Summer Capsule Wardrobe: A Necessary Dress

After a few weeks of planning, I’m starting to sew on my summer capsule wardrobe. I first busted out a couple no-alterations-necessary basics to give me something to cover myself with while I work. Now I’m buried deeply in the piles of tissue paper required for pattern alteration. Because honestly – if I’m going to pour this kind of time and money into sewing for myself, I want to be sure I like the outcome. Especially right now as I’m going through so many body transitions after pregnancy. I love the result – my sweet little Reid!- but pregnancy and nursing are definitely hard on my body. I’ve been doing lots of measuring, followed by re-measuring, sewing test garments, adjusting those test garments, more measuring…

There was a good post on Free Notion on “where do I start” to help establish priorities. For me, our family schedule dictated my top priority – a wedding, followed by the dedication of our son at church, followed by another wedding, then business travel the rest of the summer. I was desperate for a good basic dress that 1) fit and 2) is easy to work on. Goal accomplished!


This is the Jocole Crossover Dress. I made it last summer as a sort of “wearable muslin.” Based on that I made a couple minor tweaks to the pattern – I added 1/4″ to the upper bodice area and cut the armhole out a bit larger to better suit my arms. I also added 5″ to the length (just added it to the bottom) to get the length I want for a little more formal dress.


I have a last thought to share. Becca’s most recent post on the capsule wardrobe sew along is all about fitting for your own unique, extraordinary body. These little adjustments seem so small. They would be easy to skip – after all, the dress was wearable straight from the pattern. Not perfect, but wearable. And yet they made me self conscious and super aware of my clothes, not in a good way. In my mind the best outfit fits well and is well suited for the activity of the day to the point that it blends into the background. You put it on and never think about it again.

By taking the time to measure myself and carefully adjust the pattern, I achieved that on this dress. I’m so glad I did. The way I feel in this dress is the motivation to take the time on some of the other patterns I’m using this summer that require *a lot* more fitting. Pants. Woven tops. Things that won’t just stretch over my mommy tummy and look decent even if they’re perfect. This is my kick start to get sewing on everything else!


If you’re wondering, here are the main reasons for my own #extraordinarybody. These two crazy kids are the sunshine in my day! Grace Abigail, age 4 and Reid Isaiah, 6 weeks yesterday. They’re worth every bump, bulge, and stretch mark!



Summer Capsule Wardrobe: After the Purge

I’m sewing along with the Summer Capsule Wardrobe project hosted by Free Notion. This week I purged my closet. Then, I searched my pattern collection to start filling in the holes.

This has been a therapeutic experience: 2 garbage bags full of clothing removed from my life. Things that never fit or will never fit again, things that haven’t been worn in the past 2 years, things that I bought thinking they might work but didn’t, things that did work – 6 years ago – but are now well beyond the line of being acceptable. Since they weren’t being worn anyway, it was literally all trash taking up space in my closet and slowing me down trying to find the few pieces that do work.

So what am I left with? Not much, but what I do have is guaranteed to fit (mostly at least) and be worn on a regular basis. You know, the way clothing should be.



3 short sleeve tee shirts, 1 3/4 sleeve tee shirt, 3 open front cardigans (1 short sleeve, 2 3/4), and one denim jacket. Clearly I will be making a bunch of tops for my wardrobe. The capsule wardrobe “recipe” suggests 15 tops and 2 jackets; I currently have 4 tops, 3 cardigans, 1 jacket. Of those four tops, the pink and white are made by me so I will be reusing those patterns (after I do a FBA, much needed now that I’m nursing Reid). This is my ideal sewing list; we will see what reality allows:

  • Jocole quick dress, extended sleeve (print)
  • Jocole quick dress, sleeveless (probably 2 – one neutral one print)
  • Jocole quick dress, top yoke version (neutral, with detailing)
  • PAB Santa fee tee (probably 2 – one neutral one print)
  • Liesl + Co Metro tee (neutral?)

Bottoms and Dresses


I own 2 pairs of pants, and they’re both maternity. The only bottom currently missing is 1 navy blue maxi skirt – that’s a total of 3 bottoms when the recipe suggests 9. This is a dismal situation – the jeans don’t even really fit but I’m hanging on to them to avoid nudity. They will be rotated out as soon as replacements are available. I am already working on muslin to make Jocole skinny jeans. I also whipped up a Tie Dye Diva chocolate chip skirt that will be finished today, naptime willing. Here’s what I need:

  • Jocole skinnies, basic denim
  • Jocole skinnies, cropped gray twill
  • Jocole skinnies, shorts dark denim
  • TDD chocolate chip skirt, dark chambray (already sewn, waiting for elastic)
  • TDD chocolate chip skirt, print
  • Jocole crossover dress, something acceptable to wear to multiple weddings and church

Shoes and Scarves


5 pairs of shoes: flip flops, black flats, white and denim flats, sneakers. Plus two light weight scarves that I wear year round. The black flats are due to be replaced and I could really use a pair of heels and some decent sandals for when flip flops don’t cut it. The capsule “recipe” recommends 9 pairs – this is my closest category!

And that’s it! Well, not counting a random assortment of pajamas, camisoles (I wear them under everything and go through a couple a day – thank you nursing a sloppy baby!), and gym clothes. I wear those at home or working out only; I have a thing against gym clothes in public. I also have one small box in the closet with winter clothes – my favorite boots and a lot of dark clothing. It will be interesting to see if I even pull it out, especially as we are relocating to Florida before next winter.

Clearly I have an awful lot of work laid out in front of me – 12 garments currently listed above, and that’s still far below the “recipe”. The realities of time and finances may dictate a Target run to fill in some of the worst gaps. I can envision my ideal capsule wardrobe – realistically I will have to build as I go, piece by piece and season by season. But now that all my old clothes have left the house, I’m committed! Let the sewing begin!

Summer Capsule Wardrobe: Style Analysis

I’m sewing along with the Summer Capsule Wardrobe project hosted by Free Notion. This week I have a big task to accomplish – figuring out my basic style. What do I like? Why do I like it? What should I spend my limited time sewing? You can read Becca’s post explaining our “homework” here.

It’s only been a few weeks (3 tomorrow!) since I delivered my son, so my body is definitely in a season of adjusting. I need my clothing this summer to flatter that as well as be flexible to my changing size. With that in mind, I hit my closet to find my favorite pieces – the few garments that I truly like and want to build my capsule around.

For each piece, these are the questions to reflect on:

We’re going to start with a few questions. Look at the items you selected, and jot down your ideas about each piece:

  • Why do I like this piece? Most answers will fall into one – maybe more – of these categories: “the color!” “The print!” “The fit!” “Sentimental!”
  • Why do I wear this piece? “The color brings out my eyes.” “I love floral prints.” “The fit is really flattering”. “I spent a lot of money on it.” “I spent a lot of time making it.” “It’s from (insert special memory here).”
  • What prevents me from wearing this piece more? “I outgrew it” “It looks faded or over-worn.” “It’s too cold/hot/wet/etc to wear it now.” “I have nothing to wear with it.” “I don’t know how to pull it off.” Others? Share them below so I can add them here! 


Black open cardigan

  • I love the length and sleeve length. I pretty much always wear my sleeves at my elbows, even on my cardigans with longer sleeves. Also it’s a little longer than most of my shirts which I like – breaks up the lines of my clothing.
  • This is a wardrobe staple. I pull it on over tanks and tees all the time, with everything. It rarely even gets put away.
  • I’m not thrilled that it’s maternity, since I gave birth a few weeks ago. It doesn’t show in the picture, but there is an empire line and extra material in the front. It has buttons but they scream baby bump. I had a white version too but that one looked much more maternity (and had holes in it) so it’s gone now. I’d love to replace this with something similar in feel but you know, not maternity.


White knit top

  • I like the lace yoke – it’s sweet and a little showy without being overwhelming. The pleats add a nice detail plus a little extra fabric – important for nursing. When I pull it up it drapes just right so I don’t need a nursing cover.
  • I wear this a lot because it’s the only top I have that actually fits right now…
  • I don’t like the length. It’s too short for my comfort. I think the yoke cuts too high which makes my chest and arms look funny. It’s definitely wearable but also far from perfect. I’m planning several “inspired by” tops though – it’s a good starting point.


I love this whole outfit; it was my go-to all last summer.

Khaki Skirt

  • It is  the perfect basic. It started as a strangely calf length thrift stoer find that I cropped off to just above knee length. I think this is a great length for me – long enough to be decent, short enough to be comfortable and flattering.
  • I can’t wear it anymore 😦 It was always tight at the waist because I am very rectangle and it is more hourglass. Since having a baby I am certain it won’t fit. I’m planning a replacement for my capsule.

Pink top

  • One of my first knit projects! This is the metro tee from liesl and co
  • I don’t tend to grab bright colors but I surprised myself with this one. I love it!
  • I will get back to wearing this again very soon. It fits but isn’t easy to nurse in.


  • Favorite. Wardrobe. Item. ever. Even in the summer! I love the colors and the softness. I don’t tend to grab prints so a scarf is a “safe” way to introduce them. This is the inspiration for my colors for my capsule.

Now I get to go ponder all this to decide what pieces I need in my capsule wardrobe!

Me Made May Wrap-Up


Victory! I made it all the way through Me Made May 2014! I have only one more garment to show you, then some reflections.

May 27

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Striped sundress, self drafted, blogged here. It doesn’t come out much because the shoulders are too wide and like to slide off.

There was one other me-made garment that didn’t get photographed – a purple quilter’s cotton wrap skirt. I don’t wear it out much because well… it’s a quilter’s cotton wrap skirt. Nothing fancy. I also paired my white woven tee (May 3rd) with a couple different purchased skirts which didn’t get photographed. Pretty much everything else was repeats from earlier in the month. May 1-5; May 6-12; May 13-21. I think I took a total of 5 cheat days – less than I’d allowed myself! Next year I’ll aim for something me-made every day of the month.


I successfully wore every me-made item in my closet at least once during the month. Some only got one wear; some were worn sooo much! The pink Liesl + Co tee was worn on at least 8 separate days – it’s the clear winner for MMM2014. This is probably my favorite styling of it:

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Things I learned because of MMM2014:

  • While I love to sew garments, I don’t like my outfits to look homemade.
  • I’ve sewn a lot with quilter’s cotton, and those garments were each only worn once. I hate quilter’s cotton – probably because it looks homemade.
  • I wear lots of knit; this means I need to sew more knit.
  • My life is pretty casual. I need more separates – especially tops.
  • A little denim jacket and a wide belt can pull nearly any outfit together.
  • My favorite outfits balance softness and structure. I can’t do head- to- toe floaty or knit.

Which all lead to a resolution:

  • Be braver about apparel fabric!

It’s time to learn the different weights and blends of knit fabric. I also want to explore the world of woven apparel fabric – lawn, gauze, shirting, poplin… so many choices. I bought myself a couple patterns during Memorial Day sales and got new fabric in the mail on Friday. It’s time to build the wardrobe I’ll actually WANT to wear, not random garments on a whim that then sit in the closet forever.

I’m grateful for this challenge! It definitely helped my sewing for myself thought process!

You can see how everyone else wrapped up in the Flikr group.

Me Made May Days 13-21

Hi friends! Are you still wearing what you make? It’s still Me Made May for another week and a half!

After realizing some huge gaps in my wardrobe, I broke a rule – I’ve got fabric on order to make myself at least 3 more things. I rationalize they’re things I’ve been talking about making for a while, but really? I’m addicted to buying fabric.

I’m a fabricaholic on the road to recovery. Just kidding – I’m on the road to the fabric store.

I didn’t take as many pictures this week-plus, due to many of the outfits being repeats. I broke out my maxi dress from Day 1 again, and I’ve stopped counting how many times I’ve worn the pink tee from Day 2. It’s hands-down my favorite piece of clothing, me-made or purchased. I’m making 2 more tees from this pattern (Liesl + Co Metro) once the fabric arrives in a few days.

I’m only posting photos of unique outfits before, but I only took 2 cheat days this posting period. I’m well within my challenge commitment!

May 13 – Tuesday

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This tiered skirt has been around for over four years. It’s super soft denim. I used a long-lost petticoat tutorial (different computer and pre-Pinterest – whatever did we do!) to stitch it up. Simple, kind of boring, just right for a rainy indoor chore day.

May 16 – Friday

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Running errands with my butterfly princes. Yet another styling of my pink Metro t-shirt. This skirt is a purchase but I have fabric on order to make an exact copy.

May 20 – Tuesday

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At home day. It’s the first day it’s been really hot around here, so I broke out my purple interlock Lady Skater dress (first blogged here). I love how this dress looks kind of elegant and pulled together… but really, it’s cotton knit and more comfy than most pajamas. If I had left the house I would have thrown on a skinny belt (and shoes, obviously), but the farthest I went was the back yard. Where it was hot. So no accessories today!

May 21 – Wednesday

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Hey look, what’s that? Yet another outfit combination using the pink Metro tee? And no one is surprised! This shirt may not make it past Me Made May, as much as I’ve been wearing it.

Ten days left to go. I had one more unique outfit, but I wore it to church and ended up spilling coffee before snapping a picture. I’ll add it in on the next post if I remember. Hopefully my fabric package will arrive in the next couple days, too – As much as I love the pink tee, it’s time for variety!  One last laugh for you, as I’ve pondered how little my fabric stash actually has in common with what I feel most comfortable wearing:



Me Made May Days 6-12

Several more days of Me Made May! This has been a fun challenge, thinking through what I’ve made vs. what I actually wear. I’m working on my summer to-sew list now to build my wardrobe more efficiently. Basically? More basics! I don’t live a fancy life; I need more casual every day clothes. I wear the same things over and over and over again. I also don’t like to look homemade. So I need to make more mix and match pieces to combine with my ready-to-wear purchases. I still have 2 skirts and 2 dresses in the closet that haven’t been worn yet; they’re all out of quilter’s cotton so I’m not sure they’ll actually make it out. I’m coming to appreciate things made out of real apparel fabric – the results are much more professional.

May 6 – Tuesday

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At home play day. Self drafted quilters cotton skirt and a purchased tee. I love this skirt, but it’s getting too big. I may modify it to run elastic through the waist. It’s a cute drop waist skirt with a big gore in the front for drape and movement… none of which you can see in this picture!

May 7 – Wednesday

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Simplicity 1810, made last summer and blogged here. Worn with a purchased jean jacket. I wear this dress all. the. time.

May 8 – Thursday

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I had meetings and lunch with friends today, so I grabbed my most purchased-looking clothes… but they’re all me made! The shirt is Liesl + Co Women’s Metro Tee (details here, about halfway down the page) and my upcycled thrift store skirt (details in the same place)

May 9 – Friday

Skip day 🙂 It’s been a crazy busy week and I just threw on purchased jeans and a tank to celebrate surviving to Friday!

May 10 – Saturday

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New Look 6184, blogged here. My denim jacket and wide belt are getting quite the work out this Me Made May! They really pull a look together. We spent the day shopping in Saint Louis for my daughter’s birthday.

May 11 – Sunday

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For church I wore my pink and gray dress, shown above. Then after I changed into Butterick 5644 (details here) with purchased jeans. I don’t really like this top. The bodice is a little too short and the tunic is a little too long. But it’s linen and cool which is good since all the sudden it’s hot and humid around here.

May 12 – Monday

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Liesl + Co Metro Tee paired with New Look 6100 shorts (blogged here). This pink tee is such a favorite! I’ve worn it, what, 3 times in 12 days?! Definitely making more of these! The Riley Blake knit I sewed it from is heavenly. The shorts however are not a favorite. When will I learn to not trust the sizing on purchased patterns? They’re just funny… too big pretty much everywhere, except at the center back seam, which gives me a wedgie. But they work, and it’s hot again. I need to find a shorts pattern I actually like to make it through the summer.

Almost half way through Me Made May 2014! I’m really enjoying this challenge to reflect and actually PLAN what to sew, instead of just hodge podge making what strikes me at the moment. Want to see what others are wearing? Visit the Me Made May Flickr Pool 🙂

Me Made May Days 1-5 {With new clothes!}

It’s Me Made May, where seamstresses commit to wearing clothing they’ve made throughout the month. My pledge and more information are here. I’m going to do summary posts every handful of days through out the month. I’m excited to post days 1-5! I love this opportunity to be creative with my wardrobe, finding the right outfit combinations to use each of the pieces I’ve spent time and effort making over the past couple years.

May 1

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Lady Skater maxi modification, originally blogged here

Not super interesting, but definitely comfortable! I paired it with a cardigan and a wide belt for a busy day at class and babysitting.

May 2

metro tWomen’s Metro T-Shirt from Liesl + Co (with purchased jeans and sweater)

I’ve been wanting to make my own tees for a while. Most of the ones I can find in stores are too short, too tight, too not right for me. As a result, I don’t have many. When this pattern released a few weeks ago I knew it would only be a matter of time before I owned it. The time is now! I sewed this top on the 1st – it pulled together super quickly. I made 2 shirts from start to finish (including taping the pattern together!) between when my daughter went to bed and when I did. This version is made with zero modifications using a 95% cotton 5% lycra knit available here. I could tweak the fit ever so slightly but honestly? I probably won’t – this is the most comfortable tee I’ve ever worn. We spent all day on the 2nd in the car driving. This was after 10 hours going from central Illinois to eastern Tennessee and I look a little rumpled but the shirt didn’t stretch out funny at all (like some do… cough, old navy, cough…)

May 3

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Skirt – self drafted circle skirt with elastic waist. Top – Women’s Metro T-Shirt, modified

Today was wedding day for my dear cousin Erika and her new husband Ken. And it’s a double Me-Made day for me! The ceremony was just beautiful, out on my aunt and uncle’s farm. We had lots of walking to do through the beautiful Smoky Mountains to get to the various parts of the day with a grand finale of swing dancing in the barn. I needed something both beautiful and simple; the right balance between fancy and casual; easy to wear and fun for dancing!

wedding dads

What could be better for swing dancing than a chiffon circle skirt? NOTHING, in my opinion! Light weight and swingy and pretty much perfect. And it moves in such a way that you can’t tell the hem is so not straight. I hemmed each layer before attaching them together. Major no-no on a circle skirt but my time was seriously limited. Will I go back and fix it? Probably not. LOL! Top layer is a floral print chiffon lined with a super light weight polyester.

The top is the Metro tee pattern again, the 2nd shirt I sewed up on May 1st. This time I was using a remnant of fabric I’d picked up somewhere along the way. It’s actually a woven, but it has a fair bit of stretch in it due to the crinkle texture, so I used it anyway. I modified the neckline to be a pretty scoop and slightly shortened the sleeves and hem so that all the pieces would fit on my slightly less than a yard of fabric. I used a favorite shirt of mine to free hand cut the new neckline. The pictures don’t show it well but up close, the white tee is semi sheer and has a lot of texture, so this plain white t-shirt really isn’t!

May 4

I wore all purchased clothes today, because we were making the return trip which for some reason took even longer than the trip down. Must be because we were all so tired from dancing all night.

May 5

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Skirt: Upcycled. Everything else is purchased

This hardly counts as Me-Made, but I’m using it anyway! This khaki skirt was a thrift store find several years ago. It sat around in my closet for ages. I liked the idea of the skirt, but when I first bought it, it was such an awkward length. I’m not sure where it was designed to hit, but on me it was about as unflattering as a skirt could be. So a few months ago I hacked several inches off the bottom and hemmed it to be just above knee length. It gets worn all the time now. Here’s a before shot from earlier in the winter:

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Be sure to check out the Flickr group to find more inspiration of clothing people have made and actually wear! I think that’s my favorite part about this whole challenge – seeing how other seamstresses integrate their creations into their wardrobes. I love the blend of home made / modified and purchased garments. It inspires me and motivates me to keep sewing!

Me Made May 2014


Have you heard of this awesome community project? It’s Me Made May! The challenge is to actually wear the things you’ve made during the month of May. It isn’t a competition – just a personal challenge to sew things that get worn and wear things that get sewn (IE, find those holes in your wardrobe and fill them; and evaluate if you really need another fancy dress).

Last year I somewhat obsessively stalked some of the participants. This year I’m jumping in myself!

The official challenge is one homemade item per day. Due to the constraints of what I have in my wardrobe (I know I’m heavy on dresses and low on absolutely everything else), I’m adjusting the challenge slightly. Here’s my pledge:

‘I, Jenny at Gabi Sunshine, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavor to wear at least one handmade or altered item at least 5 days per week for the duration of May 2014’

That’s all it takes!

Want to find out more? This page explains all the “rules” and goals. You can find the Flickr community here.

There is a “rule” of no panic sewing for the purpose of the challenge, but I do plan on doing some for-me sewing this month. It was already on the schedule so I’m calling it good 🙂 Basic staples are a must have!

To The Max

I’m really slow to join on fashion trends. Mostly because I’m oblivious. But there’s one that has caught my eye for years: Maxi skirts and dresses. I’ve never joined in – I’ve tried on occasion, but it just didn’t work. My legs are really long. Most maxis hit me well above the ankles, which is so not cool. Or they have no coverage on top, which isn’t my style. Or colors that I really don’t like. So I’ve just watched, filling a Pinterest board with images, considering but never actually making a move.

But wait. I sew. Cue the duh moment… really sometimes it takes me longer than it should! I blame the toddler.

So for my birthday present to myself I’m finally joining in!

Lady Skater Maxi Dress at Gabi Sunshine

I used the Lady Skater pattern again for the bodice. I showed my first try/ wearable muslin / troubleshooting version here. I got some great feedback on the alterations I needed and I am much happier this time. The skirt is a simple tube across the width of the fabric gathered onto the bodice (following the suggestion from here)

Lady Skater Maxi Dress at Gabi Sunshine

The fabric is a soft jersey knit that I bought from… wait for it… Mood! I know it’s not really that big of a deal, but after a decade of watching Project Runway, ordering from them was definitely on my bucket list. Life goal accomplished.

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I’m really pleased. I styled it really simply today, but I’ve already thought up a half dozen variations based on things already in my closet. Some with long sleeves over the top – it got cold again! I’m so ready for spring. This dress is so easy to wear. I’ve been on my knees on the floor, climbing up on ledges, and everything in between. Other than having to remember to lift the edge on stairs (oops) it’s one of those throw-on-and-go outfits that still looks pulled together. Making more? Definitely.

Lady Skater Maxi Dress at Gabi Sunshine


Dress: Lady Skater by Kitschy Koo, tube style skirt

Fabric: 100% cotton jersey from Mood


Troubleshooting the Lady Skater

Want to see a work in progress? I usually only post finished, polish, and posed, but I need help!

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Meet the Lady Skater dress from British designer Kitschy Coo. It’s just a tee shirt dress with a circle style skirt (not a full circle. Maybe half?). Super simple, super perfect uniform every day dress. I’m looking forward to making a shelf full – there’s some brilliant interpretations on the blog and on Pinterest that I can’t wait to copy. Except I need to do some pattern work first. So it’s completely appropriate that I’m taking photos my in process dining room.

I have narrow shoulders. It means that every. single. pattern. needs altered. I’m planning to spend some time later this spring making a sloper to make alterations easier (Don’t know what that is? Come back in a month or so! I’m already writing the series). I need some extra eyes on this pattern though to figure out what specifically to adjust. This is my first knit dress for me. I know that I can get it perfect. And I really, really, REALLY hope I do, because…

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See? It’s got to be perfect before I cut into my splurge fabric! Here’s some close ups on the bodice. I know I’m not standing up straight but hopefully it’s enough to see. (My husband only had about 2 minutes before running out the door to work)

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So, wiser eyes, what do I need to fix? Here’s what I’m thinking, but I feel like I’m missing something. I made a straight size 5 with 4? extra inches in skirt length (I’m 5’9″), but no other alterations so far.

  • Narrow shoulder adjustment, as shown here
  • Slight sway back adjustment
  • Bringing the neckline in all the way around

HELP! And, Thank You!