Sunday, July 20, 2014

Another Lucie dress...and a new machine!

First - thank you for all the messages for feeling better. I am! Better every day, and the sun is out. Much appreciated, my dear friends.

A new sewing machine! And hopefully the last for a while :-)  My Singer Quantum Stylist 9960 has not worked out well for me. It's such a nice machine in so many ways, but so were my Janome Magnolia and my Project Runway machine. None of which hit the level of performance I really wanted. The fault was mine - the expense was holding me back.

The awful obvious - look how much I've spent avoiding the expense!

I thought long and hard about it. Truth is, I love sewing, it's what I do now that I'm retired, and I really want that great performer.                  

Research, research, and I got a Juki HZL-F600. Oh my goodness. It has everything, and it does everything (it's not an embroidery machine), and the features and performance are incredible. The ergonomics are thoughtful and impressive - I'm really pleased with my choice.

After much shopping around, I ordered from Ken's Sewing Center, and I received great bonus items as well: a wheeled tote, 100 Organ needles, a complete quilting feet kit, and 10 extra bobbins. Cannot think of another thing I need.

With the extension table attached

Everything actually fits in the front of the hard case!

Bonus wheeled tote!

Nice, large, and well-illustrated manual, with an additional  instruction CD! 

Bonus quilting presser feet kit

One of the first garments sewn on Mr.Machine was another Republique du Chiffon Robe Lucie for Ashley! I saw this lovely fabric at and had to make her one more for her summer wardrobe.

Fabric: Wild Flower Geranium by Newcastle Novelties

As with her first Lucie, this is unhemmed pending a fitting this week. I'm heading across Alligator Alley to house-sit and visit with the kitties while she and D. are in San Diego for ComicCon. I love going over - it's a nice break for me, the kitties are great company, and I get to cruise Holly Lobby and her JoAnns superstore.

This is a very nice, soft cotton, not at all wrinkly. It's a bit lighter than a calico, so I made a full underdress with Symphony poly/cotton broadcloth from JoAnns. Love this back neckline...

This is such a fun pattern to sew, and it's really very basic - a bodice and an attached gathered skirt. The suggested closing of the shoulder seam is a little different, but is also very clever. I like it!

Here are the instructions, which have great illustrations. It's like putting two pants legs together to do the crotch seam.

The lined front piece is inside out. The lined back piece is turned right side out and is inserted inside the front lining and main fabric, right side to right side. 

Now the shoulder 'tube' is opened and hand-sewn all the way round. Pull the pieces away from each other and voila! finished shoulder seams on both the main fabric and lining sides. 

A little different approach but it works great! 

One other tip: This is a PDF pattern, but unlike most PDFs, the different sizes are not differentiated by line style. They are different colors! So be sure to print the pattern in color, not in black and white (lesson learned...).

And that is all for now from chez Coco! A bientot!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Butterick 5881 - A dress can change its spots too!

Pretty spots! I finally got around to something I've wanted to do for a while - making a dress using the underdress from Katherine Tilton's layered dress!

My 2013 original version

This is the inside of the underdress from my 2013 version. It's really pretty all by itself - it has a charming flared skirt and an interesting asymmetrical hemline.

I just added elbow-length sleeves (from another Butterick pattern) and voila!

The only real challenge was trying to keep the larger spots on the top sections of the dress, and the more dense spots on the bottom sections. I just thought the placement would accent the lines of the skirt more effectively that way.

Just a note: My Emile is filling in for me for a bit. I've not been feeling well for about 7 weeks.
Edited on 7/9 - a new diagnosis rules out vertebrobasilar circulatory disorder, such good news!
I just finished the muslin for Ashley's 'Kaylee Frye' costume - yes, the girl is cosplaying again! This one is for Dragon Con in Atlanta at the end of August.


Back story: Kaylee is a mechanic on the spaceship Serenity, in the TV series Firefly and movie Serenity. In a fan-favorite outfit, she wears a brocade jacket over her mechanic overalls and carries a multi-stripe parasol (which Ashley already has, of course :-)

I'm making Ashley's jacket using Kwik Sew 4015 and a beautiful polyester Chinese brocade that she ordered from Finding the fabric was not easy. We decided a lot of people are making blue brocade jackets this summer!

Muslin in kona cotton

She and D. really enjoy their interest in pop culture and participate actively. Here's a pic of Ashley as a Sith Girl (a cheerleader for an antagonist figure in Star Wars) at Dragon Con last year. There was an entire squad of Sith Girls, they marched in the Dragon Con parade!

And on that note - ciao! Coco

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Republique du Chiffon - Robe Lucie

My Ashley is the lucky one this time - this Lucie is for her! A surprise dress for her trip with D. to the San Diego ComicCon later this month. If her Lizzy dressform will give it up! Even unhemmed, it is a lovely look for summer.

Republique du Chiffon came out with this pattern a couple weeks ago, and it captured me from the moment I saw Julie's test version on JolieBobines.

I think the low-slung back, loose bodice, and saucy attitude make a great statement. The little lines on the shoulder are for piping. Such a nice touch.

How pretty is the back of this dress! Ashley actually has this tattoo, it is 'Pura Vida' wrapped around Costa Rican orchids, a memory of when we lived there. Her new dress will showcase it so beautifully.

Poly/cotton broadcloth lining from JoAnns

Directions are provided for lining the dress, which is optional. It would be easy to line only the bodice or to use binding on the neckline and armholes instead. I decided to use a full lining, because the main fabric, a polyester broadcloth from, is very lightweight. 

Sewing notes:

The pattern, which is a PDF download, and instructions are in French, but with only two bodice pieces and two rectangles for the skirt, this isn't a complicated construction. The instructions include lots of very large, well-drawn pictures!

I constructed the lining as an underdress, instead of lining the bodice and skirt separately. I much prefer the movement of an underdress for a shift (which really moves much as a coat does).

Topstitching the bodice was my last step. A little tip for topstitching to keep the fabric from shifting or pushing forward under the presser foot - take a minute to baste first...

Well, I'm officially jealous. I want one! 

Ciao! Coco

Friday, June 27, 2014

Curve ahead...

I'm not quite like Brandon, I know how to make a curve. Or have a curve. And I don't really mind free-handing a curve when I'm tracing a pattern or 'curing' a line.

Truth is, I've never owned a sewing curve ruler! No particular reason, except perhaps that I learned to sew without one.
One day the light bulb came on (actually, I just felt like buying something, I get like that sometimes). And I absolutely had to have a curved ruler. What a pleasurable decision! I spent almost two hours researching the choices, reading reviews, and finally selecting one - the Fairgate Fashion Form ruler.

Instant love. Now I'm a drafting fool, whizzing through tracing with a single bound.

Some reasons I selected this particular ruler over others out there (in particular the Dritz Styling Design ruler, which is readily available in stores, whereas the Fairgate is pretty much an online order item).
The ruler is long, 24" bottom to top - more importantly it has markings to 26" on the curve and 20" on the straight lines. 
The markings are black, not red, which is much easier for me to read.
The top of the curve is tighter on the Fairgate - that extra bit might come in handy. One has to look at them together to see the difference:

 Picky picky...

I'm having such a good time today with my new ruler. And a bonus. While researching, I found a friendly site that offers a french curve template that can be downloaded, printed, and copied onto a suitable medium. A freebie and so organic!

Poor little dragonfly. We love them here and call them Mosquito Hawks. Dragonflies really do eat mosquitoes, unlike crane flies that have the same nickname. This looks like the result of a mid-air collision or badly aimed bite. The air was full of dragonflies after a rain.

Bye for now, and a nice weekend to all, Coco

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Making plans for July...

I'm starting my July Garment of the Month planning early! It's all about the Fourth of July - and I'm feeling like a bit of fun to go along with the celebration.

I finally gave in to my adoration of the Alexander Henry hunks gentlemen and ordered the 'Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness' pattern from eQuilter.
Note about eQuilter: They have an incredible selection of AHenry prints, my go-to site when I need a fix. They also ship faster than any site I've ever used and are just nice. They always write a thank you on the shipping receipt.
This is a large print! so I need something that will handle those marching boys and flags without the distraction of gathers and so on. I'm going with my version of Butterick 5881, Katherine Tilton's layered dress.

More sewing for July - it's San Diego ComicCon time! I always try to make something special for Ashley and her guy D. for the trip. They are avid pop culture aficionados and go to 'Cons all year long. San Diego is the big event. Ashley has shipped me fabric from Spoonflower (I found a Mass Effect print), and I anticipate a dress before mid-July. Also have a perfect print for PJ's bottoms for D.

Other news - we are into our rainy season here Florida. Lots of cozy dark afternoons of sewing, reading and listening to the garden grow.

Zebra butterfly in the jatropha...

Hope everyone enjoys a nice weekend, bye for now! Coco

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pattern Runway Gathered Sundress - My June Garment of the Month!

Oh, it feels good to make something that works! I originally planned to make a skirt from this pattern, but was not happy with the fabric I had chosen for it and didn't feel like struggling. This was perfect, what a great pattern.

Of course, I had to make a maxi dress. And I made a few changes to the bodice because I can't wear zippers. But if you squint, it's the same dress :-). 

My reconstruction and sewing notes:

Rather than work with the bodice provided, I used the bodice from Butterick 5736 (also seen as a tunic and a dress a couple years ago). It's generous enough for me to slip over my head, no closure needed. And instead of a fitted waistband, I made one the same width as the lower edge of the bodice.

The band, which is lined in poly/cotton broadcloth, is 3" wide unfinished, and is sewn with 1/2" seam allowances.


I like the contrast waistband, I think it breaks up the print a bit  and adds interest to the dress.


The bodice is finished with generous bias bindings, applied in the round for comfort. I mention this because I've been asked what kinds of things I do to make my clothes more comfortable for sensitive skin. I find that avoiding open seam allowances against my skin really helps, particularly around my neck, shoulders, underarms, and waist.

Fabric: Floral Orange cotton calico from JoAnns

Shoulder seam

Bottom of arm opening

The pockets are very shallow, but are easy to lengthen. I added 4" to the pocket and pocket lining at a point that didn't effect the inside and outside curves.

 And I lengthened the skirt by 20". The rest of the dress is straight from the pattern!

Miss Squirrel missed this one...she must be off playing with her friend next door again.

Ciao! Coco