A little home sewing to beat the heat

Liner for blinds

That merciless Florida sun on my windows. It’s brutal and really heats up a room. When I first moved into this house – which faces east and has lots of windows in the front bedrooms – my electric bill was about $200/month. Trying to manage the heat and diminish the morning light in these bedrooms, I used blinds and heavy ‘lined’ curtains (even though I don’t like curtains because they collect dust and aren’t really my style).

About 5 years ago, I purchased blackout liners for the windows and hung them on simple tension rods behind the blinds. What a difference! But over time, with the rising sun, they started to disintegrate. Amazing. One of my spring projects was to (1) ditch the curtains, (2) replace all the blinds in the bedrooms, and (3) make new blackout liners.

It took me 2 weeks! most of it spent taking down curtain rods and blinds and cleaning up behind them. I had so many leftover holes in the walls and window frames, and the window frames looked dingy.  Spackle, sandpaper, and paint… I’m not as strong as I was in my fifties, but I’m still stubborn – I just had to pace myself.

These liners really work, and I love not having the curtains. My bedroom at 8:00 on a sunny morning. Dark, cool, perfect.

no sun 0

Making the liners was the easiest part of this project. I used Roc-Lon blackout fabric from JoAnns, white on white. It’s 54″ wide, which is perfect for a single panel on even my widest (52″) windows.

I didn’t hem the sides or bottoms of the panels – this ‘fabric’ doesn’t ravel. The only sewing was to make a header for the tension rods. On the machine, I used my walking foot, lowered the pressure on the presser foot, and used a 80/110 needle with regular sewing thread.

Liner for blinds (2)

It’s not a dress! but I’m really enjoying the results – new blinds, no curtains, cool, dark rooms.

That electric bill. I’m the only human in this house, so I knew most of it was for the A/C. Using window liners made a big difference. But improvements over the last 4 years have had an even greater impact – a new roof, exterior house painting that included re-sealing all the windows, a new A/C handler and compressor, a new insulated/hurricane proof garage door, and additional weather stripping around doors. These were big ticket items for the most part, but they pay off – now my average monthly electric bill is $70 – $80. And the savings have really helped my fabric stash and hopefully made my eco-footprint a little smaller!

Bye for now – Coco

The baggy pants pursuit…

Loose-leg pants – I love them. Recently I was cruising PInterest and came across this pic from My-Closet.jp. I think these chino pants and cropped top are a fantastic look for fall/winter. And they’re perfect for Florida. So I was off and running, once again, looking for a baggy pants pattern.

I have lots of patterns in my stash that I’ve tried: zippered (the Merchant & Mills Strides, Vogue 8836 trousers) and elastic waist ( Vogue 8584 and a bunch more). Vogue 8584 was my go-to for several years, but I’ve pretty much trashed the tissue with so many re-makes.

New is good…

PInterest is great for zeroing in on styles and approaches. Here are few pics that I captured for inspiration:

Vivid Linen

Eileen Fisher

Vivid Linen

Vivid Linen

Tessuti Margot Pants

And I found this pattern from Tessuti, the Margot Pant. It has interesting hem details, but I cannot find a review of it anywhere (other than Tessuti). My experience with their drafting has been disappointing, so I’m not buying this one, but I might copy the hems 🙂

Moving on. I found the Daisy Designer Pants and Tunic on Style Arc, a two-fer that suits my budget and appeals to my style preferences. Oh boy!

I had the digital pattern purchased, printed, and taped by bedtime last night. Well, the pants, not the tunic – that’s for later. And I worked on the flat measurements and drafting adjustments this morning. I had tissue by noon!

Fabric beckons. I’m not an impatient person, but I’m looking forward to making the pants in this pretty linen/cotton blend from Robert Kaufman. I’ve been in the mood for green for weeks, so twist my arm, Craftsy…

Or this bull denim from Fabric.com, in my stash for a couple years:

For sure I won’t sew them in chino or khaki – I’m not a fan. Of course, working in Latin America for 30 years, I almost always had a suit in this color family. But they were stripes, jacquard, anything but plain…

With Ashley, 1982
So the weekend beckons, with lots of sewing planned. And I’m grateful. 

My thoughts are with all the folks being impacted by Mother Nature’s many challenges.
Bye for now – Coco

More Christmas – and still blogging!

It’s a fact, I miss blog reads at Christmas. I spend Christmas alone, and then go visit my DD, DSL, DS, and DGS ( gosh what a lot of acronyms…my daughter, my son-in-law, my son, and my grandson) during the week after Christmas and up through New Years Day. It’s what we’ve done for years, ever since the kids moved on, had their own homes, got married,  and etc.

So I love reading blog posts around Christmas!

 My contribution (first of several) to any of you who share this blog reading deficit.

This afternoon I sewed up some special gifts for Ashley and Darrin. And their kitties Nikita and Callisto. I LOVE these kitties. I stay with them a couple times during the year when Ashley and Darrin are traveling. And it is such a pleasure. I would love a couple cats, but I’m allergic. Callisto and Nikita are tortoiseshell cats, sisters and amazing.

So the kitties win this Christmas…new cuddle beds.

I looked up cat bed patterns online, and even looked at them at retailers. Here’s what I decided. Nobody makes them the way I can!

No channel stuffing – 22 x 25. The center of the bed is quilted.

I drafted a pattern about 22″ x  25″ – an oval that would included 4″ bunkers all round, with an eventual bed of about 14″ x 17″.

My plush blanket fabric is from  A.C.Moore! They usually have these 50″ x 70″ blankets hanging around the sewing crafts area, and they did not let me down. I got 2 leopard print blankets for about $8 each. And picked up a bag of fiberfill to go with.

So – the construction. This fabric is very forgiving – it has much more stretch across the horizontal than fleece. So I just cut out my pattern, serged it right sides together (to diminish the fluff factor in the loft), and then sewed just inside the serging, for strength. Leaving a 5″ opening for the fabric turn…

I turned the bed right side out, and stitched 4″ inside to form the rim of the bed – but I once again I left a 5″ opening to that I could work some polyfill inside the bed.

Stuffing in 1/2 of the outside channel – you can see it starting to form the rim of the bed.

As you can see in the photo above, I machine quilted the bottom of the bed. At about 4″ x 4″, just enough to combat the kitty dough kneading. Then I closed that entry way with machine stitching.

And  I stuffed the rims! I wear a size 7 glove, so the 4″ channel worked well for me. Do  you know your glove size? I was raised with gloves, an entire wardrobe of gloves, so I know my size. Anyway, I have fairly large hands, width wise, and very long fingers. So, size 7. And a 4″ wide channel.

Stuffed rim/channels!

I packed the channels pretty firmly so the kitties can cuddle up to them. How much stuffing did it take?

I used 32 oz. of fiberfill, 16 oz. each,  to stuff the channels on these kitty beds, and small (about 14″ x 17″ ) ovals of low-loft quilt batting, on the inside area that I quilted, the bottom of the kitty bed.

You could just stuff the bottom of the bed with about 8 oz. of fiberfill, if you prefer. Or just sew in a piece of flannel or something soft instead. I always have quilt batting hanging around, and it’s really easy to use for this project. In truth, I robbed from a quilt in progress for this project! and will have to replace it.

Fun stuff – I’m happy! The kitties will really like these, and what makes them happy makes Ashley and Darrin happy.

Great kitty beds. I have lots of leftover fabric, at minimum I’ll make some 5″ long playthings with catnip involved to go with. I’m also thinking I’ll make Archie, David and P.’s french bulldog, a couch blanket. Archie always comes up on the sofa when I’m napping, and curls behind my knees. I think he would love a soft blanky.

It’s Christmas Eve – Ciao! Coco

Me-Made month…at one swipe

May – again. I admit I’m really not into Me-Made-May. No offense meant, but I generally bypass Me-Made posts. Just a personal preference – I enjoy posts about sewing and what folks are making. I’m grateful for the Pattern Review contests – they encourage lots of interesting discussion, even in May.

However, in the spirit of things, I’m sort of joining in – and getting past it in one go. My wardrobe revealed. Aside from intimates, winter coats, sweaters, some jeans, and a couple vintage denim jackets, everything I wear is me-made. So…


Pants and tunics

PJ tops…

and bottoms and gowns
I’m the first one to admit that things get out of hand – no way can I wear all the clothes I make. I sew for the challenge, satisfaction, and joy. Like many sewists, I cull my wardrobe every six months or so, and donate.
And now – back to sewing!
Ciao! Coco

A sewing kit for my son…

And a fun trip to JoAnn’s on Senior Discount Day 🙂

My mind has been at work since I got back from visiting with my son and grandson for our little Christmas get-together. DGS, soon to be six, is so proud of and careful with his school clothing. His school has grades pre-kinder through high school, every class has it’s own uniforms, and all of them are very traditional.

And I had a little shudder – what if one of those buttons on his Wednesday dress shirt popped off? Or the hem on his shorts or pants failed? And the discovery was made during the morning get-dressed-for-school time, and everything else was in the laundry…

Maybe DS has a sewing kit. I know I gave both my kids kits along the way during college and law school. But I also know I did a lot of their repairs during their trips home. And, yes, a stapler was used in between those visits 🙂 I know they both use tailors now.

On to the kit! It has to fit in a small box. This case is for 4×6 photos.

Self-threading needles. I can’t imagine DS threading a needle without some loss of cool. I use these and love them! Great for grabbing tied-off threads and sinking them at the end of a seam or dart or topstitching.

Some glass-head straight pins. No need to worry if he irons over them. He doesn’t get all of these! These pins are what I use all the time, my favorite for just about all fabrics. I do use yellow-head quilt pins on denim.

A seam ripper. He really needs this. DGS is sensitive to cloth tags and not all his things are tagless. A seam ripper is indispensable for getting a tag out of collars and side seams. I use the white handle Clover ripper and the pink Fons Porter ripper, because I do a lot of ripping! But I this one has a good thin point and should work well for DS.

Thread. I can’t stand those little spool collections with awful cotton thread in them. This collection of pre-filled bobbins (poly thread) is perfect! And I can always reload them for him.

And the safety nets! 
(1) Safety pins (I bet he doesn’t have more than a couple).
 (2) Pressure-sensitive tape that he can use to hem anything in a hurry! 
No iron needed, and it’s washable.  
I’ve rounded up some small plastic boxes for the pins, and closable bags for the bobbins and sewing needles. Of course I’ll give him the hem tape packaging separately, so he can read about it!
On a sentimental note, Mom left me all of her sewing things. She was quite a sewist and had beautiful tools, fabrics, and trims. I’ve tucked her short scissors and some shirt buttons from her hand-sewing case in DS’ sewing kit. The scissors are German-made from Bolinger steel, and the movement and blades are exquisite. I know he will appreciate having them. They were very close.
A nice day. Bye for now! Coco