Monthly Archives: June 2011

The 2011 Summer Essentials Sewalong, or why on earth I joined another challenge related to sewing

So even though this may sound like an insane thing to do given that I’m already mired in Me Made June struggles and it’s only the middle of the month, but I also decided to participate in ANOTHER sew-along, the Summer Essentials Sew Along hosted by the lovely and talented Ali of The Wardrobe, Re-imagined. And as she describes it far better then I ever would, here it is:

The goal: Stock your closet with quality summer basics. The benefit: A group of sewers who will encourage and inspire you, not to mention talk you off the ledge when you need it! To me, there are six categories of summer wear. Feel free to add to this, but this is just to start us thinking of what you need/want.

Sounds fun, right? And at least, thank goodness, it’s open-ended. So I can just make the patterns and pieces that work for me, and not follow along some slavish dictates of another sewer. Sewing really is the new fascism, I swear. So I’m going to make a least six items this summer that fit into the categories listed below, and I’m going to only shop my stash, because I really need to not buy any more fabric until the heap of cloth sitting in my home shrinks to an acceptable level. Right now it’s just too much to bear. What with the huge amount my grandfather gifted to me and some pretty things I couldn’t resist, I can’t purchase anything new until at least August. Let’s see how it goes….So what are the 6 categories? They are the following:

Poolside Pretties: Anything that cools or dries you off when there’s lots of sun and water around. One and two-piece swimsuits, swimsuit cover-ups, surf shorts, sun hats, oh my! One versatile swimsuit cover-up I find lovely is a terry cloth dress. Double-duty, that’s what I’m talking about.

Growing up in the age of Juicy Couture sweatsuits has given me a strong aversion to anything terrycloth, so that’s off the list, and I don’t feel like I’m ready to make my own swimsuit, but I can go a cover up! I’m thinking fabric, left over from my Shibori project, with this pattern, lengthened from a tunic to a dress, will be the perfect couple:

Burda Style's Tara Pattern

Clam Diggers & Co.: Bifurcated bottoms of every style and length, from flowing linen pants to short-shorts and all the inbetweens—clam diggers, pedal pushers, Bermuda shorts, etc.

I just got two perfect patterns in the mail! This lovely 1950’s guy:

And with some black fabric left over from my My Lips Your Lips Tulips Skirt, I think it’s going to make all my Sandra Dee dreams come alive and dance! I have to resize the pattern, and I’m a touch concerned because it will be my first shot at shorts, but carpe diem, no?

And then this 1940’s stunner:

Sweet & Sassy Skirts: Prints and solids, short and long, low-slung and high-waisted. But most of all: Airy, flirty, flattering.

Sure, like I wasn’t going to do that ANYWAY. I have a few projects in mind, including a softly pleated affair from a tutorial by Pattern Scissors Cloth with this fabric:

I love this fabric. Doesn't it scream Ancient Roman Chic?

The Sundress: Need I say more? To me, the perfect sun dress strikes that cord between casual and elegant—arms and collarbones, looking good barefoot or high-heeled. It’s something you can wear to both a barbecue and a summer wedding.

Again, I’m on it. I’ve got too MANY of these in the works. I want to make a couple vintage dresses this summer, or at this least one, that’s my big challenge:

Tees, Tunics & Blouses: Yes, please! I’m finally understanding the worth of blouses as they also strike that balance between casual/formal, totally versatile. I’m also thinking mini-dresses that do triple duty as tunics, dresses and cover-ups.

Mini dress is not a term I ever want to use in life, so I will just do blouses, got it? I’m down for some more Sorbetto tops because I liked it that much, and definitely a few things in white. I need more basics.

Those Summer Nights: Pullovers, cardis and hoodies may be the last thing you’re thinking of with the mercury rising, but there’s those cool summer nights, not to mention every last establishment with the air con blasting. Or: for those of you where thunderstorms are a daily summer experience, a lightweight trench?

It’s hot as hell in Philadelphia. This one might get the ax. That way I can just make another dress….

Are you taking on any challenges this summer? Planning any changes? In any respect, not just sewing wise? I think I’m going to try to read Gravity’s Rainbow by Thomas Pynchon, that might be my large summer novel, you know, the one I am “reading” while I read lots of other trashy novels. Like you do.

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Filed under Burda Style, Butterick Patterns, Inspiration, Simplicity Patterns, Vintage

The My Lips Your Lips Tulips Skirt

And the quest for cute basics continues! This is a funny story, this skirt. I downloaded the Burda Style Marie FREE PATTERN months and months ago, planing to make it in a brocade, or something, something flashy and interesting and different. Yeah. That worked out well for me. NOT. (Remember when people used to say NOT? I miss the 90’s. NOT.) But sometimes the best laid plans and all that. You would think it would discourage me from planning, but no, I’m a glutton for punishment, so the planning, it will continue, with the help of spreadsheet and really long meetings.

How do the really long meetings fit in here? Well, when I have really long meetings, or am seeing a show I don’t love (which….happens, even though in an ideal world it never ever would), I plan sewing projects. I make lists of projects with fabric choices and notions next to them, in the order in which I plan to do them. And when I deviate from that order (and, believe me, I will. I always do) I still get a great deal of satisfaction from checking each item off the list. Am I a crazy person? Mayhap. But I’m also in possession of a cute new black poplin skirt. And I actually just realized I don’t own any other summer weight black skirts. And I LOVE black! So screw brocade, this was clearly the right choice. What do you think?

Oh, I like this pattern, I do! Only, well, the bottom of the skirt is a little restrictive to movement. It’s like a little cloth chastity belt/corset, I can’t really spread my legs that wide or walk that quickly. So no biking for me in this baby. But otherwise, I think the pleats are charming and the shape is cute. It’s like a tulip, don’t you think?

And it makes for an excellent setting for my extremely pink t-shirt, courtesy of J. Crew. Did I pay too much for this t-shirt? You bet I did. But such is the price for bubblegum pink vintage cotton. And what is vintage cotton, you might ask? NO ONE KNOWS. But it’s at least 30 dollars a yard.

Here is a close up of the front:

Which looks exactly like the back:

I think poplin was a good choice. I got it at Joann’s, and I actually rarely frequent Joann’s, but it was on sale. I don’t know why, but I trust Joann’s for bottom weights, and I have yet to find anyone in Philadelphia who can be my skirt/pant hook up on a consistent basis…any ideas?

Initially I thought I would make a black circle skirt with this fabric, with a nice wide sash. But I was looking at this pattern, and I just thought, yes. I need one of those. I need a neat slim black skirt that makes my bottom half look like an Empress of the Night Tulip. But all joking aside, I do like this style, it’s very “Young Professional” (a phrase I avoid at all costs) but it’s also cute and fun and has that high waist I so love.

And it goes perfectly with my new Clarks super supportive cool Art Teacher sandals. I’m owning this foot thing, people. OWNING it.

Glamour Shot!

Cousin it? Just a little bit? It’s very hot this year, really. NOT. Happy Me Made June, everyone!


Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Fabric, Sewing

Me Made June Days 10 through 16!

Lots of days to make up for in this one, people, so I’m going to skip the snappy dialogue and go straight to the meaty photos. Mmmmmm, meat…..enough distractions! Outfits!

June 10th, 2011:

Shirt, Me Made! The First Time For Everything Blouse

Pants: Gap

Sassy look: I blame the sun.

June 11, 2011

Shirt, Me Made! Capogiro Sorbetto Blouse. Adoring this blouse. Even with the wrinkles.

June 12, 2011

Shirt: Forever 21

Skirt: Me Made! The I Was Made For Sunny Days Skirt, which I adore.

Why am I so happy in this photo? Well, it might have SOMETHING to do with the fact that I’m back in normal shoes! On both feet! Win!

June 13, 2011:

Shirt: Me Made! My first JJ.

Shorts: Gap.

June 14, 2011

I look like death warmed over. Fail.

Shirt: Me Made! Refashion. Frankly, I don’t love this shirt when it’s not tucked into something with a high waist. It just isn’t particularly flattering, but I needed to throw something on, like you do, so I reached and grabbed. One of the many reasons I don’t trust myself before coffee happens.

Capris: Gap

June 15, 2011:

Dress: Me Made! The Dumb Luck Dress.

Belt and Scarf- My Grandmother’s. The scarf is actually adorable, it’s a map of California, and I love the belt. Man, belts really do make everything better, don’t they? Why the huge bag? Well, I was hauling fruit around for a work reception. I know, I know, my life is just TOO glamorous.

June 16, 2011:

I dressed to match Mr. Malevolent! Tiny Tiger is deeply offended, and can’t even look.

Shirt: Me Made! The Define Basic Blouse

Capris: Gap

I like this outfit. Yes, I look a bit like a catering company employee, but whatever, it’s simple, classic, matches my cat, what’s not to love?

And there you have it! On the 17th I wore something new I made, so you will be getting a looksee at that as soon as I get back from New York! I’m heading to Manhattan for a wedding tomorrow but I will be back on Monday. Until then, happy Me Made June!

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The First Time For Everything Blouse

You know how Eleanor  Roosevelt said “Do one thing every day that scares you”? Well, I’m pretty sure she was talking about using her first vintage pattern when she said that. I mean there is no way to be sure, of course, but I’m fairly confident that that’s what it was about. Of course, vintage to her would have been, like, tea gowns from the Edwardian era, but, you know, potato, potaahto.  It’s scary out there, guys, it is. I’ve read horror stories about vintage patterns with crazy instructions and no photos and wasting fabric and time and precious moments all for naught! So I was fairly concerned about delving into the world of vintage patterns, which is dumb, because I have BOUGHT a lot of vintage patterns….logic and I aren’t really best friends sometimes.

But sometimes you just have dive right in, right? Carpe Vintage Pattern, no? So I said to myself I said, start small, just try something simple. And with that I stitched up Butterick 7490, which some of you may or may not recognize as the pattern I discussed in my first of many future posts on Copycatting. This is a pattern I bought in homage to Colette Patterns’ Sencha, and you know what? I think it actually turned out pretty okay!

I look very pensive here. Maybe it’s because the sun was in my eyes. Maybe it’s because I’m considering how impressive my blouse is. Potato, potaahto.

Buffeted by the WIND!

Not only was this my very first vintage pattern, (and it was a snap, ladies and gentleman, just too easy! Well, except…but more on that later) , but it was also the first time I have ever re-sized a pattern (courtesy of this amazing tutorial), and I used vintage fabric and vintage thread AND this was my first time working with…..stripes! And I think I matched them fairly well!

Not to shabby, right? I pretty much used this as a muslin, in a sense, because I feel strongly that this blouse pattern is going to be used over and over again. I just love that this is such a simple shape but actually neatly tucked and quite flattering on curves. The only modifications I had to make were to the neckline, which now looks a little something like this:

Right, so, cute boat neck, right? Well, when I first made this I was determined to follow the (excellent) directions to the letter. So when it said finish the hems with seam binding, I was like, yes, of course, right away, sir! So I did so, even though I think seam binding is a slippery devil. But I did it! And then then I had finished I had a neckline that was a floppy neck hugging choking mess. And I thought, hmmmm, this is not exactly what I wanted.

So I just flipped over the excess, sewed a narrow hem, trimmed, and went about my merry way. And so I finished all the hems just just pinking, turning, and narrowly stitching. Which would NOT make this the first time I said, oh, screw it, I’m taking the easy way out here. Honorable? Mayhap not. But there are only so many challenges I can take on in one go.

So what would I change? Well, next time I’m going to try out a keyhole neckline. Let’s see how THAT goes, shall we?

Glamour Shot!

All in all, my first time was pretty good. Not everyone can say that, now, can they?


Filed under Butterick Patterns, Clothing, Fabric, Sewing

Me Made June Days 7 through 9!

My apologies for not putting more photos up in one go, but I like to do a post on a new item before I throw it up here for Me-Made June consumption, so coordinating outfit posts and new item posts has been a bit of a struggle. But what do you expect?


June 7th, 2011 I had a series of extremely irritating appointments and then took solace in my yard, picking raspberries. God I hate people.

Shirt: Me made! Or rather,  refashioned from a men’s shirt. I don’t wear this much, actually, because I think it’s rather shapeless, but it works tucked in, I think.

Skirt: H and M

June 8th, 2011 I had another series of appointments and hobbled all around the city showing apartments. It was insanely warm and humid and all I wanted to do was jump in a pool. Stupid walking boot….

Shirt: Me made! My new white blouse! I actually made this the first week I broke my foot. I had already cut the pieces pre-break, so I just had to hop around putting it together. Not bad for a broken shell of a person, right?

Skirt: Old Navy circa 6 years ago.

Bag: Me Made!

June 9th, 2011 I worked and met my friend Victoria and her boyfriend for coffee. We went to the uber hipster Red Hook Cafe on Fabric Row where you can buy all vegan desserts and can only pay in cash and can observe all lengths of dreadlock. But they do make a great cup of coffee….

Victoria snapped these outside the cafe. Pretty flowers!

Shirt: Me Made! My Fecund but Thrifty blouse. I do like this, but it’s short, and I was tugging it down to meet the waistband of my pants all day. I’m not a member of the cast of Hellcats, so I think this one needs to be paired with high waists, stat.

Shorts: Gap.

Bag: Me made!

Now, on the 10th I snapped another new creation, so tomorrow I will post about that! Happy Me Made June!

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Filed under Clothing, Sewing

The Define Basic Blouse

Friends, I have an issue I simply must discuss. You see, I realized recently that I have an anti-basics problem. And how did I come to this conclusion? This being me-made June and all I thought I would look through my small pile of self-stitched goods to put together some outfits that I would be able to just toss on, unthinking, and still stay within the me-made guidelines. But when I examined all my many (few) garments that have passed through my sewing machine, I came to a dreadful realization. I haven’t seen anything plain.

And I don’t mean plain like amish here, people, I mean plain like basic, solid color, versatile, etc. You see, I am so attracted to bring colors and prints (sort of like a magpie, that way, really) that I just hop on the crazy print train and ride it to unwearable station. I don’t mean to, honestly, but in my defense, prints are FUN. And I guess it’s better to sew something bright and wild that excites you then something plain and sad that doesn’t, right? But maybe you don’t always have to make that choice. So as part of me-made June I’m challenging myself to make some more basic items that go with more of my wardrobe, both self made and purchased, but that are also things I actually want to make and get excited about. It’s….a tall order, folks. But I am nothing if not determined!

So, without further ado, my first installment in my not so basic basics self challenge, The Define Basic Blouse!

I look a little angry. But it was quite warm the day my glorious friend Kate generously snapped these photos on the way to after work cocktails, so maybe that’s it?

Excuses excuses. But I love my new blouse! And Kate even liked it, and she is hard to please. It’s based on BurdaStyle’s FREE PATTERN the JJ Blouse, which I adore, and I have made three other copies of this thing in various incarnations. You may recall my Fecund but Thrifty blouse, another take on this so popular pattern. I like the fit a lot, it’s loose but form-skimming and it fits nicely with my many high waisted skirts. I only added one row of ruffles this time because A. My mother said I have too many ruffles and B. Ruffles sort of draw attention to what is not a particularly flat chest and C. It’s supposed to be basic, people, it’s right there in the name!

But I like ruffles! No, too many ruffles in my life. It’s true. These are probably my best ever buttonholes (I really need a buttonhole foot. And a new machine. And a PONY), and this was my first time ever doing fabric covered buttons. I love them. New addiction.

Here is a little back view for you. The fabric comes from the huge attic find my grandfather unloaded on me, but that’s a good thing, because there was a lot of white shirting in the pile, perfect for basic blouses to pair with loud skirts. Can a skirt be loud? I think so, yes.

This guy had NO idea I would make him wildly famous with my sewing blog. It reminds me of college when large groups of Japanese tourists would wander our campus and take our photos in front of buildings. My friend Becca lived in Branford, the showcase college, and practically every morning she would confront huge tour groups photographing every inch of ivy adorning the walls. How is that for a wake up call?

And the prospect of drinks with Kate revives me. Onward, to the bar!

So what do you think? Do you sew basics or leave that to the good people of H and M?


Filed under Burda Style, Fabric, Sewing, Uncategorized

Me Made June Days 3 Through 6!

And the madness continues. I had a crazy weekend, I must say, insanely busy and filled with work and appointments and performances. I’m worn out, and it’s only Tuesday, which is fairly sad. But I kept to my me-made promise, I promise! The biggest issue was actually not wearing something I made daily, but documenting it. My parents went to Los Angeles this weekend to visit my older brother, so I kind of had to struggle along and either ask strangers or attempt it myself. Wanna see?


Friday, June 3rd: I worked all day and then my theater company had it’s first preview for The Great American Trailer Park Musical (sounds fun, right? It’s hilariously trashy, guys, if you are in Philadelphia come check it out)

Skirt: Me Made, The I was made for sunny days skirt

Shirt: Forever 21. I would tell you about the shoes but you can’t see them so it’s moot.

I love this skirt. Love love love. I enjoy the length and how summery the colors are. The only issue is pressing the pleats. Oh, well, I’ll live with the wrinkles.


Saturday, June 4th: I spent the day running (hobbling) around showing apartments, buying fabric and having coffee with a friend, who graciously snapped these photos while telling me to make love to the camera. Thanks, Ben,you are a peach.

Skirt: Me Made, The Happy Trails By Two Friends Shirt

Capris: Gap

Bag: Me made

I do so like this shirt. It’s great for causal Saturdays, it’s quirky but cute. And I love the tiny cowboys, they are my new best friends.


Sunday, June 5th: More apartment showings, and working the box office for our last preview. Oh, such a glamorous life.  I forced my boss Mike to shoot this between helping audience members.

Shirt: Me Made, The Turn Your Head And Cough Ute

Capris: Gap. I wear these a lot.

Shoes: One is Puma. One is hospital issued. Can you tell which is which?

I don’t really wear this shirt much. I think it’s cute, but the snaps always pop open and the collar always falls out of place. Oh, well, it looks decent in the photo, right? They just can’t all be winners….


Monday, June 6th: Work and the premiere of the show! I wore this outfit to work and a dress I made to the actual premiere, I will photograph that in more depth soon and devote a whole post to it’s honor.

Shirt: Me Made, this was my very first JJ blouse! I made it just under a year ago and at the time it was the most complicated thing I’d made. I love the material so much.

Capris: Gap. I really wear these pants too often….

I love this shirt. it was made before I knew about pinking or seam finishing so inside it’s a mess, but I love it and I always get compliments on it! The color isn’t perfect in this photo, so you will just have to trust that this is a bright sunny shirt.

And that’s me so far! How are you guys doing?


Filed under Clothing

The Capogiro Top

Good afternoon, gentle readers! And how are you this fine day? The heat wave has FINALLY broken in Philadelphia and today is exactly what the second day of June should be like, breezy, slightly warm, perfectly sunny. It’s ALWAYS sunny in Philadelphia! Man, that show is the best. “Guys, I wrote a musical!” “Who’s the mark?” “There’s no mark, it’s a musical!” “Yeah, but who versus? Who versus?” Genius. And sadly so true. I love my city and will defend it to my dying day, but I have met people who are literally exactly like the entire cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and I am including Rickety Cricket and the McPoyles in that list. Many of them are close friends….

But enough of that, onto the outfit! And the outfit includes another brand new just sewn hot off the ironing board item! Just last week I was expressing my love for the new FREE PATTERN released by Colette patterns, The Sorbetto top. So I searched through my stash (this is my stash busting summer, after all!) and came up with a buttery soft ancient sheet from my grandfather’s attic collection that I had dyed pale aqua (idye in turquoise) and some sherberty orange bias tape I snagged from a 2.99 grab bag at my beloved Pennsylvania fabric outlet, and four hours later (they say two, but guys, I’m super slow) my Sorbetto Top was born! And I love it! And my mom loves it! And it’s just a touch too tight in the bust, sigh. But to be fair, my chest is not small, so when I make this again (and mark my words, I WILL be making this again) I will adjust accordingly.

Ah, the sun!

So you might be asking yourself, what the hell is Capogiro? Why, it’s my favorite gelatoria! Right here in downtown Philadelphia! One of their three stores is actually two blocks from my office which is DANGEROUS, guys, seriously. My friend Sarah and I just adore Capogiro, so whenever she comes back into town from Peru or Madagascar or Montana (she likes to travel…) we go over and have a grilled panini and the best damn gelato in town. And it is insane. With flavors like bourbon caramel, pineapple and mint, goat milk and rosemary with honey, it is my favorite addiction, all house made, all the time. Swoon.

What can I say? I love this top! The only change I made to the pattern was to shorten it by 3 inches, because I like my shirts a little longer then the pattern.

I stitched french seams and finished with bias tape, as directed, which makes this garment one of the nicest interiors I’ve yet to construct.

I love me some bias tape

So of course in modeling this shirt I felt the need to actually go to Capogiro itself and pick out some delightful sorbetto to sample in my photos. The nice people of Capogiro politely ignored what a crazy struggle I am and helped me pick out sorbettos that we felt matched my new blouse:

What? You want to try some? Are you crazy?

It’s mine, I tell you! All mine!

I’m just kidding. I shared some with my Mama.


Filed under Clothing, Colette Patterns, Dye, Sewing

The Dumb Luck Dress

Hello, and welcome to Me Made June, a magical time in which sewers the world over show off their hand crafted clothing! And thank you, Zoe, for making this happen! This is my first ever Me Made event, and I think I’m ready. It also coincides with my one year sewversery, which techinally came and went  at the end of May. However, I was still on crutches at the time and in no mood to celebrate, so we will just pretend it’s the first of June. Okay? Okay.

So in honor of both of these momentous events I present to you not one, not two, but THREE items I have made that I am currently wearing! Yes, it’s a whole outfit, with accessories and everything! Now, don’t you go getting used to this sort of thing. I think I can just scrape by wearing one me-made outfit a day, but any more then that is dicey. We will just wait and see how I do, shall we? And hats off (I should make a hat!) to Zoe, who even makes her own underwear, or as she calls them, pants. Ah, the UK, where nothing is as it seems.

Now, you might be curious, why is this dress, the main event, so to speak, called The Dumb Luck Dress? Well, to those of you who Burda Style it up, you may recognize this little pattern haunting the blogosphere:

BurdaStyle Pattern #101 from 2/2011

It’s cute, right? It’s super cute. It’s a nice classic shape. And you would think everyone would love it, no? Well, people do love it. Or at least, people have tried it. And everyone has a different complaint. To begin with, when you buy the pattern you actually just get a bodice pattern, the skirt is just rectangles, which I think is okay, but I can understand being indignant over paying for a pattern and only getting the top part. But then the nice ladies of Sew Weekly tried it out, and everyone had a fresh gripe, it’s too revealing, it fits weirdly, it’s unflattering, so on and so forth. So with this in mind, you would think I would stay the hell away from this pattern, or at least make several thousand muslins before I tried it, right? Wrong. I just made the damn thing. And you know what?

I like it! I really like!

See? Look how happy I am in the dress with which everyone has an issue! And in my walking cast, no less! Perhaps I’m just really happy to be off my crutches?

No. It’s the dress! I really like this dress, guys, I’m even making a second one for my theater company’s premiere of our spring show on Monday! It’s going to look so good with my bootie. What with the 80 degree weather here and the sexiness of the boot, I am just going to be beating them off with a stick. Oh, well, it’s a musical, it’s not like any guy there will be swinging my way anyway.  So, wonder of wonders, this bodice actually fits me quite well!

The material is actually a bedsheet that I dyed with Jacquard idye in Royal Blue. The packet is deceptively dark, whereas the final result is rather paler then I’d imagined, but I still like it! It almost looks like chambray, right? So in that sense the whole dress is a muslin, it was made from cheap materials etc, but it’s a wearable muslin, if you believe in such things. In some circles that’s quite a debate.

So what did I change from the original pattern? Well, I added pockets, obviously, because they improve all things. And I moved the zipper from the side to the back, and used a visible zipper rather then an invisible one. My request for zippers to live free and be visible continues. And I also said no to a gathered skirt and yes to a circle skirt, because I had enough fabric, and because it’s fun to do this:

I also made the headband:

And I made the bag! And the bag was my VERY FIRST PROJECT. EVER. Well, since I started really sewing and not just messing around. It was the project I made in my Spool intro to sewing class! And since have made, like, 10. For friends. It’s a great bag to give to people! And it’s reversible! Which is dope, or would be, if I was the kind of person who said things are dope. It’s funny, because Karen Did You Make That showed off her first project on Tilly’s blog (just go with it) and of course it’s a lovely blouse. Karen is a rockstar. I am but a lowly groupie, however, so I made a bag. And you better like it, because you are going to be seeing a hell of a lot of it this month, folks.

So there it is, my first day of Me Made June, my first attempt at the dress everyone has something to say about, and my very first project, a year later. Struggle, 1, June, 0.


Filed under Burda Style, Clothing, Dye, Sewing