Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds...


What a lovely play and movie. I added a note below in case you're unfamiliar with this story.

Here's what made me think of this...

After a bone-density test yesterday, a simple low-dose x-ray, I went to JoAnn's for just two items - thread to match two garments I'm sewing.

I came home with this. Lots of buttons and one spool of thread.

Must be the gamma rays...Ciao! Coco

* From Wikipedia: "The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is a 1964 play written by Paul Zindel, a playwright and science teacher. Zindel received the 1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for the work. The play's world premiere was staged in 1964 at the Alley Theatre in Houston, after which it premiered in New York City Off Broadway. It was adapted for the screen in 1972, directed by Paul Newman and starring his wife Joanne Woodward, daughter Nell Potts, and Roberta Wallach, daughter of Eli Wallach. Woodward won the award for Best Actress at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival."

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Practicing self-restraint on a sales weekend...

A sales weekend - Memorial Day. I absolutely promised myself I would not go overboard on fabric.

I'm limiting myself to patterns :-)

Casual Elegance (Loes Hinse Studio, love her designs - classic, elegant, chic) has patterns at 50% off! Had to get this sweater coat pattern that I've wanted for so long.

Dixie DIY - I blame thank Faye at Faye's Sewing Adventure for this! She has a post on Indie patterns - the annual Indie Pattern Month Challenge, sponsored by Monthly Stitch, is in June. Dixie's Ballet Dress got me. For knits, what a nice relaxed design! Perfect for a cotton blend jersey. Or as shown, a sweater knit top and solid knit bottom. Take off the sleeves, make them elbow length, add a wide belt. Fun!

Nikki at Fancy That posted an adorable version of New Look 6210 Knit Dress (short and maxi versions and a choice of slim or relaxed skirt and two necklines). I'm going for the relaxed skirt looks...great for summer.

And thinking of View D in red, inspired by the Sundance Cafe Rouge Dress!

Take me back to the 80's...remember the boyfriend coat? OK, if you're laughing due to how looong ago that was, I forgive you. Ashley and I both want the Republique du Chiffon Gerard Coat this fall. I got the pattern now, don't want to forget where I found it!

It's only Sunday. Not even noon. Self-restraint is probably a virtue...but total withdrawal just can't be good.

Ciao! Coco

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Making plans for a June Garment of the Month

Are you inspired by what women wore in the past? Fashion comes and goes - but it always seems to come back. In researching my next Garment of the Month, I came across these dresses from June of 1875. Oh my.

Beautiful, but thank goodness these styles are not trending! They must have been so warm.

Actually, I'm inspired by the gathered sundress from Pattern Runway. It has the cutest pockets I've ever seen. The entire dress is so pretty, I love the nipped waist effect and the summery bodice. The whole dress has a retro look - so appealing. Great sneakers!

Alas, it also has a back zipper, a no-no for me.

I thought about simply using a different bodice, with an elasticized waistband, so I can pull it over my head. And I'll do this soon. But for my first version I've decided to make a skirt. A maxi skirt at that (I can always shorten it if I don't like it long). Here's my basic design:

Rather make it a pull-on, with an elasticized waist, I'm opening the front and using buttons all the way down. I'd like to keep the 'nipped' waist look. For fun, I'm planning to add a contrast bias band to the top of the waistband and all the way down the button placket edges, to match the binding on the pockets. 

The main fabric is Nicole's Prints Retro Floral calico from Alexander Henry, and the contrast fabric is Savannah Flower Dots calico from the Stonehill Collection. To add a bit more body to the skirt and diminish wrinkling, I'm using a Symphony broadcloth lining (it's a very smooth, lightweight poly/cotton).

I'm looking forward to sewing this project! Working with the pattern (which is a PDF) and drafting new pieces for a skirt has been interesting. My living room floor should be covered with fabric soon! 

Bye for now - Coco

Friday, May 23, 2014

Thank you is never enough...

A Sudden Gust - Three Friends by KJ Carr

But it's a start. For all the stories you shared and support you gave me when I wrote about my journey with morphea - thank you. Hugs, big hugs, pieces of my heart. I wish I could do more, talk with you, tell you in person. Hear more of your life, and spend time together.

You have touched me in so many ways. I am comforted and energized, and I feel your friendship. What gifts! You are extraordinary. With love and gratitude, Coco

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Salme Pleated T-Shirt - A merry make for May!

Adorable! this little shirt turned out to be everything I was hoping it would be. Comfy, fresh, and different. Something new for spring and summer and my May Garment of the Month.

This is my muslin, but I went ahead and did it in a very nice white broadcloth from Monika Chiang, by way of Fabric Mart. It is such a nice weight for a blouse and has a wonderful hand and finish. Feels a bit like tissue linen. Glad I ordered 4 yards :-)

I'm in love with the pleats...they start just above my bust apex, but I imagine the placement will be different for everyone. They're 1" deep, 1" apart, and on the front only. Super easy to do - just fold on the right side and stitch.

Since the needleplate on my machine doesn't have a 1" marking, I put a piece of masking tape across it to make a guide for sewing the pleats. I do this a lot, even for the markings I do have, if I'm doing parallel rows.

Sewing notes and a couple little changes to the pattern ...

I drafted my pattern from the size 12 (I'm 5'7", 36.5" bust), but cured the side seams out to size 16 at the bottom/hip. I also drew my pattern with 1/2" seam allowances, instead of the recommended 3/8" (seam allowances are not included in the pattern). Just my preference. All my seams are stitched and then serged together to finish.

The neckline was just too high for me, much higher than it looks on the envelope. I think it would look nice under a suit jacket, but this is Florida and I'm retired, so I lowered it, back and front, and drafted new facings for both.

Lowered 2.5"

Lowered .5"

The inside front and back...

And I drafted new sleeves, a la Duchess of Cambridge, i.e., elbow length. Great look! I simply added 4.5" to the length and drew the side edges straight and parallel. The hems on both the sleeves and the blouse are finished at 1", to echo the 1" pleats.

On both the original front neckline and my new one, I have a small gaping issue. That hollow chest thing :-) I'll address it in my next version with a redraft to take up the extra bit. 

For a woven blouse without bust darts, this works really well! I have no issues with diagonal lines or pulling at the bust or arm.

And it looks good worn out, too...great length.

Saw a centipede on the patio...I do not like them! but if they get in the house I usually just pick them up and put them back outside. Gosh, I'm nice.

How about those cargo jeans? Will blog them soon, I have another pair in a fun floral. Ah, summertime.

Ciao! Coco

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Hiding in plain sight...

Brussels Graffiti     Artist: Liu Bolin

Dearest unusual post for me. Hiding in plain sight.

Sigh. I have morphea scleroderma. My variant is symmetrical, matchy-matchy on both sides of my body. It flares - painfully - and leaves very disfiguring and uncomfortable scar tissue in its wake.

It started in 2010. Now, four years and six dermatology specialists later, I have come to a truce with it. But the journey has been difficult and challenging.

Scleroderma is very unattractive. Mine exhibits on my arms, legs, chest, shoulders, and face. The last was the hardest while it was active...but my arms have been and still are a similar trial.

I have been through tough times with this. When my face flared, I retreated. I took out my garbage cans and collected my mail in the darkest hours of the night to avoid being seen. My lowest point was eating ketchup on lettuce to avoid going to the market for food...

I've had migraine disorder and anxiety disorder. Agoraphobia. Panic attacks. I've cancelled trips to see my kids and grandson because of the pain and the ugliness of the lesions. 

I have been ashamed.

So why bring it up? My blog has been so good for me, in many ways. I love my blogger friends and the companionship of blogging. You have strengthened me. 

But I do realize that blogging has also been an outlet...

My scleroderma began with a recalcitrant 'pimple' on my face and a few bumps - one of them a bug bite! - on my left arm and right leg (cut myself shaving). Slow to heal. 

And progressed everywhere except my torso. But I cannot bear a strap on my shoulder, elastic on my arms, a seam pressing on a scar. I am the master of (buying) seamless lingerie and perfecting the inside finishes on my sewing.

Here I am now, no makeup or coverings - I have photo-shopped a few bandages out of my pics in the past, but have generally left them alone. Now I've decided that who I am is who I will be, on my blog. And in public. No more choosing a long-sleeve dress or top over a sleeveless  one. This kind of happiness is a decision only I can make for myself, and I've made it. Feels wonderful.

You've never seen the left side of my face, because I've never included it in a pic. I have scars covering most of my lower face and going under my jaw, in several places connected to the jawbone, and leaving a visible indentation in my face.  These particular lesions developed over a 2 1/2 year period and have been 'quiet' for 10 months. Scleroderma lesions take 2 - 5 years to become quiescent. The scleroderma lesions on the right side of my face are much smaller - crossed fingers. 

My earlobes have been pulled down by the scars, and I 'lost' my piercing holes for 3 years. They came back in March - I don't know why. But I can wear earrings again. 

One might say, it's not the worst thing ... but for me it has been difficult. Hard. I've spent time with so many doctors - including psychiatrists, psychologists, dermatologists, neurologists. I've been told everything from it's my fault to it's not my fault. 

In writing this, I hope I give strength to someone else who feels undone or challenged. 

For now, ciao. Coco

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Jammies for spring...


All that cleaning and organization in the loft last week really got me thinking about my wardrobe for spring and summer. I have lots of pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, and tops. Of course, since I sew them constantly, selfish me. Plenty of nightgowns, robes, and underthings. And socks. I have so many socks. I am crazy for knee socks and white low-cut socks instead of slippers.

But there are these two dresser drawers that kind of stopped me. They have my go-to pajamas.  The ones only seen by very close family and every living thing in my garden. My assessment - I think I've been wearing the same PJ bottoms and tee's (my favorite outfit) for over 2 years. Washed a million times and downright tired.

Time for some new pajamas. 

I like wide-leg elastic-waist pants and a thin, smooth tee. Made by moi so there are no peas  nylon stay tape and/or nylon thread to irritate my skin!

So - first set!

The pants are from McCalls 5989, a cute robe and PJ pattern that I sewed a couple years ago for the Pyjama Party Sew Along. They have wide, slightly flared legs and are so comfy. I've also sewn the shorts, they make a great summer PJ bottom.

I've sewn these pants enough that my tissue is marked and amended to fit me well. I use a size M, but raised the back rise by almost 1" and lowered the front rise by 1/2". The latter is a pretty standard adjustment for me on pants, and is not peculiar to this pattern. I also added 3" to the hemline.

The fit-for-purpose test..I sit with one or both of my legs under me all the time. These really work well, no pulling :-)

My fabric is a dress-weight cotton poplin from Fabric Mart. I originally purchased it for Vogue 8876 by Marcy Tilton. The fabric was a good choice, as it has the right amount of body, but the dress pattern did not suit me at all and never made it past a muslin. Makes great PJ's!

The top is a new pattern for me, Butterick 6837. It's a uni-sex PJ group that caught my eye because it has 'classic' bottom and top patterns. Woven fabric is recommended, but I sewed this in a size M in Cielo poly/rayon/spandex knit from


I finished the neckline with an applied neckband and put bias binding on the armholes, both from self-fabric. Because these are for sleeping, I didn't use any stay tape in the shoulders or steam-a-seam in the hemline, keeping everything as soft as possible. The seams are simply serged. This fabric was very nice to handle and sew, and top-stitched like a dream with a straight stitch.

One is never enough - second set!

Same pants pattern, but a shorter length, an inch or so below my knee, as I used a remnant. I adore this print, Pink Scroll calico from Holly Lobby (usually in stock). Both pants have clean serged seam allowances and a 1 1/8" hem, which I think looks nice on a casual cotton.

The second top is a pattern that is quickly becoming one of my favorite's - the Deer and Doe Plantain T-shirt.

I used the short-sleeve option (it also has 3/4 and long sleeves marked on the pattern). The other Plantain I've worn on the blog is my Dennis the Menace shirtwhich I love to wear.

This is sewn in rayon/spandex knit from JoAnns. As with the one above, I used an applied neckband, simple hems, and serged seams. The slightly - very slightly - heavier weight of this blend can be seen in the pic below. It's still very light and comfortable, just more spongy. I'm curious to see which fabric I like the best for a sleep tee.

A note on the neckline finish, since I don't have a coverstitch machine. The band is sewn on the right side, the seam is turned to the inside, and the raw seam edges are cut/serged together. Top stitching on the outside, 1/4" from the seam, keeps everything tidy.

Marking the front...very important if you get impatient (as I do) with checking the crotch seam to get it right!

So now I have two complete sets of pajamas ready to go in the drawer. Another set is cut out. But - DD's birthday is coming up in a week. I have a lot to do for her gifties as well.

Ciao! Coco