Massive Sale - and Some Big News!

I've got three big pieces of news to share today - two happy and one sad.  First, some happy news: I'm pregnant with my second child!  As long-time readers will know, I had my first baby, Annabel, in November 2016.  My husband and I had always planned to have two - and we were so excited to find out a few months ago that I was pregnant again (as we now know, with another girl!).  I'm due later in the summer - and I'm just so, so happy: I can't wait to meet her!

As you can see in the photos, I'm really showing now (I got huge with Annabel - and it looks like I'll be even bigger with this one!).  I'm wearing a bit of a frankenpattern that's hot off my sewing machine: a maternity blouse based on my custom-fit sloper that uses design elements from Sew Over It's pussybow blouse.  I've used our moonlit floral viscose broadcloth and I love it: it's so light and silky!  I feel so put-together wearing it: I can't wait to debut it at Annabel's playgroup later this week!  LOL :-)  I'm planning to do another blog post soon in which I talk about how I cobbled together my frankenpattern.  Because I used my sloper, I didn't have to do any fitting - yay!!  

 

Ok - so that's some good news.  Now the bad news.  I can't believe I'm having to write this, but I've decided that - with baby #2 on the way - I'm going to have to close down The Splendid Stitch.  This pregnancy has been really rough: my morning sickness lasted so much longer than it did with Annabel.  Thankfully, I'm now feeling much, much better.  However, the last few months were quite a struggle and it really made me think about how I'm going to manage to keep the business afloat once the baby arrives and I've got a newborn and a toddler to look after.  Keeping the business going when I had Annabel in late-2016 ended up being a bit stressful: Isobel worked at our premises packing all the orders and doing the customer service, while I tried to fit in all the other (numerous) responsibilities during Annabel's naptimes.  It was such a struggle that I ended up deciding to downsize the business in the summer of 2017 and brought it into my home. However, I've still found it difficult to find time to devote to it (as I'm sure most of you have guessed, given how few new fabrics have appeared on the website!), and things are only going to get worse when the baby arrives.  So, with great reluctance, I've decided that the best thing to do is to close it.  I have so enjoyed running The Splendid Stitch and it's going to be so, so hard to send off the last order.  However, I know, deep down, that it's the best decision. 

 

Since I'm closing the business, I now need to get rid of all the stock.  So, that leads to my other piece of good news: we're having a massive sale!  I've just marked down all our fabrics and sewing patterns so that they're 40-60% off!!  There's lots and lots of gems, and I hope you're able to take advantage of the massive discounts and find something you like!  Also, if you have any friends who sew, I'd so appreciate it if you could spread the word about the sale!  

To visit our online shop and see what's on sale, click here. :-)

Finally, I just wanted to add that, while I'm closing the business, I'm going to be keeping this blog and The Splendid Stitch's social media accounts: I'll just be using them to share my personal sewing makes.  :-)  The 'Level 1: Learn to Sew' course is also not going to disappear.  So, I'm definitely not going to vanish from the sewing community: if anything, without needing to work on the business, I'm really hoping that I'll have more time to sew!  I've got lots of makes planned for the coming months: I can't wait to get started!

Me and my sidekick, Annabel.  She woke up early from her nap and was very intrigued by the camera!  LOL

 

 

 

April 03, 2019 by Amy Lloyd
Tags: News

Sewing Patterns That Hide Your Tummy

As many of you will know, I had a baby about a year and a half ago.  Like many women who have had a child, I've now got a bit of a mummy tummy.  The presence of my mum tum hasn't really bothered me too much.  I suppose I've just assumed that it would eventually disappear. Also, my casual lifestyle since having Annabel has meant that my preferred outfit - skinny jeans and loose-fitting tops - has disguised my tummy.  On the very few occasions when I've needed to dress up, I've got a handful of dresses in my wardrobe that fit and flatter.  So, I haven't really needed to think about my tummy.  

All of this changed last week.  With the weather getting nicer here in Glasgow, I suddenly decided that (a) I was actually quite tired of living in jeans all the time and (b) wouldn't it be nice to start dressing up a little and make a few casual skirts to add to my wardrobe?  I selected two skirts which looked both stylish and practical: Liesl & Co.'s Everyday Skirt (which has a neat elasticated back) and Tilly and the Buttons' Miette Skirt (a flared wrap skirt).  I was going to make the Everyday Skirt in our AGF Pandagarden Naptime cotton broadcloth and Miette in our Josselin light blue chambray.  However, before getting started, I had a bit of a nagging feeling: would these two skirts styles suit my figure?  I didn't have any gathered or flared skirts in my wardrobe to test this (and no time to do any snoop shopping), so I made some rough mock-ups with some spare fabric.  And I was pretty disheartened by the results: neither style looked great on me.  

A photo I posted on Instagram last week with my sewing plans.  Thanks so much to everyone who provided feedback!

With my plans out the window, I have to admit that I started feeling a little down.  However, it then occurred to me that I did have lots of things in my wardrobe that did look flattering on me - and that there were surely some other styles of clothing that I haven't tried that would also suit my new figure.  So, I started doing research on the web - and, sure enough, found some great advice and tips.  Some of the advice was conflicting, so I ended up taking notes and putting together a document for myself so I could make sense of it all (I love doing research - LOL!).  I then went through the websites of all of my favourite pattern companies and put together a series of Pinterest boards with patterns that followed the recommended styles.  I was pretty excited by the results of my research, so I thought it might be nice to share it with all of you!  I can't imagine that I'm the only one who is in the same situation (whether it's due to having a baby, general weight gain, menopause, PMS bloating (I suffer from this too!), etc.).  So, I hope that some of you will find this useful!   

Okay, here's the tips that I culled from numerous websites, articles and YouTube videos (I've put my favourite resources in the 'Resources' section at the end): 

General Principles

After reading loads of advice on this topic, it all mostly came down to two principles, which you can see in graphic below:

What does this mean in practice?  Here's the nitty-gritty.

First, you want to wear tops and dresses that draw the eye up to your neck, shoulders and face - not to your tummy.  There's lots of ways you can do this:

  • interesting necklines (i.e. boat neck, v neck, scoop neck, cowl, etc.)
  • details at the shoulders (i.e. cut-outs, embellishment, ruffles, etc.)
  • details at the tops of the sleeves (i.e. puffed sleeves)
  • details on the front (i.e. embellishment, pintucks, a bow, ruffles, etc.)
  • collars or lapels
  • wearing a scarf or a statement necklace
  • colour blocking

Second, try to refrain from adding volume or detail on your tummy.  Essentially, you want to keep your tummy area as visually smooth and boring as possible.  So, stay away from:

  • belts
  • tucking your tops into your skirt or trousers (half tucks are ok, as they give you a waist and semi-camoflague the tummy)
  • skirts and trousers with buttons, zippers and pockets across the front
  • gathered and pleated skirts and trousers
There are some exceptions to the last point.  A-line skirts with flat-ish pleats that drape gracefully over the tummy can be flattering.  Also, diagonal and/or vertical rushing/draping/pleating in the tummy region on some styles of dresses, skirts and tops can be flattering, as it distracts the eye; just make sure that it doesn't add too much bulk.  

      

    Dresses

    Here's the types of dresses that work well:

    Shift Dresses 

    These are dresses that fall straight from the shoulders downwards.  These can be flattering, as long as the fabric doesn't cling to the tummy area.

    Fit and Flare Dresses

    Dresses that have a-line skirts work well, particularly ones that have a lot of fullness to the skirt.  The shape of the skirt makes the waist seem small compared to the wide sweep of the hem.  Moreover, the fullness in the skirt causes it to flare over the tummy, which serves to camouflage it.  Pleats are okay in the skirt, as long as they don't add a lot of volume.

    Closet Case Patterns Charlie Caftan; Colette Patterns' Penny Dress

    Swing/Trapeze Dresses

    These are dresses that fall in an a-line from the bust downwards.  Their shape can be great for camouflaging a tummy!

    Empire-Line Dresses

    These can be flattering.  Choose your style of dress with care, though, as some styles can make you look pregnant!  Make sure the fabric doesn't cling to your tummy.

    Grainline Studio's Farrow DressTilly and the Buttons Zadie Dress

    Sheath Dresses

    Sheath dresses can work, particularly if there's diagonal and/or vertical rushing/draping/pleating in the tummy region.  Make sure to go for a fabric with some structure, not a thin, clingy fabric that will highlight every lump and bump. Also, make sure that your dress isn't too tight (particularly over the tummy) and that the waistline skims over your waist: anything too fitted into your natural waistline will serve to emphasise the tummy.

    Wrap Dresses

    Wrap dresses work really well because (a) the v-neck draws draws the eye to your neck and chest, and away from your tummy, (b) the eye is also drawn to the smallest part of your torso by the fabric tie (which also serves to create a lovely cinched-in waist), and (c) the wrap skirt provides two layers of fabric which drape nicely over your tummy.  In making a wrap dress, try to choose a fabric that drapes nicely and doesn't cling.  Also, designs that have rushing or draped details over the tummy are great, as these can further camouflage your tummy.

    Vogue 8946; Sew Over It Eve Dress

    Tops

    Any loose-fitting top, shirt, blouse or tunic will be flattering.  Make sure that it fits at the bust and then skims over your tummy, without clinging to it.  It's a good idea not to go too loose-fitting, as a really oversized top will make you look bigger than you are.  Also, make sure that your tops don't end at your widest point on your hips, as this can be unflattering; your tops should end either above or below this point.  

    Grainline Studio's Archer Shirt; Grainline Studio's Scout Tee

    Here's some other specific styles of tops that work well:

    Swing Tops

    These can be flattering, for the same reasons discussed above for 'swing/trapeze dresses'.  

    Empire-Waited Tops

    These can be flattering, for the same reasons discussed above for 'empire-line dresses'.  Follow the same guidelines as discussed for 'empire-line dresses'.

    Grainline Studio Hadley Top; Made by Rae Washi Top

    Wrap Tops

    These can be flattering, for the same reasons discussed above for 'wrap dresses'.  Follow the same guidelines as discussed for 'wrap dresses'.

    Blouson Tops

    These are tops where the fabric falls softly over your tummy and pools/gathers underneath it.  This works well to camouflage your tummy!  Make sure to choose a drapey, lightweight fabric.

    Vogue 1387; Burda 7200

    Peplum Tops

    These can be flattering, as they nip in at the smallest point on your torso and then flare out over your tummy without clinging to it.  The peplum also serves to camouflage your tummy.  Choose one where the peplum isn't gathered or pleated, as you don't want to add extra bulk to your tummy area.

    Tops with Draping and/or Rushing

    These can be flattering, as any draping/rushing going over the tummy area distracts the eye.  The draping/rushing can be horizontal, vertical or diagonal.  Make sure, though, that it doesn't add too much bulk.  

    Colette Patterns' Hawthorn TopBurdaStyle 02/2018 #129

     

    Skirts and Trousers

    The general principle with skirts and trousers is that you want to go for something that is high-waisted, made in a structured fabric, and free of details in the tummy region.  This will work to: suck in your tummy; create a lovely, smooth silhouette (avoiding a muffin top); and won't add bulk or draw the eye to your tummy.  Wide waistbands are good (they provide further support), as are zippers at the side or the back.  Remember that it's better to leave your tops untucked.  

    With regard to trousers, all styles work (i.e. skinny, straight, boot-cut, wide-legged, etc.), as long as they are high-waisted.  Leggings can also look flattering with a long top or tunic.

    Closet Case Patterns Ginger Skinny Jeans; Deer and Doe Narcisse Pants

    With regard to skirts, the only skirt style that is really recommended is the pencil skirt. Unlike other skirt styles, the pencil skirt doesn't add bulk on the tummy and can look good with untucked tops.  High-waisted styles in structured fabrics will suck you in and create a smooth line.  

    Colette Patterns' Selene Skirt; McCall's 3830

     

    Jackets, Cardigans and Vests

    Layering is a very effective way of disguising a tummy!  Cardigans, jackets and vests distract the eye from the tummy region. They can also make you look slimmer, as they make the torso appear narrower by drawing the eye in.  Long cardigans, vests and jackets are especially good, as they create a nice vertical line that serves to lengthen you.  The longer they are, the longer and leaner you will look!  

    Sewaholic Cordova Jacket; Vogue 9065

    Fabrics

    Prints are usually great, as they distract the eye.  Just make sure that your print doesn't draw extra attention to your tummy, though!

    Vertical stripes also work well, as they serve to elongate the body.  Horizontal stripes aren't as good, as they can make you look wider.  

     

    Sewing Patterns

    As discussed above, I've put together a series of Pinterest boards with suggested patterns.  They contain not only patterns we sell, but also patterns from other companies that we don't sell.  Right now, the boards contain over 270 patterns and I've categorised them by type of garment (i.e. 'Dresses - Shift', 'Dresses - Full Skirted', 'Dresses - Trapeze', etc.).  I haven't had time to look at a tremendous number of companies.  So, there's undoubtedly some good patterns out there that I've missed! If you have any patterns that you'd like me to add to the boards, do let me know by emailing me or by leaving a comment below!  

     

    Resources

    Here are some resources that I found particularly helpful:

    '11 Sure-Fire Ways to Hide Your Belly With the Right Clothes' on 40+ Style

    '20+ Tips to Hide your Tummy' on Busbee Style [YouTube video]

    '35 Dresses to Hide Tummy and Hips' on Fashion Lady

    'Big or Bloated Tummy?' on Gorgeous Me

    'Clothing that Will Disguise a Tummy' on Style Studs and Lace

    'Eighteen Fabulous Frocks to Flatter the Tummy' on So Sensational

    'How to Dress a Mummy Tummy' on Lisa McLatchie 

    'How to: Dress If You Want to Hide Your Tummy' on Tigers in Dresses

    'How to Hide Your Tummy' on Fabulous After 40

     

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    May 09, 2018 by Amy Lloyd

    New: Free Online Sewing Courses!

    For the last few weeks, I've been working on a secret project: I've been creating my first online sewing course!  It's a free course for absolute beginners which teaches you how to use a sewing machine. There are three projects: some simple sewing exercises, a set of napkins, and a tote bag!  The course is finally finished and it went up on the website on the weekend.  I'm so, so happy with it - and I hope that it will prove useful for many budding sewists in the months and years to come!


      

    I've enjoyed putting this course together so much that I'm hoping to do more courses in the future: I'm pretty excited about it all!

    How this came about is a bit of an interesting story...  I did not set out to create an online course.  Instead, it all started one sunny afternoon in December when I was sitting in my sewing studio and the thought popped into my head, 'This would be such a nice space to teach some one-on-one sewing classes.'  I immediately dismissed the thought: I've got enough on my plate as it is!  However, it kept gnawing away at me: I used to do a lot of teaching in my former job and I really missed it.  Wouldn't it be nice to teach the occasional class?  I gave into temptation over Christmas and started designing a series of classes, which I planned to just pop on the website, hoping it would maybe result in the occasional booking.

    While I was designing the classes, I thought it might be nice to design a series of kits for use in the classes which I could sell on the website. These would be available to both my in-class students and the general public.  However, I quickly ran into a roadblock.  All the kits except one were dressmaking kits, with a sewing pattern and a choice of different fabrics.  The one exception was a tote bag kit, which was connected with my first 'Level 1: Learn to Sew' class.  I don't sell a pattern for making a tote bag, so non-students buying this kit wouldn't have any instructions for making the bag.  So, I decided to look online for a video which I could recommend.  However, the video I ended up picking assumed that viewers already knew how to use a sewing machine.  Since the tote bag kit was aimed at beginners, I thought it might be helpful to put together a separate page on my website which featured the tote bag video along with a video or two which showed how to use a sewing machine.

    And this is where the madness started.


    The video I selected - by Dana Willard of Made Everyday.

    I should preface what happened next by saying that (a) I used to do a lot of teaching in my previous job (including a lot of technical teaching), and (b) the part I loved the most about teaching was planning the teaching.  I loved planning teaching so much that I could have probably even classed it as a hobby.  I used to even take books on teaching practice on holiday!  (I can remember a wonderful plane ride to Canada one year when I excitedly read through Understanding by Design and Collaborative Learning Techniques - both of which I thoroughly recommend!)

    So, when I found myself in January putting together a page of advice on sewing for absolute beginners, I was totally in my element.  It was so much fun!  And the page kept growing and growing.  At first, it was just the tote bag video and two videos showing how to use a sewing machine.  However, one of the videos also included instructions for making a napkin - and that seemed like a great project to start with.  So, I added a napkin to the kit.  And then I realised there were important topics not covered in the videos - and so I found more videos and blog posts to recommend that covered these topics.  It then occurred to me that it might be nice to provide written instructions for doing the napkins and tote bag (who likes to be constantly pausing and rewinding videos?) - and maybe I should also provide some sewing exercises to start with?  And so the page grew and grew (eventually being split into four separate pages).  I just couldn't help myself!  Finally, by mid-February, I had to acknowledge that what I'd created was actually a course.  :-)

     


    The sewing exercises

    So, that's how this all came about!  I hope the course will prove useful to budding sewists.  There's so much free content available on the internet now which shows you how to sew.  So, the temptation is to just binge-watch YouTube videos, rather than pay to take a course.  However, while it's fabulous to have so much information available at your fingertips, I can imagine that it must also be somewhat frustrating, as, when you're just getting started, you don't know what you should be learning (and so you may miss crucial pieces of information), and whether the videos you're watching and blog posts you're reading are providing good-quality information.  So, I hope that my course - which makes use of the best of what's available online - will prove useful and serve to highlight some of excellent sewing content creators who are active today (there are a lot of them!).  :-)  If you know anyone who would like to learn how to sew, please do let them know about the course!  You can see the course here.  

     


    The kits for this course - there are currently five to choose from. The kits also provide access to a private message forum, where I'm on hand to provide extra advice and answer any questions!

    Now, I realise that most of the subscribers to this blog will probably already be experienced sewers.  So, this course likely won't be of much interest to you.  However, if you're still pretty new to sewing, there may be some parts of the course that you might want to have a look at, including:

    Some of the step-by-step photos from the course

     

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    March 07, 2018 by Amy Lloyd

    Don't Be Scared of Knits: Grainline Studio's Lark Tee

    Yay - I've got a sewing project to show you! Here's my finished Grainline Studio Lark Tee in our Rebecca white cotton jersey (which I talked about in my last blog post):

    I absolutely love it!  The fabric was such a pleasure to sew with: it stitched well, it was pretty stable and firm under my presser foot, and it was easy to press.  It's also such a pleasure to wear: so, so soft!  I also love that, while it's white, it's pretty opaque.  You can't really see my very ugly nursing bra underneath it (phew!).  

    I have to admit that I don't have a huge amount of experience sewing with knits: in the past, I have definitely gravitated more towards wovens.  So, I did question my sanity as I started the project as to why, after a bit of break from sewing, I decided to sew a t-shirt.  My fears quickly disappeared as I got started, though, thanks to a well-designed pattern, great instructions (including Grainline Studio's sewalong), and choosing a very-easy-to-sew knit. 

    Why a t-shirt?  I suppose it seems a bit of weird choice, but I don't currently have a lot of knit tops and - with my more casual, baby-centric lifestyle now - it's a hole in my wardrobe that definitely needs filling!  I really love these recent looks by Jennifer Aniston and Selena Gomez.  Now that it's cold, I'm planning to wear my tee with cosy long cardigans.  :-)

    These images (and those below) were featured in the past few months on my favourite fashion blogs.  You'll find links to the original images/articles on my Pinterest board 'Things I'd Like to Make - AW17/18'.

     

    I'm also planning to make a long-sleeved Lark Tee in our Rosalie black viscose jersey - as well as a dress in our Vivianne black and white striped cotton jersey.  Here's some of the images that have inspired these (upcoming!) makes:

    Ditto the last caption: find the original images on this Pinterest board, 'Things I'd Like to Make - AW17/18'.

     

    If you're at all nervous about sewing with knits, I highly recommend Grainline's Lark Tee and our Rebecca cotton jersey (which will be coming in after Christmas in more colours): it's a great starter project!  If you've never sewn with knits before, I think you'll be surprised at how similar they are to sewing with wovens.  There are a few key differences, though:

    • Knit fabrics don't have selvedges.  Most knits come off a knitting machine as a cylindrical tube, and are cut open lengthwise so that they can be put on a bolt or roll.  You can't assume that that the cut is on-grain.  So, you need to lay out the fabric differently to make sure that your pattern pieces are cut on-grain.  I love Tasia's instructions for doing this, which you can see here.  This is how I cut my knits.  
    • You don't need a serger/overlocker machine - or a coverstitch machine - to sew knits!  You can just use your regular sewing machine (which is what I do!).  However, you do need to use slightly different needles and stitches than you would with wovens.  I love Tilly's guide to sewing knit fabrics on a regular sewing machine: it gives all the instructions you need to jump into your first project!  With regard to doing hems on a regular sewing machine, I love Patterns for Pirates' tips for using a twin needle.  

    I'm pretty pleased with my twin-needle hems (and my neckband!).  For the hems, I followed the instructions provided by Patterns for Pirates to a T: I dialled up the top thread tension, chose a long stitch length, and sewed very, very slowly (which was very, very painful - I'm a bit of a speed demon when I sew!). :-)

     

    As mentioned above, I just use my regular sewing machine to sew knits. As I've so rarely sewn with knits in the past and I've always been happy with the finish I've achieved with my regular sewing machine, I've never bothered to invest in an overlocker.  However, this was before I had a baby.  I have to say that I am definitely wearing more knits now (oh so comfy and easy-to-care-for!) and have a few knit patterns in my sewing queue at the moment.  So, I might need to add an overlocker to my birthday wish list this year.  ;-)  

    As I mentioned above, this was a pretty easy pattern to sew.  Grainline Studio's instructions are excellent and it was nice to be able to refer to the sewalong for added advice and tips (particularly when doing the neckband).  

    As for the fit, I'm pretty pleased with this too.  Those of you who read my previous blog post will know that I had a bit of a protracted adventure fitting this pattern.  To make a long story short, I originally did what I used to do prior to having a baby: I chose my pattern size based on my high bust measurement (size 6) and did an FBA (full bust adjustment).  However, the toile ended up being far too narrow across my upper chest.  So, I ended up sewing another toile in the size that accorded with my bust measurement (size 10) and this fit pretty well. So I decided just to do a straight size 10.  The only other alterations I did were some length adjustments, as I'm only 5' 3.5" and very short-waisted: I took out 1" between the shoulders and the armpit, 1" between the armpit and the waist, and 1.75" between the waist and the hem.   

    As I've previously mentioned, I'm pretty pleased with the fit.  My one major niggle are the folds of fabric above the bust (if I stand squarely and make sure the t-shirt is sitting on me properly, I have folds on each side above the bust which look like the fold on the right-hand side of the photo below). I'm not 100% sure what these folds are telling me.  That I need a small FBA?  Or are these just an inevitable result of having a larger cup size and no darts?  If anyone has any insight, please do let me know in the comments section below!  

    If you'd like to make your own t-shirt, I've created a 'Sew a T-Shirt' page on our website, where you'll find some suggested patterns and fabrics!  You'll find this in our new 'Inspiration' section (which I'll be introducing on the blog shortly).  

     

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    December 13, 2017 by Amy Lloyd

    Dartless FBAs: Comparing the Different Methods

    As those of you who follow me on Instagram or Facebook might know, there's been some sewing activity here at Splendid HQ over the last few weeks!   I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am to be sewing again. I haven't sewn anything for myself since my early pregnancy - and that was in the spring of 2016!  My wardrobe is crying out for new items and I'm having a blast doing a little bit of sewing here and there in the evenings after Annabel has gone to bed.

    What am I sewing?  Well, I'm in desperate need of some easy-to-wear tops, so I've started off with some Grainline Studio Lark Tees - one in our Rebecca white cotton jersey and one in our Rosalie black viscose jersey.  They'll look great with jeans - but also with the two skirts I'm planning to make next with some soon-to-be-arriving new fabrics (yay!). 


    Grainline Studio's Lark Tee

     

    I'm also planning to make a dress with Lark out of our Vivianne black and white striped cotton jersey.  So, I'm getting good value-for-money from the pattern!  LOL  Here's some of the photos that have inspired this first instalment of my new autumn/winter wardrobe:

    All of these images appeared in fashion articles on PopSugar Fashion or WhoWhatWear (my favourite websites for following fashion trends) over the last few months.  You'll find links to the original images/articles on my Pinterest board 'Things I'd Like to Make - AW17/18'.

     

    (I've also got a shirt dress and a wrap knit dress planned.  Hopefully I'll get to these as well over the next little while!)

    I've actually already finished one of the Lark Tees and and am just about to start the second one.  I'll show them off in a separate blog post soon (as well as review the pattern properly).

    Today's blog post is dedicated to dartless FBAs (full bust adjustments).  Why?  Because when I decided to sew Lark a few weeks ago, I looked at the pattern measurements and my measurements, and decided that - as per usual with my pre-pregnancy body - I would need to do an FBA.  However, as this was a t-shirt, I didn't want to add a dart.  So, I looked into how to do a dartless FBA (which I'd never done before) and was surprised that there were so many methods!  Why?!!!  

    I looked at them all in detail and couldn't decide which one to use.  So, ever the glutton for punishment, I decided to try four different methods.  I can be very, very left-brained sometimes!  I ended up being slightly surprised by the results and posted a photo on our social media accounts with the four altered front bodices.  After receiving a lot of comments from people who expressed interest in knowing more about how the methods differed, I decided to write a blog post about it.  Hopefully I can spare some of you from spending several evenings of head-scratching Googling and pattern alteration!

    The image I posted on our Instagram and Facebook accounts

    Okay, so here we go!

    For those of you who are newbies to FBAs, I think I'd better start by explaining a little further what I'm talking about here.  Most sewing patterns are designed for women with B cups.  So, if your bust is a C cup or larger, you're probably going to need to do an FBA, so as to provide extra width and length to the front bodice pattern to accommodate your larger cup size. You can find out more about doing FBAs by reading The Curvy Sewing Collective's step-by-step tutorial.   

    Doing an FBA to a dartless pattern adds a bust dart to the side seam (you can find instructions regarding how to do this in this tutorial by Workroom Social):

    A lot of the time, this isn't such a big deal.  However, there are some patterns where you may not want a bust dart - either because it will look a little strange or impact negatively on the design, or because a dart isn't ideal in the fabric you're using.  Both reasons affected my decision to forgo a dart in Lark: I wanted to make a classic dartless t-shirt and darts aren't ideal in knits.

    However, how do you do an FBA and not end up with a side seam bust dart?  Well, a few weeks ago, I turned to Fit for Real People (my go-to resource when it comes to fitting) and discovered that it was a little terse on the subject.  So, I hopped onto Google and very quickly found myself in a daze, wondering what to do: I found so many different methods!  

    The methods can be grouped into five different categories:

    1. Use the 'pivot and slide' technique for doing an FBA
    There's a great explanation of this technique on Maria Denmark's website.  From what I've read over the years, the 'pivot and slide' technique works for some people, but not for others - and most sewers acknowledge that the traditional FBA technique results in a better fit.  'Pivot and slide' also doesn't add any extra length and adds a little bit of width across the upper chest.  For all of these reasons, I decided not to try this technique this time round.  However, it's quite a fast technique (a lot less faff than doing a traditional FBA) and some sewers get good results from it, so it's definitely one to consider if you'd like to do a dartless FBA.

    2. Don't do an FBA and simply add length
    There's a great explanation of this technique on Cashmerette's blog.  This technique relies on the stretchiness of knits to add the extra width needed to accommodate a bigger cup size.  All that is added is some length. The chief downside of this technique is that it results in some gathers at the side seam near the bust.  However, these are rather inconspicuous (they're under your arm).  Plus, it's a really fast technique. So, it's definitely one to consider!  I didn't end up trying this technique, as my FBA was quite large (I needed 2.5 inches in added width) and I wanted to make a loose-fitting t-shirt (not one that was really tight across the bust).  So, this technique didn't work for me for this project. 

    3. Don't do an FBA and simply add width by blending between sizes
    Some sewers (like Lladybird and Kadiddlehopper) just add width by blending between sizes - choosing a bigger size at the bust and a smaller size elsewhere.  This technique, however, doesn't add length (and you need to remember that it also impacts on the length of the armscye and thus the sleeve, as described in this blog post by Maven Sewing Patterns). I ultimately decided not to use this technique, as my FBA was quite large and I wanted to be able to add some length.  

     

    4. Do a regular FBA and convert the side seam bust dart to ease/gathers
    You can see an explanation of this technique on the blog 'Communing with Fabric' and on Jennifer Lauren's blog  I ended up deciding not to try this technique, as I was keen to avoid having gathers/puckering at the side seam.

    5. Do a regular FBA and remove the side seam bust dart through pattern manipulation
    This is the method I tried, as it seemed to me that it would give me my added width and length, while also preserving the width of the pattern across the upper chest. The chief downside of this technique is the fact that it usually results in a curved hemline on the front bodice - which may not be desirable for all projects (for example, if you're making a striped t-shirt and are keen for the stripes to be parallel with the hemline).  I wasn't so bothered by this, as my chief concern was to add length and width - and not have a bust dart or gathers. 


    An image from Jennifer Lauren's tutorial which shows the curved hemline that results.  

     

    Unfortunately, it doesn't seem that there is an agreed-upon method for removing the side seam bust dart: there are many tutorials online which show different ways of doing this.  Here's the ones that made my shortlist:

    I ended up trying the first four.  As I'd suspected, the resulting patterns had some quite profound differences.  I found that the best way to examine the differences was to lay them on top of each other.  So, last night, I had fun with a Sharpie and some tracing paper (and later Photoshop) and created this diagram:

    Key:
    Original pattern (size 6) ________
    Common lines for altered patterns __ __ __ __
    Maria Denmark . . . . . . 
    Jennifer Lauren _ . _ . _ 
    Paprika Patterns _ _ _ _
    Sew Sew Sew Your Boat _ .. _ .. _

     

    In comparing them, the thing that surprised me the most was that only one of these methods preserved the full width of my FBA (which was 1.25 inches (leading to a 2.5 inch FBA total)) - the method suggested by Jennifer Lauren. You can get a sense regarding how some of the FBA width is lost in the other methods by looking at one of the diagrams from Maria Denmark's method (below).  The purple dart that is created is then closed, thus eliminating some of the added width.  Similar processes are at work in eliminating width in the other methods.

    Three out of the four methods added width at the hips (the one that didn't was the 'Sew Sew Sew Your Boat' method) and only one (the one by Paprika Patterns) preserved the original hemline shape (although this necessitates adding length to the back bodice).  

    Although I was keen to preserve as much of the FBA width as possible, I didn't end up going with Jennifer Lauren's method, as I was concerned about the rather strangely-shaped side seam that had resulted (perhaps this was due to the size of the FBA?).  When I smoothed it out, this resulted in quite a substantial loss of the FBA width.  So, in the end, I decided to go with the method suggested by Paprika Patterns.  It also added less width at the hips than some of the other methods, which (for me) was an added bonus.  I ultimately decided not to preserve the original hemline shape, though, as I was keen to avoid adding length to the back bodice.

    I then proceeded to make a toile... and this then led to yet another (even bigger) surprise: I discovered that - in the end and after all of this - I didn't need an FBA after all!  Arghhhhh!!!!!  The toile ended up being too narrow across the shoulders and upper chest.  After realising this, I measured the pattern and decided that the size that accorded with my bust measurement (size 10) would fit best.  So, I made a toile of this size (well two - one with a small FBA and one without) and decided to go with the straight size 10 (with some length adjustments).

    Why did my original approach not work?  Well, to be honest, I'm not 100% sure. In my approach to fitting this pattern, I'd just done what I usually did prior to being pregnant: as I'm a D cup, I chose my pattern size using my high bust measurement (size 6). In all the patterns I've fitted since I started doing FBAs in the late 2000s, this has almost always worked.  Why it didn't work this time is either (a) a peculiarity of this pattern or of the way Grainline Studio's patterns fit (this is my first time using a pattern by Grainline Studio); or (b) due to the fact that my body has changed a lot since I got pregnant in early-2016.  I think the latter explanation is most likely: I've not only gained weight since getting pregnant, but also muscle (lifting Annabel and hefting about our pram on a daily basis!). However, I guess time will tell as I fit more and more patterns over the coming months!

    In my next blog post, I'll show you my first Lark and talk a little more about how I fit the pattern.  I'm pretty happy with the fit of it, but I'd definitely value your feedback regarding any improvements I can make for the second version (I still have a few niggles)!

    For those of you with experience of doing dartless FBAs, I'd also be keen to hear from you: what's your favourite method?  

     

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    November 15, 2017 by Amy Lloyd

    All Change

    Wow - I can't believe that my last blog post was in early-January!  The past few months have been incredibly busy.  Most of my time has been devoted to my daughter Annabel (who is now almost six months old!) and I've been working on the business from home when I've been able to.  Sadly, the amount of time I've had to work on the business has been scant.  I had a few good weeks in January when Annabel was taking really long naps and going down for them easily (I seem to remember that I had about 6 hours to myself during the day back then!).  However, her daytime sleep patterns soon changed: long naps became 35-minute naps, with much fussing to get her to sleep and to get her back to sleep. This didn't leave much time or energy for getting much done.  


    Recent photos of Annabel: she's getting so big!

    So, I've had to withdraw myself more and more from the business over the last few months: Annabel definitely comes first.  Isobel has been doing a fantastic job keeping things going: getting your orders in the post, answering emails, posting on social media.  However, due to my lack of time, there hasn't been much activity behind-the-scenes - particularly with regard to ordering new products and getting them on the website.  

    With my lease expiring in June, I've been doing a lot of thinking over the last few weeks about what I'd like to do with the business long-term.  It's clear that things can't continue as they are.  During the past few weeks, Annabel has been sleeping a lot better during the day: she's in a more regular routine with 3 long naps each day - and so I now have a bit more 'me' time during the day, and more energy (and desire!) to do things in the evening. However, I still don't have the amount of time that's needed to run the business in its current state.  So, it seemed to me that my options were to put Annabel in a nursery for at least 3 days per week - or re-jig the business (making it smaller, more focused and more manageable) and bring it into my home.  After a lot of thought, I've decided to go with the second option. 

    So, there's going to be some big changes around here over the next month!  Firstly, while I have a very decent-sized room to put the business in in our flat, it's definitely not as big as our current studio, so I'm going to need to slightly downsize our fabric collection.  So, there's going to be a big sale - starting now!   I'm mostly trying to get rid of a good number of our rolls of fabric, as I will have limited storage space for rolls.  So, there's lots of good deals to be had on many fantastic fabrics, with savings of up to 45% off!  You can see what's on sale here. If you know of anyone who might be interested in our sale, we'd really appreciate it if you could let them know!


    Some of the fabrics which are now on sale.

    Secondly, during and after the move, the store will probably close for about a week, to give me time to set things up and restyle the website.  I'll give you details about this closure closer to the time (I'm still working out the dates for the move).

    What's 'The Splendid Stitch' going to look like after it reopens?  One of the biggest changes will be that I'm going to start to sew regularly for my blog and my fabric buying will in the future revolve around these makes. This is somewhat similar to my current strategy of bringing in fabrics for our 'featured outfit' posts. The only difference now is that I'm actually going to be using these fabrics myself to sew up a nice, stylish wardrobe!  Needless to say, I'm pretty excited about this!!  So, for example, I'm planning to make some summer dresses over the next few months and am going to be bringing in a number of amazing voiles, challises and jerseys.  I'm also planning to make myself some trendy cropped trousers and will be bringing in some absolutely luscious trouser-weight denims, chambrays and linen-blends from Robert Kaufman.  Overall, I'll bringing in more fabrics than I could possibly use, but they'll all be fabrics that I personally absolutely love and will be geared towards creating a beautiful, modern wardrobe.  

    To give you a flavour of what's to come, here are some of the images that are serving as inspiration for my fabric buying and sewing over the next few months:

     

    All of these images (which are drawn from recent fashion blog posts and articles) can be found on a new Pinterest board I've set up.  

    I'd also love to find out what you'd like to sew.  To facilitate this, I've set up another Pinterest board here where you can pin images of outfits that inspire you.  I'll have a look at this board when I'm planning my fabric buying!  

    So, that's what's going to be happening to our fabric collection. In order to streamline the business and make it more manageable, I'm also going to make some further changes:

    • I'm going to decrease the number of fabric suppliers I work with.  In the past, I've bought from 24 suppliers (yikes!) and that's just too many: it makes shopping, reordering and doing payments very time-consuming.  So, I'm going to hone in on some of my more favourite and reliable suppliers.  To this end, I'm also probably going to carry fewer pattern companies.  
    • I'm going to make our social media contributions more focused: Instagram and Facebook will be where I'll primarily be hanging out.  
    • I'm (reluctantly) going to be discontinuing our 'sewing schools' program (we currently supply kits to students at a number of sewing schools).  I absolutely love doing this, but it is really time-consuming and I just don't have the time now.
    • I'm going to change the way we do samples.  As many of you will know, you can get samples of all of our fabrics for 20 p each and I include two free samples with every order.  I've absolutely loved both policies, as I think it should be easy and cheap to get samples of fabrics you're interested in - and I love picking out personalised samples for each order.  However, the cheapness of the samples means that we often get very large sample orders which take a really long time to put together (sometimes 20-30 samples at a time!) and picking out and preparing personalised samples for each order also takes up a lot of time.  So, I'm thinking of marginally bumping up the cost of the individual samples (maybe to 50 p - to better account for the time it takes to put together sample orders) and maybe including standardised free samples with each order (so, maybe two samples of some new fabrics that have just come in).  If you think I'm making a big mistake in changing this, please do let me know!  I've put together an online form for you to give me your input on the changes I'm making to the business.  If you have some thoughts or suggestions, please do fill it out here!  

     

    So, there's going to be some big changes taking place here over the next month or so! I'm pretty excited about this impending transformation of the business, and I hope that these changes excite you too and that you'll all join me in this second leg of 'The Splendid Stitch's' journey!  You'll be able to see what's coming in and what I'm making by following this blog, signing up to our newsletter, and/or following us on Instagram or Facebook.

    Finally (yes, there's one more piece of big news!), I am really sad to announce that Isobel is leaving!  She was recently promoted at her main job and is now unable to fit in the 10 hours a week that she currently does for us.  I was really excited to hear about her promotion - but so sad to hear that she'd have to leave.  She's done such a fantastic job over the last few months and I'll miss her a lot! 

    Fortunately, I've found a really superb replacement who will be starting next week.  I'll give you more news on that soon.  I think that's enough announcements for one day!  :-)

    To see what's on sale, click here.

    To give me feedback on the proposed changes (which I'd love to receive - good and bad!), click here.

     

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    May 13, 2017 by Amy Lloyd
    Tags: News

    I'm Back!

    I'm super excited to introduce you to the newest member of The Splendid Stitch's team!  Meet baby Annabel:

     

    She's now almost two months old, and is smiling and cooing - and just so much fun.  As she's now into a bit more of a settled routine, I've returned to work.  And by that, I mean that I'm doing some work from home during her naps.  :-)  It's definitely nice to have something else to occupy my mind - and keep me busy - while she's sleeping!  She'll likely go to a local nursery on a part-time basis when she's a little older.  However, I'm going to try to keep her by my side for as long as possible.  

       

     

    While I've been away, Isobel has been expertly taking care of things.  She's going to continue packing all the orders, doing the customer service, and posting on social media now that I'm back.  

    I had hoped to post more new outfits on the blog while I was away, but I'm afraid that I was overly optimistic about what I could accomplish in those early weeks after giving birth: the first few weeks were quite a challenge!  LOL  I'm sure that most of you who have children saw that coming!  :-)  The outfit posts will be resuming very soon - but in a slightly different format.  Isobel and I have been cooking up something really exciting, and I can't wait to show it to you.  Keep your eyes peeled: I'll be revealing all on the blog shortly!  Also keep your eyes peeled for new products: I've been ordering like crazy over the last few days and some really lovely new fabrics and sewing patterns are going to start appearing on the website very soon!

     

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    January 10, 2017 by Amy Lloyd
    Tags: News

    Luscious Velvet Dresses

    This week's featured outfit is straight off the Autumn/Winter 2016 catwalks.  Velvet was a big trend and a number of beautiful velvet dresses were featured in some of the collections, including:

     Images all from Autumn/Winter 2016 ready-to-wear collections, as featured on Vogue.co.uk: Prada, Prada, Fendi, Emporio ArmaniPreen by Thornton Bregazzi

     

    This week's featured outfit draws inspiration from these dresses.  I've paired Named's Olivia wrap dress with two of our knit velvets: a luscious black one and a rich burgundy one.  They're both really lovely!  As they're from different suppliers, they're not identical.  Comparing the two, the burgundy velvet is stretchier than the black one, while the black one is heavier and has a deeper pile.  I've tried my best to photograph them.  I should warn you, though, that velvet is very difficult to photograph: you really need to get samples of these fabrics to really appreciate them! 

     

    Being knits, these two velvets can be used for most patterns designed for jersey (although it's better to stick to simple designs).  Drawing on the inspiration images (which show a number of wrap dresses), I've chosen Named's Olivia wrap dress - a classic, fitted wrap dress.  It should work well with the velvet, as there aren't very many seams and there are no darts.  The waist is cinched in with elastic.

     

    Won't Olivia look lovely in a luxurious velvet?!  This dress would be great for dressy events through the festive season: beautiful, understated elegance.  :-)

    Finally, I just wanted to point out the fantastic embroidery and applique in some of the inspiration images.  

    From left to right: Prada, Fendi

    I was a bit perplexed as to how one would execute this on a stretch velvet (particularly the embroidery), so I did some research.  Here's some great resources I found on the web, for those of you who may be considering giving this a go!

      

    Further Details

    Named Olivia Wrap Dress
    £13 
    Sizes: 32-50
    Level: average
    Reviews: 2 reviews on PatternReview.com; both are positive

     

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    November 22, 2016 by Amy Lloyd

    Not Jeans: Trousers in Denim and Chambray

    Baby-watch continues here.  My husband is bringing home curry and pineapple for dinner tonight, so hopefully things will get started soon!

    This week's featured outfit is Burda 6573 - a really lovely trousers pattern.  Here's the images that inspired the outfit:

    Images from: Atlantic-Pacific; The Fashion Guitar; Not Dressed as Lamb; Cupcakes and Cashmere; Nicolette MasonCupcakes and Cashmere.

     

    6573 is a great new pattern from Burda.  Here's what it looks like:

     

    I absolutely love the design of this pattern - particularly the details at the waist, with the partial waistband at the front and the fitted darts at the back.  The optional buttons are also great - as are the trendy length options (both wide floor-length and cropped trousers are in right now).  

    As for fabrics, drawing inspiration from the images above, I've selected a medium-weight chambray from Robert Kaufman and our navy crosshatch denim.  They're both really lovely fabrics (as you can see in the photos below - they both have really interesting, characterful weaves).  In terms of weight, they're both a great weight for trousers, with the denim being slightly heavier than the chambray.  They also both have lots of body, but soften slightly when laundered (I've laundered samples of both).  

    The top fabric is the chambray and the bottom fabric is the denim.

     

    As for what you can pair with chambray/denim trousers, the world is your oyster here!  They're basically a more dressy version of jeans - and we all know how versatile jeans are when it comes to choosing tops.  :-)  I love the pretty blouses/shirts and knit tops that the bloggers have paired (all neatly tucked in) with their trousers.  I also couldn't help but notice that most of the bloggers have chosen a white top.  White looks so great with denim, don't you think?  A very crisp and clean look.

     

    Finally, I should also point out that we also have a few other patterns that would work with these fabrics and this trend.  First, there's Pauline Alice's Sorell trousers

     

    Burda 6812 is another great option:

     

    Finally, Vogue's versatile but now sadly-out-of-print 2532 pattern would also work well (we've still got a few copies!):

     

    Further Details

    Burda 6573
    £5.85 (£5.27 until 25 November!)
    Sizes: 6-18
    Level: easy
    Reviews: no reviews on PatternReview.com
    Similar Patterns: Pauline Alice's Sorell trousersBurda 6812Vogue 2532

     

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    November 17, 2016 by Amy Lloyd

    Pretty Pleated Skirts - Plus Introducing Isobel!

    I'm back!  My apologies for my lack of blog posts over the last two months.  Things have been super busy here, as I've been preparing for my upcoming maternity leave and hiring and training a new employee.  Something had to give - and, unfortunately, writing blog posts was it.  I know a lot of you like my featured outfit posts (and have missed them over the last few weeks), so you'll be happy to hear that I have quite a few in the pipeline at the moment!  I'm going to be bulk writing them over the next week, so there should hopefully be a steady flow of them while I'm on maternity leave (which will probably start in the next two weeks or so).

    Technically, I've sort-of started my maternity leave, as I'm now largely doing light desk-work from home (I absolutely love working, so I'm likely going to continue doing so until my contractions start; watching TV or doing housework holds very little appeal!). My maternity leave has been made possible by the fact The Splendid Stitch now has its first employee - yay!  You may recall that I put out a job ad in early-September.  I ended up getting around 150 applications!  I managed to narrow them down to a long-list of 18 and a short-list of 6.  4 were eventually interviewed and 1 was hired.  I'm so incredibly excited to introduce you to Isobel:

    We had fun taking a few photos yesterday of the two of us for using on The Splendid Stitch's social media profiles.  What you don't know is that I am actually standing on 5 Vogue and McCall's pattern books - because Isobel is quite a bit taller than me!   LOL  Oh yeah - I should probably point out that I'm the puffy, pregnant-looking one on the left and Isobel is the taller, leaner figure on the right!

     

    Isobel is going to be packing all the orders from this point forward (during my maternity leave and beyond) - as well as answering customer emails and doing some posting on social media.  She's a professional artist - and sews in her spare time!  She learned to sew a few years ago and hasn't looked back since.  So, you'll be seeing her creations popping up on on our social media feeds and our blog over the coming months.  :-)  Here's a dress she made recently for a wedding using a Burda pattern and some silk dupioni - so, so pretty!  

    Isobel's picked up everything extremely quickly and I'm confident I'm leaving The Splendid Stitch in a capable pair of hands while I'm away during my maternity leave (which will stretch to mid-January - after that, I'll come back part-time).    

    So, that's the big news.  :-)  Now, onto the featured outfit: a pleated skirt!  Here's the images that inspired the outfit:

     

     

     Images from: Prada's Autumn/Winter 2016 Ready-to-Wear Collection; Pink PeoniesKendi Everyday; Atlantic-Pacific; Gal Meets GlamPrada's Autumn/Winter 2016 Ready-to-Wear Collection

     

    The pattern I've chosen is McCall's 6706.  It's a pattern for a simple pleated skirt with a waistband.  As for variations, there are two lengths to choose from, as well as options for striped colour-blocking and for doing a shaped back hem.  There's also pattern pieces for a petticoat, if you're after a fuller-looking skirt.

    As for fabrics, this pattern works well with both shirting-weight cotton broadcloths and poplins, as well as fabrics with more body like cotton sateen and silk shantung.  Based on the inspiration photos, I've chosen some of our cotton broadcloths from Art Gallery Fabrics (all three of which are new!) and some of our cotton sateens.  

    First, here's the three AGF broadcloths I've chosen: 'Bees and Bits Mellow', 'Pure Elements London Red' and 'Pandagarden Naptime'.

    As I've mentioned before on the blog, the quality of these AGF broadcloths is just fantastic.  I absolutely love the new prints!  The bee print is both fun and daintily pretty.  Here's a closer look at the bees:

    The panda print is ah-mah-zing.  I could see it being a really great dress too.  :-)  You'll get a good view of the print by looking at the mock-ups below (which are to scale): 

    As for the cotton sateens I've chosen, here they are: our Leonore sateen in red and white, and our purple floral sateen.  As sateen is heavier than broadcloth, it would make for a fuller, more structured skirt; the broadcloth would make for a lighter, swishier skirt. 

    Here's what the fabrics look like mocked-up (again, to scale):

    Oh, how I'd love to have a waist so I can make and wear skirts like these!  Hopefully in a few weeks' time.  :-)

    As for how to style these skirts, I love how Kendi has styled hers with a simple black camisole (a plain blouse or t-shirt would also look great).  Doesn't it also look great with a shirt?!  I particularly love the white skirt / chambray shirt combo sported by Rach ('Pink Peonies').  If you wanted to recreate this look, our Robert Kaufman light blue chambray (maybe with Grainline Studio's Archer shirt?) would be perfect.

     

    Further Details

    McCall's 6706
    £8.75 (£7.88 until 18 November!)
    Sizes: 6-22
    Level: easy
    Reviews: 32 reviews on PatternReview.com; 87% give the pattern a positive rating 
    Similar Patterns: Colette Zinnia; Liesl + Co. Everyday Skirt

     

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    November 10, 2016 by Amy Lloyd