Sunday, September 28, 2014

Grainline Studios (FREE) Hemlock Tee

Gosh, I think I downloaded the Hemlock Tee pattern just after Jen Beeman posted just over a year ago. And I finally cut it out and put it together - it really was fun. And so successful. Thanks, Jen!


This is a plain and simple project. The pattern is one-size, and instructions are in Jen's blog post. She also has a tutorial for sewing the pattern with tissue knits. I read it, because I've always been curious about tissue knits. Scary stuff that requires really pretty lingerie... 

I used a cotton jersey knit from Holly Lobby

Finished garment measurements are bust, 44.5″ and hip, 46.5″. At 5'7", with a 37" bust and 42" hip, my only change was to add 2" to the length of the shirt. I'm going to add one more inch to the length so I can take a deeper hem (this one is a scant 1/2").

The shirt doesn't have set- in sleeves or curved sleeve caps! The sleeves are simply sewn onto the body in a straight seam, which forms to dropped shoulder. Really easy. The pattern includes 3/8" seam allowances so it can be sewn on a serger, which is what I did. Super fast to sew.

True Bias Hudson Pants
I really like this tee shirt! After all the futzing around I do with this and that designer pattern, I like the timeless design of this one. It's not baggy, it fits well, and it feels like me.

From the garden...I ventured out between storms yesterday to get these pics.  When the coconut palm was shorter, the nuts disappeared before they fell, but they are out of reach now :-)

This palm is about 10' taller than the roof of my 2-story house!
Ciao! Coco

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rainy days, wet paint, and books...

This pic of Mr. Toad is from September a year ago - he's still around, along will some new family... 

It's early, cozy, dark (I usually get up somewhere between 4 and 6, my favorite hours), and I just read Theresa's blog post on the joy of books read and listed to be read. And I'm with her. I love books, and I have strong feelings about having them in my house with me.

I have bookshelves all over my house. Travel journals, non-fiction, fiction, biographies, history, gardening, sewing, art, mathematics, science. Three versions of the Bible. A good atlas, various encyclopediasand dictionaries in 4 languages. Surrounded by books, and I feel so fortunate.

When I was approaching retirement, I thought a lot about living on a reduced and fixed income. Not being able to buy something just because I wanted it. Contemplating my exit strategy, I decided to build my library of books and films that I enjoy over and over again, while I had the flexibility to do it.

A 'sport' fern in a Chinese fan palm in the front garden

It took a while and was very enjoyable. Any favorites I had on my Nook, I bought for my library. Films - I got the complete Sopranos, Northern Exposure, and Seinfeld, and many movies I had on my DVR. And paid a bundle for a couple movies that are only in VHS format ( A New Leaf, with Walter Matthau and Elaine May, and The Tango Lesson, produced by and featuring Sally Potter and exquisite tango artists in Europe and Argentina). And I ordered The Coronation, narrated by Robert Powell - Queen Elizabeth's coronation day. Beautiful old film content. I remember the day I ran home from kindergarten to watch this real princess story on our neighbor's TV.

My most-read books...
The Shipping News
John le Carre, Paul Theroux, Patrick O'Brien, and Graham Greene.

Recently read - A Fine Balance, by Rohinton Mistry, and The Plantagenets, by Dan Jones,

Would you like a Chinese fan palm? The date nuts are germinating everywhere...

And reading now - In the Kingdom of Ice, The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, by Hampton Sides, who also wrote Ghost Soldiers, and Stilwell and The American Experience in China 1911-45, by Barbara Tuchman. I just brought home my father's collection of Winston Churchill's books, and I'm reading Tuchman's book, which was also in his library, as my prologue - it's a fascinating viewpoint of the World Wars.

Other things happening's wet! We're having the wettest rainy season I can remember in all my years in Florida. Rain every single day. Awesome thunder. My Livingstone Daisy, which is a succulent, is turning to slime. The snails are fat. Mushrooms are cropping up on the ground and on the palm trunks. The birds are so happy, they sing all day. Their world is one big bird bath!

Sprouted mahoganies...sometimes I pull them up by the handful.

Let's not talk about mosquitoes. Or the ants that want to come in and park their umbrellas (unsuccessfully - I figured out ants a long time ago. Knock on wood).

When I came to Florida in 1978, my realtor told me, 'Quit looking at the yard, look at the house. Everything grows in Florida". So true!

This branch in the guava, a big one, was lopped a month ago. I had no idea it would regrow!

I've been chasing this philodendrum tripartitum off my coconut palm for years. Now I've decided to let it grow. I hope to get a vanilla orchid when I'm in Ft. Myers in October, to plant on the Washingtonia palm in the corner of the back garden. Sometimes the Edison House nursery has them for sale. They have beautiful, huge specimens growing on palms on the  property.

As long as I'm indoors, I got crazy and decided to do some painting. From yesterday...

Before - the foyer, Ralph Lauren French Quarter terracotta.
The color has gotten very pink over 14 years on the wall.

New! This 'olive-khaki' is 'Collectible', from the Behr Marquee collection.

Same paint on the base of the counter separating the living - kitchen areas. The color shows better with more light on it. This was previously French Quarter terracotta as well.

Today's project (and then I will put away my brush for a while), the entryway to the garage. At least I got it prepped yesterday.

I've been writing for 2 hours! I need more coffee. 

Bye for now - Coco

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

True Bias Hudson Pants...

My first fall pants...I came close to some of the Pantone Fall 2014 palette!

I never thought I would sew a chevron print - chevrons just haven't appealed to me. And I made it through a full year of chevron-mania without buying any. But this ITY knit from is so outrageous, I fell for it. Drippy chevrons on a reptile print background.

These are the Hudson Pants from Kelli at True Bias Patterns - her first pattern. And it's wonderful! I've seen the pants described as track pants and as workout pants. They look kind of like sweatpants. Hanes, Champion, Nike, Land's End...

Source: BTW...aren't the buttons on the faux fly and cuffs of these a cute idea?

But I like to think of them as glam sweatpants :-)

Back to the pattern: Slash pockets, a drawstring waist with elastic, and cuffed legs. However, the legs on the Hudson pants are a bit different - full in the abdomen and hip, and then fitted through the leg.

I really like the fit on these pants - I cannot believe I'm wearing knit pants without a tunic top. Thank you, Kelli!

A few sewing notes:
  • I made the size 16, because my hip is exactly the width of the size 14, and I wanted a little ease.
  • The fitted leg is a bit scary to me. I've spent most of my life trying to camouflage the fact that my love handles are at the top of my thighs - so I'm not likely to sew something that highlights the fact! My fix was to redraft the inside seams. I marked a point 1" out from the bottom edge and cured down from the top edge. This added the softness you can see in my pants legs. 
  • I also narrowed the cuff and lengthened it a bit to accommodate the additional width at the bottom of the leg.
  • Being practical, I knew I wouldn't use a drawstring (they bump out in shirts and drive me nuts), so I ditched it, narrowed the waistband by half, and used 1" elastic in the casing. The resulting back rise fit me perfectly, and I only needed to add 1/2" to the front rise.
I think a 4-way stretch like this ITY is perfect for these pants! no baggy anything. The ITY feels heavenly. 

A couple more pics with McCalls 6928 tunic top...

A definite win. I happen to have some more outrageous ITY knits in my stash, so now I have a pattern to go with :-)

Ciao! Coco

Thursday, September 11, 2014

McCalls 6928 Skirted Tunic in Royal Blue!

First, credit to Mary, of Biblioblog...several weeks ago, she updated her Pattern Review of the tank version of this pattern with her skirted version, and I fell in love with it. It is so pretty!

Bonus - the pattern comes with a bunch of versions, all for woven fabric (although I plan to use it for knits as well, since it has no bust darts).

Really liking this with jeans, the way Mary styled it.

This fabric is a beautifully embroidered eyelet from It's a thick cotton and feels very rich. I'm not a big fan of blue, but one morning Robin Roberts, co-host on Good Morning America, was wearing a stunning royal blue dress. After that, I was on the lookout for something in royal blue.

The unexpected challenge with this fabric was matching the parallel eyelets vertically and horizontally when I laid out the pattern pieces! The color is soooo pretty with white. 

Sewing notes - I did struggle a bit with the bodice of this pattern. The straps are very narrow, and I don't like peek-a-boo lingerie straps :-) And there are no bust darts, always a challenge for me with a woven top.
  • I sewed View D in Medium. This is the skirted version that does not drop in the back.
  • The bodice was lengthened by 1", front and back.
  • The front bodice was cut on the fold, rather than seamed.
  • I widened the straps, but had to rework the armholes and shoulder seams quite a bit to get a nice fit. 
  • And I added about an inch to the skirt. Just for good measure because I'm 5'7" and generally add a couple inches to a pattern.

After finishing this top, I knew I wanted to make a couple more in light-weight woven fabrics. It's such an easy piece to wear over pants, and it's a little dressier than a T-shirt. But I wasn't happy with the bodice. So - yes, I redrafted it for wovens. I've redone the shoulders and armholes, and added a bust dart for my full B-cup. I'm much happier and will share a new version soon.

But meanwhile, one more look, with Virginia leggings...

September is National Sewing Month! And I'm on board - it's all I have planned...

Ciao! Coco

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

BurdaStyle A-Line Tank Dress 06/2011 107B

A little something different - when have you seen me use a belt! But this dress looks so nice with one. And before I go any further, yes, Burda calls this a tank dress, even though it has dropped shoulders and a v-neck.

Overlooking the name, I really like the clean lines, bust darts, and wide shoulders. And I think this little dress is a perfect blend of style and ease for hot summer months. Hot, hot, hot - we've had temps in the 90's for weeks now - that's really unusual for my area of Florida. On the up-side, we've had rain every day, so the foliage and plants are incredibly beautiful and lush. And the Everglades are so full and healthy.

Notice, though, that I'm still avoiding photo sessions outside :-)

A few pics on Emile:

A nice, high back that's cut on the fold, so no center back seam.

The shoulders are only slightly dropped - IMO, very pretty.

The neckline has back and front facings, which make it very easy to get a clean finish on the point of the v-neck.

My sewing notes - for once, I did not make a lot of changes!
  • My fabric is Poppy Red cotton from Kanvas Studio's Tempo Collection. I'm in love with this print and had the fabric for several months while I looked for a pattern that would showcase it. It's retailed as a quilting cotton, but has the hand and weight of a premium calico. Sews very nicely and does not wrinkle easily. It also held it's very bright color in the pre-wash without running!
  • I dropped the bust dart 1.5" and lowered the endpoint of the dart by 7/8".  The darts were really perky!
  • Sizing: I drafted size 38 from the bust dart up, and size 40 below the dart, curing out to size 42 at the hips and carrying the A-line through to the hemline. 
  • While I'm happy with the size 38 choice for the upper bodice and back, I did find that the shoulder seams angled down a bit too much for comfort. They made the arm openings just a little tight when I raised my arms or reached forward. Since I used 1/2" seam allowances, I was able to loosen the angle, and I'll adjust my tissue for future versions.  
  • The hemline - I added 3", which is just about right with the 1 1/4" hem. 
  • I added 2-piece in-seam pockets, rather than attach the pocket lining to the dress front.

When I went looking for a belt, I was shocked. The only skinny belt left in my wardrobe is a snakeskin pattern. I've gotten slack in my retirement. I can only say that two new leather belts, one black and one tan, are already on their way from Overstock. Wow.

 Here's a pic without the belt - maybe it would work better in a solid. It just feels stuffy to me!

I spent the last two weeks in Ft. Myers and have been home for just a couple days. Ashley and D. had a wonderful time at DragonCon in Atlanta (Ashley was a pirate in the DragonCon parade). Once home, she went in hospital for a scheduled surgery - she's home and doing great. They stay so busy!

My sweet sewing helpers and constant companions, Callisto and Nikita (they are sisters):

It does feel good to be home. I've been cutting fabric and taping together some new patterns I downloaded from BurdaStyle. Just my speed. 

Bye for now - Coco