Me Made May · Uncategorized

Me Made May Recap

My first attempt at Me Made May was a bit of a success!  I did miss a few days when I was sick in bed, and a few more days when I was away at Girl Scout Camp but managed to wear something handmade most days.  The biggest challenge was getting a picture of myself and I honestly felt pretty uncomfortable taking so many pictures that focused on me but overall I think this was a useful exercise.  I pulled some oldies but goodies out of the back of my closet and wore items that I wouldn’t normally wear that took me out of my clothing rut and reminded me why I sew- I do have some great pieces in my wardrobe that I should be proud of!  My goal was to wear something handmade each day and to sew up one new item each weekend.  The new items I made in May are (patterns in captions):

 

The rest of the month looked like this:

 

What I’ve learned:

  • I need more basics tops and separates
  • I need to figure out a better way to take photos- begging  my kids to take my pictures on the front lawn isn’t the best plan
  • This was really fun and boosted my confidence- it was rewarding to tell people and share what I was wearing each day!
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Me Made May · Uncategorized

Olympia Maxi Dress

It’s Spring!  The weather in the North East is still fluctuating between the 80’s and 50’s, pouring rain and then sun but my Wisteria is in full bloom and I am gearing up for warm weather.  I am inspired to make comfortable and breezy summer dresses to wear as we see the sights and eat ALL THE FOOD in Spain this summer.

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This is also the first year I am participating in #memademay and have been wearing handmade every day- it has been much easier than I though- except for the photo capturing.  My girls are short little amateur photographers so it is very difficult to get a good photo of my clothes but I am trying to train them well!  My goal was to wear something handmade each day (except when I was leading at Girl Scout Camp last weekend) and to sew at least one new item each weekend.  Although I haven’t been blogging this I plan on doing an end of the month wrap up post showing all of the pics and hopefully will get to full posts of the new items soon!

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This post just has to go up today though so I am posting out of order.  I couldn’t resist posing in my new Olympia Maxi Dress in front of the Wisteria tree- the colors are just perfect!  I bought just a few yards of this pretty knit at Joanns a few weeks ago on clearance and had planned on making leggings for my daughters with it but was able to sew a maxi dress for myself out of it instead!  I originally made this particular dress with a sleeveless black liverpool top and the purple patterned fabric skirt but after trying it on I did not like where the top cut off on my waist and how it contrasted with the skirt.  I decided to cut it off and was able to eek a matching top out of the leftover scraps of fabric by sewing a seam up the back instead of placing the pattern on the fold and by making the top slightly smaller than the XL pattern.  The fabric had enough stretch to make it work and I am very happy with the result.

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The bonus?  I used the black bodice I had sewn and paired it with another maxi skirt so I was able to finish two dresses this weekend!  I love the second one even more and plan on getting pictures this week.  For now- here we go- Size XL purple printed knit Olympia Sleeveless Maxi Dress.

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Me Made May · Uncategorized

Me Made May.

I know it is May 2nd.  I am a day late but better late than never!  So- those of you who don’t obsessively read sewing blogs may not know that Me Made May is a thing- a really big thing.  MMM or #Memademay or Me-Made-May or whatever you want to call it is an online event where the challenge is to wear something me-made or refashioned EVERY SINGLE DAY in May.  Awkward selfies posed in full length mirrors at work or in bathrooms are frequently posted…so here we go.

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A quote from it’s founder Zoe Edwards taken from Seamwork*:

“What makes MMM compelling is the way it challenges sewists not only to make garments, but also to actually wear them in our real lives—and so to consider how our handmade wardrobes relate to consumption, self-image, and how we present ourselves to the world.”

This is the first year I feel up to the task and will attempt to use this month as a way to encourage myself to sew more, to take pictures of what I sew and maybe even post more on this blog as a result.  I may not take a selfie of what I am wearing every day and post it to Instagram like I am supposed to but maybe I will most days- we’ll see.  So, although I did not take a picture of it yesterday I was wearing a refashioned dress I shortened into a tunic and so technically I am cooperating with this challenge already- but lets count today as the official start!

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I am trying to branch out of my pattern designer comfort zone (Seamwork, Colette, etc) and try other independent designers and lately I have been hooked on Patterns for Pirates.  I bought this pattern last week and couldn’t wait to make it when I got my latest shipment of fabric in from LA Finch Fabrics.   The pattern is a variation on their Sweetheart dress which makes this a very versatile pattern that includes a sweetheart neckline, color blocking options, lace overlay all in a peplum, mini  length and the knee length dress version.  I never thought I would wear a Peplum Top and quite honestly I feel pretty silly and self conscious in it for whatever reason but I am in love with it at the same time.

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Being “curvy” and carrying much of my weight in my stomach I wouldn’t think this style with its nipped in waist and hip accentuating flounce would work but because the waist hits at the narrowest part of the body and is fitted on top and nice and loose around the bottom it is surprisingly flattering.  Or at least I am hoping it is and trying to convince myself of this!  This Spring Floral Coral Liverpool knit I used certainly attracts attention and isn’t helping me blend into a corner today at work- maybe that is a good thing and this whole Me-Made-May thing knows what it is doing- inspiring confidence in its participants and showing the viewers that rocking handmade can work on a daily basis.  Maybe.  Either way- Day 1 of the challenge is done!

 

*what a Librarian thing to do- insert a quote and a link.  No citation page here though- have to draw the line.

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Crochet top(s)

Gearing up for travel always inspires me to get sewing.  As though planning a trip isn’t enough work I always feel the need to bring a few new handmade items for each vacation…sometimes I am successful and sometimes not so much!  When planning our trip to London/Dublin last summer I had envisioned wearing a loose knit tank and began knitting a navy round-yoke sleeveless sweater that never got finished and I honestly have no idea what even happened to it.  I have thought about it ever since and was determined to make something similar to it for my upcoming trip to Spain but couldn’t bear to start a new top in the same style so I decided to take a bit of a shortcut and crochet one instead.  I have been knitting and crocheting off and on for years and I still find crochet to be SO MUCH FASTER.  Not sure if this is true for everyone- but I always feel like it is my shortcut, my cheat for knitting.

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After combing ravelry for what felt like forever I came across this simple boxy crochet top and fell in love.  I worked on it here and there – at home, on my lunch hour, in waiting rooms and in bed until I was finally done.  That sounds overly dramatic now that I read it- it really only took a few hours here and there over the course of a few weeks to finish.  I was so eager to get started I just ran out to the local JoAnns on my lunch hour to buy cotton yarn and settled on Lily Sugar N’ Cream in Indigo as a good inexpensive but natural fiber option.  No acrylic for this summer sweater!  The pattern works up very easy.  The two row pattern was simple to memorize and the repetitive stitch was extremely soothing and meditative.  I did find the sizing to be ridiculously large.  I began the sweater following the XL size but with the stated 14 inches of ease built in it was way too big.  I decided to work up the size Large with the hook size stated and it fits great.  Perfect amount of ease and drape.  It was easy to crochet while watching TV or carrying on a conversation which is a must in my book.

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I finished it a few weeks ago and decided to run outside for a few pictures of it when my youngest pulled out a similar pink sweater that I had crocheted for her older sister years ago and I had forgotten about…I believe she found it at the bottom of her closet- argh.  She immediately wanted to wear it to match me and come into the photo shoot!

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I have become discouraged lately and have stopped sewing or knitting/crocheting for my girls much in recent years because many of the items became somewhat forgotten or banished to the back of the closet but I am so happy to see them be resurrected like this.  I love the oversized granny square pattern I used for her little pink sweater probably 5 years ago that I started an adult sized version for me as soon as I finished this one.  I am actually wearing this top right now, and while getting dressed for school this morning she popped in my room and saw it on me and ran to her room to wear hers as well.  Now, if that isn’t the ultimate Mommy compliment I don’t know what is.  It makes me smile just thinking about it- that my little girl wanted to dress like me today at school.  I will hold onto this for as long as I can!

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Getting back to active

I’ve been in a slump.  A FUNK with a capital F.  Depressed, bummed, cranky, bitchy or whatever you like to call it.  For a few months.  I have several reasons why that I feel can explain it away but for the sake of keeping this blog (mostly) sewing related I will not get into it!  No matter the reasons I know what I have been missing out on and what I need to get myself back into doing…one of them besides sewing is getting back to running!

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I ran my first half marathon just six months ago and then winter came, and the reasons for my hibernation came into play and BAM- I fell of the bandwagon.  Hard.  I would run maybe twice a week, then once a week…then maybe once every two weeks.  You get the idea.  Weeks would go by and I couldn’t drag myself out there because when I did it was so much harder and not as enjoyable as it was when I was regularly running.  It wasn’t fun.  Long story short- I know the only way to get myself out of this self imposed hibernation is to be like Nike and  JUST DO IT! I went out for a great 3 mile run this morning and felt wonderful!  There was a chill in the air but the sky was clear, the flowers were in bloom and it was perfect.  I came home and grabbed an iced coffee and (after a much needed shower!) headed outside for my daughter to take a few pics* of me in my new favorite pattern- Pattern for Pirates Peg Legs.

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This is now a free pattern and I am so happy I gave it a try.  I made the straight XL size with the high waist and capri length.  The fabric is a double brushed poly (just like Lularoe) I snagged for just under $8 at LaFinch Fabrics.  They feel like butter…so soft!  I have made a few orders from this shop and am in LOVE.  Fast shipping and a wonderful selection of double brushed poly, liverpool knits and more.  These knits are a new world to me and I have sewn up several great pieces with them that I hope to blog about soon!

The fabric print I used for these reminds me of running tights so they are pretty casual- but perfect for a lazy Saturday!  I know I will be making up so many more pairs of these once I buy more fabric…no more $25 Lularoe leggings for me.  I love the capri length and they are a super quick sew.  Besides the version I made this pattern includes 2 rises: low/mid rise and high rise and 4 lengths: shorties, bike, capri and ankle in sizes from XXS up to 3XL.  They even have add ons for a gusset, waistband or side pockets and more.  I can’t wait to sew up a pair of shorts in performance fabric with a side pocket, gusset and waistband pocket- they’ll be perfect for running!

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*a childs height does not equal the best pics!  I really need to up my game with my blog posts/pictures.  Hopefully future posts will feature more flattering pics and background!  She did manage this beautiful shot of the tree though…

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Olympia Dress for Easter

There’s something about Spring that inspires me to sew, sew, sew.  Maybe it is the warmer weather and the ability to go outside without bundling up under a puffy winter jacket?  Or it could be that I just have more time and the days are longer and brighter and I have more energy?  Either way I have been sewing up a storm these past few weeks and although I have sewn several items of clothing/bags etc since my last blog post I haven’t been interested in blogging or sharing them- until now!

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Coming out of winter hibernation I have a few blog posts ready to go and here is the first one- the Olympia Dress by Love Notions Patterns.  I came across Love Notions when I first sewed their Laundry Day Tee – which I am totally in love with and will post about soon!  This Olympia Dress is my second pattern by this company and the first I have paid for- and I am so happy with how this dress turned out.  This is my second version- the first version I used an inexpensive lycra jersey that I am just not in love with.  This version is using a pretty substantial scuba knit from Joann’s that I have been holding onto for months and didn’t have the occasion to use until now- I think it is just perfect for Spring and for Easter.

 

This dress is super simple to sew and even though I was nervous about the integrated reverse shawl collar I think it turned out Ok and was pretty easy to figure out using the directions and the video posted on the Love Notions site.  The pattern has a great size range and even individual cup sizing which is wonderful.  I sewed this up using the XL size and the D-cup bodice.  I made the sleeveless, knee length version but the pattern actually includes five sleeve lengths: sleeveless, short, elbow, 3/4 and long as well as two skirt lengths: knee and maxi.

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I am in love with this pattern for its flattering shape, simple construction and versatility.  I feel like the non-gathered waist works better for me than the Colette Moneta that I had previously been obsessed with- it fits well and is super quick to sew.  The stability of the scuba knit makes things so simple- no slipping or stretching issues so I was able to sew this in about 1 1/2 hours.  No zippers, closures or elastic required means it comes together very fast.  Instant gratification!

I’ll leave you with a shot of the tree outside of my house- it is what I see from the view of my sewing room window- no wonder I am inspired- just beautiful!

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A new cape!

I have had a bit of an obsession over finding the perfect cape recently…well, over the last year since I posted this about the Camden cape by Seamwork.  The cape has NEVER been worn- other than to take the shots for the blog.  So sad.  I recently bought pounds and pounds of Pendleton wool (score!) off of a friend and it inspired me to give the Camden another shot.  I cut the pattern down to a smaller size and tried to fix what bothered me about the first one I made.  I succeeded somewhat and came out of it with a wearable version in Navy wool and lined with a fabulous silky floral print fabric (sorry, no pics).  Unfortunately I am still uncomfortable wearing it out much because it is difficult to move around in- how do you wear a cape like this in real life without feeling like a Dinosaur with tiny immobile arms?  How do you carry a purse or work bag with your arms peaking out of the tiny arm slits? How, how how?

Anyways, I thought I could make it work but here’s how fate intervened…Yesterday was my 40th birthday.  Wow, how am I that old?  To celebrate my birthday I took the day off work and did some of my favorite things- including thrift shopping- when I came across this beautiful pile of size-appropriate patterns.

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It was an amazing find to say the least!  I am so excited to start sewing some of these dresses and tops without having to print, tape and cut out the patterns like I have been doing recently with the PDF patterns I have been sticking to – I am looking at you Seamwork!

This pile included 2 cape patterns!  But this pattern immediately jumped out at me as an alternative to the Camden pattern:

Since I had the day off I got right home and got to work.  I paired Simplicity 1775 (View A) with a beautiful deep red wool and a blue/white stripe fabric for the lining.   I whipped this baby up in just a few hours and was ready to wear it out for dinner last night to celebrate!  I believe this pattern is out of print, and is also referred to as Simplicity 0311.  If you can get your hands on it I’d fully recommend it!

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Although I complained originally about using a bad fabric for the lining in my original Camden I didn’t listen to my own advice this time and used the only fabric I had enough yardage of to get this thing done.  It is actually a vintage sheet!  Don’t tell anyone.  shh.  I think it looks pretty cute peeking out from underneath though I might change it out once I get some appropriate lining fabric in my stash.  Or, I have enough wool to make another one….I am in love with this pattern.

 

I love the belt that cinches at the waist and the fact that I can move my arms.  What a novel idea- having full mobility in a garment!  I wore this to work this morning and was able to sling my bag over my shoulder and get in and out of the car seatbelt with ease.  Very important things I can tell you.  I used the XL size according to the pattern other than I omitted the button at the neckline.  I might sew in a snap eventually to keep a clean look at the top, but for now it is working out fine without any closure other than the belt.  This was my first time sewing carriers for a belt and using my machine to make the enlarged button holes for the belt to slide through and it took some practice but I got it and now know how to do a button hole without my button foot- woo hoo.  Not only do I like the fit and function of this much better than the Camden it also took significantly less time to sew it up given the fewer pattern pieces and simple construction.  I really can’t imagine sewing the Camden up in 3 hours as the pattern indicates, whereas this one can certainly be done in that amount of time- which is a big win in my book!

 

So, there you have it- a cheery red cape/poncho and my first blog post in many many months.  I’ve been pretty busy around here with work/running/life but hope to devote more time to sewing/blogging.

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PS-Ok, so here is where I explain where I’ve been…as though someone reading this might care or wonder- ha ha.  The summer and beginning of the Fall semester is always crazy…add to that I was sick for a bit, had a death in the family AND I ran a Half-Marathon a few weeks ago!  Woo hoo.  13.1 miles in the books.

I did it and am so stinkin’ proud of myself.  Yay.  It took alot of training and time and often kept me from doing other things because I feel like time is something I don’t have enough of because having kids and working and everything is so hard.  wa wa.  BUT, I did it and can now relax a bit and pursue some of my other hobbies for a bit…until I train for another one next Spring!

 

 

 

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Romper: Love or Hate?

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Hmmm.  As you can tell by my last few blog posts I am in LOVE with Seamwork magazine and their digital patterns.  I love getting the email each month and checking out their new patterns (2 each month for only $6).  As soon as I saw last months Layton Romper I knew I had to make one.  Rompers are all over the place now and although I had no idea if this style would actually be wearable on me I had to try it out.  The ease of a dress and the comfort of shorts=win.  Well, in theory at least!  I can’t tell if I absolutely love this on me or totally hate it.  I really can’t decide.  Part of me is proud of the confidence I feel when I have it on, the other part feels embarassed to leave the house.  This is a problem.

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There were numerous problems in the execution of this pattern as well.  I made up an XL as per my usual sizing in Seamwork patterns but lengthened the shorts by 2 inches for fear of them being too short.  I also eliminated the slits in front.  Problem is it came out HUGE.  HUGE.  As in I had to make several alterations- cutting open the shoulder seams and shortening the straps by 2 inches or so, and hacking into the side seams to narrow the bodice and the shorts by a few inches as well.  Unfortunately this wasn’t the only problem..the torso is too short on me as well.  The top is really meant to blouse over and it doesn’t.  The rise on the shorts is too long, and the torso is too short in my opinion.  ugh.  Is it wearable though- sure.  Hopefully.  Here are a few shots of the side and back for blog purposes only- I don’t think I will ever show this view to the public- not without a cardigan to cover it up!

Once I realized this wasn’t working I immediately hacked up the pattern and cut the size Large and sewed up a version in a printed fabric.  I lengthened the bodice piece by a few inches, and kept the shorts as is.  It is not going to be photographed- not a good look!  I am not sure if it is the slimmer size, or the print of the fabric but I feel like a am wearing pajamas…and not in a good way.  I am determined to make this pattern work and will lenghten the bodice a few more inches (again) and try it in a solid again and see how it works!  For now I will wear this with a cardigan and wedges and “think” I look stylish.  Maybe.

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*Kudos to my 6 year old for snapping these pics on my cell phone after school today- not too bad!

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More of the same…Seamwork Akita and Hayden

Well, it is pretty sad that it has been so long since my last post!  Crazy that I had no idea it had been so long…where does the time go?  And, here I am once again starting a post talking about how long it has been.  I am really like a broken record.  AND, here I am posting about two Seamwork patterns.  AGAIN.  Wow, Boring.  But not really!  I am going to cut myself some slack here and realize that working full time and having kids and hobbies and activities and running and you know- LIFE doesn’t always support my desire to keep this blog going.  It just doesn’t.  Here I am though making another lame attempt at blogging.  Forgive me.  If anyone actually reads this at this point!

Ok, here I go.  Seamwork.  Super simple patterns designed to be sewn in just a few hours. Easy.  Just what you need when the mood strikes and you want to whip something up.  Which is how I roll these days.  I don’t have time or energy to devote to multiple sittings at my machine to make a garment, and I love instant gratification.  Who doesn’t right?  I am hoping when this semester ends and I am done working next month I will have more time and a longer attention span to try out more complicated and sophisticated patterns but for now I am content sewing quick and easy things for everyday wear.

The first top here is the Seamwork Akita.  Super simple pattern- its only one piece!  No shoulder seams, same front and back and super versatile.  I have made a few of these babies up already and love this one the most.  I recently came back from a trip to Puerto Rico and sewed this up special for the trip…I just love the floral lace of the cotton fabric and feel like it made a really simple silhouette look more special. On our last day of the trip we did a street grafitti tour- so cool.

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I love it equally with jeans or shorts and the fit is spot on in a size 16.  Love it.

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The next pattern I used was the Seamwork Hayden top, a woven tee pattern available in a cropped and full top version.  I made the full top version in a size 18 and realized it was HUGE on me and had to cut it down and make it work.  The top features a separate hem band cut on the bias which also allows you to add in pretty trim as I did with this lace I had on hand.  I used a Gertie swiss-dot rose fabric I had from Joann’s and although my husband noted it looks like an old tablecloth to him I love it.  I think I will wear it a ton this summer with shorts and sandals.  Cute.  The keyhole neckline in back adds a special touch and I know for sure I will be making a few more of these in solids and playing up the princess seams in front with some possible color blocking.  So versatile.  I will try to use the size 16 next time and see if that works a bit better in terms of sizing.  I cut/taped/sewed this top up in just  a few hours in preparation for an evening out with friends last night to visit the local university to hear Sarah Koenig speak about Serial.  Are you obsessed with that podcast as much as I am?  So great hearing her speak on the process and the background of the show.

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Now that the weather is finally warming up around here, and there is light at the end of the tunnel with work ending soon I hope to sew more for myself and keep this blog alive!

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Seamwork’s Astoria top

I have completely fallen for Seamwork magazine…I love the articles and the wonderful patterns that focus on simple and easy to sew projects in a short amount of time.  Right up my alley.  This is actually the first pattern I went to tackle: the Astoria top.  I really, really want to like this one.  A retro cropped and fitted top reminiscent of the 50’s is super cute, but hard to wear with any of the items of clothing I currently own.  Did this stop me from making one?  No, instead I made two!  I mentioned this top a few posts ago and that I’d post about it when/if I found an acceptable bottom to pair it with and this is the best I could come up with.  Eventually I’d love to try my hand at a half-circle skirt or some sort of midi a-line paired with boots, but for now this flared black skirt is the best I’ve got.  IMG_5227

Frustrated by the process of posing for these pictures I decided I was just going to be real and post these even though they are pretty ridiculous.  It is hard to pose outside when the girls are continually running in and out of the shot and mocking my “elf shoes” and telling me to make kissy faces.  Those kids.  So, do these look professionally done- no.  Were they taken by my reluctant husband who I forced outside to take them while the girls played in the driveway and my neighbors doing yardwork were probably wondering what the hell we were doing?  Yes.  Whatever works right?

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This turned out to be a super fast and easy sew.  It took less than an hour from start to finish, and the size was spot on except for the arms.  Anyone else have this issue?  The top itself is fitted, but the arms are really loose on me.  IF I make another I will have to take them in for sure- I don’t think the fit works.  I wonder if the top is so fitted because of my large chest and lack of darts obviously.  Maybe I should try sizing down in the sleeve?  I used a nice knit from Joann’s that I picked up on sale a few weeks ago and it is so soft and easy to work with.  I am not normally one to wear animal print but I think this is subtle enough for me to pull off.  Hmm…up close this certainly doesn’t look subtle!  It will take awhile for me to gain the confidence to wear a top this short and fitted, but maybe one day I will pair it with the right bottom and some heels and rock it.  Maybe.

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