Thursday, June 23, 2016

Just couldn't pass on this...

Source: Professor Pincushion
Do you get itchy to buy some fabric when you've been on a fabric fast? I do! Since Christmas, I've been trying to sew from my stash. And I admit I have a lot of fabric.

But it's not necessarily what I want to sew at any given moment. Refer to graph, please.

Like many sewists, I love my stash. Just like I love all hundred or so spools in my thread drawers, buttons in 30 colors, unopened packs of straight pins, 24 triangle chalks (hey, they were a great deal on Nancy's Notions), and 10 pairs of scissors. Adding to my stash is much easier than taking from it!


A week or so ago, Craftsy got me with an email about deeply discounted fabric and $1 shipping. Hmmm. I took a look, because I know that some of the sales on Craftsy are amazing. Plus their fabric is high quality, the service is great, and their shipping is fast.

So - the goodies. The prices are totals for the yardage, not cost per yard...



Wowser! Coco

Sunday, June 19, 2016

An Alder Shirtdress shirt!



What's not to love about the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio!

View B on left, View A on right
When the pattern came out in 2014, I jumped on it right away with a v-neck version of the skirted Alder, View B. Like everything Grainline does, it was fun to sew and more fun to wear.

Since then I've been reluctant to sew the another one, mostly because of my scleroderma. Good news - this might be the summer of going sleeveless. So I worked up a shirt version of View A, using Michael Miller Bright White Cotton Couture from Hancocks of Paducah.

Pants - Love Notions Sabrina Slims

This was a really easy pattern adaptation. I sewed the size 14, with just a few changes to the tissue:
  • Shortened the hem by about 3". 
  • Lowered the bust dart by 1".
  • Left off the attached button placket on the right front - I just used the self-faced left front to cut the right side as well.
  • Trimmed the armscye by 1/2" all around, to accommodate binding on the armhole, rather than a narrow hem.
  • And I added an inverted pleat in the lower back, which I think looks very 'shirt-like'.  I just widened the back by about 1 1/4", and made the center pleat when I attached the yoke. I thought about adding a loop on top of the pleat, but I forgot about it until after the yoke was finished...

The finished back length is 30.5", the front is slightly shorter. This is my favorite length since it covers both the bum in the back and the crotch in the front. A nice view coming and going...



Notes on finishing seams and hems. These were pretty easy, because cotton is so cooperative (compared to, e.g., ITY, charmeuse, or chiffon!).
  • I sewed the side seams with a straight stitch and serge/cut the seam allowances together at 3/8". Using the cutter ensures any ravels get snipped, for a nice clean finish.


  • For the curved hem, I started with stay-stitching 3/4" from the bottom edge, side to side.


  • And used the stitching line as a helper to press the hem up,

  • Next, I pinned it - lots of pins. I always press the hem at this point, to flatten the folds and work out any quirks. Since I use glass-head pins, this is not scary!
  • Almost done... I top-stitched the hem, working on the inside, for a pretty finish...

  • And the very last step, I pulled out the stay-stitching and gave the hem another good press.

Parting shots from the summer garden:

Hoya carnosa
Dates in the areca palm (only for the birds)
Strawberry guava - edible, delicious, but usually Mr. Iguana and Ms. Squirrel get them first.
Ciao! Coco

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Going on a play date...



This will be fun!

Darrin is travelling this week, so I'm scooting over to visit with Ashley for a couple days of mom and daughter time.

On Saturday I'm going with her to a 'crop' - a meetup with so many wonderful crafters - scrapbooking, mixed media art. Her peeps!

She made me this little mixed media art a year or so ago. I love it. It sits in a corner of my kitchen counter, along with a ceramic fish she gave me ages ago.

I have a fish fetish...I love fish ceramics, metallic scultures, found art - and Mr. Fish.

So I'm putting together a few projects to take with me, things I can work on and talk at the same time.  :-)

Motivated by my Mexican crepe paper flowers, which are now about 16 years old and fading (I just hate to see that happen), I decided to try my hand at making some new ones. These materials are from A.C. Moore, and frankly, the crepe paper is not as heavy or pretty as I'd like. So I might order some Italian crepe paper. Meanwhile, my first rose and the makings of more, going to the crop...


Of course, I had to research this project, and I found a really good tutorial on YouTubeI like this one because it isn't voiced, it's about 10 minutes long, and it simply goes through the process of making a rose. And it's what I'm following in making mine.

Another project that's going with me, looper bracelets! These are a great hit with Darrin, Ashley, David, and Preston. David has discovered that wearing them in his pool causes them to break pretty quickly - blame the pool salts. So he has an order in for a new Gator version. This is not the right blue, I need something a little deeper, and I've already gone through the pack I had. It's getting hard to find these things in a store, so soon I'll be sourcing colors online...


Isn't that a cute little bag? Gifted by Ashley, it's from Thirty One. All my loopers and gear are inside. Maybe one of her friends will want to try it, so I'm taking the whole shebang and what-nots with me.

And I'll take my knitting and crossword book. My stamina level flags these days, so both pretty much always go with me on a visit with the kids.


I'm working on my third Weekend Retreat Cardigan - the pattern is on Ravelry if you like it. It's fun to knit, free from Lion Brand, all top-down and a quick make. Super nice pattern. I've made one just like the pic, in sport weight yarn.


Father's Day is Sunday, so I got a card off to David this morning. He and Preston are so precious. This pic is from their Ski Week trip to Colorado earlier this year... David is an incredible Dad.


And that's it! Mr. Fish and I are taking a nap soon - I hope you're having a nice day,



Bye for now, Coco

Saturday, June 11, 2016

HP Joyful Top - again in ITY...


Yes, I'm being redundant! This post is fast on the heels of my last one, both featuring the Hot Patterns Joyful Top in ITY jersey.

I am a steadfast lover of ITY. I like the weight of the fabric, how well it sews with me, and I particularly like the way it just skims over lumps and bumps.

Other fabrics do this skimmy-shimmy thing, charmeuse comes to mind. But how hot is charmeuse! And finicky to sew.

I'll take ITY any time. Probably half of my dresses, at this moment, are ITY jersey.

And all of my extensive collection of Pattern Emporium Harem Pants and True Bias Hudson pants...I will admit to 8 pairs in the drawer. Speaking of which, ITY does not wrinkle - fold it up, roll it up, whatever. Great for travel...

So much for ITY.

I sewed this top right after I finished my pink floral version. I just adore this polka dotty print! It's from Fabric Mart, purchased some time last year. Like most fabrics from this retailer, it was here, then gone. I don't hesitate if I like something from Fabric Mart. I buy it - because it will soon disappear.

Unlike Fabric Fashions Club, where the selection drags on, year after year, the same thing...

Ummm, sorry FFC. I do buy on your site, but, could you please get some new ideas going...

Pants, True Bias Hudson Pants, ITY jersey from Fabric Mart

Back to this top. How cute. I wore this ensemble to a doctor's appointment yesterday, and was rewarded with lots of nice comments and looks. These pics were actually taken very quickly in the last 5 minutes I had, before going over to Cleveland Clinic.

As with my pink floral, last post, I cut this with a determined hi-low hem. And, more pics, this is such fun to wear...



You know, it's really hot here now, very humid and sticky. But this top is so easy to wear. I wouldn't spend the day in it out in the open, the park or Kennedy Space Center! But it's a perfect pairing for tooling around at my pace.



Parting shot:
Well, we're into the rainy season in south Florida. And some denizens of my garden think they would like to come inside out of the rain. Not! I very gently and generously place these little centipedes back outside. They're good for the soil, turning it over and fertilizing it as do the worms, and I think they prey on some insects that I definitely do not want hanging around...


Now, if he were an ant, it would be different. Home Defense Max to the max...

Ciao! Coco

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Don't play with the possum...and a Hot Patterns Joyful Top




This little guy is the reason I took my pics inside this morning. What a surprise - I haven't seen a possum in my yard in probably 14 years. Weston is bordered on 3 sides by the Everglades and natural wetland preserves. So we do get visitors - deer, even an occasional black bear (strange to think of bears in such a hot climate, but Florida is full of them). Also snakes, alligators, iguanas, and, yes, possums.
A couple photos were about as brave as I felt. And he eventually trotted along to my neighbor's yard. I really hope he finds a more suitable home somewhere else. He was very thin, and I imagine he finds himself in a difficult environment. Unfortunately my neighbor puts out bread (bread! horrible choice) for the ducks, so perhaps he has been hanging out over there. 


On to sewing. I can hardly believe that I made this pattern for the first time way back in February of 2015. In fact I made two - one in black cotton jersey, and a second one in white cotton/rayon jersey. 

BTW, this was a free download from Hot Patterns, but it's not easy to find it now.  Here's a link I came across this morning, no idea how long they will make it available.


I've worn my tops so much! The black one is just barely hanging in. It's pretty faded, and it's more of a PJ top now. And  I recently spilled coffee on the white one, which is my favorite. Sigh. Problem is, the stain will NOT come out. I've tried 3 different ways - Oxi Clean, Grandma's Stain Remover, stain treatment stuff, everything short of bleach (which would probably eat the fabric or turn it yellow). Suggestions?

But all good reason enough to make a new one...

Pants - True Bias Hudson Pants, ITY jersey

The fabric - I love this rampant floral ITY knit, which I found on FabricsUniverse, a great little Etsy shop (not the 'fancy' fabric store in L.A). Originally I intended to use it for a maxi dress, to be worn to my grandson's Grandparents Day program. Well - I did sew it up, and, wow, I was totally drowned by the print. But it is perfect for a top, and the dress gave me ample yardage.

My first post on the Joyful Top has lots of info on the many many changes I made to the original pattern. And I carried those over to this version as well.

E.g., I added 2" to the front and back skirt (I'm 5'7"), lowered the back yoke by 1" (the back yoke on the original pattern is incredibly high), and added elbow length sleeves.


And I used self-fabric binding on the neckline, rather than a narrow hem.






The big change for this version is the hemline, which I changed to have a true hi-lo look. The original pattern appears to be hi-lo, but in reality the difference between the front and back hems is only 1".

On my previous versions, I evened out the hemline by lowering the front by 1". But here I've lowered the back by about 4".  Because I'm really smitten with hi-low hemlines this year.


ITY can be uncooperative when it comes to sewing details, and I've found that no two ITY fabrics are alike. IMHO, the trick is to start with lots of tests on scraps, on every machine that will be used, to get a feel for the fabric. Cuts down on frustration, wad, unwad, 'get out the ripper' time...

A couple sewing notes on this version:  My hems are very narrow, but they were pretty easy to do - I simply serged the edges and used 1/4" Steam-a-Seam to help me turn and stitch them.


I treated the sleeve hems a little differently, because they're right up there at eye-level - finish is important. I serged the edges, turned them up about 3/4", basted them in place, and finished with two rows of topstitching. No Steam-a-seam needed here.


No way was I going to try for a narrow hem on the flounce. I have my loony moments, but this was not one of them :-) Jersey doesn't run, so the flounce edges are unfinished.


This turned out to be a cute top. Pink is in, and I really enjoy wearing it.

Parting shot: Mr. Fish is now 2 weeks old. Gosh, he was so unwell when I brought him home (who wouldn't be, having lived in a little plastic cup at the pet store). He spent most of his time lying on a leaf, not eating much at all. But two days ago, he woke up in fine fiddle and is doing great now, swimming around and enjoying himself. He's very social - I just read that fish actually recognize faces. Cute boy...


It's almost the weekend, I hope yours is nice and enjoyable. Ciao! Coco

Monday, May 30, 2016

Summertime tote bag - a big one!




It's Memorial Day, the official flip into summer. But summertime always starts early in Florida - it has been hot hot hot and humid. And the last thing I want to do is carry a leather handbag with all its metal zippers and whatnot's. Too much!

Solution - a fabric bag. About five years ago I drafted a tote bag pattern, very much based on the Amy Butler Birdie Sling.

There are a ton of inspiration pics of the Birdie Sling on the web, and lots of tutorials as well. So drafting my version was pretty easy. I've made over 20 of these bags. They were both gifted and sold, back when Ashley and I were doing the craft fair circuit.




But I still have and use the first one I made. I love it. It's roomy, about 26 ¾” tall, including the handles, and 18” wide, and it has some incredible physics going on. Load it up, and the weight is barely felt on one's shoulder. Seriously! I'm sure it has something to do with the inside bag hanging freely from the top band. Whatever it is, I'm amazed every time I use it. I don't know if that is characteristic of the AButler bag as well, but I'd be interested to know.

BTW, this one has been through the laundry several times. Yes! machine wash and dry. 
Time to make some more. It's a great way to use remnants, since each piece - shell, inside bag, bands/handle - uses a yard or less of fabric. Calico, quilting cotton, and light canvas all work well. This cute black/grey number is the first one I've done without contrast fabric on the bands and handle. And it works perfectly with just about everything in my closet.

Keepsake Calico Cotton - Black Lines, from JoAnns


On the inside: Nothing bugs me more than a bunch of loose stuff on the bottom of a hand bag, hiding my keys and making me crazy. So the inside of this bag has a pocket on each side. One is stitched down the middle, the typical phone & glasses accommodation...

Lining Fabric, Buttercream Bicycles - Gray & Metallic - JoAnns
And the other is zipped - a catch-all for lip balm, nail file, comb, tissue, the jewelry I take off when it bugs me... I used a purple zipper because it's easier to see than a black one would be. And I'll put helper of some kind - a ribbon or charm - on the pull.


On the clothes front, my latest pair of Love Notions Sabrina Slims:

Black/White Ethnic Glyphs Cotton Spandex Knit, from Girl Charlee

Top - Butterick 6024
Parting shot: Zebra butterflies and a giant swallowtail roosting in the guava tree at sunset a couple days ago. They're in the tree almost every night now, just six feet from my porch. Beautiful.


This little guy is not so little - 5" wing span!

Ciao! Coco