Cleo Skirtalong Day 5: Elastic and Hems

Welcome to the last day of the Cleo sewalong! If you’re just joining us, see all of the skirtalong posts here.

Cleo skirtalong Day 5

Today we’ll add elastic to the waistband and hem the skirt (or add hem bands if you’re making View A).

Step 8. Add elastic and close the waistband

Using a safety pin or bodkin, thread the elastic through the back waistband casing.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Secure both ends with safety pins at the sides seams.

TRY IT ON!

Try on the skirt to check the fit, adjust the elastic as needed. It’s now that I need to tell you something important: Cleo really needs to be worn at the natural (high) waist, not the low waist or above the hips. I know this can be tough, but it really does look best when it’s worn at the natural waist. I usually need to trim the elastic down from the recommended length by a few inches, because I like to be able to put my hands in my pockets or keep my phone in there without feeling like the skirt is falling down.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Here’s a closer look at the waistband, with elastic added and pinned at both sides:

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Once you are happy with how it fits, take the skirt off and stitch through all layers of the waistband at each side seam to secure the elastic.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Now pin and topstitch the folded edge of the front waistband to the inside of the skirt as you did for the back.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

When you’re finished it will look like this from the outside:

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

And here’s how it looks from the inside:

Front waistband - inside view

TRY IT ON!

At this point, I recommend trying on the skirt again to check the length. You have yet to hem it up (View B), or add the hem bands (View A), but this should still give you a rough estimate of how long it will be on you. If you want to add wider hem bands, narrower hem bands, adjust the amount you’ll fold up at the bottom, or shorten the skirt before adding the hem bands, do that now. This is your skirt, so customize it so you get the length that you want!

Step 9. Attach the hem bands (View A only; scroll down for View B)

Sew the front and back hem bands together along the short ends. Press the seam allowances open. There is no need to finish these seams.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Note that I interfaced the fabric I used for the hem bands (shot cotton) because it was lighter than the orange shirting I used for the rest of this skirt; in retrospect I don’t think that was necessary, but you can see it in this photo.

Press the hem band in half lengthwise with wrong sides together. The center fold/crease will become the bottom of the skirt.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

With the skirt right side out, pin the hem band to the bottom of the skirt, matching the side seams and lining up all three raw edges together.

If the side seams don’t match up, make sure you have the front hem band matched to the front skirt, and the back hem band matched to the back skirt.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Another issue I sometimes have is that the hem band comes out slightly too big or too small to fit around the bottom of the skirt. If this happens, adjust one of the hem band side seams until the skirt and hem band are exactly the same size (you may have to rip out the hem band seam to do this).

Now sew the hem band to the skirt through all three layers with a 1/2″ seam.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Finish this seam as desired (again, a serger or a zig zag stitch through all layers over the edge are both great options), and then flip the hem band down and press it.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Here’s how mine looked after finishing the hem band seam and pressing it:

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

One thing to add: if you’d like, topstitch just above the hem band seam to hold that seam allowance in place. It can add a nice professional touch once you’re finished, but it will create a visible line of stitching, which I don’t always want (so I didn’t do it here).

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Step 9. Finish hem (View B only)

Fold over and press 1/4″ toward the wrong side along the bottom edge of the skirt.

Cleo sewalong day 5 / hemming View B

Fold over another 1 1/2″ (Note: use whatever amount you want here — sometimes I like to do a really wide hem, so I fold 4,” and sometimes I’m short on fabric and use a very narrow hem) and press.

Cleo sewalong day 5 / hemming View B

Pin the hem in place. Don’t skip this — it helps prevent the fabric from twisting as you sew the hem!

Cleo sewalong day 5 / hemming View B

Finally, stitch along the first fold to secure the hem in place. For this skirt I used a straight stitch and a 3/8″-wide hem (see more pics of this skirt at my Green Striped Cleo post):

Cleo sewalong - hems

Here’s another skirt I made with a wider hem. For this one I used the blind hem foot and stitch on my sewing machine, which produces an invisible stitch line from the outside of the skirt (you can see more pics of this skirt in the Gingham Cleo post).

Cleo sewalong - hems

That’s it for our Cleo Sewalong! I hope you enjoyed this step-by-step deep dive into the Cleo skirt pattern.

Cleo skirtalong / elastic and hems

Please post any questions and comments if you have them, and share your photos with us using the #cleoskirt tag so I can give you a virtual high five!

Cleo Skirtalong Day 4: Attach waistband

Cleo skirtalong Day 4 / attach waistband

Welcome to Day 4 of the Cleo Skirtalong! If you’re just joining us, see all of the skirtalong posts here.

Today we’ll gather the front skirt, sew the waistband together, attach the waistband, and close the back waistband.

Step 4. Gather front skirt

Set your machine to longest stitch length possible and tension to highest setting. On FRONT SKIRT ONLY, sew two lines of stitches on the wrong side of the front skirt, 3/8″ and 5/8″ away from the top edge. Leave long tails on the ends of your thread so they will be easy to pull for gathering.

Cleo skirtalong / attach waistband

Remember: just the FRONT SKIRT, not the back skirt!

And here’s a hint: if you have elastic thread, you can use shirring to gather the front of the skirt! That’s been my recent gathering shortcut, my friends, because, I’ll be honest, I don’t love gathering. I set my stitch length to about 4mm (my machine goes up to 5), hand-wind elastic thread on my bobbin, and stitch just as if I were gathering. Shirring makes it SO much easier to distribute the gathers evenly. Check out my Shirring Tutorial for a more detailed how-to.

Step 5. Prepare waistband

Sew the front and back waistbands together along their short ends. You’ve already pressed the center crease and the bottom edge up, but make sure you sew these together unfolded. Press the seam allowances open.

Cleo skirtalong

Step 6. Attach skirt to waistband

With skirt right side out, place waistband over the top of the skirt with right sides together, pinning them together at notches and side seams (so your waistband will be inside-out for this). Pull gathering threads until front skirt is same width as front waistband. Distribute gathers evenly and finish pinning.

Cleo skirtalong / attach waistband

Sew the waistband to skirt with gathers on top. Since you need a 1/2″ seam, it’s easiest to sew right down the middle of your two rows of gathering stitches.

Cleo skirtalong / attach waistband

Press seam allowances toward waistband, press waistband away from the skirt, and remove any visible gathering stitches with your seam ripper. If you used the tension trick I mentioned earlier to gather, you’ll find it’s super easy to pull these out if you pull them from the wrong side.

Cleo skirtalong / attach waistband

Step 7. Sew back waistband casing

Fold the back waistband (JUST THE BACK!) down toward the inside of skirt along its center foldline so the bottom folded edge lies 1/8″ below waistband seam. Pin it in place (Hint: I find it works well to pin it from the outside right along the seam line, catching the edge underneath). Then stitch in the ditch from the outside of the skirt, catching folded waistband edge to form an elastic casing.

Cleo skirtalong / attach waistband

VERY IMPORTANT: Sew ONLY the back waistband shut; leave the front waistband open so we can add the elastic tomorrow!

Only one more day left! Tomorrow we’ll add the elastic and finish the hem.

Go to Day 5

Questions or comments? Leave them here on the blog, or join the conversation on Facebook or on Instagram! And we’d love to see your photos (use the #cleoskirt tag)!

Cleo Skirtalong Day 3: Pockets and Side Seams

Cleo Skirtalong Day 3

Welcome to Day 3 of the Cleo Skirtalong! If you’re just joining us, see all of the skirtalong posts here.

Today we’ll attach the pockets and sew side seams. Note that these steps differ for Views A and B. We’ll start with View A, so if you’re sewing View B, scroll down!

Step 2. Attach and sew pockets (View A)

Align curved edges of POCKETS and FRONT SKIRT. With 1/4″ seam allowance, stitch pockets to front skirt along curved edge. It’s important to note here that this is the only time you’ll use a 1/4″ seam (the rest of the pattern uses a 1/2″ seam allowance).
Cleo skirtalong

Here’s a closeup of that curved seam:

Cleo skirtalong

Clip seam allowances, being careful not to clip through the stitches. Press the seam allowances and pockets away from the skirt.

Cleo skirtalong

Next, I recommend understitching the curved seam. Unfortunately it’s hard to get a good photo of this (I’ll put that on my tutorial to-do list), so you’ll just have to give it a try based on my written instructions.

To understitch, first press open the seam, pressing the seam allowances towards the pocket piece (so: away from the skirt). With the garment right-side up, stitch 1/8″ away from the pocket seam lines (this is the actual understitching, and it keeps the pocket lining inside the pocket), through the pocket and both seam allowances (so: 3 layers). Then flip the pockets to the wrong side and press. It should now look like this:

Cleo skirtalong

Note that the understitching is white in the photo above, and is not visible from the outside of the skirt. You can also just topstitch the pocket curves after pressing them if you’d prefer!

Next, fold the pockets up (basically you’re folding them in half) so that their lower edges line up with the top edge of the front skirt. Press, making sure the tops and sides are lined up with the skirt.

Sew just the inner edges of each pocket together (white dashed line in the photo below), but be careful to sew only through two pocket layers and not through the skirt — you’re just closing the inside of the pocket! Finish those seams; I’d recommend either a serger or a zig zag stitch. Then align pocket edges with sides and top of skirt again and press.

cleo sewalong day 3

Now baste the top and outside edges of the pockets to the skirt 1/4″ from edge (pretend that inner pocket seam is already sewn in the photo below…ahem. oops!). This step is important to hold the rest of the pocket in place while you sew the skirt together.

Cleo skirtalong

Here’s how the View A pockets should look from the inside (left) and outside (right) at this point:

Cleo skirtalong

I finished my inside pocket seams with my serger, but a zig zag finish works just as well. Check out the Seam Finish Appendix in the back of the pattern for my favorite seam finishes.

Step 3. Sew side seams (View A)

Now grab your BACK SKIRT pattern piece. Pin and sew front skirt and back skirt together along sides.

Cleo skirtalong

Not shown: Finish side seams as desired (zig zag or serge). Press seams toward back skirt.

Cleo skirtalong

Step 2. Attach pockets (View B)

Pin one pocket to each side of the front skirt with right sides together, aligning pockets at notches.

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Sew pockets to skirt with 3/8″ seam allowance. Note that the seam allowance is 3/8″ here, but will be 1/2″ for the rest of the pattern. Finish these seams as desired, only along pocket (the side seams will be finished later). I’ve finished the seam below using a zig zag stitch.

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Now it’s time to add the pockets to the back skirt! Before you do this, place the edges of the back and front skirt next to each other and make sure the pockets are lined up. I often find that even when I mark my dots and cut my notches, they can still be a little bit “off.”

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Once you’re sure they’re lined up, pin and sew the pockets to the back skirt using a 3/8″ seam.

Press all of the pockets away from the skirt pieces. Understitch seam allowances to pocket by stitching through the pocket and seam allowances 1/8 away from the seam you just sewed (in the photo below, it would be just to the right of the seam).

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Step 3. Sew side seams (View B)

Pin the front and back skirts together, lining up the pockets at the sides. Sew the sides together from the top of the skirt to the first dot, around the curved edge of the pocket, and from the second dot down to the hem.

Finish seams as desired (I used a serger, but you can use a zig zag or even a french seam for this seam). Press the pockets toward the front of the skirt.

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

Cleo skirtalong / attach pockets view B

That’s all for today! We’re going to break for the weekend, then come back on Monday to assemble and attach the waistband.

Go to Day 4

How are your skirts coming along? Feel free to leave comments & questions here, on Facebook or on Instagram! And we’d love to see your photos (use the #cleoskirt tag)!

Cleo Skirtalong Day 2: Cut out and prepare pattern pieces

Cut out your pieces / Cleo Skirtalong

Welcome to Day 2 of the Cleo Skirtalong! If you’re just joining us, see all of the skirtalong posts here.

Today it’s time to get to the fun stuff, starting with cutting out all of the pieces you need to sew Cleo!

The first thing you should do is fold the fabric in half on your cutting surface, lining up the selvage edges of the fabric as best you can. Gently smooth out any creases or wrinkles with your hands so that the two layers are completely flat. You should already have pressed your fabric with an iron, but if you need to do that to remove any remaining wrinkles, do that now.

Lay out all pattern pieces before cutting
I recommend that you lay out all of your traced pattern pieces on the fabric to visualize where they will go before you do any cutting. This also helps you make sure you have enough fabric before you start to cut. Line up the grainline arrows on the pattern pieces so they are parallel to the fabric fold/selvages.

Place your traced pattern pieces on the fabric as shown in the suggested cutting diagrams in your pattern. The cutting diagrams are found on pages 6 (View A) and 12 (View B) of the PDF, and on pages 4 and 5 of the printed pattern.

cut out your pieces

Time to cut!
Once you have your pattern pieces arranged the way you want them, pin your pattern pieces to the fabric or use pattern weights to hold them in place. Then carefully cut out your pieces, through both layers of fabric. I like to use a rotary cutter and mat because it goes quickly, but fabric shears are fine too.

You’ll also want to cut a piece of 1.25″ wide elastic using the chart provided on page 2 (PDF) or 12 (print).

Finally, cut out one front waistband from lightweight fusible interfacing.

For View A, you should have 1 front skirt, 1 front waistband, 1 front hem band, 1 back skirt, 1 back waistband, 1 back hem band, and two pockets, plus interfacing for the front waistband and your piece of elastic.

CleocuttingViewA

Remember to cut notches wherever they are indicated! This will make sewing the skirt easier later. Here’s the front waistband, for example, which has three notches on its lower edge:

Cleo skirtalong

For View B you should have 1 front skirt, 1 front waistband, 1 back skirt, 1 back waistband, and four pockets, plus interfacing for the front waistband and your piece of elastic.

For View B, sometimes I like to use a lining fabric for my pockets instead of the main fabric. My favorite lining fabric is cotton lawn, and I often use off-white or white.

CleoCuttingViewB

Again, make sure you have the notches added to help you attach the pockets later:

Cleo skirtalong

Then using a fabric marker or chalk, add the two pocket dots to each side of the skirt pieces, above and below the pocket notch (note that this is not shown; we added the dots to the pattern pieces after I took these photos)!

Prepare the waistband and hem bands
Use your iron to attach the fusible interfacing to the front waistband according to the manufacturers instructions. I recommend putting a piece of muslin between your iron and interfacing, always.

Then press the front and back waistbands in half lengthwise down their centers to create a crease. That will become the top of the waistband. Then press 3/8″ toward the wrong side along the top edge of both waistband pieces.

Cleo Skirtalong: prep waistband

Finally, press the hem band pieces in half down their centers (View A only, not shown).

Now you’re ready to attach the pockets!
Go to Day 3

Where to buy Cleo in print

Made By Rae Cleo Skirt Sewing Pattern
The Cleo skirt pattern is now available in print! Find a stockist here:

US

Blue Bar Quilts – Middleton, WI

Bolt Fabric Boutique – Portland OR

Cool Cottons – Portland, OR

Domesticity – Baltimore, MD

Fiddlehead Artisan Supply – Belfast, ME

Hartford Stitch – West Hartford, CT

Hawthorne Threads – online

Imagine Gnats – online

Indiesew – online

Knit & Bolt – Minneapolis, MN

Lola Pink Fabrics – Lafayette, LA

Maker Mountain Fabrics – Ben Lomond, CA

Nido – Burlington, VT

Sew Special Quilts – San Antonio, TX

Sew To Speak – Worthington, OH

Thread Lab – Menonomie, WI

Three Little Birds – Hyattsville, mD

CANADA

Fabric Spark – East York, ON

Knit Stitch – London, ON

AUSTRALIA

Selvage – online

Interested in carrying Made By Rae paper patterns in your shop? Visit our wholesale page to sign up!

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Cleo Summer Showcase, Part 2

Last week, the most gorgeous set of Cleo skirts were posted by a set of talented ladies for the Cleo Summer Showcase. I rounded up the first half of the showcase last Wednesday (see: Cleo Summer Showcase, Part 1), and today I’m happy to be rounding up the second half of the showcase.
Cleo Summer Showcase

Fleurine at Sew Mariefleur always has amazing scenic photos to go with her gorgeous makes, and her Cleo skirt post is no exception.
Darci of darcisews, top right, is wearing her latest Cleo right into her third trimester!
I love Sienna’s (bottom left) ikat woven Cleo! She has another Cleo in her recent feed: @notaprimarycolor.
Amy Nicole, bottom right, shared her chic outfit made out of vintage fabric over on her blog, Amy Nicole Studio.

Cleo Summer Showcase

Bettina of Stahlarbeit (above) made two lovely versions, one of them an almost-floor-length maxi. I love how she styled hers with three new handmade tops to make for a handful of outfit combos!

Cleo Summer Showcase

Kten of Jinx and Gunner, top left, made a wispy beach outfit with a lengthened maxi Cleo.
Indiesew’s Allie, top right, styled her rayon Cleo with clogs and a tank for a perfect combo of classy and comfy!
Emily, bottom left, made this gorgeous rayon version that she shared on her blog, My Crafty Little Self.
Whitney Deal, bottom right, created a perfectly summery cotton lawn version; read more on her blog.

Thank you to all of the creative women who participated in our showcase — I’m so excited about all of the different looks and styles represented in the skirts they made.

Now for a Sewalong!

I’m posting a step-by-ste Cleo Skirtalong starting this Wednesday to show you how to sew this pattern. I’ll have lots of handy tips, photos, and more resources lined up to share. I hope you’ll join me!

Get more details in the skirtalong intro post.

Cleo is also now available in printed form in shops!! So if you’d prefer a printed copy of the pattern, you can find a list of stockists here.

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Cleo Summer Showcase, Part I

It’s time to take a look at the Cleo Summer Showcase so far!

Update: here’s Part 2

I’m so inspired by all of the amazing skirts that these lovely women have made and posted already this week. And honestly, overwhelmed and honored that so many people agreed to be a part of this little showcase. Thank you to everyone who has participated so far!!

Let’s start with a roundup from Monday’s showcase guests:

Cleo Summer ShowcaseVicky of Sewvee, top left, made this colorful and cheerful Cleo. I love that umbrella too. See more pics in her blog post!
Erin of Hungie Gungietop right posted this lovely pink Loominous skirt and styled it with a cute aqua belt. See more pics on her blog.
Natalie of Hungry Hippie Sews rounded up all of her Cleo skirts on her blog, including this beautiful rayon version that she made (bottom left). Natalie was one of our Cleo testers and has made a bunch since the pattern launched!
Teri of Fa Sew La (bottom right) added a fantastic waist tie to her cheerful floral rayon Cleo. Head over to her blog for more details.

Here are the Cleo skirts from Tuesday’s showcase guests:
Cleo Summer ShowcaseTori of the The Doing Things Blog posted TWO absolutely lovely Cleos, top left and bottom left. More pics on her blog!
Kate English, top right, added some width to the waistband (love it!) and styled it to perfection.
Meredith of Olivia Jane Handcrafted, bottom right, chose a large-scale gingham and cut the pockets and hem bands on the bias for a great self-contrast effect. See details and closeups on her blog.
Lindsay, bottom center, shows how a slightly heavier fabric (canvas!) works nicely for Cleo too!

Finally, here are the Cleo showcase posts for today:
Cleo Summer Showcase
Julie at Nurse Bean Sews (above) is so prolific that this is actually just a part of her entire Cleo skirt collection! Head over to her blog to see the rest of her Cleos and to see how she styles them with her handmade tops!

Cleo Summer Showcase

Melissa at A Happy Stitch made a couple of versions (top left, bottom right), which you can see more of in her blog post as well. Sidenote: I love how Cleo keeps popping up in Loominous fabric…it really is a wonderful fabric for clothing. And Lauren of Lauren Durr Design used a brilliant border print for a stunning effect (bottom left, top right). I love how she used the hem band to extend the yellow area of the print.

The variety of skirts and styles represented here really speaks to the versatility of this pattern. I really enjoy seeing how different people can create completely different looks with the same pattern, don’t you? We’re halfway through the showcase, so stay tuned for even more Cleo loveliness!

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Cleo Summer Showcase

I’m very excited to announce that next week I will be hosting a Cleo Summer Showcase here on the blog and on Instagram to feature the Cleo pattern for summer! A bunch of fantastic people, including Cleo pattern testers, Instagrammers (is that a word?) and bloggers are going to to help me to show off this lovely summer skirt pattern.

The Cleo Summer Showcase will be followed by a Cleo Sewalong, which will coincide with the launch of the print Cleo pattern (yay!!!). I’m so excited to add Cleo to the list of print patterns we offer at independent shops, so look for the announcement and list of shops in my newsletter next week (you can sign up here if you aren’t already subscribed).

Here is a list of the makers and bloggers who will be participating in the Cleo Showcase next week:

Cleo summer showcase

july 31
vicky / @sewvee / sewvee.blogspot.co.uk
erin / @hungiegungie / hungiegungie.com
natalie / @sewhungryhippie / hungryhippie sews
teri / @teridodds1 / fa sew la

august 1
tori / @thedoingthingsblog / thedoingthingsblog.com
lindsay / @lindsayinstitches
meredith / @thefooshe / oliviajanehandcrafted.com/blog
kate / @kate.english

august 2
melissa / @ahappystitch / ahappystitch.com
julie / @nursebean82 / nursebeansews.wordpress.com
lauren / @laurenddesign / laurendurrdesign.com

august 3
fleurine / @mariefleurine / sewmariefleur.com
bettina / @stahlarbeit / stahlarbeit.ch
allie / @indie_sew / indiesew.com/blog
darci / @darcialexis / darcisews.com
emily / @mycraftylittleself / mycraftylittleself.blogspot.com

august 4
whitney / @whitneydeal / whitney-deal.com/blog
sienna  /@notaprimarycolor
amy nicole / @amynicolestudio / amynicolestudio.com
kim / @pitykitty
kten / @jinxandgunner / jinxandgunner.blogspot.com

I’m so very grateful to all of these lovely people for participating in our Cleo pattern showcase! It’s going to be so fun to see all of their inspiring Cleo makes. I hope you will enjoy it too!

You can find the Cleo sewing pattern in my shop.

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Cleo + Josephine

Cleo Skirt

As the weather warms up, I’m excited about this combination of Cleo and Josephine. I’ve noticed that when I design a pattern, it’s often because I have a hole in my wardrobe for a certain type of design. I’m also thinking about how it will work with the other things I’m already wearing, which tend to be previous designs I’ve sewn. I love the idea of being able to create a handmade capsule wardrobe with my patterns, so being able to wear Josephine and Cleo together is so satisfying. My assistant Melissa is modeling them here beautifully.

Cleo Skirt

This version of Josephine is View C of the pattern made up in a lightweight swiss dot, and has proven to be one of my favorite wardrobe basics to make. It has enough interesting details (the pleats, the center slit) to make it a perfect match for a solid fabric, especially one that is a bit sheer like this one. The Cleo Skirt is View A made up with two Robert Kaufman lawns, a print from London Calling, and a Cambridge solid in a color that I think has since been discontinued (lipstick), since I no longer see it on their website, but if you do a quick web search you’ll still find it for sale in some shops as of this writing.
Cleo Skirt

This gives me a chance to further profess my love for lawn as an apparel fabric. This spring there have been so many good collections printed on lawn, and the fact that so many manufacturers, including Robert Kaufman, have been adding great lawn prints and solids lately (such as Friedlander lawn) only makes me more excited. Sleeping Porch by my friend Heather Ross for Wyndham is another favorite. I’ve been sewing with a few of her prints and can’t wait to show you what I’ve made! If you’re wary of sewing garments or scared of “apparel fabrics,” you will love how easy lawn is to work with. Quilters take note. Honestly I think lawn should just replace quilting cotton.

Back to this lovely outfit. Here’s a few shots from the back:

Cleo Skirt

Cleo Skirt

Which sewing patterns do you love to combine together for spring and summer? Do you have any favorites?

Cleo Skirt

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