Time for a knit duster …

Who can resist a fun unstructured duster when the weather turns cool…

Not I! I’ve spent hours in the past few weeks, just cruising duster patterns and lots of wonderful makes by sewists in the blogosphere.

Irresistible. I especially like the new Berlin Jacket by Tessuti and the Esme Maxi Cardigan by Named Clothing.

But I didn’t particularly want to invest in a new pattern. Trawling through my stash, I pulled out an oldie but goodie, the Heading for Adventure coat by Louise Cutting.

I made it in linen way back in 2010, but it was very large on me, even thought I sewed the size Small. And the linen really bugged my skin – I never wore it.

Nonetheless, the design details are so appealing. I love the piecing and topstitching. And Cutting’s techniques, which are beautifully articulated in the pattern instructions, are incredible.

It was a great starting place. But I wanted to go with the lines of the dusters I mentioned above – a softer neckline, an attached band, and slim-ish sleeves. And I wanted to use a knit fabric – a very lightweight rayon/spandex French terry that I purchased recently from Fabric.com. 
I was impatient to do all the re-drafting at one go, but I decided to be cautious. I actually sewed this in three steps. First, I cut out and sewed the entire coat from the Cutting pattern, using the size XSmall this time. And then I changed it, using the Jalie Cocoon Cardigan to redraw the neckline and draft an attached band, 
and the Grainline Studio Driftless Cardigan to alter the sleeves (I removed almost 6″ from the width at the upper arm – the sleeve was voluminous). 
This sounds like a lot of tweaking, but it was not difficult, because the Cutting coat is all right angles. It was easy to lay it out and draw on it with chalk.

Time for pics (this gray is hard to photograph – it almost shimmers here. Squint, please)…

I love the back drawstring! It looks very similar to the back of the StyleArc Winsome Designer Dress (posted here), but the construction is not the same, due to the placement of other pieces in the back.

The patch pockets are very over-sized and long. Fun! 

I’m off to JoAnns now, to get supplies for Christmas gifts. And I have to remember to tell my kids to stay off my blog for a couple weeks 🙂 Check out this adorable cat house from SeeKateSew! My weekend project…
Hope everyone enjoys a safe weekend, with lots of sewing therapy time…bye for now, Coco

Morris and Sabrina…

Or what to do with 5 yards of ponte de roma! I picked it up at a very good price at Fabric Mart earlier this year, thinking I would make a long cardigan for the change of seasons. But I’ve been on the fence about it. A long cardigan would be an almost zero-use item for me, wearable on maybe a few days in January or February. So it’s been sitting in my stash, while I’ve been sewing down the fabrics around it. (I’ve been on a bit of a fabric fast for most of the year – my stash was getting out of hand. I will totally break out during the Black Friday – Cyber Monday sales!)
So, I decided to go with a second Boyfriend Cardigan as a compromise. Only one pic, because I just don’t love it. I do have other plans for it – hopefully I won’t re-cut and sew it down to nothing. 

A note here about my hair: it came up blonde in this and two more pics because I took them with the settings I had been using to photograph the moon. Clearly my camera still has the upper hand. I’ve become very vain about my gray hair – I love it!

With the cardigan behind me, I decided to make another Grainline Morris Blazer, but with a concession – I sewed it to the original drafting, with none of the little changes I made previously to the bottom edge. And I cut it with long sleeves, a simple change. I thought I might like it better than my two previous versions. It’s such a cute jacket, and I’ve seen so many terrific makes of the pattern – the Grainline Flickr group is a lurkers heaven…
 Actually, this one’s pretty nice. The fabric works really well, and the fit is spot on. On Emile, pending sleeves:
To keep the facings – neckline, front edges, and hem – nice and fluid, I used tricot knit lining for all my interfacing. The pattern suggests fusible tricot interfacing, but I did not want to risk ‘freezing’ the fabric, as fusibles often do. 
I hand-basted the interfacing/facing just outside the seam line and removed the basting once the facings were in place. I enjoy hand-sewing, so basting is right up my alley. I baste all the time!
I’m really happy with the result. By the way, as before, I top-stitched along the edge of the front facing. This seems to prevent the fabric drag, between the shoulder and bottom point, that haunts so many Morris blazers.

Added top-stitching, red lines

I could not believe I still had enough fabric to make one more thing. An easy choice – the Love Notions Sabrina Slims are one of my favorite pants. Absolutely like wearing PJs.

And the ponte is all used up, gone, done!
Ciao! Coco

McCalls 6291 Not-so-short shorts…

Oh boy, did I ever need some shorts! 

Have you noticed how hot it is in the States this summer? I say that every year. But it’s truly hot and humid now in Florida, and these new shorts will be in rotation for at least 4 more months.

I stayed with my favorite shorts pattern, McCalls 6291 (original post is here). I’ve made the pants several times as well, here and here. They’re all just so comfortable and always look nice. Big plus features: front pleats, an elastic waist, and nice deep pockets.

The shorts have only one modification, to lengthen them and widen the legs – a very easy change. And I didn’t use the cargo pockets, although I think they would be cute on khaki or denim.

I pulled up my shirt just to show the pleats and pockets. And actually, these shorts look great with a tucked-in shirt. But I know I won’t do it – having the shirt loose is so comfy and cool. 

Not stopping with one pair, I made them in white as well. 

Both shirts are modified Grainline Studio Alder’s, blogged here

A few sewing notes:

  • Sewed size Medium.
  • The fabric for both is 55/45 linen/rayon blend from JoAnns (Sew Classic Linen Look Solid), prepped with 3 passes thru the washer and dryer before I used it. This fabric is a favorite with me – I’ve used probably 8 times for pants and shorts.
  • I used a 2″ hem, just because I love the look of a deep hem. 
  • The finished outseam is 21″, and the inseam is 9.5″. Walking shorts!
  • The finished waistband is about  wide, with 1″ wide knit elastic. Finishing touches: topstitching 1/4″ from the top edge, one row of triple-stitch zig-zag to keep the elastic from rolling,

  • And lots of serging to ensure a nice clean finish on the inside…

Parting shot from the garden this morning: Here’s a little orange Julia (Dryas iulia), a true Floridian, but perhaps seen in south Texas. Her wingspan is about 3″, and she only lives about 2 weeks as a butterfly – but she spends that time zipping around. She’s known as a fast flyer…

 Wishing everyone a safe and enjoyable weekend! Coco

Grainline Studio Driftless Cardigan – new pattern!


 I love trying a new pattern from Grainline Studio. Jen is simply one of my favorite designers – her drafting is so professional, and her designs are trendy and fresh. Lots to like…

She released the Driftless Cardigan just a few days ago. I got it within 5 minutes of the announcement hitting my email inbox. Check this out!

From the pattern description:

“The Driftless Cardigan drapes beautifully and has a casual, yet polished appearance. It’s the perfect cardigan for cooler temperatures throughout the year…This pattern features pockets and drop shoulders. View A is straight across the bottom, while View B has a split hem and is longer in the back.

Techniques involved include sewing with knits, straight seams, attaching binding, thread chains, inserting buttons and buttonholes.”
I decided to go with View B – buttons on sweaters don’t interest me, and I was intrigued by that back hem band. How fun is this!

The pattern has 10 pieces for either view. That’s a lot of pieces for a cardigan sweater – but they make for such nice details. Here’s a look at the inside front – those great pocket bags (I had to lighten the pic a lot, purple is almost a bad as black for showing details):

And here’s the nifty back – the two main pieces echo the front piecing, which I think adds a lot of interest to what would otherwise be a sea of fabric:

This pattern is rated at Advanced Beginner level, so I sort of thought about that as I was making the cardigan. I think it’s valid – the most challenging construction is probably attachment of the neckline and hem bands. Not because it’s hard, but because it needs to be done carefully so that the band width is uniform and the finishing is nice. 
The pockets might look complicated, but they’re actually very easy to sew. I have to credit the pattern drafting on this point – everything fits so well, and it’s very gratifying to see the pockets come out so well, particularly in a knit.

As one might expect, the instruction booklet is very well written and illustrated. So the ‘hard’ parts have lots of guidance for anyone trying some new sewing skills. 

A few sewing notes – well, a lot, but I hope they’re helpful:
  • As noted, I sewed View B, and cut the size 10. Love the fit!
  • Being brave, and because this was intended to be a muslin, I used a poly/lycra sweater knit from Fabric Mart by way of France. It’s closely knit and has a very small horizontal rib – which meant I had to be super careful in laying out and cutting the pattern so those ribs wouldn’t wander around. Aaacck.
  • My cutting regret: I failed to note that the pattern comes with 1/4″ seam allowance. I prefer to sew knits with 1/2″ allowances, and I usually draft my tissue with the added width. Next time… And here’s a tip – it’s very dangerous to cut notches into 1/4″ allowances! I marked all of them with a small gold safety pin instead. Worked great.
  • This sweater knit is kind of squishy and thick, so I spent a good bit of time finding the best settings for my machines (the seams are sewn first with a lightning stitch, and the seam allowances are serged together). I had to release the foot pressure on my sewing machine, something I haven’t had to do before – but what a difference it made. And I didn’t use my walking foot. Another surprise, but it sewed better with a regular foot.
  •  Because of the weight and ample stretch in my fabric, I staystitched the neckline and front edges about 1/2″ in from the edge, and removed the staystitching once the bands were in place. 
  • IMHO, the sleeve is very narrow – I don’t think I would be comfortable with a shirt sleeve under it. And the cuff is fitted as well – mine is only 7.5″ around. Redrafting would be easy – just add width to each side of the bottom edge and redraw the side seams. The cuff would also need a little more width. E.g., if an inch is added to the bottom width, one might increase the width of the cuff by 1/2″ – 3/4″ to accomodate it.

  • Finishing the front band: I serged the inside edge, and secured it by stitching in the ditch on the outside, along the band/front seam. That open-toe foot is great for stitch-in-the-ditch because you can see where you’re going.

  •  I didn’t use thread chains to secure the pocket bags – I just didn’t need them. If you want to try them, Jen has a tutorial on her blog site for making them.
  • Last note – I lengthened the front and back by 1″, as I’m a little taller than the fit models for most patterns.

I really like this pattern – it would be great in a mid-weight jersey or light sweatshirt fabric as well.

Parting shot: I just realized this morning that March is National Craft Month, which excuses the mess on my sofa…there’s barely room enough for me 🙂

Bye for now – Coco

Grainline Studio Lark Tee – Cardigan version!

Cascade, waterfall – all those beautiful coats that have been popping up make me so jealous of people who actually have seasons. I want one! red or camel or black. With a scarf and gloves and slouchy knit hat. Can’t have everything, so I made a waterfall cardigan.

The Lark Tee

And I got so much help.

I’ve been lurking the Grainline Studio Lark Tee. It comes with four necklines – scoop, vee, crew, and boat neck. But it’s a tee. How many tee shirt patterns do I need?

Apparently one more 🙂 I convinced myself when I read Jen’s (free) tutorial on making a cardigan with the crew neck version of the Lark. I even had suitable fabric at hand, a Maggy London cotton/poly/lycra stripe from Fabric Mart. It’s been hanging out in my stash since last May, because the stripe is simply too small for a dress. But this cardigan is perfect – I had to buy the pattern.

Here’s Jen wearing her version:


The Lark Tee is long at 28″ or so, which I like since I don’t tuck my tops. For her cardigan, Jen took 2.5″ off the length of the tee. And I added 3″ to mine, because I like to cover my bum.
Here’s a look at the very simple redrafting of the crew neck pattern:


In typical Grainline Studio style, both the instruction booklet that comes with the Lark, and the tutorial for the cardigan, are beautifully done with clear illustrations and understandable directions.

I pretty much followed the directions, but I ran into difficulty when it came to hemming the neckline and front. The instructions are to turn in the edge 3/4″ and topstitch/coverstitch to finish. Aaack! A raw edge inside that would show outside in the cascade. Worse – I simply could not get the fabric to turn in 3/4″ around the tight curve at the shoulder seam/back neckline area.

So I fooled around with some scrap fabric, trying for a rolled hem finish. It was OK – but not the nice finish I like.

Finally my coffee kicked in (it was early this morning), and I remembered TwoToast’s Sunday blog post  in which  she describes how she finished the edges of her new cascade cardi. Lightbulb moment – what a great approach! I cut 1.5″ wide strips of rayon jersey, folded them in half wrong sides together, and attached them to the cardigan, pretty much the same way one would attach a band to a neckline. A little topstitching to keep the bands from rolling out, and done.

It’s a little hard to see on black, but here’s the outside and inside of part of the band. I really like the way this looks:

One note of caution: the sleeves are straight from the tee shirt pattern, so they are slim. I’m wearing a sleeveless Bantam vest under my cardi – I really couldn’t get it over a long-sleeved tee very comfortably. It would be easy, though, to widen the sleeve. Also, I sewed the size 10, which matches my measurements. I always cringe mentally when I go down a size, but the pattern is true to its size charts.

I’m glad I made this, it’s pretty neat. But I’m not sure it’s the best look for me. Maybe with a turtleneck. Or long hair. Or a long necklace. (Or a scarf, mittens, and a knit cap 🙂 But I scratched my itch to have a waterfall coat, and I still have a wonderful tee shirt pattern to play with in the future. I have another two yards of this fabric, so I’m thinking a crew-neck tee with a cuffed sleeve.

Bye for now! Coco