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Coco Loco!

I think this is the craziest sewing binge I’ve ever been on. I’ve always been a jeans kind of gal, but now I’m all about dresses! I found this Coco pattern accidentally at Tilly and the Buttons and didn’t I just have to drop everything and sew this up! Yeah, I grew up in the 60’s and it’s like coming home! While I really enjoyed my first/test version blogged here.  It was too big through the shoulders and back. That dress was just so dang comfortable and cute that I wanted to get the fit corrected right now. I took measurements across front chest and same area in back. I found the easiest way to do this is to stick a pencil or ruler high up under each arm and then have someone else measure between these points. I matched that measurement to the narrowest part of the armscye on the pattern. This turned out to be the smallest size – size 1, where I had used a size 3 throughout for my initial version. My new draft used size 1 to the narrow section and then graded out to 3 by the armsyce/side seam junction.

Coco 2

Coco 2

The knit was mutch stretchier than the 1st version and I still ended up taking in an additional 1/2″ from upper sleeve to just above the bust. It was an easy fix and I didn’t alter my new draft. I really liked how the A-line skirt ended up in soft folds. Oh, and the belt? That was a tutorial on Tilly’s site, so was the idea to just color block the top. My fabric was reversible stripe/polka dot – doesn’t get much easier than that!
I had this great Aztec kind of print, sweater knit, in deep shades of gold that would be perfect and after the ease of the lavender, I thought I could whip one up in no time…
Think again – if that had been the first knit I ever sewed with, it might have been my last. This was melt like butter knit – not a good thing going through the serger even with differential feed, I had also basted the seams before serging and still had problems. I would have just used my walking foot on the regular machine, but the cut edge was shedding as sweater knits will do. In retrospect, I should have used a light weight interfacing on the seam edge. It did stretch and that combined with the A-line skirt made the stripes a little crooked. Since the stripes were so dominant, I opted for an uneven hemline and preserved the pattern stripe at the hem edge.

 coco 3

coco 3

I cut the sleeve on the lengthwise grain for the stripe effect, added a short cuff to the end of the sleeve and used a neckband as I’m not such a fan of the turn and stitch neckline.
I have a table that I share for drafting/cutting and then have to rearrange to use as my ironing center – it makes me want to cut out several things at once so I don’t have to go back and forth between setups as much. I really needed something easy to make up for all the trouble I had with the aztec version (even if it was worth it!)
I had another remnant piece of fleece in a very cool wine print, and what better for the Coco party than a dress covered in wine bottles!

Coco 4

Coco 4

I don’t know why, this version just makes me want to giggle! That’s poly/rayon/spandex ponte knit for the sleeves – all fleece would have been too hot and too much print.
I did have fit issues with the sleeve – when I altered the armhole, I enlarged the sleeve mostly at the base of the cap, when what I should have done was raise the height of the cap. There are are wrinkles along the sleeve that tells that tale and I will be sure to correct that when I start working on the tops. I made the provided funnel collar, but just stitched down a single layer so I could fold up the collar in multiple ways – fleece is awesome like that. There is one pocket that is drafted to be deeper than the one provided. I do have some stress wrinkles in the back; as I move closer to a woven fabric, the need for bust darts also increases.
Here is my favorite! I have had this fabric in my stash for like 18 months, just waiting for it’s perfect pattern mate…It’s a poly/spandex blend – but it has very little stretch – it really acts like a woven. It’s a beautiful shade of blue-grey with black flocked dots. This version was the funnel neck, 3/4 sleeve with cuff and reminds me of a Jackie O dress – except shorter 😀
This one was in definite need of bust darts, but I settled for a horizontal dart in the back – the pattern makes it barely visible and I know I will be getting a lot of wear out of this one!
So here they all are – my Coco girls!

Coco Loco

Coco Loco


I have had these done for several weeks, but a pulled back muscle put a hold on taking photos and such. Now it’s time to play catch up before starting fresh with a new month, and Yikes – April already! Sammy is a free cami pattern from Iconic patterns , Blair is a simple batwing top from Named , and Charlotte was the first pattern release of By Hand London. I have just a simple twist knot in the tee that sits at the top edge of the waistband – it is a high-waist skirt, but not too high.


I was organizing my fabric stash and “found” this sheer striped knit that I had purchased from Fabric Mart for $1/yard during one of their many sales. Charlotte I had since last year, Blair was a fairly recent purchase and Sammy had just been released. Everything just clicked and I knew the outfit I wanted! I could have sworn that I had that black and gold cotton sateen in my stash, but no. I really had my heart set on it and even though it was from last summer( at JoAnns) I took a chance. Unbelievable – not only did they have it, but it was in the red tag area which was currently on sale for 50% off!


Sammy is a pretty easy sew and I just love Lena’s instructions for the binding for people without coverstitch machines. Did I mention it’s a free pattern? I followed the instructions for size selection and my fabric was a cotton spandex with a 60-70% stretch (recommended is 70-80%). I have on a black bra in this shot, but the next one, I’m wearing a bright yellow bra – the coverage is excellent, with just a little peeking through where the straps join front and just a little at the back strap. Awesome! My first muslin fit fine from the front, but the back had a lot of wrinkles.

sam3 It’s not a swayback thing – it’s a not enough bust room thing. I think if you are a small B, you would be OK, – I needed close to a 2″ dart taken out of the back to get rid of the wrinkles. For my 2nd version I added a total length of 1″  to the front – 1/2″ at bust line, 1/2″ at hem tapering to nothing at side seam to match back. I still needed a small dart taken out at the back and shortened the straps a little as well. I still had some minor wrinkling. I think my final version will take out about 1/2″ through the center back and add that width back at the side seams from the waist down.  With a little tweaking, this is a great basic and so easy to make a coordinating cami for sheer tops!


I am really happy with the fit I got on the skirt, close through the hip and yet comfortable to sit in, although without the vent (which will be in the next version) I’m going to have a hard time getting into DH’s truck!

The BHL site has a tutorial for the skirt including how to adjust to your size. At 5’4″ – I needed some significant length adjustments – I just took them out of 2 different areas and tapered the hem to the width designed for my hip size. Since I needed a larger waist size, I sized up a little, but also decreased the dart width – with 4 darts, it was easier to get the sizing I needed. I did do a muslin and shortened the darts a little as well.

I did my lining a little differently so I could attach it at the zipper by machine. First I finished the edges with a serger, then pinned the lining to the zipper tape right side of lining to inside edge of zipper tape – it’s just the center back seam allowance and zipper tape. First picture shows what it looks like after pinning and flipped back. I leave the edges below the zipper open and seam that last. Next pic is another view – again, make sure you are only pinning in the seam allowance. The lower side is what it looks like after seaming. Finally, you need your zipper foot to get close to the edge, but not too close or your zipper could catch in the lining.

step1 step2 step3a

I really thought hard about purchasing Blair – it seems like such a simple pattern – and it is. One thing I’ve found out, simple patterns require meticulous drafting too and I was not disappointed with Blair. I’ve accepted that I will just always have to make petite adjustments from the between waist and shoulder. I started by using the neck/shoulder line for the smaller size, graded out to between size 1 and 2 for the width (there are only 2 sizes). I shortened the armhole to have it end at my waist – it looked like that is where it was hitting on the model.
Adjusting the sleeve to fit the new armsyce was done with tucks down the length. The tuck created uneven side seam (right). I placed paper under the side seam and then drew a new seam curving to fit (left). The sleeve cuff end was still loose – I took in 3 pleats to reduce to 8″ and added a narrow band. Now when I want to push up the sleeves, they stay up and I like the look of the pleats. My other alteration was to add a neck band instead of the turn and sew neck edge. It was still a fast sew as I did most on my serger, and just left the bands to be done on my regular sewing machine. The other thing I liked about Blair, was that I could knot the front before dinner, and leave it loose after…

Well, my reliable V100 iron arrived on Thursday from Wawak. That was a day earlier than expected! I also got a follow up call from them to see if everything was peachy with my order – awesome and I will definitely be ordering from them again. It is hard to find reasonable shipping to Alaska, and I am not getting started on my rant about how USPS has the same rates to Alaska as to the rest of the country…

I am enamored with Tilly’s new Coco pattern – I made adjustments to my first version and completed a second version with plans for at least 2 more! My Sammy, Charlotte, and Blair outfit is a success and done. There were minor alterations to Blair – mainly just petite adjustments, but I did have to completely redo Sammy with both an FBA and swayback adjustment. Once I get all my pictures together, I’ll be outlining the petite adjustments in detail.

For now, the sun is out, it actually feels a little warm, and I’m going to enjoy the nice weather!

Pressing is not ironing

Something I learned from sewing. What a difference it makes! Now I take the time to press each seam as I sew it – it’s kind of a pain, but totally worth it. What’s the difference? When you iron, you are gliding the iron in a continuous motion over the fabric, when you press, you lift the iron and then let it rest for a few seconds on each area that you are smoothing out. I have been using a mini Rowenta that I picked up at Joann’s on sale, and I’ll continue to use that for interfacing, but it just steams on one temperature – high. I’ve been able to get away with using that as I also use a silk organza press cloth between my iron and my fabric. Still, that won’t work with everything, especially since I want to start sewing with more delicate fabrics.

I did some research on a couple of irons, and narrowed it down to 2. The Hot Steam SGB-600 currently on sale at Wawak for $89, or the Reliable V100 Digital Vapor regular price $139 – that is the manufacturer’s price that I saw over several sites online. Ultimately, I went with the Reliable – it has some great reviews from other sewers, and I didn’t want to deal with a separate hanging water tank. The reservoir in the Reliable seems to be a pretty good size. The best part? Threads magazine has a coupon code for 20% at Wawak good until 3/31/14! Even though I had extra shipping costs (but still reasonable given the weight of the order) I still came out ahead and it will be here Friday, Monday latest!

All you lucky peeps in the lower 48 get free shipping on orders over $100 – it’s a great time to stock up!


Coco came calling

Just because I like a bit of alliteration! It was going to be Blair, Charlotte and Sammi – however only Blair was ready, although both Charlotte and Sammi are close! I happened upon this site by Tilly and the Buttons while looking at the Great British Sewing Bee. Tilly was a contestant on the first season. I just love the look of her Blog and all the great info she has, but most of all I was smitten with Coco. Yes, I just had to drop everything and sew that baby right up. I opted for the PDF version and everything fit together nicely. I used a combination of drafted for sizing and finished measurements to determine what size to start for my wearable muslin.
Ta Da!

Looks great easy, beltless and barefoot – even better belted with heels or boots!
I love this pattern and find it to be flattering for a wide range of figures. My fabric was a reversible acrylic/spandex doubleknit with a sweatery hand on one side and mini-stripe and smooth on the other. It was from my stash and I didn’t have enough for long sleeves – hence the 2 tone sleeve. After joining the shoulders, the waist taper was too low. The easiest way to fix was to cut apart and take in a 1/2″ seam. Love that reversible fabric! I used the lightning stitch on my Juki exceed, and you cannot even see where the fabric joins. Remarkably, it also retains the same stretch factor. I opted to sew most of this on my sewing machine as the double knit lay better/flatter when pressed open. I could have left the hems raw, but ended up with a coverstitch hem. I like the slightly weighted effect it gives. I am totally looking forward to at least 2 more versions after drafting in a few fit changes – I have become very picky about how clothes fit now that I’m sewing them myself!

The fit issues I have are because of my bone structure and posture. I’ve always had an overly erect stance, shoulder to shoulder width of 14, and measuring crease to crease, Front – 12″ Back – 12.5″, then from my short waist down, my proportions are in the “normal” and not petite range. My big goal this year is to learn and document as much as I can about addressing petite bodice fitting issues. I have not found patterns to have the lengthen/shorten lines in the area that I need to adjust. It is strange that a pattern can have the correct total circumference, and still not fit. What I think I need is to remove from the center back, and neck, shorten the armhole area, reduce shoulder width, and then extend back out at the underarm seam. I think I’m also going to have to draft in a bust dart and rotate that out somewhere as I am currently larger than a B and I still want that easy fitting dartless style. Looking closely at the shoulders, they seem to be sitting back a tad and I might want to experiment with lengthening the back shoulder and shortening the front shoulder to maintain the same total height.

It really feels good to be excited about sewing again!
Coco Flickr set

Red Denim Cheetah

Image I’ve been struggling with a 20 lb weight gain and not wanting to sew or use my fabric “stash” because I was going to lose most of that weight – any day now – really. Well, it was just time to embrace my new curves and remind myself that any size looks good when the clothes fit!

After getting my feet wet with a couple of the new, gorgeous Named patterns, it was time to focus on a new fitted sloper. I chose Vogue 8972

Vogue 8972 View A

Vogue 8972 View A

Just the pieces for the initial muslin wasn’t too bad, but after drafting in the fit changes, tracing off new pattern pieces and cutting out a total of 34 sections of main fabric and lining, it was a “What was I thinking” moment for sure! I’m glad I went there – besides the fitting and drafting, there was sewing princess curves, serging, topstitching, invisible zipper, back skirt slit and full lining – whew – it was a mini sewing course.
I have my sewing confidence back! Here’s the Flickr set all photos includes some of the petite changes and stitching pics.
complete PatternReview
This was in draft mode for almost 2 weeks – I needed a break with some easy sewing, plus wardrobe planning, got side-tracked and so didn’t get as much detail down as I had planned. My goal is to focus on the petite bodice alterations.
Next up, meet Sammi, Blair and Charlotte!



and it’s saying “dress!!!”. Would you believe that dress was already Named Leini

I fell in love with this pattern, OK, I admit, it’s that whole collection! This dress is a mostly a simple shift. The angled front pleats are what really make this dress something special. It’s just the right touch to distinguish this dress from all the other shifts out there.  I’m doing my best to stick to one of my resolutions to not buy any more patterns unless I’m planning on using them right away! Yeah, I should have been doing that from the start – with fabric too. What appeals to me most about this collection, is that it is both simple and sophisticated. So far I have found the drafting and fit to be excellent. These are PDF patterns, and I really appreciate that most patterns print over 12 pages – nice to save on paper and ink.

lined pleat

The instructions included are for lined/unlined bodice. My version is self-lined bodice  and nylon tricot for the skirt. This was sewn entirely on my sewing machine as sometimes the serged seam adds bulk that shows with pressing on a light weight knit like this. I used a universal needle (80) ,  lightened up the pressure a tad, straight stitch 2.8 for all seams except the waist – used the lighting bolt stitch there. I chose those stitches as the dress is loose fit and completely lined so I didn’t need to worry about stress on seams or stitches popping.

This was my first time to line a bodice without any handstitching! I owe it all to Made by Rae and her fab tutorial

Pattern Alterations: For reference, I am 5’4″, frame on the smaller side of normal, short-waisted (back waist length is barely 15″, narrow back, normal waist to hip length. Usual adjustments for me are to remove as much as an inch(sometimes more) in the armhole depth/midriff area. This pattern, I removed 2cm (.75 inches) and that will need to be replaced at waist level when I make my next version of this dress. The elastic is sitting as an empire waist – the model photo shows the waist to be at or slightly above the navel. I didn’t muslin the pattern, so had to remove all the extra length from the shoulder. Now the neck is higher than I’d like (still comfortable), waist a little high, and length a little shorter than I had planned. Despite all that, I still love this dress and can see myself living in this all summer. I wonder if I have any really big sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat!

One more week to finish the dress for the LWD contest – guess I better quit getting side tracked!

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