Whew

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At 7:09pm on Monday, August 10th, I submitted close to 300 image files to my publisher. There are only 20 projects in the book, so only a fraction of the photos will make the cut, but I like to err on the side of ridiculously excessive. For all intents and purposes, the hardest parts of book #2 are done done done! From this point forward, it’s mostly about refining, tweaking and updating. I’ll do a final review of the book in its prettily designed and formatted state in September and/or October (?? it’s still a little unclear), and then it’s off to the printer! I signed the contract in early June of 2014, so I’ve been working on this project for a while…the release date is currently set for April of 2016, which means the whole process will end up taking nearly two years. Whew.

I made udon noodles for dinner on Monday evening, read an extra chapter to K (we’re reading this book right now and she loves it), and promptly fell asleep at 9pm. I have that disembodied feeling that I’ve come to associate with completing massive projects.

What you see above is our in-progress shot lists as I spent three intense days with my friends George and Rachel finishing up all the photos (we’ve had several other photo shoots together). We taped the shot lists and my sketches to the wall, which made it feel really real for some reason. I got to play Art Director, and that was a heady and nerve-wracking experience. I want to record details about the photo shoots because they were incredible (large swaths of fabric were dyed! we constructed a teepee on the fly!) — but first, I’m going to go rest up and let my brain decompress. Some reality TV might be in order. Or maybe a rom-com, beachy novel. Whatever it is, it will require zero concentration!

P.S. I’m loving all the childhood outfits from the giveaway question!

Giveaway: Stylish Remakes [CLOSED]

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Good morning! I haven’t done a giveaway in a while, have I? The always good folks at Tuttle sent me the Stylish Remakes book to review, and what makes this special to me is that yours truly actually translated it. Yes, if you happen to get a hold of this freshly published (in English) book by Violette Room, you’ll see my name next to “Translated from Japanese by”. Exciting!

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Here you can see the Japanese version next to the English one. The Japanese copy is slightly smaller, and the cover design is obviously different. I find this whole translation process so fascinating, trying to assess a different market, figuring out how to translate idioms into another language. I loved it! It came about quite casually, when I tossed out an offer to translate any forthcoming sewing books when I was in communication with Tuttle about reviewing a book last year. I was delighted when the editor contacted me with this project around October of 2014.

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The book is chockfull of ideas for upcycling old t-shirts, athletic wear (think college sweatshirts) and flannel shirts. There are even instructions for repurposing adult-sized clothing into kids’ garb.

I enjoyed looking for the subtle differences between the English and Japanese versions. For example, I noticed that they used different fonts and colors for the project titles.

Japanese:

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English:

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Japanese:

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English:

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My favorite projects were the ones with the flannel shirts. They’re very clever and unique. I had a lovely time with this first foray into the world of translations (it’s a flat fee system and doesn’t involve any royalties, which is rather nice), and I’m hoping for more assignments once book #2 is all done! I’m loving all these various avenues into publishing I’m exploring and can’t wait to learn more.

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OK! Onto the giveaway…what shall I ask? This isn’t a remake related question, but did you have a favorite item of clothing or outfit as a child? My mom used to lament that I would often pair a pastel yellow wraparound skirt with a pink t-shirt. I don’t know why, but I just loved loved loved that combination. I was about 10. Which is funny to me since I would never wear that color combo now, and it actually seems like an ensemble that my mom would approve of. The world is a mysterious place. What about you? What comes to mind from your childhood apparel?

I’ll leave the giveaway open until this Friday, August 14th and will announce the winner on Monday. International entries are always welcome — good luck!

 

 

 

Happy Friday + Monthly Income(s)

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Happy Friday! As promised, I am continuing with the monthly income reports. M, K and I are, as I type this, frantically packing up for a last-minute super budget camping trip (how is it that all our trips are last-minute?) so I’m keeping this short and to the point.

My income continues to be mainly through the Furoku membership though I’ve unexpectedly sold a couple of pinafore/bloomers patterns via email. I tend to give more nitty gritty details about book sales and behind the scenes information through the monthly Furoku deliveries.

So. My June 2015 income was: $508.86 and July 2015 income was $524.22. Are you seeing the slow but incrementally upward trend? This brings our grand total from March 2015 to 2,389.09. Although all bets are supposedly off in terms of trying to reach $20,000 by the end of the year, I’m holding onto the goal to have something concrete to work toward. My little money-making fish is swimming against the tide with determination. I keep reminding myself that I am still in the beginning stages and am juggling multiple projects that will bear more fruit down the line. I have to remind myself a lot.

OK, I’m being called to figure out how to cram in sleeping bags into the backpacks. I hope you all have a wonderful, wonderful weekend and if all goes well and I don’t get eaten by a bear, see you back here on Monday!

To Dororthy Lake
We go with trepidation
K’s first camping trip

P.S. I’m still working on figuring out the sidebar thing, but here’s the Furoku sign-up just in case there’s more interest out there:

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Email address (to get furoku):
Full Name


 

 

Summer Fun with Ba-Chan

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My mom returned to Los Angeles yesterday. For 16 days, she cooked us delectables (sushi! Soy sauce mochi balls that K loves! Seafood pasta!) and spent large quantities of time with K while I labored away to meet deadlines. I wouldn’t have survived and most likely wouldn’t have met my deadlines without my Mama.

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I took these shots while on the ferry to and from Bainbridge Island. On Sunday morning, I decided that I had ignored my family for too long, and thought it might be enjoyable to spend the night on this little island that’s a 20-minute ferry ride away. Silly me. There aren’t very many places to stay on the island, and the first couple of places I checked were fully booked of course. “We’ll have to make it a day trip,” I told K, but she asked me to try just one more place. So I called the Eagle Harbor Inn to appease her, assuming failure.

“Well, we’ve actually been fully booked three months in advance for a long time,” the hotel guy told me,”but it’s your lucky day. I just got a cancellation a few minutes ago and have a room.” Perfect! Within half an hour, we were out the door and ready to roll. M had a lot of work to do and opted to stay in Seattle.

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We had a lovely time: swimming at the Aquatic Center, eating Japanese food for dinner and chocolate lava cake for dessert, strolling around. The fruit flies in the hotel room dampened our spirits a little and they were impervious to my kung fu moves meant to get them out. But the room itself was very, very nice and for a last minute trip, we had no reason to complain. K recorded every teeny tiny detail (and every flower) of our micro vacation with my mom’s camera.

Such a fun way to cap off the Ba-chan visit. We miss her desperately already, and we’re making tentative plans for another girls’ extravaganza in the winter when she comes out next. Destination: hot springs in Canada! I’ll probably have to actually get on the ball and reserve a room far in advance this time. To those of you in the know, any recommendations?

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Glitter and Sparkle

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Good morning! I have a well-oiled and thrumming sweatshop raging in my “atelier” (aka bedroom), but it’s all been book-related so I’ve not sewn much for K. And when my mom brought her a suitcase full of animal print clothing and all that sparkles and glitters…well, my sewing motivation for K faded a little more.

But isn’t that image above pretty spectacular? Not my usual simple and light vibe, but I love the dramatic effect. The light is reflecting off of an extremely bling-y sequined dress that was part of the Ba-chan haul, and we had a fun impromptu photo moment. She’s ablaze!

I’m still scrambling to get everything wrapped up for book #2, but wanted to pop in to say hello, and I miss updating here.

A lot has been happening these past couple of weeks: good-bye parties, birthdays, book readings, photo shoots, adventures with Ba-chan…but with my usual Alzheimer-esque tendencies, they’re all starting to blur in my mind. It’s one of the reasons I love maintaining a blog because otherwise I would forget everything that happens!

Back to work for now, and be back Wednesday with more updates.

P.S. Furoku #5 has gone out…I have been thinking long and hard about this venture and will be sending a follow-up email about it.

 

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! So, yesterday marked the third year of this little virtual notebook/sketchbook of mine. Three years that whisked right on by, full of surreal and life-altering changes, the whole nine yards. My thoughts are still very much aligned with what I pondered for my second “blogiversary” here (why, oh why are there so many unpalatable words associated with blogs, including the word “blog”??)

I’ve decided to do something different and will take two weeks off from here. My mom is coming on Sunday, I’ve got a huge deadline on August 3rd, two birthday parties to plan (M’s and K’s), and I want to spend some time away from here to see what ideas bubble up as I ease into the fourth year of blogging. It’s my summer vacation from all things online to reconnect with people and tactile, physical stuff.

I will, of course, miss you and will be sorely tempted to post something because I’m an incorrigible creature of habit, but this feels like a good thing to do. I have visions of a recharged, refueled, much more relaxed me.

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Bon voyage, adieu
Wish you a lovely two weeks
Back on August third

P.S. I will post two months’ worth of income information the week I return…

P.P.S. Furoku #5 will go out as scheduled at the end of the month-ish, and if I get my act together, I’ll finally get the sign-up button on the sidebar!

The Great Pattern Hack

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It’s my turn to chatter on about the lovely collaboration with Melissa of A Happy Stitch and Michael Miller Fabrics (via Kait of Making it Fun): The Great Pattern Hack! My pattern hacking skills are still pretty basic, so I didn’t get all fancy or wild on you, but I had lots and lots of fun modifying the Southport Dress into two garments.

First up, the strappy-backed tank:

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I selected the Indigo Midnight Cotton Couture, which has a drapey hand and feels like an ever so slightly weightier lawn with subtle sheen. It’s beautiful, and of course, I have a weakness for anything indigo. To remain true to my leanings, I opted to go as simple as possible by converting the bodice to a long tank, and attempted to add wow factor with thin straps that ended up forming the letter M (for Melissa and Michael Miller — not really, that part was totally accidental, but now I’m liking the connection).

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I added 11 inches to the bodice, and eyeballed a curvy shape for the shoulders. I’m always very picky about making clothes that are bra-friendly, so I made sure that the back would sit high enough to cover any unsightly undergarments (I wore a strapless).

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I cut four 1″ x 20″ pieces that I then folded and sewed into thin 1/4″ straps. First, I attached two straps each on the front side and proceeded to do a lot of body contortions to figure out how much to shorten and where to place the straps on the back. Alas, they’re slightly off, but I doubt anyone will notice.

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I could have sewn this up in a jiffy, but I wanted to give it a nominally more “refined” look to it, so I hand-stitched the bias tape along the top edge of the front piece. The back is simply double-folded with elastic threaded through. Easy-peasy.

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Conclusion: I love it!!

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I suppose I could have stopped there, but I had also requested the fun Indigo Bias Weave, and I just couldn’t get rompers out of my mind. Rompers! I am quite possibly too old to be sashaying about town in a playsuit, but I wore it all day yesterday and not an eyebrow was lifted (or at least none that I noticed).

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M, however, did say that I look like a “70s housewife” in a way that implied that 70s housewives aren’t too hot. We’ll ignore him because we all know that 70s housewives were totally smokin’ (in the literal and metaphorical sense).

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The only real change I made was to switch out the skirt portion with a pair of slapdash shorts. I’m going to call this “intuitive” sewing since not a lot of measuring actually happened to create the shorts. I marked the width of the skirt waist directly onto the fabric, then grabbed a pair of decent-fitting shorts, and outlined them rather loosely.

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I had more than enough of the fabric and was pretty confident that the sizing would be okay, but once I basted them together, I could tell that the rise of the shorts was woefully inadequate despite adding a few inches. Back to the drawing board, and I added an additional 5″(!) to the rise to accommodate my super long torso.

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Not sure what’s happening here…I think the outfit inspired me to unconsciously strike a heads-shoulders-knees-n-toes pose. At any rate, the True Bias pattern instructions are great, and the top segment came together effortlessly. I had to tug and pull a bit, but the shorts worked, and overall, the fit is spot-on!

I adore it. I thought I would feel silly in rompers, but it’s really comfortable and the fabric is just the right weight and drape for this pattern. The drawstring detail is a necessary element to avoid the dreaded beer barrel look, and because the cinching happens a little higher than my natural waist, it gives the illusion of longer legs — an illusion that has rarely happened in my lifetime.

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What do you think? 70s homemaker or sweet summer garb appropos for 2015? I think rompers are all the rage right now, right? At least that seems to be the case with the blog hop (I hadn’t looked at any of the other Great Pattern Hack posts until I finished sewing and was pleasantly surprised to see other rompers). In fact, you should go see all the pattern hacks pronto:

Monday 6/29- Kick-off with Jessica Abbott: Me Sew Crazy

Tuesday 6/30- Kait Witte: Making it Fun

Wednesday 7/1- Delia Randall: Delia Creates

Thursday 7/2- Jane Kohlenstein: Buzz Mills

Friday 7/3- Melissa Quaal: A Happy Stitch

Monday 7/6- Rachael Gander: Imagine Gnats

Tuesday 7/7- Tamara Serrao: Kaya Joy

Thursday 7/9- Laura Titchener: Craftstorming

Friday 7/10- Kristin Timm: Skirt as Top

Saturday 7/11- Jessica & Ericka: Violette Field Threads

Monday 7/13- Celina Bailey: Petit a Petit and Family

Wednesday 7/15- Erin Sundet: Sewbon

Thursday 7/16- wrap up! More giveaways!

Finally, I should point out that I did receive the fabrics and pattern for free as well as some compensation for creating the garments and writing about them — this is the first time I’ll be receiving actual payment for a blog post so I guess this counts as a sponsored post (I’m embarrassed to say that it hadn’t even occurred to me to call this a sponsored post – I was delighted to team up with Melissa and would have done it for gratis)! Needless to say, but I think I’m supposed to say it: all opinions are my own.

At any rate, I’m pleased with both hacks and really enjoyed sewing for myself again. It sounds like some amazing giveaways are happening and much fanfare abounds. Don’t miss out, and thank you so much for including me, Melissa and Kait!

 

 

 

Happy Friday + Randomness

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Happy Friday! How awesome is that shot of K up there that’s on our fridge? She partook in an all-girls skateboard camp last week and loved it so much, she wants me to sign her up for another camp session. I would have never guessed that this would be the sport of choice for my girl (my heart may not be able to handle it — she can now “drop-in” from the highest ramp and I have my eyes partially covered as I watch her glide down smoothly then do a “kick-turn”). “Mama,” she tells me, “I think I can be really good at this.” I was afraid of that, but I’m all for trying things out.

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We’re oozing all over the place like melted popsicles in this heat wave, and though our basement has been a lifesaver, it’s not the most pleasant place to sleep. We’ve been calling it “indoors camping”. I am thoroughly ready to get my weekend started, how about you? I’m wishing you a wonderful one filled with cool breezes and fizzy drinks!

See you on Tuesday
I will be posting just twice
Deadline time again*

*I’m currently working on a project that I’ll post next Tuesday, so I’ll be skipping Monday. I also need to hunker down for the final two weeks of July to get book #2 in tip top shape, so postings may be a little less consistent over the next few weeks.

P.S. I’ll be at Kinokuniya’s tomorrow from 2-4pm for a book signing and presentation / watercolor demonstration. Hope you can make it if you’re around!

P.P.S. I didn’t take the photo! Credit goes to Marshall, who runs the skate camps.

 

 

Not Buying Clothes: Year Three

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So, it’s that time of year again when I fondly recall that the last time I willingly purchased a piece of apparel for me and K was July of 2012. I say “willingly” because I’m still miffed about having to shell out cash for a couple of t-shirts and a pair of knit capris last year on an unplanned trip. I’m going to disregard that particular incident and act as though my three-year track record of clothes shopping abstention is unblemished.

What makes this truly remarkable is that I used to love buying clothes with the kind of insatiable fervor of an addict. Loved loved loved loved clothes shopping. Well… it was more of a love/hate relationship. I loved the possibilities that a shopping trip held, that slightly chemical and perfumed scent of brand new garments on a rack, the thrill of a bargain. But the ugly side was the woes that filled the fitting rooms, the vast difference between what I imagined the clothes would look like on me and the reality of how they actually fit. Secretly, I obsessed about the tiny printed numbers on the tags — I experienced a boost of confidence if the tags showed a smaller size, and a sharp dip in mood if the numbers seemed too high. I have been known to buy a piece of clothing just because it sported the words, “size 6″, even if the seams strained to burst. “It fits!!” I would tell myself. I also did not enjoy tallying up the financial damages these sprees incurred.

But all of that is behind me. Sort of. I worry that I’ve just transferred my excessive predilections to sewing. I’ve been watching with growing concern as K’s DIY wardrobe continues to balloon and my own collection of handmade clothes overflows out of my rather large IKEA Hemnes dresser that was already crammed to the hilt with ready-to-wear.

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A few months ago, I eagerly embraced the KonMari method from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and purged like a madwoman. Then slowly, inevitably, stuff started to pile up again. I made more clothes. I accumulated fabrics and props for the book photo shoots. K brought home a mountain of papers from school. Christmas and birthdays happened. Also, I hadn’t eliminated as much of my own clothes as I’d thought and I had difficulty rolling the clothes in the way Marie Kondo described in her book, causing some untidy storage issues.

During one of the photo shoots at my house, we shifted the IKEA dresser out of the way and moved the hallway dresser into my bedroom for a shot, and I gushed over the way the antique elevated the feel of the room. That’s my lovely flea market 1920s dresser at the very top. But it’s small and I’ve been using it to hold extra linens by the bathroom, and it would only accommodate about 1/4 of my clothes, if that. In a surge of inspired action, we played some musical dressers, and K inherited the IKEA behemoth to replace the tiny dresser that had been inadequate for a few years, and I vowed to slash my wardrobe.

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I ruthlessly applied the “Does this spark joy?” test and filled four trash bags. I was fairly blasé about my store-bought garments as I tossed them in the bags, but I could feel the resistance bubble up when I tried to let go of my handmade clothes…the hours I spent on them! The beautiful fabrics! The truth is, many of the clothes I made don’t fit very well, and I rarely reach for them. And quite a few that I do wear regularly look shabby and tired. I did hold onto a number items made out of prized Miss Matatabi fabric to repurpose, but stored them away out of sight. You can see my work-in-progress in the images above. I still have a little more work to do to trim down my clothing stash, and I might go all out and get super minimalistic. Am I ready? I don’t know…

I do know that I’ve been eyeing people’s outfits a lot lately, thinking “Ooh, I want to make a summer dress like that one,” or “That shirt with the placket and subtle horse print is so fun…” I’ve been sketching a plethora of sewing ideas and jonesing to make more clothes for myself. How to balance these diametrically opposed desires to purge and make? It’s my perennial quagmire, but for now, I’m patting myself on the back for not buying any clothes for three years. No matter what else, I’m happy to chalk that up as a major accomplishment.

P.S. I’ve been mulling over the whole concept of shopping since reading this quirky and charming little book. Among interesting observations on consumer behavior, the author spent a year painting all the things she didn’t (but wanted) to buy, including items from her Pinterest board. I think I might start painting things from my Pinterest board, but that might take me a few million years…

Monday Outfit: Henry Dress in Gradients of Grey

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Good morning! We’re still recovering from the Fourth of July party, the heat and technical blips, but I have a new garment to share today, and that’s always an energy booster for me.

A few months ago, I had fun sewing up the Franklin dress + tunic (in fact, K wore the tunic when we went to see the fireworks on Saturday). The lovely Erin of Brooklyn Pattern Co. contacted me again recently to see if I’d be interested in giving the Henry dress a try. But of course!

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I had a hard time deciding on the fabric. The combination of the feminine pleated puffed sleeves and the more geometric angled pockets (which I absolutely love) had me scratching my head a bit. I wanted a sort of gradient look and have this fabulous pink linen that I wanted to use, but I only had one yard of it. So I burrowed into my endless fabric supply, pulling out gingham checks, my default navy-and-white stripes, a madras seersucker, a couple of knits with bright prints… None of them felt right.

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I struck gold when I found this gradient striped fabric at the bottom of one of my bins. I think it’s a cotton poplin, and I’m all about the various shades of grey. The one stickler was that the stripes run parallel to the selvage, so I had to cut the patterns cross grain. This made it tricky for K to get the dress on since the fabric couldn’t stretch much width-wise and there are no closures.

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For the neck and pocket facings, I used the thinnest cotton lawn in a refreshing mint color. My neck facing didn’t like staying in place despite my understitching; if you look closely enough, you’ll see the neck facing scooching up and revealing itself in small tufts. But check out my stripes-matching — I’m quite proud. I might have to start thinking about dipping my toe into quilting.

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The instructions are superb, but I did a few things slightly differently, just because:

1. To make finishing the sleeve edge easier, I double-folded and pressed the sleeve edge before sewing the underarm portion of the sleeve together. It’s always harder for me to press sleeve edges in the round, and with the added bulk of the pleats, this turned out to be a good move.

2. I raised the skirt hem by about 2.5inches. It looked too long to me when K tried it on.

3. I basted the pockets on each side before assembling the front of the dress. The instructions guide you to simply pin the sides. By basting each side of the pocket to the side panel, the pockets are nicely attached and makes the next step easier.

On a side note, I think a sleeveless version of this dress would look wonderful.

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The verdict? Thumbs up from both me and K! I cut out the largest size, which is 8, and the fit is perfect. I really like how modern it looks (though maybe she appears to be heading to a corporate board room and just needs to locate her Manolo Blahniks?) and K asked if she could keep it on after the photo shoot. The ultimate sign of sewing success! She even volunteered to add some modeling oomph with her prop of choice:

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Thank you for the pattern, Erin! I thoroughly enjoyed making the Henry dress, and K is a happy camper. Make sure to check out the other blog tour participants and Erin is offering a coupon code for you! Readers receive 20% any pattern in the shop with the code: SUMMERFUN15. The code runs from 12:01 am on July 6through 11:59 pm on July 15.

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