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

Coloring Books…it’s playtime!

OK – adult coloring books, the latest craze. I’m in. I love coloring books and admit to a collection of doodle art and mandala art coloring books. And I can hardly pass up a new collection of felt tip pens or colored pencils in a store. I also pick up crayon boxes just to smell them, remember how they smell? I think the best is the box of 64 colors. Some of us just never grew up when it comes to playtime.

Coloring is so relaxing, the same way knitting is. One just sits and does it and the mind wanders.

This morning I happened across a post on Facebook referencing coloring books from McCall Company’s blogsite. How did I miss this for so long? I quickly found and printed four, which I think is all that they’ve published so far. I included links on each of the pics below.

Butterick Summer 2015
Vogue Fall 2015
Each PDF ‘book’ has 8 – 10 patterns, basically large-scale line art, from what McCalls’ considers the most talked-about patterns in a collection.

McCalls Summer 2015 
Vogue Summer 2015

They’re really nice! and they include a lot of patterns I’ve sewn or seen on other blogs. And some I might sew, particularly with all this inspiration. Meanwhile, I can color, and I hope they do more.

All of the above was totally unsolicited…

On the sewing front, I’m waiting for a new pattern to arrive. Something different – a sunhat. I haven’t done a hat in a couple years, but I have lots of cotton scraps that would be perfect for one. And I have craft-weight interfacing in the loft. I’m thinking about combining the pattern with Vicki Welsh’s free sun visor pattern.

Kwik Sew 4107
Vicki’s Sun Visor

And hope to end up with something like the sunhats I wear all the time, the ones from CVS Pharmacy. They haven’t had any this spring or summer. I was bummed, but now I have a plan 🙂

 Ciao! Coco

Coming soon – San Diego International Comic-Con!

It’s that time of year again – the international congress of pop culture aficionados from all over the world…the San Diego Comic-Con.

I love this event, and I’ve never been there! But Ashley and Darrin go every year. To San Diego and to other ‘cons’…but this is the max, the biggest, the one with all the ‘primo’ stuff. The summit of autographed pics and spontaneous fun…And their major meet-up with friends from all over the States.

I’ve made something special for lots of the con’s…

Kaylee Firefly Jacket

Darrin’s PJ’s for the pile-up at the Marriott

The Original Zen Dress

A witch right out of Salem…

Center Front -Pirate!

Ashley needs PJ’s too!

I always go to their house to keep the kitties company – and take them to the airport.

 Of course, I have a lot of faith in Darrin – he’ll keep my girl safe…

There’s no accounting for love and fascination…

Happy Hour

Where’s the fence?

Actually, I am reassured by this pic…really.

Sith Girl

This year’s featured garment – a new version of the Zen dress, and my birthday present to her. But she bought the fabric – what! and sent it to me. This year we are into, at minimum, Thor, Spidey, the Hulk, Iron Man, and, oh my, my favorite, be still my heart – Wolverine.

Her dress is ready to go to Ft. Myers on July 7. The sleeve binding and hem will be finished once I get there and do a final fitting.

It’s a kick – I love it. Ciao! Coco

McCalls 6966 – nice skirt!

Way out…this fabric is neon!
I had no idea this cotton/lycra knit from Fabric mart was so bright when I ordered it…but it was kind of fun to find some way to use it 🙂
I looove knit maxi skirts. What a great excuse to be comfortable (as in pajama comfortable) and trendy at the same time. I’ve been making mine sort of free-hand from a pattern I drafted a couple years ago. Blogged here and  also seen again here
Enter McCalls 6966. It’s fuller than my self-drafted pattern, and it has piecing options. I just had to give it a go.

I really like the extra volume. Swingy…
I sewed the size Medium, which has a generous hip measurement of 46″, for my 41″ hip. I really don’t want cling at that particular spot. 
I made only a couple changes to this delightful skirt: 
  • I added 3″ to the length.
  • And changed the waistband!

Having read the reviews online (thank you, fellow bloggers), I wasn’t crazy about the upper yoke and waistband on the pattern. So – I left off the top ‘yoke’ piece, discarded the waist design, and drafted a yoga waistband instead.
It’s so easy to make a yoga waistband. Just cut a rectangle across the stretch of a knit, 2 inches or so less than your waist, and about 12″ wide. I use a 12″ width, because the resulting 4″ or so folded waistband fits well on my waist. You might like something different.
Seam the short ends together. Then fold in half across the length, and sew to the top edge of the skirt as a band, wrong sides together. If you’ve sewn a band onto a knit tee, you’ve done this. There are lots of online tutorials for doing this… just google ‘yoga waistband’ and find one you like. 
Great for knit skirts and pants and knit pajamas!
More pics (I’m wearing a cotton/spandex Plantain tee with elbow-length sleeves in all of these):

All those leaves in the garden – it’s our Florida version of fall, when all the mahogany tree shed their leaves. To compensate, the orchids in the guava tree are blooming…
Happy to respond to any questions on the skirt/waistband, just send an email. Bye for now – Coco

The Scout Tee revisited

Spring! Time to revisit the Grainline Studio Scout Tee. I made it a couple years ago and kind of moved on. Yes, it was hard looking at all the Scouts that were being sewn and reviewed back then. But without a bust dart, the tee just didn’t fit me well. Other patterns beckoned.

A few days ago, I was going through my white blouses (my favorite color for tops) and decided I need a couple more. Something in a cool cotton, but with a bit of a sleeve. Lightbulb moment – why not work on the Scout Tee.

Adding a bust dart is really easy. Slash 3 times, spread, and cure – the Fit for Real People method. The pics below are from a tutorial on BurdaStyle, which uses the same method.

My only additional change was to narrow the side seam towards the bottom edge.

The sleeve alteration is easy as well. Jen has a tutorial for it on Grainline Studio! My new sleeve is 15″ long, measuring from the top shoulder notch, and includes a 1.25″ hem allowance.

Oh, I also cropped the tee – turned it up 4.5″. 

Fabric: Paper White cotton broadcloth shirting from Fabric Mart. The skirt is a cotton jersey tribal print from Girl Charlee. And the pink hat is from CVS!

I really like this cropped look for summer skirts and  pants. Other things happening…changes in the garden (with help!).  I’ve been slowly filling in the ‘warm’ end of the garden – 3 additional areca palms,  a couple epidendrum radicans ground orchids, heliconia, and flax. I also put 11 philodendron bipinnatifidum in front of the fence. Funny, the birds don’t like the white fence – but the philo’s will be big and full in no time. This is Florida!

Bye for now – Coco

Lucinda…town, yacht, or pants?

Fabric: Laguna stretch knit in emerald…the last of it!!
Kind of quirky, but I always look up the name of patterns put out by Indie designers. Like the Aeolian tee shirt (Aeolis, western Asia Minor, populated by the Greeks before 1000 BC?) Now I’ve sewn the Style Arc Lucinda pants. hmmm. A tiny town on the north east coast of Queensland. A steam yacht commissioned by the Queensland government in the late 1800’s. Neither of the latter?
I was drawn to the clean lines (and cute drawing) of these knit pants and decided to give them a try. Style Arc made it much more affordable with their Etsy site – this PDF version was USD $8.50, and included 3 sizes (I ordered the 10,12,14 option). The new site, which is PDF versions of all their patterns, has me back in the game. Just the shipping from Australia is USD $14, which made the printed patterns really dear.
This must be a very new pattern. I found only one post, by sewing on the edge – thank you, Barbara! And no pics on real people from Style Arc. 

A few comments on the pattern:

  • Sizing – Style Arc provides finished garment measurements for a size 10. Somewhere, and I cannot remember where or find it again, I read that they have 2″ grading difference between sizes. I laid out the pattern in both the 12 and the 14. Sure enough, 2″ difference, 10 to 12 to 14.

    Caveat – these are knit pants. While the 14 has a generous waist and reasonable hip, I was concerned about the upper thigh measurement. Not the hip – on the leg, the thigh. The lower love handle place. Very few pattern makers provide this measurement. Yes, I’ll share! On the 12, 4″ below the crotch seam line, 24″. On the 14, same place, 26″. 

  • The seam allowances are only 1/4″. I drafted my tissue with 1/2″ seam allowances and sewed with a 1cm seam allowance, my favorite. The little extra allows for a nice clean cut at the serger.
Picture break…
  • I could tell from the pattern layout that it has a very short rise, front and back – I calculated the total crotch length at 27″, including the waistband. So I added 1 1/2″ at the center front, cured out to 1/2″ at the side edge. And added 1/2″ across the entire back top edge. And needed every bit of the extra length in the rise.
  • The inseam is generous – I’m 5’7″ and took up a 2 1/4″ hem. 
  • The pattern difficulty is rated as Medium. Actually, it should be Easy. But the instructions assume one knows how to sew a pair of pants. Pretty much ‘sew the seams and add the waistband’. Nothing there for the beginning sewist. 
How about another Hot Patterns Joyful T, done in lightweight cotton/rayon knit…

Well, I’m not over the moon with these pants – but I might make some more. Maybe in a fun ITY knit! Style Arc recommends jersey or slinky knit. I think 4-way stretch is really important to keep away the baggy saggy knees and so on.

Bye for now – and goodbye forever, emerald blue/green Laguna stretch fabric from Craftsy!

Made a joyful Joyful Top from Hot Patterns…

How did Mr. Lizard get in the first pic? Handsome little guy…

I’ve spent 3 days finding the joy in the Hot Patterns Joyful Top. And I’ve got it!

A preface: I love Indie pattern makers. So many new ideas and designs. I can spot a Koos or Tilton or Comey from a far distance. But the Indie designers are so much more fun.

Not always easy – their concepts might not match up with their patterns. But I appreciate the concepts. Which leads me into the Hot Patterns Joyful Top. It’s a free download from Trudy and Jeremy, right here in Florida (relocated from the UK). With a little plug for a lovely charity, what a great pattern.

I was drawn to the pattern because it’s such a fresh look. And I’ve been searching for new ideas for spring and summer tops.

Love it!
Fabric: Lightweight cotton jersey, Holly Lobby  Shoes: Kork Ease buffalo leather sandals, Sundance
and the back…
I know it’s black and hard to see – but here are pics of the front flounce and back gathers…

From concept to reality. When I laid out the pattern, which is a PDF, 32 pages taped together, I could see that things were not what I expected. The back is not 4 or so inches longer than the front. The flounce is not really very long.The back yoke is very narrow, side to side, and very very high on the back. 
I have to take a break here and bend at the waist with an acknowledgement to Emily at Fabric, Thread, Clothes? Her review and post on this top is the only one I’ve found! There are no pics on the Hot Patterns site of someone wearing this top. Emily’s muslin confirmed what I was seeing in the pattern layout. Thank you, Emily!
I made a lot of changes to the pattern, so I’ve just shown them on a copy of the pattern layout.
Edited to add a tip: just remembered! when you tape the pattern together, just butt the paper edges to one another. They aren’t meant to overlap. You have to ‘imagine’ the lines flowing across the edges. I found this tip on the Hot Patterns Facebook page…after pulling out my hair and reprinting the pattern a few hundred times.
 Such a cute top.
Other sewing notes:
  • I sewed the size 12.
  • My neckline is finished with a binding, rather than a narrow hem. 
  • And I added sleeves. My right upper arm is bandaged, elbow to shoulder, due to my scleroderma, for 8 months now. Which is why you see so many garments with sleeves lately on my blog. I wear sleeveless around the house, but enjoy having things I can wear outside without a cardi! I used the sleeve from the Dixie DIY Ballet Dress, which worked really well. My change to the top pattern was a simple 1/2″ extension of the outside shoulder with a little redrafting of the armscye.
So – I love my top. I’m sewing a white one tomorrow. I did put a lot of time into redrafting the pattern, but I enjoy this part of sewing. 
If you make one, you might consider widening and dropping the back yoke. And narrowing the flounce. I don’t think this pattern would work well in woven cottons, but lightweight knit and chiffon, voile, mesh knits…yes.
Parting shot. The Easter bunny came by. Hope he comes back.
Ciao! Coco