a dress of many things

you know how sometimes something reminds you of another thing, even though they’re not necessarily that close to each other?

well, when i first saw this fabric, i got reminded of many things all at once.

manythings

clockwise from top left: Metropolis, R2D2 and C3PO, The Great Gatsby, Gene Kelly & Cyd Charisse in Singin’ In the Rain, Cleopatra, Metropolis. pictures borrowed from all over the internet.

the one that first came to mind was one of my fave movies of all times, Metropolis (Fritz Lang version). there’s something robotic about the bold print. thinking about robots made me then think of our 2 fave robots, who happen to have the same colours as the print of this fabric: blue, white, gold. and then bold gold lines remind me of the Gatsby movie logo, so now i got to think of 1920s-1930s era. thinking of that era automatically reminds me of Cyd Charisse in Singin’ In the Rain movie. last but not least, when i wore this dress in front of my husband, he said i look like an Egyptian (though i guess it had to do with my new haircut).

that’s quite many things to get reminded of just by one dress! what do YOU think?

metropolisdress2

self-made dress, ASOS cage shoes, head accessory from India, traditional Javanese brooch worn as bracelet.

the fabric is ever-so-lovely scuba (100% polyester), which is very easy to work with. i used a tried-and-proved pattern, no. 107 from BurdaStyle magazine 09/2012. earlier, i made this Melli Mello dress with the same pattern.

metropolisdressdetail1

just like with the Melli Mello dress, i also only had a limited amount of this fabric, 1,10 m to be exact. and of course, with this kind of print, i had to be extra careful with the placements so i wouldn’t end up having embarrassing prints on the wrong places.

i made a small alteration to the back side of the dress: since i omitted the zipper, i made the center back perfectly straight grain and made the hemline a lot more narrow than the original pattern. thankfully, because it’s scuba fabric, i can still slip in and out of the dress comfortably.

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this was probably the first time that i ever worked with such a big & bold print that needed special attention. the longest time i used in finishing this project was just for the pattern placements.

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after cutting the fabric, sewing it was just a breeze. i only used the overlocker for the side seams, the rest was done using the normal sewing machine.

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i decided that the dress could have a tiny bit longer hemline than the Melli Mello one, but not that long that it takes out all the boldness in it. and to finish the hem, i used the invisible hem stitch.

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how happy am i with the result? SUBLIMELY HAPPY! ❤ my most fave part about it, aside from the print, are the shoulder parts on sleeves. they remind me of Balmain shoulder-style that was all the rage some few years back.

now where’s my 1920’s-themed party invitation?

a different kind of paperdoll

when i was a kid, my sister & i had these special Japanese colouring books. they were otherwise normal colouring books, except that they were small (about 12 cm wide and 25 cm long), each page only consisted of 1 manga-style woman figure in certain positions, and each page were meant to be cut in 2 places (the cutting line were marked on the paper) exactly cutting apart the head, the torso + hands, and the legs. the idea was that we could mix and match the heads/hairstyles, clothes, and shoes that the woman figure on each page had. it was like a different kind of paper doll. and as a paper doll lover, you can probably imagine how much i loved those books. i could not properly colour them back then (i was probably younger than 5), but i liked flipping the pages randomly and got a random mix & match fashion tip of the day (or more like tip of the minute, since i did it ever so often!).

fast forward a few decades and i stumbled upon this book when i was in Amsterdam last year. it’s called Flip Fashion, illustrated by Lucille Clerc.

Flip Fashion: The Mix'n'match Lookbook

i was drawn to it because, well, i get easily drawn by anything that has to do with fashion illustration. when i opened it… it was exactly like that colouring book i had!! except that i don’t need to colour it anymore, ha! 😀 and instead of 3 parts, each page on this book has 4 parts. that’s more fun!

i didn’t immediately bought the book back then though… but i kept thinking about it, dreamed about it, because honestly, i missed playing with my old colouring book! so finally, a year later, i decided it was time to ‘spoil’ myself with it.

flipfash1another difference is that this book has ‘labels’ on the left side of each page. but i’m not complaining. this was one of my first randoms: Romantic Ivy League Casual Countess.

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and then there’s (left-right): Edgy Rodeo Anarchist Chick. next came Sixties Noir Fairytale It Girl. and lastly (for the day), meet Twenties Clubbing Classic Lolita.

i’ve got plenty more randoms, but i’m sure you get the idea already. 😀 this book is my new inspiration bible.

so, the verdict: if you love paper dolls, need fashion inspirations, like finding random things to do with your free time, love fashion illustrations, get this book. or, if you just like randomness, get this book.

i got mine from Book Depository for around 12€ (free shipping worldwide!), and i can personally guarantee you loads of fun.

PS. the cover picture is borrowed from Book Depository page.

PPS. i am most certainly not paid to do this review. 😀 just wanna share the fun!

eye see, eye like, eye… make

first there was the big hit.

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Kenzo skirt from Fall/Winter 2013 collection

then there was the trend.

scubaskirt

left: Mango Scuba skirt; right: & Other Stories Scuba skirt

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both images: from Japanese Cutie magazine 12/2013

and then there was the perfect fabric. and yes, btw, this one fabric i just had to buy new. but, my way of making it up is by not letting it wait in the closet, but sew it right away. 😉

and lastly, there was the way. for my last birthday, i got this book from my mum-in-law. okay, so she asked what i wanted and i, for once, didn’t say something like a new bag or new clothes etc., but thought of my future a bit. i have always wanted to learn how to make clothing patterns of my own, and my husband thought that i could just learn it myself instead of going to some school. at least, i could try it first. so i told my mum-in-law that this book looked good. and it IS good, oh, i’m so glad now that i have it!

newbible

the notebook you see next to that text book is my so-called design book. it’s nothing fancy, i usually would just doodle there when i got an idea of what to make. i would toy around with several different ‘designs’, until it finally looks perfect in my eyes. i have to draw it, you see, because i’m terrible in visualizing something in my head. i have to see it. then, if the ‘design’ is something more complicated than what my poor brain can digest, the drawing also helps me to figure out the steps i need to make in cutting the fabric and sewing it. that page shows you where the idea for the Just Cavalli top was born, and also the tarot/hippie t-shirt… and now for this skirt.

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H&M t-shirt and swimming suit, self-made scuba skirt, stockings from Plaza Semanggi-Jakarta, Bianco shoes, Miffy watch, necklace from Metro Dept. Store-Jakarta, earring from India (attached to necklace).

this was my first time working with scuba fabric. i’m not sure what the differences are, but i somehow believe that scuba = neoprene = bodycon. basically it’s like lycra jersey/knit but thicker. because it’s thicker, it’s easy to sew. and it also has the sturdiness like cotton fabric compared to the usual lycra jersey. but still, it’s stretchy so for example, i didn’t even need to put any zipper or elastic band on the skirt, even though it’s tight-fit on the waist.

this was also my first time of altering a pattern ‘the right way’. up to now, i’ve only altered ready-made patterns by feeling, sometimes making many mistakes until i finally succeeded. the text book i got helped me to make the circle godets on the skirt in just the perfect shape. i’m so happy & proud!

eyeskirtdetail1for the hem, i didn’t even sew it at all. it’s enough if you can cut it neatly, because another plus point for scuba fabric is that they don’t fray.

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at first, i was tempted to make the skirt into a full circle. but then i thought it would be too easy. :p so i started to look for inspirations and came across the many versions of scuba skirts in the stores and the ones i saw on my Cutie 12/2013 magazine. i decided to make the godets not as high as the store versions, and the skirt not as mini as those in the magazine (i still want to be able to wear it for work!). for the basic skirt pattern, i used Burda Style’s pattern no. 126 from their 12/2013 magazine.

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if i can be honest, i actually like my version a lot better than the original Kenzo one. the print is crazier, which suits me, and the godets are bigger, which suits me as well. 😀 and, it’s all made by myself. ❤

colour therapy/inspiration, fall-winter 2014

this is probably the first time ever in my almost 8 years of living abroad that i’m excited about fall & winter. the reason? these beauties.colortherapyinspiration

clockwise from top left: Marimekko Matsi tunic, Ikea PS 2014 storage table, Marimekko Toteemi fabric, COS Printed Round-Neck jakcet, COS Braided Loops necklace, Alexander Wang tunic, Valentino dress, Marimekko Trepp over-knee socks, Balenciaga sweater, & Other Stories Kaleidoscope ankle boots, Chanel mini flap bag, Chanel rainbow flap bag (okay, this one was actually from the spring-summer collection :p). pictures borrowed from the brands’ websites and Style.com.

i added the Fazer Lakritsi (licorice) bag picture there just for fun, since i think it resembles the Valentino dress so much! 😀

i’m just happy to see colours for this coming season, and also the fact that handmade details are on-trend. i’d love to say that this collage is my wishlist, but some of these things are of course incredibly expensive that i don’t think i would ever get it even if i can afford it (since i’d rather use the money for something else). so instead i’m gonna treat this as my inspiration board. yeah, people use pinterest & instagram for that, but since i don’t use them then this blog will have to do!

my hope is to be able to implement these trends into my coming sewing projects, but before i rush out to buy new fabrics, i couldn’t help but notice that i might already have a few old self-made clothes that i can now re-use because of their similar colours/theme to the current trends.

like this old Marimekko overall i made in 2009.and this kaleidoscopic flower tunic i made in 2012.

and of course, the more recently sewn braided Tarot top (hey, it counts for “handmade detail”, though everything i sew is of course handmade :p).tarottopdetail2

can’t wait to see how other people will interpret the fall-winter 2014 trends. 🙂

3 museums in Riga (short holiday, pt. 2)

we had 3 days and 2 nights in Riga, and only 1 of those days was actually rain-free. in this sense, it was good that our plan was that we had no plan. 😀

i have to admit that i didn’t know much about Riga, or Latvia for that matter, before i went there. i knew a bit of the history, but other than that, i had no idea what to do or see there. but after googling about it, we decided that we at least would go around the old town and the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. i also wanted to try eating local food somewhere, and maybe, if we have the time, i’d like to see the Art Nouveau museum, but that was about it. we had no other destinations or plans, and just planned to go along with the flow.

when we arrived there, as i said here, we had to wait several hours until we could check in to our room. during the last half an hour, we were tired of walking in the rain so we went back to the hotel and waited in the lobby. we found lots of tourist maps and guide booklets, so we took those and read them to kill more time. that was how we found out about more things to see there in Riga, which i will tell about later.

since we took too many pictures to fit in one post, i am again going to divide them to 2 posts. this post is solely for the museums we visited while in Riga.

anyway, we spent the first day just walking around the hotel, which was right where the old town is. it was so convenient to be able to walk everywhere as it was raining the whole day, everything was nearby and if we got too cold, all we needed to do was walk back to our hotel.

the next day was sunny! right after breakfast, we went to our first museum. it turned out that the Art Nouveau museum was a bit closer than the other one we planned to go to, so we headed there first. the walk there was so nice, we got to go through lots of parks with all kinds of statues. we found the museum with no difficulties. 🙂

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the admission fee for this museum was 5€ per person, which is like half of the price of admission fees in museums in Finland. to take pictures with any camera, you need to pay an extra 1.50€, which i happily did, because it’s only 1.50€! yes, please.

so here are the pics, some more crappy than others since it was only taken with my mobile phone camera, but nonetheless, i think i can share a bit of my happiness with you. 🙂

a bit of a background story: i have always been interested in art nouveau ever since i knew what it was. there is just something romantic about the swirls and curves of this style, and though i can’t really be friends with real life plants, i like seeing them implemented in the design of everyday objects.

there is a few of buildings with this style in the whole Finland, but not nearly as much as in Riga alone. so visiting this museum was like heaven to me. the building was built in 1903 by Konstantīns Pēkšēns, who was also a Latvian architect, as an apartment building in which he himself then lived until 1907. the museum part is where this said architect lived in, which is on the first floor. some objects in the museum were originals, meaning that they actually were objects from the house, and some of them were from other sources but also originally from the same era. there was actually another exhibition in the upper floor, but we didn’t go there this time.

there were mainly women visiting this museum, the few men who came were husbands of these women. it had a very cheery and joyful mode throughout the museum, especially in the kitchen where there was a “maid” serving self-baked cookies, and upon seeing the old-fashioned toilet. 😀 my husband enjoyed this visit as much as i did, because we also learned a bit about history and art/design here. so do visit this museum if you have time in Riga! it’s definitely worth the 5€ you’ll spend! for more info, click here.

our next stop was the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia. we chose to walk from the seaside, passing the harbour and back to the old town.

we found out from the internet before going to Riga that this museum did not have a specific admission fee, but instead we pay with donation. since we paid 5€ each for the other museum, we figured it was only sensible to pay the same amount here.

it was almost dead quiet there in the museum. not because there were no visitors (there were plenty), but because of the topic of the museum itself. it was such a different atmosphere than the previous museum, and it’s no wonder. even though we could take pictures (so long as we made a donation), i decided not to. not even of the building, but if you want to know more, feel free to go here and view the photo gallery.

as i said before, i almost had no clue at all about Riga or Latvia. this museum provided information of everything i should know about the history of Latvia from 1940-1991, and more. as the name suggested, it was the era when Latvia was occupied by the Soviet Union, and on to the hands of the German Nazi, and back again to the Soviet Union.

we went here because we thought it would be interesting to know what happened. and it certainly was interesting, but also quite heartbreaking. we could clearly see how the country suffered & struggled for many decades, stayed strong through it all, and finally reached its long deserved freedom.

i can’t really explain all the emotions i had during this visit, it’s hard not to get emotional seeing all the injustice and go too deep about this matter. i don’t think anything i write or say will do any justice to the actual history, so once again, i urge you to visit this museum when you’re in Riga. you will feel blessed and appreciate your own life more after you do this, take my word for it. 🙂

we thought that was all we could do for this holiday trip, since after this museum, we only had time to eat (real late lunch/dinner). the next day was the last day of our time in Riga, and we didn’t plan on going anywhere, but ended up going to an area where another small museum was.

it’s called the Riga Ghetto and Holocaust in Latvia Museum. we got to know about this museum from one of those booklets we found at the hotel’s lobby, and since we were already walking to that area, we decided to stop by.

just like the Occupation museum, this one also only accepted donation for admission fees. this museum was of separate buildings and in one big area, but we only went to a few of them.

again, i’m sure from the name you can pretty much guess what this museum is all about. Riga Ghetto is an area where Jewish Latvians (and later Germans) lived during the time when Nazi occupied the country. some buildings in this area were prisons, and some were “houses”, though there really wasn’t that big of a difference between the two back then.

as it was our last day in Riga, we didn’t have much time to do a thorough visit of this museum, nor did we take the guided tour. we went to 3 different parts, first of which was the front part, that had walls bearing the names of the victims of the holocaust period and also a bit of the history. they also had pictures of the non Jewish Latvians who helped hide some Jews in their houses (bless them!).

the next place we went to was a small house that–if i’m not mistaken–was an original house that survived. the inside had been renovated though, and the upper part of the house showed examples/models of how a typical Jewish house looked in those days.

then lastly, we went to one of the prisons that was holding a small exhibition of its own, collecting stories about the victims of the Latvia holocaust from the things they left behind, the letters they wrote, and just bits and pieces of information they could find about them. it was eerie, sad, and yet we looked upon them and knew that their story, what they did, was not for nothing. it was again a one of a kind experience that you just have to go through yourself to understand what i mean. i recommend this museum with warm heart, and for more info, please go here.

covering 3 museums in 2 days was quite an accomplishment for us who did not even have any plan. it was made possible thanks to the fact that everything was so close to each other there in Riga (at least in the downtown & old town area), that even when you do not plan anything beforehand, you can just find something interesting and go along with it. had it been better weather on all 3 days we were there, we could’ve probably covered more, but all in all i am very satisfied with these 3 museums. 🙂

next up is my experience in Riga (minus these museums) & Stockholm!

failure is not accepted

in my 6 years of sewing experience, i can’t tell you how many times i’ve come face to face with problems that might just make me have to accept defeat and call the sewing project a failure. ask my husband. he knows how many times. 😀

at times like those, i usually stopped sewing (usually from being too disappointed) and did something else to take my mind off of it. then when i felt like i was ready, i would resume the work and try to fix the problem.

up to this very moment, thankfully there is only one sewing project i could honestly call a failure (because i ran out of ideas on how to fix it, and the amount of energy spent on it was too much for me to try to fix it again), and that was years ago. so i’ve come to get used to accepting no failures at all.

some weeks ago, i wanted to make this lovely cocoon cardigan from BurdaStyle magazine (November 2013 issue, pattern no. 107):

cocooncardi

picture from BurdaStyle.com

i had the perfect fabric and time, and while i was doing it, i could already imagine wearing it at work, etc.

when it was done, i tried it on… and found out the problem immediately. it was the wrong choice of fabric. it was too stiff, the kind you would use for coats (and doh, it IS supposed to be for coats, i just thought it would work as a cardigan too). looking for reassurance, i turned to my husband and asked what he thought about it.

this is what he said, “Yes, that’s a nice bathrobe.”

BATHROBE. B-A-T-H-R-O-B-E.

there’s nothing wrong with a bathrobe, except that this wasn’t supposed to be a bathrobe, dammit! (moral of the story: you should never turn to your husband/spouse for reassurance.)

so i tried cooling down my head by cleaning up my work desk, stowing away my sewing machine and fabric remnants etc.. i was not going to give up, but i was depressed since i just spent the whole day sewing something i thought would look cool and MOST DEFINITELY NOT A BATHROBE.

that was when i started browsing for cocoon/oversized coat images around the internet. well, guess what?

cocoonoversizedinspiration

pictures from various sources around the internet

there really are such things as bathrobe-looking coats. 😀

i compiled these pictures and showed them to my husband with triumph all over my face. one, because even if he was right and my cardigan looks more like a bathrobe, bathrobe-looking coats are actually IN (okay, they’re called oversized coats, some are cocoon coats, some are oversized cocoon coats). and two, i may have failed in making a cardigan, but i turned out to be making a coat instead. this counts as a score! 🙂

so i began hatching these ideas on how to dress up my cocoon/bathrobe coat. suddenly i got quite a bunch of ideas, i needed to sit down and draw them. the results?

furcoat1compl

vintage blouse from UFF, self-made top and coat, Zara trousers, studded flats from Dappermarkt-Amsterdam, batik bag given as a gift from my aunt, Miffy watch, jersey fabric worn as headband.

furcoat2compl

Lord Shiva tee from India, loose pants from Dappermarkt-Amsterdam, self-made coat, Bianco shoes, CottonInk tubular shawl, Zara belt, vintage purse from UFF.

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second-hand shirt from Pasar Senen-Jakarta, self-made top, skirt, and coat, H&M tights, ASOS cage shoes, & Other Stories clutch, Miffy watch.

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H&M boys blouse, H&M girls dress (worn underneath blouse), self-made tights and coat, Bianco shoes, H&M necklace, Sophie Martin clutch, Miffy watch.

just so you’ll understand why i thought this was the perfect fabric, i have to show it in close up:

furcoatdetail

it’s a kind of furry wool fabric, much like what was shown on the BurdaStyle pic up there. i bought 2,3m of it for only around 15€. seeing how many ways i can dress it up now, as a COAT, not a cardigan, i must say it was way worth it.

once again, i think & i believe i have successfully avoided a failure. 😉

PS. all illustrations are drawn by me using 2B pencil, coloured pencil, and copic pens.

wild animals and small town

leopardtrend

clockwise from top left: & Other Stories sweater, Melli Mello duvet cover, Kenzo sweater, one of the runway collections of Kenzo SS13, Melli Mello napkins in Panther Flower. images are not mine, only borrowed from the brands’ own websites.

i never cared much about animal prints. ESPECIALLY leopards. when i got chickenpox only a few years ago, it was so bad and i was left with scars all over my body that made me look like a leopard. haha. ever since then, my husband & i started making jokes about buying pink leopard print cushion covers or blankets, just to cheer me up. but mind you, we never actually did.

the scars eventually started to fade away. some are still quite visible here and there, but anyway, the leopard joke continued on.

and then i saw Kenzo SS13 collection. i could’ve dissed it like any other animal print trends over the years, but the way they made it look fun and cartoony (meaning: not trying to actually look like real animal skin) made me feel like they are joining in in my husband’s & my jokes.

so when i saw the perfect fabric, i decided to give it a try. after all, i know leopard print would look good on me, since i already saw myself with my chickenpox scars. 😀

peapardsweater1

self-made sweater and peplum skirt, unbranded tights & earrings from Jakarta-Indonesia, Bianco shoes, & Other Stories clutch.

a few days after i finished sewing this, & Other Stories posted their leopard/zebra sweater on their website. this time, i swear i didn’t copy them! 😉

anyway, that fabric was just a great find! at first, when i was thinking of making some Kenzo-inspired sweater, i thought if i was lucky enough i’d probably land myself a crazy-coloured leopard print knit fabric… like in pink or purple. didn’t think i would get THIS lucky to find a leopard print AND peacock print in one knit fabric! 😀 so i call this sweater “Peapard”, from peacock and leopard. ha!

since the print itself is already crazy enough, i decided to just make a simple sweater out of it. i used a combination of pattern no. 123 and 124 of the April 2013 issue of Burda Style magazine.

burda123_42013

pattern no. 123, Burda Style 04/2013

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pattern no. 124, Burda Style 04/2013

since i don’t have serger/overlocker, i tend to avoid sewing stretchy fabrics like jersey and knits. but the coolest prints usually come in those fabrics, so i sometimes gave in and tried sewing them anyway. this was the first time i sew this kind of acrylic/polyamide knit fabric, and i must say, the sleeve cuffs and hem were tricky to do. but nevertheless i succeeded, and am so proud of the result!

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oh, and of course i had to add metal studs to the collar. you can barely see them, but they give just the perfect amount of bling to the sweater.peapardsweater2

peapardsweater3

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but that’s not all with the animals. there are also some chickens. okay, they’re not wild, but can’t you imagine chickens running around freely in villages, or, well, small towns?

no? maybe i’m just too full of imaginations. because that’s what came to my mind when i saw 2 of my old fabrics in my closet. i bought the other one so many years ago, and the other one around last year, and seeing them together now just created another crazy idea in my head.

chicktownblouse2

self-made blouse, Zara trousers, Bianco shoes.

yep. a boxy (and oversized) blouse with small town/village and chicken prints, combined. seriously, would anyone even wear this, NOT to a kindergarten? *raises hand* i know, i think i’ve lost my mind as well.

chicktownblousedetail

it’s just that i had wanted to make simple blouses/shirts from these two fabrics, and then i figured… why not just make one with long sleeves? since neither of the fabrics were long enough for long-sleeved blouse, i had to combine them. the pattern that made me even consider about making such a blouse was this, number 127 B from the May 2012 issue of Burda Style magazine.

burda127b_52012

it didn’t seem that bad when i was making it. only after it was done and i tried it on did i see the problem: it was way too big. and i actually used the smallest size. the picture of the pattern made me believe that it wasn’t as big as it actually is. but oh well, it was done and i really didn’t want to start making it smaller on the sides and the sleeves… so i just cut the shoulder parts a bit to make some peep holes.

chicktownblousedetail2

it seemed like a good idea at the time, but as i tried it on again, it made me feel like i’m wearing a Card Captor Sakura cosplay costume. gah. but WHAT-E-V-E-R.

wearing it with normal-looking trousers makes me look a bit more sane, thankfully.

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right?chicktownblouse3

… right?chicktownblouse4

hmm. i shall try wearing it outside the house and see how many stares i get from people. that should be fun. 😉

PS. the top most picture/collage and the images from Burda Style magazines are not mine. they are borrowed for my personal use only and with no bad intentions.