A weekend ramble…

I’m feeling very mellow today – the weather is cool and drizzly, and I’m watching good films on Netflix with a crochet scarf project on my lap. So a chat, fresh coffee in hand..

I recently finished (another) Simplicity 8640 handkerchief hem dress, this one in rayon challis from Fabric.com. It’s called Telio Dali Rayon Poplin Print Botanical Floral in navy, but I’m not sure that’s correct. In the pic below, the fabric on the left is from the listing, and the one on the right is what arrived at my door. This is the second time I’ve had a ‘close but no bananas’ delivery from them. Weird.

Perhaps it was just fate, as my new very sunflower yellow Helen’s Closet Blackwood cardigan works perfectly with the dress.

I realized recently that I have an abandoned project in the Loft – I think I stopped working on it because I got distracted by Christmas projects. It’s a sleeveless blouse with a ‘statement’ collar, drafted using the Kathryn Brenne jacket, Vogue 9217. It will be finished soon, it’s cute.

I could not even remember which pattern and fabric I used, until I checked my Evernote files. I keep everything sewing on Evernote!

About that crocheting – I finally learned how to do a double crochet foundation row. It was a ‘duh’ moment for me when I learned that I did not have to do a basic chain stitch foundation. Tutorial: https://hearthookhome.com/foundation-double-crochet-tutorial/

To close, I must share an epic fail – the bodice in progress, my last post, did not work.

The collar was simply too heavy despite my efforts to support it. No tears shed. I had 5 yards in hand, and the remainder is currently being cut for a Tessuti Lisa dress!

I hope your weekend is peaceful, bye for now – Coco

Needlepoint – Alphonse Mucha Night’s Rest

project canvas

I’m so excited. My needlepoint project elements have come together, and I’m ready to begin stitching.

This little journey started back in July, and it reflects how I like to spend a day. Sewing in the morning, reading and handwork in the afternoon and evening.

But I had run out of handwork things to sew. I finished my Luna rabbit, and I just don’t feel like working on dolls.

I’ve always enjoyed needlework. Cross-stitch, needlepoint, crewel, they all intrigue me. So I started thinking…

I really wanted something I do not have to count and for which I won’t be constantly referencing a color/stitch chart.

This needlepoint tapestry kit is perfect. Better yet, it’s a Mucha print. Love love Mucha’s artwork. Just amazing.

I found this kit after a lot of looking, and I eventually purchased it on Amazon. The shipper is Aidalux, an eBay store.

  • The pattern is color-printed on 14-count canvas,
  • All thread is included,
  • It has a wonderful color chart on the canvas,
  • And (drum roll) it is done in half-cross stitch with 6-thread cotton floss. One note on the floss: I do not use a thread conditioner, wax or silicone, because they attract lint, dust, and skin oils. I just wash my hands before picking up my needlework, so that I don’t transfer cream and etc. from my hands to the piece. This tapestry will not be washed, ever, so it’s important.

I will not even pretend this was anything other than an indulgence. The kit is $75, but it shipped free from Italy. I was amazed that it arrived so quickly. Ordered Aug. 1, shipped on Aug. 2, and arrived Aug. 12.


Speaking of indulgence, I also ordered a fantastic scroll frame from Overstock, the Doodler Stitch Frame. It’s lovely! It’s heavy hardwoods, has a very smooth finish, features wood knobs with sunken metal receptors for the metal bolt-end on the dowels, has a generous heavy-weight aida-cloth belt on the dowels, and, unbelieveable, comes with 3 sets of dowels: 12″, 15″ (the ones I’m using for this canvas), and 18″ (pic at end).

So, I spent the entire morning getting everything in order and ready!

  • Taped my canvas edges.


  • Sorted my threads and sewed samples into a canvas chart that I cut from the bottom of the piece.

thread chart

  • Put each thread hank into its own numbered zip-lock bag. I cannot stand it when embroidery thread gets tangled together willy-nilly. And I have so much of it – 36 colors – that doing this will be worth every minute I spent.
  • Basted my canvas to the dowels. I used a doubled length of perle cotton and a thin 5″ doll needle.
  • Secured my scissors and needles! Ashley gave me a cute tin for my birthday that has a magnetic base inside. So perfect.

My complete kit!


And the project mounted on the scroll fame. I’m all set and looking forward to all the hours of stitching ahead.


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

Cleaning day in the loft…

Well, cleaning is not my favorite thing…and I’m pretty good at avoiding it 🙂 but this arrived at my door yesterday. It goes in the loft – but where! 
Over the last couple months I’ve managed to cover floor and tables with patterns, projects, and miscellaneous things. Actually, it’s been kind of fun. However, it’s time to clean and organize. This new dress form is for Ashley’s garments. Yes, I’m getting pretty spoiled. No more readjusting Emile between the two of us – I’ll have two dress forms! I did get a great price on this, I’ve been keeping an eye out for one for a while now. It will be super nice, since I usually having sewing in progress for both of us at the same time.
I’ll take of pic of the girls once this is set up and named. Ashley is pondering the latter.
No pics of the mess, but the loft is now nice and clean, even dusted and vacuumed. Wow.

 Looking at these pics, I realize I have a lot of stuff in the loft! But it is the only room in which I craft and sew and work on my stamp collection. I’m really fortunate, because it’s a good-sized room. And that double closet holds a 4-drawer chest full of supplies, more fabric bins, and a tall file cabinet with my life in it!

The loft is also the only place in the house where I have lots of pictures of the family, travel treasures, my dolls, sewing books, and silly things I love. Great little TV and good light.

I have a couple new blouses ready for the camera, but the leaves have kept me out of the yard. They got cleaned up today as well! Meanwhile, I finished my ‘muslin’ of the Rosemont Cardigan a couple days ago and have started blocking it.

It’s meant to be a little funky. I wanted to use up some small balls of yarn left over from mitten and cap projects. It’s 100% acrylic, so the blocking is different from that used with wool. I use a ‘hovering’ steam iron, very carefully, so I don’t ‘kill’ the yarn.

Parting shots…it’s a little fruity around here.

The biggest coconuts I’ve ever had!

All the areca palms have seed spathes for the first time, they are about 8 years old. Very exciting!

This is a mahogany tree seed pod! They’re very heavy and dangerous
And they’re beautiful. Pure wood, in beautiful deep tones. 
Strawberry guavas…the anoles should be here soon! Meanwhile Ms. Squirrel eats hers green. Miss Piggy.

Speaking of Ms. Squirrel…in the front yard, going for dates from the Chinese fan palms (below – and nearly gone!)

These have been a great favorite with the doves, blackbirds, mockingbirds, and blue jays as well.
Bye for now! Coco

Where is November going in such a hurry!

It’s been quiet here on the blog…but with good reason. I managed to take a spill in the garden, fall across my birdbath, and break two ribs! All I was doing was hanging a pot on the fence, but the entire thing came away and backwards I went. It has been two weeks, but sewing has been sidelined. I have, however, been knitting up a storm (for me…it puts me to sleep, so an inch or two and I’m out) – and doing a lot of reading, which I love.

This pumpkin creation is the Ayatori shrug style jacket, which I first saw on Yoshimi’s blog in September. Super cute and available as a free download on Ravelry! I’ve made good progress in the last couple weeks.

The pattern is very easy and changes just often enough not to be boring 🙂

Nov 18
I just finished “Brazil” by John Updike. What an interesting love story, loosely based on the tale of Tristan and Isolde, somewhat reminiscent of The Gift of the Magi. It’s mystical, haunting, and convincing. Enjoyed it so much. 
My other read last week was “Lusitania – An Epic Tragedy”, by Diana Preston. Actually a re-read, but I always enjoy revisiting a good book. This one, the story of the sinking of the passenger steamer Lusitania in the early days of submarine warfare in WWI, is beautifully researched. Preston includes a captivating history of the development of both submarine boats and passenger ship service in the Atlantic, as well as the political-economic background leading to and during the early months of the war, in Europe and the United States. And the passengers, among them some well-known names, such as Alfred Vanderbilt, just come to life. Great book.
And I continue with “Victoria” by Lytton Strachey. Dictonary in hand. He wrote with an amazing and challenging vocabulary. And a good sense of humor.
I’m planning to re-read all my Graham Greene books next – feeling nostalgic as the holidays approach.
Bye for now, back soon with sewing! Coco

A knitting interlude…

I have been so busy keeping up with inaugural events in the Netherlands over at The Royal Order of Sartorial Splendor blog…just not much time to sew! Do you read this blog? I love it – all the latest on royal fashions, jewel collections, tiaras, families, and events. So interesting – great pics, lots of historical background, and very interesting commentary.

And I have been feeling a bit lazy. I was actually unwell all of January and February, March was recovery – and April has been such a nice month. Just enjoying feeling so well.

I went back and took a long look at my fuschia Weekend Retreat Cardi, the one that came out a couple sizes too big, and decided the yarn just does not work. It is a worsted weight and looks clunky. But I do love the color!

Weekend Retreat Cardi

The pattern suggests using a cotton yarn, but many knitters mentioned that the cardi weighs a ton when done in cotton. Wool and other animal fibers are out, so I looked through my acrylic stash and pulled out some grey Red Heart designer sport yarn. Much better! It’s lighter, and the cardi fits nicely. On this one I added two buttonholes on the upper right side band. Liking it and will wear it in a pic soon.

The pattern is available, no cost, on Ravelry or at Lion Brand Yarns.

Ravelry has soooo many cute cardigan patterns. Here are two more I’ve put in my project library:

108-22 Jacket
Arianna Jacket by Universal Yarn
Today I did the cast-on for the back of the Arianna jacket, in an ivory designer sport yarn – all 156 stitches. The markers are my way of counting every 10 stitches when I’m casting on. Otherwise I would have to restart a gazillion times 🙂 
Back to my knitting and a movie. I hope everyone has a nice week. Bye for now! Coco

Wiksten Snoflinga Knit Hat

No, we did not have snow…but I love knit hats and love to make them. This past week I got bitten by the knitting bug. Maybe it is the cooler weather and all the decorations going up everywhere. Amazing! And wonderful.

This is the Snoflinga Hat, designed by Jenny Gordy at Wiksten. She had the hat in her shop last season, but now has the pattern for sale as a download file. Ahh. I can stop trying to count rows and figure out the pattern from the pictures on her site – sooo much easier to have her pattern!

Jenny rates this as an intermediate beginner pattern, and I agree. It uses a combination of stockinette and garter stitches, with ten simple bobbles and both’ right’ and ‘left’ decreases at the crown. It is quite a bit of fun to knit because the pattern changes fairly often – but I don’t have to hold back cables or count stitches. Relaxing.
Color: Sage
I used Caron Simply Soft yarn on US size 6 and 8 needles. This is one of my favorite yarns for both hats and mittens. It’s acrylic, so it is very light for a worsted weight, and it goes in both the washer and dryer.
Color: Peachy
Next hat in progress…Christmas is coming!
Bye for now – Coco