The essential kit

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Ah, sewing… My first year on Instagram (@cocos.loft), and I’m participating in @sewphotohop. Tomorrow’s theme is ‘the essential kit’. And one photo just won’t do. I tried, but, no. I need it all.

So a cruise through my sewing lifeline…

The first pic is of a multi-drawer thingie that I got at JoAnns. And it refects my fastidious side. I cannot abide the idea of dust collecting on my thread. The same reason I keep my fabric stash in covered bins. My serger thread is in a similar article, also from JoAnns.

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I love the tote in the pic, from Thirty One and gifted by Ashley.

The wonderful thing about these little storage chests is that I have lots of spaces for my office supplies, sewing machine needles, various machine parts, presser feet, and sewing manuals.

OK, I didn’t move anything around when I went into the loft to take these pics. And I’m really fortunate to have an entire room for the loft. My ironing board and garment rack are permanent! and I love them both. I got the rack online ages ago and cannot find it now.

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And little things that make a difference. Because I have two tables, I keep helpers at hand for both… this one is by my serger, the one by my sewing machine is similar, except that it includes a comb and lipstick!

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At my sewing machine, my very favorite pin cushion, me-made, that lets me separate my pins and fits so well in front of my machine. At hand, my seam ripper, nippers, and 4″ needle, which is my poker stick when I’m sewing. Also, I love love my focused lamp from IKEA (this thing is only about $10 from IKEA – get one!!!).

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I use so many pens and markers. I have lots of chalks in a separate dish, but don’t very often make broad strokes on my fabric in the loft (on my cutting board, downstairs, yes, and I use a yardstick and curves as needed!). In my Rockettes mug from my trip to NYC with Ashley, Christmas a few years ago: Frixion pens, chalk quilters pens, pencils, Sharpies, a couple sable hair brushes to clean the machine…and a nail files. Ah, vanity.

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A wonderful way to keep my needles at hand – a magnetic that clings to the base of the lamp on my sewing desk. My sewing needles, a double-eye needle for finishing off serger threads, and an assortment of self-threading needles for sinking threads as I sew. I also put my presser-feet-in-play on the lamp base, walking foot, straight stitch foot, 1/4″ foot…whatever I’m using. These tend to just reside there. With my pencil sharpener for my chalk pencils and my jewelers loupe for work on my stamp collection.

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And here’s an essential – a small TV (my printer is beside it but not in the pic). I love to sew with a good movie or something I’ve recorded. Unseen in the pics, the TV sits on a 10′ span of bookshelves – sewing books, pics, my international stamp collection, and lots of small storage boxes for things like embroidery thread, buttons, zippers, bias tape, metal piggy-banks and colored pencils (I collect them, seriously, from museums), lots of fun things.

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And that’s it – a walk through the loft, the essentials.

Bye for now! Coco

Tweaking my dress form…

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AKA, taking matters into my own hands…

This morning I finished the bodice on a new dress. And it would not go over the shoulders on my dress form (yes, you, Emile). What!

Emile has always been a little larger than life:  broad across the back and shoulders, a very large neck (well, it goes down to 16″, but my neck is 14.5″), a tummy I don’t have, and simply awful posture. But, for 5 years, I’ve managed. I should have bought a Small, but bought a Medium. Self image – I just couldn’t believe I could use a Small. Silly.

Anyway, I took a cup of coffee out on the porch and thought about it. I’m not overflowing with $ to buy a new dress form, so I came to a creative decision: plastic surgery.

Tools – If I still had a power saw, I would have used that!

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Step 1 – Removing the non-collapsing problematic shoulder – it was pretty easy and not at all messy. The form is just plastic.

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Step 2- Securing the outside fabric with narrow duct tape. In a chevron pattern to add some style to this project:

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Step 3 – Finishing the edge with full-width duct tape so it’s smooth and pretty:

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Result – oh boy, I did it, and this fix will likely hold up for a while.

Emile was a great sport.

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Happy Saturday! Coco

A Lagenlook-drafting tale…

This was bound to happen.

Over the past few weeks I’ve sewn three dresses with a Lagenlook vibe. And I love them. One thing they all have in common is a plethora of pattern pieces – lots of pieces and seaming to get that iconic fly-away/belled look.

Being totally without anything else I HAD to do, I started thinking about drafting a simple dress – front, back, and sleeve – that would mimic those lines. It would be as easy to sew as a tee shirt dress.

Fun project! I decided to use the skirt from the StyleArc Toni Designer Dress and the bodice from the Sewing Workshop Cityscapes Dress.

A little time on the floor, with both patterns and more tissue on top, and I had something to sew.
Actually, this first version isn’t bad – but it is very unstructured through the body and sleeve. I do like the fabric (a pre-cut rayon/cotton/lycra jersey from Fabric Mart), so I’ll re-sew this as a tunic in the spring. It will be great over white leggings.
Not deterred, I went back to work. This time I kept the skirt from my first draft, and added the bodice from Sandra Betzina’s knit dress, V1297. The Betzina dress has a more narrow bodice and a French dart for shaping. And it has a nice slim sleeve.

Success!

I’ll be able to whip one up in no time – the dress at the top of this post was sewn just that way 🙂 Now I’m off to see what else I can do to make a mess in the loft. I’m thinking a nightgown.

Ciao! Coco