New year, new directions

How I’m feeling!! As for many, I tend to get into a rut of comfort styles. But a couple days ago I put on a really svelte knit maxi dress and matching long cardigan – and went to my dentist. Everyone kept commenting on my outfit, they loved it. They even loved my white tennis shoes (how ‘in’ is that…).


Well, it’s a new year year, and for me, it will be a year of sewing and dressing for attitude: I like feeling attractive. Goodbye to my granny dresses – the Tessuti Lisa dress is my worst contributor, sorry, but on someone my age, it’s a granny dress. As is the Cali Faye Gardenia dress. Throw in there my half-dozen tunic tops with the same styling. Onward with dresses, skirts, pants, tops, whatever, that are not just stylish, but also let me appreciate that I really do pay attention to what I wear. I enjoy how that makes me feel.

I will be 75 next month, not at all sure how that happened, but in my heart I am 28, and I just love feeling stylish.

So – Happy New Year!! and I’m revve’d – Coco

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

Monday Monday ramble

Sewing continues, and it is intriguing. But over the last year, I’ve been in and out of the loft. Of course I feel the strangeness of our lives. Because I’m retired, and have my time to myself, I spend many hours just reading. My second passion for my entire life. I admit, I want to learn as much as I can now, keeping my noggin bright and indulging in anything that beckons to me.

For the last year or so I’ve been deep into wars of the 20th century.

BarbaraTuchman: The Guns of August. The advent of World War I was so unexpected. Almost a family dispute.

Wade Davis: Into the Silence, Mallory and the conquest of Everest. And I’ve read it three times.

Barbara Tuchman: Stillwell and the American Experience in China.

Winston Churchill : The Gathering Storm ( I have his complete works, so I’m looking forward to many hours with is books. Where did he ever get the time…he is very readable and factual).

Stanley Karnow: Vietnam A History. A note here: I started with Max Hasting’s history, but I was very put off by his personal opinions and interjections. I’m not interested! I want the facts, no sauce.

John Toland: The Rising Sun.

More suggestions, excellent reading:

Ronald Spector: Eagle Again the Sun, the American War with Japan.

Philip Ziegler: Mountbatten.

I’m not a confrontational human, so without opinion and comment, I do recommend all of the above.

As we go into another wonderful week, with gratitude – Coco

Simplicity 3786 – A Peasant Blouse

After my Ramble last week through peasant blouse looks, I was so ready to cut some fabric! Especially since I’ve been doing a lot of fooling around this month, and not much sewing. Well, to be honest, I did sew early in the month – two real wadders that will never visit this blog! What a downer! 
But I feel better now 🙂 
Simplicity 3786 is now a favorite – it has so many looks. I used it for my much-loved orange and gold tunic last fall, and I turned to it again for this peasant blouse. This time my starting point was Version D, which has a pintucked bodice, a small gather in the back, and unique two-piece sleeves.

I had already altered my tissue for a couple adjustments when I sewed my first version: I moved the bust apex down 2 inches and added 1 3/4″ to the bottom hem (I’m a bit over 5’7″ and cut a size 14). The bodice has princess seams, so moving the curve for the apex fix was not difficult.

Pretty pintucks, only 1/4″ wide. They were the most challenging part of the construction – my fabric wanted to slide away from the needle when I stitched over a dot or embroidery. I sewed them veery slowly!
And such nice sleeves! I like the slight off-shoulder look and the proportion of the upper and lower sleeve. The length is perfect for me and the wristband, which is plain, no elastic, is roomy without gaping.
I put together the sleeves entirely, including finishing, before inserting them in the blouse. 
The gather in the back, just above the waistline, is a 6″ long attached casing, through which a small elastic is drawn. It’s a nice little touch and gives just a hint of shaping to the back view. The upper back is wide and works really well for me –  but you might want to measure and adjust this piece so that your armscye stays where it should be.
My fabric was sort of a lucky find – I’m not usually drawn to dotted swiss fabric. But I decided to give it a try when I found this Maggy London dotted swiss at Fabric Mart (online). It is sooo soft, much like a gauze, and has flocked dots and delicate flower embroidery.  
I pre-laundered it in the machine with another yardage of plain cotton, then dried them together on low as well. No loose embroidery or lost dots or wrinkles. Having fallen in love with it, from now on I’ll wash it inside-out in a lingerie bag 🙂 
Because the fabric is a bit delicate and semi-sheer, I used french seams everywhere except the sleeve and armhole seams, which are trimmed and overlocked.

 hmmm…didn’t I change anything? well, yes. The pattern has a mandarin collar – and I wanted something softer and more in line with a peasant blouse. This turned out to be much easier than sewing a mandarin collar! I cut a 1 1/2″ x 46″ bias strip, which binds the neckline and hangs down about 16″ on each side of the bodice.

I’m happy with this peasant blouse – back on track, mojo working…

Oops, I forgot to mention the pants. They are Marci Tilton’s skinny pants – next blog post! They are great….

Ciao! Coco

Ramble – Peasant Blouse Inspiration!

I love the ease and femininity of a peasant blouse. Looks so good and fresh over jeans or leggings, or as a beach/pool cover-up – or take it long for a maxi! For inspiration, I’ve looked at a lot of fashions…but all of the following are from the Sundance Catalog! So pretty…

Rosalie Tunic Rayon Georgette $198
Fringe, embroidery & tucks!

Arabella Tunic – Rayon $138
Border print & elbow length gathered sleeve!

Blue Floral Delphine Tunic – Rayon $148 
Pretty gathered sleeve sleeve cuffs!

Embroidered Morning Glory Tunic – yarn-dyed cotton $128
Feminine beachy look!

Glints Of Shine Tunic – Cotton voile $98
Love these dropped gathered sleeves & bib effect!
The shine is from metallic thread used in the bib…

Just Divine Tunic – Rayon/Silk Velvet $148
Loose kimono sleeves & gathered peplum – Simply lux!

Lovissa Lace Tunic – Rayon $128
Great peplum, dropped back hem & deep gathered cuffs!

Horizons Ombre Tunic – Poly/Spandex Mesh Knit $128
Bloused dropped waist & long elasticized sleeves!

Morgan Tunic – Cotton Voile $88
Dropped gathered sleeve & another bib look!

Moonlit Melange Tunic – Silk chiffon and lace $138
Romantic layers everywhere!

Redefined White Tunic – Cotton $88
Lace bib & flared cuffs!

I’ve picked up a couple patterns to use on my peasant blouse journey – not all at once, I’ll be doing them all through the year! And for much much less than RTW! 
The first, Butterick 5854, has just about every sleeve element I need. I love the skirt variations! 
Butterick 5854

The second pattern, Neue Mode 23119, is a classic peasant top! and I’ll be careful to measure the pattern everywhere…Neue Mode runs so big on me.
Neue Mode 23119
Hope you enjoyed this Ramble – it was fun to do!
Bye for now! Coco

Ramble – Bird Design Fabrics!

Here’s a fun ramble through some of my favorite bird design fabrics! They are so appealing – hope you like them, too!

 Mod designs. I love the crisp, fresh appearance…

Menagerie Sherbert Twill 7 oz Cotton

Urban Zoologie Owls Kona Cotton

Urban Zoologie Peeps Kona Cotton

Tweet Tweet Cotton 

June Song Cotton

From the Korakuen Collection – beautiful, unique, reminiscent of block prints…

Korakuen Collection Kora 04 Blue

Korakuen Collection Kora 04 Red
Alexander Henry – print designer supreme!

Starling Cotton Pima Poplin
Spotted Owl Green Tea
Regent Peacock Gold and Blue Cotton

 Regent Peacock Black and Teal Cotton

My favorite bird design from AHenry…

Brazilia Cotton

Inspired…Ciao! Coco
p.s. these are all from They have the largest selection of AHenry fabrics I’ve ever encountered (216 as I write) and designers that are new to me!

Ramble – Exquisite Quilting Cotton Prints

One of my favorite pastimes is window-shopping fabrics. When I find something that speaks to me in some way, I save the thumbnail pic, name, and source in a ‘Palettes’ folder on my laptop. Fun and very inexpensive!

I particularly love printed quilting cottons – so many beautiful designs and brilliant color schemes. Here are some of my latest ‘finds’, a little Monday morning pictorial.

Alexander Henry Barcelona
Hawthorne Threads
In the Beginning Botanica
AZ Quilts

In the Beginning Botanica
AZ Quilts

Robert Kaufman Poppy Symmetry
Alexander Henry Ramblas Stripe
Hawthorne Threads

Alexander Henry Somerville Study
Pink Chalk

Falling Leaves – Tree Ring Squares

Notting Hill – Pristine Poppy

Happy Harlequin – Mesmerizing Morning Glory

Juggling Summer – Ring Toss

Light Fantastic – Shimmering Swirls

Mark Lipinski Zazzle Cobalt Vine Cogs

Light Fantastic – Stained Glass Garden

Moda Over Rainbow Batiks Horizon Garden
Hancocks of Paducah

Morris Meadows – Kelmscott Rose

New Beginnings Wild Roses

Robert Kaufman Batiks Allegro Abstract Roses
Hancocks of Paducah

Robert Kaufman Batiks Concerto Spiro Bloom
Hancocks of Paducah

Robert Kaufman Batiks Posies Begonia Leaf
Hancocks of Paducah

Robert Kaufman Weatherd Kanji Parchment
 Hancocks of Paducah

Robert Kaufman Passage To India Sari Bloom
Hancocks of Paducah

Robert Kaufman Way Out West Bandana
Hancocks of Paducah

Westminster Brandon Mabley Bones
Hancocks of Paducah

Wild Garden – African Daisy

Ciao! Coco