Monday, July 29, 2013

McCalls 6203 Dolman Sleeve Tunic

I was going to take pics outside this morning before the rains came. I got the tripod all set up, took a couple shots to adjust the tracking, and then it happened. This guy came at me...

anopheles horribilis
Of course I swatted at him. And he flew straight down the front of my pretty new top. Oh yuck! Smashed between the girls.

I was back in the house in no time. I'm having way too many adventures this summer.

I think I've looked at 50 knit top patterns this summer, trying to find one I can do in a tunic length with various sleeve treatments. Something with simple lines, not fussy, not art to wear - just a nice basic with good bones.

Finally I found McCalls 6203 - easy peasy, a front, a back, a sleeve band, a neck band. 

My fabric is a hot pink and black zebra cotton jersey from Holly Lobby.  I thought for 2 seconds about saving it for Jungle January, but I just couldn't do it. I need this top now!

The dolman batwing sleeve is perfect.

Sewing notes: 
I sewed View C in size Medium, but drew the pattern out to a Large below the bust. Because I'm using this as a tunic, I didn't want it to be fitted through the hips - I was looking for a nice unbroken line below the sleeves to the hem.

A couple other changes: I added 1/2" to the length to ensure the hemline was below the crotch of my pants rather than across it. I also used a bias neckline binding rather than the raw-edged double band in the pattern. This makes the neckline a little lower, which I like better.

Here's another version with long sleeves, in Cielo poly/rayon/spandex jersey from It's so light, I love wearing it, and I'm glad I have more of the white and a couple yards of black as well.

Great top!

Parting shot...I do love mother nature. Look who was in the guava tree when I got home from DD's house this week. A Cuban knight anole (anolis equestris). While not a native species, they're not considered invasive - the only native they eat is the palmetto bug, and we love them for it!

A big one at about 18" long! 

He's actually a bit of a jewel, since about 80% of the local anole population died in the 2010 freeze. 

He's behind the orchid, hard to see. Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

McCalls 6747 - Just can't get enough of this pattern!

Another version of McCalls 6747 long-sleeve maxi dress, this one in a tribal print knit from Girl Charlee. And tribal print is really appropriate - I'm almost in the jungle!

 I've been at my daughter's house for a week, kitty-sitting while she and DDC have been at the San Diego ComicCon. Their house backs onto a nature preserve - sometimes it seems like all of south Florida nature is 20' from their back porch!

I've seen a lynx on the edge of the preserve (what a rare treat), chased an 8' black snake from the edge of the porch, removed 10" worms from inside the porch, and lately, flicked 5" walking sticks in full ardor from the screen :-) I would not have disturbed them, except that the kitties wanted to climb up and observe...

So I  bravely hiked out to the edge today to take these pics. It was so wet that I had to toss my zoris aside and go barefoot. And so hot and sunny that the umbrella was a must. 

All those pretty white clouds will make up into thunderheads by early afternoon. 

The papaya plant is a gift from DD's neighbor. He started about 20 from seed last December and now has 7 or eight mature plants. What a nice present to take home. They grow so well in my backyard.

I just love this pattern. This makes 3 I've done! The others are here...

Did you know that the poppy flower version of this dress is a July Knit Pick on Girl Charlee Fabrics blog?

Ciao! Coco

Monday, July 8, 2013

Action hero drawstring backpack!

My daughter and her companion are heading out to San Diego for the big Comic-Con on the 16th - I just had to make something for the trip. How about matching drawstring backpacks using Marvel action hero fabric. Really neat!

The San Diego Comic-Con is in its 44th year and is the country’s longest continuously run comics and popular art convention. DD and DDC (my acronym for dear daughter's companion :-) go to comic-cons all over the country, are very immersed in the pop culture and collecting scene, and have wonderful friends everywhere. It has opened a whole new world for me as well, I love the art and fantasy.

The backpack - I started with a free pattern and tutorial by Debbie Colgrove on I liked Debbie's pattern because (1)  it has doubled reinforcement on both sides of the bottom corners, where the grommets are attached, and (2) the drawstring casing at the top of the backpack is constructed separately and attached to the bag. The result is a very sturdy backpack. Who knows what will jump in there!

Here's a look at a completed backpack before cording. The finished size is 17" wide x 18" long, which is a bit larger than the pattern - I wanted a roomy bag.

Sizing difference in cut materials                pattern                           mine
                              bag                                                  15" x 17"                         18" x 18"
                              casing                                               16" x 3"                          19" x 3"

I've never done big grommets before, only little eyelets. These really test your bravery...all that sewing and it comes down to putting a big hole through your work.

I had tools on hand for this project, since I attach gripper snaps to garments fairly often. The 3/8" grommets were easy to find. My tool kit includes a Costa Rican hardwood bread board and a meat tenderizer. The large, flat side of the latter is wonderful for setting snaps and, now, grommets!

Fun project - Ciao! Coco

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Out, out, drat gnat!

Meet the villain of this short story - a pretty variegated chlorophytum that I brought home from my local DIY store (yes, the one with Home in front and Depot behind...). It was gorgeous and went straight to the art deco stand by the window in the music room. Perfect light. Lots of room for the shoots and tendrils. Happy day.

The plant stand with a pothos, last year...
Happy for about 24 hours. At which time I noticed a gnat flying in front of my face as I was reading. Swat. Hit my glasses of course. Then another one. Hmmm.

No let up. This was 2 weeks ago. The offending plant is now outside, as you see, but clearly it left a legacy in at least one of my other houseplants. I have gnats. Oh, nuts - gnats!

They are so aggravating!!

I've researched remedies online and have taken an aggressive stance (as much as possible - these little guys sip  insecticide as a power drink).

Apple cider vinegar and water in a dish. They are attracted to the scent, fall in, and drown. It works...and they also like cold coffee. My own remedy and I've applied for a patent.

Bright yellow poster paper covered with double-sided tape. Their color of choice, go figure. They land on it and, yes, expire. There is a lesson here - if you are on a picnic, don't wear bright yellow :-) My brass lizard is a willing ally but totally ineffective.

So much for the gnats that have hatched and are practicing take-off and landing. How to stop this madness? Orkin suggests tenting the house.

Or -

Sprinkling tobacco on the surface of my houseplants, which I did today. The nicotine 'should' kill the larvae in the soil. I can also allow the plants to dry out completely, which will also kill the larvae. And presumably the plants as well.

I'm giving the tobacco a couple days (or less), then the plants go to the curb.

Ciao! Coco

Update on July 29 - all the plants were kicked out a couple days after I wrote this post :-) My house seems to be free of gnats now, and yesterday I bought silk plants (I can hardly believe it...).