Now the fun part – new home

Now that I’m all moved in, here are some random pics of the neighborhood, and my house now and future. I’m in College Park, a small (pop. 12,000) mainstreet neighborhood in northwest Orlando. Most of the homes here were built in the early 1900’s, mine in 1947, and the majority are bungalows, with a smattering of newer homes and lots of renovations. It’s a dense neighborhood with narrow streets, a heavy tree canopy, and an abundance of tropical botanicals. It’s also very happy, with kids on bikes, courteous and friendly neighbors, and a warm feeling of community. It has 6 churches and 3 public schools (elementary, middle, and high school), 2 pharmacies, and a mid-century Publix market built in Publix’ signature deco style. The main street is 2 lanes, lined with pubs, restaurants, boutiques, a post office, a barbershop, and a couple bicycle shops. People walk here and sit outside with coffee and their pups.

Brugmansia spp., aka Angel’s Trumpet. Not for children or pets…

I saw my house the second and third day I was in Orlando, and I made an offer one day later. Property moves very quickly here, so I was fortunate with the timing and availability of the house. I admit I gulped at first – awful colors and no landscaping except a ton of grass. But I’m so glad I looked beyond the surface. It has been fully renovated inside, has new fencing, a 5-zone irrigation system, new double-pane e-vinyl windows, and, thankfully, no sliding glass doors!

Yesterday I met with a painter, recommended by a neighbor. He’ll be painting everything on the outside and pressure cleaning the hardscape. Here’s my working version (the main color is Sherwin Williams Revel Blue):

Moving day in the rain
Red letter day – all the packing materials on the curb for a bulk pickup (that wore me out)
Roof garden in the gutter of the screen porch! Soon to be gone
Ok, I do have two trees 🙂

Bye for now! Coco

More Carolyn PJs…

pj2 2

Straight from bed into my new Closet Case Carolyn Pajamas! That sounds backward, but I don’t actually sleep in my PJs.

I do love to wear them on rainy days (that cozy factor) and in the evening after my shower.

These have been in the sewing loft for over a week, pending photos. I do this all the time and I need to get them into my closet 🙂

This is my second pair of these super comfortable and cute PJs (first version here). Making them – layout, cutting, construction – is a rather big project, but it’s also fun because of all the details.


Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 8.44.41 PM

pj2 1

Sewing notes:

  • I sewed a straight size 8, View B, which has the cuffs on sleeves and pant legs.
  • This wonderfully cool and wrinkle-free fabric is chocolate/off-white cotton/lycra poplin shirting from Fabric Mart’s NY Designer category.  I looked at it for days before it went on sale for 60% off – I was really fortunate to get it.
  • Once again I applied bias edging details instead of piping. This time I used double-fold quilt binding, pressed open and cut to 2″ wide. It’s poly/cotton (no shrinking to speak of), and is a nice weight for an edging. It’s also available in a myriad of colors.pj2 top

pj2 edging

I like the fit of the pants so much that I’m planning a couple pairs to wear with a sleep shirt.

Something else got moved out of the loft this morning as well. This dress was on Emile for 4 weeks as part of the staging when the house was on the market!

dress 1

It’s Simplicity 8640 (purchased on Etsy), in Traveling Bananas, a cotton/rayon/linen blend from Fabric Mart’s Hawaiian Designer.

dress 2

Parting shot – my resident doves. I know they had a baby earlier this spring, because the three of them spent hours sitting together on the fence and ground-feeding once the juvenile was out of the nest. I had to take this photo from inside the house because they startle so easily. Beautiful.


Bye for now – Coco

Nautical Blackwood Cardigan


Such a great print! And perfect for a long Blackwood Cardigan.


After three weeks of workmen in the house, finally they’re done. I slept for 11 hours last night, with not a thing on my mind.


This super soft poly/lycra French terry is from Fabric Mart (and just sold out, they’re having a huge sale on knits). This is my second garment in poly/lycra French terry, and I am so impressed with it. Much nicer than cotton or rayon terry.

Just a few sewing notes:

  • I’ve made this wonderful cardigan about 8 times, both short and long. Yes, I love it. Thank you again, Helen!
  • I sew the Size Large (and I’m pretty small, it’s close-fitting).
  • As with my navy fleece version (here), I made a larger pocket and extended it onto the band and across the side seam.

Top: True Bias Nikko in modal stretch jersey, Cali Fabrics

I just took a walk in the garden, it’s such a lovely day. It’s spring and everything is blooming.

My husky cherry tomato is suddenly over 6″ tall and full of bloom and babies.


The orange jasmine trees (murraya paniculata) have been covered with flowers and even have some fruit. I had them trimmed about 6 weeks ago – they love a haircut. They’re not citrus, but, as with a citrus tree, trimming them stimulates flowering. And although they’re often mistaken for the mock orange (Philadelphus coronarius) that grows so rampantly in Hawaii, they’re not even cousins. I think the association arises from the orange-blossom fragrance that they share.

mock orange

And Ms. Guava is loaded with buds and starting to bloom.


I hope everyone is enjoying a nice weekend. Ciao! Coco

Making headway…

wonderwoman_620_090712 It happens that I just love this Wonder Woman pic! I should print and hang it in the Loft.

I’m almost feeling so spirited as well.

I checked in with my chronic care manager today, and I see my doctor tomorrow. I’ve been reassured that this season’s cold bug is nasty and lingering…

However. I think nothing gets one going so much as a little stretch. To wit, today I went to Home Depot, bought and planted a couple basket pothos replacements for the porch. My patio and porch are a mess, since I’m also in the midst of fertilizing and soil-topping my porch plants.  Yes, I collapsed afterward, and my mess is still out there.

Usually such a disorder outside would really bug me. But now I don’t care! It’s totally an inspiration to get up to speed.

The weekend should be awesome.

For now – Coco

Two Felix dresses and Sunday musing


I feel very green this morning! I hustled outside to take some pics ahead of our daily rain (and it’s raining now, pouring), and I was amazed by the green cast on all my photos of this dress! BTW, it’s Sunday, so no fancy styling going on here. Except for flip flops, because my patio is a guava-hazard area 🙂

The Grainline Felix dress continues to intrigue and please – I love it!

line art

This one is done in Kaufman Pickle yarn-dyed Essex linen from (here). Essex is 55% linen/45% cotton, so it shrinks and lints a bit. As with all my linens, this yardage was washed/dryed 3 times before I used it. And returned to the laundry again after I finished sewing it. Result – wonderful soft rumply linen. I do not press or iron my linen garments once they go into rotation. To me, they simply say ‘tropics’.


As with all my Felix dresses, this is not lined. Sewing the Felix without lining is easy, and I posted my approach earlier (here), along with notes on my size choice, sewing tips, and adjustments.


I love the front and back seaming detail and all the opportunities for topstitching to define the design.


Unable to resist, I also sewed a version in black Kaufman Brussels Washer linen, again from This blend is 55% linen/45% rayon.



Total this summer: 4 Felix dresses.

Staying with the green theme, I’ve been harvesting strawberry guavas for a couple weeks, and, with a gallon in the freezer, I’m done. Our rainy season this year started 6 weeks earlier than usual, which resulted in incredible fruit on this tree and many others. The palm date spathes all over Weston have been beautiful. I actually had some removed from my Chinese fan palms because they are such prolific germinators.


More from the haphazard section of my garden (that means I need to do some planting):

A volunteer papaya! Thank you, Ms. Squirrel.


The sole marigold survivor from my casual broadcast of two packets of seeds.


Loft construction area, a couple repeats: an Allie Olson Highlands Wrap Dress and a True Bias Yari Jumpsuit! Both in Kaufman linens.

I hope everyone is enjoying a nice weekend. Ciao! Coco

An Alder Shirtdress shirt!

What’s not to love about the Alder Shirtdress by Grainline Studio!

View B on left, View A on right

When the pattern came out in 2014, I jumped on it right away with a v-neck version of the skirted Alder, View B. Like everything Grainline does, it was fun to sew and more fun to wear.

Since then I’ve been reluctant to sew the another one, mostly because of my scleroderma. Good news – this might be the summer of going sleeveless. So I worked up a shirt version of View A, using Michael Miller Bright White Cotton Couture from Hancocks of Paducah.

Pants – Love Notions Sabrina Slims

This was a really easy pattern adaptation. I sewed the size 14, with just a few changes to the tissue:

  • Shortened the hem by about 3″. 
  • Lowered the bust dart by 1″.
  • Left off the attached button placket on the right front – I just used the self-faced left front to cut the right side as well.
  • Trimmed the armscye by 1/2″ all around, to accommodate binding on the armhole, rather than a narrow hem.
  • And I added an inverted pleat in the lower back, which I think looks very ‘shirt-like’.  I just widened the back by about 1 1/4″, and made the center pleat when I attached the yoke. I thought about adding a loop on top of the pleat, but I forgot about it until after the yoke was finished…

The finished back length is 30.5″, the front is slightly shorter. This is my favorite length since it covers both the bum in the back and the crotch in the front. A nice view coming and going…

Notes on finishing seams and hems. These were pretty easy, because cotton is so cooperative (compared to, e.g., ITY, charmeuse, or chiffon!).
  • I sewed the side seams with a straight stitch and serge/cut the seam allowances together at 3/8″. Using the cutter ensures any ravels get snipped, for a nice clean finish.
  • For the curved hem, I started with stay-stitching 3/4″ from the bottom edge, side to side.
  • And used the stitching line as a helper to press the hem up,

  • Next, I pinned it – lots of pins. I always press the hem at this point, to flatten the folds and work out any quirks. Since I use glass-head pins, this is not scary!
  • Almost done… I top-stitched the hem, working on the inside, for a pretty finish…

  • And the very last step, I pulled out the stay-stitching and gave the hem another good press.

Parting shots from the summer garden:
Hoya carnosa
Dates in the areca palm (only for the birds)
Strawberry guava – edible, delicious, but usually Mr. Iguana and Ms. Squirrel get them first.
Ciao! Coco

Don’t play with the possum…and a Hot Patterns Joyful Top

This little guy is the reason I took my pics inside this morning. What a surprise – I haven’t seen a possum in my yard in probably 14 years. Weston is bordered on 3 sides by the Everglades and natural wetland preserves. So we do get visitors – deer, even an occasional black bear (strange to think of bears in such a hot climate, but Florida is full of them). Also snakes, alligators, iguanas, and, yes, possums.

A couple photos were about as brave as I felt. And he eventually trotted along to my neighbor’s yard. I really hope he finds a more suitable home somewhere else. He was very thin, and I imagine he finds himself in a difficult environment. Unfortunately my neighbor puts out bread (bread! horrible choice) for the ducks, so perhaps he has been hanging out over there. 

On to sewing. I can hardly believe that I made this pattern for the first time way back in February of 2015. In fact I made two – one in black cotton jersey, and a second one in white cotton/rayon jersey. 
BTW, this was a free download from Hot Patterns, but it’s not easy to find it now.  Here’s a link I came across this morning, no idea how long they will make it available.

I’ve worn my tops so much! The black one is just barely hanging in. It’s pretty faded, and it’s more of a PJ top now. And  I recently spilled coffee on the white one, which is my favorite. Sigh. Problem is, the stain will NOT come out. I’ve tried 3 different ways – Oxi Clean, Grandma’s Stain Remover, stain treatment stuff, everything short of bleach (which would probably eat the fabric or turn it yellow). Suggestions?

But all good reason enough to make a new one…

Pants – True Bias Hudson Pants, ITY jersey

The fabric – I love this rampant floral ITY knit, which I found on FabricsUniverse, a great little Etsy shop (not the ‘fancy’ fabric store in L.A). Originally I intended to use it for a maxi dress, to be worn to my grandson’s Grandparents Day program. Well – I did sew it up, and, wow, I was totally drowned by the print. But it is perfect for a top, and the dress gave me ample yardage.

My first post on the Joyful Top has lots of info on the many many changes I made to the original pattern. And I carried those over to this version as well.

E.g., I added 2″ to the front and back skirt (I’m 5’7″), lowered the back yoke by 1″ (the back yoke on the original pattern is incredibly high), and added elbow length sleeves.

And I used self-fabric binding on the neckline, rather than a narrow hem.

The big change for this version is the hemline, which I changed to have a true hi-lo look. The original pattern appears to be hi-lo, but in reality the difference between the front and back hems is only 1″.

On my previous versions, I evened out the hemline by lowering the front by 1″. But here I’ve lowered the back by about 4″.  Because I’m really smitten with hi-low hemlines this year.

ITY can be uncooperative when it comes to sewing details, and I’ve found that no two ITY fabrics are alike. IMHO, the trick is to start with lots of tests on scraps, on every machine that will be used, to get a feel for the fabric. Cuts down on frustration, wad, unwad, ‘get out the ripper’ time…

A couple sewing notes on this version:  My hems are very narrow, but they were pretty easy to do – I simply serged the edges and used 1/4″ Steam-a-Seam to help me turn and stitch them.

I treated the sleeve hems a little differently, because they’re right up there at eye-level – finish is important. I serged the edges, turned them up about 3/4″, basted them in place, and finished with two rows of topstitching. No Steam-a-seam needed here.

No way was I going to try for a narrow hem on the flounce. I have my loony moments, but this was not one of them 🙂 Jersey doesn’t run, so the flounce edges are unfinished.

This turned out to be a cute top. Pink is in, and I really enjoy wearing it.

Parting shot: Mr. Fish is now 2 weeks old. Gosh, he was so unwell when I brought him home (who wouldn’t be, having lived in a little plastic cup at the pet store). He spent most of his time lying on a leaf, not eating much at all. But two days ago, he woke up in fine fiddle and is doing great now, swimming around and enjoying himself. He’s very social – I just read that fish actually recognize faces. Cute boy…

It’s almost the weekend, I hope yours is nice and enjoyable. Ciao! Coco