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Hi guys, something a little different for my blog today but it's something I really wanted to share and know it'll appeal to some readers. Me and Matt have an interiors Instagram account @side_piece_diy where we share our mid century inspired home and our restoration projects. Over the past month or so, we've been restoring a mid century arm chair and we're over the moon with the results. 

So instead of sharing a thousand images of the chair with long captions on our insta, I thought I'd pop them in a handy blog post, along with the supplies we used and some online resources that helped us.

First things first, we're new to the furniture restoration game. We've done a few pieces now (which you can see on our page HERE), but this is the first time we've reupholstered anything. I'd like to say it's a 50/50 process, but honestly Matt is the talented one here and I'm just taking the credit (haha!).

We've been in the market for a mid century armchair to restore for ages, but have never found one that was within our area or price range. Then I found our chair on eBay, weirdly in our town, for a steal at £50. We won the bid and it was with us the next day! Sadly there's no maker's mark on it, but the design is reminiscent of a Parker Knoll 988 armchair with a few minor differences. It could be dated anywhere between the 1960s and 1970s, and judging by the fairly modern care home sticker on the underside of the frame, it's been reupholstered within the last 20 years. Despite its distinct 1980s-car-seat looks, I knew with some TLC this could be a gorgeous armchair. So here's some 'before' snaps...


The wooden frame of the chair was in pretty crappy condition and the upholstery, whilst not damaged, was naff and outdated. 

We wanted to reveal more of the covered wooden frame, which turned out to be in not-so-great condition and made from beech, in contrast with the legs and arms which are dark teak (or maybe walnut?). However we were hoping with the help of some dye stains and wood filler we could get the light beech frame, to match the darker arms and legs.

So here's a break down of what we did:

Firstly, we removed all the old upholstery, leaving the seat springs (with leather covering) and webbing (which were in good condition so we kept them).

On the sides of the chair frame, above and below the arms were extra wedges of wood that had been stapled and glued on. However these gave the back of the chair an odd 'bloated' look, so we decided to remove them to leave a straighter silhouette. This involved misting the area with warm water and using a hair drier to soften the glue, then using a hammer and chisel to remove the wedges of wood.

The next step was to sand the entire chair with medium followed by fine grit sandpaper.

To try and bring the colour of the beech frame closer to that of the arms and legs, we began with a coat of teak dye stain. This got us closer, but not quite there, so this was followed by a coat of a darker walnut dye stain which was much closer to the colour we were looking for.

After removing the upholstery, the beech frame had been left with staple and tack holes, these were filled with wood filler and then lightly sanded flush with very fine grit sandpaper, and wiped with white spirit to remove dust.

All exposed wood was then given a total of three coats of Danish Oil (a mixture of linseed oil and varnish) which offers an easy to apply, hard wearing, satin finish that brings out the natural grain of the wood. After the final coat has dried, rubbing the whole chair with a piece of plain paper removes any rough patches and leaves a lovely smooth satin finish.

Finally, the filled holes were coloured using furniture touch-up marker pens to match them to the grain and colour of the surrounding wood (as best as possible). And that was the frame finished! THIS playlist of video tutorials on chair upholstery were really helpful in figuring out the process.

Left: finished wooden frame. Right: in progress.
Once the frame was prepared it was time to reupholster the chair. Here's a breakdown of the supplies we used:

- Staple gun and a box of staples
- Calico to stabilise the back support (where a hessian fabric was before)
- Foam and wadding to create the back of the chair
- Seat foam and wadding for the cushion
- Upholstery fabric to cover the chair
- Self-cover metal buttons
- Ply-grip (also known as metal back tacking strip) to cover the back edges of the chair neatly without any staples visible.
- Mallet or fabric covered hammer, to flatten down the edge of the ply-grip.



Making the armchair cushion cover is really the only part of this restoration that fell into my skill set. Having only made a couple of small cushions before, making a fitted seat cover was pretty daunting, especially as Matt is such a perfectionist. The cushion is a square of seat foam, which we sat on in store to test out how squishy we wanted it to be, wrapped in wadding. I watched several online tutorials on how to cover the cushion, THIS video was extremely helpful. Whilst the finished product isn't totally perfect, I'm really pleased with it as at one point I was ready to throw it out the window...

Here's some side by side before and after photos:



Overall, we are so happy with the finished chair and feel very proud of it. We certainly had a few hiccups along the way and definitely learned a lot too. I love spotting a beat up piece of furniture and seeing the potential in it and with our combined skill set I think we make a pretty great team! 



Now we just need to move all our other furniture around to fit it in!

Have you tried your hand at any furniture restoration before? 
Don't forget to follow our dedicated interiors page @side_piece_diy to see more of our projects!

Thanks for reading!
Abi & Matt
xo
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Hi pinups! Oh gosh. I think I should really lower my expectations when it comes to setting myself goals. Me Made May has always been a struggle for me. When I first took part a couple of years ago my pledge was to wear a handmade outfit on my birthday (because I had only just started sewing so didn't have a lot of options) and I should have stuck with just that! Wearing handmade on my birthday has been a pledge I've managed to keep, but I can't say the same about the rest of my over zealous pledges! I don't think I'll ever be someone who can wear something handmade everyday, and that's okay with me. A lot of it is down to my lifestyle and what I wear to work. But even though I didn't have a totally handmade month, I'm pleased with what I achieved and have some plans to put into place for a more cohesive wardrobe.

Here was my 2019 pledge:

'I, Abi, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2019. I endeavour to wear a handmade item of clothing (including knitwear) every day during May 2019, with hopes to identify holes in my wardrobe and wear garments that may have been pushed aside. Resulting in (hopefully) a more cohesive and easy-to-wear wardrobe!'

I found this year's challenge, well, challenging. I had fun the first week, but I was hit with my usual issues. I wear loungewear too much and I don't have a lot of handmade items in that respect. I like to be comfy while I work so I don't like to get dressed in something I don't want to crease up or get covered in threads. However, I do think I looked less scruffy as I thought more about to co ordinate my handmade knitwear with my pjs.... if that counts for anything. So here are some outfit snaps from my most worn looks of the month...


I found a large part of the struggle for me this month was the damn weather! It's been all over the place and I found it difficult to plan outfits. One minute it felt like winter, bundled up in cardigans and joggers than the next minute it was boiling hot and I was looking for anything cool and comfy! In my head May was going to be full of all the nice summery dresses I've made, but honestly it was just too cold! I certainly wasn't expecting to be in my funnel neck Coco dress!

On my birthday I wore a Simplicity 6301 wrap dress!

In regards to my goals, I definitely know the holes in my wardrobe. I need some t shirts and some plain coloured items to pair together. I've also got a tonne of warm weather clothes but not so much for colder weather (other than knitwear).

During May, I wore my Simplicity 8608 jersey jumpsuit A LOT. It comfortable, easy to get in and out of and looks cool styled in multiple ways. I could definitely do with a couple more. Other makes that I wore regularly during the month wear my Deer and Doe Mysostis dress and my Seamwork Dani leopard print pinafore dress.


Overall, this challenge always gets me thinking. I knew I set the bar too high, I must have been in an over-enthusiastic mood the day I set my pledge! From now on I think I'll stick to the birthday outfit and then anything else will be a bonus.

How did you get on with your pledge? I loved following along with people's on Instagram. I'm always so in awe of people who get dressed every day (haha!).
Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi
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She's back! For one afternoon only at least...It's been a while since I made something with a 1950s vintage flare, let along pin curl my hair and wear red lipstick. In hindsight, I wouldn't have called my blog what I did! Alas, every so often a pattern grabs my attention and I just need to make it.

I love Gertie Hirsch and everything she does, so when she released a new book 'Gertie Sews Jiffy Dresses' I had to have it. But this time around the appeal was mainly the simple ethos of the retro dress designs in the book. I don't like sewing projects that I can't do in one go, simply because I get distracted and will never get round to finishing it or picking it back up. So when I saw the 'Popover Dress', an actual tent style dress you could sew in a couple of hours, sign me up!

Here's a peek at the pattern:


If you're interested in a sew along video for this dress, you're in luck! Gertie's filmed the process HERE.


The dress is made from one main pattern piece which you cut 4 times. It also comes with optional patch pockets and bow ties for the shoulders. I used both on my dress as I love a patch pocket. My phone is so big these days, it's perfect for that. Gertie also includes a more advanced adapted version with a sheered elasticated waist and I'd definitely like to try that too. 


Let's just take a second to appreciate this vintage bed sheet shall we? I've recently rediscovered my eBay obsession, it comes and goes in waves and this time around I came away with some great finds. Including a vintage 1960s double bed sheet and pillow cases in perfect condition. When I saw the fabric I knew it would be the perfect pairing with the popover dress pattern and luckily there was enough fabric in the sheet.

I spot prints like this in America regularly online with hefty shipping fees, but I never seem to find prints like this in the UK. So I snapped this up immediately for under £20! An absolute bargain. The colours are so pretty and fresh and the fabric is a lovely light weight cotton, perfect for turning into a dress. I've still got the pillow cases left over but I think I might just actually use those on the bed, they're too pretty to cut up!


Let's talk sizing! The dress was easy to make and easy to fit. The dress is essentially a big tent (without the shop bought belt) so the only measurement I needed to think about was my bust. I cut the pattern according to my bust size and I'm happy with the overall fit.

However I could size down in this pattern and I think I will next time just to see the difference. I like the fullness in the skirt so wouldn't want to sacrifice too much of that, and the fit across my bust is comfortable, if not roomy (which makes a nice change!). It's a little low for my bras, perhaps next time I would extend the centre front/back by 1cm, but that's only to be nitpicky. As it is, it's perfectly comfortable and it has a great 1950s vibe without the tight fit.


Sewing Summary:

Pattern: The 'Popover Dress' from Gertie Sews Jiffy Dress Book

Fabric: Vintage bedsheet!

Notions: Nothing.

Sewing time: A couple of hours.

Modifications: Nothing.

Fit: Generous and comfortable. Could size down.

Difficulty: Easy peasy. Perfect for beginners.

Watch out for: Getting tidy centre front points is the trickiest part. But worth taking extra time to sew neatly.

Make Again?: Yes! I can see myself making a few of these over the next couple of months to wear over summer. I just need to find some fabrics or thrift some more bedsheets!

For these photos I also wore my favourite petticoat and must have elastic waist belt.


Overall, the Gertie Popover Dress is my ideal 1950s dress. I can feel self conscious a lot, and increasingly in vintage styles which is probably why I haven't made very many recently. But the popover dress provides me with the solution I was looking for. It's quick and simple to sew, and the fitting was easy. Sewing something where I can just go by my bust size (knowing that the waist and hips are free fitting) took so much pressure off the sewing. It's so comfortable to wear and I like how it makes me feel.

Whilst I might not go full Mrs Maisel with the dress when I wear it next, I'll be pairing this with natural hair, pink lips to match the flowers, my straw bag and cat eye sunglasses with my black denim jacket in toe - coming soon to an Instagram near you!

Which is your favourite pattern in Gertie's new book? Have you made the Popover Dress?

Thanks for reading, pinups!
xo
Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.
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1. Vintage Bedding






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Hi! Another post coming a little later than planned, sensing a theme here... but here's a few bits I've been loving in April! I've spent a large portion of my evenings trawling eBay. So far it's resulted in a chair win and a watch list overflowing with vintage bed sheets that I dream of turning into dresses. April was the month I launched my Amazon storefront, so now when I share a photo of my sewing space and people ask where things are from, it's all in one place with all the info you need. Simple!

Over the past month I've been learning to crochet, with varying results... I've finally got the hang of it though, even if my first project was probably a bit too ambitious for my non existent skill level. Along with crochet, my sew-jo is in full swing (despite my lack of time to actual do any). I tried the 8608 jumpsuit pattern again but this time in jersey and I've barely taken it off since, it's so comfy. I also snapped up Gertie's new book and I can't wait to get stuck in! That pop over dress has my name all over it.

Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi xo

Disclaimer: contains affiliate links.

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Hi pinups! Could I possibly be the most inconsistent, unreliable sewing blogger there is? Most likely! Yes this post is very late coming... but I knew I wanted to do it and another opportunity to share this make was just what I needed to brighten up this dull May day. After all it's not often I get chance to make a fancy dress and have a suitable occasion to wear it...

In March Crafty Sew & So hosted The Dressmakers Ball in Leicester, my university city no less! I went to the first ball, held a couple of years ago and jumped at the chance to go to their second event. My first time around, I was a bit of a mess. My dress fell apart at the last minute and I had to pull something else together. The whole thing was just super stressful and I was so nervous all evening and spent most of the time with a migraine and looking very anti social! This time around I was determined to have a wonderful time and feel fabulous.


I knew right away the kind of dress I wanted to make and it just so happened a few months before hand the lovely people at Textile Express had sent me 2m of THIS truly stunning embroidered tulle fabric. Now I had the occasion to use it! The Simplicity 8545 pattern features a practically identical fabric on the cover and I knew these two would be a great team to create the sheer overlay, mid length dress I wanted.

Here's a peek at the pattern:

I made option D, a simple dress design and I used a black satin binding on the cuffs and neck line and left the hem of the dress raw. I cut my skirt panels as long and as wide as the fabric allowed. So I think my skirt is a little longer and more gathered than Simplicity's version. I chose to buy a black slip to wear underneath.

As my previous ball dress was a mess, I wanted to keep things as simple as possible and let the fabric do the talking. For a little extra special, sparkly touch I hand sewed teeny tiny beads and sequins on some of the embroidery around the bodice. I'm so happy I did this and luckily not too many fell off!


I was rubbish in the photo department, although I shared quite a lot throughout the evening on my Instagram Stories, but I couldn't resist a little solo photo session in the toilets. It'd be rude not to when the mirror is this big!


I had such a wonderful evening surrounded by lovely, creative dressmakers and it was a joy to meet everyone and oggle all the dresses! I was honoured to be on the judging panel on the evening for the catwalk too. It was so fun, but I'm not going to lie, by that point in the evening I was 80% prosecco and I whooped and cheered probably too enthusiastically for every dress and my very important notes *ahem* turned into scribbles of 'YES PINK DRESS' etc etc.
My evening was made by Marie and Amy aka A Stitching Odyssey and Almond Rock. Marie was so kind letting me stay in her beautiful home and I couldn't of done it without these two. I was so nervous to meet people at the ball and honestly I've never felt so welcomed and comfortable.

So many lovely ladies came up to me and I was overwhelmed by the love! Mushy I know, but putting yourself online is scary (especially YouTube) and I tend to think everyone hates me and finds me annoying so to have people come up to you to say they love a piece of the content or have bought from my shop means the world to me.


What a night! Being such a socially awkward person, I'd been so nervous about the ball; what I'd look like, what people would think of me, the list goes on. But I really did have a wonderful evening. There were so many people I didn't get to say hello to and the night flew by! Thank you to the Crafty Sew & So team for creating such a great event (the band was AMAZING). Roll on the next one.

To see more snaps from the ball and for more information visit Crafty Sew & So HERE. Did you go too?

Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi xo

P.S. I apologise profusely to Marie, who dealt with my disgustingly hungover self the following morning with such kindness, and to poor Amy who had to witness me. Safe to say, at any future event, a midnight double rum & coke is not the one.
Disclaimer: contains affilate links. 
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Hi pinups! Today I'm getting into the spirit of Me Made May! A fantastic sewing initiative created by Zoe of 'So, Zo... What do You Know?' sewing blog. I can't remember if I got too involved last year, I always like to in my own way, but this year I want to make a conscious effort to participate which will hopefully benefit my handmade wardrobe.  
My Pledge:

'I, Abi, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May 2019. I endeavour to wear a handmade item of clothing (including knitwear) every day during May 2019, with hopes to identify holes in my wardrobe and wear garments that may have been pushed aside. Resulting in (hopefully) a more cohesive and easy-to-wear wardrobe!'

Sign up and create your pledge HERE


Working from home, I quickly fall into a rut of grabbing whatever's nearest and comfortable (yes it's pyjamas) and whilst that's what works best for me day-to-day, it keeps catching me out. I'm never ready for surprise house guests, spontaneous lunches out and constantly looking like I'm home sick can feel a little grotty after a couple of days. I want to make a bit more effort in my day to day wardrobe which I'm hoping Me Made May will help me out with.


I'm aiming to wear something handmade (including my knitwear) everyday in May. I'll be taking daily snaps which I'll share at the end of the week in a collage. I find that taking photos puts a bit more pressure on me to actually stick to my goal (but its certainly not a requirement of Me Made May). It's more of a personal log for me and it'll be interesting to see which garments I gravitate too.

I hope to discover the holes in my wardrobe, I know there'll be a few, which I can then go on to rectify. I know basics are something I don't have a lot of, but I've recently discovered the perfect t shirt pattern (I'll be sharing soon) and I've got some skirt plans I want to put into action. This challenge will be the kick up the arse I need to get my wardrobe in shape!

I also don't have a lot of space for clothes, and a brutal sort out is needed. I'm at a weird point in my never ending search as to what my style is, and a lot of my clothing hanging on my rail just isn't working for me anymore. I need to see if I can make these work for me or whether they need to be repurposed or recycled.


I suppose I should mention the dress that's actually in this post! It's another Tilly and the Buttons Coco, a pattern which I'm obsessed with. It's pretty much my all time favourite sewing pattern and I recommend it to everyone! This dress was a spontaneous, one hour sew and I love it. I'm going through a 60s phase and this ticks all the boxes. Coco will definitely be making an appearance this Me May Made!

Are you taking part? What are you hoping to achieve?

Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi xo
Disclaimer: contains affiliate links.
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Hi pinups, I've got something pretty cool to share with you today! You can now shop my entire sewing space, knitting supplies and more via my new Amazon store front. In the past I've put together small posts to share where I've purchased things for my sewing space, and I always get asked on social media where such & such is from, but this new Amazon influencer shop I have put together is such a revelation and I hope you'll love it.


For my store front, I've trawled through Amazon and searched the products I've bought, items I want and some closest matches, and curated them into organised lists so you can shop EVERYTHING in my sewing space. Including my sewing machines, mint trolley and scissors, even right down to the pins I have!

A snapshot of my storefront

Along with everything in my sewing space, I've made a list for my sewing books, knitting supplies and all the techy stuff I use for vlogging. It's taken quite some time to put together the store and I really hope it'll make things easier and be helpful for those who want to shop some recommended supplies. On some of my favourite items I've also written little captions as to why I love them. 


Let me know if there's anything I haven't included that you'd like to know about or any other themed lists you'd like to see from me.

Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi xo

Disclaimer: my Amazon store allows me to earn a small commission on items that may be purchased .
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Hi! I know it may seem weird to include a bed in my 'What I've Been Loving...' monthly blog series, but I like to add the odd non-sewing or knitting related thing in there too. And boy do our love our new mid century bed! After a busy month, there's nothing like getting cosy in bed, especially if you have a knit project on the go too. I'm trying to explore more aran weight projects for Summer and this confetti yarn is affordable compared to the big brands and looks super cute. Along with some fabrics and patterns that have caught my eye recently, I'm struggling to find the time to fit them all in! 

Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi xo

Disclaimer: this post contains affiliate links.
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Hi pinups! When I found out my home town Shrewsbury was getting an Abakhan shop, it was the most exciting news about a new shop opening in the town for ages! Finally, something I could get on board with. After shopping online with Abakhan on multiple occasions and seeing the chatter about the physical stores on social media, I knew this was going to be dangerous for my fabric stash (and bank balance). The shop has been open a few months now, and I wasn't wrong!

For this post, I've teamed up with Abakhan to create a Spring sewing project, with supplies from the Shrewsbury store! I spent so long in the shop on this occasion, there are some really gorgeous fabrics in store at the moment, it was hard to choose. Although a few of the fabrics I discovered on the day are still in my thoughts, so I think I'll be popping in again soon to see if they're still there.


At the time, the sun was shining and Spring was in the air, so I've been a bit premature with my Spring sewing (oops). I couldn't resist the Simplicity 8637 wrap dress pattern, featuring the most beautiful looking flounce skirt.

Here's a peek at the pattern:


Whilst I know I've sewn my fair share of wrap dresses, I'm yet to successfully tackle a flounce skirt (I had a couple of issues with the dress in THIS post), and I thought the 8637 would be a great 'round 2'. Paired with a light and floral viscose fabric with the most beautiful colour palette, which I found in the fabric by the weight section in the shop.



Shopping fabric by the weight in Abakhan:

As someone who was new to shopping in the fabric by the weight section at Abakhan, at first I was a little confused as what that meant. I didn't realise you could get the fabric cut to your length (as long as you leave 1m behind), on my first shopping trip I ended up with a rather embarrassing amount of metres, but the price was so good I didn't question it!

1. Rummage around the fabric by the weight section, find some fabric you love and make note of the price by the kilo.

2. Find the scales on the shop floor or at the till point and weigh your fabric to find out the price.

3. Have your fabric cut to length, as long as you leave 1m behind. Simple!



Lets get into the sewing! The Simplicity 8637 is a simple pattern to sew, the bodice is lined which I didn't realise at the time but I prefer to wear a slip under thinner dresses, especially wrap dresses like this, so I decided to create a facing instead. I also wasn't keen on the sleeve options the pattern had, so I switched them for the flounce sleeves of the Simplicity 8608 pattern, which I've pinched a few times as I love them so much. I also thought these would give the dress some balance with the flounce on the skirt.


The sewing on this pattern is pretty straight forward, the only thing that I found confusing was all the flounce pattern pieces for the skirt which resulted in some unpicking as I stitched one the wrong way round! Hemming the flounce took a little extra concentrating too as you're sewing a curve, but with a bit of patience I got there in the end. I started with a rolled hem foot, but I gave up with that pretty quickly and opted to overlock the edges and turn them up. Lots of pins and ironing! I love the result as it's so fun to wear.


I do have some fit issues with this dress which I'm a little annoyed about. With Simplicity, I'm usually the same size every time so I went ahead with my usual. This bodice is a little long in the body for me and small across the bust and doesn't provide me with as much coverage as other patterns. Next time, I think I would just switch the bodice for one I know fits me better at the front or add a little extra to the pattern on the neck edge. Doing full bust adjustment to the front darted bodice would also be a way to solve this in the future. Other than that, this dress is a swishy dream and it's nothing a busy print and a safety pin can't fix/hide!


Sewing Summary:

Pattern: Simplicity 8637 with 8608 flutter sleeves.

Fabric: Floral Viscose.

Notions: Just some interfacing.

Sewing time: I made this in an afternoon.

Modifications: I didn't line the bodice, I created a facing out of the interfacing pieces. I also switched the sleeves.

Fit: Too small across the chest. 

Difficulty: Simple! But all the flounce pattern pieces can get a bit confusing.

Watch out for: Hemming the curved flounce skirt, take it slow with lots of ironing!

Make Again?: Yes, with some tweaks. I love the skirt style of this pattern. But I think I'd switch the bodice for one I know fits me better.


Overall, I really like this dress, but it's such a shame it's too small across the bust. I'll happily wear a slip underneath like in this post because that skirt is too good not to swish in! I love this pattern and can see myself making it again, but I'd switch the bodice for one I know fits me better/has a bit more coverage. Although I've made a lot of wrap dresses and flounce sleeves recently (I'm obsessed and they're so comfy to wear), maybe I should branch out next though! I've had this dress hanging up in the bedroom on display since I made it, the floral print on the fabric is so beautiful I can't bring myself to put it away in the closet just yet as it makes the room feel like summer!

If you're local to an Abakhan shop or Shrewsbury, come and visit the shop for yourself and find some fabric gems! I love digging through the fabric by the weight sections as there's always something buried in there - I don't think I've ever left the shop empty handed! Check out what's coming up in store at Abakhan Shrewsbury HERE.

Have you ever visited an Abakhan shop? What do you think?

Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi xo
Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Abakhan.
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Hi pinups! It's time for my second What I've Been Loving... post this year and what a weird month February was. The weather felt like Spring and it completely flew by! I dabbled in some eager Spring sewing and fell in love with the Myosotis dress pattern and plotted some lighter weight Spring knits with some aran weight yarn. I've sure got lots to keep me busy in March and my sew-jo (and knit-jo) is in full swing.

Thanks for reading, pinups!
Abi xo
Disclaimer: Contains affilate links.
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