My Christmas dress – finally!


Christmas isn’t over yet –  I just finished my holiday dress today!

I had planned to wear it up in Orlando later this week, my Christmas visit with David and Preston. But the weather is not cooperating – it will be too cool. Instead, I’ll be in leggings and long sleeve tunics. Not a problem – there’s always Valentines Day 🙂


I fell for this cotton/lycra poplin from Fabric Mart the moment I saw it. Sewing stretch wovens is generally not something I enjoy, but the print was reason for an exception. I was careful to practice tension, presser foot pressure, needles, and stitches before I began. And I staystitched all the edges that had any bias to them.


Not wanting something too fussy, I chose an old favorite, the Serendipity Studio Diane dress (last version here).

Diane Envelope Pic

As before, I raised the neckline, but I didn’t do anything fancy aside from rotating the print on the waistband.


I love Christmas, it’s simply my favorite season. And it’s just about the only time I paint my fingernails, mostly because sewing is brutal on nail polish! But my toe nails are always red. Florida is sandal city all year…

Polish: China Glaze “The Heat is On”

So, I managed to make this dress without too many major oops, although my seam ripper got a workout from time to time. I blew out my first waistband because the button holes were in the direction of the stretch, and I made a mess of them. Rather than replace the entire waistband, I practiced a bit, chose a heavier stabilizer, and made new button holes in a 4″ long patch. After getting it into the band, it’s not at all noticeable.


On to new projects for the new year! I hope everyone is enjoying this wonderful season.


A little sleeve magic…

s3Summer sewing, and my closet has multiples of two great dresses: the Closet Case Charlie Caftan and the Serendipity Studio Diane Kimono Dress. Both are fun to sew, easy to wear, and comfortable in summer heat.

And, as it happens, they both have short kimono sleeves, very similar to a cap sleeve.

About 10 days ago, I got to thinking about those sleeves. I admit to being conscious of the inflammation on my upper arms, and many days I just go for a top or dress with a longer sleeve. Just a few more inches of coverage might raise my confidence level…

The Diane dress was easy to modify – I just extended the sleeve by 4.25″ (as far I could take the sleeve and still cut it out on folded 44″ wide fabric – very scientific). It not only worked, it worked great! I love this length.

Fabric: Audrey Medallion Calico, JoAnns.

s1line art


Changing the Charlie Caftan was also simple. I had changed the pitch on my draft of the sleeve way back when I made my first Charlie. So I just extended it as well, and, as before, used self-fabric bias binding to finish the edge.



Fabric: Packed Poppies by Tim Coffey, JoAnns.


And I’m off to the drug store wearing poppies! Bye for now – Coco

Diane Kimono Dress to the rescue…


OK – my recent wadder with this fabric has really been bugging me. I had such hopes for the fabric, and I’m very reluctant to give up on things.

So, I removed the bodice, cut a new one from the Serendipity Studio Diane Kimono Dress (fortunately I had left-over fabric ), and made a new dress! A look at the old yucky dress and the Diane pattern:

The skirt on the original was from the Diane dress anyway, so it just made sense to try it. Bonus – I discovered that the Diane works really well with challis. I was thinking it wouldn’t, that it would be too drapey. But it has just the right amount of swish 🙂


My original was hemmed at midi length, so I added a gently gathered 7.5″ ruffle/flounce to the bottom of the skirt. Squint, you’ll see it – it’s much more obvious in real life…


Rayon challis is obnoxious to gather on the sewing machine, so I made the ruffle on my serger. A couple notes on this:

  • I used two needles, 4 threads. This makes the serged/gathered edge a little ‘sturdier’ than a 3-thread ruffle.
  • The gathering is soft, maybe a 1.3:1 ratio at the most, because I didn’t want a frou-frou ruffle on this A-line skirt.
  • I enjoy new techniques, so I did a test with my serger gathering presser foot, unused until today. It creates a ruffle and attaches it to the main fabric all in one pass.  But the gathering was inconsistent, and it was a real pain to hold the two fabrics in the right position as they moved forward. Challis is shifty even when it’s behaving! I’m curious, though, and plan to do more tests with other fabrics.


So – end of the day, in the late afternoon sunlight in the kitchen – I’m really glad I didn’t give up 🙂

Ciao! Coco


Serendipity Diane Dress – a note on the neckline

Throwback Thursday post – to 2 days ago!

After I wrote about the Serendipity Studio Diane Kimono Dress recently, I realized that I left out a modification I made to the neckline. And I think it could be helpful to anyone who prefers a higher neckline and V-crossover.

In the pics above, the dress on the left has the original neckline. On the right, the dress I just made has a higher neckline.

The change is very easy:

  • I extended the shoulder by 1″ at the neckline, front and back.
  • And I raised the back neckline as well.
  • The new front edge is trued into the original pattern at the bottom edge.
  • The final step was to re-draw the neckline facings to match.

One last note – I didn’t use a drawstring in the waistband of any of my versions of this dress. I just inserted 1″ elastic, and, on my early versions, added a ‘faux’ drawstring, tacked to the band.

Hope this is helpful – have a great Thursday! Coco

Serendipity Studio Diane Dress – Dragons!


It’s good to have dragons on your side…

I saw this Riley Blake fabric on sale at Fabric Mart and scooped it up. It’s from the 2014 Year of the Ninja collection by Scott Jarrard, and the price was soooo low. Serendipitous!

I’m a big fan of Kay Whitt (Serendipity Studio) – she loves quilting cottons, and her designs really showcase them. I sewed 4 versions of this pattern in 2012 (here), and for some reason, I haven’t revisited it since. It’s so cute and wearable, and the style is timeless. It has the look of a wrap dress without all the aggravation – the skirt is not split, so there’s nothing to chase.

Diane Envelope Pic

I sewed the size Small, and the fit is wonderful. Just a few changes and tweaks:

  • Kay uses a 5’4″ model, so I added 1.5″ to the length of the bodice (1/2″ just below the armscye and 1″ at the bottom edge). And I added another 15″ to the skirt for a maxi.


  • The pattern offers a slim-ish skirt or one that’s a bit fuller. I used the latter – it’s a comfortable A-line, just barely gathered at the waist.


  • Of course I added side-seam pockets. To prevent their waving around on the inside, I topstitched them in place on the front.



I love the faced neckline and bound sleeves. Such nice touches. And the drafting on the sleeve is beautiful.


I’m so glad I remembered this pattern. It’s perfect for spring and summer cottons. And it’s now available in print or PDF. For years, Kay did not offer her patterns as downloads. I have the printed version, but if I were to buy it now for the first time, I’d go for the PDF. I like them! Actually, once they’re taped together, they’re great for flat measuring, drawing, and re-drafting. I write all over them…


Oops. Why doesn’t the camera pause when the phone rings?


Ciao! Coco


Serendipity 117 Kimono dress

This pattern No. 117 from Kay Whitt at Serendipity Studio is one of my favorite dresses! It gives me so many ways to mix the colorful cotton prints that I keep adding to my stash. So far I’ve sewn 3 dresses in this pattern. Love them all. I wear them around the house and out and about, feel pretty and very very comfortable.

The dress is pullover with kimono sleeves and a waist casing. The pattern includes a flat or full skirt option. My skirts are full, and you can see that this is really just a hint of fullness if the waist is not cinched (why would I do that!).

If my dress looks long, it is! I love maxi dresses, and all 3 of mine are to the floor. My notes below include the length and band adjustments I made.

Fabric: Alexander Henry Africa Masai Swirl
Fabric: Keepsake Calico Lady Yang
Fabric: Art Gallery Asian Market White Brown Blossoms
Sewn: Ankle length, full skirt, size small
Adjustments I made:
  • The pattern size small indicated 36-28-40 measurements. However, my muslin sewed up with the bodice length and bust width both skimpy, not much ease. The waist was fine. I added 1/4″ to shoulders, bodice sides, and bodice bottom edge, carrying the changes through to the waist casing and bodice facing. Perfect.
  • Ankle length on the pattern was barely mid-calf on 5’7″ me! I added 5″ to the skirt pattern length to achieve something near an ankle length. Then I added an additional 4 3/4″ band (cut size before sewing) to achieve a maxi length. The fabric used in the band is the same as the waist casing and provides nice balance for the long skirt. I felt like something was still needed to bring the pieces together, so I finished the hem with a 1″ band of the same fabric as the sleeve trim and drawstring. To my eye, this works really well.
  • I added pockets to the skirt, placing the top of the opening 6 1/2″ below the top raw edge of the side seam. I am a pocket person and add them whenever I can!