Black Carrot x Peppermint

Hi!

The kind people at Black Carrot offered me to continue with the sponsored projects and here is the second “fruit” of this collab. I picked an interesting fabric that I had only touched but never used before – viscose ritchel. I don´t know the exact composition but it is nicely cool, flowy and has a good weight to it, perfect for a summery maxi dress. Black Carrot has a wide range of colors if you want to check out. Honestly, I hesitated quite a while before picking this muted greyish blue version.

If you imagine the title as a bit of a crazy cocktail (carrot mixed with peppermint??) then yes, the dress actually is a bit crazy as is the maker! To explain this, just look at the photos below, straight to the details:

Do you realize that I have attached the back piece wrong side out? I did realize it, but only after having taken the dress to the beach to play with my daughter already. As I was taking some close up photos for this post, I finally realized the mistake and you know what? I can live with it! I am NOT going to unpick the whole construction of the elastic, the facing (including clipped seam allowances), the straps etc just to please my inner perfectionist. Not this time, devil!

But why Peppermint? But because if you haven´t discovered peppermintmag.com yet then you are missing out. They have several patterns to try out for free and since I am normally not into maxi dresses (I think it is the second I´ve made), I thought if I have a gifted fabric and a free pattern, why not try. But you know that there are no free lunches, right? So although it was supposed to be a quick project, almost a kind of “side” project, I ended up unpicking the long center front french seam at least 5 if not 6 times.

Notice that on the technical drawing there is a mistake – the center front seam is not shown!

The fabric is a bit slippery, but not too much and it is generally nice to sew with, but to topstitch the seam was almost impossible. In fact, I turned it inside out in the end, because it was easier to topstitch it from the wrong side. But the pattern itself is actually really great, I love that the french seams throughout and facings with seam allowance turned under rather than just overlocked, leave such a neat and clean finish on the inside that the dress is almost wearable both ways. And in my case, half of it is the wrong side out already! Which also shows another feature of the fabric – both sides look the same so it would be really useful for some patterns where the wrong side of the fabric is visible.

This is the inside:

Some close ups:

I am in the middle of a long holiday and I think this dress carries the holiday vibe perfectly – careless, eat-all-you-can and even ticks the box for the so on-trend square neck line!

While writing this, I am getting all sorts of ideas for a second one and who knows… The last time I said so, I did so, you will see very soon 😉

Black Carrot Black Dress

Hi!

I didn´t even realize that I didn´t post anything in June! Wow! I blame the extraordinarily warm summer and I have always enjoyed sewing itself more than writing about it so I guess I made my choices last month. If you follow me on Instagram, however, you know that there are a bunch of things I have made that have not ended up here, yet.

But today I have a few good reasons to post and number one is that another Estonia-based fabric shop approached me with an offer to cooperate and I gladly accepted. The shop is Black Carrot and they offer a decent choice of dressmaking and home decor fabrics. In fact I regularly shop there anyway so it wasn´t difficult to choose a fabric for the sponsored project. And if you like my dress, they still have both of the fabrics available so why not make a similar one!

I picked their wonderful embroidered cotton and plain poplin, both in a deep black shade to make a work-appropriate summer dress, using an old-timer of a pattern in my stash – Vogue 8829.

I combined views D and C, the armhole bands of the latter were actually the key reason for liking the pattern as well as the opportunity to use a contrast color/fabric for this and other details. And before I say anything else, this pattern will be repeated soon. It is just so good. And this is the second good reason for posting today – I have made myself a wardrobe staple that I just hope will not fade in sun and wash too soon.

It has been a while since using a Big4 pattern because of my love affair with Style Arc and I had to keep reminding myself that the seam allowances are 1,5 cm and not 1, but other than that, a really enjoyable pattern.

I made a few modifications too. The most noticeable is that I added a lining to the skirt because the embroidery is see through enough to make me (and possibly others around me) uncomfortable if left unlined. I used a nice drapey and cool against the skin (viscose mix?) fabric that I purchased a long time ago with plans for a dress, but I have only used bits of it for pocket linings and now for the dress lining as well. It is quite precisely the colour of my skin so very subtle under the embroidered cotton and I think it gives the skirt some movement as opposed to having used a poplin lining, which was my first idea. But thankfully I checked with my sewing buddies and within a minute we made a common decision that the lining has to be silky, beige (not black) and I should use different pleats than the main fabric. So the lining has knife pleats where the skirt has inverted pleats. As for the color, I have a feeling that if I would have found a similar dress in a store, it would have been lined with black, but that would of course not show the beauty of the main fabric.

For the other modifications, I used the famous burrito-method for the yoke treatment which for some reason has not made its way into the Big4 pattern instructions as far as I know. I also skipped slipstitching the front bands and stitched in the ditch instead. It is not my favorite thing to do at all, but this time it went well enough.

I was not sure about the buttons at first and considered using black ones, but I think eventually the six golden ones that I had bought some time ago just because they were so “me” and not for some specific project (AND they were the last 6 at that shop!), fit perfectly. Otherwise I think there would be a danger of looking too serious. I did have some hesitation about a black summer dress, but adding the belt and the golden buttons and light colored shoes change the overall impression, isn´t it?

I love the outcome because I feel really comfortable, not too casual but not overdressed either and I also like thet the armhole bands offer cover for the shoulders without being sleeves!

I have another idea for this pattern – to use a more contrasting main fabric with black details again for a more striking look. Let´s see when I will get there because as you know, our hands unfortunately do not move as fast as our inspiration and thoughts!

Anyway, I am super thankful to Black Carrot to give me the opportunity to sew with these beautiful fabrics!

Until soon!

Color Block Inspiration

Hi!

I think in the world of sewists on social media we inspire and get inspired often even subconsciously, the beautiful makes of others affecting our fabric and project choices without us realizing. And then there are moments when inspiration hits like a hammer and we know very clearly that we want a pattern or a fabric or a combination of these exactly as someone else just posted.

So this happened to me when I saw Keira´s (https://islandsewcialist.com) color block shirt back in February on her Instagram account. I screenshot the image and started looking for matching fabrics in terms of weight and color to straightforward copy her shirt. But I was unable to find this beautiful lemon shade of yellow and eventually opted for light pink, lilac, mint and blue cotton poplin that I finally found from Abakhan. That was really convenient as well, because they had just offered me a second collab, so the fabrics were bought using the allowance they kindly gave me and this is also the second post of the three that I said that I would write as a result of this collab.

I apologise if it is getting boring for you, but yes, I did choose a pattern from Style Arc once again. You have already heard the reasons for this so many times that I am not going to count them all here again but I particularly loved the back detail of the Roxy Shirt because I realized I could play even more with the color blocking thanks to this.

So after some head scratching on how to place the different colors on the pattern, I made the shirt and I am happy with the result. I didn´t really enjoy the instructions that stated one thing in the text and other on the drawings, but with some help from my Burda book, I managed to sew the sleeve plackets perfectly. The pattern instructions were all Greek to me, but the Burda book that is actually in Greek, was quite clear, haha!

Soon after I finished the shirt, an event was announced on the biggest Estonian sewist community on Facebook and the theme was “Inspiration”- in order to participate you would have to show the inspiration photo and next to it your own creation. I had finished the shirt but did not have suitable pants to match and so my entry is technically the pants only, but I know that the shirt steals the show 😀

Keira so kindly gave her permission to use her image for the purpose:

As you can see, I didn´t make jeans although that would have been even cooler, to try to copy the whole outfit, but I wanted to make a second pair of Liana Stretch Jeans from Itch to Stitch patterns and my jean fabrics were not stretchy enough for the purpose, so I used a dark blue stretch fabric that I bought in October from a warehouse sale paying 2 euros per meter if I recall correctly. It is of excellent quality but does not handle close up photos well, so just two of these which are heavily edited to resemble reality at least a bit.

Today was a perfect spring day that actually felt summery and as the day proceeded, the temperatures rose even higher so in the evening we went out to a children´s playground by the sea and basically wore short sleeves. But it was quite windy and as I took the photos during the day by the seaside, my tripod tripped over several times, my hair was flowing in the air and my shirt ballooned in the most unflattering way… the struggle was real! And the whole “photoshoot” was cut short by the battery dying… !

After all this winter stuck at home (and we haven´t really experienced serious lockdown as in terms of mobility restrictions and curfew) and despite knowing how lucky we have been to still have our jobs that allow us to work from home and not having any close family member catch the virus, after all this, this beautiful day felt so deliberating and I also felt that I looked good after a long long time, because I somewhat dressed up wearing this shirt. I even attended an afternoon online webinar wearing it although I normally opt for a decent jersey top when working from home.

My 3 year-old daughter asked me later in the evening: “Mommy, are we getting closer to the next winter?” and I felt goosebumps just because of the fact that the statement is true. But thankfully we are still in spring, I want to enjoy it to the fullest and wish you the same!

Me enjoying the sun-warmed car. No seatbelt because I am not driving and taking selfies at the same time.

Pleather and Jacquard Affair

Hi!

This is the first of what will (most probably) be three posts regarding my latest collab with Abakhan fabric stores. This time I got several fabrics that will not make up one cohesive set, but separate items that I will match with others, made from fabrics in my stash. So these posts will take some more time as I am making more than one item for each.

The first up is this simple looking, but not so simple to make, set of Itch to Stitch Hepburn turtleneck (my second time using this brilliant basic pattern) and Itch to Stitch Danube skirt.

You can probably tell after seeing this photo, why the set was not so simple to make 🙂 I had a piece of beige pleather in my stash for about two years already, for a skirt one day. And the day came when I found this pretty jacquard knit on clearance on Abakhan online shop.

Pleather can be tricky to sew with and honestly, it took me way longer that it should have just because some days I treaded sewing the next step as there was absolutely no way to unpick the seams without leaving ugly marks on the material. Also, when sewing multiple layers of pleather, the material sticks to the foot of the machine and I got through some parts only by holding my breath! On the other hand, the material surprised me positively too, because I could actually press it carefully on the inside of the garment and while I was not sure whether this will be wearable at all when I started off, eventually the skirt looks exactly as I planned and is surprisingly comfortable, too.

I made a few changes to the pattern, mainly due to the limitations of the material – I left off the coin pocket, did not topstitch the waistband and did not use bar tacks to fix the fly shield in place. In addition, I didn´t use a button, but attached two press fasteners as I thought it would be near impossible to get a nice looking buttonhole and there would not be a second chance after the first try.

Also, the front fly instructions are a bit different than for the Liana jeans that I recently made. After comparing the Danube and Liana instructions, I used the latter for this skirt. I was afraid that with Danube instructions, the zipper would be too close to the fly edge as has happened with some other patterns in the past. I don´t know if it really would be the case, but I wanted to be sure, so went with the Liana instructions in this part.

For the Hepburn turtleneck I only had just enough of fabric to squeeze out the length of these sleeves. It is shorter than the full length, of course, but longer that the 3/4 option of the pattern. The latter seemed too short even for me, although I tend to prefer shorter sleeves. The cotton jaqcuard knit is quite thick and less stretchy than the ribbed cotton jersey I used for my first version, so it fits tighter and is also tighter around the neck. But I really like the pattern of the fabric, it is so versatile while still kind of neutral due to the colors.

In conclusion, it really is as my dad says – the things that offer the most satisfaction, don´t come easy. It was not easy making this skirt and someone should really hold me back if I happen to say that I am going to make something in pleather any time soon 🙂 but still, satisfied with the result!

Thanks, Abakhan, for providing the material for the top and therefore giving me inspiration to use another material in my stash!

Until soon!

PS. SPRING IS FINALLY HERE, even if only in the calendar! Happy spring!

Finally done! (The Fireworks Project)

I know many of you will expect this title to have to do with the worst year in so many people´s lives. I don´t rush to call 2020 that bad PERSONALLY because how could I, having had our precious baby boy arrive in mid July? But I have to admit that the overall Covid situation even though no one in our family has fallen ill or been affected too badly by its collateral damage in terms of job loss etc, has grown heavy on me as well.

The title actually has to do with the last project of 2020 and it is this dress accompanied by a jacket that looks plain on the outside but is quite fierce on the inside 🙂

And it is no usual project either, being my first collab with a company, Abakhan Fabrics, that has several shops all over Estonia, the other Baltic States and Great Britain. I have personally visited one in Riga and one in Liverpool. They have a large variety of fabrics and honestly I was quite thrilled when they approached me because when they opened their beautiful store in downtown Tartu (my childhood hometown), I was a teenager, already interested in sewing and I remember vividly how I loved to indulge myself in the fabrics on offer.

After taking a look at their website which unfortunately does not represent even half of what you can find in stores, I decided to go for a simple dress in a remarkable fabric. However, it turned out that there was not enough yardage left for my project so I quickly rearranged my plans and decided to go for a skirt in said fabric, a top and a jacket. BUT…. when the package arrived, it appeared that since the piece had been the very last one on the roll, there was actually enough for my dress! So once again, plans changed and here we have a jacket and a dress.

Now the reason for such a title is that the pattern for the dress, Burdastyle 12/2020 model 112, is really off. I was careful enough to measure the pattern first and to my great surprise I had to cut a size larger than normal and still add extra room for the hip area. When comparing the pattern to the measurement chart, it looks like the pattern has been designed with zero wearing ease! And no, not for knits, but wovens!

The muslin did help out in terms of avoiding complete failure, but there was still too much tweaking to do around the bodice and even after all this work, I can´t say that I am 100% happy with the fit since the back neckline is gaping slightly.

The pattern is originally designed unlined, but due to the fabric I chose (slightly sheer and scratchy on the wrong side), I had to add a lining to the dress. At some point, when I could try the dress on already, I realized I want to skip the sleeves. This is again weird, but the armholes are not big at all although this is what usually happens when the pattern is designed with sleeves and you just leave them off. I wonder if I would have pushed through with the sleeves, would that have been another nightmare in the process?

So a dress that looks really simple, turned out to be a lot of work – fit issues, adding a lining, main fabric that only accepted tailor´s tacks for markings… you name it! I guess the two things that kept me going were the fact that the fabric is really beautiful and that I was working on a sponsored project that I was documenting on Instagram stories.

The jacket is a pattern that I have used three times already, Simplicity 1421. I think it is a wonderful pattern that fits well and works great with a wide range of fabrics and is a simple design that looks good for special occasions. It is not designed as lined, but I have always added a lining because it just upgrades the whole thing. Plus my favorite, the piping, of course!

In this case the pattern was tried and tested, but both fabrics frayed like crazy, making the process more difficult than it could have been. The fabric that I chose for the lining is not a lining per se, but just a very fluid, silky polyester that can be used for a top or even a slip dress. I am not sure whether this and my dress fabric are from the same producer, but it looks like exactly the same pattern, doesn´t it? And I know that while wearing the complete set, no one will see the lining, but this is what makes sewing so fascinating – the ability to create things that at first exist only in your head and then adding those “secret” personal touches. If ten sewists would be given these fabrics, we would have ten different end results! And this is mine!

To those of you who will wonder, where and when will I have the chance to wear these clothes, the answer is that the dress will be worn for New Year´s Eve at home because we will have friends over and I always like to dress up even at home on Christmas and New Year´s Eve. The jacket will have to wait its turn, but given that it is a classic black piece, it will definitely have many occasions in the future.

In terms of sewing, 2020 has actually been a good one – I upgraded techically as I bought my Juki HZL-F600 (it is technically the same as the F700 but white instead of fuchsia on top) and as my husband fulfilled my birthday wish by gifting me a remote and a tripod for taking photos. Considering how cumbersome it was to find time for both of us at the same moment especially with two kids, the tripod and the remote have been a relief for him as well. I also completed some garments that I am proud of, for example the Tommy coat and the Burgundy jacket. Considering that I was pregnant for the first half of the year and later having two kids at home, I have also been rather productive. And to top this, I was offered this exciting collab from Abakhan!

I hope for the new year to bring further adventures in sewing but most importantly I hope that the vaccines will help the world to turn to normalcy sooner than later!

Hello, Africa!

Hey, everyone!

It has been a while, but I haven´t been idle, as soon as I get some photos taken, I will be able to show you this year’s holiday party dress and there are some other projects on the verge of completion, too!

But what I actually wanted to do today, was to share one interesting blog post with you. It is written by my dear colleague, Kadi (seen here with her Burgundy Wedding Guest Dress made by me) who currently is doing some great volunteer work in Uganda, Africa. Her task is to help the local school for children with special needs to develop some kind of production unit for young people with special needs who are not attending the school anymore but continue living there, so that by selling their goods they would be able to cover the expenses and have an income.

The idea is to produce several hand-made goods for sale and also take orders for sewing services. Of course now you know where I am getting at – fabrics!

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Over our long Skype chat Kadi sent me several photos of some of the most fantastic kitenge prints and I got very enthusiastic about the possibility of her actually bringing something along for me when she returns in January.

Below you can read a copy of her blog post that describes the local fabric shopping/sewing life, that I found very interesting. With her permission, I have only copied the English version of her original Estonian/English text that is available here.

For more details about the whole production unit, the little shop the volunteers have helped to start and of course, more supercool fabrics!, please look here.

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Tailoring business.

Moving around together with the tailors has brought along many interesting activities and discoveries regarding the textile and tailoring industry in Uganda. Firstly, I have learned about many new places for finding good fabrics and the important shops have been written down and memorized. Interestingly the shops are mostly organized so that similar businesses are all located in one place, e g there is the Energy Center for all kinds of eletrical materials, Majestic Plaza is the place for buying beads and pearls and other handicraft things (+ men who do your nails located on the ground floor) and many textile centers are packed tightly around two streets in downtown. From the outside it looks as if there were only a few shops but after entering the building one discoveries that every house is a labyrinth where all salespersons try to convince you to buy their products (hello sister, come and have a look, welcome, do you want some kitenge etc). After shopping there a few times you locate some shops that have good variety, reasonable prices, and friendly salespersons. One of the best experiences was to go fabric shopping together with teacher Winnie from the women’s project. She walked in front on crutches and me and Liina followed her along the lines of shops helping to choose materials and carry the shopping bags. While accompanying her we felt a lot less shouting and unnecessary attention around us. While moving around on your own, it still happens that the usual price of 25 000 – 35 000 for 6 yards of fabric turns suddenly into 60 000 and in that case I have often just left the shop because the bargaining and explaining would take too long. In some ways this kind of asking for a double price is also a bit disrespectful. Especially when I am bargaining in Luganda and state clearly that I know the real price anyway. The fabric shops have also specialized further – there are separate places for buying kitenge, materials for gomezis, for suits and so on. The surroundings of fabric shops are always filled with humming of the sewing machines and tailors with sewing machines have been squeezed into tiniest corners possible.
Besides textiles I also had to learn a lot about the sales and prices of sewing machines. Apparently the sewing machines sold in downtown Kampala are all brought in second hand from Asia. The prices vary between 350 000 and 500 000. The main factors affecting the price being the different stitches (they call it ‘designs’ here) the machine can make and whether it has a table and/or motor included. Only new machines I saw were manual Singer machines that are most probably also manufactured in China. While still searching for sewing machines for the tailors, we came across an easier and cheaper solution – getting four sewing machines from Bluesky. Due to having only solar energy, Bluesky was not using these machines anyway and we could repair four instead of buying one.
Ruth (left) and Night with some of their handicraft.
Handmade tie-dye fabric.
Shopping for fabrics.
Second hand sewing machines from Asia.
Olivia and the great artwork done by me : p
A welcoming light in our shop.
My home-office

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Star Trekking in Germany

As you know, I recently spent a long weekend in Germany, namely Düsseldorf and Essen.

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The primary reason for such a destination was that after listening to flamenco/copla/soul/jazz singer Buika on YouTube over and over again, I realized at some point that I needed to go and listen to her live.

There were more exotic venues on the list, but as I could only get a couple of days off work and the concert in Essen was conveniently in the weekend, I chose to go and see her in Germany. It was SO worth it, her voice and the rhythm of the music just gave me chills!

As I had bought the tickets and booked the hotels, I started searching for other stuff to see and do in Düsseldorf and Essen over those few days. And I got so lucky that I just couldn´t believe it!

As it turned out there is an impressive exhibition in Essen from September to mid-January, the topic being Japanese influence on European artists in the 2nd half of the 19th and beginning of 20th century.
It is hosted by Museum Folkwang and more on this great event can be read here. If any of you has the chance, go and see it, you will be impressed and you will learn a great deal! But for me the story has an extra twist.

Maybe some of you remember the Roberto Cavalli fabric I bought in Helsinki back in February.

Remember how the beautiful wave print (which I am scared to cut into, so I haven´t made anything of this fabric yet!) is inspired or basically copied from the famous Japanese artist Hokusai?

800px-Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa2 Well… I saw the original Hokusai woodblock print and some others from his series “36 Views of Mount Fuji”!
I wish I had made something out of that fabric to wear for the exhibition, would have been fun!

But I wore a new dress, instead.

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The dress is based on the pattern 4 I from the recent Burda Easy Fashion Fall/Winter 2014 issue.

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As you can see, my dress looks quite different.

First of all, it is sleeveless. It was not meant to be, but it is, because may you all be warned – there is something really wrong with this pattern! Which of course is a pity because there are some really nice variations of that in the magazine. And for me it was also a real headache, as I discovered in the process of sewing what was supposed to be an easy project, that for some reason the pattern is at least 2 sizes too big! Seriously, there is no mistake in cutting the pattern, size-wise it is supposed to be correct, but it was huge instead!

I must have taken in at least 3 cm on both sides, but the result was that as the central piece was still too big, the sleeves would have been really off shoulder. As I wanted to finish the dress before the trip, I just omitted the sleeves, but still the bodice is too wide so if I forget myself and let my shoulders hang, there is some gaping in front of the dress.

The fabric choice was quite random, I just loved the blue and thought it would look better if I tuned down the sweetness with a contrasting panel.

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As a result it reminds me the Star Trek movie uniforms (photo from allposters.com):

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I wanted a simple jersey dress that would also allow movement since I needed something to wear for the ballroom dancing practice classes I attend nearly every Sunday. As usually I cut Burda size 38, but as I said, it looked more like size 42 on me. Apart from that, it was of course easy to sew. I omitted the side zipper and instead of the full skirt, I used a simple A-line skirt from Burda 04/2007, model 104, because it seemed to me that the full skirt would make the dress too heavy and drag on the bodice.

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Some more photos of the dress:

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This time my fabric shopping was modest. At first, as I was searching online for fabric stores in Düsseldorf and Essen, it looked very promising, but out of the 5 stores I tried to find in Düsseldorf some had apparently shut down and one was selling special fabrics for very exotic wardrobes – beaded organza etc, that was of no interest to me. I didn´t visit any fabric shops in Essen.

To my big surprise, one hint that I found on internet, was correct. In a big department store in Düsseldorf, called Karstadt, they have a decent fabric shop as well! At first I was sure they would only stock household fabrics, but it turned out to have a huge selection of all kind of fashion fabrics!

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You can see the fabric I got in the last picture. It is a colourful snake print stretch cotton sateen. I think I saw it in Vienna in May in Komolka, as well and liked it, but at that time there were so many more appetizing bits that this one got left behind.

And last but not least, I also bought an interesting special edition of Burda magazine – Burda Vintage. You can see the models featured in the magazine here. I don´t think I will use any of the patterns, but as I can read quite a bit of German and the magazine has more text and information that just the patterns, I still got it.

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As I got back from the trip, my complimentary issue of the November 2014 German BurdaStyle magazine was waiting for me in the mailbox!

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The Great Surprise

Hey everyone!

I am back from Switzerland with fresh knowledge on my work stuff, nice impressions of a city I had not visited before and, of course, a new fabric! More about all this in the next post, because something totally unexpected happened today!

I got home from work and thought that since my mailbox was nearly overflowing with advertisements and flyers, emptying it would be a smart thing to do. When I was at it, I discovered a large envelope with my name and BurdaStyle logo on it!

I could not believe my eyes when I opened the envelope and found a complimentary issue of the October German BurdaStyle!

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They had contacted me in the first days of March to ask about the Bow Tie Blouse and to send a photo, but as I never heard back from them, I thought my project was not chosen. And voilá! there it was!

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I find it funny, though, that the text is totally outdated by now – the moment I replied to their request to say a few words about the blouse, I was still engaged and since I wore the blouse on my engagement, it seemed to be a nice detail to point out. Now, several months and a breakup later, that detail stares back at me on page 80!

But I don’t think I need to say how super happy I am about this! Super flattered! Thanks, BurdaStyle!