A Fluoro Sheep

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This is my second Dessine-moi un Mouton by Rililie (you can see the first one here) and this time I’ve *followed* the instructions, knitting a pullover and not a cardigan!

The yarn I’ve used is, as you might have already guessed, Traveller by CY. I’m still very upset about CY shut down, but I’m happy to still have few more sweater quantities of their amazing yarn in my stash.

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The color I’ve used here is very special: it’s the equivalent of the Bugga! Bubble Coral, one of the colors released in the first CY Yarn Club season (Club Kraken, Narwhallie’s Delight, March 2013). As you can see from the photos, it’s a sweet mix of light pinks, fluoro orange, lilac and blue, as in a Bubble Coral in fact!

These four skeins have been in my stash for over a year, waiting for the right project, but my first inspiration failed, due to the variegation of the yarn. I really wanted to use them in Jenny the Fair, M.J. Muchelstone’s cardigan published in Ysolda’s book The Rhinebeck Sweater, but I haven’t been able to find the right colors for the colorwork. All the ones I tried in my swatch were or too light or too dark, giving me not enough or too much contrast, and most of them were too similar to some of the areas of the background, resulting in a very-hard-to-see motif.

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So colorwork wasn’t a good choice for this particular colorway, but I realized that a simple textured stitch as the one in Dessine-Moi un Mouton, was perfect for showcasing the beautiful variegation of the yarn, emphasizing all of the amazing soft colors present in each skein. That’s how my four skeins of Late Night Diner, which is the name of Bubble Coral in the Traveller base and which I think are the only four skeins existent on this planet, became a Fluoro Sheep!

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For this version I followed the instruction for size M and did very little modifications. The first one was using just one color for the stripes, which I’ve knitted using The Nexus, a pale fluoro orange that in some areas matches very well the orange in the background giving me a very subtle striping, exactly what I was aiming for. Also, the stripes are all the same width of three rows and I spaced them a bit more apart too compared to the pattern, all at the same distance.

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The other obvious modification I’ve made is knitting a different hemline. High-low hemlines are very fashionable and popular at the moment and I though it would go well with the boxy lines of this pullover. It’s knitted with short rows, which I’ve started about 1/4 of the way into the front and spaced every 2 stitches. Once I’ve reached the side “seams” I’ve knitted another couple of sets every 5 and every 10 stitches, to get a gentle curve, similar to the one in the Bluesand Cardigan. To highlight even more the hemline curved shape, I’ve casted off with the contrast color used for the stripes and I really like the result.

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For the edgings, I’ve opted for my favorite one, 1/1 ribbing which gives the right amount of stretch but also stability to the whole garment.
The neckline was prone to curling so I had to frog the ribbing and choose another bind off. I decided to go with the one proposed in the pattern instructions, but the edging is not perfect as I wish it was. I tried to fix the rolling with the blocking and a good steam and now it looks way better. My only concern is that is gonna wear out of shape sooner than the ribbing and I might need to re knit the neckline again, one day. We’ll see.

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I love pink – did you guess that? – and I hope none of my friends or relatives is gonna *steal* this sweater as I really want to wear it myself in a really nice and cold winter! In the meantime I fold it away, waiting for it and I cast on another …. Grettir! Yep, you read it right – I’m gonna knit the number five! A very good friend of mine asked for one in the same colors of my first one and luckily enough I’ve some more skeins of those colors in my stash, so here it comes, Grettir V! :)

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Alder The Second!

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Here I am with my second Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio. I enjoyed so much sewing my first one that I cut another one straight away. This time I’ve gone for view B, the variation with the sweet gathered skirt.
I’ve used a quilting and fashion cotton I bought at the beginning of my sewing adventures, more than a year ago. It’s a “very me” print – gorgeous peonies in girly shades of pink and orange scattered on a mint background with enormous yellow polka dots. This great quality cotton is part of the collection Soul Blossoms, designed by the talented Amy Butler for Rowan, and this particular print is Twilight Peony in saffron. There is another version available as well, in beautiful shades of azure and green, which I might buy, sooner or later ;)

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I decided not to line this dress as I wanted something very easy and light to wear in this tropical soon-to-be warm weather and I thought I could use a slip if it looked to sheer. For the armholes binding and yoke facing I’ve used a contrasting fabric, a bright yellow polka dots cotton. I really like the look of this two fabrics together! The huge polka dots in the main fabric are kind of echoed in the facings, so everything kind of matches in the end.

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As for my first Alder, for the topstitching I’ve used regular polyester thread, in matching yellow, which highlights and at the same time blends very well with the main fabric. I tried several other colors – every possible tone of pink and orange – but yellow won the battle.

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Size wise, I’ve cut an 8 for the upper bust, grading down to a 6 for the waist and to a 4 for the hips. I wanted to raise a bit the underarm, but in the cutting rush, I completely forgot about it. I also forgot to slightly move up the bust darts, oooops! And guess what? I don’t care!!! This dress is perfect as is!

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I had the idea of cutting the pockets to exactly match the print underneath, but I couldn’t be bothered. I also thought to cut them in the yellow polka dots fabric, but I didn’t like the idea of a mismatching patch on my boobs – too much. So I cut them with the print upside down and bingo – they look great to me!

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I’ve instead decided to use the polka dots fabric for the hemming – I’ve cut few 2.5cm wide strips and joined them together so I could hem the dress with this lovely handmade bias binding. I really like this polished look and the fact the hem matches the armholes binding and the yoke facing.

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I can’t wait to cut a shirt out of this pattern, it would be perfect for work! Jen should publish a post in her sewalong very soon – she designed several variations and they are all awesome!

Have a good week end everybody – I sure will, enjoying this my new making! ;)

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Shibori experiments

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Hey, have you seen the new Papercut pattern? It’s the Clover Dress, designed by Brooke Tyson and featuring a flowy and romantic skirt and super cute details – bust panels and belt tassels included! It screams summer to me so I’ve bought it straight away and I’m getting ready for sewing my first version.

I wanted to use a swingy and drapey fabric, to let the skirt flow freely, and I knew a rayon blend viscose would be perfect for the job. Problem: it was white. I’m not mad about white dresses, therefore my fabric *needed* to be dyed.

Recently, I’ve seen heaps of handmade garments sewn up using shibori-style dyed fabrics and I really like their look, very fresh and summery, so I thought I could give this technique a go. And what’s the best color palette for summer if not the classic white and navy?

I’ve to admit it hasn’t been easy to decide which shibori method to use – there are quite a few out there, but just a couple I could really feel comfortable in trying. I chose the easiest (for me and for the supplies I had on hand) and decided to go with the Kumo technique, which involves pleating and binding sections of the fabric very closely and evenly, resulting in a spider-like design.

Here it is how I’ve done it. It’s the first time I dye fabric, so I’m not sure if this is a good method or not and how long my fabric will look good for, so if you have suggestions of any kind, please leave me a comment below and I’ll gladly ready it!

First I’ve washed my rayon viscose in the washing machine, to get rid of any chemical residue from the production process. Once dry, I’ve folded in a half, selvedge to selvedge, and ironed it.
To bind the fabric I’ve used rubber bands. I’ve tried to create a sort of pattern, tying more rubber bands in some areas so that the dye will soak completely the cloth in the areas left free from the binds.

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Once happy with the rubber bands placement, I’ve wrapped everything with twine, in a sausage-like roll. I also cut off a piece of fabric to dye it in plain navy so I could use it as contrast for the neckline.

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I then prepared my due bath, mixing two packets of Navy powder Rit dye and very hot water and I submerged my fabrics into it. After few minutes I’ve added a cup of salt and a tablespoon of laundry detergent, previously dissolved in hot water, as I found out, on the Rit website, they help getting a deepest and intense color. I’ve stirred occasionally the lot, but not too many times as I wasn’t aiming for a consistent color, but more a marble looking effect instead.

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I’ve left the fabric into the dye bath for about one hour – basically until the water started cooling down. Then I’ve rinsed it first with warm water and then with cold.
Time to cut all those rubber bands and see what happened!

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What do you think? I’m pretty happy with how my first try at the shibori technique turned out. I love all those shades of navy and the look of the spider webs too. The dye infiltrated gently into the fabric wrapped with rubber bands, getting lighter and lighter in color, leaving just the right amount of white around. I guess if I wanted more white areas I had to tie the rubber bands more firmly, but I’m glad I left a little of wiggle room for the dye to go in.

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I’m sure it’s because of the color, but all those bubbles look like elegant jellyfishes floating in deep waters. And if you look attentively enough you can see a big face appearing as well. Kind of scary, isn’t it?

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Lastly, I’ve washed everything with mild detergent in warm water and hung it to dry. The colors get slightly lighter when dry, but my navy blue is still very saturated and strong. Perfect.

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I really enjoyed this dyeing process and I was dying to see the final result. Impatience is one of my qualities, ahah! Surely this is my first attempt at dyeing, but as I love playing with colors, I’m already planning some gradient experiments for the next time.
I’m off to cut my Clover Dress, did you buy yourself one yet?

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The Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio

 

 

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I’m back! It has been ages since my last post, but since I’m back from my holidays in Italy I’ve been a bit lazy and felt like crap. It has been sad leaving, yet again, my family and country behind and I haven’t been in the mood not even for sewing or knitting as much as I usually would. But fear not, I’ve made another dress and I’m super excited about it!

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It’s the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio and I’m in love!
First thing first, let me tell you, I didn’t have to make any alterations! Oh yeah! I cut a size 8 for the bust, grading down to a 6 for the waist and hips and it fit pretty perfectly without anything else. Hip hip hurray for Jen and her talent!

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The fabric I chose is a medium weight polka dots denim which I decided to sew and topstitch with off white thread, to match the dots. I’ve also used an off white poplin for the yoke lining, armholes binding and collar facing as I was worried about my sewing machine having to deal with too much bulk. It has been a good idea I think.

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I had never sewn a collar before, but I followed Jen’s sewalong and everything went together beautifully. I don’t know if it’s beginner’s luck, but I’ve sewn the collar to the dress at the first try and it was like magic!

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I had never sewn breast pockets either and I’m surprised by how easy it was. Maybe my topstitching needs exercising, but I did my best and I’m happy with how they look.

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The only thing I might change in my next Alders – yep, there will be more for sure! – is the armhole depth. It’s slightly to deep for my liking so I think I’m just gonna raise it a little bit, just 1 a 1.5 cm or so, for more coverage.

As my fabric was fairly thick, I had troubles getting the double fold hem sit nicely while stitching it, so I pressed under the first 1/4″ and stitched in place and then the other 1/4″ and finally stitched the hem in place. Double work, but worth the time. Also, I initially cut the hem as per size 6, but once I tried the dress on I decided to cut it a bit shorter, so I trimmed off 3 cm. I think the hem correspond to the size 2 now.

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As I’ve said, I really like this pattern and I can’t wait to try all the variations Jen came up with – the gathered back version cropped to be a shirt, the dress with V neckline and the one with sleeves too! There are enough options to make an Alder for every day of the week! :)

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PR Sweet Shorts

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Hello everybody! As from today, I’m back from my Italian holidays but here there a few more photos taken in my hometown. And please forgive me for all the wrinkles in my Sweet Shorts with Scalloped Hem!

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I’ve bought this pattern months and months ago and also printed it straight away after the purchase, but I’ve never got to sew this shorts up. I think I was a bit scared about sewing a pair of pants – ok, shorts, but same kind of thing right? – due to the fact that I find hard to fit the bottoms as I’d like to. I’m basically talking about fitted skirts, as they never fit as I’d wish, no matter what I do. The fault is of course mine, who I don’t know how to properly alter patterns to fit my bum. Anyhow, back to these sweet shorts!

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Comparing my measurements (70cm waist and 92cm hips if that matters) with the chart in the instructions, I decided to cut a size S for the waist and grade down to an XS for the hips. I’ve used some cheap poly fabric I had left over from a Hollyburn I made a while ago so I consider this first pair a kind of a muslin.

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I found the instructions a bit tricky to understand, but nothing really to be worried about. In the introduction is mentioned the fact that “Pattern Runway uses industrial sewing methods where appropriate to assist you in constructing a professional product, please note that some instructions will differ to traditional home sewing methods”. I’ve followed them to the letter and I’m extremely happy with the look of my seams and shorts in general. I might have put extra care in sewing them, but PR did a pretty good job with all the details too. Look at this lovely pocket!

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What surprised me tho is that the seam allowances are only 1cm wide. It’s the first time I come across something like this for sewing woven garments and I’ve to say I prefer bigger seam allowances which give you a bit more wiggle room in case you need to make small adjustments. Luckily it’s not my case as I had to take some seams in instead.

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Once I put the zipper in, I tried the shorts on and as they weren’t sitting at my waist properly, I decided to rip the waistband at the centre front and back seams and take in about 2.5cm from each front and back to get the fit I wanted. Therefore I had to cut open the waistband at the centre front and back and add a seam there. I didn’t want to take any amount in at the side seams because it would have compromised the position and functionality of the pockets. I’m happier with the fit now and I don’t mind the centre seams at the waistband either. Really, who knows how it should have been?

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For the hem, I’ve overlocked the edges, turned under the facings and top stitched in place, with a double row of stitches set a couple of cm apart. I really like the scalloped hem and I’ve already planned another pair of these shorts in some plain chino drill.

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And look, another new pair of shoes. They are the Maguba Rio clogs by Lotta from Stockholm – and before you wonder, they are super comfy!

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During my holidays I haven’t sewn and knit much, but I’m ready to start the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio – I love the lines of this pattern and I can’t wait to cut into my fabric(s)! Are you joining the sewalong too?

Meet Briar, Briar and Briar!

Guess what? I’m in love with making T-shirts! I basically wear them all the time – when I’m not in dresses – and I usually pair them with shorts for casual wear or either with skirts for work. I’m wondering, why did I wait so long before starting sewing my own?? Yep, because of the damned clear elastic drama. I’m proud to say that I’ve surpassed that stage and I can now sew all the t-shirts I want, Oh yessss!!
So, after my delightful first attempt (the Scout Tee by Grainline Studio), I bought another pattern, Briar by Megan Nielsen and more knit fabrics of course and I’ve already sewn three versions in less than a week!
Sizing wise, I cut an S slimming down to an XS at the hips and I’m very happy with the fit. It’s the second pattern I sew from Megan collections and I find the drafting and fit impeccable so I can only recommend them to everybody who wants to sew great patterns.

Don't ask me what I was doing here...

Don’t ask me what I was doing here…

 

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For the first Briar I’ve used a more stable knit, a nice dark gray Ponte de Roma and I’ve gone for the long sleeves/long body version as I wanted something similar to a sweater. I’m very happy with it and I’m sure I’ll wear it a lot.

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The second Briar is made out of a very light poly knit with a kind of tropical print. Of course I couldn’t stop myself from buying pink stuff! The drape of the fabric is perfect for the high-low hem, resulting in a soft and sweet look and is also great for summer! For this version I choose 3/4 sleeves and cropped body.

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For the last (for now) Briar I opted again for cropped body but with short sleeves instead. The fabric is still pretty light, but slightly heavier than the tropical one, and it’s pale beige with gold glitter all over it. I think it’s the perfect weight for this pattern and I love how it turned out. What I don’t love is the crinkle effect of the fabric – I’ve tried to steam it and press it but nothing changed. That said, I can happily live with it.

I’ve sewn all of my three Briars in the same way: zig zagged first the seams and then I finish them with the overlocker. I know it would have been enough using the overlocker only, but I’m not confident doing so as my serger is pretty old and usually does funny things, so better play safe. Also I’ve used a twin needle for the hems.

I really like the Briar pattern and I’m sure I’ll sew it again and again, maybe I could even go up a size to get a more relaxed and boxy look. There are really heaps of different cute possibilities!

Also in these photos you can see two of my many Hollyburn Skirts. Both of them are a size 6 and view C with the shortest hem. The red one is cotton twill and the gold one a stretchy unknown fabric.

My Pink Sheep!

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Hello from Italy, folks! I’m home and very happy to be here!!!

This is part #2 of the Outfit Along 2014 organized by Lauren and Andy. I knit this cardigan to go with the last dress I made, the Floralex.

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As you may imagine, I’ve used CY Traveller. A very sad note: Cephalopod Yarns is closing down and it’s happening right in these days. I’m extremely sad about it, I’ve been knitting exclusively with CY in the last two years and I didn’t expect something like that. I know I’ve heaps of Traveller, but I wish I had bought even more to be safe for few more years. I’ll miss all the gorgeous colours CY staff created constantly and all the excitement about updates and limited editions – I truly, deply miss it all. Anyhow I wish all the best to all the squidlets and I hope they’ll dye yarn again one day, to give us knitters more amazing colours. The colours I’ve used this time are: Stranger’s Home (blurple), a couple of pink Oddities, Hokunoshima (second pink from the top) and Bamfield (the last very pale pink at the bottom). I’m in love with this colour combination – I think all these pinks complement really well the blue-purple tones of Stranger’s Home.

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Pattern wise, I’ve used Rililie Dessine-Moi un Mouton but I’ve changed the construction a bit. I wanted a cardigan, not a pullover and also something a little less boxy so I changed the number of stitches for both front and back and added a steek at the centre front which I then cut open. For the edgings I’ve opted for twisted ribbing and icord bind off with built in buttonholes. I think it all worked pretty well. Basically, after cutting the steek open, I’ve picked up the stitches for the left front, ribbed for a couple of cm and left them on hold, then I’ve done the same for the right side, and finally for the neckline (the stitches of the waist ribbing were already on hold). I then knit a row with one of the pinks (RS) joining together on the same needle all the stitches left on hold, binding off two stitches every 4 cm or so for the buttonholes, along the right front side. For the icord bind off, which is worked on the wrong side of the garment and all in one swing, I’ve switched to a different pink (I’ve first provisionally cast on 3 stitches and then started the bind off and once I’ve reached the end of the round, I’ve grafted the two ends of the icord *almost* invisibly). To create the buttonholes, once I reached the two stitches gap done on the previous row, I’ve turned the work on the RS and cable cast on two stitches, turned again the work back to the wrong side and kept going with the icord bind off and so on. And there you go, you’ve pretty and hidden buttonholes!

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I’ve used icord bind off along the sleeve cuffs too, to keep the work homogeneous – I’m not a fan of mismatching edgings – but I did something special, as Dessine-Moi un Mouton has pretty special cuffs and I wanted to keep them that way. I’ve basically start knitting the icord before doing the bind off and kept knitting it after, creating two tails which I then tied in a little tiny bow on each sleeve. Sweet, isn’t it?

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To hide the steek I’ve used some matching bias binding which I’ve hand stitched to the wrong side of the ribbing once the cardigan was already washed and blocked. When doing so, make sure you don’t stretch or pull the binding (or whatever you decide to use to cover the steek – ribbon, gros grain, fabric) otherwise the line of stitches will be pulling towards the wrong side and will be visible on the right side. When catch stitching, try to do not pull the thread too much and space the stitches evenly, catching the purl bumps on the wrong side of the garment right in the middle so that the stitches won’t show on the right side.

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Steeking and cutting the knitting is always a bit scary and I usually run way too many rows of stitching on the steek bridge, but I guess it’s just because I don’t do it often and I’m not sure yet of how the wool will behave. But hey, better too much than not enough, right? That said, Traveller did a very good job and nothing bad – unravelling – happened.

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Dessine-moi un mouton is a very easy pattern (Rililie instructions are super detailed and very beginner-friendly) and the broken seed stitch and stripes are very fun to knit. Colour possibilities are endless and, speaking for myself, I could knit a “sheep” for every day of the year – just wish I had the time to do it! True is, I’ve already started another one and I’m trying to stick to the instructions and knit a boxy pull as per pattern, I think it’s gonna be a nice addition to my never-worn-winter wardrobe! Also, the top down saddle-raglan sleeves construction is just perfection: it suits my frame very well and way better than a regular raglan would so I really need another Mouton!

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Did you try any of Rililie’s patterns yet? What do you think?

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My ravelry page for this project is here.

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P.S. I finally bought my first pair of Melissa designed by Vivienne Westwood and I looooooove them! They are perfect for this dress!

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