linton tweed

linton-tweed-3Fall has lasted forever here, but winter is just around the corner and with it holiday time! Is it just me or do the dresses that come out around this time of year shock you? What I’m talking about is the fact that there seems to be an awful lot of dresses that flood the market for the “holidays” and they are more often than not, wispy little things, sleeveless and well, they look like you could catch a death of cold in them! It’s something that I think about every year when this part of the year rolls around. “Gosh that’s a pretty dress, but I wouldn’t be caught dead in it in this weather” as I look outside and see snow falling. Granted I live in a state where the snow does fly and it can get pretty cold. And in general, I get cold and I’m always bundled up to the nines and in something much more dreadfully boring than those fun holiday dresses.

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Anyhow, I was thinking about all of this when the idea hit me that I needed more winter friendly dresses. I got myself over to a local chain fabric store on my lunch hour one day and started gandering at the Newlook book. I don’t know why, but I always overlook the Newlook and Kwik Sew patterns. Newlook has some pretty great patterns though. I found several dress patterns that had fun necklines and yet seemed like a quick sewing fix. That’s what this Newlook 6144 (out of print now!) was and I knew it would be a perfect addition to the winter dress library.

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This dress was also work appropriate. This is something I’ve been rolling around in the old noggin for a while now and I’ll be doing more posts about, but work appropriate clothes can sometimes be pretty hard to accomplish. Well, they are for me. I’m wanting to look a certain, professional, yet fun, exciting and stylish way and the two get sort of blended together in a way that doesn’t always work for me. More on that to come.

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I decided to use a stash piece of fabric. All of the fabric was stash, actually (yay! I’m so proud of myself!). I was determined to use stash! The body is Linton Tweed and it is pretty thick. Quite thick really, and warm – perfect for snowy days. The sleeves are a navy wool crepe I had and then I lined the dress in bemberg rayon lining – some bits and bobs that I had lying around so that I could get the pieces used up. I used an invisible zip and used a lining treatment for the vent that comes from my favorite Easy Guide to Sewing Linings book.

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The tweed was marvelous to work with. It did what I wanted it to do and was very easy to press and shape. I had purchased this fabric a couple of years ago, from their pretty fantastic online store. To be honest, if you’re into fine fabrics much, the prices for these tweeds are not really as much as I was anticipating they would be – I mean don’t get me wrong, they are expensive. I’ve seen them range from $25 – $75 per meter which seems standard when you’re looking at fine unique wools. The shipping is fairly costly, but I remember I received my package within 3 days!

I took the time to do plaid matching and was very happy with the way my Pfaff stitched it together using that Integrated Dual Feed! I used the lining trick from this Threads article (same lady who wrote Easy Guide to Sewing Linings) and it’s one of my favorite techniques to use with facings. I opted for a more conservative fabric belt and belt loops instead of the OBI belt that came with the pattern. I handstitched the hem and used rayon seam binding for hem tape as a final finishing touch.

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All in all, this dress turned out pretty great. The fitting was fairly simple, the construction too and I’m thrilled that I have an appropriate winter dress for the workplace – if not a little party get together after! I’m so glad it’s warm – like winter coat warm! Yay! Ready or not Winter, here I come!

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What do you do to keep warm in the winter? How do you work around the holiday dresses that flood the market this time of year and seem ill equipped to deal with winter weather? Is it just me? I just don’t know how you wear a sleeveless wispy dress in the snow. Last, but not least, visit my Kollabora page for a full detailed review of this dress.

some like it hot. really hot.

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It was fairly recently that I discovered that Style Arc now has an Etsy shop where you can purchase PDF versions of many of their patterns. I stalked it for awhile. I mean, I actually have several of their patterns that I’ve ordered and have the printed paper copy of (their official webstore is located here). Having only heard good things about Style Arc – especially as concerns fit – I’ve long wanted to try one. Why I couldn’t just settle for using one that I’ve already purchased I don’t know. I have that squirrel disease. “Oh look, SQUIRREL!!!!!!!” In other words, my attention span has been fairly short lately.

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It only got shorter when I saw a few versions of the Kate wrap dress. If there’s one thing that I know about myself, it’s this. I love wrap dresses, but never make them. Yet, whenever I’m pattern perusing/shopping, guess what pattern I always end up purchasing? Some sort of wrap dress. Always. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many I have. Another disease, I’m certain, but I have a lot of them. Wrap dress patterns, I mean. Not diseases. So the Kate dress. This one somehow, jumped into my Etsy shopping cart and was downloaded and printed before I could even mouth the words Kate in my half-crazed-Kate-Dress-looking-up-everything-and-every-image/review-internet-vortex-stupor.

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I cut out and stitched up, what was supposed to be, a wearable muslin. That didn’t turn out. I mean they never do for me because I’m such a picky thing. I think I might finally be cured of the idea that I can make a wearable muslin. Ha. Anyway, the muslin told me a few things that I needed to fix and most importantly it told me that fabric choice in this dress is key. Non of that slinky, show-every-lump-and-bump kind of rayon jersey that I used in my muslin. I needed to use something beefier. So I decided to splurge on a stash piece of wool knit. It’s a pretty nice wool knit and it was perfect for the job.

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All in all, I made very few alterations to the pattern, which I found impressive (and which then prompted me to go right ahead and purchase a couple more downloadables from the Etsy shop, but hey who’s keeping tabs on that kind of thing?). I opted to use the left front for both front wrap pieces – wasn’t wild about the tucks on the right front for me (even though yes, I tried them). I lowered the waistline to where my waistline actually is which was about 1 1/2″ down from the original pattern. I chopped about 2 1/2″ off the hem (after lowering the waist). I took 1/2″ off of the neckline all the way around because, hey I’m up for a little sex appeal here and there and a little more skin was just the ticket. I got rid of the tucks in the sleeve (personal preference) and shortened it a mite. Lengthened the tie about 15 inches (wanted to be able to tie in the front) and Voila! done. These are pretty minor tweaks if you ask me – most of which are purely aesthetic. I mean usually I have to do a major forward shoulder adjustment on the bodice coupled with a broad upper back adjustment. Add in a sway back, plus a serious side seam take-in at hips and waist even though my measurements are a whole inch bigger than the size chart measurements on the back of the pattern envelope (I’m sure y’all have no idea which pattern companies these might be, right? Right???)

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Some construction deets. These Style Arc patterns come with a few lines of written instruction at best. I’m totally fine with this as I usually have a better construction method than the directions offer anyway. I opted to do a turned under neckline binding and I did the binding out of cotton/lycra jersey, for comfort. I applied it just like bias tape, due to the bulk, and then shortened it so that it hugged the neck. No gaping here! I used SewKeyZ woven stay tape for the shoulders and the knit stay tape for the hem of the dress. Used my coverstitch for the sleeve hem and dress hem and well, there’s not much more to say. This dress is easy peasy. Would even recommend to a beginner.

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Wearing one of my Gertie slips underneath this dress and it works out wonderfully! Works well and makes it nice and comfortable against the itch factor of the wool – though the wool isn’t that itchy, slips or linings always help, in my opinion. Plus, in the event that our Utah wind flips the wrap flaps open, I’m covered, literally!

Expect more Kate Wraps in my future. I’m on the lookout for a printy ponte as I feel the print would hide some of those lumps and bumps better (I know, we all have them, well at least I do). This thing is just the ticket for a working girl. Secret pajamas I’m telling you. Plus, once I find the right silk jersey for the job, it’s full blown DVF territory – if I haven’t hit that already. For those interested, here’s my full review of this pattern. Cheers and here’s to a happy October!

airline stewardess

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This cute little dress is the Bistro Dress by Liesl + co. It had been awhile since I looked at this company’s pattern line-up for adults. While I’ve never actually made any of the patterns, I’ve loved the designs that have come out of Liesl Gibson’s studio. She has an amazing knack for being able to couple everyday wear with sophistication and class. Impeccably tasteful. I’ve been meaning to make up several of the designs and this one was seriously calling out to me.

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First, you should know that this is a digital pattern. Second, you should know that the instructions are marvelous and the printout for this pattern was fabulous as it truly, TRULY uses the least amount of paper. I will give praise where it is due and it is definitely due here. Additionally, the draft of the pattern is excellent. Very precise. Everything matched up where it was supposed to and I was pretty happy with the muslin mock up.

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Saying that the draft of a sewing pattern is excellent does not mean that it fits right out of the envelope, just in case you were wondering – I mean we all have different bodies, shapes and sizes so that would be impossible. I made my usual adjustments – forward shoulder, broad upper back, sway back. Outside of that, the fit was pretty good for my figure and I was very happy with the silhouette.

I opted to make this lovely up in some linen I had. This blue jay linen is/was from our online shop and then I paired it with a beautiful navy linen/silk blend because I felt like a break up in the color would be a nice touch. To do that, I did the belt loops and sash in the navy and then created a panel on the bottom of the dress too. Easy peasy. I do love this dress, but these colors are vaguely reminiscent of an airline stewardess, dontcha think? he he!

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This dress is fully lined in bemberg rayon (what else?) and I made a point to create a beautiful lining with facing in this dress. I had some of this lovely bias tape that I purchased from Tissu Fine Fabrics, here in SLC and so I thought I should probably use it. I think it worked out pretty gorgeously. I love touches like these on the inside of a garment. I switched the zipper to the back from the side – only because the hip on this dress is more semi fitted and for me it slides right on. And you can see that I left it sleeveless. I did actually try adding the sleeves and I felt it aged me about 20 years. The short sleeve mind you. I think this is just a combination of the color, the fabric and the style. To be honest, I think in a different fabric it would be just fine.

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All in all, I’m incredibly pleased with this dress and the sewing experience. It ended up being very wearable and summery and comfortable. The comfort is really really great actually. I mean this thing feels like pajamas. Loving the notch at the neckline too. Great pattern here!

Do you know about Liesl Gibson’s Liesl + co. line? You should definitely check her out – worth every cent, I’m telling you!

best dressed

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Here’s the Simplicity 1654 finale! Ha ha! Since I already had this white leather jacket that I made and never blogged from last year, you’re getting a double dose of sewing goodness today. I’m seriously, seriously surprised at the outcome of this dress. I had some pretty grave doubts that this pattern would pass muster. I have no idea why, I just did. But I’m wonderfully, pleasantly surprised. Yes. I love it when stuff like that happens.

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In true commercial pattern style, the bodice is the only part lined via the instructions. For this dress in particular, I would rather have the entire dress lined, so that’s what I did, in rayon bemberg lining. I tried a new technique for lining this type of bodice style – meaning that it doesn’t have sleeves which can give some cause for serious pause. I’ve tried lining sleeveless bodices before, several times and each without success. But it just so happens that I agreed to alter a dress for a customer at my shop – perish the thought, right?!? To make a long story short, I found a RTW way to sew a lining to a sleeveless bodice without too much fuss and without leaving a shoulder seam open in the lining or having to do bindings at the neck or the armhole. All this due to an alteration I had to think fast with. I’m tempted to create a video tutorial for it, but we’ll see. Needless to say, this dress is lined pretty beautifully.

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I’m pretty happy with the fit of this dress. I had to take in the waist about 1 inch and with the alteration I did to the neckline for the strap, this is actually one very comfortable dress. And seriously, those two little fitting alterations were the only alterations I did! For me, this pattern fit quite well, especially for all the stuff that’s going on here. It happens all too often that I’ll go a little nuts and make the bodice section a little too snug and then once I’ve eaten a meal, the only thing I can think of is tearing that dress right off. I took extra care NOT to do that here. There’s still some nice eating room which the practical girl in me loves. And this lovely aqua linen – it will be super fantasmic come summer when the heat is roasting the skin right off my bones!

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This is actually the second round for this bodice. The second round has the bodice entirely interfaced with a very lightweight tricot like interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply. The first round was not interfaced and there was rippling in ever single seam. Yikes. So I block fused the bodice, recut it all out and things went much better. Just something to keep in mind if you are planning to make this dress in a lightweight fabric that could benefit from stabilization.

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Now you’re probably wondering about the jacket. It’s McCall’s 6611 (now out of print even though I swear this pattern just came out last year??) and its leather. I made it last spring and never said a word about it here. There’s actually several things from last year that you haven’t seen. Anyway, this was my first time dealing with leather and I have to say, its such a controversial textile! In that so many people have so many different opinions on how to work with it. Unfortunately, I didn’t do enough research about it and ended up listening to everyone and everything and well, it shows were you to look hard enough. You can actually tailor a leather jacket. That means you can apply interfacing and that also means that you can press it too. You just don’t want to press it with steam. Moisture damages leather, heat doesn’t. This is lambskin and it took 4 hides. Additionally, for such a small jacket, I didn’t have enough hides. So I had to go to my local leather place (there’s actually a few in Utah, crazy enough) and I bought a deer hide to go with my lambskin. The deer hide didn’t quite match so I pieced the front panels together so that it looked intentional. I think the jacket is OK, but to be honest, not my favorite. Meh. I lined the jacket and ended up tacking those front lapel pieces in place since they flopped around like a fish out of water when they weren’t tacked down. Still a wearable jacket though and wear it I will with this dress for Spring! Yay!

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Now off to finish up some much needed tops, friends! Ciao!

Enter Simplicity 1654 Fitting Muslin

First things first. I did rub-off a pattern for my Garnet Hill inspired dress. I then proceeded to cut out fabric, sew it up and even though the dress itself will work, the color scheme looks really really drab and sad on me. So I’ve put this project off to the side for now until I have the wherewithall to possibly toss it and start anew. This is life. Onwards and upwards.

I’ve really just wanted to sew some dresses is the thing. This is a weird thing for me because well, I’m such a practical person these days. But a dress can be practical. Especially with a white stretch cotton blazer – which is the project directly next after this dress. Yes! So I went to my stash and dug out this Simplicity 1654 pattern. I had actually forgotten how much I love Simplicity patterns. Of the Big 4, this line fits me the best straight from the envelope (note I said fits me the best, we still have a few fitting problems, just not as many as the other Big 4). I find that with McCalls, Butterick and Vogue the armholes are cut so low! Is that just me? So it was nice not to have to deal with that for a change.

This pattern has some great design lines. The bodice is just killer! And since I know that a skirt like that will require little to no fitting, I muslined the bodice to see where we were at. The fit was actually quite good through the bust and waist, but the straps were trying to fall off my shoulders. And its not that they were too wide/far apart, it was the angle at which they were sitting on the body. So I thought I would show you what I did to fix it. I pinched out the excess pooling that was happening when I put the straps where I wanted them to be. That pooling happened at an angle at the bust and shoulder blade. See?

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How do you fix that on a the pattern piece. It’s the same idea really. I measured how much I pinched out, then slashed and overlapped that amount in those areas of the bodice that I pinched out with pins on the muslin. It’s not a hard fix by any means, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say that its intuitive. This is something that I’m always amazed by, but when fitting, many times the part that needs fixing is not the part that we intuitively feel needs the fix. Just some random fitting thoughts.

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I’ve settled on an aqua linen to make this up in (fabric from the shop, now online! yay!). I’m actually nearly finished with the dress itself, so here’s a sneak peek.

Now off to line and hem the thing. And then to focus on a white stretch cotton jacket. Yay!

Country Cutie

Having not tried any of Steph’s Cake patterns as yet, several months ago there was a call for pattern testers and so I signed up. I thought it would be a good chance to try one of her pattern offerings and see what I thought. Having seen so many amazing versions of her patterns out there, they seemed really accessible. And I feel that knitwear is definitely something that needs to be beefed up in the pattern industry. The Big 4 have completely wacky knitwear patterns and I don’t mean the designs either. The drafting is basically the same as their woven patterns and I know this because every single time I use one of their patterns designed for knitwear, I have to go down 2 sizes to get even close to the right fit. So weird. So, I feel there is a serious hole in this branch of sewing and something that I definitely support.

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This is the latest, Red Velvet, put out by Cake. The versions I’ve seen are really lovely and they really flatter many people. The sizing process is easy to grasp and wonderfully customizable. Its truly genius. This dress will work in many different knit fabrics and its really versatile not being too overly dressy or too casual. Very much like the Tiramisu, it has a wonderful shape.

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Right out of the envelope or should I say printer (if you get the PDF version), this pattern has a few things that you should be aware of. Starting from the top, the bodice pieces are a tad on the short side. They cut off right in the middle of my breast. This was something that I actually checked before making up my first muslin and had to add 2 inches! Not really a huge deal, but something you should definitely check before you make it up. Additionally, after my first mock up, I ended up adding another two inches to the bodice piece – resulting in four inches total. The original styling, with the midriff seam right under the bust is something I always have problems with. I really do feel that it makes me look pregnant and so I usually always lengthen things like this. Definitely a personal preference and something I don’t feel confident that I pull off very well. Having that midriff more around my natural waist area feels much more….me. To make up for the fact that I added 4 inches to the bodice, I took out an inch at the midriff. Proportionally, I think it does my figure much more justice.

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Surprisingly enough, after adding so much length to the bodice, I didn’t have to add anything to the skirt section. Well except pockets! ha! The pattern itself comes with a train ticket pocket with invisible zipper. Though I’m sure those pocket styles have their place, I definitely wanted something different. So I drafted on my own using Casey’s pocket tutorial. Note that my pockets aren’t shaped with scallops like the ones in her tutorial, but instead just curved side pockets. These are my favorite types of pockets and I do, usually, add them to any dress or skirt that make. Sorry, not sorry!

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Since I was technically testing this pattern, and the pattern line, I did make a muslin in a solid blue double knit. I had hoped that I could possibly still wear the blue knit but found that I had too many problems with it so sacked it and started afresh. I was planning to use another solid double knit, but realized that the muslin – double knit – ended up being too bulky and stable for this style. Instead, I went and grabbed up some yardage of this floral knit jersey. People, I rarely buy floral prints like this, but for some reason, this one really really appealed to me. For those of you living here in SLC, Utah, this fabric is from Nutall’s (the one in Murray) and if you don’t know, this store has like a billion bolts of knits. Seriously. Its the most amazing knit collection I have ever seen. So if you dig the knit – get over to Nuttall’s and get some before its all gone. Ha! This fabric is definitely not something that I usually go for, but the colorway really struck me as something from my 80s childhood and I just knew I would love it. It’s a poly/cotton/nylon blend, not my favorite, but it works great for this dress. Its lighter weight than a double knit, falling into the light to medium weight knit category. The colorway will go perfect into fall I think, with oxblood tights, boots and a cardi.

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Overall, I’m pleased with how the dress turned out. Really not a hard make. You can click on over to the Cake site to see what other alterations I made and such. And I think that’s it! Have you tried any of Steph’s patterns? Thoughts? They are rather brilliant and I’m digging this dress. And…. what do y’all think of this floral print?

Happy Accidents

Several months ago, I was gifted a Boden catalog from a lady I work with. It was love at first sight! This clothing company has the cutest, most tasteful and wearable clothing I’ve seen in awhile. I love how there is an abundance of flat shoes and comfortable, yet stylish clothing with color! whenever I look at their catalogs or website. It’s like real life, my life, stuff that was designed with me in mind. It inspires and makes me giddy. I received their fall catalog a couple of weeks ago and carried it about with me for a week for fear of someone stealing it while I schemed about knock-offs I could make for my own wardrobe.

This was one of the first dresses that caught my eye from the catalog. Oh so sixties inspired and oh so cute and yet, comfortable. Its a knit dress and that friends, equals comfort in my book. After mentally torturing myself that I didn’t have the money to purchase said dress from Boden, it finally dawned on me that I had just the pattern and fabric to make my own version instead. This is vintage 1960s Simplicity 8381. Isn’t it awesome, I mean a gas?

I scored this pattern from one of the ladies at Yellow Bird who was getting rid of some vintage lovelies. This one was a couple sizes too small for me, but I loved the design so took it home with me. Little did I know it was the perfect size for a knit! Yes! I love it when fate and fortune meet and end up with a happy snazzy result. I took the liberty of changing a few things about the pattern here. I hacked off the sleeve to make it 3 /4 length and turned the vertical darts in the back to a princess seam. Also chiseled out the neckline a bit and opted for a neckline binding instead of the facing situation the pattern had going on. As far as the fit is concerned, I just compared the bodice area to my favorite knit t-shirt pattern, just to make sure it was in the ballpark of where I needed it for a knit. And fantastically, it was. I made some small changes to the sleeve cap from my t-shirt pattern, but otherwise, this pattern is straight out of the envelope.

Aren’t those silly little pockets, the best? I think they make the whole dress and weren’t even apart of the original Boden inspiration. I didn’t have the heart to not include them. Additionally, I have to state, that this dress is full of mistakes. One thing I’ve found is that mistakes and risks can lead to creative solutions. All the frustration that comes from doing one thing when you should have done another can bear some interesting results. Could not be truer in this dress. The center back, that was going to be an exposed zipper. Well friends, that zipper didn’t end up working like I thought, so instead I decided to improvise with an appliqued tab. I think the tab is a little on the long side – sadly it couldn’t be any shorter because there’s slashes in fabric from the zipper, but I still think it works. Same idea at work in the shoulder seams. The princess seams from the front and back, though the middles match up, the topstitching lines do not. I folded one princess seam one way and the other in the opposite direction. So to fix this eyesore, I added applique strips and topstitched. Now that mistake is not quite so obvious and this ends up just looking like a fun added detail to the overall design. Hopefully this gives you some ideas as you sew. When working with mistakes, its always good to think outside the box or even get a second opinion from someone else.

The fabric here was from the stash. Oiy. My stash is so big and so I’ve finally determined that I must be better about using it up first before even thinking about aquiring more fabric. This is a ponte knit and if you don’t know about pontes, you should. Its a double knit and the way rad thing about double knits these days is that they are kind of like stretch wovens, except better. You can end up using them instead of wovens for woven patterns and just go down a size or two and they can be unbelievably comfortable. Pontes in particular are also easy peasy to sew with as far as knits go – a great transition from working with wovens to working with knits – and they can be easy to wash and care for. I think I’ll do a special post on this great fabric for y’all!

It’s far too hot at the moment to be wearing such a dress (and this is the dress that I have to wear a slip with!) so it’ll be a great addition the fall line-up in my closet. I really, really want a red one. We’ll see. Do you like knit dresses? Ever heard of Boden?