Grainline Studio Lark Tee tunic

Greetings from sunny Florida! Actually this the first really warm day in several weeks. And tonight we return to our typical winter chill. I like to take pics outside, but not when I’m cold!

It really has been chilly, and I’ve been lusting after some cozy long sleeve tees to wear over leggings. Typically my knit tops only last one season, so I’m filling a seasonal gap.

I chose to start with the Lark tee because it has a crew neck option and good bones. This is a great tee pattern:

Sewing notes:

  • I drafted the size 14, a couple sizes larger than I sew for a ‘regular’ tee shirt, to get the loose fit I like in a tunic.
  • The pattern has a generous center back length at 28″, to which I added 2″ for that tunic look (read that as ‘covers the tush’).
  • I also took out the form-fitting curves at the waist and hip.
  • DBP is relatively easy to sew, just test your machine and serger settings before starting. It’s densely knit and a bit spongy, think of an ITY with body. I find that a jersey needle works best – no skipped stitches or pierced threads.
I love this double-brushed poly knit from JoAnn – Ember Dark Orange Gingko Leaf. I got the last 2 yards from my store, and I think it’s sold out online.
  • The fabric is 58″ wide, so I had a nice remnant for an infinity scarf!

More pics:

Parting shot – the Christmas cactus continues to bring joy. They love the cool weather.

With warm thoughts, I hope this finds you well – Coco

Christmas photos and thoughts

My son has always said that blogging as I do is a bit narcissistic. And I agree. But It’s also true that photos from a distance disguise the more intimate characteristics of portraits.

I had an opportunity to have studio photos taken earlier this year, intended as gifts for my children. Showing my age, journey, and blessings. Coco

What I’m reading…

I particularly enjoy histories, and this year I’ve been reading about the great wars, WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and a couple intriguing and detailed writings about Australia and the British in India.


John Toland, In Mortal Combat: Korea, 1950 – 1953.

Churchill, WWII, all of his writings. I am fortunate to have the entire collection, from my father’s library. He is surprisingly easy to read, rather chatty at times. Of course the writings reflect his opinions, but what better transcriber of the times, challenges, background, and decisions.

Wade Davis, Into the Silence, the Great War, Mallory, and the Conquest of Everest.

Tuchman, Stillwell and the American experience in China, 1911 – 1945.

William Craig, Enemy at the Gates: the Battle for Stalingrad.

Philip Ziegler, Mountbatten.

Robert Hughes, Fatal Shore.


Max Hastings, Vietnam, an Epic Tragedy, 1945 – 1975. Terrible. He opines, speculates, second-guesses, through the entire history. I finally gave up on the book, and I’ll look for a more fact-based dialogue.

Update, since I will be in temporary accommodations for a few months, I just ordered the Nook ebook of John Toland’s The Rising Sun.


Doing that dance – embracing a challenge

Such a week. Subsequent to my annual chest CT scan (I get one every year due to my scleroderma), I’ve been diagnosed with a non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) lung infection. It is rare, even more rare than scleroderma. But I have all the markers:

  • Tall, thin, Caucasian woman, with scoliosis and a malformed breastplate.
  • And an immune disorder.

Mycobacteria are everywhere in water and soil, and most people’s systems just shrug them off. But not mine.

  • It’s not cancer, congenital, genetic, or contagious. It is opportunistic in the right host. Like my little body.
  • What it means for me: 1 – 2 years of a treatment program, 3 antibiotics taken concurrently, oral and IV. If you are familiar with drug toxicity, you can imagine what’s ahead of me.

Yes, I have symptoms now, and I have gotten in touch with an Orlando pulmonologist for continuing care. I’m moving in 4 weeks…

Scared? yes, a bit. It’s unexpected, to say the least. Exotic ? But I have lots of family support, and I’ll just keep sewing and focusing on all the wonderful things 🙂


Simplicity 7051 Vintage blouse

Well, I thought I would head east to Europe on my armchair travel journey, but instead I went west to the great southwest desert.

I found this lovely blouse pattern (1985) on some random search, and I fell in love. Ordered it on Etsy.

The attraction – the deep revere collar and elegant lines. Getting the pattern was just the beginning. Surprises:

  • It has directions for shoulder pads…
  • And for multiple bust treatments, on the pattern tissue. Not as a suggestion or re-direct to a bust adjustment tutorial. No dart, my choice, and C and D cup darts. What patterns do that now!

Moving on, it seems I’m taking STOF France fabrics on my journey. This is a woven cotton from, Impressions de Nature Aloe Lorraine. 🙂

Sewing notes:

  • I sewed the size 12.
  • Although the pattern has lots of drape at the armscye for a shoulder pad, I won’t use one, so I brought in the outside shoulder seam in by 5/8″.
  • The sleeves are short. I added 1″.
  • And the cuffs/pleats are very tight, a throwback to the ’80s. I added a 1.25″ button tab and simply gathered my sleeve into the cuff.
  • The pleated pocket and epaulets are interesting options, but I left off the epaulets and flattened the pocket, adding 1.5″ at the top for a nice fold.
  • Not being fond of fusible interfacing, I used Pellon SF785 woven sewn-in for my facings.
  • The collar treatment – I really dislike and abominate a collar that is clipped and turned in at the shoulders. Really really. I always draft a back neckline facing for a nice finish.


I have lots of plans for this pattern – this is the most comfortable, best-fitting blouse I’ve ever sewn. 🙂

Ciao! Coco

New diet – vegan plus, over the moon, I’m trying!

Embarking on a new nutrition course is always challenging. But look how appetizing my new chop bowl looks!

Being proactive, of course, I’ve done some research on how to balance my diet and add nutrients that might help my recent carotid turbulence diagnosis.

To begin – I’ve been eating without beef, pork, chicken, turkey for a couple years. In addition to which, I gave up carbohydrates (potatoes, pasta, rice, etc.). And sugar!! Not easy – I like ice cream as much as the next guy.

But perhaps I’ve been complacent. As thin as I am, things are not going as well as I thought they might. Ref, the carotid turbulence. Out of nowhere…

I spent some time looking through my pantry, and I found that my peanut butter (protein) and my thin-sliced bread (only 40 calories, no fat or cholesteral, format for my tomato and peanut butter sandwiches) and reduced-fat mayonnaise may not be all that great. And, OK, I’ve been eating 6 eggs a week, I just love egg salad.

After a lot of research, here’s what I’m trying. I ‘m making ‘chop’ bowls with lots of good stuff, no carbs, a bit of protein. And some ingredients that combat cholesteral production and adhesion in veins. Those tomato lycopenes and beet betains are intriguing to say the least. Plus it happens that I love beets.

Ingredients: One lean chicken breast for protein, 1/2 cup beets, 1/4 cup carrots, 2 plum tomatoes, 1/4″ vidalia onion, 1/2 cucumber, 1.5 cup cooked quinoa.

I don’t get hungry before midday so I can prep this before my afternoon nap and munch away for the rest of the day 🙂

Snacks? Carrots and mandarins. I like a little something by me at night while I’m reading. Indulgence…pretzels.

Anyone else going to these extremes? And please, take me out for pan pizza.

Ciao – Coco

Wow – a tale of detergents!


Not my usual post. But I bought Arm and Hammer Sensitive Scent pods on a buy one/get one a few months ago. And I started to notice that my clothing smelled like I had just run a marathon!! It was driving me crazy and into the shower more than once a day. I finally figured out it might be my new detergent.


I’m back to All Free & Clear liquid, not pods, no smell, and I’ll never ever use anything else.


Of course, all my garments went back through the laundry, so compulsive, yes 🙂 Has this ever happened to you?

Ciao! Coco