McCalls 6613 – A summer shirt…

Just for kicks, I thought I’d open with a picture of my current house guest – Mr. Lizard.  Honestly, I wish the lizards would stay outside, because they don’t last long in the house. But – they will come in.

It’s a bit like having a puppy – I leave a shallow saucer of water for him under his favorite bookcase.  He hangs out there and in the house plant in the pic, which is very close to me in the living room.

Every once in a while he trots across the room in front of me. So funny! Apparently he’s pretty comfortable with me for company.


I’m setting records for slow sewing and posting this spring. But I did spend the last week working on a birthday gift for Ashley. The fabric is a cotton print that she purchased in JoAnns a couple years ago, with a dress in mind. But as her seamstress, I decided that a swingy boyfriend shirt would be fun for summer jeans and capris. She has one, white cotton with little skulls all over it, that she loves to wear. So I measured it every way I could during our Christmas visit. And went looking for a pattern.

In March, I found McCalls 6613. It’s a unisex shirt, so it has very general sizing, but it also has traditional shirt features that I wanted to include: a pointed collar with a collar stand, pocket options, a back yoke, and an attached button placket. It also has a sleeve tab for rolling the cuff, a feature I know she likes in her other shirt.

Bonus: it has a two-part sleeve. That extra seam makes the cuff application so simple and also provides support for the button/button tab combo.

This one pattern really has so many combinations of collar, sleeve, pocket, and hem styles! Pretty nice.


I went with a plain collar, one breast pocket (plain), a straight hem, and the sleeve tab. I know this print doesn’t show things very well, so I hope you’ll trust me, please 🙂

The collar turned out to be the prettiest collar I’ve ever sewn. Not my sewing of the collar, but the shape – it is almost elegant and lays back so nicely. Collars are not all alike!

A note on collar construction: My least favorite part of making a shirt is attaching the collar. It’s so easy to mess it up! Beginning sometime in 2013, I’ve been using a great construction approach from a tutorial by Andrea at Four Square Walls. It’s terrific, you might take a look if this is a bug-a-boo for you as well.


And the cuff is pretty, too – it’s a very balanced width, with one pleat, a simple placket formed from the seam allowance, and one button.

Just a few sewing notes – Ashley is 5’9″, so I started with size Large:

  • Added ‘swing’ by redrafting the side seam with a bit of flare, drawing it from an L at the armscye to XXL at the hem. 
  • Removed 2″ from the yoke, collar, and collar stand at center back – it was really wide in the back, and the collar was super long.
  • Narrowed the shoulder by 1/2″ at the armscye edge. 
  • Kept the original width in the lower back, but I used light gathers instead of a center pleat, when I attached it to the yoke.
  • Added an inch to the width of the sleeve in the upper arm, using the slash method. This pic is from a nice tutorial on The Curvy Sewing Collective. I like this approach because it doesn’t really impact the armscye, other than a tweak at the outside corners.

  • And I added 1″ to the hem, to bring it to a finished back length of  33.5″, same length as her original. Adding the flare at the sides, plus a little trim on the front, also gave the finished hem a bit of a hi-lo look, which I think is really cute.

She just called me – her package arrived, she loves it 🙂

I’ve been thinking about this pattern while sewing her shirt. This post really isn’t a pattern review, because I used M6613 with the intention of modifying it a lot. However – while it’s described as unisex, it doesn’t strike me as a pattern I’d use for a man’s shirt. Those two-part sleeves, the casual/non-placket cuff with only one pleat – not typical for un homme…

So, parting shot:

Having spring-cleaned my closet recently, I also took a look at my pajamas. I was tired of them, and they were tired of me. And I’ve been longing for crisp white cotton bottoms to wear with the slew of striped Wiksten tops I made in March (I have 5 now). I discovered 10 yards of  white Michael Miller Cotton Couture in my stash. Amazing. I bought it to muslin Ashley’s bridal dress back in January 2015. In the end, David’s Bridal made that dress, not I! and I forgot about this fabric, which is perfect for PJs. Fresh off the sewing table, using my TNT Vogue 8584 – they feel wonderful…

Bye for now – Coco

Simplicity 5314 – my TNT robe…

Oh gosh, it’s been a little chilly here in Florida! I know a lot of you are laughing now – but 40 degrees F. is on the cool side for the sub-tropics. Time for a new robe, one of my favorite sewing projects. In the last four years, I’ve made 3 for my daughter, one for my grandson, one for Mom, and 4 for my greedy self.

I keep several kimono-style robes on a hook in the bathroom, a hooded purple fleece robe from Long Tall Sally in the bedroom (my splurge robe), and a long black one, made in 2013, near the front door.

The black one, which I fashioned after the iconic Calvin Klein knit robe, is for answering the door, getting the mail, putting out the trash bins. I want my neighbors to think I dress like this all the time, instead of in mismatched pj’s and knee socks.

A note: I collect knee socks. All kinds of patterns and stripes. I find them irresistible.

Back to the robe: My TNT kimono pattern is Simplicity 5314, a unisex collection of PJ bottoms and robes. These are great basic patterns and include sizes S through the rare XXXL. At 5’7″ and size 10-12 in Big 4 patterns, I wear the Small.

The one thing I always change on the robe is the pockets. I use great big patch pockets instead of the smaller inseam variety in the pattern.

Fabric – Calla Green Cozy Flannel, JoAnns

I start the pocket with a 10″ x 9″ rectangle, and end up with something around 8″ square. And I attach the outside edge of the pocket in the side seam, about 3.5″ below the belt loop.

Basted and ready to be topstitched.

If I attach the pocket with a single line of topstitching, I run a notch of reinforcement stitches in the upper corner.

Which reminds me of a question asked often on PR – should hidden seam allowances be finished? My vote: yes. For instance, flannel is very loosely woven and ravels in an instant with handling. If left unfinished, the insides of these pockets wouldn’t hold up well with use and laundering. So I serged all the inside edges of the pockets before I sewed them. Takes about 5 seconds.

The big reveal – yes, I have legs, but they’re not often seen given my penchant for maxi’s and pants 🙂

I had just enough left-over fabric to make a pair of PJ shorts, also in size Small. I love them! The fit is great, and they’re super easy and fast to make.

Parting shot: I’m still knitting socks (soon to be blogged). A peek at the only two matching socks so far. Tube socks of course!

Ciao! Coco

Sewing for the girl…

They don’t grow up or leave home or exit your heart. Children…

I love this pic with my daughter – she was ten, I was 34. That expression on her face is her signature look even now. Happy girl, girlish, and fun. And my best friend.

Ashley is 43 now and has a planned surgery at the end of the month. Of the female order, menopause issues. She’s anticipating a two week leave from work and recovery at home, and of course I’m going over to lend a hand in the first days after she leaves the hospital. And to give Darrin company also. This is hard for him as well – they are so very close.

(Of course Ashley and I talked about including her plans in this post. She feels very strongly that women need to listen to their bodies and prioritize their health needs. So she’s happy to be a second voice here. Thank you, love).

I was thinking about what I could make that would be helpful to her. And a robe came to mind immediately. Do you have this hospital memory – they get you up and out to walk the halls, pushing your IV stand with your gown flapping open in the back. Well, got that covered! I found this lovely pattern, Butterick 5544 Rachel Wallis robe and gown. (Club BMV has it in both envelope and download, but I’m impatient and downloaded it from Sewing Patterns).

Pretty! and easily transformed to a button front robe with roomy patch pockets.

This fun flannel is from JoAnns, and yes, it’s mosaic skulls. She’ll love it.

The front of original pattern is slightly overlapped and closed with two inside buttons along the skirt/bodice seam. I redrafted it to have a faced button placket. And I simply echoed the placket in the turn of the skirt facing.

On the inside…

All the seams are finished and felled for maximum comfort, and because flannel becomes somewhat fragile with repeated laundering. I don’t want a seam to pull out.

I want one! which means I’ll make myself one before long. Hers is so soft and easy to wear.

Still thinking of Ashley, I also sewed a muslin of Simplicity 2031. I hope it’s a wearable muslin, because the crinkled gauze knit is really cute. I found the pattern by chance, on Honey Pie’s blog. She mentioned that it looks like a popular dress sold by Torrid – one of Ashley’s fav stores!  And I downloaded it from Sewing Patterns as well. I think it’s a sleeper. It has no reviews on Pattern Review, and Honey Pie’s pics are the only ones I’ve found. Now that I’ve sewn it – it’s so pretty and easy to sew, definitely repeatable.

Fabric from Fabric Mart

Such a nice sleeve. So many cut-on kimono sleeves are overdone. This one is pretty and falls about halfway down the upper arm.

Because Ashley is 5’9″, I added 1.5″ to the bodice front and back length. On my Emile, which is my height, it looks like the elastic casing hits on the waistline. But on Lizzy, Ashley’s dress form, it is higher, as intended.

Such a long rambling post.


My thoughts are with all those touched by the events unfolding in France and Belgium. Bye for now, Coco

Jammies for spring…


All that cleaning and organization in the loft last week really got me thinking about my wardrobe for spring and summer. I have lots of pants, shorts, skirts, dresses, and tops. Of course, since I sew them constantly, selfish me. Plenty of nightgowns, robes, and underthings. And socks. I have so many socks. I am crazy for knee socks and white low-cut socks instead of slippers.

But there are these two dresser drawers that kind of stopped me. They have my go-to pajamas.  The ones only seen by very close family and every living thing in my garden. My assessment – I think I’ve been wearing the same PJ bottoms and tee’s (my favorite outfit) for over 2 years. Washed a million times and downright tired.

Time for some new pajamas. 

I like wide-leg elastic-waist pants and a thin, smooth tee. Made by moi so there are no peas  nylon stay tape and/or nylon thread to irritate my skin!

So – first set!

The pants are from McCalls 5989, a cute robe and PJ pattern that I sewed a couple years ago for the Pyjama Party Sew Along. They have wide, slightly flared legs and are so comfy. I’ve also sewn the shorts, they make a great summer PJ bottom.

I’ve sewn these pants enough that my tissue is marked and amended to fit me well. I use a size M, but raised the back rise by almost 1″ and lowered the front rise by 1/2″. The latter is a pretty standard adjustment for me on pants, and is not peculiar to this pattern. I also added 3″ to the hemline.

The fit-for-purpose test..I sit with one or both of my legs under me all the time. These really work well, no pulling 🙂

My fabric is a dress-weight cotton poplin from Fabric Mart. I originally purchased it for Vogue 8876 by Marcy Tilton. The fabric was a good choice, as it has the right amount of body, but the dress pattern did not suit me at all and never made it past a muslin. Makes great PJ’s!

The top is a new pattern for me, Butterick 6837. It’s a uni-sex PJ group that caught my eye because it has ‘classic’ bottom and top patterns. Woven fabric is recommended, but I sewed this in a size M in Cielo poly/rayon/spandex knit from


I finished the neckline with an applied neckband and put bias binding on the armholes, both from self-fabric. Because these are for sleeping, I didn’t use any stay tape in the shoulders or steam-a-seam in the hemline, keeping everything as soft as possible. The seams are simply serged. This fabric was very nice to handle and sew, and top-stitched like a dream with a straight stitch.
One is never enough – second set!

Same pants pattern, but a shorter length, an inch or so below my knee, as I used a remnant. I adore this print, Pink Scroll calico from Holly Lobby (usually in stock). Both pants have clean serged seam allowances and a 1 1/8″ hem, which I think looks nice on a casual cotton.

The second top is a pattern that is quickly becoming one of my favorite’s – the Deer and Doe Plantain T-shirt.

I used the short-sleeve option (it also has 3/4 and long sleeves marked on the pattern). The other Plantain I’ve worn on the blog is my Dennis the Menace shirtwhich I love to wear.

This is sewn in rayon/spandex knit from JoAnns. As with the one above, I used an applied neckband, simple hems, and serged seams. The slightly – very slightly – heavier weight of this blend can be seen in the pic below. It’s still very light and comfortable, just more spongy. I’m curious to see which fabric I like the best for a sleep tee.

A note on the neckline finish, since I don’t have a coverstitch machine. The band is sewn on the right side, the seam is turned to the inside, and the raw seam edges are cut/serged together. Top stitching on the outside, 1/4″ from the seam, keeps everything tidy.

Marking the front…very important if you get impatient (as I do) with checking the crotch seam to get it right!

So now I have two complete sets of pajamas ready to go in the drawer. Another set is cut out. But – DD’s birthday is coming up in a week. I have a lot to do for her gifties as well.

Ciao! Coco

Little cheetah PJ’s…Jungle January!

Quick, Coco! You’d think I’d been off on safari, I’m so late getting into Jungle January!
Actually, there is a cute story behind these little PJ bottoms. My grand nephew has apparently been asking for cheetah PJs for ages, a message passed on to me by both his mom and my sister. With his birthday and my grandson’s coming in March, 2 days apart, I started looking for fabric early in January. Wow – there must be 10 variations on cheetah prints. What to do? I sent choices 4 to the jury…


I thought #1 would be the winner – wrong! Good thing I asked, #3 won!
I used Butterick 4635, a wonderful children’s pattern with robe and PJs in sizes 3-4 and 5-6 (I made my grandson a flannel robe two years ago, he was only 2). 

And the multi-sizing works well for multi-kids! There is no such thing as making only one member of a family a pair of PJs 🙂 Notice there are three pairs, three sizes, in my pic. Nephew, niece, and grandson – I cannot wait to see all three in their jammies!! 
The boys have working flys, and the little lady, of course, does not. The waists have sewn in elastic and a drawstring (I used wide 45″ shoelaces, perfect). And a 1.5″ hem so that they can keep growing – and these would be cute as short PJs as well.

Edited a couple hours later….
I ran down to AC Moore this morning to buy black and red yarn for a neck scarf for my nephew (a personalized request from him this past weekend. How could an aunt resist!) I already have pink and purple for his sister… Anyway, look what I found! Headband toggles, perfect for the drawstrings on the PJs because they have two holes! Moms won’t have to worry about the consequences of ties coming undone. Ooo ahh.
Ciao! Coco