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

Burda Style 7297 – A long wrap robe for October

Oops – it’s November! Oh, well. I love my long wrap robe. My ‘Garment a Month’ for October and for every month until I wear it out! It came out just as I hoped when I wrote about my plans for it back on Oct. 8.



I found a pattern from Burda Style that has almost everything that I needed. It’s long, wraps, has pockets, and, can you believe it, has a belt that is attached at the back waist. The last detail is one I’ve always hoped to find – it’s so pretty and 40’s-looking.

When I studied the pattern pieces, the only issue I anticipated was the depth of the wrap, which was about 4 or 5 inches. I like a robe to really wrap in the front. No peek-a-boo and lots of cozy.

So I spent about 3 hours working with the pattern and my much-loved-soon-to-be-gone cotton robe that’s being replaced by this new one. Turns out the best starting place was the size 16 (I usually sew a size 14). And my only ‘major’ adjustment was for the front wrap.

I added 1.5″ at the shoulder (which it needed anyway to match up with my old robe), and then drafted a new front line, easing out a total of 3.5″ just past the neckline curve. The same 1.5″ were added to the back shoulder all the way to the waist (I was glad to have more room across the back).

The other change was a simple addition of 3″ to the length. In the end, 1.5″ would have been enough – but I think that is very fabric-dependent and will keep the addition for my next robe as well. Just in case!

My robe wraps all the way across and goes to the floor!


It’s really hard to photograph black! But here are some pics I lightened up to show some of the features of the pattern and robe:
Nice big patch pockets! My fabric is a very light weight poly-rayon-spandex jersey knit from To guard against pulling at the pocket corners, I boxed the side edge topstitching.


An easy add, not in the pattern – a hanging loop on the inside back neckline!


The back waistband. So pretty. It is actually quilted, I used low-loft poly batting.
Great place for all kinds of fun – monogramming, embroidery…


The inside of the back waistband. Very smooth and comfy.
Edited Nov. 5 to add a note about interfacing for the long neckline/front band and pocket cuff: I used Pellon EK130 easy knit fusible interfacing. Sometimes I just use lightweight nonwoven interfacing with knits, but it would have been too structured for this fabric and garment.
I can hardly believe I actually finished something. Between the re-roof, the slab leak, the water damage and mold, and the rebuild of my garage – not to mention 18 days without hot water and my washer & dryer – I’ve been kind of  unable to settle down to anything for very long. I am very grateful for silence and the complete absence of any workmen at my house! End of whinge …
And I really love my new robe.
Ciao! Coco

Sewing a garment a month…my kind of challenge!

Just the idea of this sewing challenge makes me relax…a garment a month, just for me – well, OK, I mostly sew for myself anyway. But there’s something so inviting about making it official and special.

Sarah Liz (SarahLizSewStyle) is hosting this year-long challenge, starting this month. Only a few simple guidelines (here’s a link to the ‘rules’ page):

– The garment has to be for you and not for someone else…
– Choose a pattern at the beginning of the month and post about it with background on
how/why you choose that pattern, fabric, etc.
– Blog about the finished garment with pics, etc.

And the button is on my sidebar, has a link to the challenge as well.

I’ve already chosen my pattern for October, it’s something I need badly! A long knit robe. My white one is 5 years old and just worn out.

Burda Style 7297

I plan to make view C, and mine will be all the way to the floor and then some, as I’m using a cotton jersey that will shrink a bit over time. Love the back belt treatment, so forties!

Holly Lobby 100% cotton jersey knit
Lots of inspiration for this robe. I’ve always loved the iconic Calvin Klein wrap robe.
But I have to admit that with all the work being done around the house – the roof, the slab leak, the mold remediation – my energy and resource reserves are really stretched.
So I’m also inspired by other great wrap robes…



Ciao! Coco

Burda 05/2013 #102 panneau print dress or…

Oh la. This pattern is perfectly sized for a dress in a panel print in satin, rayon, or silk – but I’ve done it in a featherweight cotton jersey from Girl Charlee. Like a wisp …

I’ve been looking for months for a simple gown – something feminine. Love this.
——————————————–Edited May 28 2013——————————
I’ve just realized how new this pattern is! I don’t get the Burda Magazine, so I downloaded this pattern from Burda’s online site. After the pages are taped together, the pattern is the same – no seam allowances – but tracing off one size is easy, since all the lines are black 🙂
Here is my second version, done in a mid-weight cotton jersey (yes, just like the bubble pockets shorts!). More a summer shift than a nightie…
Both of these dresses were sewn with remnants from the stash – the pattern only requires a 40″ long x 60″ wide piece of fabric for the front and back panels. And a little something for the straps and bindings. 
And Burda is so nice – the pattern is marked for 05/2013 #101, the short version of this dress. Cute top for jeans and shorts…
I feel better – my first post was so short, lazy me… Ciao! Coco

McCalls 6552 Fashion Star Maxi Caftan Dress

I missed the Fashion Star program debut of this dress  by designer Nikki Poulos. But I fell for the pattern when it came out – McCalls 6552 Maxi Caftan Dress. Love love maxi dresses!  And adore caftans and muumuus that make me feel pretty at home.

My caftan is done in a very lightweight polyester seersucker. When I ordered the fabric, I was under the impression it was cotton! hmmm. It turned out to be very sheer. And I am not fond of polyester next to my skin (too warm). But the stripe is lovely oranges, tangerines, and muted browns. So I lined it completely in an ivory cotton lawn – now it feels heavenly!

The lines are very pretty: classic kimono sleeves ending just at the elbow, raised waist drawn under the bust, and a reasonably gathered a-line skirt. The pattern does not have pockets in the skirt, and I did not add them to this version because of the lightness of the seersucker. Future renditions in cotton will have side seam pockets – love pockets!
Because of the difference in the two fabrics (lawn being such a tight weave and more likely to shrink in repeated laundering), I cut my lining pieces with additional 3/8″ allowance, all edges, and eased in the difference in sewing.
A surprise and welcome touch in the construction: the back and front bodice and sleeves are cut and sewn as one piece. Wonderful! I did take the time to measure myself and the pattern – waist to waist, front to back, over the shoulder, round the bustline – to reassure myself before cutting my fabrics. My only adjustment was to add 1/4″ to the bottom edge of front and back.
I also like the constuction of the drawstring casing. It is formed from the bodice/skirt seam, which is sewn a bit wider than 5/8″, trimmed on the bodice side, and turned up, folded and stitched. I am very fond of this approach, as it leaves a smooth inside finish and does not add bulk for the casing.
Caution tall ladies: I am 5’7″ and used only the 5/8″ hem allowance in the pattern! My caftan touches the floor when I am barefoot, which is what I like. But scary!
And modesty prevailed –  I made an alteration to the bodice front. The original pattern has a deep v-neck ending even with the bottom of the bustline. ah. I redrafted the bodice pieces to allow for a 1″ (finished) crossover at center front, which still allows for an oo-la-la neckline about 4″ above the original 🙂

My final adjustment – Nikki, are you writing this down? – was to insert 1/4″ elastic in a narrowed waistline casing instead of inserting the drawstring. Seems so simple, and it is so much more comfortable than fiddling around with a drawstring. I attached the drawstring on top of the elastic at center front. The stitching also serves to anchor the elastic at that point (I did a similar anchor at center back, shifting elastic is distracting 🙂
You can also see in this picture that I left the sleeve facing unattached.  I had to piece the bottom of the sleeve lining, my precious lawn was running out on me…
Now for the Fashion Show… 

Fashion Star Episode 1  – Macy’s Kimono-Sleeve Maxi Caftan Dress by Nikki Poulos  $89
Sold out day 1 in stores! Shown here in woven and knit fabrics.

But you can still buy it as the Dahlia dress from Nikki Poulos online and in select stores for $175! (I love this blue and black pattern, it shows how well the dress carries a large print.)

(from the official NBC siteNikki Poulos grew up on a farm with no electricity in the Australian Outback on 54,000 acres of land. With no television – and only the outdoors to entertain her and her siblings – they were forced to be creative. Sewing soon became her favorite pastime. In the early 1990s, Poulos created an eco-friendly baby clothing line called “ecobaby,” which she sold in open-air markets, and eventually expanded the business to sell in major department stores. Poulos quickly experienced much success and, after five years, sold her company and decided to go back to school and study marine biology. After receiving her Bachelor of Science degree, she worked in marine research and coral reef conservation. However, Poulos could not stay away from fashion for too long. Now she is selling her clothing online and in stores across the U.S., Caribbean and Australia.

And Coco’s Loft Maxi Caftan $30 ($17 unlined)!

Ciao! Coco