Friday, June 27, 2014

Curve ahead...

I'm not quite like Brandon, I know how to make a curve. Or have a curve. And I don't really mind free-handing a curve when I'm tracing a pattern or 'curing' a line.

Truth is, I've never owned a sewing curve ruler! No particular reason, except perhaps that I learned to sew without one.
One day the light bulb came on (actually, I just felt like buying something, I get like that sometimes). And I absolutely had to have a curved ruler. What a pleasurable decision! I spent almost two hours researching the choices, reading reviews, and finally selecting one - the Fairgate Fashion Form ruler.

Instant love. Now I'm a drafting fool, whizzing through tracing with a single bound.

Some reasons I selected this particular ruler over others out there (in particular the Dritz Styling Design ruler, which is readily available in stores, whereas the Fairgate is pretty much an online order item).
The ruler is long, 24" bottom to top - more importantly it has markings to 26" on the curve and 20" on the straight lines. 
The markings are black, not red, which is much easier for me to read.
The top of the curve is tighter on the Fairgate - that extra bit might come in handy. One has to look at them together to see the difference:

 Picky picky...

I'm having such a good time today with my new ruler. And a bonus. While researching, I found a friendly site that offers a french curve template that can be downloaded, printed, and copied onto a suitable medium. A freebie and so organic!

Poor little dragonfly. We love them here and call them Mosquito Hawks. Dragonflies really do eat mosquitoes, unlike crane flies that have the same nickname. This looks like the result of a mid-air collision or badly aimed bite. The air was full of dragonflies after a rain.

Bye for now, and a nice weekend to all, Coco

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Making plans for July...

I'm starting my July Garment of the Month planning early! It's all about the Fourth of July - and I'm feeling like a bit of fun to go along with the celebration.

I finally gave in to my adoration of the Alexander Henry hunks gentlemen and ordered the 'Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness' pattern from eQuilter.
Note about eQuilter: They have an incredible selection of AHenry prints, my go-to site when I need a fix. They also ship faster than any site I've ever used and are just nice. They always write a thank you on the shipping receipt.
This is a large print! so I need something that will handle those marching boys and flags without the distraction of gathers and so on. I'm going with my version of Butterick 5881, Katherine Tilton's layered dress.

More sewing for July - it's San Diego ComicCon time! I always try to make something special for Ashley and her guy D. for the trip. They are avid pop culture aficionados and go to 'Cons all year long. San Diego is the big event. Ashley has shipped me fabric from Spoonflower (I found a Mass Effect print), and I anticipate a dress before mid-July. Also have a perfect print for PJ's bottoms for D.

Other news - we are into our rainy season here Florida. Lots of cozy dark afternoons of sewing, reading and listening to the garden grow.

Zebra butterfly in the jatropha...

Hope everyone enjoys a nice weekend, bye for now! Coco

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pattern Runway Gathered Sundress - My June Garment of the Month!

Oh, it feels good to make something that works! I originally planned to make a skirt from this pattern, but was not happy with the fabric I had chosen for it and didn't feel like struggling. This was perfect, what a great pattern.

Of course, I had to make a maxi dress. And I made a few changes to the bodice because I can't wear zippers. But if you squint, it's the same dress :-). 

My reconstruction and sewing notes:

Rather than work with the bodice provided, I used the bodice from Butterick 5736 (also seen as a tunic and a dress a couple years ago). It's generous enough for me to slip over my head, no closure needed. And instead of a fitted waistband, I made one the same width as the lower edge of the bodice.

The band, which is lined in poly/cotton broadcloth, is 3" wide unfinished, and is sewn with 1/2" seam allowances.


I like the contrast waistband, I think it breaks up the print a bit  and adds interest to the dress.


The bodice is finished with generous bias bindings, applied in the round for comfort. I mention this because I've been asked what kinds of things I do to make my clothes more comfortable for sensitive skin. I find that avoiding open seam allowances against my skin really helps, particularly around my neck, shoulders, underarms, and waist.

Fabric: Floral Orange cotton calico from JoAnns

Shoulder seam

Bottom of arm opening

The pockets are very shallow, but are easy to lengthen. I added 4" to the pocket and pocket lining at a point that didn't effect the inside and outside curves.

 And I lengthened the skirt by 20". The rest of the dress is straight from the pattern!

Miss Squirrel missed this one...she must be off playing with her friend next door again.

Ciao! Coco

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Style Arc Fiona Top - Uh oh...

Well, Emile has agreed to model for me, but she's not happy about it, and it might cost me a new cami for her summer season.

I just finished the Style Arc Fiona top -  it is ABC (all but cuffs). Color me dismayed. The thing is, one has to go this far in the construction to see how it will look! The top is nothing without the band. My story:

Chapter 1 - Optimism is something you practice every day

My record with Style Arc patterns so far is not encouraging. I sewed the Rowe's Tunic last year. And think it looks like a golf dress on me. I really need to work on it some more or re-cycle the fabric.

I also have the Elizabeth top, loving those elbow-length sleeves and interesting body lines. But in truth the sleeves are several inches short of elbow length. I stopped working with the pattern with that discovery and moved on to something else.

Chapter 2 - Hope springs eternal

I was so excited to see that Style Arc was offering the Fiona top free with any June purchase. It looks so adorable and so my style. I jumped on it really fast.

And purchased the Heidi hoodie to go with. Total cost $21.50 AUD with shipping. From my chair, the Fiona was not exactly free :-) but I like having a little fun.

Chapter 3 - The proof is in the pudding

I do not like it, Sam I am. To me, it looks like a bad tuxedo jacket from the late 80's. Grant you, my fabric is not 'drapey'. But it is a 4-way knit, as suggested by the little swatch included in the pattern envelope. This is my muslin, so I used a knit that I am willing to lose. It's an awful color in person (thank goodness I did not touch my heathered marigold jersey). 

My little whinge list: 
  • The band ( which can be worn up or turned back to form a shawl collar) is 6 1/2" deep at the center back. Way up in my hairline, even folded! If I had used a more drapey knit, this band would have rolled more than once, I'm sure. It is just too wide.
  • The band is still almost 5" wide at the waist. It really is more like the line drawing and very little like the 'model' on the pattern envelope.
Should I have know the above when I looked at the pattern all laid out on the floor? Well, perhaps. But by then, (1) money spent, and (2) hope springs eternal.

Whinging is fun, here's some more :-)
  • The pattern comes with 1/4" seam allowances and an abundance of notches to help with the fitting of that awesome curved band. A notch in a 1/4" seam allowance. When I traced off my tissue, I increased the SA to 1/2" to accommodate those notches. Made me work a lot!
  • I won't talk about the fabric layout, because there isn't one.
  • Or the suggested yardage, because I needed 1/2 yard more than was indicated for my size.
  • Sizes - Measurements are only proved for lucky size 10 - we are left to guess if these are body or finished garment measurements:
Pattern measurements based on a size 10:
There is a 5 cm or 2 in circumference grade between the sizes 
Bust = 95 cm or 37.5 in
Waist = 85 cm or 33.5 in
Sleeve length from centre back neck = 58 cm or 23 in
Centre back length = 64 cm or 25 in
I will say this - My size 12 Fiona is spot-on for at least one measurement, the center back length is a little over 25" long. A better indicator, my Rowe's tunic, also a size 12, fits really well through the bust, hip, and waist.
Chapter 4 - Lessons learned

None! It's true that I could not find any reviews of the Fiona before I ventured into it. But that did not and would not deter me. 

Epilogue - Optimism is something you practice every day

And I'm sure I will make the Heidi hoodie. It's so cute. I still want a Fiona top, but I'm going to give the Mouse House Creations Julia cardigan a go, it has the same look and more sleeve options!

From the Loft, bye for now!


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Leaning in...Pinterest on the Loft!

I never thought I would join the sharing world of just seemed so unnecessary and so not me.

But I take it back. For a while now I've been using Evernote to capture pics of garments and styles that catch my attention. And to annotate them with notes on possible patterns and fabrics.

And I have notebooks with thumbnails of all the fabrics in my stash, same for my pattern inventory and my knitting patterns, croquis for everyone for whom I sew, plans for blog posts, recipes, a wish list of patterns, on and on...

Gosh, I'm a self-contained Pinterest world already! I just wasn't sharing. But I look for the share widget online all the time, mostly to send things to friends or family. Click.

So I've added Pinterest to the Loft, down on the right side banner. And I'll add the Pin It sharing widget to posts in the future.

Only two boards, 'Statements', style that appeals to me, along with pattern ideas, and 'Indulgences',  more in the accessory line, maybe over-the-top, luxuries large and small, fun to have. Click here for a quick look!

Would love your feedback, hope you enjoy.

Ciao! Coco

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

New Look 6889 Tank dress with a flare

Rested (the new bed works great!) and sewing like crazy. This was a really fun project, one I've been thinking about for ages. Because I've lusted after this Santiago dress from Soft Surroundings for about that long...

But finding a pattern was not easy. Most tank dress are either A-line or slim below the waist. I was looking for volume! Recently I've seen a couple reviews of  New Look 6889 -  and surprise, fuller skirts on a 'almost' tank dress!

Another view, then on to sewing notes...

45/55 rayon/linen blend fabric from Fashion Fabric Club

Those notes, using View B as my starting point:
I really did want a tank top look. I don't go for exposed bra straps and am not going without one! Which meant redrafting the neckline. 

I used the neckline from McCalls 6280 tank dress to redraw the neckline. I also moved the dart down 1.5", a usual adjustment for me on Big Four patterns.

McCalls 6280

The pattern has center seams, with the fullness all around. I wanted the fullness to be more on the sides, which meant redrafting the skirt. 

I did this by (1) eliminating the center front and center back seams, placing the patterns on the fold of the fabric. (Yes, it did remove some curve in the back seam, but I was willing to let that go). And (2) removing the center 'flare' from the tissue and taping it to the side seam.

To the floor please. Did you get to catch the dance group 'Burn the Floor'? Oh gosh, if you can, see them. Incredible, thrilling, vibrant dancing, very Latin, African, Spanish, Caribbean mix. My daughter took me several years ago, thank you, dear girl.

I'm very pleased with the result! It's not as fitted as the Santiago dress, but I didn't really expect or want it to be - I like long and elegant, but also loose and comfortable, a combo-style.

Oh - surprise! I never really left the 80's. I'm still in love with tie-back dresses. They give that tapered look without taking away ease. So I added ties to this one. 

These were easy to do:  I cut 2.75" x 29" strips, sewed them WS together, turned and then topstitched all round. I attached them about a half inch above my natural waistline, on a very slight angle.

I added side-seam pockets as well  - how else to achieve that 'model look' slouch. And totally off subject, I've been meaning to mention these chalks, from Nancy's Notions. Very nice quality. 

It was beginning to rain at this point, only ten in the morning, but we are into our wet season now. I couldn't be happier! I just put down about a gazillion pounds of fertilizer in the garden, so the rain is welcome.

Bye for now! Coco

Monday, June 2, 2014

Easy to amuse...

When I used this cute cartoon last month in a post about summer pj's, I started something - I began to need a new mattress. Badly. I wanted all of those mattresses.

But what a chore to shop for a mattress. I kind of hate, despise, and abominate mattress stores. And department store mattress showrooms.

So I shopped online, the mattresses are so clean!

I knew I wanted a foam mattress, I've been sleeping on latex foam for 7 years and love it. And I wanted a firm mattress without a deep plush top. The (expensive) mattress that I'm replacing has a 3" quilted plush top that grooved pretty quickly where I sleep. It aged the mattress much too soon.

Lots of surfing later, I found an interesting option - the DreamFoam Mattress from Brooklyn Bedding. It's made with Talalay latex*, and each mattress is made to order. I'm not going to get all commercial here, just noting whence it came 'cause I like it :-)

My queen-size mattress was delivered today. All 81 lbs. of it. Crazy!

I plopped it on the bed and started cutting across the layers of plastic wrapping.

After about six layers, I reached fabric, and suddenly it began to expand. It was fun to watch!

A couple more snips and voila! Elapsed time less than 2 minutes. 

It will finish filling with air in the next 24 - 48 hours, but it feels wonderful already. And does not smell at all.

Meanwhile, I've left these guys in charge.

Ciao! Coco

* Talalay is actually a very interesting non-petroleum, 'organic' process for the production of latex foam  Here's a link to Wikipedia...