Winter is Coming- Time for Agnes!

I love a good remnant!  Even with less than a metre there is usually enough for a top, like in this viscose blend jersey remnant from Fabric Godmother.  I scored 80cm for 2.99 and it was perfect for cutting out a Tilly and the Buttons Agnes Top with just a couple of scraps left over.

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These are not my first Agnes tops, and I am still wearing the ones that I made up last winter.  This is just the basic long sleeved Agnes pattern with no adaptations.  The fabric does all the work.  It doesn’t need anything fancy, but I do think this is a very cute autumn look.

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The same is true of this oversized t-shirt that I found in the charity shop for £1.  I did have to cut pretty creatively for this one, and even then couldn’t quite get full length sleeves, but I love the sparkle!  I even had to cut the neckband in two pieces which is why there is a join at the centre front, but I decided to use the ruched neckline to try and make it look deliberate.

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Tops like this are staples in my winter wardrobe and are so quick to make up.  Less than 2 hours from cutting to wearing makes these a real bargain, and very satisfying make.  Especially with an overlocker to finish and sew the seams at the same time- I do love my Janome 6234XL.

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There will surely be more of these in the months and years to come.

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Another wedding outfit- Ogden and pleats

I spotted this leaf print viscose challis at Minerva Crafts a while ago, and thought it was a bargain at £2.99 a metre. There are a few colour options to choose from, but I really liked the muted colours of the tan colourway, and when it arrived I wasn’t disappointed.  The fabric is so soft and fluid, but surprisingly easy to work with too.  I thought that I would make a lovely wedding outfit given that I had a few more to attend this year and I wasn’t wrong!

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One problem with sewing for weddings is that I rarely need to get dressed up like that in everyday life, and it does seem a waste to make something beautiful only to wear it for special occasions.  With that in mind, I decided to make a coordinating skirt and top so that I would have more opportunities to wear them apart as well as together.  This might have been partially inspired by other bloggers, and in particular Becca from Red W Sews who also used the ogden cami to make a ‘fake dress’.  It was actually this that convinced me to buy the pattern, and I’m glad I did because it is so simple and elegant.

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So with the top decided, I just needed to work out a skirt.  I fancied something midi length, which isn’t a length that I usually go for, but I thought for a wedding and with heels it should look a bit more classy.  The skirt didn’t need to be anything complicated so I decided to draft one myself  (not entirely successfully) from basic measurements.  I did find a couple of blogs that helped me out, most notably sewVeraVenus for drafting the skirt and Andrea at The Butchers Block for working out how I could have both a side seam zip and pockets!

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Somehow, once I had sewn the zip in and tried the skirt on, it was just far too big.  Being the lazy sewist that I am, I didn’t really want to reset the zip, so I decided to take out a full pleat from the opposite side seam.  I just unpicked a little bit of the waistband facing, took the side seam in, and sewed the facing back down.  Amazingly, despite taking a full 10cm out of the waist, it is still a little big so I don’t think much of my maths.  Either that, or the fabric stretched out a lot more than expected while sewing in the pleats.

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Because these box pleats use a lot of fabric (3 times the waist measurement) this is a lovely full and swooshy skirt.  There is enough weight to it for it to flow nicely, and because it is just a big rectangle , I had plenty of fabric to give it a deep hem.  Sadly, though the wedding venue had beautiful grounds it rained all afternoon, so we had to sneak out and find a little shelter to take these photos.

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Having tested it out together at the wedding, it seemed only right to give the top an outing by itself on the way home.  We stopped off at Croome on the way home, a National Trust property with a really interesting mixed history.  It has a massive grounds and parkland, but was also a ‘secret’ RAF base during the 2nd world war and was instrumental in developing RADAR.

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It was a lovely spot for a walk around and a break from motorway driving.  And my Ogden cami was comfortable and stylish for a Sunday afternoon stroll.  I can see it getting plenty of use for a semi-dressed up look this autumn.

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My first Jeans, and another test for Minerva Crafts

It sometimes seems like you are the only person in the blogosphere that hasn’t made a particular pattern, and I did feel a little like that before embarking on these Ginger Jeans.  These have been on my plans list since Closet Case Patterns launched a ‘Sew you dream jeans’ video workshop in February, so it’s been a while coming.  Sometimes though, you just need a little nudge to get started, and when Minerva Crafts gave me the opportunity to try out some of their stretch denim, I knew it was time to get started!

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I am so in love with these Jeans! They look and feel like the real thing, and are probably the best fitting pair that I have ever owned.  I sewed a size 6 with a few adjustments- I shortened them by 2″ because I am a bit shorter than the drafted for 5’6″. I shortened the crotch length by 3/8th” after my baste fit, and recut my waistband with more of a curve at the back to allow for a slight swayback.  Next time I will take a tiny bit more out of the crotch, but I think that is all the changes that I will make.

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The fabric was fantastic to work with- stretch, good recovery, and firm but not too thick.  You can see my full review and more pictures over on the Minerva crafts blog.  I think I might just have to make another pair.

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The perfect elegant top- Ogden Cami

I think that I might be the last person in the sewing world to make one of these Ogden Cami’s this summer! This is a pattern by True Bias, and has been cropping up all over blogs and Instagram over the summer.  I can definitely see why though.  The pattern is so simple, but just beautifully drafted so it fits in a very elegant way.

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This is actually my second of these tops.  I am hopefully wearing the first one as you read this to a wedding, and I will be revealing my full wedding outfit next weekend (hopefully).  This one does have a couple of issues, but I think they are of my own making!

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The fabric is a remnant of premier crepe from Fabric Godmother in the colour beige. I would probably call it something more elegant like blush, but it is a really lovely neutral colour.  The remnant was only 60cm, which meant that I didn’t have quite enough to cut the facings too, so I cut them from a cream acetate lining fabric.

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I think the may be where my small fitting issue came in.  The crepe is drapey and has a lot of movement. The lining is a little stiffer and more rigid, though also lightweight. I think it is the lining which is causing the slight pulling across my bust and underarms.  I don’t seem to have this problem in the other one, and I think this is because the facing moves with the main fabric better.

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The pattern advises that you do something to differentiate the front from the back, so I hand stitched this little button onto the back lining to help me out when getting dressed!

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This is a straight size 4 and I love it.  Being fitted at the bust means that I don’t feel swamped in fabric by the time it flares out over the stomach and hips.  I do have a little bit of a tummy, and this conceals it without looking like I am trying to!  This crepe does have a good bit of drape, and I have so many more plans for these in all the remnants I can get my hands on.  It is certainly economical for fabric and can definitely be got out of 1m.

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I made a coat!

This has to be my procrastination project.  I started this time last year, but was too scared to cut out my outer fabric so never really got started.  When the September Sewmystyle project came around I realised that this was the prefect moment to deviate slightly from the schedule and complete this coat rather than the Named Yona Coat.

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The pattern is Kwik Sew K4015.  The pattern envelope illustrations are perhaps not that inspiring, but I looked past this to see if I could create a relatively simple lined jacket.

I made very few changes to the pattern.  My coat is a straight size small, view B and was inspired by one made by Rosa of Sewn quite a while ago!  This is a size up from my measurements, but I wanted plenty of space to fit winter jumpers underneath.

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I added side seam pockets and a back stay for functionality and longevity.  The back stay should stop the fabric from stretching out at the shoulders and upper back over time, and mine is copied from Gertie’s in a firm cotton and was just machine basted onto the back piece before I began construction.

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The main fabric was bought online from Abakhan and is a wool acrylic. I didn’t want to splurge too much on a first coat when I wasn’t sure whether my skills were up to it, or if I would like it when I was done!  They seem to be out of the Navy colourway now, but still have the same fabric in black, pink or brown if you are interested.  It is quite loosely woven, so I did overlock all my pieces because I was scared that it would slowly unravel and fall apart behind the lining.  The lining/contrast fabric is a Rose and Hubble printed cotton with scissors on from Trago.  I didn’t have quite enough of this fabric for the inseam pockets (didn’t realise when shopping that this was quite a narrow bolt) so I just used some plain cotton calico for these.IMG_0429

The instructions were generally pretty good.  The only place I came unstuck was attaching the sleeve lining to the sleeve.  With hindsight I should have anticipated this problem, but the pattern appears to tell you to just sew the cuff seam while the coat is still inside out, before turning through the hole in the lining.  This resulted in a Mobius strip sleeve which was comical and impossible to wear!  Once I have unpicked my stitching, I turned the coat the right way out and matched the sleeve seam allowances up, before reaching through the hole in the lining to attach them in a more practical way!

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Before I stitched the lining closed I decided to add thread chains between the underarm of the lining and the coat, just to help keep these in place with a little room for movement.

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I was a little scared of putting buttonholes into this coat, especially with the fraying fabric so I decided to go for snaps.  These are Prym Anorak snaps and they have a slightly longer shaft than some of the lighter snaps I have used before.  This meant that they actually went through all the fairly bulky layers and seam allowances without any trouble, and my Vario Pliers were amazingly easy to set them in with.  Now they match the little eyelets for the hood draw cord too which seems fitting.

Once I stopped procrastinating, this was actually a very easy project, and I was so happy with how it came together.  The hood drawstring is functional, though I don’t think I will often need to bring it in.

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I like the contrast fabric on show in the patch pockets and hood.  It makes it feel personal and unique to me.  The sizing seems good.  I had plenty of room with a lighter weight jumper, and I think there will still be space for something thicker later on in the winter. And even in a heavy rain shower I stayed dry which was a definite bonus!

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I will be tempted to make this again. Probably not this winter, but perhaps in a year or so in a thick cotton twill or even waxed cotton or oilcloth.  I think if I did, I would add a channel and some elastic to give a bit more waist definition like Rosa did, but for now I am very happy with my first coat!

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Winslow Culottes

I have been desiring culottes for a while, especially as I have been cycling a bit more, and they are just much more practical than a skirt on a bike!  The best ones look pretty and feminine like a skirt, just a lot less likely to accidentally show off your underwear! Having looked at a few options, I settled on the Winslow Culottes by Helens Closet who is another new to me pattern designer.

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I wanted these culottes to sit a little below my natural waist and to be loose and comfortable for summer so I sized up a little and used the size 8 pieces. I figured that if it was a little larger than I planned, with those big pleats it would be easy to just shorten the waistband and take a little more fabric into the pleat.

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The fabric is a little special.  The only souvenir that I brought home from Italy was this 1.3m remnant of fabric.  The shop that we visited was very close to Milan city centre and was understandably mostly out of my price range.  There were some stunning silks and velvets, but I could only really justify looking though their remnants.

This smallish piece of cotton was my prize though.  It is just lovely to touch. Soft and drapey, and made in Italy, so a very appropriate holiday souvenir.  The yardage was pretty much perfect for these shorter culottes (view B).

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These have been a very quick and efficient sew.  I prewashed the fabric in the morning, then ironed and cut before lunch and spent the afternoon sewing them up.  I would say that this was a pretty beginner friendly pattern.  The trickiest part is probably inserting the invisible zip, but the instructions and illustrations are excellent.

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In terms of fit, I am fairly happy.  The waistband fits a little strangely, because it sits at a slightly strange in-between height. I can live with that though, but next time I will need to contour the waistband slightly so that it sits against my body a little better.  It is just a narrow straight band, so there isn’t any shaping included in the pattern.

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When I hemmed these culottes, I did take quite a bit of length off.  They are designed with a narrow 1/2″ hem, but I ended up with a deep 3 1/2″ hem instead to bring the length up above my knee a little.  That might be partially because the waistband is sitting a little lower than my natural waist.

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The fabric makes these so special for me.  There are a couple of hidden features, like including the selvedge into the pockets as a special holiday reminder.  It was beautiful to work with, and is a great weight, draping really nicely in the finished skirt.  The deep pleats are very flattering, so I think I will be making this pattern up agin next summer.

These pictures do remind me that sadly summer is drawing to a close.  The culottes did perform really well on our ride, along with my Rowan bodysuit, but we did get soaked in a rain shower on the way home!

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Rowan Bodysuit

I decided that to keep improving as a dressmaker I need to keep trying new things.  When this pattern came out a couple of months ago, I really liked it, and thought it would be a little different to the rest of my wardrobe.  This is the Rowan Bodysuit by Megan Nielson, and is one of a couple of new patterns I have purchased recently.

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I made this in the same heather gray cotton spandex from Girl Charlee as one of Matt’s latest t-shirts.  The pattern calls for a fabric with quite a bit of stretch in both dimensions, and Girl Charlee helpfully list the stretch percentages of most of their fabrics.

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There is a whole range of variations included in this pattern, and also some additional advice and options in a series of tutorial posts on the Megan Nielson website.  I did find the one about sewing the crotch lining and snaps particularly useful.

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I think I might be a bit Megan Nielson obsessed- this summer there have been quite a few of their patterns making their way into my wardrobe, including my Flint Shorts and Darling Ranges Dress.  One of the reasons that I like them so much though is that the instructions and drafting are top notch.  Everything works and is clearly explained.  This was my first attempt at a v-neck, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

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The advantage of a bodysuit is that when you wear it tucked in, it stays there!  I did take this away to Italy and wore it with shorts and with my Sew Over It Carrie Trousers, but the pictures were taken a bit late at night, and ended up a little grainy.

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Still, I had lost of fun trying to take these pictures- turns out, it is quite tricky to photograph cartwheels!

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I would love a few more of these for layering in the autumn.  There are loads of options included in the pattern, including both sleeve and neckline options.  I think a long sleeved turtle-neck version would be great layered with knitwear or dresses.  I do like the sample shown by Megan Nielson in a lovely deep navy.

 

 

More Metro tees and Rooftop Milan

Perhaps not the most exciting post because these are more of the Men’s Metro Tee by Liesl and Co. (See my previous versions here), but you can tell a pattern is a good one when you just keep making more!

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All these fabrics are from Girl Charlee, who are just the most brilliant online shop for jerseys.  I bought a whole load when they last had a discount, so there are other jersey projects in the pipeline!  The ones I chose for Matt were a heather grey cotton spandex, motorcycles on grey cotton and a monochrome triangle cotton jersey.  I also got some darker charcoal grey baby rib for contrast.

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For one of these t-shirts, I kept it very simple with the heather grey jersey, but didn’t want it to bee too boring!  I used the charcoal grey rib for the neckband and found it very stretchy so I did remove a little extra length.

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Then to co-ordinate, I drafted a very simple band for the sleeve hem.  This does make hemming the sleeve very simple, and the sleeves in this version are slightly longer too.

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The motorbike version and the triangles are just exactly as drafted in the pattern.  Sometimes the simple ones are the best!

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So this post is also a great opportunity to show of some lovely views.  Standing on the roof of the Duomo in Milan (as in the picture above) was a pretty surreal moment.

Darling Ranges in Dawlish

I’ve had some fun this Bank Holiday Weekend, getting out and down to the seaside in my latest project Sew My Style pattern, the Darling Ranges dress by Megan Nielson.  This was perfect for a sunny Saturday because it is such an easy-breezy dress. I felt cool and comfortable even though it actually got pretty warm for a change!

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I sewed my version up in some viscose from my stash which has been there for about a year.  It is very lightweight and drapey which did make some of the cutting and sewing a challenge as it really wanted to shift around.  I have managed to mostly subdue it, though I can’t be certain that my hem is actually all the same length!

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I was also a little unsure while I was sewing that the viscose was going to be opaque enough, but having worn it for the day I am feeling sufficiently happy that the whole world can’t see my underwear!

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I sewed version 1, in a size XS and made no alterations.  I wasn’t sure how the fit was going to turn out, but it is actually pretty good.  The bust darts could do with shifting slightly on the next version, and the bodice side seam does pull forward sightly because I need a little more bust room, but nothing to make this unwearable. The placket does gape slightly between the first two buttons, which I fixed temporarily with a safety pin, but I am going to go back and insert a hidden button to keep it closed.

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The buttons are little flowers from my button stash too so I felt very smug sewing this without having to buy any fabric or notions.  I have no idea how I chose things like buttons before Instagram and the sewing community were around to help me out though.

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The dress does have options for ties at the back, which I have so far left off.  I quite like this looser silhouette, but it can be brought in a little with a belt too.  I think the loose shape it a bit more casual, but with a belt this could probably be dressed up, and may still make an appearance at a wedding at the end of September.

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The next project sew my style pattern is the Yona Coat, but I already have a part completed coat from last year which I am going to substitute in instead.  Seems a little mad in this last burst of summer weather to be thinking of working with wool and coats but that’s how it needs to be to be ready for the changing weather.  For now, I’m just happy to be in the sun for a little while longer.

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Another Archer (or two)!

This is not my first Archer Shirt, and I am sure there will be more (I have a lovely soft brushed cotton which would be perfect), but I am pretty proud of creating proper basics.

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These are my 3rd and 4th versions of the standard Archer button-up, and I have also sewn the popover variation before too.

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I decided that the best way of creating these shirts would be to sew both simultaneously so that I only really had to look up the instructions for each stage once.  Grainline have a fantastic sew-a-long with detailed pictures or videos of every stage.  I definitely found them invaluable the first time I made an Archer.  This time I was able to get away with just looking up and checking a couple of stages.

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Fabrics are maybe not the most exciting here, though this lightweight denim from my stash is amazing.  Not sure where it is from, but it doesn’t wrinkle at all, which made it great for packing on holiday.  The flowers are a Rose and Hubble polycotton from Trago, which I chose largely so that I could sew both shirts in the same navy thread without it being strange, and because the print is busy enough not to bother matching.

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So why do I love this pattern and these shirts so much?  It’s because there is something magical about creating a complicated garment out of a flat piece of fabric.  And the Archer pattern is so good and clear, that it really does make it do-able for most dressmakers.  Every notch matches up, every instruction is illustrated, and the sizing is accurate too.

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These shirts are both a size 4.  Its roomy enough to stick a t-shirt underneath and use the shirt as a cover up, but not so huge that I won’t be able to layer them under jumpers in the winter.

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The only change that I made this time, was to add a button tab, so that I could roll up the sleeves.  I based it on the Alex Shirtdress, but picked my own positioning and dimensions.  I actually changed up the construction order a little to finish the sleeves first so that I could check they were in the right place.  I really like the contrast that you get in the denim with sleeves rolled up and the paler reverse side visible.

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To vary it up (and to stop me needing about 30 buttonholes!) I used buttons on one shirt, but on the other I went for silver snaps.  I think they look lovely and casual with the denim, and they were certainly faster.  (Love my vario pliers for this.)

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I even remembered to sew in some ribbon between the yoke seam and the body as my tag.

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On holiday I was reaching for these shirts all the time (along with the much loved Flint shorts), and that is when you know they were a success.  I didn’t wear either of the cardigans that I had packed, partially because it was warm, but also because the shirts were just right.

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You are even getting a sneak peek of something else coming to the blog- my latest guest blog for Minerva Crafts, featuring some green stretch denim.  Sadly you will have to wait for a couple of months for the full reveal, but I can tell you that I am totally in love with the result!

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