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End of year 2019

So the big thing I managed to do this year was move house. Which if you are reading this and in rental you may be like, that’s no big deal, we do that all the time. But we were trying to sell a one bedroom flat, in the middle of the fun Brexit mess, at a time when first time buyers were rather thin on the ground, & solicitors are getting increasingly nervous of leasehold properties, & so fussier and fussier about dotting every I and crossing every t in the contract.

So all in all it took us nearly 2 years to sell the damn place. It was not too bad from a sewing perspective in 2018, we put the flat on the market in May, it was only on the market for 3 weeks so within a month I could get back on with my sewing while the sale car crashed for 6 months, it fell through just after New Year 2019.

After that I came down with the most dreadful series of colds and illnesses I’d had for a very long time, with hindsight I was probably run down with the stress.

The flat went back on the market in March, this time it took 10 weeks to sell (thanks to Brexit the few first time buyers there were out there originally had evaporated into thin air) so there was literally three months when I couldn’t sew. After that things moved very quickly and we were out by mid November.

I haven’t been able to sew since. We exchanged our one bed flat for a three bedroom unfurnished rental house, & despite the addition of a load of furniture from Jon’s grandfather’s house we’d inherited when he died, there was nowhere near enough furniture to go round for the rooms we needed.

I left my cutting table behind when we moved as I used to use the kitchen island, my fabric wardrobe needed reappropriating to become an actual wardrobe, my sewing table was completely the wrong shape for the new room and our aged Ikea Billy bookshelves didn’t survive the move. So I need entirely new furniture for my sewing room.

So we’ve ordered a load of stuff from Ikea, which arrived on New Years Eve, and even though we’re constructing it as fast as we can, it’s going to be 3 weeks at least before I can sew again.

So I’ve literally had 5 out of the last 12 months I’ve been unable to sew, & another 3 months on top of that when I was just way too ill.

So it’s pretty much a miracle I sewed anything frankly.

So here we go.

A top I made for Jon’s Mum in January

The set of ten cushion covers I made from Sam Wilson fabric (5 of them are in our living room and the remaining 5 have gone to live in my parents summerhouse)

My Iolanthe designer fabric dress

My sheep goddess dress I made for Fantasy Forest festival,

All blogged or partially blogged.

Also this yellow high necked jersey dress

And this Tarot card and floral fabric dress I made from a Vogue pattern just before we moved.

Neither of which have been blogged yet.

Which brings the total to 6 (or more optimistically 15 if you count the cushion covers separately, but I’m seeing them all as one rather large project) which is about half my normal total, but considering the fact the blue fantasy dress and it’s accessories and the cushion covers were both monster projects that took a lot more hours than the stuff I sew normally do, and considering I only had 6-7 months I could have possibly sewed at all and I spent 3 of them ill, I’m counting this as a reasonable achievement.

Next year I am intending to be much more productive. As soon as I have my sewing room up and running again, I can’t wait to get on.

I have a unicorn print jersey from Stoff and Stil already cut our ready to become a handkerchief hem frankenpatterned dress, & I am planning a Dear and Doe Belladonna out of this fabric…..

Which I have been sitting on for years waiting for the right pattern idea to come along.

After that I want to make a few floaty prairie dress inspired numbers, and I desperately need to overhaul my midsummer wardrobe – the combination of extreme heatwaves in this country pretty much every year and Jon’s mum having emigrated to Mallorca, I desperately need linen or viscose dresses to wear when the temperature hits 40 odd as my usual summer collection of jersey dresses or cotton a-line skirt dresses is just completely unsuitable.

I have a similar problem with my midwinter wardrobe. In the coldest part of the year I tend to live in my sweatshirting Tilly and the Buttons Coco dresses and a couple of similar shop bought ones. I only have about 5 and 2 of them are properly showing signs of age/cheap fabric (buying most of my fabric as high street deadstock from a market stall sometimes means it doesn’t have quite the longevity you would expect if you bought it first hand (this actually Massively pisses me off! – the idea that some high street fashion is produced and the fabric is only designed to last less than 10 washes, let alone when you get to the stitching, is totally awful for the environment!)).

Anyway, this would all be fine if it was only that cold for two weeks in January, but now we’ve moved to the country it is colder than London, & it’s been a miserable autumn, so I’ve ended up wearing this small range of dresses a lot more than I expected to be wearing them. So I desperately need new ones.

All of which is going to keep me very busy next year. To say nothing of my long term ambition to start making my own coats.

Also the local lewisham market stall is sadly no longer local, there is a stall in Hitchin but it’s nowhere near as good, which means I will no longer have easy access to 2 and 3 quid a meter fabrics. So I’m going to have to work my way through my stash. This is actually not a bad thing though as it was growing somewhat out of control.

So anyway, Happy New Year, hopefully next year will be a lot better for us than the last few years have been.

The staring eyes.

A few months ago I posted about this top , made with Stoff and Stil jersey with eyes on it that ended up in my mother’s wardrobe not mine because as the jersey had pretty much zero stretch, it ended up way too small.

Well eventually, after mucking around for several months having zero enthusiasm for the project, I remade it. I added about an inch to each side of the pattern and under the arms. (sewaholic Renfrew incase anyone’s wondering. I have made this many times before – hence the over confident cock-up with the first one)

It fits fine but it still feels a little close because of the non stretchyness of the jersey….

So I’m really happy to have that back. You can’t really see that much difference with the first version, but it doesn’t ride up at all and it feels a lot more comfy…

As well as the top though, I’d like to talk about the skirt I am wearing in most of the pictures.

This started out life as a Violet Fane Oracle skirt. Well it still is, except it’s had a new waistband out of heavy navy cotton in order to fit my measurements (which are somewhat larger than was required to fit into the original skirt) I removed the purple and gold bow from the waistband and I had a load of navy crochet lace left over from my Strawberry Thief Dress so I wacked that round the bottom to match the new waistband.

Here are some pictures of the skirt with a better outfit…..

Sweater was Topshop nearly ten years ago now, base top is probably Laura Ashley, the galaxy cat necklace is Curiology and the Lapis and purple Pearl necklaces were made by me.

To be honest I haven’t got round to doing a lolita co-ord with this skirt, its fitting rather well into my everyday wardrobe and it washes ok, so I’m just wearing it for casual.

After the disaster trying to sell last year our flat is now back on the market, which means no more sewing for me for the next couple of months. However I’ve got loads of knitting and jewellery making lined up to keep going with.

I’m also months behind on updating what I’ve sewn on here so I’ve got plenty to keep posting anyway.

Finery of the Red Queen

So after resurrecting this thing we promptly decide to move house and chaos ensues for several months while we try and sell it then do the whole wait for the paperwork to happen thing during which time I’m finding it hard to sew as for the best part of three months I’ve had to have my sewing machine packed away incase anyone wants to come round and look at the flat. (We sold it pretty quickly, but then there were second viewings and surveyors and all kinds of people traipsing round needing it to look like a civilised flat rather than a sewing studio with a bed in it 😂)

However I have managed to make some stuff, basically by keeping it really simple and sticking to quick and easy projects that only take a couple of hours to make.

So first up are these two beauties I made during the heatwave (oh yeah , that hasn’t helped- zero energy to sew and no way in hell Im wearing what I’ve made whilst that was going on). A plain black Sewaholic Renfrew and McCalls M7542 mashup, which needs no real explanation, it’s just a basic wardrobe staple….

And a self drafted gathered rectangle skirt with an elastic waistband (so barely drafted at all) made out of this gorgeous Dolce and Gabbana knock off fabric I picked up from a Russian seller on Etsy.

The fabric is actually really good quality, but I don’t think it’s genuine, or if it is it was a dodgy print run because the black background fabric is a bit mottled and grey.

There was only just over a meter by 1.5m of it so my options were limited with what to do with it – hence the gathered rectangle skirt to maximise use. It has pockets though (in a complimentary other fabric) I was undecided as to whether to bother, & I’m really glad that I did.

Here I am wearing both of them together on Monday…..

Think both of these will be very useful and get worn quite a lot.

The skirt has Alice in Wonderland vibes and I am going to try and find appropriate accessories to style it up in a more alternative kind of way.

The necklace I’m wearing in these photos is a good start. It is awesome actually, I was thinking I did not have any appropriate accessories and then I walked past the Sally Army shop in Catford and this was in the window for £3! I bit back my dislike of the Salvation Army (they are actually quite vocal anti gay and trans rights activists specially in America) and went in and bought it, and it’s perfect…

To me that looks like proper lolita brand jewellery.

It is about to be Halloween season though, TKMaxx have got all their stuff in already. So it’s just a case of waiting a couple of weeks till Claire’s and Flying Tiger and Asda start stocking stuff and then going down to Lewisham and doing a haul. I have a set of skeleton hand hair clips I bought in Flying Tiger last year that I have worn pretty much two or three times a week all year, & whenever I go out people comment on them. Hopefully I will find something as good this year, and I’ll certainly be looking for anything Alice in Wonderland themed.

Such an exciting time of year!

Floral old masters dress

So nearly 6 months ago now a lady whose sewing blog I followed on Instagram ( @vladivos) ran a competition where for the winner she would have a look through your Instagram and pick a fabric and a pattern to give to you to make. & for once in my life I won something and was absolutely over the moon when she sent me the Deer and Doe Patterns Belladone dress pattern and this amazing Dutch laser printed fabric….

It is fairly thick, almost something like drill and was panels of the most beautiful Dutch Old Master Still Life painting of flowers, complete with caterpillars and insects. So she nailed it, it was something I was so excited to make.

I hadn’t tried the pattern before or indeed anything by that company so I made a mock up for my Halloween costume very quickly ….

And it fit lovely with only a bit of minimal tweeking to stop the back panel gaping.

Then I got hit by the winter of never ending flu and it got parked. (I would be in deep despair over my chronic fatigue and general health worsening except most of the endless stream of illness I caught was off Jon who has been ill just as often (he just recovers quicker) & I know loads of people who have had flu 3 or 4 times this winter – so it’s really just been a shit year for it in London, it isn’t just me.)

Finally a couple of weeks ago I was well enough to give it a go. & finished it just in time to go on holiday to Split in Croatia last week and get some pretty photos amongst the Roman ruins and medieval buildings.

Excuse the fat arms – weight gain is a massive side effect of the medication I’m on, I don’t know why it all piled on my arms like that, it isn’t the most attractive, but as I have to keep taking the medication and the chronic fatigue means I can’t do lots of high impact exercise, I’m unfortunately stuck with it. But it was far too hot for a cardigan, & obviously the cool back detail would have been covered if I’d worn one.

I’m pretty much happy with it. The armholes gape a bit on the shoulder. I know what to do to fix it if I make it again (which I probably will)

I’m really pleased with how the print placement has worked out. I have got to say that cutting this was one of the most nerve wracking but also one of the most creative sewing jobs I have ever done. I turned the panels sideways – luckily as a floral still life it didn’t matter – to get the full skirt width out of them. This pattern has a lot of pieces, & although actually I have quite a large piece left at the end (potential tote bag?) it was quite tight fitting them all in and getting them in the right place so the dress looked balanced.

I think the end result is one of my favourite dresses I’ve made in a long time.

Next up is a black bell sleeved Sewaholic Renfrew top to wear under this when the weather is less glorious.

I know the number of Renfrew tops and Lady Skater and Coco dresses I make must be really boring for anyone reading this blog, but I get soooo much wear out of them. I have three tops to make in the immediate future and then I am planning to start experimenting a bit more. I’ve been buying patterns quite a bit and I’ve been gifted a load, & I have loads of plans for interesting projects. I am keeping it very simple and easy to put away for the next month or two though as we are planning to try to sell our flat and so everything needs to be easy to put away for viewings.

Oh, & I’m not doing Me Made May this year as I spent the first week of it on holiday and I’ve got a couple of events later in the month that I want to wear specific non me-made outfits to (mostly lolita) so I couldn’t really join in. Am a bit sad though as it’s one of the best opportunities to connect with the sewing community. However I probably wear at least one me-made item of clothing 4 out of every 5 days anyway.

Guess who’s back? Back again…..

So about 9 months ago I stopped posting on WordPress. Partly I was under the impression that no one reads this damn thing, partly I got over excited by Instagram (so much easier to use if you are tired- & I’m tired a lot of the time) and partly even though my sewing has been going brilliantly, I got in a bit of a downer and wasn’t really in the mood to write about stuff.

However, having revisited my blog today for the first time in several months, I’ve realised that

a) even when I don’t write in it I get more hits than I was expecting – people actually read this stuff!

b) it’s not as awful as I thought.

& c) it is actually useful for me to record details of the things I make more than what I post on Instagram, largely for me – then I know what worked and what didn’t if I make stuff again, but also for other people, the more detailed reviews of a pattern there are the better.

Anyway….. apparently this new app makes it easier to post photos, so I’m going to do a very quick run through of all the stuff I’ve made since my last post (I have chronic fatigue, I sew slowly…. it’s not going to be that much!)

Firstly another Tilly and the Buttons Coco dress, fabric courtesy of the local fabric stall. I had a few issues with this one to start with, a little darling locally accused me of cultural appropriation 🤦🏼‍♀️ which massively upset me because under no definition of the term could I see a way it possibly could be, I’m super careful because we live in an area with a lot of African neighbours and fairly near to Goldsmiths uni (one of the hotspots for the social justice warrior movement) not to make stuff with African Wax fabric, even though it’s really easily available round here and it’s super fashionable with sewing bloggers & basically it made me feel really self conscious and worried about wearing the dress. (Actually I think this incident is why I stopped blogging – I was very very upset, it happened the first time I wore this out & I didn’t want to write about it I did not want to open the can of worms that is racial politics) However I made myself keep wearing it, & gradually fell back in love with it (also I got “called out” loudly behind my back by a bunch of teenagers for dressing like Gwen Stefani 🤦🏼‍♀️🤦🏼‍♀️ (I was wearing black and white striped leggings and had some stamped eyeliner stars round my eyes – and a massive great coat covering what else I was wearing it was freezing and I’d been at a metal club) and I’ve come to realise you just can’t win with the kids round here, they basically take offence at older people wearing anything fancy, cultural appropriation is basically a tag they use to justify being judgy little busybodies, so it doesn’t bother me as much any more. Which is good cuz it means I can give this dress the love it deserves.

Short sleeved version of a kitschycoo lady skater dress. Not my favourite make ever, had a bit less fabric than I expected so had to make the bodice in black, worked out ok, but basically I needed a sun dress in a hurry so I made it in a hurry, & it does the job ok. It’s only about two weeks of the year it’s hot enough to need sun dresses but those two weeks are usually one continuous block of time so you need loads of the damn things cuz you have to change at least once a day and I can’t do the laundry quick enough.

Another sewaholic Fraser sweatshirt like the one I made here . Made this for a friend. I like this better than the one I made me. The contrast sleeves and hem was largely a happy accident and I much prefer the 3/4 sleeve version to the full length version I made myself.

Took a cheap £10 Claire’s Accessories cloak for Halloween, added lace trim round the edge and a velvet bow and improved it from tacky children’s costume to something I could wear comfortably to a goth club.

Deer and Doe Belladone also for Halloween. Excuse the drag queen makeup – that was actually the look I was going for as I made this to wear to a Rocky Horror themed fancy dress event. I was supposed to be the lips. I need to get pictures of this at some point the way I wear it normally, cuz I wear it quite a lot, & so far I haven’t spilt anything down it which is an achievement!

Tilly and the Buttons Coco out of floral velvet from the fabric stall for my Mum. She really likes it, & wears it a lot.

Sewaholic Renfrew, but I stole the bell sleeves from McCalls M7542. Fabric is beautiful laser printed jersey from a Dutch fabric shop (the laser printed Dutch stuff is just amazing) with images of Rembrandt paintings on it. One of my favourite things I’ve sewn ever!

Another Tilly and the Buttons Coco – so useful for the middle of winter. In bright yellow beetles fabric I got from Ditto Fabric about a year ago. Doesn’t have the best recovery in the world, but I really like the dress.

& lastly a goldwork embroidery I did at a workshop a couple of weeks ago. It’s a bit shit, but I’m proud of it, it was my first try. The big problem was I found it difficult to mark out the fabric in enough detail to give me guidance where to sew, so I winged it, so it’s come out a bit wonky, but I think it looks nice anyway.

Anyway. That’s my catch-up. I’ve been sewing consistently but it hasn’t been a huge amount. There’s a dress I’ve nearly finished at the moment that hopefully I’ll be able to blog about soon.

Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this a bit more updated in future. I didn’t mean to stop blogging. If anyone is actually readingthis ofcourse!

The top that nearly didn’t happen

All the credit for this top rightfully goes to Jon.

I was clearing out my fabric about 6 months ago and this fabric was added to the Chuck It Out pile (it got to a grand total of 10 pieces of fabric out of a stash of nearly 200 that I didn’t actually want.) About 2 months later, we did actually come to chucking it out, we had had ambitious plans about selling stuff on Facebook sales communities, but in the end what was chucked out was so little and all the shit quality stuff, that there didn’t seem much point doing anything with it but sending it to the recycling bin.

But Jon stopped me and persuaded me to look again at this piece. I bout it up Goldehawk Road about 5 or 6 years ago, before I discovered the local fabric stall, & almost immediately decided I made a mistake, it seemed quite primitive and 90’s to me at the time, & I didn’t think the fabric quality was great. However as Jon pointed out when I tried to get rid of it, extremely 90’s and bold florals is very heavily in fashion at the moment. & he persuaded me to at least wash it and see what I thought then.

So I washed the fabric, & it came out an awful lot softer than before, & I was in need of a basic Sewaholic Renfrew top, same as millions of times before (here, here & here) as the washing was backing up…..tangentially, it is one of the extra paradoxes of living in a small flat that no one ever admits to, but if you don’t have a garden to dry clothes in, & you don’t have room for a tumble dryer,  all your clothes have to dry on a clothes rack in the flat,  & a cycle of washing can take up to a week to dry in grimy weather, so you need to have twice as many flipping clothes as you would need if you lived in an actual house , & of course in a tiny flat, you don’t really have room to store them! ……..so I decided to make it up quickly and if it was shit I’d only wasted 3 hors of time so it didn’t matter anyway.

I was moderately rigorous about pattern matching, but tbh, its a wavey stripe, those are the ones that on the Great British Sewing Bee they go ‘are you sure you want to use that?’ so I matched all the main points and then didn’t really worry about it too much. In the event, I aced it!

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Its not 100% if you are being nitpicky, but its the same under the arms and on the other side, & actually thats a lot better than I was expecting it to turn out.

Actually the same could be said for the whole of the top. I tried it on, & my response was like “wow, this actually really suits me!”

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So now it is in constant rotation in my wardrobe (albeit it takes it 2 1/2 weeks to get through the laundry and ironing pile) the jersey is still a bit stiff, but actually that means it isn’t at all transparent (An issue with white jersey) and it will wear well with age. I am so happy with Jon for making me look again at what is actually a really useful bit of fabric.

 

Dress for a wedding

Haven’t posted for absolutely ages. Was too busy during may doing Me Made May on Instagram, which doesn’t say much for my social media ability, but come on this blog only gets updated once or twice a month, I’m clearly not good at it anyway.

Then there was the inevitable period of bleugh when I got some kind of random minor illness and my Chronic Fatigue kicked up and I spent two weeks in bed feeling like shit and unable to blog.

– so yeah, way behind on the updating.

Which kind of sucks cuz I have actually been sewing.

So the dress in question was a crazy undertaking. I made it in 5 days including 2 for washing and ironing the fabric (I am that damn responsible!).

So end of April was our best friends wedding. Both the bride and groom were both separately our ex-housemates and also Jons ex-bandmates, so it was an important one for us, but by the week before I kind of hadn’t sorted out anything to wear. Then the Friday 8 days before the wedding I swung by the fabric stall in Lewisham and found this gorgeous black and floral fabric just calling my name and an idea was born.

My first idea was a Tilly and the buttons Martha dress, as I’d seen some top end high street dresses with a similar floral fabric in a similar pattern and wanted to replicate the look, but then I was at knitting group on the Sunday (shout out to city stitchin) and was talking it through and had a photo of the fabric on my phone (which it seems to have helpfully lost) and we decided that although a dress in that style would look gorgeous (& I had infact already cut out the pattern pieces the night before) it was maybe not a great long term option as the style was so current that it might look very dated by next year, & if you are going to go to all the effort of making something yourself it needs to have longevity.

So I went for the Francoise dress , also by Tilly, instead, to channel my inner Wednesday Adams.

So the wedding was on Saturday, and that left me 4 days to cut out the pattern, buy some extra bits from Lewisham that I needed (the pattern has a contrast collar and I decided to add a ribbon bow to pick out the yellow in the fabric.), & then make the damn thing, & to top it all its a pattern I haven’t used before.

But I managed it! luckily my health held up, on the Monday I managed to cut the paper pattern and the pieces of the fabric out, go to Lewisham to pick up the bits I needed and stick the contrast fabric in the washing machine and do all the stay stitching.

On Tuesday I did a late nighter and got it done apart from the collar and the hem.

& on Wednesday I finished it (& spent 2 hours doing dart adjustments).

& then on Wednesday night we went round to the bride and grooms flat for drinkies and the bride asked me to wear my dragon dress instead! Which actually I was not at all offended by because getting away with wearing that dress to an actual wedding is awesome!

So here is my floral dress sitting forlornly on a hanger the day before my friends wedding looking unloved….

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I used the same yellow ribbon to hem it as I used for the neck bow. I would love to say this is a deliberate design detail, but actually its a case as this being a Tilly dress, and me being 5’9″ its somewhat on the short side so I used a ribbon binding to eek out as much length from the seam allowance as I could possibly manage. I did know this would be the case before I made it but I was in such a damn hurry to get it going I totally forgot to add the extra 3 inches or so till it was too late.

So yeah, I did get some wear out of it though during Me Made May & both times tried to get some decent photos. I’ve got to say that was one of the most variable months weather wise ever, the first photos I took whilst it was cold and arctic earlier in the month, and so were indoors by artificial lighting….

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Then I wore it again on a family holiday to Brighton when it was lovely weather….

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But it was super windy when we took the photos, so I’ve decided to share both lots….anyway, it gives you the general idea.

As far as the fabric and the pattern goes….

The fabric is apparently scuba crepe, so basically one of those absolutely gorgeous, but don’t think too hard about what its made of fabrics the lewisham stall specialises in (they do occasionally have actual wools and cottons,) it washes lovely, but likes a cool iron, if its too hot it fades the print a bit, so it’s a pain from the ironing point of view.

The pattern I will make again, but I had to make some quite major adjustments to make it fit. It is always a warning sign when all the reviews and images of versions of a popular pattern on the internet do not include many plus size people. There were about 3 images (out of hundreds) and all the girls who seem to have got it to work have much larger and lower chests than mine. I cut the pattern according to the measurements but had to do some serious messing about with the darts to make it not bag massively on the chest. With hindsight I would have cut the top a size smaller, but it fit perfectly on the waist and hips. I’m a size 40C bra btw incase anyone actually ever uses this as a review as to whether to make this or not, & I think for a pattern where I’m near the top of the size range that is usually industry standard (once you get on to dedicated plus size patterns I’m often on the smaller end of cup sizes). Luckily I recorded what I actually did with the darts on the pattern as soon as I got it to work, so it should be relatively easy for me to remake this.

There was also an issue with the neck facing. I’m not sure if it was me being in a hurry, though I swear I cut the correct piece as it looked wrong to me so I double checked which line you cut, but the back facing pattern pieces ended way too short. I fudged this rather than recutting as I was tight for time, it looks fine from the outside, just it isn’t the prettiest inside, but tbh, with all the messing about with the darts I had to do, this is very much a wearable muslin anyway. As long as I actually remember, this should be very easy to fix with the next version anyway.

Apart from that, yeah, the length and the collar doesn’t extend all the way round the back, (though it looks fine on)  but those have both been covered extensively as issues on other peoples blogs.

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Anyway, I have one more garment already made and photographed to post up here, I’ve still got to do a piece about the box of lace we found on the street, & I’ve two more makes cut out and ready to sew once some new jersey needles arrive off Amazon and this damn heatwave goes away. So hopefully my blogging skills over the next few weeks will be a little more functional than they have been.

Goes to sit in the fridge before I stick so hard to this chair I can’t be peeled off it.