McCalls 6203 Bats in the attic


Good Monday morning! I was up double-O-early today, that full moon just wanted some attention. Beautiful moon…

2013With fresh coffee in hand, I finally got together some pics of my latest knit tops. These were sewn with a purpose, which is not something I can say about most things I sew! I wanted some tops that I can tuck into my jeans. Just that. But not tee shirts or blouses. It sounds easy, but I spent hours looking at patterns online, and finally remembered this top that I made in 2013, during my batwing period. OK, it was also my zebra period…

envelope m6203

I remember buying this pattern as a leap of faith, because the envelope pics are really really bad. But the line art, no embellishments, is quite good. And it makes a great top.


I really like the deep ballet neck. It’s feminine and sort of elevates the vibe of a pair of jeans. BTW – I love jeans. I don’t sew them, I buy them. I could never ever get this fit in a pair that I made myself. The ones here all from Coldwater Creek and are old, just the way jeans should be 🙂 And it’s really gratifying that these fit again…

Fabric: rayon/spandex medium weight jersey,

Of course I made a white top as well.

Fabric: cotton/modal lightweight jersey, Girl Charlee

A few sewing notes:

  • I sewed a straight size Medium, View C.
  • Since the pattern is tunic length, I shortened it by 4″ for this tuck-able top.
  • And I used self-fabric binding for the neckline. The pattern has a double-layer, raw edge affair for the neckline, which is a bit much for me.


Parting shot: I was messing around in the garden the other day and found this hoya carnosa blossom almost hidden from view. Hoyas bloom exuberantly in the sun, but at the expense of their foliage. I moved my two baskets into the shade a couple years ago, and I really enjoy their deep shiny foliage and occasional blossom.

Hoya Sep 1 2017

Bye for now – Coco

McCalls 7597 V-Neck complete!

Wow – you’d think I’d hem those jeans! But I have an excuse (of course). I’m not wearing shoes!

Best news – my laptop power cord arrived, and it works! Ahhh.

While waiting, I spent hours and hours working on my v-neck version of the M7597 caftan. The pattern has a high neckline, something I seldom wear. But I love everything else about it – the bib, gathers, back, silhouette, sleeves…


s2My first v-neck muslin was OK, but the I was not happy with the fit of the neckline. It was a little low (an easy fix), and it wanted to gap on the sides (not so easy). I’m really careful with bias-cut edges – staystitching, direction of stitching, and so on. So I knew I needed to do a little work and research.

I remembered that Jen/Grainline Studio had shared a v-neck variation for her Alder shirtdress, so I took a look. Bingo! I needed to add a bit of concave curve to the v-neck. From her tutorial (here):

alder vneck tute

Such a difference:

new neckline
Fabric: white-on-white cotton print, JoAnns



This tunic style is one of my favorites for jeans, especially in a crisp white fabric. So ’70s! but feels like home to me…




Now that I’ve conquered the neckline, redrafted the facings, and updated my pattern tissue, I’m looking forward to a maxi dress. I purchased this gorgeous challis from Cali Fabrics several weeks ago – the colors are so rich and exuberant. And it’s definitely destined to be a caftan, it’s just a matter of deciding which pattern to use, this one or the Closet Case Charlie.


Parting shot: this little Southern Chorus frog (Pseudacris nigrita) has been keeping me company on the porch for weeks. He has a sweet little trilling call and spends his time in my plants. For perspective, he is sitting in a 4″ pot and is less than 1″ long. Cute thing…

Pseudacris nigrita Southern Chorus Frog

Ciao! Coco

McCalls 7597 Kaftan – a complete muslin


Complete because I did it with and without sleeves.

Fran, this is for you 🙂

I’ve been wanting to be in love with this pattern, so I ditched my knit fabric muslin and sewed it in a woven – in fact, in muslin.


As a lover of tunics, and an admirer of really well-done kaftans, I snapped up this pattern just after its release. I looked all over the web, and I’ve found no reviews or pics. So – here we go!

My first focus was on the front bib insert, on both my knit attempt and on this one – on how it’s constructed and finished (because I’m picky). The pattern does not disappoint.

Inside and outside views – very nice. My muslin is a very high-thread count muslin from JoAnns.  It’s actually more like poplin, very stiff, so I didn’t use any interfacing. But I think the high neckline slit calls for interfacing in most fabrics to support the neckline.


The pattern instructions would have one (1) sew the sides of the bib into the bodice, (2) clip the corner turn, and (3) sew across the gathered bodice and bib edge. But I am not a fan. I sewed the sides of the bib into the bodice, and simply folded the bottom edge of the bib over the the gathered bodice. And topstitched. Much much easier.

Stay sane, peeps!


Having conquered the front, I also had concerns that the gathers in the back, under the yoke, might be too much. But the back is pretty! And the sides have just enough curve in them to give a nice silhouette.


Aaargh…I just had to stop typing and go to my laptop settings. I got the Microsoft 10 Creator update this morning, which took 3.5 hours and changed a bunch of settings, including my touchpad. I don’t use the touchpad, but I kept touching it with my palm as I typed. This post got a little wonky for a while…

But I’m back.

Here’s another view of the back, moving my arm a bit. It’s very comfortable and fits well.

back 2

Sewing notes:

  • To start, I’m 5’7″, and have a 34″ bust. I sewed size 12.
  • With no changes!
  • Other than my usual adjustment for a sloping shoulder on my right side. Without the latter, necklines and jacket hems do not match up. It worked fine on this pattern – whew. You never know until you do it…
  • I used the cutting line from View C, which has an added contrast band that I didn’t use. I just wanted the extra length. It’s easier to cut off than to add on!
  • My finished back length on this version is 32 1/2″, which is super nice with leggings.
  • The sleeves are cut at the longest length ( which is not full length – if you want a full-length sleeve, be sure to measure and add to the sleeve).
  • I used a 1 3/4″ hem allowance on the sleeve, finishing with a 9.5″ underarm seam.
  • A note – I have an 11″ bicep, and the sleeve is comfortable on me, but you can see that they are not generously wide.
  • I sewed the sleeve in flat, because I never sew a set-in sleeve unless I have to do it!
  • For this muslin, I trimmed the seam allowance off the sleeveless side to get a true view of a sleeveless version. The pattern uses the same armscye for sleeveless and sleeves makes, so it’s good to see how both work. I think the sleeveless armscye falls just where I’d want it.

Last view with my sewing buddy…


Parting thoughts – this is a great little pattern. The drafting is well-balanced, the pattern pieces fit together perfectly, and it was fun to sew. I even like the high neckline! and I usually go for v-neck and scoop-neck designs. The pattern might not be for beginning sewists, given the insert and sleeves. It’s such a new pattern, I’m happy to help out with any questions and so on if you’re thinking of sewing it.

Last week, before I sewed this muslin, and with crossed fingers, I purchased fabric for a maxi length version, including 3/8″ wide trim for the front insert. Five 1/2 yards – that’s a lot of fabric, but I think it will be really pretty.

fabric and trim

It’s Friday – I hope everyone enjoys a very nice weekend. Ciao! Coco

McCalls 7597 – Thwarted mid-muslin


Well, I’m sitting here laughing at myself as I write. Because I usually cause my own problems! In this case, I decided to muslin a pattern with a very lightweight knit with 60% stretch. Ignoring the fabric suggestions for cotton blends, stable knits, crepes, gauze.

The pattern – McCalls 7597 – really has me intrigued:


I ‘m pretty sure that sewing it in a woven fabric will be easy. But I love wearing knits. So a knit muslin was in order, using a cotton modal rayon that I picked up from Girl Charlee at only $2.50/yard over Mothers Day.

The exorbitant stretch factor was not really a problem. The problem was the HOLE I managed to put at the turn of the bib insert.


I’m so stubborn, I really like it when I sew well – not when I put holes in my garments!

I’ll probably use Fray Check on it and keep going. When the fabric is relaxed, the hole really isn’t noticeable.

I’m in love with the length of the front bib. It gives the illusion of a dropped waist. Very pretty.


A note on sewing this type of knit fabric – very light (almost sheer), stretchy, and curly.  I use my patchwork presser foot, a 70/10 universal needle, and a small straight stitch. This little foot really keeps the fabric in place on each side of the needle, and the needle doesn’t carry fabric into the feed dogs. A 1/4″ presser foot would work as well, but doesn’t afford the view of the stitching area that the patchwork foot provides. I also play with the pressure on the presser foot until the fabrics moves just right across the throat plate. Worth trying if you get frustrated at the machine 🙂

patchwork presser foot-horz

Speaking of throat plates, I managed to bend one of the looper needles on the throat plate of my Juki serger. I’ve had a couple weird weeks in the loft. A replacement plate is expensive, so I’ve set it aside for now, and I’m using my Janome 8002D serger. It’s a nice machine as well. I always kept it threaded with white thread and used my Juki for color changes. What luxury…I’m just glad I had two sergers!

I’m still shopping fabrics for a ‘real’ version of this pattern, so I plan to mosey on over to JoAnns once I have enough coffee in me…

Bye for now! Coco

A copycat blouse…


Miss Impatient here. I’ve managed to sew my stash down to only 4 fabrics, all of which are most suited to winter – not to our very warm and humid Florida summer. The good part, I do have some fabric on order. I just have to maintain… If anyone wondered, the hard part of retirement is paying attention to a budget – being on a pay-as-you-go plan. Two crowns, a new hot water heater, yard cleanup, and sidewalk repairs have left me wistfully window-shopping fabric 🙂

Not to be deterred – I still had a couple yards of Michael Miller Cotton Couture, the last remnant from the 10 yards I ordered in 2014, to muslin my DD’s bridal gown (in the end, and really to my relief, she got a beautiful tea dress from David’s Bridal). So I decided to take a stab at a top that I really like, from Vivid Linen:


How perfect for hot weather!

I started with the Grainline Scout Tee, a great pattern that I’ve altered quite a bit over time, to fit my wide shoulders and narrow chest, and to add bust darts. On this version, I modified it a lot more!


But first, another pic of my top…


The big changes are to mimic the hi-low hems and slit sides of the inspiration blouse. First, I decided how long to make the front. Then I modified the back to be longer than the front. And, last, I drafted the side seams to support a slit. I already had a ‘cropped’ cutting line on my pattern, from past versions, so the changes were fairly easy. Here’s how I managed the side slits and hems. Finished, the back is a bit over 2″ longer than the front:

Side seams

Inside view:


And outside:


That was pretty easy. I also had to think about the ‘balance’ of the top – finishing the hems, sleeves, neck facing (my add-on, instead of a neckband), and so on. I decided to use the same width for all of them, which I think looks really nice:


To complete my copycat look, I needed to add pockets (in the end, I only added one). So a tip – cut, measure, trim, and mark pockets. I use Frixion pens, and I stay-stitch all my fold lines to ensure an even turn and application.


How does the back look? It’s just where I wanted it 🙂


Of course I’ve styled this top with a very fun pair of True Bias Hudson Pants, sewn in funky ITY knit, from way back in 2014, and still a favorite pattern (blogged here).

So – I’m really pleased with this muslin. What next? Well, I prefer to wear knit tops. They don’t wrinkle, they’re light, and they work well in south Florida – so I’ll be adjusting my pattern draft for knits. Among the fabrics I ordered from Girl Charlee are 8 yards of lightweight modal/cotton/rayon jersey. Should keep me out of trouble for a while.

Ciao! Coco