Friday, January 31, 2014

Little cheetah PJ's...Jungle January!

Quick, Coco! You'd think I'd been off on safari, I'm so late getting into Jungle January!

Actually, there is a cute story behind these little PJ bottoms. My grand nephew has apparently been asking for cheetah PJs for ages, a message passed on to me by both his mom and my sister. With his birthday and my grandson's coming in March, 2 days apart, I started looking for fabric early in January. Wow - there must be 10 variations on cheetah prints. What to do? I sent choices 4 to the jury...


I thought #1 would be the winner - wrong! Good thing I asked, #3 won!

I used Butterick 4635, a wonderful children's pattern with robe and PJs in sizes 3-4 and 5-6 (I made my grandson a flannel robe two years ago, he was only 2). 

And the multi-sizing works well for multi-kids! There is no such thing as making only one member of a family a pair of PJs :-) Notice there are three pairs, three sizes, in my pic. Nephew, niece, and grandson - I cannot wait to see all three in their jammies!! 

The boys have working flys, and the little lady, of course, does not. The waists have sewn in elastic and a drawstring (I used wide 45" shoelaces, perfect). And a 1.5" hem so that they can keep growing - and these would be cute as short PJs as well.

Edited a couple hours later....

I ran down to AC Moore this morning to buy black and red yarn for a neck scarf for my nephew (a personalized request from him this past weekend. How could an aunt resist!) I already have pink and purple for his sister... Anyway, look what I found! Headband toggles, perfect for the drawstrings on the PJs because they have two holes! Moms won't have to worry about the consequences of ties coming undone. Ooo ahh.


Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

January Garment Complete! The fleece coat...

Well, in the end I didn't wear my fleece coat to Charlotte over the weekend - it was cold! in the 20's the whole time. So I took something warmer. But I did finish it before the end of the month. Major accomplishment!

In an earlier post, I talked about my inspiration for this project, pretty maxi coats from Sundance and BurdaStyle. And deciding to draft my own pattern using the liesl+co Late Lunch Tunic.

Late Lunch Tunic
Fleece Coat

Using fleece was a practical way to make a wearable muslin. I would love to do this coat in a kilim or tapestry fabric. Now that I have the kinks out, I can start thinking about the more expensive fabric.

Little touches...

The back of the coat is straight from the tunic pattern, just elongated.

The sleeve is two pieces. The first is the original tunic sleeve. The second piece completes the length, with topstitching to accent the joining seam.

Originally I put in side seam pockets - and took them out in favor of patch pockets. I like the look and they are easier to reach!

I also left off the buttons. This is a great grab-or-hang-open coat. In a heavier fabric I'll probably put some form of closure, buttons or coat hooks/eyes.

And I didn't put in a lining. I made one, but it was so bulky under the arms, I think because they are cut on, not set in. Had fun with the facings instead!

I'm really pleased with how this worked out. Now I'm thinking about my February garment of the month. It's my birthday, so I have to come up with something special :-)

Ciao! Coco

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Liverpool Tunic!

What a charming tunic! I'm really excited about this - it just feels right, and it's so refreshing to sew a woven fabric for a change. All those knits have been wonderful, and I'll definitely do more. But I think I need some bright prints in my life right now - time to sew out of the cotton stash.

I've seen this tunic many times on the web, mostly in shops that sell indie patterns. But it just didn't speak to me. Then a short time ago I was reading Kimp's blog, Cotton Creek Sewing (a recent find and I love her blog and her sewing) and found her two versions of the Liverpool. Sold and sold! So pretty.

I looked everywhere for a pattern line drawing, but there simply is not one, so I'll describe instead:

The pattern has 4 hem lengths (shirt, tunic, short dress, long dress) and 4 cuffed sleeve lengths (short, elbow, 3/4, and long). It also has a belt that attaches above the waist in the side seam and looks best (IMO) tied in the back. There are side bust darts and double vertical darts in the front, and a set of vertical darts in the back. Very nice shaping details. The front is closed with a full-length buttoned placket that opens into a collar stand and pointed collar.

OK, I know I've said I'm not a collar lover. And I'm not. But this is a very nice collar :-)

I've been saving this fabric for months - it's so pretty I really did not want to cut into it. Do you ever feel that way? It's JoAnns Legacy Studio Morocco Paisley, 100% cotton. Strangely, one is advised to dry clean. ummm.  I pre-laundered in cold water and dried on delicate, and it looks beautiful. No running or fading.

There are a number of reviews of this pattern on Pattern Review, and they were really helpful. And I found support for my disappointment with the pattern directions. Just not well written, certainly not up to Big 4 quality. Which might make this tunic a little trying for some sewers. E.g., there are NO fitting marks with the exception of one marking the shoulder of the sleeve. And there are NO suggestions to trim seams, not even the ones inside the collar and collar band.

The funniest references - and most trying for some sewers of this tunic - are to the 2 collar pieces as the 'first' and 'second' collar pieces, depending on when they were first handled. Same thing with the collar band pieces. huh. So future sewers, here is a fix for that one:

  •    The collar piece that you interface will be your under collar (it goes on the bottom of the collar).
  •    The collar band piece that you interface will be the outside collar band (it goes on the back of the collar band and marries up with the under collar).

 Sewing notes:

I sewed a size Large in this tunic - a Medium would have fit me, but very closely, and I like my clothes to be on the loose side. While the directions were a little funky, the pattern pieces were great and fit together really well.

I did a 1" vertical adjustment to the bust and front vertical darts (lowered them), and shortened the vertical darts by an inch at top and bottom. I also halved the mid-width of the vertical darts. The bust dart was way too short, ending about 4" from the top of the vertical darts, so I redrew it to be thinner and longer. I wonder if that short dart works for anyone...

I shortened and narrowed the back vertical darts in the same manner, but did not move them down. One little change I made to the design is in the center back seam. I cut the back on the fold and then sewed the french seam down from the neck for 12 3/4". And left it open to the bottom. Just a little something different, and I like the way it looks.

I also altered the long sleeves to get more of a caftan look. I just redrafted the sleeve pattern straight down from the armhole to the hem, making it the same width along its entire length. The hem is turned under 2 1/2" so that any peek-a-boo into the sleeve shows the print instead of the wrong side of the fabric. No cuffs.

Speaking of wrong sides - I fell right into this boo boo. The front placket goes straight into the collar band, the collar turns back, and one sees the wrong side of the fabric at the neckline. It's not awful, but it won't happen again! My next version will have a facing construct under the collar band. Picky picky.

So cute! Kimp mentioned that she cut 5 inches off the ties on her 2nd version, and I'm with her. The ties are a little long, especially since I knotted them (not a bow person).

This was such a fun sew that I'm already working on my next one. As long as my living room is a mess, might as well keep going.

Nothing beats good coffee, the Australian Tennis Open on TV, and sewing :-)

Ciao! coco

Friday, January 10, 2014

The fleece coat is coming along...

I've been busy! Cannot believe how much work has gone into this little coat. The loft has seen a lot of ripping out, re-sewing, staring...

Speaking of staring - see how the waistline seams don't meet up? Believe me, the bodice pieces were cut and sewn the same. Even sewn in the same direction. But somewhere along the way, adding the facing, topstitching, maybe just the material itself where a piece was cut - something changed.

I don't know how I would manage without my trusty dress form Emile.  Or my shoulder ham, seam roll, Clover seam ripper, pressing cloth (a scrap of calico), or razor edge scissors! OK, my reading glasses as well...

But it's almost done! I still have that waistline to fix, and lots and lots of thread ends to tie and hide. And I need to go back and remove the inseam pockets :-) You can't see them, but they are there. I decided to do patch pockets instead. They break up the long long front skirt and are much easier to get into.

It does get a little boring to work on grey fleece all the time - so I've been sewing some long sleeve tee's, all from very lightweight knit (the four in the front next to Mr. Monkey). Almost ready for a photo shoot, just need pressing - and for me to get off my lazy backside, comb my hair and take some pics!

Hope everyone is well, and enjoys a nice weekend. My son's birthday is tomorrow - 45. How can that be!!

Bye for now - Coco

Saturday, January 4, 2014

My January Garment plans - a fleece coat!

I'm definitely having some fun with the Late Lunch Tunic pattern (blogged here and here). The lines of the bodice are so classic, and I'm in love with the soft gathers in the skirt. So I've decided to draft a long coat using the LL Tunic as my base!

Here's a look at the lines of the tunic - I'm really not making a lot of changes. Dropping the collar leaves a perfect round neck, and it's easy to open the front of the skirt and extend the sleeves.

Inspiration? I fell in love with this Burda Style coat when it first appeared last year - charming! And the fabric is beautiful. I dream of doing a coat in a similar fabric...

BS 10/2013 #130 Maxi Coat
Here's another gorgeous coat I found, again a beautiful fabric.

Sundance Oasis Jacket

But such pretty fabric is dear, so I'm doing my first version in a nice heather grey polyester fleece from JoAnns (recently on sale for only $2.99/yd). And I'm drafting a lining as well, in black poly/cotton broadcloth. I think - hope - the broadcloth lining will help 'hold' the structure of  the fleece.

My fabric is already cut out, I'm itching to get sewing today! Fleece is perfect for the Florida winter chill. And I'll be in North Carolina at the end of the month to visit family. Not outside, but in and out of the car. This will be a nice alternative to a heavy coat.

The Make a Garment a Month challenge is such fun. And it's on its own blog now - check it out, great garments being sewn, lots of familiar bloggers - and you can join in at any time. It's low-key and really inspiring -  my kind of challenge :-)

Bye for now - Coco

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My December Garment of the Month!!

Well, it was New Year's Eve yesterday - so I must be forgiven for being a day late with my December garment (we'll forget about the 30 days preceding that...). Actually I took photos this morning after about 10 hours of sleep, even the fireworks did not keep me up!

Still half asleep - great hairdo, Coco!

My December garment is this little top based on Liesl Gibson's Late Lunch Tunic. I blogged the original version, complete with collar, on Coco's Loft in early December. The big change I've made is to remove the collar and make a v-neckline. I really like this look.

I noted in my earlier blog that I had added an inch to the bodice, front and back, because I'm a little taller than the pattern contemplates. Did not want the front gathers smack across my bust! And I added the fourth button as a result.  I also took the 1" off the hemline, as the tunic is a generous length.

Love this cute fabric, a very soft and lightweight poly-rayon jersey from So soft that I took the precaution of adding a little stabilizer... I used Pellon easy-knit fusible interfacing in the yoke linings, and twill tape in the shoulder seam allowance of the back lining. I pretty much always stabilize the shoulders in a knit top. Wright makes a 1/4" polyester twill tape in white and black that works perfectly in a small seam allowance.

And now it's truth time - those big buttons will be coming off, little ones going on, and this comfy top is going in my PJ drawer! Not what I intended - but it's just a little too light and sheer for street-wear.

My wishes to all of you, my dear friends, for a happy, healthy new year that brings you peace, joy, challenge, contentment, fulfillment, wonderment, and prosperity in equal measure.

Ciao! Coco