Saturday, July 28, 2012

Goodbye to the new sewing machine...

My new 'vrroooom' Brother PC-420PRW sewing machine turned out to be a beast!!

There are so many things I really like about the machine - but sadly I had persistent issues with the upper thread tension. I could not even sew a straight line! Had to rethread many times to get the thread tensioned, and then it kept slipping. The result was uneven loops in the upper thread and very loose bobbin thread.

Good news - after 6 projects and valiant efforts, I simply returned it. No cost to me. And I'm back working on my sweet dependable Brother CP6500. Ah.

Hasta luego! Coco

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vogue 1247 - Woven top remix

Knit skirt, Citiknits
Sandals, Free Spirit

I feel like I've joined the sewist sisterhood!  Vogue 1247, Rachel Comey's tunic and short skirt, is so well-known and well-sewn. A Best Pattern of 2011 on Pattern Review, I found 58 reviews there, and I think I read them all!

Love the lines and beautiful lower bodice seaming detail, but for me the shoulder pleats and sleeves kind of overwhelm the blouse.  And  the mid-bodice horizontal dart is a problem if a stripe is used! Soft wovens and drapey fabrics are recommended - but I sew tops in quilting cottons or calico most of the time. They are cool and nice for the Florida climate - but they are not particularly drapey fabrics. So a remix!

I decided to (1) remove the shoulder pleats from the front and back shoulders, (2) ditch the dart! and (3) redraft the sleeve.
  • Pinned and flattened the pleats and mid-bodice dart in the bodice front.
  • Drew the short kimono sleeve using the bodice of the Serendipity Diane Kimono Dress, which I already knew was a good sleeve for me. Added 5/8" hem allowance to the sewing line.
  • The same shoulder and sleeve changes were made to the back piece.
  • Verified my seams were going to fit each other and the bottom bodice pieces by pin-fitting the altered tissue.
  • And traced out new back and bodice top patterns.
  • Not shown here, I also raised the front neckline mid-point by 5/8". I simply added 5/8" at the center front and cured the new cutting line.

Here are the new pieces as cut, using Robert Kaufman's Dill Blossom Stripe quilting cotton:

The bodice top was cut across the grain, and the back was cut with the grain. I made no attempt to match stripes on any of these pieces! Hard enough just to find my thread in all this!

All the seams are serged - french seams are just not a good finish for this weight fabric! Oh, well, yes, serging is lots faster :-)

Fun top! I sewed a size 12 and think the fit is great. 
It is easy to slip on and off, and I love the way the sleeves turned out.

Pants, Motto
Zoris, CVS

And the good bones of the blouse are intact. This blouse is just the right length for pants... 
 I like the way my jeans pockets peek out under the hem.

I am so very easy to please :-) Ciao! Coco

Monday, July 23, 2012

Burda 7513 Dress - Off the sewing table...

Yes, it's been on the sewing table for some time now...and it is done. Or done for...

This is so unattractive!! And in one of my very favorite fabrics too! Matches my daughter's jars...

The dress has been whisked away to the garment rack in the loft for remake in the fall.

And if you see a bonfire and hear chanting, yes, it is I,

Burning the pattern and getting rid of any of its  bad ju ju!


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Vogue 8584 Loose fitting pants - polka dots!

Blouse, Simplicity 1806, future blog
Sandals, Stone Mountain

The pants speak for themselves - polka dot love! I do not know why, but in mid-June I became obsessed with the idea of wide leg pants with big polka dots. Had to have them!  I had the perfect pattern on order, Vogue 8584 - it was targeted for my brown and black linen pants this fall. And good old JoAnns had the perfect fabric - chocolate calico with big white dots. Off and running!

The pattern has lots of options. Belt carriers (5 loops - yes, there is a carrier at center back), three hem looks, 2 pockets styles, drawstring waist, and a belt pattern! I chose the long pants, plain waist and hem, belt carriers,  and gathered pockets.

Blouse, Simplicity 1806
Sandals, Chinese Laundry
Braided Belt, Dillards

I sewed a  14 and got a really nice fit. Vogue 14 is for 38" hips and this pattern is spot-on for me. I shortened the rise by taking 1/2" off the top edge (which is folded to form the waistline casing).

The pocket style I chose is self-faced at the top to form a casing and gathered with a drawstring. Not! Here's what I did instead:
  • Ease-stitched 1/4" from the upper edge and at the top fold line, using a long stitch. This helps with the next step.

  • Folded the casing and turned under the raw edge. I used the ease stitching to draw up the curve on the turned edge. Then I topstitched 1/4" from the fold and close to the turned edge.

  • And inserted 3/8" elastic.

  • I checked the pattern markings for the distance between the top pocket corners - 8". And drew up the elastic so that the pocket would be 8 1/2" wide when finished and sewn on the pants leg. I wanted a little softness in the look, not a flat pocket, so the extra 1/2".

  • My last step was to use the drawstring pattern provided, but make it much shorter. I did one overhand knot at the center of the tie and attached it to the middle of the gathered casing. (I would show this in a pic as well, but you can't really see it on this fabric). Love it, great pocket, but no fussing with drawstrings!

Peplum jacket, Coldwater Creek

I really love these pants! and wore them all over Ft. Myers last week. The fabric is amazing, it has not wrinkled at all. Which simply makes me want them in other colors. JoAnn's has red, navy, and purple with white polka dots...

Ciao! Coco

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ft. Myers journal


I can hardly believe that I've been here six days! Here are the beautiful girls I'm visiting while my daughter and her companion are in San Diego for Comic-Con.

Both are long-hair tortoiseshell cats. And have those yellow/gold eyes. Really pretty.


They've been very helpful, particularly Nikita, who rearranges my serger thread for me every night and at least once a day. Callisto has hardly left my side, but is content to watch, no technical assistance from this one! 

Friday was their first birthday, so I gave them the most exotic sounding food in the cupboard. Meow Mix chicken with shrimp. Yum. I mean, gone in 60 seconds...I felt kind of bad I did not have ice cream and cake!

Hungry! I also met a girl friend for dinner one night at Joe's Crab Shack. Such good seafood and great atmosphere. 

And what would my week be without a little fabric shopping :-) Ft. Myers has a really nice Holly Lobby not far from my daughter's home in Gateway. I had a blast -  managed to buy 23 yards of fabric, new dressmaking shears, thread, a cute tape measure, and nice seam ripper.

The calico 'wall' of ditsies, tonals, and blends is good and similar to JoAnns. But the calico selection on the floor is different. So many interesting prints, arranged by color, and easy to shop with the bolts at table level. They also have a decent selection of solid broadcloth, canvas, duck cloth, and denim. Had to wrench myself away...I can always go back, right?

 Home on Tuesday, lots of projects to share - Ciao! Coco  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Iquana moment

Not seen in my yard before, a green iquana! This little foot long gorrobito was in the process of eating a guava whole!

I was lucky to get these photos - holding the camera over my head and snapping! He froze for just a moment, swallowed, and was gone!

He'll be back. I know the iquanas are not loved by all, but isn't he beautiful?


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Butterick 5736 - the Red, White, and Blue!

To all my friends in the US, Happy Fourth of July!

And to all my international friends,
thank you for joining in the celebration!

I made a top especially for the occasion! It has been waiting patiently for its showcase day...

This cute pattern is Butterick 5736 See and Sew. The red version caught my eye, not just the color, but also the pleated folds above the hem. A little something different. (I am not at all interested in the wrap doesn't even look nice in the envelope cover pic!)

I sewed the pattern in a very fresh cotton from ACMoore, one of my favorite minibolts once again. Almost but not quite a ditsy print, it is a calico and sewed like a dream. Being a mid-weight and fairly tightly woven, it really does not wrinkle or ravel. I just love calico.

All my photos are a bit under-lit. Mr. sun is nowhere to be seen, it's just me and the mosquitoes here. So brave, I took these on the trot, believe me!

I did make a few alterations to the pattern :-)

  • I redrafted the neckline from a boatneck into a scoop-neck! The original neckline felt very close to my face, a bit stifling. And I think a woman's chest is one of her best features. So - changed it, love it. At center front, the neckline was lowered 3 1/4 " as a result.
  • After measuring the length from the shoulder to the gathering line below the bust, I added 1" to the bottom of the bodice. I did not want the elastic to grab me and pull-up at this feature of the tunic.
  • No darts, so no bust apex concerns. Also plenty of room in the back bodice.
  • And last, I made a sloping shoulder adjustment on my right side.

 I made one more set of changes in how I cut and sewed the skirt pieces  - they help with the formation of the elastic casing (and I do this all the time):
  • I cut the upper edge of the skirt pieces with a 1" seam allowance.
  • Then serged the upper skirt edges.
  • When I sewed the skirt to the bodice, I kept the bodice seam allowance at 5/8", the skirt at 1".

The bodice seam allowance is subsequently trimmed and the skirt allowance is pressed up towards the bodice. It is turned in and stitched to form the casing for the elastic.
  • The serged edge prevents ravelling. And makes it very easy to turn in the edge of the seam allowance!
  • And the extra width of the seam makes forming the casing soooo much easier.

I think it is adorable! Can see this top in many fabrics, with leggings and boots and turtlenecks and scarfs...versatile. The folds at the bottom really have my interest and will appear before long on something else from the loft.

Ciao! Coco

More vrroooom - a new sewing machine!

From Amazon at a very decent price! 

Even the box is exciting...for the designer in me...professional features...

Lest anyone think I'm nuts to be buying a fourth machine (I have my Janome 8002D serger, IKEA SY, and my current little workhorse, my Brother CP6500), I really do have good reasons for this purchase...


All of this is already in the loft, just waiting for my attention. But I just cannot stitch knits on my CP6500. It does not have an adjustable pressure foot for starters. Did I consider getting a coverstitch machine instead? Not really, because the PC420 comes with features and accessories I really wanted:

A larger harp for machine quilting...much needed! I am inspired by Svetlana at s.o.t.a.k. handmade -  she does her beautiful quilting on her machine and has shared some techniques with me. I've been doing all of my quilting by hand, but want to try something new. The link is to her spools quilt - striking!

And a wider sewing bed...

Terrible photos...good thing the new machine has two LED lights :-) Other features that come with the machine/in the box:

  • hard cover
  • 294 stitches including gothic, script, and outline fonts
  • decorative stitches can be combined, mirrored, and resized, density is adjustable - and can be saved as a custom stitch 
  • backlit LCD screen
  • pressure foot knee lifter
  • programmable custom stitch setting
  • adjustable pressure foot and feed dogs
  • manual and automatic thread cutters
  • 13 pressure feet!

I am very very excited to have this new girl. Today I am finishing a dress on my CP6500, will clean it very well, pat it, and put on its dust cover.

Then off to practice on old tee shirts - while I think about which dress first! Coco