It all started at work. Many exasperating topics start there for me. I work mostly with women which can also be exasperating. What? It can, believe me I know because I am one of the exasperating women. It was over lunch. One of the older women at the table said, “You know what my son told me the other night? That I look old. Sunni, I need you to take me shopping. I need a makeover.” Now before I tell you what I said, I want it to be said that this woman looks great and she’s beautiful and sweet. But I said the (apparently) big no no. “Well, but you are getting older. So it falls to reason that you would look older and that does not mean that you need a makeover.” It’s a true statement. It is. What do you want from me?

One woman at the table gave me the hairy eyeball, like I had said something that should never be said. Like I had no manners. Like I was a martian. So, naturally it got me to thinking and made me a little mad. Look, I’m 28, I know I’m young. But to me aging is not a bad thing, which is the very next thing that I said. One of the women piped in with, “But it makes us feel bad when you say things like that.” Inevitably, my next question was, “Why?” “Well you’ll know when you’re older. You’ll feel the same way,” was all she could come back at me with. Will I?

Please don’t feed me these lines ladies, was what I left lunch thinking. I’m an adult and though I may not be able to understand all things, I can understand many things. When was it ever said that getting older was a bad thing? When? Who said it? Why do people, mostly women mind you, feel this way? Is it because we equate getting older with horrifying images like these? Do older women imagine themselves to look, act and behave like Baby Jane Hudson here? Perhaps.

What I know of aging has never been bad. I lived a very full childhood with both sets of my grandparents still alive. And they are still alive today. In fact, two of my great grandmothers died only a few years ago. When I think of aging I think of these beautiful people that I still love and treasure. My grandmother, the quilter, in particular. She’s a beautiful creature with more pep and life than I see in some people younger than me. She’s truly a most remarkable woman and not because she was remarkable when she was young, because I didn’t know her when she was young. I’ve only known her when she was old. She never had to keep reminding us that she was old either. She reminded me with her exuberance and giggles that she was and is still quite in the prime of her life. She always has been because she lives each day to its fullest never allowing a dull moment to escape those calloused stitching fingers. This is what aging means to me. To become even more beautiful, self assured and brilliant with age.

My Grandparents

I realize that aging is not the most glamourous thing. It’s hard when disease or even natural hearing and eyesight begin to waver. Still, aging is not the horrible monster our culture seems to have turned it into. At least I don’t think so. What do you think? Afraid to age? Why?

I’m not afraid to age. Aging can be a beautiful opportunity. What could possibly be more magical than a grandma who teaches you to sew? Huh? Or a grandpa that teaches you a few things about your truck? Some of my most cherished memories involve my grandparents and their teaching me something or talking to me about something or giving me something I’ll never forget. And for all that, it felt as if they could have only done that at their age. Now how crazy is that?

Image courtesy Advanced Style

If you haven’t, check out this blog. Sort of the hel looks of the older generation. And aren’t they just chic and sophisticated with as much verve as you could possibly have? I think so. Yes. I do. I’m totally going to be this cool when I’m old.

  • karen - I was horrified when I had a wobble prior to turning 40 earlier this year. I’d always assumed that women’s resistance to ageing was about vanity, but I’ve learned that it’s about much more than that. It’s about bidding goodbye to your fertility (hugely informing a woman’s psyche, whether you want to have children or not), knowing that the career options are reducing (I possibly only have two or three more opportunities to switch job in my career now, whereas as a young twenty something I could take more risks). And, yes, realising that one day men will walk past you in the street and look straight through you. Oh, of course, and then there are bones that begin to ache! But there are many, many positives about getting older too, as you highlight. Knowing your own mind, being much more comfortable in your body, caring less about the opinions of others and reaching a stage in your career where you know with no arrogance that you are very good at what you do. Oh, and I envy my parents their retirement!
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  • CGCouture - I tend to agree that age is what you make of it, I recently lost my grandpa, but only 5 years ago he was the guy who was so spry he thought nothing of jumping off of something 4 ft. high and landing on his feet. Not even I can do that, and I’m only 26!
    Just because someone isn’t 25 anymore doesn’t mean that they can’t still enjoy life, be beautiful, or do crazy things. Growing old is mandatory, growing up is not. 😉
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  • Hearthrose - I think it’s the process of change rather than anything else. You keep improving on the outside until a certain point, and after that, you *change* – just as radically as you did when you changed from a child to an adult, you change from the time of your fertility to the time of your agedness. Once the change is complete, you can get comfy in it, but the time of change is upsetting to most people. You have to rethink your whole self, and that’s a pretty big deal.
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  • karen - Great point, Hearthrose! Yes, your body starts doing weird things and hormones come into play again. It’s all very odd! Not helped, I feel, by the fact that the menopause still seems to be one of those subjects slightly hidden from view.
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  • Laura - All I know is that 42 doesn’t feel old to me at all. I’m still excited and confident that the best part of my life is forthcoming..it does bother me that I have friends turning 40 who are very focused on how “old” they now are, but it’s only because they’re wrong(LOL). But the truth is you have to embrace your looks as they are now, you can’t be distressed over how or who you once were. I mean, you CAN be distressed, but it’s awfully futile. It would be a completely exasperating situation because although you are young and stylish- part of that style is knowing yourself so well, not that you could remake someone else to look more essentially like themselves, which would make them look more vital- if not younger. People resist change in general, but no change more than aging.
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  • Wanett - I think a persons view of aging is completely informed by the way the people around them while growing up dealt with it. While no one in my family lamented aging specifically, they did not always make being older look like something to look forward. I think the happier and healthier the older people and your life appear, the more you look at aging as a privilege that you cannot wait to earn.
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  • Ashley - I just turned 32 a few months ago and I can honestly say that my life has gotten better and better since I’ve gotten older. I can see Karen’s point about lack of career opportunities bothering me down the road, but as far a looks go, it’s always bothered me how our society lumps beauty and youth into one category. There are plenty of beautiful older women out there and it’s getting more and more common to see them in prominent entertainment roles (Blythe Danner, Sophia Loren, and Iman are all over 50 years old), so it wouldn’t surprise me if America’s idea of beauty changed over the coming years.
    And I’m not sure if it’s due to the gain in confidence that comes with age or what, but I actually have friends that look better as they gotten older! Age is certainly what you make of it; you can’t do anything about getting older, but I don’t think you ever officially have to be “old”.
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  • Jennifer - Sorry, Cupcake, but I can see how having a twentysomething point out to a fortysomething colleague that she is “is getting older,” could be taken as insensitive and/or rude. Just because something is “true” does not mean that we need to blurt it out, particularly in the social context you described.
    While I am sure you meant no offense at all, the fact remains that you are not speaking from personal experience, as you have not yet reached this point in life. There were a lot of things you could have said to make this woman feel good and still be truthful.
    Your love and admiration for various elders is kind of missing the point. As we age, women are beset by pervasive messages that we are no longer good enough–that we have to look young in order to matter. I am sure you can understand this intellectually, but you cannot understand how it feels personally because you have not yet reached that stage in life. I was not fearful of aging in my 20s, either, and I do what I can not to fear it now that I’ve reached my mid 40s, but sometimes one’s strength falters in the face of our youth-obsessed culture.
    Next time you are in such a situation, where a woman far older than yourself is expressing a momentary dip in self esteem due to aging, a simple, heartfelt comment like, “I think you are beautiful,” will suffice.
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  • Karen - I think that age is just a number but it is amazing how people will try to define you by your age.
    Why are women concerned about aging? Look at the newsstand. See the ages of women represented in magazines geared toward fashion or men’s magazines (not just porn but even GQ or Men’s Health.)
    Or better yet, head over to Match.com. Look at the desired age ranges for partners listed on men’s profiles. Most are specifying women who are ten to 20 years younger than they are.
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  • Ana - I’m pretty much with you on this one, Sunni. I remember friends at school saying over dramatic things like “oh, I’ll be dead by the time I’m thirty”. In my twenties, I looked forward to opening a restaurant in my forties. My fortieth birthday was a while ago now and it didn’t bother me one bit. In fact, I keep forgetting how old I am (is that a sign of old age?).
    Ageing does have a lot to do with what is going on in your head, and the examples that people around you set. I agree with Jennifer that the media does not support ‘older’ (ie. over 30) women, and in fact I believe it actively discriminates against them (for example by implying that they NEED wrinkle cream because they ARE wrinkled, or they NEED hair dye because they ARE going grey), but it’s how you deal with this that is the important bit. If someone is foolish enough to believe what the adverts say, well, perhaps they need to inform themselves about how manipulative the media is and think a bit more about life in general.
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  • Belly - I totally agree. I think, though, that the fear a lot of us feel of aging is a combination of fear of change (not recognizing yourself in the mirror, having fewer opportunities etc) and fear of becoming closer to death. Ans those are serious issues we all deal with.
    However, I hate it when people say “you’ll understand when you’re ___”. I got some of those in various stages in life (like before I became a mom) and you know what? I think people are clever enough to understand what they haven’t experienced yet if you just try and explain. It’s such an excuse for not giving a strong ground to your opinion. (so yeah, I’m with you.)
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  • Meg - You certainly didn’t mean for your comment to be hurtful but I can see where it was. After all,the son’s comment was NOT meant to be a compliment. It would have been nice if you had told what you’ve said here — that she looked great and didn’t need a makeover.
    I don’t think anyone can know how they are going to feel about getting older until they get there. Look how many women are vibrant and happy into their 80’s and how some women get that awful plastic surgery in their 40’s.
    Probably in their mid to late 40’s women really start to face the issue of aging. (I have to laugh at the commercials with 37-year old women worrying about their wrinkles.) As was stated previously, you really do become invisible to men. After 50, if you get laid off, good luck getting a new job.
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  • Zoe - I’m with Karen – I think a lot of has to do with the media forever focussing on how to look ‘young’ and nearly every advert you see these days for beauty products carries the message that if you use said product you will look young – and of course what goes unsaid is that if you look young everything else will be ok. I have no problem at all with people wanting to look the best they can – who doesn’t? but the force feeding by the media of youthful images undoubtedly makes people feel that ageing is bad and as for the magazine articles suggesting that looking good at 40 or 50 is possible only with extensive cosmetic surgery – don’t get me started. For me, as a mother to three young children, it is more about bringing them up to appreciate and respect people of whatever age and however they look rather than trying to look like their older sister…
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  • Nikole - I went to a graduation ceremony over the weekend and while waiting with a friend for her mother someone inquired if I was her mother. I was quite shocked but when I looked back at the pictures I realised I did look that much older; I’m 25 and that friend is only a year or two younger than i am.
    Apart of me is secretly happy I look older because I have never looked my age based on what ppl tell me- it’s always younger. This particular one though was due to my recent change in hair colour. Was I scrambling to change my hair again? No. As far as I’m concerned I have an idea of what i will look like in my 30’s and it ain’t bad
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  • mjb - I tend to complain about working with all men, but these posts remind me that working with all women is no picnic either! A good mix helps wherever you are.
    My husband’s grandmother hates being photographed because of how she looks now, but I hope I always remember what my mom told me when I was an awkward teenager – that it’s an honor that someone wants to remember you.
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  • SueMarie - Mortality sucks and aging can be hard. I’m 48, but frequently forget my age and have to figure it out starting from my birth year. I can’t believe I’m almost 50 – I feel like I did in my twenties and back then 50-year-olds were, you know, old. Also, now 50 is considered to be younger than it used to be – for an example, watch Anne Bancroft in The Graduate and compare to a forty-something character in a movie today. I look young for my age and that makes me happy, but then that makes me feel like I shouldn’t care, but I do — it’s hard to say goodbye to your young self. There is an invisibility that happens as you age and that can be hard, too. Finally, I agree with Jennifer. You can be truthful (though you don’t always have to be) and tactful. Interesting topic.
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  • Laurel - Age is relative. I went grey when I had the twins; I was only 23. Just turned 42, and I’m really not seeing much about me that’s different, as far as looks go. But I could be wrong about that.
    what is old now, anyway?
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  • Uta - Well, I was never afraid of getting older, and I never found ageing unattractive, yet here I am having quite the mid-life crisis at 40. What I didn’t know then: That I wouldn’t feel different than in my 20s, that I’d feel like a 20-something suddenly thrown into someone’s 40 year old life (and body)! That I’d find myself at an “established” age while still feeling I might want to switch careers, move to Rio, and whatnotelse, only that the time to do things (and decide what to do!) has suddenly shrunk by half. I’m happy with my adult life so far, but I can’t believe it’s taken 20 years already, and in another 20 I’ll be 60! The looks part, well I’m not keen on that, but hey we can sew to make up for our ageing looks with beautiful clothes. I just don’t like that the mirror reminds me that yes, I’m really 40.
    I think you are absolutely right Sunni that the solution is to keep busy filling life with happy stuff (like children in my case, or hopefully grandkids later) and accept what’s inevitable.
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  • Nicole - It seems like you haven’t given much thought to the fact that the transition to being old, with it’s weird second puberty action, might not be as stately and serene as just being 80 and having had 40 years to adjust to being old.
    Our culture right now is particularly brutal to women in their 40’s and 50’s, in a way that really wasn’t the case 50 years ago.
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  • Sue - Old is 20 plus your age unless your 16 or younger then everyone older than you is old. At 56 I still believe I have choices and I thing that is what makes people feel young.
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  • Sam - I’m 35 and am having an extraordinarily difficult time coming to terms with my age.
    And this is entirely based on issues of fertility.
    There are some aspects to aging that are fraught with heartache.
    There’s so much to be had from grandparent-grandchild relationships but unfortunately that’s a relationship some people won’t get to experience.
    (I have my grandparents and I love them dearly so I’m thankful that I’ve had the joy of experiencing being a beloved granddaughter.)
    However, for me, aging doesn’t have the same romance to it that you describe. My aging process is going to be without children or grandchildren around me, and that’s a lonely thought.
    Sam
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  • Gail - I once had a job “creating positive images of older people”. I was just 30 at the time and really didn’t understand what I was doing. I’m now coming up to 52, fortunately still look quite young, exercise, have a decent sex life etc etc. Ageing is difficult for a woman, yet somehow you embrace your wrinkles and extra lumps and get on with life. For me ageing has moved on from a physical transition to a lifestyle transition as my daughters leave school, home.
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  • www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawlCEKeyreXrGhckXfMKcKRNVwx3Dgtgazc - I never worried about aging but did notice that each person equated a different number to what “old” meant to them.
    “Old” never reached me until 60. It reached me through others eyes; I became invisible and less valued as a thinking, capable, interesting person by the general public. I would like to think that I never overlooked an older person as I have been. That would be a lie. But I also know that I am not unusual. It is done unconsciously. It’s just not something that I expected to happen to me.
    The biggest surprise for me is that I don’t feel or think “old” like I thought I would. Mostly I feel as though I am maybe 30 and live my life as though I am that age. Then I look in the mirror or run into an old friend that I haven’t seen for awhile. Holy cow!!
    I hate being told I look tired or mad. I hate making financial decisions based on when I plan on dieing! Just wasn’t expecting that!
    There are many things in life that you can surmise what it would feel/be like. But actually having the experience can be more profound/different than what you imagined. Saying that “you will know when you are older” just means that when young we felt exactly as you do at your age and ended up surprised. Just know that it is not a dismissal of you but more of not having the words to express completely.
    I am 62, retired, single mom of 3 (40 yr old son, 39 yr old daughter and 19 yr old son….oops!), grandmother of 8, and budding entrepreneur.
    I second Uta’s comment. She says it very well.
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  • Robin - Very interesting post and many interesting comments. I felt myself nodding in agreement as I read each one. There is a big bag of mixed feelings to deal with as we age. I am glad I am getting the chance to do it. It soothes me to realize that I had a wonderful time in my teens, my twenties, my thirties and my forties. Each decade had its charm. Now in my 50’s, I am fortunate to have very good health, employment, loved ones and creative outlets. I steer clear of beauty & fashion magazines. Advertising does not have our best interests at heart! Advertisers want us to feel inferior so we will spend money on stuff. If I focus on all the good things, I really enjoy my time. I am glad it’s likely that I still have many years left. I am keenly aware that there is a finite end to this wonderful life.
    Oops, all I did was talk about me. As far as your co-worker? Her response makes it sound like she felt a little tender. I am sure you will think of the right thing to say to her when the time is right. It is lovely to have friends of all ages at work.
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  • Tasia - I’m not sure what I would have said in that situation… Beauty has a lot to do with confidence, even though we see older women as beautiful, if she doesn’t it will show! And perhaps it’s not so much ‘make me look younger’ as it is ‘spend a little time and money to feel better about myself.’
    As for aging, I’m 28 and am starting to get grey hair (Ahh! secret’s out!) with mixed feelings about it. On one hand, I want to celebrate it as a sign of being older and smarter – and on the other, I want to hide it so it doesn’t look like I don’t care about my appearance. It’s hard to win, either way!
    That being said, I’m not afraid of getting older, in that some of my friends are like ‘oh no I’m almost thirty!’ I’m excited to be thirty (and forty and so on), I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
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  • Laura - I’m currently torn about my gray too Tasia- I have had grays since my twenties and I’ve let it be and colored it, and the difference when it’s colored is marked. But I still sort of like it, and since I’ve had them prematurely the gray doesn’t signify age in my mind, but I have to admit it looks older in my eyes.
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  • Cassandra - I am only 28 too but I have the very first signs of wrinkles appearing on my forehead and I think I understand both your point of view (one I used to/still share) and my mum’s point of view (I want to look younger, not my actual age!).
    Simply put, I want to look like what I did at 25, not 30 with a few wrinkles coming out. That’s because I don’t feel more knowledgeable than I did at 25 and I certainly don’t feel like I’m where I wanted to be approaching 30. Therefore my face doesn’t reflect how I feel inside.
    Now the women you work with probably don’t want to look 25, but I’ll be they’d be happy to look how they looked just 5 years ago – which is probably how they still think about themselves unless they’ve gone through some pretty major changes.
    I don’t think women worry about what they look like when they are achieving meaningful things with their lives (never spoken to a new mother or a new bride for example who worried about new wrinkles) but when we’re *not* doing anything major with our time it’s easy to feel that our bodies are showing the time when we have nothing of meaning to explain it.
    There is no good reply to that kind of situation. But I once read that you should give 3 compliments each day to make yourself and the people around you happier. And once you start doing it it’s not even a chore – you discover that you do think complimentary things about people all the time (“man, I wish I could pull off a tight red dress like that!”) but we tend to keep them to ourselves.
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  • ann - I agree with Jennifer’s comment as well. Always best to err on the side of sensitivity and if you don’t feel like mustering up a compliment, if it feels phony to you, you could stay quiet.
    Aging IS hard, and if you have a cheerful attitude the whole time for the next few decades, with no lapses, that would be rare.
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  • SueMarie - I want to add one more comment. I think “oh you’ll understand once you get older/buy a house/have kids/whatever” are inappropriate and rather presumptuous and as a mother I consciously never say such things to my daughter. On the flip side, it’s just not very meaningful to say “oh I’ll never xxx when I get older/buy a house/have kids/etc” because again, you just don’t know. We can plan and anticipate, but we just don’t know.
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  • Kristel - I like who I am at 40+. This is the best version of me ever. I think I was my most attractive at the ages of 33-40. I didn’t look like a baby, I looked like a woman. I have cheek bones now that the ‘baby’ fat is gone. I know what I like, I know what I want. I think I am successful, attractive, intelligent, and sexy. If someone would have told me I would have turned out this great at 20 I would not have believed them. You face death when you pass 40. When you’re younger its still a myth. It’s easy to believe when you are 20 something that being young and attractive is all it takes to find love and happiness. At 40 you know it’s a lie. If aging is bothering you at thirty, get cracking and work on your life from the inside out or 40 will be terrifying. I have something now that I never had at 20, I am comfortable in my own skin. There is one thing you can look forward to around 35 and forward…..the best sex ever.
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  • Stfsrh - I stopped counting my age after I turned 29. I have to count back from birth to know how old I am at the present. I think aging is not something you think about or do about. It happens like gravity or sun rising/setting. But yeah, when changes take place, we have to, although reluctantly, cope with it.
    I strive to do as much as I can and to not waste time because it’s always feels good to look back and reflect on what I have done and than feel proud about having done them all. Really, the only way to experience more things is by getting older and live longer.
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  • Ms M - I am in my mid-40s and transitioning to “mature”. I did not feel this way at 42 or even 44. I do feel that sense of surprise at the number of new wrinkles and gray hairs that are cropping up each day. I don’t find it charming or romantic at all, but I am slowly coming to terms with it.
    I have younger sisters and friends who are surprised (and often critical) at my reluctance to wear certain fashions, stay up late, and do other things that I might have done 5-10 years ago. They don’t get it, and I don’t expect them to, because I didn’t, at their age.
    Coming to terms with age doesn’t mean I’m not going to buy wrinkle creams. I’ve found that they DO make a difference, if you actually have wrinkles. And I’m not going to stop dyeing my hair, at least not until I feel that it is time. Why look older than I have to?
    But I’m also at the point where I can no longer pretend that I’m younger. Everyone, I think, gets to the point where they have to “cross over” into life as a “mature” person. And I’ve found that the transition is more complicated than it looked when I was still considered a “young person.”
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  • Heds - I think as time goes by people generally think differently about what age is “old” and how you “should look” – well seriously who cares. I remember my nan when she was in her 60’s, she wore her hair in a tight perm like an old lady with one of those nylon dresses with the matching belt, yes the trend of the time but not an attractive look, it was just the style of the times and everyone looked the same. Now my mum is the same age and she looks completely different, she always looks amazing, well dressed and happy, the two looks are worlds apart, yet the age the same. My mother widowed at the age of 36, too young and near to my age now. She never let herself be dragged down to feeling past it and is enjoying her life 10 times more than she was in her 40’s. Happily re-married, retired and travelling the world in their own way.
    I think it’s more a matter of self confidence than ageing and how you approach life, if you think you are old generally then that’s the way life takes you. Relax, enjoy life and who cares how old you are, be confident in your clothes and your skin! If I look at a photo of myself 10 years ago I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference to one taken today, but in my head and heart I’m a completely different person and I wouldn’t go back to my early 20’s if you paid me. I’m looking forward to my life ahead, I’m not a hugely self-confident person and I know that this will be my downfall if I let it in the years to come. As for job’s, well my parter is 33 and has been unemployed for 4/5mths – is this because of his age? He’s been told amongst other things it’s lack of experience, hmm too young?
    I’m also not one for mincing my worlds and often say it how it is. But most of us women do need do need a confidence boost and really what better excuse for shopping!
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  • carol - Live, Love, Laugh, and be Happy…..that’s all we ever have to know at any age………..
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I have missed so many Stitching Spotlights, I don’t even know where to begin, so let’s just start over. Right? Right. It’s November. NOVEMBER! You know what that means right? Leaves falling, hot drinks, stocking-ed feet and fall fashion, of course. I love this time of year. The colors are so pungent, you can almost taste them.

kokuryu from Burda Style

Have you visited this girl’s website? She makes the sweetest things, takes the sweetest photos and stitches like a mad woman. And look at this Jackie O inspired dress. I saw this pattern on Burda Style awhile back, one of the new patterns from the Burda Mag that you can download. I think I need one of these. The color, oh the color she’s used is just superb!

I bought this delightful book not too long ago. Mr. Coffin definitely knows how to write a sewing book that will peak your interest. He’s got shirtmaking down to an art and it’s all put so eloquently. Love it. Highly recommend. And now I think I need his trouser making book. And I need to get with it and put together that pants sew-a-long. Almost there.

Want to get your hands on pin hem marker? Well Ms. Gertie posted a link to these here that seem to be reproductions of the one I have. There are several vintage ones on etsy, however you may find that they are not quite high enough to give you the skirt length you desire. This one from B Black and Son’s could definitely give you a mini length or below the knee length. Have a look. Put it on your wishlist for Christmas as these are definitely a gift worth getting. Then you can have your own contraption in action, like me.

Happy Friday Everyone! I’m up to my ears in velvet dust from the boyfriend’s jacket. It’s looking rather lovely though, if I do say so myself. I’ve got a few sneak peeks planned for next week. Have a lovely weekend!

  • Ashley - Hmmm….now that you mention it, I realize I’ve never made a pants, love the idea of a sew-a-long!
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  • A Sewn Wardrobe - I just ordered the David Coffin book Wednesday! My husband has been chomping at the bit for a bespoke shirt. I may wait to see how your mens shirt turns out first.
    I would do a pants sew-a-long. How about in January once all of the holiday madness is over?
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  • Tasia - I have the shirtmaking book out from the library right now! I love his writing style, so opinionated on what he likes and doesn’t like. It will come in handy when I (finally) make up Mr Sewaholic’s shirt!
    I’d maybe join a pants sew-along, I rarely wear pants because they’re so unflattering off-the-rack, and yet I haven’t made a pair either! Either way I’d love to read along as you lead the sew-along :)
    Happy Friday and hope the boyfriend jacket is coming along well!
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  • Angie - Yay do s pants sew-a-long!! Im desperate to make some but terrified to try!
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  • Ban Clothing - I never tackle pants mostly because it’s so important for them to fit amazingly. If I have an amazing pair the last thing I want to do is take them apart to use them as a pattern. If you do a sew along I might finally tackle the unknown.
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  • Skirts - I’m not very good in stitching. But the style looks really cool and i’m completely inspired with it.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Th7hEvqX7CU I’m gonna get one of the copies of the book. I’m not good with pants. Good with shirts and skirts.
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I had mentioned that I waited 3 weeks to hem up my circle skirt. That was due to getting this little nifty vintage notion via Ebay. Before I purchased this one, I went ahead and purchased one of those Dritz hem markers from my local fabric store. Um….it was more than disappointing. When I got it home from the store, I promptly took it out of the package, poured the powder into that spray thing and started squirting some pants I had on. The powder was white, mind you, and my pants were dark grey. And yet, I could barely see the chalk line. Not to mention, the more I started looking at the actual marker tower I noticed that indeed, the tower was crooked. Next day, took it back. Got a full refund, even though I had opened it. So sad really. They just don’t make sewing notions like they used to.

After that fiasco, I started looking around online at some vintage hem markers. I found some that were the chalk spray type, but decided that I didn’t want to go that route. Then I saw a host of these pin markers on Etsy. I thought, “Why not?” Lurked around a little more and found this one for mini-skirts on Ebay, not that I’m going to make a mini, but you never know right? But now it’s mine! And it came in the original box!

So what makes these contraptions so great? Let’s start at the beginning, shall we. For one thing, these have metal and wood parts. Enough said there. You have the base, which usually comes with a pincushion (how very handy, if I say so myself). Then you have the ruler which is attached with a screw to the base. Next you have the actual metal pinmarker. This part slides over the ruler and is tightened or loosened with a wingnut screw. I used mine on my Linda-Hop Skirt. First, I tried on my skirt and marked it where I wanted the hem to be. Next, I took off the skirt and put it on Ms. P, adjusted the pinmarker to the height of the pin I marked the skirt hem at and Voila! started marking my skirt all the way around by sandwiching the skirt fabric between the marker and the ruler.

These things work really great for circle skirts. Really great. Not to mention they are so easy to use that if you didn’t have a dressform, you can get your significant other or a friend to mark your skirt for you. Seriously, they are THAT easy to use. AND, since the pin is pushed through the fabric at 4 different points (rather than the regular 2), it really doesn’t fall out. I always have that problem, you know, the pins falling out of the fabric while pinning things up, in the carpet, where I can’t find the darn pins. Won’t happen here. Promise.

Do you have one of these? You need one, if you don’t. Seriously, these are the COOLEST gadgets out there. Simply brilliant.

  • Myrna - These are the best of the hem markers. I really like mine. Enjoy.
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  • D@FrenchCollections - I WANT ONE NOW!! I’ve been disappointed with hem markers forever now I want one (especially since I have a circle skirt planned…). Thank you so much for this hint! By the way, your pictures always look so nice, what camera do you use?
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  • Angie - Wow that is pretty much the coolest thing ever! Now I must hit up ebay asap!
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  • Angela - How cool is that!! Thanks for sharing!
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  • Seemane (aka Claire) - Oh dear me… I feel another frantic eBay/Etsy search in my immediate future LOL!
    That looks so cool – plus I’m luvin’ the animation of it in action v. cute :)
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  • lap - “Contraption in Action” is the greatest blog subject title ever. Please consider making it recurring.
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  • Patty - Hmmmm…. take one ruler, a handmade pinchusion and some ingeniuousness… I’m seeing another cupcake goddess product offering!
    Really? could a partner do it? I’m curious about these sorts of things, but don’t have a dress form and dont’ think Mr. Bug would be up for the job!
    Also, you win the award for best tutorial animation ever!
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  • Darci - I HAD one of those and didn’t know what to do with it! I’m sure I made someone at Goodwill REALLY happy that day… crumb!!
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  • melissa - That’s really cool! I’ve never seen that kind before, only the crappy powder kind. Thanks for walking us through how it works!
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  • Samantha - I’m so glad I stumbled onto your site. :)
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  • A Sewn Wardrobe - A contraption is the perfect description for this! How funky!
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  • Ana - Oh wow, I thought those things weren’t available any more. My mum has one and I have several childhood memories of standing precariously on a stool while she pinned up hems on various dresses and skirts. You can’t beat them!
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  • Stephanie - Like the contraption, but o.m.g. that animation graphic rocks my world!
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  • Tasia - What a cool tool! (Haha, that rhymes…) That’s such a great item to have in your collection, and now you’ll have perfectly marked hems on all your circle skirts. I love the animated photo, how cool is that?
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  • Tamsin - That is amazing! what a simple idea and you little video is fab too!
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  • Corvus - That looks all sorts of useful!
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  • Alexandra - Oh hey, I have one of those. Picked it up in a thrift store. I didn’t realize that contraption was for pins!
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  • Gail - I needed one of these so badly on my last project.
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  • Gertie - I have one of these but it’s super short! It only goes up to 20″. It’s from the 50s when tea length was all the rage. I love yours does mini skirts! How mod!
    I just saw that they sell them new on this website. I’ve been meaning to order one for a while now.
    http://www.bblackandsons.com/pin-skirt-marker-p-539.html
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  • kaitui_kiwi - I remember our next door neighbour came over to hem my school skirts and she had one of these. I thought it was so cool :) I used the similar attachment on my dress dummy just recently and produced a perfect hem, I was so pleased :)
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Still working on my boyfriend’s jacket, but decided to finish a project I started a few weeks ago. I found myself being more and more drawn to making a skirt that didn’t require alot of fitting and was easy to wear. Not to mention with cold weather just around the corner, I was ready for something warm and Fall looking. And plaid. Mustard-y plaid. I’ve had this fabric stashed away since last year when I bought it intending to make….oh yeah, I can’t even remember now. 2 yards at $36 per yard = a very expensive circle skirt. I didn’t want to do anything cheap on this skirt either. So I lined the thing in bright banana yellow silk charmeuse too.  That only took $60. So let’s see, just for the fabric here, I’ve already spent $132. And if you haven’t fainted yet Mr. S, you’re on cue now. Oh dear! Needless to say, this thing is simply gorgeous. And by darn, if you don’t agree…..I’m not quite sure what I’ll do but it will be something.

It’s only fitting that I bring you this gorgeous creation after a little draught of sorts here in cupcake goddess land. I haven’t made a single garment since August. So it is with giddy excitement and pleasure I present, The Linda-Hop Skirt. Made from the Linda pattern on Burda Style no less. Easy peasy pattern with loads of potential for fun details. Since this was such an easy pattern, I decided to tackle this plaid double faced wool. It was simply dreamy to work with. And this stuff is extra thick and extra beautiful. And I matched up the plaids rather well I think considering this is my first time working with plaids. The plaid at the zipper just wouldn’t work for some reason, but its only off a slight bit in that one area, so there. I’ll live, I guess. Sigh….

The skirt went together quite smoothly. Easy fit, easy sew. I let the thing hang for about 3 weeks. And surprisingly, I didn’t know that you had to let circle skirts hang. Thank goodness I did an update on my facebook page and thank goodness there were some great stitcher’s watching over me giving me a few words of sound advice. So, if you didn’t know, it’s official, you have to let a circle skirt hang, at least overnight, before hemming it. This is perfectly sensible, because the seamed sides (my front and back here) are cut on the bias. Now, I don’t think I needed to let it hang for three weeks, originally I was planning to hang it for one, but then I decided that I wanted a vintage pin hem marker and it didn’t come for awhile. And I let it hang for that long because this fabric was not only thick, but rather tightly woven. It needed a real good stretch. So it got one.

I hemmed up the hem with horsehair braid. I follow Gertie’s advice and tutorial for this as she is an expert circle skirt maker. I didn’t have access to the type of horsehair braid that she uses. Mine was not as wide and I had to run a gathering stich along one edge. I just bought mine at Hancock’s. I love the finished product though. Oh my goodness! The hem looks so professional. And it gives the hem weight. I love it!

I gave it a lapped handpicked zipper with a vintage metal zipper. Could not be happier with the metal zipper. The skirt lining is finished with my favorite detail, lace. You might also be wondering why I’m wearing it with the seam in the front and back, as traditionally the pattern says it should be worn on the side. I had been looking at alot of mags for the inspiration for this skirt. The ones I liked best were plaid and had the plaids matched up perfectly and to show that off the seam was in the front. I loved this. Yeah. I can match my plaids. Thanks.

Other items of note:
Top – Just a sweater from Sear’s
Belt – Thrifted
Hose – Sear’s (yeah, they have really good tights this year. Just bought another pair that’s in houndstooth. And don’t forget to read my post on proper stocking care. If you want them to last, you have to put them in the freezer. HAVE. TO.)
Shoes – Crown Vintage

What do you think? Ever stitched a circle skirt? You probably should now, if you haven’t. I mean these things are the best things since….A-line skirts. Not only that, but you can twirl. And who doesn’t want a skirt that does that?

  • Patty - Yay! I have a circle skirt (well, dress) hanging right now! I also have a couple yards of purple/black/grey plaid flannel that I was considering for a full circle skirt as well – I love the lines on yours and am feeling the plaid even more!
    I like the seam on the center front for these kinds of skirts. It gives it a bit of interest and for some reason, my skirts lie/drape better when I wear the seams on the front/back rather than the sides. I think it has something to do with how I graded my circle skirt pattern up!
    Is there anything better than all the weight of the skirt, with the braid and then the lovely lining and lace? Yours is wonderful!
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  • Jennifer - LOVE LOVE LOVE! This is inspiring me to get up and sew one! I have a wool from Jo-ann’s that I would like to make one out of, but I don’t have enough yardage. I think I will have to go buy some more and recreate your look. However, I have never heard of this horsehair braid thing and must look it up!
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  • K-Line - OMG – I UTTERLY love this. I’ve been looking to make a skirt like this for a long while. If only Burda patterns weren’t so onerous with the pasting together of the pages…
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  • Uta - Gorgeous! I think you won’t regret the expense in the long run. I wear nothing as much as my wool skirts in the winter, the cost-per-wear is negligible!
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  • Peter - Gorgeous skirt. Great job!
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  • Maggie - That looks fantastic! I will have to put that pattern in my ever-growing lineup :)
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  • Sewing Princess - It’s really beautiful. I have never made a circle skirt as I feel it wouldn’t suit me…and would add too much bulk. Seeing it on you made me think. I love the details and the yellow hints
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  • Kristin P. - That skirt is so wonderful! I fell in love with it RIGHT AWAY! So, tights in the freezer? Hmmm, I guess I’ll have to do that.
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  • Laura - Fantastic! I especially love the lining being so cheerful. Here’s to sunny days in winter!
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  • Jane - It’s absolutely beautiful.
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  • Gertie - I’m in love! Great length, and I love the fabric and lining. And it’s beautifully made! Go you!
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  • petite josette - Your skirt is gorgeous, and I love the lining with the lace. I love the length of it too, it’s the perfect length for winter. I’ve been meaning to make a couple circle skirts like that, but haven’t found the right fabric yet.
    Congratulations again, and you were right to splurge on nice fabric, doesn’t it feel like it could be right out of an Anthropology store – except you made it !
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  • Tasia - Oooh it’s lovely! What a wonderful fall skirt. I absolutely love the bright yellow lining with the lace trim! This is a fantastic, keep-forever wardrobe piece. Stunning!
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  • liz - I love it! I have the linda skirt in my favs, but its so hard to tell what it looks like with the dark color burda makes it in. I’m going to have to make one myself soon, yours is such great inspiration. :)
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  • Shannon - I love a luscious plaid skirt and yours is just scrumptious!
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  • Alexandra - Now THAT’s a skirt.
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  • TanitIsis - So lovely. I will make myself a (regular wear) circle skirt one of these days, /sigh (so it can go and hang unworn like the rest of my skirts, I fear…)
    From my dance-circle-skirt days, hanging for weeks to months was often recommended, or soaking the skirt and hanging it to dry to speed up the process. Mind you, those were floor-length chiffon skirts from a minimum of 1.5 circles… there was a lot to hang out :)
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  • A Sewn Wardrobe - This is SO beautiful. I simply adore the fabric. You’re inspiring me to make a circle skirt soon!
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  • Kat - Wow, that is a fantastic skirt. The lining is super cute. I’m sure you’ll get a lot of wear out of it. It might just be cheaper in the long run that your other clothes. Love your blog.
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  • Alessa - I love the chevron your front seam creates. Also, I dig the bright, lacy underskirt. And the shoes…! My first sewing project, ever, was a circle skirt… though executed not half as professionally as yours, of course…
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  • Corinne - One of the nicest I hace seen,looks absolutely great on you!
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  • Kara - Beautiful! I like that you put the seam in the front to show off the matched plaids. It creates such a cool detail. And I love the punny name you gave it. 😀
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  • Kris - Such a stunning skirt! I love the attention to detail. :)
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  • Ruby Slippers - beautiful, little bit retro I really love circle skirts in heavier fabric, so nice to still look girly even when it’s freezing outside. I really like seeing what you have come up with, your not afraid to use a bit of colour or a print and having recently dyed my hair red I look to your colour choices often for ideas and inspiration :-)
    x Ruby Slippers
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  • lakaribane - I love circle skirts but I’ve never used horsehair. Bias tape, on the other hand…But I do understand the weight angle.
    And I went further in my bias myself. Made my aunt a lined, white on white windowpane pattern long circle skirt last summer and I used these tablecloth weights to speed up the process. I hear you can also do that by ironing in the direction of the bias(?) but my energy issues are, sadly, unresolved so I try to do things low tech.
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  • jayne - Ok Ok I promised myself I’d finish the pencil skirt first 😉 This circle skirt is wonderful to look at. I found them especially fun during the winter-trudging through snow, fun to wear with boots, easy to move in…I really like your extras ☞ the lace edged silk slip with horsehair braid ! never heard of it but that’s why I read your blog. What better way to treat myself? Fun sewing with new ideas and fun to wear….ok ok I’ll finish the pencil skirt…:D
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  • Angela - It’s beautiful!! I love how you have it styled, too!!
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  • Christine - Gorgeous!!! And I love the plaid color. I’m obsessed with plaid so I’m pretty jealous about this creation. Looks great!
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  • tokie - Love this.
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  • Eilane - Linda saia, absolutamente vale o investimento.
    Abraços
    Eilane – Brasil
    Beautiful skirt, absolutely worth the investment.
    Hugs
    Eilane – Brazil
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  • Amanda S. - (I missed this post somehow.) It’s a super pretty skirt! Love the fabrics!
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  • juebejue - thanks for the inspiration! i just bought some fabric and am gonna make one for myself this week!
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  • denise calhoun - Gorgeous. The plaids match and everything. I am in awe!
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  • Mezzocouture.wordpress.com - Now THIS is a beautiful skirt. Love the plaid. Love the circle. LOVE the lining and lace! Beautiful. Just beautiful!
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Well, you’d better run right over to Patty, The Snug Bug’s blog and enter to win one, because she’s giving away one of my colorful little Tailor’s Hams. It’s the first time this has ever happened, at least with hams anyway. It’s rather monumental if you ask me. And don’t forget to check out the interview she held with me about my shop. I haven’t really talked about the shop much, but I finally got a chance to. Gush.

Thanks Patty! Happy Halloween to everyone! Hip Hip Hooray! Now go and fight to win your HAM!

  • Erika - I love my ham! but i’m an idiot and didn’t buy the matching seam roll when I had the chance!
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  • Kara - I love my ham, too! And my seam roll. Any plans to make ham/seam roll sets with coordinating pin cushions? I’d love to get a set for my mom for Christmas!
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  • Amanda - The ham and seam roll are so cute! Do you sell them individually too? I would’ve loved to have purchased a set, but I already have a boring ol’ ham. Your idea of having a shop of handmade sewing notions is fantastic! Looking forward to your future creations.
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  • Karen in VA - I agree with Kara, the 3 piece coordinating set would be awesome!! I’d buy it in a heartbeat for myself, esp. if the set were purple….love your blog and your shop…go for your dream!!!
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