Let’s all meet up in Rotorua and sew!

I have been busy scheming with fellow Wellington Sewing Blogger Sandra, planning big things…like a mega sewing meet in the central North Island!

Are you a sewist in NZ and wanna come hang out with us for a weekend?

Great, let’s do it!

There are still some details to iron out (hehe, iron, see what I did there?) but the general idea is that we’ll hire a suitable venue in Rotorua to meet up on the first weekend in August 2015 – that’s Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd.

We’ll sew, gossip, swap fabric/patterns/knowledge, go fabric shopping, eat food and have a fun weekend making lots of new sewing friends…and hopefully some clothes too 😉

We’ve created a form to aid us in our planning, please follow this link for more details and to register your interest.

The WSBN are very keen and already planning mini buses full of sewing machines cruising up SH1.

Hopefully you are as excited as us and maybe we could even make this an annual event.

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0 Degrees Bleuet

You guys have heard of 6 Degrees of Separation right?

New Zealand has a bit of an inside joke regarding that saying (we even have a mobile phone company named for it), but in Wellington it seems even less and we often joke that it’s actually 0 Degrees.We know this is technically not possible but live in Wellington for even a short period of time and you’ll quickly realise the exaggeration is no understatement. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve met someone new and we’ve discovered some way we are linked through circumstance or mutual friend/s.

So, moving on to the point of this post: The Wellington Sewing Bloggers now number more than 30 lovely ladies with a passion for sewing and blogging and Wellington.  With a group this size you won’t be surprised to learn that several of us own the same patterns and we also often buy the same fabric.

Sometimes inadvertently, sometimes deliberately.

This is what spawned Leimomi’s idea for the 0 Degrees of Sewing Separation Challenge. We would all link up by pattern or fabric and create a branching chain of fabulous clothes that  all link us together.

This is my link in the chain, a second Deer and Doe Bleuet:

Excuse the wrinkles, I wore it all day at Fabric-a-brac 🙂

It links to Kat who has made the same dress in a cute mushroom fabric and Jenna who used the same mushroom fabric to make a Pauline Alice Alameda…and that’s how it goes. Check out all the links in the chain as they are published on Leimomi’s post.

The main fabric from Cotton and Steel and it is AMAZING (capital letters required). It was beautiful to sew and feels great even after a few washes. Japanese fabric is like that.

I had 2.5 yards but due to the narrow width I didn’t have enough to cut all the final small pieces. So I picked up some matching pink broadcloth of similar weight and weave from Spotlight.

Spot my new sewing toy – an ElnaPress – Squee! Perfect interfacing.

I initially thought I would cut the button band (which I cut off last time), collar, bow and sleeve bands from the pink but I was worried it would become too bitsy and the beautiful main fabric would be less special. In the end I squeezed the button band and upper collar (by piecing the under side) onto the Tangrams and only cut the collar upstand, bow and cuffs from the pink.

Kat helped me alter the sleeves because I didn’t want the gathers and puffiness and then I decided I wouldn’t use the chunky cuffs.

I stitched most of this on a Sunday and I had the dress about 80% finished (just needing collar, sleeves and hemming) when I put it on my dress form at the end of the day.

I felt so happy with my fabric choice and I decided that, although I normally prefer dresses with sleeves, I actually quite liked this one without. I consulted with members of the WSBN who mostly agreed with me but suggested I make up one sleeve and baste it on to check.

I tested the altered sleeve in calico first and it was pretty close. There was still a bit too much width so I folded that out and cut the first sleeve from the tangrams. I basted it in place and then I decided it needed more pink. I cut one of the cuffs down to bias width, folded it up and pinned it in place. It looked so good that I just went ahead and attached the second cuff and didn’t bother asking any more opinions 😉

I’m not very good at inserting sleeves. I usually catch each side three or fours times and have to do a lot of unpicking so this time I tried something new. I can’t remember where I first saw it or if it has a technical term other than Use All The Pins but it worked really well.

My only real hiccup with this make was running out of thread while sewing the hem the night before our meet. I had to steal some off the bobbin and even then I only just made it.

We celebrated our challenge with Yum Cha:

Mango Pudding!
Me, Kirsten, Kristina, Jenna and Kat

And then we wandered over to Te Papa for some fun group photos:

Leimomi, Me, Jenna, Marta, Zara, Kirsten and Nina

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress, straight size 42

Altered sleeves, removed self button placket and reattached.

Fabrics – Cotton and Steel Moonlit Tangrams Navy, pink broadcloth from Spotlight Kaiwharawhara.

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WSBN Does Christmas 2014

Every year (well, the last two years anyway, since that is how long the WSBN has been in existence!) we celebrate Christmas by swapping hand made decorations in the style of Secret Santa.

This year we used Elfster so that everyone could remain anonymous, even the organisers. Those that wanted to play signed up and received their partner along with three hints to help them narrow down all the options 😉

But first, food!

If you’ve had your eye on the WSBN for a while you’ll know there is one thing we do just as well as sewing…food.

It was a little chilly for our planned high tea picnic so we met at one of the WSBNers homes and spread out our glorious selection of treats. Yummy!

Later we got on with our swap and there was plenty of this:

Joahnna, Emily, Joy
Sandra, Juliet, Teresa
Me, Zara, Nikki

Everyone got fabulous decorations and it was so much fun to see each one revealed. Big thanks to Sandra for capturing all the reactions 😀

Sandra drew me and made this hilariously accurate and super cute Christmas Harri in a Stocking.

AMAZING right?! Sandra even stalked my Facebook photos to get all the white bits in the right places. Look at Harri’s little socks!

When I showed Christmas Harri to Nerdy Husband he was super impressed and took her out of my hands to hang her on the tree right away.

Sandra also gave me her back-up ornament, the one she made first in case Christmas Harri was a flop. I really like it too but Harri wins paws down 😉

I drew Jenna and her hints included her love of birds. I’ve had a decoration idea in my head for while now involving native NZ birds but hadn’t gotten around to it so this year was the year!

I decided on trying to make a Tui since for me Tui = Christmas.

I shall explain: In New Zealand Christmas is during Summer which means BBQs, jandals, the beach and flowering Pohutukawa.

“Tui Eating Nectar” from virtualoceania.net

You might hear it called the New Zealand Christmas tree because of this (it’s also green and red) and the Tui flock to them to feed on the nectar.

Here is my inspiration Tui image courtesy of nzbirdsonline.

Tui are endemic to New Zealand, they have beautifully iridescent wings and a little white throat tuft. They are mimics and sing enthusiastic and complicated melodies that include gurgles, coughs and wheezing that have their own regional dialects. They are also super noisey in flight and sound as if in constant danger of crashing. I love them if you couldn’t tell… 😉

I started with Susan’s Gregarious Evening Grosbeak bird from her Downeast Thunder Farms blog. All her birds and other critters are amazing btw so go check them all out!

I omitted the beak piece and eye cap, extended the beak from the body and redesigned the tail. I added a second longer tail and the throat tufts then cut it all out of felt.

I cut the first body out of brown but it looked terrible so swapped to black and added green, blue and white felt for the other pieces.

I used black beads for the eyes and hand sewed the whole thing with matching thread and contrast on the wings. I really enjoyed this hand sewing because it was a lot of fun to see the bird take shape. I also slightly over-stuffed it because Tui are generally a little chubby.

When I was done NH said it needed legs to I dug out some wire and my pliers to bend some little feet. I made one foot then I pushed the wire though the body, bent the legs down and made the second foot. They kind of swing about but I like that.

I inserted a thick needle into the neck to find the right balance point and then used green floss for the hanger so that it blends in with the tree.

I liked my Tui so much that I didn’t actually want to give it away so I made another one for myself..and then two more. You can envision my evening of watching old Stargate SG-1 (mmm, Richard Dean Anderson…) while working on my Tui production line.

By the end of the third episode I’d created a little felt Tui army that I wish I’d remembered to take a picture of. I also wish I’d had my camera ready for when Harri took an experimental bite of one. I kid you not!

One of the spare Tui went to Fashionable Younger Sister and the other to my In-laws.

And that is how the WSBN celebrate Christmas, may our Decoration Swap tradition last long into the future…I’m going to need a bigger tree!

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A not very Gray Day Sandpoint Top

I have two more projects to blog before 2014 leaves us and I can start 2015 afresh.

Earlier this year during Indie Pattern Month, The Monthly Stitch helped Penny of Dresses & Me promote a little competition to encourage any budding Indie pattern designers to submit a pattern. The winner was decided by a panel of judges and the prize included some mentorship and other help to kickstart their pattern company.

The winner was Helena of Gray All Day with her cute Sandpoint top, a loose fitting T-shirt with cowl back.

Kat recently hosted a sew along over on TMS so I thought I’d whip up one of my own.

I went for a glam version, using a slinky pink knit with metallic stripe that I got from one of my final Arthur Toye visits before they shut down. I think it cost me a whole $6 per meter.

After looking at the finished measurements I cut one size smaller than the size chart suggested.

It was super fast and very easy to make. Except for one tiny bit of straight stitch I used 4-threads on my overlocker and mostly followed the instructions…I think…

I might have attached my back band wrong…but at least my stripe matching is perfect 😉

A fabric with high slink (slink should totally be a for real fabric descriptor, don’t you think?) is important for this pattern, so that the back cowl sits nice and cowly.

Cowly should also be a real word.

It’s not my usual style and has taken a bit of getting used to but it is very comfy and easy to throw on.

In terms of sewing, apart from adjusting the back band, there isn’t any fitting required so it’s great if you need a little Instant Gratification Sewing.

I’d love to see someone lengthen this into a dress.

We took these photos outside Made Marion after the WSBN Second Birthday.

We celebrated where it all began, with high tea at Martha’s Pantry.

Me, Teresa, Alison, Wendy, Gillian, Gemma, Zara, Sandra

Nina, Nikki, Jenna, Kat & Amos

The photo is on an angle because of dubious tripod balancing, but we’re all in there so that’s ok 😉

After we nommed all the sweet things we headed back to MM for photos and social sewing…which mostly involved lots of chatter, pattern/fabric swaps and buying buttons…. I managed to cut out a Gillian dress in a gorgeous textured Merino which is now sitting in my to-sew pile along with many other things…in the last two months this has grown alarmingly large but Christmas holidays will fix that! 😉

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Gray All Day Sandpoint top, size M, view b

Fabric – Unidentifiable pink jersey with metallic stripe from Arthur Toye Fabrics, $6.00/m

Next time I would lengthen it just a little, by 2 – 4 cms

The Great WSBN Sewing Room Tour – My turn!

The WSBN are always in scheming mode and this month’s Plan comes to us courtesy of Gemma of Sixty Six Stitches who announced via our usual communication channel (aka Facebook…or should that be SewingBook?) that September was Sewing Room Tour Month and promptly gave us each a date and hit the “go” button.

Gemma kicked us off followed by Laura, Sophie-Lee, Nikki, Juliet, Sandra JKat, Holly, MaryLouise, Nina and Sandra M.

Today is my turn! 😉

I am lucky to have my own room dedicate to sewing. It has a big window facing north so I get great light during the day, room for a big layout table and a double door wardrobe for hiding all my mess! It’s a bit crazy in there right now, the result of sudden sew-jo return – must sew ALL OF THE THINGS ALL OF THE TIME!

My furry sewing supervisor takes her role very seriously and has her own special spot in the sun on an off cut of wool from my Lady Grey.

My cutting table is a piece of 18mm pre-finished board and it is clamped to an old drafting table that I refuse to sell. It’s great because it’s huge but it also makes me stretch and move around my room. It is a tiny bit high so one day, probably quite soon, I will give up my drafting board and ask Nerdy Husband to weld me a proper frame at the right height.

I have the usual stash of fabric which I don’t think is that huge (?) and a few too many vintage machines that seem to multiply when I’m (read: Nerdy Husband) not looking.

All my fabric used to fit in this Ikea Expedit unit but recently I have had to find additional storage space in the form of a plastic bin. It has clear sides that do little to hide the fact that I own more fabric than I need so I keep it mostly out of sight under the cutting table.

I love my stash so there isn’t any real guilt 😉

Good fabric is like good wine, it needs some maturing time, plus it’s not really my fault. During winter Wellington is cold and wool takes up a lot of space, so does sweat-shirting and who could have said no to those awesome foxes?!

My linings and interfacings are also in a plastic bin under my cutting table but they don’t count as stash…there might some more wool “maturing” at the bottom of that bin too…

My patterns live in a filing cabinet. It was a great find at the Balcatta Transfer Station in Perth, a kind of recycling/dump-what-you-don’t-want rubbish place. It cost me $40 and it was originally a sad grey colour but several cans of spray paint fixed that. Indie patterns in the top, drawer Big Four next drawer down, magazine pattern inserts below that and drawer #4 is empty.

I sew on an Elna 2130 which is about 10 years old. I got it her on laybuy as a present to myself for getting through University, she’s such a little trooper and I can’t even begin to think about the day I have to think about replacing her.

My overlocker is a Bernina 1150MDA and she is also amazing, almost as amazing as my newest (modern) machine, a Janome Coverpro 1000CPX Coverstitch, which you can read all about here.

They don’t normally sit like this, usually I have the Elna and Bernina side by side with the Janome sitting behind and I swap them around as I need them.

They all also have pretty covers that I made, not to keep dust off, there is not enough time between sewing sessions for any dust to settle! The covers are actually Invisibility Cloaks to keep them out of sight from a certain furry helper who likes to eat thread when Mumma-Cat isn’t at home.

I sew on a $99 table from Ikea. One day I had the brilliant idea to get Nerdy Husband to drill some holes in the top for the plug of my power cords to pop through. The table is too deep and the sewing machine feet were too far under due to the cord length.

TOP TIP: Don’t do this to an Ikea table, the inside is cardboard…oh well 😉 Also with the overlocker on full noise it kind of bounces around so one day I will upgrade.

I have a few things on the walls and part of me is still trying to get out of the renting mentality of not hanging things up for fear causing damage and losing our deposit but I own these walls now so I need to get myself sorted.

I love my Fashionary postcards by Vita Yang, I mounted them on black card to make them stand out.

I also have 2 pin boards covered in heaps of stuff, important stuff 😉

Recently I got this peg board and it is the BEST THING EVER! I have everything on hand, rulers, scissors, ALL THE THINGS! You should get one too.

Gemma also challenged us to show off our favourite make and our current work in progress.

My favourite make is my Le Wise La Sylphide. I always get comments when I wear it and I feel so pretty and girly, plus who doesn’t like owls?!

I am always working on more than one thing, usually three, or four, or eight…it’s how I like to work so I don’t fight it 😉

Right now I need to finish my Miss Bossy Patterns challenge from The Monthly Stitch. This month is Amnesty Month so the perfect time to catch up.

I’m also in the middle of 3 more Papercut Pneuma tanks, I love the colours:

And I just finished two top secret projects that will be revealed next month 😉 but here is a sneak peek:

Now I think you’ll agree, there is only one proper way to finish this post: with a furry sewing helper montage 😉

PS: Tomorrow is Zara’s turn and you can check out the blog list of the entire WSBN here.

PPS: Also you should totally go and check out the new indie pattern company, Muse. It’s the creation of one of our amazing WSBN girls, Kat. Her first pattern is the vintage inspired Jenna cardi (that I really have to hurry up and get under the overlocker) you can buy it as a pdf download so go take a look!

PPPS: Oh, oh, and come join us over on The Monthly Stitch next month for FROCKTOBER, everything you need to know is here.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…oh deer!

The WSBN are great at scheming!

Our most recent collaborative idea was to sew a garment from one pattern brand. Votes were cast and Deer & Doe won…and then the four of us who participated all managed to sew the same pattern, the Bleuet dress!

We have graduated from Twinsies to Quadruplets!

So where do four sewists go for photographs when they are all wearing the same dress by a pattern company called Deer & Doe?

Duh, they go to Staglands of course, because with a name like that there MUST some deer there, right?

RIGHT!

But first we ate, because not only are we excellent at scheming and sewing (and sewing scheming) we are also good at eating!

So we picnicked:

You may notice we also included significant others, both large and small, for this outing.

Wellington put on a beautiful day so after our picnic we wandered, looking at the animals, chatting and photographing as we went.

The Bleuet Quadruplets:

Nikki, Kat, Me and Jenna

Apart from the odd sneak peek this was the first time I’d seen all the dresses complete and together. I really love that we each put our personal style twist to it and while it’s clear we all used the same pattern we all ended up with a unique dress.

Sewing is awesome, yes it is!

Near one of the picnic areas a lady complimented our dresses and was brave enough to ask, “Why are you all wearing the same dress?” so I quickly explained that we were part of a sewing group and that this particular dress was from a pattern company called Deer & Doe so we were hoping to have photos with deer (we hadn’t actually seen any deer at that point).

She seemed very impressed and that was when I realised we are not normal but it made me happy in a weird sort of way 🙂

Me, Kat, Jenna and Nikki

I saw this check print while on a sneaky fabric shopping mission with Nikki. She picked it up first and I was going to get some cut from it after her but there wasn’t enough left on the bolt. I figured it wasn’t meant to be, then Enabler Nikki texted me one weekend not long after to say she’d seen another bolt of it. I couldn’t get to the shop but put out a cry for help on the WSBN Facebook page and MaryLousie came to my rescue – sewing friends are the best!

I channelled my inner Ladybird and cut the side panels on the bias, then I chopped off the self button placket and cut that on the bias too.

You may have noticed I have an extra panel on the back of my dress, just below the collar.

This is, err…a bonus design feature.

Ok, maybe I had a little boo boo.

While trying this dress on I got my arm stuck one of the arm holes and heard a terrible ripping sound! At first I couldn’t find any damage so I assumed it was just some basting stitches ripping out. I carried on sewing…and then I saw it!

NooOOoooOOOoooo!

I was really mad at myself for about 30 seconds. Then I sat down at my machine and zig zagged the rip together. After staring at it a little longer I realised I had to patch it. I am sure I’ve seen patches on the back of shirts so I drew a semi-circle on the back bodice piece that would cover the rip and cut it on the bias for interest.

I top stitched it in place and it went unnoticed for about half the day until Nikki spotted it 😉

After solving that little problem I needed some stress relief – for the first item ever, and inspired by Kat, I decided to try snap fasteners instead of buttons.

#sewing with a hammer #fyeah #bleuet #DeerandDoe

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I bought 12 pearl snaps and took out my frustration installing them.

Beeeeaaaaauuuutiful! 🙂 #sewcialist

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Sewing with a hammer is fun!

We found the deer eventually and I’m glad we remember to buy food at the entrance!

Check out this guys antlers, so soft but also mean looking 😉

The pattern:

This was my first Deer & Doe pattern, but I own 5 of them in total. The pattern comes in a cute envelope and is printed on nice sturdy paper – a dream to work with compared to some of the thin tissue I’ve been tracing from lately.

You get two instruction booklets, one in French, one in English and I was a little disappointed to see that they are mostly text with very few diagrams. This did not stop me getting through the project but for someone who has not made a shirt or shirt dress before it could slow them down.

I felt there were a few gaps in the instructions, I couldn’t find any mention of stitching the shoulder seams and no guidance of which side to top stitch your panels. I also felt the collar is constructed in a very strange way so I decided to sew mine in a more traditional way that I have done before because the Deer & Doe instructions wouldn’t work in my head.

I found the sleeve cuffs a bit strange to construct too. After interfacing you fold them in on themselves so that you end up with 4 layers of fabric plus interfacing that you then have to sandwich onto the gathered bottom of the sleeve. It’s not easy and if you are using a thicker fabric I suggest you cut the sleeve cuff in half and attach it a different way.

This pattern cost me NZD$22.00 so I guess I just expected a little bit more love in the instructions. It is labelled an intermediate pattern but I feel that an advanced beginner could tackle this with a bit more guidance, or while consulting a general sewing book.

The draft is good, all my pieces lined up and it sews up quite quickly. The princess seams give you lots of fitting adjustment and I think the bow at the back adds a cute detail. I also I like how it is constructed.

Second #lasylphide done, #BHLAnnaDress done...can you guess what's next? 🙂

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I was a bit worried the puffy sleeves would be cute overload but after basting them on I decided to leave them. NH thought they looked OK plus I wore this dress to work last week and no one laughed at me 😉

Staglands:

I was pleasantly surprised by Staglands. I am Wellingtonian born and bred so I assumed I must have been there at some point in my life but apparently not. It was completely new to me and I really enjoyed myself!

The park is huge and from Wellington CBD it’s a good hour by car through the amazing Akatarawa Valley road. Leave home early because you really do need an entire day to enjoy the whole park.

Anywhere that has baby bunnies roaming around will get a glowing review from me!

I (and when I say I, I mean Nerdy Husband) took heaps and HEAPS of photos, over 400, a lot of which didn’t come out. This is bad, but also good, because now I am motivated to finally replace my faulty camera lens…and maybe try to get a deal on a macro for detail shots too 😉 So I have a few more photos, lots of animals and some funny out-takes, and rather than bombard you with more photos here you can click through to my Flikr album to see the rest 🙂

THE DEETS:

Pattern – Deer and Doe Bleuet Dress, straight size 42

Fabric – Cotton check from The Fabric Warehouse, Kaiwharawhara, $10/m

Other notions – 12 x pearl snaps

Goodbye 2013, Hello 2014

I am pretty rubbish when it comes to wrapping up my sewing year on time and setting my re-sew-lutions. It’s already February – what the heck happened to January?! Oh well… 🙂

2013:

After a disasterous start to my sewing year I set some re-sew-lutions, how did I do?:

  1. No plan? No worries! <Yes, but I also discovered that I love participating in challenges and sewing along with others
  2. More Sewing Meetups…MOAR! < Thanks to the WSBN this was EASY!
  3. No more crying over stupid patterns < Done!
  4. No imagined pressure, no imagined guilt < Yep!
  5. Lots of pretty dresses please < Oh yeah!
  6. Re-learn to enjoy photographing my FOs, have fun doing it < Absolutely!
  7. Maybe a bit of stash busting but I kind of do that anyway < Yes, but the Arthur Toye closing down sale helped fill in what I used, no stash guilt here 😉

What else happened in 2013?

I bought this little cutie, she’s still not running but that’s ok:

I pattern tested for Sewaholic, Lolita Patterns and Papercut Patterns:

Harry joined us in late April, an early birthday present from NH. Later the vet confirmed that He was actually a She and Harry became Harriet, or Harri for short:

Harri is always ready to lend a paw in the sewing room:

Harriet loves helping me trace patterns #sewingwithcats #curiousharriet

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Sewing with Mum is fun! #Harriet #sewingwithcats #helping #curiousharriet

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In winter I picked up cross-stitch again, with a nerdy twist:

Kat, Juliet and I launched The Monthly Stitch, come join us!:

I updated my blog theme:

I was the last person in the world to join Instagram:

Kat and I began our Twinsies series:

And finally I put together the Brasilia dress envelope for Rachel of House of Pinheiro:

Overall in 2013 I enjoyed my sewing much more than I ever have.

My favourite three projects were: Butterick 4790, Le Wise La Sylphide and my 1st BHL Anna…all dresses, funny that… 😉

How about 2014?

Firstly I should probably pledge to post by re-sew-lutions at the start of the new year…not one month into it 😉

  • More fun sewing
  • More Twisies (and Triplets and Quadruplets etc!)
  • Keep it awesome at The Monthly stitch
  • The WSBN are entering a team into the Wellington Colour Run!
  • More cross-stitch
  • MORE DRESSES because dresses are awesome.
  • Try to make a some underwear: Underpants, a bra, maybe try a corset?
  • RNHS (Requested Nerdy Husband Sewing)While cruising about my blog NH discovered my wardrobe page. After reading every RNHS post of 2012 he declared that he did not featured enough in 2013 – For 2014 he has requested more merinos, a hoodie and that I try making a business shirt based on his favourite French cuffed shirt. If the shirt is successful, trousers may be next on the cards.
  • Decorate my sewing room:

I have started already with my Fashionary postcards by Vita Yang

#sewing room decoration #fashionarypostcards yay! @fashionary

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  • Continue to sew from the stash but I make no promides in regards to not buying more, I have no stash guilt 😉

On top of all that I have joined the RTW Fasters:

“In 2014 I pledge to refrain from buying ALL outerwear, dresses, tops, pants, shorts, sweaters, coats, exercise clothes, jeans and bathing suits. Shoes, socks and underwear are permitted.”

I’m really glad they included the bit about shoes not being included 😉

New shoessssss! #shoes #mipiachi

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Happy New Year!