Evernote – my sewing file keeper…

My constant companion for 12 years – Evernote.

When I started sewing in earnest again in 2012, and started Coco’s Loft, I quickly realized I needed a file keeper for sewing notes, pattern notes, an inventory of fabrics I’ve used, and so on.

The list quickly expanded as I contemplated a way to document something as simple as a table of body measurements, sewing ideas, favorite online shopping and how-to sites, and more.

I love Evernote! I have the subscription that allows me to sync my files to all my devices ($5/month) – to my phone, Ipad, and MacBook. All are up to date and with me anywhere. E.g., shopping at JoAnn – well, I have my patterns complete with fabric requirements right on my phone. Or using sewing notes in the loft on my Ipad. And of course lots of time spent on my laptop, cruising patterns and fabrics.

My notebook and tag structures:

An example of a pattern file:

I have line art, size info, and fabric requirements saved for all my patterns, along with a history of versions, modifications, etc.

I keep tables of measurements for my entire family!

And I have every fabric I’ve sewn or have available in my stash. I keep its defining elements, what I paid, how I used it or plan to use it.:

Does this post qualify as a Thursday ramble? Evernote is a great tool. It’s so simple to use. No anxiety in sight and one touch info at my fingertips. I use it not only for sewing, but also for all kinds of info that I like to retain and embellish! Let me know if you’d like more examples…

Ciao! Coco

Fabric and project agony…

The agony. I purchased 3 yards of this lovely abstract stripe linen for a jacket. In reality, it is like cheesecloth, and even three launderings did not close the weave.

So – a lining required. But wrestling the fabric on the grainline was just horrendous.

What was meant to be a starlet jacket will be a scarf for many people on my Christmas list, including me!

What next? this project was meant to carry me for a while. So, I ordered some lovely Kaufman black cotton twill for that jacket. Before I go any further, the jacket? A Republique du Chiffon Gerard Manteau, a classic boyfriend style. I ordered the pattern when it came out, ages ago. Believe it or not, everything was drawn by hand, pattern and instructions, and challenging. Last month I ordered the updated pattern. It and the instructions booklet have since entered the 21st century. Below, new line art and ‘old’ pattern.

The updated pattern has different pockets and options for 3 lengths. Yes! As to my new project with twill, it will be unlined, which is very easy given the facings and hemline bands provided on the pattern.

Meanwhile…I’m prepping tools for paper beads and laying low, I’m into the 2nd volume of Churchill’s books on WWII, and being patient on the sewing front. I actually have 3 books in progress simultaneously. Beside Churchill, also Barbara Tuchman on WWI ‘The Guns of August’ and Stanley Karnow ‘Vietnam: a History’. I finished John Toland, ‘The Rising Sun’ and ‘Korea: Mortal Combat’, in the last year.

For now, I hope you are well and coping – difficult times, my wish for your peace and calm. Coco

Patricia Rose in Gatti Colorati

There are two things going on here! First, I’m trying to overcome my lethargy of the last 15 months by taking pics and posting. And it does help my sense of well-being. Second, I am in love with the stretch cotton sateen designer collections at Mood Fabrics! This fabric is Gatti Colorati, how charming…

It”s not lightweight, in fact has a bit of structure, but is perfect for ‘controlled’ silhouettes, e.g., pants, jackets, and dresses.

On to the dress! I started with the Style Arc Patricia Rose.

And I added several design elements. Starting with the bodice, I ditched the fold at the bottom of the bodice and used a plain seam edge to attach the skirt. (BTW, ages ago I modified my Patricia Rose back to mirror the front. The original is one piece, mine is two).

I modified the skirt by adding a ruffle. And large patch pockets across the side seams!

I just love this, it’s fun and funky and so easy to wear.

An aside, having chosen a paragraph block on WordPress and not being able to edit the text without changing modes, clicking all over the place, gritting my teeth, I truly think WordPress has gone overboard with its ‘upgrades’. It takes me 5 clicks to insert an image. Silly, but I do like WordPress as my blog tool. Sigh.

Onward, my latest discovery with wax prints. I really love the large prints and vibrant colors. But I was dismayed by the stiffness of the fabric, even after a pre-wash (I buy cotton wax prints, the alternative is polyester, not something I would enjoy in a dress). The substrate is a fairly rough cotton weave, similar to Kona but heavier and denserFro. When I bought my first yardage, I washed it in cold water because of all the dye. And it came out of the wash just like it went in – no loss of color and still stiff.

Solution: a couple more launders, warm water, fabric softener. These dresses are getting much softer with each iteration! In the future, and wax prints are definitely in my future, I will launder more aggressively, at least three times before using the yardage. As with linen 🙂

From the House of Mami Wata

I hope this finds you well, perhaps feeling more energy, and, of course, loved. Bye for now, Coco

Working on a summer dress inspiration

After working on summer dress patterns that are repeats for me, I felt in need of a challenge and a change. I found this delightful dress on Pinterest, and, zoom, I was off on a fun project.

My first step was to source fabric – I knew I wanted something light, voile or challis, with a similar pattern.

Totally tired of struggling with the wily ways of rayon challis, I found Telio Verona Cotton Rayon Voile Dot Black/Ecru on Fabric.com. From sewing other Verona voiles, I knew that the cotton content would work in my favor. Basically, it prevents extreme shrinkage and loss of shape. It’s really friendly fabric 🙂

The plan: a maxi with a two-tier skirt and a collared button-front bodice.

My starting point: a mash-up of the Style Arc Patricia Rose bodice (I love the fit and design of the bodice) and the Named Saraste blouse. The latter has a collar stand, a fairly narrow collar, and fits me well through the neck and shoulders (my original Saraste post is here).

Several readers have asked how to do a hack, would I do a video of the steps. Well, it’s an adventure, and, no, I’m not doing a video! I’m shy. But here are the basics for this bodice:

I aligned the Saraste and Patricia Rose at the center front and shoulder. And repeated for the back, center back and shoulder. An important checkpoint was the resulting length of the shoulder seams.

And I used the button front, collar stand, and collar from the Saraste.

Because this fabric is so light, I drafted facings for the front and back necklines. I wanted support for the collar – no flopping open, please. The facings, collar, collar stand, and the button band are interfaced with sew-in woven interfacing (Pellon SF7850, which I source online at JoAnn). I purposely did not use a fusible interfacing – fusibles freeze the fabric and can cause a major hiccough during construction with a light, loosely woven fabric (read that as ‘pieces don’t fit one another and the drape is gone).

After all that, I took the plunge and cut my fabrics. That sounds simple! but I had to cut the left bodice 2 times to get the center print-matching where I wanted it. The first one was a disappointment, because I was using mirror image tissue pieces. Missed the match by a hair, but I knew it would spoil the dress for me. Ahh…the second one was perfect.

This morning, after a week of work, I completed the bodice. Whew – but it was a blast.

I’m looking forward to working on the skirt, even though it means gathering yards of voile!

Bye for now – Coco

Seeing the top of the mountain

Just some musings. And a small celebration. My county opened an appointment portal for 65+ residents at midnight, Dec. 29. I had been asking my doctors for info on when/where/how to get my vaccinations. And overnight, when the portal opened, I got a reply.

I got my appointments, for both my first and second jab, at 4:09 p.m., on the first day of of the portal. It was shut down at 5:51 p.m., all 42,000 appointments were taken, and there is no re-opening date in sight. My appointments are set for January 29 and February 26. I am so grateful, happy, relieved, to know I am in line. That’s my view of the top of the mountain. 12% of my county of 1.4 million residents, 168,000 people, are over 65 years old.

So now I am a little paranoid, climbing that hill, in avoidance mode. I’m diligent about using KN95 masks (from Amazon), and the vinyl gloves I harbor because I cannot use latex gloves.

Small earthly wonders. A year ago I bought a couple small pots of kalanchoe at the grocery. When they bloomed out, I dead-headed the blooms, stuffed them into a 10″ pot with some soil, and put the pot in the back yard.

And it’s January a year later. Cold outside! but what glorious color.

Parting remark: Because I am on an immunosuppressant medication, I have to get lab work every 4 weeks. This morning, early, at the lab, a man in the waiting room was porting a mask but had it pulled down under his mouth. I asked him to mask-up. He replied with how it was his life and he would do as he pleased. My reply was that I was concerned about my life, and I asked the door-keeper to remove him. Lots of grumbling, but he pulled up his mask. I get it. It’s a new paradigm. However – we have choices, I choose to advocate for myself. Be brave…

For now, with thoughts for all, Coco

Spontaneous December sewing plan


Sometimes I think the best anti-pandemic strategy is an outrageous stash of fabric. In line with that, yes, I am lurking Black Friday sales 🙂 My stash is beyond pitiful, like, nothing. Something I can rectify given the help of refund checks from my house closing in Weston, over a year ago!

Last week I visited the much-loved and appreciated Fabric.com, and placed a nice order. I’ve never sewn with much of a plan, I just lie in bed and get hit with an inspiration. So, upcoming:

A Deer & Doe Plantain Tee and Megan Nielson Virginia Leggings combo.

Another Style Arc Elani Tunic ( see last post) , in Robert Kaufman Driftless Insects linen:

And a pattern I’ve had for a couple years, a Katherine Tilton knit jacket, B6253 (search Ebay), with loads of detail, in a mid-weight sweatshirt fleece:

I hope you are all well, staying safe, and embracing hope and each other. Coco

Noodlehead Pepin Tote love

Not many patterns get the ‘love’ in the title, but this one really deserves it!

These days, any tote that holds stuff and looks good is a plus 🙂 I did a muslin, kind of shrinking the sizing, a couple weeks ago. Honestly, I made it smaller because I was afraid the original sizing would be overwhelming (see below). My muslin, I’ll call it the Coco version, which I carry every day:

And the full version, it’s great and not overwhelming at all. Which is why we do test versions, right? Some of the online pics in waxed canvas had me thinking the size was too much. I sewed all of mine (4 now, 3 small, 1 full-size) in mid-weight canvas, more on that below, but just perfect.

So what’s the difference? I did a table of the original Pepin and my smaller version for my own notes. If you are sewing the tote, the table will make sense 🙂

More pics from my latest and full-size version (a gift to a dear friend for the holidays). I made the bag plus a zippered bag (Elizabeth Hartman bags) to match. I love the Elizabeth Hartman patterns:

Notes on my fabrics:

  • Exterior, canvas, found on Amazon, James Thompson 9.3 oz. Canvas Duck Black, comes in many colors and is 60″ wide! The perfect weight for a tote bag. I’ve done 4 bags from 2 yards, with scraps for little bags.
  • Lining, any quilting fabric is fine. I often to to Marshall Dry Goods, which is the original manufacturer of many quilting cottons you might research. Except, when you buy from them, it’s half the cost. Example, the Andover Quail (otherwise known in searches as Andover Organic Lines). It’s $6.99 v.s.$10.99 at retailer sites. MDG is a site worthwhile exploration for anyone who uses quilting or sheeting fabrics. Incredible inventory, the largest fabric manufacturer in the U.S.
  • Fusibles.
    • Here’s the trick. For my exterior/canvas pieces I used Pellon 808 Craft-fuse. Love love for bags and wallets of any description.
    • For the interior pieces/lining I used Shapeflex 101 woven fusible. (I actually buy the latter 5 yards at a time, for many many sewing projects. I no longer use any knit fusible). An alternative, just do an interlining with any woven fabric, not fusible.
  • I would love to use waxed canvas, but my research shows that it really is waxed. Not wanting a bag melt-down in Florida heat, I have passed on this option.
  • Last note, I cut all my straps at 26 1/4″ long, using Strapworks lightweight polypropylene web strapping, on a roll on Amazon. The length – I don’t want it to drag the ground when I’m holding it by the handles:

WordPress has gone beyond me, seems like I type 4 times and fool around much more to do things I used to do with a mouse drag. Like resizing the pic of the strapping. You? Aargh.

Not to whinge, I hope all of you are well, finding peace in your space, and looking forward to our holidays, to be celebrated in full.