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How I got the public school district in my town to recognize Diwali as a holiday.

To my darling daughter Dia,

I know you are only 7 years old but I already know that you are destined to do great things. So, when years from now if you are ever filled with self-doubt or if you take on a project which seems impossible but you still want to charge ahead, GO FOR IT!  If you believe in something and the cause is worthy, I will be your biggest advocate and supporter. Today I feel like a winner because a process which seemed impossible at the time and took so long to accomplish, finally happened and I want to tell you how I made it happen.

Here are some facts on how Diwali was put on the Acton-Boxborough school calendar. It was a process which took almost a year and a whole lot of effort.

It all started in September 2017 when I saw that schools were closed for Rosh Hashanah. I was curious to learn more about that holiday and as you know we learned the proper way to greet people that day. That’s right – Shana Tova! That’s when I thought – Gee, wouldn’t it be nice if more people knew about Diwali and we got the day off to celebrate the proper way. I decided to do something about it.

Later that month, I started a petition to appeal to the School District.

It got more than 200 signatures from families in both the towns in less than a week.

https://www.change.org/p/acton-boxoborough-school-committee-appeal-to-recognize-diwali-as-a-holiday-ab-school-committee

 

On Dec 14th 2017, I attended the school committee meeting where the committee was discussing the school calendar and appealed to them in person why it was important to recognize Diwali in our school district. The recording is here. See after 1:45. I talked about why in a diverse town like Acton it is important to recognize not just Jewish but other religious holidays like Diwali. We need to be truly inclusive! You see, when a holiday is recognized on the school calendar it is such a positive step towards including members of the community to whom that day is special. Festival of lights is celebrated all around the world so why not in Acton?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WAV7SaYNLXg

After much deliberation they agreed that they will put the holiday on the calendar along with some other religious holidays for the 2018-2019 calendar.

However that was NEVER implemented.

Then I started a series of countless e-mails. The last 6-months have been spent in discussing this with the school committee and urging them to add it to the calendar and make the holiday policies clear. It was important for me to bring this to fruition to the best of my ability.

On July 25th I met with the superintendent Peter Light to discuss this matter in depth and how important it is to include this holiday on the school calendar and what it means for the families who celebrate this. I wanted to make sure that this is implemented before the start of the school in September 2018.  I gave them examples of towns which clearly state the homework and days off policies on religious holidays. He assured me that he will get together with principals of all schools and come up with a plan.

August rolled around and I kept emailing with them until I finally saw it on the calendar!

On August 9th, I threw a celebratory party at my house and invited the whole town!

Chai and Samosa Party

https://www.evite.com/event/00CFJWDISA5U6QITQEPIRNYZ5OGZHA

August 9th 5 PM

Early November, the district sent an email out to all the teachers and residents that November 7th is Diwali and no homework and tests will be scheduled for Nov. 8th. While still not a day off, it was a step in the right direction.

I have always loved sharing our culture with everyone and this year was no exception. I went to the school to talk about Diwali and share a treat and a craft.

This year was even more special because of inclusion of Diwali on the calendar it was no longer something people had never heard of.  The kids in  Dia’s class at MCT painted clay DIYAS and got to take them home.

 

We were pleasantly surprised to even see a Diwali inspired menu in the school cafeteria that day.  It was a good day!

Many parents wrote to me how nice it was for their kids (and them) to learn about this Festival of Lights. Some of them lit on their dinner tables that night.

What’s the next step for me?

I will be appealing to the school district this year for a day off on Diwali next year. Many families tell me because the schools are not off that day, they celebrate Diwali on the weekend. My question to whoever is reading this – Can you imagine holding off celebrating Thanksgiving or Christmas until the following weekend?

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2018 Summer Vacation Week 4

Can’t believe how fast summer is going! We are already half way into summer vacation and it is so nice to spend some quality time with Miss Dia. Honestly she amazes me in a whole different way every single day and I am truly honored to be her Mom. Also grateful that I am getting back into blogging .

So here’s what we did in week #4.

We came back from Las Vegas and Grand Canyon completely recharged and inspired and I finally took the plunge and taught her how to sew on my machine. She is a natural and will surpass me in no time.

I love that we have this mutual love of creating things with our hands . It also helps me teach her the value of things and how not to be wasteful. Someone spent a lot of time making it!

This week’s camp was at Decordova museum which I can’t recommend enough! They combine art with science in such an incredible way. The camp was about Time travel and the kids got to design and create a Time Machine!

#inclusive! She is my daughter of course. We would have nothing else. Everyone is welcome.

She learned to make her own breakfast!

Over the weekend Dia and I took a road trip to New York to hang out with family. She is such a good companion! 4 hours in the car just flew by.

And finally she went to Animal Adventures and got to pet a pine snake, turtle and bunnies. She had a blast at the playdate with her friend Alexis.  Thank you Kristin!! Animal Adventures is an incredible place in Bolton. They rescue abandoned, orphaned and neglected animals and provide them with a high-quality life while using them to inspire and educate kids.

2018 Summer Vacation Week 2

Summer Vacation continues for Miss Dia. This week she did two fun camps and discovered that she actually likes playing basketball!

In the science of building class she made a wooden show box. Complete with hinges and everything. The teacher said that she was the youngest in the class and was very focused! Why am I not surprised? She loves to learn and to make.

Speaking of classes, I took one too! Indigo dyeing. It was a full day class , but so much fun .

Gosh now I want to dye everything in my house.

Miss Dia got a haircut in preparation for our trip to Vegas and Grand Canyon (next post).

And finally off on the plane we went to Vegas where I was the keynote speaker at ASG’s national sewing conference. 700 people! Yup you can say that I was a little nervous 😉

2018 Summer Vacation Week 1

This summer we have decided to take it slow and embrace everything summer has to offer. Earlier this month I started a list of some of the things I’d like to do as a family when Dia is out of school.

1. Visit Museums in Cambridge/Boston
2. Splash Pool in Boston and other neighborhoods.
3. Check out libraries in neighboring towns. 
4. Go to the beach
5. Bike rides
6. Sewing lessons with Mom
7. Play with the neighborhood kids
8. Figure out if she is old enough to volunteer anywhere under my supervision.
9. Ecotarium in Worcester
10. Canobie Lake Park
11. Explore different neighborhoods in Boston and try different foods.
12. Set up a lemonade stand
13. Bake sale to benefit a charity of her choice
14. Bring her to work once a week!
15. Playdates galore!
16. Kids bookclub
17. Science experiments
18. Cleanup!
19. Write summer journal
20. Pick a place on the map and learn about it.

Well, week #1 of Summer Vacation is over and we’re already having so much fun. Here’s week 1 in pictures.

We kicked off summer vacation with having ice cream sundae for dinner at Auntiji’s in Marlborough 🙂

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Dia started her first summer internship at the PatternReview office where she writes thank you notes for all the outgoing orders. And yes its a paid internship!

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We took advantage of the Free Friday and visited this gem of a museum in Concord MA.

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Followed it up with ice cream float at Bedford Farms 🙂


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Went for a walk and spotted these beautiful lilies in a nearby pond

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Had a couple playdates and also invited some friends over for a fun afternoon painting kindness rocks.

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We ended our first week baking some patriotic treats and relaxing at home with a simple cookout (no photos) with family. Happy July 4th!

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Summer Vacation is off to a good start!

Trip to Amsterdam

Pedestrian friendly sidewalks, delicious food from around the world, courteous tram staff, teenagers who get in the photo with you, humorous TSA agens, a true melting pot of people who take the time to talk to you… Sounds familiar? No? Let me take you on a trip to AMSTERDAM – The City of Canals.

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Loved this neighborhood.

This trip came at a time when I was so stressed that I could barely breathe. A long weekend with my best friend who was also going through a rough time, was just the answer. Despite the cold weather, we enjoyed every single moment and can’t wait to show it all to you.

We rented a cute apartment in a residential neighborhood which was a quick 15 minute walk from most sites. It was safe, comfortable and despite the tiny bedrooms and bathroom, was the perfect home away from home.

While I reached early morning, via an almost red-eye flight from Boston, my friend Sumita was a short 40 mins flight away from AMS. So I took the few hours I had in the morning to take a short nap, shower and get ready for DAY 1.

Thanks to Google Maps, and a handy itinerary my Sister in Law Aditi made for us, we kind of knew what we wanted to do. We started the day with a walk to Ruksmuseum and explored for a couple of hours. It was really windy and cold outside so the museum offered much needed warmth and respite.

We had lunch at this amazing hole in the wall Indonesian restaurant. We were told to try Indonesian food in Amsterdam and we were not disappointed!

Warung Spang Makandra

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We bought ourselves a 48 hour tram pass and just started exploring. This city is so public transit friendly it is amazing. We had to stop and take so many photos with all the canals on our way. It is absolutely breathtaking.

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We walked to the City Center and stopped for some beer tasting and their famous fries with mayo!

We did some souvenir shopping, bought some wine, cheese and fruit and decided to have an early dinner at the apartment and call it a night. We did 20,000 steps that day!

Day 2


I slept for NINE whole hours! Boy it felt great.

We kept the morning relaxed to just hang out and catch up. We hadn’t seen each other in 2 years! We are both breakfast people so we decided to check out Omelegg – Another highly reviewed place just minutes away from our Air BnB. You guys the eggs were so fluffy and they came with a salad. Unlike the greasy fries we are used to. OMG!

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Amsterdam is so pretty and is best seen on foot so we decided to walk and explore some more before our Canal Tour.

In the Canal Tour, we almost dozed off – not because it was boring but because it was so peaceful. Gosh this city is amazing. Check out this view where you can almost see all 7 arches. Count….

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You’ll think it was a food trip (well it almost was) because I am now going to tell you about the most amazing dinner we had that day. The Indonesian Rice Table. It is basically their take on tapas. An aluminium makeshift table with a few tea lights is put on our table with 8 different curries/salads/dishes to try with rice. Absolutely heavenly! If you have an Indonesian restaurant close to where you are, definitely give this a try. And ours was vegetarian too!

Next up  – The Flower Market! how perfect is my outfit right?

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You guys it was time for … THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT TOUR. We were a little skeptical at first but talking Jodi and Markita at PR Weekend convinced me that this will be safe and very informative and I am SO Glad we did the tour. There were about 15 people plus the guide and we walked to the Red Light District which also happens to be the oldest part of Amsterdam. And being the history buff that I am, I was completely immersed. This is one of the two remaining houses in Amsterdam which has a wood foundation. You can see that its all kinds of warped. But charming.

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Not just about the red-light, our guide gave us a short history lesson and it was absolutely fascinating how AMS being one of the largest trading ports led to the bustling red-light district. It was also very safe! Our tour was a 3 hour walking tour where we passed all kinds of “windows” , houses, even an old church.

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It was good to hear that the women are protected and it is very safe and organized. Definitely not cheesy but eye-opening and informative. For privacy reasons we weren’t allowed to take photos  so here’s one with closed shades.

Maker:S,Date:2017-11-6,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

The “Window”

Friday was a really step-heavy day for both of us so we left the tour a little early and decided to call it a night!

Day 3


Our last day in Amsterdam 😦 so we decided to make the most of it. As luck would have it, the sun came out and we decided to explore all the outdoor markets today. We started our morning in the Jordaan neighborhood which was absolutely breathtaking. We took lots of photos!

 

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At the Noordemarket Sumita and  I bought amazing artwork from a lady from Mozambique. I am having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to frame it 😦

 

There wasn’t any fabric at the Noordemarket so we asked a few locals and ended up at the Albert Cryp Market which was FANTASTIC! We are both not big shoppers but we enjoyed looking at all that this market had to offer. And then I spotted some fabric stores and there goes an hour 😉

Lunch was at this Ramen Noodle (sounds crazy but it was delicious) bar where I literally wanted to bathe in that broth 😉 Topped with so many delicious veggies. I washed it all down with Kirin beer and we were ready to walk some more.

 

Gosh, by the end of it, my back was really hurting so we decided to slowly back to the apartment for a little R&R. but not before I spotted a bookstore and got myself two sewing magazines 🙂 God bless my friend for giving in to my whims. She is my bestie for a reason.

I am having a hard time coming up with words to sum up this Amsterdam trip with Sumita. It was so much more than a sightseeing trip. It was a detox for my soul, my mind and my body in the company of someone who just gets me. It was accompanied by zero judgement, plenty of hugs and kisses and even some tears. But isn’t that what life is worth living for?

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And as I always say, when a vacation ends, the best part about that is, you get to come HOME!

In closing, I will leave you with this gem 😉

I was 12 years old…

I was 12 years old when I was molested by my neigbor’s son.

My great grandmother had passed away and my family had left me in the care of my neighbor’s family for a day. Their house next door was like a second home to me. Our families were very close and I looked up to my neighbor’s two daughters and their son as my older sisters and brother. My mom often sent me there with food she had made and they did the same. Compared to our modest household, they were affluent and everything about their lifestyle and home was  glitz and glamour. Going to their house was always a treat for me. To play with fancy toys, to eat in fancy dishes and just overall, it was special. Until. that. day…

My great grandmother was almost 100 when she died and her passing was a long celebration of her life spanning maybe a couple days. All the adults in my family had to be there and because I had exams the next morning, I couldn’t go. So my parents asked me if I would be okay staying with my neighbor for an evening. “Of course!” I said, thinking what an amazing time I’ll have with them. Once there, I had a really nice meal with my neighbor (she adored me and I called her Auntie) at their house and later we watched some movies. And then… her son took me to the balcony of their house and started acting funny. At first he asked me to sit on his lap. Why? I asked. He said “Its okay, it’ll be fun”. What followed next is not something I still feel comfortable putting in words but I remember the details of that evening like it happened yesterday. My instincts told me what was happening was not right and I pushed him aside and ran away. Luckily I had the keys to my house.

I hate that I was the victim.

I hate that I did not have the courage to kick him in the groin. I hate that I did not run into the other room and tell his mother what he did. I hate that years later when he got married, I did not tell his wife what kind of man she married. And most importantly I hate that I was betrayed by those I trusted.

But that night, I realized I have something within me which will guide me throughout my life. My instinct. I have learned to follow it. If you think its wrong, IT IS WRONG.

I wish instead of those stupid sex ed videos we had to watch in school, they would invite people to talk about real life experiences and we would get educated and informed about inappropriate behavior. I wish my mom could have warned me about this.

I wish it didn’t happen to me. But it did…

I never told a soul about this.

Not my mother or my father, not even my closest friends with whom I shared my deepest fear.

So why am I talking about this 30 years later? And that too so publicly?

Because I have a 7 year old daughter and I am not going to let her be the victim. I am educating her about inappropriate behavior and the world we live in. I am empowering her to take action if she notices anything wrong.

I am talking about it, because I want to appeal to all parents of young boys to raise them to respect women. I am talking about it, because what happened to me was wrong and 30 years later I am still affected by it.

Today I salute my Mother in Law who has raised not one but three amazing men who treat women as their equals. They are kind and have empathy. They care.

And I am married to one of them. This man has my heart and my respect!

#sewprecious2017

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If you’re here because you’ve followed me from Patternreview, I bet you also have a sizable fabric stash. And a good percentage of that is fabrics you’re “saving” because they are too “good” to sew.  I am the same way. But this year I just got tired of looking and dreaming about them. Time to take action and sew them up.  Sure,  at first I was afraid to cut into them, but then I told myself, even if the project isn’t what I envisioned it to be, it will still look better on me than in my closet.

I shared my pledge with you on Instagram and so many of you joined me and that my friends, makes me happy. It also keeps me honest 🙂

February is more than half way done and I figured now’s a good time to report back on my progress.

I started off with Sewing this Sweater in this luscious Hudson Sweater Knit from O Jolly! I purchased it almost a year ago. The fabric was a joy to work with and I enjoy wearing it. Winter white is now my new favorite. Bonus: I learned how to tame the sweater knit!

 

Full Review on PatternReview

Sometimes even a simple fabric can feel special because of the lovely print. This was exactly the case with this heavyweight double sided ponte I bought from Emma One Sock (She still has it!) . I think it was last year or maybe the year before. I decided to stop fussing over it too much and picked the Sew Over It Heather Dress Pattern. Another score!

Project Details on PatternReview

Now this next fabric is truly special to me. Last year my friends and I had a mini reunion after 17 years in London and I decided to also host a PatternReview meetup then. Read more about it here. I spotted this luscious Liberty silk in one of the stores at Goldhawk road and it had to come home with me. Finally getting the courage to sew it up meant that I can not only wear it but it is also a pleasant reminder of what a fantastic trip that was. Double score!

Pattern – Sew Over It Pussy Bow Blouse – Details here

Moving on..

This Velvet… Oh my goodness. So luscious, so pretty and in my favorite color. I have no idea how long I have had this in my stash for and how many times I’ve gotten it out to pet it. You know what I am talking about don’t you? Well it was time to sew it up. I still have to write about this on PR but basically I made it into a swing dress with literally just two seams (shoulder and side). In fact I used this dress as an example to demonstrate tips on sewing with velvet on my upcoming show in June. My walking foot was super helpful. I hemmed the dress by hand. I’ve lined it with silk! I wore it early this week, for my birthday dinner and absolutely loved it. Yes it feels so much better to finally not just stare at it and wear it. I think I might have to make a similar dress for Dia too. How cute would she look right?

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On the set! It was so much fun. Speaking of which I am basically just having fun with my fabrics. I am not entering them in any competition, just sewing for the fun of it.

Last week I squeezed in yet another #sewprecious2017 garment. This time its for Dia. She loves shopping my stash and has had her eye on this liberty tana lawn for a while so I decided to surprise her with this dress. I relied on my trusty Geranium dress of course. I can’t believe my daughter has now outgrown the original size. Thankfully Rae has one in larger sizes so off I went to buy it and by the magic of digital patterns, I was able to assemble, cut and sew all in one weekend. Purplicious isnt it?

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That my friends is it for now. I think this is the most fun I’ve had in a while! With each project I am learning something new and that is always a good thing.

What about you? Are you with me? Are you sewing your “precious” stash? If so, leave a link in the comments below. I’d love to read more about your project too.

 

Happy 6th Birthday Dia

My Darling Daughter Dia,

6 years ago you came into my life and made me a mom. When I asked our family to give me one word when they think of you, they sent such beautiful words describing you. One day when you look back upon your childhood years you should know how much you’ve touched not just my life and your dad’s, but pretty much everyone around you. You are much loved my dear. Stay blessed my “Bitiya“.

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Dia is rocking her glasses!

Dia has prescription glasses! tunic_4

 

Of course she is my daughter so just any frame wouldn’t do. She also has a tiny face and most kids glasses in stores were too big for her. Thanks to some suggestions from friends on Facebook we bought this cute frame from Zenni. It was a long process though because the first frame we picked ended up being too big for her. Then we took her to Costco where she tried on a few frames and the optician told us to get a frame which is between 30-35. There are a lot of numbers and things which don’t make sense but they do now. So if you’re looking to order your first pair online, be sure to research and measure. We are very happy with this frame. Its sturdy and cute both of which are important at this age.

I started wearing glasses when I was 8 or 9 I think (maybe a little later) and I’ve lived most of my life hiding behind the glasses until I could get contacts. I don’t want that for my daughter so it is important for me to educate her and think of them as a good thing. “They help you see better and you look so cute in them“.

I am writing this post because I want to point out an amazing experience at Dia’s preschool today which warmed my heart and made me smile. I also want to document this because I want Dia to realize how awesome her school and friends were today.

Today was the first day she went to school with her glasses. The kids were having circle time. Dia was a little shy and just clung to me. When I asked why, she said “Mom, my friends won’t know its me because of the glasses“. Before I could answer, the teacher said something to her in her ear to which she nodded.

Everyone, Dia has something to share with you all today“, said the teacher. “Go on Dia“.

I got new glasses!” She said. The kids were really excited for her. And started asking questions.

Not like this“, teacher said “Raise your hands if you have a question, and Dia will answer them.

How civilized  I thought. tunic_2

Sure enough one by one the kids asked questions and Miss Dia happily answered them. I tried to remember the questions because they were all so cute.

Q: “I really like your glasses

Q: “Did you know that your glasses have hearts on them

Q: “Why do you wear glasses“.

Dia: “Because I see better with them

Q: “Do you wear them at night“.

Dia: “No, but sometimes my daddy wears his. He forgets!” We all had a big laugh at this one.

Q: “I think you look like a pretty princess“.

Dia : “Thank you” (with a big smile)

I wish I had taken my camera with me to capture some of this in photos but after this little exercise she was so confident and back to being herself. I wanted to hug each and every one of those kids. So adorable and so kind.  A big thank you to the teachers not just in her school but to all the teachers who truly care and understand kids and make an effort.

BTW I think more than the glasses, she loves the eyeglass case!!! tunic_7

I made a “real” wrap dress – Stylearc Lea

Its no secret. I love Indie Patterns and I love supporting them. Unfortunately not all the styles work for everybody and my first foray into wrap dress sewing (Vogue 8379) convinced me that it wasn’t the style for me. It made me look frumpy! I gave up on this style. Until.. I made the faux wrap dress – Wren from Colette.  And that was a game changer. I Loved this dress on me! That also led me to the conclusion that its the skirt which needs to be fitted.

So when this lovely gift from Elliot Berman Fabrics arrived at my doorstep the other day, it completely brought me out of my sewing slump and I decided to make a “Real” (as in with ties and such…) Wrap Dress. And here it is!

 

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Now based on the numerous reviews on Patternreview, I did make a few changes. But the best advice I got was from Sara Cormeny on Facebook, to add contrast ties and band. I knew I wanted to tweak the pattern anyway to add wide neckband. To use the same fabric for ties, was a brilliant idea! Thanks Sara! It breaks up the print and frames it. I absolutely love it.

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The Lea Knit Wrap Dress does not come with bands, and based on what others have said, its quite low. So I added to the front and also removed some from the back neckline to account for the 2.5″ wide bands which I cut out from my silk jersey leftovers 🙂

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It is still too revealing for me without a camisole! But whatever.

So this is how I added the bands. I tapered them down to the end for some added interest.

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After serging them on to the neckline (while stretching the bands slightly), I folded the ends in for a clean look. The photo explains it better.

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Then I simply added the ties to the end and we’re done!

Here’s a better look at the bodice on the dressform.

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Yes, I know that its left over right but I was just shooting it so its ok.

I took Lea for a test drive yesterday at the PR meetup and loved walking in it. While it does not open up too much. I will feel much better if I add about 5″ to the underlap. I’ll do that and an FBA in my next version. The ties are too long as is! I will most certainly cut them down to half next time. But overall I am so pleased with my dress.

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