don’t run out of summer!

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Layering for Spring

Ugh, this week. I’m very glad it’s over! Last Sunday evening the hard drive on my laptop gave up completely as I was trying to back it up (oh the irony). Normally the loss of my laptop wouldn’t be the end of the world (I don’t use it too much), but my final assignment for trimester two is due tomorrow, and I had everything I had written and all my research on it. Thank god the partner of one of my friends is an IT guy, and he managed to retrieve my info off the hard drive before it completely crapped out, so I managed to get it all done (though I still need to edit about 500 words out of it, bit of a pain…). I’ve also been struck down with my usual spring hay fever (thanks pine trees, you dicks!), so I feel like a bit of a snivveling mess. But now that my paper is written and I’ve bought myself every antihistamine on the market things should be looking up, and I have some new sewing projects which I’m really happy with to share.

  

First up is my first True Bias Ogden Cami, in a lovely rayon from The Fabric Warehouse. I’m really going to have to get over my hatred of strapless bras, because I really like this top and have several lengths of fabric earmarked for more! 

   

It was such a quick satisfying project, I was able to easily get it out of the metre of fabric I had and it probably only took two hours from cutting to finishing. I took the advice of the instructions and added a ribbon to the back facing so that I can tell the front from the back, which was a good call. I love the facing, it gives such a lovely smooth finish at the neckline, and the double layer of fabric means that it sits really smoothly over my bra and a coloured bra won’t show through. 

  

I wore this for a night out dancing the same day that I made it, and it was very comfortable in the heat! Unfortunately I clipped the seams around the straps a bit severely, and the next morning I realised that one of the back straps had partially pulled out of the seam. It was an easy enough fix, and I went around and reinforced the rest of the strap attachment points too. Next time I’ll leave a bit more length in the seam!

  

Next up is my Grainline Driftless Cardigan. This is actually the second Driftless Cardigan I’ve made, though the first one never made it to the blog (I made it out of a beige wool sweatshirting, which is lovely and warm and got worn a lot over winter, but it has pilled horribly and definitely looks like a house-only garment). This one is a cotton/poly blend from the remnant bin at The Fabric Store, and it has an amazing bobbly bouclé texture. I had only just enough fabric to squeeze this out, though I did have to piece the neckband. The texture of the fabric means the join is invisible though, I can only find it by feeling for the extra thickness of the seam. 

  

I really wanted to use the high/low hem bands from view B, but due to the aforementioned fabric shortage I could only manage the standard hem band. To compensate, I followed the split hem instructions anyway, and I like the result just as much! 

  

I do like the cocoon shape of the cardigan! I also like the way the slim sleeves balance out the volume in the body, making it look oversized but not like I’m wearing someone else’s much bigger cardi.

  

I overlocked the whole thing, even the neckband (the instructions say to hand stitch or topstitch the neckband over to give a neater finish), which seems to be staying in plave after a good steam. I’ve been wearing it so much, its the perfect weight for this time of year. Unfortunately I realised this morning that I’d managed to get something yellow on it, I suspect it might be a bit of curry paste from dinner last night! So its soaking down in the laundry, and I’m desperately hoping that it’ll come out. Otherwise I might have to get a black felt pen out to disguise the worst of the yellow!

  

So those are my new layering staples! I’m so happy with both, though I can’t wait for it to get warm enough to be able to wear camisoles without a wooly layer over the top…