Kirsten Kimono Tee HiLo Tunic Hack

19 Aug

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Howdy, folks! I hope you’re having a good Hump Day. Life is busy in these parts with back to school so sewing and knitting has been happening in waves around here. I have been on a mission to finish some knitting UFOs and I am pleased to report some nice progress in that department. I finished my Aiken pullover by Andi Satterlund (c. late 2014) last night and now just need to block it and I am down to the last sleeve on my Hi-Fi Pullover by Ruth Garcia Alcantud (c. late 2013). I find it easier to pull out knitting UFOs than sewing UFOs. What about you?

So for your viewing pleasure today I have another hack on the Kirsten Kimono Tee, a free pattern by Maria Denmark. You may remember my first blogged version here which involved combining a sequined knit fabric with a regular knit.

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That wrinkle is just from movement — it isn’t a dart.

For this version, I was trying to replicate a friend’s top that I liked so I altered the side seams and hemline to give the top a more relaxed fit and a high-low hem. My friend was sweet enough to send me measurements from her shirt so I was able to use that information to decide how much to add to the side seams and how much difference to have between the center front and center back hem. I also lengthened the sleeves some. I think my top turned out similar but not identical — I wouldn’t want her to think I am trying to be her twin :)

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I used a silky soft modal knit from my stash. I purchased it at Hart’s Fabric a few years ago and I think this is the one. Please don’t hold me to it because it’s been a while.

I used my serger to sew it up and fused the hems with double sided fusible stay tape from Emma Seabrooke. While I love her tapes in general, I didn’t love it in this application because the hem looks rumpled unless I iron it every time I wear it. It doesn’t have stretch like the body of the garment so it tends to look bad unless pressed thoroughly. Although not necessary, I stitched over the hems with the coverstitch function on my serger.

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I finished the neckline with a wide band that I serged on. Next time I think I would use a binding instead but the band is quick and neat and you can’t beat that!

This is my third version of the Kirsten Tee and the most worn to date. I am not retiring the pattern any time soon but I do think I will move on to trying a new knit top for some variety, maybe the Plantain Tee by Deer and Doe. Do you have a favorite knit top pattern? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Tutorial: How to Use Your Sewing Machine to Make Buttonholes in a Hand-Knit Garment

8 Aug

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I may be setting a posting record this week and I know I am setting a record by posting my first official tutorial. Yay!

When it got time to knit the button band on my Sunshower Cardigan, I knew I wasn’t crazy about the idea of knitted buttonholes. I have made cardigans like this before (unblogged), and I feel like the buttonholes always stretch. You can even see this in the model photos for the pattern. I have tried reinforcing the button band with grosgrain ribbon but even this is tricky because your machined buttonholes in the ribbon have to line up perfectly with your knitted buttonholes or your button band will bunch up or pull between the buttons.

So I did a little internet searching about machine sewing buttonholes into hand knit garments and most of the posts that came up had to do with knitting machines — not helpful. I found a few forum posts where people had talked about it but the general consensus among knitters was one of fear and trepidation when a sewing machine and hand-knit were mentioned together. But the way I look at it, my hand knit garment is just “fabric” so if I take the proper precautions for that type of fabric, I should be able to sew it with my machine.

Before you use your sewing machine on your hand knit fabric, you need to take into consideration the stability of the fabric and the loftiness of the fabric. So the steps I will present to you here will help you have sturdy and attractive buttonholes that don’t pull out of shape with a little negative ease and that give you the flexibility of choosing your buttons after the garment is completed and not having your button choice restricted by the size of the knitted buttonhole.

First, when you start to knit the button band of your cardigan, ignore the instructions for creating buttonholes and just continue to work in pattern until your button band is completed. Consider using a slightly stretchy bind off such as this one.

Then, block your cardigan according to your pattern schematic. This is very important. We don’t want to stabilize the bands to the wrong length.

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Next, it is necessary to stabilize the button band so it doesn’t stretch out. I used grosgrain ribbon for this and I think this is a pretty popular technique even with knitted button holes. Simply cut two lengths of grosgrain, Petersham, (or satin would probably work) ribbon that is no wider than the button band and slipstitch it to the back side of both bands. I trimmed the ends of my ribbon with pinking shears and sealed them with FrayCheck but you could also turn them under 1/4″ and sew them down.

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Image source

Next, we need to prevent the top side of our knitted fabric from getting caught in the machine. We want it to glide smoothly through as your machine stitches your buttonholes. For this, I used a wash-away stabilzer called Solvy. You could also use tissue paper but I recommend keeping some Solvy around as it lasts a long time when you only use it for small projects like this and you will find other uses for it in your sewing. Cut a strip slightly larger than the button band.

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Now set your cardigan and Solvy strip aside for a minute and let’s practice some buttonholes on a swatch. Hopefully you knit a gauge swatch before you knit your garment. That will come in handy now. If you didn’t, I highly recommend knitting one up because picking a wonky buttonhole out of your hand knit is not a job I would want to undertake.

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Cut a 4″ piece of ribbon and baste it to the backside of the swatch. Now cut a little strip of Solvy and pin it to the top of your knit swatch. Now, set your machine to stitch a buttonhole. All machines are different but mine does an automatic all-in-one buttonhole with adjustable stitch width and length. I found a stitch width of 5.0 and length of 0.2 to work best for me. The shorter stitch length creates more of a satin like stitch which I think holds the yarn together better. But I suggest you do at least three test button holes on your swatch to test out different settings. And make sure you make them the same size you will need for your intended buttons because we will need to measure it for alignment purposes.

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From left to right: stitch length 0.2, 0.3 and 0.4. You can see the longer stitch length looks messier.

Once you have sewn at least three test buttonholes on different settings, tear away the Solvy and dab some FrayCheck along the front and back of the uncut buttonholes and steam it with your iron to help it dry softer. Once dry, carefully cut the buttonholes open, preferably with a buttonhole cutter.

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Now examine your sample buttonholes and maybe even pass your button through them a few times to see which one holds up and looks the best. Set your machine to those settings for stitching the rest of the buttonholes in the garment. Now take a measurement of the overall length of your buttonhole to aid you in determining alignment and placement of your buttonholes.

Now identify the side of the cardigan to sew the buttonholes in — usually the right front as you wear it, but this may vary depending on personal preference.

Pin the Solvy strip to the top of the buttonhole side of the button band. You may use pins and/or a fabric marking pin on the Solvy to center your buttonholes and you will use the measurement you just took from the buttonhole on the swatch to help with accuracy. I won’t describe that step in detail since it is not specific to sewing buttonholes in a hand knit garment. It is the same process as sewing buttonholes in any garment. Plus, other sewing machines may do buttonholes differently than mine and I don’t want to create confusion.

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Once you have decided on the placement and alignment of each buttonhole, take the garment to the machine and arrange it with the ribbon to the feed dogs and the Solvy under the presser foot. Make sure your settings are still correct. I prefer to start with one of the middle buttonholes.

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Stitch slowly. Provide just a slight amount of traction on the fabric to help it along — very slight, you are not pushing or pulling it but more trying to keep it from hanging up. But don’t fear, this really isn’t likely since we have stabilized and prepped properly. If you are worried, you could take the extra precaution of placing a piece of tissue paper or even printer paper between the garment and the feed dogs for more stability then tear it away after the buttonhole is sewn.

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Once all the buttonholes are sewn, repeat the same process as with the swatch and dab some FrayCheck on both sides then steam dry. Cut open carefully.

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Now admire your beautiful, professional, and sturdy handiwork! And if you are really enjoying using your sewing machine for finishing your hand knits, consider sewing your buttons on with your machine!

I hope someone will find this tutorial helpful. Please let me know if anything needs clarification or if you have a chance to try this out.

Vogue 1353 in Silk Twill

7 Aug

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Howdy! I’m back today with the other half of my 2015 Outfit Along post. You can see more details on my cardigan here.

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As I mentioned to you in the first post, I decided pretty last minute to get started on this outfit, July 13 to be exact, and I didn’t start sewing the dress until the 24th. But since I had already made my chosen pattern, Vogue 1353, once before, I knew I could make it up pretty quickly.

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I chose this light purple colorway silk twill from my stash to match the cardigan. From the Emma One Sock website:

A very pretty silk twill print from a NY designer, this blouse/dress weight is opaque with a lovely drape and a pleasing soft sheen. The print is a floral collage with a 21″ repeat, in pastel tones of pale lavender, blue, yellow, pink and cream…

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I love the soft purple base with irregular white flowers and splashes of soft blue and yellow. I think it would make a great dress for Easter or a baby/bridal shower. The twill fabrication gives the silk more body than a charmeuse although it is still very “silky” feeling. It is like the fabric of a necktie without all the interfacing. The fabric makes the dress very enjoyable to wear as it swishes really well. However, I do think a sturdier fabric, like the cotton sateen in my original version, is better for everyday interpretations of this dress. I will not wear this silk dress to work — it will be reserved for church, brunch, bridal showers, etc.

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I lined the dress with white rayon Bemberg and used Siri sew in interfacing from Emma One Sock.

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I won’t belabor the alterations as those were covered in my last post. My only additional modifications were to shift the shoulder straps in by 1/2″ and to alter the lining pieces by trimming 1/8″ off the neckline and armhole edges to help the lining roll to the inside (and it did help). I had to draft separate lining pieces for the bodice back and bodice side front to do this but that was as simple as tracing the original piece then trimming the desired edges. I had enough fabric this time to cut the skirt pieces with the pleats full width so I removed the modification I had made last time but I think I may like it better with narrower pleats.

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Next time I will remember to add 1/2″ to the skirt length at center back and taper it to nothing at the side seam. Instead I had to cut 1/2″ off the front of the skirt after the fact before sewing on the hem facing.

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Like last time, I used self-fabric instead of lining to face them hem because I like this look better. I stitched the facing in place with the chainstitch on my coverstitch and let the wrong side of the stitching show on the outside of the dress.

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I used this tutorial on Pattern Scissors Cloth to fully line the dress by machine and I used this tutorial to get a precisely installed invisible zipper that doesn’t require a hook and eye. So this dress doesn’t have any handstitching in it — yay!

I don’t think there’s much else to say so I’ll sign off for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with the promised tutorial on using your sewing machine to make buttonholes in your hand-knit garments!

Sugar Plum Sunshower Cardigan by Andi Satterlund |Outfit Along 2015

6 Aug

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Hi, friends! I can’t believe I’m back with a second knitted garment in less than a month! I didn’t knit two things in less than a month but I did finish this one in about 2.5 weeks. I decided to participate in this year’s Outfit Along hosted by Andi Satterlund of Untangling Knots and Lauren Taylor of Lladybird but it took me a while to decide what to make.

First, I knit my Aures Lace Tank but I couldn’t decide what to sew to go with it. Then I sewed the Vogue 1353 Poppies Dress and couldn’t decide what to knit to go with it. So at the last minute (July 13 to be exact with a deadline of July 31), I decide to start from scratch and create two completely new things, so enter the Sunshower Cardigan by Andi and another Vogue 1353 (which I will share later this week).

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The Sunshower Cardigan is a new release as part of a collection of Andi’s patterns from KnitPicks. It immediately caught my attention because of the polka dot like lace pattern. And for some reason when I saw it I immediately envisioned it in a lilac shade. Luckily the recommended KnitPicks Swish Worsted came in the perfect color — Sugar Plum — and was a reasonable price, too.

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The pattern wasn’t difficult to knit, especially if you have knit a few of Andi’s patterns before. They are all pretty similar in techniques. I did have a problem with the lace pattern not lining up once I joined the front and back pieces but I decided not to worry about it because I don’t think anyone will be looking in my armpits :)

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I am also a little aggravated that the lace motif isn’t symmetrical at the front button band and I noticed the model’s cardigan is the same way. If I ever make this cardigan again, I would correct the pattern for both of these problems. On top of that, it took me a little while to get the hang of the lace pattern so my “polka dots” aren’t perfectly lined up in some places but I don’t think it’s noticeable and it’s not going to stop me from wearing it.

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As for sizing, I went with the 38.25″ bust and find the bust to fit well but the waist is a bit big. I will try to block it smaller next time I wash it.

As for any helpful construction techniques, I have never found “bind off in pattern” to work for 1×1 rib on openings that need to stretch so I rely on this method. I used it on the waist and sleeve cuffs. I don’t think the tubular bind off is necessary for the neckline but I would use something a little more stretchy than “bind off in pattern,” maybe this one. I didn’t do this here but wish I had as my neckline binding is a little tight.

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I think the most interesting thing I did with this cardigan is my button bands. I followed Lauren’s idea for adding a grosgrain ribbon facing for stability but I did the buttonholes differently. I have learned quickly in my short knitting career that I don’t like the look or functionality of knitted buttonholes, even when they are reinforced with a ribbon band. Plus it is tricky getting the ribbon band buttonholes to line up perfectly with the knitted buttonholes.

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So I decided to omit knitting them and to stitch them in with my sewing machine instead. I will be bringing you more details on this process later this week so stay tuned.

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I think that’s about it for this cardigan. You can see my Ravelry project page here and check out the winners of the 2015 OAL here.

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Sallie Jumpsuit | Closet Case Files

5 Aug

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Hi, friends! Did you enjoy the chocolate overload yesterday? I’m back to drinking smoothies and eating kale so I can fit into the clothes I’ve been making. Too bad because those brownies are sooo good and I keep thinking about making another batch!

Here’s another recent make for you — the Sallie Jumpsuit by Heather Lou at Closet Case Files. I bought the pattern and sewed it up not long after it was released. And I’ve even worn it a few times since then but it’s taken me a couple tries to get photos that were good enough to post hence the delay in sharing it with you.

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This pattern is very quick and easy to make up. I think start to finish with assembling the pattern, cutting the fabric, and construction all the way down to the hem took me about four hours. The instructions are good and the methods yield nice results with a clean finished top.

I found certain parts were easier to do on my standard machine rather than my serger. For instance, the neckline seam and the side seams of the bodice were easier to construct with the sewing machine. I did go back over the neckline with the serger to add the clear elastic for stability since my standard serger foot has a nifty little slot for guiding in elastic and I think this is so much easier than adding it with the regular sewing machine, but I do think it is hard to get into the V exactly with the serger.

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I finished the waist and pants with the serger. I fused the hems with Emma Seabrooke fusible tape and didn’t bother stitching them. I used 1/2″ knit elastic for the waistband and it is very comfortable. My fabric is a cheap lightweight ITY knit from Hancock’s.

As for the fit, I selected a 12 at the bust and graded down to a 10 at the waist then back out to a 14 at the hips. I eliminated the pockets because I don’t really use them in lightweight knit garments. I measured the rise on the pattern and found it would be too short on me and that’s not a good look in a jumpsuit. So I added 1″ to the top of the center back and 1/2″ to the inner leg of the back piece, tapering to nothing down the inseam. I also scooped out the curve a little bit. I then shortened the front rise by about 1/2″.

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This all helped and the front rise is great but I need more length in the back rise on my next version as I still feel like my butt is eating the pants a little. I also plan to differentiate a front and back bodice piece on my next version as I need more ease to go over my chest. It doesn’t blouse at the center front like it does at the center back. And I think a forward shoulder adjustment would be helpful. Finally, I find the armhole to be very tight and restrictive, so next time I will lower that a bit.

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But overall, my jumpsuit is very wearable and I think I will definitely try the pattern out again (or maybe I already have…).

My Favorite Brownies | Foster’s Market Cookbook

4 Aug

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Saying I have tested a lot of brownie recipes looking for the best one would be an understatement. I have tried at least 8 versions claiming to be the world’s best brownies but none of them lived up to the hype in my book.

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I want a brownie that is chocolatey without being too gooey but still has a nice moist and tender crumb. Basically, I wanted the brownies from the local bakery. I’m not naming any names because I didn’t specifically ask permission, but if you live around here, you know where I’m talking about if you’ve ever eaten one. They are thick and chocolatey and the size of your head. Basically heaven in brownie form.

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So one day I asked for the recipe and the owner shared her source, the Foster’s Market Cookbook. I ordered it from Amazon and made the brownies immediately. They are perfection!

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My only modification to the recipe was to scale it down by 50% and add some toffee chips (as the bakery owner mentioned she did). Plus, I substituted pecans for the walnuts because that’s what I always have on hand since my family owns a small pecan orchard.

I love this recipe because it is quick to throw together and doesn’t require any exotic ingredients. Plus there are no tedious steps and you can even use your hand mixer. And clean up is a breeze, especially when there is a teenage boy hovering waiting to lick the beaters and bowl :)

I hope you give this recipe a try. Let me know what you think!

My Favorite Brownies

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch processed is best but natural, like Hershey’s, works too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup toffee chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line an 8″x8″ square pan with parchment paper or spray it with nonstick cooking spray (I think lining it makes it easier to remove and cut the brownies).

Sift together the flour, cocoa, and salt and set aside. In a medium bowl, cream the eggs, sugar, butter, and vanilla with an electric mixer until well blended.

Add the flour mixture and mix until all the dry ingredients are moist and blended but do not overmix. Fold in the pecans, chocolate chips, and toffee chips and stir to blend evenly.

Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-55 minutes, or until the brownies are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for 30-40 minutes before cutting into 16 squares.

Enjoy!

Adapted from The Foster’s Market Cookbook.

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Vogue 1353 | Pleated Poppies Dress

22 Jul

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Hello, again! I am on a roll lately!! I’m back today to share with you my completed Vogue 1353, a great pleated fit-and-flare dress with a full lining by Kay Unger. I was inspired by Margo’s recent review of this pattern (isn’t she gorgeous?!?), and bought it next time Hancock’s had a sale and started sewing almost immediately.

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The pattern is the perfect silhouette for an everyday, ladylike dress. And when you make it up in a washable fabric, it works well in your day job as a pediatrician. Where, yes, sometimes you do get peed on but thankfully not often — happened for the first time in ages this week just not to this dress :)-

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I made this beauty up in a great poppy print stretch cotton sateen from Sawyer Brook Fabrics.

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I lined it with a creamy yellow polyester pongee from Fabric Mart Fabrics that I think I paid $1/yd for… Cotton sateen is a dream to sew with after you’ve been doing nothing but knits and silks. It actually does what you ask it to!

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I started with a straight size 14 then I made a few alterations:

  • 3/4″ FBA
  • lowered bust dart 5/8″
  • lowered bust point of princess seam 5/8″
  • lengthened bodice 1/2″
  • took it in a smidgen in the princess seam above the bust
  • added 1/4″ under the arm at the bust front and back tapering to nothing at the waist
  • 1/2″ forward shoulder adjustment
  • took it in 3/4″ on each side of the zipper tapering to nothing at the waist for a gaping back neckline
  • reduced the width of the pleats because my fabric wasn’t 60″ wide

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I strayed from the instructions only so far as to avoid hand sewing. I lined it completely by machine, including stitching the lining to the invisible zipper by machine with my invisible zip foot. I did hand sew the hook and eye in place as I couldn’t find any way around it. :)

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V1353 Poppies Hem

My favorite part of the dress is the hem with its facing and topstitching. I used the chainstitch function on my Juki MO-735 5-thread serger to create the textured line of stitching instead of the handstitching that is prescribed in the pattern instructions. I stitched with the hem facing up so the “wrong” side of the stitching shows on the outside of the dress, creating a nice, visible line of thread. I love finding new uses for my serger!

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The pattern calls for a purchased belt and here I’ve accessorized it with a cute little aqua leather belt with a silver buckle that I picked up at Gus Mayer department store in Birmingham. I think this is probably the only thing (at $38) that I could ever afford from that store but I do love it! I have also paired the dress with a bead necklace from Kluster Shop and some Franco Sarto strappy heel sandals.

This is my new favorite dress pattern and I think there will be another one soon. Stay tuned!

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