My Blanken World

My world of boys, textiles and moving.

Rounding the corners and creating more space July 30, 2015

Filed under: lessons,Made by me,Sewing — blankenmom @ 1:45 am
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Have you ever looked at a pattern that has curved edges and wondered how exactly you were supposed to do that?  Ten burnt fingers later, after trying to lay the edges down to press it and finally giving in, and ending up with a shirt with wonky edges.   (Wonky is technical word you know.)

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This lesson, I will show you how to round your corners, whether it’s on a collar, a hem, or something in between, without losing your mind, or spending hours burning yourself.  I’ll also show you a quick and easy way to give yourself a bit more space between your shoulders if you’re like me and have “swimmers shoulders”, but no chest.  Meaning, you’re back is bigger than your front.

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Let’s start off with the room in back –

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I tend to pop stitches under my arms and on the back arm seams when I move because of this, even in ready to wear clothes.  But I also have plenty of room in the chest of the same exact shirts.  Sure I could redo the whole back, which would mean adjusting the collar too, but if I just want a quick, easy shirt, why?  Plus, it adds a little style.  Like you were all technical and fancy!

This is not the only way, but it is a very easy way.  Just make sure it doesn’t affect the look of the fabric or style of outfit.  Casual shirts, nice blouses, some dress bodices work well with this, and you can always modify it for your own tastes and affects.  (Click on photo’s to enlarge.)

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shirt 13

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When you put the pattern edge to the fold, creating the center back, place the bottom in the correct spot.  No extra fabric, just as the pattern calls for.

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shirt 14

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At the top, give yourself some extra space, I used and 1″ (one inch – more or less, depending on how much more room you need).  Just keep in mind that if you keep the line on the pattern 1″ from the fold, it creates 2″, an inch on both sides.

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shirt 12

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Now you’ll stay stitch the top.  (Stitching the unfinished edges, usually of the neck and shoulders, so the fabric doesn’t shift when you start putting the pieces together.  You will not be sewing together two pieces of fabric, just running the fabric through the machine to make it behave.)  To create this particular fold, I butted the two edges of where the fabric *should* have been cut, up to the center fold and stitched it down and pressed.  By doing this, the top of your shirt will still match the collar.

You could make the fold on the outside, by putting the folds the other way.  You could also place a small tack stitch (a stitch to make things stay put – look at the bottom of a ready to wear zipper) farther down the back, creating a more “bubbled” look.  I have a few vintage patterns that do this.  I wanted something very casual.

By doing it this way, and not adjusting anything else, it created only a slightly bigger back.  Even though I didn’t make any other adjustments, the waste still fit me correctly.

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Now let’s start with those curves –

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shirt 10

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Place your curve, here we have a ruffle edge, under the presser foot close to the edge.  You’re going to sew it as you would a ruffle, gathering as you go.  Put your stitch setting on a long stitch.  I had mine at 5, which is the smallest gathering stitch.  If you have an older machine, this may actually be your largest.

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shirt 8

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Tie off one end so it doesn’t slip as you pull the thread on the other end.

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shirt 6

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When you pull the threads, it’ll look like a big ol’ mess.  It’s ok.  Keep gently pulling until it starts to lay itself on the inside, towards the center.  Press.

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shirt 5

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That big mess, now looks all purdy and lays flat.  Make sure to use steam if possible, to make it easier.

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Now turn over and press again.  If you used a regular sewing machine, you may need to cut some of the fabric away from the edge, so you don’t have a lot of fabric inside the corner, or fold over again, to make the edge look clean.  If you’ve serged, this won’t be necessary.

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shirt 4

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See how nice that looks!

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And repeat at hems.

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shirt 3

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This is a bit more subtle since the corners aren’t as sharp.  And it will be necessary in some places, but not in others since parts of the shirts hem may not have a curve.  You don’t need to run the gathering stitch across the whole hem, only at the curves.  And, there is no exact spot.  It’s ok to eye ball this.  Pull.  Hem stitch and Press.

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shirt 2

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Now show off your curves!

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shirt 1

 

Gone camping

Filed under: Animals,Boys,Family,Home improvement — blankenmom @ 12:18 am
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My boys have all gone off to camp.  Last year was the first time I had ever been separated from them for more than a day.  This year, my dentist man is also gone.  Three whole days to myself, excluding the pets.  The conversation on the way to camp rotated around the boys’ conclusion that 1) I’d go crazy.  2) I’d put glitter on everything.  And 3) That I must have never done a chore before, during or after having them, since they felt the need to instruct me on every one of their chores.

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I’m not sure if you realize this, but when you clean the house, and there is no one there but you, it stays that way?  It’s like… some sort of magic?

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I’ve used a total of four dishes the whole time they’ve been gone.  Although I will admit that I made a trip to the store and bought everything that I wouldn’t eat while the boys were home.  I’ll also admit, that I’m sort of sick now.  I guess Ding Dong’s, chips and salsa, frozen Chinese and creamy mac and cheese are not a good combo.  Who would have thought?  I regret nothing!

My dentist man comes home tomorrow and I managed to get our master bath mudded and primed for when we start on our final plans for the bathroom.

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bathroom 1bathroom 2

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I promise it’s completely painted now.

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So when the boys come back, and ask me what I did the whole time, as though I don’t exist without them, I’ll tell them I actually got something done!  (And then give them all giant hugs!)

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And tell them about all they missed –

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A large hawk, smacked into our window, shaking my bed. It hit so hard you could see its beak feathers stuck to the window! There has GOT to be a way to preserve this window mark when we replace the windows?

 

Crap(per) in the dining room July 13, 2015

Filed under: Home improvement — blankenmom @ 11:05 pm
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It never fails.

We don’t have company for months and months while mostly everything is put together and then *boom* we have two while I’m in the middle of priming the guest bathroom.  Don’t care – its company!

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Poor souls.

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The bathroom looks like it’s from an abandoned mental institution and it’s 112* outside.  I’m so excited about visitors that I don’t even care that we still don’t have floors or that the a.c. is barely chugging along making it almost 90* in the house.

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At least the toilet was still in the bathroom at the time.

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crapper

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I’m impressed with my first mudding job though.  The only marks you can see will be behind tile.  Why bother making it perfect when will it actually be covered?

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shower 1

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wall 3

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Primed and ready for the good (not white) stuff!

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(And now maybe I’ll get some of my summer sewing done?)

 

First month of summer…. June 29, 2015

Filed under: Home improvement,Pets — blankenmom @ 8:35 pm
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I don’t know about everyone out there, but over here, it’s flipping hot!  I didn’t move to Arizona for a reason.  I like summer, I don’t like Hades.  Right now, we’re teetering on Hades.  Over 100* for three weeks keeps me cooped up inside the house for far too long.  And the bag of cheese – curds I threw at my husband last night may be a good indication I need out of the house longer than to just water my plants.  And for those of you who live in hotter than that climates… my hat’s off to you.  I want back outside!

I’m still working on the house here.  I think it will be a looooong process, since the money we were going to use for it went to cover “that house”.  A “small” loss, in the mid five-figure range that the state has said is part of doing business with them.  The so-called “can’t lose any money” they touted on their paperwork turned out to be not so true.  Noted.  Don’t do business with the government.  Ever.  *cough* still waiting on military pay too!!

But the repairs are all done with and the insurance company is now slowly doing their part for the water damage.  No worries – it’s not like we need that money or anything?

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Camera’s are up – and are awesome!  I love being able to see what’s going on over there.

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Now – new renters.  Not sure if that’s said with excitement or dread?

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Our “Spare” cat is no longer spare.  Our 20-year-old cat, that we had for 18, developed a fast growing tumor in her mouth.  (I’ll spare you the picture.)  Not wanting her hurting any longer than she had to, we opted to quickly put her down.  There is a good reason she lived for so long – she was one ornery cat!  She has taken two trips through the dryer (one of those for almost an hour – thank goodness for cloth diapers!), had her tail slammed in a car door.  Was lost in a drug store for a week, the ceiling, and the crawl space.  She survived four boys, four dogs and a new cat 15 years her younger that she could still take down a few pegs.  She’s seen more states than most people can name.  It took 2 vet techs and a vet to get the IV in and two of the heart stopping shots to get her to go down.  And I was with her to the very last.

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kitty

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That a’girl!

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(And if you’re keeping track, that’s 4 pets, in 3 years.  The others are starting to get nervous.)

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Can’t you tell? That’s the look of fear right there. Three very stressed out pets.

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But not one to sit around too much thinking about what I can’t fix.  I opted to take down a few things and to stitch up a few things instead.  Four babies in one week makes for a busy sewing schedule!  I also finally picked out the last thing for the house – the bathroom tile!  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I’m having a hard time with the ceiling paint.  Did you know that when you paint the ceiling the color is different from on the wall?  And… why can’t I find light tan paint?

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tile

The slate matches perfectly with the fireplace – what we’re decorating around. If you can’t change it, use it!

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The paint on the far left is the same as on the wall?

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This is how I know my dentist man loves me. He comes home from his two-week tour to this and says nothing.

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No, these aren’t the hardest decisions in my life, these are just the minor distractions from the infuriating ones.  Let’s see what excitement the second month of summer brings!

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pug and spare

 

Monday blanken-style June 1, 2015

Filed under: Animals,Dentist,Military,Pets — blankenmom @ 11:10 pm
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It’s been busy, but boring around here the last few weeks.  Repairs on “that house” have been going on and it’s now up for rent again… so we wait.  School is officially out for the home school portion, so we were busily rushing to get the last of it finished off.  And my dentist man is off saving the world, one mouth at a time… for his two weeks.

.I guess the crazy quiet, like ants quietly working on a hill, wasn’t quite enough for us.  This morning’s shower alone may give us a clue as to what may be in store for the rest of the week.

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After dropping the second-born off at his tech school, I got home and did my usual morning routine.  Let the dogs out, check FB messages, email, bible study, shower.  All according to plan.  Radio is playing, hair is conditioning, one leg shaved.

That’s when I see The Spare Cat run passed the shower with something in his mouth.  Grrrr – it got another one of my birdies….  Well, I’m soaking wet, so I figured I’d get it when I get out.

Then I see the pug race passed the shower to the corner where The Spare Cat is now hiding his treat.  Behind the toilet and trash can I hear barks, hissing and faint chirping.

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Wait, what?  CHIRPING?  *ducks in the shower*

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The Spare Cat brought in a LIVE bird!

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Well of course Lady hears the commotion and wants in on it, so now I have a bird flying around my bathroom, a cat trying to catch it, a pug trying to catch it and the cat and a mastiff trying to catch all three.  And here I am.  Naked, wet, soapy, conditioned and half shaven.

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Anyone else want to come join this circus?  Where’s the old lady cat?

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I grab pants from the counter and throw them on the bird where it’s landed.  Shoo out the carnivores and close the door.  Figuring the bird would be just fine until I was finished, I got the remaining leg taken care of and my hair mostly rinsed, and step out to dry.  Mid shorts leg I see cat claws coming from under the door.  Slowly opening it from the bottom, sliding it, quarter-inch, by quarter-inch.  The bird, who is now resting in the sink in a towel, hears the meowing and clawing and starts chirping, which only eggs on the fur-babies on the other side of the door on.  The door is now fully opened by each consecutively larger head and the bird is now attempting to fly again.

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Quickly recapturing the bird.  Two dogs and a cat removed once more.  And another attempt at putting my shorts on.  Everyone quiets long enough for me to get dressed, hair combed and shoes on.  Now to sneak the bird out?

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As soon as I pick the stinker up it starts chirping again – which alerted everyone that it was time to start chasing each other!  I make sure it’s fully wrapped in its towel, open the door to three drooling quadrupeds, “Meow”, “Wheeze”, “Sniff”.  I rush past them and out a door I know they can’t open.  I deliver the bird a field away and put it under some sage to let it rest a bit more before it fly’s away.

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It’ll fully recover.  But if this was just the first few hours of my week, I’m not sure if I should be scared or excited for the rest?!

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Seeing the light May 1, 2015

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School is almost out for us and my favorite season is about to begin.  I won’t lie, I love Summer the most.  While I enjoy every season for its unique qualities, Summer is by far my favorite.

Longer days to get more done.  Yes, I know that the days are the same amount, but Summer begs to be used to completion.

Yummy sunlight coming through all the open windows for hours and hours at a time.  And you can actually go out to enjoy it too!  Sitting on the porch for hours.  Folding laundry to making dinner on the grill.  I will find a way to move what I’m doing to the deck.  I’ve been known to move Brutus, my treadle machine, out to the deck to sew outside.

So many things to do outside.  I love to do even the smallest thing in the yard, if it get’s me out of the house.

And warmth.  I love warmth.  No aching.  No baggy sweatshirts.  No hats or gloves to hinder me.  Shorts and a tank top to allow full movement.  I will take sweating over shivering any day.  Oh… I love warmth.

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I’m starting to see the light.

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Our amazing contractor started work on “that house” this week without the insurance money even there.  He knew we needed renters ASAP, and knew we were good for it, so he started in good faith.  As soon as carpets are in – we’re good to go on renters.  So hopefully by next month, you’ll see me doing a happy dance.  (Figuratively.  No one wants to see me dance!)  The buckets of human feces have left the backyard, and the dog feces filled carpets have left the house.  We’re ready to move on to people who live in reality!

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I’m starting to see a glimmer of light.

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I’ve actually started decorating the house… No big deal you say?  I went 20 years without decorating because of finances, moving, children or dogs.  I think it’s time we start to decorate!

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Ok, it may not be much, but it’s a start.  But we’re starting to see the light!

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And all these new babies coming; I’m having so much fun getting to sew for them AND get sleep.  So this is sort of what being a grandma (or awesome aunt) is like?!

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“Minky” fabric. You MUST try some. It’s the softest fabric I think I’ve ever felt! I may have to buy some for myself?

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Ah yes.  That wonderful light.

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And meet “Spare”, as in a spare cat.  He’s adopted us apparently?  His last known address was about 4 1/2 hours and one giant river away from where he is now according to his chip.  This lovable 5 y/o boy is so stinking friendly, even with the pug up his backside and a hovering giganticus dog.  His only nemesis is the queen fur-biscuit of the house.  Our 20 y/o toothless, clawless (at least in the front) brittle old woman of a cat had him huddled for life under a chair.

We’ve tried nearly everything we could think of to get in touch with his owner.  Contacting Sprint (their carrier) but something is wrong with the line.  The vets office where the chip was linked to.  Their former apartment complex.  The police here in town.  FB.  And sent a letter in the hopes it would get forwarded.  We’re not exactly in a neighborhood, so we can’t really go door-to-door.  We’re now putting up flyers and I have a friend who works with the police checking on a forwarding address for us.  We want to return him… but it’s turning out to be quite the challenge.  We may have gotten a new cat?!  Now, if he’d just stop eating my lovely birds off the porch!

The pets aren’t quite sure what to do with this, and Viola (aka: Kitty) is none-to-pleased.  But she’s calming down now that she knows he’s not threatening her territory.  She’s still the queen of all things furry!

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She’s beginning to see the light.

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And the last ray…

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My poor 40+ tomato plants, dying to see the light!

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Frost season get’s over pretty late here, so we have about 20 more days until they get to officially…. see the light.

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If we can hold on just a bit longer, our winter will be over and we’ll begin to…

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Skirting the issue April 9, 2015

Filed under: Knitting,Refashioning,Sewing — blankenmom @ 3:19 pm
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I picked up a skirt while out in NJ at this great shop called Vintage Variety but had no idea what I’d be doing with it.  I just moved it around for about 5 years.

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I see your confusion at the word skirt here.  But if I wore it as a skirt, it would puddle around me.  The bottom, worn this way, hits just below the knee.  But I really liked it!  So it stayed in the back of my closet.  Calling to me every so often.

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I received a gift card for Joann’s fabric store the other day and went to poke around.  Nothing really coming to mind on what I wanted to make, I bought a few things for some up coming baby items and a new thread rack.

Way in the back I found some trims on sale – deep sale.  Sparkles galore!  Also some lovely coral ribbon in the exact shade I would like for every piece of clothing.

And this is when I finally figured out what to do with the skirt in the way back of my closet.

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This excellent piece of sequined trim covers the top elastic waistband section.  It is black, although it does appear a bit brown in this picture.  You can still see where I joined the two pieces together in the underarm area.  I chose this spot because it would be less noticeable while I was wearing it.  I bought a lot of it, so you may see it on something else later on.

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As for the rest of the dress, I chose to also give it a bit of sparkle since it had dots, it was ready-made for it.

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It’s sad it doesn’t sparkle as much in the pictures.  But I promise these little black, glue on jewels do in fact have a very nice sparkle!

I would like to take a moment here to point out that when you glue on jewels, you need to make sure you’re using washable glue.  As in, you can wash it and it will stay.  I made the mistake of using some regular sewing glue, but after looking at the bottle realized it was washable as in, it would wash off easily.  And, after almost finishing gluing them on and then realizing this I put it in hot water and yup, jewels floated right up.  Off to the craft store for a few more jewels and some specific jewel glue.  Much better!

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Something along these lines.  By-the-way, I usually use these jewels on the heads of my push pins on my cork boards.

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The main body has one size, black jewels and the “drops” at the bottom have larger grey jewels.  Gives a little something extra to the all black.

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I’m much in love with the simplicity and sparkles of this new dress!  Kind of reminds me of a flapper dress.  Now I’ll need to knit a shawl just for this dress – something with sequins I think?

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