Gingerly Yours

ginger34Can you believe I have spent the last two years without a pair of jeans, or without a pair of trousers for that matter?! The only thing resembling trousers in my wardrobe were these 3/4-length jeans, only wearable in summer. The rest of the time: not a single pair!

I’m more of a skirt/dress wearing kind of woman (duh!), but still, no pair at all had started to get a little tiresome. I’ll choose a skirt/dress over a pair of jeans 99% of the time, but I’ve come to realise I need jeans for the remaining percent. I mean, how stupid did I look hiking in a dress and tights last winter? 😀

gingerprofilThe reason I spent so much time without a somewhat essential piece of wardrobe is that well-fitting trousers are close to impossible to find in shops for me: there is a 36 cm difference between my hips and waist, which means that shop-bought trousers that fit my waist will never (and I mean never) go past my hips, and the ones that go past my hips will inevitably gape at the waist. The best I could aim for were ones that didn’t gape so much that they were completely unwearable, but really, I have actually never owned a pair of perfectly fitting trousers. The ones I’ve linked to in the first paragraph were one of my best fitting pairs, yet they gaped enough at the back that I always needed to cover the waist.

gingerfaceBy the way, I’d like to stress the fact that I’m not complaining about my body shape, but about the fact that I couldn’t find trousers that fit that shape. I’m insisting because absolutely every time I have happened to talk about the objective size difference between my hips and waist, there have been people to tell me that I should not be saying that, that I’m not fat and God knows what, as if simply acknowledging (and, let me insist again, not complaining about) a particularity of my body was the same as criticising that body. We all have different bodies, there’s nothing negative in identifying what makes ours different from the accepted norm. Also, people automatically jumping to the conclusion that wide hips = negative kind of puzzles me, but whatever.

Now that’s off my chest, let’s talk about MY FIRST EVER PAIR OF WELL FITTING JEANS! 😀

gingerface2When the Closet Case Ginger jeans first came out, like a lot of people I was kind of tempted, but also kind of intimidated. What worried me was the fitting part. I remembered from the Clover-craze a few years ago that trousers seemed an absolute nightmare to fit, and I wasn’t feeling up to the task. Still, when the Ginger pattern was on sale and I found the perfect dark stretch denim (for €3! – and it is surprisingly good quality!) at Tissus Passion, I gave in. And finally, a few months later, I mustered up the courage and started cutting. What was the worst that could happen after all? Wasting less than €6 of fabric? Spoiler alert: I didn’t waste a single cent!

gingerdosIn a bout of mad optimism, I opted for the high-rise skinny version. I had never in my life even tried on a pair of skinny jeans, but I thought, there’s always a first, and I was curious… My fabric is pretty stretchy, so I went down to a size 10 in the hips instead of what should have been a 12. Also, I didn’t dare grading up or down too many sizes and the jeans are not supposed to fall at the natural waist but a little bit lower, which is why I chose a size 8 for the waist instead of a 4.

So at first I simply graded from a size 8 waist to a size 10 hips, and I tried on the basted jeans (without waistband) as advised in the sewalong and in the eBook. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the fit was already quite good! I just needed to take a wedge out at the back yoke. And before finishing the jeans for real, I tried on the waistband and simply cut off the excess after attaching it to the jeans. Right below are my modified pattern pieces for reference (click on the image to enlarge): in red are the changes I made before even cutting the pattern (i.e. simply grading between a size 8 and a size 10) and in green (only on the yoke piece) the wedge I took out after trying on the basted jeans (the broken line is the seam line, the solid one adds a 5/8” seam allowance). I didn’t transfer the changes I made to the waistband piece, but this will be easy to measure on the finished jeans before I remake a pair. Do not pay attention to any orange marks on the pattern pieces; these are just traces left by the tailor’s chalk.

gingermodifsI mentioned above that I used Heather Lou’s Sewing Your Own Jeans eBook. It was nice having all the info in one place, as well as some additional information that wasn’t included in the sewalong, but what I found most useful is all available for free in the sewalong. So if you need even more hand-holding than in the sewalong, I’d recommend it as it’s so well thought out, but if you don’t, well, it’s far from mandatory to get a nice looking pair of jeans.

And the pattern itself is so impressive! I have read here and there that the fly front zipper insertion method alone made it worth a buy (or a peek at the sewalong! 😉 ) and it’s true, really; I defy you to fail your zipper insertion following this method. But the rest of the pattern is so worth it, too. Everything is so well explained and carefully thought out, I think even a confident beginner could take it one step at a time and get more than satisfying results in the end.

gingerdetails2As you may have understood by now, I am positively ecstatic about my Ginger jeans. There are a few small details I’d like to improve on for a future version (I’d like my topstitching and bar tacks to be more regular next time – I hope not to sew the next pair on the same low range plastic sewing machine though, so this should be achievable! 😀 – and I’d also maybe lengthen the legs a little bit and move the pockets a tiny bit more towards the centre, which are pretty simple changes), but they look so much better than what I had imagined! And they are so comfortable (as proven here)! I love the comfort of the high waist (hitting me around the belly button) and the pocket stay does its job in keeping everything in place: it’s so nice not having to adjust the pockets in place every time you put on the jeans.

gingerdetails1I used some Liberty tana lawn remnants (from this dress and this blouse) to line the pockets and waistband. I chose gold topstitching thread and copper coloured button and rivets for a classic jeans look.

I also made the Breton top I am wearing in the pictures. It’s a Sewaholic Renfrew I modified slightly: I changed the shape of the neckline and I simply turned and stitched it instead of adding a neckband; I also omitted the sleeve and hem bands, lengthened the sleeves and added slits at the sides of the bottom hem. What really makes the top is the fabric, of course. I bought it online from Un chat sur un fil, but it was at least two years ago and I don’t think they have it in stock anymore. It’s 100% cotton, quite thick and it doesn’t have a lot of stretch for a knit. It has pilled a little bit around the spot where the shoulder strap of my bag rubs, but nothing anyone but me is going to notice, I think. I still have enough fabric to make another tee, so when this one bites the dust I can make its clone, phew!

gingerdos2Now can I get back to waxing poetic about the jeans? Just kidding, I’m already embarrassed enough at the sheer length of this post! Please cut me some slack: I MADE JEANS!

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Sailorette

Sailorette1How many Ondées are too many Ondées? This is Ondée #6 (and — spoiler alert! I made #7 on the same day!). This is also far from my first striped top; what can I say? I know what I like!

I’ve sewn a couple more challenging projects lately, and Ondée is still the perfect palate cleanser for when you don’t want to jump directly from one long project to another.

Sailorette7I made my usual size, and this time I used a navy/off-white striped cotton jersey with lycra, once again from the Stoffenspektakel. The neckline, waist and sleeve bands are made from the same off-white cotton ribbing I used for this T-shirt (from De Stoffenkamer). It’s pretty thick, more than the main fabric. This made it a little bit difficult to sew through the bulk at seam junctions, but it does look nice in the end.

Sailorette2The skirt is one of Deer&Doe’s new patterns, the Zéphyr dress. A skirt version, obviously. I’m in-between sizes (36/38 waist) at the moment and I opted for a 36, which is perfectly comfortable, not too tight at all. I didn’t grade to my hip size (close to a 42), hoping the shape of the skirt would provide enough room by itself, and it does. I do have to wiggle a little bit to put on the skirt, but that’s always the case with any garment that relies on stretch and not on any fastenings: if it fits my waist, it won’t easily get past my hips.

Sailorette5The fabric I used is a navy ponte of unknown composition I recently bought at the Stoffenspektakel with this exact skirt in mind. It is perfect for this pattern, just the right weight and thickness.

I pressed the waist seam allowance upwards and topstitched it in place with a three-step zigzag stitch because otherwise it fell towards the skirt and formed a bulge where the side and waist seams meet. I would do the same for any future version, except that I think I would use a plain zigzag stitch. The hem was serged, then turned and stitched with a straight stitch (no real risk of popping the stitches with this wide hem).

Sailorette6Like the Ondée, this skirt allowed me to catch my breath between two more complicated projects. I think this might be the fastest garment I’ve ever sewn! Two pieces to trace, three pieces to cut, that’s it! I don’t often make a skirt without pockets, but I think pockets would have ruined the shape of this one, so I didn’t add any. I’ve already worn it a few times, and the lack of pockets didn’t bother me too much.

Sailorette3I sometimes feel almost guilty when I make such easy projects, thinking I should spend my time sewing things that are much more challenging, but then again I love the resulting garments, so why feel guilty when I should feel proud to be making pieces I’m going to wear on a daily basis? Just because a project is easy, doesn’t mean it’s worthless, does it?

Sailorette4

A Few More Stripes

Marine1With fall around the corner, I’d better increase the pace of my blog posts if I don’t want to end up photographing my summer makes in the cold season.

So here I am already, a mere two days after my last post, and with two garments instead of one! I didn’t think either of them deserved a post on its own, and I wore them together a lot on holiday, so I decided to photograph and write about them together, too.

Marine2The shorts were sewn first, the day before a five day trip to Italy, when I suddenly realised that I didn’t own a single pair of shorts since I got rid of an old pair at the end of last summer. Even though I’m more of a dress/skirt kind of gal, there are some instances when nothing beats a pair of shorts.

Marine3I leafed through my Burdas, quickly found this pattern that seemed both easy and quick to sew and immediately went to work. I had just bought the fabric, a navy stretch cotton, at Les Coupons de Saint-Pierre a few days earlier during a trip to Paris (yes, I was lucky enough to travel a lot this summer!), so I hadn’t stored it yet, and I thought it would make for a comfortable pair of shorts.

I made a size 40, which corresponds to my hip measurement, and I didn’t bother to make a muslin, so I was pleased to see that the fit was okay. Far from perfect, but okay. They do tend to give me a wedgie during walks (and not only during walks, judging from the back picture!), though, and I guess elasticated waist shorts are never that flattering anyway… Ah, well!

Marine6The pattern was easy and fast to sew. I mean, if I can sew a pattern in a day, it has to be really easy and fast. The only thing I failed to understand was whether the side seams had to be closed or remained open. I thought they were supposed to remain open, but when I tried on the shorts and lifted my leg, the opening gave way much more than a glimpse of my buttock! So I sewed them shut afterwards, and I think it makes the shape of the shorts look nicer from the front, too.

Marine4The tank was also made from a piece of fabric I bought during my Paris trip (this time at Sacrés Coupons). And it was also a fast and easy sew. The pattern is Megan Nielsen’s Eucalypt Tank, which I had sewn previously, but in a woven. I went down a size (I graded the side seams from the smallest size) to accommodate for the stretch of the cotton jersey knit. And when I tried it on, I decided to shave off a few centimetres from the shoulder straps.

Marine5I serged the side and shoulder seams, and simply serged and turned the neckline, armholes and hem, and topstitched with a zigzag stitch.

I don’t see myself wearing the shorts outside of very casual situations, but I love the tank, and I think it can easily be dressed up, especially tucked in a high-waisted skirt.

And no, I don’t think there is such a thing as too many stripes in a wardrobe!

Marinière With a Twist

Coronis1I don’t know whether it’s the gloomy weather or what, but I so haven’t been in the mood to take pictures of this project. It’s been finished since November 18 and I only (begrudgingly) took the pictures yesterday. I usually prefer taking pictures of my creations before I wear them for the first time because I’m afraid I’m going to ruin them and not get a chance to capture them for eternity or something, but this one has already gotten its fair share of wear before getting photographed.

Coronis4This means I can reflect more objectively on its qualities and flaws: I realised by wearing it that the sleeves, which I wanted to be long, have a tendency to creep up a little bit after a moment and not cover my wrists anymore. As you can see in some of the pictures, I mostly wear my sleeves rolled up, but still, I like having the option of real long sleeves, for when I’m riding my bike in the cold for example. Same with the body: I wanted it to hit exactly at my waist, which it does, but once again when I move it rides up a little bit and I have to readjust it. It’s not so much a problem when I wear it with a dress like I do in the pictures, but with a skirt I risk exposing what I’m wearing under the sweater. I still have enough yarn left, so I’m thinking of unravelling the ribbed parts, add one or two stripe repeats then reknit the ribs. Easy. We’ll see how long it takes me to get to it! 😉

Coronis3

See how the sleeves creep up?

The pattern is Coronis by Emily Ringelman, from Pom Pom Quarterly #10 (best magazine name ever by the way) and it was really easy to follow yet pretty interesting to knit. You can take a look at my Ravelry notes for more technical details.

From afar it looks like yet another navy/white striped sweater, but there’s a twist! Look at this detail picture:Coronis7These stripes may look complicated, but they aren’t at all. You only work one colour per row, and the pattern is really easy both to understand and to memorise. The wool is Drops Alpaca, which I loved working with and love wearing. I already have another project in my queue using this same yarn.

Coronis5I completely messed up the gauge on this sweater: I suddenly decided my gauge (which I had checked beforehand) was too loose, so I unravelled what I had already knit and started over with smaller needles. I still don’t know what possessed me: when have I ever knit loosely? The answer is NEVER! I’m a tight knitter, have always been and will always be! It’s a good thing I had decided to knit this sweater with positive ease for once and ended up with a sweater with negative ease, instead of a too tight sweater as I would have if I had decided on a sweater with negative ease, which is usually my preference for that kind of cropped sweaters.

Coronis6Because of that impromptu change of needles, I had to knit way more rows to get the length I wanted, so I ended up with more stripes than on the original. And I’ll have even more rows and even more stripes when I add some length to the sleeves and body.

But I guess having too many stripes is not the worst flaw a sweater can have, so once I get to lengthening it I won’t have anything negative to say about it anymore! I really like the style and the fit and I think it will look very cute with quite a few of my dresses and skirts!

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Les vacances de Mademoiselle Hulot

Hulot1Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday is one of my favourite movies, and every time I watch it I fall in love again with the costumes (among so many other things!). I had been meaning to knit myself a summer sweater worthy of the holidaymakers of the movie for a few years, so in July, when I was trying to decide on my next knitting project, I settled on a striped cropped sweater that I thought would fulfill this need.

I knew I wanted navy and cream stripes on a cropped sweater with a fitted waist; I also wanted to try Drops Muskat, but I didn’t know what pattern to use. I hadn’t even thought about that option, but Mimolette convinced me that the kind of sweater I wanted would be pretty easy to design myself…

Hulot3And she was right! After all, the effect I was looking for didn’t need a lot of shaping; all it required were two rectangles, one for the front and one for the back, a few increases at the neckline and a lot of decreases at the waist, and that’s it!

I knit this sweater Andi Satterlund style, i.e. seamless and from the top down, knitting the top of the back, picking up the front shoulder stitches and knitting the top of the front then joining front and back and knitting in the round (see Ravelry notes for more details).

Hulot2As for the distribution of the stripes, I made it up as I went along. When I realised I wouldn’t have enough navy yarn to go on with my four navy rows, four cream rows design, I simply started knitting wider cream stripes. I was afraid until the end that I wouldn’t have enough yarn to finish the sweater, but I did (with less than a metre of either yarn left after I cast off)!

This sweater was knit in less than two weeks, so I could take it to Spain with me and I wore it a lot there both with the red Chardon you see in the pictures and my polka dot skirt. And I’ve already worn it here in Belgium, too, in the week I’ve been back!

Hulot4Now if only my last sewing projects could be as successful as my last knitting projects: I couldn’t finish either of the two summer dresses I’d started before my departure (a Centaurée and the Juni dress from this book that was my final choice for the Outfit Along), and I haven’t had enough energy to get back to sewing since my return. Sooo much easier to knit in the couch than to get up and sew!

A Dash of Rainbow

Rainbow2Hey, I made something that doesn’t go on the head!

These past weeks I had been craving some sewing time like you wouldn’t believe, yet when I was finally relieved from all of my obligations I found myself actually dreading and postponing my getting back to sewing, like I was afraid I wouldn’t even know where to begin and I would end up with a failure that would put me off sewing altogether.

Rainbow1So I decided on a pattern I’ve made before and I know fits and is easy, the Renfrew. With the warm weather we’d been having (where is that warm weather now?! It’s been raining non stop for days!) I came to realise that my summer wardrobe, me-made or otherwise, was almost non existent (Mr Picky begs to differ). I need summer dresses, skirts, tops, shorts, everything!

Rainbow3I started with a summer Renfrew dress: short sleeves, gathered skirt and a lot of ease at the waist to let that summer breeze in. To get that result at the waist, I didn’t use any elastic for gathering, I just gathered the regular way (but with only one row of thread instead of three so that it would be easier to get rid of that seam) then serged the seam, hoping the gathering row would be cut off by the serger knife. Worked like a charm.

Rainbow7As per usual I “drafted” (such a pompous word for what was actually involved) my own neckband piece, and I also omitted the sleeve bands for the sleeves not to stick to the arms (here’s that summer breeze again!). And as per usual I added some simple patch pockets, because I need pockets on my dresses and I like the look of patch pockets, they help visually structure the skirt.

Rainbow4As you can sort of see in the picture above (and clearly see in the two pictures below), the dress seems solid from the front, but it’s not, there’s a suprise rainbow at the back! I love that detail: the dress looks so classic at first sight (and if I wear a cardigan over it), but it has that little something special.

Rainbow6This was really the perfect project to get back on my (presser, mwahaha!) feet. I’ve already been wearing it almost everyday, though only once styled exactly as in the pictures. The rest of the time it had to be accompanied by tights (in July!), a jacket and rain boots.

Rainbow5And from as soon as I started working on it, but even more so since I finished it, I’ve been feeling ready to tackle projects that are a little more challenging, i.e. ones that I haven’t already sewn before. The next one, which I’m working on at the moment, is a chambray Centaurée dress!

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Blue Stripes

BlueStripes2Woohoo, it’s a dress, not a tunic! And I felt totally at ease when wearing it to work, so it’s not even one of those projects I can only wear when I’m not working! And I love it, it’s very me! And it’s soooo comfortable! And, and, and… !

BlueStripes3In short, if only I had known when to stop the first day I worked on it, this could have been the perfect sewing project! But I didn’t stop when I was tired and it made me both use pins that were too thick (and blunt!) for the fabric, resulting in tiny holes at the side seams (where I had to pin a lot to match the stripes), and… cut a hole in the bodice with the serger blade while serging the waist seam! Twice. That’s how I lost a few centimetres of the bodice and ended up with a babydoll mini dress instead of a high waisted normal one.

BlueStripes4

Just checking… Yes, I can raise my arms without revealing too much!

But I’m pretty proud of myself because for once I didn’t freak out, I just thought ok, how do I fix it, and fix it I did! Also, I’m terribly happy I chose to use this cheap fabric to test run the dress I had in mind instead of the precious fabric (like really precious: there are foxes involved!) I eventually plan to use.BlueStripes5The stripes are still a bit uneven at the waist seam on my left side, but I didn’t think I could fix that without loosing too much length. I first wanted to cover it up with a bow, but I finally chose to let it be, and I must say I don’t see it anymore unless I’m looking for it specifically.BlueStripes6As I said when I showed you my sketch of the dress, the pattern is Sewaholic’s Renfrew top. I changed the top into a dress by adding a gathered skirt. I also added patch pockets (I love patch pockets: easy and cute!) and I omitted the sleeve bands (and lengthened the 3/4 sleeves) and cut my own collar band. I gathered the skirt with elastic, but when I had to redo the waist seam, the elastic got cut away, which resulted in a looser fit, perfect for a babydoll dress.

BlueStripes1I took the pictures coming back from work yesterday, so this is the exact outfit I wore to work. I really don’t understand why black and blue shouldn’t be worn together, so I refuse to abide by that stupid rule!

Wearing a garment as soon as I’ve finished it is usually a sign of success, so I feel like I can say without a doubt that this dress will be worn a lot! I hope the couple tiny holes at the side seams won’t shorten its life too much, and I actually plan on mending those to prevent them from getting bigger. Anyway, let’s hope I learn from my mistakes and my next version goes without a hitch!

Striped Summer Tank

Summer1This is probably my last project before leaving for Spain for three weeks. I’m going to miss my sewing machine sooo much!

When I first started sewing,  I thrifted some clothes with the intention of salvaging their fabric. The T-shirt I used for this project was one of those. Only five years later, here’s the result!

Summer2As you can see, the T-shirt wasn’t awful, but it was too big and boxy, and of course, none of the stripes matched. I didn’t use a pattern, but I traced around a T-shirt I already owned. This didn’t go so well: as you can see, the armholes have a tendency to gape a little sometimes, depending on the way I stand. I tried to minimize that by adding gathers at the shoulder straps, which worked only partially, but I liked the gathers and they made the gaping look intentional, so I kept them anyway.

ETA: I managed to get rid of the gaping completely after all, by taking in the top of the side seams.

Summer3I used Megan Nielsen’s easy knit neckline method for the neckline and the armholes (because I didn’t have enough fabric for another method, nor did I want to buy any contrast fabric). It was easy indeed and the result looks really clean with the twin needle topstitching, but I find the fusible hemming tape I used a touch too stiff.

Summer4For the hem, I also used a twin needle, but no hemming tape. That’s the method I always use to hem knits, and it always yields a nice result. This time my hem looked horribly wavy at first, but after pressing it looks perfect.

Summer5All in all, this fabric was such a pleasure to sew! All the problems I had came from the drafting part, none came from the sewing part. It was nice being reminded that knits are easy to sew, contrary to popular belief (and what my last knit project would have had me think!).

This is not the project of the year or anything, and as I said, it does have a few flaws, but I still think it’s going to see a lot of wear. It goes really well tucked in my Beignet and Chardon and I can also picture it layered with a cardigan at the end of summer. I’ll be packing it for my holiday in Spain, that’s for sure!

April Fools’ Sweater

AprilFool1It‘s finished!!! I can’t believe it took me so long to finish such a simple project: I began knitting this sweater on April 1st, which means it took me almost three months! I usually knit a sweater in one and a half to two months, but with this one, after a great start with the back, the front took me forever to complete, among other because I kept screwing up the part with the eyelet bows and having to frog and reknit it. After that I kind of lost my mojo and had to wait until I reached the second sleeve to find it again. And now it’s too hot to wear a sweater, waaaah!

AprilFool2But I still have a cute new sweater, yay! It’s exactly as I had envisioned, no surprise about the size or whatever, phew! All in all it was fairly easy to knit (the mistakes I kept doing on the bows where due to my lack of attention, that’s all), especially for my first real foray into colorwork (I don’t know whether to call this sweater colorwork – the chart was so easy).

The pattern is #3 in Phildar Magazine N°69:

Pull3As you can see I’ve changed the colours a bit! I liked the original ones, but I wanted my sweater to be as versatile as possible and I don’t think you could wear such colours in many different outfits. So I chose beige and dark blue, even though I already own a sweater in those colours, because I like nautical style a lot and I thought the form of this sweater was different enough from the other one. And who knows, I might even knit a third one someday seeing as I bought way to much yarn for this project and I still have five balls (almost six) of the beige yarn and four of the blue. 😀

AprilFool3How do you invisibly seam up a striped knit? I couldn’t stop the beige yarn I used to sew the sweater from showing a tiny bit in some places on the blue stripes. I hate seaming up knits!

But what I hated doing the most knitting this sweater was the collar band! Phildar always has this crazy idea of having you knit the collar band separately and sewing it to the sweater afterwards (they don’t seem to know circular needles even exist – they NEVER have you use them). I usually ignore that part and pick up the stitches to knit the collar band directly on the sweater. But this time, my circular needle would not cooperate. I don’t know whether that’s because my hands were sweaty from the heat or just because the needle was poor quality, but after hours (yes, hours! – my left forefinger is still a little numb) of suffering and not even managing to complete one row, I finally had to literally cut the cable of the needle to save the sweater and, the horror, resolve to using the dreaded Phildar method.

AprilFool4Look how cute the back is! They don’t show it in the magazine (you only discover it by reading the instructions!) but it was a pleasant surprise. I thought the pretend button placket looked a little sad without any buttons, so I added three.

So, when’s the cold weather coming back so that I can wear my new sweater?

WIP: Variation on the Marinière

MarinièreEnCoursHere’s the knitting project I was talking about, the one that has been taking forever. I just checked, I began working on it on April 1st (oooh, that’s nice for a marine themed sweater!). I’ve already knit the back, the front and the first sleeve: only one sleeve to go (minus most of its ribbing as you can see)!

I’m using a different yarn than the one recommended and it seems I didn’t estimate how much I would need very accurately: with less than one sleeve (and the collar, but that’s only a few rows of ribbing) to go, I still have six balls of the beige yarn and four of the blue. How many did I even buy in the first place?!

Anyway, I really can’t wait to finish this sweater as I think it will get lots of wear! Well, assuming it fits, you never know (crossing fingers)!