Hatching Plans: Back-to-Work Wardrobe for my Sis!

Hello, everyone!  Hope this little post finds you all well!

As you may remember, my youngest sister had a baby mid-January, so now she’s preparing to go back to work.  She’s going through a bit of a rough patch right now, so I thought maybe the prospect of a new work wardrobe might cheer her up and give her something to look forward to.  (She’s related to me, after all, and few things get me more pumped up than doodling up plans to sew new outfits!)  I thought I’d share my plans with you guys to get your input!  My sister is very laidback and the opposite of a diva, so she rarely shops for or spends money on herself, and she doesn’t give a lot of feedback about what she likes.  So I’m hoping to put together some pieces that she’ll be able to mix and match and that she’ll really love.

OK, since my sister’s immediately post-baby and is long-distance, I need to make garments that are easy to fit and that won’t look ill-fitting and gross right away if she loses weight.  My first thought was to make a few basic a-line skirts, since they only need to fit in the waist and are straightforward to fit.  So I showed her some skirt patterns (and by “showed”, I mean “texted photos of”), and her favorite by far was Megan Nielsen’s Kelly skirt.

image from Megan’s blog

This requires a pretty decent fit through the waist, but my mom lives near my sister and can take it in for her if she loses a ton of weight.  I hopped online and bought this yesterday, so I’ll be checking the mailbox all week long!  My sis favors blue, gray, and aqua these days, so my thought was to make this skirt for her in:

chambray and navy twill.  I also thought that a red twill skirt might be fun to combine with the blues and aquas.  I don’t want her to get bored wearing only the same skirt pattern, so I may add Tilly’s new Miette skirt pattern to the mix, too.  I didn’t buy any fabric yet, though, so I’m open to other ideas.

image from Tilly’s blog

Cute, right?  This seems like a nice option, too, since it’s so adjustable.  Perfect!

Another thing I thought she might like is a pair of stretchy pants.  I just found Tessuti’s Anita ponte pants pattern and immediately downloaded it (you’ll be seeing these on me soon if all goes well!), and I think they might work on my sister, too.

image from Tessuti’s blog

I love these!  They have a bit more coverage and are more substantial than leggings, so they seem awesome for work and running around with a baby.  I’m thinking gray ponte?

gray ponte from Mood– click on photo for link!

Next up, tops!  I went a little bit crazy at Girl Charlee and picked out a boatload of jerseys to make some tops.

Aren’t these all adorable?  You can see why I couldn’t help myself!  I was thinking I’ll make a whole flock of Renfrew tops with a variety of sleeve lengths and necklines (the Renfrew is my tried & true pattern, after all… heeheehee!).  What I like about the Renfrew top is that it’s feminine, but still really easy to wear and slim enough to tuck into a skirt.  But I’m not sure if maybe it’s TOO slim for someone with a changing body?  What do you guys think?  I’m also tempted to make a couple of Cindy’s dolman sleeve tops, but I don’t know how good those would look paired with skirts.  What about the Briar sweater/tee?  Is it too loose for someone that might be feeling self-conscious about weight around the mid-section?  Thoughts?  Any other patterns that might be nice?

If I have jersey leftover after cutting out all the tops, I’d like to make a skirt like Miranda’s simple layered summer skirt.

photo from Miranda’s blog

Wouldn’t this be super cute with the different striped fabrics combined together?

My sister works with kids in and out of classrooms and homes, so I figure that a couple of cardigans would be good so she can toss one on over everything if it’s chilly.  I’m thinking that I’ll do one inspired by Andrea’s Renfrew cardigan mod, and for the other, I’d like to try my hand at drafting a waterfall cardigan (similar to the Burda Karen pattern, but not quite as voluminous, perhaps).  I’m thinking one in navy, and the other in gray:

both from Girl Charlee

Maybe not the most exciting things in the world, but I’m sure they’ll be worn regularly.

I also ordered this purple polka dot ponte from Girl Charlee because it reminded me of my sister:

What should I make with it?  A dress?  Another pair of stretchy pants?  A skirt?

Any other patterns or garments you can recommend?  I’d like to make her some Archer shirts and perhaps a version of M6553 down the road, but she has basically nothing to wear right now, so I’m looking for quick makes!  I’m especially interested to hear what any moms out there liked wearing post-pregnancy (btw, breastfeeding isn’t a concern here, so no need for tops that accommodate that… tmi?  I hope not…).  I’m especially interested in any free tutorials or patterns as I’ve exceeded my pattern buying budget for the next little while!  🙂

Now, I have one last favor to ask!  Maybe you’ve noticed, but I love to make sewing plans, but find it hard to stick with them!  Since this is a pretty ambitious plan, I’ll be tempted to get sidetracked, so I’d love it if you could remind me to keep at these sewing plans if it’s been a while since you’ve seen me post anything!

What are you guys up to these days?  Any wild & wooly sewing plans??

152 responses

  1. You are a sweet sister, Ginger!

    Would your sister like knit dresses? I remember wearing them a lot and they were comfy and accommodating my changing body when I Was trying to shed weight. I remember wearing a cut very similar to the ballet dress of Dixie DIY. Mine was rtw and had a tie that helped adjust the waistline.

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  2. I LOVE my Kelly skirt and I’m dying to make more, so big YEA to that one! Also with the Miette – those skirts are soo fun to wear, quick to make, and don’t use a ton of fabric. Just an idea, but maybe you could cinch the back of the Kelly skirt with elastic (making the waistband into a casing) so it could shrink with her? Maybe?

    Man, you’re a way better sister than I am. My sister’s like, “Can you…?” and I’m all “NOPE.” hahaha!!

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  3. What everyone else said: you’re a fabulous sister! I made one shirt for my mom (who is long distance) and was like “never again, yo”.

    My inner Oona is whispering something about purple polka dot tights…

    Also, will baby clothes be on the agenda??

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    • Never listen to your inner Oona! It’s too dangerous! 😀

      Yes, I’m going to make some baby clothes! Although, I have to confess… I hate the idea of sewing baby clothes! It just seems fiddly and fussy and not fun, plus they’ll wear it like twice before it’s too small. Oddly enough, I enjoy knitting for babies, and they’ll wear that stuff even less, soo… But I ordered some awesome dinosaur fabric for him. 🙂

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  4. You are a much kinder sister than I–I STILL haven’t made my sis anything. Hmmm. . . maybe you’ve inspired me 🙂
    I think a dress from the purple polka-dots would be nice. I love dresses because I can just throw them on when I’m So Not in the Mood to put together an outfit. Maybe draft a simple skirt to add to a Renfrew?

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    • Haha, I still owe my other sister a dress that I promised her about a year ago… and she paid for the fabric! I still haven’t done anything with it! Crap, another thing to add to my to-do list!

      I love the idea of a Renfrew dress. You’re right– you don’t have to think of a whole outfit, which is a major plus.

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  5. Wow! What an awesome sister you are?! After I read the first paragraph I immediately thought of the Miette skirt, good choice! I also think a knit wrap dress is a good idea too, super flattering and comfy/adjustable.

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  6. I haven’t tried the Tiramisu knit dress pattern, but I wonder if that would be a good way to go? Gillian has had beautiful results and says it’s quick to sew. Or the maxi dress pattern you used last year??
    As for tops, I really like kimono style knit tops–they are a really fast project, comfortable, and easy to take in when needed. Something like this: http://www.burdastyle.com/pattern_store/patterns/mohair-shirt-112012
    I like the loose fit of the kimono style, especially around my tummy. But maybe not as good for tucking in… Good luck, you are sweet to make her anything.

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    • Oh, the Tiramisu is a good thought! Maybe I’ll fit one on her when I go visit– not sure I can just wing it with that one since it’s a bit more fitted up top. And I love the idea of kimono tops, too! I downloaded Maria Denmark’s Kirsten Kimono Tee a while back, but screwed up trying to add the seam allowances– I should give that another go.

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      • The Tiramisu was my immediate thought–already posted it up higher in the comments (only just now noticing it was already written down here).

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  7. Wow, you are so nice! You’re putting us all to shame 😉
    I think the ideas you have are great and should work together well. In terms of a garment that doesn’t need to fit perfectly, I like my easy kimono dress from Pattern Runway – the elastic at the waist may forgive future shrinkage there. A wrap dress or wrap cardigan top (like the Coppelia from Papercut Patterns) may be an option as well? Wrap dresses and tops aren’t really my thing, but I can see that they may be good for continuing to fit with a little change of size. Good luck with your big plans!

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  8. I have a post-baby belly and I find the Kelly skirt is a really good choice. I also like the Renfrew top and waterfall cardigan. Those are also great for discreet breastfeeding. Knit dresses sound great, but often they pull a bit over all the wrong places. It takes the right one. Other suggestion: a scarf. So easy to make but also great for camouflage and turns a boring outfit into something special.

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    • Oooh, a scarf! I never would’ve thought of that. Thank you! I tend not to like knit dresses myself since they can sometimes be clingy or can stretch out really easily. It’s so helpful to get the opinion of someone who’s been there. 🙂

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  9. What a lovely thought! And how rubbish that she has to go back so soon (in the UK you get a year off, albeit not fully paid). I feel for her.

    Leggings were good (so your pant suggestion probably makes sense). Longish, slightly fitted tunics to go over the top too (don’t want them to look like mat tops). The Miette would be perfect for adjustability. I seem to remember living in a loose (but not too loose) Breton style top with 3/4 sleeves, so your stripe fabrics would be perfect than that. Other than that I can’t remember, but I think your suggestions are probably ideal.

    I do love my Kelly skirt, and it’s really flattering, so if you can make it adjustable or your mum can adjust it for her, that’d probably be perfect. My Kelly is red denim (blogged about here if you want to take a look: http://tinyurl.com/ca6yypx) and it goes with EVERYTHING. Black, navy, navy and white, turquoise, plum… so a colourful skirt is definitely a good addition to a wardrobe!

    Good luck!

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    • Your Kelly skirt is so cute! I think I’ll make a red version– it just looks so nice! Lauren suggested adding elastic to the back waistband, which sounds like an awesome way to make it a bit adjustable!

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  10. I’m sure your not surprised to hear that I’m basically living in my Anita Ponti Pants! Have you considered MariaDenmark’s free Kirsten Kimono Tee – http://blog.mariadenmark.com/?p=875 Maria has also just released a knit dress pattern. It will cost you, but it still maybe a contender – http://blog.mariadenmark.com/?p=1842 Speaking of knit dresses, and if you have a spare $3, then Dixie’s Ballet Dress could also be an option – http://dixiediy.bigcartel.com/product/ballet-dress-pattern

    What a fun project. The planning phase is so much fun. Enjoy 🙂

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    • I actually have the Kirsten tee downloaded at home– I’m ashamed to admit it, but I set it aside to add the seam allowances later and left it… and it’s been about 9 months! But I bet that would be lovely on her! Thanks for linking to the dresses, too– they both look perfect!

      Your Anita pants look great! I can’t wait to make a few pairs! 🙂

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  11. I see a couple other people suggested knit dresses – I’ll put my vote in for the Tiramisu dress from Sewing Cake! It does a nice job of highlighting the waist and bust, but skimming over the hips and stomach. It’s super easy to make, and I wear my versions all the time! 🙂 I love your sewing plans – Do keep us posted!

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  12. Sonja, you’ve got to be the best sister ever! I can’t even begin to imagine how I’d fit all this sewing in, so hats off to you girl! Your sister is one lucky ducky and if your plans don’t cheer her up, I don’t know what will ;o) You’ve chosen some excellent pattern and garments, I think she’ll be over the moon with her new wardrobe!

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  13. This is such a lovely thing to do!!
    I think the Renfrews sound like a great idea, knits all the way for changing body shapes! I love Andrea’s Renfrew cardi too and would love to try it.
    Good luck!

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  14. I’ve made Cindy’s dolman sleeve top a number of times and it would totally work to pair with skirts. My fav version is one I made in a lightweight fluid jersey that would be perfect for a work wardrobe. You may want to skip the bottom band, make it longer and just hem it if it’s going to get tucked in (reduced bulk). Good luck with the rest of the wardrobe. You are an ambitious (and generous) sewer.

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  15. I found flexible waists good post baby – not an elastic, but like a firm jersey waist band that held the more flexible skin from the hip bones to the belly button in without creating bulges. The body post birth can be a bit depressing, but it does get better 🙂

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  16. I’m thinking Grainline scout tee and tiny pocket tank for a loose cotton vibe. Also, just made up a Laurel and it is really comfy and surprisingly flattering and can be taken in at the sides and belted if she changes shape. Ok, here’s your first pep talk- “Stay the course lady! This is great project and you must stay focused! You can do this…. or else we will be very disappointed in you!!!” ….I went with intimidation and guilt, I hope you respond to that kind of motivation 😉

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  17. You might want to take a look at the Sloppy Josephine top by Papercut Patterns! Its purposefully slouchy and loose, and looks really nice tucked into skirts. Also I really like the relaxed fit of the Banksia, which is great for wovens or knits!

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  18. I’m a mom of 2 (with #3 on the way) and I wear a lot of knit dresses to work. So comfy and a very forgiving fit. I also LOVE my Washi dresses. They’re very flattering on a post-baby body and the shirring in the back means it could accommodate her changing shape. I believe Maria Denmark has a free (or at least very inexpensive) basic tee pattern available on Craftsy, so that might give you another silhouette to use. You can’t go wrong with a basic knit top!

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  19. I think all of the stuff you are proposing looks great – I love stretchy pants and I think the dotty fabric would look great in those pants. Perhaps with the tops, something that is snug across the bust, but a bit loose over the belly would be good. I’ve got a big belly (that’s just my bod – no babies caused it) and it’s a still that I like. Feminine yet not too snug.

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    • Thank you! That seems like a good way to go– fitted through the bust, but not snug through the waist. I’m thinking now that the more fitted Renfrew tops might not be the best. I really appreciate your input– it’s so helpful!

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  20. Oh, I’m not a sewer so I hope this makes sense, but what about a few bon-con type of skirts in a stretch fabric…straight, but with an elastic waistband. I love those.

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  21. I like the idea of the pants and the Renfrew tops. You are a nice sister and your sister will be thrilled. Heading to Girl Charlee and probably spend too much money!

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  22. Since I arrived late to the party, I will second most of the earlier suggestions like the Kelly skirt with elastic, your idea of a slew of Renfrews and I love the Coppelia wrap top (which you said you already had). And for the purple polka dot, I say leggings *and* a scarf if you have enough fabric. Not that she has to wear them together. Unless she wants to 😉

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  23. I think slender fit tops can be dicey on a woman waiting to return to her “normal” size. But, if you grade out a bit from the waist down, things can sort of glide over and feel a lot more comfortable.

    I second the Tira dress, the Ponti pants sound great (I’m thinking of getting the pattern) and any loose tee to wear with them (Scout, Papercut Tee, Sorbetto, Tova from Wiksten) if she’s not planning to breastfeed.

    WAY to go sister!! I WISH someone was willing to make me clothes post-baby. You don’t know how grateful she’ll be to have something cool to wear at that time!

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    • These are all great suggestions! Plus I’m always looking for an excuse to make more scout tees… 🙂 Thanks, Wanett! It’s so hard for me to know what works, so it’s super helpful to hear from moms!

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  24. What are you the sweetest sister in the world?! Yes yes you are. What about Grainline’s tiny pocket tank? I love the red one you made! That’s pretty easy to sew up, forgiving of cross-country sewing and changing bodies, and would look cute with a belt or lengthened and worn with leggings? Or some knit wrap dresses with short sleeves? Cirque du Bebe recently made leggings which are super cute, but I don’t want to suggest things that will add to your already impressive (and make me feel like the worst sis ever) sewing list! x

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    • Oooh, yeah! I remember Jen making a dress version of the tiny pocket tank with a button placket– that would be way cute with leggings! I loved Sophie’s leggings, too– thanks for reminding me!

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  25. How sweet of you! Your plans sound really good. I love ponte pants but I am not nor have I ever been postpartum so I cannot give first hand testimony about their usefulness for that 🙂

    As to the Kelly skirt, it is super fast and easy and very cute. My one word of caution–if your sister has any junk in her trunk, she may not like the box pleats in the back of the skirt. I made the skirt up for myself but could not wear it because it amplified my already ample derrière. Next time I will convert the pleats to darts or gathers. Now, I am taking up the waist and passing on the Kelly skirt to my sister who has no booty and loved the skirt 🙂

    Good luck with your ambitious plans!

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  26. Wow you are an amazing sister! I have a hard time sewing for me, let alone for anyone else. I am impressed with the wardrobe plan. As someone who is not super happy with her tummy (my own fault for enjoying food too much), I can vouch for the Tiramisu dress, somehow, despite the waistband it is still flattering and on top of that it feels like wearing pajamas! Plus if she loses weight/ changes size, it is a very easy pattern to just run the sides in.

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    • Oh, that’s so true about the Tiramisu dress. I was thinking that it would be hard to take in, but it makes sense that you could just serge the sides. Thanks for your input! It’s a bit daunting trying to sew for someone else (especially someone that lives nearly 1000 miles away!) that has different figure challenges, so I’m really appreciative of everyone’s thoughts. 🙂

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  27. I get loads of compliments in my Alma’s at work. I think they are a bit different but still smart, they also skim over your curves & tummy if you leave them untucked which is nice, I also love the sleeves which are kinda elbow length. I wear mine with jeans & pencil skirts they are very versatile. Pendrell is also a weekly favourite. Again it skims over your body. I actually didn’t like the look of the pattern, made it & love it. I prefer it in a soft rayon or something with a bit of drape – otherwise the frills would FREAK me out!
    I love dresses because they require no coordination in the mornings.
    That polka dot would look great as a NL 6000 – and again the waist pleats are easy to wear & flattering!
    Shut up Lizzy!

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  28. I don’t have much to add here except awesome sistering! And that I may be style stalking this a bit- trying to build a rad new wardrobe. Nothing like a wardrobe twin across the Pacific!

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  29. Hi another lurker here. How about a shift. Forgiving in terms of size changes but can be elegant yet casual to wear. I notice Colette has a nice one on the rails at the moment.
    Christine

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    • Thanks for commenting, Christine! 🙂 That’s a great idea, especially as the Colette version is fitted through the bust, but forgiving through the waist and hips. Thank you!

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  30. oh you are just the *best* sister… putting the rest of us (or just me and my selfish ways) to shame! I can’t think of anything more to add to the fab plans that you’ve hatched, and the incredible suggestions already offered.

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    • Gosh, we’ll see how much I actually get done! I feel really bad because I can’t help with babysitting and she just moved, too, without my help. This is about the only thing I can do being long-distance!

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  31. Having just had a baby 8 months ago, I can tell you I bet she will LOVE you for sewing for her. It is very discouraging trying to dress those first couple months and a few good pieces that look slimming and are super comfortable are worth there weight in gold!

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    • I sure hope so! She’s the kind of person that would never want to spend money or time on herself, but she deserves to look cute and feel comfortable! I’m really hoping that I can make at least a few things that really work for her. Congrats on the baby! 🙂

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  32. Pardon any repeat suggestions here. As for a knit wrap dress, McCalls 5974 is great and well-documented in the blogosphere. (The instructions mention a zipper but don’t even bother. Puh-leez–it’s knit.) Also, I think some Maria Denmarks were mentioned, but the Day To Night top that Sew Busy Lizzy raves about sounds wonderful. I also cranked out a Butterick 5497 knit top in no time. That pattern has several versatile views, and might be worth picking up next sale.
    And let me second, third, and fourth Tiramisu, Renfrew, and Alma!!
    And by the way, YOU ARE AWESOME!
    Hugs
    Shel

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  33. With three kiddos I would add that separates are more practical. Baby will be making messes out of one end or the other as you are about to leave. Being able to quickly throw on a different shirt is good. And the idea of a scarf is brilliant because that can cover up the spit that you didn’t realize was there until too late. Don’t know what her body is doing, but if she still has a tummy she won’t want anything binding. Consider where the waist hits (lower or higher than usual is better) or a big fold over waist band is super comfy. Prints on top are good to camouflage messes.

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    • This is all great advice! Thank you! I hadn’t thought about that– if you get spit up on, you have to change your whole dress instead of just grabbing a new top. And I’m really starting to think that making a few simple knit skirts with foldover waistbands would be a good idea. Seriously, thank you! Your advice is invaluable.

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    • Nah, I just feel bad because I haven’t been around to help out with babysitting or her recent move. This is just about the only way I can be of assistance from so far away!

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  34. I second (third, fourth, eighth, thirtieth??) everyone else on you being an amazing sister to offer your services in such a comprehensive way! I love sewing for others, and I’m even a little intimidated by your plans! So, go you!

    I love love love the briar top, it sews up in 30 minutes or so and is super easy to modify. If you’ve been considering that pattern, I say go for it. The and hemline would be super flattering for a changing body (maybe a tunic-length to wear with those ponte leggings?)

    Also, I’ve noticed the “Staple Dress” floating around instagram land. It looks like a very simple pattern that would also be flattering with a changing body. I have made several similarly shaped dresses (short kimono sleeves with shirring at the waist) I think you could make it from woven or knit and have a great result.

    Good luck lady! I’ll be following along offering virtual high-fives!! xoxo

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    • OK, I think I’m going to go for the Briar top! Thanks for the recommendation! I’m looooving the sound of a 30-minute top!

      The Staple Dress is another great recommendation! I haven’t seen that pattern before, but it looks totally easy to wear.

      Thanks, girl! I so appreciate hearing from a super stylish mom like you!

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