The journey – letting my hair grow out!

Not for the faint of heart – after 12 years of short hair, I decided to let it grow! I made the decision right after I cut my hair in late April. Oops. and I do have a rationale. My hair is very curly and wiry, more so since I let it revert to its natural white color. More and more, on its best days, when short, I needed to use products to dampen the exuberance. I despise and abominate hair products, just not for me.

The rest of the time my short do was not my favorite thing. Actually it got to be a bit depressing! I wanted to let it grow wild and free, kind of funky 🙂 Back when I started working, my hair was natural and very curly, as in the drawings I did in the ’70s, below. Remarkably, as I progressed in my career, I was under subtle pressure to tame down the beast…

Artwork, Lydia

This spring, I was inspired by Marilyn Davis, @Mazamattazz on Instagram. Gorgeous hair, go look.

So, pics along the way:

Looking over my photos in this period, I have been amazed at times by how many wrinkles I’ve managed to accumulate! But my wrinkles are all mine, and I definitely embrace them (I think…).

Ciao from hair grow-out central – Coco

Lekala 5954 Waistcoat

Good morning – the incredibly lazy Coco here. I think this is the longest time I’ve gone without writing. Blame it on the weather, growing out my hair, and having more wadders than ever in my sewing career! I’ve tossed more than I’ve kept and at times wondered if I can sew at all 🙂

However, after 6 weeks, something I really like. Waistcoats are ‘in’ this season, and I really like the look over a relaxed shirt. I’ve sewn 3 Olya shirts this summer, so this will be fun. It took me a while to settle on this Lekala pattern. I looked at the Thread Theory Belvedere, and actually bought and printed Lekala 6063, which is its twin. Both are drafted for men, however, and I did not relish all the fitting that implied. Working with a women’s pattern just made more sense.

I have to throw this in, inspiration in multiple ways!

The original pattern is a ‘traditional’ waistcoat, meant to be worn over a tucked shirt. If I had intended to wear it that way, I probably would not have changed anything. It’s beautifully drafted and was a great starting place for my changes..

Yes, I did a muslin from remnants of fabric. I like to write all over a muslin, it’s rather fun and cathartic. The changes I made were all pretty easy – removing the bust dart was the most challenging. BTW, I use a nice tutorial for this task (I could never remember the steps otherwise):

A few sewing notes:

  • My main fabric is 6.5oz Kaufman washed denim. The lining is 3.4 oz Keepsake Calico. I mention the weights because they matter. E.g., I didn’t face the neckline and fronts in the denim because the result would have been very heavy for it’s purpose (it needs to float over my shirt!).
  • I find it daunting to do horizontal buttonholes. I used lots of basting aids and chalk pencil to keep them straight and parallel. Please, please don’t use Frixion pens to mark any visible part of a garment – they will absolutely gift you with a stain. Great for marking hidden parts, however. I use Quilter white pencils and simple No.2 pencils, they both wash out.
  • I didn’t do the welt pockets or back band, just personal choice.

Lekala rates this as a ‘difficult’ project, and I agree it can be challenging. But it is surely interesting. I’ve ordered two prints for future versions and look forward to sewing them. Hopefully I’ll actually get them onto a blog post!

Parting note: I received many very welcome thoughts during Hurricane Ian. Thank you so much for the encouragement and companionship, not just for me and mine, but for all the folks impacted by the storm.

Bye for now – Coco

Paper Theory Olya shirt in Swiss dot

Getting shirty – in the new and best sense of the word! I’ve been on an Olya journey, prompted by being so tired of the summer heat and really really tired of my summer wardrobe. I’m tempted to sweep my much-worn dresses out the door!

I first sewed this in early 2019, a muslin and two versions in challis (here). Immediately after, I was distracted by my plans to move house and all that entailed. And the pattern has been aging in my stash ever since. It’s a lovely design:

This Olya is a gem – it’s sewn in Swiss dot lawn, a wonderful transition to fall (if it ever gets here…).

Sewing notes:

  • My first versions were size 8, but for this version I decided to draft a size 10. I’m so happy I did! It has more of a boyfriend shirt appeal, something I love over pants.
  • An aside, the pants in all these pics are Tessuti Margot pants, sewn in Kaufman 6.5 Oz Washed Bleach Indigo, lengthened and given front, back, and cargo pockets!
  • Sewing Swiss dot is kind of difficult, because all those little dots make squares that have to be considered and matched. Read that as needing a lot of single layer cutting…
  • As before, I bound the sleeve placket instead of doing a more structured one. Given such a light fabric, I think a two-piece placket would overwhelm the cuff area of the sleeve.

  • Interfacing – I used Pellon 950F Shirtailor interfacing in the collar and cuffs, and Pellon PLFB36 ultra lightweight interfacing in the button bands. Both are non-woven and fusible.
  • I added 2″ to the length of the front and back bodice.
  • No pockets! (1) they are really tricky and (2) I think they would look like giant pasties in this sheer fabric!
  • This shirt has the most beautifully drafted collar I’ve ever sewn 🙂

To close – I will always remember Queen Elizabeth as a most extraordinary woman – timeless in her example of kindness, steadfastness, dedication to service, prudence, adaptivity, leadership, and faith. My thoughts are with everyone touched by her passing.


Pattern Emporium Sweet Cheeks Sweater

Time for a new pattern! Yes, this is way out of season, but I was very eager to give this a go. And I love it.

I do feel uneasy about the name – Sweet Cheeks. But I’ll overlook it – I just hope no one asks me its name.

Sewing notes:

  • My fabric is a brushed French terry from It’s a light sweatshirt knit, and it’s very easy to sew.
  • I sewed size 10, and I drafted my tissue with 1/2″ seam allowances, instead of the included 1/4″. I just cannot imagine sewing most knits with such a scant SA.
  • My version is the high neckline and cropped length, with an additional 2″ in length. The pattern is generous with its length choices, mine falls between the cropped and hip lines.
  • I added 1 5/8″ to the length of the sleeve – it’s pretty short, plus I like my sleeves to cover my wrist bone.
  • I cut my front and back bottom band to the width of the back band, and I opted not to slit the band at the sides.
  • I found the neckband to be too narrow for a nice finish. It was also too long and had a ‘stand up’ look to it. I removed my first neckband, aargh, and cut a new one that is 3″ wide and 1″ shorter than the pattern. To compare:

Original neckband
New neckband

A nod and thank you to Katie Kennedy, @kak513, who has sewn a bunch of these sweaters and was so helpful in discussing the neckband and length options with me. You can check out her beautiful tops on Minerva and Instagram.

IMHO this pattern is a winner, a fun pullover for cool weather! Perfect over pants and leggings. It’s easy to sew and has meticulous directions. I didn’t print the instructions because it is a volume and has billions of examples sewn by an apparent legion of testers. Go for it!

Bye for now – Coco

Two Ermine blouses – two sizes

The Fibre Mood Ermine blouse is one of my favorites this year. My daughter saw my first one in January, and so began a journey.

For my girl:

She will be here for a visit in August, so I purchased a relatively inexpensive challis for her muslin. I say relatively – prices for fabric are somewhat amazing these days. No matter…

I drafted size 18-20 on the top, down to size 22 – 24 at our target hem, and elongated the entire bodice to her preferred blouse length. The Ermine is drafted to glide to a something some inches below one’s waist. For DD, I moved the side seam out to work with her hip at a 31″ CB measurement. Not a tunic length for her, but her usual blouse CB length. She is tall:-)

Fabric: Telio Viscose Voile Floral Print Black/Multi,

She has 6 kitties, so this fabric, with its playful cats, is appealing.

The sleeve on the Ermine goes from a gathered cap to a wrist length. Which works fine for me in a size Medium. But Ashley has a 7.5″ wrist, versus the 12″ width of the sleeve at the wrist in her size! Crazy. Wave that around in the breeze. So I drafted the size 20 sleeve in the Fibre Mood Norma blouse, which is ‘puffed’ at a high bracelet length. I have enough yardage to draft another set of sleeves if this doesn’t work.

Another Ermine, this one for me, in a playful navy and white rayon poplin voile. It took a bit of single layer cutting to do the upper bodice, and then I could not come up with a ‘plain’ button band for the front. I thought about finding a solid for the band, and then I decided not to obsess! This will have white buttons, and I’ll love it.

Fabric: Telio Pandora Rayon Poplin Leaves Navy,

An aside: the New Look 6689 flared leggings, mentioned on my Instagram account, were a disaster. The flare is indiscernible, the rise is a mess. I won’t be keeping this pattern! A day later, and I’m going to try this again, I do get stubborn!

Up next – my stash is empty, but I just ordered a pure white linen/rayon woven to make some britches to go with the Ermine above. Meanwhile, I’m re-reading all of Patrick O’Brien’s seafaring books and binge-watching Seinfeld. Among other things 🙂

Bye for now – Coco

Summer Diane Kimono Dress

It’s so hot this summer, I just want ice water or maybe the garden hose! Which led me to sew this little dress, a favorite pattern from Serendipity Studio. My first version, below, was sewn in March, 2012, and many subsequent versions are scattered on the blog.

I’ve always sewn this in a print, primarily in quilting cottons. All these fabrics are Keepsake Calico from JoAnn – I like the mix:

Sewing notes:

  • I sewed the Size small with minor tweaks to lengthen the bodice by 1 1/2″, and raise the v-neck by 1″. The designer, Kay Whitt, is a petite lady, and the pattern tends to reflect her dimensions. Adjustments are easy.
  • This version is between tea length and ballerina length, at 31 1/4″ long from my waist. The finished width of the three tiers, top to hem are: (1) 22 1/4″, (2) 3 3/4″, and (3) 4 1/4″. Hemlines are such a mystery and confusion – here’s a graphic I found on Fashion for Real Women:

Micro – high thigh
Mini – mid-thigh
Above knee – 1 to 2” above the knee
Knee length – at the knee
Below knee – 1 to 2” below the knee
Midi (or tea length) – mid-shin
Ballerina – between mid-shin and ankle
Maxi – ankle
Floor Length – floor length to an inch above

  • It’s really tempting to cut rectangular bands for the skirt tiers, but I wanted to preserve the A-line of the skirt, so I drafted tissue for each tier from the original skirt tissue.
  • I like using rounded buttonholes in general, but they really serve for use with ties. To avoid any raveling of thread tails, I work them through the buttonhole on the inside.


Ciao! Coco

New Look 6352 variation – new dress

Deep summer…and a new dress aspiration. I am decidedly tired of ruffles and gathers, I’m looking for something more flattering to my, yes, youthful silhouette. So I’ve been drafting and sewing and tossing a bit 🙂

I went searching for a maxi dress with ‘willowy’ lines, something that would work in a soft material. Bingo.

Actually, I’ve been looking at this pattern for years, really years, since it’s in my stash, and finally decided to give it a try.

I have the original envelope, and, rather than cut it, I drafted my pattern to keep the original intact. I altered my draft to have the neckline and armscye of the Tessuti Lisa dress. I have broad, square shoulders, and I like the way the Lisa dress accentuates that.

So the Lisa dress bodice is my main change. I sewed this in a lovely random polka dot challis from, Telio Devon Rayon Poplin Print Floating Dot Black/White, nice. Pics!

This is actually the first thing I’ve made since spring that I really embrace. I look over the many things I’ve sewn and tossed. What is this!! I’m trying to get my mind in a good place, I read a lot – 11 books in the last 3 weeks or so – and continue to study the difference between and applicability of differential and integral calculus. In addition to slogging my way through Sir Winston’s books on WWII. The included preponderance of exchanged letters can be daunting.

A happy face, nonetheless. I am letting my wiry white hair grow, a challenge by itself, but when I can do a fun bun, well, there you go.

Ciao! Coco