Saturday, April 19, 2014

title pic Life is too Short to Wear Frumpy Clothes – Dress Up!

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on April 5, 2014

feminine dress quote

Why Don’t We Dress Up Anymore?

I love dressing up!  I like to put time into my appearance and feel presentable when I go out of the house, but sadly most people today don’t agree with me.  In fact, I finally stopped asking about dress codes last year because I was tired of being told, “Oh, you know, just wear whatever.”  Well, my goodness – “whatever” sounds like a simply lovely thing to wear to that party!   Or what about the time I was going to an important business meeting a while back and I was instructed that I should wear (and I quote) “jeans and a top” to be introduced to this important person?  Whatever happened to trying to make a good impression?  Whatever happened to showing people you care enough about them to dress up, or that you at least have enough respect for yourself to put on something that shows you care about your job, your position, or whatever it is you’re doing?  I get rather tired of being the only girl at church who is wearing a dress, and I think it’s sad that this culture has lost so much dignity that we just honestly don’t care one bit what we look like.  The pervading attitude seems to be, “Why should I get out of my sweatpants to go to a function when they are so comfortable?”  (Yes, I’ve heard that reply before.)  Well, I’m all for comfort, but is that really the number one priority when it comes to our lives?  Are we all a bunch of grown-up little kids who need our clothing to feel like soft and cuddly teddy bears in order to not have an “uncomfortable” day? :)

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Classy!

  Most of you know that I don’t believe in wearing “blah” sorts of clothes.  You know, grey sweatpants, baggy t-shirts, flip flops….  No, those things are not my friends.  I detest ugly clothing with a passion.  It never ceases to astonish me that people actually pay money to own some of the threadbare garments of today, and that they still somehow think they’re being fashionable!  The phrase “casual chic” is sometimes used as an excuse for hole-y jeans, unraveling fabrics, and moppy hairstyles.  The sad thing is that frumpiness is so extremely common in our culture that in general we don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.  It has become a common occurrence to see a 40-something year old lady grocery shopping in her gym clothes, a mother of toddlers dashing about town in leggings and her husband’s t-shirt, and teenage girls walking down the street in such small amounts of fabric that I fear for their safety.   – When I was a toddler, my mama taught me that big girls put clothes on before they leave the house, I don’t know about yours! ;) LOL!

All kidding aside though, I feel sad when I see people who live their whole lives in such a hurry that they never take time to really dress up!  One does not need a grand occasion or an invitation from the queen in order to put on a pretty dress and some lipstick before they leave the house.  Simply waking up is a good enough reason to be in a happy mood every morning and let your attire reflect that mood by putting some effort into your appearance!

Merely being a lady is a good enough excuse to spend 15 minutes doing your makeup and a few minutes choosing a flattering outfit for the day. Every girl or woman is so special and precious, and you deserve the time it takes to feel pretty every day!

hollywood-vanity-dressing-table(Source)

In days gone by, ladies spent a large amount of time in the morning at their dressing tables, whether it was the in beruffled days of Victorian times, or in the more glamorous decade of the 1950s.  The early morning routine was a time to get ready for the day ahead ~ to apply makeup, coiuf the hair, and don lovely clothing and jewelry before you were “fit to be seen”.

I know that many people dress up only for rare occasions, but here are several thoughts I’ve had over the last few years:

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(The dress shown above is what I’m wearing today as I write this post.)

  • When you look nice, you will FEEL nice!
  • If your appearance looks terrible (no makeup, frumpy clothes, etc.), you are more likely to feel terrible!  It’s just hard to think positive, happy thoughts when you look in the mirror and see something you don’t like.
  • Dressing up is always a good idea!
  • Dressing up makes people happier when they see you!  I couldn’t possibly count all the times that the lady at the grocery store or someone at the post office has smiled and said, “Oh!  I love your dress!”  (Or lipstick, etc.)
  • When you dress up, you are automatically treated with much more respect.  Wearing something professional, classy, or fashionable and tasteful makes people think more highly of you than if you came to the store in, say, your pajamas for instance.
  • If you *look* like an important person, people will usually treat you like an important person.

vintage-lady-doing-makeup

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Wearing Classy Clothing

As a little girl, I remember sitting on the living floor in my grandparent’s house and playing with toys while my mom and grandma sat on the couch going through old family pictures from the last thirty odd years.  Aside from the general remarks about, “Oh, how she’s grown” that you might expect, the majority of the comments were sprinkled with giggles and moans and remarks such as, “Oh, that DRESS!  It’s hideous!”  “I can’t believe we used to wear shorts like those.”  “Can you believe that they thought that was pretty?”

And then my mother randomly made a comment that has stuck with me for the rest of my life.  She said, “But you know, someday people will look back at the pictures of what we’re wearing today and probably think the same thing.

And you know what?  She was right!  In the early 90s women’s wardrobes consisted of those dreadful stirrup leggings, oversized t-shirts, neon colors, frumpy flat loafer shoes with tassels, and lots and lots of jumpers.  (Jumpers, by the way, are probably my least-favorite article of clothing EVER.)  Just an FYI – LOL!

~ Elegance is Always in Style ~

  But no matter how hideous an outfit was at any time in history, you can be pretty sure that the long haired hippie or the bobbed haired flapper who wore it thought she was awfully cool at the time when she wore it.  So here’s my point – we must choose clothes that are BEAUTIFUL, and not just trendy!  There HAVE been decades of clothing when no one could ever look back and say “That was ugly”, because nearly all of the clothing from that era was designed with class, taste, and elegance!  No one could POSSIBLY say that Grace Kelly’s wedding dress was out-of-date, that Lily Elsie’s lace gowns were unbecoming, that Queen Victoria’s ball gowns were unflattering, or that Lucille Ball’s 1950s day dresses were ugly.  Because you know what?  All of these ladies’ outfits were designed in such gorgeous styles and fabrics, with such classiness and elegance in the cut and fit, that at no point in history could they ever be considered unattractive or overdone.  It *IS* entirely possible to choose such lovely and timeless clothing for today that even in twenty years from now people won’t shudder and say, “That was SO 20-teens!” just like we say, “That was SO 1980s!” about perms and oversized pouffy sleeves nowadays.

So what styles can we choose to wear today that will always be as classy and beautiful as possible?   My motto is:  “Elegance is always in style!”  Here are some observations I’ve made:

  • As a general rule, romantic and feminine styles will always be beautiful, no matter the decade.  Stick with truly beautiful and flattering styles whenever possible!

romantic-lace-skirt

  • Lace - Lace blouses, skirts and dresses are almost always beautiful.  Yes, Gunne Sax dresses can still be dated to the 70s, but most of them are still gorgeous even if they aren’t the latest fashion.   Lace is probably one of the most elegant fabrics of all time, so you really can’t go wrong with lace, as long as it’s not in a bizarre color. :)
  • Ruffles – I have yet to see a ruffled blouse from any era that I didn’t absolutely adore!  Many modern takes on the Edwardian shirtwaist (think Anne of Avonlea), have resulted in gorgeous, ladylike versions of office-attire blouses.  Ruffles at the neck, down the center, and at the wrists are just dazzling, and when I look at all the ruffled blouse patterns from the last 40 years they are almost all still classy and gorgeous.

chiffon ruffled blouse

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  • Defined, natural waistlines – When in doubt, always choose a natural waistline over a dropped waist dress!  The “hourglass” silhouette is SO much more becoming than “tent” shaped silhouette.  The most beautiful decades of fashion history all had the same thing in common – the cinched waistline.  Empire waistlines *can* be pretty when done right, but they oftentimes tend to suggest pregnancy so they are usually best avoided unless you’re wearing a Regency costume.
  • Classy colors – White, Creams, ivories, golds, peach, soft pink, mauve, dusty rose, bright red, sapphire blue, periwinkle, aqua, silver, forest green, lavender, royal purple, chocolate brown, jet black, etc., are colors that *usually* stand the test of time and are often found in some of the most beautiful vintage clothing.  However, some of the more abstract or “avant garde” colors are not going to be flattering on most people, unless that person wants to look like a clown – Neon yellows, bright orange, lime green, etc, will only be “in” for certain seasons and then will be “out” again in a hurry.

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  • Dainty prints – Polka dots and dainty floral prints have almost always been in fashion.  Large oversized prints on fabrics are perhaps one of the biggest threats to clothing today.  I see *so* many outfits pinned on Pinterest where I think, “Well, that maxi skirt would be fine if it wasn’t covered with the most horrible chevron print in teal blue and bright orange…”.  Honestly, I have been shocked at the outfit pins that many girls I follow have pinned (even girls who are into vintage clothing!), and that they usually add these pins to “Beautiful Clothing” boards.  Not to be unkind to anyone, but a sloppy mustard colored sweater over a red and aqua chevron striped dress is not pretty today, nor will it ever be pretty in the future! :)   We must make sure that we are choosing clothes that are truly lovely and tasteful, and not just because “It looks like the outfit that such-and-so wore on the front of a magazine.”
  • Tasteful, modest styles – I believe that dresses look prettier when skirts are not above the knees, when necklines are high enough to not show off things that should be kept private, and when dresses have cap sleeves or at least very wide straps to ensure they will stay on. ;)   Today’s mindset seems to be, “The less fabric you wear, the more attention you will get.”  But honestly, there are a lot of dangerous people out there nowadays (believe me!), and it is just a lot safer and more appropriate to wear a beautiful outfit that doesn’t show cleavage or bare thighs.  Think of the classy and fabulously elegant day dresses worn by Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Lucille Ball – did you know that *almost* all of those dresses were extremely modest?  You don’t have to wear a low neckline or cinch your skirt up to look beautiful or attractive!

1950s-bolero

  • Boleros – I LOVE boleros!  They are so effortlessly elegant and flattering.  You can wear a simple knit one over any a casual dress, or a sparkly one over an evening gown.  The shorter cut of boleros makes them so much more becoming on most women than longer jackets.
  • Circle skirts – Yes, I know these are very “1950s”, but they are some of the classiest articles of clothing ever.  Toss on a sweater or a knit top with one, add some flats or high heels, and you’re likely to be the best-dressed lady in your town!

modcloth-circle skirt

(Source)

  • Pearls!  – Small or large, white or ivory, single or double strand, I doubt whether any decade passed without pearl necklaces and earrings making their mark.  Pearls are really the ultimate go-to accessory to keep on hand.
  • Hats – Some may argue that hats come and go (and this is true), but hats are still extremely elegant and beautiful.  Don’t be too shy to don a hat for a wedding or even “just because”!

aqua-large-hat

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  • Nylons/Tights! – I’m not as good at wearing tights as often as I should, but if you’re wearing a dress that isn’t super long it will look SO much classier and more polished if you wear tights.  Nylons are for your feet and legs what foundation and powder is for your face.  Keep several spare pairs on hand in case you get a run in them! ;)

    vintage-nylons

    Tights make all the difference in the world.

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 It *is* a lot harder than it should be to find classy, modest, and feminine clothes nowadays, but I have found lots of gorgeous options that are now on my Pinterest board called “Feminine Fashion for Today” which hopefully is a good collection of ideas for people who are trying to find things to wear.

polka-dot-fashion

Here I was at Westminster Abbey, wearing ruffles and polka dots.

 So now that I’ve elaborated on what exactly I mean when I say “dressing up”, let me encourage you to dress up on a regular basis!  Nowadays people usually only dress up for weddings and funerals, but it really shouldn’t take some life-shattering event to make people look respectable, right?  Those of us who really take the time to dress up may find ourselves as the “odd ones out”, but if enough of us start taking a stand against frumpiness it will start becoming the norm, rather than the exception.  So next time you plan on heading out somewhere, don’t even think of driving off in your workout clothes!  Put on some lipstick (red, please), toss on a dress, pull out your pearls, and arrive at a look you can smile at when you see yourself in the mirror!  Sooner or later you will find that the rewards of looking and feeling classy are far greater than those of feeling cozy!

Cheers!

Katrina

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title pic Customer Dress Photos Made from Edelweiss Patterns Designs

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on March 30, 2014

Hello, Ladies!

I am long overdue for posting pictures which customers have sent me of the dresses they’ve made from my patterns, so I thought I would share some photos today.   :)

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This adorable little girl looks like she’s having so much fun in her Liesls’ Dress!  Her dress is absolutely perfect on her and she is so, so cute!  Her mother writes:

My mother-in-law just made the children’s version of Leisl’s dancing dress for my almost 6 year old daughter.  I purchased the pattern for her a couple of months ago and she just brought my daughter the completed dress yesterday.  Ally just loves her dress!  I wanted to pass along a couple of pictures of the dress for you to see.

She really loves the dress–especially twirling in it. My mother-in-law doesn’t live in the same town, so they had trouble getting all of the fittings in (I believe she was short a couple), but I think it turned out perfect. The inner layer is a satin-like material with silver sparkles. I wasn’t sure if it would show through, but you can definitely see the sparkles through the chiffon.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t show in the pictures.  Thank you for offering this pattern.  It is beautiful.”

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Liesl’s Party Dress

Next, we have several dresses made from my “Liesl’s Party Dress” pattern.

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This first version was made by a young lady named Katrina.  (It’s not often I hear from someone who shares my name!).  She made her beautiful cranberry and ivory version for Christmas 2013, and the finished results are so elegant!  She says, “I wanted to send you pictures of my “Liesl’s Party Dress,” which I made in red crepe back satin and cream lace for Christmas. I really enjoyed making it!  I’m enjoying following your blog, and I’m looking forward to the release of “Liesl’s Edelweiss Dress” pattern!”  Oh yes… Liesl’s Edelweiss Dress – more on that at the end of the blog post. :)

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party-dress

This lovely ice blue and white organza version (made from the Liesl’s Party Dress Pattern) was sewn by Eden, who shared her thoughts about the project: “For those of you who are like me and can’t stand those “Sew Simple” pattern brands that really turn out to be, “Sew Difficult”, then you will love Edelweiss Patterns!  They are amazing! Hands down!  :)   I was so surprised to find how easy and explicit the directions are!    They’re easy to follow and came along with wonderful step-by-step explanatory drawings.   Along with all this, Katrina also put together a page on her website filled with all sorts of helpful tips and hints for sewing this dress.  Overall, following the pattern was easy and simple!  And as far as the accuracy of the dress, yep!  It’s right on!  :)

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And for an even more “Sound of Music” themed dress, this girl chose colors for her “Liesl’s Party Dress” that give a nod to the famous line, “Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes”!  How fun!!

white-and-blue-vintage-dress

Her mother sent me the photo and mentioned, “This is a picture of my daughter.  She chose to play “My Favorite Things” for her guitar recital and wanted to dress the part.  We’re hoping the dress will still fit her next year for her Confirmation.  My daughter would be happy for you to share her picture.  Thank you so much.”

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Maria’s Gazebo Dress

These next photos were sent to me when I was in England last fall, and I was quite excited to open up my inbox and see such a lovely dress made from my “Maria’s Gazebo Dress” pattern.  This dress was made by the same seamstress who sewed her own cranberry and ivory lace Christmas dress up above.   She does such beautiful work!

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vintage-dress-smocked

Katrina wrote, “In May I made Maria’s Gazebo Dress, from pale blue chiffon with a crepe back satin belt.  I really enjoyed it-I had never smocked before.  I found the dress very easy to put together, and I love it!  My mom took pictures last month, and I attached them to this email.  Thank you again for making these beautiful patterns!”  Thank YOU for sharing, Katrina!
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Liesl’s Dancing Dress
Here is a dreamy dress made from my Liesl’s Dancing Dress pattern :
vintage-pink-dress
Rachel sewed her own costume and shared the results with me: “Your pattern was lovely and simple to work with! I had no luck finding a pinky grey or lilac chiffon, so I used pale pink chiffon for the top layer, and then two layers of silvery grey extra fine beamsilk for the lining. I also added two extra panels to the skirt to make it extra twirly (which I later regretted mid-way through 18m of hem!).  Thanks again for putting in the time and effort to share this pattern with the world!  Was very much appreciated!”
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Then I received some pictures of a purple “Liesl’s Dancing Dress” which Krista and her daughter Schuyler sewed together.  They chose to lengthen the skirt pieces for a slightly more formal look, and lined the yoke (which is usually sheer) for more coverage.  The sparkly organza is a beautiful twist on what is usually made from pale chiffon, so I really loved seeing their creativity!  Organza is, of course, much stiffer than chiffon, so the sleeves tend to ”pouff” out with organza more than just hang and drape like chiffon, but either way is lovely.
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Krista commented,
“I’ve been wanting to send you photos of the dress I made for my daughter from your Liesl’s Dancing dress pattern.  Her favorite color is purple, and I didn’t want to limit her with trying to match ribbons and fabric, so I just used some of the satin fabric we chose for the underdress to make bands for the “ribbon”.  We used fabric from JoAnn’s Casa Collection, and I was pleased with how it all handled.  We had really intended to make the purple dress a trial dress, but as life went on, it stepped up from being a trial to the real thing.  The dress was fun to make, and it turned out well.  We had to make some minor adjustments, but all together everything worked great.  We would definitely like to do this one again.  Thanks for letting us share!”
 

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An Update on My Next Pattern

And for those of you who have been asking about Liesl’s Edelweiss Dress pattern, first of all I want to thank you for your patience.  :)   2013 was actually the first year since 2009 that I haven’t put out a pattern, due to some very unexpected and unforeseen things that came up in my life which prevented me from being able to put much time into pattern drafting.  Sometimes “life happens” even to the most organized of all of us, and last year I had some things I needed to help with for an extended period of time that left me little time for much else. :)

That being said, yes, the pattern is very close to completion.  And no, I don’t know exactly when it will be ready to order.  At this point the dress is almost ready for photographs and the pattern is all but finished in size 12 (standard pattern size), but I still need to grade the pattern to the other sizes and write the instructions.  I am trying to put in a few hours a week on the pattern right now – sometimes that happens and sometimes it doesn’t, but I am sincerely hoping that I can have it ready soon!  I am SO EXCITED with the way the dress has turned out!!  I think it is probably the most accurate of all the patterns I’ve made as far as reproductions go.  And I am looking forward to sharing photos when I get closer to having the pattern printed.

I want to finish by saying a great big, “Thank you!” to all the ladies who have shared these photos of their dresses, to all of you who comment on the blog and send me emails, who repin some of my favorite 1950s pictures on my Pinterest boards, and share my love of beautiful vintage clothing in general.  Even though I’ve never met most of you in “real life”, I have been so delighted and amazed over the last several years to hear from such a large number of you about similar interests we share in costuming, vintage dresses, and sewing. 

In this fast-paced world where beautiful clothing is nearly extinct, it is comforting to know that I’m not the only person who squeals when I see a stunning 1950s evening gown, who has all the costumes from “Anne of Avonlea” memorized, or who thinks that a wardrobe fashioned after ”The Sound of Music” is the ideal choice for today.   It’s nice to know that I’m not the only girl who thinks that crinolines should be worn every day in an ideal world, whose idea of good fun is not reading the trashy magazines called “popular” by today’s culture but who would far rather read vintage 1940s fashion magazines, and who would much rather sew her own party dress made to look like a 1950s film costume than go to the mall and buy one of those sorry looking contraptions that passes for a dress nowadays and are often six inches or more above the knee.  (Um, “dress”?  I don’t think so!  :) )  Those of us who often hear we were “born in the wrong decade” can have the tendency to wish we were born one hundred years ago (or even seventy years ago), but I for one am thankful that there are so many of us so-called “old fashioned”  ladies living today!  I think this world needs lots of us who aren’t afraid to wear a 1950s circle skirt and cardigan to the grocery store, who don’t mind standing out for wearing a real hat and vintage gloves, and who would rather be known for wearing more fabric rather than less. :)    Don’t ever feel like you need to fit in with ripped-up jeans and sloppy t-shirts if you don’t want to!  I am so thankful for each and every one of you, and I am so much looking forward to sharing more projects with you in the future!  Keep up the good work, girls!   

Happy sewing,

Katrina

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title pic The 1940s Sweetheart Neck Dress – Hollywood Pattern 1059

Posted by Edelweiss Patterns on February 8, 2014

The 1940s Sweetheart Neck Dress – Hollywood Pattern 1059 Pattern Review

vintage-photo-shoot

There’s just nothing like 1940s dress styles!  Despite the fact that all fabrics were rationed during WWII, the fashion designers of the decade created styles which were so detailed with shirring, gathers, pleats, and wide waistbands, that you almost wouldn’t know they were had to scrimp on materials!

1940s-sweetheart-neck-dress

1940s-red-dress

And of all the 1940s pattern companies, by far my favorite is Hollywood Patterns (you can read a history of the company here).  Featuring film stars on their pattern covers, (including Lucille Ball, Olivia De Havilland, & Ginger Rogers), these dress patterns were far and above their “peers” such as Simplicity, Advance, and Vogue.  The incredible detail that went into each dress was simply inspiring, and the pattern covers alone are collectible nowadays.  The truth is, I never met a Hollywood Pattern I didn’t like!  You can find them on Ebay and Etsy quite regularly, and you can also see some of my favorites on this Pinterest board which is devoted just to designs from this vintage pattern brand.

1940s-photo-shoot

This dress I recently sewed was made from Hollywood Pattern #1059, which features a sweetheart neckline, ruching at the bust, and a wide cummerbund waistband that ends in a deep “v” at the top and bottom.

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The moderately full skirt is pleated, the sleeves are short and puffed (though the pattern has the option for straight sleeves, as well), and there are ties in back at the waistline.  I think the overall silhouette is quite classic!

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The cutest detail in the whole pattern is the bow trim on the bodice, I think!  I chose chocolate brown ribbon to contrast with the burgundy crepe/faille fabric.

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I love the pattern so much that I think I’ll have to whip up a few more dresses from the same design!  Right now all my sewing time is going into finishing my upcoming pattern for “Liesl’s Edelweiss Dress”, but once that project is done I would love to create several more from this pattern.  This is one of those dress styles where you think, “I’ll take one in every color, please!”  :)

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Oh, and the hat!  This is a vintage hat which I purchased while in London last fall on my historical costume trip.  How neat to have something that was once worn in London during the 1940s – I wonder who wore it and what occasions she used it for?

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 1940s-hat-women

So that’s my latest vintage creation!  This pattern was wonderful to work with, and really very straightforward.  It is quite fitted in the bodice, so it might be a good idea to cut it out a size larger if you want a bit more room.  I think that Hollywood Pattern #1059 is not at all rare (there are several listed for sale on Ebay and Etsy at the moment), so it should be fairly easy to find.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Happy sewing!

Katrina

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