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

Drafting away and really disliking lilac!

I’ve been working on a summer blouse with some interest, and the only fabric I have in my stash that’s disposable is this lilac Kona cotton. I bought it to make seat cushions, but when it arrived I simply could not imagine them in this color. So I’ve used it to muslin some ideas.

HERE’S what I want, the lovely Trio blouse from The Sewing Workshop.

But 3 computer changes later I’ve lost the pattern. I sent a message to TSW asking if I can get a copy, as it’s no longer on their website. Fingers crossed. Meanwhile, I fooled around with the back and front of the Grainline Alder pattern, using the v-neck variation. ummmm – boring!! It really needs that collar (which is in the original Alder, totally usable if I have to keep drafting without the Trio. Combine it with a boxy blouse and some inventive drafting…

Well, I do have other projects, but when I get fixated, I’m fixated 🙂

I never want to see this color again, the balance of the fabric is binned!!

Ciao, Coco

Wandering off-grid to a sewing tip…

Time for summer sewing, and I’ve been refreshing my maxi dress and tee shirt inventory. Wow, I managed to justify all that new fabric in just one sentence!

A lot of the patterns I’m sewing have extended shoulders rather than being sleeved or sleeveless.

I like the look!

And I’ve been thinking about my first encounter with an extended shoulder. When I tried to hem the armhole, a simple fold and topstitch, I couldn’t get the hem allowance to fit inside the opening! It just wasn’t drafted correctly for a turned hem.

Enter an easy re-draft. My example is the Sinclair Cachet Tee, a favorite for fit and silhouette, but it’s just one of many patterns that I’ve adjusted.

Here’s a look at the shoulder. On the left, the original draft, and on the right, the fix:

The underarm approach is similar:

And a look at the original and final draft of the armhole edges:

Other examples, both of these are woven fabrics:

Serendipity Studios Diane Kimono Dress
Butterick 6684 Pussy Bow Blouse

If you managed to get to this point, I hope you’re not sorry you read this! BTW, bet you noticed how you can change the hem allowance on just about anything to make it fit.

Bye for now! Coco

Executive decisions – Janome 8002D serger

Well, I suppose I am in the mood to ensure the stability and pleasure of my sewing loft! I have the Janome 8002D, mine is ages old, but I’ve been trying to purchase a backup for over a year.

As is the case with many goods, the machine has not been available. But – I found it yesterday on Amazon, only 10 in stock, and I ordered mine.

I imagine it will be a bit updated, but anything different will be subtle. I love this serger. It’s not ‘expensive’ at $299, it’s a powerhouse, it’s easy to thread, and, yes, it’s quiet.

Meanwhile, I’ve ordered a new upper cutting knife for my in-house Janome 8002D. Lately I’ve been getting lots of lint and some chunky cuts – I need a new knife. This is my third knife for this serger, but believe me, a new cutting blade can make the machine sew like new. I put a lot of mileage on my machines, and I try to take good care of them.

BTW, I really enjoy shopping machines and parts at Sewing Machine Plus. I would have purchased my new serger there, but they are out of stock. The staff and service are great, so they remain are my go-to machine site.

And that’s that! Ciao – Coco

p.s. my new Juki Exceed HZL-F300 sewing machine just arrived! oh, wow…

This and that..

Well, you never know what you’ll get here. It’s Friday, and I think I’ve had all the excitement I need for one week 🙂

We had a sudden drop in temperatures earlier this week. The result – even with mittens on – I had a huge Reynauds syndrome attack at the grocery, which is always cold. Do you have this unlovely issue? it’s painful, and when I got home I put my hands under running hot water. Ah – better. I keep mittens in my handbag and my car, but it still can get me.

Oh, the drama…. I was looking for a renewal of a medication subscription, but neither I nor CVS could get it going. I turns out that my PCP moved her practice, did not notify me, and, worse, did not respond to my or the CVS renewal request. I have spent hours on this, finding a new PCP and working with my AdventHealth care advocate on getting a refill. It gets worse – I will have to go to a ‘establish new patient’ appointment next week, for which I and/or Medicare will be charged. Even though my prior PCP is part of the AdventHealth network, and before I can even schedule my annual exam. Yes, I’ve submitted feedback. Could someone just transport me back 50 years to when my family doctor really did manage everything, including delivering my babies. I only see ‘specialists’ now, 6 of them. Aarrgghh…

More fun, almost on the same note. I am so cold most of the time, and I always wear a cardigan, even in the house. With time, cotton and cotton blend cardigans get so scratchy and worn. So – I decided to try a new fabric, mostly because I like the color, maybe because I was feeling like ‘why not’. This is Denim Steel Waffle Rayon Spandex Open Knit Fabric from Stylish Fabrics. I love it! I’ve ordered and trashed cotton waffle fabric in the past, it shrank and got contrary, even for baby blankets. So this was a real departure for me.

It laundered beautifully, does not ravel, and did not shrink. And it is incredibly soft. More later when the first cardigan is complete.

Short post, I hope you are well, loved, and looking forward to a nice weekend. Coco

Decided to buy a new machine anyway…

Sewing Machine

After all the angst brought on by my recent sewing machine mishaps (my fault entirely), I’ve decided to purchase a new sewing machine. Even though my Singer Quantum Stylist is working just fine. I bought the Stylist about 2 years ago, really as an interim machine, when I managed to destroy my HZL-600 by selecting a zig-zag stitch with a straight stitch presser foot in place.

I decided to move forward and buy a Juki Exceed HZL-300. I admit I really love Juki machines. Jukis are powerful, and even the home sewing models are built around the specs of their industrial machines.

Some reasons, i.e., features of the Juki that are not available on the Stylist (or most mid-priced machines):

  • The presser-foot tension on the Juki is adjustable. Probably 75% of the fabrics I sew are knits. Adjusting the presser-foot tension removes about 50% of the agony of sewing knit fabric! And of course makes sewing thin or thick fabrics much easier.
  • It has a box feed. Which means it moves the fabric under the foot uniformly on each side of the needle. On the Stylist, I often get pressure compression lines on the fabric to each side of the needle and feed dogs..
  • The upper thread/bobbin thread tension is excellent and dependably adjustable. Over the 55 years I’ve been sewing, I’ve had 5 Singers, and they have all had tension issues, including the Stylist. I’m a picky sewist, this has made me a bit nutsy from time to time with the Stylist.
  • The bobbin winder operates on a mechanism separate from from stitching motor. The bobbin load is glorious!
  • The buttonhole foot is connected to the machine by a plug-in sensor. Not by pulling down a flimsy foot that stops and starts the buttonhole stitching.
  • And then there’s the stitching – there is no comparison. The Juki stitches are beautiful.

Comparing price: the HZL-300 is currently $575, on SewingMachinesPlus, and it includes 100 needles and a passel of bobbins. The Stylist is priced at $500. I buy all my machines from this company – they have terrific prices and service.

My HZL-600 included 12 specialty presser feet, including a walking foot, which I still have. All set.

A note on the Exceed series, 300, 400, and 600. They are all the same machine, the difference being the number of available stitch patterns. I think 105 is enough for me 🙂

I’m excited! Coco

That old Catch-22 blouse facing

This is a very quick post. Have you ever turned in the facing on a blouse and found it fell short of the neckline? It really makes for a mess. The pic above is from the Named Saraste blouse.

As demonstrated in the above pic, just fold the facing and you get treated with lots of raw fabric waving about just where you want it least – that beautiful collar or neckline. The solution – add a bit of tissue, fold your pattern at the fold line, not necessarily the center line, and amend your pattern. Before you cut! Your facing should come all the way up to the neckline, not below it..

Most Big Four patterns won’t make this error, but I’ve found that many indie patterns do.

Peace and ciao! Coco