Pumpkin Renfrew

I finally got around to making a second Renfrew top! I actually made this back in November, but I haven’t had a chance to take photos until today.

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I made this top primarily because I found this orange knit at my local fabric store and fell in love with the color. And then I had to figure out something to make with it.

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The fit of this one is much better than the fit of my first Renfrew. For this one, I cut a size smaller than I did last time, and graded down an additional size at the hip (which makes sense, since Sewaholic patterns are designed for pear-shaped women). I also took in the side seams right at the underarm, and narrowed and shortened the sleeves. I think the fit is pretty spot-on, now. (It’s a little clingy, but I think that’s mainly down to the fabric being a little flimsy, not the fit being too snug. It doesn’t really bother me.) I even remembered to write down the changes I made on the pattern pieces, so it should be pretty easy to recreate them next time!

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I ended up wearing this for Thanksgiving this year — the color seemed appropriately autumnal.

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I made this all on my sewing machine, since my serger is still at my parents’ place. It worked just fine — I just used a narrow zig-zag to sew the seams, and finished the seam allowances with a wider zig-zag. I love that the Renfrew is finished with a hem band and cuffs, so you don’t have to worry about hemming a flimsy knit!

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That’s it for now! I’ll be back soon with a year-in-review post — I really want to participate in Gillian’s “Top 5 of 2014” series before it’s too late.

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Happy New Year! :)

Archer 2.0

I made another plaid shirt!

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Of course it’s another Archer. Do you even need to ask?

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The first Archer I made turned out a little boxier/looser than I wanted, so I cut one size smaller this time (a 4 instead of a 6). (To be fair, though, my first Archer has shrunk just enough, after multiple washings, that the fit is pretty great now. I’m going to be more careful about not shrinking this one too much!)

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Pattern modifications: narrowed the shoulders by about 1/2″, added 1/2″ of length at the lengthen/shorten line, added ~1/4″ of width on each side of the back at the hips tapering to nothing at the waist, graded down to a 0 at the cuffs, shortened sleeves by some amount that I don’t remember offhand. I think I may have overdone it on the sleeve-shortening, but I wear my button-ups with the sleeves rolled up 98% of the time anyway, so it’s all good.

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Want to know what part of this make I’m proudest of? Here, let me show you:

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See the pocket? NO? WELL THAT’S BECAUSE THE PLAID-MATCHING ON THAT SUCKER IS PRETTY PHENOMENAL, if I do say so myself, and I am super proud of it. Which I realize is kind of weird because, you know, it’s really hard to see from far away, so probably no one will ever notice it. Whatever. I know it’s there, and it makes me happy.

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I noticed one weird thing while I was cutting those pocket pieces–I think the pocket piece is drafted with 1/2″ seam allowance, when it’s supposed to have 1/4″ seam allowances (according to the directions). If you cut the pocket piece as drafted and turn under 1/4″, the finished pocket ends up being wider than the pocket placement line indicates the pockets should be. Not a big deal at all, but something that I noticed and was briefly confused by when I was trying to figure out how to match the plaid on the pockets and the shirt fronts. (It’s also entirely possible I messed up somehow, so take all that with a grain of salt.)

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Other than that, it came together really nicely. I’ve been wearing it tons since I finished it last month–if that’s not the sign of a successful make, I don’t know what is.

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P.S. I realized recently that I never got around to sewing a “Umbellularia Designs” tag into this shirt! Must fix that soon. :)

Pattern Testing: The Sandpoint Top!

I got to test a brand new pattern a few weeks ago — before it was officially released! Pretty thrilling stuff, huh?

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This is the Sandpoint Top from Gray Day Patterns. Gray Day Patterns is a new pattern company run by Helena of the sewing blog GrayAllDay.com.

Helena put out the call for pattern testers about a month ago, and I volunteered. I liked the sophisticated-yet-wearable look of the pattern, and I thought pattern testing sounded fun. If you’re unfamiliar with the pattern testing process, here’s how it usually works (with indie pattern companies, anyway). People who sign up to test the pattern are given a draft copy of the pattern for free and are expected to sew it up and send feedback to the pattern designer, which is then incorporated into the finished version of the pattern. Testers are not paid, but they are given a copy of the finished pattern when it’s released. I’ve tried to be unbiased in my review of this pattern; Helena did not specifically ask us to blog about our creations, but I really liked how mine turned out and wanted to share it. :)

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From the front, the Sandpoint looks like any other scoop neck, kimono sleeve knit top, but from the back…

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Bam! Surprise cowl action! (…Let’s just pretend my shirt ISN’T awkwardly tucked into the waistband of my pants in this picture, ok? This is the best shot of the back I got, so we’ll just have to deal with its shortcomings. :P) The cowl is secured by a band that is sewn across the shoulders of the top. This keeps everything in place so nothing falls off your shoulders. Clever!

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The only modification I made was to add a hem band at the bottom–I got the idea from one of the other testers. Helena actually added an optional hem band to the finished pattern, which I think is great. It helps give the top a little extra shaping and definition. (Plus, it means you don’t have to deal with hemming drapey knit fabric.)

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I had no complaints about the pattern. The armholes were a tiny bit tight, but Helena says she fixed this in the final version. The pdf was easy to print out and assemble (and the final version of the pdf is layered, so you have the option of only printing the size(s) you need, which is pretty nifty). The sewing process went smoothly. The instructions in the final version also look very detailed and clear. This pattern gets my stamp of approval. :)

Fancy making a Sandpoint for yourself? You can snag a copy here. Helena has a 20% sale going until 10/26 with the sale code “firstweek”, so act now if you want it (and you know you do)!

Yet Another Scout

I’m back with another Scout Tee! A utilitarian-but-still-pretty black one this time.

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I made my usual size 6. I initially put petal sleeves on it, but afterwards (after I had already attached them with French seams…ugh) decided I didn’t like how they looked. It took me a few weeks to work up the gumption to rip them out and put on new, normal sleeves. Sigh. But now that I’ve fixed it, I’m pretty happy with this shirt!

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The one adjustment I made to the pattern was to shave just a smidgen off the top of the sleeve pattern piece, to reduce the ease in the sleeve cap. This made the sleeves way easier to set in (no gathering stitches required!), and makes the sleeves less prone to wrinkling where the sleeve meets the armhole. I like the results, and haven’t noticed any downsides to the reduced sleeve cap ease. (BTW, the debate about whether sleeve cap ease is actually necessary is pretty fascinating, if you’re a sewing nerd.)

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Excuse the underarm wrinkles — I’d been wearing the shirt all day before taking these photos!

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The fabric is black viscose (aka rayon) from Stone Mountain and Daughter. It’s lovely and soft and drapey, although it wrinkles like nobody’s business.

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P.S. Why yes, that is a sewing machine necklace. (It’s from ModCloth, in case you’re curious and/or need one in your life.)

A Coral Scout

See, I told you I’d make more Scout Tees eventually. :)

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I loved my owl print Scout so much that I knew I had to make some more. I also knew, from my Wardrobe Architect-inspired musings, that I needed more solid-colored woven blouses. So, on a recent afternoon, I found myself browsing the solid-colored rayons at Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics. This coral caught my eye, and ended up coming home with me. (I got some black viscose too, which was also ear-marked for a Scout. I actually finished it a few days ago, but have decided that my modifications to the pattern on that version were not terribly successful, so it needs to be re-worked a bit. Ah well. It was a learning experience.)

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This one turned out just fine, though. :) It’s actually one of my favorite things I’ve sewn lately.

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Just look at that beautiful top-stitching on the front neckline.

I fall more in love with Grainline Studio patterns every time I sew one. The patterns fit me well with almost no adjustments, they’re beautifully drafted (all the notches line up, etc.), and the styles are perfect — modern, minimalist, not fussy, but still pretty.

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The only fit adjustment I made for this Scout was to lengthen it by 1/2″ by slashing and spreading at the lengthen/shorten line. I also added the tiny pocket from the Tiny Pocket Tank, just to break up that expanse of coral a little bit.

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One more note: if you’re making a smallish size (I made a size 6), you can get away with using significantly less fabric than the pattern calls for. Just cut your fabric as a single layer and put the front and back pieces next to each other instead of cutting both on the fold. Works like a charm.

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I’m so pleased with how this turned out! This pattern is fast becoming one of my favorites. :D

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Me Made May! (And a Portrait Blouse)

It’s May 1st! That means it’s time for Me Made May!

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If you’re not familiar with Me Made May, head over here and read all about it. Basically, it’s a month-long challenge to wear your handmade clothes more often! There are no specific rules (each participant decides on their own pledge), and no winners or losers. The point is to challenge yourself to actually use the garments you create. (And to have fun admiring everybody’s awesome handmade outfits, and show off your own!)

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I signed up at the very last minute (last night!). This is the first time I’ve participated in one of these challenges, so I’m pretty excited. Here’s my pledge:

I, Katie of UmbellulariaDesigns.wordpress.com, sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’14. I endeavour to wear at least one garment sewn by me (including re-fashioned garments) at least 3 days per week for the duration of May 2014.

So, without further ado, here’s today’s outfit — including a brand new make. This is the Portrait Blouse, from Gertie’s book.

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I’m quite pleased with how this turned out. I made no alterations except to lengthen it by 3″. I also ended up omitting the zipper (after I’d already basted it in…). I found that I could actually just pull the blouse over my head, and the zipper was making one side hang weirdly (probably because the fabric is quite flimsy).

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Here’s a blurry back shot:

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I especially love this fabric. It’s a rayon challis from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics. It’s incredibly soft, and very lightweight (great for summer!). I still have a little less than a yard left — what should I make with it?

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Get ready for lots of outfit photos for Me Made May. I’ll probably try to do weekly updates — we’ll see how it goes. I’ll also be posting photos to the Me Made May ’14 Flickr group — come check it out and admire all the beautiful handmade clothes! :)

Owl Print Scout Tee

I made a Grainline Studio Scout Tee!

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And it has adorable owls on it. LOOK:

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Is that not the cutest print you’ve ever seen?

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I really, really like this pattern. It has only four pattern pieces (three, if you don’t count the neckline binding), so cutting it out is super quick. It goes together really easily too. It took me a couple evenings to put together, but that’s only because I decided to be fancy and do French seams everywhere. If you didn’t do that you could totally make it up in one session.

See? Fancy insides.

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I also really like this rayon fabric (from Stone Mountain and Daughter Fabrics). It feels very light and flowy. It does wrinkle pretty easily, but I can put up with that.

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And a back shot:

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This is definitely a winner–I’ve worn it several times already, and I only finished it a few days ago! The only change I made to the pattern was to lengthen it by 1/2″; otherwise it fit perfectly as drafted.

There will definitely by more Scouts in my life soon. :) (First I have to finish my current work in progress, the Portrait Blouse from Gertie’s book, and then I have to make a dress to wear to a friend’s wedding in June… But after that, more Scouts!)

Blue Batwing Top

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I made another knit top! (Also, my mom gave me a set of 100 of these awesome-sauce labels for Christmas, and I freaking love them. They look so professional! I’m putting them in everything I make from now on, haha.)

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I drafted this pattern myself (if you can even call this drafting–it was incredibly simple). It’s based on a RTW (ready-to-wear) top I already own and like, with a few simple modifications. I raised the neckline quite a bit, and made my version longer, for a more tunic-y effect.

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This fabric is amazing and gorgeous. I wish a remembered the fiber content, but I don’t. All I know is that I found it in the sweater knit section at Stone Mountain and Daughter and decided I had to have it. It’s incredible drapey and soft (and also slightly see-through, so this is definitely in the “only wearable with a cami underneath” category, but that’s okay).

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Construction was simple. I used a normal narrow zig zag (width 1.5, length 2.5) to sew the seams. I used French seams on the side seams and shoulder seams, to enclose the raw edges (I wanted the inside to look nice and clean, since the fabric is slightly sheer). I used the overcasting stitch on my sewing machine to finish the seams attaching the neck band, cuffs, and hem band, and then zig-zagged those edges in place so they would roll the right direction. (I used this tutorial for the Hemlock Tee from Grainline Studio to figure out how to attach the neck band.)

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Here’s the inside of the hem band:
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The outside of the hem band:
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The inside of the neck band, with a shoulder seam:
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A cuff:
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I’m really happy with how this turned out.

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It’s super comfy, and I love that it looks good both with jeans and tucked into skirts. See? (Disclaimer: I did NOT make that pencil skirt. It’s just for demonstration purposes!)

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I know I’ll get lots of wear out of this, and I’m already looking forward to making more batwing tops in cozy knits. :)

On a different topic: I’m participating in my first official Sewcialist project with other sewing bloggers! We’re going to be sewing button down shirts together, sharing tips, advice, and inspiration as we go. Check out the website for the project here: http://itsonlikedonkeykongsshirt.tumblr.com.

Edited to add: I’m also going to try to follow along with the Wardrobe Architect project over on the Coletterie blog. Yay!

Cranberry Renfrew

I made my first Sewaholic Renfrew top! I can see why everyone raves about this pattern so much; it really is pretty excellent.

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I’m so pleased with how this turned out. It’s super cozy, and it looks quite nice too!

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This pattern is very well drafted and went together very easily. I made view C, with the cowl neck and 3/4 length sleeves. Tasia’s instructions are, once again, fabulous, and give the shirt a very neat and professional finish. I especially love that you can easily make this top using either a regular sewing machine or a serger (or a combination of the two). I made the whole thing with my sewing machine.

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I finally learned how to use my machine’s overcasting stitch to finish my seam allowances. I think it looks pretty good!

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Mainly for my own information, since I will inevitably forget this and have to look it up when I go to make my next Renfrew (and there WILL be a next Renfrew, this pattern is THAT good), I sewed the seams with a regular zigzag stitch with length 1 and width 2, and finished the seam allowances with the overcasting stitch using whatever the automatic length and width are for that stitch on my machine.

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The pattern calls for twill tape to stabilize the shoulder seams, but I didn’t have any on hand. I used some sturdy ribbon I happened to have in my stash instead, and it worked perfectly. I kind of like having this secret bit of green on the inside, too. :)

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I cut a straight size 10 based on my upper bust measurement, and it fits pretty well! I didn’t even take in the hips, except for sewing the bottom hem band with quite generous seam allowances to tighten it up just a little. The fit from the waist down did turn out slightly more relaxed and slouchy than I was envisioning, but I don’t actually mind–it’s definitely comfy, and I think it looks okay. I think I might try a size 8 next time though (maybe even grading down to a 6 below the waist), especially if I make a non-cowl-necked version where neckline gaping might be an issue… We’ll see.

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The only substantial adjustment I made was to tighten the cuffs quite a bit. I don’t know if I just have skinny arms or what, but they were kind of ridiculously loose on me as drafted. Taking them in was super easy though, so no big deal.

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I love this fabric too. It’s from Stone Mountain and Daughter, and it’s a lovely, warm, cranberry red color. It’s super soft, too. I don’t actually remember the fiber content, but I have a feeling it might be bamboo or something–it feels softer and smoother than cotton.

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Overall I’m really happy with this make. I see many more Renfrews in my future! Must get my hands on some more cozy knits… :)

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Oh, also: I finally got around to making an account on Bloglovin’ and claiming my blog over there… So now you can follow me over there if you want to!

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Tropical Sorbetto

Remember when I said I was working on a quick and simple project for myself, as a “sewing palate cleanser” after working so hard on the button-up shirt? Well, I finished it!

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This is the Sorbetto blouse pattern from Colette Patterns. It’s a quick and easy pattern to put together, is a great wardrobe staple, and you can download it for free from the Colette Patterns website! YES! I love free patterns!

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The fabric might look familiar if you’ve been reading my blog for a while. I made this with the scraps from the Tropical Cascade skirt I made earlier in the summer. I wasn’t sure I had enough fabric left to cut this out, but with some creative piecing I found I had more than enough to cut out all the pattern pieces for this top AND make some matching bias tape to finish the neck and armholes. Yay!

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You can see that I had to add a seam down the back–I didn’t have a scrap big enough to cut the entire back pattern piece. I don’t think it’s terribly noticeable, though.

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And here’s a shot showing how I had to piece the front. In this photo I’m lifting up the edge of the pleat that runs down the front of the blouse. The front is supposed to be cut as one piece, but I ended up cutting it in three pieces to fit on my available fabric. Luckily I could piece it right under the pleat, so no one need know (except you guys)!

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I actually really enjoyed making the bias tape to finish the edges. I followed the continuous bias tape tutorial from Colette (they include a link to this in the pattern instructions). I’m now looking forward to finding excuses to make more bias tape using this technique–it’s seriously like magic. I don’t think I can describe it well enough to do it justice, but you should check it out if you ever need custom bias tape.

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I’m especially proud of the insides. I used French seams, so there are no raw edges to be seen! Here it is inside out to prove it:

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So neat! So tidy!

And here’s the neckline, showing the bias tape, the front pleat, and the French seam down the back:

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And here’s the inside of one of the shoulders…

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…And the outside for comparison. Equally attractive!

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I think it came out quite nicely! If I make this pattern again, I might add just a touch of extra length–maybe 3/4″ or something (I like my tops on the long side, plus I think I have a relatively long torso to begin with). But other than that I’m really pleased.

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I thought about putting some buttons or something down the front, but I eventually concluded it was best to just let this fabric speak for itself.

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Of course it’s just starting to get cold here, so I probably won’t get to wear this much until next summer… Ah well. I have a few more autumn-appropriate projects in the works. Hopefully I can finish them before spring!

P.S. Do you like the new blog layout? I decided I needed a theme with sidebars, so as to make the archives and such more accessible. I think I like it (especially now that I’ve figured out how to use the same color scheme I was using before…)!