Me-Made-May: final round-up

I’m very behind with this Me-Made-May roundup. You’re probably sick of seeing these blog posts by now, so I’ll just cram everything into one giant update.

I was doing well with the daily photo, but the end of the month slipped into chaos. I got tired of seeing my ugly mug on Flickr every morning, plus I went on holiday to Norway which knocked out my normal routine.

I did well with my pledge though, honest! I didn’t wear a shop-bought pair of jeans the entire month, and generally my outfits were 80% handmade.

Here’s the photos I did manage to get:

All-blue extravaganza (Days 20, 22 and 23)

Me-Made-May1.jpg

 

L-R: Blue chambray shirt and knit pencil skirt, blue Burda jeans and striped Hemlock, Maudella denim skirt and sweatshirt

The week of bad photos (think this was days 24, 25 and 26?)

Me-Made-May2.jpg

L-R: Burda jeans and a Robin jumper (Yes, I finally finished this jumper! Blog post to come) McCalls knit dress, polka dot trousers and Hemlock tee plus hungover face.

Norwegian adventure (no idea which days these were)

MeMadeMayNorway.jpg

L-R: Knit pencil skirt and chambray shirt (super-classy airport toilet selfie), unblogged denim trousers and stripey top, chambray shirt again and some (gasp) trousers from Dorothy Perkins. I did get them in a swap though. They were brilliant for climbing up a big Norwegian hill.

And here’s the traditional Me-Made-May giant photo collage:

Me-Made-May-2014.jpg

Drumroll please! The Me-Made-May 2014 Yes I Like That awards go to…

Most worn item:

Definitely my chambray shirt. I’m glad I spent all that time doing French seams and sewing buttonholes – I love wearing this and it feels quite smart.

Most complimented item (online):

This has to be my Simplicity geometric shirt dress. But I think it must photograph better than it looks. I didn’t get any offline love for this dress, and someone even asked me if I made it myself, WITHOUT following up with a compliment. Dissed.

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Most complimented item (in real-life):

It was the Flora shirtdress, although it might have something to do with the fact that I wore it to the big sewing meetup. Those seamstresses are pretty free and easy with their dress compliments.

Most earth-shattering realisation:

I don’t really like wearing dresses! I only put on three all month, and I felt pretty uncomfortable in all of them. Knit dresses are an exception though, so I need to make more of those. Other than that, SEPARATES 4 LIFE.

Most versatile item:

A tie between my Hemlock tee and my Built by Wendy grey sweatshirt. They go with everything.

Favourite new Me-Made-May blogger:

A difficult one to choose, but I think it has to be Marilla, who I chatted to at the big meetup, and who has a wardrobe of beautiful stripes.

Worst photo location:

A tough category, but I think I’ll have to go with the disgusting toilets at London Fields Brewery, 10 hours into an all-day music festival (you can see the evidence in day 25 above). Nobody can say I don’t suffer for my art.

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Log-cabin patchwork cushion

So, I finally made something useful out of all those fabric scraps I can’t stop hoarding (it’s becoming a serious problem – I do a cull every six months, but I think they’re breeding inside my plastic IKEA boxes…)

It’s a log-cabin cushion cover! Behold the glory:

logcabin cushion

We’ve talked before about the massive high of trying a craft for the first time, when you’re totally clueless about all the mistakes you’re making.

This cushion definitely qualifies for me. It’s pretty wonky and is not going to win me any rosettes at the WI fete, but it was a total thrill to put together.

Here’s the back where you can see the construction (and wonkiness) more clearly. Another brilliant thing about patchwork – no seam finishing!

patchwork back

I used this super-helpful tutorial and cheat sheet to work out what strips to cut. I aimed for yellow on one side and blue on the other, but tried to mix it up a little bit so it didn’t look too much like the Ukrainian flag.

All the fabrics are scraps that I’ve been saving for years. The insects and the bikes were screenprinted by me in various classes, and you might spot bits of other projects here and there.

I didn’t cut all the strips to length in advance, just did it as I went along. This ruler, recommended by someone on Twitter, was super-useful, along with my rotary cutter and mat.

The back is entirely made from the chambray left over from my recent shirt project, and the buttons are vintage ones from my stash:

back of cushion

Although I enjoyed making this, I can’t see myself going over to the dark side and becoming a full-on quilter. Precision is not my strong suit.

Also, I didn’t actually quilt this as you can see, just backed it with some yellow fabric to hide those messy seams, and then overlocked the edges before making the cushion cover.

To finish, I thought you might enjoy this view of my sewing room mid-construction. I think tidying up took longer than making the actual cushion…

patchwork mess

Me Made May 2014 week three: the sun comes out!

I’ve really enjoyed this week’s round of MMM, probably because the sun came out.

I also went to the big London sewing meetup which was completely epic. Never have I seen so many handmade dresses together in one place! It almost caused a rip in the space-time-clothing continuum.

Anyway, here’s what I wore this week.

MMM Day 12 and 13

Day 12, off to work. I am wearing my vintage Maudella skirt and my stripey Burda kimono sleeve top. My cardigan is from H&M, my brooch is from Tatty Devine, and my shoes are from Clarks (of course).

Day 13, workday. Wearing my polka-dot Moss mini (it’s on wonkily, the seam does really sit at the front). Also my Built by Wendy sweatshirt.

MMM 14 and 15Day 14, at work on a sunny day. I had a haircut! I’ve been growing my hair for ages, so I could have an up-do at my wedding, and also just for the novelty value. But I’m so happy to have a bob again. Oh, I’m wearing some unblogged denim trousers, my McCalls white broderie top, and a cardigan from Dorothy Perkins.

Day 15, at work, still sunny I’m wearing my yellow skirt from a vintage pattern, and my Hemlock top. Must make more of these.

MMM 16 and 17

Day 16, at work. The first time this year my legs have seen the sunlight without a protective layer of tights. It was a tough day for them but I think they coped well. Not sure about all the passersby who were blinded by my milkbottle white pins. I am wearing a Simplicity 2258 skirt, a McCalls white shirt, a cardigan from Cos, and some yellow Vans (actually a wedding present from my husband!).

Day 17, off to the big sewing meetup Wearing my Flora dress for the first time in public. The cross-over top gapes a bit and I was in danger of flashing everyone on the tube and at the meetup, so I’ll probably stitch it down.  My cardigan is from Uniqlo and my shoes are from, yes, Clarks. This was the perfect outfit for a day of chatting, shopping and drinking with 70 other sewing ladies.

Day 18

Day 18, Sunday brunch and outdoors drinking Check out the different backdrop! And the yellow light coming from a strange orb in the sky! It was so hot today. I wore my Simplicity Lisette traveller shirtdress. I’m still not 100% sure about this dress so I’m glad that Me-Made-May gave me the push to wear it.

Minerva Blogging Network: Chambray shirt (Vogue 1323)

I’ve finally jumped on the chambray bandwagon!

chambray shirt 1

Yes, I may be five years behind the rest of the blogging world, but at least I got there in the end.

This is my latest Minerva Blogging Network project, and the pattern is Vogue 1323. I’ve wanted to sew this ever since I saw Erica B’s heavenly version in hot pink.

Mine isn’t quite as slinky, but it’s a lovely little spring shirt and was fun to sew. You can read my full post about it on the Minerva network here.

Chambray shirt closeup

The fabric is gorgeous but it does tend to wrinkle. I promise that I ironed the shirt before I took these photos, even if you can’t really tell.

Somehow, even though I spent ages matching everything, the pockets have come out wonky at the bottom. Look at the photo – the pocket on my left is about a cm lower than the pocket on my right.

This is DEEPLY annoying, as I swear they were even at one point. I think I caused the wonkiness when I sewed the placket.

Here’s an in-progress shot, you can see that the left pocket has already started to creep down…

chambray shirt in progress

I’m not convinced that I sewed the bottom of the button placket correctly, as the instructions were brief and v obscure. So that may be the reason.

Oh well, I don’t think anyone will notice.

If they do, hopefully they’ll just think I have one bosom larger than the other. Better that than shoddy sewing skills.

French seams on armhole seams

The instructions for the rest of the shirt were good. They tell you to do french seams all over the shop, even on the sleeves, and I obediently followed. It makes for a lovely clean finish, which is good as this fabric does fray a bit.

chambray skirt back

I don’t always do what it says on pattern instructions, but I tend to think they know best, even if what they’re saying is obviously ridiculous. Also, I always read instruction manuals, which may be a connected habit.

Just a small insight into my psyche there for you.

You can buy the kit for this project here for £34, which includes everything down to the thread (chosen by clever Vicky at Minerva, and it’s a perfect match). You even get a trouser pattern thrown in by Vogue for no extra! How can you resist?

p.s. You might recognise the trousers from a previous Minerva project.

chambray shirt 2

Me-Made-May 2014: week 2

Will you look at that, another week been and gone.

I’m finding Me-Made-May a bit of a struggle at the moment. I just want to put on my Levis in the morning and not think about what to wear. It could be the weather, it’s been horribly rainy here this week.

Anyway, here’s what I wore in week 2:

Days 5 & 6:

MMMDays5&6

Day 5: Wearing some unblogged trousers which I will talk about soon, my giraffe shirt, and a jumper from Uniqlo (which also featured heavily in last year’s MMM, if I recall correctly).

Day 6: Gah, what a terrible photo. I got up too late for Alex to take my picture in the morning so had to settle for a late-night picture in the dark. I’m wearing my blue jeans, my leopard print top, and an old grey cashmere man’s jumper that I reshaped on my overlocker and added elbow patches to. Not that you can see any of that in this picture.

Days 7 & 8:

MMM7&8

Day 7: Wearing an unblogged knit pencil skirt, made from the same fabric as my Plantain, a new shirt which I’ll blog about this week (it’s Vogue 8728), and a cardigan from Cos.

Day 8: Once again I got up too late to take advantage of the in-house husband photo studio, so here’s a super glamorous selfie taken in the disabled toilets at work. I’m wearing my green skirt, a shawl I knitted years ago, and a jumper from Uniqlo. Also, my tights have hearts on!

Days 9, 10 & 11:

MMMDay9&10&11

Day 9: I’m wearing my tartan skirt, my stripey Hemlock top, and my favourite cardigan from Cos. Check out my amazing multi-tasking abilities, drinking tea while getting my picture taken like a boss.

Day 10: Saturday, hooray! I did practically nothing on Saturday and it was great. A weekend where I don’t have to get on any public transport is a good weekend in my book. I did manage some sewing. I’m wearing my first pair of me-made jeans, an unblogged basic jersey top, and (say it with me now) a cardigan from Cos.

Day 11: Today I stayed in all day cooking and it was great. I’m wearing my blue skinny jeans, my stripey Hemlock, and my knitted Tinder cardigan. I was actually wearing my hideous (but comfortable) indoor slippers but I took them off for reasons of vanity.

So there we go, 11 days down. I’ve been too busy to spend much time in the Flickr group this year, which is a real shame as it’s a great place to get inspiration. The one person I have seen and highly recommend following is Sara from Mixed Emotions. You must check out her blog – I want to wear everything she makes.

Me-Made-May 2014: Week 1

So my Me-Made-May challenge this year is to wear 90% handmade clothing.

I am excluding RTW knitwear, because a world without cardigans and jumpers is a world I don’t want to live in. But I’m going to try and wear entirely me-made shirts, skirts, tops and trousers.

This should make life a bit more difficult, and keep my third MMM interesting, as well as showing up all the gaps in my handmade wardrobe.

I’m posting every day on Flickr (and sometimes on Instagram) but I’ll do a round-up here every Sunday.

Here’s what I wore for the first 4 days (click for a larger version):

MeMadeMay14 Days 1-4
Day 1, At work – New, unblogged sweatshirt, blue wool Moss skirt, necklace from COS.

Day 2, At work – Moss denim skirt (this has seen better days and think I’m going to have to throw it out. Sad times). Plantain top, cardigan from H&M.

Day 3, All day hen do involving a canal boat, dinner, and karaoke – Wearing my Vogue 8728 dress and a cardigan from COS.

Day 3, General bank holiday lazing around and drinking – Wearing an unblogged knit pencil skirt from the same fabric as my Plantain, McCalls 6355 top, and a jumper from Uniqlo.

That top I’m wearing on day 1 is my new favourite sweatshirt. Here’s a slightly closer look:

sweatshirt

I made this using the basic set-in sleeve pattern from Built By Wendy Home Stretch (buy this book! It’s amazing), using the same fabric as this skater dress.

It was ripped off from inspired by a jumper I saw in the menswear department at COS. All I did was cut a yoke for the front and back, using the wrong side of the fabric.

I also cut the neckband with the wrong side facing out. The cuffs and band at the bottom are just doubled up fabric strips, and the whole thing was sewn on my overlocker and took about 2 hours.

I have the itch to make more sweatshirts now. Working with knit fabrics feels like cheating, it’s so easy and quick!

If you’re taking part in Me-Made-May 14, how are you finding it so far? Easy/hard/inspiring/challenging?

Minerva Project April: Green ponte Anna from By Hand London

I made a new dress!

It’s my latest Minerva project and you can see the write-up on their (new and improved!) blog here.

Green dress 3
Here’s the details:

Pattern: The Anna from By Hand London

Fabric: Ponte in ‘Forest’ from Minerva Crafts (this stuff is the best ponte ever. Highly recommended).

Bookshelves: IKEA Billy

Green dress 1

Verdict: I like this dress but have only worn it once – the boatneck feels oddly formal for everyday wear. Also, I am waiting for bare legs (or at least nude tights) weather to return.

green dress back

green dress 2

Buy the kit here, or visit the Minerva blog for more details.

Burda plaid skirt (again) and Goldhawk Road

Oh hey there! What’s new? I’ve just been hanging out in front of my house, catching some spring rays.

Kew Palace skirt

Oh alright, that’s not really my house, it’s Kew Palace. But don’t you think it coordinates rather nicely with my new skirt?

This skirt has been a long time in the making. With my usual stunning timing, I bought the fabric on a Goldhawk Road shopping trip in September, thinking it would be perfect for autumn.

I cut out the pieces in December, and didn’t get round to sewing them until March, just in time for spring. Which is no longer the perfect season for a lined wool tartan skirt.

Well, this skirt may be distinctly autumnal in hue, but I think I can wear it for a bit longer. It camouflaged well with the Kew Gardens foliage anyway.

Kew gardens skirt 2

Pattern details:

The pattern is Burda 02/2010, and you may recognise it from an earlier version.

This skirt is a replacement for that previous one, which I sadly shrank in the wash. It’s the perfect A-line skirt pattern.

As with any plaid, the cutting out was tedious beyond belief. I laid out all the pieces on a single layer of fabric to make matching the stripes a bit easier, and cut the pockets and waistband on the bias to avoid having to match those.

My skirt has pockets

Flowers kew gardens

Lining and zip:

I neglected to take any pictures of the inside but I lined it with a lovely heavy brown fabric which was also purchased on Goldhawk Road.

I don’t know what it’s called, but it’s a lot heftier than any polyester lining I’ve used before, and actually nice to sew with. Which makes a change.

Excuse the boasting, but I just have to point out my pattern matching skillz on the back (please to ignore the wrinkles and stray bits of thread.)

skirt stripe matching back

I used the Crescent skirt sewalong zipper method which is my fave for lined skirts. After avoiding the cut-out pieces for so long, the whole thing only took one evening to put together. I even hand-hemmed it which is pretty rare for me.

Speaking of rarities, isn’t it nice to see a different photo backdrop on this blog? I’m afraid it’s probably back to depressing grey hallway pictures soon, so don’t get too used to it.

kew skirt 3

My favourite thing about this skirt is the number of different colours in the plaid.

I spotted it at the bottom of a pile in Classic Textiles (I think), and it goes with nearly every one of my jumpers. Stylish AND versatile! I like it.

Here’s some more colours from Kew Gardens in homage:

purple tulips

Chairs at Kew Palace Kitchens

Is it too late to save Goldhawk Road?

Kew Gardens may be a London landmark, but so are the textile shops on Goldhawk Road, where I bought the fabric to make this skirt. And those shops are still in danger of demolition.

Depressingly, from this article it seems like the area will definitely be redeveloped, but I’m hoping there’s still a chance the shops can be saved. There’s a Facebook group here which is campaigning against the changes.

It’s a shocking state of affairs when well-loved and well-used local businesses can be torn down to make way for 194 luxury apartments‘, but billionaires can buy rotting mansions as investments and let them sit empty and unused. London property prices are out of control and it’s changing the face of the city.

I have no ideas on whether’s there’s anything we can do about this apart from making voodoo dolls of local politicians. If anyone has practical suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Triple sewing news excitement

I logged into WordPress for the first time in ages yesterday, and couldn’t believe that I haven’t blogged for nearly a month. A whole month!

I haven’t had twins, become the new head of the UN, been working shifts on oil rigs or taken up dry-stone walling. So I’m not entirely sure where the time has gone.

I don’t even know if anyone is still reading this blog apart from my Mum (hi Mum.)

Anyway, whether I’m just talking into the void or not, I’m back now and there’s lots of exciting sewing related news to talk about. So hold on to your hats:

 

By Hand London Kickstarter project

Screen_Shot_2014-03-13_at_17.05.35

You must have already heard that the multi-talented women from By Hand London are setting up their own fabric printing business. They have a Kickstarter set up here, and they’re so close to their target with just 9 days left. So go and pledge now!

 

Minerva Crafts Meetup

I am attending the Minerva Crafts Meet-Up

Another amazing craft business to shout about. The wonderful Vicki from Minerva is organising a meet-up in sunny Darwen on the 14th June (no, not that Darwin, it’s actually in Lancashire).

I’ll definitely be there rocking a new homemade dress, I hope you can come along.

 

Me-Made-May 2014

MMM14logolarge

After last year’s triumphant Me Made May, I’m so in for this year.

Although I wear homemade clothing nearly every day, MMM always helps me to come up with new outfits, encourages me to fill gaps in my home-sewn wardrobe, and gives me tons and tons of inspiration. My favourite part is checking the Flickr group and seeing what everyone else is wearing and making.

One more thing…

SPRING IS HERE!

And it’s my favourite time of year. I remember being freezing nearly every day of last May so I’m loving the sunshine.

springcollage

Have you started your spring sewing yet?

Tiny Dancer Flora Dress from By Hand London

Hey guys! It’s been too long since we talked, but I finally have a new dress to show you, not to mention a whole new haircut.

Flora 1

Recognise this little number? Yes, it’s the new By Hand London pattern, Flora, and once again the ladies have totally smashed it. I predict this will be the sewing sensation of 2014.

I have to admit I was  a bit hesitant about making this one. I loved the design but I wasn’t sure about the high-lo hem. My opinions on my knees are similar to those of Coco Chanel – I prefer them covered by either fabric or black tights.

flora side

But actually, I love the drafting of the skirt. It’s got really deep pleats so it feels very floaty to wear, and spins out around you when you move.

My fabric was very kindly provided by Raystitch, and it’s an amazing Liberty print called Tiny Dancer. Check it out:

fabric close-up

It’s covered with lines of dancing men and women in unitards, giving it the full Martha Graham. HOW AMAZING IS THAT. Raystitch do have a beautiful range of more traditional floral Liberty prints too, but I couldn’t resist this one.

I did try recreating some of the poses for you, but the results really weren’t good. I couldn’t bring myself to put them on the internet for future employers to discover. Ask me in the pub sometime and I’ll show you.

flora 4
Seemingly I did manage the old ‘Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes’ though

I had to make a couple of fit alterations – lengthening the bodice two inches, as usual, and also sewing a larger back pattern than front. The fabric was a tiny bit too narrow for the full back skirt, so I just shaved a bit off the side.

The pattern asks you to clip into the seam allowance and then stitch the armholes closed by hand. That was way too much hand-sewing for me, so I just finished the armholes with bias binding. I got away with it as the fabric is so light.

flora back

I didn’t do full-on pattern matching but I did try and make sure the lines of dancing people matched on each side of the zip. It looks as though they are jeté-ing their way around my torso, which is awesome.

The back isn’t really ill-fitting by the way, I’m just standing weirdly.

I really love this wrap-effect bodice. I interfaced and stay-stitched the edges so they wouldn’t stretch out of shape, and I also understitched the lining.

flora 3

Basically, this is the perfect summer dress and for once I’ve made it in time for the right season!

Huge thanks to By Hand London for providing the pattern and Raystitch for providing the beautiful fabric.

Double denim shirt success: tracing my own pattern

I’ve cracked it!

At least, I think I have. I’ll let you decide. Here’s what I’m talking about:

alex double denim

I’ve finally managed to make a shirt for my husband that fits.

You might remember my first attempt was not a success. After another failed muslin of Burda 7045 I decided to give it up as a bad job and trace one of his existing shirts.

This was a solution suggested by the shirt guru David Coffin who actually commented on my original post, but I have to admit I was dubious I could make it work. I just didn’t trust my own tracing skills. I also suspected it would be deeply tedious and fiddly, so I put it off for a couple of months before giving it a go.

I used the method David explains in this video tutorial.but with cardboard instead of foamboard because it’s all I had lying around.

photo (2)
Yes I do have to trace and cut out all my patterns on the floor, which is not doing wonders for my posture.

Do you know what’s weird though? I really enjoyed the tracing process. It was like taking an omelette and turning it back into a fresh egg. I’ve always seen the process the other way round and couldn’t quite believe it worked in reverse.

The fabric I used is a lovely denim that Rosie from DIY Couture kindly sent me when she was having a fabric clear-out. The buttons were 10p each from Ultimate Craft. And the pattern was, obviously, free. So this was a thrifty project.

shirt front
I now see I’ve sewed that left button on too high. Hmph.

This was intended to be a muslin but the fabric was so nice I couldn’t resist doing it properly, although some bits are slightly wonky.

I saved time by using this method to do the plackets, although really this fabric is far too bulky for it. It worked out okay, but for the next shirt I’m going to tackle a proper placket.

shirt placket

I did do a lovely clean finish on the yoke, using the ‘burrito’ method. It’s hard to describe but very easy to do, and it looks so neat.

shirt yoke

denim shirt back

I probably should have ironed the shirt before forcing Alex into a photoshoot. Anyway, I think the fit is okay, but I’m not sure if I should bring the shoulders in a bit? There’s some alarming wrinkling round the armscye area but I don’t know if this is normal for men’s shirts. What do you reckon?

The sleeves are the only bit I’m not sure I traced correctly. I should have marked the shoulder point, as the yoke is coming too far back. The top button on the stand is also straining a bit, so I think it might need more room added to the armhole. 

shirt pocket

This uneven two-button pocket was my only artistic flourish. Predictably, Alex doesn’t like it, but that’s tough. If you’re getting a shirt for free, the shirtmaker decides on the design, that’s my thinking.

Overall, I think this counts as a DOUBLE THUMBS UP SUCCESS! I also enjoyed being on the other side of the camera for a change and bossing Alex about.

alex double denim 2

The only issue is that Alex really doesn’t need any more denim or chambray shirts. I just counted and he’s already got 5. At least he’s a man who knows his own taste. The next one is going to be a plaid, so I’m limbering up my check matching skills.

I need a short break from shirtland first though. This one was made in an epic weekend sewing session, and I don’t want to see another buttonhole again for a while.

Two Moss skirts (and bonus Hemlock)

I tried really hard to come up with a moss related pun for the title of this post, but sadly the brain cells are running dry. It is Sunday night after all.

I made my first denim Moss skirt in Nov 2012. It’s done valiant service but it’s nearly ready for the great charity shop in the sky. Here are a couple of replacements I sewed just before Christmas.

The first one is made from blue wool left over from this pencil skirt:

blue moss 2

The wool is a tiny bit too lightweight for this pattern, but it’s nice and warm. The top is another Grainline special, the free Hemlock tee. This is an amazingly fast pattern to sew, even for a slowcoach like me.

I added a small useless pocket as per usual. If you can add a tiny useless pocket, you should add a tiny useless pocket, that’s my motto in life.

blue moss 1

Here’s the second Moss, which is also made from leftover fabric, this time from my spotty trousers. I only just barely managed to squeeze the pattern pieces out of the remnant I had left.

spotty moss 2

I love this dotty skirt. I’ve been wearing it all the time. Winter is the only time I wear mini skirts, but luckily there’s no shortage of winter weather around here at the moment. As long as it’s cold enough to wear fleece lined tights, I’ll be wearing short skirts (second life motto there for you).

I’ve found it quite hard to adjust the Moss pattern to suit my shape, and I’ve hacked it around so much I’m going to have to print out another version, which is one advantage to pdf patterns. I think the secret for me is stretch fabric – probably why this dotty one is my fave.

I had the perfect big white button in my stash for the waistband:

spotty moss 1

Get your own Moss skirt pattern here. I can’t wait to see what Jen from Grainline comes up with next (and I still need to make an Archer shirt…)