A feminist top?

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Simplicity Pattern S0918

A couple of weeks ago, I bought this lovely rayon fabric at Pintuck and Pearl (a local-ish shop in NH…see here).  I had seen it before at this store and kept thinking about it, so I went back to buy it.  I decided to make Simplicity S0918, with long sleeves and a wide bow.  A Pussy-bow, to be exact.  A while back on a shopping excursion with a friend, I mentioned loving big bows on women’s tops and she told me that was in fact called a ‘Pussy Bow’.  I kind of think that’s hilarious, so I decided to do a little research before writing this post.

Wikipedia mentions that in the 1940’s the Gibson Girl look was popular (a curvy athletic type of woman) and that style inspired the bow (see here).  Also, apparently Margaret Thatcher was a big fan.  In the PBS documentary: Makers, Women who make America, it is mentioned that in the 1970’s and 1980’s, when more women were entering the workforce, they wanted to fit into a male-dominated world and this was their version of the neck tie (see here).  In another article I found, titled: ‘The Female History Behind Your Floppy Bow Blouse’ on the Jezebel website,  it is the author’s opinion that these bows are named after female genitalia (see here).  Hmm.  Should I be wearing this with pride?  Is it some sort of feminist top?  Maybe.  I don’t know.  But I still like big bows.  I love to hear where names and various fashions emerge, so I hope you enjoyed this brief history lesson.  Getting back to the top…..

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After washing the fabric, I got to cutting and sewing.  The fabric is ‘Snack Time rayon in blue’ by Sarah Watts for Cotton & Steel.  It was wonderful fabric to work with.  I have enough leftover that a certain girl in my house might be getting a top too.  The pattern, Simplicity S0918, was very straight forward and the fit was spot on.  I cut a size 16 and needed to make no adjustments.  The shirt is boxy but I like it.  I think I could take the sides in a bit but am going to sit with it for a while.  The husband gave it two thumbs up and my daughter (and photographer) thought it was great too.  There is light ruching on the front where the shoulder seams are (they are lowered a bit to right below the collarbone) and a tiny bit of ruching on the sleeves.

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In other news, my almost 8-year-old daughter made these delicious pumpkin muffins (and bread) last night.  She is loving baking.  The only thing I did last night to help her, was to put it in the oven.  I’m finding it a nice way for us to connect and what a great way to introduce fractions!  We couldn’t find my teaspoon and only had a 1/2 teaspoon available and my girl figured it out on her own that she needed to double many of the spices.  Proud Mama!

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Pumpkin Muffins & Bread–fresh from the oven and two were already gobbled up.

Posted in Sewing, Women's Clothing | 2 Comments

Last tank of the summer…

My sewing room is a mess (messy sewer here) and I’ve been working on reorganizing my sewing space.  There’s something about the change of seasons that makes one want to clean, reorganize and get rid of the old.  In my case, that is getting rid of things I no longer use and going through my fabric to make room for…..fall and winter fabric!!! (I know the excitement is killing you.)  It feels so good to get back into a sewing routine.

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In one last defiant act of summer sewing (it IS technically still summer), I made the Gemma tank, by Rae Hoekstra (Made-by-Rae blog).  This tank is one of Rae’s clever Presto Patterns.  It took me an hour to make this top, literally, Presto!  As all of her patterns, it is well written and flattering on.  There are two options for the neckline; a regular neck and a high neck.  I made the higher neck and the C/D cup size.  The bias tape for the neckline and arms is from my vintage stash.  The red plaid gives the top a little pop of color.

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The fabric I’ve had for a while and was excited to finally have something perfect to use it for.  It’s by Lotta Jansdotter and called ‘Etapp in Midnight Navy’.  One of the great things about this pattern is that it will work with a lot of different types of fabric.   I’m pretty sure this pattern will become a staple in my wardrobe.

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Fall seems to be such a great time to get cozy with a good book.  Have you read anything great lately?  I’m always looking for suggestions for a great book.  We are making a couple changes with our routine, as a family.  One of the changes is implementing ‘No TV’ during the week (and limiting TV on the weekends to a movie or two for the whole family).  I know this doesn’t work for everyone, but for this family, it has been a positive change.  As a result, we are reading and crafting more.  I picked up a great book to read with our children, ‘PAX’ by Sara Pennypacker.  I heard about it on NPR.

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I’ve also been invited to join a book discussion for this book:  ‘American Girls, Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers’ by Nancy Jo Sales.  No- I don’t have a teenager yet but after reading just the preface of this book, I realized that I didn’t want to stay blissfully ignorant.  🙂  THIS BOOK IS SCARY.

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Last in my pile, is ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes.  My dear Mother-in-Law brought this over and although I don’t know much about it, I’ve seen lots of people reading it.  What’s in your reading pile?

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Posted in books, Sewing, Women's Clothing | 2 Comments

Transitions

This month marks a transition for many people.  Summer is still hanging on but coming to an end.  Most kids are back in school.  Some nights it is pretty cool here in New England and many of our thoughts move to the cooler months ahead.  I’ve found myself in a funk the last couple of weeks.  As a family, summer after summer we seem to hit our stride in August.  July feels busy and in August we slow down.  We have a lot of family time and the kids and I find our rhythm with them being out of school.  Then school starts.  This August my husband and I discussed home schooling (which is basically: how can we keep this summer feeling going?).  Although that isn’t a path we think our family should take at this time – we don’t rule it out for the future.  I seem to find myself a little lost after my kids start school and that’s where I am right now.

This morning I met a dear friend for a walk in the woods, which was exactly what I needed. This is my mama-lady (see here) and walking in the woods with her is so calming.  We used to do it a lot more when I was younger.  I don’t think I have ever met anyone who gets me like she does. It might be because we are alike in a lot of ways.  It also helps that she has raised four children and to me she is the “Sage Mother”, the wise word of counsel.  Our conversations ended on a note of how important creativity is and making sure we get that creative time to balance ourselves.  These conversations and the connection with her made me think about where I’ve been this summer and where I’m headed.

Although I didn’t get as much sewing time as I’d like this summer (which would be ALL day EVERY day),  we did do a lot of creating.  We crafted to our hearts content!

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Over the summer I pattern tested the Nehalem Pants pattern by Indie designer Sew House Seven.  These pants are very similar to thai fisherman pants that wrap around.  They are very stylish!  I’m about to buy some Ikat fabric to make another pair.  Have you ever sewn with Sew House Seven patterns?  Peggy, the designer, has a great sense of style.  I’ve made the Mississippi Ave dress (see here) and have worn it a lot.  I’m also preparing to make the Tea House Dress and am on a hunt for the right fabric.

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Nehalem Pants. Front fold over.

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Back view with seam detail.

Did you know that September is National Sewing Month?  Woot Woot…Let’s hear it for sewers everywhere!!!  To celebrate National Sewing Month, Maggie from Pintuck & Purl (a wonderful fabric/yarn shop in Exeter NH) is doing a series of Q&A from various bloggers and designers and yours truly got to answer a few….if you’d like to read further, please click here and here–or just read the whole series!  I feel so inspired upon entering Pintuck & Purl.  The design and layout of the store draws you in and the fabric is pretty great too.  There are classes and also a regular ‘Sip and Stitch’ on various Friday nights that is a great time to do a little shopping, work on some handwork and connect with other creative people.

Below is what I have cut out and several new patterns that have made their way into my stash.

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Two Esme Tunics waiting to be sewn.

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Grainline Studio: Archer Button Up; Simplicity S0918; Simplicity S0898 by Dottie Angel; Sew House Seven Tea House Dress.

 

What have you made lately?  I’d love to hear what you are working on.

Posted in Life, Sewing, Women's Clothing | 6 Comments

Women’s Tunic/Dress from Handmade Style

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I’ve been slowly (very slowly) working on the Women’s Tunic from Anna Graham’s book ‘Handmade Style’ over the summer.  I bought this beautiful rayon last year and wasn’t exactly sure what to make with it.  When we went to Martha’s Vineyard this summer (see here) I saw a skirt in a boutique window made up with this exact fabric.  It was beautiful and simple and I knew I needed to get sewing with it.  In July, Anna featured a sew-along on her blog Noodlehead, giving detailed instructions with photos, for making this tunic.  I am a visual person and figured this sew-along would be very helpful if I got stuck on anything with the pattern.  To my delight, the pattern was very well written and I didn’t have any problems.   It was great to be able to refer her website when I was working on the placket, to make sure I had it right.  I love when pattern designers do sew-alongs.  It is incredibly helpful to us ‘visual’ people.

 

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I made this tunic into a dress by adding about 3 inches to the bottom of the pattern.  I cut a size Medium.  The fabric I used is by Anna Maria Horner called ‘Pretty Potent Rayon Challis’; the color is Eucalyptus Lime.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure how I would like dolman sleeves and I didn’t know if it would be flattering on me.  I have to tell you, I have only taken this dress off to wash it.  Seriously-I love it!  I’ve worn it at home, to the beach, a trip to Ikea, grocery store…etc.  You get the picture.  The drawstring waist is very flattering and I do love the sleeve style.  It is the PERFECT hot weather dress, made up with a flowy rayon.  I fully intend to be wearing this right on into the fall with leggings.

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Posted in Women's Clothing | 4 Comments

This dress

Last month my kids were in a day camp and I had a little time to sew.  It was thrilling as not much sewing has been happening this summer.  My creativity tends to shift when my kids are home on summer break and we do more crafting together.  Also, after long summer days there isn’t always a lot of energy leftover to sew.  That’s ok, I know I will have more time in the fall and I want to enjoy the days with my kids.  I’m a little stingy with their free time and although we see friends, I love to whisk them away on a beach adventure or a museum or even the local pool, just them and me.  It won’t always be this way and so I love to be with them as much as possible.

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Washi dress by Rae Hoekstra of MadeByRae

As for the sewing, I decided to make a Washi dress.  I have not had a great relationship with this dress in the past.  It had seemed that the Washi dress looked good on EVERYONE but me.  The various versions I’d made in the last two years just didn’t look right.  The pattern is very well written and I love the cute little cap sleeves and the neckline but the bodice always seemed to end right below my bust and I looked pregnant.  And I was not pregnant.  I figured out that I should lengthen the bodice front piece (duh) and did that but the fit still wasn’t right.  Then someone mentioned to me that I also needed to lengthen the back in the same place where I lengthened the front.  I hadn’t thought of that and I decided this is the last time I would try.  In my stash I found some lightweight linen, called Telio Umbria Linen in blue stripe, that I purchased at Fabric.com a little while ago.  Being crazy like I am, I took a risk and did NOT sew a muslin and just went for it.  I’m so glad I did.

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Guess what?  I love this Washi dress!  The fit is perfect and the gathers are much lower and around my waist.  I cut a size large in the top front piece and a large back piece and a medium for the front skirt.  I moved the back elastic ruching down about 1.5″.  The fabric is lightweight and I am quite happy with how it turned out.  I also made a little flower tag for the back neckline.

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On another exciting note, I recently tested a not-yet-released pattern for SewHouse7.  I love Peggy’s style and am excited for this pattern to be released.  (Then I can show you!) Have you ever sewn with these patterns?  I have made the Mississippi Avenue dress (see here, photo 7) and really liked it.

Did you know that September is National Sewing Month?  I’m already starting to think of fall clothing.  I’ve just cut out some beautiful rayon for the Women’s Tunic from Anna Graham’s book ‘Handmade Style’.  She has a wonderful sew-along on the Noodlehead blog for this pattern.  I’ve also got my eye on the Archer pattern by Grainline Studio and I recently picked up McCall’s pattern 7380.  I love View B.  Have you sewn or created anything new?  Tell me what you’ve made, I’d love to hear about it!

Posted in Sewing, Women's Clothing | 2 Comments

August

Last night my girl had her first ‘official’ sleepover at our house.  It was thrilling for her and her dear little friend.  I don’t know what I was expecting but it was very easy and they had a blast.  There was pizza involved and nail painting (of course!), a movie in bed with popcorn and some late night chatter which was so sweet to hear.  I could sense they were feeling proud as they have made a small step toward growing up.  This morning as they played and graciously included a little brother (who was dying to be welcomed into the fold) I sat and colored at the table.  There was so much I needed to do (laundry, laundry, oh did I mention laundry?) but this month I am choosing to slow way down.

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July was a very busy, fun month.  We went on a camping trip with three other families.  It was so much fun!  One family are seasoned campers.  They really know what they are doing.  I learn a lot from them whenever we go camping.  Their camping kitchen is so impressive, it could be in a magazine.  Another family makes the best coffee, and this year I got to sit at their campsite in my pj’s (until noon, folks!!!) knitting and drinking their wonderful coffee and chatting with them.  I always go out and buy the same coffee when I get home but sadly it never tastes as good as when I am sitting at their campfire.  The third family was new to camping but after seeing their tent site, you would never know.  It was so nice to get to know them more.  We all shared meals together at night, swam in the Saco river, rode bikes and relaxed.  It was fabulous!

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Our very best family photo

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Campfire knitting–working on a Honey Cowl

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July ended with an unexpected call from a very dear friend, an important mother figure to me.  She called to offer us her house on Martha’s Vineyard for five days.  Without hesitation we said “Yes!”.  It was so lovely and perfect.  My husband was able to work from home for a couple of days (on the Vineyard) and we went and completely relaxed.  Did I mention that there was a small private beach?  Oooh yes.  This woman, my friend, has had a very strong influence on me.  She came into my life at a time when I really needed a mom.  She was there when my own mother passed away and has always gently guided me toward the right things.  Never judgmental and always kind, I have watched her (and her husband) raise four children who are now all adults.  Her children have grown into kind, creative and loving people.  I only wish for the same for my children and hope that we are raising them to be that way.  She is a photographer and artist that paints, makes jewelry and handmade books and her house that we went to was like a calm haven where I drew lots of inspiration.  I have come home feeling blessed, clear and full of fresh creative ideas.  If you would like to check out her beautiful art, you can find her here:  http://barbarazparker.com.

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I hope your July has been wonderful and that you are finding bliss in the moments of summer.

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Posted in Home, Knitting, Life | 2 Comments

Josephine tops

Going through my closet last month in preparation for hot weather, I started looking at what I needed for summer clothing.  One thing I have a lot of is shorts.  It’s kind of funny because I never used to regularly wear shorts until having children.  It was always skirts and dresses for me.  Now I run around on playgrounds and mostly dress for ease and comfort.  I decided that I needed a few new tops but something that could fit into the ‘ease and comfort’ category.  I have owned the Josephine pattern from Made by Rae for a while but have never made it.  The pattern has wonderful reviews and so I decided to make two sleeveless versions to go with my abundant supply of shorts.

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Josephine top pattern by Rae Hoekstra of the Made by Rae blog.

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In green chambray.

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Front neckline with homemade bias tape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fabric that I used was from Hawthorne Threads and it is “Chambray in Bluegrass” by Andover.  It’s very pretty and has yellow and blue threads in it.  I also made my own bias tape to finish the neckline and armholes using leftover chambray by Kaufman in Union Worn Indigo.  This pattern has a great fit and it comes in A/B and C/D cup sizes.  I went with the C/D cup size and cut out a size large but right under the bottom dart line I sloped back in and cut the body in a medium.  I love that this pattern comes in two different bust sizes.

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Dot chambray in indigo.

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Yellow bias around neckline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For my second sleeveless Josephine top I used “Dot Chambray in Indigo” by Kaufman.  I used a bright yellow bias tape from my stash to finish the neckline and armholes as I thought it would give it a cute little pop of color.  This fabric was also from Hawthorne Threads and has been in my stash for a while now.  The fabric is very lightweight and feels a bit bigger than the green one, probably because the green chambray is thicker.  I love both tops and have been wearing them quite regularly!  If you haven’t tried the Josephine pattern, it is wonderful and I would definitely recommend it.  The directions are easy to follow.

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The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow.

As summer progresses, I hope you are having many lazy, relaxing days and getting to read lots of lovely books.  I’ve just finished The Last Telegram by Liz Trenow.  It’s another WWII historical fiction book.  What is it with me and WWII novels?  I.just.can’t.get.enough.  I am not alone in this.  One of my girlfriends reads them all the time too.  We are always sharing new titles and discovering more.  Anyway, I couldn’t put this one down.  It’s about a woman working at her family’s silk mill, she falls in love, people die, its tragic but uplifting and, well, I read it late into the night.  If you are into this type of historical fiction, check it out here.  Have you read anything great lately?

Posted in books, Sewing, Women's Clothing | 2 Comments

Grateful.

This morning, like we do every July 4th, we scrambled out of bed, had a quick breakfast and raced to get dressed.  Breakfast dishes piled on the counter, beds unmade and we were out the door.  It has become a July 4th tradition to meet up with friends a few towns away for one of the best parades around.  Some years we are the first ones of the group to arrive.  Some years we are the last.  We live in a different town and don’t see these people all that often but we know our paths will cross on this holiday.  Every year my daughter finds her place with the young girls, daughters of old friends.  Excited this morning, she told us to ‘hurry’ when we were on our way.  My son, this year, intimidated by so many girls, started out on my lap but then found his rhythm with the other kids.
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My favorite parts of the parade are the Revolutionary soldiers and the women that follow them.  I also love the old-fashioned big wheeled bikes.  I think my kids love the candy the best!  They don’t get a lot of candy at home so it’s quite a treat.

Today is a day that I feel grateful.  Grateful that I live here in this country and for those that came long before me to make that possible.  Grateful for my dear friends, the ones we see here and the others that are celebrating somewhere else.  Grateful that today everyone in my family is healthy and happy.  Happy 4th of July!

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Posted in Home, Life | 1 Comment

Dad’s Day

Happy Belated Father’s Day to the dads out there!  If you are a Dad, I hope you know how valued and important you are.  We are rich in fathers in this household.  My husband is a wonderful father.  He is the one who gets down and dirty on the floor and wrestles with the kids.  He is also the one who is much better at teaching our kids how to ride a bicycle (my daughter loves to remind me whenever I take her out for a bike ride).  He has a master gift with finding the best route to get somewhere on a road trip (I never owned a map until I met him) and when I am completely fried he steps in and corrals the wild small people. We are also blessed to live near my father in law, who is a wonderful Dad and ‘Pop’ as we call him.  He is always up for babysitting with Grammy and has endless energy for the kids. He also sings ‘old fashioned’ songs and the kids love it.  Last is my father, whom I have discovered, I am very much like.  This man is gifted at antiquing and working with his hands.  He is the same one that used to drive the car that my brother and I used to slink down in the back seat, afraid that someone would see us, as he stopped to look at something cool in someones trash.  I have become that trash picker (fortunately, right now, my kids think its cool). He lives far away but is always a phone call away whenever I need him (which can sometimes be a lot).

Since dad’s day just happened I figured that my husband needed some handmade love.  I made him a pair of lounge shorts a few years ago, and he has been asking for another pair ever since.  This dad often gets neglected in the handmade department so I thought he was due.

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Old pair of shorts.

Above are the old shorts I made him.  The fabric is Kaufman Essex Linen Blend Yarn Dyed in the color olive.  I used the selvedge as the drawstring and elasticized just the back of the shorts.  I made the pattern myself by loosely tracing another pair of shorts but making this pair wider and more casual.  I also sewed cargo pockets on the sides.  Although he loves these and wears them all the time, for his next pair he requested regular pockets.  I loved how the Essex linen blend softened up after a few washes so I made him a new pair with the same fabric in the color black.

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Front.

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Side.

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Front drawstring.

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Front with long drawstring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please excuse the wrinkles.  Laundry gets done around here, but folding doesn’t seem to happen in a timely manner.  Damn that housekeeper!  🙂

For these shorts, I also made a back elasticized waist and drawstring front.  I think they fit him great and if he plays his cards right he might just get another pair.  I love how these came out and I think he does too because he’s been wearing them around town.  These shorts are in the que of pattern ideas I would like to make for the general public (you guys).  Someday soon!

Posted in Men's Clothing, Sewing | 4 Comments

From head to toe

Me Made May (see here) got me thinking a lot about my wardrobe.  I have this habit of making something pretty amazing, like a top or a skirt, and then have nothing to match or go with it.  This has been an on-going problem of mine.  I remember going back-to-school shopping with my mom as a teen and her voice still rings in my head saying “That’s a nice top/skirt/pair of pants, but what goes with it?”  She was, of course, right and it’s only taken me 40+ years to start thinking about it.  Learning from the Me Made May challenge, I’ve realized that I need more tops but also garments that go well together.  I had plans to make another Everyday Skirt and decided to make an actual OUTFIT with the skirt.  🙂

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The Everyday Skirt by Liesl & Co.

I ordered this beautiful Yucca voile fabric (arbol voile in black is the color) by Leah Duncan and got to sewing.  I decided to make a small this time; as the directions mention making a size smaller if you wear it on your waist, which is what I intend to do.  The second time making this skirt was very quick.  (To see my first Everyday Skirt, go here.)  This is such a great pattern and it’s so very flattering on!

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Pockets.

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Everyday Skirt in Yucca Voile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I made a black tank top to go with it.  The pattern I used is the Mission Maxi pattern by Jaime Christina.  I think this may be my absolute favorite tank top pattern.  The reason why I love it so is because I am a curvy girl up top.  This tank has narrow straps (but you can wear a bra no problem), it fits the bust great and then narrows right down to accentuate your waist and flares out a bit at the bottom.  The back of the tank is cut in a racer back style and shows off the shoulders too.  Having a curvy top, I have often found that if things fit my bust then they are humongous at the shoulders and waist (another reason I DON’T like to buy things at the mall).  I need something to fit up top and accentuate my waist.  This tank top does both.  The only modification I added to this pattern was to raise the neckline about 1/2″ as the top tends to run a little to low for me.  This tank top is a very quick sew, very easy and simple and looks great on!

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The Mission Maxi pattern.

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Mission Maxi tank top by Jaime Christina.

I don’t know what the fabric is that I used for the tank.  It was in my stash and quite honestly, I didn’t even know I had it.  See, there are perks to being a fabric hoarder.  Sometimes you get surprised when you go digging!  It is a jersey-poly blend and one side has a faint herringbone pattern.  I must have liked it a lot when I bought it because I have quite a bit of it.  Lastly, I added a pair of red Saltwater Sandals to make the outfit complete because everyone needs a pair of red shoes, right?

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A complete outfit.

 

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