Archive: Dec 2014

2014 : My {Sewing} Year in Review

This year (and in years past) I have been so inspired by you fancy bloggers who put together those clever year-end mosaics.  This year I decided to give it a go myself using Mosaic Maker and it turns out, it was very simple!  If you haven’t t…

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2014 in review

I wasn’t going to do a 2014 retrospective post but then I got to reading those of everyone else and felt left out. Not wanting to be left behind I am jumping on the bandwagon…read on if you can stand it!When I starting looking through my photos I was…

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Shoemaking: The verdict on the first pair of ballet flats

If you’ve been following along since the beginning you would have seen me making a plan on how to start, customising my shoe last, making a pattern to fit my customised shoe lasts and finally a post full of pictures of my first…

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I knowingly skipped over my third blogiversary, or however it’s spelled, because I felt that my neglected blog didn’t deserve any hoopla at the time. As the year 2014 rolls to an end, though, I thought I should revisit this space to catch up and do a b…

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The Finlayson Sweater

Now that I’ve conquered my fear of knits, I decided to try Thread Theory’s Finlayson Sweater. They have an entire sew-along tutorial on their website, so I won’t bore you with a lot of construction details.

I like that this pattern can be made up two ways, with either a shawl collar or a hood. Personally, I’m not the hoodie and kangaroo pocket type, so I went with the shawl collar. LL Bean used to sell a rag wool sweater with a shawl collar. I think I wore it till it fell apart, so it’s nice to have a replacement.


This is a lightweight acrylic knit that I picked up at Metro Textiles in NYC. Metro is one of those fabric haunts that’s very “hit or miss”, but can be worth the elevator ride up to the 9th floor (I think). The owner, Mr. Kashi, is very helpful and low pressure. While I was visiting he pointed me towards some gorgeous Japanese mens shirting, unfortunately not in colors that I would normally wear. One actually had a contrasting border running down the selvedge that could be used for inside the cuffs or neck band. Pretty cool, and silly cheap at something like $6/ Yd.

I went for this teal blue sweater knit, also $6.



I purchased the PDF version of the pattern. I work entirely off an ipad these days, and I struggled to find an app that would open the zip files. There are some seriously useless apps out there! I could get the directions, but not the actual pattern. Arrrgh!!! Matt and Morgan were SO supportive of my dilemma and pointed me in the right direction. (The solution was iZip BTW) Once that obstacle was surmounted it was clear sailing.


The pattern calls for an optional contrasting back neck facing. It’s a good opportunity to use up some of those scraps that I just can’t seem to throw away! It’s also just a nice touch.

As you can see here my collar / placket isn’t perfect. The pattern has separate upper and lower collar pieces, the upper collar being just slightly larger to allow for the turn of the cloth. I decided to understitch my collar to keep the seam out of sight. In retrospect I should have stopped the understitching about 4″ from each end. That way it wouldn’t show where the collar twists. Speaking of the collar, I’m not entirely convinced that the directions are right. Then again, I may be misinterpreting the diagrams. If you make this sweater, I’d spend some time playing with it so that your upper collar really ends up on the outside.

I “Snug Hugged” the raw edges inside. They could be zig zagged or serged, which would probably be a lot easier. I’m just sort of addicted to Snug Hug.


The neck seam can be covered with bias tape, twill tape or even shoelacing!


What else did I do? I shortened the arms by 2″ and the body by 1″. It went together easily and I will definitely be making it again, next time in significantly more luxurious materials. Stay tuned.

In the meantime I have a shirt I want to make.

As always, I wish you happy sewing!




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Katy’s Quick and Dirty Back Zip Tutorial

Hello there! Happy New Year! Today I’m going to share my quick and dirty method for…

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Christmas Eve

Christmas Eve 2

On Christmas Eve we headed out to an early church service and dinner.  About an hour before we had to leave I reminded my family cheerfully that mom was going to want to get a picture of everyone all dressed up, so we were going to leave a little bit early so that we had time to do so.  I do this on some holidays and the first day of school and it is my way of eeeeeasing them into the idea of cooperating for pictures.  I have to put the idea in Chris and Jayce’s heads a little bit before we go because they are both prone to grumpiness with the surprise factor of being asked to stop and smile.  Luckily they were ready.  Kind of.

Christmas Evebw 1

In an ideal situation, there would be all four of us.  We don’t necessarily need to be looking directly at the camera but overall pleasant facial expressions are good.  Good lighting would be nice and a non-ugly background is a bonus.  If our fancy clothes weren’t covered by our warm coats that would be good, and if we all had feet then I would be shocked.  
(On a side note, when we were at Disney World this summer I handed the camera back to a helpful Disney employee and said, “Can you take just one more and make sure that our feet are in it please?  Sorry…thanks!!!”  Cropping at the ankle is just a personal pet peeve of mine.)

Christmas Eve 4

It turns out that the Perfect Christmas Eve Picture was never attained.  BUT there were plenty of great ones.  And I kind of think that the storytelling factor of a series of imperfect pictures is pretty fantastic.

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The Christmas Eve service was cute and Christmasy and kid-friendly and short.  They finished a little early and then served hot chocolate, mince pies, and Christmas tree cookies, which you won’t need me to tell you was amazing.    

Christmas Eve 13Christmas Eve 10

Then I took the kids up by the tree an they gave me fantastically sweet and happy sibling Christmas pictures.  Chris stood behind me and made ridiculous faces to get them to do so.  Everyone was on point. πŸ™‚

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Jayce had requested “a long tie like dad wears” for Christmas so I got them together for a tie shot.

Christmas Eve 15
Christmas Eve 20

We were early for our dinner reservation which was just across the street from the church, so we took a few more pictures outside to kill some time, including these below that will be making their way into Hannah’s wedding video slideshow.  Chris looking at her, then Hannah smiling back at him…priceless.
Christmas Eve 17Christmas Eve 16
But my feet weren’t so lucky.  It’s okay though, they know their place.

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We moved onto the pub, which was absolutely packed, but luckily the service was pretty quick and the food was AMAZING.  We had thought it would be traditional pub food, but instead it was more specialty pizzas and Italian.  It was one of those meals where I kept stopping to say how absolutely delicious it was in between bites, and even though the dessert menu had really great options, we were entirely too full for any of it.  Which is kind of how you want to feel after a special Christmas Eve dinner.

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The kids ate well and behaved perfectly amidst the craziness, and we took them home to get ready for the main event.

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Jayce wrote Santa a note and set out cookies and carrots.  Hannah dress Santa a picture (and requested that I help with the beard part.)  

Christmas Eve 31

Dear Santa,
Here are some snacks to help you on your journey all around the world.  Pick 3 of your best reindeer to have these carrots, and you hungry Santa can have these smashing good digestives.  Is it true that you have 8 reindeer?  How do you get all around the world in 1 night?

Christmas Eve 30

It was a really late evening, because poor excited Jayce had a really hard time getting to sleep.  But it was a good thing that he did because a special delivery arrived just for them shortly after.

Christmas Eve 28
Christmas Eve 29

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Made in 2014 and Giveaway winner!

This year I said I would make myself some clothes to fill my closet with things that make me happy.Juggling life, school, and a blog, I have to say I did pretty alright for myself. For 2015, I’ll be more vigilant in documenting what I make so I can lin…

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Session 3- Lesson 2 Pressing Tools and Tips for Working with Knits

Session 3 – Lesson 2So Sorry! I disappeared for a while there! I wrote this weeks ago and didn’t have it quite finished so here it is at last. These  past weeks, I talked about pressing tools and how to use  them. Needless to say, a good…

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Β· Regency Sari Overdress Β·

I talked about the construction of my dress and overgown before, but the Regency Christmas Ball we recently attended provided the perfect opportunity for some nice photos. πŸ™‚

This overdress was made from the leftover scraps of an antique sari- I absolutely love all the detail that went into this embroidery!!  It has copper thread interspersed throughout, adding depth and just a hint of glimmer. πŸ™‚

I’m quite pleased with the result, and it’s fun to have a Regency outfit that is very a-typical. πŸ™‚  It’s also a great way to add variety and interest to my white dress!  I like the dress, but change is a nice thing too. πŸ˜‰

Wearing rag curlers all day while traveling might not have been the most glamorous option, but having curls that were impervious to dancing was well worth it! πŸ˜‰
I was so excited to finally embellish my turban with wheat!  Ever since seeing this fashion plate, I knew I needed to try this out sometime. πŸ™‚
And I’m realizing that I needed to do a little more primping to the wheat next time- I always forget that while I’m sitting in the van it is getting squashed by the roof. πŸ˜›  Ah well.  Just imagine it in its pre-travel state- it looked remarkably like the fashion plate. πŸ˜‰

A bit of a funny story that I didn’t share the first time- I was basing the overdress off a fashion plate that I had a poster of, but no details.  I wanted to share the original source on the blog with the fashion plate company name, year, etc., but had no way to start looking!
I tried looking for “Regency Overdress Fashion Plate”.  No luck.  “Asymmetrical”?  No better.  “Green”? “Overgown”? “Turban”?  Nothing was helping.  I couldn’t think of any technical terms to describe it, but then again- there wasn’t any guarantee that the person linking to the image had any more of a technical knowledge than I did!
In frustration, I told Mom, “I’d probably be better off just searching for something like “Regency Drapey Bits”!!
Well, guess what?  That’s all it took.  There, waiting near the top of my search was the fashion plate.
I have now officially given up on technical search terms.
The culprit- La Belle Assemblee, April 1811
Regency Drapey Bits

It’s so easy to see the Grecian influences of the time period in this style!

The Warner Theater, although technically around 125 years too late for this outfit, was still a stunning location!  I’m looking forward to giving this outfit another outing this weekend!

· Photos by Kathryn ·
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Amanda vs Iris Shorts

I had a pretty sweet childhood. I grew up on a hobby farm where my first pet was a goat, we grew lots of fresh veggies and you grew to realise the scariest animal on the farm is always a goose. Always. One of the main perks of growing up where I did was the […]

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Swim Baby Swim

Exciting news.We are putting in a pool.So everyone needs new swimmers.Lidia’s had disintegrated so she went first.Liddy is tricky to buy swimmers for. She is so thin naturally and after having nasty bout of tonsillitis that act…

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Shoemaking: My first pair of ballet flats made with a kit

I MADE A PAIR OF SHOES! The good news is the kit was awesome and I’m so proud of how the final shoes look. My pattern was also a winner and covered up my wide feet nicely.The bad news is I stuffed up the size of the insole which is one of the firs…

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2014: End Of Year Round-Up

There’s nothing like a year ending to make you reflect and I must say that 2014 has felt like a really busy one for me in so many ways, not least because I also started writing for Craftsy. Yet, I somehow still managed almost 2 sewn makes a month, whic…

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Knitting an Aviator Hat

Because everyone needs a handmade aviator’s hat.  This is knit in Knit Picks Swish dk and Biggo that I won in a Holla Knits giveaway.  You can see the earflaps and beginning of the brim, below. (more on ravelry, kollabora, and flickr)This hat…

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2014 Things I sewed and did – A short review

Well, its that time of year again! And all I can say is that I’m pretty happy this year is coming to a close. Its been pretty shitty for most of the part, but there were also some really kick-ass things that happened this year and I sewed som…

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I see Wonderful Things

Being very close to Balboa Park has a lot of perks, lots of gorgeous gardens and museums with amazing exhibits are definitely high on that list.Upon hearing about the King Tut exhibit at the San Diego Natural History museum, I know …

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Collar Confection blouse in dotted silk

For my last-of-the-year Britex blogger project, I chose the pattern first: the unusual and lovely design from Decades of Style, the Collar Confection blouse.  The blouse design is interesting and a bit more challenging than a basic top, but still very doable!  The blouse style dictates a fabric with drape, but it also must be fairly opaque because there are facings along the armholes.  This

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TOP 5 of 2014: Top 5 misses

Earlier in the week I posted the hits of 2014 yesterday and now here are the misses. Enjoy!  1. Sigma – Bad FitI love the idea of this dress. The denim, the rolled up sleeves. I really love it, but the fit is just awful. I have…

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Good things from 2014

2014 was a very difficult year for me, but I had a lot of really great things happen, despite everything else.In some sort of order:Decided to make myself more lovely clothes.Attended my 3rd Dapper Day.Participated in a fun sew along.Went to rummage sa…

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Minecraft and Stars for Christmas

I gave all the kids new tops this Christmas.  I wanted them to have something fun to wear on Christmas day, and I wanted to give them something I made, because that’s what I do!  I had special ordered the Minecraft fabric weeks before through a Facebook Group called Affordable Fabrics.  It came just before Christmas, so worked out perfectly to make the boys’ tops.  And then Ivy, who couldn’t care

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‘Frilled’ to meet you blouse

Jeg sagde det jo!

Jeg har lavet en mini-me med omvendt fortegn. En maxi-Wilma.

Som det vist fremgår af tidligere indlæg, er jeg ret forelsket i Wilmas ‘Marthe’, og har derfor ladet mig inspirere deraf til en mig-udgave. Jeg kunne selvfølgelig bare have snuppet den nemmeste løsning og investereret i Marthe mønstret til voksne – men jeg har altså valgt at lave min egen fortolkning.

Som stort set alt andet, jeg for tiden syer, har jeg taget udgangspunkt i Simplicity 1366. Jeg kan forhåbentlig glæde nogle ved at fortælle, at dette vidunder af et mønster lige nu kan erhverves til den nette sum af $1,99. Bevares, så løber der en smule porto på – men det er dælme stadig et godt køb. Man blir jo helt fristet til at købe et par stykker i reserve!

Jeg har forlænget og rundet mønstret en smule bag på – og så egentlig bare tilføjet en flæse. Ingen hokus pokus her! Og ingen lynlåse el. andre drillerier.

Stoffet er mørkeblå let crepe georgette fra Stof og Stil.

My ‘Frilled to meet you blouse’ is here. A blouse inspired by the Marthe I made for Wilma and presented a few days ago. I know that Republique du Chiffon offers the Marthe pattern for women but I wanted to do my own version of this. Of course based on the Simplicity 1366 which I seem to use for almost every make these days. Right now this little wonder is on sale right here.

I basically just lengthened and rounded the back a bit and added the ‘skirt’ – that’s it. Yet another easy make.



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holiday attire

I tried to keep my December sewing to a minimum this year, which was really very nice. Christmas clothes weren’t originally on my list, but then I saw the adorable plaid Art Museum vest Elizabeth (of the lovely blog Lizzieville) made for her little boy. She mentioned in the post that her daughter asked for […]

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Shoemaking: Making a pattern to fit my customised shoe lasts

Last time we left off I had just customised my shoe lasts with some modelling clay and masking tape. This post is going to be all about making a pattern for the customised foot last. If you have average feet you’re probably not going to need to do this…

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It’s been almost a month since my last post…the last two months of the year are often difficult for me…I teeter on the edge of depression. The expectations of the season are sometimes overwhelming, and all I want to do is sleep till January 1….

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Studio Notes & News

Gwen’s Miter
Gwen Spencer and I take an amused wry pride in ourselves as sewing nerds and Gwen has become an important part of developing my Vogue patterns.  She drives down from Corvallis (a 4+ hour drive), and we work together in the studio, sewing machines whirring,  making the prototype garments for the pattern envelope photos.  This involves choosing the best/right fabric (both for the garment itself and for photography), making samples (see below), composing the instructions and noodling out the best techniques to use. 
It is BIG fun and we have marvelous conversations…
going on and on about things like double needles, the pros and cons of spray adhesive and, in this short raw video:  how to do a mitered corner.
I was showing Gwen ‘my way’ and she introduced me to her’s, which I will be using from now on.
It works on miters with different angles and even on a soft knit as shown here.
I got so excited I whipped out the camera and took a quick video to share.
Take a moment to watch and see what I mean, you will love this!

Walking Foot
True confession:  I’ve been in denial and resistance about the walking foot for a long time. 
My complaint is that it is tricky to get on the machine and seems cumbersome, making it hard to see what I am doing.  Gwen had the same story.
But Katherine sings the praises of the walking foot, uses it all the time and I learn a lot from her too.
The pattern Gwen and I were working on has 2 tunic knit tops, 2 different styles, but both have seam detailing that run on the cross grain which could cause problems in a knit, rippling and stretching as you sew.
So I whipped out the walking foot.  Discovered that after taking it off and on a few times, it got easier to do.  Made a few samples with and without it, and the walking foot stitched the crosswise seams without rippling or stretching and could topstitch without a glitch.  
Pressing the seam flat as sewn each step of the way is crucial.
After Gwen went back home, I got this e-mail from her:
“Top stitching a neckline on knit…..ripped it out once, and then, wait, THE WALKING FOOT,!!   Worked like a charm. I have been converted!   Thank you!”
The walking foot has become one of my favorite tools!
French word meaning sample.
The definition:  ‘a small part or quantity intended to show what the whole is like.’

Making samples is an integral part of the French couture process.

Gwen makes samples before diving into a project, and I’ve picked up this good habit from her, deepening my resolve to play with fabric scraps and experiment.
When we were in Paris visiting an atelier/studio that makes flowers and feathers (& more) for couture houses, we saw different samples made to test the design and techniques and to show the client for final approval.

Sample of a fabric flower being developed for Chanel 
Black leather with leather flowers being developed for handbags for Dior.
In the background, a sample of feathers glued to a fabric backing.  Feathers are meticulously glued in a pattern using an Elmer’s type glue.  When the feathers and base fabrics are black, the glue is dyed black.  It drys so it is pliable and nearly invisible.  This sample is intended to be used in a handbag.
Pleated leather samples showing the paper pattern used to make the pleating and the finished leather samples.

Gwen’s Coat
Gwen was with our second Paris group, and it was fun to see Paris through her eyes.
She wore a fabulous coat, inspired by being at (and assisting with), the Ashland Design Outside the Lines retreat with Diane Ericson and Carol Lee Shanks, with the wonderful title:  My Coat, Creating a Personal Shelter.  This workshop is being offered next fall in Ashland.
Diane is offering 4 Design Outside the Lines retreats in 2015: in Santa Barbara, Ashland and Taos, each one with a different theme and co-taught by renowned artists and designers.
Guaranteed to take your work to a new level, to be BIG fun, and a life altering experience!

The fabric is a wool men’s suiting which Gwen painted and stitched before construction.
The pattern was inspired by Carol Lee Shanks.

Gwen got superb photos with her iPad mini.

Coming Soon
Katherine and I selected a grouping of our favorite Paris fabrics and hand carried them back home;  limited to what would fit in 2 large duffel bags.  This will probably never happen again.  We got caught up in customs where the officer questioned WHAT we would do with so much fabric.  I asked him if he had a mother, friend or relative who sewed or quilted.  He smiled and waved us through, but we nearly missed our connection.  
The fabrics are all photographed.  Many are one of a kind cuts, a few from Chanel and Hermes.
I’m working on the postings in between family events and visits while here in Minnesota.  
Stay tuned!

Planning ahead for 2015

What do you want to learn from me?  
What do you want to see on this blog?
DO post comments and suggestions for topics and ideas to cover in this blog in the upcoming year.  
I’ll send $100 fabric gift certificate (+ free domestic shipping) to the person whose idea or suggestion I use first.

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TOP 5 of 2014: The hits

For the past couple of years 2012 and 2013, I have participated in Gillians Top 5 series. I like doing it as it provides an opportunity to reflect on my year of sewing. I should probably reflect like this on other parts of my &…

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Swing Coat – No. 4 London/How to do Fashion

Den dygtige designer/skrædder Nanna, som står bag firmaet og bloggen How to do Fashion, tilbød mig for nogen tid tilbage at afprøve hendes seneste snitmønster No. 4 London – en swing jakke/frakke i 3 versioner.

Jeg har valgt at teste version nr. 2, som er en hoftelang, kraveløs udgave med stiklommer i sidesømmen. Hvis man ønsker, kan jakken lukkes med et bindbånd i taljen, men det har jeg valgt at udelade.

Min coatigan er syet af en tyndere uldfilt (uld/polyester) vare fra Stofdepotet. Nød lærer kvinde med for lidt stof at finde alternative løsninger, så ærmerne at syet af sort uldjersey også fra Stofdepotet. De 2 forskellige stoffer fungerer fint sammen.

Mønstret er trykt på kraftigt papir og leveres i det fineste omslag. Selve syvejledningen kan printes fra Nannas hjemmeside.

Det er en meget udførlig syvejledning, der gør konstruktionen af jakken hurtig og overskuelig.

Denne er en str. M efter Nannas målskema. Den er rummelig, men har samtidig en perfekt pasform over skuldre og bryst. Perfekt, Nanna!!!

Coatiganen her var en julegave til min søde svigermor.

This swing coat is the latest vintage inspired pattern from the talented tailor/pattern designer Nanna, who runs the company and blog ‘How to do Fashion’

The coat pattern comes in three versions. A short, a hip length and a long version. 

Mine is the easiest of the three – the hip length no collar version. This less dramatic look appeals to me. 

The coatigan is made of light weight leopard printed wool felt and black wool jersey. 

This is a size M according to Nanna’s size chart. It is pretty roomy but still has a great fit across the shoulders and chest area. Really great. A very very well designed pattern that comes with great instructions (downloadable from Nanna’s blog) which makes the construcion a breeze.

This was a Christmas gift for my sweet mother in law.

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Making Dragonish Accessories

While the bulk of my Smaug look used pieces from previous cosplays, I did want to make some accessories that would bring it into dragonish territory, so that it wouldn’t just be “ooh, fiery dress!” I originally wanted to delve into leather mask-making,…

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Vogue 1247 – it’s love.

I’ve been hearing people rave about this skirt and I’ve loved pretty much every version I’ve seen made up but I guess I was too into my love affair with Simplicity 2451 to notice. I used to consider Simplicity 2451 my favourite skirt pattern, my BFF, m…

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