New year, new plans and a giveaway!

Last year, I began my blog with some new years plans. It’s been interesting to look back on them and my brand-new-never-read blog of last January! Last year I made two resolutions, firstly to try to follow project #sewmysyle, and secondly to blog weekly/fortnightly over the next year. So how did they go? Read on to the end for a one year on giveaway too.

Project #sewmystyle

I made 10 of the 12 projects over the year, and did finish all of them just about in time for the end of month reveal. The two I missed were the Hampshire trousers when I was really busy in October, and December’s Named clothing selection. Neither of these patterns seemed very pregnancy friendly which was part of what put me off, and life sometimes gets in the way! Some of the patterns have been huge successes, (I love both of my toaster sweaters and have just received some Atelier Brunette Dazzle for another one) and I did enjoy having new patterns and designers to try out. However, not all of the patterns worked for me, and 4 of the sewing projects that I made for project #sewmystyle ended up in my fails for the year. I think that some of the patterns just didn’t fit into my lifestyle, and I wasn’t always feeling brave enough to hack them so that they did. One of the more recent ones, the Anna dress I did hack though, and I love how it has turned out, so perhaps there is a lesson in that too.



This was such a venture into the unknown when I made this resolution. I had no idea how often I would want to take project photos, what I would write about or how it would work with the other commitments in my life. I have to say, I think it’s been a massive success! I have posted at least one blog post every week, and I’ve kept up with my self imposed Sunday posting schedule throughout deadlines, holidays and just busy life! I did manage a couple of mini series of midweek posts too, but found these harder to keep up with because they required a lot more planning in the writing and photography, and sadly some of the posts I had planned never got published.


I have to say, a lot of it is down to having a very obliging photographer/husband, who has always been willing to go out for a quick walk at the weekend to get a few pictures, so big thanks to him! But I have also just enjoyed the creative process of writing, editing and sharing what I have been up to. The blog has grown in ways that I could never have predicted at the start of the year- I’ve written guest blogs for Minerva Crafts, tested patterns for Itch to Stitch and amazingly people have both followed and seem to enjoy what I have been up to! At the time of writing, the blog has had more than 2000 visitors this year, and nearly 5000 page views, so thank you everyone that has made me feel supported and part of this amazing sewing community! I appreciate every read, like and comment.

Resolutions 2018

Again life in the next year is going through a period of transition, and it’s hard to know how much time I will have to dedicate to sewing and blogging. My PGCE course is due to be completed in May almost completely coinciding with the due date of the bump. Who know how motherhood and baby will influence my sewing time, but I suspect it might need even better planning in the future. That said, I am setting myself some plans and targets for the year because then I can try to be ambitious in meeting them!


Much as I enjoyed being part of project #sewmystyle last year, I’m not sure that it is the right direction for me this year. I think the projects might feel a little too constricting, especially if they aren’t going to fit me very well while I’m pregnant. I have signed up to the notification list though, so if something jumps out at me, I’m sure it will be added to my sewing queue. Instead, I’m going to be planning my projects a month or two in advance with a bit of wiggle room for extras to sneak in using notecards pinned to my sewing room pin board. Its a system which has worked well for me this year and I like the mixture of structure and freedom that it gives me. I’m going to be focussing on things which are practical and fit in with my lifestyle, and I’m sure a few baby projects will creep in too.

I am going to try to cut down on impulse fabric and pattern shopping by planning ahead. I know a lot of people used the ‘make 9’ to good effect last year so I think I might do something similar. I have a few patterns that I have chosen for the next couple of months which gives me 5 patterns that I have committed to, with 4 wildcards for buying new patterns this year. I’m going to try to keep it at that, with the only exceptions being if I buy a magazine with a pattern, undertake a pattern test or use some of my existing Seamwork credits on Seamwork or Colette Patterns.

The patterns I have chosen so far are:

Make 9

Rebecca Page Taylor Trench coat (inspired by Emma and her Machine), Sew Over It Lily Top, Seamwork Oslo Cardigan, a Paxton Sweater or two for Matt, and a Megan Nielson Amber top/dress.
Since drafting this post, I have used up one of my wildcards to buy two patterns for the baby. They are so small I am counting it as just one pattern, but I’m hopefully going to be making some cute Brindle and Twig Cuff Leggings and Raglan Tee’s!

I’m still going to be involved in guest blogging for Minerva Crafts (the next one is an exciting test of a new pre-publication copy of Wendy Ward’s latest book Sewing with knitted fabrics) and I hope to join in with other events and sewing community collaborations as they come along.


I am going to keep to the same blogging schedule next year, committing to a post every Sunday, and occasional extras or other series during the week. I’m excited to keep seeing the blog grow so I would love you to keep sharing it with anyone you think might be interested in my ramblings, or feel free to follow me on Instagram and Facebook too.

My 1 year giveaway

It is just over 1 year since I published my first ever blog post and I wanted to celebrate with a giveaway! I have 2m of a lovely Girl Charlee Haccai Knit to give away. It is the same knit that I used recently in my Elmira cardigan and is a beautiful cream with little flecks of colour in it. I also have a few surprise extra goodies to give away including a couple of patterns (blame those lovely post Christmas sales)! All you have to do to be in with a chance to win is to comment with something you would like to see on the blog in the next year. It could be a type of garment post, a change of style, how to, or anything else you can think of. New year is all about new inspiration. I will announce the winner on Sunday 21st Feb, so the deadline is 8pm Friday 19th GMT. All entries have a chance to win, and I will do a random draw to decide the winner.

Good luck, and have a brilliant sewing year!


Christmas Present Reveal!

I do enjoy making people Christmas presents, but it is too much of a risk to blog about them before the day because who knows if they will see!  I have made a couple of special things thought this year which I wanted to be able to share.

First, for my brother, a memory pillow.  A couple of months ago, James handed me a load of this old military t-shirts.  He didn’t need them anymore and wasn’t sure what to do with them, but they do have interesting logos and memories attached.  I took them home, not quite sure what they were going to become, but I’m pleased with the outcome.  There were only 5 shirts, but one had James’ army nickname on the arm too which I wanted to save.  I carefully cut 15cm squares around the logo’s and put them together on my overlocker.


The back uses the backs of some of the t-shirts.  I did think I might be able to use the hems already there, but they were pretty wavy with constant washing and use so I just cut rectangles and hemmed them myself.  The back of one of the t-shirts had James’ job role printed on it too, so that also got saved and included.  It wouldn’t mean much to anyone else, but to James I hope it serves as a way to save some good memories for a little while longer.



For Matt, I have been experimenting with some knitting, which is a bit of a departure from my usual crafting.  So far, I only have the patience to knit small things, such as baby booties and this hat.  Perhaps my patience will improve, but I do also like the more rapid results that I see when sewing.


This hat is really simple.  It is a very old free pattern from a magazine (Let’s knit, October 2013). It is supposed to be knit in 2×2 rib all the way through, but at some point I must have not been paying enough attention and I switched the rib direction.  Fortunately it looks sufficiently intentional as an edging pattern.


It was a pretty easy project in the end (apart from trying to find time to knit when Matt wasn’t around) and I actually found doing the ribbing quite therapeutic.  The yarn is a cotton/acrylic/wool blend with some muted colour variation (Sirdar Crofter DK, Fair Isle).  I quite like that the stripes are not particularly regular or uniform, and Matt also seems happy enough wearing it!


Finally, my Grandma has a very old and special bear which she has had and loved since the age of 4.  Big Ted is now 84, and apparently had a need for some PJ’s.  Since it was a special request, I had to see what I could do.  Big Ted is a slightly unusual shape, and I didn’t have him with me to work from, just a handful of measurements so I’m not sure these fit quite as well as I would like, but they seem to have been popular.


I adapted a pattern from Bear Wear Patterns.  The pattern was for hospital wear, which opened at the back so I modified the pattern pieces so that it was the front which opened, and drafted my own collar to make some fairly traditional PJ’s.


Just in case big teddy was lounging around though, I thought he could do with a dressing gown.  This one is based on a pattern from It’s Always Autumn, but I didn’t have it printed out so I just copied the shapes and sizes approximately to put mine together.  It seems to have come together pretty nicely, and Grandma and teddy were both very pleased!


It’s all pretty different from my usual sewing and blogging which is a bit of fun.  Usual service will be resumed in the new year though, when I will be back with my plans and a giveaway.


Top 5 Hits and Misses of 2017

It’s always good at the turning of the year to review, so I thought I’d go through my makes from this year with the benefit of hindsight and see which had been ultimate successes, and which hadn’t got as much use as I had hoped.  Reviewing makes like this does help to gain an overview of what sorts of projects did or didn’t work in my lifestyle, so I’ll be using that to start making my plans for next year too!

Top 5 Hits

Ginger Jeans


I think my first attempt at jeans definitely was a highlight this year. They fitted great, the fabric choice was spot on and I felt justifiably proud with the result.  Sadly, because they are fitted and fairly high-waisted, they don’t fit over the bump any more, so I will have to wait a while before I can wear them again, but I have plans to make jeans again in the future and will just have to wait and see if I end up the same shape post baby or need to make some other fit adjustments to the next pair!

Archer Shirts

Maybe this is a cheat, because I actually made two archers, and mended another with some sashiko mending, but I love them all and they have been in regular wardrobe rotation all year.  I think I love most that they are so versatile.  The relaxed fit is spot on, and there is something so satisfying about the precision involved in shirt making.

Kwik Sew Coat


The slightly oversized fit of this coat has been an unexpected bonus- I think I will fit into it for most of the winter, even as I grow!  That aside, I would change a few things next time I make a coat, but you have to start somewhere, and this project has given me the courage to try some other trickier and more involved sewing projects again in the future.

Flint Shorts


No longer a weather appropriate option, but these flint shorts were all I wanted to wear on holiday this summer.  I felt put together in the cities, sufficiently cool to belong in Italy and they were comfortable and practical too.  The fabric might be one of my favorite parts of these, and was a lucky charity shop find.  One to make again next summer.

Men’s Metro Tees

Another multi garment pick, but these t-shirts have been a big success.  I don’t make much for anyone other than me, but these were worth the effort because Matt wears them all the time.

Top 5 Misses

Valley Blouse


This top is one of those projects that just doesn’t quite materialise as you envisioned it.  I quite like all the components- fabric, buttons etc., but the pattern wasn’t the right choice for me.  There is more volume in the sleeves than is really my preference (it makes it really hard to wear with a cardigan), but maybe I can modify them at some point to slim them down and make this more ‘me’.

Pocket Skirt


My first problem with this skirt is that the sizing from the pattern chart seemed to be a little off, so this skirt was much to big at the waist.  I was able to bring it is with the elastic at the back waistband, but I’m still not really sure about the fit or the length.  It doesn’t really get worn, and I don’t think I will be using the pattern again because there are other patterns which were simpler to construct and more successful for me.

Alex Shirtdress


I think the problem with this Alex dress is the fabric/pattern combination.  The cotton is a little too stiff, and doesn’t drape well enough for me to feel comfortable in this dress.  It is all just a little too oversized, and the fabric emphasised that.  This one it savable thought I think, when I eventually get around t putting some darts in the back to take out some of the extra volume.

Saunio Cardigan


There is nothing ‘wrong’ with this Saunio Cardigan exactly, except that it never makes it off the coat rack and out of the door.  I think it is the fact that it just doesn’t quite fit my lifestyle.  3/4 sleeves on a jacket aren’t sufficiently practical on Dartmoor.  If I want or need a coat or jacket, it needs to have full sleeves!

Virginia Leggings


Not actually a disaster of pattern, or of lifestyle, but unfortunately this lycra couldn’t really stand up to running in these Virginia leggings and so some of the seams have started to split.  I have some other fabric in mind to give this another go at some point though, so definitely not a wasted pattern.


Sashiko Mending Archer

This is my first ever Grainline Archer.  I have since shared a few more recent versions, but this first one has always been a favourite.  I meticulously pattern matched the plaid across the front, learned how to attach a collar and install plackets, and even inserted my first snaps.


Favorite, that is until a hole appeared right where the button placket meets the front piece.


I deliberated for ages about what to do.  I didn’t want to just throw away something that represented a lot of hard work and some fairly major achievements, but I also didn’t know how to mend it in such a way that I would be happy with the end result.  And I really didn’t want to have to do loads of unpicking to sort it out!


I have come across Sashiko a few times before, often as a piece of decorative art, or sometimes as a means of mending the knees of worn jeans, but only recently did it occur to me that this might be the way to salvage my much loved shirt!  I did still have some of the fabric from the original shirt left, so this felt like a logical place to begin my mending journey.  I took a large rectangle, overlocked all the edges and pinned it in place behind the hole.

Next I chose a complimentary embroidery thread.  I wanted something that toned in with the colours in the shirt, but I also wanted to embrace the fact that this mending was going to be visible, and I could be proud of that!  This seemed like a good compromise.


Because the shirt already has such a strong geometric pattern, I decided that there was no need for complex embroidery shapes.  Sticking with the grid of the plaid would help keep my stitches even and straight anyway so no need for guide lines.


Sashiko mending is designed to reinforce the fabric, anchoring it to a solid base, but I think I may still have to be a little careful when using the poppers that I don’t put unnecessary strain on the fabric.  I think it looks pretty cool, and now I can wear my Archer shirt again with pride, knowing that it is even more unique and special than before.  Embrace the uniqueness and the mending.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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!


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!



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!


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.


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.


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.


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.

My Sewing Room Tour!

When this post is published, I will still be in Italy, hopefully enjoying the sunshine and the mountains.  This is something a little different so that you don’t get sad and miss me… a tour of my sewing room!


My sewing room is quite a small space, and does get quite dark so lighting is really important.  I have a great spotlight and diffuse light combo to help brighten up my desk, and I have tried to keep the colours fairly light and bright.  It is also filled with things to inspire me and so that I just enjoy being in the space.


I have tried to keep the room as practical and user friendly as possible.  All the things that I am most likely to need as I sew I can reach from my chair.  In particular the shelf above my sewing machine contains useful odds and ends.  And don’t those button jars just look lovely!


The beautiful wooden box is one that my grandma picked up for me in a charity shop, filled with sewing supplies and embroidery thread skeins.  Now I use it to keep all my elastics and fusible tapes neat and tidy.  This tray contains all my most essential tools and is perfectly within arms reach.


The desk does have to be kept fairly tidy because it is also my cutting out space.  I have a couple of big cutting mats, and I usually use a rotary cutter to make pattern prep as easy as possible.  I keep my most essential reference books on the desk easy to grab, including my instruction manuals and Overlocker Technique Manual.  One of my favorite books though is the Maker’s Workbook, which does contain details of the fabrics, pattern alterations and my verdicts of all the projects that I have sewn this year.


I am very fortunate to have enough space to keep my ironing board set up full time.  Makes pressing seams easy and convenient to do as I go along.  The unit in the corner contains a whole range of other craft items including knitting an wool, paper-craft and general stationary.


My fabric lives in these cubes/drawers which are from Ikea and the unit also serves as my pattern and reference book library.  You can see more about how I store my patterns in my post from a couple of weeks back.


You have to love color co-ordination and beautiful threads!


I used to do quite a bit of cross stitch, and these birds still make me smile.


I’ve even been trying to be more intentional about my plans, and having them there on the wall for me to see the whole time is really useful.


What do you think of my sewing space?  It is definitely my happy place, and exactly where I love to me!

How do I store my patterns?

Today is a slightly different type of post.  Life is busy and it can be tricky to make and photograph things every week.  This week I thought I would share my pattern storage and a couple that I am looking forward to making up in the near future.


I have collected quite a range of patterns over the last couple of years, including books, magazines and paper or pdf patterns.  I still refer back to Love at First Stitch which was my first introduction to dressmaking, but I have also gathered a few other books as inspiration including From Stitch to Style and Gerties Ultimate Dress Book.


These folders contain most of my patterns.  They are just A4 popper wallets in various colours.  As my pattern collection has grown, I have definitely needed to get more organised to make it easy to find what I want.  The colour coding is the first part of that.  Different types of clothing are in different coloured wallets and then they are divided up even further into box files.


The box files were just plain brown cardboard files, but I have used decoupage in pretty coloured papers to make them unique and more attractive.  The labels are just letter stickers.


Each envelope just has an ordinary address label stuck on so that I can see which is which without pulling them all out.  Inside is usually the pattern illustration, sizing chart and the pattern pieces themselves.  I don’t usually print the instructions.  They are just kept in a folder on my computer and I use the digital copy as needed to save paper.


The great thing about the folders is that I can also use them to start collecting notions for a project in, such as zips, buttons or threads.  For smaller patterns like tops, I can even put the cut out fabric in the envelope with the pattern until I am ready to sew with it.


I do have a couple of other places that patterns get stored.  A few smaller patterns or templates like baby booties, bibs and an eye mask are kept in this ring binder in ordinary plastic wallets.  The patterns in here are mostly single pieces or so small that they don’t need a whole popper wallet to themselves!

Finally, these wicker hampers contain most of my printed patterns, particularly any that come free with magazines.  I think this is one place that I do need to do a bit of a sort out soon, because I think I have some patterns here that I have no intention of using.  Maybe I can find a pattern swap so that they can be of use to someone else.


I hope you enjoyed that glimpse into my sewing room and perhaps some of the things that are on my to sew list!  Let me know in the comments if you would like more posts about things like this.  How do you store your patterns?


Button Back Blouse, It’s winning me around!


Although I was going to label this a sewing fail, I am being won over!  I made this Tilly and the Buttons button back blouse from an issue of love sewing over a year ago.  It is well finished with French seams, but I never wore it when it was newly finished.  Lets have a look at the details to find out why!


I believe this is quite similar to the TATB Mathilde Blouse, just without the pin tucks if you want to be able to recreate it. It has a yoke seam, which I very carefully added piping into.


So why have I not been wearing it?  I think it comes down to two things- personal style and fit.  Those puffed sleeves are cute, but don’t fit with my usual style because I can’t wear a cardigan.  In terms of fit, the key problem is at the back.


I think I have a quite narrow upper back.  I often have to take in quite a bit at the centre back and by the time I realised there was a problem in this top the button placket was finished and it seemed too fiddly.  It also feels like the shoulder seam is slightly in the wrong place.  This may also be because I need a full bust adjustment, and this is pulling the back and shoulder seam out of place.


So why, when I wore it out for these pictures did I start reconsidering my plans to take it to the charity shop.  I think it is a combination of the style being perfect for the current weather, and a great combination of fabric and pattern!  Some of the things that I didn’t like about the pattern, are actually what is making it so perfect.  The longer sleeves keep it breezy and cool, but mean that I don’t need a cardigan, even into the evening.  The fabric (sadly no longer available at Minerva Crafts) is a lovely cotton chambray and just a fantastic weight and drape.  The contrast piping and buttons lighten it up and the splash of coral is great for spring.


Perhaps I will have to give this a second chance!

Simple skirt in the sunshine! Meet Clemence.

I love wearing skirts in the summer, so this simple gathered cotton skirt seemed perfect for visiting the bluebells for an evening picnic.  The skirt is another from Tilly and the Buttons’ first book, Love at first Stitch and is a very beginner friendly gathered rectangle skirt called Clemence.  The book guides you though drafting this basic pattern for yourself, which is a good place to start with pattern drafting and alterations, because Tilly’s instructions are as always excellent.


This is actually the second of these skirts that I made, and is actually another early make.  For this second skirt I got a little more ambitious and drafted an un-gathered lining, made from an old sheet because the main fabric is a little transparent!


As always, I also needed pockets.  The book talks you through making changes to the all the patterns, like including pockets in the or restyling the patterns to get a couple of different looks.


I also decided to experiment with some of the decorative stitches on my machine to create an attractive pattern at the hem.


It even has an concealed zip.  I keep returning to Tilly’s instructions for reassurance when I need to insert one still!  This one is actually pretty invisible and well matched.


While this skirt has been in my wardrobe for over two years now, and my skills have undoubtedly improved, I still enjoy wearing these earlier makes.  I enjoy seeing how much I have learned and developed, but also it is satisfying to know that I am contributing to a clothing ethic that doesn’t view an item of clothing as something to wear once and discard.  For every year that I keep wearing these simple early makes I can sit happy knowing that I am reducing my impact on the planet and the disposable fast fashion culture.


As a little bonus, I did also manage to find a picture of my first Clemence skirt from Me Made May Last year!  It is made in a mint green chambray from Calico Laine I think.  This one did have a couple of issues including being a bit big at the waist.  Fortunately/unfortunately the zip broke pretty quickly, so when I replaced it, I also sorted out the waist sizing, so this one is also in spring/summer wardrobe rotation.