threadpaperpaint

Things made by me. Paintings, clothes and everything in between.


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I accidentally made a bra

At the beginning of the month I was contemplating making a jacket for spring as it was getting warmer or finally tackling those jeans I’ve been meaning to make for ages. But then it got cold again and I got a cold and just wasn’t feeling like tackling a big project.

A few months back I needed a couple of new bras because the old ones were worn out. I went to my local bra-dealer just to find out that the bras I used to buy had been discontinued. I tried on several different bras and settled on two pairs that fit well enough in the shop. I have since discovered that both of them do not fit me right and hurt and suck and over all just make me angry.

Cut to me lying in bed with a bad cough, a severe headache and the sniffles, dreading to put on an ill fitting bra to leave the house. See me shuddering by the thought of crouching on the floor cutting out huge pattern pieces for either a coat or some jeans. And finally picture me looking through my Bloglovin feed seeing posts on lingerie all over the place this month.

I arrogantly thought to myself – that doesn’t seem too hard, I can probably make a bra. Turns out I was right. But I do blame my confidence on my slightly delirious state. I am usually a very careful planner and think and plan for months in my head before making a difficult garment, especially if I haven’t made it up before. The thought of having small pattern pieces that I would be able to cut at my desk and the idea of pretty fabrics and laces was just too appealing. So I made a bra. Tadaaa:

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I can not advise you to do what I did. This is my *first* bra. I did not do a mock up, I did not do a proper fitting, I just went with my measurements and a pattern that is completely new to the market. I used nice lace and notions and a relatively complicated pattern with an all lace frame and cups …and against all odds it worked out fine!

I suspect the reason it worked out as well as it did is that my measurements are pretty standard. I need a longer band than readily available in most RTW bras but my cup size is a B and the underwires for my size fit my bust shape very well. I did expect a good fit from the start but I was surprised how superior the fit was to any RTW bra I own.

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(please excuse the stray lint and pieces of thread. I was so excited about finishing the bra that I took the pictures without cleaning the bra properly first.)

Let me talk about the pattern I used. It is the Bella pattern by Sewy. It seems to be a new pattern and it is only available in german but if you made bras before it should be pretty self explanatory.

I would say it is beginner friendly (as in bra making beginner – not sewing beginner of course) although if you’re not quite as crazy as me you might not want to start with a full lace frame and cups. I really liked that you can go to the pattern page on their website and see a very detailed description of the needed materials without buying the pattern first. It is also very size inclusive – the band sizes go from 65cm to 125cm and the cup sizes from A to H (although not all combinations of cup and band are available). The pattern is sold in 4 size groups. You have to add the seam allowance to the pieces yourself. That’s not a super nice task as you have to be quite precise but I don’t mind it too much because with bra alterations you have to cut away seam allowances all the time so it almost doesn’t matter either way.
The pattern includes instructions for cut-and-sew foam cup. This was the deciding factor for me to buy this pattern. I wanted to use foam for the nice shaping it provides but was slightly scared of having to make to many changes to a pattern with it being my first bra. I read multiple tutorials on cut-and-sew foam and working with lace and those helped me tremendously with the construction. I highly recommend the bra making sew-along by Cloth Habit as a great starting point for all bra making adventures.

I was quite scared of cutting my lace as I knew I had to mirror not only the upper cup pieces but also the bridge pieces perfectly as for the bra not to look odd. Meaning the right and left half of the bra should be exact mirror opposites in their lace edging. Turns out it’s not that hard. I cut out the pattern pieces once, turned them over and moved them on the opposite edge of the lace until I could find the exact mirroring piece. I did this with all the pieces that have the lace edge as their finished edge – namely upper cup and bridge pieces and even had enough lace left over to cut the under cup pieces from lace as well.

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I was so happy about how well the bridge pieces lined up, I just had to snap a quick photo.

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And that’s how it looks like on the finished bra.

I had some hiccups during the construction process. I started with the foam cups and the pieces just didn’t want to fit together perfectly and so I redid them several times over. The lace for the cups went together much better although I went into crisis mode when I discovered that I had assembled one cup inside out – after topstitching it of course. Using a seam ripper on dainty tulle lace is nothing you ever want to do. I highly recommend carefully labeling all your pattern pieces. I also pinned tiny scraps of fabric to the right side of the lace pieces and thus saved myself major headache.

I was planning to cut the back band out of microfiber stretch meant for bra making (as well as the under cups) but found that the color of the fabric I had didn’t match the lace as well as I had thought so I made full lace cups and used a double layer of navy power net for the back band. This worked out great. I like that the double layered power net is still slightly see through but super strong at the same time. It holds everything in place firmly whilst keeping the stretch.

It took me about 8 hours to make this bra – including the seam ripping and all. Not bad at all for a first time I think. I am quite happy with the fit over all and the shape the bra gives to my bust. The only place that could use a tiny bit of alteration is the inner upper cup region. I have a bit of excess space there, but only about half a cm or so. With my next bra I can hopefully change that – I think I should be able to get rid of the excess fabric/foam by altering the seam line of the lower cup pieces to be be more shallow. But I’ll have to some more research on that.

I hope you enjoyed my lengthy rumblings on bra making. Please let me know if you have bra making experience or are planning on making your first bra soon, I’m eager to see what other people have made or want to make and exchange war stories.

xxx Sarah


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A blue velvet dress for the holidays and a book review

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*Firstly, let me say that I did not get this book for free, I wasn’t asked to review this and I am not using affiliated links. I stumbled upon this book in a local bookshop, took a peak inside and bought it on a whim.*

This blog post comes in two parts. Part one will feature a book review of „Sew many dresses, sew little time“ by Tanya Whelan and in part two I will tell you about the dress I made from said book.

About the book
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When Victory Patterns announced their Boundless Style book I was quite taken with the idea to have a whole book of different bodice, skirt and sleeve variations to mix and match into my dream dress. But – and this is a big buuuut for me – Boundless Style is not at all size inclusive. (size range 2 to 16)

„Sew many dresses, sew little time“ on the other hand goes up to a size 24. This makes it a way better fit for me (pun intended) as I’m well within their size range.

What I really like about SMDSLT ist that it doesn’t give fancy design options. It gives you basic pattern pieces and enough instruction (at least for me) to design all the fancy bits and pieces yourself for a more personalized dress.

You can choose between a simple bodice with darts, a bodice with princess seams, a halter neck option, a wrap bodice and a cowl neck and more (7 total). From there it gives you instructions to pretty much make any variation you could ever want (collars, off-the-shoulder straps and anything you could ever do by moving darts). It comes with basic sleeve and skirt options – the most complex being a multi-panelled, flared skirt. The book also includes a short but well compiled chapter on fit-alterations and features design-based alteration instructions throughout.

Basically it gives you the option to fit a basic pattern to your body (somewhat similar to a sloper, but with SA and ease) and then make hundreds of different dresses from that. At least that is my intented use of the book.

I think „Sew many dresses, sew little time“ is a good fit for anyone who wants to either make basic dresses in different variations without having to go through the fitting stage every single time or wants to do the same for more complicated dresses with design features and doesn’t mind putting in the design-effort themselves. If you fall in category one – simple but effective – I would go so far as to recommend this book to an advanced beginner. I’m only putting in the advanced for one reason – you have to draft your own facings and linings. The book gives you comprehensible instructions on the how-to but this might seem daunting to an absolute beginner.
If you are, like me, a more advanced sewer who likes to look at any dress and go – I could make that! and you don’t mind a little pattern drafting to make your dream dress happen, then this book could be right up your alley.

Now to the good, the bad and the mixed.
I really liked the basic bodice with darts I worked with for my dress. I love that the back bodice comes with shoulder darts. This makes all the difference with my slightly forwards falling shoulders. The instructions on how to alter or implement design features are easy to understand and well written. I loved that I could solely rely on the instructions in the book and didn’t have to look up anything additional online during my drafting process.
The only thing that I find to be problematic in this book is the fact that the lines in the nested patterns are very close in color and easily confused.

I will add that all the patterns are drafted for a B-Cup. That is amazing for me, as B is my cup size but many people might need to do a FBA (or SBA). Although, since all alterations should translate easily throughout the book, this might be less big of a deal.

That’s all I can think of for now but feel free to ask away if you have additional questions. By the way, for anyone who’s interested – there is a german edition called „Kleider nähen“ (they didn’t even try to be creative, let alone come up with a pun).

About the dress

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It was my dads birthday recently and I decided that I needed a new dress for that occasion. Need might have been a strong word, but I wanted one … also christmas is coming up, y’know? 4 weeks are surely not enough time to make an additional dress … *cough*.

So I was set on something festive. And what screams holiday-season like dark blue velvet? Well, red or green velvet, but I’m distinctly not an elf.
But I also knew that I wanted this dress to be reasonably comfortable, so I went for a velvet knit. At 4€/m it was quite inexpensive. Despite buying over 3 meters of the extra wide velvet I ended up having too little fabric for the full circle skirt I wanted, but it was just about enough for a 3/4 circle.

For the bodice I wanted to try a variation with yoke-gathers. The book had good instructions on what I wanted to to. I basically just cut off a yoke-piece at the top of the basic bodice and then moved all the darts to the center top to form a big piece that I then gathered and reattached to the yoke piece after adding seam allowances on both pieces. I then changed the the front and the back bodice to a boat neckline.

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I then drafted a simple 3/4 circle skirt and copied the pattern for long sleeves from the book. I had to add about 2 inches to the sleeves as per usual. For future reference – they just about fit, adding an additional inch or so couldn’t hurt.

All in all the dress was a remarkably easy sew. I had never worked with velvet before and added extra pins to prevent any „walking fabric“ but I had zero problems. Not a single pucker was detected and even the sleeves went in perfectly fine. Glorious.

Due to it being a circle skirt and therefore parts of the skirt being cut on the bias I let the dress hang for a few days before I hemmed it. The fabric moved a lot during cutting an hemming and I am not one hundred percent sure that the hem is even, it might be ever so slightly shorter in the front. But I suspect no one will ever notice that besides me anyway. The dress fits me pretty well but I don’t want to make any final statements about the general fit of the patterns until I’ve made at least one different view in a woven fabric.

I am very happy with the final dress and have been wearing it a lot over that past few weeks. Do you have any holiday-dress plans?

I really want to make a wrap-dress or a faux-wrap and the book has examples on both. I might give that one a try next. But I also need some pants for work. I’m still working up the courage to start with my first pair of gingers, so tempting but so daunting.

Hope you are doing well,

xxx Sarah


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My first Oakridge blouse

Hello lovelies,

I have been quite busy recently – all non-sewing related, sadly. But some of the garments I was planning for in my autumn post have indeed been made. Today, I present you the Oakridge blouse!
I love blouses but I have not been buying or wearing them for years. Mostly because ready to wear blouses just don’t fit me right. They are always way to short in the torso and especially in the sleeves. So, in the past, if I wanted to wear a blouse I would always cuff the sleeves up to my elbow in an effort not to show their awkward length. So you might imagine that I was *really* exited for my first me-made blouse. And let me tell you, making this was a blast from start to finish!
I decided that I wanted to use the Sewaholic Oakridge pattern as I fall within their size range and I was in love with that cute bow. Before actually making it up I did some research on the internet as to the fit and possible issues other people had with it. I found that there aren’t that many Oakridge blouses out there – at least not if you compare it to the amount of Granville’s – it’s sister-pattern.  Some of the fit issues people were talking about were particularly long sleeves and fabric pooling in the back. The back of the Oakridge is cut on fold and has no dart shaping so pooling fabric can easily be an issue.

The first thing I did was flat measuring the pattern. I found that the sleeves were not too long on me and I didn’t even need to lengthen them. Amazing. The overall fit was great but I needed some length in the waist and while I was adding the length I decided to also alter the shape a bit and curve out the side seams below the waist a bit more for a more relaxed shape through out the hips.

The making of the pattern was quite uneventful and pretty easy. The instructions are easy to understand and the only issue I had was the attaching of the bow to the neckline. I’m not sure I did it correctly and (as a result?) my neckline won’t lie completely flat. I’m not super worried about the whole ordeal as the blouse was meant as a wearable muslin anyway (2€ fabric FTW) but I will have to look into that before attempting a second Oakridge.

Gladly, I can report a total lack of excess fabric in the back. Most likely that has something to do with me having bigger hips but a smaller bum. So the Oakridge might indeed be the perfect pattern to accommodate that.
A quick word about the fabric. This was a super cheap mystery fabric I bought on our local fabric market. It’s most likely some kind of viscose or viscose blend. It presses and sews nicely and I ended up liking it more than expected. But it is black with creme spots on it – it did not photograph well. Scrolling through my pictures I realized that non of them really showed the black bow on the black bodice. So in an effort to show this detail to you I took a close-up of the bow and brightened up the picture so you can see more details. Please bear that in mind when looking at the pictures below. Only the first picture shows the actual color of the blouse.
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I really enjoy wearing my Oakridge. It makes me feel all chic and grown up (proper length sleeves and all) and I can’t wait stumbling upon some nice, drapey fabric that just screams pussy-bow blouse.
I would absolutely *love* to see more Oakridge’s. So if you made one up yourself recently please feel free to link me to it I do need some inspiration for my next one.

Hope you’re having a nice autumn and a (mildly) scary Halloween,
xxx Sarah


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ALL the panties

Over the past few months I got really into sewing panties. And I can highly recommend it!
Sure, quite possibly only you and very few other people will ever see you in your beautiful handmade undergarments but for me the feeling of wearing something you know is beautiful and fits you well is far more important than other people seeing the thing you made.
The right underwear can make me feel strong and beautiful or even daring. Great underwear is just great fun!

One could buy well produced, well fitting, good quality underwear of course. But I don’t have the bankroll for that. If you want nice lace, pretty prints or god forbid something like silk you would quite possibly have to pay a lot of money. So I took it upon myself to find out if I can do it myself and it turns out that I can. I find that sewing panties is way faster, easier and cheaper than I ever imagined.
For the black pair of panties I used the most awesome lace imaginable – yes it’s pretty but more importantly it’s so soft it feels like not wearing anything at all. And although the lace was about 17€/m, it was very much worth it since I only needed a piece of roughly 20cm x 50cm for the pair you see below.

panties1Making this pair took me an estimated time of 3 to 5 hours and with less flimsy fabric I can make a pair in one and a half to two hours max and I’m no pro by any means. With the added benefit of it needing only very little fabric this is just the kind of project I love doing while catching up on the last two episodes „The Great British Bake Off“ or „Mr Robot“.

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As for the patterns I used: I made the 40s-style flutter panties using this pattern from Ohhh Lulu and the floral panties are made using the Grace pattern. If you don’t already know the beautiful undergarments made and sold by Sarah Elaine you should definitely check out her blog and or etsy shops (one for the finished garments, one for the patterns).
For the black panties I partly drafted my own pattern using the lining and crotch area from the Grace pattern and partly using an old pair of high waisted panties of my own as a guide. I love the high waisted vintage style and already made two more pairs for myself, slightly modifying the pattern in places.
The floral Grace panties are also slightly modified. I made them for a friend and she prefers slightly less coverage in the back for a more brazilian-style fit.
(Oh man, this post is mostly me trying to avoid certain key phrases to not attract the wrong kind of attention from search engines).
Both patterns are well designed and easy to understand as they come with a photo-guide and everything but I have to say that from my experience the Grace pattern runs a bit on the small side. From the pattern envelope my friend should have been fine in a XS but after measuring the finished product I went with a size S and that turned out to be the right decision. I additionally used jersey instead of bias cut woven fabric for the front and back panels in both versions. Had I not done that, the fit would have been even more off.

So if you want to make that pattern I’d suggest doing a muslin first or even going up a size if you are in between sizes. It’s very much worth it though as the pattern is verrrry pretty. And a lot depends on the amount of stretch of your chosen fabric. I think Sarah recommends doing a muslin anyway and although I’m a lazy-ish sewer I would agree, especially if I’m about to cut into expensive lace.

As you probably guessed from my rambleings by now, I LOVE making my own panties and I think I will keep on doing that so that over time I can switch out all my old RTW kind-of-fitting-pairs for shiny new, fun and well fitting handmade goodies.

xxx Sarah


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Sketches, patternmaking, measurements and cakes!

It has been quite a while since I last put something up here. I have been terribly busy with life in general but I have also been sewing things and prepping things for future sewing projects. I have finished some garments but haven’t had the time to take pictures of them yet. So beware – I will be showing you some finished garments in the weeks to come.

But for now, something different. My mind has been busy with all the things I want to sew for my summer wardrobe. I am quite pleased that I’m no longer thinking in terms of buying stuff but go straight to: can I make this myself? Since I usually rock quite a simple wardrobe of skirts and jersey dresses and easy shirts more often than not these days the answer is yes. (sadly, wether or not I have time to do it is a whole other question)

A few months back I took a course in pattern drafting that thought us how to draft our own pattern blocks. I have not yet done that, mostly because it is made for close fitting woven garments and I haven’t made any of those for quite a while. But one thing has been incredibly helpful to me: the measurements. We measured each others in pairs and took a total of over 20 measurements. Those have been so helpful to me both in adjusting patterns (for example checking if the back length is correct in the pattern stage) and in drafting my own patterns. Like I said, I didn’t draft close fitting patterns but even in my loose fitting tunic and some future projects you have yet to see I used a bunch of my measurements before cutting into the fabric. Back width, back length and shoulder width have been especially helpful to me since these are the areas in which most commercial patterns fail me.

Highly encouraged through those successes I sketched out some additions I’d like to make to my summer wardrobe.

Sketches

#1 is a loose fitting batwing top that could also work in knee length as a dress. One or two of those from a thinner jersey are high up on my to-sew list. #2 is a shirred loose pant. I had a pair of those last year but they were badly manufactured and ripped halfway through the summer. Also, pants are expensive. I hope to make a pair of those for a fraction of the cost in a way better quality. If I can only get the fit right. I threw the RTW part away in pure anger and now I wish I had kept them as a pattern. Well, mistakes were made.
#3 is a floor length dress that I can just throw on and feel breezy and comfy in the heat. I always wanted one of those long dresses that has a ribbon attached under the bust that then gathers a very loose kaftan-like dress by tying it in the back. You get what I mean, right? I would love to get some thin and soft cotton in a nice color and pattern for this dress and I think it has potential to be amazing. What do you guys think?
#4 finally is a super easy summer jacket that I can just throw over anything and that’ll keep me warm in the evenings. For this purpose I usually wear cardigans and I just wanted something more structured then that for a change. I think it will be lovely and with it being fully lined I might even be able to make it reversible like the Billie Jean.

I’d like the color palette to stay in the blues and greens and just have a little less black and more white as combination colors. And of course I still like my pinks and mustardy yellows as a contrast. Read my previous ramblings about color schemes here.
Lastly I want to tell you about the amazing birthday cake one of my closest and dearest friends made for me for my birthday last week. It was all sewing themed with a fondant spool of thread and a fondant pincushion you guys! Much happiness!

x Sarah


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The self-drafted two hour tunic top

Technically the title is a bit of a fib. It took me about two and a half hours to make this top but the additional half hour was spent turning the waist-ribbons inside out. I suspect that a more skilled person or one that owns one of these hook-thingies could do this in five minutes. So it doesn’t quite count, right?

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When I thought about the new garments I wanted to create for my wardrobe when I wrote my first post on the the Wardrobe Architect Challenge it was pretty clear that I would need a lot of loose fitting tops that would go with my fitted black jersey skirts. This self-drafted tunic-style top is the first in this category. I have to admit – it doesn’t quite fit in the color scheme I settled on but when I saw this fabric in the Annaka Bazaar sale a few months back I just could not resist. It’s a thin but rather stiff good quality cotton and it basically screams summer. So I’m sure I will wear this top a lot in the warm months to come but the colors also work lovely with the black skirts and cardigans I usually wear in the colder months.
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This top is a very easy make and if you want to make something similar yourself you can easily draft a pattern like I did. Like you can see in my drawings I basically used a rectangle and went from there. I used my bust measurement and added ease and SA to it. then I graded down a bit in the waist area and up a bit in the hip area. For the sleeves I went with a rather simple rectangular shape as well instead of proper set in sleeves. Then I cut out two long strips of fabric for the ribbons and put them in at the natural waist to be able to wear the top in a slightly more fitted way. Lastly I drafted a facing for the neckline from the pattern pieces for the bodice. If you don’t know how to do that there are lovely helpful tutorials out there, for example this one.
I will say: This might not work as well for bustier women. If you have a bigger bust I would suggest making a muslin and adding additional length in the front bodice maybe even thinking about bust shaping darts or stuff like that. Slightly more work I’m afraid.

I’m pretty sure that there are more tunic tops to come in my near future. I think this loose fitting top would also work in light summer jersey and might even look pretty as a dress. It’s such a quick make and now that I already have the pre-made pattern pieces it’ll be a even quicker sew. Ah, the possibilities.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this top, how to make it or just wanna say hi. Have a lovely weekend.

x Sarah


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Wardrobe Architect Part Two

In my second post on the Wardrobe Architect Challenge I’d like to talk about silhouettes. When looking at the general types of body shapes (hourglass, pear, apple, rectangle) I fall in the category „rectangle“. This sounds a bit ridiculous to my ears since my upper body looks nothing like a rectangle, it’s mostly curves in all directions. But lets stick to those types for a sec.

I deducted that I have to be rectangular since none of the other apply. I have broad shoulders and broad hips but no tiny waist like a hourglass figure calls for. And my shoulders are almost as wide as my hips so I’m not pear shaped either. Crossing out „apple“ from the beginning this leaves „rectangle“. Lovely. Additionally I might need to add that I am about 6’2ft tall – just to give you a better picture.

So there are two things I took in consideration when deciding upon my silhouettes: What I like to wear and feel comfortable in and what I think suits my body type and personality. These are  of course interconnected since I feel more confident and happy in garments that enhance my favorite features about myself.

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Firstly the length. I love to wear knee-length dresses and skirts and this will remain my go-to. In the summer I also enjoy maxi dresses and skirts and the freedom and level of comfort they bring. Since I’m very tall they suit me quite well, no problem here. I don’t think a mid-length between the two suits me nor do I like midi skirts so I will stay away from that completely.
I found that tunic length blouses and sweaters look better on me then their shorter counterparts and over time I’ve collected quite a few of these. If I wear a pencil skirt I can just throw a longer shirt or sweater on and I will look good without seeming overdressed and if I’m more in the mood for a flowy high-waisted skirt that day I can just tuck the shirt in.

Secondly I’d like to talk about volume. I don’t particularly like to wear a voluminous garment on my upper and lower body at the same time if that makes sense. It doesn’t? Let me explain. If I wear a gathered skirt I don’t also want to wear a voluminous sweater. If I wear a straight skirt I like a big sweater or big flawy, maybe gathered shirt as a contrast. I recently started wearing the small pencil skirt and big sweater combination more than the flipped combination and think it is more flattering on me as well. So it is going to be a staple in my wardrobe in 2015. I will still wear gathered skirts since I love them too much to stay away from them but I plan on using flowy fabric instead of stiff cottons to make them less pouffy since I really don’t need my hip area exaggerated all that much.

Additionally I will rock the straight forward no-to-little-volume garments. These are maybe the most boring when it comes to silhouette but highly important to my wardrobe nonetheless. In this I would count all my knee-lenght jersey dresses or slightly a-line skirts with fitted shirts and all that fun stuff.
For right now I cant’t think of anything else. Please feel free to ask any question you may have and have a lovely time.

x Sarah