Wednesday, July 20, 2016

San Diego Comic Con time...

Ashley and Darrin are off to San Diego! We were all up at 3:00 this morning (which delighted the kitties, they always think we do it just for them) and at the airport by 4:00. I imagine they're in Atlanta by now, waiting for the flight west. They'll be in San Diego at 9:30 local time and will hook up with the 3 friends who do this trek with them every year. All of them are hard-core pop culture lovers - one of them, Mike Schiffbauer, is actually a well-known costume artist/maker and will be on the Cosplay panel again this year. Awesome stuff.

I'll be watching the specials on TV, you never know when you'll see someone you love!

As usual, I made themed gifts for their trip - this year it's the Walking Dead! I found some incredible fabric by Robert Kirkman for Springs Creative Products Group. If you can't live without it, it's still available on

For Darrin, some knock-em dead PJ bottoms...

And for Ashley, a sling cute is this!

Inside - with a chain link motif of course

The kitties and I have the house to ourselves for a week. There will lots of sewing and knitting going on, two things they really enjoy. Even though I didn't bring my serger, which is Nikita's favorite machine. I guess she'll have to content herself with rearranging my SM thread every night and knocking all my little things on the floor.

Parting shot:  that crazy buck full moon, taken Monday night. I only got one mosquito buzz in my ear, not bad for this time of year.

Ciao! Coco

Friday, July 15, 2016

Grainline Studio Willow Tank Top...

Grainline Studio and a new pattern - for me, it's an equation for sewing happiness. I really enjoy Jen Beeman's designs and drafting, and her prices are reasonable.

I admit I hesitated to buy it. It's a very simple design, one that I can duplicate easily from other patterns I have.  E.g., the Grainline Scout tee -just add a little swing and bust darts.  But, the Willow already has all that, and I do like owning all things Grainline.

Since I really don't mind the trimming and taping, I got the PDF version. OK, once I decide to try a pattern, I'm also impatient. PDF patterns are so fast! I'm a frequent customer at Sewing Patterns for just that reason - they have an incredible selection of Big 4 and Indie patterns in PDF format.

Back to the Willow - I only wanted the top, which is an easy 15-page tape-up.

Three rows taped, almost done...
Just a few sewing notes:
  • I cut the size 10, my usual Grainline size.
  • I wanted a cropped top to wear with summer pants and shorts, so I followed Jen's tutorial for cropping the pattern. I shortened mine by 3.5".
  • The front neckline on this pattern is fairly high - I lowered it by 1/2".
  • The front and back meet at a rather square-ish angle, not the easiest place to apply a bias binding. So I also trimmed the back neckline just enough to relax the curve in this area.
  • The armholes were a little high  and tight on me - I trimmed 1/2" at the bottom of the  armholes, gradually decreased about midway up the front and back edges.  
  • The fun stuff - Cotton lawn is pretty sheer, so I added a little detailing with center front and back seams. They're pressed open and topstitched about 3/8" away from the seam.
Fabric - Robert Kaufman Cambridge lawn, purchased at Craftsy.

This is a nice little top, versatile, easy to modify...

Pants - V9114  Kathryn Brenne pants in cheetah stretch sateen.

Parting shot - How about a spiny-backed orb weaver. I have lots of these in the yard - their webs are usually stretched between the wall of the house and a tree. Very wide webs, easily 4' - 5' across. I don't mind them, but I really don't like to get them in my hair!

She's so pretty (gender is easy to determine - the males have grey abdomens and short, humped spines). AKA the clown-face spider and Florida crab spider...

Gasteracantha cancriformis

I wrote this post last night, and today is once again framed by a horrific and inhumane act, this time in Nice, France. My thoughts are with everyone impacted by this unspeakable crime and terrible loss. 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Beating the heat...

Summertime...and we're well into the rainy season. The humidity was 94% when I took these pics. That's really muggy, almost raining, and it does rain off and on every day. We get little storms that come and go in 30 minutes, like this one that came in off the ocean. It's great for the garden, and I don't mind getting caught in a shower - I'm pretty drip-dry.

So - summer sewing. And this year it's sleeveless for the first time in over 2 years. This is very exciting for me - it means the inflammation in my arms is diminishing. Any chronic disorder takes an emotional toll, as many of you know, and small victories really matter. For me this is huge!

Good reason to pull out this cotton shirting that I've been hoarding for several months. It's one of my very favorite tropical prints, and I wanted to use it for something I can really enjoy.

Fabric - Hibiscus Lily Tropical Shirting, JoAnns

The pattern is a mash-up that I've been using for a while: a cropped bodice with bust darts, a raised waistband, and a gathered skirt. My pattern is drafted for use with sleeves, but reshaping them was easy once I had the bodice sewn together. I use a very scientific method of standing in front of the mirror with tailor's chalk and marking some trim lines. Several times, because it's better to take off too little than too much!

Looking back, I think I could have used the Tiny Pocket Tee from Grainline Studio as a starting point - it's a basic tank style with bust darts.

The fun part is big ole patch pockets, centered across the side seams. I love them! they're right there - a natural place for my hands to go. No dangling inside pocket. And I don't think they look at all frumpy on this print.

I have these little drugstore sun hats in just about every color :-) They're perfect for short hair.

And I did get chased inside by the rain.

Parting thought...

I hope everyone has a wonderful, safe week - Coco

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