Chi Town Chinos

When the Chi Town Chinos popped up a recently, I was interested in giving them a try. I’ve been a dedicated lover of the Sewaholic Thurlow, but this pattern has a feature that sold me—a faced waistband!  I hate sewing on waistbands. HATE. It always takes me fooorreeeverrr to do!  Alina Sewing + Design Co. is new to the indie pattern scene, and tbh, I usually shy away from first time pattern releases. But, I’m happy to report that I was genuinely impressed by this pattern. It really looks like she aspires to the same type of RTW details I’m always drawn to. Oh, and there’s also a skirt variation. Love a two-in-one pattern.

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As expected, I don’t fall into one straight size. I’m definitely pear-shaped, but most of my hip circumference is in the back. For this reason I opted to make a FSA (full seat adjustment) instead of trying to grade between sizes. I used a tutorial on the Colette blog, and it felt like a lot of guesswork—from where to draw the lines, to how much space to add… if you have super nice fabric, definitely play around with muslin first. I ended up adding about 1/2″ in width (1″ total) and 3/8″ to the back rise. I also scooped out the back crotch a tad and lowered the front rise by 1/4″. After these adjustments, which are very typical for me, the fit is basically spot-on, so that was a relief! Next time I may reduce the dart from the FSA and instead take some width out of the side seam at the waist. I feel like they’re not quite hugging my waist the way my Thurlows do, but hopefully minimal tweaks will get me there. I hemmed my shorts to have a 3 1/2″ inseam (instead of 4 1/2″) as is my preference.

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The one detail I did change was to make a separate fly facing instead of using the cut-on facing. I feel that a sewn on facing is more sturdy in the long run. Really the only little nit-picky thing I have to say about the pattern is having to search through the directions to track down the SA’s used for various pieces. I’m in favor of varied SA’s, but since some pieces are 1/2″ (back pockets, zipper facing) and some are 5/8″ (general construction), it’s easy to forget. It would be most helpful to have a single diagram to look at, or at least have them indicated on the individual pattern pieces. The instructions themselves are very hand-holdy, fine if you need it, but I would really like to see them a little more streamlined. I found myself having to jump around in the directions for things like belt loops and how to finish the SA of the facing.

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The fabric I used is a Kaufman Kobe twill in grey from fabric.com and it’s really nice stuff! Getting twill the right weight for shorts can be a bit hit or miss (this is 5.7 oz/sq yd), but this one is perfect. It’s lightweight enough that seams don’t get overly bulky, but sturdy enough that it doesn’t feel flimsy at all. Plus it’s available in a wide variety of colors—I want them all!! The only downside is that they do stretch out a little with wear. While that’s pretty normal for cotton twill, I feel I can only get about two wears out of them before I want to chuck them in the wash to shrink them back down. Overall, I am very pleased with these shorts, and I can see myself making many more pairs in the future.

IMG_2961One last thing… the blouse I’m wearing is Simplicity 1106, previously made here. As before, I omitted the back cutout, and this time I added 2″ width at CB, which I gathered onto the yoke for a small amount of visual interest. Because I added width at CB I took 1/2″ off the side seam on the back piece from waist to hip. While I love that it has a neckline facing, I opted for a bias facing, mostly because I’m out of my good interfacing… Love this pattern for a quick top!

lisa g.


TL;DR

PATTERN: Chi Town Chinos by Alina Sewing + Design Co
FABRIC: Kaufman Kobe Twill from fabric.com
SIZE: 8 (measurements for reference: 5’8″/34″/27.5″/39″)
MODS: used separate fly facing, shortened inseam to 3 1/2″
ALTERATIONS: full seat adjustment, lowered front rise
NEXT TIME: bring them in at the waist, distribute some of the dart intake to the side seams

Named Clothing | Alexandria Peg Trousers

I’ve long admired many patterns by Named Clothing, and yet it’s taken me until now to make any of their designs. It’s silly, because they draft for a taller woman, and I definitely fit that demographic. Well, aside from my weirdly petite upper body… totally out of proportion to the rest of me. Anyhoodle… I picked up the Alexandria Peg Trousers when they had a sale a few weeks back. I’ve made True Bias’ Hudson Pants and I wear them all the time (oops, never blogged!), so I thought a less sweat pant looking alternative would be really nice for actually leaving the house in. I found a rayon twill at JoAnn’s in a nice olive color and thought they would be a perfect match.

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First a bit about the pattern. I got the .pdf version, which includes two sizes per file (you get all the sizes, they’re just not nested like other patterns) with seam allowances included. I thought it was pretty handy to have the SA line drawn in, as I typically need to grade between different sizes for the waist and hip. I lucked out in that the two sizes I needed happened to be in the same file, so it wasn’t all that difficult to compare the two and make the necessary alterations. Even though it should have been simple I made it as complicated as possible. Way to go, self. For the back piece I took width off at the outer seam from waist to hip, then at the CB seam from the waist to maybe 4″ or so down (just above the bum, since i need plenty of room there). Then the front piece is where I made things difficult; sine there are pockets and pleats it was kind of a mind-bender as to where to grade in or out. But if you need to grade down for the waist, just take the extra width off the side seam (most of which is pocket) from waist to hip and call it a day. The pocket opening is far enough in from the side seam that you won’t mess up the proportions.

My fabric (rayon twill) was a real pain to work with; it’s nearly impossible to cut on grain, it’s shifty, it’s fray-prone, and stretches out of shape easily. It has so much drape that the fabric itself kind of bags out under its own weight. Because of that, the pants seem to have drag lines all up and down the seams. Kind of a bummer really. To be honest, I was super unhappy with the pants when I tried them on mid-construction as I was testing the elastic length. The rise was so high, they looked like clown pants! I tossed them aside for a few days as I contemplated whether or not to even finish them.

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Buuuuut I really, really hate to leave projects unfinished, so I decided to try and save them. I basted the pleats down to keep them in place so I could lower the rise. I cut 1″ off the front, tapering to 1/2″ at the back (I usually need to add extra to the back rise for boo-tay coverage, otherwise I would have done 1″ all around). I cut a new waistband, which I made about 1/2″ longer to compensate for the lower rise. I finished the pants, tried them on and was so much happier with them! Completely turned around how I felt about these pants.

However, even though I’m happy with how they look on me, they’re still oddly restrictive when I sit. I have to kinda pull the legs up to sit down, then they’re a little snug in the thighs, and tight at the knee and calf. It’s possible I should have lengthened them (I’m 5’8″—most of my height being in my legs…) as I don’t think I have particularly large calfs (13.5″). So in the end I have mixed thoughts about these pants, just not for the reasons I anticipated while I was in the throes of construction. Ultimately, I don’t think I’ll return to this silhouette in a woven fabric, but rather stick to knits.

Now to switch gears… The tee I’m wearing is a Grainline Studio Scout Tee, made in a rayon/poly blend knit. The poly is a bit eh but I super love this tee anyway. I think for a slouchy tee, the scout will always be my go-to pattern. The only thing I did differently here was scoop the sleeve hem up slightly at the center (3/8″ or so) so it doesn’t sit as straight across. Then I used my possibly favorite neck binding method of sewing the binding to the right side at a 1/2″ SA, then pressing the binding up and around the raw edge, then top stitching in place. I think this looks better than a banded finish, and involves less guesswork regarding how long to cut, or how tight to stretch the binding strip.

All in all, I’m pleased with my experience with Named patterns, and I look forward to making more of their offerings. I’ve seen the Inari tee/dress made up so many times (and I love every one) that I really want to give it a whirl. And they have new designs coming out very soon… can’t wait to see what they’ll be releasing!

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lisa g.

floral blouse | Simplicity 1106

I wanted a quick top out of a rayon challis I picked up on clearance at JoAnn’s recently (seriously, I’ve found some great fabrics there lately!). I was originally going to make something a little more detailed, but the heat and humidity has zapped all the energy outta me. Instead, I decided to sew up a simple kimono sleeve top using Simplicity 1106. There’s nothing groundbreaking or earth shattering about this pattern, it’s just a nice, simple top.

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I made view D, which has a front pocket and cute cutout detail in the back. However, I omitted the cutout because I was afraid it would dip below my bra. I meant to measure the cutout so I could see for future reference but I’ve already folded all the tissue up and put it away… oops.

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I always seem to have a problem with tops being too big on top, so I gambled and traced off an XS at the neckline and bust (I measured at the top of the S range), then graded out to the M for the hem. My shoulders may border on the narrow side (I think? Not sure what the standard is for shoulder width though), and the XS turned out to be perfect. The fit through the hip was a little more fitted than I had anticipated, but that’s partially due to the length of the top, which I cut down. I took 2″ off the hem, and 2.5″ off at the side seams to give it a little more of a shirttail. I think this shortened length is good for either tucking in or leaving out.

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The top isn’t actually tight around my hips, I just have the front tucked in this picture.

I know most people (it seems) have a real hate for facings, but I was pleased to find that that is the method used by this pattern. Of course you could always sub a bias facing if that’s your jam, or if your fabric is on the sheer side. I top stitched the facing at 1/2″ to give it a subtle “design feature” element.

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Overall I’m pleased with this top, though I wish I would have paid more attention when cutting! I managed to get the only dead space of the print front and center, with the brightest flowers cutting into the neckline. Meh. The pattern placement on the back looks great, so I’m really bummed that I didn’t get similar placement on the front. Live and learn!

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I should mention that my shorts are another modified Thurlow made in linen. I loved my first pair so much, that I quickly cut out a second pair, and both have been in constant rotation!

—lisa g.

burda spring cigarette pants

i know from experience that changing a trouser pant leg to a skinny or cigarette pant leg is rather challenging. if i knew something about pattern drafting (which i don’t) i suppose it would be cakewalk, but the tweaking and re-sewing and trying on is tiring and very not fun! so even though i have a good handle on the fit of my beloved sewaholic thurlows, i decided to try a new pant pattern. enter the burda “spring cigarette pants” a.k.a. 02/2014 #129B.

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the leg shape was exactly what i wanted: clean, slim, and modern. the first thing i did was adjust the rise. these are drafted to hit slightly below the waist. that’s just not a good look for me, so i trimmed 1″ off the back rise and 2″ off the front rise. i usually have to add extra to the back crotch length (the dreaded “big butt adjustment” or worse, “full butt adjustment”), so this was kind of a shortcut. i moved the welt pocket placement and back dart point down by 1″ and re-drew my dart legs.

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my measurements fall in between the 40 and 42, so i played it safe and went with the 42. i didn’t want skin tight pants, however these ended up being slightly too big in the waist. so really that is the biggest difference between the thurlow draft and the burda draft. sewaholic drafts for a pear shape while burda is your standard doesn’t-take-any-specific-body-type into consideration draft. that isn’t a knock against burda, just something to keep in mind when choosing a size.

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other than waistline placement, the only other adjustment i made was to scoop out the back crotch a tad. when i tried them on it felt like i just couldn’t pull them on all the way without giving myself a wedgie. that’s when the scoop thing clicked for me. chances are, your bum hangs lower than er… your lady bits. so by dropping the curve in the bum area, you make space for where your bum actually sits. i’m pretty sure this explains some of the crotch flap issues i’ve had with my jalie pants perviously, and lesser so with my thurlows. the pants were stopping at my bum, but i still needed a good half inch before they made it to my front side. so much crotch talk… sorry!

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i could stand to scoop out the back a tad more (i didn’t want to take out too much because it can affect the width through the thigh), and bring the waist in by a size. overall i am pleased with the drafting. many have praised burda’s pants, and i would definitely recommend this pattern. i particularly love how they shorten the back inseam from crotch to knee, which helps to reduce some of the under bum wrinkles many people complain about when making pants.

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i finished the inside waistband with bias tape to reduce bulk and eliminate the need for perfect top stitching. it just so happens that Morgan at Crab&Bee posted a tutorial on this very finish as i was finishing these pants. i differed slightly in finishing the waistband ends by using this tutorial by thread theory (scroll down a ways to get to that part). it’s the same principal used in finishing the ends of the collar stand in grainline studio’s archer.

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i figured out how to completely encase the welts inside the pocket bags… i fully intend to write up a tutorial!

final verdict:

  • if you’re more of a pear shape, grade down a size in the waist
  • if you tend to have front crotch flap issues, scoop out the back crotch as a starting point. don’t know how much? hold a ruler, or anything skinny and flat between your legs right up to your bum and parallel to the floor and measure the gap. that should give you a good idea of how much to lower the curve. (note: if you don’t have space there and have a pattern that is giving you excess in the front crotch, then that is mostly likely a different issue.)
  • burda instructions, as always, are brief. find other directions if you need hand holding.
  • the waistband is straight, which is probably okay for the higher rise, but i subbed in the thurlow waistband.
  • i did not alter the pant length and they’re perfect for my leggy 5′ 8″ frame

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so will i use this pattern again? partially. i see bright pink pants as a fun thing to have in my wardrobe, so i’m less concerned about fit issues than pants in a basic neutral color that would theoretically get a lot more use. i could stand to lower the rise allover another 1/2″ to closer match the rise on the thurlow, which is perfect on me. i suspect i’ll return to my thurlow and use the leg shape of the burda to get the slim fit i love. in fact, if you want skinny thurlows, it’s worth the price of the burda to not have to figure out the skinny part! (note that the thurlow is drafted for a non-stretch woven, but i’ve determined that going down a size works great for a stretch fabric. skinny pants should always be made in stretch fabric) i’ll finish up by saying that any of my remaining fit tweaks are more about how they feel than about how they look. i think they look great, so i’ll continue to wear them!

a few more gratuitous detail shots…

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i need to add an inside bar closure, i just hate sewing those things on

i need to add an inside bar closure, i just hate sewing those things on

forgot to mention anywhere… my fabric is a cotton/lycra sateen, hence why every wrinkle shows! also these pics were taken post-washing and i suck at ironing. oh, and my top is a tiny pocket tank that i haven’t blogged yet. i think i’ve finally perfected the fit though!

one last thing… i realized that my sewing of these coincides with a current pattern review contest. consider these entered!

—lisa g.

jalie 2908 | finale… for now

i finished my first real live regulation jeans and i have to say, i’m pretty proud of myself! not long ago, even after having a great deal of success with pants, i had put jeans in the “not to bother with” category. and really it wasn’t due to any lack of skill set, but more due to the inconvenience of getting it done right. i’m looking at you topstitching thread!!! the constant back and forth, threading and re-threading my machine, then switching pressor feet all the time… ugh. not gonna lie folks—it’s a hassle.

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HOWEVER, it’s totally doable. if you’re even thinking about making jeans, just know that you probably won’t crank them out in a day. so let’s get down to the nitty gritty here…

first off, this pattern (jalie 2908) gets pretty high marks from me. it is an excellent starting point that got me to wearable by version two. i’m taking a bit of my own advice and wearing them and washing them to see how they break in before i really know how they’ll fit. at this point, they’re more snug than i was going for, but denim is kinda that way. it seems as though this denim has less stretch than the corduroy of my first version, so that’s a little frustrating. just goes to show that a muslin can only show so much.

over-exposed to show detail…

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i detailed my alterations in my last post, but i thought i would re-cap here:

reduced/flattened the front crotch curve to remove the “flap.” it does seem counterintuitive to add fabric in order to reduce what appears to be extra fabric. i’ve seen various theories on this. some people remove or wedge out front crotch depth, but i could tell that the pants weren’t sitting as close to the body as my regular RTW pants. this led me to believe that the “flap” was really pull lines, not excess fabric. there are a few factors contributing to this, including full or prominent thighs, tilted pelvis, etc. really it’s all about figuring out your individual crotch curve. easier said than done, i grant you.

moved hip shaping to the back outer seam. i noticed that my outer seam was skewing to the back, so i removed 3/4″ from the outer seam on the front pieces, and added it to the outer seam on the back pieces (back and yoke).

added to back rise. i wedged open at CB to give me a little extra rise for le bootay.

added fabric to back along the lower crotch curve. this gets rid of uni-butt and lets the fabric uh… hug both cheeks instead of gliding over them as one. sorry… tmi…

shaped the yoke. in my previous version i had to take width out of the CB and side seams (i chose size based on my hip measure—a full two sizes larger than my waist). to spread out the reduction, i made three slash and overlaps to remove the excess. this made for a very curvy yoke, but what can i say. i have-a some junk in mah trunk.

curved waistband. the jalie pattern has a straight bias cut waistband. while i discovered that i didn’t need much curve on the waistband, which i attribute to a nice fitting yoke, i still needed some curve. i determined how much by sewing on a straight piece of fabric and making a few small darts. i removed the muslined waistband and used it to make a new pattern piece.

tapered leg from knee down. while i may have over-tapered, i’m pretty close to ideal. i think if i add just the tiniest bit of width back in i’ll be golden.

and, as much as i should do another version of this pattern, i’m also interested in trying the named jamie jeans. truthfully, i wasn’t all that interested in that pattern when it first came out—i’m something of a purist when it comes to jeans—but they do have a sleek dressy edge to them that i’m really digging. not to mention that you don’t have to topstitch that curved pocket edge. that curve trips me up every. single. time.

and now for the photo dump…

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final thoughts… like i said, i’ve been wearing these for several days and am giving them a chance to get broken in a bit before i even think of making another pair. i imagine they’ll soften up soon, it always takes so long for a new pair of jeans to feel comfortable. i think the most telling thing is that my husband hasn’t noticed my new jeans! he’s usually pretty observant and complimentary about the things i have made, so i think it’s funny that he hasn’t noticed. i have to think it’s because he can’t tell that they’re any different from my RTW jeans, right?

—lisa g.

jeans update | jalie 2908

i had hoped to have a finished pair of jeans at this point, but lacking time (and motivation) has me lagging quite a bit. they are so close to being done, but i think—scratch that—i know i need to remove the waistband and cut a new one. and the waistband just happens to be my absolute least favorite thing about pants making EVER. EVER!!! i don’t know why, i just hate waistbands. also, there stands a chance that they will be too small entirely and unwearable for anything other than standing. but before i go there, let’s talk fitting!

if you recall, i started with jalie 2908 and cut a straight size, only making a few adjustments at the waist as i sewed them up. i took a pinch out of the yoke at CB, and a little more at the side seams. for a more accurate adjustment, i took my yoke piece and darted out the excess in three places in order to spread out the adjustment. spoiler alert: this worked marvelously! the shape over my bum is fantastic! adding to that, it seems this great fitting yoke translated into not needing much waistband shaping. who knew?

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so onto the waistband… i sewed on a straight piece of twill to draft the waistband and darted out a couple places to get my curve. then i cut my actual waistband on grain (not with the stretch) and over-zealously interfaced it, resulting in so much stiffness i can barely fit them over my hips. so, that needs to be re-done on the cross grain, and interfaced in such a way to allow for a little bit of give. i really think swapping out a new waistband will give me a much better fit, and perhaps a better overall liking of the jeans.

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added width to the back piece at the outside seam

one thing about the original draft on the hip line was that my side seam pulled to the back. a hip measurement is only the beginning of the equation. most of my circumference is on my curvy backside, so the hip curve on the front pattern piece was far too extreme. i shaved off about 3/4″ from the front hip side seam and added it to the back side seam. the result is a side seam that is straight as an arrow down the length of my leg. LOVE that.

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this shows the outer side seam where i removed width. since the side seam was moved, i also had to alter the pocket placement.

but, my biggest complaint from my initial pants was the excess front crotch flappage i had happening. based on my limited knowledge of pants fitting, i knew the front curve would need to be flattened. this seems to have done the trick! it’s rather counter intuitive to add fabric where it appears too much fabric already exists, but the result is a closer or, i should say, more accurate fit around the front. i also flattened out the curve on the back crotch slightly (again, adding fabric) because my first iteration seemed to be giving me uni-butt. i read somewhere that a flatter curve would assist in shaping the backside. i also raised the inseam by 1/4″ on the front, and removed a 1/4″ wedge from the back inseam to help eliminate the under butt wrinkles.

another adjustment i made was to taper the leg in from the knee down. my cords were definitely too baggy, and i had a hard time stuffing them into boots without them pooling over the top. comparing them to my current skinny jeans led me to removing a full inch which may have been too much…

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my fabric may not have quite as much stretch as this pattern requires, which is leaving me with a very tight fit, and one that may not allow me to actually bend my knees. oops. in hindsight, i should have left myself much more SA to account for stretch variation, but alas i did not. the thought of these potentially not being wearable (and having my least favorite tasks ahead) have definitely stalled me out. after all, why waste my time with all that topstitching, etc if they’ll just end up in the donation pile? however—denim stretches. what is initially too small, sometimes ends up as just right, or even too big a wear or two down the road. for that reason, i will finish these… as soon as i get a little more motivated.

—lisa g.

black dress pants

as mentioned in my last post, i made a white shirt/black pants outfit for my daughter to wear for a school concert. here are the pants i made, using the ever popular jalie 2908. i used a stretch cotton sateen that i bought from my local haunt for $3-4/yd, and what a bargain that stuff was! i bought several yards, and i’m so glad i did because it’s nice and soft, but still a good weight for pants. so yeah, i’ll be getting a pair of thurlows out of it at some point.

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i changed it up a little and re-drafted the jean pocket styling in favor of a slash pocket, and left off the back patch pockets. i contemplated altering the yoke and making darts, but then i would have felt compelled to add welt pockets, and i guess i just wasn’t in the mood at the time.

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Anastasia is pretty slim, so i graded a size down in the hips from the rest of the pants. i am so pleased with the fit! i know it’s hard to tell since they’re black and all, but they really look nice on her. she’s in an awkward size for RTW—the size 8 is way too small, but the next size up is really too big. it’s nice being able to fill in the gap, especially for something that needs to look dressy.

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also, i should mention that the sweater she’s wearing is one i made months ago but never blogged. it’s the Greenpoint Cardigan by Hey June. L-O-V-E this little sweater.

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it’s a raglan sleeve so it comes together practically in minutes, and is just one of those great patterns to have on hand if you sew for kids. i probably should have gone up a size since this fabric doesn’t have a ton of stretch, but it should fit through the spring. actually, i’m pretty tempted to grade up or hack out an adult size version of this sweater. if i ever find a good cardigan fabric for myself i just might!

—lisa g.