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My #alittlelawnparty entry – a Simplicity 2586 pattern review.

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You know me – I love a good Instagram sewing challenge.

This challenge has been organised by Mel from  Handmade by Ditsy-Tulip  and Atia from The Bright Blooms . If you follow me on Instagram you might have noticed that, as an ambassador for this challenge, I have mentioned it a few times on my stories. But if you need more details then do head on over to Mel and Atia’s website where it is all explained.

To summarise, it is a friendly sewing challenge to celebrate the arrival of Spring. In a nutshell the idea is to have a bit of fun sewing a Spring themed garment and share your make on Instagram using the hashtag #alittlelawnparty . I think originally the idea was to make a garment using cotton lawn, but as this is not always easy to get hold of at a reasonable price in certain parts, so you may use any fabric of your choice as long as you are using it to make an outfit that is ‘Spring-like’.

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At first I thought deciding what to make would be really easy. For someone who absolutely loves floral fabrics and has a ton of dress patterns this should have been a breeze for me, but whilst I knew the fabric that I wanted to use, I struggled deciding which sewing pattern to pair with it. I also think that because the challenge runs over a two month period, I sat back a little and kind of left things a little later that I should have! Not to worry though, if you are still working on your project the closing date is not until the 15th of May 2018 so there is still plenty of time to get your entry in!

After posting a picture of what I thought was the perfect pattern for this challenge on my Instagram account, I swiftly changed my mind after I received several messages to say that the particular pattern that I was planning to use required a great deal of adjustments and changes. By this stage, I really hadn’t got the time to spend on a dress which required so much work and alterations, so the happy outcome was that I chose another pattern that I have had in my stash for absolutely ages- Simplicity 2586.

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I don’t know very much about this pattern, except that it does not seem to be available in the U.K. It is possibly an old out of stock pattern? – correct me if I’m wrong – and I think I bought mine from an Etsy seller a long time after ago (as they do seem to be available in the U.S) but watch our for hefty postal charges as most of these patterns seem to be from U.S sellers.

I am crazy about the blue belted version of the dress as shown on the front of the pattern envelope, and thought that this could make a pretty Spring dress. I had bought this adorable crepe from Sew Me Sunshine fairly recently and decided that this combination was the dress I wanted! It’s a blush pink crepe with the classic crinkled texture and is scattered with light blue flowers. So so beautiful. I have linked the fabric for you and at the time of writing this it is still in stock at £3.50 per half metre.

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The dress has turned out really well, although the next time I make it I will make a couple of little changes. Whilst I LOVE the crepe and chose it as I wanted a really drapey fabric, it is quite slippery to work with (as you would expect with crepe) and in certain areas like the narrow neckband it was a little fiddly. I may have said some naughty words whilst sewing this part. On the subject of the neckline, I felt this came out quite low and wide. Still very wearable but I think I will adjust it a little next time. Finally the sleeves. They are slightly wide, but I can live with that. The sleeve cuffs though – they are massive! I would definitely need to make these much smaller for future makes as they are huge! This will teach me for not making a toile up. ( I always make toiles of patterns that I haven’t made before – I can’t imagine why I didn’t this time)!  Tut Tut!

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That being said, the dress is beautiful I think, and it is super cute. It has pockets for a start. Gotta love them.  I also really like the ruffles around the bottom of the hem and the fabric belt,  and with some small adjustments this could very well end up being a favourite pattern of mine. Easy to slip on and off over the head, I like that there are no zips, buttons or elastic on this dress. Nice and straightforward as far as construction is concerned. I do love Simplicity patterns.

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A huge thank you to Mel and Atia for organising such a fun challenge. Do head on over to their websites linked earlier on in this post for all the details. There are some great prizes to be won at the end of the challenge too, which is always a bonus! We are very lucky in the sewing community to have such generous businesses that always provide such wonderful gifts for these sewing challenges.

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More Spring inspiration can be found by searching the hashtag #alittlelawnparty over on Instagram. I for one am ready and waiting for warmer weather to arrive so that I can actually wear my dress!

Take care, I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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My #sewmystyle2018 April entry – the Marigold trousers from Tilly and the Buttons.

So this blog post contains something completely different from me -trousers!

The #sewmystyle2018 challenge is run by Jessica and it encourages you to make 12 garments in 12 months. Of course you don’t have to make all of them – I personally am dipping in and out of this challenge only choosing the items that I feel will wear often. This months make is the Marigold jumpsuit and trousers pattern from Tilly and the Buttons.

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I quite liked the idea of making the jumpsuit, but finally settled on making the trousers because:

  1. I never make trousers, so why not do something about this and these do look super cute and comfy for Summer.
  2. I can’t be doing with the whole stripping off to visit the toilet situation that you get with a jumpsuit!

I wondered if getting the fit of the trousers right would be tricky, so made up a toile first and was really glad that I did as I found that the crotch sat really low on me and I needed to raise this by 2″ to ensure a better fit. There is a great piece on how to fit your Marigold trousers on the Tilly website here.

Don’t forget that if you are raising your crotch height like me (using the adjustment lines on the pattern) that you need to shorten your pocket pieces by the same amount.

I did wonder if I should shorten the length of the legs too but I like the way they settle around my ankles so left them as they were.

 

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The trousers have a peg shaped leg tapering in to the ankles, and I am pleasantly surprised with how much I like how they have turned out. They have a gathered waist all the way around and are also shaped with small pleats and darts at the waist front and back. I think I quite like them! I am a huge fan of Tilly patterns and this did not disappoint.

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The fabric that I chose to make up this version in is a black geometric print viscose from Minerva Crafts. It was a very reasonable £4.99 per metre and I think it is perfect for these Marigolds.

I did have my concerns that the elasticated waist all the way around would look unflattering on my shape, but I don’t feel this to be the case. I also really like the deep pockets. Essential.

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So all in all I am really chuffed with them. I think you may have to choose your fabric wisely so as not to look like you have stepped out in your pyjamas, but I really love this black and white geometric print – they remind me on the time that I used to work for Monsoon/Accessorize and I wore these type of trousers alot during the Summer as my work uniform.

Do head on over to Instagram and check out the hashtag #sewmystyle2018 and #sewmystyle for more Marigold inspiration this month.

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Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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The DR308 Cami Slip Dress by Kommatia Patterns

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Today I am so happy to share with you another pattern testing project that I have been working on with Kommatia Patterns. Today is launch day, and you can find the pattern available to purchase in PDF format here.. It is available in sizes XS – XL.

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It’s the DR308 – Cami Slip Dress and it is a knee length Summer dress with a cocoon silhouette. It calls for a silky draping fabric such as crepe, challis or silk, and it also has adjustable straps which need bra rings and sliders.

The pattern is rated as an intermediate project, and this may be because the recommended fabrics are slippery and can be tricky to handle. A slim, sharp Microtex needle is suggested to help sew this type of fabric. My fabric choice is a viscose challis from Stuart’s Fabrics on Leicester Market, it’s really pretty and has a Liberty feel to it I think!

I have sewn Kommatia patterns before and find their instructions to be thorough and easy to understand. This is a quick pattern to sew and only needs 1.25m or 1.5yds of fabric. Kommatia are a Canadian company so instructions are in English and French. The step by step written instructions are also backed up by drawings of each stage which I found really helpful.

The back of the dress is where it’s all happening! Slim shoulder straps are adjusted by using bra rings and sliders. This is the first time I have used these and love them! Apart from being entirely practical in that you can achieve the perfect strap length, I think they give such a professional finish to the dress. The narrow width of the straps are a little fiddly to turn ‘right side out’, but I have a ‘loop turner’ which definitely made this job quicker. If you don’t own a loop turner Kommatia have helpful written instructions to guide you through this stage using a needle and thread!

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The back of the dress also has a horizontal strap running across the top of a v-back which is practical and pretty. It also has a slit at the centre back hem for ease of movement. Cute.

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The dress that I am showing you is my final pattern testing version. Although there have been a couple of ‘tweaks’ made to the pattern since I made this, I feel they are so small that you can still get a great idea of what the pattern is from this version. I will definitely be making another, so of course will share with you when I do.

I should mention that it comes together really quickly, an easy dress to make in a day.

I look forward to more pattern testing with Kommatia in the future, and when I do – you will be sure to hear about it!

You might also wish to take a look over at my fellow pattern testers Instagram accounts. They are SaschaAdeline and Christine.

If you would like to read about my last Kommatia pattern testing project which is a super  v-neck jersey top, you can click here.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Christine Haynes Emery Dress with Pleated Skirt Pattern Review

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I am having fun writing blog posts for the Minerva Crafts Blogger Network, and this months make is a pretty Christine Haynes Emery dress made with a skirt alteration from gathers to pleats.

I used a fabulous Seashore cotton poplin and if you would like to read the full review you can head on over here , where you will of course find the links to all the supplies that I used for this project.

Thank you Minerva Crafts !

Happy sewing and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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McCalls M7313 Sewing Pattern Review

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I am so happy to share with you my latest make, McCalls M7313, which is a great little skater dress for knit fabrics.

Writing this blog has opened up some wonderful opportunities for me, and I am lucky enough to have been given this stunning fabric and sewing pattern by Lucy and the team at Sewessential.

Lucy, her husband and her Mother in Law, all work together to run this successful online sewing superstore, which started about 13 years ago. Over the years it has grown and not only does it offer you the most beautiful range of fabrics, it stocks the most enormous selection of sewing patterns. Furthermore, I was surprised to see a vast range of haberdashery and sewing gadgets and I was blown away by the choice of sewing machines and overlockers. For those interested I use a Janome sewing machine and overlocker.

Clearly it was going to take some time to choose a pattern and fabric that I wanted to work with, and it did! I knew that I wanted to make a jersey dress. I have loved making several versions of the Colette Patterns ‘Moneta’ Dress, and I adore a dress with a gathered waist, but I have wanted to make a slightly different type of jersey knit dress for a while now, just haven’t found the right pattern.

As soon as I noticed the McCalls M7313 I knew that this was the one! This skater style dress was exactly what I needed, I have never made this fit and flare style before and it looked like it could be ‘right up my street’. I was also very drawn towards this wonderful tropical jersey knit fabric, and thought they would be a perfect pairing. The fabric is lovely and wide which is always a bonus, you can purchase in 0.5 metre increments which is helpful,  and it is super soft, with a lovely drape.

The pattern is very versatile. It has different sleeve, neck and length variations, so there is something for everyone! I chose a scoop neck,  short sleeved version in the shorter length, but this dress would work very nicely in the Winter months with long sleeves and the high neck. Perfect!

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Throughout the make I used ball point pins, and a ball point needle and twin needle on my machine. It is important to use needles and pins with rounded tips to ensure they pierce through the fabric without damaging the individual fibres. I also used my sewing machine entirely for this project, proving that you don’t have to have an overlocker to work with knit fabrics!

The dress came together really quickly, and I love how it has turned out. I finished the neckline and sleeves using a twin needle as I think this gives you a really professional look with very little effort!

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The pattern instructions are clear and easy to follow as you would expect from a McCalls pattern, and it is suitable for beginners, so is lovely and straightforward. A small amount of 1/4″ elastic is needed to give the waistline a tiny bit of shape, but no zips, darts etc make this a pleasure to make. Aren’t dresses that you can just throw over your head the best!

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Such vibrant colours!

I can imagine this dress on a sunny day out worn with wedges and sunglasses, but would totally wear it on a cooler day with a denim jacket and ankle boots. That’s the British Summer weather covered!

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Pop on a belt to dress it up a little!

I have really enjoyed making this dress, and would like to thank all at Sewessential for the supplies. It will certainly be a dress I will wear all Summer and I already have plans for another one as I want it in all the colours!

Thank you for reading, have you made this dress? I would love to hear from you.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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Simplicity 1108 Kimono Sewing Pattern Review.

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Some lovely sunny weather here in the U.K lately has really put me in the mood for Summer. I feel that a kimono is a really useful part of my Summer wardrobe, I own several and have made a couple ( if you are interested to see my review of another Simplicity kimono please click here).

However, as we all know the British weather can be unpredictable. So when I spotted this Simplicity 1108 kimono pattern which was the free gift in this months Sew magazine, I decided that I wanted to make it up in a cosy tropical jersey fabric. I am then covered (literally) if the temperature drops, but the tropical print still gives out the Summer vibe.

 

The fabric I chose is a really cheap jersey from the ‘£1 a metre’ stall at Leicester market. You can really pick up some bargains from this stall, but it is not there every day, I think I was there on a Thursday and happened to catch him that day. I only wanted 2 or 3 metres but he ‘threw in the rest’ and I probably ended up with 5 metres of it for £3. What a bargain! Beware – as a result you will be seeing lots more makes with this fabric!

Just a note here to mention that I used ballpoint pins on this project, and the ballpoint needle and twin needle on my sewing machine. It is important to use these when working with jersey as the rounded tips of the pins and needles glide through the fabric rather than cutting through it.

The pattern has several different options – short, medium or long length, and with or without the trim/band. I decided to go for view B, which on the pattern cover is the image on the bottom right corner.

Cutting out was straightforward as it is basically 2 x front pieces, 2 x back pieces and the pieces to make the band. Take your time when constructing the band and the band facing. It is easy to make an error here if you are not careful. Use the pattern notches to make sure your pieces are correctly placed together.

If I were making this in a regular silky fabric like a crepe, I would certainly take the time to use French Seams. As I was using a jersey fabric I decided that this would have been too bulky and chose to use the overlocker, this still gives a neat finish on the inside that I can live with. It also made it super quick to make up! – until you get to the band…

The band, when constructed, is basically a curved piece of fabric which attaches to the entire opening of the kimono. When attached, the seam allowances are clipped and the band facing is then attached to this. The seam allowances of the band facing then need clipping.  All this snipping took me SUCH a long time, but it is worth it as the facing will lay nice and flat if you clip it thoroughly.

Interfacing is required for the band pieces, and this was the first time that I had used a knit interfacing. I had no problems with it, it was iron-on and did the job great!

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A cute feature on this pattern is a small gathered section just at the back of the neck.

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I decided to use the ‘cord’ method of gathering on this project – this is where you place a cord along the length you want to gather, then simply zig zag over the top taking care not to catch the cord with the zig zag stitches. Simply pull the cord to easily gather your fabric. I have seen this done using dental floss as the cord – I had some thick cotton cord in my sewing basket and used that – it worked great and allowed quite a chunky fabric to gather easily and smoothly. I will definitely be using this technique again!

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This shows the gathers at the back of the neck before and after they are pulled. Note the zig zag stitches ‘straddle’ the cord.

I’m pretty pleased with how the kimono came out. I feel that the shorter version may have suited me better as I think this is a little long for me, but hey ho! never mind – I will still enjoy wearing it on those cooler Summer days and it will just keep me extra warm!

Just for reference – I am 5’2″

I should also mention that it does sew up a little on the large side. I understand from other reviews that this is how it is supposed to be, but you may want to take this into consideration when choosing your size.

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It’s a great pattern, with a size range from XXS-XXL.

Sew magazine issue 99, July 2017, (which is still current at the time of posting this), has helpful hints and tips on fabric choices, tools, sizing advice etc.

‘ Yours truly’ also gets a mention in the magazine on page 37 where they announce the results of the Dressmaker of the Year competition. I won first place in the ‘ready to wear’ category, and will be writing a blog post on this soon.

I hope this review has been helpful, have you made a kimono recently? Have you used jersey? Do let me know how you got on as I love to read your comments.

Take care and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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McCall M7530 Sewing Pattern Review

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If you’re after a really quick and easy ‘throw over the head’ Summer dress project then read on…

I was very lucky to be given the choice of a couple of McCall sewing patterns recently as a prize from the lovely Kate and Rachel at The Fold Line. Thank you so much guys! If you haven’t already I would definitely take a look at their website. It’s a great place where all aspects of the sewing community are covered. New pattern releases, sewing news, meet-ups and pattern reviews and photos are available to browse through, and I would recommend signing up to their newsletters, they will certainly keep you on top of what’s happening in the sewing world!

One of my pattern choices was this very simple dress which has an elasticated waist. Probably not the most exciting design but my reasons for choosing it is that it is a style that I reach for on sunny days when I want to wear a dress but don’t want to look too formal. As you might expect there are several variations – sleeveless, short sleeved, long sleeved and maxi length.

I chose to use a fabric which I bought from Adam Ross Fabrics on a recent fabric meet-up with lots of sewing friends in Birmingham (#FMBHAM).  I think it is a polyester, and I love the colour, maybe not one that I would usually choose for a Summer dress, but I have so many florals in my wardrobe at the moment, it was good to have a change.

Cutting out and the dress construction was easy peasy, you could almost do it with your eyes closed! There are no darts, zips or buttons so this would be a perfect dress for an absolute beginner. Setting in the sleeves and the elasticated waist are the only challenges and these are very well explained by McCall’s with excellent written instructions and illustrations.

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The fit was good for me. Maybe the bodice of the dress was a little roomy, but I quite like this and it suits the design of the dress. Overall I feel it came up pretty true to size, often I end up taking more off the hem due to my height (or lack of it)! but this shows the true length of this skirt on a 5’2″ height. I did feel that it looked a little too plain on it’s own so added a belt and feel that this just gives it that little extra that I was looking for.

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I used one of these ‘elastic glides’ to help me thread my elastic at the waistband. So much quicker and easier than my previous method of using a safety pin attached to the end of the elastic!

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Obviously, I would have preferred the dress to have had pockets, you know me, so next time I will pop some in to the side seams of the skirt pieces, easy enough to do – I don’t know why I didn’t do it this time!

So overall, a very quick satisfying dress make, and I am pleased with the outcome. I will make more of these for the Summer as I know it is a style that I enjoy for everyday wear. I rather like the idea of the sleeveless maxi dress option … how cute would that be with flat sandals on a sunny day!

I do like using McCall patterns, I am always pleased with how they turn out.  I really enjoyed sewing this up, and I have other McCall’s that I am planning to make soon, so will tell you all about them when they are done!

If you enjoyed this, you may be interested in my thoughts on another McCall dress pattern, the M7381, and you can read about that here.

Hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on this pattern.

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy x

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McCalls M7381 Dress Pattern Review

 

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I was delighted to see that in the latest edition of Love Sewing magazine, issue 37, the free pattern was this McCalls M7381. I love floaty dresses and this looked like it was right up my street.

The size range in this single pattern is quite impressive too. It covers sizes XS through to XXL. Pretty good (until you get to the part when you want to fold the pattern pieces back up and try to get them back in the envelope! Ha! Several versions of the dress are available to choose from. Long sleeves, short sleeves, sleeveless and maxi length. I chose view C.

My fabric choice was from Minerva crafts found here. Its a beautiful viscose challis and the print is adorable. I must admit that I love the Minerva web site, most often as well as a good description of the fabric there is a video which shows you how the fabric drapes, creases, stretches and how sheer it is. Super helpful.

The most difficult part of making up any pattern is deciding what size to cut. I must admit that very often now I will cut a toile, not great when you want to quickly get on with a new pattern but quite often necessary. I should have done so in this case and I didn’t. Off I jolly well went and after pre-washing the fabric (now this really is essential and I never skip doing this)! I chose to cut the pattern in a size large which is what my body measurements showed as on size chart on the envelope. I was nervous as this would normally by accompanied by a ‘finished measurement’ size chart which I would refer to but couldn’t see this.

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The dress is fairly straightforward to make up. The bodice was the most complicated part because it is lined, so requires several pattern pieces.  This was a nice challenge for me as I  have made several very easy patterns of late and it was good to sew up something a little more challenging (but still not too difficult). After the bodice is made up the rest of the pattern comes together quickly.

Some pretty features of this pattern are the pleat details at the shoulders and skirt front. I also like the faux tie belt feature at the front waist.

It is comfortable to put on and wear, and has an elasticated waist at the back of the skirt. Snap studs or poppers are hand sewn in on the bodice front, although I moved the placement of mine to show less cleavage!

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As you can probably see from the photos the dress has come up much too large. I could have easily have gone down at least one size band. The bodice has far too much room in it and the elasticated gathers at the back just seem to accentuate this unfortunately. Boo.

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If i had not been in so much of a rush to cut it out and make it I probably would have read a couple of really good reviews by Amy and Rachel where both mention the size aspect of this pattern. Do head over to these lovely ladies blog posts if you are considering making this dress, I’m sure that you will find it useful.

I really enjoyed making the bodice lining for this dress. I feel it gives the dress much more of a finished look and looks so much better than seeing the seams on the inside. I also remembered to pop in one of my name labels – I often forget to do this when I get engrossed in my sewing!

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Don’t let my sizing problem put you off making this lovely pattern. At the time of releasing this post I believe that issue 37 of Love Sewing may still be current- just. (next issue out March 23rd) so if you’re interested in a free copy of this pattern you may still be able to track down an issue before issue 38 comes out later in the week!

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I think this dress can be rescued with some little adjustments here and there from me. It would be a shame not to enjoy it this Summer as I do love so love the fabric.

Have you made this dress, what did you think?

Take care, and I’ll be back soon,

Kathy