Saturday, 31 March 2012

One Week, One Pattern Chllenge: McCall's 5845.

When I read about Tilly and the Button's 'One Week, One Pattern' challenge, I was immediately excited!

It is no surprise that McCall's 5845 is my favorite pattern... Cindy from Cation Designs also loves this pattern and I think it is clear that I have followed in her foot steps in M5845-pattern-hacking-adventures.

So far, all the M5845 dresses I have made so far are all full skirted, colorful and summery (with the exception of the LBWD). I found it difficult to incorporate into my day-to-day wardrobe, so this week I had to be creative and pair almost every dress with scarves and stockings/tights/pantyhose... whatever they're called!


Saturday. I wore my burnt orange minidress to my get-to-know-your-overlocker class and to a community festival. It was a cold day so I wore the dress with black stockings and a coat. I was hoping to meet Home & Away actors Lincoln Younes (Casey Braxton) and Rhiannon Fish (April Scott) at the festival but I got there too late, devastated!!


Sunday night. I went to watch The Hunger Games. I wore my full circle skirt version. I felt a little too dressed up for the cinemas, but I felt comfortable with my scarf, I felt it toned down the full skirt. It was a freezing night, again wore my dress with stockings, a scarf and cardigan.
Ps. Check out Cindy - Cation Designs Girl on Fire dress and The Hunger Games inspired photoshoot. Cindy's dress is gorgeous!


Monday night. Went out for dinner at my newest favorite Malaysian restaurant. I've been there four times in four weeks! Their laksa is delicious!!! I wore my Mad Men challenge dress. I took the hem up 3" because the above-the-knee length looked odd when I wore flats. I wore my dress with black stockings, a thick black belt and a black cardigan. I wear a lot of black!


Tuesday night. I stayed home and entertained! I had friends over to share some wine with me and watch the grand final of MKR. I wore my sister's high tea dress with full skirt with a skinny glittery belt purchased from ASOS.


Wednesday. I wore my Little Black Work Dress... to work! It was still kind of cold and I have to walk two blocks to my office so I accessorized with my giant woolly green scarf (this is my favorite scarf!) and wore my black coat.


Thursday night. I went to the cinemas with my little sister to watch Mirror Mirror. Julia Roberts is gorgeous. My sister also joined in with OWOP and wore my burnt orange dress. DOUBLE OWOP! I wore my Squiggle dress with pockets with a black linen blazer and black stockings. Again with the black, you can tell I'm a Melburnian.

My sister looks absolutely gorgeous in this dress! Love.


TGIF-night. I finally add a big splash of hot pink to spice things up! I wore my high tea dress again, this time with no stockings or scarves because today was a beautiful sunny 28°C (82°F). Melbourne weather is unpredictable so I took my hot pink trench coat with me. Off to Friday night drinks I went!

So there it is! One week, one pattern. 
As you can see, the M5845 pattern is very versatile and I have been able to make lots of different dresses with it simply by replacing the skirt, modifying the neck and back, adding pockets and collars. I like how quick it is to sew up the pattern. There are 8 bodice darts (16 if lined) and 6 skirt darts - 12 if lined, zero if replacing the skirt! Win! The pattern says to sew the darts on the outside but I always leave them inside.

I enjoyed this challenge because I had to be more creative with my weekday wardrobe. When I go out mid-week week, I usually wear jeans and a nice top or whatever dress and stockings I can find in the wardrobe. This week, I had to accessorize, and it was fun. I should put more effort into my weekday outfits. Thank you Tilly for hosting this awesome challenge! OWOP! I can't wait to see Tilly's post with everyone elses' OWOPs!!

Have a great weekend all!

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Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Muslin: Vintage Simplicity 3222.

What a beautiful vintage party dress! This is the dress I will be working on at my weekly dressmaking and sewing class.

The pattern is an original vintage pattern. I bought it from Etsy for $20. 
The size is 12, bust 32. My teacher says that around the 60s they changed the sizing, and this is actually a 10. We checked the measurements against a modern pattern, and indeed it was a 10. 

I made the muslin in today's class, it fits in the bust, which is excellent because I was worried that my bust would be too small - I'm 31" bust, but cos I am so used to metric system, I didn't think 1" was a big deal - but luckily it fits at the bust. The waist is another matter! 

The waist on this dress is 25", I am 27.5" so we had to adjust the bodice to accommodate my thick waist.

This is what a vintage size 12 (or modern 10) is: bust 32", waist 25", hips 34" - this is the paper pattern size, not RTW.
These are my measurements: bust 31", waist 27.5", hips 35"

Women were so tiny back then!!! Read more about vanity sizing.

I have decided to make View 2, the wiggle skirt and cummerband. So cute. This is the fabric I will be using, its a floral cotton sateen, purchased at Spotlight, on sale for $3/m! Win!!!!

The following adjustments had to be made on the bodice:
  • added 4cm to the waist (when grading the pattern, only added 1cm to each piece, x 4 = 4cm),
  • added 7cm to the cummerband,
  • dress has a side zipper, but I have decided to have a back zipper - I don't like pulling garments over my head. To add a back zipper, 1.5cm seam allowance had to be added to the back bodice piece,
  • adjustments will need to be made for the skirt waist next week.
This bodice is so cute! I thought it would be difficult to make because it has sleeves, but it didn't take long to put together at all.

Vintage Simplicity 3222 Party Dress muslin.

This dress will have boning! Wonderful!

Next week is my last class before the end of term, I should be able to cut out my fabric and sew something up. Now that I have an overlocker, I can finish it off nicely. Oh, this dress will not be lined! It has facings instead.

I decided today that I will attempt the OWOP challenge with my McCalls 5845, because look how many of them I have made!!!! Two of the dresses belong to my sister, and I don't think I will wear the Mad Men one anywhere, but I'm sure I can cope with 4 dresses on the rotation over 7 days.

Column 1: Violets Are Blue dress for my sister, Burnt Orange minidress.
Column 2: High Tea dress with full circle skirt, Mad Men inspiredSquiggle minidress.
Column 3: LBWD with Peter Pan collarsHigh Tea dress for my sister.

Is anyone else doing the OWOP Challenge?

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Finished Project: The 'LBWD' - Little Black Work Dress.

Finally I have made something that is work appropriate!

So far, all the dresses I have made have all been either too short, too colorful, or too dressy for casual Friday.

I already have some cute RTW dresses to wear to work, and never thought I would make anything to wear to work, cos lets face it, why would I bother making a boring and dull dress to wear to work... but that was before I discovered Peter Pan collars!

I also said I would stop hacking up the M5845 pattern... but that was also before I discovered Peter Pan collars ;)

M5845 with mods to the bodice, self drafted gathered skirt.
Outside: Linen.
Collar: Cotton sateen.
Inside the dress: Lined with poplin (polyester/cotton blend).

Do you like?? I asked BF if I looked like a pilgrim, he replied and said "Maybe Amish"... LOL.

Remember that scene in Gossip Girl, when Jenny Humphrey is fitting a model at Eleanor Waldorf's, and she said "It looks like a pilgrim at a funeral" - I kept thinking that when I was making this, hehe.

Pattern: M5845 bodice with mods: added Peter Pan collars, raised the back to a high scoop, self drafted gathered skirt.
Size: Size 6 bodice, graded to size 8 waist.
Skirt info: 
  • Length 50cm (54.5cm with 3cm hem and 1.5cm SA)
  • Skirt width 1.2.m
  • I cut the 1 piece on the centre fold (60cm wide, from centre to selvege, length 54.5cm). 
Fabric: 1m linen (black), 1m poplin (lining) (black).
Notions: Invisible zipper (black) 24", Gutermann thread (000).

  • added Peter Pan collars to bodice,
  • mod to the back of bodice, raised back to a scoop back,
  • had to make mods to the back darts, I had a big gaping issue, had to extend the two back darts all the way to the top,
  • replaced skirt with full gathered skirt.
Time: About 7 hours, over 2 days. I know this pattern very well now.
TIPS for next time: 
  • Wash linen in starch first... omg linen creases so much... 
  • Make back either higher or lower because it is hard to reach the zipper.
New techniques learned: Nothing this time, can keep improving on the collars :D
Total $$ spent: under $30 (fabric, zipper), thread, pattern from my stash.

OMG I love this dress, hehe. I only needed 1 meter of fabric! One meter (1.09 yards). 

I have made this pattern so many times now, I could almost participate in Tilly and the Buttons OPOW Challenge! We will see...

Tomorrow I have my weekly sewing class, very much looking forward to sewing the sleeves on to my toile. I still haven't decided on the fabric yet. Or which view of the dress to make. I think I am leaning towards the view with the wiggle skirt and cummerband since I don't know how to make a cummerband.

Thank you so, so much for all the kind comments on my red dress, there is nothing greater than waking up in the morning with notifications of new comments :)

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Thursday, 15 March 2012

What an exciting week! Two blog awards!

Thank you so much to the gorgeous Sue of Sewin' Steady who has nominated me for The Versatile Blogger Award - thanks, Sue!! I love Sue's blog, she is one of my favorite bloggers :)

Here are the rules:
  1. Add the badge to the winning blog page.
  2. Thank the blogger who gave it. 
  3. List the rules.
  4. List seven (7) random facts about yourself. 
  5. Pass on the award to fifteen (15) deserving and conscientious bloggers who are nominated for their diligence, demonstrated skill, and achievements in the world of blogging and specifically in the sewing related category. 
  6. Contact the nominated bloggers and let them know they are recipients.
7 random facts about myself:
  1. I am petrified of butterflies and moths. Can't touch them or watch anyone touch them.
  2. I love squirrels. I regularly get greeting cards with squirrels on them from my best friend.
  3. I like singing along to soppy love songs when I am alone.
  4. I can eat about 30 dumplings.
  5. I am a spelling nazi, but I'm not great at grammar.
  6. My favorite boy band is still the Backstreet Boys.
  7. I still wish I lived in an apartment in Manhattan like Stacey from The Babysitters' Club.

15 deserving and conscientiousness bloggers:
In no particular order:

A big thank you to Kelly at Sew Alluring for nominating me for the Liebster Blog. I've been eyeing this award for a while, anxiously waiting to be nominated, so thank you Kelly, you have put a huge smile on my face :D

The ‘rules’ of the Liebster Award

1 – Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
2 – Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
3 – Copy/paste the blog award on your blog.
4 – Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs (with 200 followers or less).
5 – Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment. 

My Liebster Blog Award nominees are:

In no particular order: 

Thank you again to Sue and Kelly for the nominations, you guys made my week!

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Finished Project: "But, Peter, how do we get to Never Land?" "Fly, of course."

'Peter Pan' collar mission complete! 

I am very happy with the result. I wanted to finish the dress by Thursday so I could wear it, but at the same time I promised to take care and take my time. No pressure, no stress. I put the radio on each night and sang along to the nation’s top 30 songs while sewing. I think I am now a One Direction fan.

The perks of living alone and no longer having a gym membership - I finished the dress over three nights. Because I don’t have a live-in BF, pets, kids, or Facebook (haha), I can sew for hours without any interruption. The best. What did I do before sewing????

Day 1: Went to Spotlight to look for a Horn sewing cabinet – came home with fabric instead. Traced pattern, cut fabric, sewed bodice and skirt.
I used the V8469 bodice without the sleeves, and added Peter Pan collars. I followed Gertie’s online tutorial to draft the collar. I put iron-on interfacing on the midriff lining pieces. I stay-stitched every single curvy bit on the bodice. I PFF’d (press flat first). Day 1 blog post here.

Day 2: Cut lining, sewed bodice lining and skirt lining, sewed everything together, bagged the bodice, inserted invisible zip and sewed lining and dress together. Zig zagged my hems. When joining the bodice and lining together, I took great care to make sure the seams matched up. I even unpicked one side because it was a couple of millimetres off. I hate unpicking, but I wanted to finish the dress knowing I put in 100% effort. Now, to the invisible zipper: this time I was awake and alert and I still buggered up the zipper! I only sewed a couple of centimetres and I could see the invisible zipper foot was not doing it’s job. It was malfunctioning!! I used my regular zipper foot instead. It was soooo much better. I had more control over where the needle was going and could see if the zipper was rolled out enough. I’m quite happy with the zipper job.

Day 3: Hemming. I used the twin needle on my machine to finish the hem on the dress.

Sorry, the red is soooo hard to photograph. If I had natural light, it might turn out better.

V8469 bodice with Peter Pan collars and full gathered skirt.
Outside, premium cotton sateen.

V8469 bodice with Peter Pan collars and full gathered skirt.
Inside, sunsilky lining.
I am really addicted to lining. I love how it looks and feels. Sometimes I spend more money on the lining than I do on the dress fabric! I love how it hides all the seam allowances inside and all my ugly backstitching. Maybe when I learn how to operate my overlocker, I won’t be too bothered by seam allowances and can go back to making unlined dresses.

Pattern: V8469 bodice, drafted own collars and own skirt.
Size: Size 6 bodice, graded to size 8 waist.
Skirt info: 
    • Length 50cm (54.5cm with 3cm hem and 1.5cm SA)
    • Skirt width 2.4.m
    • I cut the 2 pieces on the centre fold (60cm wide, from centre to selvege, length 54.5cm). I cut 1 of the pieces in half to make the back of the skirt (needs a back seam)
Fabric: 1.8m premium cotton sateen (red), 1.8m sunsilky lining (red), 0.7m whisperweft interfacing.
Notions: Invisible zipper (hot red) 24", Gutermann thread (156).
    • added Peter Pan collars,
    • replaced skirt with full gathered skirt.
Time: About 13 hours, over 3 days.
Total cost: $25 - thanks 30% off sale - (fabric, lining, zip), pattern, whisperweft interfacing, thread from my stash.

TIPS for next time: 
  • Maybe make the skirt less wide. 2m wide might be enough,
  • Use regular zipper foot for the invisible zip - the invisible zipper foot is... broken.
New techniques learned: 

"... pop ya collar, don't let 'em sweat ya ..." - Usher
V8469 bodice with Peter Pan collars, upclose.
Collars, bust gathering, zipper, twin needle on the hemline.
Weekly dressmaking class: In this week’s class, I started tracing my Simplicity 3222 vintage pattern, cut up calico to make a toile/muslin. I’ll sew the toile up during the week. I hope it fits! It’s a size 10, so will fit my waist, just hoping I have enough up top to fill out the bodice! I am very exciting to be sewing with an actual vintage pattern, the paper is so crispy J

Tonight, I'm off to pick up my Horn sewing cabinet. Very excited about that!! My overlocker and sewing machine will now have home-sweet-home..

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Tuesday, 13 March 2012

WIP: Sneak peak of my Peter Pan collared dress!


Spotlight had a 30% off storewide sale today! Of course I went down there to check it out!!!! Ended up buying 4m of "premium" cotton sateen in red and olive, 2m sunsilky and an invisible zipper, all for under $50. Was also on the lookout for a Horn sewing cabinet but they didn't have one that had storage for an overlocker. Ebay is my next option! Ooh, and I also saw one of my favourite bloggers Splatastic but I didn't get a chance to say hi and tell her how much I LOVE her work.

I am absolutely in love with the red cotton sateen. I have been wanting to make a red dress for a while, but always got distracted by crazy prints, florals and colour blocking. After seeing Reana Louise and Julia Bobbin with their sexy red dresses, I could no longer put it off.

I bought some random red fabric a couple of weeks ago at Brunswick Fabrics, some sort of polyester... but I guess I didn't love it enough, so I had no motivation to cut it up. I think most people like to keep their nice fabrics in their stash with the mentality that it's too nice to cut up, but I get too excited to keep them in there for long. I really like cotton sateen. I'm afraid I might spend my whole life sewing with it!! Help!

So, as soon as I saw the red "premium" cotton sateen at Spotlight, I had to have it!!! I checked it very closely, and I am fairly certain that it's the same sateen that Clegs sell for $19.95/m... but Spotlight sell it for $12.95/m. The colours had the same name, it had the same feel, even the selvedge looked the same. From now on I will be buying my cotton sateen from Spotlight.

As soon as I got home, I jumped on to YouTube to watch Gertie's tutorial to make a peter pan collar. I got the link from Reana Louise's Lady In Red blog post.

And 5 hours later, here is the result:

It isn't finished yet, I still have the 2.4m skirt to gather, and need to cut up the lining and do the same thing all over again. This dress will be fully lined. I don't think I can go back to making unlined dresses anymore. I am addicted.

You might have noticed I have stay-stitched every curve on the bodice. Learnt from last time :)

This is the V8469 bodice. I love this bodice, it has the cute gathering under the bust and I like the thick midriff piece. For the skirt, I will be making a full skirt, constructed by cutting two rectangles and gather at the waist, like my sister's high tea dress.

I hope to finish this over the next two days. I also hope to be the owner of a Horn by the end of the week!

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Sunday, 11 March 2012

Mad Men challenge: completed!


I have completed the Julia Bobbin Mad Men Dress Challenge!!

The dress I chose to make was the dress worn by Rachel Menken in season 1, episode 10 'Long Weekend'. The reason I chose this dress was mainly because it looked like something I could actually make!!!! As a beginner, my sewing skills are quite limited, I would be dreaming if I thought I could make something more extravagant like the dresses that Julia Bobbin makes. I recently fell in love with bias binding and was thrilled at the opportunity to make something using more of it. 

I wasn't very confident that I could pull of the mustard colour, I only own two dresses in the yellow family. I decided to conduct a fashion experiment, I bought a RTW mustard dress, wore it to work and got plenty of compliments. Yay. 

I looked everywhere for mustard coloured fabric (I have been referring to it as mustard, but I'm not entirely sure if it is mustard... but anyway!) but I couldn't find anything so I bought some gold cotton from Lincraft. I still wasn't convinced I would look nice in gold - I am still traumatised from wearing those hideous gold polo tops in primary school - so I kept looking. 

Lucky I waited because the next day I found mustard cotton at Spotlight! On sale! $3m! It was perfect, except that it was very sheer, but for $3 I bought enough to line the whole dress. I even had enough left over to make a tie/belt/bow.

I made the dress using the M5845 bodice as a sloper and skirt pattern from Simplicity 2117. I simply replaced the two darts on the front bodice with two folds and changed the neck to a crew neck. On the skirt, I removed the pockets. I used 25mm bias binding around the neck and armholes.

I wanted to use an invisible zipper, but silly me tried to insert the zipper at 2am and I effed it up so badly... but I continued on sewing the lining and dress together, and the back seam. I ended up spending hours unpicking the entire thing the next day. I usually ace invisible zippers, perfect first time almost everytime, but my eyes were so tired that night. After all that unpicking, I decided I did not want to use an invisible zipper anymore (traumitised now), instead decided to do a hand picked zip. I quite enjoyed the handpicking! I zig zagged the edges of the hem, and finished it by hand using the new handstitching technique I learnt last week in dressmaking class.

Pattern: Used M5845 and Simplicity 2117 as slopers.
Size: Size 6 bodice, graded to size 8 waist, size 8 skirt.
Fabric: 2.2m cotton (mustard), 25mm bias binding (black).
Notions: Dress zipper (buttercup) 24", Gutermann thread (325, 000).
Time: 6 hours to draw up pattern, cut and sew, 2 hours unpicking, 2 hours handpicking zip and hemming. Total of 10 hours.
New techniques learned: 
My first time handpicking a zip.
Invisible stitching on the hem.
Folds on the front.
I love bias binding.
Darts on the back.
Check out my handpicking. So proud I had the patience to handpick 1.2m of zip.
I am so happy to have completed this challenge, I actually want to make more dresses inspired by Mad Men!!!!! If I have time, I will try and make another by March 30. Ooooh, other exciting news, I bought an overlocker on Friday!!! I haven't opened it yet, still wrapped in the box. I'll open it once I learn how to thread it :D

I also have other super, super exciting news, which I will share once it goes to press (hint, hint!). 

I hope you guys like my Mad Men copycat dress. I love it, and I am now open to wearing mustard. Woo hoo.

Now somebody host  Mad Men party so I can attend wearing this dress!

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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Finished Project & Pattern Review: Butterick 5455.

Nine weeks later! B5455 is finished. Such a relief, I am so ready to move on from this dress. It is such a shame that the style does not suit me at all!!! The pattern was a pity purchase, it was a 2-4-1 sale, I didn't like it at first, but it grew on me. And now I don't like it again. Luckily, my mum fits it. It's looks way better on mum than it does me. Probably because mum is petite, very petite.

Check out Mumma Neeno's black vintage patent leather pumps!
They are as old as me! 24 years!

How is it, that my mum who is smaller than me fits the dress so well? My mum is tiny. Must be the style. My mum says the pattern on the fabric is "old looking" and more suited to older people. I guess she is right. My mum loves the dress and was very impressed with my sewing, mum sews as well so she appreciates the time and effort that went into this dress. She pointed out that one side of the neck had stretched, my fault, I didn't stay-stitch it. The pocket also needed a good top stitch. We had a lot of fitting issues around the hip and pocket area. I don't want to get into that, grr.

Mum and I had so much fun taking photos of her modelling the dress, we had a good laugh at her attempts at "natural walking poses" with her arms straight out like a soldier, haha. Love my mum. We ended up talking for hours about sewing, she loves sewing and when I was a baby she sewed all my clothes, she didn't even use patterns! 

So, on to the photos and pattern review.  

Butterick 5455, View B (no piping)
Front bodice and pockets.
Back bodice, zipper is good, skirt vent, hand stitched hem.

I made View B, which is the version with out the piping. The "drawing" of view B won me over. Those drawings make all the dresses look nice. I also liked the detail on the neck and the pockets. I used fabric from Vietnam, dad bought it back from a trip there. It is cotton with... lycra? It's some sort of stretchy cotton. I chose to fully line the dress to pick up some new techniques. I made a boo boo with the skirt lining (pattern only had pattern for bodice lining) I cut the lining exactly the same as the skirt front, had to patch up the holes where the pockets were.

INSIDE - front of dress
INSIDE - back of dress.
Apart from the neck being stretched, I put a lot of care into making this dress. There is interfacing on the front and back neck.

Pattern Review: Butterick 5455 semi fitted straight dress, lined bodice

Size: Size 8 bodice, graded to size 12 waist, size 8 skirt.
Fabric: 2m stretch cotton, 2m sunsilky lining (black), 0.7m whisperweft interfacing.
Notions: Invisible zipper (black) 16", Gutermann thread (000).
    • Too many adjustments to remember... I had to take the bodice in at the side seams, take in the waist and the skirt. Sigh.
    • Invisible zipper instead of dress zipper.
    • Lined the whole dress.
Time: 9 sewing classes and some darts and handsewing at home, about 20 hours.
Total cost: $40 (lining, zip, interfacing, pattern), fabric was given to me, thread from my stash.
New techniques learned: 
    • First time making a skirt vent, yay! Will help with my Mad Men dress.
    • New hand sewing stitches (?)
    • Hand sewed the lining next to the zipper, I think it's using the same stitch as when hand-picking a zip.
    • New stitch when hemming the dress and vent (see pic)
    • Stay stitch!!!!! Around the neck, back and arm holes.
    • Be aware that there is a lot of ease built in, make a toile/muslin.
Learnt a new way to hand sew the hem so it's invisible on both sides!
Instead of stitching where the overlocked fabric is, you do a blind stitch a little bit lower. 
CLOSE UP - hand sewing the lining and zip, front bodice darts, back bodice darts, skirt vent. 
So there it is! A dress for my mum! I'm happy that I made something that my mum can wear and brag to her friends about (even if she only ended up with it because it's not my style). I enjoyed making this dress at sewing class, even though it's not my favorite pattern, I learnt a new techniques, which is what matters :)

Next up in sewing class, I will be sewing with an original vintage pattern for the first time. Will definitely need guidance with that one! It's the Simplicity 3222 party dress. This could potentially be my dress for the opera. My tutor thinks that a lot of adjustments will need to be made because I am a 10/11 junior, not a 12. I haven't got fabric for this dress yet, but I think I have a few weeks to find something. I predict it will take 2-3 classes to trace and cut the pattern and make the toile/muslin.

I hope I did not discourage anyone with the B5455 from making it, it is a beautiful dress, it just didn't suit my body and the fabric did not compliment my skin tone at all! This dress looks good on everyone but me, I made one for my sister last year and it looks great on her.

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