Thursday, August 15, 2013

Tutorial: Easy fold-over waist skirt using stretchy/knit fabric

coral maxi1
DIY maxi skirt & top (tutorial below), Ann Taylor clutch, Talbots sandals (similar under $25 starting in sz 5)

Earlier this summer, I was sifting through a discount fabric store when this (poly blend) red squares print caught my eye. Even though it was under $4/yd, I was hesitant to buy due to the very stretchy nature. Materials like this are wonderfully comfortable and forgiving to wear, but they can be trickier to work with than non-stretch fabric. I'm glad it ended up coming home with me, as this resulting skirt set has been a favorite this summer - suitable for slightly dressier occasions, yet still appropriate (and lengthening!) when worn with casual flat shoes.coral maxi
Most of my at-home projects have involved a basic straight stitch plus some zig zag (used in lieu of a proper serger machine, which needs to be rescued from my parents’ basement). However, using a straight stitch across stretchy fabric effectively “locks down” that area and prevents any stretching along the sewn line. I learned this as a kid after laboriously sewing a knit skirt, only to have the straight stitches rip open once I tried to pull the skirt on over my hips. Sewing entirely with a serger machine (since the stitches allow for stretch) is one solution, and this excellent detailed post discusses other ways to sew on knits.
foldover waist skirt DIY
With my basic stitch machine and lack of serger, I tried to come up with a skirt design that would be very stretchy at the waist, and require no zipper or elastic. I also liked the idea of a fold-over waistband for versatility. Fold-over skirts don't get a lot of love outside the maternity department, but they're actually quite nifty - you can adjust the rise of the skirt to accommodate shorter or longer tops, or adjust the length to accommodate both heels and flats.

Making your pattern
Before you begin: if you suspect your fabric may shrink in the wash, then pre-wash and dry it before cutting. Also, the measurement guides below do not include a seam allowance, so please be sure to add one.
foldover waist skirt tutorial
A – Width of the waist. This depends on how stretchy your fabric is. If it only stretches in two directions (as opposed to 4-way), then orient the material so the stretch will go left and right across your waist. I suggest wrapping the material around your waist until it’s a snug fit, then measure the circumference and divide in half to get the waist measurement for the pattern. Note: when gripping the material for a snug fit at your waist, make sure to test whether it can still fit over your hips.

B – Width of the hips. I prefer my skirts to graze over the tush but not be curve-hugging. I took a loose measurement around the widest part of my hips, and divided it by half.

C – Width of the skirt opening. Take a generous step and keep both feet planted on the ground. Loop a measuring tape around both your ankles, and divide that measurement in half to get the skirt opening width. The flowiness of the skirt is up to you, but any opening narrower than this may be restricting when you walk.

D – Skirt length. Dangle a measuring tape from your waistline so that the end of the tape hits the top of your foot. I tend to add 3 to 4 inches to this measurement since the skirt can always be hemmed shorter once you try it on, but cutting the material too short leaves no recourse.

E – Waistband length. This depends on how thick you want the fold-over waist to be. If you want a 2” waistband, I would double that and add another 2” allowance, for a total of ~6” waistband length for the pattern. The foldover waistband area will be straight up and down, like a rectangle.

For reference, my skirt in this post measures A - 11", B - 17", C - 24", D - 34" (post-hemming) and E - 6".

Now, time to make the skirt:

Step 1 – Pin your pattern to the fabric and carefully cut out two identical pieces. Using fabric chalk, mark the waistband line (where line A is on the pattern) on the fabric pieces.
foldover waist skirt tutorial1
Step 2 – Place the two pieces of fabric together with the “right side” facing inward at each other. Pin together down both sides, and stitch together. A serger is the easiest to use if you have one, but a straight stitch worked fine for me since I did not need this skirt to stretch in the up and downward directions. I did have to decrease the size of my straight stitch and lower the thread tension to get a smooth stitch.
foldover waist skirt tutorial2
Step 3 (bottom left) – Keep skirt inside-out. Fold down 1” at the top of the waistband so the right side of the fabric is showing.

Step 4 (bottom right) – Fold waistband over once again, this time down to the chalk line. Secure with pins.
foldover waist skirt tutorial3
Step 5 – Carefully turn skirt right-side out without stabbing yourself with the pins. Using thread that's the same color as your fabric, stitch on the exterior of the skirt. Make your stitches right on top of the side seams (so your stitches are “camouflaged” inside the crack of the seam) down the length of the foldover waistband, plus an extra inch or two to secure it.
foldover waist skirt tutorial4
Step 6 – Hem skirt to your desired length. I used a blind hem stitch on my machine, but you can also do an invisible hem by hand.

Please note this is not the proper way to make a foldover waistband skirt, but I was pleased with the results. For those also without a serger machine or stretch stitch options, this design works because there is no stitching going across the width of the waistband to limit its stretchiness. The entire skirt took about 2 hours (including time for mistakes and re-do's), and was even easier than the basic elastic-waist skirt.

In most of these outfit photos, my waistband is actually shown completely un-folded, since I wanted to cover up more belly to offset the cropped top. In the photo below, you can see it folded down 2" on the far left:
coral maxi tops
I only planned on sewing a skirt, but couldn’t resist making use of leftover scrap fabric. These were some other top options I toyed with using the remaining fabric - which do you like best?
coral maxi2For anyone who decides to make a maxi skirt at home, please leave me a link or photo - I'd love to see it!

89 comments:

  1. ohmygosh, i died. this is amazing!!! you look great! :D

    <3, Mimi

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  2. Love the third option best! This is great – saved for future reference, and I'll be sure to leave a link or a photo once I attempt the DIY. Thanks so much for sharing. The top + skirt is incredible!

    xo, Lily on Fillmore

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  3. I love the cross over top in the last picture :) Could you post a DIY tutorial for that as well? The skirt is gorgeous

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    1. It just came about while wrapping the leftover fabric around so I'm not sure of exact steps, but will try to recreate it!

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  4. What type of strapless bra do you use?

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    1. I wear the Little Bra Company Sascha with convertible straps - really like it!

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  5. Just marvelous! you looks so amazing....

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  6. wow, u look great! love it!

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  7. Another excellent sewing post, Jean! I love the red on you. I wish I had more opportunity to sew this summer but I just moved and everything's a mess, plus I have multiple vintage dresses I still need to alter!

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  8. That last picture is stunning! I love the pattern of the fabric. I actually really like the second top you made in addition to the one you're wearing.

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  9. this is beyond amazing!! i absolutely love it!

    http://oyouclassy.com

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  10. this skirt looks so cute! i was confused by step 5 though.. it sounds like you are stitching a long the side of the material and sticking down the folded parts? which doesn't make sense.. would you be able to reword it to make it a little more clear? thank you! (:

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    Replies
    1. Hi there - it's hard to describe, but just sew on top of the seams on the 'right side' of the fabric. I will try to take photos of the actual garment to help it be more clear : )

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    2. I was confused about this too- let's see if I can explain it correctly. I think that the twice-folded part she is talking about isn't technically folded over yet. You have to have the right side of the fabric against your skin so that when you actually do fold it over, you have the right side of the fabric showing. If you didn't do this step, you would see the wrong side of the fabric when you folded over the skirt when wearing it. Does that make sense?

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  11. You look amazing! Just pinned an image so that I can try making one when (and if) I get my sewing machine and feeling adventurous :) Thank you so much for awesome tutorials like this...

    Lydia
    doubleescapades.blogspot.com

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  12. the far right is definitely my favorite of the bunch!

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  13. That's amazing! I wish I could put things together like that! I love all three different tops and that fabric is beautiful!

    Jenn
    A Petite Treat

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  14. Thanks for sharing. Your outfit looks amazing. The pattern reminded me of a top I once had. I wish I could sew!

    www.petitestyleonline.com

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  15. You look so stunning! Nice combo:)

    HEY HEY! Come check out my blog: www.gemmamonclus.blogspot.com

    Love, Gemma

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  16. I don't like to gush but this is awesome. You look about 12 feet tall in this outfit.

    I happen to prefer the middle top because I think it's more versatile, permits a bra, and you'd be more comfortable in it. But the far right one is great for a party-type event.

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  17. How did you make the crop top?

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    1. I started with two large rectangular pieces of leftover fabric and knotted it(knot goes over the belly button area), then criss-cross draped them and knotted behind my neck. I then sewed the back pieces together. Unfortunately didn't take photos b/c was just playing around and was not sure how it would come out

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  18. It’s amazing. I love this skirt. Your instructions are very clear. I want to make this pattern.

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  19. Wow Jean, this outfit is beautiful! You are so creative. I wish I could sew. I have been following your blog for about a year and I love it. You introduced me to AT and Loft. I have been struggling all my life to find clothes that fit me correctly and then one day doing an Internet search I came across your blog recommending those brands for petite women. Most of the time AT and Loft's 00p and xxsp fits me well, but every once in awhile I still have to venture off to my tailor. Not as much now though thanks to you. I can't wait to see what outfit or advice you post next.

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    1. Krystal - thank you for saying hello! This year, I've found BR has been running smaller than both of those brands so maybe you will have better luck there.

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  20. GORGEOUS and the fact that you included the tutorial...I LOVE IT!!!!!

    7eventh Letter
    www.whatsmoreimportantthanfashion.com

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  21. No offense, but I'm genuinely curious why you are posing on tip toes in all these pictures.

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    1. It's not something I think about consciously...maybe my mom's myth of feet shaped by too much heel wearing has come true

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    2. I noticed the tip toeing too! You also cross your legs while standing up for a lot of your pictures. Here are a few examples..


      http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/9257669659/

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/9417687125/

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/9487956233/

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/8974466597/

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/8793713174/

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/53737603@N04/8650674212/

      Don't get me wrong you look great but always wondered if this was kind of trick so someone can look taller or leggier in pictures.

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    3. I'm a photographer and always pay attention to how Jean poses. I find her posing to be very similar to how I coax my clients to pose during a photo session. I love the photography on her blog for many reasons including her posing. I think her boyfriend (forgot his name) does a great job and she could definitely be a professional model. She is a natural in front of the camera and believe me, it's harder than it looks and there are plenty of people who can't do it.

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    4. But what is the point? No one really stands like that in real life.

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    5. I think the point is to appear taller and slimmer without wearing heels, which might completely change the look.

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    6. But jean crosses her legs even when he is wearing heels...

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    7. if you follow other fashion blogs or even magazine shoots and models in general, you would notice that it is a common pose.

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    8. ^ that was in response to the crossing the legs, not the tip toe-ing

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    9. Hey Guys--why don't we turn this into something productive instead of petty. Jean, I think this would be a great opportunity for you to do a post on petite posing for photos-would be great to get your tips!

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  22. Can you do a tutorial on the top?

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  23. I love the knotted halter top that you came up with at the end. It's super cute! : )

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  24. this is gorgeous on you! xo

    http://allthingsprettyandlittle.blogspot.com

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  25. Hi Jean, I'm enjoying your blog as it's always been hard to find petite, yet adult and professional clothes that fit me. Do you have any online fabric stores you recommend? It's hard to find fashionable, good quality fabrics in my area (no offense to JoAnn's...). Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. There are many wonderful online fabric sellers: Mood Fabrics & Gorgeous Fabrics (amazing for designer yardage), FabricMart Fabrics (mix of discount & designer fabrics), Vogue Fabrics, and many others. Mood now has a Sewing Network of sewing bloggers showcasing what they have made using fabrics purchased at Mood (both their brick&mortar stores in NYC and LA and online) that serve as great inspiration. Sewing.PatternReview.com is another great resource for reviews of sewing patterns (both commercial, free, and of tutorials) and also is a hub community for sewers. There are lots of resources for those who are interested in fashion sewing! Good luck!

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    2. Thanks Rosanne for all the suggestions! I've only ordered before from Fabric.com. They had great customer service and free returns, but I don't think I'd order online again just because I personally prefer to see and feel the fabric in person.

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    3. Great suggestions - thanks!

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  26. Would love to see a tutorial for that top too!

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  27. Oh! Another project I can try!I got a sewing machine for my bday :D I'm so excited to make things.

    Thanks, Jean! You look beautiful in it btw

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  28. Thanks for this! On my first attempt at a stretch maxi skirt I used a straight stitch and learned my lesson. Wish I'd have seen your tutorial first! Love the fold over waist, btw.

    Amanda @ Running In Heels
    amandarollo.blogspot.com

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  29. thanks for the great tutorial! ive been wanting to make a maxi skirt (theres a great discount fabric store near my house that sells knits for $4 a POUND), but wasnt sure how to make a pattern for it. just what i needed!

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  30. Seriously, I'm in awe at your talent every.single.time! I don't even think I know how to DIY a single thing - really, I'm not exaggerating. My mom is SOOOOO good with crafts and DIY, yet I didn't get a single bit of that in my blood. Sad haha :( Absolultely love what you did with it and I LOVE that print on you!

    ~Christine
    www.thefashionpledge.com

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  31. Amazing job Jean! I love the option you chose best - seems to fit with the laid-back beach scene best. The material is very eye-catching as well!
    -FashionEdible

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  32. Gorgeous outfit!! I was wondering how you generally use the zig-zag method with a straight stitch on the edges of your non-stretchy fabric (I just started sewing). Do you zig-zag all of the edges and do a small fold-over hem which you sew with a straight stitch? That is what I have been doing but the fabric continues to lose small amounts of thread unless I am able to zig-zag the very, very edge of the fabric. Thanks so much!!

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    1. Hi Peony, yes I zig zag the very edge of the fabric (so the stitches literally fold under the material), then fold over the hem. If your fabric is very prone to unraveling you may just have to leave enough seam allowance to fold over the edge twice so any raw edges are completely folded under and concealed. Or, just invest in a serger! Those things are great.

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  33. Hi Jean, what did you wear under the skirt to make it look so smooth. Thanks

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    1. Hi there, this fabric is very smooth so I didn't wear any slip. Usually I do wear the Vassarette half slips from Target (under $10) in black or nude.

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  34. PER-FE-CT!!

    your sewing tutorials are the best!!
    now please, please, please do a skater skirt tutorial!!

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  35. Congratulations Jean on being the face of Loft Petites! You look amazing in the photos and outfits!

    An
    http://thestylerx.com

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  36. Hi Jean,

    I think I read about 2/3 of your blog yesterday after stumbling on it... yesterday. Your blog is awesome and very unique. I love the emphasis on fit and you illustrate it so well with your before and after pictures. Your graphics are really helpful too. And you're super pretty and have a great figure. I think you can definitely do some professional modeling like someone else said in the previous comments!

    And of course, your style is super classy and classic but modern, stylish, unique, creative, and awesome. I enjoy the before/after alterations posts the most, especially the Burberry ones cuz I'm a Burberry fan even though I own no clothing from them (one... day...). I'm really glad you post so detailed about your struggles with the tailors because I know it's really difficult trying to tell someone to do something exactly how you want it without feeling bad. But I've been inspired by you to not be a pushover, insist on getting what I want, and... get my clothes tailored.

    To actually reply to this post: Awesome maxi skirt tutorial. You look so long and lean wearing it! And the third top is definitely the best. Your sewing skills are great!

    -- Thoa

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    1. Thoa, thank you for all of your kind words! So happy that you found my old posts to be a good read for your weekend : )

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  37. Wow this is stunning!! Absolutely beautiful!
    I saw another person asked what bra you used and you said you used the Sasha, can I ask what size you wear in tlbc? In one post you mentioned 30a but you also had a review of the angela in 32a so I was getting confused. So do you wear 30 or 32a in tlbc? The reason I'm asking is it seems I'm quite similar sized to you and I've been wondering about tlbc bras. Also, just in general, with your outfits do you usually use pushup bras or just plain ones?

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    1. Their sizing is unfortunately inconsistent, but I took a 32A in the Sascha and it fits really well. I take a 30A in most VS bra's for reference. I usually rotate between the Sasha, a light push up bra like the Yvonne, or a wireless, unpadded T-shirt bra for daily use.

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  38. Super thrilled to see you in the windows at LOFT Times Square!!! You're famous! Sorry about the poor picture - was trying to take it quickly before all the tourists got in the way.

    https://sphotos-a-dfw.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-prn2/p480x480/1176388_10151528999527471_848348762_n.jpg

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    1. Wow, thank you so much for snapping a photo & letting me know! I haven't had a chance to visit NYC in a while and really appreciate you taking the time to share this : )

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  39. Lady, you are a freaking genius! I debated ordering the navy pumps from Loft as well...while debating they sold out of size 5. You'll have to share your review on them... and I might need to track them down on ebay lol.

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  40. Wow! Beautiful dress!! You've got some mad sewing skills. Great job!

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  41. im in awe, I love this post the skirt and the top is beautiful, you have an amazing skills girl

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  42. I love this! I've been a long time follower of your blog, but never posted. I've always wanted a designer to come up with top and bottom options that can be worn together (and look like a complete set, or a one-piece dress) or separately, and i love that you are doing it for real. I think the third top looks the best, but it seems that it's the same basic pattern as the second... so you can make it so that both are options. I guess my dream designer would come up with so much versatility in the clothes, so we can have a more compact but thought out wardrobe, yet still make them look upscale and gorgeous (ie, not American Apparel, which is not my taste). I suppose it's not the best business model (help consumers buy less), but I just wanted you to know that I love what you're doing!

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    1. Hi Angela, I would absolutely love it as well if more designers offered versatile, convertible pieces that could give us more bang for our buck. I have seen some skirts this year from Gap and wrap dresses from other brands that can be twisted into different positions, which is a step towards that direction.

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  43. Jean, another great tutorial! Such an inspiration to other DIY-ers!

    Corporate Catwalk
    Facebook Page

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  44. Hey Jean,
    I have been following your blog for over a year . Can u please do a post on building an office wear wardrobe on a budget . I would really appreciate that.

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    Replies
    1. Hi there, thanks for the suggestion! I will keep it in mind for future posts. Off the bat though I'd suggest one set of suit separates in a classic color (dark gray or navy or black) that can be mixed and matched with other pieces in colors and prints. From there you can expand into pencil skirts and trousers in different colors and materials to add interest. For blouses, look for items that are easy to wash and just as pair-able with your jeans on the weekend as with workwear. I like stores like H&M or LOFT (esp during a sale) for affordable work-apropriate pieces.

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  45. This is gorgeous jean! You are truly an inspiration! Have you heard of Yala brand before? I recently discovered it at my local boutique here in Ann Arbor and their maxi skirts are amazing - very soft and fits petites really well. Just thought I would share the info!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Faith, I haven't! I just Google'd it and am not sure if it's the brand you're talking about (bamboo and silk garments?).

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  46. Wow I like your skirt pattern and cloth design. It's look awesome. You look also pretty.

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  47. I like your dress very much. You look also pretty and I like your smile.


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  48. You look amazing...you are definitely my style crush, I wish I had your eye for fashion...please post more tutorials and ootd

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  49. Hi Jean:
    You are very talented, and I love your pairing style.
    I love your tutorials. You inspired me to create my own fashion blog, and I hope you will visit it sometimes.
    http://stylingfun.blogspot.com/

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  50. Hi Jean! I really admire you and your taste in fashion. It is as you say, very classic. And I want to add -> lady-like. Anyway, something out of the subject (sorry), but I'm concerned that shoe companies are phasing out of size 5 shoes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What do you think? What can be done? Where can we shop?

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    Replies
    1. Hi there! Yikes, is that happening? I haven't heard about it, but I sure hope not. Nordstrom is a great resource for smaller shoes and carries down to size 4 in many styles (even if the manufacturer doesn't make those shoes for their own website, Nordstrom sometimes gets a special order of small sizes). I also order size 5 shoes from Ann Taylor, LOFT, J.Crew and Banana Republic online.

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  51. So Pretty! great pictures. : )

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  52. awesome tutorial! Im in the middle of making my maxi skirt. I will share when I complete it. You look gorgeous!

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  53. what a useful tutorial with helpful diagrams! I also love your beach pics!

    shortandsweetjoy

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  54. Jean-- I need your Boston expertise! I've been a reader of your blog for a few months now and will actually be in Boston for work all of next week! Are there any must-sees for a Boston first-timer? I'll mostly be in the financial district but plan on venturing out to do some sight-seeing. Any recommendations for food or attractions? Let me know :)

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    1. Hi Michelle! What kind of stuff do you like? I'd recommend the duck tours (very touristy, but fun), maybe strolling down Newbury St which is Boston's shopping mecca, or a walk along the esplanade of the Charles river. You can also walk the freedom trail if you like history. Near you I can think of Marliave (love the sunday gravy substituting the homemade linguini, and oyster happy hour), Shojo if you like upper scale Asian fushin, Shabu Zen if you like good ole comforting & affordable hot pot, and a number of ethnic lunchtime eats like Falafel King, Chacarero, or Gene's hand pulled noodles. If you have time, check out the North End for all of our good Italian places. Neptune Oyster is THE place for a heaping lobster roll, but there will always be a huge wait unless you arrive at 4pm or a similar random hour.

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    2. This is perfect. Thanks, Jean! Marliave sounds fantastic, as does Gene's hand pulled noodles. Now if only I could somehow squeeze in 6 meals per day, I might just be able to try everything on my checklist. Appreciate the recommendations, thanks again! :)

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  55. Hello, here is my DIY maxi skirt, inspired by you!

    http://petitetomatoes.com/diy-floral-maxi-skirt/#more-2454

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  56. This comment has been removed by the author.

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