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Archive for April, 2014

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


Sammy, Charlotte and Blair

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…