corecouture

Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


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Holiday Legacy 2 – Suit V1467

Take someone else’s pattern and someone else’s fabric and you can sew a suit, not just an ordinary skirt and jacket suit but a designer version and what’s better than a “designer” suit? Vogue 1467. And even better than that is they all once belonged to my friend, ReAnn. 

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I’m not entirely sure of the benefits of writing about OOP patterns: I suppose if you really like it you could search the Interweb for a copy. However, I have a few insights and thoughts about this suit, hardly unsurprising. I suppose this pattern would fall into the category of an evening or special occasion suit with the long skirt with thigh high split.

Nowadays we tend to think of hi-lo hems as being trendy, modern and current – yeah- think again, this one comes from Lauren Sara (1994) and has a hi-lo hem that knocks the modern renditions out of the water. The front of the jacket and blouse sit just shy of the waist while the back falls all the way to top thighs. I am reminded a little of gentlemen’s tailcoats.

Some gorgeous chocolate brown stretch gabardine and a co-ordinating silk chiffon were kindly provided by my bestest ever sewing mate ReAnn which produced a composite of skirt, jacket and blouse.

The jacket is unlined, so every seam had to be finished neatly. I completed some version or other of Hong Kong seams using satin bias binding but used some leftover silk as the hem finish. I quite like the contrast of the plain and sober outside with the bright and patterned hem. And it does bear a passing resemblance to the silk chiffon blouse.

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And I did the same treatment on the skirt hem because after all, this is a suit and the bits should match each other… I made a little off-centre split and made use of the selvedge edges.

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ReAnn didn’t buy enough of the gabardine for me to make the trousers nor the skirt true to the pattern, so I modified the design to what I had. The skirt became knee length instead of floor and was patched along the hemline to make it mid length eventually.  The most obvious ‘design’ feature of this designer pattern is that the stupid sewer used the wrong side of the gabardine for the main body of the skirt and then reversed the fabric to use the right side for the hemline patch!

To summarise, the jacket and skirt hem are from one side of the fabric and the skirt is the other. Damn fabrics that look the same on both sides until you sew them together….

However, there’s no crying in sewing (Coco) so I have a day suit not an evening one and my lifestyle definitely favours the day. If anyone wants to invite me to a black tie event then I shall make an evening version.

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The jacket has wide flared sleeves which feel decadent and luxurious. I am having a bit of trouble inserting decent sleeves at the moment in my sewing repertoire. Either too confident or lost the knack, I don’t know but I’ll have to go back to basics for the next time. The gabardine had a bit of stretch so in this case, I’m blaming the materials and not the skills LOL.

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The skirt is high waisted but not so high as to be a corset, the blouse should cut just along the top. I’d like to wear the blouse with other things so I lengthened it quite considerably at the front and when worn untucked, I like the break it provides in the head to knee solid brown.DSCN7806

Can’t waste silk chiffon. A scarf was made from the left overs.

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I found the blouse to be very loose (big) and because it’s chiffon, I will always have to wear a cami underneath. But you can see clearly the dramatic hemline. The blouse should mirror the jacket, sleeves and hem. The blouse neckline is a simple scoop while the jacket has a smart mandarin collar.

You can clearly see the change in tone of the skirt’s fabric in the following photos. Remember that ‘design feature’?

A new term has started with all the fresh faced students all eager and keen. My job is trying to keep that enthusiasm going until next June. I’m taking advantage of some lovely sunshine to take these pics, although the temperature does not match it. This suit is finished just in time for autumnal weather and intimidation in the classroom.

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Thank you one and all who provided ideas on what to sew with the Linton tweeds in my previous post. You’ve given me a lot to think about and research – you’re the best!

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In fact, you gave me so much to think about that I just had to go back to Linton and buy another colour way, just in case I had too many ideas and not enough fabric. That makes a pink, a green and now a blue, all with coordinating herringbones.

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……So lots to plan and think about and cut and sew and hopefully, eventually, wear.

 


23 Comments

Holiday Legacy 1 – Step-In Skirt

For people who sew, no trip away from home is a complete success unless you manage to bring home fabric! Agreed? This is our version of the holiday souvenir.

In Scotland, I visited the Harris Tweed shop but they had so much choice that I couldn’t decide on the day. Added to which £40 for half width/ £80 for double width per metre means a simple straight skirt would cost in the region of £100 including lining and zip etc. TweedsIt was also quite difficult to choose a winter weight tweed in temperatures of 24 with clear blue skies and practically 20 hours of sunshine. A skirt well made in Harris tweed would last at least 30 years and I don’t know if I have 30 years left…..

In Mexico, fabric shops were sadly obscure and the pickings meagre. Thankfully, I was staying with a sewing friend who had boxes and boxes full of stash and I went gleaning. There were also patterns galore with which to pair the fabrics.

I came home with a Japanese print cotton (subject of this post), autumnal coloured silk chiffon and dark brown gabardine. I had selected others but weight restrictions and space in my luggage prevented me from bringing any more home. More about the other fabrics as I sew through them……..

Patterns included:Vogue 2625 – Michael Kors dresses (2002), Vogue 1467 – Lauren Sara suit (1994) and Vogue 8499 – Marcy Tilton skirt and trousers (2008).

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I bought a “designer” linen skirt in Mexico, which is not really a skirt. I don’t know if this item of clothing even has a name, so I’m calling it a step-in-skirt. The linen isn’t the finest nor the best, even for the price I paid but it creases beautifully and looks like linen.

As soon as I came home, I copied it or at least made a similar version – let’s call mine a cousin.

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To cut a long construction story short – make a skirt and sew in between the legs at the hem. Here’s a crappy sketch No 1:

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The RTW one has has a wrap front and tie.

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But I didn’t have enough fabric for a wrap so my version is just sort of a skirt shape with side pockets as pleats at each side and the waistband split and attached one to the front and one to the back.

With only about 1m of fabric to play with I laid the RTW skirt flat on top of the Japanese print and drew around it with some chalk – yeah I know, the technicality and precision is astounding you! Cut out two pieces exactly the same. Here’s another crappy sketch No 2:

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NB: slice through the fold – it is not necessary to the pattern. I cut my fabric in two first because there is a directional design, so just treated it like a nap.  The only critical measurement is the top (waist) of the skirt; it must be your waist measurement + ease + seam allowance: err on the side of way too big. The waistband must be longer than the waist measurement by at least 2″ .

Practically a no-waste pattern, the two pockets and waistband can fit around the pattern of the main skirt pieces on what would otherwise be left-over or dumped.

Flip the pocket pieces and sew to the front and back skirt pieces with the narrowest part close to the waist. Stitch the pocket bags together and sew up the side seams. these will form not only pockets but pleats.

Attach one waistband piece to the front (both front and back are exactly the same) and attach the other to the back. Check for fit and mark buttonholes. I made two button holes on either side of the front section and sewed buttons on the back section which makes a very suitable in and out system. It’s absolutely fine if there’s a bit of overlap – you’re just adding to the design feature pleated sides.

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Mark how wide you want the leg holes to be at the sides, obviously, they need to big enough so that you can get your legs through: leave this open and sew the hem in between together like a normal seam and finish the hem edges around the legs bits. See crappy sketch No 1 above.

DSCN7774There are however, a few experienced disadvantages:

  1. It’s difficult to cross your legs as this not a pair of trousers nor a skirt.
  2. Bodily functions require perfect timing and clean floors – the whole thing has to drop down like a jumpsuit, or whatever the modern day name for they are.
  3. Climbing up step ladders could be problematic so don’t wear this while doing DIY.

Otherwise, it’s easy to sew, uses the most of limited fabric, relaxed, wee bit weird and the Step-in-Skirt is truly comfortable to wear.

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I also added a little fabric stay inside to hold the pockets together, pulls them towards the front and adds to the pleated sides (see, there was a wee bit of posh sewing knowledge used).

The Step-in-Skirt could also be classified as a pair of trousers with the lowest crotch seam ever!

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Thanks to you all for your ever encouraging and supportive comments and messages.

And a very warm welcome to all new readers and sewers.

 


66 Comments

Second Home (Mexico)

Get a cup of tea…..

There are many things I’ve never done in my life so far – I  have never travelled beyond the equator; been to the continents of Africa, Australia, Eurasia; nor even across the Atlantic Ocean. This summer I managed to accomplish one of those nevers: at the ripe old age of middle I managed to cross the Atlantic and for the very first time in my life set foot on USA soil, albeit for a few hours stop over in Atlanta airport on my way to Leon, Mexico.

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Leaving Mexico

I haven’t been beyond UK borders for years. For 10 years or so as a family we took many holidays all over mainland Europe but generally speaking that’s just like being at home except for a different language and warmer weather; travelling to Mexico is culturally unique. I feel a trifle guilty showing you my suitcase because I did not sew everything I packed.

There are occasions in our lives when you have to make decisions and sometimes buying holiday-one-off clothes makes a lot more sense. My suitcase compromised a mix of RTW and sewn. I cannot foresee some of my Mexican wardrobe ever being worn in the very near future – I mean temperatures of 26 degrees and above are relatively unknown in my part of the world – and so I truly wasn’t prepared to spend money, time and effort on sewing things when I could buy them in the summer sales. This one of the reasons that I never signed up for 100% 12 months of sewing my own wardrobe. You never know what life will throw at you, offer you or knock you sideways.

In May this year I was diagnosed with yet another malignant melanoma – good grief, it’s my third! If not identified and cut out, this is a 80% death sentence. Wear the sunscreen people!! A temporary, damaging sun tan is not worth it. Take it from a bottle if it’s that important to you. My gratitude to our British National Health Service cannot be expressed enough. Obviously……

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Proudly displaying my newest “I’m still alive” scar

So when I received an invitation from ReAnn to visit Mexico my first thoughts concerned my life, health, skin, potential sunburn and subsequently the consequences. I have typical Irish, Northern European skin – pale, freckly and my delicious blood is a gourmet meal for every flying insect

 

Decisions to travel were – Yes, then No it’s too risky – life’s short and all that sun is dangerous:  then YES! Life is really and truly too short so take all and every opportunity whenever they present themselves.

Thankfully when the husband was asked if he wanted to come too he gave the right answer – No!

So off I went solo.

 

Packing philosophy

Choose a base/primary colour and add co-ordinating colours to ring the changes.

Slide1My base colour was royal blue, it is surprising how many colours coordinate with this principal colour and the co-ordinating ones were neutrals of white and natural linen. I had a little bit of space left in the case so in went one black and a couple of patterned items.  Mostly my clothes were solid colours but I did add these few patterns for variation.

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I bought two items while I was there – an expensive designer linen step-in skirt (a perfect opportunity for another blog post) and some khaki shorts from the tenguies (market) simply because I didn’t own a pair of shorts.

DSCN7751Merchant and Mills Bantam vest in lime green rib

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I packed two pair of shoes – flip flops for pool and early mornings, one pair of blue flat sandals and I wore the leather lace-up shoes for travelling because I don’t like moving through heavily populated areas such as airports and underground stations with my toes exposed in case of back-stomping and trampling.

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You will excuse me, I’m sure, that I do not model the entire suitcase. Everything that I packed was worn and most pieces at least twice, although I had the advantage of having a washing machine. Some items of clothing are very old and have been blogged before and it was ultimately very beneficial and gratifying that I had already spent the time making them, just waiting for their day in the sun. The olds include:

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Donna Karan wrap dress

See the lotion on my pale Irish legs? (Emm delicious). This photo was taken last year after the Donegal midges attacked. The DK dress was worn at dinner one night and turned out to be a ‘signature’ look – see below….. I had a posh meal out at the Insitutio while a world renowned classical guitarist played and who happened to know I was from Ireland and played a little ditty with Latin influences. God bless him.

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Self drafted T-shirt dress with beading

This self-drafted, beaded neckline dress was  worn for dancing the night away to what else but ‘the blues’. I went dancing with Jan to a Blues night uniquely sung in Spanish with the most adorable lead guitarist. I even got asked to dance.

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Sateen patterned cotton trousers, so old now that I cannot rightly remember when these were made. The new additions were a hybrid Alabama Chanin/ CfPD Bias top in white cotton jersey.

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Location is someone’s exquisite bathroom….

DSCN7752The white cotton CfPD Spiral Top with a little waist tie detail and needs an ironing…..

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My version of Monsoon blue and white striped cotton trousers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A homemade copy of Oska summer linen dress, made in a fine checked natural linen and the base pattern was StyleArc’s Toni.

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Another modification of the Toni was the black muslin over-dress.

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I bought a few plain white T-shirts, a swimsuit, a cover-up. I didn’t pack enough loose tops even though I’d made them, such was the temperature. Lesson learned.

At least now I have stuff that will travel the world with me wherever I go in the future- I have a wardrobe for all seasons and all temperatures.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0694So anyway, poor ReAnn felt a little under the weather one day and I set off to visit Canada de la Virgen (ancient pyramids) all on my own.

On the bus to the archaeological site this couple asked me if I had had dinner at a place the night before and that they remembered me because of my lovely blue dress (the DK). They then ‘looked after’ me for the rest of the day.

See – sewing has many unknown and undocumented advantages!

 

 

 

 

Then one other day as I was sitting by a fountain and waiting for ReAnne who was having her hair cut some American ladies walked by and commented that I should have a photograph taken. I gave them my phone and this is it. We met them again later that day.

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On another day ReAnn and I had a fabulous day tour around Guanajuato.

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I wore my black muslin over-dress with white cotton shift and white linen trousers and she wore a plain black dress too, both of us in total contrast to the colourful houses – we must have looked like two devotees of some religious sect together. Apparently Guanajuato was the backdrop for some Disney animation film recently but my days of watching such genre has become temporarily dormant.

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One evening we went to a really bad fashion show which I would not have missed for all the tea in China or all the Tequila in Mexico – it was so bad it was good!

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On Tuesday morning I shopped at the local market and had the best meal of the entire visit – a whole fried fish, crispy on the outside and creamy white on the inside. We were the only gringos at the long table. Perfect.

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I had tequila. Salt and limes included.

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I helped ReAnn fit and finish her Vogue 1442 dress.

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I advised and assisted Kathy with fitting and understanding the instructions for her very complicated Vogue 1424

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For which she very kindly gifted me the best present ever – a cactus pincushion.

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And within an hour of unpacking, my cactus had fruit, just like the real thing.

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I regularly sent home pictures of Car of The Day from San Miguel.

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There was art, churches, markets, eating, walking, talking, cooking class (thanks to ReAnn for the following photos), characters, sunshine, scenery, mountains,

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When I had 30 mosquito bites, I stopped counting!

I didn’t have altitude sickness (6000ft), I didn’t suffer jet-lag, I didn’t get sunburn, so a few irritating insect bites were a small price to pay.

Believe me, I saturated myself with insect repellent, Avon’s Skin So Soft – you name it, I lathered it on and the wee sh*tes still found the areas that I hadn’t covered – between toes, fingertips, thumb.

Other wildlife included Silence of the Lambs sized butterflies (moths) in the bedroom.

IMG_0760Amazing hummingbirds….honestly, can you ever imagine an Attenborough thingy visiting your garden???

 

 

 

 

I had an absolutely brilliant time in Mexico – a unique lifetime experience for which I wholly and truly have to thank ReAnn and will probably never have ample opportunity to repay ….and of course, sewing which was our initial reason for contact.

I have henceforth decided on a new acronym: AFS = away from sewing machine! What was the first thing I did on my return home??? You guessed it.

Suitcase still packed and I hit the sewing room………there was no time to suffer jet-lag.

Take life’s opportunities NOW.

Do not wait until next year, next week, next month, tomorrow……..and if ever anyone says to you that sewing is a solitary, isolated activity – here’s absolute proof that it is not and if anyone ever offers you anything – take it!

 


52 Comments

Zippy

Here’s how another One Thing can lead to another, which can lead to many more…..I just love the trail of thoughts and ideas and discovering where they all end up. Starting points……

Mags sent me to Croftmill for grey ponte at £7.00 p/m: Elaine sent me to Kaliyana for asymmetrical zip jacket and the Anti-Suit: one of the lovely ladies from our Sewing Away Day donated a fine grey spotted cotton jersey: Julie wore a jacket on the same day that had droopy back pockets and was so casually impressive and understated that I want one: Anne showed the most beautiful Chanel suit this week: many, many other blog active sewers have been showing and telling their cropped/wide leg/trousers/culottes. I put in the hours of planning, cutting and sewing.  Armed with a bag of assorted open ended plastic zips, some almost-matching thread, some patterns and a bit of flexible time – this is the result from my too short half-term break.

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Many patterns were gathered, edited and then finally selected to the finalists – Vogue 8641 five easy pieces, Vogue 1550 Paco Peralta, Vogue 8559 Marcy Tilton, self-drafted Three Bears T.

I’ll start with the jacket as it is a wee bit impressive, even if I have say so myself because there’s no one else writing this. We’ll call it an idea in progress.

Start with Marcy Tilton’s 8559 (OOP) cardigan-wrap top; no side seams and cut on the fold, no back seam either. A waterfall front, centre back seamed collar and shoulder seams. Clever pattern placement can easily incorporate selvedge edges too, although using the dark grey ponte fraying isn’t an issue and raw edges are abundantly on view. I added a whopping 9″ to the length, then got to work on adding zips!

Three zips on either side. Hopefully they form some sort of design feature on their own but they are also functional – an infinity jacket? I had to press gang Doris into modelling today because, quite honestly I couldn’t have been bothered. Hopefully you’ll understand why in a just a moment.

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Left open and unzipped, the zips provide a bit of weight to help the fabric drape (ha – I like to believe this is similar to Chanel’s chain on the bottom of a jacket – dream on….).

Zip 1 – short centre fronts. Zip 2 – bottom right edge matching with a right hand side princess seam location. Zip 3 – 45 degrees on right hand side and shoulder width on left.

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All the zips zip into one another; that is, zip 1 will zip into zip 2; zip 2 will zip into zip 3 and so on. This multitude of zips allows for a multitude of closure options; exaggeration of the draped front and hemline, cowl necklines, loose or square body shape.

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Zip 3 zipping into zip 3 pulls and is quite difficult to do up so I might have to rethink the position of these ones. However, I can close zip 1 with zip 2 or zip 3 for yet more variations.

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If zips do not provide enough variations for your taste, then add a sewn brooch to merely clip various points of the jacket closed to suit your mood and the weather conditions.

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But wait, that’s not all. Being very impressed with Julie’s jacket, I added a deep strip of leftover fabric to the back and sides of the jacket matching the raw edges to provide those covetous voluminous back pockets and I also managed to get two at the fronts too. They will be very handy to hold emergency rations such as Kendall Cake and Mars Bars.

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And because this ‘pocket’ band is on a different grain there is a gentle shading that I always find attractive in unique clothes. Other waste selvedge cut offs were added to the sleeves as mock cuffs, adding weight and extra finishing.

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I did experience the dreaded jersey wobble – which could be an acronym from suburban New York for cellulite but I mean the stitching of a zip to stretch fabric. Is there a remedy? I know I could have added interfacing but this is an unlined jacket and visual evidence of reinforcing would be unacceptable. All suggestions welcome for both problems……….DSCN7564

The tunic top was quickly made from the donated cotton jersey in Vogue 1550. There’s nothing fancy or notable about this, apart from the fact that IT IS Paco Peralta. I didn’t add the signature inserts but did manage to do admirable mitred corners on the side drape points.

The pale grey ponte was put into use as a pull on pair of trousers from Vogue 8641 (OOP). Again, not too much to declare about these apart from adding two, shaped patched pockets on the front and cropped, more because of fabric restrictions than trends.

Finally, I just had to make use of the leftovers and cutoffs and managed to sew a Three Bears T (see link above) that became more of a sweatshirt. It has two layers below the bust seam that allows for minor variations of styling. There’s a few raw edge seams to follow the theme, such as cuffs, hems and bust line.

I don’t like the matchy-matchy trousers and top – too much like PJs. It looks much better with a dark grey bottom and believe me, I have many dark grey trousers to wear with this.

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So, there you have it – four pieces that became an outfit and what’s better, they can all be worn with existing wardrobe items that hopefully coincide with Oska and Kaliyana aesthetics.

This has got me thinking of joining SWAP this year although I am late to the party. My primary colours being grey and adding highlights of whatever colour I like because grey is such a neutral. Is there a colour that does not wear well with grey?

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This style of dressing is definitely not form fitting, no pencil skirts or slim-line trousers here but so comfortable, transitional and, dare I say it, unique?

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I mean, how many of your jackets have back pockets?

Now, in which pocket did I put that Mars Bar?


30 Comments

A/W O3

Just bear with me here for a wee minute……….look at these images…….nice?

Used as inspiration for colour matching, co-ordination options, pairings, etc. the Oska website displays images (mostly from nature but not always) that perfectly capture the tones, tints, looks and outfit options for each season. Below – some of the Oska inspiration images.

Normally I would never even consider wearing yellow and green together, although it does occur in nature quite liberally – mind you, it might be better in nature than on me, you can be the judge!

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This is the outfit for A/W O collection, number 3.

While I waxed lyrical about a good hairstyle on my last post, I am only going to the hairdresser tomorrow and it is well overdue. Look beyond please. Additionally, it is half-term here – hooray! These photos were taken at a very empty college by a very obliging colleague. Yeah, us poor lecturers have to work at some time over the holidays.

Patterns and Fabrics

Jacket: Vogue 8430 Marcy Tilton. Made ages ago for SWAP “14 but hardly ever worn so I modified the rather loose neckline on the original to form a collar and provide a little bit of structure.

slide1Fabric is a yellow boiled wool and if I remember rightly was bought in real life from Craftswoman, Carrickfergus. I felted the red/burgundy lines.

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Trousers: Vogue 1550 Paco Peralta.

V1550If you didn’t buy this first time around – get it now! These trousers are brilliant. You will also get the tunic too, so it’s a bargain pattern. Wide-legged in two lengths but you can always change length to suit, with the simplest of constructions; facing instead of waistband, a centre back invisible zip. I did add two in-seam side pockets and changed the front darts to pleats. Firstly, I cut the long length but then cut off the difference for the cropped version and used the cut-offs to make turn-ups. I think cropped trousers always look more finished with a turn-up – like this is the length they are supposed to be and just not ‘too short’.

Fabric: Wool tweed from Fabworks in a lemonish/brownish sort of colour. Possibly too heavy and robust for this pattern as I’m getting knees and bum after wearing for a day – or maybe they should be lined!

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Under top: Hemlock (yes, again!)

Fabric: Green jersey from EmmaOneSock. Delight to sew and is a soy/organic cotton/spandex 4-way stretch lightweight jersey. This is my first time purchasing from EOS and believe me, it will definitely not be the last. The personal touch is part and parcel of your order, immediate dispatch, fabulous choice of fabrics and generally an all round very pleasant shopping experience for even those of you who live beyond the north American border. I bought way more fabric than this green jersey of course just to justify the shipping costs, so stay tuned……

Over top: Vogue 1526 Paco Peralta. Really, really modified:

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I used the jacket pattern mainly for the over sleeves but made this top double layered with all edges and seams enclosed; closed up the centre opening and added cross grain panels for interest and included a very wide neck band that becomes a cowl. Very similar to the blue over-top. Some seams were kept as raw edges. This was inspired by this Oska top

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Fabric: From Minerva. A ribbed knit in dark forest green but is a very loose weave and slightly transparent, which explains the double layer.

 

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Behind me taped on the cupboard doors are my weekly timetables and more importantly – my days off! No wonder I’m smiling!

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I just can’t leave those leftovers alone…..I got a drapey scarf with all raw edges to match the Hemlock.

I’m like one of those flower images except I’m upside down –

Regardless of the colours, I do feel really comfortable in the shapes and style of this outfit. Worn today with Clark’s lace-up tan ankle boots and bad hair (access badge is optional).

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Hallowe’en is getting out of hand in my opinion. Just saying…….