Friday, March 30, 2012

Spring in the garden

And now the orchid and hoya are in bloom.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Light please!

I need light where I am sewing, right there on the pressure foot! I remember when sewing machines had incandescent light bulbs that really lit this area. No more! Now we have these little LED bulbs that save soooo much energy but cause all of us beautiful sewists to have wrinkles between our brows and put our faces right up there against the machine. The LED light is weak, wimpy, just not enough. And no matter what I do, special daylight lamp, bendable desk lamp, so on and so on, I cannot see my sewing area without some awful shadow from the arch of my machine itself!

Solution found, and it was so much fun. I was in IKEA, danger zone, with my daughter. The lighting department. And found this so very clever light from Jansjo. I got the one with a base, it also comes with a clip-on option. Either way. Notice that I have it wrapping the front of my machine (I purposely turned off other lights to take these pics so you can see what the lamp does). No shadow on my pressure foot area, and it is not in my way at all.  I just do not notice it when I am sewing. It works with my serger just as well. I am ecstatic and highly recommend this snakey little light to my sewist friends! And scrapbookers and crafters... I got the the black but it comes in colors too, of course, this is IKEA -  Here!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Pull-on pants

What's not to love about pull-on pants! Comfort. Convenience. Oh…comfort.
Pull-on does not mean without style - check out any fashion catalog, there they are. Seems like just a few basic styles: drawstring and/or elastic waist, various pocket treatments (I like the cargo pockets), and lots of ways to gather the pants hem. hmmm. Not sure about that one...

I live in Florida, so I've had lots and lots of pull-on pants. That comfort thing. In the end, my low-bar requirements are:
. The gathers at the waist do not cause clown-like volume in the pants legs.
The crotch is not mid-way to my knee.
. If I wear a mid-hip length top, I have a smooth line across the front and rear view.
. No indentation at that dreadful hip/upper thigh place!
And I do have fabric preferences, again mine are based on where I live. I like pull-on pants in linen/rayon blend. If I want jeans, I buy jeans - my sewing skills are just not going there! My approach to linen blends: wash at least 2 times in warm water, and machine dry, before cutting a pattern. Then enjoy the easy life of machine wash and dry. I've found some terrific blends at both JoAnn’s and Fashion Fabrics Club.

Back to the pull-on pants plan. What style? For sure pants in full-length. Nothing is more elegant than a long wide-leg linen pant. Take me anywhere, long tank, caftan, tunic, jacket, long cabled sweater, scarf, knit cap. So that is one. What else? Cropped. Only a few inches above the ankle, I think cropped pants are so Mediterranean. And so flattering while being a bit cooler than long pants. Visualize cropped pants with espadrilles, wide brim hats, flowing lawn tunics…snap, wake up, Coco.
What I do not sew: Capri’s and shorts, because they do not suit me!
In my closet, for tops, I have wonderful knit pieces, tunics and long sweaters and wraps. But not one blouse. So on my Inspiration Board I have a bunch of blouses and tops that are chosen with pull-on pants in mind.
My pull-on pant plan includes both long and cropped pants in basic colors (and I need all of these): Natural, brown, black, and white. And I admit to falling for a dusty pink linen as well.
I’m sewing and think I have just the right pattern after a couple muslins…back with more later!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

McCalls 6488 Sundress

Just take me and put in front of a poster of the Cote d'Azur...I love this dress! When McCall came out with #6488 this spring, I was so going for it.

I've tried other u-necks that left me very strangled and/or hung up under my arms. hmmmm. That angled line from under the arm to somewhere on the chest is not easily corrected if it does not work just right with the neck and back.

So far I've made this pattern in a muted lime green and in a dusty rose, both medium weight rayon/linen blends. The drape is really key, so I wanted to stay away from anything stiff. Not for knits unless you plan to use a camisole or strapless bra.

I sewed this in size small, no adjustments at all. The pattern allowed 4" of hem allowance, which for me was great. I like my dresses to the floor. The fabric allowance directions were correct. This is a really easy sew and a dream to wear.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Orchids kept in trees

Some of my orchids have bloomed for years, others are just wishful remnants tucked into the crotch of a branch. All are in a strawberry guava tree that I planted not long after moving here near the Everglades. The guava has beautiful shiny, peeling bark, much loved by the orchids. They spread their gray-green roots down, through, and around it.  I am finding signs that the orchids will be blooming again soon.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Serendipity 117 Kimono dress

This pattern No. 117 from Kay Whitt at Serendipity Studio is one of my favorite dresses! It gives me so many ways to mix the colorful cotton prints that I keep adding to my stash. So far I've sewn 3 dresses in this pattern. Love them all. I wear them around the house and out and about, feel pretty and very very comfortable.

The dress is pullover with kimono sleeves and a waist casing. The pattern includes a flat or full skirt option. My skirts are full, and you can see that this is really just a hint of fullness if the waist is not cinched (why would I do that!).

If my dress looks long, it is! I love maxi dresses, and all 3 of mine are to the floor. My notes below include the length and band adjustments I made.

Fabric: Alexander Henry Africa Masai Swirl

Fabric: Keepsake Calico Lady Yang

Fabric: Art Gallery Asian Market White Brown Blossoms

Sewn: Ankle length, full skirt, size small

Adjustments I made:
  • The pattern size small indicated 36-28-40 measurements. However, my muslin sewed up with the bodice length and bust width both skimpy, not much ease. The waist was fine. I added 1/4" to shoulders, bodice sides, and bodice bottom edge, carrying the changes through to the waist casing and bodice facing. Perfect.
  • Ankle length on the pattern was barely mid-calf on 5'7" me! I added 5" to the skirt pattern length to achieve something near an ankle length. Then I added an additional 4 3/4" band (cut size before sewing) to achieve a maxi length. The fabric used in the band is the same as the waist casing and provides nice balance for the long skirt. I felt like something was still needed to bring the pieces together, so I finished the hem with a 1" band of the same fabric as the sleeve trim and drawstring. To my eye, this works really well.
  • I added pockets to the skirt, placing the top of the opening 6 1/2" below the top raw edge of the side seam. I am a pocket person and add them whenever I can!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Measure twice

I really love to see photos in blogs of real people in clothes they've made. The frustrating part is not knowing what their dimensions are and what size they sew. My favorite bloggers tell me everything, even relating adjustments back to their dimensions, and so on. So here I am!

Height  5'7"           
Shoulder Height  56 1/2"            
Weight  124 lbs.
Bust     35"
Waist   30"
Hips     38"

Patterns:  In lettered sizes, I sew a Small. In numbered sizes, I sew a 14, European size 40.

My sewing companion, Emile, who happens to be exactly my size - LOL

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Are like mythical dragons. Dry and hot, whimsical, lyrical. March and the hoya is stirring.