Clothes Make the Mom?

Bippety Boppety Boo

But, what if Cinderella preferred her “rags”? After all, she didn’t have to wear corsets or panniers, and her hair was definitely prettier.

Lately, a tempest in a teacup has erupted on the Boston Globe’s website. Last week, a blogger wrote an article titled, It’s Time to Reinvent the Suburban Mom. The author laments, “How did fleece and Lycra become the staples of the suburban mommy uniform? And why is it acceptable to wear leggings outside of the gym, or worse, when you don’t ever go to the gym? When did showering become optional? The suburban mommy needs a new uniform, pronto.”

She then goes on to list 6 items of clothing that every ‘suburban mommy’ should have in her closet. They include

  • “A pair of jeans that flatter you”
  • T-shirts
  • A “great silk shirt”
  • Leggings (Uh, lady, you just said they belonged only in the gym)
  • A Dress
  • A Blazer

All of these are accompanied by a paragraph explaining why people must adhere to this 6-piece capsule collection. Worse than that, the author insinuates that if you don’t stock your closet with these pieces, you are, in the parlance of our political times, a loser.

As you can imagine, this article elicited an… energetic response from readers, one of whom wrote a Counterpoint Article decrying the fact that women pronounce these judgements in a public arena (like the largest newspaper in Boston), while men get a free pass. She makes a bunch of other points, but that’s the one I agree with most.

I know it’s human nature to judge people by their looks, and I’m sure if I walk into a coffee shop with full frizz and no makeup, in shorts and a “Mother of Dragons” tee shirt, someone might think I’m a slob. Conversely, if someone sees me in fahncy jeans and a cashmere sweater with full warpaint, they might think I’m pulled together. But the fact is, I am pulled together, regardless of what I’m wearing. And I try really hard not to judge anyone else by what they are wearing, or how their hair/makeup looks. After all, I don’t know what their life is like, so why get all judge-y about it? I have other things to worry about.

Here’s my advice. Wear what makes you feel good. If that’s leggings, fine. If that’s a designer cashmere sweater over a silk blouse, fine. If you feel good, you will walk taller and have more confidence. It’s about you, not ‘them’.

In sewing news, the organza arrived for my StyleArc Poppy top, so I’ll resume working on that. While I waited for it, I also cut out a blouse using a new Simplicity pattern. This weekend I get to sew, lots, so there will be much to blog about. Until then,

Happy sewing!

Posted in Commentary, Fashion | 24 Comments

When Life Gets Ugly, Focus on the Pretty

Jesus, this month. How much heartbreak can we take?

To lighten the mood a bit, last week I met my friend Angela in New York and spent a delightful day with her. We walked from Battery Park to Chinatown, where we feasted at Nom Wah (Thanks to Rosie for sending us there. Best. Dim Sum. Ever!), then we caught the train uptown to see the “Manus Ex Machina” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So here are some pictures to remind us that when the world gets ugly, and God knows it’s been one ugly-ass summer so far, there is still beauty all around us.

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Neoprene couture wedding gown by Chanel opens the exhibit

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But what’s with the drag lines?

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McQueen metal dresses

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Can’t sit in this one

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Hussein Chalayan

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Dior!

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Crappy cell phone detail of the embroidery on the Dior dress

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Dior’s Petale

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McQueen

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Dior by Yves Saint Laurent

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This is made of plastic drinking straws

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Clear sequins over printed ombré silk jersey

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Halston

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Dior side by side with McQueen

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70s Givenchy, IIRC

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Iris van Herpen is one crazy lady!

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For those days you just want to look like a wooly bear caterpillar

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Valentino and Gres on the left, Iris van Herpen on the right

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Mummy couture

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Classic Chanel? Kinda sorta. That “tweed” is plastic

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Here you can see the “weave” of the Chanel tweed

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Cool idea for a shirt dress from Prada: zipper instead of button placket

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Only a sewing nerd would stick her camera under the dress to see the innards

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Hand crocheted lace

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Chanel fron the 30s

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The exhibit has been extended into September. If you have the chance, do go see it.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Couture, Fashion, Museums | 19 Comments

Pattern Review: Butterick 5466 Skirt

Pattern Description: Semi-fitted, straight skirts A, B, C, D, E, above mid-knee, have back zipper closure. A, B, C, E: Darts. B, C: Waistband. C: Self-belt. D: Front and back princess seams. D, E: Raised waist.
I made View D.

Sizing: 8-24. I made a 14

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: Swiss cotton from my friend Alice at Mendel Goldberg. Yeah, I know, but even I like to shop at places where I can’t get the same things :). White silk habotai lining from Gorgeous Fabrics (natch).

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Naomi the Naomoto, Ironing board, ham.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Pro Sheer Elegance interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, invisible zipper from stash, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Sew from Wide to Narrow, Make the Lining First, Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sewing Invisible Zipper by Els from The Sewing Divas.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Didn’t use them. This pattern is well drafted and super easy, and I made some changes (see below)

Construction Notes: I added a silk habotai lining to the pattern. To make the lining, I used the skirt pieces and took off one inch at the hem and 1 3/4 inches at the top. I attached the lining to the facings, and I made a machine hem at the bottom of the lining. I used an invisible zipper and I hand-hemmed the outer shell.

Lining inserted in the skirt

Machine sewn hem on the lining and hand sewn hem on the skirt

Likes/Dislikes: This is a super easy pattern that goes together quickly. I started cutting out the lining at 1 this afternoon, and I finished hemming it at 5, in time to wear it to DS the Elder’s 21st birthday dinner. I love this skirt!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Gosh yes. If you want a skirt that is easy to make and is well drafted, this is one.

Conclusion: Love love love! I will apologize in advance because I didn’t take many pictures until after we had gone to dinner, so it’s kind of wrinkled. But you can get an idea.

Front

Back (after dinner/wearing)

As I said, I wore it to dinner tonight (with a purchased tank top in a complementary orange) to celebrate DS the Elder’s 21st. Wow, where has the time gone?

Eddie Day 2

The day we came home from the hospital, it was hot!

Happy sewing!

Posted in Butterick, Sewing | 4 Comments

Les Petites Mains Get Their Day in the Sun!

Photo credit: Chanel.com

In the latest Chanel Couture show, Karl Lagerfeld shone the spotlight on les petites mains who make the clothes that inspire us all. To all our Gorgeous Peeps, this is inspiration and acknowledgement of the work that goes into these amazing garments. Anyone who sews, knows this. Merci, Monsieur Lagerfeld, for showing the women and men behind that curtain!

The link to the full Reuters Story is Here

PS, the fashion world is abuzz with the rumor that Lagerfeld, who is 82 years old, is going to retire soon. We’ll see…

Happy sewing!

Posted in Couture, Fashion | 1 Comment

Pattern Review: Butterick 6061 Shorts


Pattern Description: From Butterick’s website, “Semi-fitted shorts and tapered pants (below waist) have bias, front button, contour waistband, carriers, side-front pockets, mock-fly zipper and stitched hems.”

Sizing: 6-22. I made a 14

Available as a PDF? Yes

Fabric Used: A Ralph Lauren pinstriped denim from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). That’s been sold out for a couple of years, but we have other suitable denims Here.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, Japanese hand-sewing needle, Pro Weft Interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply, zipper from stash, “couture” waistband closures, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: “J” or “L”?, Anything by The Pressinatrix

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They were fine. This is a very (very) easy pattern to sew.

Construction Notes: I made a 14, and it runs big. I could definitely go to a 12 with no ill effects. I made the shortest view (A), which comes to about mid-thigh. The fabric I’m using is a regular stripe, to to get things to match up I cut one front and back, then used that piece as the template for the other side.

Likewise for the pockets, I laid the fronts on the fabric, lining up the stripes, placed the pocket pattern piece over the front piece, lining up the markings. Then I pulled the front piece from under the pocket pattern piece and cut it out.

Anchor the pattern piece once you’ve got the layout you want, then pull the front out from under it.


I also made an effort to line up the stripes at the center front. Here, though, I made a minor boo boo. I ended up reversing the left and right waistbands, and I didn’t realize it until after I had installed the waistband closures. Doh! Oh well. It’s not that noticeable, and since I usually wear my shirts untucked unless I’ve belted the shorts, no one will see it.

Here you can see the waistband “oops”

Speaking of the waistband closure, I bought waistband hooks and eyes that you install with pliers, rather than by sewing them in. I’ve heard them called “couture closures” though I prefer the term “industrial strength.” I did a practice run with one to make sure I installed it correctly. I didn’t worry too much in the test run about placement on the stripe, obviously.

L: the components. R: installed test run


After the test I decided to add a bit of interfacing to the CF waistband on the otherwise-uninterfaced side.

Just a small square, to lend more support.

That gives the fabric a bit more support. You need to be attuned to the order of construction with these. You don’t install them at the very end like you would a regular hook/eye or a button. You have to install them before you finish sewing the waistband facing. I like them a lot. They are quite sturdy, and since one of my least favorite sewing activities is attaching hooks and eyes, the fact that these go in with just a needle nosed pliers is a big plus.

Likes/Dislikes: This is a very easy, well drafted shorts pattern. It runs big, so do be sure to check the fit. I’ll go down a size next time. The one negative thing is this pattern doesn’t include a back pocket piece. It’s a minor nit, but I like to keep my phone in my back pocket, so I’ll probably add pockets to these.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes, with that one caveat about the sizing. My husband commented yesterday when I finished, “Boy, you’ve been on a shorts jag this year.” I guess it’s true. I am contemplating another pair, maybe capri-length.

Conclusion: An easy pattern that gives good results! Here they are on Shelley:

Front


Back

I finished these in time for July 4th dinner with friends and family. I’ll leave you with a parting shot of the cocktail we had before dinner, The Cherry Bomb (thanks to Epicurious).

Love the color!


Happy sewing!

Posted in Butterick, Gorgeous Fabrics, Patterns, Reviews | Leave a comment

Double Header Pattern Review: McCalls 7412 Top and McCalls 6930 Shorts

McCalls 7412 Top

Let’s start at the top. I saw this pattern when it first came out, and I thought it was just adorable. It’s WAAAAAAY out of my wheelhouse, but I’ve seen women my age (and some older) wearing this kind of open shoulder top beautifully. I had some Milly fabric left over from my StyleArc Artist Tunic, so I decided to take a gamble.

Pattern Description: From McCalls website, “Loose-fitting, pullover tops and tunic have scoop neckline, cold shoulder detail, and sleeve/hemline variations. A, C, D: Flared sleeves. B: Purchased scalloped lace trim and bishop sleeves. C: Hemline ruffle. D: Layered sleeves”

I made View B, omitting the lace trim.

Sizing: 4-26. I made a size 12.

Available as a PDF? No

Fabric Used: A remnant of the Milly voile that I used for my StyleArc Artist Tunic.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, shoulder stand, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, 1/4 inch elastic from stash, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes, more or less. I screwed up a little bit on the shoulder band so it ended up wider than the picture, but it’s not terrible and I’m not going to go back and pull it out.

How were the instructions? They were fine. This is very straightforward to make. The only slightly tricky part is making sure you line up the openings for the cold-shoulders properly.

Close up of the cold-shoulder

Construction Notes: Nothing unusual. I sewed the seams with my Pfaff, and serged the seam allowances together, rather than sewing a double seam. This pattern would work quite well with French seams.

Likes/Dislikes: You know how I said this is WAAAAAAY out of my wheelhouse? Well there’s a reason I don’t stray too far from my wheelhouse. I finished it, tried it on…

And I hate it.

It makes me look like a mile-wide stump, and a pregnant stump to boot. It even makes Shelley look fat.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? No, I will not make this again. This was a fail for me. The word “blowsy” came immediately to mind when I looked in the mirror. Though I still think it’s cute and I think on the right person it can look great. I’m just not that person.

Conclusion: Win some, lose some, learn something. I’ll donate this to Sister Thrift near where I live so hopefully someone will love it and it will benefit the dogs and cats at the local Humane Society.

McCalls 6930 Shorts

These, on the other hand, are right in the middle of my wheelhouse!

Pattern Description: “Fitted shorts or tapered pants (below waist) have shaped waistband, side-front pockets and back zipper. A, B: Back patch pockets. B: Scalloped hem. C: Carriers and stitched hems.”

I made view A, the short-shorts.

Sizing: 6-22. I started with a 14, but backed it down at the waist significantly.

Available as a PDF? Yes!

Fabric Used: A heathered dark wash denim from Gorgeous Fabrics (of course). That fabric is sold out, but you can see similar Here.

Machines and Tools Used: The usual suspects (see above)

Needle/Notions Used: The usual suspects (see above) as well as stash interfacing, a zipper from stash and two trouser hook/eyes.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? They’re fine. Again, this is a straightforward pattern and goes together readily.

Construction Notes: I started with a 14. I’ve noticed in previous McCalls shorts and pants that I end up with a lot of gapping at the back waist, so I tried them on before applying the back zipper and sure enough… I took about an inch out at the CB. That did the trick without distorting the side seams. I sewed all the seams on the Pfaff and finished the raw edges on the serger.

Likes/Dislikes: Love these! They went together readily, and they are really cute. I’ll probably make the longer versions as well.

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? Yes and yes.

Here are shots on Shelley. I won’t subject you to my Mary Melanoma pasty white legs again. 🙂

Front

The side pocket detail

And the Back, slightly overexposed to show the pockets

Conclusion: These are a winner – this weekend I was batting .500 – ah well. This happens sometimes.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Gorgeous Fabrics, McCalls, Reviews | 13 Comments

Shameless Plug: Gorgeous Fabrics’ HUGE Summer Sale!

July 4 Sale Starts 6-22-16

I give Shameless Plugs for other people’s businesses, so why not for my own?

Starting right now (actually, starting yesterday), it’s our biggest sale of the summer!

10% off? Pffft. That’s peanuts.
15% off? Guffaw.
20% off?? Keep going…

Everything* is on sale at Gorgeous Fabrics for 25% to 60% off site-wide, so you can stock up and save big. This is our biggest sale of the summer, and you won’t see savings like this again anytime soon, so come on over and get your stash on!

Click Here to Start Shopping and Saving Big at Gorgeous Fabrics!

On top of the super sale savings, orders over $50 before shipping receive a free gift with purchase, and orders over $200 receive free shipping in the US!

Happy saving and sewing!

*The fine print – there are a few exceptions: muslin, gift certificates, swatches and notions. Other than that, you’re good. 

Posted in Fabrics, Gorgeous Fabrics, Plugs | Leave a comment

Pattern Review: StyleArc Artist Tunic

6/22/16 Update: Added pictures of me in it (at the very bottom of the post)

This is a long one, so settle back and grab a cuppa…

Pattern Description: From StyleArc’s website – “Great slimline tunic with interesting slightly dropped shoulder tuck detail falling from under the epaulettes. This is a versatile piece that can be worn over your favourite T shirt, pants or leggings, or even wear it as a “shirt dress” buttoned up. Shirt style collar and cuffs makes this a wonderful addition to your wardrobe.”

Sizing: 4-30. I made a 10.

Available as a PDF? I don’t see it on their Etsy shop, so I’m going to say no. If I’m wrong, someone please let me know and I’ll correct it.

Fabric Used: A sample cut of silk/cotton voile from Milly. Sorry, I wasn’t able to get more than a couple of yards so it’s not available at Gorgeous Fabrics at this time.

Machines and Tools Used: Pfaff 2130 sewing machine, Juki MD654DE serger, Naomi the Naomoto, ironing board, sleeve board, shoulder stand, Clover Hold It Stiletto, silk organza press cloth.

Needle/Notions Used: Universal 70/10 needle, fusible weft interfacing from my stash, buttons, thread.

Tips Used during Construction: Anything by The Pressinatrix, Sew from Wide to Narrow, Clip the Selvages Before Laying Out Your Pattern, Using Pins to Mark Start/Stop Points.

Did it look like the photo or drawing when you got through? Yes

How were the instructions? Mmmm, not great. This pattern is rated Challenging/Experienced Sewer. StyleArc is known for their rather cryptic instructions, and if you haven’t had much experience sewing shirts or shirt dresses, I recommend you keep a good general sewing book like the Vogue Book of Sewing handy for reference. That said, this pattern is well drafted for the most part, and goes together well. I say for the most part, because there seemed to be an error on the shoulder mark of the garment body. (see the next section for more information).

Also, the instructions that I have, at step 6 in the construction, say “With wrong sides facing, fold the epaulet in half lengthways and stitch the outer small edge…” It should read, “With right sides facing, fold the epaulet…”

Finally, the Trims section says that you need 11 buttons, but if you follow the markings on the CF Band pattern pieces and the diagram for the sleeve construction you actually need 13 buttons, because they show a button on the sleeve placket, as well as the cuff.

None of those are deal breakers for me, but you should check your instructions before you start.

Construction Notes: As I said, there seemed to be an error in the shoulder. I made a muslin and found the shoulder point on the bodice was off by about 1/2 inch. I have a very early release of this pattern, so I’m hoping that StyleArc has fixed that. I was easily able to fix it on my pattern. but it’s worth checking. It’s really obvious and easy to fix because StylArc doesn’t put a lot of excess ease in their sleeve caps (YAY!).

I did a 1 inch FBA. Also, I changed the layout of my pattern pieces for the collar and cuffs to ensure that the pattern of my fabric aligned the way I wanted it to. IOW, I wanted my handbag motifs to all go in the same direction. So I did a cross-grain layout on the collar and collar stand, and I cut the collar pieces upside down so they would face the right way when the collar is turned down.

The original pattern uses a single piece for the cuff, which you fold in half lengthwise. This means one side of the cuff has the motifs running the right way, while the other is flipped upside down:

If you’re not paying attention, it’s way too easy to end up with the wrong side facing out.

So instead, I folded the pattern piece in half, added a seam allowance, and cut two pieces for the cuff and sewed them together.

So both sides go in the right direction…

I also made self-lined pockets instead of single-layer.

I find it gives a cleaner finish,

I also took a fair amount of time (and 56 pins!) to narrow hem the shirt tail.

Lots of pins!

Nothing makes my eye twitch more than a puckery shirt tail hem, whether I sew it or it’s RTW. The secret is patience, a lot of pins, and pressing the hem before you sew it (yes, over the pins – except in a very few cases, the pin marks will come out).

No rumples, lumps or puckers!

I sewed the buttons on by machine. Here’s a little trick I learned from Phyllis – to temporarily tack buttons to your garment, use a school glue stick. Just put a small dab of glue on the back of the button, press it onto the garment and it will hold it long enough to get it under the sewing machine.

Just a little dab’ll do ya.

Likes/Dislikes: This was a fair amount of work, but it really turned out great. I have been on a bit of a shirtdress jag so far this summer, and this one is a more tailored look than my Kwik Sew version. I love them both!

Would you do it again? Would you recommend it? I would definitely recommend it, with the caveat that you need to understand shirt construction. I don’t know if I’ll make it again, because I don’t need more than one, but it’s a great pattern. This fabric is lightweight and slightly sheer, so I’ll wear it over a tank top and pants, probably open and belted.

Here are some shots on Shelley:

Front and Back

Front and Back

Close up of the shoulder, epaulet and pleats

Showing the way I cut the collar and collar stand

And finally, the way I’ll likely wear it – belted over an outfit

Conclusion: A winner! This will be a great topper to wear in the warm weather.

And here are a couple of shots on me (can you believe it?)

See those pasty white Irish legs? SPF50, babies! #nomoremelanoma

See those pasty white Irish legs? SPF50, babies! #nomoremelanoma

I'm not kidding when I say I am the world's worst model.

I’m not kidding when I say I am the world’s worst model.

Happy sewing!

Posted in Reviews, StyleArc | 12 Comments

The Pressinatrix Has A Useful Little Tool…

Hello my dears – have you missed Your Pressinatrix? She has missed you terribly. Fortunately, the world of sewing seems to be taking her advice (well, most of the world of sewing, but we shall not mention those others) to heart and pressing their projects to practical perfection, profoundly pleasing The Pressinatrix.

As you have seen in Prior Posts on The Pressinatrix’s Arsenal of Tools, The Pressinatrix is well stocked to tackle almost any pressing need, but there are a few that she unearths in her travels, and thus The Pressinatrix would like to introduce to you a small, but immensely useful tool that is the most recent addition to her kit:

The Clover 7807 Hold It Precision Stiletto

(NB: the link will take you to Amazon, but fear not, The Pressinatrix receives no compensation for said link, so go right ahead and click with impunity.) 

Clover Finger

Roughly 9 inches long, so your fingers stay well out of harm’s way.

This little tool can save your finger tips and manicure in tight spaces. It has a bent pointed end that is useful for turning points and curved seams à la collar stands, but the true prize of this digit-defending device is the eraser-shaped silicone finger at the other end. It holds tiny areas (like a sleeve placket, say) in place and allows you to precisely press with no worry of burning your fingers. How wonderful!

Tight spot? No problem!

Tight spot? No problem!

At roughly $10, it is a touch on the pricy side, but in The Pressinatrix’ opinion, it is well worth the cost, for reducing stress when pressing, and for preserving one’s tender skin. And with personal risk mitigated, The Pressinatrix believes that her minions darling followers will be more likely to press properly, and that makes it all worth while.

Happy pressing!

Posted in Pressinatrix, Tools | 9 Comments

Congratulations to the Winners of the Blogaversary Giveaway!

Good old randomnumbergenerator.com went to work and pulled these three from its virtual hat:

  • Meg will receive the blue sweater knit.
  • Yvonne will receive the striped rayon jersey.
  • Karen will receive the holographic dot lamb suede skins.

Thank you all so much for your kind words, and for playing. Here’s to many more years of sewing and fun!
Ann

Posted in Giveaway, Sewing | Leave a comment