Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Making & Creating - A Maxi Makeover & Some Bostin' Batik


Back in the bad old days of my career in corporate hospitality I regularly worked sixteen hour shifts, often five days in a row for weeks on end. These days I only need to do one and I'm absolutely knackered.  Whoever said "do a job you love and you'd never have to a work a day of your life again" obviously never did a vintage fair in Bethnal Green!


Yesterday, after we'd unpacked the van and sorted out the remaining stock, neither of us had the energy to walk down to Wetherspoons and I didn't want to waste the rest of the day gormessly staring at the computer so I had a rummage around the stockroom and decided to make this vintage '70s cotton maxi a bit less Little House on the Prairie and a bit more riding the Magic Bus along the Overland Trail.


Off came the prissy high neck, the lace trim and the pink buttons, much as I adored her as a school girl, dressing like Holly Hobbie when you're 49 is a bit weird. I hacked away at the neckline, reinforcing it with bias binding and, using the remnants from the hippy bag I'd used for the mediocre maxi project, I hand sewed each piece to the bodice.  When the perished elastic from the cuffs was removed it revealed fabulously flared sleeves, so I hemmed them and left them as they were.


The dress was a bit sack-like so I slit the side seams, inserted two tube shaped pieces of fabric cut from an Indian cotton dupatta (rescued from a 50p bargain bucket in a chazza last week) and sewed them into place. The nipped in waist from the tie-back added some shape to the silhouette.


 I've lusted after chunky coral chokers like these in Kashmiri emporiums throughout India for years but the prices are ludicrous (for a skinflint like me). This beauty was £10 from the vintage fair on Sunday. I was happy with that.

Linking to Patti and the gang for Visible Monday.

The larger oblong piece was my initial practice and the smaller top one was produced using a crackle technique

Today the Lizs invited me to join them on a batik making workshop in the Arboretum Visitors Centre (£15 for a 3 hour tutorial, unlimited tea and coffee and all artists materials provided). I was a bit nervous as they're both artists and when it comes to painting and drawing I really haven't got a clue but I surprised myself. 


This was my main creation. Hard to believe it was a piece of plain white cotton a few hours ago, isn't it? I'm going to sew it on the back of a denim jacket and probably bore everyone who asks with an in depth synopsis of my batik technique.

Vintage Cornell of London maxi worn with a coral choker and 1960s Gohill's snakeskin boots (seen HERE)

Despite the punishing schedule we had a fab day in Bethnal Green, we even got interviewed by super cool site, Humans of London (scroll down to find us). We seriously need to do some shopping, the rails are looking a bit sparse and we're back in vintage lovers paradise, Stockport, on Sunday.

See you soon!

105 comments:

  1. What a fabulous makeover. You look amazing in that dress and it looks loads better for the appliqué on the front, especially those lovely flared sleeves. I love your batik. It is such fun to do except for the ironing out the wax bit but I am sure that technology will have moved on a bit now to something super-duper and washable. The colours are fantastic. I LOVE that coral necklace. P.S. Being a wage slave is definitely no fun. Xx

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    1. Thanks, Kelly! There was a lot of ironing involved, I didn't mind that as much as drying the dye between layers with a hairdryer, seemed to take ages! xxx

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  2. That dress is too fab! I would have never have thought to do the bodice insert like that. What a find those flared sleeves were!

    Your batik work is gorgeous, is that wax work all freehand?

    Bibi
    xox
    http://calmlycookingcurry.blogspot.com/2016/04/haak-maaz-kashmiri-style-mutton-with.html

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    1. Thanks, Bibi! I didn't realise that the sleeves were so full, they were a nice surprise.
      The instructor had made a few stamps with twisted garden wire, I used a combination of those, a fork and the rest was freehand. Great fun! xxx

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  3. I love the made-over dress Vix, and how fabulous those sleeves are without the elastic. That necklace is such a gorgeous colour, and so are the colours of your batik. You did well. I'm sure a vintage fair is hard work. I had a stall on a flea market once or twice, and I was knackered too, even more so than after a day at the office. xxx

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    1. Thank you! I think it's more exhausting when you're really passionate about something so you give it your all! xxx

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  4. Holly Hobbie hideousness to Helloooo Mahvahlous Maxi!

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    1. Only a 7 year old could get away with that dress in its original form! x

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  5. Now that is what I would call a make-over. The maxi in its original form looked too prim and proper on you; now you've rocked it up it looks so much better - more 'Vix'! You could say its been 'Vixed'.

    You know what? I've never tried my hand at batik. Yours are brilliant and I reckon sewing that one onto the back of a denim jacket is a great idea and will show it off to perfection xxx

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    1. Vixed, that's good!
      Batik is really good fun, I'm definitely going to have a bash at it again. xxx

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  6. I love love love seeing your sewing creations, Vix. (I sewed Holly Hobbie/Little House dresses for myself and my sisters back in the 70s - wish I still had them)
    And those batiks are absolutely fantastic! I hope you do more of it.
    (PS Everyone is an artist in their own way and medium(s)- we just have to allow ourselves the freedom. Yeah I still have to tell myself this!) xoxox

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    1. Thanks, Carol! It is a matter of overcoming that nagging voice reminding you of how crap you were at school! let it go, as the song goes!!
      I bet you've got some photos of the Holly Hobbie dresses, if so I want to see them. xxx

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  7. WOW fabulous make over looks so much better love front of it now, you are clever with a great eye for design. Loving your batik to and I can just see that on the back of a denim jacket it will look wonderful with the colours. dee xx

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    1. Thanks, Dee! I'm okay with dresses and you're the chicken queen! xxx

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  8. Wow . . . that's a beautiful dress, you really do good work!

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  10. Brilliant makeover. I was sorry to miss the event on Sunday but the fine weather enticed me to my allotment instead. Love the HOL post - and you met Richard; isn't he lovely! :)

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    1. Not to worry, it was a great day for digging, I don't blame you.
      Richard was a lovely chap, so enthusiastic and engaging. xxx

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  11. that was a good makeover and great that you had a crack at the batik workshop. Lots of ways to be creative - you are very artistic in the way you put colour and texture together you know.

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  12. I've always seen you as an artist, Vix, so I am not surprised how fabulously your batik project turned out. Drawing and painting are highly overrated. Show off to your heart's content, it's a true piece.
    I love how you've sexified your maxi too. What luck to find such gorgeous sleeves hidden in that elastic. I'm glad you escaped that corporate world!

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    1. As an artist as fantastically talented as you, Melanie, I'm hugely flattered, thank you! x

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  13. Your makeover maxi is the best. And the surprise sleeves. What a great find to discover!! Oh, I've never done batik, or any dying, but yours looks great. Watch out, what we see next.

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    1. I love a surprise sleeve!
      Try batik if you can, Pao. You'd be brilliant at it. x

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  14. LOVE your batik, your talents know no bounds! x

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    1. Thanks! I really did surprise myself! x

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  15. I love it!!! I loved the other one, but you're right, it is a bit twee!!! I really wanted to come and see you at the weekend but because of engineering works on the trains, it would've taken me bloomin hours to get there!!! Some other time!!

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    1. Argh! Those darned engineering works. There will be another time though, I'm sure. It's been too long. xxx

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  16. I have to admit I wanted to hear you call "Pa!!The cows ate loose!" whrn i saw the original drss. What a transformation!

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  17. You gave a modern touch to a retro dress, now it's perfect, love the colors ! Always inspiring :)

    Fashion and Cookies - fashion & beauty blog

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    1. Thanks, Vale. Some vintage really does need a 21st Century makeover. x

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  18. Great makeover of the dress, I like it much better! And you are quite good at batik! A side business perhaps? :)

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    1. Thanks, Laurie. I'm searching for cheap equipment on eBay. If I can find dyes and wax at a good price it might be an extra for Kinky! x

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  19. Fantastic how you changed up that dress! Much better than the ones I saw in Free People on the weekend.

    I also love your pattern. How fun to create your own.

    I adored those Holly Hobbies as a kid : )

    Congrats on the Humans of London!

    bisous
    Suzanne

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    1. Gah! Those Free people dresses are insanely expensive and the ones I've come across in charity shops are no great shakes quality-wise, either! xxx

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  20. Fantastic makeover! I'm inspired by you. Gonna go thrift shopping.

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    1. You're too kind! Good luck for the hunt! x

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  21. Thats a great transformation and your hair looks lovely too. Looks like you had sunshine or did you have your vest on to keep out the cold.
    When you come to visit you'll get a close up of all the fabric pictures in our house that my friend, textile artist Barbara Jepson has made. She batiks the background then appliques on top. We have about eight big pieces which when you first look at them appear to be painted.
    Looking forward to Sunday xxx

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    1. Thanks, Lynn! We had sunshine yesterday but it's back to bitter cold wind and hailstones the size of frogs again today!!!
      Your fabric pictures sound amazing not that I need another excuse to come and visit you. xxx

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  22. You're a dab hand at this frock refashion malarkey.
    It's definitely all the better for some Vixification. The coral beads are superb...great find there. Hoping I might be able to make your next London gig. Not surprised you produced those wonderful batik pieces... you have a great creative streak and a good eye for design. Xx

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    1. I do love a bit of refashioning, a lot less mess and easier to think about than starting from scratch!
      Judy's have some amazing jewellery sellers on their books. I usually restrain myself but I needed a coral choker, honest! xxx

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  23. The batik turned out awesome. Can't wait to see the finished product.

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    1. Thanks, Lila! It's almost done! x

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  24. The batik turned out awesome. Can't wait to see the finished product.

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  25. Little House on the Prairie to hippie chic in a couple of easy steps! And that batik is amazing

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    1. Thanks, K! Bet you can do batik. xxx

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  26. Fantastic make-over, Vix! And your batik is gorgeous too. You're such a talented re-fashioner. Now get a bit of rest, xox

    -Patti
    http://notdeadyetstyle.com

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    1. Thanks, Patti! No fairs till Sunday so I'm pottering, that's as good as a rest! x

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  27. I just have to say, and I mean this as a total compliment. Before you added the batik to the dress, you look like a beautiful younger Loretta Lynn. I love it.

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    1. Wow, massive compliment, CB! Thank you. xxx

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  28. You are amazing - too tired for the pub....but refashion this frock into a true gem! I love the sleeves. Your batik is amazing - its always good to take a random course like that. I did a jam making workshop a few weeks ago with a friend (which I will blog about sometime...) and it was so fun as it was at a local historic home and we learnt so much about the area and came home with crab apple jelly!

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    1. It is fun to do something completely different, Trees. Definitely a bit of a confidence boost to achieve something new, too. xxx

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  29. what a beauty you are. and so talented. i wish i had your seamstress skills. x

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  30. Looks wonderful. It amazing how you present your fashion. Coffee is on

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  31. I do this with all my dresses too, yours looks great

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  32. Great work on the dress - those high collars are really off-putting, it's a great idea to hack it off!

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    1. They don't suit many people, do they? I only meant to hack off the collar originally but the scissors slipped! x

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  33. Your batik work is great; it always strikes me as a tricky technique.

    That's a fab maxi makeover too - the sleeves make a massive difference, don't they? You strike me as much more a floaty sleeve wearer than a gathered one...

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    1. Impractical and frivolous and yes, very much me!!
      I was scared of the batik but the teacher was great and encouraged us not to be put off by "happy accidents" ie., splodging dollops of wax over your carefully applied wax design. xxx

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  34. Love the batik the mix of colours are great. You should blog your tips on how to do batik, looks like fun.

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    1. Thanks, Dawn! If I can find cheap supplies so i can afford to try it at home then I will! x

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  35. Batik panels as an enrichment to boring denims! Henceforth shall this process be known as Vixification! You inspire us all to get out the seam-ripper and have at it! Deflating that baggy bodice with the addition of ties is also a technique worth remembering when one finds a dress one likes in a size too large.

    The coral necklace is magnificent, Vix. It's your reward for working the 16-hour shift. It's reassuring to know the brain and the hands can carry on, long after the feet quit...

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    1. The seam ripper is our friend! Mine's rarely out of sight. My boring denim has now been Vixified (yeah..thanks, Beth) and shall be appearing on a blog post soon - once the weather gets warmer. xxx

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  36. congrats to the great gig in bethnal green!
    magic make over for the daughter-of-the-preacherman-dress!!! and i envy your corals! i too lust after some since years - and yes - it´s always the price. the fab chunky ones are very expensive - with right of cause!
    beautiful batik job!
    xxxxx

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    1. Daughter of a preacher man dress! Spot on as usual, Beate!
      I'm loving the coral. Maybe if I wait long enough I'll find the turquoise version! xxx

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  37. I was never as exhausted as I was working as an antique dealer-it is a 24 hour job between the shopping, cleaning, repairing, driving, and selling. I completely understand being too tired for the pub. My days off were never as creative as yours-that is an impressive batik!

    Can I confess to owning a few Holly Hobby dresses? I do live on the prairies, so maybe I can get away with it? I like you makeover on the dress but those sleeves would never survive country living ("Pa, come quick! Vix got her sleeves caught in the hay-baler!")

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    1. Glad it's not just me, Goody! I think I'm so excited about vintage fairs that I'm on a high all day, enthusing about the stock, advising customers and tidying up that I'm not only psychically exhausted but mentally knackered, too.
      Go on, please do a Goody as Holly Hobbie out on the prairie post. The only thing I'd get my sleeve caught on in my urban sprawl is the security door at Poundland. xxx

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  38. I wish I had even a third of the energy that you do! I love your makeover here. It reminds me of one of my jobs as an at home seamstress for Gunne Sax granny dresses. My friend and I dutifully stitched them as told, but we dreamed of adding some glam and slashes to sex them up a bit. Amazing how those sleeves look once freed, and that braid trim is to die for! LOVE the necklace! x

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    1. LeeAnn, that sounds like an interesting job but yes, those Gunne Sax frocks would have benefited from a pompom or a sequin or two! xxx

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  39. Somehow I thought you would be a whiz at Batik - you did an excellent job! That dress looks so much more "you" after the makeover you did.

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    1. I should be, I spent hours looking at it when we went to Indonesia and always buy it if I find any in chazzas! xxx

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  40. Finally got some spare time to check up on all the blogs Ive missed over the past months.
    Love the dress - you look amazing as always and your blog is the first I always turn to when I can.
    Jane X

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    1. Lovely to hear from you, Jane! It's been too long. I miss you. x

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  41. Ooh, you've worked wonders with that Holly Hobbie dress, it looks so different and much more wearable xx

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  42. WOW Vix, that is much better and so much more you. I love your makeovers you do.

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  43. The dress looks fab! It's inspired me to set about some of the alterations I need to do - and there are many! I have great plans but feel my sewing skills need to be improved, so I put off doing anything. But how will my skills improve if I do nothing?
    I had a go at batik at college and loved it, I still have it some where (possibly!). I remember really enjoying it, especially playing with the wax :)

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    1. Have a go, Hazel. Not all my efforts are great but I'm always learning by having a bash.
      The wax part in batik making was great fun. I'm glad I took an apron! x

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  44. It is amazing how different a dress can look after just a few alterations! A completely new and fabulous dress! Your batik created piece has impressed me, very beautiful!

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  45. I adore your upcycle!!! Just perfect!! Love the batik project too. I can feel your energy being restored as you create something new. The necklace is the perfect touch. I love it when that coveted piece finally finds you at a bargain price. Sending much love!!!!!

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    1. Hello, love!! You're so right, creating is a wonderful way of restoring one's sapping strength. I really felt like I'd achieved something despite feeling half dead. xxx

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  46. Ooh, pretty! I love the sleeves, they're wonderful! I did batik at school, mine wasn't half as good as yours xxx

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    1. I do love a flamboyant sleeve! Thanks, Melanie. x

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  47. Fab dress, the batik is awesome xx

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  48. Wow - what a transformation! The dress looks amazing and you look stunning in it. The necklace is gorgeous and what a bargain!

    You clearly are a frustrated artist - the batik looks so professional. Well done you - another string to your bow to recreate fabulous things to wear.

    xxx

    Veronica
    vronni60s.blogspot.com

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    1. More a lucky one off than art, I reckon!
      Lovely to have you back in Blogland, Vronni! Hope you had a fab holiday. xxx

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  49. You're such a talented chick!! And now I'm super inspired to try my hand at giving a dress a little makeover. You are too cool

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  50. Wetherspoons' loss is your gain! What a clever makeover of the dress, it looks a lot more you now, and the sleeves are brilliant! Those high necklines are troublesome, they never suit me, but it's good to be aware that a bit of sewing means you don't have to write them off altogether.
    I certainly don't think you need to feel out of place with your artistic Lizes - you ooze creativity and artistry too! And look what you made - the batik is gorgeous!
    Hope Stockport was a good one. Love you! Xxxx

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    1. Wetherspoons will have us back in a bit - absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that.
      Those high necks aren't great, are they? I'm looking at my rails with renewed interest now, though! xxxx

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  51. I swear, you make me want to try my luck at maxi dresses again. They're usually anything but becoming on my short, curvy frame, but perhaps I just haven't found the right one yet... :)

    Big hugs & joyful mid-April wishes,
    ♥ Jessica

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    1. There's a maxi out there for you, Jessica, I just know it. xxx

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  52. You may not be a trained artist but you have more creativity than a lot of designers I know. You have an eye for potential, the ideas to tranform and the skills. Impressive stuff. I actually loved the dress before, but you've made it much more unique and Vix-appropriate. Love the sleeves! Oh that coral necklace is beautiful and I'm well impressed with your batik. That workshop sounded great value. Xxx

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    1. Thanks, Tania! There's a couple more courses scheduled but I'm not sure if my creations were a fluke and it might be an unmitigated disaster next time. xxx

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  53. You are an Artist, Vix! I never had a doubt that you are. It does not matter what a person does, it matters how he/she does it. Everything you do is artistic, so I am not as surprised as you are by your batik experiment. It's truly WONDERFUL! Keep going. You are very talented and connected with your soul much more deeply than many, and that's where art comes from.

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  54. Oh wow, I love this so much better now. Such a simple change but the dress has a whole new vibe. Well done you! xxx

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xxx