Sew Americana 2019

It’s officially a tradition now: this is the third year I’ve participated in the Sew American Blog Tour, hosted by Wild + Wanderful!

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I love, love, love the 4th of July. So you don’t have to ask me twice to sew up a little something new to wear that’s red, white, and blue!

A few weeks ago, I tried out one of the new Patterns by Gertie (she just switched from the Butterick line to the Simplicity line, so this one of the first Simplicity patterns of hers), Simplicity 8873. It has a high, squared-neck and shoulder ties (the vintage inspiration for the dress came from a black dress Audrey Hepburn wore in Sabrina), and gathered skirt or circle skirt options.

Here was my first go at the pattern:

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I loved it.

It has four cup sizes included, so I feel like that helped in getting me a pretty darn good fit on the first try. It’s not perfect, but it is quite good. Also, I typically have to remove length between the shoulders and the high bust line, but I didn’t have to do that with this pattern because of the adjustable straps. Win.

This black and white version had the gathered skirt and no trim, so for my next go I wanted to try the trim version and the circle skirt. And I had the most absolutely perfect fabric on hand from Boho Fabrics! Check out the final result:

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Is this a dress for a 4th of July picnic, or what?!

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I will admit that it didn’t turn out exactly as I had envisioned. For some reason, I thought it was a flared skirt more like the Night and Day Dress, so I planned on doing some fun matching with the rows of checks along the center seam, to make that nice little chevron effect on the front center. . . except there is no center seam, which I discovered in my sleepy haze of cutting. The front is cut on the fold, for a circle skirt.

So, while I intended to cut the skirt panels on the bias, instead, I cut the bodice on the bias, which really does give a nice effect anyway. I love that about plaids, it’s fun to play with the bias.

Pause for fabric debate: Is it gingham, or is it plaid? You tell me! I really don’t know. Gingham is supposed to be just white and one contrasting color, but my fabric is three colors . . . but the symmetry and checks lends itself to gingham . . . additionally, a true plaid would have a more intricate design to it . . . I kinda want to call it gingham.

Sooo, yeah.

Here’s a close up on that ricrac that’s sewn in between the bodice and the facings, it’s such a fun touch!

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Add hat from Goodwill, and this vintage basket purse and I cannot wait for our annual 4th of July Party!

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to take a look at the other stops in the Sew Americana Blog Tour— these ladies blew it out of the water!



And, as for me, here’s what I’m up to lately:
Watching
: Jane the Virgin! We’re midway through the season! Thursday mornings are coffee, snuggles, and me watching last night’s episode!
Reading: I just finished the Clockmaker’s Daughter by Kate Morton. I’ve read all of hers and recommend her, but this one was probably my favorite of hers. Moving on to the Handmaiden’s Tale, simply because I don’t think I’ll ever have the chance to watch the show, but I do think the concept sounds like a good read.
Making/Sewing: I have one last Jane Set jumpsuit in my sewing room, waiting to be hemmed. It’s cowgirl themed, it’s way over the top, and I cannot wait to wear it this weekend at a car show!
Listening: I just finished the podcast Root of Evil. Very good and weird. I’m usually not a true crime podcast listener (because it makes me feel sad), but this one was done by the family of the probable killer of the Black Dahlia, and is about their whole family history over the past few generations since the murder. It’s out there. And not for listening when kids are around. I had to walk around with earbuds in all day.

Thanks for stopping!

xoxo,

Molly


Sew Me Another: Retro Swimsuit Inspiration

For a girl who doesn’t like getting her head wet, I’ve sewn and bought a lot of swimsuits over the past three years. Sixteen, to be exact. I Mari Kondo-ed them in January, so I know. That doesn’t even include my collection of vintage swimsuits. I have no idea what my problem is with swimwear. I think it’s the optimist in me. Because I spend 3/4 of the year freezing cold. Swimwear makes me think of sunshine and it makes me happy when skies are grey (which is a lot). I’m pretty lucky to live in a great spot for beach time— I have three beautiful options just minutes from my house, including Lake Superior. I speak for most Northlanders when I say being on Lake Superior in the summertime is the reason we put up with living on Lake Superior in the wintertime.

See, I digress already, dreaming about summer!

In my new suit.

The point is, I hate swimming, love swimwear, and am absolutely freaking obsessed with my newest swimsuit.

Boho Fabrics (shop here, FB group here), sent this adorable retro polka-dotted heart swim fabric my way, all bundled with the elastic and lining too. I always jump at an opportunity to sew swim, but when I saw these hearts, I had to have them.

Queue my anxiety over choosing the perfect retro pattern to do the hearts justice.

I knew right off the bat that the Hello Sailor swim bottoms, from Patterns for Pirates, would be a perfect match. They’re high-waisted, and I’ve sewn them plenty of times, so I know they’re a good fit. I’ve done the basic, color-blocked, and skirted versions, but had never done the rouched option.

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Better do the rouched option this time. ;)

The top is what gave me grief. I couldn’t find a pattern I liked. One that was retro enough and that I liked enough to spend money on. The Bombshell Swimsuit pattern from Closet Case Patterns was recommended to me A LOT, so I’ll pass that rec on to you, but it wasn’t what I wanted for this one.

Finally, I came across Simplicity 1426.

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If you’ve followed my sewing, you know that paper patterns from the Big 4 are not really my thing. If you know about vintage swimsuits, you know that this pattern was actually drafted for cotton wovens. But, it was the only thing I could find that I liked, so I went for it! It’s a pattern that’s been out for a long time, so I’ve seen it a lot, especially view C (because how cute is that one?!). I decided to do view A, which is what she’s wearing in the picture.

Simplicity 1426 is a reproduction of an original 1950s pattern. Today, your swimsuit is made from nylon spandex. In the 1950s, spandex was not quite yet invented (it was invented in 1959). Nylon was invented in the early 1950s, and used in swimwear, but probably not common for the home sewist (and without spandex, it’s limiting anyway). Instead, swimwear was made with cottons, like how this pattern was drafted (which is a step up from the wool and sweater-like fabric used earlier in the century). Often suits would have shirring (rows of elastic sewn into the fabric) in the back or sides, to offer some level of stretchiness . Zippers and button closures were common too. I have suits from the 60s and 70s that were still made that way, with zippers and rouching. But trends moved fast in the 1960s and you can already see a wider variety throughout that decade, including suits that look much more like what we’d wear today too, in terms of construction. Thus ends swimsuit briefing.

The point is, that this may look like a swimsuit pattern, but it wasn’t designed to use swimsuit fabric. So, I had to make a couple changes:

—Sized down two sizes
—Added cups
—Elastic sewn into the seams along the inside of the bust pieces
—Drafted a new back piece, and sewed elastic into that seam too
—New bottom band, with wide elastic encased inside for support

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The top, I constructed the same way as per the pattern, with the exception of ending the straps at the side, instead of extending them to the go across the top of the back piece.

I’m head over heels how everything turned out.

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Eeeek, I just love hearts instead of normal polka-dots! Especially with the heart-shaped sunglasses I got last year on Amazon, haha.

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Look how cute that side rouching is on the bottoms! I wish I would have sewn up that option before. It’s absolutely my favorite.

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I’m super glad I had those swim cups on hand, and honestly, this really wouldn’t have worked out with out them.

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I used Savage Seamless Paper for my backdrop, for those of you asking . . . I picked one up this fall for indoor sewing photos this winter. I really like them. This is the 53 inches (just wide enough for one person, don’t go any smaller). I really want a pink one next!

So there we have it! What are your swim plans for the summer?! It’s time to start sewing! <3

Thanks for stopping, and here’s my week in review over here:




Watching: Umbrella Academy! Loving it so far!
Reading: This cookbook, Delish: Eat Every Day Like it’s the Weekend. My whole family is swooning over this cookbook. The boys are literally flipping through it right now saying, “yummy, yummy, ucky, ucky, yummy . . .” as they turn pages.
Making/Sewing: Now that this suit is over, and my Jane Set muslin is done, it’s time for my next Jane Set, and one of Gertie’s new patterns for Simplicity too!
Listening: To too much 1A, haha. It’s probably my favorite weekday show on NPR. 1:00 rolls around, and I’m all, “shhh, my show is on!!”. It’s a lot of current events stuff, but some fun stuff too. They had one recently on raising boys, and on skin care, which convinced me to buying into the whole K-Beauty thing over at Soko Glam (link will give you 20% off, FYI). So I now have a 10 step skin care routine. Thanks, 1A, haha.

Retro swimsuit sewing

Confessions of a Reformed Sewaholic

Hi, I'm Molly. It’s been six weeks and 1 day since my last sewing project. I’m a sewaholic.

I made at least 130 apparel items for myself in 2018. I’ve gone on benders of one new clothing item a day for 10-12 days at a time. I’ve said “yes” to testing patterns that I didn’t need . I’ve said “yes” to testing fabric that I knew I’d never wear after I was done taking promotional pictures. I sewed things quickly and poorly just for the sake of finishing it. I’ve promoted fabrics and patterns I didn’t especially care for.

And what did it get me?

Burnt out. Drained. A closet full of clothes I’d never wear. And a feeling that I’d been wasteful: wasteful of my time, of my money, and of our earth’s resources (the environmental impact of textile production and waste is a HUGE problem).

And to add fuel to the fire, I read this book:

Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion (Amazon affiliate link!)

Whether you buy clothes or make clothes I highly recommend this book. You don’t even have to be interested in clothes or fashion. But, if you wear any clothes at all, I think it’s important to think more about your consumption- where do your clothes come from and where do they go when you’re done with them? This book delves into how the fabrics are made, who’s sewing them (despite all of our technological advances, yes, there is still a person who is sewing your clothes), who’s designing them, how they’re manufactured and distributed, and what happens to your Goodwill donations.

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I started reading the book back in October, right at the same time I traveled to Los Angeles. Downtown is flooded with stores like this, displaying fast trends at insanely low prices.

It was the perfect backdrop to everything Overdressed was talking about: how our cultural consumption of clothes has changed. Clothing has become a disposal good, quantity over quality. We’re willing to pay less and less, and have sacrificed quality clothing made in way that’s sustainable for our world.

If I’m going to be honest, I’ll tell you that it left me a little depressed about my closet. And the fabric in my sewing room. I realized that even though sewing my own clothes does a lot of good, there were still some major problems with my clothing habits.

in short, I was my own producer of fast fashion. I was substituting quantity for quality in my own work. I was spending my time and money to make things that I didn’t even plan on wearing more than one or two times. Just like the consumer who buys something they don’t need because it was “too good of a deal to pass up”, I was accepting strike-off fabric (free fabric from fabric stores in exchange for me sewing it up and supplying them with advertising), because it was “too good of a deal to pass up” (even if I didn’t like it, and it just meant more clothes in my closet that I wasn’t wearing).

Cue the guilt (I’m very prone to guilt, haha).

I gradually started to step away from the pattern and fabric groups I sewed for (even the ones I truly loved). My heart wasn’t in it any more, and it felt ridiculously wasteful to keep doing it (again, in terms of time, money, and planet Earth). But by stepping away from those groups, I also realized something else.

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By saying “yes” to so many pattern and fabric groups, I was essentially saying “no” to all of my own projects and ideas and creative goals. The time I wanted to learn new techniques or sew up patterns just for fun and not because I had to. I was rushing to do everything for them, and it was taking away from me being able to do anything for me.

Obviously, this wasn’t their fault. I’m the one that couldn’t stop saying “yes” to every sweater, brushed poly print, or dress pattern that offered itself to me. I’ve sewn for SO MANY talented, sweet, motivated women. And I loved supporting them and their dreams. But now it’s time to work on me and my own goals.

World domination.

Just kidding.

But I wouldn’t mind learning to hand pick stitch my zippers or use horsehair braid (no horses are harmed in the making of modern-day horsehair braid).

So, I took a break from sewing. It’s been six weeks and one day. The longest time I’ve gone without sewing anything since I started sewing obsessively three years ago. During the past six weeks (and one day), I’ve thought a lot about what I DO want to sew and I’ve made some changes to my closet and my mindset.

  • There are some vintage patterns calling my name upstairs.

  • I got Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing for Christmas, and I’m SO excited to learn some new vintage and couture sewing techniques, not to mention give some of her patterns a try (the tie blouse is top of my list!).

  • I stopped buy fabric from my regular shops and started searching our local thrift shops for fabric, so I can sew more sustainably.

  • I did another closet destash, and sold off some of my me-made goods that I don’t wear.

  • When I did “need” to buy a few items last month, I chose to do so from Pact Organic, for 100% certified organic cotton staples made in fair trade factories.

I’ve had a few sewing friends reach out and say that they missed seeing my sews, or that they hoped I got my “sewjo” back. But I’m super happy to be where I’m at, and I’m so excited about these changes. I know that stepping back from pattern testing and fabric samples was right for me. I’m looking forward to thinking more critically about the items I sew and enjoying more time sewing them.

I do 100% recommend Overdressed (and I hope I didn’t get too preachy about it!)— let me know if you’ve read it or if you end up picking it up! I’d love to hear what you think.

xoxo,

Molly

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The Sewciety Sewing Subscription Box

I am bursting with blog posts still in the draft stage, but I wanted to do a quick post on the new sewing subscription box from The Sewciety! I’m super excited about it! The ladies from The Sewciety put together a fantastic box— specially curated, including two sewing projects and a bunch of extra fun goodies. If you need a little inspiration, want to step outside your comfort zone, or just having a subscription box obsession, you’re going to love this.

I’ll be sewing my projects up next week to share with you guys, but in the meantime, here’s an unboxing video of my October box, so you can see all the goods! There’s fabric for the petite project, along with two full yards of that pretty blue fabric— plus if you order a box, use code MIDRIVERBONUS and you’ll get an extra yard for free ;)

Head over to The Sewciety to get all the details, plus don’t forget to use code MIDRIVERBONUS to get an extra yard of fabric for FREE!

Watch for upcoming posts on the Sewciety, the Shasta Beast renovation, Fashion Week, and some special new projects I have in the works! <3

Molly

Turning the Page: Sewing for the Seasons Blog Tour

Mornings here have been downright crisp this past week, which only means one thing: fall is a-comin'!  The Rebecca Page Turning the Page: Sewing for Seasons Blog Tour is all about sewing for the changing seasons, and on this side of the globe, that means cool air, crunchy leaves, and putting away the sandals.  

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Call me basic all you want, but I love fall and everything it brings.   Especially when it comes to getting dressed.  I'm always a little lost in the summertime when it comes to my wardrobe. But fall is totally my season.  Cute boots, layers, comfy cardigans, scarves-- you're talking my language! 

 This was my first time sewing for Rebecca Page and I went with the Cora Cocoon Cardigan and the Peggy Pencil Skirt. 

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This cardigan is awesome.  Slouchy, cozy, and soft.  I used a sweater knit from Sincerely Rylee and it was perfect.   And it is SO easy to make.  It's a perfect gift to sew too, since the sizing can be so flexible.  

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I haven't worn a pencil skirt in ages, but I'm loving this Liverpool one I made!  I'm totally hooked and already have plans to make one from a black quilted knit I have on hand-- talk about perfect for fall! 

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Remember Hancock Fabrics?  Remember their giant tables of random cuts of fabric at cheap prices?  Not just remnants from bolts in the store, but truly random cuts, no info on the fabric type.  It would be a giant mountain of fabric to dig through and you never knew what you'd find.  Sigh.  Obviously, I'm reminiscing.  I miss that mountain of mystery.  Anyway, the point is, that's where I found that Liverpool.  It was one of my last pieces of Hancock's fabrics. 

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I loved the Cora Cocoon so much, I had to make another one right away.  

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Again, I used a Sincerely Rylee sweater knit-- this one had a waffle texture.  It's light weight, soft, and perfect for layering.  

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Honestly, this cardigan just blew past my former favorite cardigan. I love how effortless it seems-- the whole slouchy, comfy thing, it's just perfect for fall! Just hand me a Pumpkin Spice latte, and I'm good to go ;) 

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And shout out to my jewelry makers!  Wandering Willow Designs made this awesome jade bracelet (the picture does not do the colors justice!), as well as my necklace I wore with my blue outfit. She has the most amazing boho pieces. This tassel necklace was made by CRAVE-- I pined over this necklace for months before I finally ordered one.  CRAVE specializes in upcycled leather, and I am seriously inspired by her on the regular. Shop small, friends! I love supporting other makers.  <3

Annnnnnd support the other bloggers too!  Hope on board the blog tour and check out everyone else's awesome outfits! 

Please visit all the stops on the Turning the Page: Sewing for the Changing Seasons Blog Tour with Rebecca Page. Don't forget to comment on the blogs each day and enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win some fantastic prizes from our fabric sponsors!
  1. August 20: Rebecca Page (Intro), Sewjourns, Soul fed on Thread
  2. August 21: Sarcastic Sewist, PatchWitch, Flaxfield Sewing by Anca
  3. August 22: Princesse et Tresors, Bellephant, The Scatty Sewer
  4. August 23: BigFlyNotions, Stitched by Jennie, Millie's Place Handmade
  5. August 24: Sweet Sprocket, Australian Sewing, Advice & Inspiration, The Sewing Unicorn
  6. August 25: LIVIALITY, Diskordia's Curvy Sewing, Simply Kyra
  7. August 26: Seams So Lo, Middle River Studio, Jot Designs
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Thanks for stopping! Annnnd, it can be fall now ;) 

Molly

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Sew Americana Blog Tour

Whoo-hoo! Katy from Wild + Wanderful is at it again, convincing us all to sew along with her in red, white, and blue for the third annual Sew American Blog Tour! 

I already had my outfits sewn up for the 4th, thanks to strike-off sewing, but Katy went ahead and talked me into making one more.  And inspiration struck in the unlikeliest of places- the liquor store.  I was cruising through to buy adult beverages for our Summer Solstice party, and I stopped in my tracks and did a double take when I saw the cases of Old Milwaukee.  The girl on the cans is super cute, dressed in red, white, and blue, and I immediately wanted to make a copy cat outfit! 

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Luckily, the tour sponsor, Sly Fox Fabrics had the perfect fabrics on hand in their Sew Americana Collection- this stretch denim and the stripes rayon spandex. 

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I used the George and Ginger Heat Wave Hot Pants for my bottoms.  The pattern calls for 50% stretch and this was only 30%, so I added an invisible zipper in the back. And for the top, I just winged it, haha. 

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The best part about buying case of beer for a prop, is getting to have a beer while you're taking pictures. Mike says that Old Mil shot up to number two on his list of favorite cheap beers now, haha. Oh, behind Grain Belt, of course.  

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Of course, I also had to pull out my already-made items, try them on again and give them a twirl . . .

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I am SO excited to wear this ridiculous hoodie to our family's progressive dinner on the fourth.  It just makes me laugh. You can't take yourself too seriously. Sometimes you just need to dress up like the Old Mil girl or wear a cat sweatshirt and laugh at yourself. 

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I jokingly suggested "Meowica" as the theme for the party, but no takers.  I did however, also come up with the winning theme: Rockin' in the USA! My big kids have AC/DC, Jimi Hendrix, Beatles, and MTV shirts to choose from, but baby Dane is going to be matching his momma.

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But, as for the parade, I'm going a little more classic, and pulling out this dress. 

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The problem with sewing up strike-off fabric is how far in advance you get seasonal fabric! I sewed up these latter two outfits in February (fabric is from Vintage Lace), and I currently have Christmas fabric on its way to me! So, it was fun to get back into the summer spirit and sew something new for the fourth for the blog tour.  I know Mike isn't complaining about having some extra beer around the house ;) 

Thanks for letting me show off all my outfits for next week! Make sure to take a look around the other tour stops- I love seeing what people come up with! Have a fun and safe Independence Day <3 

xoxo, Molly

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Into the Blue with Striped Swallow Designs

The Into the Blue monokini is Striped Swallow Designs first swimsuit pattern and my first pattern with Striped Swallow!  I fell in love with SSD's boho designs and especially their Journey Romper (more on that soon), and was 100% on board with trying out this swimsuit!

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I have fourteen swimsuits in my closet upstairs, nine of them made by me.  But after testing this one, I'd be totally happy tossing all of them except these two.  I seriously LOVE this pattern. It's so cute AND comfortable wearing on the beach when I'm chasing my kids around.  

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It's the perfect combination for enjoying the beach-  high-waisted bottoms, open or full back, and a sweet ruched bodice. I wore these all last weekend at the cabin, and they were great!

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When ever I'm at the beach, I play that whole, "Say I'm a bird," thing (from the Notebook), and try to make Mike play along with me, but he never does.  But here I am, being a bird, hahaha! 

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Annnd, since it's called "Into the Blue" and I had this blue polka dot swim on hand, I had to make another one: 

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This one is actually my favorite! I thought for sure that I'd prefer the open back on my first one, but turns out I like the full coverage back better!

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The fit instructions on this pattern are spot on  It was so easy to make a perfect fitting garment from the get-go. 

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If you haven't tried sewing with swim before, it really isn't bad! A little slippery (especially the lining) but totally manageable.  But if you have enough of the swim fabric, I like to use the same swim as the main fabric and the lining, instead of using lining, because it stretches differently when it's wet.  And stretch thread in your loopers is a must!

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Today is the last day for the release sale! Head on over and save $2 off with the code "intotheblue".  And there's even a girl's version too! 

Get sewing, so you can enjoy this suit all summer long! <3 

xo,

Molly

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George + Ginger Festival Fever Blog Tour: Part Two

Soooo, on Tuesday, I told you all about my looks for the Festival Fever Tour happening through the George + Ginger Blog (and it you didn't catch it, read about it here).  Well, today, my friend Marta is here to guest blog and show off her own Festival Fever outfit!  I haven't met Marta in real life, but you grow to know the people you sew along with during pattern testing, and she is super sweet, makes stand-out items, has a great shoe collection, and I always know it's her because of her fun and bright door background!  I'm so excited to have her here today, so with out further ado, here she is: 


Hi! I'm Marta, and I'm so excited to be here at Middle River Studio! Molly has graciously allowed me to take over her space for today so I'm going to share with you my new favourite dress.  I have an intense love for all things twirly; so, anything with a circle skirt pretty much has my heart. My daughter who just turned 4 is the same. If I make her a dress and it doesn't "twirl up" I get a VERY unpleasant look! 

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So when I was thinking of what I'd like to spend my summer weekends wearing, I knew it had to have twirl. But I also knew that I wanted a bodice with a bit of interest but nothing overwhelming. Something that could be dressed up or down. Enter the Daydream Dress and the Jawbreaker Dress. I just LOVE how flattering the neckline and little almost-sleeves on the Daydream Dress are. And of course the Jawbreaker is a staple in every twirly woman's wardrobe. 

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Mashing them together was super easy! I just made the Daydream bodice omitting the band, and attached the circle skirt. They fit together beautifully! I feel like it has a bit of a vintage vibe too, which makes me extra happy.

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One of the things I love doing with my family is going to the Aberfoyle Antique Market on the weekends. It's a fabulous place full of treasures. There is a little playground for the kids and always a few food trucks around for lunch. I've scored everything from a WWII helmet to a street sign with my son's name on it. Let me tell you, things that say "Griffith" are hard to find! My kids love rummaging through old Archie comics and my husband is always looking for random pinball machine parts.  My favourite thing is the jewelry. And although we haven't made it there yet this summer, when we do, I'll be wearing this dress and looking to accessorize it perfectly! 

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I used a rayon spandex from The Fab Clique and it feels heavenly. The fabric just floats around me and even in the most sweltering of heat waves I feel pretty darn great! It is a bit sheer so thank goodness the bodice is lined!

Thanks so much for hanging out with me today and I hope you have amazing adventures this summer!

xoxo  Marta