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Oh haiiiii guys!

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Firstly I’m SO TOTALLY SOZ for loving you and leaving you last week – things had gotten crazy in a way I never imagined could happen, and there were many late nights, early mornings, and video calls with dry-shampooed hair 😂 I think we’re through the crazy patch now though, and orders for masks have returned to way more manageable levels. Dare I say it – even slightly quiet now 👀 I guess everyone that wanted to panic-buy a mask has now done so, and I can have my evenings and weekends back! 🙌🏻

So – during the panic-sew time, my sewing machine broke! NOT cool 😨

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I had been thinking about upgrading (albeit very loosely and with no real intention of actually shelling out for a new one any time soon), but since I needed a new machine like yesterday I thought perhaps I ought to start doing some research pronto. I was really happy with my current machine (a Brother Innov-is F420) and actually considered buying a second one, but that model was out of stock EVERYWHERE. So in the end decided to to go a couple of machines up the range with the Brother Innov-is 1800Q. The Q stands for quilting, in case you were wondering 🤔 I figured that if I was going to start quilting (the quilt is going well, btw!) I may as well get a machine that can handle a bit more of a meatier quilt (and a thick woollen coat, for when I’m back sewing coats again). It’s got a wider throat, and senses how thick your fabric is and adjusts the foot height automatically as you sew. Fancy, huh 💁🏻‍♀️ So far so good, I’m really liking the machine, but when it comes to the special quilting techniques I might need to do the sensible thing of reading the manual 😂

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Lest we forget the broken one… I took my machine to a local sewing shop, who said they thought the problem was with the motherboard. Not that I’m an expert in this, but I felt that something wasn’t right with that diagnosis. It definitely felt mechanical, as the insides wouldn’t move smoothly even with the machine off, and the screen appeared to be functioning normally. So I called around a couple of other places and explained the problem (balance wheel struggling to turn and bobbin race throwing a bit of a shit-fit when sewing) and they said it defo sounded mechanical, and that things inside the machine can seize up after heavy use and little servicing. Well, the machine had defo been getting heavy use in the immediate period leading up to ‘the incident’, and *cough* hadn’t had a single service in its three years of life to date *cough*. Lesson learned: service yo machines, guys. It sort of hurt me to do it, but I left a review on the Facebook page of the local shop detailing my experience and how I wasn’t really happy that one: they misdiagnosed the problem and two: kept my £10 deposit that I paid even though they couldn’t fix it. I think the guy was just a bit scared that my machine had a fancy display and whatnot – old Singers (you know, the black and gold ones) were probably more his bag. I thought that others with computerised machines who might take them there could do with a heads up that they might want to scrap that idea and go somewhere else, hence the review.

Anyway. With the machine having been fixed (by The Sewing Centre in Battersea) and the mask orders calming down, we resemble something like normality again. Even if it was a little intense, it was good to be back at the sewing machine again. There has defo been no time for selfish sewing, but I did have a clear out of my fabric stash (albeit a forced one) which reminded me of some pretties that I have stored up just waiting to be used. A little inspiration, if nothing else.

We decided to rearrange some furniture in the living room (because no matter how much I tidy, it always feels so cramped 🤷🏻‍♀️) and my bookcase (which actually holds zero books but instead is full of sewing stuff) was destined for a new home in the other corner of the room. After emptying the bookcase, we heaved it to its new home (a small alcove) and discovered that although it would fit in the gap width-wise, the radiator on the wall and the fish tank on the other side meant that we couldn’t push it into the gap head-on, and the thing was too big to angle it to get in the gap. FFS. So the bookcase got heaved back to where it was, and I took the opportunity to sort through all my fabrics before replacing them on the shelves.

I keep scraps. Mostly all of ‘em, because it just feels like a waste to throw away good fabric amirite? It was getting to the point though where my sewing stuff was just taking up Too. Much. Space. So I culled. Ruthlessly. I kept the scraps that were big enough and the right weight for pocket bags and whatnot, but any leftovers from previous makes that I wasn’t going to use again (or at least, hadn’t got plans for) went. Fabrics that I didn’t love anymore also went. I might not be sewing for myself too much at the moment, but I saw some pretty fabrics (including a few I had forgotten about) and now I have a bit more space in the room. Yay! It’s such a huge relief to cleanse stuff I was just hoarding and wasn’t likely to use. I’m a purger, I guess (the husbeast is a hoarder, fo sho) and MAN does it feel good to chuck stuff out 😂 I need to do the same with my sewing patterns, too – being realistic about what I will actually sew again. I reckon a fair few of those could do with moving on to a new home.

Here’s how the bookcase looks now, post-cull:

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Trust me, it looked much worse 😂

I also need to treat my ironing board to yet another new cover, because all the mask-pressing took its toll and it’s Groundhog Day once again with a hole in the area that gets the most iron action. Currently patched up with a big old square of interfacing 👀

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I’m pleased to report that we now have much more space in the living room, not due to the tidying and rearranging, but due to the fact that I pushed an armchair along the floor when I was moving it, and broke one of its legs 🤷🏻‍♀️ I know, lift furniture don’t push it. But with the armchair gone, we have more room! Yay! It was only really the dog that sat on it anyway 😂

So now it’s July, soon to be August, and the lockdown has not been good for me. I’ve put on a few pounds, and can’t seem to shake them – probably because I have done zero exercise over the past few weeks and have eaten crap. I even tried on my pink leopard Dawn jeans from my last (real) blog post to see if they still fit (they were a little loose when I first made them) – and although I can get them on and just about do them up, there’s an alarmingly obvious muffin top going on. *sigh*. In a way, I want to go back to working in the office just so that I can get my cycle commute in, and in a way, I don’t, and in another way, I just want to sit in comfy sweatpants and eat pizza 😂

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It’s at this time of the year that I’d usually do a Make Nine review, and also take a look back at how some of my most recent makes are doing, and also look a little further back at makes from this time last year to see if they’re still being worn. Why change the habit of a lifetime (well, the last three years)? Here are all three of those things for ya! 😘

Settle in. Get yourself a cuppa ☕️

Let’s start with the Make Nine (you can see the original post here).

2020 Make Nine

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When I chose this Make nine, we were obvs living in a totally different world. I was leaving the house to go to work and had normal plans for the next year of my life. All of that totes went out the window, obvs – and if I had to re-choose my nine right now it would likely look very different. But, I’ll honour it, just because that seems like the decent thing to do.

Making Backpack 🎒

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Do I need a backpack? No, because I’m barely leaving the house these days. I have no need to carry things outside of the confines of these four walls right now. Needless to say, this one isn’t made, and now I’m feeling kinda meh about making it. A smaller, crossbody bag might be more useful instead 🤔

Men’s camp collar shirt

pdf sewing pattern tropical shirt sewing pattern 1 1512x

Again, as we’re living at home in loungewear all the time, zero motivation to make this one right now – but, I did find a few nice Liberty cottons when I was clearing out the bookcase, so I’m ready to go with it when the motivation and need returns. A keeper.

Men’s Hoodie

pdf sewing pattern raglan sweater sewing pattern 1 1512x

This has already been cut out, but it was done before I had a realisation that matching ribbing for cuffs is the best thing on the planet, and that using the same fabric for the cuffs as for the body is the worst idea in the world. Especially if your chosen fabric doesn’t have a lot of stretch to it. So now I’m left with the decision of whether to crack on with using the self-fabric for the cuffs, knowing I’ll likely swear about it once it’s finished, or try to find ribbing that matches (which it seems there might be like 0.0001% of a chance of). *sigh* On hold, for now.

Hooded blanket

Billie Wearable Blanket Sewing Pattern Listing Cover

This one has actually been made! And worn! I finished it off at the start of lockdown, and wore it in the early (cold) days of working from home when I began to realise how much of a luxury it is to work in an office where someone else pays the heating bill 😂

I actually love it. I just need to photograph it, but of course this needs to be done during the colder months when I won’t pass out wearing it. I’m a cold person, and believe me just five minutes of wearing this bad boy will COOK YOU LIKE BOIL IN THE BAG RICE 🔥 But, it’s the snuggliest thing on the planet and I love it.

Summer Trousers

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This one’s still in the mix to potentially be made – although I’ll admit, after we had a couple of severely hot days here I decided I couldn’t wait for me to sew some summer trousers for myself and I caved and bought a cheap pair off eBay for like £8. I know, I know. This is awful. But I needed them like right that second. They only came in ‘one size’ though and although they fit – sort of – I’d prefer a smidge more room, so sewing my own is likely still on the cards.

Itch To Stitch Montana Shirt

Montana Shirt Product Hero

This one is made too! I just haven’t got round to photographing it, because, y’know, we couldn’t use public transport to get to my usual photo spot. The test run I made will likely not be worn in public – there were some bad fabric choices and also some not-so-great pattern aspects – but I’ve since made a couple of versions which I actually really like. I could have even found the one when it comes to shirt patterns, guys 😨

Trudy Turtleneck

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Still defo in the mix, because I will wear these a lot in the autumn – I just need to find some decent jersey fabric. Easier said than done, it seems, but when I have a bit of free time I might bulk buy a few pieces and do a bit of batch sewing (like I haven’t just done about six weeks of that with masks 😂)

Men’s knitted jumper

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Also DONE! But, it’s a bit of a letdown – the sizing is a bit off, it’s one of those yarns that’s so heavy it sort of pulls itself out of shape. Also, there’s too much seaming (seamless patterns only from now on, defo) so it’s been designated as a ‘house jumper’. I used up yarn that I’d had stashed for an embarrassing number of years, so I’m glad it’s finally been put to use, but totes underwhelmed.

Men’s Tee

The ABB Mens Tee Sewing Pattern Cover Photo

I’ve had a half-made short sleeve version of this kicking around for a while (you get the long and the short sleeve versions in the envelope), but the sleeves and hem need to be run through the coverstitch, and it’s always such a faff to haul that machine out 🤦🏻‍♀️ Also I discovered the hard way that you should NOT use regular Guterman Sew-all thread in an overlocker to do the neckband because although you can get a good colour match to the fabric, it’s a hundred times more scratchier than whatever thread I normally use in there that’s on the cones. The husbeast tried the shirt on for size and immediately complained about said scratchiness 👀 Not sure on how it will fit just yet, so the jury is still out.

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And that’s it! Actually, it’s not as bad as I thought it would be. So… three have been made (the shirt, the hooded blanket and the knitted jumper), five will likely still be made, and one has been ditched (the backpack). I don’t think that’s bad going, to be honest.

Last Quarter’s round-up…

As for previous makes that have already been brought into the world, I’ve actually been culling my wardrobe – slower than I’d like if I’m honest – over the past little while, too. Anything is fair game to be culled – both me mades and store-bought stuff. Before I return to the outside world, I need to have another round really as there’s still stuff lingering that I don’t wear. I want to get to a point where I only have clothing that I love, and fits me well (that may be an issue with the current weight situation, though)… even if that means I have just a few garments. I’m likely only wearing that many anyway, so really it’s just stripping back the excess. Maybe I’ll do that this weekend 🤔

So – here’s the fates of some of the makes that hit the blog over the last few months…

Pink leopard fur coat ✅

Vintage Kwik Sew 1476 Fur Coat 8748

Defo here to stay – but takes up a heck of a lot of wardrobe space for something I can only wear when it’s below freezing outside 😂 (it is an almighty SWEAT FEST I tell you). But – I love the fur, and I love the space cats lining, so it stays, even if I can only wear it for five days per year.

Star Linden Sweatshirt ✅

Grainline Linden ferns with star 9029

This one has featured heavily in my ‘working from home’ wardrobe, and I actually have some fabric left over which I have been toying with the idea of making some loungewear shorts from – I just need to find a pattern. Oh – and the little iron-on dots are already starting to peel off the sweater. I wondered how long they would last – the Cricut packaging said 50 washes, but we ain’t nowhere near that yet. It probably doesn’t help that I tumble dry stuff in the winter 🤔🤷🏻‍♀️

Make and Go Pouch ✅

Make And Go Pouch 10

This stores some of my knitting stuff, so we’re all good in da hood. The only thing that bothers me is that you can’t see into the middle pocket – the left and right pockets have the clear vinyl, but the middle one is just a fabric pouch. But that’s a minor annoyance really. You can never have too many pouches.

Central Perk Sweatshirt ❌

Wardrobe By Me Boxy Raglan Central Perk 1629

Meh. This was better in my head than in real life. The fit of the sweater is a bit sloppy, and using glitter for the iron-on motif was a baaaaaad idea. My hair catches in it, which is tres annoying. Imagine taping a bit of sandpaper to your chest, and you’re pretty much there. I don’t even know if I can use it as a house sweater, it’s that scratchy 😩

Liberty Scout Tee ✅

Liberty Grainline Scout Tee 4347

This one is a keeper – I can’t get enough of my Scouts. Though, some of them are a bit tight across the back shoulders… so I think I might make an adjustment to the back template for future Scouts to give a little bit more room.

Malabrigo Caracol jumper ✅

Malabrigo Caracol Rowan VK Live 8596

This one’s a good ‘un too – so cosy in the winter. I’m currently knitting a similar design for the husbeast form the same yarn in a different colourway. Looks great, is super soft and snuggly, but pills like a bastard if you so much as breathe on it. As the ‘Loaf says, two out of three ain’t bad.

Craft fair belt ✅

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This one would get used, were it not for the fact that life got cancelled for pretty much all of this year…

Zen Charmer Folkwear Shirt ✅

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Again, this one is just hanging on the rack, waiting for the day it can see sunlight again – but it’s absolutely a keeper. The Folkwear Frontier shirt is definitely the wardrobe staple of the husbeast, and if you’re in the market for a sewing pattern for a men’s shirt, this one gets my highest recommendations.

My first pair of knitted socks! ✅

Knitcrate Socks 1970

OMG YES SO GOOD I NEED TO KNIT ALL THE SOCKS. I’m so addicted to knitting socks now that it’s ridiculous. How have I waited so long to discover this?! I’ve got two pairs on the go right now (one for me, one for the husbeast) and I just can’t get enough of making loops of yarn on toothpicks over and over again.

Dawn jeans – Round two ⚠️

Leopard Pink Dawn Jeans 7731

From the outside, these look the part and were exactly what I wanted. From the inside, they look pretty untidy because of the white fabric base. Wearing them, they don’t fit particularly well around the stomach and thighs. I think I’d like to try the pattern again in some slightly stretchy fabric, and see if they are more comfortable to wear. I know they’re drafted for rigid denim, but it’s just so… rigid. *sigh*

That’s pretty good I reckon – out of ten makes we have 8 keepers, one total fail (the Central Perk top, because of the poor choice in vinyl) and one on the fence (the leopard Dawn jeans). I’m more than happy with an 80% success rate!

Let’s look at stuff I made last year, where I bet that 80% rate is gonna take a sharp nosedive…

Wedding outfit ⚠️

Simplicity 1099 Deer and Doe Datura Blouse 3512

Obvs, this isn’t really something I’m gonna wear on the reg. I enjoyed wearing it on the day, but does it really need a place in my wardrobe? I might donate it and let someone else get some joy out of it.

Range backpack ⚠️

Noodlehead Range Backpack 4600

I like the backpack – especially the gold leather – but I maybe wish I’d chosen a different fabric other than the leopard print. Also, I blagged the zip closure at the top (it was written with just a roll-top, but that’s not gonna fly in London) and it’s pretty messy because the zip was just a *smidge* too long. Doesn’t really get used, if I’m honest, which is why I’m also slightly meh over the backpack that I put into my Make Nine.

Kielo dress ✅

NYC Central Park Named Patterns Kielo Dress 1307

You know I ain’t never gonna part with this dress. Comfy, and pretty fabric. WIN.

Jupe Charlotte in black denim ❌

Republique Du Chiffon Charlotte Skirt 9068

Nah. Skirts aren’t my jam, and it took me making-and-not-wearing several to realise that I should just stop making them. Now that I’ve figured that out though, I’m good, and I won’t be making that mistake again 😂

Bionic Gear bag ❌

Bionic Gear Bag 3319

After working through the million pages of instructions to make this bag (which weren’t nearly half as bad as the voice of the internet makes out), I was properly underwhelmed. The bag has really tiny zip pockets in it that don’t hold more than a puff of air. Pretty pointless bag. Doesn’t get used.

Liberty Melilot ❌

Liberty Melilot Final 7584

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I bought this fabric. It’s so not me. And don’t even get me started on that big green sludge-splodge on the front 👀 Needless to say, the shirt does not get worn, and has since gone on to find a new life in a charity shop.

Cord Dawns ❌

Megan Nielsen Dawn Jeans 5395

If I could go back and tell Past Sarah one thing it would be: do not buy polyester corduroy. You will regret the decision. And I do. It’s ewwww. Plus, it was my first attempt at sewing jeans and you know what that means – dodgy stitching, poor fit, lots of mistakes. But, a necessary step in the learning curve to potential jeans awesomeness 💪🏻

Versace Folkwear shirt ✅

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This one is the same pattern as the Zen Charmer shirt above – the Folkwear Frontier Shirt pattern. That bad boy is winner winner chicken dinner I tell ya 🍗 SUCH a good shirt pattern. And this shirt pairs perfectly with a pair of gold and black trainers the husbeast has 🤩

So that’s two wins, two ‘mehs’ and four losers. I knew the success rate of these older makes would be worse… but that’s okay. It shows that at least I’m heading in the right direction.

I can’t wait to see how my new machine handles a coat or a quilt, and now that I’ve sorted my fabrics I have a little more enthusiasm to sew. Oh! Remember that Art Gallery quilt I was talking about last time that I liked? I went ahead and bought the fabrics for it 🙈 I figured that it was slightly smaller than the Skyline Quilt that I’ve got going on, so it would give me a chance to practice on something more manageable first rather than just going steaming in on the larger one. I’m also now wondering whether I could now machine quilt the skyline one on my new machine, rather than hand stitch it, (it’s queen-sized) but I’m undecided there. I’ve been doing research on both methods, anyway, because I figured it would be handy to know… but wavy lines across the quilt seems like it could be a good beginner-friendly idea… we’ll see!

Books-wise, there hasn’t been a lot of reading going on lately (which I’m hoping will change very soon) but my current read is The Art Of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Phillip Sendker. It’s okay… so far… but only okay. Thankfully it’s not too thick so I’m sure I can make it to the end, but I’m not blown away.

Recent purchases that have been added to the ‘to be read’ pile are:

  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri
  • The Secret History by Donna Tartt
  • How We Disappeared by Jing-Jing Lee
  • The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini (which I’ve read before, but MANY years ago and I feel like it was really good so I want to reread it)
  • The Road Home by Rose Tremain (also another one which I read when I was younger and remember liking)
  • And No Logo by Naomi Klein, just to mix it up a bit.

So that’s me! I hope you guys are keeping safe and well, please tell me all about whats going on with you – are you sewing? Not feeling it? Reading or baking, or knitting? The husbeast is back to work next week after a couple of months on furlough, and I’m so sick of my own terrible cooking that I’ve got a Hello Fresh subscription 😂 I just can’t face another meal of fish fingers and potato waffles 🤢

Until next time 💜✌🏻

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Up next on the blog… an epic fail in the form of the Violette Dress from Republique Du Chiffon 🤷🏻‍♀️

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  1. Hey Sarah,
    wow what a long post 😉 I like to see what other sewists experience not only while making a garment, but also after wearing it a couple of times.
    And for the Rebel Raglan Sweater:
    Me too, I always want the cuffs to fit perfectly, but I am also that type of person that wants to be able to just push the sleeves up over the elbow. So using the same sweat as a simple, plain cuff is a no go for me. Instead I just measure the diameter of the sleeve edge without finishing and make a cuff out of the sleeve sweat with the exact same width (not smaller as normal). But before sewing it on completely I put in some 3cm wide elastic strap. With that technique you get both, the matching look and the good usability.
    I hope its helpful and understandable what I mean.
    Greetings, Maple


  2. I love your brutal honesty and this blog post more than made up for last week’s disappointment. I think you are amazing to make all those masks. I’ve made eight and I loathe making them. I made pleated ones and the curved, Olsen mask, shape in response to family requests.
    I believe you will lurrrve your new machine. I have a Brother XV, a combi machine. Before that I had a Brother VQ2, which I loved, it was my go to machine, and it handled everything I threw at it. I made bags, quilted, did free motion, all sorts. I traded it for the XV, which has worked out OK, as the sewing side of the XV is much like the VQ2, although I mostly use the XV for embroidery and the Bernina for sewing.
    Not everything we make turns out the way we see it in out head. Especially clothing for me. I have five lots of fabric ready to make tops and a dress with, but I am procrastinating as I just know at least some of them will be disappointing. So I will wait until the good weather has passed and the fabric will get put away for next year. Then I’ll repeat!
    At present I am quilting. I’m making a crazy quilt from scrap fabrics, I’ve made 15 12.5″ blocks so far, practicing ruler work with my new Amanda Murphy rulers on a panel and I still have the Bernina Glamorous Clams on the go, as well as a machine embroidered wall hanging, which knowing me will probably never get hung. Ah well, onwards and upwards.


  3. We all need to do a closet assessment and purge. Maybe I will if I could find any motivation to do anything 😏. I have quilted queen size quilts on a home machine, and it can be done, but you better be sure your upper body muscles are in good shape. You will feel it! Good luck.


  4. Uh huh, machines this complicated exist! *looks at my Elna 2005, her white plastic body yellow with time* (oddly, the drawer looks pristine somehow? I usually keep her covered…)
    I hope you’ll enjoy it!
    Love reading about how older makes fare 🙂


  5. You might find ribbing that is a close match to the sweatshirt on Etsy. Sew up the sweatshirt and ribbing, then maybe just toss them in the washing machine with fabric dye. That way the complete garment should take on the same shade. I often buy my matching sweatshirt fleece and ribbing from Blackbird Fabrics in Canada. They have great quality fabrics.


  6. Enjoy your blog immensely. The gold/leopard backpack looks great in the photo, I would think many people would love a bag like that. Too bad it didn’t work for you.


  7. Great read! As others have said, it’s so good to hear how makes fare over time.

    I feel like my sewing mojo is sneaking back. Finished corduroy Morgan jeans last week and whipped up two swim caps this morning as our kids’ swim school is “renting” out family time on the weekends. I bought some lovely pink knit fabric a little while back and I think I’m going make a Blackwood cardigan…or a sweater of some sort.

    Stay safe!


  8. I love these round ups as my “1 year later” results are pretty mixed, and it’s pretty inspiring to see your honest assessments and ability to let things go when they don’t work for you. Love to hear if you find a new bag pattern you like, I’ve been thinking about trying one of Niizo’s (on etsy) bag patterns or kits.


  9. I feel your cooking woes! I haven’t cooked this much since I was a poverty stricken newlywed. But the HH is enjoying it…I’m glad that someone is haha… 300+ meals.in.a.row since lockdown began. Eeeek!
    And don’t get me going about face masks! (I truly feel for you.) That’s about all I’m sewing. I’d love to see you make the Sew Liberated trousers. I have the pattern but I fear they may be too ‘crotch-baggy’. So you go first, OK?
    Stay safe. Stay sane…


  10. Hi,
    I am a sewer, quilter, and gardener. I have made masks for my family, and love to be
    sewing challenged by my daughter, who likes the 50s style clothing, but in fabrics that I wouldn’t usually work with. I like seeing your makes, and reading your reviews because your fabric choices remind me of my daughter.
    I have been on furlough since May 4th, and will be returning to work in a week. I have been on a cleaning spree,started an organic vegetable garden, and sewn to keep my mind, and hands busy.
    Stay safe!
    Btw, my daughter LOVES the fur coat you made for your hubby!


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