Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It's almost June...

It's May 30...did it! well, almost. I have to be honest and admit there were a few days in May when I did not wear something I had made. But for good reason - I never got out of my jammies! It is soooo hard to be me!

It has been such fun. I've loved all the pics on Flickr, have made more than one new blogger friend (the best part), and look forward to the next round. By then I'll have more me-mades to wear! 

Thank you, Zoe, hosting a great challenge! Coco

Friday, May 25, 2012

Kwik Sew 3914 Pleated Skirt - CurlyPops Skirt Sew-Along!

Knit top, Motto
Skirt, Khaki Weavers Cloth, JoAnns
Sandals, Chinese Laundry

I first saw this pattern in March, when BMV Club started announcing their plans for offering Kwik Sew - it was showcased on several of their email newsletters. Something about it just said Coco!

When CurlyPops hosted her 'Make it in May' Skirt Sew-Along, this pattern was my absolute first choice, and the sew-along got me going. I really enjoy a sew-along. Before I started my blog, I had no idea how much fun I was missing. I love the pics and camaraderie, enjoy reading the blog posts, and find so many fellow bloggers this way.

Back to the skirt! I think all the fun and style are in the long version (natch...). The pleats (ten on the front, ten on the back) and curved side seams are beautifully balanced by the yoke. While the skirt has a drawstring, the gathers and ease are conservative -  just enough for comfortable entrance and exit. This leaves a nice waist finish for tucked-in tops. The drawstring casing is a bit different  - it is finished on top of the yoke, rather than on the inside. A small change but it adds a bit of detail interest to the skirt top edge.

Does the pattern run large? Have been thinking about this. I have a 30" waist, 38 1/2" hips (low end of the Medium scale), sewed a Medium, and have a slightly large fit. I will probably sew a Small next time, being careful with the yoke measurements.

I enjoyed sewing the skirt! It was not difficult, but it had interesting elements that kept me involved. The pattern provided good instructions, particularly in managing the very long curves in the hem. The curves are prepped with both staystitching and ease stitching - with these and lots of pins, I did not have any fabric drag problems when I turned and topstitched the hem.

Often when I'm sewing, I think about what attractions a pattern might have for sewists at different skill levels. This pattern is a good opportunity to learn/practice a number of basic skills: drawstring and casing, curved hems, slit side seams, attached yoke, and flat pleats.

And I think the short version with the straight hem would be really cute and fresh to make and wear!

I did make two adjustments:
(1) Added 2" to the length, to make it a true ankle length for me.
(2) Added pockets in the side seams - of course! I put the pockets right up at the top of the skirt side seam, since the yoke provided drop from the waist. Also, I left the seam allowance on the pocket at 5/8" on purpose, to weight it a bit.

To me it is just such an unexpected and good-looking skirt! And fun to wear and style...

Jacket, Motto
Sandals, Dr. Scholls

For these last two you have to imagine that I have on my brown suede boots! I took them out but was soooo hot by the end of this photo session that I just couldn't do it :-) But boots would look great!

Jacket, Sunset Cove

Lemonade, fan...Bye! Coco

Monday, May 21, 2012

Simplicity 1852 Low Rise Shorts

Wiksten Tank Top, ACMoore snakeskin print, 100% cotton
Shorts, JoAnns linen-blend
Sandals, Lindsay Phillips

I know I said in my post about pull-on pants that shorts do not suit me...but things change! I have decided that shorts suit me very well and am happily making lots of them. This pattern, Simplicity 1852, is a great find.

The shorts/pants are described as sitting 1" below the natural waistline - but I am short in the rise. You can see these shorts sit a bit higher on me, as I hoped they would - in fact, they are very comfortably at my waist. It is so nice to have a pattern that fits in the rise. (I have another TNT as well, but it is plain vanilla).

This pattern has a cute piecing and pocket treatment. Each side comprises three pieces, with a styled patch pocket set into the front seam and extending across the side seam onto the back.  Here is another view, front and back:

I love the elastic waistband casing on this pattern - it is set on as a separate piece, instead of being an integrated fold-over casing. The result is a very clean and lightweight finish that gathers very nicely around the elastic. Much much better than any fold-over treatment I've experienced. So nice that I will never again use any other approach to a pull-on pants elastic casing! (Last week I went back and redid the waist on a pretty linen pull-on pant that I took to Orlando for Mom's Day visit with family.)

I sewed a M (12-14) and they are so comfy. And....take only a little over a yard to make because of the piecing. If you modify the pocket just a bit (cut the pocket facing separately), a yard will do it for many sizes! What a great summer stash buster!

The drawstring is actually faux - it is inserted into two buttonholes set an inch or so apart on the front waistband. Did I bother? Noooo. For myself, I find pants drawstrings distracting, bothersome, and limiting...did I say I don't like them?

Wiksten Tank Top, FFC white on white dots, 100% cotton
Shorts, ACMoore leaf print, 100% cotton
Sandals, Jack Rogers

I think this is a really nice rear view! no bag, no sag, pinch, or pleat. Definitely will be making the longer pants version.

Then there's the yellow and white print from ACMoore, the one I used to make my first Wiksten tank top...Oh, what cute shorts they made! Dance time!

Ciao! Coco

Friday, May 11, 2012

Kwik Sew 3871 Misses Dresses On a Rainy Day

Such a rainy week! But I love it for my garden. So I decided to take pictures in the rain, not the best photos of me but my cheerful dress would show nicely. This simple tank dress from Kwik Sew is quickly becoming a favorite with me. This version, in Tonga Batik City Abstract, 100 % cotton, is my first, and I do not want to take it off. I am wearing it again today as I type!

It is a simple a-line, has no darts, and has a well-balanced scoop front and back neckline. Neither is too low. And it has side-seam pockets! I sew a 14/40 and, after measuring the pieces, traced a Small in this pattern. The armscye is perfect! Always such a relief  not to have to alter in this area.

Usually at this point I would show more aspects of the dress...but my photo session took a very different turn yesterday. Here's is what transpired in pics:

Zebra butterflies sheltering from the rain. A gift.


Monday, May 7, 2012

McCalls 6552 Fashion Star Maxi Caftan Dress

I missed the Fashion Star program debut of this dress  by designer Nikki Poulos. But I fell for the pattern when it came out - McCalls 6552 Maxi Caftan Dress. Love love maxi dresses!  And adore caftans and muumuus that make me feel pretty at home.

My caftan is done in a very lightweight polyester seersucker. When I ordered the fabric, I was under the impression it was cotton! hmmm. It turned out to be very sheer. And I am not fond of polyester next to my skin (too warm). But the stripe is lovely oranges, tangerines, and muted browns. So I lined it completely in an ivory cotton lawn - now it feels heavenly!

The lines are very pretty: classic kimono sleeves ending just at the elbow, raised waist drawn under the bust, and a reasonably gathered a-line skirt. The pattern does not have pockets in the skirt, and I did not add them to this version because of the lightness of the seersucker. Future renditions in cotton will have side seam pockets - love pockets!

Because of the difference in the two fabrics (lawn being such a tight weave and more likely to shrink in repeated laundering), I cut my lining pieces with additional 3/8" allowance, all edges, and eased in the difference in sewing.

A surprise and welcome touch in the construction: the back and front bodice and sleeves are cut and sewn as one piece. Wonderful! I did take the time to measure myself and the pattern - waist to waist, front to back, over the shoulder, round the bustline - to reassure myself before cutting my fabrics. My only adjustment was to add 1/4" to the bottom edge of front and back.

I also like the constuction of the drawstring casing. It is formed from the bodice/skirt seam, which is sewn a bit wider than 5/8", trimmed on the bodice side, and turned up, folded and stitched. I am very fond of this approach, as it leaves a smooth inside finish and does not add bulk for the casing.

Caution tall ladies: I am 5'7" and used only the 5/8" hem allowance in the pattern! My caftan touches the floor when I am barefoot, which is what I like. But scary!

And modesty prevailed -  I made an alteration to the bodice front. The original pattern has a deep v-neck ending even with the bottom of the bustline. ah. I redrafted the bodice pieces to allow for a 1" (finished) crossover at center front, which still allows for an oo-la-la neckline about 4" above the original :-)

My final adjustment - Nikki, are you writing this down? - was to insert 1/4" elastic in a narrowed waistline casing instead of inserting the drawstring. Seems so simple, and it is so much more comfortable than fiddling around with a drawstring. I attached the drawstring on top of the elastic at center front. The stitching also serves to anchor the elastic at that point (I did a similar anchor at center back, shifting elastic is distracting :-)

You can also see in this picture that I left the sleeve facing unattached.  I had to piece the bottom of the sleeve lining, my precious lawn was running out on me...

Now for the Fashion Show... 

Fashion Star Episode 1  - Macy's Kimono-Sleeve Maxi Caftan Dress by Nikki Poulos  $89
Sold out day 1 in stores! Shown here in woven and knit fabrics.

But you can still buy it as the Dahlia dress from Nikki Poulos online and in select stores for $175! (I love this blue and black pattern, it shows how well the dress carries a large print.)

(from the official NBC siteNikki Poulos grew up on a farm with no electricity in the Australian Outback on 54,000 acres of land. With no television - and only the outdoors to entertain her and her siblings - they were forced to be creative. Sewing soon became her favorite pastime. In the early 1990s, Poulos created an eco-friendly baby clothing line called "ecobaby," which she sold in open-air markets, and eventually expanded the business to sell in major department stores. Poulos quickly experienced much success and, after five years, sold her company and decided to go back to school and study marine biology. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree, she worked in marine research and coral reef conservation. However, Poulos could not stay away from fashion for too long. Now she is selling her clothing online and in stores across the U.S., Caribbean and Australia.

And Coco's Loft Maxi Caftan $30 ($17 unlined)!

Ciao! Coco

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Persian Lime Casbah Quilt

It's such a nice Sunday evening, I'm watching TV and working on my current quilt project. I call this my Persian Lime Casbah Quilt - it's so exuberant! I'm in love with it, and only love would keep one going...this quilt has been in progress for a year and a half now. But I do my quilting by hand, so there is no such thing as a quick quilt here :-)

It will be a 96" x 88" queen size quilt when complete, with a large center ground and 20" multi-fabric edgings when bound.

The large scrolled print is Amy Butler Arabesque Lime from her Love collection. The counterpoint in the edging is her Cypress Paisley from the same collection. I had to include my favorite Dumb Dots from Michael Miller, these are actually dark brown on lime. And the rain spatter batik is by Tonga.

All top fabrics are 100% cotton, the quilt has a bleached muslin backing, and I used Hobbs low loft poly batting. It will be very light and cool for sleeping.

I admit I am considering quilting the edgings on the machine, if only to move this along in time to enjoy this summer. It would be hard, though, I've always done my quilts by hand. What if the quilt gods frown at me?

Back to my needle and thread! Coco

Saturday, May 5, 2012

My first gold star on Pattern Review!

I got a gold star on Pattern Review today...and I am really very emotional about this! Since I joined in March, I have really enjoyed the company and expertise of this amazing group of sewists from all over the world. It is like having penpals and friends everywhere. Thank you!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Wiksten Tank Top

White linen blend pants, self-made, future blog
Kelly & Kate sandals

This is my first  spring woven top fever result! And I love this tank top pattern by Wiksten. I sewed this in a super cute and fresh cotton print that is a 3 yd. Mini Bolt from ACMoore. I was so happy with how well it laundered, the finish is better than I expected (the bolt was shrink-wrapped, no touchy), and it handled very nicely.

The Wiksten pattern is downloadable, and it did not eat up my paper supply! To my surprise and delight, the pattern includes a longer version that would be a darling tunic top for leggings and jeans. Yes, I see it in my future :-)

There is so much to like about the pattern. First, it is clearly intended to be used by all level sewists. For instance, it has all french seams. Wiksten makes this so easy by marking the pattern for the 1//4" and 3"8" seams. For beginner sewists, what a wonderful way to become acquainted with french seams! Second, it does not have darts - but the fit in the bust is amazing. I drew my bustline apex marks on the pattern to verify ease and so on before I cut my fabric. After stitching, I am so pleased. Truth be told, I am not wearing an undergarment in these photos...and the fit is great.

Navy weavers cloth pants, self-made, future blog

Just a couple comments on the pattern construction: I looked at a lot of renditions of this pattern online. I noticed that many gals had a very high armscye, a high neckline, and more than one complained of a gaping back neck on the garment. And I am pretty sure I know why. The pattern uses bias facing on the armholes and neckline. I think less-experienced sewists are applying the facing as a binding, not a facing. Simple mistake that makes a huge difference in fit and appearance of the garment. Wish I could reach out to them!

I decided to apply my facing so that it folded to the outside instead of to the inside. For a couple reasons. One, it puts the inevitable little stitching puckers from the topstitching where they cannot be seen. And two, the extra fold adds weight and effect to the tank top, which is otherwise a bit of a sea of fabric!

I like the result.

What a fun project and tank top. I am making more! Hasta luego! Coco

p.s. my camera is not taking good outdoors pics is a somewhat aged Elph! ah. I'll pat it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Spring Woven Top Fever...

Last night I was looking at the almost 400 entries in the Spring Top SewAlong hosted by Made-by-Rae...uh oh!! I was overcome by the need to make some quick woven tops. All those examples in the SewAlong, and most of the sewists included comments, the Flickr site is like having a database of reviews right here with me. I have to do it now!

I've been looking at these 3 patterns for a while now. Each takes 2 or less yd. of fabric. And they are all downloadable. Guess what my printer did this morning :-)

Grainline 3001 Pocket Tank Top

Grainline 3002 Scout Woven top

Wiksten Tank Top

All three of the downloads were flawless, as were the printouts. Wiksten and Grainline both provided separate instruction files with lots of pics. The patterns are very reasonably priced. More later when I've actually made these!

Moving on. My compulsion did not stop with patterns. ACMoore has its Baby Bolts on sale for half price, which means 3 yd. for $10! These are not high end cottons, but perfect for one season tops. So...yes, I actually got in the car and went shopping (I hate, loathe, and abominate shopping in stores!). Consolation prize for the effort: a 24" x 50 yd. roll of trace paper for $22. I'm a bit tired of freezer and parchment paper for my download traces so I'm moving on up to the East Side...

Frosting: I had a 25% off total purchase coupon. Ok, it was so worth it! Fabrics are in the wash, but here's a look:

Ciao! Coco