A Cute Maxi Dress with Issues

This month I have had the worst sewing ADHD possible.  I honestly didn’t think I would actually complete a project this month due to my indecisiveness regarding patterns, fabrics, and a general sense of frustration with pattern mishaps lately.  Simplicity released their new spring 2022 patterns and the New Look 6718 captivated me.  I immediately went to the store and bought it the same day.  I honestly can’t remember the last time a Big 4 pattern has gotten me absolutely gaga. I for one love a great maxi dress, and spend much of my summer months in big flowy sundresses for the heat and comfort.    The fact that it was a humid 87 degrees yesterday in Long Beach was just enough of an excuse I needed to put on my new dress and twirl around.

PROJECT DETAILS:

Maxi Dress: New Look 6718.  So first and foremost, the design of this pattern is absolutely dreamy.  I had been looking to actually draft a dress similar, as I’d been eyeing some runway pieces that felt very similar in design.  I did view A with view B length.  Now to the not so pretty parts about this pattern.  The biggest issue, is the fabric specifications on this pattern are absolutely incorrect.  I made the size 20 (of course not normal clothing sizes for my non-sewing folks). My busty self couldn’t do any other size if I wanted to, but also because that’s the max of their sizing chart for New Look Patterns (serious side eye on that one McCall Pattern company!). Per the pattern I would need  about 4 ½ yards of 60” wide fabric.  I actually used 6 yards of 60’ wide fabric, and boy was I grateful that I actually had all of that available to use thanks to my fabric hording self over buying when I bought this fabric.  This is a huge difference in fabric yardage! The center waist piece was drafted 2 and ½ inches short of the length that it needed to be in order for the waist piece to wrap all the way around and connect properly in the back.  The result was me having to shave off fabric on either side in the back to cover this drafting mistake.  The Front lower skirt should have also been increased by 2 and 1/4th inches in width in order to line up with the top half of the body of this dress.  That I was also able to hide when I shaved off the back for the other drafting mistake.  Honestly these type of drafting mistakes in this pattern from such a large pattern company is more than a bit of an epic fail, but they could have rendered this pattern a disaster.  For a beginning sewist, I’m sure it would be.  I had to get creative in order to compensate for these issues, which ultimately left me with a back that does not line up perfectly.  So the back of this dress is my least favorite thing to look at, but even with that all of that said, I still really like this dress and the pattern.  Armed with what I now know, I will make sure my next version has taken all of these issues into account.  So my biggest takeaway advice for this pattern is make a muslin/toile, buy more yardage than you think you will need, and be prepared to make pattern adjustments to account for the front lower skirt and the middle waist facing issues. Also be sure to interface the neckline along with the facing for this pattern. I got a weird kind of floppy fabric thing around the neckline due to my rayon challis fabric being so light.

FABRIC – I used this beautiful rayon challis from my stash that I’d purchased from Fabric Merchants Outlet.  I saw this in their store during one of my trips there and bought everything they had left, which was six yards.  Fabric Merchant Outlet is one of my hidden gem stores of the LA fashion district.  It’s on the outskirts of the fashion district in an area that’s solely commercial and manufacturing.  I discovered their store while I was consulting for a fashion company that was within walking distance to their store.  Needless to say I spent a lot of money there on my lunch breaks.  This rayon challis proved to be more on the silky side and behaved like a silk fabric in that it was very slippery.  The next time I make this dress I will use a more solid woven like a tencel twill or drapery cotton blend fabric.

STYLE – Prescription sunglasses from Zenni.  Watch from Anne Klein that I’ve owned for forever along with my favorite neutral platform sandals from Nine West.

My First Zero Waste Pattern: The Iris Blouse

The new sewing pattern from Fibr & Cloth Studio, Iris is here!  It’s an amazing and stylish zero waste pattern that I had the pleasure of pattern testing.

PROJECT DETAILS:

Zero Waste Blouse: The Iris Blouse just launched today and it is my very first time ever making a zero waste pattern.   Even with my years of sewing, I had never encountered a pattern that I didn’t have pattern pieces to either assemble or cut out, and I’m afraid I was quite a noob with the level of questions I asked in my pattern testing group (chuckling to myself!).  The pattern lays out the exact specifications and measurements of each piece in a great picture diagram and I soon got over my nervousness and got to cutting.  This sews up like a dream and everything lines up perfectly.  I couldn’t believe how easy a zero waste pattern could be!  Needless to say I am now sold and fan of the zero waste pattern movement.  I was able to make size C with 1 and 3/4th yards.  I am still shocked that was all the fabric I needed, especially since I got the greatest statement sleeves from this pattern.  Statement sleeves usually eat up quite a bit of fabric, but that’s where the excellent pattern designing comes into play.  This pattern, like all of Fibr & Cloth Studio patterns are amazing on being extremely size inclusive.  This is a huge thing in the sewing community as most pattern makers do not consider anyone over a size 8 measurements.  I think this is an old carryover from the modeling and high fashion industry, but I am so glad to see so many indie pattern companies breaking out of that mode.  The Iris Blouse includes chest measurements from (28 to 66 inches) and hip measurements from (30 to 68 inches).  This literally is a pattern for every single size out there.

FABRIC –  This drapy dreamy polyester rayon crepe/challis fabric is part of my fabric stash from the Downtown LA fashion district. Be prepared to be sick of seeing this fabric in the future as I bought a bolt of it at $2 a yard.  Even more so it’s in my favorite color Indigo (navy) blue.

STYLE – I styled this blouse with my favorite pair of classic gold hoop earrings, mom jeans from Express and blocked sandal heels from Lulu’s.

Bell Bottoms & Chaka Khan

It’s my first make and post of 2022.  I’ve been dreaming of sewing monochromatic looks well before Fall began.  Monochromatic looks are always a delicate balance of making sure you pull the look out without being absurdly matchy matchy.   I typically wear monochromatic looks on my lazy days, but I wanted to try to elevate that to a higher end look than my typical lazy matching sweats look.   The beauty of monochromatic looks is that you can go bold and make colorful statements or you can go with neutral classic looks.  There are literally a million different variations of monochromatic that you can pull off in any style of fashion possible.   I find when wearing monochromatic looks it’s a good time to add pops of colors or pull out your statement jewelry pieces to help bring the look to full circle.  This neutral look was no different for me.  Even more so, this look was inspired by none other than the Queen Chaka Kahn.  I’d had her song, What Cha’ Gonna Do For Me stuck in my head for weeks now, so it was playing in constant rotation as I sewed this look and was playing when I shot the photos. I needed to channel her powerhouse sound.

PROJECT DETAILS:

Statement Sleeve Top: Schultz Apparel’s Petunia Top is a new-to-me indie sewing pattern company that I actually stumbled across on Etsy.   When I saw the Petunia top and the sleeves, it was definitely love at first sight!  Like everyone else, I’ve been obsessed with all of these wonderful puffy sleeve tops that are on trend right now.  I’m not normally into trends, but this one I can fully support.  This pattern is easily wonderful, and a classic staple piece.  I can already see myself creating a number of tops from this pattern.  This pattern is designed for knits, so I took a chance with this double creped stretch woven fabric I used for this top.  Thankfully my fabric had just enough stretch to pull this pattern off while still remaining true to the designer’s intended look.  This is a beginner friendly pattern, but well designed and easy to execute. 

Bell Bottom Trousers – Vogue 1460 is a modern take and reminded me of the the 70’s bell bottom pants that my mom wore religiously back in high school.  I am a huge fan of 70’s sewing patterns.  Most of my vintage patterns are from that time period, so I literally did a somersault when this pattern dropped a couple of seasons ago by Vogue Patterns.  It appears to be currently sold out on their website, but no fears, this pattern can still be found in stores and online on Etsy or eBay.  My biggest modification was swapping out the waistband.  The original pattern waistband is straight. I switched it for one of my tried and true curved waistbands.  If you have hips or butt, this is usually a must, as straight waistbands create a terrible waist butt gap that most women hate.  This is a very common problem in ready to wear clothing.  This is where sewing your own clothes has an added benefit as you can eliminate these issues from the jump to create clothing that literally is custom fitted to your shape.  This pattern, while excellently designed does create that back waist gap.  So I also had to shave some fabric off the middle of the back yoke, which I then transferred to the pattern pieces.  I didn’t make a muslin this time around so I did what my sewing teachers over the years have taught me and fitted as I went along.  That’s not something I’d suggest for a beginner sewist, or if you’re new to pant sewing. The extra time spent to customize this back waist curve adjustment was easy enough for me and worth the extra time as the result is pants that now fit like a glove.  I did view B without any height adjustments, since at 5’7 I’m already only an inch taller than the standard commercial pattern height.  This isn’t the case for the average woman, so I’d suggest shaving off a few inches on the hem if you’re under 5’6 or going with View A, which is the cropped version.

FABRIC – My fabric hording self, discovered this medium/heavy weighted double crepe stretch woven fabric quite by accident.  I’m only slightly embarrassed to admit that I spend way too much time downtown in the Los Angeles Fashion District to the point that a couple of the shop keepers there know me on sight and often beckon me into the shop with fabrics they know fit my esthetic.   I was walking past one of my favorite fabric stores when one of the guys who worked there stopped me and was like, “I have just the fabric for you, and what’s even better is it’s only a $1.00 a yard.”  He already had me at a dollar, but as soon as I saw the fabric and touched it, I immediately bought seven yards.  The guy tried to get me to buy the whole roll, which now, in retrospect, I wish I’d taken him up on. This fabric was so high quality, that I knew immediately that he should have been selling this to me at a much higher price point, but I’m never one to talk my way out of a good deal. It washed up super easy, was easy to iron and work with that I wish I’d had a ton more.  Like with most of my makes, as soon as I see the fabric, the look starts forming on its own.

STYLE – I styled this outfit with my favorite pair of classic gold hoop earrings, and a chunky statement necklace that I’ve had for forever from Banana Republic.  These shoes are the newest addition to my closet this season. They are absolutely beautiful, comfortable and incredibly cute.  Needless to say I own more than a couple of pairs of Sam Edelman shoes for this same reason. I bought these Sam Edelman Mary Jane pumps at full price (which I never do with hardly anything!) because I loved them so much when I saw them.   

Breaking with Precedence: A girl & A skirt

I’ve been going through a sort of sewing renaissance.  I’ve been on a sewjo high sewing spree.  Every free moment I get these days I’m sewing. I’ve temporarily broken with my pant sewing binge to sew something I hardly ever wear: skirts.  That’s funny to even think about, because since I was a little girl I have absolutely hated wearing skirts.  It’s is my least favorite article of clothing to wear, yet somehow I’ve found myself wearing a ton of skirts this season.  I’ve been pairing them with panty hoses, leggings, boots and heels.  I guess I’ve been feeling quite girly these days.  Not sure how long this sewing renaissance will last since I’m coming up on my busy season work wise, but for now I’ll continue to sew away to my heart’s content. 

PROJECT DETAILS:

Classic Staple: Turtleneck: Itch-To-Stitch HepburnTurtleneck.  There are at least a gazillion turtleneck sewing patterns floating out there, and honestly I feel like you can choose almost any one of them and not go wrong.  I however chose a highly regarded and tried and true pattern from Itch-to-Stitch based on the reviews.  I was not disappointed.  I loved that it fit almost to the exact specifications on the fit measurements.  I literally was able to sew this pattern from start to finish in about an hour.  I sewed this pattern without looking at the instructions it’s that easy to sew. Turtlenecks has to be one of my favorite fall/winter wears as I always tend to run a little cold.  This one was flattering and I can definitely see myself making a couple more before the cold is done in Southern California.

FABRIC – I used this double sided patterned sweater knit jersey that I bought at the old Michael Levine (new Michael Levine has different owners) in downtown Los Angeles in the fashion district. This has been in my stash since forever and was during one of my fabric hording binges.  I never could part with it, even though I have since purged my fabric storage at least four times since.

Front Button Down Skirt – Style Arc Sutton Woven Skirt.  I bought this pattern on a flux.  As I mentioned earlier I don’t like skirts, but something about this pattern just caught my eye.  I think it’s the fact that you can make a fabric belt to match, or it’s a skirt that is long enough and hits me right where I like to wear skirts.  I’m uber fussy about length, fabric and movability when I do wear skirts.  I’m glad I took a chance on this pattern as it was delightfully easy to sew as well.  In this case the fabric inspired the selection of this pattern.  It also doesn’t hurt that I’m a big fan of Style Arc patterns.  They tend to be a bit light or lacking on the instructions.  I probably would not recommend their patterns to new and beginning sewers, as I feel like their patterns while excellently designed, does not sew up fast if you don’t already have a strong grasp on sewing construction as well as understand order of construction.  I also love that their patterns for some amazing reason (the sewing gods rejoice!) fit me perfectly in the waist-to-hip ratio.  It’s like their pattern slopers was based off someone that had my measurements.

FABRIC – While I was in Joann’s not too long ago to pick up some notions, as I literally hardly ever buy fabric from them currently, I saw this double sided faux suede fabric in their clearance section.  Most of my Joann’s fabric has been in my stash pre-COVID era shopping.  So I was pleasantly delighted to see this beauty.  What sealed the deal was that I could not stop touching this fabric. They only had two and half yards left, so I knew whatever I made was going to have to fall into that limitation.  Hence a good skirt.

STYLE – I wore a pair of my favorite boots that I only get to bust out this time of year.  The rest of the year these Nine West cognac knee high leather boots reside in the recesses of my back closet hidden behind a business suit and a ball gown (go figure!).  I bought them at least a good 10 years ago, and while they could use a good repair on the inside, they are still fantastic.

Return from Hiatus & Another Birthday

I’m back! And finally with something fully to show, ha.  It took my birthday (09/21) for me to finally rouse myself to posting on Instagram. I’d been lurking around for this last year, watching all the amazing makes, and actually sewing myself, but honestly it’s been a struggle.  I’ve spent this time since my last post seriously struggling with patterns, fit and design issues and I didn’t get my break through here recently until I made the executive decision to start making muslins (toiles).  Making muslins eats up extra sewing time, which these days is precious and few, but I’ve found this last year that I simply cannot get around this step.  It’s actually lead to me wanting to have some serious sit down talks to the major pattern makers in general about the pattern testing process (Do they actually pattern test these garments on real people?).  Mostly I’ve found myself having to put my own pattern making skill set to work.  I’ve also done far more pattern grading and pattern drafting than I’d cared to do, but all of this goes with tailoring and sewing, so while it can be time consuming, I have to admit it’s been an interesting and fun process.

PROJECT DETAILS:

Classic Button-up Top: Simplicity 1538.  This is considered a tried and true Simplicity pattern staple.  I’d had this pattern in my pattern stash for a while, but had never gotten around to using in until now, and now I’m a big fan.  I made the rookie mistake of not double checking the width of my buttons before I sewed the button holes and realized when I’d started photo shooting that I couldn’t button my shirt.  All I could do was laugh.  I will be switching the buttons out for smaller ones, just as soon as they arrive in the mail.  I plan on making many more versions of this pattern in different colors.  My next one, I will add a sleeve placket for a true traditional button-up.  Also if you need a great sew-along for this pattern, Mimi G has included one in the women’s Sew It! Academy.

FABRIC – For the top I used this Telio Tencel Pique Woven in Wine from Fabric.com. This has been in my stash since March of this year.  I saw the color and the fact that it was 100% Tencel and flipped head over heels in love with it.  Once it showed up in the mail I fell even more in love and knew it would make a beautiful button-up.  It comes in other colors, which I have also purchased.  The only down side is it can be a little delicate.  You have to be careful with this fabric, as you can over work it pretty fast in terms of ironing or sewing.  I had a few spots where I got a couple of runs.

High-Waist Trousers – Vintage (OOP) Style 2398.  I stumbled across this pattern incidentally on Etsy during one of my many vintage sewing pattern shop-a-thons.  I think it came up in my suggested items that Etsy put on your home page when you login.  I am so glad I bought it.  I made two muslins of this very easy pattern, just because I wanted to get the fit perfect, as I had a feeling at the first muslin that this was going to turn into a tried and true sewing pattern.  I liked it so much that I started collecting other vintage Style patterns and I hope those too turn out to be great tried and true patterns. I even hand sewed the hem, as I want these pants to be able to do double duty with work and casual. Buiness and more formal trousers typically have a blind hem stitch, so these pant got the loving hand sewn technique.

FABRIC – I bought this Latte colored 100% Tencel twill fabric ages ago from Joann’s Fabric, during one of my many “For the love of Tencel” runs, and it’s been there for a while, waiting for the right pattern.

STYLE – Almost zero styling here, since I was just trying to get some quick photos.  I had on a pair of Steve Madden burgundy colored sandal heels, which are scheduled to go to donations since I never wear them out anywhere.

Stopping to Smell the Roses

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Whew!  What a hell of a few months of this New Year we’ve been having right?  While everyone has been shut in due to the corona virus,  I’ve been still having to go into an office and work.  I can’t lie, as an empath what’s going on in the world has been wiping me out energetically and my sew creativity has been super low.  I’ve been having to do a lot of self-care to keep my nervous system from bottoming out and I’ve been taking plenty of time to rest.  I’ve finally just got back into the mood to sew, and so I knew I definitely wanted to make a pair of pants.

PROJECT DETAILS:

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PANTS – Mimi G Style Simplicity 9114 . I knew as soon as this pattern dropped that I was going to be making these.  I love Mimi G patterns and the fit is always spot on, taking into account women curves.  These pants are no different.  They are a high waisted pants with a super comfortable fit.  I have plans to make many more in all types of fabrics and colors and have actually already cut out the fabric for the next three pair I’m going to make.  My only recommended modification would be the length of the pants.  I’m 5’7 and they still were a tad longer than where I wanted them to hit so I increased the hem width to still give me that cropped pants look.

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SWEATER – McCall 8070, View A #AidenMcCalls

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FABRIC –  For the pants I choose this beautiful Mood Exclusive Ethereal Verdure stretch cotton sateen Item #MD0459 from their new Serengeti Collection.  It’s a dream to sew with and has great recovery.  The sweater fabric is PFD (prepared for dying) French Terry that was gifted to me by a fashion company I used to work for.  I used Rit Dye to dye it to this hunter/dark green.

STYLE – Shoes from Ked’s ; Sunglasses – Prescription glasses from Zenni.

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New Year Kickoff

 

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I hope everyone’s New Year is off to a resounding start!  I don’t necessarily feel like I have a “this is what I made in 2019” recap as much as I have, this is what I learned.

HAND SEWING – My biggest shocking sew moment of 2019 was discovering that I actually enjoy hand sewing! From when I first started learning how to sew right up until 2018, I just did not like hand sewing.  I avoided it like the plague.  Something about the tediousness of it just drove me up the wall.  It was like nails on a chalkboard for me.  In 2019 however, I began to explore more couture techniques and tailoring and with that came more hand sewing.  Once I began trouser/dress pants making and sewing blind hems, something magical came over me.  I realized my patience over the years has drastically increased.  Chalk that up to living and maturing through some of the hardest times and things I’ve ever gone through in life, and boom: Suddenly hand sewing seems like a breeze!

FLY FRONTS – I’m going to toot my own horn here, but I’m a sewing boss when it comes to fly fronts now.  I can literally now do fly fronts in my sleep. I mean the good old school tailoring fly fronts with the fly front shield and everything.  I made a point in 2019 of reading every single sewing book, article, YouTube, how-to, you name it, on fly fronts and learned multiple techniques.  I’ve found when I want to be good at something I literally study until I become an expert on it.  2019 was the year of me mastering my old sewing fears of tailored fly fronts.

 SLOW SEWING – At the tail end of 2019 I finally let myself off the hook for slow sewing.  It was ironically forcing myself the months of November and December to sew rapidly several pieces, many of which I didn’t love, for me to realize sewing for content to post wasn’t going to work for me.  One of the reasons I started sewing in the first place was because of how much I love what I create.  I love the feel of putting my hands to work at something beautiful that I get to personally make and wear.  When you find yourself looking at clothes that you know you’re never ever going to wear, something is wrong.

So What’s ahead for 2020?

Like many this year I’ve given up resolution making and have focused instead on intentions and setting sewing plans that resonate deeply with me.

HAVE FUN – My goal this year is to expand the reasons why I love sewing and fashion designing.  It brings me so much peace and joy and I just have so much fun when I’m creating.  This is why I chose to start my new sewing year off with the Sew Unconventional Challenge.  I bought 6,000 plastic spoons from an online janitorial supply store and coupled with my Pinterest board have one fun project in store which will be fully revealed by the end of January.   This year will include me making more pieces that simply make me smile or reveal another side of me.

NO NEW FABRIC – I’ve had to face some real truths this past 2019 about my fabric hording.  I’m honestly past my or anyone else’s level of acceptable fabric stash.  In an effort to decrease my fabric stash I’ve created a new hash tag #shopthefabricstash and will use this each time I create a make that uses fabric that I currently already own.  I also plan to sell and give way a lot of fabric this year.

MAKES I LOVE – To kick off the new year I went through my pile of WIP (work in progress) makes and purged all but two makes that I’ve had still uncompleted.  Next I went through and purged any makes I had completed that I honestly know that I’m not going to wear.  Then to top that off, I went through my ready to wear clothes that I’d purchased from stores in the past but had set aside for alterations and purged that too.  Lastly, I will purge my current closet and donate half of that if possible.  2020 is going to be the year of only makes that I love.  If I find myself working on something that I realize I’m not going to love and actually wear I’m giving myself permission to stop.  I used to feel obligated to complete something for the sake of saying I’d finished it, but that’s not why I sew.  I want my new wardrobe to be full of things that I not only loved creating but will love wearing too.

TAILORING – This new year I will be focusing more on tailoring and the details of my makes.  I want all my makes this year to have a classic hand and polished look.  Aesthetically I love clean lines, classically tailor pieces as well as items that are designed well.  My goal is to produce pieces that I know will hold up through the years and truly become staples in my closet.

SLOW SEWING – I’m also giving myself permission this year to sew as slow or as fast as I need to, to get the fit, look or feel of my pieces right.  I want to make sure I’m going at a pace that suites me and whatever I’m working on rather than creating items just for Instagram content.

TACKLING FEARS – This new year will include me tackling projects that push me out of my sewing comfort zone.  This will include spending more time on plaid matching, welt pockets, blazers and coats.  I’ve had a tendency in the past to skip right over techniques or projects that will require me to push my advanced sewing skill set, instead opting for safe pieces that I can do with ease.  Now I want to jump right into those, because by the end of the year I want to be have honed and refined my advance sewing techniques.

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The Great Trouser Hunt


I’ve been on The Great Trouser Hunt.  In the last couple of months, I’ve been sewing like crazy and have actually made quite a few different items. The vast majority I found rather unflattering on me once made, but alas, such is the plight of a sewer.  One of those many makes have been pants/trousers.  I’ve been searching rather dutifully for the last year or so for my version of the perfect pants pattern.  I think I finally found them!  I’d been making item after item and was feeling rather defeated and disappointed with my makes which were primarily from the Big Four patterns (McCall, Vogue, Simplicity, Butterick).  I know that pattern alterations are often called for, and it’s one of the many benefits of sewing your own clothes, but I simply have been at my wits end when even the simplest of patterns have been requiring a great deal of alterations.  In my quest, I decided to look more at the indie pattern makers, as I’ve found that the fit of their patterns tend to be more refined, as they do way more pattern testing and take into account things like curves and the fact that not everyone is the same cookie cutter size and shape.

PROJECT DETAILS:

TROUSERS – Modified Sammi Woven Pants from Style Arc – I love pockets, and unfortunately the pattern did not come with pockets.  I modified the front pattern piece for side front pockets and created two additional pattern pieces.  One for the pocket facing and the second pocket lining.  It was a simple and quick modification that took a matter of minutes.  In all this is a fairly quick and easy sew and is designed for an intermediate sewer.  My only issue I ran into was based on the finished measurements, the size I cut was actually still too big.  I had to alter my pants a full size down.  My next pair of these will be in a full size smaller.  The great benefit to this is that Style Arc also provides you with the size above and below the size you purchase too, so you wind up with three sizes to either modify up or down depending on how things are fitting.

FIT – The fit of this pattern is the real winner.  These were created in the classic traditional work trouser silhouette, which elongates your legs and provides an instant slimming look.  The waist band is curved so that the back waist gap is almost non-existent and back pattern piece includes darts.

FABRIC – This delicious pebble double crepe woven fabric has been in my stash for quite some time and came from Michael Levine.  It’s a nice heavier medium weight crepe, with such a beautiful drape.  I only had 2 and 1/4th yards of it, but thankfully it was 60” wide and with a little pattern tetris, I was able to eek out these pants with just a smidgeon of fabric leftover. The buttons came from Mood Fabrics.

STYLE: Heels from Nine West, Top from ASOS, Earrings from Ankara & Lace.