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

Jungle January final makes…

And we come to the end of Jungle January…

I picked up loads of animal print fabrics over the year 2015, and I still haven’t sewn all of them. Here are a couple things that I did finish, both in patterns I’ve blogged before.

What would the month be without a version of my TNT Jalie Cocoon cardigan. Love this thing.

It’s a snakeskin print – a Maggy London jacquard double knit from Fabric Mart. Nice. I’ve been watching for more of this fabric. It’s smooth like a ponte de roma, just a little heftier. And a breeze to sew in this pattern.

I was cruising QVC recently, looking at cardigans for ideas, and found this one from Halston for $65, and identical to the Jalie version. Which means I have $325 worth of cardigans in my closet…

More bottoms, this time in McCalls 6291 elastic-waist cargo pants. Another favorite that I’ve used to make both pants and shorts.



This crazy stretch denim is also from Fabric Mart, and it’s one of the strangest fabrics I’ve sewn. The blue spots feel almost rubbery, kind of like puffy fabric paint (yes, I used a bunch of it when I was on my painted tee shirt journey).

I tested it with the iron, and decided not to push it! I didn’t want blue goo all over my iron sole plate, so I used a calico pressing cloth.



On this pair I used one cargo pocket, no flap, but buttoned down, on each lower leg. I know they’re lost in this print, but they’re cute in real life. I also added 5 belt carriers, and then decided not to use them. The fabric is a little heavy with all those blue things, and the carriers made the waistband very stiff. My seam ripper got a real workout removing the waistband and carriers, I probably need a new ripper now.

The black slouchy turtleneck I’m wearing is Kwik Sew 4069. Andrea, this is for you 🙂 and thank you for pointing out that black is a good color for me! I’ve enjoyed this top.


The pattern is very simple and has two collar variations, folded or standing turtle. A caution: measure your neck, try on the collar, and modify it as needed, before you sew it on. I took 3.5″ off the width of my standing collar for an almost-snug fit.

Thanks again, Anne, for a fun January. And I’m off to watch the replay of the Australian Open women’s final…great stuff.

Ciao! Coco

Twosies – Walking on sunshine…



I’ve been indulging in some favorite patterns this month. And 2 of my favorite colors – marigold and orange. Given my color preferences, I sure live in the right place.

This is the Dixie DIY Ballet Dress, first made last year in a small stripe. Love love the neckline and sleeves.

As with my first one, the bodice and sleeves are the only parts I used from the pattern. For the skirt I used a rectangle, cut across the fabric width and 43″ long. This fabric, a cotton jersey from Girl Charlee, is very soft and drapes nicely, so the rectangle approach works great. If I were using a heavier knit, like a ponte di roma, I think I’d use the original skirt.

I’m hoping the color will hold for at least a year. When it starts to fade, I’ll have to buy some more and cut this dress into PJ tops. I also have 3 yards of fleece in this exact color! purchased from JoAnns Black Friday sale. No idea what I’ll make with all that fleece, but I’ll think of something 🙂


A late-breaking favorite this year has been the Jalie Cocoon Cardigan. My first (not counting two muslins) was done in a fairly heavy ponte de roma from Fabric Mart. This Girl Charlee ponte de roma is much lighter but still stable enough to work well with this cocoon.


This is a very typical outfit for me – harem pants, scout tee, cardi. And if I go out, sandals…


Great pattern, my favorite cardi ever!


So, today I’m going to finish up my grandson’s Christmas gifts and actually wrap things ahead of my trip on Friday. I’ve found that with little ones, quantity really matters!

I think P. , who’s almost 7, will have fun leaving post-it notes on the fridge. And squirting Archie the pup and anything else that moves. Of course he probably already has a squirt gun, I’ve given him several. But undoubtedly he needs more for water wars in the pool.

A bigger gift is a stationary box with personalized note cards. Yes, I’m encouraging good manners, but I also hope he gets into letter writing. He’s a very organized little guy – I think he’ll enjoy this. I created the design on Avery’s site, super easy.


Parting shot:
I got such helpful tips in response to my Christmas Eve attempt to capture the full moon. So – I put a little work into it and went back out on Christmas night. Ta da! I got some great pics of the moon. Thank you!
Bye for now – Coco

Jalie Cocoon Sweater – fast and fun

This has been fun. I’m not a big Jalie fan or aficionado – so many of their patterns are based on an ‘active’ lifestyle. And I had my Eleonore pants disaster a few months ago. That one still bothers me (which means I’ll probably try it again in a different fabric).
Over the last few months, I’ve picked up three sweater knits, poly/cotton/lycra blends, lightweight and sort of loosely woven (like the grey one below). Nothing near as dense or heavy as a hacci knit. Since I wear jersey knit shrugs and cardigans all the time, over my sleeveless things, I thought I’d try something new.
What to make? I’ve always liked the look of Burda’s cocoon cardigan 11/2013 #107, but it’s meant for a substantial fabric and would be really warm for south Florida. Lots of pattern cruising later, this Jalie cocoon pattern caught my eye. I like the simple design and the length, and love the cut-on sleeves.


So, muslin time. I was really wary of the band around that big convex curve in the hem. Give me a band on a concave curve, like a neckline on a tee and no problem. But I don’t often tackle something like this – it’s not as easy as it might look. I started off with a thin nylon knit with 40% horizontal stretch, just to get a feel for the pattern and the size I chose.
No cuffs, I just lopped the sleeves at 3/4 length and hemmed them.

When I got it all together, the band drooped and turned inwards very badly around the front bottom curve. So I ironed it. Bad idea. I flattened the band everywhere, including around the neck, where it needs to be more conforming.

But it’s a muslin, and I did learn some things. First, I needed to force even more of the band onto the most extreme parts of the curve. And second, a thin fabric wouldn’t work very well – the band needs some heft in the fabric to keep it from curving in on itself.
Muslin #2. This time in a poly crepe knit, a little heavier, with the same prerequisite stretch. This is dark navy, hard to photograph, so I’ve tried to lighten the pics a little bit.

Better, but I still ended up with a lot of droop in the bottom of the front band. It just bugged me! So I pulled out the big gun – ponte de roma. It’s a nice, stable, hefty knit – why not give it a go?

What a difference. It really looks nice! I lightened these pics on Emile as well, black is worse than navy in photos.

Ponte from Fabric Mart,  68% rayon, 27% nylon, 5% spandex


And the same view on me…I love it!
A few sewing notes:
  • I sewed a size 38. 
  • And learned how to measure my torso. It’s 64″ by Jalie’s guidelines. Since the size 38 has a 61″ torso allowance, I added 3″, which meant lengthening the front and back by 1 1/2″. I imagine the torso measurement is really valuable in all the activewear and performance patterns that Jalie has. Pretty neat.
  • The finished sleeve is a little short. My arms are not long, and this sleeve just covers my wrist. So I widened the cuff by 2″, bringing it further down on my hand.
  • The cuff pattern is the same width as the sleeve, so it’s really a band. I shortened the width of the cuff by 2″, so I could gather the sleeve into it. And now I can push up the sleeves and they stay put.
  • And good news – the band actually fits. On all three versions, I cut my band pieces 3″ longer than the pattern. I distrust band patterns in general, because the fit often varies with the fabric. Better too much than too little. But this band fits without the additional length.


I think ponte turned out to be a perfect fabric. Those three sweater knits will just have to wait a little longer. A couple more pics of this super nice little jacket:


Bye for now! Coco

Jalie Eleonore Pants…hem, haw, commit, wad

I must be feeling very brave this morning, because I know a lot of sewists are going to disagree with me on some of this post. But that’s OK, because others will thank me 🙂 I don’t often write about a wadder, but I spent a lot of time on this pattern, and I followed through to the end. The Jalie Eleonore Pant is everywhere right now. Here’s my experience…

I chose to purchase the PDF download version, mostly because I’m too impatient to wait for a delivery! And shipping costs would make this a pricey purchase. The download was 11.99 USD.

It’s a dream to tape together. The pieces can be separated, as I’ve done, which makes measuring and drafting very easy.

Sizing is more challenging. The pattern has 27 sizes…girls and women’s. Which is a great concept, bang for the buck and so on. But I had to put on my readers and spend some time with the chart and my measuring tape. I did find my size, the women’s 10/40, on which the measurements are almost exactly mine.

A tip for wading through the spaghetti of 27 sizes…

The PDF comes with two files, one in color and one in black/white. I used the latter and highlighted my size on each paper pattern to help me with drafting my tissue. A bit of work.

Next, the fabric choice and cut-out. Jalie is very clear about the stretch and fabric weight for these pants. I had a 3 yard piece of stretch cotton twill that was perfect. Particularly as I’m not attached to the fabric, and I was embarking on a muslin of fitted pants. I’ve sewn lots of pants, but have studiously avoided anything approaching jeans. Gives me the jitters…I love my RTW jeans, most of which are bootcut, and all of which are great to wear. Lee and Levi women’s jeans are my favorites.

And the cutting layout. Lucky me, my fabric is 59″ wide, and the pattern really did fit on the promised 1.5 yards. And with all the pieces placed in the same direction, top to bottom. I would need another yard for more narrow fabric, unless I turned one of the pants pieces in the other direction. I don’t like to do that because nap and weave can have subtle differences.

These pants are fun to sew – the back yoke and pockets, and the front faux pocket  and fly, are all beautifully drafted and fit together so nicely.

Construction tips: You can get out the hammer to flatten the yoke seam when joining the backs. I use a breadboard and meat tenderizer, both of which I view as sewing tools and keep in the loft. They work great for hammering snaps as well! Be sure to put a cloth over the seam before wielding the hammer…

I also find topstitching, as here or for any faux felled seam, to be very consistent if I use two pressure feet – 3/8″ for the outside edge, and 1/4″ for the second/inside row.

Almost done. I knew going in that the crotch length and rise might be a problem for me. I generally sew a 27″ – 29″ crotch length, depending on the design of the pants. These are supposed to come about 3″ below the natural waist, and mine did measure out at 24.5″. But they simply looked and felt awful on me.

Because I was committed to sewing this muslin all the way to the end, I removed the original waistband and attached one with 1″ wide elastic. Looks funky but it gave me enough rise to at least pull up the pants. By the way, the waistband fits perfectly to the pants. Nice.

Final fitting…the legs were like sausage casings. In fact, they made me feel like a sausage. Apparently I have large calves and thighs. Sigh.

And the wad part. Yes, the pattern is in there as well, but I’ll probably pull it out later. I really like the drafting on the yoke and pocket design elements. And I still have the paper version – I can always draft another of the 27 sizes.

Notice how big my bin is…lots of room for wadders.

So what do I think of the pattern? Well, it probably won’t make pear-shapes happy, and I would say it’s iffy in the larger sizes. There are just so many choices now for more flattering designs.
Parting shot: it’s not a good idea to serge a curved edge with the cutter engaged. I had to cut out a new pants leg after this little boo boo.
So – I’m going to put on my Lee Riders and my Hard Rock Cafe denim shirt and head out to other projects!

Bye for now, Coco