Saturday, June 15, 2013

Interview: Heather of Closet Case Files

Before I leave you to this little tête-à-tête, I just wanted to thank you all SO MUCH for all of your kind comments on my Bombshell Swimsuit post and for all the links to European shops you are sharing. You guys are the best, as usual.
I also wanted to spend a word to defend my boyfriend, as I realize I made it sound worse than it actually went. I pushed him to give me a honest opinion on a full-figure swimsuit picture and he basically told me it wasn't my best look. That's it. Not the best thing to hear from your sweet half, but he wasn't mean to me at all. Still, it was heart warming to see how defensive you were of me :D

Now, read on if you want to more a bit more about Heather and her amazing new pattern.


For those who are not familiar with your blog, Closet Case Files, can you tell us something about yourself? How long have you been sewing?
In my real life, I am a commercial interior designer working for a small firm (right now I am re-developing the design concept for a Canadian coffee chain). I’ve been in Montreal for 10 years, and am so blessed and thrilled to be living in this free-spirited, laissez faire, creative community.

Closet Case Files started 2 years ago when I made the decision to stop buying new clothes. I’ve always been totally obsessed with fashion and as result had a wee bit of a shopping addiction (read: major credit card debt); I made a resolution to only thrift or learn to make any new clothing. I quickly discovered the sewing blog community and was utterly blown away by what everyone was up to. My blog quickly shifted from a fashion/”outfit of the day” type of thing to become entirely sewing focused; it became a way for me to monitor and share my progress as I learned to sew.

I made my first dress around this time 2 years ago and with the exception of a few items here or there, have pretty much stopped buying clothes at all. I don’t even thrift much anymore unless I’m looking for vintage fabric, patterns or things to refashion. I’m incredibly lucky that I get to be creative from 9-5, but I can’t believe how incredibly validating, life-affirming, and confidence boosting learning to sew has been! I have a tendency to be hyperbolic, but I think learning to sew was the best thing I’ve ever done.


The Bombshell Swimsuit pattern came from a bathing suit you made for yourself. How did you begin sewing swimwear for yourself in the first place?
I’ve always had a thing for vintage 50’s swimsuits. I have a drawer full that look great on but are a nightmare wet because they’re made of stretch cotton or weird vintage knits. Then, I fell in love with these Norma Kamali swimsuits I saw on the cover of a Vanity Fair magazine (featuring the Desperate Housewives of all people). This was before I learned to sew, and I had a seamstress make me a replica a few years ago. When it started to really fall apart, last summer I decided to figure out how to recreate the style.

Studying the numerous swimsuits I had and a number of vintage patterns, I drafted a suit that fulfilled what I was looking for: a modest but flattering silhouette, ruched sides, and a ruched, low cut seat that completely encased the bum (anyone who has followed my blog for a while knows how much I LOATHE what happens to full-bootyed ladies when you wear a high cut suit. Quad cheek horror).

It was a pretty ambitious project for someone with relatively little sewing experience, but I was helped tremendously by Dixie DIY who was hosting a swimsuit sewalong at the time (She is my swimwear Yoda). Following her advice, I made a maillot and a high waist bikini last summer. The reaction from readers surprised me – women REALLY wanted the pattern. I realized there was a huge demand for this kind of modest, sexy, vintage suit so I taught myself how to grade patterns this spring in order to release it in time for beach season.

Heather's original swimsuit
Who do you recommend the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern to?
I think this is a universally flattering swimsuit. I’ve seen it on every shape of body, and everyone looks so good wearing the Bombshell my heart swells about 4 sizes when I think of it. Personally, I’m fighting the tyranny of the bikini. I have nothing but love for those of us who can pull one off, but I suspect the majority of us just feel exposed and uncomfortable in the damn things. I released this swimsuit for every woman who dreads swimsuit shopping, who avoids situations where they need to wear one, and who is filled with self-doubt and self-loathing on the beach, when they should be frolicking in the sunshine like summer nymphs. Life is too short to hate your body. It’s the only one we’ve got – why not wear something that makes you feel beautiful?

How was the process of developing a pattern for the first time?
Can I swear on your blog? Imagine all of the swear words in all of the languages and then scream them into a megaphone. It was… intense. Because I had to move this winter, I got a late start and only gave myself 8 weeks to get it ready. Since I work full-time, I basically dedicated every spare moment to tweaking the pattern, learning to grade, slaving over instructions. Thankfully, I have a technical background in design, so it wasn’t THAT much of a stretch to apply those skills to pattern making. Illustrator was a godsend once I figured out how to use it.

What really made the whole process so much easier and valuable was the input I got from my pattern testers. I sent a beta version to a number of ladies, women whose style I admired and who I would fly great distances to hang out with. Their insight, input, encouragement and love really pushed me to finish it and get it out there. I say it all the time, but our community is so f*cking amazing it blows my mind on a daily basis. The women (and Peter) I have had the great pleasure to meet and interact with honestly confirms my faith in the inherent goodness, creativity and potential of humans. You guys are the best.

Heather's inspiration
Do you plan to release other patterns?
This is a toughy. I honestly started this whole process with zero intentions to release another pattern. I really just wanted to get the Bombshell out there because there was a serious hole in the pattern market and women were clamoring for it. However, I learned so much, and got such overwhelmingly positive feedback, that I may release another. If so, it would probably be another swimsuit. I think there are so many gifted indie pattern designers doing regular apparel that it might be nice to stay in a little beach niche. But we’ll see. Anything is possible. Especially now that I’ve mastered Illustrator.


And while I cross my fingers for Heather to release a retro bikini pattern, guess what? She is giving away one copy of the Bombshell Swimsuit pattern to one of my readers.
In order to win, you just need to leave a comment below
Please leave an email address so I can get in touch with you (you need to write it in the comment, because I cannot access the address you leave in the Disqus form).
The winner will be selected randomly.

Good luck!

87 comments:

  1. I'm so glad she decided to close that gap in the sewing pattern market - i'm even gladder though that I can stop shopping for swimsuits and feeling body shame in the fitting rooms - cathywu@gmail.com

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  2. this pattern looks fantastic! thanks for the chance to win!
    smurfettmm [at] yahoo [dot] com

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  3. Justine/sewcountrychickJune 15, 2013 at 4:29 PM

    Please, please pick me.I love it and will love making it! I have a gold metallic one in mind.

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  4. It looks fantastic, hope to win

    Patricia.vroman(@)gmail.com

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  5. I've seen a few versions of this swimsuit made recently and it's true that it looks mega flattering for all shapes. Congrats! hanfrench@yahoo.co.uk

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  6. I love this interview! And yay for seeing gorgeous renditions of the Bombshell all over the interwebs!


    wbkpd1@gmail.com

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  7. This swimsuit looks amazing! Finally a bathing suit that embraces with grace.

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  8. great interview! heather is one of my favorite bloggers, and i'm so happy she made that pattern. i've already bought it, and some lycra and elastics are on their way to me, eeek! (so don't count me in for the giveaway, someone else will be happier to win!)

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  9. Great to learn more about Heather and the background to the swimsuit pattern. Please accept my entry to the giveaway - clippedcurves@gmail.com

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  10. I fell in love with Heather's blog and style the moment I discovered it!I admire her for releasing a pattern in such short time period!When I first saw the Bombshell my heart dropped!After seeing all the different makes out there I couldn't believe a swimsuit could look so good in EVERYONE!Great interview!
    thewardrobeproject.email@gmail.com

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  11. I absolutely love the bombshell, it's my idea of the perfect swimsuit and what Heather stays about body shape etc really strikes a chord. Nice work!

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  12. I'm signing up for all these bombshell suit giveaways... but I don't know if I can wait much longer to get my hands on this one! I happened upon some decent pink floral swim fabric at Joann's yesterday, and now I'm pumped to start!

    I'm Claire (dot] quimby -at- gmail

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  13. Love the swimsuit!! Love the interview ...
    Melanie (hippolicious@hotmail.com)

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  14. Ooooh.... I can't wait to see that.

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  15. Love the story behind the pattern! And I also need some confidence for taking pics of my body. Yes, I am ashamed of it. And seeing pics with me makes me feel terrible. So please, can I have that pattern? I would be very comfortable in this type of swimsuit this summer.
    maryallhandmade at gmail dot com

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  16. I sooo want to make both versions of this swimsuit! It's adorable. Thanks for the interview, too. I enjoyed reading about the person behind this fabulous pattern!

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  17. I would love to win this pattern. Great interview. I hope Heather does continue to develop great bathing suit patterns. crystalamundson(at)att(dot)net

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  18. Great interview! I can't believe you managed to get this pattern done in such a short time frame while working full time. You're incredible! Anyway, I'd love a chance to win the pattern :) bennomusik at gmail dot com.

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  19. Its so nice to hear the inspiration behind peoples creations. Thanks

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  20. I loved hearing the story behind the pattern and I would equally enjoy getting my hands on a copy!!!!
    The.Jeanne.bean@gmail.com

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  21. Great post ;) shn@eucnvs.dk

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  22. Great interview! I like that she was able to see a need for amazing indie-designed swimwear and went for it! Would definitely enjoy making this pattern up for the summer :) e-mail - thequirkypeach}at{gmail[.com]

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  23. Lovely interview! Thanks for the opportunity! Grosgraingreen@hotmail.co.uk

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  24. Woah! That is an amazing thing to do with no background and next to no time! I salute you Heather! That is a gorgeous suit and I'm trying so hard to que up another project in the never ending list but I'd be lying if I said I didn't want this pattern badly! Fingers crossed... vickikatemakes(at)btinternet(dot)com

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  25. Love the swimsuit and Heather!! I do hope she will release more swimwear patterns!



    cs19647 (AT) gmail (DOT) com

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  26. Love the comments about how many of us feel in bikinis! I feel that way, at least in the little patches of fabric they sell as bikinis in the stores :) tisiree(at)gmail(dot)com

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  27. I'm really looking forward to trying out this pattern! I'm with everyone else in hating shopping for bathers (or swimsuits or whatever you want to call them) and this pattern is the exact style I've been looking for in shops for about a year now. I'm so excited to give it a whirl, but I'll probably wait a few months.
    And I'd love to be entered in the giveaway! laura.h.sinclair@gmail.com Thanks so much!

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  28. Thanks for the interview... I'm really dying to try this pattern!

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  29. So interesting to hear that Heather has only been sewing for 2 years.
    I've never sewn a swimsuit but I'd love to give it a try and I know my husband would love me in this style (as well as me).
    aupofanouk@gmail.com

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  30. Ooh I'd love to win this pattern! Jen_rachel_wright@hotmail.com. X

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  31. It's such a great-looking swimsuit! I'd love to win the pattern. :) sissiri at hotmail dot com

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  33. What a great interview! i learned lots, and it made me love the pattern even more! (Seriously, i get so excited when people's hard work wins them fame and love overnight - and this pattern is taking the blogosphere by storm! Yay!)
    (I blog at http://crafting-a-rainbow.tumblr.com/ - If I'm lucky enough to win, maybe you could leave a comment there instead of emailing me? i don't like leaving my email for spambots to find!)

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  35. I really enjoyed reading this interview, it really resonated with me.
    I would love to win a copy of this pattern, I may once again grace the sand on my local beach once summer hits, with confidence, wearing such a flattering suit.
    Email:withfaith@hotmail.com

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  36. Oh! That would be so awesome to win the pattern! Andif I don't win it, I will just have to buy it!
    Nita
    Nitadances@gmail.com
    www.nitadances.com

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  37. I so love this swimsuit. I never thought I would ever have to make a swimsuit, but I have to make this one--there just aren't pretty swimsuits like this at a store, you know?
    Thanks, Anna and Heather!
    Ledys
    ledys(dot)e(dot)chemin(@)gmail(dot)com

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  38. I would love to win this giveaway. What an awesome interview. Heather is such an inspiration.
    cocoandlace@gmail.com

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  39. absolutely great!!!!! carufigueatgmaildotcom

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  40. Thank you so much for sharing this interview. The swimsuit is fantastic. Would love to win. pa7oma(at)yahoo(dot)com(dot)mx

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  41. Heather is right--the swimsuit is flattering for all. I would to create one.
    carrieanncarter@gmail.com

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  42. this pattern is da bomb! :D
    dumurclothilde[at@gmail[dot]com

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  43. This pattern is so gorgeous, and I'd do anything NOT to have to go through those painful hours in swimsuit shop dressing rooms again!! Thanks for the opportunity to win a freebie of this pattern!
    helene [at] 25reasons [dot] net

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  44. Absolutely divine! Looking for a gorgeous pattern for the cherry print swim fabric I brought a few months ago! Bridgybaby(at)hotmail(dot)com

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  45. Awesome pattern, would love to win it!
    mary_lou1 at hotmail dot com

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  46. I love this pattern and would be grateful for a chance to win. allstyleandallsubstance AT gmail

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  47. Heather Lou is such an incredibly inspiring person and this pattern is nothing less than awesome. I would looooove to make one myself!

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  48. Love love love that pattern ! please random, pick me : marionbera (at) gmail (dot) com

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  49. I really love that this is making its rounds on the blogs, and recieving so much love! It is a very cute pattern - well done Heather! (indigorchid [at] gmail [dot] com)

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  50. I would love to win this, even though its FREEZING down here in Aus at the moment, I feel as if I would need the rest of winter to conquer sewing a swimsuit... nicholson.jenni(at)gmail(dot)com

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  51. Great pattern! If I can look as great as everyone else who's made it so far I would love to make it. Thanks! Sewingprincess(at) Bombardone.com

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  52. I saw this pattern cropping up on the sewing blogosphere and thought it was cute and retro. Then I go to the style advice blog Inside Out Style and...50s style is recommended for my body shape. So I need this pattern. Please add my name, LOL!

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  53. hum, my email is lakaribane AT gmail.com

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  54. Calista FrocksfordJune 16, 2013 at 3:18 PM

    This pattern is so cute and it looks like it flatters everyone who tries it. I would love to win a copy! My email address is frocksford [at] gmail [dot] com.

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  55. Love this pattern and the idea behind it. Caracesarik@gmail

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  56. Ooh, I would love to sew up a bombshell! I just bought some lyrcra fabric and I've been debating what pattern to use! kmjones3@gmail

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  57. Thank you so much for this giveaway. I would really love to try this pattern, all the version I saw are so gorgeous!
    bsc.claire[at]gmail[dot]com

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  58. love the swimsuit. love to win

    deboeck.ellen[at]gmail[dot]com

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  59. Thanks for the opportunity! caroang75[at]gmail[dot]com

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  60. loving the pattern and all the love it is getting. merrittduncan at gmail dot com

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  61. This is a great pattern! It deserves all the positivity on the blogosphere that it's getting

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  62. I keep seeing versions of this all over the place and I'm loving them all! This such a lovely giveaway, thanks! hazel.berryman(at)hotmail.com

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  63. this is such an awesome swimsuit pattern! thank you! aruwien(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  64. what a great interview! it is inspiring to a relatively new seamstress like me to know that Heather went from 0 to pattern design in just 2 years. And I love the suit! mackclark311@gmail.com

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  65. What a great interview. To get insight into the hard work that Heather put in and how it was worth. That's encouraging to someone who is in the process of making her own pattern.

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  66. eleanorundeadgoatJune 17, 2013 at 4:48 AM

    In his defense, that swimsuit hasn't been very flattering to anyone--the horizontals hit at very wide areas of the body and the shadow looks like cameltoe. Its main success is in covering the body. You're young, wear a friggin' bikini!

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  67. Thanks for a wonderful interview! I'd followed the story on Heather's blog, but it's so nice reading it all at once and hearing about future possibilities. And, yes, please enter me into the giveaway. I'd love to win this pattern. amy.ahearta at gmail dot com. Thanks!

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  68. Yaay!!! I love Heather and am so proud of her for releasing this beautiful pattern! No need to enter me into the giveaway - just wanted to spread some love :)

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  69. I love the swinsuit.
    Thanks for this great interview.


    adventureincraftland@gmail.com

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  70. I love all versions of this pattern that I've seen so far. I'm a bit intimidated to think about making a swimsuit but would love to give it a try.

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  71. I'd love to win a pattern. looks like it be the perfect Fit to hide my Post baby bellie - btw the baby is already 30+ months old...*g*
    redlily1982 at aol dot com

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  72. I have never made a swimsuit but I definitely want this to be my first! I love how flattering both versions are on so many different body types. amym710[at]gmail[dot]com

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  73. I love the swim suit, it's so flattering and just looks amazing on everyone who has made it! I haven't made a swimwuit before but can't wait to get started on this in time for the holidays!
    jill(dot)wasiewicz(at)gmail(dot)com

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  74. I would love to make the version with the halter neck. It is so cute!!!

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  75. woops forgot to leave my email address; cocoandlace@gmail.com

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  76. English Girl at HomeJune 17, 2013 at 11:32 PM

    Love this swimsuit & can't wait to make it! Just need to decide which colour to go for... powell2317@hotmail.com

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  77. Aaaah! I want to make it! skallington@gmail.com

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  80. This swimsuit is so much lovely, I would be very happy to make it !!
    melanie.lecoffre@yahoo.fr

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  81. What a great story! I can definitely relate to Heather's addiction to shopping. My own addiction was changed when I just happened to pick up sewing a couple of years ago, and its amazing how I view clothing differently these days. Quality over quantity has definitely taken over my consumption...

    Anyway - I'd love to win a copy of the pattern!! Thanks so much for the opportunity!!

    xo, Amanda

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  82. Great interview. I love the swimsuit. Hope I win! batresyohana@yahoo.com

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  83. Oooooo me, me, me. jilliankuykendall@me.com

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  84. I'd love to win! It would be a perfect addition to my stash!
    craftingsanctuary@gmail.com

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  85. Thanks for posting the interview, I really enjoyed reading it, and thank you too for the giveaway x
    supersonic_sarama (at) hotmail.com

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  86. Great interview! Love the way your version turned out. Dying to get my hands on that pattern!


    phoebe.carias(at)gmail.com

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  87. i've just started following her blog and loved this interview. and i love that green suit she pictured. hopefully i'll get to making a suit this summer, and would love to make one using this pattern. recentlyrisa@gmail.com

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