Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Burda Style Athletic/Bomber Jacket!

Gosh, it seems like forever since I posted.  I just haven't been well. Short hospital stay the first week of October, and it has taken a while to get back on my feet. Aargh.

When I came home, Ashley and D. 'moved' the loft downstairs into the dining area, and I've actually enjoyed a little sewing. And today Emile took on some modeling for me.

This bomber jacket is so cute - Burda Style calls it an athletic jacket, maybe because the sleeve is not set-in. I've been wanting to sew one for months, but just couldn't settle on a pattern.

Burda Style 05/2014 #110

I finally chose this pattern, out of the many out there, for a couple reasons: it's unlined, and it has a round neck with no ribbing. I think the ribbing on my neck would make me crazy :-)

I also thought I might be able to adapt the band on this pattern for a button band, since I don't use zippers. In the end, I just redrafted the front edge:

  • I extended the front and front self-facing by 1.5" to form the button band area. 
  • And added the 'classic' button square at the ends of the waistband ribbing.

Another change I made...I ended up using faux welt pockets. I originally sewed in the pocket bags, but didn't like them. So chop chop!

Inside views..

I used a corded denim, which is a little stiff at this point after only one washing. It's a little ravelly, so all the seams are serged or bound.

Loving these button snaps...

Behind every good button snap there's a good tool, and believe me, this one is worth every nickel it cost me. It does all the work - I'm so excited to have this hunk of metal! Many many thanks to Anne, at Clothing Engineer, who has a wonderful review and tutorial on the use of this fantastic tool.

Pres-n-Snap, from Sailrite
15mm ring snaps, Pacific Trimming

I'm going to put snap buttons on everything!!

One last sewing note. I didn't go for ribbing - I used remnant cotton/spandex jersey knit for my cuffs and waistband - works like a charm. 

This was an interesting project, but it turns out that this grey jacket doesn't match anything in my wardrobe! So funny...

Ciao! Coco

Monday, October 13, 2014

'Round the World Blog Hop - from South Florida

Age 17, Crescent Beach, South Carolina 

Blog hop, be bop. Can't help myself. Dear friend Angela at Collected Yarns passed the baton to me this week. This is such fun! On to the particulars...

1. What am I working on?

My usual odd assortment! Cotton pillowcases for my daughter, PJ tops (I think of this as utility sewing, I seem to 'lose' PJ tops like others lose socks), fall pants and tunics, and a couple dress patterns. I'm also reconsidering a piece of faux fur that has bested me in the past. To overcome my apprehension of all that pesky fur, I'm considering cutting and sewing the whole thing in the garage.

I don't sew with a plan - I'm a joyfully retired technologies project manager. After 30 years of working to requirements, schedules, and expectations, I'm not going there! I'm enjoying my unfinished projects.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I live in south Florida, so I primarily sew garments that are comfortable in a perpetually warm climate.

I have skin sensitivity issues, so I focus on fabrics, designs, techniques, and finishes that take them into consideration. E.g., I can't wear hardware, fitted waists or close cuffs, so I'll alter a pattern with an alternative. I favor cotton, cotton blends, and polyester blends, anything with a long fiber. No animal fibers, because they always manage to work out of a weave.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I sew because I love to create in my head and with my hands. For me the entire process is calming, peaceful, and rewarding. And I blog about it because blogging is an interactive form of writing. My pen pals in the blogger community add incredible dimension, knowledge, and happiness to my life. They are creative, spontaneous, sharing, and charming people. Honestly, when I approached retirement, I had no idea that I would find this community and enjoy such enrichment in my life. Happy surprise.

With sister Susie and Mom
4. How does my writing/creating process work? Ok, here comes my project manager side...

Visuals: I take photos from the time I open a pattern through completion and modeling of the garment.
Background: I also take notes the whole time (I keep them in my Evernote pattern file).
Workup: I evaluate my photos in Photoscape and discard the ones the hundreds I don't think I'll use. I generally end up with a basic set of views, including the pattern line art. Photoscape and Picasa, both of which are free software, are the only editing tools I use.
Writing: I don't write a blog post until a garment is done, and then it just seems to flow. I try for a natural voice that's easy to read, so I break a lot of punctuation rules. I do try to be mindful of guidelines for reading level, use of white space, etc. I spell-check!
And I am truly bothered by the number of times I've used the word 'I' in this blog post!! 

I'm delighted to pass the baton to a talented sewist, writer, artist, and friend, who's been an inspiration ever since I started blogging in early 2012 - Mary at Biblioblog. Over to you, Mary. 

Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Tessuti Gabby Dress and rose petals

My final version of the Tessuti Gabby dress, which I used in my pursuit of a 60's-style tent dress.


Sewing notes - I drafted size Medium (I'm 5'7", 37" bust, 42" hip), and altered the pattern to be sleeveless:
  • Added 3" to the length, and marked a 1 1/8" hem allowance. 
  • Trimmed 5/8" from the side seams, beginning at the top edge and curing quickly into the existing seamline about 9" below the start point. It's important to keep the fast flare of the dress.
  • Trimmed the seam allowance from the front neckline to make it a little deeper and more narrow at the shoulder.  
  • Lowered the back neckline 3/4" at center back. Redrew the back neckline with a curve from shoulder to CB (it was almost straight across, shoulder to shoulder).
  • Made 2 shallow chest adjustments:
          - Moved the center front, which is cut on the fold,  1/4" past the fold at the top edge and cured the center line.
          - Marked and flattened a 3/8" dart in lower side of the neckline on both sides.
  • Changes for the sleeveless styling:
          - Shortened the shoulder seams at the armhole edge by 1". 
          - Cured down the front and back armhole edge to within about 1 1/2" of the bottom edge.
          - Scooped more curve into the armhole edge on both sides.

Fabric: Red Packed Roses cotton calico, JoAnns

Due to it's volume, a tent dress can look like a sea of fabric. To counter, I used contrast fabric for the armhole and neckline bindings, and added 1-piece, topstitched pockets ( love pockets).

These pocket are really easy to do and are great for full dresses and skirts. I looked everywhere for a tutorial to share, but no luck. So at the end of this post I've put a jump to a little more on this pocket.

Here's the muslin that tried my patience ( Fussy Post) It's complete, very wearable, and  modeled here by Emile. I'll admit that I'm not fond of it, and it will go with donations at year-end.

Cream Song Birds from Timeless Treasures, from Hancocks of Paducah

Since Emile is with us, here's a view of the neckline binding. I start by attaching the binding on the inside. Then I turn it over the neckline edge and finish it on the outside. I do the same thing with armhole bindings. This technique doesn't leave any little threads or stitched folds that can irritate my skin. 

In the end, I'm glad I stayed with the project, it leaves me with a good sloper for this dress style.

Ciao! Coco

The pocket I used,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Fussy post - Gabby Dress in progress

I'm not a whinger at heart. And I don't like to be negative in my blog posts - sewing is a happy pastime for me. But the Gabby Dress pattern from Tessuti is making me grind my teeth! So I'm doing an interim moan post. That way my final post will be littered with my usual rose petals.

The mystery tour really begins with the decision to buy the pattern. I've been thinking about tent dresses lately, and the Gabby dress sorta, kinda looks like a tent dress. I've looked at lots of vintage '70s patterns, but I kept coming back to this one.

I like to support indie designers in general, but there's always a compromise.

  • For instance - Is it really a tent dress? Tessuti doesn't provide any line art for the Gabby. Not anywhere. And all their pics of it are in dark fabrics on models in poses that just don't show the dress lines. aarrggh. 
  • It's a PDF - Tessuti says to use an A4 printer (that's not really a printer type, it's a paper type, but I'm being picky). Most PDF patterns have enough margin to print on both A4 and letter size paper. But Tessuti's requirement made me wonder if their pattern printed all the way to the edge of the paper!

OK, I went for it. It's Halloween month.

Surprise, surprise, surprise - I paid a lot for this thing and got a hand-drawn pattern! Not even well-drawn. Sloppy, wavy lines. I don't want art, I want a professionally drafted pattern!

What size do I wear? Tessuti doesn't include any garment measurements, other than the length of the short and long dress. There are no measurement markings on the pattern. I thought I'd get a little bit more with the pattern, since the online info is so sketchy. Ha! Here's what's provided:
  • XS, S , M and L equivalent to (AUS) sizing 8,10, 12 and 14
So I went looking for AUS sizing and found I entered 10 in the Australia box and the U.S. conversion was size 6/Small. Not me! AUS size 12 is much closer to my U.S. RTW size.

Once I got the pattern taped together, I did some measuring. The S and M are actually very close in size, but I drafted the M to get the width and length through the upper bodice, front and back.

The finished Medium bust at my apex  is 46", and the low hip is 62". The latter is expected, as this is a tent dress. I knew I was in for an adjustment at the upper side seam, but that's OK.

I'll say something nice here - this is a very forgiving design for lumps and bumps!

To end on an up note, a gift. Here's a look at the lines of the pattern:

And what I hope is a helpful tip for anyone who finds the sleeves are not comfortable (Saturday 10/4 -  I just edited this a little bit, after working with the pattern again this morning):

I'm not using the sleeve, which means I am reshaping the armhole a lot. The back armhole is actually quite a bit longer than the front armhole. And both are a little too long for this style sleeve and bodice. I think this may be why the top pulls around the lower arm when it's worn. Some things to try: I would bring the lower edge of the armhole up about 1/2" to 3/4" and narrow the width of the sleeve accordingly. I would also try folding the back of the pattern, midway down the armhole, effectively shortening the back armhole. Looking at a pattern that fits well would be a good starting point for working with the alterations.

I've almost finished my muslin in the pic above, it's really cute. And I'll the doing the post soon.

Hope everyone enjoys a nice weekend. Bye for now - Coco

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Grainline Studios (FREE) Hemlock Tee

Gosh, I think I downloaded the Hemlock Tee pattern just after Jen Beeman posted just over a year ago. And I finally cut it out and put it together - it really was fun. And so successful. Thanks, Jen!


This is a plain and simple project. The pattern is one-size, and instructions are in Jen's blog post. She also has a tutorial for sewing the pattern with tissue knits. I read it, because I've always been curious about tissue knits. Scary stuff that requires really pretty lingerie... 

I used a cotton jersey knit from Holly Lobby

Finished garment measurements are bust, 44.5″ and hip, 46.5″. At 5'7", with a 37" bust and 42" hip, my only change was to add 2" to the length of the shirt. I'm going to add one more inch to the length so I can take a deeper hem (this one is a scant 1/2").

The shirt doesn't have set- in sleeves or curved sleeve caps! The sleeves are simply sewn onto the body in a straight seam, which forms to dropped shoulder. Really easy. The pattern includes 3/8" seam allowances so it can be sewn on a serger, which is what I did. Super fast to sew.

True Bias Hudson Pants
I really like this tee shirt! After all the futzing around I do with this and that designer pattern, I like the timeless design of this one. It's not baggy, it fits well, and it feels like me.

From the garden...I ventured out between storms yesterday to get these pics.  When the coconut palm was shorter, the nuts disappeared before they fell, but they are out of reach now :-)

This palm is about 10' taller than the roof of my 2-story house!
Ciao! Coco

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rainy days, wet paint, and books...

This pic of Mr. Toad is from September a year ago - he's still around, along will some new family... 

It's early, cozy, dark (I usually get up somewhere between 4 and 6, my favorite hours), and I just read Theresa's blog post on the joy of books read and listed to be read. And I'm with her. I love books, and I have strong feelings about having them in my house with me.

I have bookshelves all over my house. Travel journals, non-fiction, fiction, biographies, history, gardening, sewing, art, mathematics, science. Three versions of the Bible. A good atlas, various encyclopediasand dictionaries in 4 languages. Surrounded by books, and I feel so fortunate.

When I was approaching retirement, I thought a lot about living on a reduced and fixed income. Not being able to buy something just because I wanted it. Contemplating my exit strategy, I decided to build my library of books and films that I enjoy over and over again, while I had the flexibility to do it.

A 'sport' fern in a Chinese fan palm in the front garden

It took a while and was very enjoyable. Any favorites I had on my Nook, I bought for my library. Films - I got the complete Sopranos, Northern Exposure, and Seinfeld, and many movies I had on my DVR. And paid a bundle for a couple movies that are only in VHS format ( A New Leaf, with Walter Matthau and Elaine May, and The Tango Lesson, produced by and featuring Sally Potter and exquisite tango artists in Europe and Argentina). And I ordered The Coronation, narrated by Robert Powell - Queen Elizabeth's coronation day. Beautiful old film content. I remember the day I ran home from kindergarten to watch this real princess story on our neighbor's TV.

My most-read books...
The Shipping News
John le Carre, Paul Theroux, Patrick O'Brien, and Graham Greene.

Recently read - A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry, and The Plantagenets, by Dan Jones,

Would you like a Chinese fan palm? The date nuts are germinating everywhere...

And reading now - In the Kingdom of Ice, The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides, who also wrote Ghost Soldiers, and Stilwell and The American Experience in China 1911-45, by Barbara Tuchman. I just brought home my father's collection of Winston Churchill's books, and I'm reading Tuchman's book, which was also in his library, as my prologue - it's a fascinating viewpoint of the World Wars.

Other things happening's wet! We're having the wettest rainy season I can remember in all my years in Florida. Rain every single day. Awesome thunder. My Livingstone Daisy, which is a succulent, is turning to slime. The snails are fat. Mushrooms are cropping up on the ground and on the palm trunks. The birds are so happy, they sing all day. Their world is one big bird bath!

Sprouted mahoganies...sometimes I pull them up by the handful.

Let's not talk about mosquitoes. Or the ants that want to come in and park their umbrellas (unsuccessfully - I figured out ants a long time ago. Knock on wood).

When I came to Florida in 1978, my realtor told me, 'Quit looking at the yard, look at the house. Everything grows in Florida". So true!

This branch in the guava, a big one, was lopped a month ago. I had no idea it would regrow!

I've been chasing this philodendrum tripartitum off my coconut palm for years. Now I've decided to let it grow. I hope to get a vanilla orchid when I'm in Ft. Myers in October, to plant on the Washingtonia palm in the corner of the back garden. Sometimes the Edison House nursery has them for sale. They have beautiful, huge specimens growing on palms on the  property.

As long as I'm indoors, I got crazy and decided to do some painting. From yesterday...

Before - the foyer, Ralph Lauren French Quarter terracotta.
The color has gotten very pink over 14 years on the wall.

New! This 'olive-khaki' is 'Collectible', from the Behr Marquee collection.

Same paint on the base of the counter separating the living - kitchen areas. The color shows better with more light on it. This was previously French Quarter terracotta as well.

Today's project (and then I will put away my brush for a while), the entryway to the garage. At least I got it prepped yesterday.

I've been writing for 2 hours! I need more coffee. 

Bye for now - Coco